Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Father Knows You

O Lord, You have searched me and known me (Psalm 139:1).

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you (Jeremiah 31:3).
The Father loves you with an everlasting love. He knows everything about you. He is aware of every cell of your body. Not only does he know the number of hairs on your head, but he understands the complex DNA structure that lives in each cell of your body. He is aware of every aspect of your health and knows what is necessary for you to thrive. He wants that information to be yours.
The Father knows every thought in your mind. He is aware of what occupies every memory cell in your brain. He has watched you since you were in your mother’s womb, and knows every single event in your life in minute detail.
The Father is aware of your emotional life. He knows every up and down, and understands the factors that contribute to your personality and motivations. He knows why you do everything you do. He feels the grief and pain that burdens you.
The Father hears every word that falls from your lips. He is aware of the un-verbalized comments that remain buried. He understands the tremendous power your words hold over you. He wants you to watch them carefully.
He sees every unfulfilled desire. He knows your hopes and dreams. He sees the unfulfilled expectations of life that bring you anguish. He knows ahead of time the decisions you make and why you make them.
With this all knowledge the Father wants to come and make a home with you. He wants to help you figure out the everyday choices ahead of you. He desires to impart peace to your entire being, and longs to calm every fear and bring you to a state of rest.
This all starts with Jesus’ Lordship confessed with your own lips. Then the Word must be meditated upon until it becomes a part of your inward life. Slowly your perceptions of Him will become stronger and stronger until you will gain an inward knowing of his purpose in the even the minor details of your life.
One day you will meet Jesus personally. He will be the sum total of your every desire. He will be the satisfaction of every thought. He will be the fulfillment of every emotion. He will be the embodiment of your entire future. He will be the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen, the fulfillment of each of your five senses, the sum total of everything that is pleasant. All fullness dwells in Him.
 
When you meet Him, it will be as though you have always known Him. He will know everything about you that there is to be known, yet you will feel complete and at rest with Him. With Him you will experience the fullness of joy, complete acceptance, and the total fulfillment of every thought, emotion, desire, and sense. You will be totally free to be yourself. Let’s start the journey today!

Monday, June 27, 2016

We Can Rest When We Receive God's Grace Through Our Faith

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10)
From childhood, I have used accomplishment as a tool to receive affirmation. I so wanted to hear- “wow, what a great job Mitch” that I would go to the extreme to hear it. At age four and five, I was already shining the chrome fixtures in the bathroom just to receive praise. I would make the porcelain gleam just waiting for my mother to notice.
 
As I aged, this became a way of life for me. This produced in me a drive to succeed. So my life was filled with doing things to be accepted. That’s hard. I could never really rest. I never thought that I’d done enough.
 
When I gave my life to Jesus, this motivation still dominated me. Now I was doing things to receive acceptance from the Father. And I noticed that deep within me, I didn’t think He was quite pleased with me. So restlessness ruled me.
In the mid 1980’s, I was part of the pastoral staff in a large church in Tulsa. I was in my office one morning, feeling that I wasn’t quite doing enough to be pleasing to the Father. And I came across a definition of Grace that changed my life.
Grace is God’s ability working in you to enable you to do what you can’t do yourself. Faith changes things and circumstances. Grace changes people. And somehow a dynamic changed inside of me.
I had been trying to measure up to some standard all my life. Then as a believer, I tried to measure up to some grandiose standard that I created in my own head so that the Father would be pleased with me. For the first time, I saw that Jesus pleased the Father for me! And all this grunting and straining to attain some super spiritual level was righteousness by works and not by grace through faith. I had a grace heart and a works mentality.
But now I saw that the Father just simply loved me. I broke down and began to cry. I didn’t have to measure up to some high standard for the Father to love me. His love is not based on accomplishment, but on His own benevolent nature. He loved me for who I was, not for what did.
I took all this doing things to be pleasing motivation to Him. And I asked for His grace, His ability to do in me what I can’t do myself, to change this works motivation that pushed me so hard.
Now, all these years later, I can rest. His grace, His ability to do in me what I can’t do myself, has helped me settle down into the peace of God. I’m no longer driven with this deep need to perform to be accepted. I am accepted in the beloved! Now I do what I do out of a motivation to bless and help others, and out of a motivation to obey my Father and give Him Glory.
 
The rest of grace through faith is where the Father wants us all to live. I encourage you to allow the Father’s unconditional love into your life, and to let go of the need to perform to be accepted. The Father wants you to cease from your own works and rest in the acceptance that Jesus’ blood purchased for you freely!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

We Are Changed From the Inside Out!

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

In the above verse, the word conformed is from the Greek word summorphoo which means to bring to the same form with. Or to make it practical, this word means to take something on the inside and let it be seen on the outside!

God is in the process of changing us from the inside out. An example of this is in Matthew 17 when Jesus was transfigured and began to glow with a white light. And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2). What was inside of Him burst forth!

We live from the inside out.  Our outward behavior is but a reflection of what we are inside. Prior to the New Birth, our unrenewed, sin-nature dominated soul (our mind, emotions, and will) ruled us. Self-centered living characterized how we did life. We lived to please ourselves first.

