Monday, July 27, 2015

Be Careful In Your Judgments Of People!

The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned (Isaiah 50:4).

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love (Ephesians 4:2 - NLT).

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others (Colossians 3:12-13 - NLT).

All of us are equal in the eyes of God. He has no favorite children. What He makes available to one, He makes available to all. But though we are all equals before God, not every person has an equal start in life.
The good news is that each of us can take the word of God and begin the process of renewing our minds and learning godly ways to relate to others. The word of God can help us to change habitual patterns of response to others that may erect walls and isolate.
Be careful that you don’t judge another person’s actions without knowing the background of what they deal with in life. God is the only righteous judge for He sees the thoughts and intents of the heart.
A person that to you looks like they have their life together may be struggling just to survive day after day. What seems easy to you is a great challenge for another that did not have the same foundation that you had in life.
Be careful not to judge another person at face value. The real issues are usually buried beneath a fa├žade erected to keep emotional and relational pain at a minimum.
The Father wants to use each one of us today to bless and help another life. Be aware that hurt people hurt people. A person that seems harsh and distant is usually carrying some pretty heavy emotional baggage from their years of living. 

The Father wants to use you today to bring cheer and comfort. He can only love and reach people as we allow Him to reach through us! Go today with the expectation that the Lord will use you to bless and help others. He’s counting on you.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Gifts In The Body Of Christ Are As Diverse As Seashells

My family and I usually spend a week at the beach during my vacation. As we walk down the beach, I notice the great diversity in the shells we picked up. All of them were from the ocean. All have originality.
In the body of Christ we are members of one another, but we all have a unique function. The Father has placed different giftings in us all, and He wants us to function in the gifting that He’s placed within us.
The ministry offices are Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. They are given to prepare the saints for the work of the ministry. All of these have a preaching and teaching anointing. I stand in the office of the Pastor and Teacher.
But there are other giftings of ministry that are important and necessary. Romans 12 mentions as the other necessary areas of ministry the following: prophecy, ministry (deaconing, being a helper and a servant), teaching, exhortation (being an encouragement to others), givers (those with a special knack for making money and financing the gospel), leaders (those with organizational skills that can assist ministry offices), and mercy (those with a special enablement to help those who are down and out for whatever reason).
1 Corinthians 12: 28 also mentions helps as a necessary place of ministry. Those called to help assist those who fulfill the ministry offices found in Ephesians 4:11. All of us should be involved in helping. I started out in the ministry of helps over 34 years ago. As I was faithful, the Lord opened up what He had planned for my life.
I believe every believer should be involved in the helps ministry. The helps ministry at Victory Church is called our Dream Team. And as believers prove faithful there, the Lord will open up what He has for each one.
Don’t wait for something to open up without doing anything. You may wait a lifetime. Choose today to be a faithful person. Find a need and be the supply for it. Don‘t wait for someone to ask you to do something. Be faithful to help fulfill whatever need you may see. I believe this is often a test for us. The Lord wants to see if we will just be faithful in whatever needs to be done before He places us in our life’s call.
We are as diverse as sea shells. All of us are necessary, but we must choose to be used by the Father to bless others. Find a need today and fill it!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Practicing Forgiveness Relieves Stress

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive (Colossians 3:13 – Amplified).
Perhaps every day of our lives we will face opportunities to forgive those who harm us in some way. Life in a fallen world means facing imperfections at every turn. Wise living is knowing how to deal with the imperfections of others! I seek to live by Romans 12: 18: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. That means I must be willing to practice what Jesus said to Peter when He told him to forgive 490 times (infinitely) the brother that offends him.
Failing to forgive produces some major problems and one of them is stress. Medical research indicates that the majority of illness is stress induced, so unforgiveness plays a significant role in sickness. Proverbs 14:30 (Amplified) reads: A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.
Unforgiveness means holding on to a certain thought pattern about a person or event. That thought pattern creates emotional hurt and pain. And if the thought pattern is not dealt with by releasing forgiveness to the offending party, then it cogitates underneath the surface in subconscious thinking. And this type of underlying negative thought pattern saps needed physical strength.
I’ve had people over my years of ministry tell me that they are tired all the time. They feel drained of strength. After speaking with these people I have found that often they are carrying a list of grievances in these underlying thought patterns and their emotions are draining them of needed energy. They simply need to practice forgiveness. There’s a lot of wisdom in Ephesians 4:26: Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Each day we should clear our mind and emotions of the offences of others before we go to sleep.
In her book Who Switched Off My Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf from South Africa mentions that thoughts release chemicals into every organ of our body through our central nervous system. She mentions that all thoughts basically come under two categories, faith based or fear based thoughts. She reveals that fear based thinking releases toxic chemicals that coats the cells of our bodies and can eventually make us ill. On the other hand, faith based thinking that trusts God and expects the best; likewise releases helpful chemicals that aid the body and help it resist illness.
Unforgiveness affects our spiritual life. According to Jesus, you can’t go to heaven with it in your life (See Matthew 18:35 and Mark 11:25-26). And unforgiveness affects our physical bodies, hindering the health and healing provided to us by the Father.
Make a choice today to quickly deal with each offence. Readily and freely forgive as the Father through Christ Jesus has forgiven you. You’ll find heaven’s smile, soundness of mind, clearness of emotion, and renewed physical strength when you choose the path of forgiveness!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Forgive Anything Against Anybody!

