Godly Performance

Jeremiah 1:12

You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.

I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot lately. I bet I am not alone in that. I stumbled over this scripture today and it got me to thinking again. The best kind of prayer is when we pray God’s words and this verse makes it evident why that is true. Can you even picture that for a moment? Imagine God watching the earth for someone to speak His Word so He can rush in to perform it. Amazing. However, it brings up for me as many questions as it answers. Now I find myself asking what words I should be praying over each situation I am facing. In fact, I have not been standing on a particular scripture for the Covid situation, but I have found one I think will be my touchstone. It is Exodus 23: 25, “But you shall serve the Lord your God and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst.” That is a promise from God. He told the Israelites if they would serve Him, they would be blessed and that He would remove sickness. Well, that is exactly what I want. Since He promised the Israelites to bless them and heal their land, then He promised me too because He is not one to show partiality (Deuteronomy 10: 17).

Whatever situation we are facing, instead of begging God to do something, we need to pick up our Bibles and find out what He has already promised. We, then, hold up that Word to Him and He performs it. He is watching for people to show up with His Word. This is not exactly the model of prayer most of us have been taught but it is what God’s Word says and that should carry some weight.

Find out what the Word says and then speak those Divine Words. That is how to pray.

Word Speak

Mark 2: 2

And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

Jesus’ public ministry began when he stood up to read in the synagogue. Opening the book of Isaiah, he read his commission (see Isaiah 61: 1 – 3 and Luke 4: 18 – 19). He came to preach the good news, proclaim liberty, recovery, and the year of the Lord and to free the downtrodden. In a sound bite, that is his mandate from God. Notice that his assignment included preach and proclaim. It is no wonder, then, that his ministry involved speaking the word.

Jesus’ proclamation, his preaching was of the Word of God, not of himself. Isn’t that interesting? Of all of the ministers and priests of all of the ages, if there is one who should be qualified to preach of his own knowledge, wisdom and intelligence it would seem to be Jesus. Yet, his preaching was, and is, proclaiming the Word of God. Apparently his message was so good that there was no even standing room. The Word ministered to people’s need and it still does today.

None of the things Jesus did on this earth were of himself. He always relied on the wisdom and guidance of the Father. Do you remember the story of the woman who was cast at his feet by the Pharisees, accused of adultery? They pitted Jesus in a quandary between grace and law wondering what he would choose. Either way, they figured, they would win. Jesus did not answer them immediately. Instead, he stooped down and began to write in the dirt. Finally, when they pressed him, he stood and gave such an enlightened answer that all of their guile folded back upon them. So, my question is this, “What was Jesus doing when was stooped over writing in the dirt?” We don’t really know but I believe he was inquiring of his Father.

My point is this, everything Jesus used for his ministry is available to us and even more. When Jesus spoke the Word, he only had the Old Testament writings. Think of how much we have in the New Testament with all of the stories about Jesus, words he spoke when he lived here and the writings of the apostles. I believe the power of Jesus’ ministry was that he was grounded in God’s Word. That is what he gave to people and out of that flowed the healings and miracles.

Don’t you wonder what Old Testament wisdom He spoke when he sat down to teach? Which stories did he retell? Think about it this way, we have in our hands, the substance of Jesus’ every sermon. That awes me. What did he see in those ancient texts? Whenever he preached, lives were changed. Wouldn’t every pastor in the world love to be able to make that claim. It is all there for us all, the leading of the Holy Spirit and the thoughts and wisdom of God as recorded in the Bible. Those are the tools with which Jesus changed the world. What can we do with them?

Believe It

Romans 10: 11


For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.

I believe the above yet I know many disappointed Christians. For years I have wondered why we are not living in more victory than we are. I have found one reason even if it may not be the definitive answer. When we read a passage like the one above, most of us are initially excited by it. Within seconds, though, doubts come. We don’t know if we can really believe this or not. Right then we begin to compromise the Word of God. We don’t like to think that we do that but the truth is, unfortunately, that we do. The next thing we do is wait for God to prove that this word is true. We have all done it even though we all want to be faith giants. We adopt a “wait and see” attitude. To do otherwise is like stepping out on the edge of a cliff.

