Word of the Day

Heads Up

Psalm 3: 3                   KJV

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

Do you remember the old song written from this verse? It has really been running through my head lately. I think I saw it better the other day than ever before. Proclaiming God as the lifter of my head never really meant that much to me until I realized that people who are sad, under pressure or in trouble literally go around with their head down. That is when it struck me that our Father carries the weight of our trials and comforts us so that we are no longer bowed down.

There is the story, in Luke 13: 11, of a woman who was plagued by an evil spirit for eighteen years. This woman was hunched over so that she could not stand up straight. In other words, she was bowed over. We believe that story was about a disabling spirit which tormented her with a physical disease, but one can also imagine a person who is bowed over from the cares of the world. Perhaps their worries are plentiful or have been ongoing for a long period of time and the weight of those troubles have bowed their shoulders.

Our God is the remedy for these woes. He does not intend that we stay bowed over in torment, as seen in Jesus’ response to the woman that was bowed over, “When Yeshua (Jesus) saw her, He called out to her and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your disability.’ Then He laid hands on her, and instantly she stood up straight and began praising God,” (Luke 13: 12 – 13 TLV). I like her response too, don’t you? She began to praise God because she knew Him as the source of her healing.

The same manifestation of God’s grace is available today. Our Father is still our shield and He still is the one who lifts our head when we are under the weather or under pressure. He heals our minds, restores our bodies and comforts our souls. He is the source of all goodness in the universe and, therefore, should be the first person to whom we turn.

As you begin your morning, renew your mind to this old truth. Remember today that God is with you. Put Him out in front of you so He can shield you from the enemy even as He guards your heart.

Gold Digger

Isaiah 45: 3

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.

I am reading When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. In Chapter 3 the author writes about gold being hidden in rock. That phrase excited my imagination. The precept this idea left with me is that things of value must be dug out.

Think about it for a moment. Do we value gold, silver and precious stones because they are hidden and thus, hard to acquire? Or are they hidden because they are precious? It seems true that those things which we work for are more valuable to us than those which come to us easily.

Look at this interesting passage from the Proverbs, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter,” (Proverb 25: 2). God has hidden His precious jewels. It is not that He doesn’t want us to have them. In fact, it is quite the opposite. He has put them away, in a safe place, for us. Do we not do the same thing? If you have something precious that you wish your child or grandchild to have, what do you do with it? You put it in safe keeping. You don’t leave it lying around where it can become lost, damaged or misplaced. You certainly do not put it where any random person could walk away with it. In the same way, our father has stored up His wisdom for us. Paul wrote “We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory,” (1 Corinthians 2: 7). God predestined all His wisdom and knowledge for us.

Bill Johnson wrote, “Some things are only discovered by the desperate, (Chapter 3, p. 39). There is truth to that, isn’t there? I think sometimes our largest liability is our comfort. While some people who read this Word of the Day live in desperate circumstances, many of us are comfortable, perhaps too comfortable. We are not desperate for change enough that we labor to dig out the golden nuggets God has stored up for us.

“There’s gold in them there hills,” is a well-known declaration. So where are the mountains where we mine gold? I am continually amazed at the gems in the Bible. For those of us who do not read the Old Testament often, we are really missing some of the greatest of all jewels. However, there is even richer territory than the Word. What? Did I really write that? Well, lest your heart fail you, the Word is the map to this richest of all gold veins. I am referring to the inspired Word of God.

God speaks directly to our hearts and minds. He has not gone mute in the last two centuries. He is still speaking today. Really, learning to hear His voice speaking directly to each of us is one of the most precious finds of all. If my experience is any judge, this blessing does not come easily to all people. I had to desperately seek God in order to have my ears opened. It was completely worth everything I did to find His voice. Now, I read the Word with Him. He, and His Spirit, lead me and instruct me as I read. It is just as though they tell me where to dig. “There is gold in them there Scriptures, Ivey. Dig here.” Some days I find it difficult to get through a chapter because the Holy Spirit reveals so much from a single sentence, or indeed, from a single word.

I wish to encourage you to seek God desperately. Seek Him with all your heart and with all your might. Seek Him as if your life depends on it. Get into the Word and begin to dig out the golden nuggets that are hidden there for you. The jewels are for those who purpose to find them. For once, it is good to be called a Gold Digger.

