Qualified

  • Why does it so often seem the world is wiser than the church?

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Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

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Go to almost any potential employer seeking a job, and you will find that there are certain qualifications that must be met before you will be hired.  Even in low-skilled employment, there are age, health, and perhaps other physical requirements for employment.  The world understands that quite clearly.  And as ridiculous as it sounds, you would not go to a brick mason for dental work, or to an auto mechanic for heart surgery.  You would seek out professionals who are as highly trained in the needed field of endeavor as you could find.  That simply makes good sense.  Yet there are times in the church when one might wonder, where has the good sense gone?

I cannot tell you how often I have witnessed someone being put to work in a church leadership position, not because they were qualified, but simply because a warm body was needed to fill a position.  The true problem there is not the person who was put in the leadership position, but the leader, or leadership system that put that person in that place.  The problem lies in existing leadership.  One thing that immediately comes to mind is novice – a person who is not mature enough to handle a position.  How often has someone been placed in a position of leadership and visible ministry when that person was simply not mature enough to handle the position or the pressures that come with it?  And how often has such a placement ended with problems at the least, and possibly very destructively?

Do not misunderstand this writing.  Jesus chose Judas Iscariot who became the betrayer.  This was done after much prayer, and was certainly at the direction and leadership of Holy Spirit.  We should learn from that.  When we, who are certainly fallible, do the very best we can, we will always find it possible to choose someone to be a part of our life, ministry, or work who will fail us miserably.  That does not mean that we should stop.  What it DOES mean is that we need to be more diligent than ever in our selection process of whom we choose for leadership roles in our life, ministry, and work.  We MUST accept Biblical standards, apply them diligently, and never compromise them.  From the earliest days, the church had Biblical qualifications for whatever work needed to be accomplished.  Qualifying standards still exist, and the church should abide by them.  Study the Scriptures, for therein are the qualifying standards revealed.  Learn them, apply them, and stand by them.  And foremost among those standards – believers who are “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.”

Manna for Today – Acts 6:1-7; Luke 16:1-13; 1 Timothy 3; Psalm 15

No Reason; at Least, Not a Good One

If there is no good to do a thing, why try to invent one?

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Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

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So, here’s a question for you.  If there is NO reason to do a thing, why try to invent one?  Of course, the answer is a simple one.  The reason for such invention is always selfish.  In the case of the Acts 6 passage, people, in this case, the Gentiles, were comparing themselves among themselves (Gentile believers versus Jewish believers), and rightly or wrongly (and in life, it is all too easily, wrongly), determined that they were being treated unfairly.  Is it possible they were?  Absolutely.  Should this have been used for they purpose they applied it?  No!  It should have been the subject of prayer, allowing Holy Spirit to provide a created solution rather than demanding that men provide one.  You see, when demands are placed on men to provide that which best comes from the Lord, the potential for misdirection rises markedly.

As long as men seek to justify themselves, selfishness will have a place to work.  As long as men work to find a way to advantage themselves above one another, selfishness will find space to propagate.  As long as men attempt to destroy someone else’s reputation for the purpose of advancing their own, selfishness will work as a cancer where such attempts are plied, and that includes a local body of Christ, or the body of Christ as a whole.  As long as the church allows politics to reside in its board rooms, denominationalism to reign from its pulpits, and personal ambitions to rise from its pews, the place for selfishness remains well established inside the walls of the church.  In light of that consideration, another question arises.  What is the church doing with the command of the Lord saying, “Neither give place to the devil?”

This thought must become the personal property of each and every believer, individually.  The Scriptures are very clear about how we are to handle issues of potential disagreement.  If a believer cannot find it in him/herself to go to an individual with whom a problem exists, or cannot find a specific Scriptural command about how to handle a situation, or is not aware of a truly Word-based source of counsel in whom one can confide, the answer always has been, is now, and while the church exists, forever will be, PRAYER.  Take it to the Lord in prayer, not to a committee in place.  Discipline yourself to be led by the Spirits and not directed by strife.  Why should ANY man or woman of God, ANY leader of the church EVER be forced to handle issues of strife?  And the final answer is, “There is NO REASON for that to ever happen; at least, no GOOD reason.”

Manna for Today – Acts 6:1-7; 2 Corinthians 10:7-18; Ephesians 4:27

And Still They Rise – Part 2

Conflict in the church is nothing new; it has existed from the church’s earliest days.

