Thursday, November 26, 2015

Uncommon Thankfulness

Rudyard Kipling, author of “The Jungle Books” and many other works, lived from 1865 to 1936. He was English, but he was born in India. His writings not only made him very famous, but they made him very rich as well.

I read a story somewhere once, I can’t recall where, about a newspaper reporter interviewing Mr. Kipling.  The newspaper reporter said, "Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over one hundred dollars a word.”
The reporter reached into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred-dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a one hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now you give me one of your hundred dollar words.”
Rudyard Kipling looked at the money, put it in his pocket and said, "Thanks!"
There is no doubt that the word "thanks" is most definitely a “hundred dollar word.”  It is a small word that can possess powerful meaning. A mere six letter word, but it gets across a message that few other words are capable of achieving.
Luke 17:11-19
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.  13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
In this account from the gospel of Luke Jesus was traveling along the border of Galilee where He conducted much of His ministry.  The word of Jesus’ healings and miracles had spread throughout this region and so Jesus had developed a reputation here.
Jesus expresses concern in verse 18 over the fact that only one of the ten men that had received from Him a miracle had returned to give thanks, “was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Jesus was a Jew and the man who had returned to give thanks was a Samaritan.  The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other.  Samaritans were considered pagan half-breeds and the Jews would go to great lengths to bypass Samaria on a Journey.  Even though they had common roots they preferred to act as if they had nothing in common.
But in this case there were a few things that brought these nine Jews and the one Samaritan together.  The first thing that brought them together was their common affliction.  All ten of them had leprosy.  Leprosy was the most feared illness in that time.  It was the “AIDS” of biblical times.  And it carried with it the same social stigma.  Verse 12 tells us that these ten lepers, “stood at a distance.”
They had to stand at a distance from Jesus. They were not allowed to come near anybody. They had to keep a distance of a minimum of six feet from other people including their family members.   Lepers were not allowed to live within the walls of any city. They were cast out and completely avoided by everyone. (See Leviticus 13:45-46)
The second thing that these ten men had in common was, their common need for mercy.  In verse 13 it says, “They lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”·        
There was no known treatment for their disease.  The Jews saw this disease as a curse from God, even though it never says anywhere in scripture that leprosy is “always” a curse from God.  To receive mercy means not receiving what you deserve.  In their minds they somehow deserved to be afflicted with this illness, but they knew that if Jesus had pity on them and healed them they would be receiving mercy.
They had probably been told by other rabbi’s and “religious” people that their disease was a curse from God, and that they deserved the disease not the cleansing.  So they cried out to Jesus for a miracle they did not deserve, they called out together for mercy.
The third thing they had in common, was their common faith.  They must have heard of the authority and healing power of Jesus.  They must have heard of the compassion that set this rabbi apart.  As I have already stated, much of Jesus’ ministry took place in this region.  It would be impossible not to have heard something of the wonderful miracles that He performed.
Notice Jesus Never touched them.  The Law of Moses commanded that they stay six feet away. If Jesus touched them physically He would have broken the Law of Moses.  The OT Law prescribed that a person who was healed of leprosy was to go to the priest for official inspection and acclamation that the person was healed.
These ten lepers continued to demonstrate their faith together.  The lepers were demonstrating that they had faith in the words of Jesus by turning around and walking towards the priest before they experienced their healing.  They didn’t question Jesus’ command they believed Him.  They believed together in faith.
The fourth thing that these men had in common, was their common cleansing.  Verse 14 tells us, “And as they went, they were cleansed.”  They received their healing together. 
And that is where the commonalities end, because even though these nine Jews and one Samaritan had so many common experiences that had pulled them together across generations of prejudice and pride, something at the last separated them again!
Something pulled this ten member gang of lepers apart.  What was it?
Maybe their ethnicity- severed the relationship.  It could have been the fact that if the nine Jews kept a close relationship with a Samaritan, it would devastate their social status.  Keeping a close relationship with a Samaritan would destroy any possibility of regaining popularity among their Jewish families and friends.  Keeping a close relationship with a Samaritan would cause these nine Jews to be just as alienated from Jewish society as if they had continued to have leprosy!  Perhaps the walls of racial prejudice and the hunger for regained social status were just too high to climb, and provided too much security to destroy.