Lovers of God

2 Timothy 3: 1 – 5

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

This is the second half of yesterday’s scripture. The unholy truth of this passage is that Paul wrote to Timothy about believers. He wrote specifically about people who were supposed to be, even professed to be, lovers of God yet they loved pleasure more than they loved God. Sound familiar? Again, we are living in these days. We want all the creature comforts. There is no problem with that, but we are to love God more and seek Him rather than seeking the comforts. That is where we sometimes fail.

We know and believe that our God makes us prosperous (Deuteronomy 8: 18). We have believed and because we do, we ask God to give us the new car, new phone, etc. We follow the patriarchs who were rich, but we have missed one bit of their success. Their prosperity was embedded in their seeking out of God. We have loved the goods more than we love the one who is good. Our hearts seem to have grown cold. Our zeal for God has waned. However, Christ is alive and we can stir up that devotion and adoration for the Father, Son and Spirit.

Then there are those who “hold to a form of godliness” though they deny the power which should accompany all who believe. To my great chagrin, that statement describes the modern church. We have lost our passion for God and we have begun to live a weak form of Christianity though I stumble over the word for is it true that we are even living a Christian lifestyle when there is no faith, no power and no passion for God? Who are we? If we are as Paul describes, then I mourn for us and for the church. Paul told Timothy to avoid people like that?

Why do believers deny the power of God? Are we afraid, lazy, content? Do we worship at the altar of “being busy” so that we do not have to expend the energy to learn faith and to walk in it? When was the last faith project we stood for? In denying the power of God, do we not deny God Himself?

The sinful behaviors are problematic only because we have lost our zeal for God. Those who would serve God with all their hearts are saved from the passions of their flesh. They are raised up in the glory and power of the Holy Spirit to a life of love for the Lord. We have become a people who don’t know how to give worthy praise to our Father because we have lost our passion. We make deals and contracts with the Father as if we have something worthy of a bargain. We hear less about serving a benevolent Father than perhaps we should, but pastors know well that we want to hear about what God will do for us. Sermons about what we should do for the Father are not popular.

None the less, I cry out to the Father, who is King and the great architect, to revive our souls. Stir up our passion, O Lord, so that we become a people who gratefully serve you and for whom the appetites of today’s scriptural passage hold no sway. Give us a heart of deep desire for you. Mold us into true believers, and Father, honor those who are serving you with all their heart. Lead the rest of us, Holy Spirit, into a passion filled life in Christ Jesus. Amen!

Lip Tripping

2 Timothy 3: 1 – 3

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips.

Well, this verse alone ought to convince us we are in the last days. Paul warned us that difficult times would come. What is interesting is that, for the most part, the behaviors listed in these verses are not even reviled in our modern culture. For the most part, all of these, previously detestable, acts are accepted. These truths strike grief in the heart.

Worry not, however. God is in the business of transforming hearts. He remakes us into the beautiful creatures of design. The world has stained and molded us but God, through Jesus, has restored us to His glory. Wherever sin and evil abound, God’s grace does so even more (Romans 5: 20).

Obviously, this is a list of behaviors that are abhorrent to God. These are signs that we are falling into destruction, signs of decay. It is worth a moment to re-read the list and ponder the deeds which God has highlighted as signs of our downfall. Each is a lesson in itself but I want to focus on one in particular because most of us fall into this trap and must be reminded that God finds this habit repulsive.

Gossip makes God’s list of reprehensible acts, acts that are indicative of the decadent and fallen state of humanity. The concern that challenges me most is that I am just as guilty in this regard as any unsaved heathen in the world. Really, how many Christians fall into the trap of gossiping? The answer is sure to alarm us. The truth is, though none wants to say, and no one wants to hear it, gossip is a sin.

How would you define gossip? We normally think of it as talking about a third person in a way that is not edifying to them, although gossip doesn’t edify us either. The Jews have a clear perspective, one that informs my thinking. They teach the doctrine of Loshon Hora. In a general sense it means malignant or derogatory speech about another. Paying close attention to this description, it becomes clear that the speech can be true and yet still be prohibited. It is speech which, even if true, tends to cause harm or potential harm to the person about whom the speech refers. In other words, gossip.

In this I will say, as Paul once did, I am chief among sinners. I know, however, that I am not alone. This is a good time to remind ourselves that talking about others is detrimental to ourselves and harmful to the reputations of others. We should, in the least, be concerned about the stain we leave on our own spirits by spewing vileness from our lips.

The cure is simple. Just don’t tell tales about others. Don’t talk about others. If we take advice from the Word, we would practice “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5: 19). We should talk about the Lord and glorify His name rather than run down the name of others. Do it for yourself. Edify yourself by speaking holy words rather than gossip. It is important for your sake.

