Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's Time For Some Tears

I Kings 18:17-30

17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”



: a person who consciously or unconsciously causes trouble



: to agitate mentally or spiritually : worry, disturb

: to put into confused motion

If you are going to follow God you had better understand this reality: When you get serious about serving God, when you attempt to live a holy life and you are sold out for Christ, you will be labeled by the world and the lukewarm as a trouble maker. Why? Because these people are satisfied to live away from the altar or near the altar, but you have chosen to become a living sacrifice and have placed your life on the altar.

Romans 12:1-2

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Elijah was calling for the nation of Israel to come back to the altar.  The greatest need of the Church today is for sold out believers who will rebuild the altar.  The altar is the place where we go to meet with God, It is the place where we climb our mountains and give our Isaacs to God, it is a place of self-sacrifice, it is a place where we allow the coal to be placed upon our lips, and it is the place where we are cleansed and renewed in the Holy Ghost.

Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  He was building a picture of Israel under Gods divine government and living according His Word.  He rebuilt the altar. He knew that if he could bring Israel back to the altar, and the altar back to Israel, that he would bring them back to God.

This is where the Church is at in America right now.  Forget about the World Trade Center, the greatest structure that we can rebuild is the Altar of Sacrifice to God, in every church and in every home.  It wasn’t torn down by terrorists attack, there is no terrorist that could destroy the altar, and it was torn down through neglect, and decay, and rejection, in favor of a more comfortable way of life.

The sin that has brought America to the spiritual decay that we see today is pride.  We don’t need a symbol of national pride today, we need a symbol of national humility: we need an altar, the symbol of total surrender and dependence upon God.

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

The stones that Elijah used were whole stones, no tool lifted up on them, for that would pollute the altar before God.  God doesn’t want fragments of our lives.  No flesh shall glory in his presence, He will never give his glory and his honor to the prideful self-efforts of man.  Contrary to popular opinion, God will not accept partial offerings or sacrifice.

Psalm 51:17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Elijah called for the people to make an investment in their sacrifices.  The 12 barrels of water in time of drought and famine was a tremendous sacrifice.  If you are unwilling to make an investment in something, it really is meaningless to you.  How hard we pursue change is proof of our desire for change.  If you really desire change you will spend time in the pursuit of it.  The importance of anything can be measured by the investment you are willing to make to have it.  If we really want to see a move of God in our lives, it is going to cost us something.  There will never be fire from heaven without an investment of water.

It seems today that the church is in a spiritual drought, the drought of dry eyes.  We don’t see nearly as many tears on the altar in most churches in America today.  The principle that is seen here in I Kings is still true today, the fire falls when there is water on the wood.  Oh Praise God!

Ephesians 5:26

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Psalm 119:9

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Church it’s time to get back to the altar, it’s time to weep before our God over the lost of this world, it’s time to pray like we have never prayed, to seek God for the Holy Ghost like we have never done before, to cleanse and purify ourselves before a holy God, and to make an investment in righteousness.  It’s time to show God how hungry we are.

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied!


If we are going to see the power of God manifested, there has to be more work around the altar, If we don’t have any time to pray then we should not think it strange that we are powerless, and that there is no supernatural fire in our midst.  Church we need to get the wood wet and let the fire fall.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015


 Lately I have become more aware of the fact that we live in a culture of self. In fact our whole lives we are encouraged, whether directly  or indirectly, to focus on self. We are taught from a young age to be  self-reliant, self-made, self-motivated, and here’s the stupidest of all,  self-helping. I have come to understand that this “self” centered mindset is the very poison that has caused much of the moral decline in America. I know that in my own life self is at the center of every poor choice I have ever made.
Years ago my wife’s father taught me an  acronym for S.E.L.F. that brings you right to the heart of the word,  Selfish Egotistic Lying Fool. That pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?

We as  humans are inherently selfish. One of the first words babies learn to say is,  "mine!"  From the minute we are born our world is centered on our comfort and  needs.  Until we learn to vocalize them we kick and scream until we get the attention we crave.  That's why we feel somewhat entitled to have our needs met  instantly, and if they re not, well the kicking and screaming rears its ugly head.  We lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that we are entitled to an  easy and comfortable life.  This is in contrst to the words of Jesus who said  very clerly, "in this world you will trouble."  Slowly our selfishness causes  our egos to swell and we continue to the lie, calling it the power of positive confession.  The more we seek to fill our lives with our desires, the emptier we become.  Eventually in the eyes of God, we become fools.

 Self has been at the center of  every sin I have ever committed. Self has driven me from the presence of God  time and time again. It was self that kept me in the bottle for years. Self nearly destroyed my marriage and self built fortresses of resentment in my heart  toward the people I love.

Every time I tried to destroy self, I’d look over my  shoulder and there it was chasing me down. And to be honest it was a lot like  when my grandson runs from me and screams, “you can’t get me pop-pop,” knowing  that he really wants to be gotten. I was trying to get away from self through the path of self-will, which I have come to understand is really the road to self-destruction. It wasn’t until I came to the realization that only God could  set me free from self that I was ever able to finally experience true joy and freedom. It’s like the Apostle Paul states in Romans chapter 7,  “who will rescue me from this wretched body of death? Praise be to God, Jesus  Christ my Lord.”

