Back to Dust

There is more to be said about how long you live than most people ever imagine.  Let’s think together.

Text for Today – Genesis 2:7 – And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground . . .

God made man from the dust of the earth. That is really only fitting.  We need to understand that it was only the body that was thus made.  If you are going to live in the earth, you need and earth suit, and that is exactly what God prepared for man; a suit made from earth.  We call it a body. 

God had a high purpose for His man.  His man was to worship and fellowship with Him, to be fruitful and multiply the number of earth suits in the earth (you see, it is God Who gives the spirit), and to subdue that from which he was made; the earth.

When we read the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, once all the people were fed, the Lord had them take up all the fragments so that nothing would be wasted.  Our God is not a wasteful God.  He had designed into all of His creation perfect functionality, and when the elements of His creation are under His direct influence, nothing is wasted.

Your body, your earth suit, is designed to house the real you, your spirit man, and your possession, your soul.  Your body is only useful as long as you desire life.  Once you depart from your body, it lies down and returns to the dust from which it was formed.  Don’t allow that to happen prematurely in your life.

Psalm 91 says God will satisfy those who live Psalm 91 with life as long as they desire it.  What is your place and function in the earth, and in the body of Christ?  I have watched over the years as people have withdrawn from the ministry of serving others.  So often, when a person’s ministry of service to others ceases, they soon thereafter succumb to death.  Another scenario I have often witnessed here is the loss of health, so that pain and suffering burdens a person down and steals their joy of living.

If you are alive today in Christ, He has a purpose for you.  Find that purpose and fulfill it.  You may not run as fast as you once did, or last as long, or life as much, but if there is breath in you, you have  a role to fulfill in the plan and purpose of God.  Find it!  Fulfill it!  There is absolutely no reason for you to leave this world early.  Your smile, a kind word, your willingness to help others, your desire to serve; all of that can be used daily to minister to and serve others.  Keep busy for Jesus and enjoy the life He gives.  When you are satisfied with your life and what you have done for Jesus, you can elect to go be with Him.  That is what the Bible teaches, and I believe the Bible.  Don’t lay your body down until you are finished using it to please the Lord.

Manna for Today – Psalm 91; Ecclesiastes 12:7

Trees of Righteousness

Plant it, water it properly, give it all the light you can, and reap a great harvest.

_______________

Text for Today – Isaiah 61:3 – . . . that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.

_______________

I have enjoyed being a student of the handiworks of God most of my life.  I am convinced that everything God created, made, and did reveals something of His nature and character, and of His plans for us as His people.  I remember talking to a man who managed a plant nursery some years ago.  He spoke of the importance of watering plants.  He indicated that, all other things being equal, perhaps the most important aspect of a plants life and ability to produce was the manner in which it was watered.  Too much or too little water, and the plan could be damaged or stunted.  Just the right amount of water was critical.

Well, for you and me, the water of our lives is the Word of God, and according to the Lord, we need it continually.  That water is the Word of God.  We are to hear it, read it, study, it, speak it, and meditate upon it.  Read about God’s armor.  It’s all Word product, and we are to wear it.  It is indeed critical to our fruitfulness.  Read Psalm 1.  There we are told that we will be planted by rivers of water so we can be fruitful in our season.  Make not mistake about it, the water of God’s Word is critical for your fruitfulness as a believer.

Not long ago, I heard the following statement from a botanist.  She said, “Because of a plant’s response to light, it is assured to blossom and produce fruit in the proper season.”  One might say, “But I thought it was all about water.”  Such a person has missed my point.  I’m not talking about the green plants of the earth, but rather about you and me, the “trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD.”  You see, Jesus, the Word made flesh, is also our Light.  Any place the Word of God enters becomes enlightened by that Word.

As a tree of righteousness, as the planting of the Lord, as a tree planted by rivers of water, your fruitfulness is tied directly to the water (the Word of God) and the light (the Word of God) you receive on a constant basis.  In Alaska, where the growing season is quite short, the size of fruits produced is astounding.  There they have discovered that it is NOT the length of the season that permits such huge fruit to be produced, but the duration of constant light.  You see, in Alaska, during the summer, there are days when darkness only lasts an hour or two, and the sun shines for 22 or 23 hours.  Part of that country are called the land of the midnight sun.  When the water is plenteous, , the light makes the difference.  How is it in your life?  The water of God’s Word is plenteous.  Are you living in the light?  Are you producing fruit?  Go, grow, and produce.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1; Psalm 119:105; Psalm 119:130; John 1; John 8; John 12:35-50

Control Your Thinking; Change Your Whole Life

Words can be small, like little foxes, but they become spoilers of the vine (your fruitfulness).

