Word of the Day

Whom Shall I Serve?

Habakkuk 1: 11

But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their God.

The prophet Habakkuk wrote this sometime around 607 B.C. That means this passage is over 2600 years old. It might have been written yesterday for how appropriate it is to our everyday existence.

I have been writing over the last couple of years about partnership with God. This is the singular message of our time. God sent Jesus to save us from destruction. Having accomplished his task, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our constant companion and helper. We are supposed to learn to work with Him the way the Father did when He created the earth, and indeed, the whole universe. We are called to walk with him the way Jesus did when he worked miracles in the earth. These two persons of the Trinity that we know well, did everything through and by the Holy Spirit. This was God’s plan for us, that the third person of the Trinity would come live with us, actually be in us and that we would rely on His strength rather than our own.

How many of us have learned this way of living though? Don’t most of us look to our “God given” abilities rather than to the Holy Spirit? Don’t we strive and labor? You would be shocked to learn how much of the Bible speaks specifically against our strength, our labor and striving to succeed. Here is just one little taste, straight from the lips of Father God on knowing Him, “Cease striving and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46: 10). Maybe you will like this one, “It is the Lord’s blessing that makes a person rich, and hard work adds nothing to it,” (Proverb 10: 22 GW). Hey, that’s Bible guys and I don’t mean the Bible according to Ivey. That’s the gospel. And don’t look at me like I am any better at this than anyone else but at least I know where the bull’s eye is painted these days. The target is: complete, 100% cooperation with the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus said the Spirit is to be the leader (John 16: 13), so not only are we to partner with the Spirit, but we are to listen to him and get our directions, our plans from him.

I think of it this way, imagine every morning that you have a partner meeting (and in truth I advise you to actually do this). In that meeting you lay out what you perceive as the day’s priorities and tasks. You and the Spirit can look at the schedule for the day, the appointments, etc. but then comes the critical piece. Let him show you which are the really important items. He may add some tasks that he identifies as more important than those on your list. He does that with me. Sometimes what he thinks is most important is for me to read or to journal. Sometimes he will move one project in front of another. That’s good. That is what you want him to do because he knows the future and which actions get us to our goals. Talk through everything for that day but, and here is a key, when you leave the conference room table or the kitchen table, don’t forget to keep him right beside you. Listen to him all day.

Another key part of this is that it is his strength, his power that works for us. Look to him. Tell him he has mail. Let him be the miracle worker. You will be surprised what he can accomplish while you are having your lunch, that is, if you will give him the reins.

Look, this takes practice, I grant you. It also takes intentionality. In other words, you have to intend to live and work this way. You must purpose in your heart and in your mind to pay attention to the voice of the Spirit which is speaking within you. You will need to prioritize spending quiet, contemplative time with him. I know you don’t want to. You think you are too busy to sit and meditate but as I pointed out, this is God speaking. This is what the Bible tells us to do.

Sooner or later we have to decide if we are truly disciples of Christ. If so, then it is about doing what he says and following in his footsteps. Sooner or later, you have to decide if you are foremost a Christian or a lawyer, a Christian or a school teacher, a Christian or a banker. I kept making the wrong choice. I was a lawyer first and a Christian second. Don’t be like I was. Learn and practice making God supreme. Don’t let your strength, intelligence, or hard work be your God. Don’t serve your calendar but serve God and humble yourself before Him and His wisdom. Be a great success in Christ, your Lord.

Giving and Taking

Psalm 37: 21

The wicked borrows and does not pay back but the righteous is gracious and gives.

Do you know what it is called if you borrow and fail to pay back? It is called stealing. Yep! That’s what it is. Now why would any of us intentionally steal from one another? An absolute and complete lack of understanding and faith is why. If you understand God and who you are in Him, then you have no reason to withhold payment from those to whom it is due or not to give generously to others. Only those who are looking to their own hands to prosper themselves would make such a huge mistake. You are stealing meat from your own house.

