MAKE PRAYER YOUR PRACTICE
However, he made a practice of withdrawing to remote places in order to pray. (Luke 5:16)
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. (Luke 6:12)
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So, don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:1-8)
One of the things that I love most about Luke’s account of the gospel is the attention that he gives to Jesus’ prayer life. More than any of the other gospel accounts, Luke depicts the prayer life of Christ most vividly. Throughout his narrative, we are continually reminded that Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father. Luke writes of so many examples of Christ’s prayer life that you just can’t miss it. I believe Luke also lived his life praying. He made prayer his practice as well.
The word practice is both a noun and a verb. When used as a noun it means repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
When used as a verb it means to perform (an activity) or exercise (skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. To carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
As believers, we ought to be doing both as we pray. We need to make praying our practice so that we will acquire or maintain proficiency in our prayer life. We also need to be praying continually so that we develop and maintain a strong and effective prayer life.
Many believers throw out the word pray/prayer so lightly. Some don’t pray at all because they feel there’s a certain skill that’s involved. Thus, they feel their prayers will not be answered. Others pray every now and then. But then there are those who actually make prayer their practice. These believers want to hear from God. They desire to be in God’s presence. They long for God. David describes these believers in the book of Psalms, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2). These believers are not always asking God for something, but are seeking God for who He is. They love on God when they pray. They want to hear from Him.
They know that God hears and answers their prayers.
How would you evaluate your prayer life? Is prayer an exciting part of your relationship with your Father? Is prayer your practice? Is it your norm? If it isn’t, meditate on the above scriptures as Luke takes us on the journey of how Christ lived. Ask Him like the early disciples to teach you how to pray. I promise you there is nothing compared to loving on our God in prayer.
Making prayer our practice is deeper than asking God to do something for us. It’s time well spent in our spiritual, emotional, and physical development. It draws us closer to God. Prayer allows us to experience God’s blessings and favor throughout our daily activities. Those who make prayer their practice quickly recognize when God is at work. They see things with a spiritual eye, and quickly thank Him. They continue to strengthen their faith by making prayer the norm in their lives.
Today I challenge you that if you are not already making prayer your practice that you begin to participate more in praying, and develop an active prayer life. Once you do this, you will not be able to exist without spending time with your Father. Prayer will be your life line to God.
God’s Never-Ending Provision
2 Corinthians 9:10-15
10) “Now he that ministereth (serves, supplies) seed to the sower both minister (serves, supplies) bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness (the harvest of your prosperity): 11) Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness (liberality) which causes through us thanksgiving to God. 12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want (needs) of the saints, but is abundant (abounding, in full supply) also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13) While by the experiment (proof) of this ministration (ministry) they glorify God for your professed subjection (the obedience of your confession) into the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution (sharing) unto them, and unto all men; 14)and by their prayer for you, which long after you (yearn for you) the exceeding grace of God in you. 15) Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable (indescribable) gift. (KJV)”
Paul explains to the Corinthian church that it is God Who provides them with their seed or increase. He provides two parts of seed or increase. The first part is bread for their food. This refers to their daily substance, whether it is food, clothing, shelter, health, or finances. The second part is seed or increase for sowing (sharing or giving). It is the seed for sowing that God multiplies or increases. This multiplied or increased seed is always a result of the fruit of your righteousness (prosperity, which means favor, spiritual growth, health, wisdom, and other things in addition to money). When you do not sow the “sowing portion” of your seed but hold on to it (store it up) or use it for other than its intended purpose of sowing, there will be no increase of your righteousness (prosperity). Paul emphasizes that God gives to His children to first satisfy their daily need (Phil.4:19) and then to provide something for them to sow (give) to others. Those others include but are not limited to the local church, other ministries, the community, non-profit organizations, and individuals. What you sow should include your time, talent, and treasure (financial resources). When you sow accordingly, your seed becomes your investment upon which God promises a mighty and overwhelming return!
Paul states that when we receive and give liberally we give thanks to God because our giving not only supplies the needs of other saints but it also gives them a reason to give thanks to God for His provision. Paul adds that these receiving saints glorify God for what they (the Corinthians) say (profess or preach) and for what they freely give. They thank God that the Corinthians’ talk and their walk match and complement each other. In their prayers, they yearn for God’s continued blessing with His grace (unmerited favor) so that the Corinthians would continue to be obedient and sow to them because they realized that part of what they received would be used to sow into the lives of others.
