Be Mayed, Not Dismayed

The kingdom of God operates by divine order.  That order is Spirit-led, and must be learned.

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Text for Today – Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded thee?  Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD they God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

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I learned the lesson I am about to share with you almost 70 years ago in a very secular setting.  It was the first grade in elementary school.  God has blessed me with really good teachers all through my educational and study life, and He started with my first grade teacher.  She taught and really drove home the difference between can and may.  Can signifies ability or power, while may signifies permissionright, or authority.  In our first grade class, if we asked, “Can I go to the bathroom?”, my teacher would tell us that was the improper question.  If we asked, “May I go to the bathroom?”, she would grant us permission.  Her permission was our right, or authority, to go.  We had the ability all along, but what we needed was permission before we could exercise our ability.

In the world, permission almost always follows ability.  A law enforcement officer, fire fighter, teacher, attorney, doctor, and even construction worker is not granted permission to carry out a job until he/she has been trained for the work at hand, and demonstrated the ability to do the job.  In the natural world, that is wisdom. 

But in the kingdom of God, things are different.  Our supernatural God calls men and women to a supernatural ministry they cannot perform, and then enables them by His Spirit and through His Word to do the job.  Before the supernatural ability, or power of God will flow through you, you must first be authorized by divine right of the new birth to call God your Father.  You cannot walk in the power of Holy Spirit, being filled with Holy Spirit, until you have been born again.  Being born again authorizes  you to step up to the task at hand, and use the mighty Name of Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit to complete the supernatural.  Unlike the world in which permissionright, or authority follows ability, in the kingdom of God, ability, or power, follows permissionright, or authority.  Are you a child of God?  If so, you have the authoritypermission, or right to perform what His Word says you can.  Let no man, situation, circumstance , force, or demon of hell cause you to be dismayed.  Through covenant with God, He has, in effect, said, “YOU MAY!”  You already have His authority and permission.  That gives you the right.   Now, go, and expect Him to “hasten over His Word,” enabling you with His supernatural ability through His Spirit.

Manna for Today – Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; John 15:7; John 14:12-14; Mark 11:22-24;     John 1:12

Sensitive to Whom?

The church is to be led by Holy Ghost in Father’s will of ministering to those who seek Him.

Text for Today – Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

When I was a pastor for 28 years, I was often asked if our church was seeker sensitive.  Sometimes I thought I understood what they were asking, but many times I wondered.  I still hear that same question asked even today.  Are they looking for a church that makes people comfortable to the degree that the Comforter is not needed?  Are they looking for a church that adapts programs to keep people in their comfort zones?  Are they looking for a church that focuses more on political correctness and political agendas than Scriptural accuracy and integrity?

Perhaps we should re-examine our focus.  As I understand our Text for Today, God wants a church to be sensitive to Him.  Our first focus should be on seeking “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  That’s really a very singular focus that must be primary.  Romans tells us the kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  A closer study of those terms reveals they all are a Person; and in fact, the same Person, and that is Jesus Christ.  In 1 Corinthians we read that Jesus has been made our righteousness.  In Ephesians we read that Jesus is our peace.  Finally, in Nehemiah we read that “the joy of the Lord is our strength,” and Jesus is , as one song says, the “joy of man’s desiring,” or as the Word declares, “the desire of all nations.”

The fact is, God is seeker sensitive, and it is up to the church to be Spirit led.  Once again, the Scriptures declare that those who are “led by the Spirit” are the ones God recognizes as sons of God.  I am aware that we so often speak of being sensitive to the Spirit.  However, the root of the word “sensitive” is “sense,” and that has to do with the flesh.  Holy Spirit, in the New Covenant, leads us by communicating with our spirit man.  To be led by our senses is to open ourselves up to deception.  The sense realm is where Satan operates at his best.  We should surely be aware of the needs of the people we encounter, but more importantly, we should be keenly aware of the Lord’s desire and will.  We have surely been called and sent to meet the needs of people, but more importantly, we have been called and sent to do the will of the Father.  That’s where our meat is.  Jesus came in the flesh to “be tempted in all points” like we are.  That is what makes Him seeker sensitive.  You and I have been born again to be alive unto God, thereby enabling us to be led by Holy Spirit.  God is seeker sensitive, that is, fully aware of the needs of all mankind, and willing to save all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.  The church, on the other hand, is to be Spirit-led, that is, sensitive to the will, plan, and purpose of God through the body of Christ. 

