We are the Founders of Lightsey Ministries, Inc., Faith and Favor Ministries, and We Be Buds Marriage Educators, all in the Charlotte, NC area. "Walk By Faith, Live With Favor" is the Internet Ministry God gave us in 2004 to share His Word to those all over the world. By way of monthly sermons and words of encouragement, we have been extremely blessed in reaching the masses as we proclaim the gospel and impart words of exhortation and wisdom in an exceptionally anointed fashion. Presenting the Word in a clear and no-nonsense venue has been rewarding to our supporters. No doubt you will enjoy and be enlightened as we expound upon God's Word. Select our website as one of your favorites.You will surely be blessed as we cover various issues and concerns pertinent to righteous living and steadfast dedication in being all God has called and intended you to be. No doubt you will be revived and refreshed as you "Walk By Faith and Live With Favor."
"For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are." (Hebrews 4:12, NLT)
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17 , NKJV).
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THE PEACE GOD GIVES
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.
As Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure from earth and His return to His Father in Heaven, He tells them that He’s leaving them with a gift of peace. This peace was of a sort that they could not find in the world. It’s a gift that comes from another place.
Peace in Hebrew means “shalom”. Its full definition means completeness. It means complete peace. It encompasses feelings such as contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being and harmony. The opposite of peace is to be troubled, agitated, worried, fearful, etc. When one is at peace in mind and heart, then he/she is not impacted by feelings of worry or fear. He/she is not unsettled or feeling anxious.
How does one receive and maintain this kind of peace? The prophet Isaiah wrote “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3). The key to maintaining this gift of peace is to keep your mind and heart fixed on your God! Think about Him, desire Him, yearn for Him, seek Him! Then we won’t have those feelings of agitation and anxiety.
Paul wrote these words to the Philippian church “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7).
Paul describes the process of peace. First, we should not worry about anything, but instead pray about everything. Second, we should have hearts of gratitude. We need to practice saying “Thank you” to Him for all that He’s already done for us. This attitude of thankfulness leads us into peace (shalom). It goes past our understanding, but it’s something that is real and is to be experienced by us. The peace that God gives guards or protects our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus! This is exciting! This is powerful! This is how we live in joy!
Paul also encouraged the Thessalonian believers with these words “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all”. Again, we see that this peace is given to us by God. Paul’s prayer for the believers is that the Lord himself gives his peace to us at all times in every situation. Wow! This means that it is possible for us to have peace no matter what our circumstances are! It is a gift that Jesus promised his disciples and a gift that is for the body of Christ. My prayer is that the church of today will live in the peace that God gives!
The Throne of Grace
“Seeing then we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16, KJV).
Oftentimes, I enjoy sitting alone in our family room with no sound of the television, music, or other distractions. These moments provide me the time and atmosphere to think on God’s goodness and greatness. They also are times when I express my sincere gratitude for Who He is and what He means to me. It’s important (at least for me) to have the correct physical setting as I am ushered into the time of spiritual worship.
Hebrews 4:14-16 speaks to me as words of encouragement when I need to enter that “quiet place.” This spiritual place is where Christ intercedes for me. Not only does He have access to the Father but He is seated in the very presence of God the Father. But prior to this position, He partook of man’s nature and temptations so that He might sympathize and He did so “without sinning.”
It is at this place, this spiritual point of connection, this throne of grace, that we find authority and provision. As Christians, born again and blood washed believers we have access to a place (the place) to obtain God’s grace whenever we need it. We have a place reserved especially for us to be comforted, instructed, challenged, encouraged and whatever else we need. Isn’t it wonderful that God not only loves us unconditionally but also provides a place and the opportunity for us to be refueled and recharged?
With all that has been said, there is something else to be addressed. Verse 16 of Hebrews 4 commands we should “boldly” come to the throne of grace. This means we should come with power and force. We should not have a lazy or defeated attitude when we come to that special spiritual place. Remember, it’s one thing to approach the throne but it’s something totally different and quite beneficial to come to that spiritual place correctly, that is “boldly” and with expectations of receiving God’s grace!
Don’t Hide Your Light!
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
There are gifts and talents that God has put inside each of us that need to be seen. They are not to be hidden. We need to display what God has put inside of us, not that we want attention for ourselves or to “be seen by men”, but so that God will be seen in us. He wants us to show Him to the world. Why? So that men will see His good work in us and give praise to Him. It’s really that simple.
