Saturday, October 31, 2015

Set Us On Fire!

Proverbs 30:15-16
“The leech has two daughters—
Give and Give!
There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, “Enough!”
16 The grave,
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, “Enough!”
Hebrews 12:29
“28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may[j] serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  29 For our God is a consuming fire.
This verse in Hebrews means that our God is never finished, He never reaches a point where He says you’re holy enough, you’re spiritual enough, you’re disciplined enough, or you’re cleansed and purified enough so my fire is finished in your life.
God’s will and purpose for our lives goes far beyond just touching us, He wants to consume our lives with His holy fire.
Hebrews 1:7
“And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
God has not just called us to be ministers on fire, but he has called and anointed us to be ministers of His holy fire.
1 Peter 4:10
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Ministers and stewards are basically the same thing, their purpose is to manage or to oversee the goods of another; they are the ones responsible for distributing what has been placed in their care to meet the needs of those that they serve.
God has given us the blessing of the indwelling of His Holy Spirit and in doing so He has made us stewards and ministers of His fire.  He has placed His holy fire in each of us and thus has "Set us on fire," but we are not just to be on fire for him, we must become distribution centers from which his fire is released and poured out as a blessing on those He has chosen for us to minister to.
God and Fire are inseparable.  Fire has always been a symbol of the divine presence and power of God.
There is a three-fold operation of the fire of God concerning our lives: The fire of God to you, the fire of God in you, and the fire of God through you.
I am a diabetic and I am supposed to take three shots of insulin each day and if I do my life is great, but if all I do is open the door of the refrigerator and see the vile of insulin in the door, or if I just pick up the vile of insulin and touch it for a few seconds then put it back and shut the door my life slowly becomes a wreck and I quickly become a burden to my family instead of a provider of blessing. I have to inject the insulin into my body or it does me no good and I am no good to anyone else.
Anyone can see the fire but it’s not the fire you see that changes your life, it’s the fire you receive.  We can read about the power of God in His Word, we can go to church and see the transformational power of the Holy Ghost service after service, but it is only when you open your heart to the inward sanctifying, cleansing, and purging fire of God’s presence that your life is changed and you become a vessel fit to carry the anointing.
It’s not what we say about God that changes lives, it’s the quantity and quality of the presence and character of God that is manifested through us that changes lives.  Let me say it another way: You have to be infected before you can infect someone else.  You can talk about a virus, or disease and how contagious it is but unless you’re infected by it, there is no danger of the person hearing you being infected either.  It’s the same with the fire of God.
I Corinthians 2:4-5
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
The fire of God wants to come into your life and make you a minister of fire.
Isaiah 4:4-5
“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.  5 And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense.”
First God shows the fire to you: It’s wonderful to see somebody who is on fire for God, it draws you and creates a hunger in you, but even if you don’t see it in an earthen vessel near you, you can see it in the Word of God.
Second, if you allow it, God places the fire in you: Purging, cleansing, and sanctifying.  The presence of God’s Holy Spirit living in you and burning up all the clutter and the excesses, the selfishness and the sin, your habits, addictions, and attitudes.
And then, as God takes control of your will, you become a minister of Jesus Christ to others as He manifests the fire through you. You become that cleansed and purified vessel that the fire can flow through to others.
There are a lot of people who don’t mind being touched by the fire, as long as it’s containable.  As long as they can determine its heat and intensity.  But God will never be satisfied just to touch you, He wants to consume you: Body, mind, soul, and spirit – God wants it all!
The greatest illustration in God’s Word of this truth is the story in Judges 15. Sampson catches 300 foxes and sends them out by two’s into the philistine’s fields; the kicker is they have a fire between their tails.  Needless to say, those foxes were motivated.  At the risk of offending some animal activist, I am sure the fire did not simply give off a pleasant glow as they ran through the Philistine’s fields, those foxes were on fire
Those foxes were changed by the fire, because those foxes were consumed by the fire.  When the fire hit their flesh, the foxes had a mission, and their mission was go into all the world and spread the fire.  The fire changed them and I am certain they were never the same again.
If there was ever a time when the church needed a fresh fire, it’s today.  We are surrounded by the greatest mission field of all time, but the Philistines are trying to claim it for themselves.  It’s time for us to be set on fire and set loose in the mission fields around us, it’s time for the fire to hit our flesh and consume us with a passion to spread the fire, until the fire of a Holy God touches all our world.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cross Over Or Die In The Desert