Manna for Today – Romans 4:17; Haggai 2:6-9; Ephesians 2:14; Nehemiah 8:10; Romans 8:1-17; Hebrews 2-4

It’s Time to Feast

Our God has prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  That’s here; that’s now.

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Text for Today – Matthew 4:4 – But He answered and said, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

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These are days of many people becoming more and more health conscious, and much of it is a result of fear due to the past two years of Covid and all the intrigue caused by so much talk and strife.  Now people are returning to their health clubs, and more and more people seem to be walking or jogging as a part of their health regimen.  There is a tremendous importance placed on a youthful appearance.  And while Covid may have impacted the industry, plastic surgery, face lifts, and body enhancement surgeries are still popular.  And let us not forget dieting, especially of the fad sort, that has captured the attention of so many.

Sadly, many of these same things seem to be permeating the church today.  More and more, programs are found to be the focus of ministry, and not people.  It seems that almost anything goes in order for the church to be attractive to people.  Performance cosmetics are, in many places, more important than Christian living.  And one of the most important elements of that is, as in the natural world, diet.

Keep in mind that nothing from God’s Word will harm you; it’s all good and to be received with thanks-giving.  Remember what your mother used to tell you when you were a child.  You may not like those carrots, but they’re good for you, so eat them.  Some portions of God’s Word may not be to your liking, but eat it anyway.  It’s good for you, and you need it.  In a nutrient poor natural diet, many health experts are recommending mega-doses of certain supplements to maintain health.  By the same token, mega-doses of God’s Word would prove even more beneficial for that same task, not to mention the need for supernatural power in our lives in order to fulfill the Father’s will.  To do natural work, you need natural nourishment.  To do supernatural work, you will need supernatural nourishment, and that comes from the Word of God, the Bread of Life, and the Water of Life. 

I encourage you to utilize the supernatural supplements available to you in the Spirit.  That includes good books by Christian authors that will help you grow in certain areas, good reference materials (concordances, etc.), and even devotions such as this one you read daily.  But please, understand the importance of the Word in your life, not dieting, but feasting.  When you ask the Lord for your “daily bread,” don’t expect snack portions.  Jesus fed multitudes and had leftovers by the basketsful.  Your daily feast in God’s Word should also produce abundance of basketsful you can use to feed others you encounter.  It’s feast time! 

Manna for Today – Proverbs 4:20-23; Proverbs 6:20-22; Joshua 1:8; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Psalm 119; Psalm 23

Trapped

Strife is a paralyzing device of Satan that can make powerless the greatest among us.

Text for Today – 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

These are some of the most sobering words of the New Testament, and in fact, in all the Scriptures.  The bottom line is that strife is one of the most heinous traps into which the believer can fall.  Look closely at what the Lord is saying to us through our Text for Today.  The servant of the Lord (that’s you), MUST stay clear of strife at all costs.  Obviously, that means walking in forgiveness at all times; fulfilling the love walk.  And it’s not just avoiding something; it’s entering into something.  Stay clear of strife, but be gentle (here is the love walk), apt to teach (be an ever-learning student of God’s Word), patient (consistently persistent in the things of God), and meek (exercising great power under control).

Look at what strife does.  It brings the believer into opposition to himself, and we know the Scriptures teach us that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  Repentance (changing your thinking and turning from the sin) is required, and must show acknowledgement of the truth of God’s Word.

But here is the real horror story that occurs into many lives.  When a child of God is in strife, they have fallen into Satan’s snare, and he can do with that child of God whatever he (Satan) chooses, and the child of God is powerless to stop it.  Look at it closely, my friend.  This is a staggering reality.  To think that a born-again, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing child of God can be a pawn of Satan to be used by him any time he chooses is absolutely horrifying.  A Christian in strife can appear to have so many of the blessings of God, even appearing to live in total victory over the devil, but when it is to the devil’s greatest advantage, he will activate his control in that snare over the believer and use that believer to bring great damage and hurt to the believer, to an entire church, and even to the whole body of Christ.