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Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

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There is still more to be said about the conflict and division that has arisen in the church over the ages, and still continues to arise today.  Let me be plain.  There are great churches in the earth today; churches that are yielded to the authority of the Word of God and submit themselves to the oversight and supervision of Holy Spirit.  Some of these churches exist within the boundaries of certain denominations, so my comments here are not intended to attack denominations.  Some of these churches exist outside the boundaries of denominations, but my remarks are in no way intended to exalt non-denominational churches.  Once again, I assert that the devil is not the problem.

Neither are doctrinal differences.  On the surface, it would appear that doctrinal differences are major contributors to church conflict and division, but in reality, they are not.  The true cause is the pride of church leaders, or would-be-leaders, who arrogantly and pridefully exalt their limited thinking above the limitless thinking of the Lord.  Yes, this has happened, and continues to happen in the church, and yes, when it happens, a segment or group from a congregation or already existing denomination departs the church, often to begin their own work.  But is was NOT the doctrinal difference(s) that caused it, but the pride of those who exalted their thinking above God’s.

Still, the Word of God stands true.  Jesus is coming for a church that has come to a place the Scriptures call “the unity of the faith.”  Yes, we still have divisions, differences of opinion, and yes, it still arises from the pride of man, but in the end, we WILL come to the unity of the faith.  And yes, the church WILL become a body of believers without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.  The Scriptures have declared it.  But still, yes, right now, there are those who would argue with such a position.  Once again, it is an issue of man’s pride, placing his thinking above the Lord’s.  I don’t know precisely HOW “unity of the faith” and a “glorious church” will come about, but God has said it would, and it shall.  It’s up to you and me, my friend.  Will we be of those who exalt our own thinking above the thinking of God, holding to our pride and arrogance above being humbled under that mighty hand of God?  I choose to NOT be so.  By holding fast to the truth of God’s Word, we may not find ourselves exalted in any measure by man, but we SHALL be exalted by God.  Once again, He has said it would be, and if God said it, that settles it.

Manna for Today – Acts 6:1-7; Matthew 16:13-20; Galatians 5:6; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:3;              John 14:15-17; Proverbs 16:18; Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:27

And Still They Rise – Part I

Conflict in the church is nothing new; it has existed from the church’s earliest days.

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Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

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One of the saddest elements with which the church, and especially its leadership, must deal, is conflict.  And while it has been dealt with from the earliest days of the church, it does not seem to have diminished.  Allow me to come directly to the point.  WHEN and IF conflict arises in the church, the problem is human.  Certainly, God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) is NOT the problem.  And I’ll really step out on what some would call “thin ice” here, and say the devil is NOT the problem.  After all, Jesus said He would build His church upon the rock of revelation knowledge that He was Lord, and that “the gates of hell” would “not prevail against it.”  I believe Jesus.  Furthermore, I will not so dignify the devil as to voluntarily assign him ANY power against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially in the light that we have been given the Lord’s Name, authority, ability, Word, and promise that we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ.   So, if there is a problem with conflict in the church, it is surely a human problem.

And under the scrutiny of the light of God’s Word, that human problem of which I write is singular in its origin.  Simply stated, it is the failure of man to obey the Lord.  From a broader perspective, we can use other words, different expressions to identify that failure, but they all come back to that single premise – failure of man to obey the Lord.  Thus far we know the “who” (man) and the “what” (failure to obey the Lord), but what is the “why?”  Once again, in truth, the answer is quite simple.

But first, allow a simple inquiry?  Keep in mind here, I am not inquiring concerning the world’s attitude towards obedience to God, but the church; the believer; the Christian.  Why would ANYONE who is a child of God, if they truly believe in the person, power, and personal relationship with the Lord, and if they truly believe the Bible to be the Word of God, choose to step out of bounds from the Word of God?  Think on that for a moment.  The moment ANYONE believes that his/her thoughts, ideas, and concepts are better than God’s, pride enters the picture, and a fall is not far behind.  An accompanying agent of pride is division, competition for favor that is freely given through faith.  It is NOT being smarter, stronger, or superior to one’s brothers in sisters in Christ, but rather faithfulness in obedience that brings the good of the land to the table.  If my idea does not fit within the plan of God, and yet I hold to my idea, it is pride; nothing more, nothing less.  And with that pride, division, and ultimately failure.