Joshua 3:9-17

“So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.”  10 And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites:  11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan.  12 Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe.  13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people,  15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),  16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.”
Moses had died and now Joshua is in charge.  Israel is at a very critical point, spiritually speaking, but they have been here before.  It is one of those moments when a choice has to be made.  Are they going move forward in faith, or let fear continue to dictate their future?  This is where they will either experience another breakdown or where you finally have your breakthrough. 
We all have to come to this place.  God has planted the seeds of hope in our lives, some of those seeds will come to fruition through faith, sadly however, many never see the light of day.  In each of our lives there is going to be a place that we will come to, a Jordan River, where we must decide if the hope that God has planted in our hearts is going to live or to become a victim of another spiritual abortion.  It is one thing to have a promise, a dream, but unless we move forward in faith and take possession of that promise all it will ever be is a dream.  Every dreamer will come to this place, it is here that dreamers either go over or go under.
An entire generation’s hope died at this place because they let go of their dream. At the edge of your Jordan there are only two choices, cross over into your promise, or settle down on this side of the river and give up your dream.
Your “Jordan” is a place that is God ordained for you.  It is a place of impossibility, a place of weakness, a place of helplessness, a place where all self-effort must die, and a place where we come face to face with our flesh.  You may face your Jordan during a time of sickness, a time of great financial difficulty, or a time of family turmoil.
God is not the author of sickness, disease, poverty, and hardship, but as we face these trials we come to an end of ourselves, and we can trust God and go over in faith, or struggle in our own strength and be buried in the desert of doubt. 
“Jordan” is a dividing line, it is the place where we are forced to decide whether or not we going to trust in the living God, or trust in the arm of the flesh and self-efforts.
Jacob wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord, during that wrestling match Jacob came face to face with his flesh.  He was forced to “come to himself” and to see himself as he really was: he was a deceiver, a manipulator, and a usurper.  Jacob’s cry, “I won’t let you go till you bless me,” was a cry to be delivered from self.  He was in essence saying, “Don’t leave me like this, I can’t live like this anymore, and I’m sick of my carnal self.”
That was moment was Jacob’s Jordan.
What does it take to get across Jordan?
The first step we must take to cross our Jordan must be sanctification: “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
Anything that would offend the spirit of God in our lives can keep us from crossing our Jordan.  So many have started across Jordan but because of some inordinate affection, some hidden sin, some secret self- love, they have come up short and were swallowed up by waves of despair, guilt, and condemnation.
“Circumcise the children of Israel again”
The application for us is that we must die to our flesh daily, we must never reach the place of deceiving ourselves that we have conquered the self-life, and we must be vigilant and quick to take the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, and cut away that which is of the flesh.
We forfeit a vast amount of God’s power when we allow our lives to become cluttered with things of the flesh.  The shortage and the failure is not on Gods part, He is ready, He is willing, and He is able.  But we must clear the way and open up the channel for the power of God through sanctification.
Secondly, we must have a vision of something greater.  No one will let go of what they have unless they have caught a vision of something greater.
Moses had a vision of something greater, Joshua had a vision of something greater, Joseph had a vision of something greater, Jesus had a vision of something greater!
Hebrews 12:2
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Third, in order to cross our Jordan we must be totally dependent upon God.  This where we are holding onto the ark, the ark represents the presence, the power, and the glory of God, we must understand that we cannot cross in our own power.
For years I struggled with the same issues.  Why?  I was depending on my own strength to overcome the obstacles and the sin in my life.  It wasn’t until I came to understand that I was powerless to overcome my sin nature in my own knowledge or my own strength, and I admitted that I was powerless and I needed God to deliver me, that I was finally set free.  Now I walk in a power that is not of my own making, but comes from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.
“And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”
Fourth, in order to cross the Jordan, we must have bare feet.  Bare feet means that we have no personal agenda; all of our dreams must have at their core the glory of God and the promotion of His Kingdom.  If it is selfish in nature it is not from God, and it will be swept away by the raging currents of the Jordan.
Before God commissioned Moses to bring his people out of bondage, he first ordered him to take off his shoes, and when Joshua came into the presence of the captain of the lord of hosts, he took off his shoes.  The removal of the shoe in the Bible is more than just an act of respect or reverence, it shows a transfer of ownership.  By removing your shoes you are signifying the relinquishment of property rights.  You are saying to God, “My life is no longer mine to do with what I want from this point forward I belong to you.”
In order to see our dream come to fruition, we must surrender everything that we have, everything that we are, and everything that we will ever be to God.
Fifth, we have to get our feet wet.
It wasn’t until the priest’s feet were dipped in the water that the waters began to recede.  Nothing happened until they stepped in and got their feet wet.  They had to have enough vision of the promise, and enough faith in God to get them off the bank into the water.  Then as they stepped out in faith the waters fled before them.
One of our biggest problems is that we want to see victory before we ever get into the fight.  We want to see the end before we are willing to begin.  The promises of God are activated through faith, and most of the time, God operates on a need to know basis.  The Lord usually will only give you what you need to know to get you started, then as you move out in faith He reveals more and more with each step forward.
Sixth, we have to trust God’s timing:
Joshua 3:4
“Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: don’t come near to it, that you may know the way by which you must go; for you have not passed this way heretofore.”
This is one of the greatest tests of all, and 2,000 cubits sometimes feels like a hundred years.  God’s timing is critical, in Gods timing we have the full measure of Gods power working for us, in Gods timing things and people are perfectly positioned, Gods timing usually doesn’t make sense from a natural perspective.
It didn’t make sense to try and cross this river at flood stage, this season of the year the Jordan always floods.  Didn’t God know this?  Remember this Jericho is on the other side and Jericho Is ripe for conquest.
Joshua 2:9-11
“And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
God knows when things are in position, to delay would allow Jericho to regain their courage.  It may not look like the time, or feel like the time, or sound like the time, but God knows what we don’t know, He has inside information, so when he says do it, you can be sure his power will be available to bring it to pass.  And if we are willing and obedient we will eat the good of the land. 
If we are willing to walk in faith, we will cross the Jordan.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

