Presence

Hebrews 13: 5                  Passion Translation

Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!”

I was listening to some old music the other day when Desperado by the Eagles played. I was only half listening, but this line grabbed my attention, “Your prison is walking through this world all alone.” I reacted, “How true but we need never be alone.” Our Father has promised to be with us always, and He is.

The Amplified Bible is even more effusive on this point, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” How do you like that? By no means, will He ever leave you or forsake you, not even for a moment. Now you might say privately, “I don’t think God is always with me. I don’t feel Him or see Him.” Many people would agree with you. We seldom have a consciousness of “God with us.” Here is where your theology comes to a test and you have to make a decision. In what do you place your trust, what you feel or what the Word says. You are not alone if you do not feel that God is always with you. Many people believe this Bible promise intellectually but their hearts are unconvinced. You may believe it but you still feel alone at times.

Living the Bible is very different from believing it. Further, there are levels of what we call belief. At the first level, we mentally accept or agree. In other words, there is no conflict in your mind about what the Word says. That is not to say, however, that your heart holds these to be absolute truths. At this first level your mind engages in simple acceptance and that is all. The second level is when your mind is convinced. You become intellectually, mentally persuaded that the Word is true on a given point. That’s great! Your mind begins to become a strong tool for you. At this level, though, your heart may still call you a liar. A good example of this is when you believe what the Word says about healing. Your mind is intellectually persuaded that “by his stripes you are healed.” You know the scriptures on healing and feel very strong about them. However, your heart is still calling you a liar. It says, “Sure you believe that but I am still sick.” You will find an internal conflict if you pay attention to it.

That is where you may be with this idea that God is always with you. If you believe that in your heart, you will never be lonely. In fact, you will begin to develop a very strong sense of God with you. For example, even when you are “alone” you may excuse yourself for a rudeness. This is where your consciousness of “God with you” has trumped all other information. Another example of your God consciousness is when you find yourself speaking to Him, not praying mind you, just speaking as if He is walking along with you.

Ultimately, the test of this scripture is whether or not it will prevail in your life. Will you come to KNOW God is with you all the time or will these be words that you accept without debate but do not live. I pray you know God with you. I hope you increasingly have the sense that He is with you every moment. And, I pray you derive much comfort from that truth.

Non-profit

Hebrews 4: 2

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

God’s Word is powerful and has the ability to set people free from any enslaving condition or circumstance. Only, however, if they mix the Word with faith. It is faith which energizes the Word you hear. Think about that for a moment. Do you remember the story about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed? Jesus said of her, “Your faith has made you well,” (Matthew 9: 22). She mixed her faith with the Word she had heard.

Apparently, she had heard about Jesus and the great works he performed. She probably had heard about other people being made well. I imagine her friends had heard this same news. They probably sat around discussing him. Things were different for her though. She took hold of the good news that was preached about Jesus and she mixed it with faith saying, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well,” (v. 21). What makes the difference between people like her who receive God’s miracles and those who don’t?

The God’s Word translation shows today’s verse in a light which answers that question. “We have heard the same Good News that your ancestors heard. But the message didn’t help those who heard it in the past because they didn’t believe.” Many people have heard the good news preached. Many have read the words in the Bible. Not all believe. One time I heard a pastor say from the pulpit that the miracle of feeding the five thousand was not as represented. His explanation of feeding the multitude was that the good women in that crowd were smart enough to pack provisions and they, therefore, fed the crowd. He is a preacher, but he is not a believer. He doesn’t believe the Bible. So, he is not going to reap the blessings of the Bible.

God said that He sent His Word and healed them, (Psalm 107: 20). His Word healed. All God had to do was send the Word. The Word did the rest. It heals, saves, delivers, restores, blesses, leads, and anything else we need.

The Word can work for any one of us too. However, we need to believe it like the woman in Matthew 9. It takes more than one reading or one message. Those who receive have thought about the Word until their hearts are assured. They are beyond persuasion having passed over into convinced. That same belief and victory is available to each one of us. Spend some time with the Word and with the Father and persuade yourself to belief.

The Book of Jesus

Luke 24: 27

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

The backstory here is that it is the third day after the crucifixion. Mary and several of the other women went early in the morning to Jesus’ tomb. They found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. There appeared unto them angels who told them Jesus was risen. The women raced back to tell the apostles and others of Jesus’ followers that Jesus had arisen. Later, two of the men from this group went to Emmaus. In route, they encountered a man whom they did not recognize. He asked them about all they were discussing. They were amazed he didn’t know the news about Jesus. So, they told him the story about Jesus and the crucifixion and what the women discovered that same morning. They also told him of their disappointment because they had hoped and believed that Jesus would be the savior of Israel. Then the man revealed himself to them and it was he, Jesus. He responded, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (vs. 25 – 26). He was, himself, disappointed for the prophets had foretold these very circumstances yet the men did not understand. Therefore, Jesus explained all these things to them beginning with Moses and continuing through all the prophets.