Manna for Today – Acts 6:1-7; Matthew 16:13-20; Galatians 5:6; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:3;              John 14:15-17; Proverbs 16:18

Daily, NOT Once a Week

How should one take a life-saving medical prescription?  According to the instructions

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Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

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When a top athlete is training for a competition in which he/she may well become known as the best in the world at their sport/event, they don’t train once a week; it’s a daily, and sometimes multiple times daily, that training is done.  When a medical student is earnestly striving to become the best he/she can be in a particular field of medicine, he/she does not give time, energy, and effort to study once per week; rest assured that such study is a daily thing, often at the expense of sleep or self-comfort.  When one had been diagnosed with a serious ailment that will require specific medical and therapeutic treatment for a long period of time on a regimen of several times each week, and it is known that without such treatment and regimen, that the patient will die, that person does not enter into that regimen casually, applying it once or twice monthly; it is done when, where, and how the physician prescribes it.

Now consider one’s walk in Christ.  It is truly a matter of life and death.  We know that death and life are in the power of the tongue.  The life of such power comes from the Word of God.  The Scriptures are plain as to the need for regular, daily, frequent, and on-going application of the Word into one’s life.  And the life of which I write is more than the beating of one’s heart.  It is life in the spirit man, that part of man that is eternal and is made in the image of God.  The life of which I write is soulish life – mind, will, intellect, and emotions.  The life of which I write is the physical man, and the Word of which I speak is life to one’s flesh and health to one’s marrow.  In short, I speak of life for the WHOLE man – spirit, soul, and body.

In our Text for Today we read that the disciples were engaged in the work of the Word of God EVERY DAY, and WHEREVER they were.  Take a moment to read our Manna for Today.  Again and again we are admonished, even commanded, that this book of the law, God’s Word, should be an ever-present, on-going, never-ending application in our life in speech, action, location, and intention.  If God’s Word is life to us and health to our flesh, it is surely important.  If it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, it is surely important.  If it is the hearing of the Word that brings faith, and if it is impossible to please God without faith, the Word of God is surely important.  It’s not just for Sunday – IT IS FOR EVERY DAY!

Manna for Today – Acts 5:17-42; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:2;     Matthew 12:34-37; Romans 3:4

Are You So Accounted?

Every believer should have a burning desire to be accounted by God as faithful.

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Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

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Are you a Christian?  Do you really love the Lord?  Have you ever been in a place of suffering shame of any kind for His Name because you love Him?  Allow me a brief spot of your time today to speak to the issue of suffering shame for His Name.  In what we might term “faith circles,” suffering is often cast aside as an afterthought, or even something shameful.  So many “faith people” think that suffering of any kind is an indication that one’s faith is inadequate to lift one above the suffering and into a life that is totally free from it.  My friend, if that is your thinking, you need to hear the truth of the matter, AND you need to grow up.

I am, without equivocation, one of what is called “a faith person.”  I am unashamedly a “faith preacher.”  I am without hesitation one who believes from an absolutely Biblical perspective what many try to demean by calling it “confess it – possess it,” or “name it – claim it” faith.  I believe the Bible, and I pray you do, too.  However, I am NOT one of those who thinks one can live any kind of a life, speak whatever they want, treat people in any manner they choose, and use God as my purveyor of a wish list.  Such thinking is absolutely ludicrous.  Living and practicing holiness is demanded and expected.  Speaking the truth in love is demanded and expected.  Knowing and applying the principles of faith that works by love is demanded and expected.  And I could continue, but time and space prohibit that.  I am a man of grace, understanding that grace ONLY comes through faith.  And to that I must add, faith can ONLY be established on the Word of God.  If your life is NOT lived according to the Word of God, you limit the ability of faith to work in your life, for faith works by love, and the love of God is to keep His commandments.

So, my question to you is simple.  It has nothing to do with whether you have battled issues of sickness, disease, financial matters, emotional attacks by the enemy, and the like, for such are NOT are arenas of suffering shame for His Name.  People suffer that because there is a very real outlaw named Satan who has come to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  My question is, “Has your faith in Christ, has your walk of obedience to the Lord and His Word, brought about revilings, persecutions, being cast out, mocked, or ridiculed for the sake of the Name of the Lord?”  I’ll leave it there.  Are you so accounted?

Manna for Today – Acts 5:17-42; John 3:16; Romans 3:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:3; John 10:10

And When God Moves…..

Is the church really ready for a move of God?  Here He comes, ready or not.