All of our lives are unmanageable without God. We need a power greater than “self” to rescue us. We need to become God-reliant, God-made, God-motivated and mostly we need God’s help to overcome  those things that seem to control us no matter how hard we’ve tried gain control over them. But here’s the greatest thing of all that I have come to understand –  We can't do it but, God can and will if He is sought.

God Bless

Beyond Human Comprehension

The scriptures make it very clear that we all we have is one life. Lately I have been contemplating life and death more than I did as a younger man. It seems to me that our lives here on this planet are just a day; there is a dawn of life like the joy of the early morning, then comes the middle of the day when there is the heat of the sun that seems to wear us out at times, and after a bit there is the twilight.

I remember years ago a member of our church sold life insurance. We had invited him to come to our home and make a presentation.  As he attempted to convince me of my need to buy life insurance (I really didn't need to be convinced) he asked a question, "If the worst were to happen, would you be ready?"

What he said shook me a bit and has stayed with me for all these years.  There two things inherently wrong with his statement: First, it is not "if". There is no question of "if" when it comes to death, the only question is when death will come. Death is not something which is arbitrary or optional. It isn’t a matter of chance for, "it is appointed unto man to die." We all have an appointment with death and rescheduling it is not an option.

The second error in the question he asked was even more striking: Death is not the "worst" thing that can happen to a believer.  I used to believe that dying was the worst possible thing that could happen to a person. But at this point in my life I have been able to embrace the fact, that at least to the Christian, death is not the enemy.  

As a younger man, dying was the last thing I wanted to happen to me.  So what changed? I still have no eager desire to die, but I have come to understand that I am not striving for the rewards of this life, but of the next.  I have finally reached the point of my walk with God that I am no longer living for this life, but for the next life.

It is good to recall the words of Peter:

"Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear." I Peter 1:3-5

I have come to understand that death makes us come to grips with God. In death we come to the end of human knowledge.  We come to the end of human power as the doctors stand by helpless.  We come to the end of human comfort where all the wonder drugs can no longer ease our suffering, and at death we come to the end of human dignity and the realization that our life here, "under the sun," has simply been a vapor, a mere flash in the scope of eternity.  At death we are left with God, with the "evidence of the things we have hoped for,” and at death our faith finally will come to fruition. When we die what we are left with is His eternal presence; His perfect love, His complete knowledge, His boundless forgiveness, and His infinite patience that overlooks our arrogance and foolishness.

"Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is." - I John 3:2

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Beauty of An Open Gate

Acts 3:1-7
3 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

It is one thing to have had your strength and the use of your limbs, to at one time to have had the needful and desirable substance and then lose it, because at least you would have a point of reference to look upon, and remember how good it was.
If you were brought up in the church and you had experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit and at least in some measure you had felt the peace of God and experienced some measure of Joy, you are a blessed person, because somewhere in you there is a God consciousness.  Like the person who had their sight and then lost it, or had their hearing and then lost it because at least you have the memory of how good it used to be.  You can remember how beautiful a sunrise can be and you know the soothing sound of the rain falling on a roof.
But that is not the case when someone has been born lame.  Their life has been on long nightmare of rejection, abuse, deception, and confusion.  Like an orphan for example, many have grown up with no father in the home and no real mother to nurture them.  They seek substances or relationships to fill the gap in their life that has been left empty, a gap that was intended to filled by God’s Holy Spirit.  They often jump from one abusive relationship to another.  When they do have a good one they run from it because it is unfamiliar to them.  Their life becomes a series of continual disappointments.  They usually have no reference to discern true love so they continue to live in hopelessness and often become dependent on substances and other things to try and find true happiness.
They were not taken to church and taught about the love of God and a many times they have come to believe that church is for weak people and Jesus is just a crutch.  They have no point of reference and they cannot look backwards or forwards and see that there is hope because they have no idea what hope is.  And they are all around us, just outside the church, “lame at the gate.”
A gate is just a door, it is a movable barrier in a fence or wall, a portal to something, an entrance a hinged barrier used to close an opening in a wall or fence.  An open gate signifies admission and acceptance, but a closed gate signifies refusal and rejection.  Too many times churches are guilty of putting a wall where God intends for us to put a door.
The text says this gate was called beautiful.  The most beautiful thing in this world is the church fulfilling its destiny, filling the need of the hour, being whatever is needed to whoever needs it.  Bringing food to the hungry, praying for the sick, visiting those in nursing homes and prisons, or simply inviting someone to church.  We are what we were called to be when we are an open door for those in need.
But too often we are guilty of keeping the gate closed, of turning our churches into social clubs when God called us to be lighthouses, and of “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”  We are called beautiful but at times we are not living up to our name.
To one of the seven churches in the book of Revelation Jesus said, “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.”
The first thing we must ask ourselves as God’s people, and it’s a difficult question to ask, but we have got to ask it, are we truly beautiful?  Are we fulfilling our calling?  Are we driving towards our destiny?  Are we striving to reach the goal for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus?  Are we meeting the great physical and spiritual needs of the hour, or are we just called beautiful?
The second question the church needs to ask is, who calls us beautiful?  Is it an adjective that we have conferred upon ourselves?  Did we decide that we are beautiful because we have a nice big church, great music, gifted musicians, great programs and an anointed pastor?  Is it because we have great youth ministries?  Is it the size of our offerings?  Is it because we speak in tongues, and feel the Holy Spirit?
If we really want know whether we as individuals, or corporately as the body of believers are beautiful or not, we have to determine if our gate is open or closed.  Are we like Jesus, beckoning the lost to “come?”  The Church members were first called Christians at Antioch and they were called Christians because they were acting like Christ, and that’s beautiful!
The Church should be functioning in the character, in the authority, and in power of Jesus Christ, or we are in danger of claiming to be alive when we are really dead.  We should be functioning in the power of the Holy Ghost and doing what is impossible to do in our own names and character, in the character and name of Jesus Christ.
Peter took the lame man by the hand and lifted him up, he told him that he might be financially unable to help him, he has nothing of his own to offer, but he has one thing that can change the man’s circumstances, the name of Jesus.  Praise God!
We might not have the biggest church building in our area, our finances might not be overflowing with alms for the poor, we might drive beat up old cars instead of BMW’s and Cadillac’s, but we have at our disposal the ability to speak the name of God’s son and to see the sick healed and the broken made whole.  But not if we close the gate.
This is the Church in action, lifting people up, raising people’s spirits, giving them value, hope and a purpose, bringing people out of the brokenness and destruction of sin, and the emptiness of life without Jesus.
It says in this passage that Peter took him by the “right” hand.  Reference to the right hand in scripture always speaks of acceptance, it speaks of authority, and it is the place of honor. (Jesus sits at the right hand of the father)
This means that Peter accepted him and raised him from a place of dishonor to a place of honor, from a place of weakness to a place of strength.  The true beauty of the gate beautiful was not it’s appearance but that it was a place where the suffering and less fortunate could go and expect to receive some measure of benevolence from those who entered.
I am worried that our focus has shifted, and we are more enamored today with the beauty of a thing than the reason for which it exists.  Our focus shouldn’t be on how awesome our building is, or how good we can sing, or can we preach, or can we have church, but are we reflecting the image of His Son Jesus and do our lives touch people with the transforming power of His name.
Are we occupying enemy territory and making a difference in this world or just occupying space?
I am concerned today that there is a world that is lame at the gate and we are too busy enjoying ourselves and the “things” around us to notice.


