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You Can

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You can, but you must think you can.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

From Begging to Believing

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Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

Who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms.

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3:1-6).

 The lame man asked with expectation for alms, but Peter and John wanted to give him something better – something that would last. Had Peter and John given the lame man gold and silver, how long do you think that would have lasted? At some point, he would have run out of money and the only choice he would have had was to go back into the lifestyle that he thought he left. He would return to begging.

This man had a problem, but what he was asking for was not the solution to his problem. Just like the lame man, I was sitting at the gate of Beautiful. As a result of when I went through, I was crippled with fear, unbelief and doubt. I was sitting in pity when I should have been walking in power. I was on the outside when I should have been in the inside.

Your problems and painful experiences may have brought you to the gate, but it can’t stop you from going through the gate.

I was praying for money, but money wasn’t my problem. My problem was that I didn’t trust God. When Peter told the man to look on him and John, the man immediately looked at them to be his source. And that was me. I was looking to my job to be my source when I should have been looking to God to be my Source. The man was looking at their hands, but Peter wanted him to know that what he needed wasn’t in his hand, but in his mouth. In his mouth was the power to command things, to prophesy, and to change his situation.

I thought it was money that I needed, but I needed wisdom. If I have wisdom, I have riches (Proverbs 8:18). I thought I needed money, but it is healing that I need. God never hurt me and He never disappointed me, but I know that I don’t have the trust in Him that I once had and I need God to build up what the enemy tried to tear down. I need Him to restore that childlike faith.

The lame man spent most of his life depending on people, but God wanted him to depend on Him. When Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up, it took trust and faith to believe not only that he could rise, but to do something he had not been able to do since birth – walk.

But one thing is needful (Luke 10:42).

What I need and what God wants is for me to seek a better relationship with Him. It’s time to go from begging to believing.

I’ve been giving Him my hands (seeking a handout), but what God really wants is my heart.

Remember What the Lord Has Done for You

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After Moses read God’s instructions, laws and commands to the children of Israel, they made an agreement with their mouths. All that the Lord has said, we will do and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).

But their hearts were from far Him. Make us gods, which shall go before us (Exodus 32:1).

Throughout their journey in the wilderness, the Lord had to always remind them of what He said or what He did for them.

Don’t forget the Lord your God.

Don’t forget how you provoked the Lord in the wilderness.

Don’t forget the covenant I made with you.

Remember when you came out of Egypt.

Remember what I did to Pharaoh.

Remember how I kept you for 40 years in the wilderness.

Your clothes and your shoes didn’t wear out.

There were fiery serpents and scorpions in that great and terrible wilderness, but they didn’t harm you.

You never went hungry for I gave you fresh manna from heaven every day.

There was drought and no water, but you didn’t die of thirst.

In Judges 6, the Israelites were crying to God.  The Lord had given them over to their enemies for seven years because they did evil in His sight.  God allowed the Midianites to destroy their crops and to take everything that belonged to them – their land, sheep, oxen and donkeys. Prior to this, He warned them not to serve the gods of the Amorites once they lived in their land, but they didn’t obey His voice. 

They forgot that they had cried to the Lord before, but God sent them help (Moses).  He brought them out of Egypt.  He brought them out of bondage. He delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians and their oppressors.  He drove their enemies out and gave the Israelites their land. God set them free, but they kept returning to the things that placed them back in bondage.

I’m reminded of the man who had an infirmity for 38 years.  After he received his healing, Jesus found him later in the temple and said, You are made whole.  Sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you (John 5:14).  For Jesus to tell him not to sin any more meant that he was in that condition because of sin. I believe this is what Jesus was really saying to that man then and this is what He is saying to us now:

I forgave you.  Despite your past, I gave you a future.  Remember what I did for you.  I’ve shown you how good I am.  I gave you another chance.  You are whole now. Don’t go back.  Remember what happened the last time.  Don’t return to the thing that made you sick.  If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.  Stay free. Stay whole.  Show others what I’ve done for you so that they may know what I can do for them. 

I know sometimes we wish that God would erase all the painful memories of our past, but I told the Lord recently that there are some memories that I don’t want to forget because if I forget it, I may repeat it. 

May we always remember what the Lord has done for us.

[Scripture references: Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 4:23, 7:18, 8:1-18, 9:7; Judges 6:1-10; John 5:1-9, 14-15]

 

Make Me Clean

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clean: free from contamination, free from guilt, separated from anything that makes one unclean

Before the priests could enter the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, they had to wash their hands and feet in the outer court.  They had to appear before God clean.

I recently asked the Lord to make me clean and the reason why I asked Him to do this is because sometimes we engage in things that corrupts us (Exodus 32:7).  You may immediately think I’m talking about sexual sins, but sometimes it is our conversations that corrupts us.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers  (Ephesians 4:29). 