If you really wish to edify yourself, look up the doctrine of loshon hora, Google it. You will be surprised. Some describe it as evil speech and claim it to be even worse than murder, immorality or idolatry. Also, for a brief discussion, see my book Journey Through the Bible, chapter 64 (this book may be purchased at: http://iveyministries.org/product/journey-through-the-bible/.)

Divinely Employed

Ephesians 6: 7 – 8

With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

Not everyone has a pleasant job situation and even when you do, there is always some task you prefer not doing. God has made a way for us to endure the unpleasant tasks in our lives. Do your work as if you are doing it for the Lord. As we read through the rest of the verse we see that we actually are doing everything we do for the Lord. He is the rewarder of all we do. I also like to think of doing it with Him or Him with me. You see, every part of everyday can become part of your time with the Lord. You can move through your day with Him following along with you all day long. That is a good way to live.

God sees everything you do. That can either be good news or bad news, I suppose, but I take comfort in His being with me in everything. When you develop a consciousness of His being a part of everything you do, then you automatically want to do it to the best of your ability so that He may be proud of you. We should never do shoddy work of any sort. We should always provide excellence in what we do. Disregard from now on whether you like your boss or not. Disregard your feelings about the sufficiency of your pay check. The real consideration is, will your heavenly Father be pleased with what you have produced? If the answer is, “Yes,” then it is up to Him to pay you for good work.

Lay Down

John 14: 21

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.

Here is a motivational scripture for you. Would you like for Jesus to disclose himself to you? And don’t we all want to be loved by the Father? Jesus has broken this down into simple terms for us. Keep His commandments, be doers of His Word and you will have all of Jesus as your own. He will make His life with you; His home with you. He will be your ever present companion; your ready aide. He will fill your heart with love and your life with power and goodness.

As is typical with the things of God, though, the first step is ours. We see that the will of God is to come and make His abode with us, but we must do those things which allow Him His desire. Namely, we must keep His commandments. This is not difficult to figure out though it can be difficult to perform. Jesus made it simple. Love the Father with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love other people even as He, Jesus, has loved us. How did Jesus love us? “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 12). Since Jesus was willing to lay down His life for us, ought we be willing to lay down something for our friends? Can we learn to lay aside our egos and self-interest? Can we lay aside some time? Maybe we can give out of our busy schedules, time to someone who needs a hand with something. Perhaps we can lay aside for a short time that which is important to us so that we can do something for someone else. God is not asking us to go to the cross, but He is asking you to lay down part of your life for someone else. Maybe it is just an hour to go visit a friend. Maybe a friend with the flu could use some home cooking. It really doesn’t matter what God is asking you to do, but Jesus has made it clear that it is the expression of love that He wants from His disciples. When we show our love to God’s beloved, we show also our love for God.

Armored Fruit

Proverb 3: 3

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Within this short, little passage we have the makings of greatness. First of all, there is the command quality of the statement. It is a declarative sentence. It makes a statement, not a suggestion. Here wisdom is speaking; a wise father telling His kids what to do so that they will experience success. There is also a promise attached which is in the next verse. It promises favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man if you will keep truth and kindness as your trademarks.

The command alone should be enough to compel us but if the command does not, the promise certainly should. Yet there is more. In this little verse we also see the application of the fruit of the Spirit and the armor of God. You see, kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). Truth is part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 14). Here God has combined his armor with the fruit of the Spirit. Your protection and success are here. God is leading us into success in all areas of our lives by teaching us to walk according to the Spirit instead of walking according to the flesh. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The fruit will protect you from the lusts of the flesh. You have to decide to live by the Spirit though.

Secondly, God wants to protect you with His armor. Again, though, it is your decision to walk by truth instead of deceit. You have to choose to put on His armor. Then His protection surrounds you and you can call on all of His angels to reinforce you. Kindness and Truth will go before you like a guard. When you out of an act of your will, choose to operate in Kindness and in Truth, then you are marshaling the forces of God into your ranks as your soldiers. If you lie and deceive or behave unkindly, you are using the weapons of the enemy and you will defeat yourself.

God would have you wear kindness and truth close to you, even inscribe them on your heart. He wants you to do this so that He can cover you with His favor and bring all His blessings to your house. Don’t let the devil deceive you into lying and or being unkind. Don’t let him steal your blessings from you.

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