We All Got "Issues!"

Mk 5:25-34: Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.  For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.  But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
John 5:5-6: Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

Like the two individuals in these passage I know that there is someone reading this that has an “issue” they are dealing with today.  An issue is the act or an instance of flowing to pass or flow out, as in our text this woman had a physical condition that created an issue of blood.  She was continuously passing blood, she had an unnatural flow of blood.  The blood is life, so this woman was dying, her life was flowing out of her.
When we speak of an issue we are speaking about a situation or condition that is draining your life, it is not a simple concern or a small problem, it is killing you.  It could be an issue with money, it could be an issue in your health, it may be an issue in your mind and your emotions or it may be an issue in your marriage.  Whatever the issue may be, there is something out of order, something in your life is unnatural and it is killing you, physically or spiritually, but it is bringing death into your world.
Your issue may be physical like that of the two in our scriptures, but it could just as easily be a spiritual issue.  It may be lust, an addiction, jealousy, anger, unforgiveness, pride or rebellion.  It doesn’t matter what label you put on it, whatever your issue is, Jesus can heal you and to set you free.
Someone reading this needs a healing, somebody needs deliverance, somebody needs a miracle, and someone needs the Holy Ghost.  It doesn't matter what the need is, what the problem is or what the issue is, the miracle worker is a touch away, reach out right now where you are, call on Him and He’ll come into the room and you can Touch His garment!  Your miracle, your healing, your deliverance, your restoration, your breakthrough, and your baptism in the Holy Ghost is a touch away, right now!
The same Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee and open blind eyes, made the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear, who healed this woman with the issue of blood and who healed this man of at the pool of Bethesda after 38 years dealing with the same issue, is with you right now!  Jesus is alive!
Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, because I live you can live too! 
Jesus said: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.
The reason that God sent His Son was to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8)
Isaiah 53:5: He was wounded for our transgressions bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with His stripes we are healed.
Matthew 8:16-17: Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.
Galatians 3:13-14: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us, for it is written cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree, That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Jesus was made sin with our sin and sick with our sickness and our diseases. It doesn't matter to God what your issue is, God is in the business of annihilating issues!  God is no respecter of persons. That means your position or your situation doesn't matter to God.  Rich or poor, high or low we are all the same in God's sight. God is a God of miracles!
Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.
Miracles are not a thing of the past, they are here today and they are real!
Jesus says according to your faith, not according to your money, not according to your position, not according to your religion, not according to your knowledge, not according to your tradition, but according to your faith!   Praise God I feel the Holy Ghost right now!  Faith is the only currency that heaven recognizes!  The only cost to access the power of God is faith!
Satan's kingdom is also a spiritual reality that is invisible but very active and very real.  Sickness, disease poverty, bondage, oppression, strife, envy, murder, abuse, lust, and perversion. These are all the products and the fruit of Satan's kingdom.
The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost and wherever the kingdom of God comes in, Satan’s kingdom is overthrown, his power is broken, chains are destroyed, and the sick are healed.
When the woman came to Jesus she had no money, she had no position, her reputation was that she was unclean, she was a woman with an issue. Her hands were empty, but her heart was full of faith: “If I can but touch the hem of His garment I know I'll be healed.”
That day she stretched out the hand of faith and she touched the God of miracles. She had heard of Jesus, she came to where Jesus was, and she pressed her way through the crowd, just to get a touch.
Like this woman, if you want your issue resolved, if you want your miracle, you have to be willing to press your way to Jesus.  You have to press past your fear, past your doubt, past your religion, past your failures and disappointments, past the “what ifs” and by faith get you a touch of the Man who walks on water!  Oh praise God He is waiting for us to press through and touch Him!
It's not enough just to be where Jesus is, you have to reach out and you have to touch him. You have to want to be well, you have to want to be free, and you have to want to be delivered. You have to touch him with your faith and put a hand on him.
I may go to Golden Corral and be surrounded by wonderful food, it looks great and smells great but it doesn't profit me until I put it on my plate, stick my fork in it, and put it in my mouth and swallow it.
The presence of the Lord is available to you right now, His power and His anointing are within your reach, but it won't help you unless you stretch out a hand of faith and touch Him.
Whatever your issue is, Jesus is the answer!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Its My Cup, But I Dont Drink It Alone

