Highly Combustible

Ephesians 1: 18 – 20         Complete Jewish Bible

I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people, and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him. It works with the same mighty strength he used when he worked in the Messiah to raise him from the dead and seat him at his right hand in heaven.

Although we looked at verse eighteen yesterday, I included it here for continuity’s sake. You might also like reading it from this version. I do.

Paul’s purpose in verse nineteen is to divulge the might of God’s power at work in our lives. There are two very telling items in his statement. First, this surpassingly great power is working IN us. That’s interesting. In other words, the power of God is not external. It is internal. That might be eye opening. God’s power is at work in us. That means we are a party to this surpassingly great power. We have a role to play with His power working in us and through us.

Here is the caveat and the other interesting bit. God’s mighty power is working in those who trust Him. Now wait a minute. I thought His power was on hand and particularly in His hand for all who confess Jesus as Lord. Why didn’t Paul write it that way? Let’s look at the Passion Translation for a clue to answering this question. “I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you!”

Notice the addition of faith. It is our faith mixed, in trust, with the Father’s power that brings about desired results. This surpassingly great, immeasurably vast power is yours by faith. Does that sound like a cop out? Well, maybe a little because it means that we have to mix faith and trust with Father’s power in order to have it working in us but that is why Paul prayed for the eyes of our heart to be opened. God’s power works in our hearts by faith and trust. It is like an internal combustion engine. You see the output of the engine on the exterior, but the power is actually generated on the inside. Within the cylinder of your heart, faith and trust mix and explode like the gasoline and air when the spark is introduced in an engine. The power of God is ready to combust. Just add some belief and trust and you have the workings of a power generator right inside you. The power for every goal to be achieved and every dream fulfilled is inside you right now. Ignite your passion and Dad’s power with a bit of faith and trust and your engine will take you anywhere you want to go.

The Big, Bad Wolf

Psalm 34: 4

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Fear is a pernicious emotion. It draws us into ever deeper dread, and it draws to us all sorts of negative experiences. Once fear gets a foothold in our spirits, it invites all its little buddies to come torment us as well. We may begin with a fear of spiders or of heights only to realize one day that fear lurks around almost every corner. That is its nature. It wants to invade every part of our lives and it will if we don’t resist it. Thank God that He is our provider in every sense.

In the context of yesterday’s verse, we looked at 1 Chronicles 28: 9, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him.” In Father’s never-ending quest to encourage and edify us, He sends us this good news today from Psalms. We discover that not only does He let us find Him but that He answers us and our needs in that moment. Going one step further, when we seek Him, He delivers us from those insipid fears that plague our heart. There is healing in His wings, so every encounter with Him brings healing. He touches our hearts, our minds and our bodies with His soothing touch. His love roots out fear even that which has been lodged in our souls for many years. There are two keys, though which will help dissolve those fears.

When we search for God with our hearts, then it is our heart which finds Him. This may seem like semantics but there is a very real principle involved. Searching with your heart opens your heart to Him. The alternative is to search for Him with our minds. I am not suggesting that is a “bad” approach, just not the most potent. If you search with your mind you will still find Him but you will learn about Him more than engage with Him. This is the case because you are presenting your mind to Him. It is best if we present our hearts to Him. Allow your mind, will, emotions and personality to aid you but go to the Lord, seek Him with your innermost being. That is your heart or more precisely, your spirit.

Second, relinquish your fears to the Lord. Begin in a space where you accept and acknowledge that fear has no place in your heart. Expect Yahweh to vanquish those fears. This scripture reveals that if we are afraid, we have need of deliverance. I think we live in a time when we have come to accept fear as part of life. That is the exact opposite of the message the Father is communicating to you. His intention is to deliver you from fear. This means that you must let go of it. That can be harder than it sounds because you are surrounded by people who, almost proudly, confess to being fearful of at least something. Secondly, you may have lived with fear a long time. The familiarity may make it difficult to release the hold it has on you and that you have on it.

Fear is, functionally, a distrust of God. We don’t think of it that way, but it is true. To live with fear is to say to God that you don’t trust Him. The fear of heights or whatever is stronger, bigger and louder than your faith in God. Does that sound harsh? It is not my intention that it scald you. There is, however, an even more accurate way to articulate fear, if you can bear it. Fear is faith in Satan. It is the acknowledgement that he has power in your life and over your life. Deny that obscenity. Faith in God vanquishes fear because there can be no fear where the love of God prevails. Fear is like the big, bad wolf in the story of the three little pigs. He was big and frightening but, in the end, he was overcome, defeated.