The entire book of the Bible speaks of Jesus. It is all about him. Sometimes it may be a bit like an Easter egg hunt, but he is there. That is why publishers are still putting all those Old Testament books in our Christian Bible. It is the story of Jesus. The two men on the road to Emmaus revealed they did not know the stories or at least that they didn’t understand them. Jesus accused them of unbelief. Worse, he called them foolish for not recognizing the connection between him and all the prophecies.

We have the benefit of historical perspective, we know Jesus as Messiah. I think, though, that we don’t always see him in the richness of the culture into which he was born. It is hard for us to see him in the context of the time, location and his ancestry. Reading about Israel and Judah reveal some of Jesus because these were his people and their traditions were the traditions Jesus was born into and lived by. The Old Testament writers give us a glimpse into the lives of the Jews. It is exciting to know Jesus and then read a prophecy about him.  From our perspective we can see how it came true.

Of course, the New Testament is all about Jesus and the New Covenant he established for us. So how do we relate to it. It is much easier for us because we have been coached in the New Testament and because Jesus is unveiled in those books. Still, there is a haunting refrain which calls out to us from today’s passage that we must consider. The men Jesus encountered on the road were some of his own followers. They knew him personally. Even though they knew him and followed him while he was alive, Jesus perceived them as slow to believe. We think if we lived in Jesus’ time, we would be true believers, but we are in danger of being called slow of heart too. There is much to challenge us in the life of Jesus. I heard a minister preach that the feeding of the 5000 was not a miracle but that instead, it was the work of the women who were always prepared. There is a perfect example of someone who doesn’t actually believe the Bible, not even New Testament text.

I wrote on Wednesday that we must be diligent to challenge ourselves. We must confront these passages and decide if we are going to believe them or if we will reason away what they say. What does it take to be a believer? Can we go the next step and accept that what the Bible says is not only true but that it is applicable to our lives? Jesus said we could have whatever we believe so now we must press ourselves to believe big and even expect big. That is the calling of the gospel.

Believe

Matthew 8: 13

And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very hour.

A Roman soldier, a centurion, asked Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus offered to go to the centurion’s home saying, “I will come and heal him.” The officer did not feel worthy for Jesus to come under his roof but understood that if Jesus just said the word, his servant would be healed. He believed the servant would be healed if Jesus granted it, even from afar. We know the officer believed that what he asked Jesus would be done for him because Jesus said, let it be done to you as you have believed. We also know, the servant was healed. Therefore, the Roman soldier, believed.

In Mark 11: 24 Jesus said, “Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.” He taught the lesson in this chapter of Mark, but he showed it in application in Matthew. This is the same principle. If we will believe, we shall receive. God isn’t holding out on us. He is just looking for some believers.

It is great that people pray. However, most of us pray hoping rather than believing. We are called to believe and trust that whatever we pray we shall receive. The anointing of Jesus and his Spirit are right there in the room with you. All of the universe is subject to the word of Jesus which he has given you. If you understand that everything is subject to him and that he has given you his authority, then it should make it quite a bit easier to believe.

Don’t look at yourself. Don’t get involved with whether or not you are worthy or have any power. It’s all in Jesus and you have him. If you doubt that, then we need to have a talk. If, however, you know that you are saved and that Jesus is the Lord of your life, then ask believing that whatever you say will be done for you. With that simple shift, we really can begin to change the world.

Happy New Year

Revelation 21: 5

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

I love the beginning of the new year. Everything is new again. We all get a do over. The past is behind us and no longer need plague us. The future holds endless possibilities. We get to write on a blank slate. What do you want? What is in your heart of hearts? What is it that you are even afraid to articulate to yourself? This is the time of opportunity. Jesus said he is making all things new. That is great news! Is there anything in your life which could stand being remade? Most of us have areas that we think need an overhaul. Today is the day we get to start our new future. Behold, the old things have passed away and everything is brand new.

I hope you had a really good 2017 but 2018 holds even more promise. We will have more revelation this year than last. Jesus will be even more with you this year than last. This is the moment for which you have waited. This is the time for emergence in new ways. This is the time of new possibilities. Things that seemed impossible last year become possible this year. Things you didn’t even dare to dream become your living realities.

The secret to attaining to new heights this year is twofold. First, you must release the past. The past is an anchor. We have all made mistakes. We have all failed. In all of history there are few people who missed God’s leading more than he who became the Apostle Paul. If God can make over a man like Saul into a great prophet and guide, then what can He do with you and me? We have never persecuted and stoned Christians just for their beliefs. Let go of the past. Let it be in the past, behind you and cast your vision forward. Look to the horizon and find new dreams or perhaps revive a few old one’s.

