To the Phone, or to the Throne

First aid for afflictions is prayer.  It’s called “first aid” because it’s the FIRST aid you seek.

Text for Today – James 5:13 – Is any among you afflicted?  Let him pray..

What person is there among us who has never faced affliction of some kind?  I am not talking about sickness or disease here.  According to James, that has a different remedy.  I am talking about afflictions that we could call cares, pressures, or other anxiety-like manifestations.  We have all faced them at some point.

Look closely at what the Word instructs us to do in such cases.  James writes, “Let him pray.”  It’s really quite simply.  That mean, PRAY.  When pressures come, pray.  When cares of this life stack up against you, pray.  When afflictions of any kind come upon or against you, pray.  That’s quite straightforward, isn’t it?

However, I have noticed something different from that as it relates to most church folk.  In what is now more than five decades of ministry, with over half that time in the office of a pastor, I have observed that most Christians follow a traditional path where afflictions are concerned; a path that is contrary to the Word, and will therefore be non-effective in seeking the Lord’s assistance in the matter.  You see, the Bible tells us that we can make the Word of God of “none effect” by following our traditions rather than complying with the Word of God.  I know it sounds silly to think that we can do something that makes the powerful Word of God that saves, heals, delivers, cleanses, and enlightens, absolutely non-effective in our lives.  Never forget that Jesus said that hearing the Word of God and not doing it is foolishness, and that is certainly sin.

When pressures come against you, where do you go?  As a pastor, I can assure you that I loved with all my heart the congregation the Lord had given me to serve.  I wanted to know their condition.  I wanted to be a blessing in their lives.  I wanted to pray for them and ministry to them.  But PLEASE note the command of the Word.  If you are afflicted (under pressure), don’t go the phone first; go to the throne first.  To put it simply, pray first.  Obey the Scriptures, for your obedience is better than any sacrifice, and that includes the sacrifice a pastor or elder may make to come to your side when you’re under pressure.  Your obedience to

God will bring His power on the scene for you far more quickly than your pastor can pray it on the scene.  God’s power can be present on the scene for you before you dial your pastor’s telephone number.  So, if you’re afflicted, go to the throne first, not the phone.

Manna for Today – Luke 18:1-8; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23

Not What, But Who

It is vital in life that people learn to ask the RIGHT questions. 

Text for Today – Matthew 18:19 – Again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Which is in heaven.

We live in a WHAT generation, a WHAT culture.  WHAT seems to be the key question of our age.  WHAT resources, WHAT tools, WHAT path, WHAT strategy . . . and on and on goes the litany of WHAT questions.  As believers, as Christians, we need to be identified with a different question.  And if you are a Christian leader, it would be wise for you to use your leadership influence to help others establish that ne identity as well.  We should become the WHO generation, the WHO culture.

In 1978, when he set his sites on the Emperor Face of Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies, Jim Logan said, “I realized that the most important element of my strategy lay not in the specifics of the route, but in who I picked as a partner.”  At that point, the Emperor Face had never been scaled, and with such a difficult climb before him, Jim Logan needed a partner that would give him the greatest chance of success, regardless of what he encountered.

For Jim Logan, that was the height of wisdom relating to that climb.  And so it is for the wise believer today.  Regardless of any other circumstance, or set of circumstances, the key question is not WHAT, but WHO is it with whom I can partner to give me the greatest chance of success.  My friend, in every case, without exception, your answer is Jesus.  Of course, you already knew that.  If there is no one else on the planet that will partner with you in your work or ministry, Jesus will, IF you’re operating in faith, and with Biblical principles (and since Jesus is the Word, even that is still a WHO question).