As we move into the new year, we should have already been seeking God on what we want for our lives. When the new year comes in, we don’t need to start the process of what we desire. We should already be preparing our minds and hearts for the manifestation. What do you want to move into next year? What is holding you back from shining your light?
We should let God be seen in us by letting our light shine in our circles of influence…in our homes, our churches, our places of employment, and in our communities. Remind yourself that God did not give you the gifts you have to be hidden. Let others see your light. Jesus said that “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15).
Don’t hide your light! Let those gifts come forth! Don’t let others intimidate you and make you feel as if you don’t measure up to their standards. Even more, don’t put restraints on yourself! Let your light shine! Let those things that God put in you come out of you so that others will see and give glory to Him! Let your light – your gifts, your talents be seen! It’s what God wants!
It’s All Good “
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The response I give most often when asked how I am doing is, “It’s all good.” A few moments before beginning to write this devotion someone asked me how I was doing and instantly the response was “It’s all good.” I took a few moments to think about why I give that response. The reason is that all God has created (including today and every day) is good.
In Genesis 1:1-30 we read several verses that state all that God created was good. In verse 31 we read the conclusion of the whole matter – “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Notice that His work is described as “very good.” There is nothing God has created that was not good or meant for good.
I have often heard people talk about having a bad day. I submit that there are no bad days. Every day the Lord brings into fruition is a “good day.” God does not create bad days. Yes, some bad things may happen, but they happen on “good days” because “good days’ are the only days God create. What helps us to get through and remain standing when bad things happen is to remember what God’s Word tells us in Psalms 118:24 – “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
The challenge should ever be to remember and to say it’s all good. Not only is God good (all the time) but what He created and brought into fruition, whether tangible or intangible was meant (intended) for our good. I choose to make the best of every situation and I challenge you and all members of the royal family to do the same. Maybe you don’t feel well or have been treated unfairly. Maybe your best friend stabbed you in the back. Maybe words can’t express the dirt that has been shoveled on you with intended retaliation. Take God’s Word and use it for encouragement and to your advantage. Remember what Romans 8:28 tells us – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
When you are in the midst of unfortunate situations and circumstances take time to remember that even though some bad things are happening, it’s a good day. Say with your mouth and believe in your heart that it’s all good!
The Authority of Jesus
Authority defined by dictionary.com is as follows:
1. The power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.
2. A power or right delegated or given; authorization; Who has the authority to grant permission?
3. A person or body of persons in whom authority is vested, as a governmental agency.
When you study these definitions of authority, Jesus encompasses all of these. The word authority is a legal term. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He only did what was legal. He never went outside of those bounds. Legally, He could speak and it was done. He could delegate legally which He did when He sent His disciples out to cast out demons and heal sickness.
He made many attempts to help his disciples recognize and understand His authority. He did this through His teachings, through the miracles He performed, even speaking to the natural elements in the earth by calming the wind and the waves, and walking on water. And of course, He proved his authority over death when He was raised from the dead. (Col. 1:18) The scriptures tell us that Jesus has all authority in heaven and in earth. (Mat. 28:18)
One of my favorite examples that bring this to light is the story of the paralyzed man found in both (Matthew 9:1-8 & Mark 2: 1-12). Often in scripture Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. This title demonstrates the authority of Jesus as a human on earth.
Consequently, He showed us how we have the same authority as humans while on earth.
The paralyzed man was healed because of the words Jesus spoke to him. When He first told him that his sins were forgiven, He was telling the man that his sins were put away, that there was no more penalty. He was telling him that he was not guilty, and his relationship with God was restored. How do you think the man felt when Jesus spoke these words that legally freed him from feeling the condemnation of sin? Once he accepted Jesus’ words of release and forgiveness, he could then accept his healing. The man was no longer legally bound to his sickness. He was now free. At that point, Jesus could instruct him on what do.
The scribes had a problem with Jesus’ authority. They didn’t understand. They were blind to the legal spiritual laws. So, Jesus asked them which would be easier to say? Did you get that? “to say.”
“Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So, I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” (Mark 2:9-12)
This miracle occurred just on Christ using His authority by speaking life to the paralytic man. Paul writes to the Colossian church that Christ is supreme in all things.
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” (Col. 1:15-17)
Scripture after scripture attests to Jesus’ authority. Once we can truly accept the authority of Jesus, we truly can do all through Christ who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13).
