Archive for the Word of the Day Category

Ask

Luke 4: 38 – 40

And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. And while the sun was setting, all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on every one of them, He was healing them.

We all know about Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10: 38). What strikes me here is that Jesus wasn’t going around looking for someone to do good to. In these few verses there are two examples of people receiving healing. In neither case, though, did Jesus seek them out.

Jesus had been in the synagogue. When he and his disciples left there, they went to Peter’s house. “They,” whoever they may be, asked Jesus to minister to Peter’s sick mother-in-law. What would Jesus have done if no one had asked him to minister to her?

In the second scenario, Jesus may have been enjoying his after dinner cup of coffee when people began showing up at Peter’s front door. Again, Jesus didn’t go out looking for someone to pray for. People asked for prayer, for ministry. I am not suggesting that we should not initiate prayer or to be purposeful about praying for people. The point of this message is to observe Jesus and learn from him. Why didn’t he offer to pray for Peter’s mother-in-law? After dinner, why didn’t he go sit in the town square and call out to people? There may be something going on here.

In Matthew, chapter nine, we read about the woman who “had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak,” (Matthew 9: 20). She was instantly healed. Jesus didn’t seek her out either, but she had been “saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well,’” (Matthew 9: 21). The woman initiated contact with Jesus. She pressed through the crowd to touch his garment believing that she would be healed with that touch. Jesus, realizing that power had gone out from him turned around and “seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well,” (Matthew 9: 22).

What is going on here? I think there is an important lesson for us to learn. Jesus said it in John 16: 24, “Ask and you will receive.” From his brother we learn, “You do not have because you do not ask,” (James 4: 2). I have been amazed at the reluctance people have shown to asking for prayer. If Jesus came to town, would we shake of our lethargy and actually seek prayer? People will tell me the incredible challenges they have gone through and I will think, “We have a prayer line on our website, why don’t people ask for prayer?” What is going on in our cultures that was not present during Jesus’ time? Is our attitude the result of the protestant reformation? Since we each have a direct pipeline to God, have we determined that we do not need to ask other people for prayer? Even knowing that I am a pastor, few people come to me and ask me to pray for them. Almost none ask me to lay hands on them for healing? Is this simply because we have not taught people to ask?

Well, I am teaching today! Ask! Are you sick? Do you have need of any healing for your body, mind, emotions? Ask. In the examples above, the people brought their faith for healing in their request. The woman with the hemorrhage demonstrated her faith, actually used her faith, to reach out to Jesus. Others went to Jesus seeking healing because they had faith that they would receive. He didn’t seek them out. They sought him. That was the measure of faith. Perhaps we ask not because we have no faith for healing. Perhaps we don’t ask because we are arrogant, or maybe bashful. On the one hand one might feel he can pray as well as anyone else. On the other hand, one may be too shy to ask. Here I am saying today, “Ask.” You have not because you ask not.

Be persistent. Be tenacious. Be determined to receive everything Jesus promised. It is not always easy to receive your answer. I know that but, sitting in the recliner complaining is probably not the answer either. Get in front of every preacher you know and ask them to lay hands on you and pray. Get your friends to anoint you with oil and pray. Go to our prayer line at Ivey Ministries (http://iveyministries.org/prayer-request/). Do something. God wants you whole too. Reach out to others and ask them for prayer. If you have already prayed about something and have not received the answer then get out of your comfort zone and ask someone to pray for you. Slay apathy and be a doer of the Word. Tug on Jesus’ robe and demand the promises fulfilled in your life. His answer is yes, but first, you have to ask.

His Will

Romans 12: 2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

I heard the Father saying in my head to do today’s Word of the Day on Romans 12: 2. I responded, “Dad, I know what that verse says. I have written on it several times and I don’t have anything to say about it.” None the less, I went and read it again. It’s what you do when Yahweh speaks. And guess what, I do hear something to convey. He said, I want people to know my will and here is one of the ways I have taught you to know my will. Good point.

I usually think of this verse as “the” transformation verse. Of course, it is also about non-conformity with the world. I don’t meditate enough, apparently, on the proving His will part, but there it is, as plain as you like. Sure, the first direction is to avoid conforming to the ways of the world. Second, we accomplish that through transformation. Third, transformation is achieved through the renewal of our minds. By now we also know that the renewal of our minds comes through the Word. There is a fourth part, through transformation, you will know and prove the perfect will of God. How, though, how are we to prove the will of God in our lives?

The answer is that it is in this transformation process. As we renew our minds with the Word of God, we flush out the perfect will of God. We begin to see a pattern emerge in His Word.  Additionally, the transformation of ourselves makes us more sensitive to the Kingdom of God around us. We become more sensitive to God’s voice within us and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We become tuned into our own spirits so that we perceive spiritual concepts, some of which come so naturally to us that we wonder why we didn’t see them before.

