How strong are you? Back in my high school days we worked out just about every day to build up strength and stamina. Even after high school, I found myself pumping that iron to stay in shape and to maintain my strength. That’s probably the story of many others, but the older I get, I’ve noticed that even with working out, I can be strong, but not like the days of my youth. Physically everyone loses their strength over time, but that doesn’t have to be the case spiritually. The apostle Paul said, “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10.
We need this encouragement today because of the hostile environments we enter into and the spiritual wrestling required to survive. Our mistake oftentimes is that we don’t know who our opponent is, so we end up in major conflicts with our spouse, or with our co-worker, or with our neighbors. Our wrestling is with spiritual forces of darkness in heavenly places. Our wrestling opponent, Paul said, was not on the human level, but the spiritual. That’s not to say we don’t come into contact with those who come against us, we certainly do, but even then, we must see our battle is not directly with them.
I love watching the Strong Man’s Contest where those massive men show how strong they are by lifting weights, pushing or pulling trucks, and lifting heavy concrete balls. It’s possible and very likely to be very strong physically, but a weakling spiritually, and that’s why Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord.” To be strong in the Lord means to walk in love and to be full of faith. To be strong in the Lord you have to know the Lord on a very personal level. To be strong in the Lord means you are a person of prayer. To be strong in the Lord you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. To be strong in the Lord you must be completely covered with the armor of God. Let me ask you, what does it matter if you can win physical battles and intellectual debates if you lose every spiritual confrontation? God has equipped you to win every spiritual wrestling match against your unseen enemy. Spiritually, you are not someone who should be pushed around and knocked down, but it happens, and it has happened to me more times than I want to admit. So what do you do? You get back up, and you go again. You learn the enemy’s strategy and you renew and gain strength in the Lord. You are strong, but your source of strength is not in you, it’s in the Lord. Starting today, be strong in the Lord!
You may be living in the blessings of those around you. When someone walks in faith and obedience to God, that person lives with the overflowing blessings and favor of God. There is a light and love and a goodness that emanates from their life that touches those around them. Those who walk in faith and obedience to God will have a great attitude and outlook on life, but what I’m talking about is more than someone having a great attitude. These followers of Christ are the “super-spreaders” of God’s saving gospel. They are the carriers of His presence. Listen to this, your work place ought to be favored because you are there. Your school and church and programs ought to be favored and especially blessed because you are there walking in faith and obedience to God.
Jesus said these words, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:16. God saved us and put His spirit in us to make an impact wherever we go. As you go out today, know that you are taking God’s presence with you, so don’t hide it. Be a blessing everywhere you go!
Joshua 14:12 “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim [were] there, and [that] the cities [were] great [and] fortified. It may be that the LORD [will be] with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.”
Very few people would make such a request and even fewer would make a request for a mountain at the age of 85. But Caleb, one of the 12 spies who went and spied out the Promise Land for God’s people, was no ordinary man. By God’s grace for 85 years his streng
th had been sustained and his faith in God had only increased. And now at the point in life when the land was being divided among the children of Israel, instead of requesting a piece of property where he could settle down and take it easy like most people would, he asked for the mountain. He asked for the challenge. He wasn’t interested in the populated valley or the green meadows, he wanted the mountain. Why would he do that? Why would anyone his age do that? Caleb knew that making such a request would keep him dependent on the presence and power of God. Caleb still wanted to obey God and drive out the trespassing Anakim. More than likely you need a challenge that will keep you completely dependent on God’s presence and power, we all do. But what is it going to be? Do you see a mountain challenge anywhere? Don’t let yo
ur age be a factor as you look to a mountain, but have faith as Caleb did and said, “it may be that the LORD will be with me”. What will you do for the kingdom and glory of God that is going to challenge you? What mountain are you going to take on for His glory? Caleb was a mountain man and you can be a mountain man or woman, but the mountain will never be easy. Taking on a mountain will require focus, discipline and great faith in Almighty God. If you will take a moment to ask God to show you a mountain to take on, I promise you He will show you. Let Christ be exalted and make Him the king of the mountain.
On the same day Jesus rose from the grave He appeared to the apostles. He spoke peace to them and then showed them His hands and His side. This was not only the visible proof that He was the One they had committed their lives to, but the showing of His hands and side has far more greater meaning to us.
Recently I smashed the ends of my fingers on both hands. My fingernails have turned black and ugly from the injury. The painful incident and my startling reaction to it was so traumatic that I have shared it with many people. I’ve shared the story because I witnessed God help me in that moment of pain. I was manually pulling down a garage door and my fingers got caught between where two panels come together. I couldn’t pull my fingers out and I couldn’t lift the door back up. The pain was severe and I didn’t care who heard me yelling in pain. But I know it was God who quickened me to kick the door up with my foot, releasing my fingers. I’ve shared this story because in my personal trauma, God was with me. Many times we are quick to share our physical wounds with others, but not so quick to show the wounds on the inside. Most of the time we don’t want people to know about the wounds of our hearts and minds, but when we do, something happens to whoever is listening. They are relieved to know you are real and can relate to what they maybe going through. Those disciples must have felt so alone and discouraged until Jesus appeared and showed them His wounds. When was the last time you got real with someone like Jesus did and showed them your wounds? What about the wounds on the inside? Jesus showed His wounds and the disciples were glad and believed in Him. Don’t be afraid to show people the healed wounds in your life. It just may bring the healing to them they need.
