Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 20th, 2018

Our Unchanging God

"And the woman was left with her two daughters in law."  Ruth 1:5-6

We find in these verses that Naomi's husband Elimelech and their two sons Chilion and Mahlon have died.  Chilion's name in Hebrew meant puny and pining.  Mahlon's name meant sickly.  Prior to her son's deaths, they both married Moabite women.  Now this would be so displeasing back home in Bethlehem Judah, these two Jewish boys marrying Gentile girls.   Naomi finds herself a widow and childless.  She is left with her two daughters-in-law  in the pagan  land of Moab.
There is a clear warning in these verses.  Naomi's experience exemplifies what can happen when we leave the "House of Bread and the Place of Praise". They no longer experienced the  joy of living in Bethlehem-Judah. Everything went wrong.   It was a desperate move.   However, Naomi will see God's grace at work and His purpose in all of this.  Naomi will move ahead.
Be encouraged.  When it feels like all hell has broken through in your life remember God is still God.  "Greater is He who is in me that he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4.  He is unchanging.  He will bring you through when you call upon His Holy Name.

Monday, March 19, 2018

March 19th, 2018

Free from the Spirit of Fear

 “…we have not been given the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind.”  2 Tim. 1:7

Fear that begins to control our thinking and decision-making is unhealthy and masks us in our relationships with God, others, and ourselves.  We all will encounter fear in life – in and of itself, fear is not a problem.  Read what happens when fear goes unchecked in a life.

“I remember sitting with two other women as we shared our lives.  As I was describing what it was like to try and live a “normal” life with seizures, one woman listened intently and when I finished, said to me, ‘You must be afraid of being afraid.’  Those words went through me like a sword.  I had never thought of it that way!  Yet, as I processed her words, the enormity of her sentence became clear.  At age nineteen, I had barely paid attention to the first seizure.  Over time and episodes, fear began to creep in, undetected and unresolved.  I was determined to persevere – all on my own strength!  More years passed; there was more activity, and more fear.  It had crept up on me, snuck in, and comfortably grown – until I was at a point of being afraid of being afraid, that I might have another seizure.  Fear had such a grip on me it became a spirit – no longer just a momentary feeling – but a regular visitor of my mind.  I don’t remember when fear became a stronghold in my life.  I only remember the words of that wise woman that day, and how the spirit of fear was broken and lost its grip on me.”

The Bible gives us God’s response to the spirit of fear:  NO!  2 Timothy 1:7 states that “we have not been given the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind.”  Let us take this oft-quoted verse and break it down to see what God is fully revealing to His faithful saints.  We have not a spirit of fear; instead we have:

Ø  Power

Ø  Love

Ø  A sound mind

We have the Trinity in operation in our lives, according to this Scripture.  For it is by the Holy Spirit’s power, our Father’s love, and the mind of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, that we are overcomers and can walk victoriously.  If we allow the truth to soak, seep, and enter our spirits – power, love, a sound mind – power, love, a sound mind - power, love, and a sound mind; be prepared to be set free in the name of Jesus!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 18th, 2018

God’s Covenant with Us

“Yet I will remember the  covenant  I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.” Ezekiel 16:60.

Let us be clear in our understanding of the covenants created by God:  He initiated them; He created them; He set forth the terms and conditions; and He implemented them.  He presented the covenants to man and we can either accept it or refuse it.  The “free will choice” is ours.  The covenants are a statement of God’s will, rather than God’s idea.  We cannot change God’s expressed will through His covenants. 

God’s covenant with us is His expressed will for us, accomplished through His divine commitment to us.  Covenant expresses:  YOU ARE MINE.  Covenant says:  COME INTO ETERNAL INTIMACY WITH ME.  Covenant demonstrates:  I LOVE YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE.  God illustrates such love in the covenant of marriage (Malachi 2:14-16).

The actions God takes are purposed and planned.  What He does is a direct reflection of who He is.  The acts of God reflect His character, His nature, yes, even His name. 

There are three essential components of the covenants, defined as:

Ø  The words of the covenant (also known as His promises);

Ø  The blood of the covenant; and,

Ø  The seal of the covenant.

In this we see the fullness of the Godhead – our Father’s word spoken to us, the blood of His Son as the atoning work for us, and the Holy Spirit’s sealing work of the covenant in us.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

March 17th, 2018

Hope as our Anchor

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  Verse 20 continues, “It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.  He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Heb. 6:19-20

So often we find ourselves in situations where we are in need of hope.  The Bible gives us great hope through Scriptures that encourage us to face battles, dilemmas, and obstacles.  These verses are given to us so we can better understand our Savior, and draw closer to Him. 
It is powerful to know we have hope as an anchor!  Anchors are secure, rock-solid, and immoveable.  When a boat lowers its anchor, the boat is secured.  The hope mentioned in Hebrews serves as an anchor for our soul.  It is described as a firm and secure anchor.  Think upon such hope as being firm and secure in our lives.  It acts in such a way that in the midst of hopelessness, an anchor is tossed to us.  We can grab hold of it and hold onto it.  It is an eternal hope, made possible by covenant.  Jesus Christ is our hope. 
Many people suffer from shame and guilt in their lives, and need an anchor whose name is Jesus.  When we place our hope in Him, freedom comes!  If you are downcast, put your hope in Jesus.  Peter describes this as a “living hope” which is what we find in the Lord.
May our hope in Christ sustain us and be our anchor all the days of our lives.

Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16th, 2018

His Plans for Us

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jer. 29:11

We can stop trying to be good enough for God.  God loves us right now, whether we are homeless or in a mansion; unemployed or salaried; on death row or in the front row of church every week.  We can do nothing to increase God’s love for us, nor decrease it.  For His love is total, complete, and without condition.  He created us, He adores us, He wants the best for us.  Nothing can ever change that.  No amount of sin will stop that love.  God’s Word states it, and Jesus lived a life with examples of it.  God’s love for, and use of the lost to accomplish His purposes, brings the lost to their knees where finally they are found.  When we understand that incredible force of love, when we accept it, we want to become better people.
Understanding that the Lord has a great plan for us opens the door for us to see not with our eyes, but with our hearts.  It creates a climate of mercy, of forgiveness, of grace.  Where once we viewed the world darkly, we now see it brightly lit.  We find the best in people, not the worst.  We speak with hope, not despair.  For we have the Holy Spirit, whose very life within us allows us to forgive the transgressor.  On our own we cannot do it.  But with the Holy Spirit it is possible.    We are salt, we are light in Him.
Finally, we are introduced to real love.  Not infatuation, not a crush.  We see real love, Christ like love.  Love that frees, not binds.  Love that unshackles, not chains.  Love that permits another chance, not denies a second opportunity.  Love that extends beyond the borders of those we like to those we despise.  Love within the walls of the sanctuary and love inside the walls of the prisons.  Love within our homes and love within the homeless shelter.  Love that accepts.  Love that forgives.  Love in all languages, all colors, all nationalities.  Love that heals.
God knew every wrong step, every misdirection, and every mistake you and I would make before we were born.  It didn’t change His love for us.  He has shared in our anguish and in our joy.  We are imperfect people who have said yes to a perfect Savior.  God uses us, the imperfect, to be ministers of His mercy, His grace, His reconciliation.  We are part of His plan, His perfect plan.  We give thanks to God.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 15th, 2018

The Father of Faith

“Just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  Therefore, know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’  So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”  Gal. 3:6-8

Paul describes Abraham as the father of faith.  Paul is stating that back in the days of Abraham, who chose in Gen. 15:6 to “believe in the LORD” that God counted it to Abraham for righteousness.  Abraham did not believe in himself, he believed in the word of the LORD.  He believed by faith – because he certainly did not see evidence of what the LORD was promising him.  The doctrine of faith starts with Abraham!  All who believe in the Lord have it counted to them as righteousness – which we call salvation by faith through grace.  It is notable that this covenant between God and Abraham was made 430 years before God gave the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. 
It is also noteworthy that Gen. 28:14 is repeated by Paul in Gal. 3:8: “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”    The covenant with Abraham is filled with the promise of God’s blessings.  Let’s consider just a few below.
  • Personal Blessing – Gen. 12:2.  God promised Abraham “I will bless thee.”  This makes the covenant irrevocable.  Not only did He bless Abraham, but God also extended the same covenant blessing to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and to Jacob, and then to the nation, Israel.
  • Blessing to Others – Gen. 12:2.  Another promise of God to Abraham was, “Thou shalt be a blessing.”  He was going to be blessed in order to be a blessing to others.  This is an important spiritual truth for us.
  • Blessed by Others – Gen. 12:3.  “I will bless them that bless thee,” God promised.  This continued the river of blessings, expanded to those who blessed Abraham.
  • Messianic Blessing – Gen 12:3.  What a blessing!  God promised Abraham “in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”  Blessings would continue generationally and to all through the line of Abraham.  This included Isaac, Jacob, the nation Israel, David, and of course, Jesus Christ.  Both the natural seed line and the spiritual seed line would be blessed.  What a prophecy of the Jew and the Gentile receiving the blessing of God!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14th, 2018

Prayer for the Children of Chicago

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say this-those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.”  Ps. 107:1-3

Father we praise and thank You for Your name, Your nature, Your character, and Your desire to act on behalf of the children of Chicago.  We who minister before You today in Your house O Lord, we extol You and sing praises that You alone are worthy.   We thank You for choosing Your children as Your treasured possession.  We commend Your great works Almighty God and tell our children – so Your truth may be passed from generation to generation.  We praise You for what You have done in our lives and share our testimony so that our families will know You.  We exalt the name of Jesus Christ over the city of Chicago, over the families in Chicago, and over the children.  We praise You God, that You are sovereign over Chicago.  The government of Chicago rests upon Your shoulders, O God.  We praise You God, for desiring to heal relationships, and to strengthen the parent-child bond during this time of incarceration.

 We thank You that even now, in this time of morning prayer, that You are standing at the right hand of the needy in the city, ready to save lives from the enemy that seeks to condemn.  We thank You God, that You are interested in the high crime neighborhoods in Chicago, that You love and care for all in the city. 

We praise and thank You for the weapons of warfare You have given us, Lord of Hosts.  You have trained our hands for war and fingers for battle – and so we offer You our worship this morning as we lift our praises up to You today.   We bless You and thank You that Your love endures forever and that You redeem Your loved ones from the hand of the foes that operate in city streets and neighborhoods – the foes of death, drugs, gangs, violence.  We thank You Lord for watching over the young women and girls in Chicago who are involved in sex trafficking.  Praise You, most gracious God for saving our children – even today, right now in the name of Jesus.  Thank You Lord of Hosts for sending Your forces of good to deal with the forces of evil  and to disrupt the activities and assignments of human trafficking and slavery of young children in city airports.  Gather our children, Your children, who have been scattered and broken and lost – gather them in Your arms this morning, O Lord.  We trust You for this work and we honor You and praise Your Most Holy Name.  Amen.