I am coming to believe, though, that God’s miracles are out there on that cliff. I believe He wants us to accept His word as truth and act on it rather than waiting to see it proved out in our experience. He wants us to learn to have faith and trust in the words we read and put our reliance in them. What would it mean to you if you really, really believed the passage above? What if you knew beyond any doubt that you would not be disappointed in whatever you do? Would it change the way you approach some situations? I know it would change how I deal with situations if I could jump all the way into radical belief and radical trust. Join me! Let’s step one step further out on that cliff and try to believe God the way He says things. Let’s try to accept Him where He is instead of making Him fit into our limited thinking. Let’s just inch one bit further into trust and acceptance. It could make for a very radical experience indeed.

The Gracious Hand of the Lord

Nehemiah 2: 8

And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have all our  requests granted by the people we need favor with? My first thought upon reading this was, “Why was the hand of God on Nehemiah?” Then I remembered a passage from Ezra. In chapter 7, verses 9 & 10 we find that “the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” I believe we have found the secret.

One question we may pose is, is the gracious hand of the Lord a reward for the studious observance of God’s Word or is it that grace just follows those who abide in the Word of God. I believe the latter is the correct answer but in reality, what difference does it make? If we know that favor and success follow those who are studious to discover and diligent to do all that the Lord has taught then that is, I believe, enough.

Gracious in the Hebrew means to: bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow, to show favor and mercy. In other words, the graciousness of God causes Him to come down to our level in order to give us mercy and favor. The favor from God causes all people to see us in a pleasing light such that our petitions are granted. It seems like a very good deal that we have received. If we will devote ourselves to the study and observance of God’s teachings, then we shall have favor and good success with all people.

Do It Now

Isaiah 5: 13

Therefore, My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst.

Lack of knowledge leads to slavery, starvation and thirst. The people were led away in exile from the land God gave them to be slaves to others and all because of a lack of knowledge. What knowledge did they lack? Were they complete idiots or was it something specific?

We know from history that every time the Israelites turned away from God and His Word, tragedy befell them. They may have been some of the most worldly wise people ever but only the Word from God, the Word of God was able to save them from bondage, famine and unquenchable thirst. Just think of the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. They would have starved, they could not find water but each time the Word of the Lord came to Moses and the people were spared. What if they had inquired of the Lord daily instead of only when the situation was dire? Maybe they could have walked on the water of the Red Sea instead of waiting as the Egyptians drew closer and closer. God gave them manna each morning and opened rocks, literally rocks, to bring forth water to quench their thirst.

Of course the real importance of this is verse is the question, “How similar are we to these Old Testament saints who died for lack of knowledge?” (Hosea 4: 6). I fear that we are all too similar. Sure, our prisons are different, but perhaps even more perilous than theirs because we can never leave ours behind. The chains which bind us are within us. Romans 12: 2 tells us to be transformed through the renewal of our minds. It is the Word of the Lord renewing our minds, filling us with the knowledge of His ways which sets us free. How many of us truly dedicate ourselves to God’s Word? Do we scoff at the ignorance of the people in the Old Testament but are guilty of the same mistakes? Do we truly believe that God’s Word has any power? Or are we secretly doubters? If not doubters, are we just lazy? Perhaps we are deceived by busyness. If there is not time enough in the day for God’s Word then how is there time for anything? We are so busy with the business of life that we live a parched, barren existence. True life can only be found in the Word. I honestly believe this to be true. Do you? Do you really?

Test me in this. Give me 30 days of your life and let’s find out once and for all if this stuff is true or a bunch of bunk. For 30 days, beginning today, read your Bible everyday. It is so easy these days with smart phones and tablets. You can read during your lunch hour at work right from your phone. Do this. Start in the first chapter of Mathew and begin reading. Then read one proverb each day. That’s it – one proverb and as much of the New Testament as you want or have time for. Do this with me for one month. What do you honestly think your life will look like in 30 days if you rise to my challenge and give God this time? Will you write to me today and tell me you’re in? Let’s find out if this stuff works. Be bold.