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and  let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings (Mark 11:25-26 – Amplified).
Forgiving those that commit offences against me releases me from the damage the offence can bring to my future. Unforgiveness affects me, not the person I’m holding the offence against.
My relationship with the Lord is directly affected by my willingness to quickly forgive those who do me wrong. My relationship with others is directly affected by how I deal with those who do me wrong. My relationship with my body is affected by my willingness or unwillingness to forgive. Many diseases have their origin in the stress produced by unforgiveness.
We are to forgive even as God in Christ forgave us. Nothing another person has done or will do to us can come close to the weight of our personal sin debt that we owe to God. He has forgiven us all of our past sins in Christ. We therefore have the obligation to forgive every single offense committed against us by another person. There are no exceptions.
Novels and history books are filled with the resultant harm brought upon individuals and families because of unforgiveness. No person is immune from the devastating effects of unforgiveness in their personal life. Unforgiveness will ruin life, period.
I’ll leave you today with God’s heart to us concerning forgiveness:
Judge not [neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure], and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released (Luke 6:37 – Amplified)
And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32- Amplified).
Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also [forgive] (Colossians 3:13 – Amplified).
A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 – Amplified).

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30 – Amplified).
Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce (Romans 2:1 – Amplified).
Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God's grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it (Hebrews 12:15 – Amplified).
Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time (Hebrews 12:15 – Message).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Grace - God's Ability To Help You Do What You Can't Do Alone!

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in your weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me. So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength) (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Grace is unmerited favor. Another definition of grace that I came across years ago is God’s ability to help you do what you can’t do yourself. Grace helps your inability and your weakness. We’re helpless to save ourselves from our sins so God gives us His grace through faith and we enter the family of God and our sins are cleansed.
Faith changes things and circumstances as we exercise it and stand in the tough times. But grace is directed towards us personally. Faith changes things but grace changes people.
Grace helps me in every small detail of life. Grace quickens, empowers, motives, and changes me. Jesus by the grace of God took our sins and freed us from its wages. When I come to the end of myself and feel whipped, defeated, and powerless, grace enters, lifts me up, and enables me in the impossible circumstance.
Hebrews 4:16 tells us that God’s throne is a throne of grace. We can approach it with boldness to find the necessary strength to face every challenge that life brings our way.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it] (Hebrews 4:16 - Amplified).
Grace is accessed by prayer. Jesus obtained the grace in the garden of Gethsemane during a time of prayer to go to the cross and become our sin.

Scripture reveals that grace enabled Jesus to become our sin and death. What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

That grace, or Divine ability from the Father to help Jesus do what He could not do alone, came through His time of prayer. Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:36-39- NLT). Jesus obtained grace during this prayer time to become our sin, become separated from the Father, go to hell and pay our sin penalty, and then be raised from the dead!

Today, grace, God’s ability to help you do what you can’t do yourself,  is available for every challenge you face. Divine ability is waiting for you to tap into it to help you in family matters, in tense relationships on the job, in situation with your children, or to enable you to conquer a life dominating habit. Let’s approach the throne of grace today and obtain the necessary grace for this day’s challenges. We are never alone. The Father’s ability, strength, wisdom, guidance, life, power, and nature are ours today. It’s called GRACE. Spend some knee time accessing it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Habits Change By Being Replaced!