God on the Mountain, Is Still God in the Valley

Isaiah 40:29-31
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31 but those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
There are times when it can seem like the enemy is getting the best of us.  Sometimes it can be a serious struggle to maintain your faith and trust in God, especially when it seems like everything is going against us.  You know what I’m talking about, those times when we find ourselves in the middle of one of the toughest battles of our life.  But it is in these times that we need the Lord more than ever.  It is in these times that our faith and trust in God is really put to the test.  These are the times when the proverbial rubber meets the road in our walk of faith.
It is easy to live for God and trust in Him when everything is going well, but what about when it seems like the weight of the whole world is on our shoulders. Unfortunately it is during such times that a lot of believers abandon ship, they bail out on God, when the storms get rough.
If your life is in the middle of turmoil, if the waves are about to swamp the boat, then look up and put your trust in God for that is often the moment that God is putting your faith to the test.  That is the moment when your faith is built and your relationship with God will show its true depth.
I heard a story years ago about a Florida army training camp during World War II.  The daily training for the recruits included a run through an obstacle course.  The last obstacle on the course was a small pond of where they had to use a rope and swing across the water.  Under the blazing southern sun the water looked so inviting that the men soon developed a habit of only making it only halfway across the obstacle.  So an enterprising lieutenant made the pond the new home for a large alligator. From that day on, the recruits left the ground 15 feet from the water’s edge and fell sprawling in the dust on the other side.
Likewise, our behavior as believers must be shaped at times by the "encouragement" of unfavorable circumstances. Without God’s loving correction and faithful discipline we would never develop spiritual strength and endurance. If the Lord didn’t permit difficult circumstances to come into our lives, we would eventually develop feelings of self-sufficiency and become overconfident.
We must not forget that God has promised us that we would never be tempted above what we are able to bear, but with every temptation, every trial, every test, every trouble, He will make a way for us to escape and win the victory. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God never promised that we wouldn’t have hard times. He never promised that we would sail through life without troubles. What He did promise is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He promised that He would supply our every need. He promised in Psalms 55:22, "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."
In the passage above, Israel had become discouraged so God had to remind them of just Who He Is. God is still in control and those who would place their trust in Him would be renewed in their strength.
I don’t know about you, but there are times when my strength fails. I know that many of you suffer through these times too.  I know this because the most common prayer request I receive from others is for strength to stand for the Lord. There is nothing wrong with praying for strength. In fact, that’s the best thing you can do. But, if you really want to have more strength, God has already laid down the pattern for you to get stronger in Isaiah 40:29-31.
To most people it an seem like the trials they are facing are so personal and that no one else can relate or understand, but multitudes of people have faced, and are facing the same situations that you are going through. Your circumstances are no surprise to God. Your troubles don’t move God. He knew what was coming and He already has an answer for every one of them, but we will only see victory if we do it God’s way.
There is no limit to God’s ability to meet you need. There is no limit to His deliverance and provision for whatever you need. God never gets tired, never grows weary, and is always listening for the prayers of His children.
What will we do with the trials that face us?  Will we turn to our own devices and make decisions that will cause us to have less time for God, for the church, or even for our families?  Will we forget the Word of God and become depressed because we don’t have the faith to trust God’s Word.
Romans 8:28
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Will we break the promises that we made in our times of victory?  Will we forget the commitments we made to Christ when all was well?  Will we forget the times in the past that God has brought us through some rough seas? Will we forget the blessings, the healings, the miracles and every good thing that God has done?  What will we do, and how will be behave now that things are not perfect anymore?
It is time to stop our pity party, quit acting as if it is the end of the world, and lift up our eyes to the mountains and see that our help is on the way, and that God is far above our troubles no matter how bad things seem at the moment, He will not allow us to fail if we will keep our trust and faith in Him.
So now that the test is on, the question is not one of survival, but whether you will pass or fail?  If you pass, your faith will grow stronger. If you fail, you will abandon the ways of righteousness, turn your back on God and put everything in your life at risk.
I have to admit, I have had it go both ways in my life.  Several years ago I went through one of the darkest times of my life because I didn’t trust God in my trial.  I was pastoring and I got very ill.  I was in and out of the hospital.  Over a period of a year I spent 7 months in the hospital.  I really wasn’t sure if I would live or die.  I became physically dependent on the pain medicine.  When I tried to stop taking it I became very ill.  I asked the presbytery of my denomination for help, their response was to take my church, and except for the letter I received in the mail a few months later, I never seen or heard from these men again. 