When we become new creatures in Christ, the Father desires that we learn to live from our spirit nature. This is  the part of us that is radically changed. It’s the part that has passed from death into life. It’s the part of us that is God centered and not self-centered. Our spirit nature is the part of us where the Love of God is deposited (Romans 5:5). We really do have the ability to do life differently, from the inside out.

Paul travailed for the believers in Galatia until Christ was formed in them.  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (Galatians 4:19). This word formed here means to change the outward to reveal the inward. Travailing prayer helps bring this change about.

Since praying in other tongues is praying from your spirit, it can also be a catalyst to move this new nature in your spirit to the forefront in your life. Notice Romans 8:26-28: Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  (28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. We often take verse 28 out of its setting by quoting it alone. Notice that verse 28 starts with the conjunction and, which joins it to the preceding verses.  All things work together for good because the believer is praying the will of God into manifestation!

In Romans 12 we’re encouraged not to allow the world to squeeze us into its mould. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity (Romans 12:2 - JB Phillips Translation). We are not to allow outward things to shape us. It’s the renewing of the mind with the Word and learning to live from the spirit and not the soul that causes a metamorphosis, a change from with, to take place in our lives.
Allow the seed that the Father has placed in you to germinate today. Take time to feed on God’s Word. Let the Word find a home in you! Let it dwell in you richly. This new Divine nature develops and grows when the Word comes alive in you. As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4). Water that  Word seed by spending time waiting on the Lord in prayer.
Focus your thoughts on the God’s Word today. Set your mind on things above. As you do, the incorruptible seed will germinate and change you, from the inside out!



Friday, June 24, 2016

People Need To Hear The Truth About Sin!

We know that the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God. (1 Timothy 1:8-11 - NLT)

When I was a young child I have distinct memories of being taught about the depravity of man and of our sinfulness. Now, we seem to have flipped to the other extreme. In many churches it’s seldom that you hear a great deal about sin and its effects. And in the general public through our educational institutions, the populace of our nation hears from the humanistic psychological perspective that we all are really good people. We just need some education and that ember of wonderfulness within us will just spring to life!
Well, that just doesn’t play out in real life. Human beings are capable of horribly wicked deeds. We are a depraved race. Adam’s sinned knocked the goodness right out of us. Just listen to Paul: …being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:29-32).
  
Outside of the new birth and grace of God changing our natures, we’re heathen! Barbaric! Treacherous! Listen to the prophet Jeremiah: The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jeremiah 17:9 - NLT). Even Jesus said: For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander (Matthew 15:19 - NLT).

Our culture is out of control because of the depraved human heart. The atrocious things we hear about every single day: the killings, the thefts, the abuses, and every single evil , are a result of the wicked human heart. We need the new birth. Being born again as Jesus mentioned in John 3 changes the human heart from sin to pureness.
We need to spread the good new of the gospel that God so loved us that He made redemption from sin available to us. And that mercy, grace and forgiveness are available through Christ. And that God has made a way available so that our sins are already forgiven if we’ll only accept His plan of salvation through Jesus.
But before that will make a difference in a human life, a person must realize that he is a sinner in need of a savior. And that he or she is not just a nice sinner, but that he or she is morally and spiritually bankrupt and depraved.
Jonathan Edward preached his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, and people shook with deep conviction of sin.  Revival fire spread through America as revivalists preached of a  holy God who is a consuming fire. We need this in our age too.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to know that Jesus became our righteousness, and that God thinks we’re special. We need to know that God loves us and that He has blessed us and destined us for blessing and favor. But these truths are for the saints who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Sinners need to know that the Father loves them. But we need the Billy Grahams of our day telling people that the wages of sin is death.
When a person has a good understanding of their utter sinfulness, they will reach for the life raft of salvation with zeal. It takes prayer and Spirit unctioned preaching for people to come out of the darkness of sin and receive Jesus as their Savior from sin. It’s time for us believers to awake to righteousness, and take the two edged sword of truth in our mouths motivated by the burning love of God in our hearts.
Before God’s best can be granted, a sinner must squirm with Holy Spirit conviction under the weight of his sin and understand sin’s wages. Only then can he really appreciate hearing that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Is Repentance A Necessary Ingredient For A Fresh Move Of God In A Nation Or Individual?

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
Repentance plays an important role in a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in individual lives, in a church, and in a nation. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus to begin His ministry: In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matthew 3:1-2).
Israel had turned away from the Lord. They had worshipped false gods in the place of Jehovah. Judgment was coming. After calling for repentance, Joel prophesied a great move of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). Listen to the call to repentance that preceded the word of a coming revival:
Now, therefore, says the Lord, Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him — A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God? (Joel 2:12-17).
I believe the Lord is calling us to repentance today so that He can move in a fresh way by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives, in our churches, and in our nation. Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT): Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Repentance has three ingredients. When I repent I must renounce, repent, and obey. First I must renounce any area of disobedience, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. When light comes into my life, I am responsible to walk in it or darkness will invade and blind me. Repentance is a mental and willful “about-face;” a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction. I change the course of an area of life. It is a decision of heart that produces a lifestyle change in me.
To repent I must also submit. That is, I must allow the Word of God to saturate my mind and heart, and then I must willfully choose to submit and obey it. But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves (James 1:22 - NLT).
Lastly, to repent I must obey. I must decide moment by moment to obey my conscience and the tender tug of the Holy Spirit as I walk through each day with its demanded choices. Renounce, submit, and obey must become my lifestyle.
The Father wants me to live a lifestyle of repentance. When I do, I can expect times of refreshing from the Father’s awesome presence in my personal life. Then, as we act in corporate repentance, we can expect times of refreshing in our churches and in our nation. Walk with me today into repentance: renounce, submit, and obey!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are You Aware That Angels Are Assigned To Help You Every Day?

Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word (Psalm 103:20).
We are not alone. Not only do we have the Spirit of God to enable us and help us from within, but we also have the help of the angels of God from without.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them (Psalm 34:7). For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:11-12).
In Genesis 18, angels appeared to Abraham, and reminded him of the promise of God. They also warned Him of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 19, angels came to remove Lot and his family from the doomed city of Sodom. An angel appeared to Gideon as he threshed wheat behind a wine press. The angel delivered a message from God that changed his life.
Angels also appeared to Daniel, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Paul, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and to John on the isle of Patmos.
We are admonished to be hospitable to everyone, since some have been unaware that the angels of God had come to check up on them! See Hebrews 13:4.
We have the encouragement from Hebrews 1:14 that angels come to help us in life. A.S. Way’s translation of this verse reads, The angels! - what are they all but servants, spirits who render service to God, who are  hour by hour being dispatched on errands of ministration for the help of us who have salvation as our heritage!
Put your angels to work for you today. They are here to assist you in your life of obedience to God. As the verse at the beginning of this blog indicates, they obey the word of God! When you speak the Word, the angels go to work.
As I pray about various things for myself and others, I regularly command the angels of God to go ahead of me and do whatever is necessary for the purpose of God to be fulfilled.
Years ago I started a business to augment my income while in traveling ministry. Each day I commanded the angels of God to go and cause the business to come my way. The business thrived.
Since I’ve been pastor here in Raleigh, I regularly command the angels of God to go and cause the finances we need for the work of God to come in. We have always been blessed with everything we need!
Of course, everything we do should line up with God’s Word. And there are those who have placed undue prominence on messages from angels and have gone into error. Everything inspired by God must agree and be in line with the Word of God, and will exalt Jesus and God the Father, not the human! But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
Keep God’s Word first place in your life today, and call on the angels of God to assist you in your life of obedience today. They are waiting to be dispatched!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Are You Willing To Give Up Independent Living?

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17).
 
In Ephesians 5, Paul parallels the marriage with the relationship Jesus has with the church. In counseling couples before marriage, I encourage them to be aware of the adjustment that must take place mentally and motivationally in being joined to another person for the rest of their lives. They can no longer live to please only themselves, but must also focus on their mate, and how each action they take affects the other. And this kind of mental/motivational adjustment is just like the change that occurs when Jesus becomes our Master.
In the above verse we find that when we are born again we become one spirit with Him. Here is how that works out in a practical way.
In my B.C. (before Christ) days, I did my own thing. I did what I wanted to do and went where I wanted to go as I desired. I answered to know one. As long as I obey civil law, I was free to do as I pleased.
That changed when I was born again. Suddenly it wasn’t just me doing as I pleased with no thought of anyone else. It became Jesus and me.  I began to ask my self what Jesus would want me to do, act, say, in each situation of life. Now He has something to say about how I dress, what entertains me, who I hang out with, and what I think about. I’m one spirit with Him! I’m no long good ‘ol independent Mitch. Now I’m a Jesus intertwined Mitch! Jesus is intimately involved in every single thing I do. And it’s no more independent living for me!
A similar change occurs when in marriage we become one flesh with our spouse. The dynamic of the inward change in marriage is similar to the inward change in motivation/thought when we’re married.
I noticed this change immediately after Susan and I were married. I was in the grocery store picking up a few items. And I quickly noticed that I wasn’t just thinking about what I  wanted, but I was also thinking about what would please her in my purchases. And this kind of thought filtered into all my activities. It affected my leisure time, my financial life, my work life, etc. We were now one flesh.
 
Now that I am a married Christian, my life is intertwined with Jesus and with Susan. I can no longer live an independent life. I’ve chosen to be one spirit with Jesus and one flesh with Susan. Self-centered living is no longer an option. If I go there, it will only produce personal pain.
I meet so many believers who are still seeking to live an independent life from Jesus. They experience much internal conflict. I also meet so many married couples who are living independently from their spouses. It produces much dissatisfaction and hardship in their marriage.
I understand at least part of what Paul meant when he said I die daily. How about you? Are you living as an independent or an interdependent person? As a single or married Christian, you’ve been bought with a price and you are not your own! So stop the independent living!

Dependent living is a matter of trust. Can I trust God to take care of me? Am I willing to yield my thought life, my emotional life, my inward desires to Jesus and to the Word of God? Am I willing, with God’s help, to break patterns in my life that are hurtful to me and to others?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).