Check yourself right now.  You know if you’re in strife with a brother or sister.  If you are, repent now, confess that sin to the Lord Jesus, be reconciled to your brother or sister, and get out of that trap.  Go free today, in the Name of Jesus!

Manna for Today – 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:2-8; Galatians 5:22-25; Matthew 12:22-30

Trapped

Strife is a paralyzing device of Satan that can make powerless the greatest among us.

Text for Today – 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

These are some of the most sobering words of the New Testament, and in fact, in all the Scriptures.  The bottom line is that strife is one of the most heinous traps into which the believer can fall.  Look closely at what the Lord is saying to us through our Text for Today.  The servant of the Lord (that’s you), MUST stay clear of strife at all costs.  Obviously, that means walking in forgiveness at all times; fulfilling the love walk.  And it’s not just avoiding something; it’s entering into something.  Stay clear of strife, but be gentle (here is the love walk), apt to teach (be an ever-learning student of God’s Word), patient (consistently persistent in the things of God), and meek (exercising great power under control).

Look at what strife does.  It brings the believer into opposition to himself, and we know the Scriptures teach us that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  Repentance (changing your thinking and turning from the sin) is required, and must show acknowledgement of the truth of God’s Word.

But here is the real horror story that occurs into many lives.  When a child of God is in strife, they have fallen into Satan’s snare, and he can do with that child of God whatever he (Satan) chooses, and the child of God is powerless to stop it.  Look at it closely, my friend.  This is a staggering reality.  To think that a born-again, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing child of God can be a pawn of Satan to be used by him any time he chooses is absolutely horrifying.  A Christian in strife can appear to have so many of the blessings of God, even appearing to live in total victory over the devil, but when it is to the devil’s greatest advantage, he will activate his control in that snare over the believer and use that believer to bring great damage and hurt to the believer, to an entire church, and even to the whole body of Christ.

Check yourself right now.  You know if you’re in strife with a brother or sister.  If you are, repent now, confess that sin to the Lord Jesus, be reconciled to your brother or sister, and get out of that trap.  Go free today, in the Name of Jesus!

Manna for Today – 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:2-8; Galatians 5:22-25; Matthew 12:22-30

Let It Go to Receive

You cannot hold on to unforgiveness and receive the blessing of God at the same time.  It is impossible!

Text for Today – Mark 11:25-26 – And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also Which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father Which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

The two verses in our Text for Today are as plainly stated as possible.  You can only be forgiven if you forgive.  If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven.  Do you realize that the person who offends you, if he repents and asks forgiveness, and confesses the sin of the offense, he will be immediately forgiven by the Lord?  And do you likewise realize that if you DO NOT forgive the offense, you WILL NOT be forgiven when you sin?  Please understand that the act of forgiving is much more for your own benefit than for the person who offended you.

To refuse, or even delay forgiveness to another person is to offend God, in short, to sin.  It really makes no difference what someone does to you; forgiveness on your part is commanded by the Lord.  Even if the offending party enjoyed hurting you, and refuses to ask forgiveness, you are still required to forgive if you expect to be forgiven if you sin.  I don’t know about you, but I refuse to allow someone else’s actions to be a cause for me be separated from fellowship with my Father.

All the sins a sinner commits do not keep him/her out of heaven – only the sin of unbelief.  For a believer to refuse to forgive is an action of unbelief that will rob him of the blessings of God in his life.  Why would anyone deliberately persist in an action that robs him of the blessings of God, and cuts him off from fellowship with his heavenly Father?  For the believer, Mark 11:25-26 are just as much a way of life as Mark 11:22-24.

Choose today to live by this forgiveness commandment of the Lord.  Let nothing prevent you from forgiving those who hurt you, especially your brothers and sisters in the Lord.  By letting go of the offense, and releasing forgiveness to an offending party, you release yourself to receive the blessings of the Lord by having the ear of God.  Remember, without His ear, you will never have a prayer answered.  On the other hand, if you have His ear, there is not prayer He will not answer for you.