Luke 22:42

If you could choose how you were going to die what would you choose?  Would it be a sudden accident, drowning, an airplane that descends suddenly and crashes into the side of a mountain, cancer, or quietly in your sleep?  Most of us would choose the latter.  The truth, however, is that most of us don’t get to choose how or when we will die.  Jesus did, and He chose a cross. 
What was it like for Jesus on the Way to the Cross?  What became important to Jesus as the countdown to His crucifixion neared its end?  As the time for His suffering draws closer we are given a closer look at the emotions that He was going through.  In Matthew we are told, "He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” -  Matt. 26:37-38
This is a side of Jesus that his disciples are not used to seeing, and neither are we.  We like to see Jesus as a confident man who confronts the truth and faces down his challengers with the boldness of God’s Holy Spirit.  Myself, I like to picture Jesus walking down the Via Del La Rosa with that determined Clint Eastwood essence like in the Spaghetti Westerns. NO FEAR!  A model of toughness and determination.
But that is not the Jesus we see here! Instead we find another side of Jesus, a man who is Vulnerable and somewhat afraid. Certainly not the picture of a superhero that we like to imagine, is it? If I were writing the story I might even employee what is called “Dramatic License,” and edit this portion of the story out.  I would instead have Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on a Big black stallion, facing the cross with a confidence in His eyes that brought fear to His enemies, but then it would be a work of fiction and the truth is always more powerful.
Why was Jesus so troubled?  First, Jesus fully comprehended what was about to happen to Him.  Look at what Jesus says to His followers, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me..." – Matthew 26:21 
Jesus knew that Judas was about to sell Him out for money.  On the Mount of Olives Jesus told them, "During this very night, ALL of you will reject me..." Matthew 26:31
He knew that they would all turn and run like cowards leaving Him to face His suffering and death alone.
And in case you think somehow that Jesus just wandered into His fate, not knowing what was ahead, consider these words, "You know that the day after tomorrow is the day of the Passover Feast. On that day the Son of Man will be given to his enemies to be crucified." - Matthew 26:1-2
Jesus not only knew that he was going to die soon, He knew exactly how He was going to suffer.  Crucifixion was the cruelest form of torture known to man at that time, it was death by suffocation.  Crucifixion was designed to produce the greatest degree of shame, inflicting its victims with the maximum amount of pain, and for the longest possible period of time. Jesus knew exactly what was about to happen to Him.
Second, Jesus understood exactly what was at stake.  Jesus understood that this was more than just a physical struggle, it was a spiritual struggle. In his death, he would be taking on the guilt and sin of all humanity: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” - Isaiah 53:5-6
Here is how author Max Lucado portrays the circumstances surrounding Jesus death: “History records it as a battle of the Jews against Jesus. It wasn’t.... It was a battle of God against Satan. AND JESUS KNEW IT. He knew that before the war was over, he would be taken captive. He knew that before victory would come defeat. He knew that before the throne would come the cup. He knew that before the light of Sunday would come the blackness of Friday... AND HE IS AFRAID."
We don’t like to think of Jesus being afraid, but He was.  He could not have been fully human without knowing what it meant to be afraid, especially of His own death. But knowing that leads us to ask the question that helps us deal with our fear of dying:  How Did Jesus deal with His Fear?
First, Jesus sought out the encouragement of His friends.  He asked them, “Stay here with me.” Jesus knew that this was going to be hard, and He realized that He needed some help and encouragement to face it.  I recently faced a challenge of faith, usually I find it hard to ask for help, I try to do as much as I can on my own, but I knew that I couldn’t face this on my own so I asked my friends to pray.  The struggle is not over for me, but the fear I felt has subsided remarkably and has been replaced by hope.  How?  The numerous responses that I had to my request for prayer encouraged my faith. 
Second, Jesus submerged Himself in prayer, He prayed so hard that the Word says that He sweat blood. This was not a “Foxhole Prayer,” prayer was something that was a part of Jesus’ daily life, it was a habit that had been developed over a lifetime. Prayer for Jesus’ was His plan “A” and His foremost coping skill, it was how He stayed connected to the Father. In the moment of His deepest need He hit His knees!
I pray, every day I pray and it is a habit for me, but I have to say I’ve never sweated blood.  When I found out that I was potentially facing one of the worst fears of my life, honestly at first I did a lot more crying than praying.  But I reached a point when I had to say enough is enough, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get connected to God, the only source that can help you now.  And I prayed, I prayed like I haven’t prayed in a very long time.  I stood up and faced the fear and I shouted it down in the name of Jesus and I cursed the devil for trying to lie to me.  And as I prayed the Lord began to replace my fear with faith and I quoted Jesus’ words, “Not my will, but Thy will…”
Again, this is not the way we would portray a hero -- and yet that is how we see Jesus. Vulnerable, uncertain, afraid -- "Father, won’t you please get me out of here!" No covering up, no faking it for the camera -- what we see in Jesus is total honesty! He shares what is really on his heart!
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard…” - Hebrews 5:7
Third, Jesus humbly submitted Himself to the will of the Father.  Jesus was open and honest to His Father, asking for a reprieve, asking if they could find any other way to accomplish this task. And yet, what was Jesus response?  “Not My will, But Thy will be done."
"He knows what it’s like to beg God to change his mind and to hear God say so gently, but firmly, "No." For that is what God says to Jesus. And Jesus ACCEPTS the answer." – Max Lucado
Finally, Jesus received the comfort and strength that He needed from God.  “Then an angel from heaven appeared to him to strengthen him. - Luke 22:43
Praise God!  How amazingly simple is that? No fanfare, no deep theological explanation, just a simple phrase -- an angel came to strengthen Jesus, to hold Him up in His time of need, to encourage His spirit and to help Him in this time of uncertainty. And because of its simplicity, I can almost picture in my mind this scene of Jesus, in obvious distress, lying prostrate on the ground, and an angel simply coming up behind Jesus and laying his hands on his shoulder and with this soft and gentle touch it reminded Him "you’re not alone!"
As I sat in that room waiting for the doctors to come in, I prayed.  I wanted them to come in and tell me all the tests were normal you’re going to be okay.  But instead what I received from the doctors was less than good news, but as I prayed what I received from God was remarkable.  I felt the Holy Spirit of the living God come into that room with me and remind me, “You’re not alone…I am with you always even to the ends of the earth…If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am you may be also…I am the resurrection and the life, he who lives believing in me will never die.”
God’s comfort meant everything to me that day.  My struggle is not over, but I know that I do not labor in vain and I am not alone.  I am not sure what tomorrow may bring, but I can face it with the help of a God who loved me enough to go to the cross even though he didn’t have to.  So I know that I can face my trials with Him holding me up.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Is the Cry of Your Heart?