My response should have been to run into the arms of Jesus, instead I kicked him out of my life and invited the devil to come in and have a seat.  I abandoned the ways of righteousness, turned my back on God and nearly lost everything.  As I returned to old habits from before I knew the Lord of drinking and drugging.  My failure put everything in my life at risk.
God in His grace placed good people in my life that have helped me to recover and return to the path of righteousness and I have repented and once again have a deep personal relationship with Jesus.  I found the father running to meet me with open arms when I returned from my prodigal ways.  He was there waiting all that time for me to come to my senses.
Recently I faced a very similar trial.  I became sick, I had been losing weight for months and had gone from a size 40 waist down to a 36, and then the pain started.  I went to the doctors and after several weeks of testing my worst fear was realized, they told me that I had renal cancer. 
I wish I could say that I handled the news like a man, but I would be lying.  I was scared.  I didn’t tell my wife or kids because I wasn’t sure how to tell them.  But I told my pastor and enlisted him to pray for me.  I had the whole church praying for me too, even though they didn’t know what the doctors had finally told me.  I asked for prayer from my FB friends, also without sharing the details.  And I began to pray like I have never prayed before.
I never for a moment considered turning my back on God this time or blaming Him for my circumstances.  I didn’t allow myself to experience the pity and self-absorbed feelings that the enemy would have liked me to sink back into.  I prayed and I waited for the Lord to answer and my faith got stronger and my relationship with Jesus grew deeper as I became totally dependent upon Him.  And then the miracle happened, God healed me.
The lesson I learned wasn’t that if we trust Him that everything is going to go our way.  There are too many stories of people who are not healed for me to convince you of that lie.  But I learned that the three Hebrews that told king Nebuchadnezzar, “Our God is able to deliver us, but even if He doesn’t, we will not bow to your image,” understood that even if God does not remove us from our immediate circumstances He is with us and we can rejoice because He is still God and He is greater than our troubles.
“…there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”
I wish I could say that I understand why God allows some things to happen. I wish I could but I can’t. His ways are far above my ability to understand. I can only put my trust in Him with faith and know that somehow God will take care of everything.
God will give you the power to overcome. He will take your weaknesses, your failures, your doubts and fears, and He will turn them into miracles of deliverance. In fact, God often does not move until we have given it over to Him completely because He will not share the glory of your deliverance with you. It is all of Him or none of Him. God is our source of strength. God is our source of provision. God is our source of power. God is our source for everything we need! We can’t do anything within ourselves.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
We may pride ourselves in our ability to take care of ourselves. We in America, have such a pride in our freedom and independence that we hate having to admit that we need help from anyone, including God.
But this scriptures tell us that no matter how strong or independent we may be, we cannot do it alone. God often has to bring us to the place where we have to stop trying, turn to Him and say, “God, that’s all I can do, now it’s up to you.” God is waiting for those words but they often aren’t said until we have exhausted our own ideas with no results.
The longer I live, the more I realize that everything is in God’s hands. When I was younger I was more inclined to solve everything with my own ability. Now, after many years of trials, tests and troubles, I am just beginning to get a real glimpse of what living by faith really means.
Faith says that everything will work out when it seems that everything is crumbling around me. Faith says that my bills will be paid when I can’t see how they will in the natural sense.  Faith says that God will take care of me and that I must force myself to stop being overly concerned with the future.  Faith says that I know, that I know, that I know, that somehow God will work it all out and that when He does I will be blessed for having faced all that is happening right now.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
This is a scripture that has been preached on so many times that I cannot count them. We quote it, we read it, we preach it, but do we really believe it?
Waiting upon the Lord requires true faith.  Waiting upon the Lord requires going through the fire sometimes and still trusting God to bring us through. Waiting upon the Lord requires that we believe in the impossible, look for the unseen answers, hope in the times of hopelessness and know, without knowing why or how, that God will take care of us.
The reason so many Christians fail the fiery tests of their faith is that too many are bankrupt spiritually.  When the trials come, there is no faith and trust in God built up in their spiritual account to draw strength from.  They have not spent time preparing and “saving up” our blessings for the “rainy day” of trials to come.  They haven’t spent time studying, they haven’t spent time praying, they not have fasted at all, and they have gone about their daily lives as though there would never come a time of trouble.
God won’t let you stay on the mountaintop for long because it’s in the valley that your faith and strength will grow.  There is a song that I love to hear that says this:
The God on the mountain, is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right.
The God of the Good times, is still God in the Bad times
The God of the day, is still God in the night.
That’s the God that we serve!
Isaiah 59:1
"Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear:"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ready or Not, Here I Come