A Love That Gives
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, KJV)
We are now in the “holiday” season. More specifically, we are a few weeks away from Christmas – the holiday many people acknowledge and recognize by giving gifts to family and friends. In the worldly tradition, Christmas is synonymous with shopping, grand dinners, office parties, decorations, and time off from work. However, there is a great difference if we approach and celebrate this “holiday” season in recognition of and appreciation for what God did for mankind.
In reference to John 3:16, we see that God “so loved” that He gave all He had for the sole benefit of those who would graciously receive His gift. The word “so” is an adverb and in this context it modifies the past tense verb “loved.” It tells us the degree to which God loved us. That degree moved Him to action – not only to give a Gift, but to give a Gift of ultimate sacrifice. God gave all He had. He gave the only Gift that would permit and allow mankind to inherit and forever possess eternal life. If we don’t grasp the thought that God gave us exactly what we needed and could not provide for ourselves, we remain lost and empty.
It is by receiving God’s Gift that mankind moves from hopelessness to hope and from despair to abundant life. The reward for receiving His Gift is immeasurable and priceless. But yet, and most important of all, the Gift is easily and readily accessible. We don’t have to “shop around,” but simply seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything we need for sustainability and abundant living will also be ours – all because God loved so much that He gave exactly what we needed (Matthew 6:33).
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, (our Lord and Savior), may we present Him to others as the Gift needed to experience happiness, joy, and peace. And as we interact with family and friends through the sharing of material gifts, let’s remember (and never forget) to give because of love – not because of expectation, ritual, or tradition. It’s all about a love that gives and a gift that is freely received without expecting a “payback gift” in return. There is truth in the saying “love isn’t love until you give it away.
Have You Lost Your Mind?
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).
I will get right to the point and ask the question. “Have you lost your mind?” No, I don’t mean have you become mentally unstable or out of balance. I want to know have you been born again and placed yourself in position to think like Christ Jesus? In the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome he instructs them not to change themselves to be like people of the world but to let God change them inside to a new way of thinking. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). To the Philippian church he wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5). In other words, as you strive to operate as one body also strive to think like Christ thought.
In order to think like Christ, you must “lose or abolish” your sinful and worldly mind and replace it with the mind of the Savior. First, of course, you must not only identify with the Savior but you must be in Him. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new creation comes with a new mind that must be continually programmed with Christ-like data. This Christ-like data is the will of God and the way of God according to the Word of God. You must continually feed your mind with positive thoughts so that foul and negative thoughts don’t occupy your thinking and meditating processes.
I recently led a teaching during a married couples fellowship. I informed some and reminded others that it is impossible for your mind to entertain two thoughts at the same moment. Of course you can switch from thinking on one thing and immediately turn your attention to another thought. However, when you do, the initial (first) thought has left and can only return (and remain) when you allow it. So, with the ability to control your thoughts, you can lose your mind to thoughts that are not pleasing to God and let thoughts that are pleasing to Him reside in your thought process.
So many times we hear people say “I want to be more like Christ.” I too, strive to be more like Jesus. But we (you and I) must realize that it takes a concentrated and pointed effort to live the way Christ lived here on earth and to think like He thinks. That literally means leaving and dismissing the way the world sees and analyzes things and accepting and admitting the way Christ thinks. Thinking the way Christ thinks allows us to be in His will and to live life to its fullest. The question is, “have you lost your mind?”
The definition of the word now is “at the present time or moment”. It does not refer to future events or feelings. It is present. The problem that humans have is that we often live our lives looking for and/or expecting something to happen, or looking back at something in the past. For whatever reason, focusing on the now or the present is a challenge. But faith works in the present, not in the future. Faith is now! We might receive what we want at some point in the future, but we live and think and operate as though we have it now!
Believers must learn to live in the present knowing that all of God’s promises are ours now! However, the manifestation of some of those promises won’t be fully awarded to us until the appointed time. Unfortunately, some believers focus so much on their past behaviors and choices before they fully committed to Christ, that they don’t understand where they are now.
The word of God reminds us of the importance of now. Let’s look at a few scriptures.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:11-13).
Paul is reminding the believers at Ephesus that they should keep in mind where they’ve come from. He’s not implying that they should focus on their past condition, but while focusing on their present condition in Christ, they should be mindful of how much Christ has done for them and where they are now.
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Eph. 3:12).
Again, Paul is reminding the believers at Ephesus that things have changed. Our faith has changed our position from being on the outside and apart from God, to being on the inside. We have sonship authority that allows us to boldly and confidently come into the Father’s presence. We have this authority now!