Mark 10:46-52

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

It says in this passage of the NT that Jesus Came to Jericho, and then immediately it transitions to Him leaving the city with His disciples. This is a good illustration to show us that if we do not prepare ourselves for his coming, He will come and go, and we will forfeit the opportunity to be touched by His presence and we’ll receive nothing.

Only one man in this story was desperate enough to reveal his true condition, He was willing to let down the walls that kept him from God’s blessing and admit his true emptiness.  He was beyond caring what anyone thought of him, what they might whisper behind his back, and he was prepared to endure their persecution for admitting that he had a need.

Bartimaeus “heard” the crowd.  Praise God!  The Lord always gives us something to work with.  He was blind and could not see, but he could hear, he couldn’t see but he still had a voice, and so he worked with what God gave him.

“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout”

Bartimaeus had come to the point of desperation and he was willing to admit he was powerless, it had cultivated within him a spirit of desperation.  His shouts for mercy were cries of desperation for deliverance.

Meanwhile all the “good” followers of Jesus told him to shut up, after all he was a beggar and they were the true followers, but he was desperate and he wouldn’t be kept from his blessing and so he shouted even louder.  It was his shouts for mercy that stopped Jesus in his tracks.

Interestingly enough, those who had told him to shut up, now said, “Cheer up, on your feet, He’s calling you.”  Does it ever amaze you, it does me, how quickly people can change their tune when it will make them look more spiritual?  If they had had any concern for Bartimaeus they would have taken him to the Lord to begin with instead of trying to silence him.

“And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.”

His garment was a symbol of his past, of the lifestyle that he had lived in this garment, the life of a blind beggar. It represented his restrictions, his limitations and the impossibilities of the infirmed life that he had been stuck in and it was symbolic of the mentality that had held him captive and led to his desperately determined actions.  This robe said, “I am blind therefore I am helpless, I am unable to do anything for myself, to provide anything for myself, I am a beggar, my life and my existence are determined by the generosity of those who can see.”