Paul refers to God’s seed as an indescribable gift. Words cannot properly define or explain God’s giving. The lesson for us today is that God gives us seed (provision) for our daily bread (needs) and He gives us seed to “sow.” The seed to sew is our time, talent, and treasure (financial resources). As we use the “sowing seed” to sow or invest, God promises to multiply our fruit (harvest) with continual prosperity (favor, spiritual growth, health, wisdom, finances).
If you are a child of God (in addition to being God’s creation) He will provide you with all you need to sustain yourself and with abundance (full supply) to sow and bless others. God cannot and does not lie! Oh, what a blessing. To God be the glory!!
Don’t Reject the Son
If anyone hears what I am saying and does not observe it, I don’t judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. Those who reject me and don’t accept what I say have a judge — the word which I have spoken will judge them on the Last Day. For I have not spoken on my own initiative, but the Father who sent me has given me a command, namely, what to say and how to say it. And I know that his command is eternal life. So, what I say is simply what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:47-50)
When Jesus spoke these words, He had just entered Jerusalem and the people were praising Him and acknowledging that He was from God. They shouted, they sang, and even laid their garments on the ground in worship. Yet, Jesus did not get caught up in the moment. He did not want to miss the opportunity for a final warning to those who were present.
He pointed the people in the direction of His Father. From the beginning, Jesus plainly taught that He came to save the world (people), not condemn it (them) (John 3:17). Earlier in his ministry, Jesus taught that there was one greater who had power over life and death. (Mt. 10:28) Here, Jesus wanted to remind the people that not accepting His assignment to them would mean judgment from the Greater One.
Notice in this text that we are not judged if we hear and don’t do what Christ says, but we are judged when we refuse to believe in Him. That is when the Father steps in. For to reject His Son is the same as rejecting Him, and rejection of His Son has eternal consequences. For Christ said that He simply obeyed the command of His Father by saying what His Father told Him to say.
This is a new year, and it is the time when many of us make new resolutions. We set new goals and start new projects. We even revisit some previous ones that we haven’t accomplished and add those to our list. But brothers and sisters, let’s not focus so much on us and forget about Christ. It is true some have never heard the gospel. But others have heard and dismissed Him choosing not to believe. Let us put Christ on our list. For our eternal hope rests on Jesus. He is the One who makes our relationship with the Father possible.
Jesus never took credit for anything He said or did. He always gave credit to His Father. The Father had a plan for us through His Son. We cannot skip over Jesus. We must believe in Him, who He said He was and what He said. He is our Savior, our redeemer, the Son of God, the Holy One of Israel, the Keeper of our souls, the Bright and Morning Star, Immanuel (God with us). He is the one speaks to us in these last days. (Hebrews 1:2). Let’s not reject Him. If we do, we fall into the Father’s judgment. Let’s lift Him up. Let us receive all of the Father’s blessings by believing in His Son. This is what brings pleasure to Him. He has glorified His Son. Let us also glorify Him.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV); “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV).
We have entered our journey into a new year and a new decade – 2020. There is a lot of dialogue sharing and conversation about what is expected in this new year and how much success we (individually and collectively) will realize.
While thinking about this and in preparing for this devotional, the Lord reminded me of the prayer message the apostle Paul gave to the Ephesians in Chapter 3, verse 20: “Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.” This tells me that my God is able to do much more than I can ask or think in connection with the power (Holy Spirit) at work in me. God filled me with His presence, His Spirit to be at work and accomplish things He wanted to perform in my life. Paul wanted the church at Ephesus to understand that principle and to live by and with it.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9, the apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church that we (as humans) really don’t conceive, grasp or understand completely the things (good and great things) God has prepared for those who love Him. I love Him. Do you? If so, then we have great and wonderful things and times to look forward to.
But my main challenge in this writing is to remind you that we should not look and expect great things to begin at the start of a new year. We should live in “grateful expectation” at all times – each and every day. We do not serve a God Who shows up every January 1 to do something nice for us. We serve a God Who delights in doing good things for His children and shows up every day and all day.
I purpose to live in grateful expectation at all times and I encourage you to do the same. Never forget that God loved us from the foundation of the world and has pleasure in seeing us in a continual position of expectation of spiritual blessings first and then material blessings. He is a God Who supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19). He will always do what He says and will never come short of His Word.
Let’s all be careful not to reduce His love and care for us to a “one-day” prayer of expectation at the beginning of each year. Let’s purpose to live in “grateful expectation” each and every day of our lives.