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (Gal 3:29).
Now that we belong to Christ by faith, we are also connected to Abraham, and are positioned to receive whatever promise God made to Abraham. The promise is ours now! Paul tells the Corinthians that God has commissioned us and enables us to stand firm in Christ. God has identified us by placing the Holy Spirit as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us. (2 Cor. 1:20)
Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (Col. 1:22).
Since we have accepted Christ, we are now reconciled to Him because of his physical death. We are now in His presence, and he sees us as not having any fault. This is where are now! This is how God sees us now! He sees us with pure love with no faults, no issues, no shortcomings, no sin! We are without fault now!
These are just a few scriptures to remind us that things have changed for us now that we have Christ. His Holy Spirit confirms our position with the Father. He shows His love for us every day we are here because Today is the present time. It is the “now” time. Our success requires us to live in the present. Our miracles are happening now. Our prayers are being answered now. Our expectations are at work now.
When we can focus on now, I believe we will live out the words of Christ when He told the disciples that they would do greater works than He did because He was going back to His Father. What did He mean? I believe part of what He was saying was that as long as we are here on the earth, we are under assignment from God. Consequently, we will see and experience God’s power in the earth realm now.
When we don’t experience the great power of God, it’s because we are not following Christ’s example. We must think in the present. We must pray now. We must expect now. We must have faith now. When we do, there is no doubt in my mind that Christ’s love and power will spread in the earth realm, and we will live lives of victory and have great success.
The Opportunity to Do Good
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all me, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (KJV).
As a Chaplain for Tyson Foods, I had the opportunity to serve on one of several disaster relief teams dispatched to eastern North Carolina to assist and comfort those affected by Hurricane Florence last month. Food and water were freely supplied and donated by Tyson Foods to all who needed assistance. Over 250,000 meals were prepared and some delivered with the help of local volunteers and the National Guard. It is an honor and a privilege to be associated with a company that would do so much for those in need – not only as a result of Hurricane Florence, but whenever there is a major disaster anywhere in the country.
This (and other acts of unselfish kindness) reminds me of what Paul stated in his letter to the church at Galatia. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). He instructed them to not only look for and recognize opportunities to help others, but to go beyond and to actually “do good unto them.” What does this mean for us? This act requires being attentive to the needs and concerns of others, determining what we have and what we can do to assist them in their time(s) of need, and then taking action. Paul went further in his directive to the Galatians by stating they should “especially do good unto those who are of the household of faith.” Who are those described as being in the “household of faith?” Ephesians 2:19 describes them as fellowcitizens with the saints, those who are of the household of God – simply put, born again believers should receive first priority!
Certainly the question will (and often does) arise, “What if they really don’t need my help? What if they are scheming and plotting to get something for nothing? What if they are trying to take advantage of me?” First of all, let’s admit we all want to sow our seed in good ground. We don’t want what we give to be wasted, misused or unappreciated. But there are two important points I want to make. First, we should allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in each and every situation. No doubt there has been and will continue to be times when we know those asking or seeking help really don’t need it or have misused it on every previous occasion. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom. He leads and guides us. In addition, the longer we dwell on those questions and try to rationalize who we help, the longer the needed remains in need. We have two (2) commands: 1) Recognize the opportunity, and 2) Do good.
We have been blessed to be a blessing. Oftentimes, what we give to others can be the ministry of presence (being there for and with them without providing money or other tangible items). Taking time to pray is another way of doing good for others. May we consistently seek and take advantage of the opportunity to do good.
1 Kings 19
In 1 Kings 19, we read the account of the prophet Elijah running in fear for his life. The queen Jezebel had placed a hit on him after he had killed the 400 prophets of Baal. He journeyed about eighty miles from Samaria before he actually slowed down a little. He rested under a juniper tree and asked the Lord to let him die. He had given up. All his zeal had left him. He went to sleep and an angel woke him up and told him to eat. He ate and fell asleep again. The angel woke him a second time and told him to eat some more because the journey was too great for him. The food that Elijah ate kept him for 40 days and 40 nights!
While Elijah continued on his journey he came to a cave and the Word of God came to him and asked him what he was doing. He responded that he had been very jealous for the Lord, the Israelites had forsaken His covenant, thrown down His altars, and killed the prophets. And he added he was the only one left, and now his life was on the line. (1 Kings 19: 9-10) God told him to leave the cave and stand on the mountain.