Luke 1:17
“17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
There have been some things happening in America lately that if you told me 20 years ago it would be this way, I probably would have told you that you were crazy.  I never would have thought that gay marriage would become the law of the land, that profiteering from selling baby body parts would go unprosecuted, that citizens openly calling for the murder of police officers would be tolerated, that the legalization of drugs for recreational purposes would occur, and the most shocking to me of all is that Christians are now being arrested for refusing to violate their standards of holiness.
This morning, as I went into my prayer time, many of these issues were on my mind and as I prayed I could hear the Holy Spirit asking me, “Are you ready?”
My response at first was, “Yes Lord, more than I have ever been.”
My mistake was that I was assuming that the Lord was asking this question in reference to His eminent return.  I was thinking I’ve confessed my sin, repented of my former life, I have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, been washed in the blood, I’ve been baptized in Jesus name, and I am filled with the Holy Ghost.  I am ready!
But then I sensed that the Lord was speaking of something more than just knowing I was saved, and then I heard the Holy Spirit ask again, “Are you ready?”
In that moment I began to somewhat grasp what He was asking.  He was asking me, “Are you prepared for action, or are you ready for immediate use?”
When I was younger I was a part of a Christian scouting program called Royal Rangers.  The Motto for the Royal Rangers is “Ready for anything.”  The meaning of the motto is: Ready to Work, Play, Serve, Obey, Worship, Live, Etc.”  That’s what ready means, it means that you are you mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and even physically prepared for what is coming.   
Then the above scripture in the Gospel of Luke came to my mind.  This passage of scripture is referring to John the Baptists ministry as a forerunner of Jesus. The entire purpose of John’s ministry was to get people ready to receive the ministry of Jesus.  John was preparing them mentally, emotionally, and spiritually so that when Jesus came in the power of the Holy Spirit, the people could be benefited by it, instead of overwhelmed or destroyed by it.
The ministry of John was the baptism of repentance from sin. In Essence he was preaching for the people to change their way of thinking, to change their way of speaking, to completely change their way of living, and to put away their lives of sin.  He was telling them, “I'm baptizing you in water unto repentance to get you ready and to prepare you for the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire.
I kept on hearing the Lord ask me, “Are you ready?”
He showed me in the Spirit that John's ministry was to prepare people so that they could cooperate and participate with Jesus' ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Again I heard His voice ask, “Are you ready?”
I don’t know about you, but I can be a little slow catching on at times.  Finally I had to just ask the Lord to be a little more specific about what it was He was trying to show me.  Finally I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, “I'm not concerned about you being prepared for my return.  I know that you are saved, I want to know if you’re finally ready to do the work I called and saved you for, are you ready to fulfill your purpose?”
I have always said, God must really have His hand on my life considering all the stupid choices I've made, I should have died of a drug overdose on more than one occasion, I should have gone to prison for some of the things I participated in, my wife should have left me, my children should hate me, and six years ago when I hit a minivan head on with my motorcycle at 45MPH because I was drunk, stoned, and going too fast for the turn I was in, I should have died.  But God had something else in mind.
Thank God for His grace, by His mercy and the blood of Jesus I am free from that life.  But the Lord was asking me if I was ready to step out in faith and walk the path He has chosen for me.  The Lord was asking, “Are you ready to occupy the land?  Are you ready to advance the Kingdom of God?  Are you ready to invade the darkness, to undo the works of Satan, to cast out devils, and to lead the bound and oppressed to  the same freedom that you have found in Jesus?  Are you ready to see God’s power manifested in your life?  Are you ready for the shaking?”
Habakkuk 2:1
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and I will watch to see what he will say to me, and what I shall answer when I'm reproved.”
I believe that the Lord is showing me that it is my turn to stand a watch, that right now I am a watchman, and to stand my watch means to be faithful to prayer, faithfulness to prayer gives us spiritual insight and advance warning of what is coming.  I do not consider myself to be a prophet, but it is my turn to be the watchman.  As a watchman my first responsibility is to the remain in God’s presence; secondly it is to watch and to have eyes to see through the Holy Ghost what is coming, to proclaim what I see coming, and then sound the alarm.
As a watchman I don't have the liberty to say whatever I want to, or to just echo what’s popular. I don't have the liberty to speak what is comfortable and convenient.  My responsibility as a watchman is to pray, see, listen, and obey.  If you think I like relaying this type of message, you're wrong!  I’m very uncomfortable putting my voice to what I see coming, but I must be faithful.
Never, in my wildest imaginations, did I think I would live to see any of what's happening in this nation today.  I never thought I would see the day that I would have to say America has turned its back on God. Never!