Maybe it was their religion that severed the relationship between these men.  Jesus had told them in verse 14, "Go, and show yourselves to the priests."
In the temple in Jerusalem there was an inscription on a block in the wall, “Let no foreigner enter within the screen and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary.”
In verse 18 Jesus asks, “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
The word foreigner that Jesus used here is the same word that was inscribed on the wall of the temple to describe those who could not enter.  This gives us great insight into the faith of this Samaritan.  He took Jesus at His word and began a journey to see the priest, a journey that he could never finish!  The priest would have never seen this man, they considered him a dog! (Mark 7:20-24)
After their healing the nine Jews had the priest to go to so they could be declared clean.  The nine Jews had the law to rely on so that they could be considered “clean” again.  But the one Samaritan had no place to go, except back to Jesus!  Jesus was the source of his healing.  Jesus was the one who had shown him the mercy he did not deserve.
This foreigner had no desire to go back to the Samaritan religion.  The Samaritan religion had rejected him and sent him to live with Jewish outcasts.  The Samaritan religion lacked the power to heal him.  The Samaritan religion had failed to show him mercy.  He had no desire to seek out a relationship with the Jewish religion either.  It has also alienated its own followers when they needed support the most.  It also would continue to reject him and hold a low value of his life because he was still a Samaritan.  This Samaritan only wanted to go one place, BACK TO JESUS!
Maybe it was simply a flawed human perspective that had severed the relationship between these ten men: Maybe one of the Jews wanted to wait to see if the cure was real, maybe one of them wanted to wait to see if it would last, maybe one said, “I will go see Jesus later – after I visit my family,” maybe one of them decided that he had never had leprosy in the first place, maybe one reasoned, “I must have had a temporary form of leprosy I would have gotten well anyway,” or maybe some of them gave the glory to the priests.
Up to this point these men had a lot of things in common that had brought them together and we can presume a lot of things, but the greatest factor that separated this Samaritan from the nine Jews, was his uncommon thankfulness!  And the most powerful result of the Samaritans uncommon gratefulness was that He touched Jesus!
Out of the ten men who were healed this Samaritan was the only one who got to touch Jesus!  And Jesus made him well.  Verse 19 says, “Then He said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."  The word “well” is from the same Greek word that is used in the New Testament to describe salvation: forgiveness from sin and a relationship with God and the promise of eternal life in heaven.  Even though all were healed only one was made well!  The Samaritan had had much in common with his Jewish friends, but he was the only one who was made well.
Why?  Because he was Uncommonly Thankful!
There are some striking similarities between this story in Luke and ourselves.  First, our common affliction of sin has brought us together.  It is an affliction that brought us together because we all suffered from it. It is a disease that has contaminated each of us and caused us to be outcast from the camp of God.  It is a disease which is fatal to the soul no one can cure, except Jesus.
Second, our common faith has brought us together – Faith in Jesus.  Something in each of us has caused us to call out to Jesus.  Something caused us to seek out the possibility of mercy from this Man.  No matter how vile a sinner we were, each of us needed Christ to cleanse us and make us “well.”
Third, our common cleansing has brought us together.  A cleansing that comes by faith in Jesus, by repentance, and through baptism in Jesus name having our sins washed away.  And we are clean as we begin to Journey down the path commanded in the Scriptures.
But there is one thing that will set us apart from most others… An Uncommon Thankfulness!  Only those who are sincerely thankful get to experience the joy of touching the heart of God. Only those who express an uncommon thankfulness to the master are the ones who experience cleansing of sin and get to experience the Joy of being made well!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Get Up And Bark

Jonah 1:1-6
“Now the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.
5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load.[a] But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”
I want to start by asking a very important question, who was Jonah?  The answer is simple and straightforward, Jonah was a prophet of God.  Jonah had heard the voice of God, he knew the will of God, and he knew the presence of God, but Jonah fled from the presence of God because he didn't want to obey God.  Jonah didn’t want to carry the message of God’s judgement on sin.  Jonah was like a lot of preachers today; he only wanted to preach a popular message to audiences of his own choosing.
So Jonah fled to Tarshish, he went down to Joppa.  Joppa means beautiful, beautiful but dead, let me tell you something, in your disobedience you may do something good, but if it's not what God said, it's still disobedience.