As Elijah was standing on the mountain, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore through the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire came, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire…listen closely…there was a sound of gentle stillness, and a still, small voice. (1 Kings19:12) Notice what Elijah did after he heard the sound of this still small voice. He hid his face in the mantle and stood in the entrance of the cave. Then the voice asked the same question as he heard earlier. “What are you doing here, Elijah”? Elijah gave the same response as he did earlier as well. (v. 10)
At this moment Elijah and God began to have a conversation – a two-way conversation. Elijah was now in a position to not only state his grievance, but to listen to what God wanted to say to him about his situation.
You see, I believe, it’s not that believers don’t pray to God. The problem is that we don’t wait long enough to hear from God. We state our case, we list our grievances, and we walk away feeling as if God hasn’t heard us. It’s not that God doesn’t hear us. We don’t hear Him! We are the ones who are not listening! We are the ones who are so wrapped up in what’s happening to us, that we don’t take the required time to hear from the One who is listening to us. We need to listen closely! We need to slow down, and wait for God to speak. He’s not always where there is the most noise. Sometimes He’s in the very quiet.
We may be looking for God in the wrong place, when all He wants from us is to be still and listen closely. When Elijah finally allowed himself to hear from God, he found that things were not as bad as he believed they were. God let him know that there were going to be some political changes – He was going to anoint a new king in Syria, and Jehu was going to take over the throne in Israel (which let him know that Jezebel was not an issue for him). There was also going to be a change in the spiritual leadership. Elisha was going to take over his position as prophet. Then the Lord gave Elijah some comfort. He told him that he wasn’t the only one who was left, there were seven thousand in Israel that had not bowed down to Baal! Seven thousand!
The work that Elijah had done in Israel, his prophetic words, did have some impact! There were some who heard the Word of the Lord and believed! He did have some results! It wasn’t all for nothing! What a feeling of comfort Elijah had in this knowledge…and all because he slowed down enough to listen!
My brothers and sisters, this is a very important lesson for us to put into action. Take the time to hear God’s voice. He does care. He is concerned. He has a plan. We just need to listen closely!
The Good Fight
1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7
This charge, son Timothy, I put to you, in keeping with the prophecies already made about you, so that by these prophecies you may fight the good fight, armed with trust and a good conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. (2 Timothy 4:7)
These words were written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his son in the faith. They are letters written from a spiritual father to his spiritual son. When one reads these letters, the reader can not help but notice the very intimate and strong bond between these two men.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul instructed Timothy on the importance of order in the church. He also encouraged his son to stay strong to the sound teachings he had been instructed in. Apparently, Timothy was facing great opposition from people who were twisting the scriptures. These people had persuasive arguments. They were challenging. They were willfully ignorant of the truth. He instructed him not to get caught up in the arguments of these people, but to keep his focus and pursue godliness as his way of life.
Timothy was in a fight. He was in a struggle. This fight was taking a lot out of him. But Paul wrote to encourage and remind him about the things he had been taught so he would gain strength to keep fighting the good fight of the faith.
In his second letter to his son, Paul continued to encourage Timothy. He told him to not be ashamed to tell others about the Lord, and to not shrink away from the suffering, or of him who was in prison. He reminded Timothy that he was also in the same fight. That it was because of the gospel that he was in prison. But he told Timothy that he was okay with it because he understood that those who live godly in Christ will suffer persecution. He encouraged him to endure the sufferings along with him. He told him to fight the good fight.
Paul instructed Timothy to stay in companionship with those who also believed in the Lord, Jesus. And he reminded him again to not get involved with those who wanted to argue and start fights. He told him that evil people would flourish and get worse and worse.
Then Paul told Timothy that he himself had fought the good fight. He had finished his race, and he had remained faithful. Consequently, he knew he had a reward – a crown of righteousness which the Lord was going to give Him on the day of his return. But not for him only, but for all those who love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
My brothers and sisters, we, too must fight the good fight of the faith. Sometimes the fight is hard, but we must remember these words of encouragement that Paul wrote to Timothy. We must keep in mind that each of us has his/her own race to run. No matter what comes our way, we must stay true to God, and to sound doctrine. Yes, things are going to get worse and worse. But regardless of the struggle, we must do the work of an evangelist, and be faithful to our Lord. We must fight the good fight.