Do You Hear the Words Coming Out of Your Mouth?
I often marvel about the things I hear people say. Sometimes I hear the words, and ask myself, “Do they really hear what they are saying? It’s unbelievable that at times, people really say things that don’t make any sense, or say hurtful or disrespectful words, and feel like it doesn’t matter. Then, at other times, I hear words of life that a person may speak. They are equally impactful, and bring about a different reaction in me. Those words are uplifting and encouraging – soothing even. Those words make me feel better about myself and my life-even when I’m going through a challenge.
Scripture has a lot and I mean a lot to say about the words that come out of our mouths. Proverbs 18:21 says this: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences”.
James writes these words about the tongue. “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body”. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:6-10)
What powerful words! One might think that these words may not apply to them because it’s talking about an object. But no, my friend, these words are for you and me. Matthew recorded these words of Jesus “The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:37)
So, the question is, what words are you speaking, and do you really hear the words coming out of your mouth? We as believers are exhorted in scripture to be mindful of the words we speak. Let’s look at some of the adjectives that teach us what our words produce. They bring life or death. There are consequences for the words that we speak. The tongue is compared to fire. It can be destructive and corrupt our whole body and even our lives. The tongue can not be tamed. It is restless, always looking for something to destroy. It can work positively or negatively. It can praise God and at the same time curse those who have been made in the image of God. The words we speak will either acquit us or condemn us when Christ comes back to judge us.
So, I say we have a choice to use our words for good or use them for evil. We can choose words of life or words of death. We should choose life. Let our words produce life. Let our words represent what is in our hearts. If our hearts are pure, our words will be pure, and the pure in heart will see God. Let’s make a conscious effort to pay attention to the words that are coming out of our mouths!
“And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, A Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:10-14 KJV).
Here we are, once again in the midst of the Christmas season. As has always been in the past (as far back as I can remember), several displays of colorful lights, trees (evergreen, real and artificial), decorations and sounds of happy music are all around. Sights and sounds of the season are in most neighborhoods and business districts.
But what is not as visible and what is not talked about as much is the real reason for the season. Christmas, in its true form, is the time we set aside to give a specially recognized celebration of the Almighty God bringing a Savior into the world. It’s the annual time of the year we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The news of our Savior’s birth was announced by the angel who said, “I bring you good tidings (news) of great joy.” The good news was that a Savior for all people had been born. This truly was the greatest gift of all. Glory to God was proclaimed. Peace on earth was proclaimed. Good will toward men was proclaimed. Look at the impact this gift (the Savior) had and continues to have on the world.
My desire is that all would recognize, understand, and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. My desire is that all people in every corner of the world would “celebrate Jesus.” I am not saying Christmas should not be a time of giving gifts, being with family, and enjoying feasts. But, most important is to celebrate the ultimate gift God gave because He loved us and wanted to offer a Savior so that we (mankind) could be reunited into the fellowship we once had with Him. Simply stated, there has never been and never will be a Christmas without Christ.
I ask and challenge all who read or hear these words to remember the true reason for the season and commit to informing others of that reason and challenging them to spread the news as the angel did with those shepherds who watched over their sheep by night. Let’s celebrate Jesus!
See, Hear and Understand!
Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything the Lord did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to his whole country— all the great tests of strength, the miraculous signs, and the amazing wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear! (Deuteronomy 29:2-4).
In this passage, Moses reminds them of what they had personally witnessed in the land of Egypt with Pharaoh and with his servants. But it’s the last sentence that is most impactful. “But the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear!”
We tend to become dull to the miracles and victories that the Lord has brought us through. We fail to experience God’s true blessings and presence because of our inability to fully understand what God has done for us. This scripture challenges us. Moses was at the end of his ministry. He had gone as far as he could go with the Israelites, and Joshua was prepared to take the baton and lead them into the promised land. This is Moses’ last discourse with the Israelites. He calls the people together to remind them of where they have come from, where they are going, and gives them a glimpse of their future. However, the people did not get it!