Therefore, whatever that area is where fear has taken hold, infuse it with the love of God which has the power to deliver. Speak faith words over it. Do not continue to confess fear but rather replace those fear expressions with ones of faith.

Father is on site to deliver you from all your fears. He has promised you that if you will seek Him, not only will He answer you, but He will give you His deliverance. Don’t live below the God level, the level of life Jesus died to give you. Do not tolerate fear in your life. It is not of God nor meant to be a part of you. Call on the Almighty to be a keeper of His promises and present your heart to Him for healing and restoration.

Law or Liberty

Psalm 1: 2

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

I want to talk about prayer and study today. I continually encourage you to read your Bible but the question is, is this a matter of law or can we find liberty in it.

We live in a period of grace, Jesus having saved us from the curse of the law and being the very fulfillment of the law in this age. So, is it right or acceptable for ministers to teach and advocate the exercise of legal requirements? I think the answer is no but I think we do it so we must be vigilant to preach liberty to the captives. We tell you to tithe and to give offerings. We tell you to read your Bible and pray daily. Does it begin to sound like law. In other words, is this something you must do in order to please God?

The Bible says, “without faith it is impossible to please Him,” (Hebrews 11: 6). So, anything we do without faith will not please Him. That includes reading your Bible and even praying. That is a big concept, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong. I want you to read your Bible every day. I want you to spend time talking with Dad. It’s just that I want you to do it because you choose to, not because the law requires it of you. Reading the Word, meditating on it, discussing it with the three persons of the trinity are important because in those tasks are key elements to your freedom, success and overall wellness. We are learning that it is good for our brains, good for our bodies and good even for our pocketbooks. The same is true of giving into God’s work. I do not want it to sound like law. I want you doing these things because it is healthy to your life.

Any thing which draws you closer to Jesus is going to make you happier, healthier and more prosperous. Listening to his voice is key to having the abundant life Jesus came to give you. I have pointed out Joshua 1: 8 several times before. This was God’s advice to Joshua when he was required to assume the leadership of Israel after Moses’ death. It reads, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” Even when God spoke this to Joshua He did not give it to him as law. God wanted to encourage Joshua and give him the help he needed. So God told him to camp in the Word. It is for this same reason that I and others continuously encourage you to read and think about what the Bible teaches. If it is the single best piece of advice God could come up with, it must be pretty potent.

Literally, this verse from the book of Joshua means to observe the Word. In other words, we are to engage ourselves with it, looking to see what it says and what it does. And, it’s not as if we don’t have Jesus, Father and the Holy Spirit to ask when we don’t understand it. God promised He would give us wisdom when we ask but it usually comes when we are focused on His Word. Spend an hour in it or three days in it as Kenneth Copeland often does, and you will also observe some things that are not only fascinating but life giving as well.

There are promises which go with focused attention to the Word. I didn’t share verse three with you until now. It promises that the person who does ponder Father’s Word will be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Come on!  That’s great news! So, don’t meditate day and night because you are commanded to. Don’t do it because you feel a compunction. Do it as an exercise of your liberty and in faith because you want to. Desire to know what Father has hidden in those pages just for you. It is a veritable gold mine. Really! The Word has power to transform lives, especially yours because you are already open to His heart. You are unique in the body of Christ as you are devout in reading this daily devotional. Let Father impart even more into your life. Be Joshua. Be the believer who is firmly planted by streams of water. Be free to live abundantly.

Understanding

1 Corinthians 1: 19       KJV

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Last week we sang a song at church which spoke to me. I extracted this idea from it, that when we trust Him, we don’t need to understand. We live in an age of intellectualism. We like to process everything through the left side of our brains so that everything makes sense and is understandable. This is the opposite of what Jesus told us to do. He told us to believe by faith. Faith is doing what Jesus says when you don’t understand.