I wonder, how many are spiritually blind to the things of God and are spiritual beggars in God’s Kingdom.  How many in the Church know nothing of the spirit of revelation, and truth made alive within their spirits through the Holy Ghost.  Too many of God’s people choose to live like beggars and settle for receiving everything second hand.  They are blind by choice.  Why?  Because to have their eyes opened comes with the obligation to change!

Bartimaeus knew that to receive his sight would end his right to beg, he would now have to work and provide for himself, and he publicly made that decision.  Jesus called him beyond his condition and convinced him of a fuller life. His faith gave him spiritual sight and he began to see himself whole.  He threw off the bondage of his past and he rose and came to Jesus.  He chose to be changed, he made a determined to be different, and he made a declaration to be healed.  He was leaving the position that defined him as Hopeless, he was leaving the condition that defined him as a beggar, and he was stepping into the unknown.

Every phase of growth in our spiritual lives requires us to step into the unknown, like Capt. Kirk, we have to go where we’ve never not gone before, to leave the comfort zone for the opportunity to receive a greater blessing.

As the children of Israel prepared to cross the Jordan into their inheritance, they were told to leave a space between them and the ark so they could see which way to go because they had never passed that way before. So many are missing what God wants for them:

Because they are not willing to trust Him, if they cannot see or make sense of what He is asking, they refuse to follow.

Because they are not willing to throw off the robes of their past, Jesus said you can’t put new wine into old wineskins, we have to be willing to let go of the old to receive the new.  As Elijah’s mantle fell to the ground Elisha took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.  What was he doing? He was removing the old to make room for the new.

Because they are not willing to admit that they live in spiritual poverty.

Because they are not willing to change. 

True healing can only take place when we are desperate enough to shout to the Lord, loud enough to stop Him in His tracks, admit our desperate need for His touch, and then once we are at His feet we throw off the past and allow the presence of the Holy Ghost to bring real change and to remove the scales from our eyes.  Do you want Jesus to stand still where you are?  Are you willing to do what it takes to get him to stop Him in His tracks?

Then your healing is just a shout away from you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Alive and Shaking

I look back at my life and all the stupid things that I have done and I realize that I shouldn’t be here.  I know that it is only by the grace of a loving God that I am still alive.  So many others I have associated with in the past are gone and dead or in prison.  Accidents, drugs, suicides, or other circumstances have taken the lives of many who have walked the same path that I was on for so long.  Some of you reading this right now know that if it wasn’t for God you too would have died or would have been the one spending your life in prison.

Acts 27:10

10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”

Paul tells them not to sail:  How many can say that they always listen to wise counsel?  I could have saved myself a lot of the grief I have been through if I had just listened to those who tried to teach me in my life.

Acts 27:11

11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 

Sounds like the men that were with Paul were a lot like me, they didn’t listen either and they sailed right into the biggest storm of their lives

Acts 27:18-20

18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.  19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.  20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

They tried get rid of all the excessive weight they had taken on board by throwing it into the sea.  Let me tell you from experience, there’s nothing like a violent storm to cause you to start rethinking your priorities.

Regardless of all their efforts the ship was still destroyed, but they made it to land, barely, on the broken pieces of the ship.

Years ago after deciding I was going to live life on my terms, do things my way, plot my own course and ignore the way that I had been brought up to follow, I found my life wrecked in the seas of sin.  Laying in a hospital bed with a broken back from a motorcycle accident, addicted to drugs and alcohol, no job, no home, and no hope, but then came Jesus.  Just like the day Lazarus lay dead in the tomb and all around everyone was hopeless and in despair, but then came Jesus!  God’s grace can reach us in the darkest tomb, in our moment of hopelessness and bring us back from the storm not matter how much wreckage we have caused, He can bring us ashore.  Thank you Jesus! 

I feel the Holy Ghost just washing over me right now!  Someone reading this ought to lift your hands to God right now and say, I’m coming ashore!  In the name of Jesus you’re going to make it!  You may be broken, but you’re going to make it! You may be wounded, but keep paddling!  You may be bleeding and crying, but keep swimming!  You may not understand what you’re going through, you might be confused and feeling rejected, but hold on, Jesus is coming!

I know I’m still not everything God wants me to be, I still struggling with some things, I still wrestle with anger and forgiveness, I still slip up and say things I shouldn’t, I know I’m not where I should be by now, but I’m moving in the right direction.  I still stir up the water around me once in a while, but it’s just because I don’t want to drown.

Acts 27:44

44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

They all escaped safe to land: We need to lift up our hands right now and thank God that we made it through the storm!  It should have killed us, but we made it.  For a lot us, it was our own making, our choices brought it on, we had everything we needed to avoid it, but we ignored the forecast, we disregarded the obvious signs and the advice of wiser men, but God had mercy on us and we made it. We should have drowned, we shouldn’t be here, our poor choices should have destroyed us, but by the grace and the loving hand of God, we made it through the storm!

Hey Satan!  Guess what? I’m still here and I’m coming to tear your kingdom down!

Acts 28:1-6

Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.  2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.  3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.  4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.”  5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.  6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him

There are people that are watching, that have known me for years and they probably don’t expect me to make it.  They are waiting for the serpent to latch on and kill me, they may even rejoice when they see me going through hardships and trials, keep watching!