Manna for Today – Mark 11:22-26; Matthew 6:9-15; 1 John 5:14-15; Psalm 66:18; Luke 6:27-37; Ephesians 4:32

But God

Never quote the first part of our Text for Today without quoting the last part.  They go together.

Text for Today – 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 – But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit . . .

Both words in our Second Miler title today have supernatural impact in their use.  The word, BUT is one of the most powerful and far reaching words in our language.  Used properly, it brings awesome hope and joyous anticipation.  Used improperly, it can leave a person in the depths of despair.  The word BUT is a conjunction that, when used in separating statements, indicates diversity, or a degree of separation, that basically nullifies or lessens in importance the first statement.  If you say, “I love you, but I have a problem with the way you act,” then the way you act carries more importance than the fact you love the person. If, however, you say, “I have a problem with the way you act, but I love you despite that,” you have made the statement of your love for the person of greater significance than their behavior.  Saying it in this way gives indication that you will endeavor to help the person overcome their behavior issue because you love them.  We should learn to put the faith statement after the “but,” not before it.  Once again, remember, BUT can destroy or create.  It’s placement and use is your choice.

And, of course, we realize the power of the Name of our God. GOD is the identifying Name of our Sovereign, eternally self-existent God in three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  He is the Omnipotent God Who can do all things for him/her who believes. 

Now put BUT and GOD together.  What are you facing today?  It makes no difference how bad, tough, dim, or hopeless it looks.  Go ahead and recognize the problem, and then add, “BUT GOD.”  The doctor’s diagnosis is cancer, BUT GOD . . . the bills are piling up, BUT GOD . . . my child is rebelling, BUT GOD . . . my marriage is falling apart, BUT GOD . . . my business is going under, BUT GOD.  So, just what are your facing today?  If Jesus is your Lord, make the declaration right now, and do it boldly by faith, BUT GOD.  Bring the impact of BUT and the power of GOD to bear, together, against that infirmity.  Overcome it, defeat it, and rejoice in the outcome of . . . BUT GOD!

Manna for Today – Ephesians 2:1-7; Ephesians 2:11-13

The HOW is in the WHO

Knowing the WHO; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost makes the HOW understood.

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Text for Today – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – . . . Be ye reconciled to God . . .

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We are living in an absolutely crazy world.  I have never seen a time when it looks like people’s thinking is, at the very least, somewhat strange, certainly often confused, and in far too may cases, absolutely backward.  Ours’ is a world satiated by attitudes of instant gratification.  I see it almost everywhere I look.  People hire folks to do work for them without any real concept of what needs to be done, and even more importantly, who is doing the work for them.  It may often be they looking for the cheapest possible price, and we know that prices are rising on almost all things.  Still, I am often reminded of an old adage that has always proved true in my life and experience; “You get what you pay for.” 

Nevertheless, let’s keep our focus on our primary discussion.  “The HOW in in the WHO.”  In our present world, people seem to WANT whatever it is they want, and they want it as soon as possible.  The dangerous aspect of that thing is that people place much more value on HOW they get it that the WHO in the equation.  They work, plan, devise, and utilize everything at their disposal to acquire their desire, all the while giving little thought to the person, or people, with whom they must deal to make the acquisition.  To be perhaps even more succinct, people want to know HOW can I get ….?

But I want you to consider what I believe one of the most powerful concepts in living.  In so many things of life, it’s not WHAT you know about HOW to do or acquire something; it’s WHO you know.  Take a moment to consider the words, HOW and WHO.  Both, three letters; both, the same letters.  I am amazed that so many Christian people seem to be constantly seeking the HOW, while all the time they already know the HOW, but fail to recognize that the HOW they need manifest in their life is in the WHO.  Think, my friend.  Why would you concern yourself with HOW you can live when your life is found in Him, the
WHO?  Why would you ever consider HOW you might receive your healing when your healing is in Him, the WHO?  Why would you worry or fret about HOW your needs are going to be met in life when every thing you could ever need or even desire is clearly found in Him, the WHO?  I enjoy being around people who know the Word of God, but of far greater interest, and those who I truly seek to know are those who know the God of the Word.  You see, I have discovered that one who truly knows the God of the Word also knows well the Word of God.  This makes my point once again, the HOW is in the WHO.