Still, that question lingers.  WHO?  You see, often, the one you need to partner with you is a WHO of the Lord’s choosing to serve as His personal ambassador in the climb you face.  Let me describe him/her for you.  This WHO is a born again, Spirit-filled, sold out to the Word of God, with his/her heart and mouth filled constantly with God’s Word.  The WHO I am describing is a person of absolute integrity, whose “yes” is “yes,” and whose “no” is “no.”  The WHO is a person living Psalm 15, and verse four of that Psalm says, “He that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not.”  That is the kind of person who will be with you to the end, as long as they have breath.  I can assure you, that is the kind of person I choose to partner with me in my life’s worthwhile endeavors.  But remember, our choice is not just in the one person you see.  It’s in Jesus first, and the person with Jesus on the inside of them second.

Manna for Today – Deuteronomy 32:30; Amos 3:3; Psalm 15; Isaiah 54:17; Joshua 1:8

Preserved

Read Psalm 64, study it, meditate upon it.  It is one of your greatest saving elements.

Text for Today – Psalm 64:1 – Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer:  preserve my life from the fear of the enemy.

First of all, make the quality decision today to believe God and His Word, regardless of the situation and present circumstances about you.  Each of those adverse circumstances and situations you face today are facts.  However, facts change!  That’s why I said to make the quality decision to believe God and His Word.  You see, God’s Word is higher than the facts.  God’s Word is Truth.  Once again, facts change, but truth does not.

Today, you could be dealing with the fact that some sickness or disease is attempting to take up residence in your body.  The truth is that by the stripes of Jesus you were healed.  Today, you could be dealing with the fact that you are swamped by debt and unemployed.  The truth is that God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Today, you could be facing the fact that there are certain people who are intently working to bring you to harm in some way.  The truth is that no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and that every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn.  It makes no difference what kind of negative fact you may be facing, or even imagine, there is truth in God’s Word to which you can take hold and overcome and nullify that fact.

Our Text for Today is a prayer to the Lord to “preserve my life from the fear of the enemy.”  The truth you need to know here is that God wants to answer your prayer, and if He hears you, He does just that.  The truth for you here is that Mark 11:22-24 really does work, not just some of the time, but every time it is put to work in faith.

Today, right now, make the decision to put fear beneath your feet.  God has not given you the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.  How often in Scripture are we commanded to “fear not?”  The number is too great to mention here.  Just accept God’s Word, take it as a commandment, carry it out, and in so doing, walk in the love of God.  There, in the love of God, is where your faith really works.  Then pray the prayer of our Text for Today, and expect God to bring it to pass in your life.  He will!

Manna for Today – Isaiah 54:17; Psalm 91; 1 Peter 2:24; Philippians 4:19; 1 John 5:3; 1 John 5:14-16; Psalm 64 (read and meditate upon it all)

Greater Than His Name?

Above His Name there is no other.  ONLY His Word is more magnified.

Text for Today – Psalm 138:2 – I will worship toward Thy holy Temple, and praise Thy Name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy Truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name.

Oh, what a glorious Name, the Name of Jesus!  He is Lord Advocate General of the church.  He is Healer, Deliverer, Provider, Messiah, and Savior.  Hallelujah, He is my elder Brother, and with Him I am a joint-heir.  Above His Name there is NO other.  There is no other name given under heave by which we must be saved.  At the mention of His Name, every knee must bow, of beings in heaven, in earth, and under the earth.  In that Name is all authority.  In that Name we cast our devils.  In that Name the sick are healed.  And He has given us absolute power of attorney to use that Name to carry out His will in this present life.  Wow!  That’s awesome!

However, as great and exalted as His Name is, there is yet something more exalted.  I am sure you’ve heard the expression, “A man’s word is his bond.”  If anyone understands that statement, it is our Lord.  Though heaven and earth pass away, His Word will never pass away.  He hastens His Word to perform it.  Of course, we must keep in mind that Jesus and His Word are One.  Read John 1:1.  There you will see that God and the Word are One.  Read further, and you will see that it was the Word that became flesh.  Jesus was the fleshly manifestation of the Word of God.  Now you and I are part of His body.  We are His personal representation in the earth today.  To that end, we should strive with all that is in us to be men and women of the Word.