Text for Today – Proverbs 23:7 – For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he . . .

Thoughts.  How incredibly power they are!  In our present day, so much has been written about the mind, or the soul of man, and yet there still seems to be a true shortage of understanding concerning the trinity of man.  Man is a spirit, he has a soul, and he lives in a body.  The spirit of the man is that which is born of God.  The soul is comprised of the mind, will, intellect, and emotions.  The body is his earth suit.  Without your body, you simply cannot remain here in the earth.  to be absent from the body, according the Apostle Paul, is to e present with your Lord.

Look closely at our Text for Today.  It does not say, as a man thinking in his mind, but “as a man thinks in his heart.”  Thoughts may originate in one’s mind, but they have their greatest potential when they enter into a man’s spirit, into the heart of man, where they can be sown, take root, and produce fruit.

Have you ever considered the soil?  It will generally produce whatever you plant in it; good or bad.  Wheat, corn, and poison ivy can grow in the same soil.  Lilies and thorns can grow in the same soil.  Desert soil can become an oasis, and an oasis can become a desert.  What makes the difference?  Assuming water is available in sufficient quantity, one thing makes the difference; the seed sown.

In the human mind  seeds are sown in so many ways.  Spoken words, written words, and pictures (worth a thousand words) sow thoughts in our mind.  When you speak a thought, you take it.  That’s what Jesus said.  He said, “Take no thought saying…”  Now you might say, “But thoughts come so quickly, and from everywhere.”  Or you might say, “I can’t stop them from coming.”  An old adage from country folks says, “You can’t stop birds (thoughts) from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let then nest in your hair (heart).”

You must  control thoughts when they come, capturing them in the authority of Jesus.  Remember, Jesus is the Word.  So, to bring a thought into captivity of Jesus Christ is to bring it under the authority of the Word.  How do you capture a thought?  You capture a thought by speaking God’s Word over it.  If the thought is in agreement with the Word, it will be sown into your spirit to produce fruit. If it is not in agreement with the Word, it will be cast down for trampling under foot.  So, if you want to change your life for the better, get your thought life under control, and make sure the controlling element is the Word of God.  And don’t become slack in your work.  Remain diligent on a daily basis in the work of renewing your mind.

Manna for Today – Philippians 3; Philippians 4:4-8; Matthew 6:24-34; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6;           Romans 12:2

The Determining Factor

How much of God do you want?  Delight yourself in Him, and drink your fill.

Text for Today – Esther 1:7-8 – And they gave them drink in vessels of God, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.  And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure.

This is an absolutely profound passage of Scripture.  The book of Esther is a beautiful picture of Christ, His church, and the pastoral role in the church.  King Ahasuerus is a type of Christ in the story.  Please make very close not of his actions.  He gave them drink (that is a type and shadow of Holy Ghost) in vessels of gold (this represents holy people of God), and each vessel was different (this speaks to each believer’s complete uniqueness in Christ).

Note that no one was compelled to drink.,  God doesn’t force Himself or Holy Ghost on anyone, even on His own saints.  There was a law concerning the drinking (a type of the Word of God by which God works, and by which He expects us to work, too).  And finally, every man could drink according to His own pleasure.  Wow!  What an awesome truth for us to meditate upon today!

As a child of God, you are (or at least should be) a vessel of honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use.  In short, you should be a golden vessel.  But you are also a man or woman of God.  God has given you Royal Wine, that is, Holy Ghost and His power.  God has made available to you all of Holy Ghost you desire.  He has not predetermined that one person should receive more of Holy Ghost than another.  We are all joint-heirs of Jesus.  How much of Holy Ghost you receive is up to you.  How much do you want?  The choice is yours.

I urge you to stop at some point today, now if possible, and answer this question.  Do I have all of Holy Ghost that I desire?  If the answer is “no,” then be of good cheer.  More is available to you; in fact, all you want.  Our heavenly Father has made Holy Ghost (the Royal Wine of His Kingdom) abundantly available to all His children.  How much you have is dependent upon how much your desire.  The more of His power and presence you have in your life, the more you can do for His kingdom, and the more you will see in your life.  So, open wide, drink Him in, and don’t stop just because you think you’ve had enough.  Drink all of Him you can, and do it daily.  The party Ahasuerus gave lasted seven days.  There not space here to discuss the prophetic implications of that.  The point is, he gave them all they could drink in seven days, without limitation.  God has given the same measure into your life.  The determining factor of how much you receive is YOU.  How much do you want?  How much are you willing to consume?