God takes us in directions we would never fathom. If you wait until you understand all His motives and plans, you will never go where he is leading. He rarely lays out His plan before you but rather gives one step at a time. We have to learn to trust Him rather than question Him. He isn’t going to answer you anyway so you might as well learn to trust. Everyone who walks with Jesus has had to learn this. The hardest part, at times, is slowing ourselves down enough to hear Him clearly. Sometimes you need to hear more than once to be sure it is from God. That is the question we should ask, “Lord, if this is you, bid me come.” We only need to know we are in God’s will, then we can step out of the boat with confidence, fully trusting that the Lord has us in his care. The question we don’t need to ask is, “Why,” or “How does this work.”

Some people have the ability to walk in simple faith. They have the ability or have made the decision to accept and believe what they hear from the Lord or read in their Bibles. These are not unintelligent people. They are mentally and spiritually disciplined. They have trained themselves not to ask the Lord unfruitful questions.

There is a time and place for understanding. God recognizes that and He will explain what you need to know. There is, however, more occasion for obedience, faith and trust. Those three will always put us in a good position when employed. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and even higher than our intellectual capacity. They are never beyond our ability to believe and act though. That is what the Father requires of us. Simple faith and obedience, a willingness to do as He directs whether or not we understand. There is great freedom in this way of living. Maybe it is something you can talk with Father about.

The point is that God is not relying on our wisdom.  He wants us to rely upon His.  We must invest trust and that is the challenge.  We like having control but Yahweh would have us relinquish it to Him.  Wow, what a difficult thing to do.  Now you know why it takes a disciplined mind and spirit to walk in full faith with Him.  This is our calling though and this is the appointed way.  It is not about our intellect but rather about our ability to trust His.  That is where we must grow and we can, with Jesus’ help.

The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23: 4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

This is many people’s favorite psalm. What is it that folks like about it? Is it knowing we have a shepherd who cares for us? Verse 1 from the Passion Translation reads, “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.” If this is your favorite psalm, do yourself a favor and read it from the Passion Translation. You are really going to love it. If you don’t own a Passion Translation just go to Biblegateway.com.

It wasn’t easy choosing one verse from this psalm but this one seemed louder than the others and thinking about it I realized you and I walk through the valley of the shadow of death almost daily. One of the points which has resonated with me over the years about this passage is that David was walking through the valley. He didn’t set up his tent and camp there. He kept moving forward, out of danger, through the challenge to glory and victory.

We recognize there are times when we must go through a troubling situation. There is no way around it, you just have to go through. We generally encourage one another that Jesus is with us even through those tremulous times. David takes it up a notch though. He says that even though he must walk through this foreboding valley, he shall not fear. David knew God was with him and being a shepherd boy himself, he recognized the devotion and care of the good shepherd. David killed both lions and bears to protect his flock (1 Samuel 17: 36). He knew God to be an even better shepherd than he. He trusted God to proactively deliver him from any evil that threatened him.

David said he was comforted by the Great Shepherd’s rod and staff. Here is where our image of God may depart from David’s. David saw the rod as comfort whereas some teachings cause people to fear God. Yahweh does not wield a rod to beat the sheep into submission. That is the image some people carry of God. We must put in the forefront of our thinking that our God is the good shepherd. He cares for the sheep as did David. If David was willing to face a lion and a bear to protect those in his care, won’t our Father do the same for us? Could David be a better shepherd than the Lord?

The rod and staff were for protecting and guiding the sheep. With the staff the shepherd could gently lead the sheep. When they went the wrong way, he could redirect their path. It could also be used to defend the sheep. David understood this and because of his understanding and his trust in the Lord, he could walk through the valley where death’s shadow looms without harm and without fear.

Fear is a crippling disease. In its grip we don’t walk through the valley. We don’t valiantly and confidently march through. The message of this psalm is that the good shepherd is with us and taking care of us. Therefore, we can lift our heads, throw back our shoulders and march through whatever peril appears on the horizon. There is no occasion for fear because the Lord God is your guide and your guard, and you couldn’t have better. You know that, but fear is an tricky thing. Our challenge is to live our life fearless and we can when we know our Father is with us. When we have true awareness of His presence with us and His guiding hand on us, then we, too, will walk through the valley and have no fear of evil befalling us.

Trusted One

Psalm 22: 4 – 5              God’s Word

Our ancestors trusted you. They trusted, and you rescued them. They cried to you and were saved. They trusted you and were never disappointed.