Jesus challenged His disciples in the same way. Jesus had fed more than 5000 and later fed more than 4000. When He was alone with His disciples, He told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. They thought he was talking about physical bread and were arguing with each other because no one had brought any. “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’[a] Don’t you remember anything at all?... “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.” (Mark 8:17-21)
Even the disciples “forgot” about the miracles in just a short time. Why? Because we are in the way. We often fail to focus on God’s agenda for our lives. We spend more time and energy on what we want rather than on what God wants or even what He says. We act as if God doesn’t know or have a plan. But if God is first as we say, and if we want to be obedient as we say, then we must have a continued commitment to understanding what we hear and see God do for us, and remember what He has already done for us! Then God will give us minds to understand, eyes that see, and ears that hear.
God wants us to have a mindset that we will fix our hearts on Him with the purpose to obey Him. We must decide to listen attentively, listen to obey, listen for understanding – in other words we will give earnest heed to what we hear. I want to encourage each of us to remember that our God does not change. He is the same as He was yesterday, He is the same today, and He will be the same always. It’s up to us to see, hear and understand!
Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.”
Then said they unto him, Lord evermore give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:32-35 KJV).
Feed Us and Fill Us
Father, feed us and fill us
with the true Bread from heaven.
Let us continuously eat
from your spiritual table.
Father, we long to be served by you -
the full course meal only You can give.
And please give an extra portion to
those of us who need it most.
Father, we know that every time we feast
from the blessings of Your Word,
we won’t be able to digest it all,
but yet we will still want more.
Father, don’t let us ever get enough
Of what You have for your children.
And every time we seek nourishment for our souls,
Feed us and fill us again.
LIVING IN PRAISE
A Collection of Christian Poems
Copyright © 1987 by R. J. Lightsey
Vantage Press, New York, New York
Why Do I Feel Down?
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— (Psalms 42:5-6)
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God (Psalms 42:11)
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! (Psalms 43:5)
Did you ever feel like everything was against you? Did you feel that life was so overwhelming that you just couldn’t see your way out? Well, you’re not alone. David felt this way. Yes, David – the man after God’s own heart. David the psalmist, the poet, the king.
Brothers and sisters, there will be times in our lives when we feel all alone-literally. We may feel that God has left us. And like the Psalmist, we ask ourselves why? Why am I feeling lost, alone, depressed, down, hopeless? It is during these times that we, like the Psalmist did, must encourage ourselves in our God. It is during these moments when we must command our soul and everything on the inside of us to bless the Lord. (Psalm 103:1-2)
David is our example. He asked himself the question, why is my heart so sad? But then he said, even though my heart is sad, I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again. I will not be overtaken by my circumstances or what people say about me or how they treat me. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it bothers me. But I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again and again and again!
When you read through the entire verses of these Psalms 42-43, you’ll see how overwhelming things were for David. He had a lot of questions about his current circumstances. Why has God forgotten me, why must I wander around in grief, why are my enemies oppressing me, why aren’t things the way they used to be, why am I so discouraged, why is my heart so sad? Why?
Well, my brothers and sisters, sometimes we don’t know why. We don’t always understand the shifting in our lives. That is why we have to encourage ourselves in our God. That is why we must do what the Psalmist did. We must put our hope in God. We must praise Him again. We must remember what He did in previous times.
Though it takes a lot of effort, this is what we, the people of God must do to bring ourselves up and out. This becomes our testimony. This is our victory. If you’re going through a season of loneliness, and emptiness, follow the Psalmist’s lead. Tell yourself: “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God”!
Rooted and Grounded in Love
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-17, KJV).
In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and tells the believers that he prays for them. His prayer is that God would grant many things for them. One of his prayer requests is that they would be “rooted and grounded in love,” (verse 17). Dictionary.com defines “rooted” as being firmly planted and “grounded” as fixed firmly, settled, or established. Thus, his prayer is for them to be firmly planted and established in love. It would take being in this position to know and understand the love of Christ (verse 19).
If the love of Christ firmly dwells in us we will be equipped and able to love all mankind regardless of our differences. Of course, there will always be challenges due to different backgrounds, opinions, teachings, and the like. However, the love that is rooted and ground in us requires and equips us to love all mankind and realize the fact that we all have been equally created. The scriptures do not mention any account of God, the Ultimate Creator, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and the Great “I Am” creating humankind of separate and various levels. For God so loved “the world” (all mankind) that He gave His only begotten son as a ransom for all – not for some (John 3:16).
My prayer, as was the apostle Paul’s, and I hope yours also, is that all believers understand, accept, and live this principle without fear or shame. If we are truly rooted and grounded in love (the God kind of love) we will treat others with dignity and respect, be concerned about each other’s well-being, and desire God’s best for all. We will love others as we love ourselves and will not be ashamed or fearful of living a rooted and grounded love life each and every day.