Then, I began reading about lepers in the bible.  Leprosy is spread by direct contact and the reason why lepers were in the condition they were in was because of what or who they touched. But sometimes, leprosy was a result of indirect contact (no physical touch).  For example, Miriam became leprous when she ‘touched’ God’s servant, Moses, with her mouth by speaking against him. 

The Pharisees and scribes thought Jesus and his disciples were unclean because they didn’t practice the tradition of the elders, which was washing their hands before eating bread. In the tabernacle, you had to first wash yourself at the laver before you approached the table of showbread and according to Leviticus 24:9 and Matthew 12:4, it was lawful for priests to eat the shewbread. The Pharisees and scribes thought they were in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies because of what they knew, but they were still in the outer court because of Who they didn’t know and because of what was in their hearts. Jesus then explained to them that it wasn’t what was on the outside, but what was on the inside – in a man’s heart, that made him unclean.

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defiles (make unclean) the man (Mark 7:21-23).

God doesn’t want us to be people that appear righteous to others outwardly, but full of hypocrisy and sin inwardly (Matthew 23:28).  For so long, we’ve been focused on what it looks like or what we look like – the outward appearance, but let God clean you in the inside first. If you only clean the outside of the cup, then it’s not really clean – and no one wants to drink from a dirty cup.

Not only did Jesus loved us, but he washed us from our sins in His own blood and He made us priests to God (Revelation 1:5-6). 

That he might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

I believe we all want to be healed from something, but the question is: Do you want to be clean?  Do you want to stop doing the things that made you sick, depressed, brokenhearted and unclean to begin with?  God doesn’t want us to be like the pig, who after it is washed, returns to the mud again (2 Peter 2:22).

I have asked the Lord to clean me, but I am also asking for His help to stay clean.

And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make clean (Matthew 8:2).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word (Psalm 119:9, NLT).

Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Look Straight Ahead

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Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good  (Proverbs 4:25, NCV).

Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions  (MSG).

There was a lady who had just separated from her husband.  He moved on – with another woman.  She, on the other hand, had a hard time moving on – with life.  One day, she was traveling, but to get to her destination, she had to pass by the house that she once shared with her husband.  When she saw the house, those things that were hidden in her heart – anger, rage, unforgiveness, hurt and bitterness – sprung up.  Because she was so focused on what was on her left (or right), she didn’t see the road construction workers that were straight ahead and almost injured them – and her.

On Easter Sunday, we talk about what Jesus endured from Pilate’s palace to Golgotha. We talk about how He was spat on, hit on the head, mocked and beaten, but the truth is that from the time Jesus was born, He was under attack.  The devil wanted to destroy him at a very young age.  For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him  (Matthew 2:13b).  A lot of male children in Bethlehem from the age of two and younger were killed, but God watched over his word to perform it. The devil tried, but he couldn’t kill what was written and prophesied.  The scriptures would be fulfilled.

Proverbs 4:25 tells us to look and keep looking straight ahead. We are to focus on our purpose and not get sidetracked by distractions (those things that take our attention away from what God wants us to do).  The writer of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus as our example (12:2).  Consider what He endured and study how He endured it.  He focused on what was set before Him, not behind Him.  He knew His purpose.  I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly  (John 10:10).  For I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but the will of Him that sent me  (John 6:38). Did He ever get tired in his body?  Did He feel abandoned?  Did He think about giving up?  My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  (Matthew 27:46).  Father, if it’s Your will, take this cup of suffering away from me; yet not my will, but your will be done  (Luke 22:42).

He went through what He had to go through here  on earth and now He is there  seated at the right hand of the throne of God – and I believe one of the ways He got there was on a road called Forgiveness. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing  (Luke 23:34).  He didn’t regard iniquity in His heart.  His heart was clean.  He didn’t hold any grudges.  He wasn’t focused on who did Him wrong or who didn’t believe in Him or who hated Him.  Those are just distractions.  I don’t believe Christ would have done great works had he not forgiven. He wouldn’t have had a successful and powerful ministry had he not forgiven.

There was a time when Paul asked the church to not only forgive a brother in the Lord, but to comfort him so that he wouldn’t become bitter, discouraged and unable to recover.  Please show him now that you still do love him very much  (2 Corinthians 2:8, TLB).  Let us not be like the servant who was forgiven and released from his huge debt, but refused to forgive the small debt of his fellowservant (Matthew 18:24, 28). If God forgave us of much, we should be able to forgive others of little. When you do this, you don’t give Satan an opportunity to defeat you or to take advantage of you (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Some people face hard times, but they don’t allow what they are going through to affect their relationship with God.  They keep believing God.  They keep trusting God.  And then you have those who become weary and faint in their minds.  I think whether it be hard times, difficult times or times where it seems like nothing is happening, they all have a way of revealing what we are really after – and it’s not always God’s own heart.