For those of you who are gracious and giving, you have the love of God in you. That love expresses itself in your kindness and generosity. And God can most certainly work with that. He is gracious to multiply your seed so that you “always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9: 8). You are his precious gift to us because you and He together can express His goodness to every good work. He can keep prospering you and wants to, in fact, so that you can keep blessing others with your generosity.

It is God who multiplies and those who understand that do not withhold their seed. They are willing and generous givers. They know whom they serve and long to be like Him in thought and deed. You are a blessing to all of us and I celebrate you today. May God richly bless your giving!

Dry Those Eyes

Jeremiah 31: 16 – 17

Thus says the Lord, “Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded,” declares the Lord, . . . “and there is hope for your future,” declares the Lord.

God is speaking to us today. He is speaking from His heart. Let’s listen to His words of encouragement and faith. You did know that God is a person of faith, didn’t you? He began everything by calling those things which be not into being, but that is a message for another day. This day, He wants to tell you to dry your eyes. He has promised you a hope and a future.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29: 11). He didn’t change His mind from chapter 29 to chapter 31. In fact, He reinforced His statement by repeating it so that we would be sure to understand that He has good plans for our futures. Now you can listen to the world or you can listen to God. Personally, I am more interested in what God has to say. The world will try to convince you that tomorrow holds calamity and that the world is falling apart. Well, we are not of this world. Isn’t that what the Bible says? So who are you going to believe?

Your Father, your real Father, the one who conceived you before the dawn of time saw this day and you in it. He saw your hopes, dreams, victories and disappointments. He saw the tears you cry today before the earth was every formed and He speaks into that very moment telling you, “Fear not. Have no worries. I, the Lord, am your guard and refuge and I will turn your sorrow to shouts of joy, your mourning to laughter.” He has a plan for tomorrow and it is a good plan.

Hear the good news of the Lord. Your work will be rewarded. Have you toiled but have yet to reap the harvest? Don’t give up; don’t give in. Take this promise of the Lord. Take it and hold on to it. Paint it on your bathroom mirror. Put a sticker on your cell phone. You are sure to see it there. Remind yourself; remind your Father. You have a promise from El Shaddai, a promise from the Holy One of Israel. Hold onto that and believe.

Power, Reward, Recompense

Isaiah 40: 10

Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.

This Word of the Day is for me because yesterday I was feeling very selfish. I didn’t want to look for a verse for you or a Word from God for you. I just wanted to do what I always tell you to do, hang out with Dad. So, I did and this is what he gave me. I do hope it blesses you too.

As is typical, when Dad wants to minister to me, I usually end up in the books of John and Isaiah. I’ve got a fair bit of Isaiah 40 highlighted, you know, the typical verses. I can’t say I have ever seen this one quite like this before.

Isaiah was a visionary. He saw things, especially about Jesus and the New Covenant, that few saw and even fewer comprehended. For the first time, I see the New Testament miracle in this verse. I have written about the power of God before. In this verse Isaiah calls it God’s might. The NIV Bible says He comes with power and rules with a mighty arm. If you do a study on the Holy Spirit you will find that he is the power of God.

This prophecy reveals the coming of the Holy Spirit. It tells us that when God comes as the Holy Spirit, He comes in power. You need God’s power in your life as do I. That is not all, though. When Yahweh sent the Holy Spirit into the earth (See Acts 2) He sent His reward with him. To phrase it differently, the Spirit has come to your life, and mine, with power and reward. Recompense means to make reparation to.

Yahweh God, the Father, sent His Spirit to you so that you would be reimbursed for the years the locust stole, so you would have the power you need for your mission, and to reward you for your devotion to your Father. All good things. So, embrace this verse and cast it forward into your life as prophecy fulfilled.

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.

Life in Christ

Romans 6: 23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you appreciative of what Jesus did for you? Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the magnitude of his accomplishment? Is it humbling thinking that he endured all for you, so that you would have a life of blessing and a path to the Father? I find it overwhelming at times. What he did for me is too big to contain. It overpowers my thinking and I, like you, feel enormously grateful.