I don't even recognize this nation anymore.  We murder babies in the name of convenience and call it choice.  In the years since Roe - v - Wade sixty million babies have been murdered by abortionists.  And now this monster called Planned Parenthood has been caught red handed admitting to selling the body parts of the babies they have slaughtered.  It disgusts me! 
Now it is open season on police officers who have sworn to protect and serve us, and the “great” leaders of the liberal progressives seem to have forgotten that all lives matter.  In my heart I cry out for God's justice on these lunatics!
People are walking on and burning the American flag in public, and the law comes to protect their rights to do it.  The president of the United States projects the image of a rainbow on the White House to rub in the face of the majority of Americans that marriage is no longer a sacred union sanctioned by God in America.  And just last month a Judge put a Christian woman in jail for not issuing a marriage license to two gay men.
I heard the Holy Spirit said to me, “Are you ready?”
Are you ready for prayer to be outlawed?  That’s impossible right?  No one can outlaw prayer.  Let me remind you of Daniel and how it was against the law to pray but Daniel prayed anyway and he was thrown into a lion's den.  Are you ready?
Are you ready for ministry to be outlawed?  Paul and Silas were thrown in jail for delivering a woman from demon possession.
Are you ready for the Bible to be outlawed, it's coming to America, it's already illegal in many parts of the world to own a Bible.
Are you ready?  For assembling together to worship Jesus to be outlawed, for preaching the gospel of repentance to be outlawed, for God's judgment on the sins of this nation, and for wars, natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, drought, famine, pestilence, volcanoes (These are the things that Jesus said would happen before he returns).
I know there are a lot of people who don't want to hear this, and you think that I’m just paranoid.  But I watched bits and pieces of the Democrat’s debate, and when they start talking like Robin Hood, and people cheer them on, communism is just around the corner.  Study the history of the Chinese and Russian revolutions, talk to some current Chinese and former Soviet citizens, and then tell me I’m paranoid.
And I know that multitudes of people including many believers have the idea that everything is fine and wonderful and everything’s getting better and better and that people that talk like this are just fear mongers.  I take no pleasure in causing people to fear, but my assignment is not to incite you to fear what is coming, but to prepare you for what's coming.
Tonight I am ready to be the voice:
Isaiah 40:3
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
When you are prepared, equipped, ready, then you won't fear what's coming.  Noah heard the voice of God and he prepared an ark to save of his family.  Joseph heard God’s voice and was sent by God to Egypt to save many people.
There is a major shaking coming to the United States of America and to the world.
Hebrews 12: 25 -27
“Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.” (NLT)
And then I heard the words ask of me once again, “Are you ready?”
And I thought to myself again, “Ready for what?  What else can there be?  I don't think I can take much more Lord.”
And then the Holy Spirit spoke to me once again and said, “Are you ready for the greatest revival that this world has ever seen?”
He allowed me to see and understand that this last day revival is going to pour out in full measure, everything that has been poured out during former revivals in a limited measure.  Everything will be in place and his people will function together in perfect order as one body.  The Word movement, the faith movement, the charismatic movement, the healing movement, the prophetic movement, the teaching movement, will all come together in Apostolic fashion as signs and wonders and the gifts of the Spirit all come together for this last day revival.
I wondered out loud, Lord how can this be?  There is so much darkness and evil in this world and it is surrounding your Church, how can these things take place in the darkness that surrounds us?”
The Lord directed me to the passage in Isaiah chapter sixty and I heard Him tell me, “I said it would be this way.  I told you that the darkness in the world would be the backdrop for the manifestation of my glory.”
Isaiah 60:1-3
 “Arise shine for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, for behold the darkness will cover the earth and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory she'll be seen upon thee, And the Gentiles shall come to thy light and Kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
It doesn’t matter what happens in this world, how dark it gets, or how evil and perverse this world gets, the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is going to rise to the top!  Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world.  Just like Noah’s ark, the higher the flood waters rose, the higher it lifted the ark and the ark rode on top of it all.
The best part of the assignment I have been given today is to tell you: The Church is not leaving this world like a whipped puppy with its tail between its legs.  We’re not going to be sneaking off in the middle of the night while everybody is sleeping. No sir just like Israel coming out of Egypt: Israel left with the upper hand. And when the Church goes out of this world, we’re going out in a blaze of Glory!  The True blood washed, Holy Ghost Filled, Holy Ghost anointed and empowered Church of the Living God is getting ready to stand up, and we're going to see the Church in her full glory.
The book of Acts was the New Testament church in her infancy but Before Jesus returns we're going to see the church in her maturity, full grown, in her full glory, in her full power.  There is no way God is going to let our last chapter be less than our first chapter.  The glory of the latter house shall be greater than the glory of the former house.  He's saved the best for last
Are you ready?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Message and The Manifestation