Second, believe! Believe that Jesus is more than able to do a new thing with you. I don’t care if you are 15 years old or 115, today is a new day full of possibilities. You are not too young or too old. You are not the wrong gender or race. You are not insignificant. You are a kingdom possibility. You are God’s miracle in the making.

Do not be dissuaded from believing in the impossible. The impossible is what God has given us to pursue. If a thing is possible, where is the challenge and why would you need God? Just do the possible but seek the impossible. That is where your life with the Lord lies. Believe that with you and God all things are possible. Don’t believe the world. Believe me. Believe me when I tell you that you can do what is in your heart because that is where Jesus lives and your desire is his. He wants to do great things and he wants to do them with you. What would you do if it was impossible to fail? Don’t try to figure out how to do it, that is God’s problem. Just begin believing, hoping and dreaming. Feed that dream daily. Believe when there is no obvious solution. Believe when it is impossible.

Let us make this our year to believe and achieve. With God, truly, all things are possible so what do you want to do? How big can you dream? That is your part – dream and believe God is capable. If you focus on those two pieces, God will turn them into reality. Let’s make this the year of the Lord in our lives. This is your year of jubilee. Be free and be made new. Happy New Year!

Beliver Receiver

Mark 11: 24

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

This verse really struck me this week. Like you, I have heard it and read it many times. Still, something was louder this time. I believe Jesus is trying to show us something important.

Have you ever noticed that some people are better at getting their Christianity to work for them than others? This has bothered me for years. We all pray, right? So what makes some people different? I suspect the answer is in this verse. Listen to how it reads from the God’s Word translation, “That’s why I tell you to have faith that you have already received whatever you pray for, and it will be yours.” Jesus tells us to believe before we receive. Okay, I guess we have heard that before but that isn’t exactly what this says, is it? Jesus said as you pray, believe that you have ALREADY received that for which you are praying. What? If I have already received it, why am I praying for it?

If we can wrap our heads around this and the truth of it sink down into our hearts, I believe we will have the key to unlocking many mysteries in our lives. Hasn’t Jesus already won everything for us: salvation, redemption, etcetera? So, if he has already purchased my salvation then why did I need to pray for it? Has not the Father already provided everything we need? Then why are some of us under provisioned? It seems we have failed to requisition the supplies which have already been put up for us. We ask for them not believing that He has already accommodated our wants and needs.

It turns out that receiving is an action. In order for these things to move from the warehouse to your house, you have to do something. That “something” is this act of receiving. Apparently, receiving does not mean laying on the couch while manna rains down out of heaven on us. Drats! We are required to actively participate in the delivery of the supplies.

Perhaps we need to picture a warehouse with our name emblazoned on the outside. Within the warehouse which sports your name is everything Jesus suffered and died to give you. Also upon the shelves is the substance of every promise God has ever made. That is not all, though. As you walk down the aisles you see that the warehouse is stocked with everything for life. There are cars, houses, clothes, food, and computers. In fact, everything you can even think of is in that warehouse and it is already yours – if you believe it. If you believe that God has already provided, already stocked a warehouse for you then you need only to order it to be sent to you. If we pray believing not that God is going to do something for us but rather that He already has, does it change our experience?

Jesus’ statement is pretty bold. It also has a problem in that it does not fit into our theology but what if he said exactly what he meant? What if we must believe we already have it when we pray? It changes our prayer and our attitude doesn’t it? This represents part of the reason we are called believers. Belief is a key component of the warehouse distribution system. You can have what you believe for so, what do you believe?

God is . . . a believer

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things.

What does it mean that love believes all things? This seems a bit difficult to unwind but as I prayed about it I realized that lovers, real lovers are people of faith. They believe. They believe in each other and they believe in hope. Love is a positive force and those people who are good at loving tend to be positive people. Think about it for a moment and determine if that is true in your experience. People who have love in their hearts tend to see the best in situations and in people. Hope is always alive in them even when it gets a little bruised it remains as part of their steadfast resolve.

God believes in you! Now that is a statement we should all meditate on for a moment. Have you ever thought about it that way? I really had not until today but it is true. He believes in you and your potential. He believes in your dreams. He believes you are capable and He thinks you are awesome. Are some of you thinking, “Love is blind?” Well, perhaps but God’s love for you really isn’t blind. God sees into the deepest parts of you and that is why He believes in you. Sure, we mess up. We do and say some really stupid things at times but that is not our essential self. That is just the level we are at right now. God sees the real us, the one that is deep down. He sees the person you are beginning to experience.

You have been born again and believe it or not, there is a perfect you in Christ. There is no tarnish or stain. Sure God sees us stumble but we don’t hate babies when they fall in their learning to walk. We have faith. We believe they will get it. We know it just takes time and practice and then not only will they walk but we will watch them run. God sees you running in His mind’s eye. He knows you will get there and He is already proud of you. He believes in you because love believes all things.