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Acts 4:31And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

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I know there are some people who will say I am just playing with words, but I am not.  There is a hunger and desire that is growing in my spirit-man every day.  Dear one, I have witnessed more manifestations of the power of Jehovah and the gifts of the Spirit than I can recall, and for each one of them I am eternally grateful.  I love to recall all of them I can, share them with others, and use them at every opportunity as a launching point for thanks, praise, and worship to my Father.

Now some may think me foolish, but I long for more; I long for a might MOVE of God.  Once again, I am thankful to the Lord for all of His manifestations, but when Abba MOVES, things get shaken.  How I pray for our Father God to MOVE among His people, to MOVE among the nations, to MOVE in His church!  You can see the results of Yahweh moving in the Scriptures.  When Father left the Temple when the veil was torn, the earth shook, and the entire Jewish system of worship was shaken.  Oh, that Father would move!  When Paul and Silas praised the Lord from a Philippian jail, God inhabited their praise, and the earth shook.  The jails were opened, chains and shackles fell off, Paul and Silas were set free, and the entire household of the Philippian jailer was saved.  Oh, that the Lord God would come into our praise again and shake prisoners free.  And when Jesus comes to establish His kingdom on this earth, there will be a mighty earthquake.  Oh, that He would demonstrate that coming by so establishing His kingdom in the hearts of men and women of God, especially those in the five-fold ministry, that the people they address would find themselves shaken to their foundations by those who have been shaken to their foundations.  In other words, if men and women of God will shake others, they must first be shaken.  Oh, great and Mighty Ancient of Days, in the Name of Jesus, MOVE, and shake me with your Self that I might be a vessel You can use to shake a sin-soaked, sick, depressed, poverty-stricken world that they might clearly see You Who are exalted on high.

Manna for Today – Isaiah 66:1; Nahum 1:3; Acts 4:6-31; Acts 16:25-26; Matthew 27:51-54; Psalm 18:7; Psalm 68; Hebrews 12:24-39

Biblical Obedience

The highest demonstration of love for God is to obey Him.  It’s that simple.

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Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

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When you are searching for a definition, the best resource to which you can go is the originator of the term.  In the case of Biblical terms, the best resource for absolutely correct definitions is the Bible itself.  The world, and especially the religious mind will give you all sorts of definitions for Biblical terms.  Ask any religious minded individual to define faith, joy, grace, or love, and you’ll hear more variations of definition than you can remember, and most of them will not be Biblical.  They will be secular, humanistic, emotion-based, or covered with intellectual trappings that sound intelligent, but in reality, just don’t stand up under scrutiny; constantly changing as feelings, emotions, or circumstances change.  But if you would know the absolute, unchanging, unalterable definition, go to the Word of God.

Look at our Text for Today.  The disciples made an unchanging doctrinal statement that should be applied to every believer’s life.  “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Yet in today’s world, people who call themselves Christian are declaring that anything that sounds good,  or that is soothing to the mind and flesh, or that suits their political or social agenda is acceptable as Christian behavior.  Such teaching and thinking is absolutely ungodly, and should not be accepted in any manner by the Church of the Lord Jesus.

Since faith works by love, and since that one cannot please God without faith, it seems to me that for the believer to walk in the love of God is of paramount importance.  Take a moment and read our Manna for Today.  As you read it, one thing should become imminently clear, and it is definitively stated in 1 John 5:3.  “This is the love of God, that you keep His commandments.”  My friend, regardless of any circum- stance, situation, feeling, or emotion, to walk in the love of God, you MUST KEEP HIS COMMAND-MENTS.

Now the question rises to the front in our world today.  Will the church obey man (society, religion, humanism, political correctness), or will the church obey God?  I ask this question simply.  After all, it is a simple question.  Will the church go social or spiritual?  Will the church go religious or righteous?  Will the church go humanistic or holy?  Will the church go politically correct or power centered (based on the Word of God)?  Think on this.  Blood (sacrifice) is required for remission of sin.  If obedience is better than sacrifice that is absolutely required, what does that say of obedience?

Manna for Today – Acts 5:17-42; 1 Samuel 15:22 ; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 John 5:3; John 14:15-17

The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

Rarely discussed, and even less understood, yet a foundational truth to life in Christ.

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Acts 5:26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

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Fearing the Lord without the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, I believe, gives place for misunderstanding, and is therefore too often avoided in teaching and conversation.  And when it is taught or discussed, it is done so in a manner that keeps hidden the great work of the fear of the Lord in one’s life.  Think of this.  How often in the Scriptures, especially in the words of Jesus Himself, do we read a command like, “Fear not?”  And yet we read throughout the Scriptures of the importance of the fear of the Lord.  It seems to me that “the fear of the Lord” is NOT to be taken in the same understanding of what it means to be fearful, or to be afraid.  I simply ask that you consider what I say.