Manna for Today – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 32:17

Be Reconciled to God

A good soldier carries out every valid order he is given.

Text for Today – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – . . . Be ye reconciled to God . . .

Here, dear reader, is a command of the Lord.  It is not a suggestion, nor is it just a good idea.  It is a command.  Many years ago, I heard a great man of God, Brother Kenneth Copeland define a command from God as “an order from God about which there is no choice, and from which there is no turning.”  That definition has served me well for what is now more than fifty years of ministry.

But how can one be reconciled to a God Who is so holy, pure, just, and righteous?  Well, if you’re thinking it’s not easy, you’re correct.  The work is eternal, the price beyond measure, and the power required causes the largest nuclear blast to pale into insignificance.  Mankind is utterly helpless and hopeless, at least, on his own.

Once again, you’re correct.  It’s NOT easy, but God did it anyway.  And all the hard work that God did made it easy for us.  Thank God!  Romans 10:6-10 really tells us the “how to” of salvation, of being reconciled to God.  Read closely our Text for Today from 2 Corinthians.  You’ll see that God has already reconciled the world to Himself, and has committed to us, the church, the body of Christ, the ministry and message of reconciliation.  And once again, the “how to” of that salvation message is clearly stated in Romans 10.

But whatever you do, don’t diminish the work of salvation by what may have come to be the traditional thinking of many.  To many Christians, salvation simply means being born again.  Praise God for the new birth, for it is indeed the initial element of salvation.  But salvation in its fullest includes the renewing of the mind, the healing of the body, deliverance from temporal evil, and the provision of all need.  It is an all-inclusive work that brings reconciliation, or peace with God.  When we grasp the fact that peace with God in its fullest sense means “nothing missing; nothing  broken,” reconciliation takes on a whole new meaning for us.

I urge you today to receive the full benefit of the Lord’s work in reconciling the world to Himself.  As a believer, you’ve already stepped into the process.  Just don’t stop short of receiving all He has provided for you in it.  Be ye reconciled to God.  That’s an order, Soldier of the Cross.  Now snap to, and obey God’s command.

Manna for Today – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 32:17

You MUST!

You MUST do that which is necessary.  Some things simply cannot be omitted.

Text for Today – John 3:7 – Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Have you ever gone to bed knowing, somewhere in the back of your mind, there is something very important you really needed to accomplish before you end your day?  I have, and you will likely agree that something of that nature can make falling to sleep somewhat difficult.  It is a matter of one’s conscience; knowing you should have done something, but putting it off, or procrastinating, and possibly simply forgetting.  Still, something in your conscience won’t let go of that need for action.  It is one of those “MUST” issues, that deep in your heart, you know you need to respond to it and take action.

When is the last time you told someone, “You MUST be born again?”  Here is a command that demands response to a life and death situation.  It speaks to a person’s eternal existence.  It is truth.  It is God’s Word and God’s command.  Keep in mind that God has said He “hastens His Word to perform it.”  He also says that His Word “will not return to Me (Him) void, but will accomplish that which I (He) pleases, and prosper in the thing whereunto I (He) sent it.”  His Word cannot fail!

The seed of God’s Word, ‘You MUST be born again,” will go deep into the heart of that lost person.  God takes His Word very seriously.  He will work through His Spirit to cause that Word to work in that lost person’s life to bring them to Him.  The knowledge of that urgent command, “You MUST,” will work in that lost person’s heart and mind without resting, even when he tries to rest.  The Word keeps on working.  When he lays down at night to sleep, that “You MUST” will speak urgency to his heart and soul, and it will demand response.  Surely there is no more urgent message that needs to be shared with the lost of this world.  Take it to them.  Be diligent, be faithful, encourage yourself and be urgent as you tell them, “You MUST be born again!

In closing, allow me to reiterate.  “You MUST” not only applies to the need of the new birth for the lost person, but it likewise applies to the Christian whose responsibility it is to tell the lost of their need.  “You MUST be born again” is the message the lost needs to hear.  But just as surely, to the Christian, to the minister of reconciliation, “You MUST go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  YOU MUST!

Manna for Today – John 3:1-17; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:6-17