Finally, we should, as I mentioned earlier, pray the prayer that the apostle Paul prayed. We should pray that all born again believers pray for the body of Christ to be unified in love, thought, and deed. Let’s get and remain rooted and grounded in love.
How Great is Our God!
This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 66:1-2)
God Almighty, through the prophet Isaiah tells us that heaven contains the throne of God where He reigns! These verses give us a picture of how great and powerful our God is as He sits on His throne. Just think of how vast heaven must be to occupy the throne of God! A throne is defined as “the chair or seat occupied by a sovereign, bishop, or other exalted personage on ceremonial occasions, usually raised on a dais and covered with a canopy.”
On a previous occasion, the prophet described the vision he saw of God’s glory. “It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). The reaction of the prophet to this heavenly vision was so overwhelming that he literally felt like he would die because he saw himself and his nation as filthy in the presence of God.
God told the prophet that no man-made structure could contain him, because He himself made the heaven and earth and that everything in them were His! Think about that! This is a description of a God Whose power has no limits! The prophet Jeremiah acknowledged this when he said “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! (Jeremiah 32:7).
King Solomon, too, acknowledged the greatness of God in his prayer after he had finished building the temple for the Lord’s name. “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! (2 Chronicles 6:18).
Brothers and sisters, it would do us well to keep in mind how great our God is. We must continuously, unceasingly, without stopping acknowledge the greatness of our God. We must live in complete and unwavering confidence in our God at all times – under every circumstance. Jesus Himself taught us this in the model prayer. Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (Matthew 6:9).
The key word is “kept” which indicates we must hold onto and maintain our view of our God continuously. We must represent Him truthfully by acknowledging our God’s power and glory at all times for our God, indeed, is a great God!
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“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1, KJV).
In the fourth chapter of the apostle Paul’s writing to the church (believers) at Ephesus around A.D. 60, he addresses their relationships with other believers. He instructs and encourages them to walk worthy of the vocation (lifestyle) they have been instructed to live with others. He challenges them to be unified in the Spirit of peace.
Once we attain and announce the status of born again believers (through the work of Christ the Anointed One) we have a charge to walk worthy of the new lifestyle we have adopted. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new”, KJV). When we make that confession of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, we commit to living a life that is pleasing to God. The “old way” of living passes away. The old way may include lying, jealousy, hatred, fornication, gluttony, envy, strife, stealing, and much more. The new way of living graduates or promotes us to truth, honesty, love, faithfulness, meekness, peace, and the like. We are instructed to live this new lifestyle and “walk worthy” of the confession we have made that we are the Lord’s representatives.
How we interact, communicate, and treat others will be shown by the walk we project and the sincerity of our commitment. It all centers around maintaining peace with others in our daily walk. Sure there will be days when we are tried or challenged. Sure there will be days of opportunities to overcome and dealing with people who may be trying “our last nerve.” But the challenge and directive from the apostle Paul is to walk worthy of who we are and Whose we are. Our light should shine before men that they see our good works and glorify our Father Who is heaven. We should always represent the kingdom well.
We should be patient and exhibit understanding with others, knowing that the God we serve is able to remedy any situation or circumstance. We should be confident in knowing that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose. Here is the question. Is your walk a worthy walk?
Accuser – Diablos meaning adversary, enemy, or slanderer. It is a legal term used in the context of one bringing a charge against another. Scripture describes Satan in these terms: the accuser of the brethren, adversary, enemy.
Satan, the Accuser, constantly brings charges to God against us. He watches us closely, develops his strategy, and goes in for the kill. We must know not only who we are, but who our enemy is. Not knowing our enemy is where we fail. Our accuser is expert not only in this area, but also in deception. This truth is illustrated in the book of Job.
In Chapters one and two, we find two instances when Satan came to God to accuse Job. “One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan came with them.” (Job 1:6)
This is a legal setting. The spirits (angels) of God presented their cases before Him. The heavenly court allows the accuser to present as well. This was the case with Job. In the dialogue between Satan and God, God commends Job for his integrity and reverence for Him. However, Satan brings forth the accusation that Job only has integrity and reverence because God has faithfully put a wall of protection around him, his home and family. If these were taken away, Job would no longer have reverence for God, and would surely curse him to His face.