And there is more good news to share about that.  If we are people of the Word, when God hastens His Word to perform it, when He  confirms His Word with signs following, He does so, working through us as members of His body, His personal ambassadors, speaking for Him with His authority in the earth.  So, my friend, go to the Word, read the Word, study the Word, believe the Word, obey the Word, live the Word, speak the Word, and let nothing contrary to the Word proceed from your mouth.  God will uphold you, and will confirm His Word from your mouth with signs following.  Now that’s really living!  He will manifest His Word that He has magnified above His Own Name in your personal life. 

Manna for Today – Matthew 24:15; Hebrews 1:3; Isaiah 55:11; Joshua 1:8; Acts 4:12; John 1:1; Philippians 2:10

A Place Called THERE

God wants you “THERE.”  Never settle for anywhere else.  ONLY “THERE.”

Text for Today – Exodus 33:21 – . . . Behold, there is a place by Me . . .

I encourage you to read the complete passage of Exodus 33:12-23 to give you an established setting from which to view our Text for Today.  See the whole story. Moses has asked to see the face of God, but God tells Him that to do so would be his own death warrant.  God does, however, make Moses and offer he can’t refuse.  God tells Moses He would put Moses in “A cleft of THE rock,” then cover him with His hand, pass by, and allow Moses to look on His back parts. 

Now note closely where “A cleft in THE rock is located.  I realize the word “there” may or may not signify a specific, known place.  I also realize the word “there”  in our Text for Today is in italics, indicating it was not in the original Hebrew language, but that does not lessen its meaning in today’s Second Miler.  When you read our Text for Today, read it as if you were saying to someone, “I live in Houston, Texas.”  You could just as easily take a map of Texas. Point out Houston, and say, “I live there.”  At that moment, Houston, Texas is a place called “there.”

Now understand the two articles used in this passage: the articles “A” and “THE.”  “A” is an indefinite article indicating many clefts with a given rock.  “THE” is a definite article indicating the existence of only one rock; and that rock is Jesus.  Each of us has a place, or a cleft, in Jesus.  We are all part of His body.  Our problems arise when we try to fill someone else’s cleft.  Or it oould be that we are simply not content to fill the one He has for us specifically.

Note one more thing before we conclude today.  God wanted to reveal His goodness to Moses.  In order for Moses to have God’s goodness revealed to him he had to be in that particular cleft of THE rock that God had designed just for him.  Are you where God wants you today?  Or are you trying to fit into someone else’s place?  Or are you simply wandering about, discontent by not having found your place?  Don’t worry about finding it.  Seek God, and He’ll show you where it is, and even put you in it, if you’ll just let Him.  Always remember, “THERE” is a place God has just for you that is by Him where He will cover you with His hand.  There is no better place to be than “THERE.”

Manna for Today – Exodus 33:12-23; 2 Chronicles 7:11-20; Deuteronomy 28:1-15; Genesis 17

The Riches of Unity

Use your faith, create conditions through obedience, and make those conditions a place in life.

Text for Today – Psalm 133 – Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there, the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Read these three verses closely.  In fact, it would do you well to read them several times.  Here, God mentions a place called “unity.”  It is a very special place, a place where your abilities to soar into the supernatural, where the only impossibility is impossibility.  It is a place of extraordinary blessing, power, and victory that only brings life, for it is only manifest through life.  And not just any life, but eternal life, “life for evermore.”

Note, too, the direction from which the power of this unity flows; down.  It does not rise up like a grass-roots movement, in order to unite people about a common cause.  Rather, it is the common cause, the united vision, the harmony and agreement of the many that prepares the way for the supernatural blessing of the One; that is, for the blessing of the life of God to come.

Finally, note the authority that is released by this marvelous state of being called “unity.”  It is there, in that place of existence called “unity,” that “the blessing (of God), even life for evermore” is “commanded.”  There, in that place called “unity,” God does not permit or allow eternal life, nor does He pay it as something earned.  HE COMMANDS IT!  And it is not simply what we think of as living forever with Him, but rather the manifest power of that life in this present world.  In that pace called “unity,” the life of God becomes manifest in our present life for healing, and ultimately health; for provision, and ultimately prosperity; for the peace of God, and ultimately the God of peace.