God's Ever-Effective Word
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Several years ago, a slang became very popular among young and old alike. The simple expression “word” was used to confirm someone was speaking “truth to power.” The one-word response was (and is still) used to respond that what is being said is agreeable and true. No doubt the person being responded to felt good that the verbalized expressions were received, accepted, and agreed with.
The God of all creation tells us in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word is ever so powerful. “So shall my word be that goeth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” What He says and commands will not only definitely come to pass but it will produce His desired result each and every time. The result will always, always return “mission accomplished!” In addition, God’s Word will always prosper in every situation and occasion. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “prosper” as to become strong and flourishing, to cause to succeed or thrive.
Any way you look at it God’s Word improves the situation, circumstance, or person it attaches to. We read these words in 2 Timothy 2:15: Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” How powerful is that? If we study God’s Word to the point of knowing it and knowing how to use it we can speak “truth to power” no matter what the test, trial, or circumstance. But it is imperative that we know God’s Word and truly believe that His Word should be spoken by us just as He speaks it. When we say what God says, His Word goes out and immediately begins to accomplish things and produce positive results. But, we must say what God says – not what man says or what we want to hear.
You may have heard the expression – “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But here is my response to that. “If God said it, that settles it because His Word never returns unto Him void (empty)! Always seek, receive, and act on God’s ever-effective Word.
How Deep is Your Passion?
One of the things I often wonder about is how much do those of us who say we are followers of Christ love Him? How much do we love His Word? How much do we desire to fulfill His purposes for our lives? How far are we willing to go for Him? To what degree are we willing to lay down our lives for Him? How far does the bar for our surrender and submission go?
For most of us, our desire to please God and live out His word in our lives is very small. For others it’s a little deeper. Then there are those who are completely sold out. They love God more than the air they breathe. They are willing to do whatever it takes to please Him. They long for God’s presence. They long to spend time in His Word. Their motto is “for God I’ll live, and for God, I’ll die.” They just want Him. If you evaluated yourself today, and included all your circumstances, how deep is your passion?
In Psalms 119: 130-131, the Psalmist writes these words regarding his desire to know God’s intentions: “I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.” This verse challenges me. Do I really want to know God’s intentions for my life? Do I really seek after God in this way? What about you?
I believe when we are struggling with some things in our lives, there are moments in the struggle when we cry out to God for deliverance. But when we’re in the struggle, do we cry out for Him just because we love Him? Do we still desire Him with purity of heart? Or do we just want out because of our discomfort? God’s testimony regarding David was that he was a man after His heart. Here’s an example of why God said this. When David was in the wilderness running from Saul, he penned these words:
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” (Psalms 63:1-8)
When I read these words, I am awed. In the midst of trying to preserve his life from Saul, David’s passion for His God was so deep that he took time aside to write these words. His vow to his God was that he would praise him as along as he lived…with no conditions! David’s circumstances didn’t matter, he just wanted his God! David understood that he could trust God. This trust developed confidence in God that no matter what, God would see him through. He was totally sold out and unashamed of his God. He loved God with his every breath. Again, in Psalms 27, David writes these words:
“Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.” (Psalms 27:3-5)
Do you have this kind of confidence in your God? After all we know about our God through the Scriptures, why are we not more passionate about Him? What prevents us from giving our all to Him? What hinders us from experiencing the very best that our God desires for us?
I believe the time is now for each of us to make a renewed commitment to our God who loves us beyond what words can express. He wants to come back for a church without spot or blemish. He wants our hearts to be pure. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us with these words.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Obtaining salvation is an event – living a saved life is a process. Too often we see salvation as a one-time event and then it’s over. Not so. There is a standard every believer must abide by if he intends to serve and love God with all his heart, mind and soul. Your daily walk is not reduced to simply remembering the day and place you received salvation. But after the receiving, there is a daily commitment to live a life that’s pleasing to God. Herein, lies the difficulty and the challenge.
Christ has given us the charge of practicing daily self-denial if in fact we are to continue following Him. Matthew 16:24-26 reads,
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
To “deny” yourself means to refuse your own claims upon yourself. To “take-up” means to lift up – to lift up Jesus (even in times of burden and despair) for all to see. Remember, Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32). Christ was lifted up from the ground while on the cross for all to see His suffering death. You and I must lift Him up daily by bearing our crosses and burdens as we follow Him. In doing so, we present Him as the Risen Savior for the world to see.
You must be willing to spiritually kill your flesh man every day to deny what you want and what you lay claim to in your life. You must be willing to daily take up your cross and say to the Lord, “I’ll do what makes you happy. Have Thine own way, not my will but Your will be done.”