Once the accuser presented his accusation against Job, God allowed Job to experience a season of testing giving the accuser an opportunity to win his case. Thus, it was on the accuser to prove his case against Job. God gave him permission to take all of Job’s possessions and even took all of his children away. Satan did this in a way that was deceptive. He made it look like God was involved in his loss. For Job’s reply was “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” (Job 1:20-21)
Still, the accuser was not willing to lose his case against Job, and presented to God another accusation against him. This time, he challenged God with these words. “A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (Job 2: 4-5).
God again gave Satan the opportunity to prove his case, and Satan struck Job with painful sores all over his body. Job described it like this: “My body is covered with maggots and scabs. My skin breaks open, oozing with pus.” (Job 7:5).
Although Job did not sin by blaming God for his losses or the attack on his health, he thought God was the cause. “Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? Why not just forgive my sin and take away my guilt? (Job 7:19-20)
The Accuser’s goal is to separate us from our Father. He will attempt to do this by any means at his disposal. How do we win? We follow Christ’s example of trusting in God’s Word. Just as Christ depended on the Word of His Father in His season of testing, we must follow his example when we undergo our seasons of testing. We must know our Father, know His Word, use His Word to win our battles, and acknowledge the power of His Word to make us victorious over the power of our enemy.
Rev. Sharen K. Lightsey
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV).
The scripture referenced above is truly one of my favorites. The two verses have always reminded me that whatever man needs to know about life – the purpose, the formula for success, the antidote for all ills, and everything else can be found in the Word of God. These verses tell us that God inspired men of His choice to write His messages of believing, encouraging, chastising, and teaching so that we (His creation) could live the best life possible.
Yet, with that being said, I still converse with people who find a way to bring in their belief that the holy scriptures, the Bible, is merely a collection of history and mankind’s guide to “live a good life” and to share his individual thoughts and promote his own agenda. These individuals only purpose is to share their own thoughts and promote their own agenda. But that is not what concerns me the most. What’s most troubling for me is that they don’t want me to believe as I do: that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. Yes, God inspired and used man (humans) to record His instruction and direction for all human life. In addition, He let it be known that all of His inspired and written Word is profitable. It is of the utmost value.
My response is never to try to convince them of God’s Word through an argument. I simply state that I believe what is written is God inspired just as much (and probably more) as they say otherwise. I encourage all believers to do the same. God’s Word is not to be argued over. Our Creator, the Heavenly Father has given each of us the ability and privilege of deciding to accept or reject His Word. Therefore, we should respond to the “naysayers” by simply saying. “You make the choice.” Yes, they are free to believe what they want to believe and the best thing we can do is pray for them to come to accept God’s Word by faith. We don’t need their permission to pray for them so they can’t hinder our act of doing so.
I have learned that rather than becoming upset, frustrated, or angry with them to simply listen and allow them to share their thoughts. I share mine and then tell them "you make the choice.” I hope this process is of benefit to all believers and “you make the choice” be known as our final statement in the conversation. now.
A Pleasing Prayer
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and with uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing” (1 Kings 3:5-10).
I wonder how many of us would have responded the way Solomon did when God visited him in a dream and told him to ask whatever he wanted and it would be given to him. Would we have needed a couple of minutes to think through the invitation to make sure we asked for “just the right thing” or what could do us a great service?
Notice that Solomon began his response by stating he recognized and remembered all God had done for and through his father, David. He then showed and spoke gratitude and appreciation for God allowing him to sit on the throne as king. He admitted that (in the arena of experience) he was not qualified to hold such a position. Therefore, he asked God for an understanding heart and wisdom that he be able to discern between good and bad.
Verse 10 states, “and the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.” In the verses that follow, the Lord informs Solomon that not only has his prayer request been granted but He (God) has already given him (Solomon) much more, including riches and honor. Why was Solomon on the receiving end of such a dynamic blessing? It’s because his prayer pleased the Lord.
So here is the question. Do our prayers please the Lord or do we just hop into prayer mode to get it “done and out of the way?” Do we pray for our own selfish gain and accomplishments or do we pray for the good and deliverance of others? What we pray and how we pray can (and does) make all the difference. We should always pray “a pleasing prayer.” That is a prayer that moves the hand of God to use us to be a blessing to others – spiritually, financially, etc. The more concern and well-being we have for others, the less selfish and self-centered are our prayers. Let’s all become acquainted with a pleasing prayer.
What Words Are You Speaking?