Ask yourself this question, What am I after?  When the Holy Spirit begins to reveal the truth, repent of the things that shouldn’t be in your heart.  In the meantime, do not turn to the right or to the left.  Don’t turn away from the word of God.  Don’t give up.  Why quit when you haven’t even begun to do all God wants you to do yet?

You’re on the right road.  Stay there.  Look straight ahead.  Don’t lose focus, don’t deviate or veer off and don’t get discouraged that the road you’re traveling on is only found by a few (Matthew 7:14).  If you stay on the straight road long enough, whatever is crooked in you shall be made straight.

May you be strengthened daily with might by the Spirit of God in the inner man.  Be encouraged and keep looking ahead.

Rule Over Your Own Spirit

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broken wall

rule: to manage, conduct, control; exercise power and authority over

When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away (Proverbs 1:17, TLB), but at one time or another we have played around the trap thinking that we would never fall or we have played around the net thinking that we would never get caught.

He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls  (Proverbs 25:28).  Although temperance is listed as the last fruit of the Spirit, it is just as important as the first fruit (love) mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.  It is what helps the other fruit to mature.  Another word for temperance is self-control.  Self-control is when you stop yourself from doing things you want to do, but shouldn’t do.  Everything is permissible, allowable and lawful for me, but not all things are helpful, good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things  (1 Corinthians 6:12).  It is when you manage your feelings and emotions well.  A person who lacks self-control opens himself up for attacks and danger.  If there are no walls, there is no protection.  The enemy at anytime can take you away captive.  Anything and anyone can enter in to steal, kill and destroy.  A good example of this is Jericho.  Jericho was securely shut up to keep the Israelites out.  None went out and none came in, but when the wall fell down flat, the Israelites entered and destroyed all that was in the city.

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not partake of anything that would defile him (1:8).  He made a decision and he was determined to obey God’s laws no matter what.  He was serious about God.  He wasn’t playing nor was he sleeping. When you’re sleeping in the natural, you are not alert or aware of your surroundings and it’s the same when you are spiritually sleeping.

In Judges 13, we see that God had a plan. His plan was to use Samson to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. The Lord blessed him (vs 24).  One time, the Spirit of the Lord came so mightily upon him that he tore apart a young lion.  He also killed one thousand men with the jawbone of an ass.  Just like the devil hates you, the Philistines hated Samson. To them, he was the enemy and the destroyer of their country (16:24).  One day, the rulers of the Philistines came up with a plan to bring this mighty man of God down and they used what he liked to fulfill that plan – a harlot. They may not have known his strength, but they knew his weakness and just in case the harlot refused their proposal, they were already prepared to give her what she liked – money.  Her assignment was to seduce him so that she could find out where his great strength lied.  Until the rulers learned of his secret, they could not bind him, afflict him and prevail against him (16:5).

Delilah didn’t succeed the first or the second time, but she was persistent.  She pressed him daily with her words and urged him  (16:16).  Samson did not rule over his own spirit well.  Instead of him guarding his heart, he told her all his heart and before you know it, he was sleeping – upon Delilah’s knees. A man later came in and shaved off the seven locks of Samson’s head and his strength left him. I know the things that the devil are tempting you with looks good and it may even feel good, but they only came to make you lose your strength.

Wake up!  Let us not sleep like the others do.  Let us watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6).  Be mindful of your brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Pray for your pastors.  Don’t rejoice, gossip or laugh when they fall, but instead pray that they rise up again.  For a just man falls seven times and rises up again  (Proverbs 24:16).  Watch, but also pray that we enter not into temptation.  If you know someone who has been taken captive by the devil, pray that they recover themselves out of the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26).  Make up the hedge and stand in the gap before the Lord for them. Jonah chose to sleep rather than to obey God, but even in his disobedience, God spared him and used a shipmaster who didn’t even serve Him to wake Jonah up.  So the shipmaster came to him and said unto him, What do you mean, O sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish  (Jonah 1:6).

Get up!  If you messed up, don’t lie down in regret, shame, guilt and condemnation.  Before David’s child died, he fasted and wept, but once his child died, he got up, washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went to the house of the Lord and worshipped.  His servants thought he was crazy, but David knew he couldn’t bring his child back.  He couldn’t change what had happened and neither can you. The past has passed.  Learn from the mistakes you made. No longer will we be fools that keep repeating the same foolishness nor will we tempt God, but we will learn how to rule our own spirit so we can stop living a defeated life and instead live a victorious life.

God wants to make you ruler over many things, but He can’t trust those who can’t first rule over their own spirit.

Prayer:  Forgive us for obeying our flesh, its lusts, desires and affections.  Lord, teach us how to rule over our own spirit. Your Son made us free. Now help us to stay free and not to entangle ourselves again with the yoke of bondage. I pray that we make up our minds and purpose in our hearts to not defile ourselves any longer. Keep us from falling and keep our feet from slipping.  May the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead also raise up every person who is spiritually dead and spiritually sleeping, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

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.