You do know there are many many people who are where they are, but do not want to be there. Recently I heard the story of a family going on an incredible vacation, but the 14 year old son didn’t want to be there. Instead of trying to enjoy the trip, he just made everyone else miserable. How unfortunate for the family and for the young man who couldn’t get over himself and embrace the experience. No doubt, it’s hard to be some where with someone who doesn’t want to be there. They don’t say it, but it’s almost as if they see it as their personal responsibility to make everyone else miserable. You’ve heard it said, and it’s true, “Misery loves company.” Miserable people are every where today. You work with some and you go to church with some and they are on your child’s ball team and they are behind the counter. I was thinking that Judas, the betrayer of the Messiah, had to be a miserable person. In a moment of humble sacrifice Mary anointed the Lord’s feet with oil and wiped His feet with her hair. But Judas spoke up and said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” John 12:5.
Judas killed that sweet moment of fellowship and service to the Lord. Judas was with the disciples, but he really didn’t want to be. And that’s what people do when they are in a place they don’t want to be, they say something or do something that ruins what could be an amazing moment for others. Judas’ main problem is that he simply needed Jesus! He was with Jesus, but didn’t have Jesus and he was miserable.
So what do you do when you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be? Ask God to change your heart and attitude, because you want to be a light where ever you go. Be careful about what comes out of your mouth, because those with you may absolutely love where they are. Believe that where you are right now is not where you will always be, God can move you or change you. Several years ago I went to evening service at our church and I didn’t want to go, but my wife strong armed me. I went almost mad, but I knew I needed to go even for a witness to my young children. About half-way in to the song service I noticed how my attitude had changed. By the time we left that service, I was so blessed to have gone.
Whether you know it or not, you are a vital part of the atmosphere around you. You either are a catalyst the presence of the Holy Spirit or a hindrance. Don’t be guilty of blocking the Spirit from moving and don’t be guilty of making everyone around you miserable. Be changed in Jesus Name and make every place you go meaningful and enjoyable for everyone else.
The window of opportunity is closing for you to surrender your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You may be one who doesn’t think you need to surrender or confess anything, or you may be one who doesn’t even believe in the existence of God. But you should not be so quick to make such definitive calls or conclusions about creation and the origin or destination of human life. Every single person who has walked the face of this earth has walked with limited knowledge. There are people who act like they know everything, but the reality is, they know somethings and most often only about specific subjects. But what about life after death? What about the possibility that this is an area you have limited knowledge about? I know this doesn’t speak to everyone, but hopefully it will speak to the one who is searching for answers and the one God is drawing. Listen, today is the day. Today is the day of salvation if you will humble yourself and call on the name of Jesus to save you. Look at these verses.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”. John 14:6
…”that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10
“For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
What sense does the cross make if everyone could enter eternal life and heaven the way they decided? That would seem like a cruel joke on Jesus, but the fact is, the cross was no joke, but it was the expression of God’s love to the world. I don’t know what you are waiting on to surrender everything to Christ before you step out of this world. Don’t let anything stop you from trusting in Christ and receiving the free gift of salvation. Yes, it is a free gift with no strings attached except for the eternal cords of God’s love. The struggle in the faith is not in receiving Christ, but in living for Christ each and every day. The struggle is in taking up your cross, separating yourself from the world and not being ashamed of the One the world mocks and despises.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Imagine the conversations in heaven if men could decide on their own how they would enter heaven and receive eternal life. I can hear the conversations now, one man would say, “I was a generous giver and gave millions away.” Another man would say, “I volunteered thousands of hours to help the poor and needy in the world.” Another one would say, “I shared the gospel with thousands and thousands of people.” Another one would say, “I was at church every week and served on countless committees.” There would be no end to the self righteous acts men would consider worthy of being accepted into heaven. But there will be no such conversations in the Kingdom of God. In God’s Kingdom men, women, boys and girls will all say, “He touched me and changed my life.” Today is the day to open your heart and receive Christ once and for all and then live everyday to the glory of His name. Open your heart and tell God what you want.
Holy Father, I have heard your voice today and I believe you are speaking to me. I don’t understand it all, but I know you love me and sent your Son to die on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me of all my sins and make me Yours. I want to be a part of the family of God. I want eternal life and heaven. I want to live with hope and joy and peace. Father I ask you to fill me now with the Holy Spirit. By faith I accept you into my life and by faith and by Your power I will live out the rest of my days for your glory and honor. Thank you Jesus for this moment! Thank you for saving me! I ask this in and through the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Praise God! Praise God! If you prayed that prayer and made that request by faith in God you are born again and a child of God. The angels in heaven rejoice over you this very moment and listen, God is going to use you in mighty ways, I believe it. If you accepted Jesus as your Savior please reach out to me and let me know because I want to be encouraged by it as well. Be encouraged today brother or sister, God is on your side and working it all together for your good. Amen.