The Message and The Manifestation

Mark 3:14-15 
“And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: He chose twelve first of all to be with Him to have fellowship and relationship with Him so He could send them out.”
Relationship here is speaking of His presence and power is referring to ministry, warfare, and Kingdom authority.  The Holy Ghost is the continual presence of Jesus in our lives, it is what makes it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Him.  And the message that Jesus has given us to preach: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38), is the power to renew the sinner and give new life.
Luke 9: 1-2 
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.  And they departed and went through the towns preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”
The gospel is not just about speaking convincing words or demonstration of eloquent speech, it’s about producing results for the Kingdom of God through the power of the Holy Ghost. 
I Corinthians 2:2-5
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
The message must be accompanied by the manifestation!  Look at the example that Jesus himself gave us:
Matthew 4:23 
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”
Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, then He manifested the reality of the Kingdom.  The healing of the sick, casting out evil spirits, deliverance of those in bondage, and freedom for the captive. Jesus set our example, and before someone says we’re not Jesus, Jesus said that everything that He did we would do, and “even greater things."  In addition the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Roman church that the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the grave lives in us ( Romans 8:11).  My point is that the gospel always two parts: the message and then the manifestation.
1 Corinthians 4:20 11
“For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in Power.”
In other words: The Kingdom of God is not just a concept or theory to be grasped intellectually, but the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of the Power of God.  Jesus is the King and when He manifests himself in us as the Holy Ghost, that is the Power.  The Kingdom of God is the rule, the dominion, and the authority of Jesus’ name manifested through us by the power of the Holy Ghost to prove to the world that Jesus is alive.  The gospel of the Kingdom is a gospel of Power.
Romans 1:16 
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Romans 14:17 
“For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom.  It’s a Kingdom of righteousness: You can’t have sin in your life and operate in Kingdom authority and power.  You can’t just join this Kingdom, you must be born into it.
John 3:3 
“Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
The Kingdom of God is not for the passive, it’s for the passionate.  If you want Kingdom Power: You have to pursue it.
The Holy Ghost is the one who manifests the Kingdom of God.  That’s why Jesus told his disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Ghost that is why Jesus commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the father.
Acts 1:8 
“But ye shall receive Power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”
If we are going to be credible witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, we must have the manifest power of the Holy Spirit living in us.
Acts 4:33 
“And with great Power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all.”
When Elijah met Ahab, the backslidden nation of Israel, and the false prophets of Baal upon Mt. Carmel, nothing less than the Power of God being manifested could melt their hearts.  It took fire from heaven, a demonstration of the supernatural power of God.  And it is no less true today: Nothing less than the demonstration and manifestation of the power of God, will convince people that Jesus is alive.  The cry of every man and woman of God, should be:  “God send the fire on me, manifest your power through the Holy Ghost in my life!”
That’s what they meant in Acts 4:29-30, read it for yourself if you want to verify this truth, they asked God for boldness to preach his word, and then they asked for him to stretch out his hands with signs and wonders and miracles.  They knew they needed more than a message, they needed the manifestation, and they needed the power!
When the Kingdom of God comes, it comes with Power.
Acts 10:38 
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with Power who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him.”
Jesus message was, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And then He delivered the people from their sins and He healed their bodies and He drove out the demons, and He raised the dead.  Then he sent his disciples out and they did the same thing.  And He has commanded us to do the same as well.
Mark 16:15-18
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
They preached the Kingdom of God, they cast out devils, and they healed the sick, and destroyed the works of the devil everywhere they went.  And so can we!
2 Corinthians 5:20
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Ambassadors are sent forth with full power and authority to represent the Kingdom that sends them.  We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, we are here representatives of Jesus Christ, and we have been given full authority and power in the name of Jesus over all the works of the devil.  
It is my purpose today to declare to you that Satan is a thief, a liar, and a trespasser and he has no legal right or authority over your life in any way shape or form.  Jesus paid in full for your salvation, your healing, your deliverance, your miracle, the restoration of your marriage, the freedom in your mind, and your peace.  On the cross he paid it all.
Gods plan is that every single one of us get the revelation of His kingdom in us and that you go in Jesus name and start setting people free.
You have His Blood, His Name, His Word, His Spirit, so you have His Power.  The gospel is a gospel of Power.  You don’t just carry a message you carry the power, you carry the King of kings.  The kingdom of God is in you, the King lives in you and wants to manifest His power through you.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Beauty For Ashes

Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (NKJV)

The Word of God tells us that the Holy Ghost is our comforter.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am glad foreseen that I would need to be comforted.  That I would have times of broken heartedness and need healing; that there would be times of mourning that would need to be replaced by joy; That in my life there would be times of heaviness where only worship could lift me up; and that I might make mistakes that would devastate my life, a time where my sin would leave my life in a pile of rubble and ashes so that I would need the restoring power of the Holy Ghost to replace my ashes with the beauty of His love.