If you don’t presently live there, in that place called “unity,” make travel plans now, and join yourself to a body of believers with whom you can worship, where you can be well-fed, and where a God-given vision can become your possession.

Manna for Today – Deuteronomy 32:30; Amos 3:3; Matthew 18:19-20; Ephesians 4:11-14

Brighter Than the World

Here is the key to shining as brightly as you possibly can.  Use it, and use it well.

Text for Today – Psalm 119:98-100 – Though, through Thy Commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies:  for they are ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy Testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy Precepts.

People who will be successful in today’s world must be sharp in so many ways; physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.  Being sharp in some of these areas may help you be above average, but just being above average simply won’t be enough to get to the top and stay there.  One must become that remain brighter than the world.  But how can you do this when Jesus Himself said, “The children of this world are in their generation, wiser than the children of light.”?  The answer in in our Text for Today.

By constantly keeping His Commandments (the Word) with you and obeying them, He will make you wiser than your enemies.  And if you are wiser than your enemies, you can overcome them.  By meditating upon His Testimonies (the Word), He will give you more understanding than your teachers.  If you understand more than your teachers, you will find that truly smart people will want you around them, and will pay you for the privilege.  By keeping His Precepts (the Word), He will give you more understanding than your elders and those to whom the world has traditionally looked for wisdom.  If you understand more than your elders (those who have traditionally given their wisdom to the world), the world will eventually come to you, and once again, they will pay for the privilege.

Let me encourage you to get all the education you can, learn all you can, and gain all the true knowledge you can, but never, Never, NEVER allow any of it to take the place of the Word of God.  It is the Gospel of Christ (the Word) that is the very power of God released into the earth.  Keep it continually in your heart, and keep refreshing it daily in your spirit.  Trust God and believe His Word.  The Word will never fail.  God will always fulfill His Word, hastening over it to perform it.

Manna for Today – John 8:31-32; Psalm 119:105; Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 4:20-23; Proverbs 6:20-22; Luke 16:8; Romans 1:16; Jeremiah 1:12

The Place of Constant Communion

Let’s look at two awesome places of power.

Text for Today – Psalm 15:1 – Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle  Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?

The tabernacle was a place of meeting for the Lord and the high priest.  This was the place, later taken by the Temple, where the Ark of the Covenant resided in the Holy of holies behind the veil.  This was the place where the high priest came to commune with the Lord in behalf of His people, Israel, to make intercession for them, and to assure that the blood of offering for the atonement of the sins of Israel had been accepted by the Lord.  The holy hill was the mountain of the Lord; that place where God chose to meet with His man, the prophet of the Lord, in order to pass down His instructions, laws, and orders through the prophet to the people.  These were the designated points of meeting between God and His chosen servants.  The priest went to God for the people, and the prophet went to the people for God.

The questions in our Text for Today as who is that person that shall abide and dwell in those two places; the place where God hears and answers, and the place where the man of God hears and obeys.  The four verses following our Text for Today answer those questions in a clear and powerful fashion.  As you read Psalm 15 in its entirety, one element seems to really stand out profoundly; TRUTH.  In order to “walk uprightly and work righteousness,” you must know the TRUTH.  In order to “speak the truth,” you must know the TRUTH.  By having His Word (the TRUTH) hidden in your heart, you won’t sin through “backbiting . . . doing evil to your neighbor . . . nor taking up reproach against your neighbor.”  When you are full of the light of the Word of God, the “vile person” will experience the conviction of Holy Ghost.  When you are full of TRUTH, living the TRUTH, you will “swear to your own hurt and change not.”  You will be a person of absolute integrity, keeping your word, regardless of its cost to you.  You will handle your finance Biblically, not allowing desire for increase to cause you to mistreat any other person.