Building the Foundation

Isaiah 40: 8

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
What is your life and your faith based upon? As I observe people and religions I find it interesting to notice what underpins people’s lives and faith systems. When we construct buildings we certainly want the under girding to be very strong indeed. Yet with our lives we do not always give the same consideration. Surely, we all want our lives to be founded on that which is strong and true. The Bible teaches us in Ephesians 6: 14 to gird ourselves with truth. John 17: 17 says “Thy word is truth.” So, putting those together would direct us to under gird ourselves with God’s word. In other words, if we build our houses, our lives, on the firm foundation of God’s word, then we are building our lives on a platform of strength and stability. This is the foundation which stands forever, the Word of God. We need something of strength and durability to stand on and that is the Word of God.

I know there are many people who criticize the Bible or question its validity but this is what I have noticed. Many who make those comments have not spent much time with it. They have read very little of it and are really just commenting on what they have heard about it from someone else. Secondly, those who actually have spent time with the Word yet who do not revere it, rarely have anything substantial to supplant its use. They seem to have nebulous philosophies to which they loosely refer. That is fine. We all have to choose our own path in life but I say build your house on the rock and you will fare well in the storm (Luke 6: 48). The Bible works. It has been working for thousands of years. Its truths are infallible and the word of our God stands forever.

Divine Design

Romans 12: 2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We looked quite a bit last week at what God has to say about acceptance and in a nutshell it is that you are accepted in His sight. He said, Himself, that He has not rejected you. That is such an important truth for us to receive. Truly, we cannot give away what we have yet to receive. So, if you see a person who is critical and judgmental it may just be that they have yet to receive the acceptance and love of God for themselves.

There is a commercial running on television right now from Time-Warner cable where a motivational speaker challenges people about change. He tells them that they can change and asks if they want to, to which everyone resoundingly replies, “Yes!” Well, as I listened to the commercial I heard another message come right up out of my spirit. What I heard is that God has not called us to change. First of all, He loves you without you changing. Second, what He has given us is transformation. 

Transformation is not something we do; it is something we allow God to do within us by cooperating with His Spirit. We are transformed by God and the Holy Spirit through the renewal of our minds. We are not asked to change from who we are to someone else. No, we are only being transformed into the fullness of who we are in Christ. This transformation is more akin to the metamorphoses of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The essence of the butterfly was always in the caterpillar. He doesn’t have try not to be himself. He just grows up into the fullness of who he was always destined to be. 

Like the caterpillar, in every one of us is a butterfly. We have only to enter our chrysalis and allow the butterfly to emerge. This is the transformational process which our beloved Father has given us. We are not the authors of change, we are not transformational engineers. God has already put butterfly DNA in the caterpillar. He has created and put in the caterpillar the process for fulfilling its destiny. Truly, we are more important to Him that a butterfly. He wouldn’t abandon us and task us with the responsibility of change when He has so carefully designed the butterfly and it’s growth phases.

God has given us a chrysalis into which we can cocoon ourselves too. He has prepared a process by which He brings us into the fullness of our Divine Design. Through the renewal of our minds, we are transformed into the very likeness of Jesus. You will be the version of you which is so apparently a sibling to Jesus himself. I like to call this fulfilled you the Jesus you. So you may be Jesus Scott or Jesus Mary. You are of the same DNA as Jesus. When you took on the New Birth which is wrought in his blood and his glory, you became genetically tied to Jesus. There is a glorified you. This is who God sees every time He looks at you. Now, in order for you to live the fulfillment of who you are in Christ you must renew your mind to the Word of God. When you do, you will find that you think like God. You will begin to feel the things God feels and you will even react to events the way God does. The renewal of your mind washes out the worldly way of thinking that we were all indoctrinated in and replaces it with God thoughts and yes, you really can think the way God thinks. It is amazing and glorious and you were meant to live this way – to live an anointed life.

So, here is your part. Renew your mind by reading God’s Word. It really is that easy. Meditate on what you read. Let it seep into your own thoughts and consciousness. Allow God’s Word and God’s thoughts to become integrated with your own. You will find that as you do this you will begin to develop wings. You will emerge from your own chrysalis a glorified, emancipated child of the Most High with wings as eagles. Go soak in the glory of God’s Word, let Him pour his DNA into every cell of your being and then spread your wings and soar. You are His beautiful child, created in His image. Don’t try to change just be transformed, by the renewing of your mind.