In our scripture text it says that God would console those who mourn in Zion, or those who are of His household.  His word specifically tells us that those in God’s house are going to get God’s attention.  As a father, former youth minister, and former baseball coach I can tell that even though I cared for all the children, my own children, those in my family, the children in my household were my priority.  If, then you are of the household of faith, you have God’s attention and when you cry out He is focused on your need.

If there is anyone that I want to have their attention – it’s God.  I want His eyes focused upon me.  I want His ear tuned in to my cries.  I want to be underneath the umbrella of His divine protection. I want to abide in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of His wings.

The Word says that He will give us beauty for ashes. In Biblical times it was the custom in great times of mourning and difficulty lay in ashes. Just think about that for moment. You are facing a difficult situation, you’ve got a problem in your life and it is getting the best of you, so you just sit down in a pile of ashes. There is nothing beautiful about ashes.

But the Word of God tells us that He is going to take your difficult, disgusting, and depressing situation and give you beauty. He is going to pick you up out of the ash pile of life and make something beautiful out of you.  The Hebrew word for ashes is “epher” and the Hebrew word for beauty is “pheer.”  Just move the “e” and you have a whole different word. And just as quickly as it takes for you to move one letter God is going to turn your sorrow into joy. He speaks and it is already done.

You may be in a place right now where you feel like your life is ugly and insignificant. But many times things that appear ugly, just need the right climate to grow:

Take for example “Mexico’s Wonder Plant,” the “Maguey.”  It is a species of century plant that grows in the harsh environment of the Mexican desert.  It goes for long periods of time with no water, when it does rain the plant is able to store the water in its heart to refresh itself in the times of drought.  It grows for years with great course leaves, three inches thick and very long. It sprouts sharp thorns and is just as ugly as can be. The longer it’s alive and the more it grows, and it just seems to get uglier all the time. But then suddenly, in just a couple of days, it begins to shoot up and a great shaft tall and thick begins to grow. Its spreading head is now covered with thousands of flowers and becomes a beautiful and fragrant plant.  The potential for all that beauty had always been within that ugliness.

Many times the fragrant beauty of that God has for our lives is hidden beneath calloused rituals, smothered by daily schedules and the monotonous grind of a chaotic world.  Many times we grow through times when it seems like it is never going to rain again, one ugly situation after another seems to overtake us, but if we have stored up the rain in our hearts, if we are filled with the Holy Ghost, we have a reservoir from which to draw comfort in times of spiritual drought and the times painful experiences will lead to something beautiful.

Isaiah said that the Lord will give you beauty for ashes. God knew that many times we would be burnt by life’s experiences. But He also knew, that if we called upon Him, He could replace that burnt out mess with something beautiful.

An old song we used to sing when I was a kid, I haven’t heard it in years, but the Lord just brought it to my mind while I was writing just now.  It was written by Bill Gaither and it says:

“Something beautiful something good,

All my confusion He understood,

All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife,

But He made something beautiful out of my life.”

Whatever God’s hands touches eventually becomes a thing of beauty.  All you need for your transformation is a touch from the Master’s hand.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

When Job was burnt by life, he burnt the devil because he fell down and praised God.  When the three Hebrew children were in the fiery furnace, they burnt the devil by praising God.  When Daniel was in the lion’s den, He burnt the devil because he prayed and thanked God.  When Abraham was commanded by the Lord to sacrifice his son, his faith burnt the devil because he said, “I and the lad will go and worship.”

Hannah, the day she gave Samuel back to God, burnt the devil because she cried out, “My heart rejoices in the Lord.”

The Apostle Paul burnt the devil when he was in chains because he proclaimed, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”

You can burn the devil in times of difficulty by refreshing yourself with the streams of living water that flow forth from within you because you are filled with the Holy Ghost.  Even in the darkest moments of our lives we have a reservoir of hope within us, during the drought we have an internal and eternal source of hope to sustain us if we call upon His name and give Him praise and glory.  Then when all is said and done, when we’ve come through the fire, when the flood waters recede, and when we stand on the other side of the Jordon God’s beauty will be evident in our lives.