Manna for Today – Acts 2:14-16; Ephesians 5:18-21

Positioned for Favor

God has made it possible, but being in a position of favor is your choice.

Text for Today – Esther 5:1-2 – Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.  And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor in his sight.

What a beautiful picture!  It would bless you to read the entire book of Esther today as a basis for this devotion.  Esther was a Jewess, and a captive.  Her potential beauty (she was already attractive, but what was done to her and for her made her ravishingly beautiful) had put her into the coveted position of being queen.  Now, her title of queen not only brought riches with it, but many other important elements, as well.

Let’s digress for a moment.  Should a child wear the clothing to school that her parents purchased for that purpose?  Should an employee wear the company uniform what has been provided them to wear while working?  Should a surgeon wear sanitary clothing that is provided for surgical procedures while in surgery?  Should military personnel wear the uniform of their service branch while on duty?  I’m sure we all agree that the answer to all these questions is “yes.”  Well, in our Text for Today, Esther had put on her royal apparel in order to approach the king and get his attention.  Furthermore, she knew where to go to be recognized, and the posture she should assume befitting her estate as queen.

Now, back to the point of today’s Second Miler, “Positioned for Favor.”  Do you desire to walk in the uncommon favor of God?  You see, there’s nothing common about the favor of God.

  • Are you wearing what He has provided for you to wear in your approach to Him?  Are you dressed in the “whole armor of God?”
  • Have you been properly washed for your appearance before Him?  He has provided His Own blood for that purpose.
  • Have you come properly perfumed, having that sweet smelling aroma of the covering presence of Holy Ghost and the ever pleasing fragrance of faith?
  • Have you come to the right place for petition?  Are you bombarding the gates of heaven?  That’s about 750 miles off target.  Or have you come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace?
  • Have you assumed the posture desired by the Father for His children?  Are you groveling and begging, or are you standing in His righteousness and in faith, humbly submitted as a good soldier ready for action?

It’s up to you.  You CAN position yourself for God’s favor!  Hallelujah!

Manna for Today – Ephesians 6; Hebrews 4; Hebrews 11

Awesome

One songwriter penned it well.  “Our God is an awesome God.”

Text for Today – Psalm 48:1-2 – Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness.  Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

Look at the first four words of our Text for Today.  One word, “is,” is in italics, meaning it was added for clarification.  That’s alright with me, but read that opening declaration without the word “is.”  “Great the Lord.”  Down through history, there have been leaders who names have become synonymous with greatness, and have even had “the Great” attached to their names in recognition of that greatness (names like Alexander the Great, or Peter the Great).  During their reigns, the nations they ruled stood in awe of them.  They lived and fought to conquer and reign.  They are dead today, and their kingdoms are no more.

However, the life and kingdom of our Ruler is different.  He came, having emptied Himself of all divine privilege.  He demonstrated how to walk in victory before the battle for His kingdom.  The He suffered and died to remove every excuse from our path so we could enjoy living in a kingdom, which at that moment, was yet to come.  He won His greatest victory AFTER His death, and the moment of crowning glory for that victory was at His Own resurrection.  Now that’s AWESOME!   

Now He lives forevermore, of His kingdom there shall be no end, and He has declared Himself to be the door of that kingdom.  What makes that so AWESOME for you and me is that He has said, Whosoever will, let him come.”  v

Whatever you do, don’t lose the AWE from the AWESOMENESS of God.  Too many people have, and to them, Jesus is little more than a character in history.  I can tell you that my AWESOME Lord is much more than that.  He is my SaviorHealerProviderDelivererBrotherFriendAdvocateMediatorIntercessor, and much more.  Once again, I remind you to NEVER lose the AWE in the AWESOMENESS of God.  Here are the words the Lord spoke to my heart about the danger of losing or forgetting the AWESOMENESS of God.  “When one loses the AWE from the AWESOMENESS of God, what one has left is much of self and some of God.  That is absolutely costly, and ultimately fatal.”  It would serve us well to recall the words of John, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”  Now that’s AWESOME!