That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Putting off and putting on are terms Paul used to describe the change in a believers life after salvation because of mind renewal. Before salvation, we’ve trained our bodies to yield to certain appetites, we’ve trained our minds to think in certain ways, and we’ve trained our emotions to act and react certain ways.
Stopping these learned behaviors is called putting off the old man with his deeds. The sin nature that produced appetites, thoughts and emotional responses has been removed by the new birth! We have become new creatures in Christ, and our daily lifestyle must be retrained to yield to this new person that we’ve become inside.
Developing new habits that reflect the new person that we’ve become within is called putting on the new man. This process occurs in us as we feed on the word and purpose to live a life of obedience to God.

A key to putting off and putting on is in understanding the fundamentals of how behavior changes. We can’t stop a habit by constantly refusing to act it out. That keeps the attention on the habit.
Habits change by being replaced. When we make the decision to renew our minds with the Word, we decide to act on what we read and meditate on in scripture.

For instance you read in Ephesians 4:29: Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. You may have had a habit of gossip, negativity, or manipulation with how you talk to others. And, after reading this you become aware of the need to change.

You make a choice that, beginning today, you refuse to allow yourself to speak any hurtful words to or about others. You confess to the Father your lack of edifying speech, and ask for His grace to help you.

Then you meditate and think on this scripture over and over again for a period of time. And you may find that you still slip up and say things that shouldn’t be said. When you catch yourself, you repent before the Father for what you just said, and ask for His grace to change your speech.

Just keep that process up. Every time you slip up with your words, catch yourself, repent, and choose to acknowledge that the Father is changing this area of life. After a period of time the entrenched habit of hurtful speech will be broken and replaced by a habit of blessing with your words.
At first, it’s hit and miss. You may take a step forward and then a step backward. The key is persistence. Just keep on meditating in the word, and acting on it by repenting when you miss it with your words, and soon you’ll be catching yourself just before you begin the tirade of negative speech.

This principle of putting off the old man by putting on the new man works in every area of life. Worry, fear, doubt, lusts, self-centeredness, anger, and every other hurtful behavior can be changed by allowing the grace of God to work by 1) catching yourself after you do something, 2) repenting before the Father and asking for His grace to overcome this habit  and 3) mentioning to yourself  (meditating) specific scripture that show how you would rather behave.

Behavior is changed just this way. You challenge it before the fact, repent, and mention out loud scripture that show how you want to behave. Eventually, instead of after you’ve finished the behavior, you’ll start catching it right in the middle of performing it! And, as you continue to put off and put on by catching yourself, repenting, and mentioning what you know you should do, you will at some point catch yourself before you even commit the offense! At that point, the power of the habit has been broken! You have successfully put off the old man and put on the new man in Christ.
Putting off the old man and putting on the new man is a process that continues throughout our lives as we grow in Christ. His plan is that by the time Jesus comes for us, we act just like Him in our thoughts, our words, and in our responses to others!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

God's Plans For You Are Bigger Than Your Weaknesses!

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:25-29).
It’s not talent, skill, mental acumen, or social standing that causes God to place His anointing upon our lives. It’s faithful, obedient hearts that catch His gaze. Regardless of what “side of the tracks” we come from, in the kingdom of God there are no special privileges due to social or financial standing, or even natural abilities.
What the Father does in us and through us is all a work of His grace of which we cannot boast. He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.
God has a purpose for you as a member of the body of Christ. That purpose is not rooted in your natural heritage or background, and does not depend on natural strengths. That purpose was programmed into you from eternity past when God planned your life.
Moses was a murderer with a stuttering problem at age forty and years later was called by God to lead his generation. David was a shepherd little known by his fellow man. Joseph was ridiculed by his brothers and sold as a slave and did prison time. Amos was a farmer. Elisha was called from the back of a plow to lead a nation spiritually. Peter was unstable, but used by God to lead the church after the resurrection of Jesus. Paul was one of the most educated men of his day but counted his education as a pile of trash compared to knowing Jesus.
When God called me, I was an awkward introvert with no plan for my life. None of us can trust who we are in the flesh, talented or unskilled. It’s the power and grace of God that make us what we are in the family of God. So we can’t boast of anything God does through us. We’re merely the pipeline for the glory of God to be revealed to our generation through the good news of the gospel.
Don’t allow who you are naturally, good or bad, strong or weak, to keep you from the glorious things that the Father has called you to do. You’re His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has planned for you to fulfill. Don’t look at yourself or you’ll get discouraged; don’t look at others or you’ll envy and compare; but look unto Jesus. He’s the beginning and ending of all you are and all He’s called you to do.