Take a moment and read Isaiah 11:2-3, followed by Deuteronomy 28:10.  I believe that when read together, these two passages can bring great clarity to one’s understanding of the “fear of the Lord,” and especially, “the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.”

First of all, allow me to be as clear as possible.  Our Great God, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are in NO way to be taken lightly.  Rather, Jehovah, in all His manifestations, should be taken very seriously and with great reverence.  This is certainly an element of the fear of the Lord.  To “fear the Lord” is to stand in great and steadfast reverential awe of God, Who He is, and He can and desires to do.  But to see and hold that perspective in its proper place, one needs to have the unmistakable presence of “the Spirit of the fear of the Lord” in one’s life.  For that to be clearly seen, we must “see this coin” from its other side.  While “fearing the Lord” is an attitude that should indwell all men, especially believers, “the Spirit of the fear of the Lord” is the abiding presence of Holy Ghost in one’s life that ONLY belongs to the believer, the child of God.  When that is present upon one’s life, there is a notable manifestation on that life that is perceived by the world, though is will not understand it.  The problem arises when the believer does not understand it, and too often pulls back from it.

Once again read Deuteronomy 28:10.  Do you see it?  There it clearly states that “the world shall be afraid of you because they see you are called by the Name of the Lord.”  That, dear one, is a clear manifestation of “the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.”  That done not mean that the world will run from you in stark terror.  Rather it means that you very presence will bring upon them a sense of the need to stand in awe of you as you stand in awe of your Lord.  It is, in effect, a manifestation of the law of reciprocity.  Read it, my friend, believe it, and let faith arise in your heart, making room for Holy Spirit to manifest His proven Word in your life.

Manna for Today – Acts 5:17-42; Isaiah 11:2-3; Psalm 19:9 & 34:11; Proverbs 8:13, 9:18, 10:27,    14:26-27, 15:33, & 19:23; Acts 9:31; Deuteronomy 28:10

 

 

 

Locked, but Empty

What good are locks if you can’t keep what you’ve locked away?

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Acts 5:23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

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I love the imagery set forth in our Text for Today.  Read it once again for yourself.  The prison was securely locked with no sign in entry or exit.  But when the gates and doors were unlocked, they couldn’t find anyone inside.  There were no tunnels, no broken locks, no slain, wounded, drugged, or bribed guards.  The prison was MYSTERIOUSLY empty.  This scene is a reminder of other instances in God’s Word when God’s men were imprisoned.  For Paul, we see an earthquake that loosed their bonds, broke open the prison doors, and set every man free.  We see it for Elisha in his statement to his servant, even before anything could be seen, that there were more with the two of them than there were with all the enemies that could be seen.  When Darius looked into the den of lions, expecting to them the lions licking blood from their grizzled mouths, he saw lions with closed mouths and Daniel using his mouth to give glory to God.  When Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fiery furnace, instead of ashes and charred remains of those who were cast in, he saw FOUR men walking about, and FOURTH was like unto the son of God.  And let us not forget David; a lad the Philistines expected to see on the head of Goliath’s spear, instead brought Goliath’s head from the field of battle, having been severed from his shoulders.  And one more; Samson facing a thousand Philistines.  His death seemed imminent, yet hopeless as it seemed, they all fell to the jawbone of an ass.

In each of these instances, it appeared that the fate of a man of God was sealed, either by superior forces, unquenchable fire, hunger ravaged lions, giants, or prison bars with guards.  Yet in every case, as much as it seemed their fate was “locked tightly away,” when the light was cast on the final scene, they were all set free.  That, dear friend, is the hand of God at work for those He has called if they will, in faithfulness, answer that call.

And so, it can be for you, too, my dear friend.  I know God has called you to something of His divine choosing.  I know He has made it possible for you to be fully equipped for that to which He has called you.  The question then is this – are you faithfully preparing yourself to walk in that calling with every resource He has made available to you?  It’s up to you.  When the enemy comes for you, and he will, will he find your place of captivity empty?  I pray so.

Manna for Today – Acts 5:17-42; John 8:31-32; Matthew !8:18-20; Matthew 12:34; Romans 3:4;     Psalm 107:20