As long as we conform to the ways of the world, we are going to miss out on the perfect will of God for our lives. That is a huge statement. Conformity to the world subtracts from our lives. People often speculate what they will have to give up to become a Christian. They ought to be asking, what am I forsaking by living without Christ as my Lord. We Christians should ask ourselves a similar question, what do we forego by living in conformity to the world. Are we allowing ourselves to be transformed or do our lives pretty much look like the lives of our unsaved friends? What makes us any different from them apart from Sunday and Easter? Do we behave in similar ways? Do we have the same values? Do we solve problems the same way? Do we rely on our intellect or on our Father? Are we any more guided by God’s spirit than they? Here is the way I want to ask the question, and I hope it makes sense, “Is the fabric of our lives substantially different from an unsaved person?” It’s not a matter of going to church or even reading a daily devotional. It really is all about this personal, intimate relationship with the Father that comes through the transformation process. It is a management issue. How do you manage each minute of your day? Is it as a member of a partnership with God or are you a sole proprietor making all the decisions and bearing all of the responsibility?

God wants to wash your mind with His Word so that He can, with you, show His perfect will in and through your life. He wants people to know that you have a God of power and blessing who is constantly at work in your life. He wants to demonstrate His glory through proving His perfect will in you. You are His masterpiece but He has not completed the painting. His will is to finish His grand work by adding more color and glory to your life. Here is the rub, though. It comes through transformation. It is arrived at through non-conformity with the world. You are unique and rare and it is His will to show you off and to show off His glory on you.

Be transformed. Renew your mind and allow the good, acceptable and glorious will of the Lord be seen in you.

Prayerful Meditation

Jeremiah 29: 12 – 14

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes.’

Yesterday we talked about delighting yourself in the Lord and meditating on His Word day and night. This morning I was thinking about that. I said that the words from Joshua 1:8 should be proclaimed routinely and loudly. As I meditated on this very thing this morning, I thought, if there is one piece of advice I would give it is to soak in the Word, but then I questioned myself as to why. Here is the answer I found for myself.

If someone were to ask me what the most important thing about Christianity is, I would say a close and personal relationship with the three persons of the trinity. However, that begs the question, how does one develop that intimate relationship. We are all different with different strengths. Some people connect with the Father more intimately through prayer, some through meditation. There are those who reach their most connected point in rituals while others reach God through the Bible. These are all good and proper ways to connect with God and we should all participate in all forms of communion with God.

The Lord teaches us by His own words how to connect with Him through this verse. After my meditation this morning I was a bit surprised to open my Bible and find this passage staring at me. Jeremiah 29: 11 is famous. It is God’s declaration that He has good plans for you and your future. It is of interest, though, that the next words out of His mouth are about seeking Him. He even promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Notice, however, that we must seek Him with our hearts, and not only that but with all of our heart. He wants to connect you to His good plans for you but you must connect with Him first.

So, what does this have to do with yesterday’s verse and the Word? If someone asked what one thing I would advise them to do to develop their relationship with God would be, I would advise them according to Joshua 1: 8, read your Bible and meditate therein. There is a reason God gave that Word of wisdom to Joshua. In the Word we find God. I believe in prayer, don’t think I don’t, but the Word is our anchor and our beacon. For persons who will develop into prayer warriors, they get their foundation first from the Word. It is where we find God as we develop into the people we will be. It is, therefore, where I would start everyone. For the visionaries, the Word becomes their anchor. We want those people doing what they are gifted to do but they must be tethered in God’s reality. Those who are easily bound to routine will find all kinds of experiences in the Word, the explainable yet unassailable.

We cannot leave the wisdom of God aside. As you grow in the things of God, learn to pray, learn to meditate, develop your visionary capacity, engage with your angels but forget not the Word. Do not set aside the one piece of advice Yahweh gave Joshua when he had to take over leadership of the nation of Israel, meditate in the Word day and night. Then add today’s verse to that, seek the Lord with all your heart and you will find Him. Pray to Him and He will listen. It is His promise to you. Pray and meditate over the Word. Allow God to reveal His hidden mysteries. Call upon Him, seek Him and receive of His great and wonderful bounty.

Chief Advisor

Psalm 1: 2

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

Verse two of the first psalm is also part two of the road map for blessing. Yesterday we saw that to live in the blessing we should not take counsel from the wicked, sinners nor should we abide scoffers. Part two shows us the affirmative side of positioning ourselves for the rain of the blessing. It says delight in the law of the Lord and meditate therein night and day.

It turns out, then, that the pathway to the blessing is in the scriptures. It is the road map. We are advised to meditate on it day and night receiving, therefore, our advice from the Lord rather than from people, especially people who are not walking in the blessing of the Lord.

Jesus is the Word, so it makes perfect sense, in this light, that the way to the blessing would be through him. I don’t think most of us appreciate the value of this advice. This is the same advice God gave Joshua when Joshua had to fill Moses’ shoes. “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success,” (Joshua 1: 8). This is such a great verse! I am surprised that we don’t hear it shouted from the rooftops and in sermon after sermon. Why do you suppose that is the case? God is the speaker in this verse and He is giving His best advice to Joshua. I don’t think you can do much better than Yahweh as your advisor.

The psalmist reiterates the Godly wisdom which was handed down through generations of Jews. Meditate in God’s Word and be blessed. Can it be that simple? We can test the theory and find out for ourselves.