The people on the shore were watching for Paul to swell up and fall out dead, they had seen it happen before.  He should have swollen or fallen down suddenly, but he did not!

Medical science says I should be dead or paralyzed, every natural circumstance says I shouldn’t have made it, it should have killed me, maybe I should be in a mental institution or still strung out on drugs, mad at God and mad at the world, but I’m back in church and I’m living for my Lord!

I want to tell somebody today, just keep swimming, and keep fighting the storm!  It don’t matter what men say, it don’t matter what the doctor says, it don’ matter what the financial experts say, God will have the final say if you stay the course!  Keep swimming!  This is no place to throw your hands up and sink to the bottom, just keep swimming and when God gets through blessing you, you won’t even look like you’ve been through a storm.

I can hear your doubt, “but you don’t understand, I’m going through hell with this marriage, with this job, this sickness, this financial struggle.”

Oh Lord I feel the Holy Ghost, you should be shouting right now!  You just spoke the words of your victory, “You’re going through!”  You just prophetically spoke your own victory!

David said, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Remember, you’re not the only one who has ever walked through the fire.  The bible tells us about three young Hebrew boys who walked through the fire, and when they came out the other side the only evidence that they had been through the fire was they were liberated from their bondage. Bondage is the things that the enemy puts on us, and in the fire they get burned off!

They came out of the fire unharmed, their clothes were not burnt, their hair was not singed, and there was not even the smell of smoke on them.  It should have killed them: Some have tried to say that God just took the heat out of the fire, well somebody should have told the soldiers that threw them in about that, because the bible says it killed them.  I’m telling you that God doesn’t always take the heat out of the fire, but he will walk with you through it.

I shouldn’t be here right now, if the devil had his way I’d be strung out on drugs, or in a mental institution or in some hospital room, or prison, but I’m here today and I’m telling you, If you’ll keep your faith in God, God is going to bring you ashore.

I’m working on my testimony, so that sometimes means that I’m in the middle of a test.

Now back to Paul, the Word says, that Paul shook off the beast. It wasn’t’ a gentle wave of his hand, he didn’t gently coax it and say, “Please get off of me, please remove your fangs from my skin.”  No! He shook it off into the fire!

There are some things that you can just pray about and ask God to take away, but there are some things that you must become violent, and aggressive against.  “: The Kingdom of God is at hand and the violent take it by force.”

Some things you have to shake loose, you must shake like your life depends on it, because it does!

Shake your fear loose, shake your depression loose, shake your addiction loose, shake that spirit of hopelessness and suicide loose, shake that spirit of lust and perversion loose, shake your sickness and shake your dead powerless religion loose.

Shake it off for your family, shake for your health, shake for your mind, and shake for your ministry

But shaking is not all there is to it, you need to be close to the fire. There are a lot of people who shake, they go through the motions of being a Christian, but they do not have the fire.  In fact many think that we’re old fashioned and out touch with reality if we talk about the Holy Ghost and fire, but I still believe that the only thing that can destroy the devils power is the fire of God.

We still serve a God that answers by Fire.  Paul shook that viper off into the Fire.  You need to ask yourself, are you living close enough to the fire?  Is there fire in your church?  Is there fire in your home? It’s time to turn up the heat!  I don’t have time to try and fit in, I’m fighting for my life.  I’m fighting for my destiny, I’m fighting for my ministry, I’m fighting for my children and my grandchildren. 

I know what it feels like to be ship wrecked, and I know what it feels like to be bitten by the serpent, but I also know what it feels like to shake that snake off into the fire.

I want to say to someone right now, you know it could have killed you, you know if the devil had his way you’d be dead, you know if some people had been able to carry out their intentions you would have drowned, but you’re still here, and you’re still here because God has a plan for your life, and a destiny and it’s not too late to fulfill it.

I pray you keep swimming.  God Bless.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

He Never Promised Victory Without Fighting

Numbers 13:25-33

At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

II Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

All of us have a tendency to see the “better things” in life and desire to have them, and there is nothing wrong with that.  I don’t believe that God intends for his people to live in impoverished conditions, after all we are children of the King, not spiritual hobos.  We see fancy houses, expensive cars, hand crafted furniture, guys with big muscles, women with fancy shoes or purses and we want them.  The problem isn’t that we desire these things, it’s that we are not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to acquire them. 

Doctors didn’t just wake up one day with medical degrees, professional athletes weren’t born hitting a baseball 700 ft. or dunking basketballs behind their backs, and business men aren’t just handed fortune 500 companies as soon as they finish business school.  All of these people had to go through struggles to get where they are. 

Yes I do believe in faith, but contrary to what that TV evangelist tells you, the word of God says that faith without works is dead.  God blesses people all the time, but most of the time those blessings come from hard work, sacrifice, and faithfulness during the tougher times.

Many believers have been deceived into thinking that just because they are saved and are now part of God’s family, He is supposed to give them everything they desire without any effort, without any work, without battling difficulties, or without any discipline on their part.  The truth of the matter is that the blessings and promises of God cost what they cost and the Lord never slashes prices.  If you’re not faithful in the small things, His word is clear, you’ll not be blessed with an increase of the bigger things.  To receive your inheritance, first you must be a faithful and obedient child.