I noticed this morning as I walked outside that my flag wasn’t flying. As we come into this Inauguration Day we can be so anxious we forget who is in control. We can be so disgusted that we don’t pause to pray. The depth of disgust for a nation that has fallen away from God and true righteousness is rightly measured by our dependence on prayer. It is voiced, texted, tweeted, bannered, blogged, aired, and detailed in many different formats and platforms, but its greatest impact is when it reaches the throne of God in prayer. We groan at what we hear and see in the media, but true anguish of heart is taken up and echoed by the groaning of the Holy Spirit.
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit [is,] because He makes intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God.” Romans 8:26-27
You can expect the correction of a nation that has gone astray to be hard. You can expect the correction of a nation that has shaken its fist in the face of God to be hard. You can expect the correction to be what no one wants to hear, the judgment of God. As my own children have grown, my discipline has changed to where now it is reshaped to advice and counsel, but not so with God. We have not outgrown the discipline of our God. We should pray and cry out like the children of Israel held in bondage with hard labor. We should do it for the sake of our children and grandchildren who will grow up in a world completely void of a holy influence if we don’t. If you have a voice for the kingdom of God, use it! Use your voice in prayer protest to God.
“Holy Father, you see the mockery in my country and you understand the plots of evil men. Father we desperately need You to step in and turn us back to You. You alone are our hope for the future, so we turn to you. Lord Jesus there is a love in our country but it is for power, money and control. Father we are a guilty people, but many are Your people called by Your name, and we call on Your Name today. We ask Father that You turn the Whitehouse into a White House that has been washed in the precious blood of Your Son. Hear our cries O LORD and answer us before it’s too late. We trust in Your ways and we want Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the power to pray and to be honest with You in confession. We believe You are coming again and whatever it takes to make us ready to meet You, we submit to Your divine plan. Cause us to hate what You hate and to love what You love, and we know You love people because Jesus came to the cross. His suffering and death made a way for us to know You and be with You for all eternity. Bless us with what we need to come back to You. In Jesus Name I pray-Amen.
Think back to how many times you have moved from one address to another. For some people, that exercise doesn’t take much effort because they’ve lived in the home they grew up in. Then there are those average movers that have resettled less than a dozen times and have found their place. I counted sixteen times I have moved, and praise God I don’t see any more moving in the future. Moving, however, is not something we only do physically because of job changes or marriage, but it is also something you do spiritually. To experience God, you must move! You must move from a relationship with God into fellowship with God, and yes, there is a difference. A relationship with God through Jesus Christ can certainly open the doors of heaven when you die, but with a intimate fellowship with God, the life of God will flow through you. So the question here is, are you in fellowship with God or just in a relationship with Him? If you’re in a relationship with God, you live with the “I don’t feel like it” attitude. I don’t feel like praying. I don’t feel like going to church. I don’t feel like reading God’s Word. In a relationship, you let your feelings mostly dominate your life when it come to spiritual matters. A relationship with God doesn’t create a sensitivity or concern for other, but fellowship does. Even those in fellowship with God have to overcome their feelings, but those in fellowship with God have recognized the value, satisfaction and the fulfillment their fellowship has brought into their lives.
Please hear this, the devil in hell doesn’t care if you have a relationship with God so long as you never move into intimate fellowship. He doesn’t want us to move into fellowship because he knows that’s where the victory is, and that’s where the abundant life is, and that is when your witness for Christ shines. So if you haven’t moved there, move! He saves us for fellowship. I have a relationship with many, many people, but they really don’t impact my life the way those do who I am in fellowship with. One thing I know, moving is not easy, it’s going to cost you. Jesus paid the price for our fellowship with God through His sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and fellowship with God will cost you some significant time out of your life. And you will find if it’s fulfilling enough, you will make every effort to be alone with Him, just like you would to spend time with a spouse or best friend.
Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete [it] until the day of Jesus Christ”
Nothing can match the joy of the birth of a child. That joy silently grows for nine months with unseen movements. And possibly no one experiences the joy like the mother, but it is a shared joy with the father. My wife and I experienced such joy the day after 9/11. Our little girl was born and we had joy in the midst of tragedy and sorrow. The unexpected events of 9/11 were never included in the plans of our joyful moment. Nineteen years later, that joy is still with us and has grown. God meant for the joy He gives us to be everlasting, but it can be stolen or taken away. If you have never done this, find the connection to your joy. If you connect your joy to your circumstances, it will be short-lived and always stolen. But if you connect your joy to Jesus’ birth and life, it will be everlasting.
Luke 2:10-11 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Anyone can lose their joy by allowing unexpected circumstances to steal it away. You can lose your joy when you lose a loved one or even when you fail to do those things that keep your faith strong. You can lose your joy when you constantly associate yourself with joyless people. But if Jesus Christ has been born in your life, by faith, you have joy forevermore. This Christmas rediscover and connect your joy to the One “born to you” at Bethlehem. Jesus is our everlasting joy, and nothing can take that away.
John 16:21-22 “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”