Jesus commanded satan to get behind Him (Matthew 16:23) because he did not desire and cherish the things of God nor did he see things from God’s point of view. When you follow the Master, you see what He sees. The more you see what He sees the more you follow Him because He orders your steps as you go. The steps of a righteous man are ordered (directed) by the Lord.
Have you “died through self-denial” today? Do you continue to follow God by refusing your own claims on your life? Do you daily remind yourself of your commitment by saying, “I am not my own. I’ve been bought with a price and that price is the precious redeeming blood of Jesus?”
Denying yourself doesn’t mean giving up God’s blessings and favor. Quite the contrary, it means following Him so all His blessings and favor will follow you and overtake you. God rewards those who seek and follow Him (Hebrews 11:6). You don’t get paid first, you follow first! If you want to get what God’s got you’ve got to go where God’s going. Deny yourself today and every day and present Christ to the world by promoting Him and His agenda. You’ll be glad you did!
July 2018 Devotional
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
shining ever brighter until full daylight.
Path – a way of life, conduct, or thought. It is a course of action, conduct or procedure.
As I was meditating a few weeks ago, I came across this passage of scripture in Proverbs – again. But this time, the words hit me in a different way, and I started thinking about this verse. Scripture encourages believers to live a certain way in this world. We are reminded that we are in the world, but not of the world. This means that though we exist in a place, we do not attach ourselves to our surroundings. We receive our instructions and our direction from someplace else – which implies there is a someplace else somewhere in the universe. Once we are saved our quest is to attach ourselves to this other place that also exists but is one in which we do not see with our physical eyes.
Believers look to scripture to seek instruction and guidance on how we should conduct ourselves while in this world, yet not of this world. This scripture tells us that the path of the righteous is a way of life. It is a specific thought or action, specific conduct or procedure that believers follow. This path is described as the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until full daylight. Think about that. The path that we’re on gets better and better. It doesn’t get worse.
Sometimes we get discouraged along the way. We wonder why things happen to us the way they do when we set ourselves to follow this path and live this life. Why so many disappointments? Why do we personally experience so much wrongdoing aimed against us when we are doing the right and good things?
This scripture is one that ignores the disappointments, setbacks, unfairness & wrongdoings done to us. This scripture wants us to focus on what’s ahead. It wants us to focus on the outcome of this way of life. It reminds us that as we continue on this path, things are getting better for us. Things are getting brighter. There’s something good and amazing that will meet us at the end of our journey in this place.
So, as we set our minds and hearts to live this life, this path, let us encourage ourselves along the way that regardless of what we face, the trials we go through, the questions we may have, the best is yet to come!
July 2018 Devotional
BLESSED ALL THE TIME
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shall thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (Deuteronomy 28:1-6).
What a powerful and dynamic passage of scripture! Moses wrote this book between 1410 B.C and 1406 B.C. In the book of Deuteronomy the Israelites are preparing to enter Canaan and God is giving them instruction on what to expect upon entering the “Promised Land.”
There are two (2) things God is instructing the children of Israel to do if they want to be on the receiving end of His all the time blessing: 1) listen to His voice, and 2) keep all His commandments. If they do these two things, God promises to set them high above all nations, bless them in the city, bless them in the field, bless their offspring (descendants), bless what they plant, increase their kine (cows) and increase their sheep. They will always have plenty on hand and stored up for future use. They will be highly blessed when they travel to and from the city. Oh, what a blessing!
As I studied this passage of scripture I became overwhelmed by the promise to bless them all the time and in all areas of their lives. I immediately began to thank God for the blessings I realize and possess each and every day. I’m reminded that all I need God has already provided. I’m reminded that my God delights in blessing me. I’m reminded that I am blessed to be a blessing to others. I am delighted to live the life I love and love the life I live in Christ Jesus. Yet I am still encouraged to daily thank God for who I am (a child of the Most-High King) and why I exist (to bring glory and honor to His Name by letting my light shine).
So here is what is most important. Please do not miss this. I don’t live to run or chase after the blessings. If I love God enough to always hear His voice and keep His word the blessings will automatically “come on me and overtake me” (Deuteronomy 28:2). The blessings are outstanding and incredible results of love and obedience. My desire is to always hear and obey my God. His promise is to keep me blessed all the time. I confess, I admit – I’m living a blessed life! How about you?