Yes God wants to prosper you and bless you, but sometimes you’re going to have to go through something.  Sometimes you have to struggle and sometimes you have to fight an enemy that’s between you and your inheritance. There is something in the struggle that is necessary for you to become what God has ordained you to be.  God left giants in the promise land on purpose for several reasons and He allows us to struggle with our own giants for the same reasons.

First He knows that we need to learn how to fight.  When I was a boy we lived in a house in north Mississippi and we had no running water, I had to carry the water in jugs from my grandmother’s well.  My uncles, who were just a few years older than me, would push me down take my jugs and pour them out and make me start over, just to be mean.  My daddy wouldn’t intervene and stop them.  He knew I had to learn to stick up for myself.  Usually I would just cry, but one day I got mad enough that I hauled off and punched my uncle upside the head, that day he cried, and he never messed with me again.  The devil is always messing with God’s people and God knows that we need to learn how to fight, so He allows us to struggle and often tears are shed, but if we don’t learn how to fight the blessings that wait for us may never come.

Second, giants distinguish the difference between the talkers and the walkers.  It’s one thing to confess the promises of God, to “name it and claim it,” but it’s an entirely different thing to put on your armor, strap on your sword and go toe to toe with an enemy that’s standing in the way of your promises.  Your struggles qualify you for your reward.  David heard them speak of a reward, but he knew the reward was only for the person who would fight and kill Goliath. 

I Samuel 17:25 (NLT) “Have you seen the giant?” the men asked. “He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes!”

Through our struggles we should come to understand that the fight, the spiritual warfare, the praying, the waiting patiently and the enduring is as important as the blessing or reward.  While we often are looking only at the reward, God is looking at the development that is taking place through the struggle.  Faith is always forged in the fires of adversity.

Third, our struggles produces thankfulness.  When we moved back to Mississippi 10 years ago this month we had no idea for what going to be in store for us 4 months later.  After surviving our first hurricane that August when so many others did not, I wasn’t asking the Lord why he allowed us to go through that storm, I was thanking Him for protecting us and our home.  In December a tornado came through Columbia, MS. People had lost their cars, their homes, and some had lost their lives, but everyone who survived wasn’t concerned that their property was gone, they were thankful that their lives had been spared.  When you know that you had to fight for what you have, you appreciate it more.  You won’t let anyone take it from you.  Struggles test your level of commitment.  The only way to truly gauge your level of gratitude is through the struggle

Fourth, the Giants flush out the grasshoppers in the crowd, because when the giants show up, grasshoppers begin to speak up.  Grasshoppers usually blend into their environments but giants uncover them.  Grasshoppers don’t eat grapes and you will never have faith with the spiritual mind and appetite of a grasshopper.  This generation of the children of Israel forfeited their inheritance because they would not fight

How many of Gods people today are willing to forfeit their destiny and their promise because they refuse to stand up against the enemy and fight for it.  When the heat of the fires of life approach and the enemy is breathing down their necks, they bail out, back down, lay down their swords and surrender.  As long as everything is going smooth they’re right there with the rest of the army, but when the real fight comes they cave in to discouragement, fear and doubt.

If you are willing to admit it today, what you are today in God has been forged in the fires of adversity, your growth has most likely been due to overcoming the enemy’s attempts to bring you down. You are what you are in Christ because of what you had to fight for, what you have had to fight against, and the struggles you have overcome.

A caterpillar has to go through the process of metamorphosis to change from an earthbound creature into a beautiful butterfly, but this process involves struggle and to cut the struggle short would rob it of its destiny.

A baby chick in the egg has to go through growth inside of the egg until it begins to outgrow the egg, then it must peck its way out.  It is the struggle that give the chick strength and prepares it for life outside the egg.  To cut the struggle short would weaken it, if not kill the chick entirely.  It is only through the struggle that it gains the strength it needs to survive and thrive in the brutal world of its new environment.

Last, the best reason for God to allow us our struggles, is that it qualifies us to help others who have similar struggles. When you have had to struggle through something, you can help somebody else.  When you have stood your ground, when you have fought the good fight and conquered your giants, you are qualified to help someone else through theirs.

The devil wants to make it all about you, he wants to give you tunnel vision so that you’ll focus all your attention on the struggle, but God wants you to see that the devil may have sent it to take you out, but God is going to use it to take you up, and when you get up you’ll be qualified to help someone else get up.  Through your struggles, if you stand and fight, God will bring you to a place of greater influence and make you a blessing to your brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Tell yourself right now: I may be going through a fight, but God’s growing me through this fight.  I may be facing giants, but God us bigger than my fears.  I’m developing more compassion, more patience, more endurance, and some long suffering.  I’m getting a spiritual workout, but I’m gaining spiritual power.  I am acquiring the ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes, to see where others are and to feel what they feel, so I can speak a word in season to them.  Yes I may be struggling right now, but don’t pity me, because there’s something in this fight that I need to become what God has ordained for me.  I would have no testimony with this test and no victory without a fight.