Blessed Counsel

Psalm 1: 1

How blessed is the . . ..

Psalm 1, a very good place to start. Most of you realize the psalms are songs. As such they have a different tone and complexion from the rest of scripture. The psalms contain many special messages and they often minister straight to the heart, completely bypassing the intellect.

I am struck by the first words of the first Psalm. I participate in a conference call where we are learning about the blessing. How interesting that the first words of the first psalm are about the blessing. The songwriter is going to tell us how people live in the blessing of God. What comes next? How can we each be amongst the blessed of God?

Here is the first verse in its entirety: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” The first thing we learn about walking in the blessing is what not to do. So, what is this bit of wisdom. First, don’t take your advice from the wicked. I used to think this meant not to take advice from non-Christians. So, I endeavored to hire Christians for everything. However, I made a dazzling discovery. Some of the non-Christians were more ethical than the Christians I was working with. Jesus said we will know the wicked by their fruit. So now I have learned to be a fruit inspector. I would prefer to work with Christians but sometimes my light is better displayed by its exposure to those who need to see Christ alive. Also, the salvation prayer does not include a transformation button. We all have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12). That means that our transformation isn’t automatic. Romans 12: 2 reads, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformation is a process. It would be wonderful if there was an automatic transformation but there isn’t. Everyone has to work on becoming the Christ like person God ordained. Checking people’s fruit is a check on their journey so far and their ethics is a part of that journey. So, we are instructed not to take our counsel from the wicked which means we must be certain that the people we look to are worthy to lead us on a right path.

That is true of the next statement as well. Do not conspire or plan with sinners. Who are the sinners? Does that mean limit us to Christians? I wish. Don’t hang out with people who practice sin regardless of their Christian affiliation. Choose to be with people who are endeavoring to live above sin. Jesus gave us his life and victory so that we can be free of the chains of sin but not all who have asked Jesus into their lives have broken the chains of sin. Be wise. Check their fruit.

Last, do not be a scoffer nor associate with people who are. This is a pretty big deal, actually. Scoffers are those who jeer, mock, are contemptuous, and speak derisively. These are people you need to stay away from. I think also of people who are generally negative, contrary and critical. We all have a tendency towards being scoffers at times, but you know there is a difference between occasional slipups and a pattern of behavior.

This first psalm points us towards the blessing. In so doing it alerts us to some easy missteps. If you want to live in the blessing you can’t take your advice from wicked people, scoffers or sinners. Of course, this makes sense. These people cannot point you to the blessing. They cannot teach you or counsel you in how to walk in blessing. They can only teach what they know which is scoffing, wickedness, and sin. None of those are in the blessing. Don’t hire these people, don’t take their advice, don’t let them lead you – even if they do have a fish on their business card or are related to you. Take your counsel from people whose fruit would please Jesus.

Prayer Cover

Colossians 1: 3

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.

It is important that we pray for each other as we see in the example Paul set for us. We need each other’s support. Jesus said that while we are in this world we will have trials but to take heart because he has conquered the world (John 16: 33). We do not have to crumble at the trials of the world because he has triumphed. He has provided the way for us to triumph over the challenges of the world. One of the tools we have is prayer. We can pray for our own needs and that is good but sooner or later we learn to get out of our little sphere and pray for others. As you sow prayer into the lives of others, you sow into the Kingdom of God. This is a continuing message of sowing and reaping because all of the Kingdom of God works by this principle. And as we sow, we also reap. We do the work of God and God takes care of our needs. As you spend your time planting seeds for the betterment of others, God is at work in your life. As you pray for others, you are forced to turn your mind off of yourself for a moment. That allows God to work for you because you have released your care for your own issues for a time.

Also know that I, following Paul’s example, pray for you every day. Everyone who receives these daily emails gets covered by prayer. Likewise, pray for me, all of you. As you pray for me and keep me built up, I have more to pour out to you. That is how it works. As we support each other, we are each edified more than if we just pray for ourselves.

Love & Fear

2 Timothy 1: 7

For God, has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

If God has not given us a spirit of fear, then from where do you suppose it came? Who did give it to us? Bingo! Fear is a weapon from the enemy’s camp. God gave you a spirit of power. He gave you His love and He gave you a sound mind. A mind that is consumed with fear is not from God. Jesus came so that you could be free from such torment.

God’s love inside of you produces power and soundness of mind. It is a shield and protection. That is not to say that you will not be attacked with the weapon of fear. Satan knows well that he can really sidetrack us with fear. Fear causes you to take your mind off of Yahweh and Jesus. It causes you to meditate on the bad things that “could” happen when you should be meditating on the promises of God. You can choose God’s Word over Satan’s lies. It is not always easy but we need to grow. When you are attacked, do just what Jesus did. Confess God’s Word right out loud. If it is a Dr.’s report that is worrisome, then attack that fear with God’s Word that He, God, sent His Word and healed you (Psalm 107: 20). Or that the stripes that Jesus bore for us were for our healing and that by those stripes you are healed (1 Peter 2: 5).

Know that God is not the author of fear but rather that He has sent to you His spirit. There is power, love and a sound mind plus all the wisdom you need for every situation in God’s spirit.

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