In those moments, how can we express our gratitude? Is there a meaningful way to bless him in return or to show him our appreciation? I think there is. The way to thank Jesus for what he has done for us is to live our lives unto him, but what does that mean?

I really believe that this is one of the key elements for the time in which we live. The church has lived through many transfigurations and I believe this is the one for us. Step outside yourself for a moment and imagine what the church body as a whole looks like. If a Martian looked down on earth and saw all the Christians how would he describe us? How would he describe the Christian church, by which I mean the body of believers taken together as one collective? It is an interesting exercise.

When we put ourselves in that position, looking at who we are, there are a couple of things which might stand out. The body of Christ is a collective, a group of individuals attempting to work together for a common goal. We might be characterized, though, as very individualistic and thus unity is a meaningful goal. The clearest way for us to rise to any challenge posed us individually or as a body is to live our lives to Christ.

Every day we have the opportunity to fix our eyes on him or not. We get to choose what we will do with our time. Will we seek him or will we let the worries and the pressures of the world dominate our psyche? Will we pray? There are many things vying for our time and our attention. How do we show Jesus that we appreciate what he did for us? I think it is in the small moments of life. Maybe driving to work you talk with him and say that it is your desire that he accompany you all day. And perhaps as you go through your day, you constantly remind yourself that he is with you. Maybe in the shower you sought his mind and his priorities for you and all day you continually check in with him asking, “What’s next Jesus?”

Let’s be really honest here for a moment because the paragraph above can be a little bit pie in the sky, a little out of reach for some. I know it was for me when I was practicing law. I worked way too many hours each week and was rushed all the time. I ate lunch at my desk and kept on working. Honestly, I didn’t find enough time for Jesus. I didn’t pause and consider him. I just buried my head and forged forward. And even when I had a moment of clarity realizing I needed to turn my attention to him, I rarely heard him answer me. Was it that he was not answering and now he loves me a lot more than he did so that is why I hear him speaking to me more often? Maybe you are like I was and don’t hear Jesus’ or the Father’s voice often. Maybe he loves me more than he loves you and that is why he talks to me now.

Well, of course, that is ridiculous. He loves you like he loves the Father and the Father loves you as much as He loves Jesus. Wow! But how can you live your life to him and for him if you never hear him or never feel him? Sometimes, you just have to make a decision and do something whether you feel his presence or not. We turn our minds to Christ and then sometimes what we could do becomes very obvious. In fact, sometimes you won’t know except in retrospect that he just guided you. That is the way it is for me. I will do something, really not knowing if it is me or him or even being mindful and then when I turn around later, I see his footprints and I am so happy I did as he led even when I really didn’t know I was. It has something to do with intention and focus. My intention is to walk in the footsteps he has laid out for me. I ask him to lead me all day and he is good to do it. I don’t always feel him either, but I have found that now that I do look for him, I find him more frequently. I have opened my spirit, my internal self to be more receptive where I once closed off my heart so that I couldn’t be hurt. Now my spirit is awaiting his touch.

What I am attempting to convey is if you are in that frustrating space where you try to live with Jesus, but you don’t feel him or hear him, fear not. There is a way out and it is about being intentional. Ask yourself what living your life for him and to him today would look like? You have some answers down in your spirit right now and only need to tap into the deposit he has already put in you. If you begin your day asking Jesus how you can show your appreciation for him and how to live your day in him you may not yet hear all the audible answers you would like but you will have a sense within you that you can go through the day more connected with him than other days.

We can purpose in our hearts to live in him, continually connected to him and he will lead us in that objective. He will teach us. There is a transformative process which happens to us as we renew our minds to him. He is the transforming agent, not us, but the renewal of the mind is in our purview. We can turn our minds to him, and we should. As we focus on him, he draws us to him.

The bottom line is this, do what you can do but, do something. Be intentional about living your life to him. Talk to him even if you don’t hear the answers right now. Keep at it because he is listening and he is moving in your life. In fact, he may have written this Word of the Day just for you. Show him thanksgiving by giving him not just your life but your today, moment by moment.

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.