There are a couple of things you should know about this psalm. First, it is prophetic. Read it in its entirety, read it from several versions. I particularly like the God’s Word translation for seeing the prophetic nature of this passage. David was in the Spirit and though this speaks to his own situation, you will see that it parallels Jesus’. I strongly encourage you to spend some time with this psalm. It shows how someone can be led by the Spirit in their prayers and in their words. David vocalized Jesus’ sentiments and experiences long before Jesus was born.

The other thing to know in understanding this psalm is that it begins in anguish and ends in faith. That is classical David form. We’ve discussed David’s relationship with Yahweh and how they evidence a shared trust relationship. We have witnessed David’s emotions and his relationship with the Father. We have seen the trust David evinced in God and even queried how he was brought to that place of radical trust. Once you have experience of God coming through for you, it is easier to trust again. How do you learn to trust that first time, though?

When you read this psalm in total, you will see some of the answers for yourself. The big convincer for David was that he was able to learn from the experiences of others. He had the record which we have in the Bible. He heard and knew the old stories. Most importantly, he apparently believed them. He knew that what God had done for his ancestors, He would do also for him.

David was in serious turmoil. In verse fourteen he describes himself this way, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.” Yet, within a few verses he turns to praise. Nothing changed in his circumstances. He was still empty, beaten up and weary. Yet, his voice turned to praise. How can that be?

I believe this is one of David’s greatest characteristics and ultimately a powerful weapon in his hands. He boasted in the name of God. He declared the faithfulness and greatness of the Lord. Despite all indications of disaster, he boldly proclaimed his trust in the Lord, his God. He stood on the evidence of the past and stated his belief in the faithfulness, the trustworthiness of God.

How many times and in how many ways does God have to prove Himself to us? When will I throw my heart into radical trust? Do you, like me, want to walk on the water? It might be obvious, but we’ve gotta jump out of the boat and that is not just an act of faith. It is an act of trust. I don’t know how much faith Peter had but I do know that he trusted Jesus. He wouldn’t have gotten out of that boat except that he was going to Jesus. The same is so true for us. It is more than a metaphor for a faith walk. This is “the way.” We have the same opportunity to live a “faith full” life. But faith, truly, is born of two things: trust and obedience. We need only go where Jesus is leading. He isn’t asking us to jump out of the boat and walk on the water by ourselves. He is simply saying, “Come to me. I’ve got you.” We can do that – if we believe, if we really trust our Jesus.

Can you stretch with me today? Just lean towards him a bit more than you did yesterday. Remember how he came through for David? Recall that David wasn’t even redeemed by the blood. How much more is our trust in Jesus justified? Can we learn from the many Bible stories, like Gideon’s story, that God is looking after His kids? We will not be disappointed. Trust wins the day.

If you don’t have your own success stories with God yet, borrow Moses’, use David’s. They trusted Him and were never disappointed.

Plea for Mercy

Psalm 6: 2 – 4              (TPT)

Please deal gently with me; show me mercy, for I’m sick and frail. I’m fading away with weakness. Heal me, for I’m falling apart. How long until you take away this pain in my body and in my soul? Lord, I’m trembling in fear! Turn to me and deliver my life because I know you love and desire to have me as your very own.

A friend of mine turned me on to the Passion Translation and I am so glad she did. I really love to read the psalms from it. I think you may be able to see why.

Have you ever felt like this, felt like you were falling apart both body and soul? I have and so I can relate to David’s cry for help. David had something many of us have not fully realized. He knew that God wanted him as His very own. Isn’t that a heartwarming thought? Can you truthfully say the same thing about yourself? I know it is true. God treasures you, but do you know it?

If you know that God loves you and desires to have you as His very own, does that give you greater confidence that He will answer your prayers? David was confident. Verses nine and ten from the God’s Word translation demonstrate this, “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be put to shame and deeply shaken with terror. In a moment they will retreat and be put to shame.” He really did trust that the Lord would meet whatever need presented itself. I can imagine David standing before his enemies saying, “In a moment you will retreat and be put to shame!” I think he believed it that strongly.

What will you say? What will you declare when you look into the mirror this morning? Do you believe the Lord will restore your soul? Is He going to heal your body? Will your enemies turn and flee in terror? Your declaration determines whether these are truths in your life or simply wishes. What is God’s role in your life? Is He a partner or a spectator?

Get excited about the God of your life. Meditate on His love and desire for you. Let that thought fill you. He will hear your plea for mercy and help and rush to your aid. That is the Father, your real father, the one who created you before the beginning of time.