The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives. (Proverbs 12:6)
The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble. (Proverbs 12:13)
Wise words bring many benefits…. (Proverbs 12:14)
Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. (Proverbs 12:22)
Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. (Proverbs 13:3)
A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe. (Proverbs
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. (Proverbs 15:1-2)
Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:21)
We are in the age of social media where what people say have more impact in our lives than previously experienced. People are talking a lot. People are saying a lot. We have cyber bullying – a new term and a new way of people interacting with each other using words. These words hurt others and have caused much damage in people’s lives. This kind of bullying have even led some to end their lives prematurely.
Before there was cyber bullying, scripture taught us the benefits of using our words for good, and even warned us of the negative impact of our words. Proverbs is one of those books that drives this point home on how powerful our words are.
You see, we were created with the spoken word, and we create our world by our words. We also impact others by our words. Words are indeed powerful tools. Jesus himself demonstrated how powerful our words are. With a word He healed sick people, with a word the blind, deaf, and mute were healed and restored. With a word He cast out demons. With His words He silenced His enemies. With His words, He calmed storms, and with His words He raised the dead back to life.
Just think about the way your words have shaped your life. What words are you speaking? Are you speaking words of life or death, truth or lies, wisdom or foolishness? What has the fruit of your words produced in your life? What kinds of conversations do you have with others? Do you give praise or criticism? This might be a good time to reflect on what you and I are putting in the atmosphere.
Jesus said it best when the Pharisees accused Him of receiving the power to cast out demons from Satan. He challenged them first by asking how evil men like them could speak what was good and right because whatever is in the heart determines what we say. “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you”. (Matthew 12:36-37).
Yes, my brothers and sisters, we need to watch our words. We need to discipline our tongues. We need to produce life with our words instead of death. We need to bring healing with our words instead of hurt. We need to use our words to save lives and not destroy lives.
Remember the old saying ….” if you can’t say anything good, then don’t say anything at all”. The writer of Proverbs put it like this, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything”. (Proverbs 13:3)
It All Belongs to God Anyway
“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” (1 Chronicles 29:13-14)
How often have you considered that nothing is yours? All that is yours has been given to you in some way or another. Many of us have heard the expression, “We brought nothing into this world, and we’ll take nothing with us when we leave this world.” It can be a hard reality to realize that we really own nothing. Whether we work, or have an inheritance, or someone gives us something, it all came from someplace else. God the Father, the initiator and giver of all things, is so gracious that He allows us to oversee His blessings. He allows us to experience His goodness. But just think, all that we spend our time working for, all the material possessions we acquire, all the money we save, are not things that we “own”, but things we’ve been entrusted with that we must take care of and use wisely.
It’s hard for many of us to release the money we feel is ours. We want control. For those of us who attend church regularly, we recognize that part of our worship to our Father is giving our tithes and offerings. These monies are used for the upkeep of the ministry, and to help those in need. But we also know that many people who attend church regularly do not give their tithes or any offering – at least nothing substantial. But the thing we must understand is that what we view of as our own, is God’s. It’s His anyway, and what we give or not give is His.
Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus that Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. There is a good feeling that comes with helping someone else. There is a feeling that is inexpressible when we give to our Lord. To give back to God a portion of what He has given to us is a blessing. David understood this. He had a goal to bless His God. From the resources that God provided for him, David, set aside a portion for the purpose of building a house for His God. It was intentional and consistent over a period of time. When he named Solomon, his son, as successor to the kingdom, he revealed to the people what he had done and encouraged them to do the same. The scripture states the people were filled with joy to give willingly and wholeheartedly to the Lord their God.
David understood an important truth when he said, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!”
Yes, my brothers and sisters, it is more blessed to give, for there is a certain and unexplainable feeling that comes with giving. Not haphazard giving, but purposeful giving. Because the true reality is that what we give belongs to God anyway!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, NIV).
How often do you confess to something you are not ashamed of and easily present your thoughts and feelings about it to others? Maybe there is something you feel so strongly committed to that your stance and position cannot and will not be moved. Perhaps there is something in your life (past or present) that you truly are not proud of and would not want to share the details of it with “anyone”, and I do mean “anyone.”
The apostle Paul held a stance and position concerning how he felt about the gospel - the Good News. In his passionate letter to the church of believers at Rome he informed them that the gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes the gospel message which was at first presented to the Jews but now is presented to the Gentiles also.