Manna for Today – Psalm 136

Keepers of the Anointing

You cannot imagine the value, the worth of this precious gift Father has placed in your safe-keeping.

Text for Today – Psalm 133 – Behold now 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 forevermore. 

Are you a Christian?  Then you are a “little anointed one.”  That is quite literally what the term Christian means.  Jesus said that Holy Ghost was upon Him because the Lord had anointed Him.  In Proverbs we read that the cause causeless will not come.  By the same token, blessings come for a reason as well.  Read the Beatitudes.  Every blessing has a cause.  The manifest presence of Holy Ghost in your life is a blessing, and for that blessing there is a cause.  What is the cause?  The anointing in your life is what God has anointed you to do, the role He has ordained that you should fill.

You are the keeper of the anointing(s) the Lord has placed in your life.  It is your responsibility to protect that anointing(s) in your life.  That means you must feed that anointing with the Word of God.  You must also keep that anointing in the presence of and available to Holy Ghost so He can utilize it in your life to the glory of God and for the edification of the body of Christ.  As you attend to your anointing(s), those same anointings will teach you how to apply them properly so they can be used powerfully by the Lord.

If you know about electric fences in which livestock are kept, you know that electrical current is not simply run through a wire from point A to point B.  First, there must be a complete circuit.  Are you in touch with God, and is God in touch with you?  If so, you have a complete circuit.  But there is something else that is necessary for the fence to work properly.  At points where the fence is attached to a post, the current will be grounded out unless the wire is passed over an insulator, allowing the current to flow through the system.  The anointings in your life are God’s insulators that allow His power to flow through you, not being grounded through you (which, by the way, could be fatal).

In short, guarding your anointings protects the flow of God’s power by Holy Spirit in your life, allowing the power of God to work through you, blessing others, edifying the body, and greatly enriching your life.  So, what has God set in your life for you to do?  Use it, but guard it.  You are the keeper of the anointing.

Manna for Today – Proverbs 26:2;Matthew 5:3-12; 1 John 2:20-27

No Favorites – Just Favored

God is always showing favor, but never favoritism.

Text for Today – Luke 2:52 – And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

I suppose you could say that the time from which our Text for Today was cited, Jesus was God’s favorite.  After all, at that moment, He was God’s “only begotten Son.”  When you’re an only child, it stands to reason that your are the parent’s favorite child.  However, when you’re NOT an only child, things may be different.  Truly loving parents will not have a favorite child, though different children in the same family may obtain more favor than the others.

Now there’s a thought.  And herein lies a fact that for too many believers is so difficult to grasp.  They mistake treatment as an indicator of how much God loves them.  Oh, how wrong they are.  Why did God choose Noah?  Why did God choose Moses?  Why did God choose Gideon?  Why did God choose Mary?  Was it because He loved them more than other of their era?  Absolutely NOT!  He shoes them because they found favor in His sight.  There was something in them that made them more desirable than their peers.  What was that something?  It was faith.

Hebrews 11:6 is such a powerful statement to the fact of what I am writing to you.  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  It could be stated this way.  “Without faith it is impossible to receive necessary favor from the Lord.”  However, with faith, all things are possible, or the necessary favor of God is present to accomplish anything.

Read Luke 1 closely.  Mary was favored of the Lord.  Her own words and attitude reveal why she was favored.  She had faith.  If God said it, that settled it with Mary.  How about you?  If God says it, does that settle it with you?  If it does, you are favored, too.  I know I am favored with by my Father.  I believe His Word.  I obey His Word.  I act upon His Word.  I have favor with God.  And like Jesus, I am continually growing in that favor.  Please know that this is a place into which one grows.  You don’t suddenly leap into a position of high favor with God.  Psalm 5 tells us that we are surrounded with favor as with a shield.  Ephesians 6 tells us to take the shield of faith “above all.”  Never think because you see someone having great favor with God that such a person is God’s favorite, or that God loves them more than you.  when you see someone having great favor with God, it is a matter of faith.  When you see that, you should seek to follow, or imitate, that example of how that favor was gained.  So, for favor, go to the Word, my friend, go to the Word.

Manna for Today – Psalm 5; Luke 1:30; Hebrews 11:1-6; Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 10:6-17

He’ll Lead You to It

God will only lead you where He has a plan for your victory already in place.

Text for Today – John 16:13 – Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth . . .

How often during the passing of a day do you come to a place where you must make a choice?  Do you turn right or left?  (You may be able  to get where you’re going by turning either way.)  Do you have a soup or salad, or both?  Which brand of a particular product do you purchase?  Do you call this person or wait for her to call you?  Do you wear a suit, or shall you go casual?  And these are the decisions about which we so often give little, if any, real attention.

Then there are the more serious questions.  Which of the applicants do you hire for the new position?  Should you pursue a business (or any other kind of) relationship with a certain person?  Into which ministry shall I sow this seed?  Should you have that surgery?  Should you see a doctor about a certain situation?

These and myriads of other questions flood our minds daily.  I want you to understand today that God is personally interested in every decision you make, regardless of how small you may think it to be.  I have had occasions of driving mindlessly (yes, I said mindlessly) along.  Coming to a familiar intersection, waiting for the light, Holy Spirit would speak softly to my heart to take a different route to my destination.  When I have ignored those leadings, not only did I have to repent for not yielding, but lost time due to some circumstance I did not know I would encounter.  But Holy Ghost knew.  When I have obeyed His leadings, I have often learned later what I avoided by simply yielding to His gentle promptings.

I know, so often we read our Text for Today and reference the word “truth” to mean the truth of Scripture, but when we do, we ignore the little three-letter word that precedes the word “truth.”  That word is “all.”  Yes, He will guide us into “all” Bibilical truth, but it doesn’t stop there.  As I have already stated, our God is intimately interested in every decision we make.  If w will determine to let Him lead, He will be faithful.  When He indicates a choice we should make, and then we make that choice, life will be so much more pleasant and free from entanglements, especially in the more critical decisions of life.

Oh, and one more thing.  God will indeed lead you to valleys where battles await, or to mountaintops where temptations await.  But He will NEVER lead you to those places to train you.  If God leads you to a place where temptations or battles await, it is because He wants to work through you, His champion, to conquer the enemy and take his head.  And always know, God will NEVER lead you there unprepared or ill-equipped.

Manna for Today – Romans 8:14; Matthew 4:1

He’ll Help You Do It

Holy Spirit is our Helper at all times; completely faithful; undefeatable.

Text for Today – Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities . . .

Yesterday I wrote to you that if Holy Spirit led you to a place where temptation awaited, it is because you are already prepared to deal with and overcome that temptation.  Well, it’s still true today. Was it God’s will for Jesus to go into the wilderness to be tempted?  Yes, it was.  But didn’t Jesus say we were to pray, “Lead us not into temptation?”  Yes, He did.  But this seems to be a contradiction.  No, not at all.  You see, Jesus was led by Holy Ghost into the wilderness, not the temptation.  The temptation came to Him when Satan brought it.

There are times we face situations in which God needs a champion; someone who can face that situation, not flinching, and bring forth a great victory for the kingdom of God.  That was the scenario for Jesus’s temptations.  God, having already anointed and fully prepared and equipped His Son for a sure victory, He led Jesus to the4 place where He would encounter those temptation.  But Father did not lead Him there to any questionable outcome.  Father knew the outcome before Jesus ever stepped into the wilderness.  He sent Jesus into that place as a victor coming to the podium to receive a medal.  Jesus entered the wilderness with victory assured, for He knew how to perfectly please Father, and He did.  Jesus knew how to win before His clothing was dry from His baptism.

David did not wait until he faced Goliath to learn to use a sling.  He already knew how to use it, and use it well.  Elijah did not learn to pray on Carmel.  He knew well how to commune with Jehovah long before he called for water to soak the altar and the sacrifice on it.  You can be assured that God will never lead you where you are not prepared to go.  If, as a child of God, you find yourself in a place where you are not prepared to win the victory, you either went there on your own, or you were led there by someone other than the Lord.

In every case in which Holy Spirit leads you into an situation, not only are you already prepared to face it, but He stands steadfast with you to help you in the completion of your assigned task.  He will NEVER lead you to a place, and then leave you alone.  Remember, He “helpeth our infirmities.”  He will help us do what we are unable to do on our own when we take the obedience initiative.  Simply put, the work of Holy Spirit is NOT to do FOR us, but to help us IN it and WITH it.  As our Helper, He will lead us to the task, but it is our role to initiate it, fully expecting His great assistance as we carry out our obedience initiative.  You can depend on the unfailing work of Holy Ghost.  He will not only lead you to it, He will help you do it.

Manna for Today – John 14:15-17; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14; 1Corinthians 10:13