The last verse brings a marvelous conclusion to this Psalm.  “He that doeth these things shall never be moved.”   One might say this is a very exclusive, gated community in which to abide.  People committed to this level of TRUTH are not often found, but I do believe their numbers are increasing.  And as to being a gated community, it is a community that is at the same time both inclusive and exclusive.  Keeping in mind that the gate here is one’s mouth, the person’s mouth is always open to the Word of God (TRUTH), and closed to anything contrary to it.  If you haven’t already done so, make the decision to move into that community today.

Manna for Today – James 3:1-13; Ephesians 4:29

A Most Precious Inheritance


I can’t speak for you, but I want my inheritance that Jesus died to give me.

Text for Today – Psalm 2:8 – (The Lord said)Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  (Parenthetical insertion is my own)

Jesus said He had come to seek and to save that which was lost.  He also said that He sent us forth as the Father had sent Him.  His plan in relation to His church has not changed.  He expects us to continue in the earthly ministry that He began.  He came and performed that part of the work that only He could do.  He was beaten, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead in order to be the propitiation for our sins.  He was “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.”  That was the Old Testament accounting, and the New Testament changes the issue of healing to past tense when it says, “by Whose stripes ye WERE healed.”  Thank God for wonderful work of redemption Jesus, and only Jesus, could have accomplished.

Still, however, there are multitudes of lost folk who desperately need Jesus as their Lord and personal Savior.  Without Him they will go to hell.  Jesus is their only answer, and it is our job to bring them to Jesus.  It is our job to bring them to birth through our sowing of His Word continually into their lives, and by our intercessions (the travailing of Zion) to bring them into the kingdom of God.  The task is enormous, the labor intense, and our enemy determined.  However, greater is He that is in us that he that is in the world, and as a result, we are well able to go up, enjoin the battle for souls, and win.

In our Text for Today, the Lord said very clearly that He would give us the heathen for our inheritance if we would ask Him for them.  They belong to Him.  But remember, that faith without corresponding action is dead.  If you ask Him for the lost, get ready to go to work to bring them to Jesus.  If you will ask, and then go to work to harvest the souls for whom you ask, the Lord will keep His Word to you.  And what a precious inheritance!   What should it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?  By the same token, how much profit does it bring to the kingdom of God for you to ask for your inheritance, and then go get it?

Manna for Today – Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 16:26; James 2:17; Isaiah 66:8

Only Three

God made it simple.  It took mankind, theologians, and Satan’s aid to make is difficult to grasp.

Text for Today – Matthew 4:1 – The was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

To grasp today’s thought more fully, you will need to read the account of the temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4.  After His baptism by John, Holy Ghost led Jesus into the wilderness to face three temptations; only three. They were: (1st) if You’re really the Son of God, turn these stones to bread; (2nd) if You’re really the Son of God, cast yourself down from the pinnacle of the Temple; and (3rd) bow down and worship me (the devil) in order to receive the world’s kingdoms and their glory.

These three temptations cover the entire gambit of temptations any human will ever face.  In the first one, Jesus was hungry after having fasted for 40 days.  He was dangerously close to starvation, and being tempted to turn stones to bread for His Own benefit was a temptation to DISTRUST Father.  Casting Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple as a test of His Sonship was a temptation to DISOBEY Father.  Finally, being offered the kingdom of the world and their glory to bow and worship Satan was a temptation to DISOWN Father.

Every temptation you have ever faced, or will ever face, will fall into one of these three categories.  Every temptation is an attempt to get you to distrust God to meet your basic needs, especially when the senses are screaming at you, or an attempt to get you to disobey God by deliberately placing yourself in a place of doing something you know is wrong (or refusing to do what you know you should do), or an attempt to get you to disown God by bowing to any authority other that the Word of God.

As you read the temptation account, you discover that not only were there only three temptations, but there were likewise only three answers.  While many Bible teachers focus on the temptations, perhaps we should look more closely at the responses to them, learn those answers, and learn how and when to apply them.  (1Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  (2Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  (3The Lord thy God alone thou shalt worship and thou shalt serve.  Only three temptations.  Only three answers.  Now that’s not that difficult.  Jesus made it easy, so just do it.

Manna for Today – 2 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 5:4; John 16:33