There are three points I want to address in referring to Romans 1:16. 1). Paul emphatically states that he is not ashamed of the gospel. He makes it very clear that the gospel is now proclaimed and will always be preached from his lips. As he does in his letter, he takes advantage of every opportunity to share the good news. 2). He states the gospel is “the power of God that brings salvation.” How often do we hear that the gospel is the power of God? Yes, we often hear that the gospel brings salvation but it is not often described as the power of God. I believe if more of us knew this we would be more inclined (without fear) to share the good news. 3). Lastly, the apostle Paul states that salvation by way of the gospel is now the result of everyone who believes – the Jew and the Gentile. In other words, a “no shame gospel presentation” is available to and can save anybody.
We can see Paul’s dedication and commitment in his ministry as he encouraged the church at Corinth to “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1, KJV). Again, we see that he has no shame in admitting that he is a follower of Christ. He is so committed to his position that he encouraged them to also follow Christ by following his example of righteous living.
So, the conclusion of the matter is now addressed by asking if there is any “shame in your game?” Are you ashamed of the gospel? Are you afraid to say that Jesus Christ the Anointed One is your Lord and Savior? And are you proud to be a child of the Most-High King? Well, I can only speak for myself. I have no shame!
Walk in the Light
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12, NLT). There are so many songs, poems, phrases, and quotes that refer to “walking in the light.” But I have yet to find any reference as powerful and impressive as the words Jesus spoke to the defiant scribes and Pharisees in John 8:12.
Jesus put those religious leaders and hypocrites to the test and in their place in the verses prior to verse 12. While He was teaching in the synagogue, they brought a woman to Him, placed her in the middle of the congregation, and announced that she had been involved in adultery. Furthermore, they stated that according to the law presented by Moses, she should be stoned to death. They then asked Jesus, “What sayest thou?” They were looking for an occasion to accuse Him of supporting the death penalty on adulterers, but they got more than they bargained for.
Jesus responded by saying, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone (John 8:7)!” When they heard His response and being convicted by their own conscience, they left one by one until the accused woman stood alone. After telling her he did not condemn her and to discontinue her sin, He then returned His attention to those in the synagogue. He told them He was the Light of the world, the salvation for mankind and everything else mankind needed.
What He was saying is that forgiveness and salvation does not come by trying to keep and obey laws, but only by walking (living) in the Light. In Jesus, (the Light) there is forgiveness, guidance, revelation, encouragement, and eternal life. With that being said, it is imperative to know that it is not enough to just be “exposed” to the Light but we must walk “live continuously” in the Light. Having a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior means activating and maintaining a strong connection. That strong connection reminds us that within and of ourselves we can do nothing, but with and in (within) Christ we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
I encourage you to walk and continue walking in the Light so that your witness will be strong and effective, and your joy may be full. Experience all that God has for you and enjoy living a blessed life.
CLING TO YOUR FAITH
“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. (1 Timothy 1:19)
Consider the vast amount of information available to us that can also be a danger to our faith. We are living in interesting times. Times that call on us to be rooted and grounded in our faith in Christ. Times that call on us to know Who Christ is and what He has done for us. Times that call on us to know the gospel of the good news of the kingdom.
Timothy had a hard time with false teachings by both believers and non-believers in Ephesus. The culture wasn’t as some would call “Christ-friendly”. He felt pressure from within the church as well as the culture in which he lived regarding the gospel of the kingdom.
Timothy faced the onslaught of different schools of thought over and over again. Paul wrote to his son in the faith to encourage him to fight well in the Lord’s battles by clinging to his faith. He instructed him not to get caught up in meaningless conversations. He told him to remain focused on what he knew to be true.
Those of us who walk with Christ must remain true to Him. We know the truth. We must defend the truth to others who challenge us. Paul wrote these words to Timothy: “For the time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching, but will cater to their passions and gather around themselves teachers who say whatever their ears itch to hear. Yes, they will stop listening to the truth, but will turn aside to follow myths”. (2 Timothy 4: 3-4)
As believers, we have to guard our hearts and minds to all that would distract us from Christ. Often in our quest to know God and understand more, we allow ourselves to consider other schools of thought. Although there is nothing wrong with learning new things, when we spend too much of our time and mental energy on them, we position ourselves to be drawn away from our faith. The Psalmist prayed: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer”. (Psalms 19:14). We need to stay focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to have our hearts pure and fixed on Christ. I want to encourage you as Paul encouraged Timothy to cling to your faith in Christ and keep your conscience clear!