But the Lord sent out a great wind in to the sea and a great storm arose, “the weather started getting rough and tiny ship was tossed,” so that the ship was likely to be broken.  I want to point out a very important fact: It was God that sent the Storm after Jonah.  That may not fit into the feel good message of modern society that says, God never gets angry, God never judges anyone, and God would never deliberately cause you to suffer.  But the God of the Bible will send a Storm into your life, and he may just allow you to lose everything that you put your trust and confidence in to bring you back to him.
I can tell you from my own life, when I was angry and resentful, when I was living in rebellion and being stubborn; instead of God cutting me off He sent storms into my life to wake me up and turn me around.  I thank Him and praise Him every day that he didn’t just let me drown.  God in His love and mercy allowed me to suffer enough to bring me to my senses.
“…but Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship and he lay and was fast asleep.”
The sailors and passengers we're all or their lives, and they began to cry out to their gods and to throw things overboard.  The “things” that had value to them, which had been loaded onto the ship because they were essential to them, were just thrown into the sea, the storm had turned them into worthless rubbish.
The passengers and crew were in total desperation, when suddenly they became aware that one of the passengers was not on deck.  The shipmaster found him sound asleep and with total desperation for his life and the lives of everyone else on board he asked the sleepy prophet, how can you sleep at a time like this?
Where are the true prophets of God?  Where are the men of God that preach truth that we can use to navigate by and make it through the storms?  Where are God’s servants who are more concerned about doing God's will then making money?  Where are the prophets who aren’t concerned about being politically correct?  Where are the teachers who are more concerned about God's reputation than their celebrity status?  Where are children of God that preach righteousness, holiness, separation from sin, sanctification and consecration?  Where are the prophets who do not use grace as a cloak for sin but as the power to conquer sin?
Again the question is asked how can you sleep at a time like this?
I am not trying to warn you that a storm is coming, the storm is here!  I am telling you that the sea of sin is raging and the ship is about to go down.  Sleeper, it’s time to get up and cry out to God!  Our country is in a storm, our society is in a storm, and the church is in a storm.  It’s time to stop napping and do something for God!
The whole infrastructure of our nation is being dismantled.  Everything is being redefined restructured reformatted.  It's hard to even tell what a true family is anymore, the family structure and the family unit has been redefined by society: In many homes there are two daddies or two mommies and that is being defined as normal.  Good is now defined as evil, and evil is defined as good. What was bitter is now called sweet, and what was sweet is now called bitter.  The prophet Isaiah sounded out a warning to a generation such as ours.
“Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 5:20
What was once called sin and an abomination unto God is now simply called an alternative lifestyle. Murder is now called pro-choice.  Alcoholism is not recognized as bondage or an addiction anymore, it's just called a disease.  Fornication and adultery are not called sin anymore they're just called indiscretions.  Now we're being told that God’s only concern for us is that we are comfortable, happy and prosperous.
This is absolute contradiction to the word of God: Sin is darkness, sin is disobedience, sin is transgression of Gods law, sin separates us from God and the only way to restore that broken fellowship with God is to repent.
These false teachers are also sounding out the message that everything is getting better and better, just hang on everything will smooth out.  At the same time our government is saying: we'll take care of everything, and what they're taking is our liberty, our rights, and our freedoms, they're being stolen from us one after another.
You can gather on a street corner and talk about anything and anyone, you can preach Islam, you can preach occult practices, you can preach homosexuality and lesbianism and the cops will show up to protect your right to assemble and your freedom of speech.  But if you preach Jesus, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, those same cops will arrest you and take you to jail.
The most popular movies today are of sexual bondage and the occult.  Christians by the millions sit in front of a television set that has become a portal to hell through which all kinds of movies and sitcoms filled with lesbianism and homosexuality and the occult pour into their living rooms.  And in light of today’s news, please forgive me but my sarcastic nature will not allow me to refrain from asking, I wonder if Charlie Sheen thinks he’s winning now?
Again I ask the question: How can you sleep at a time like this?
Again Isaiah sounds out a warning to us he says: “His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant, they are sleeping dogs, they cannot bark. Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” Isaiah 56:10
I want everyone to like me, but I'm not going to lie to you to gain your friendship or approval, I have to bark.  I have never considered myself a prophet, but I hear the trumpet sounding and I can read the handwriting on the wall and I have a responsibility to sound the alarm.
“Cry aloud and spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins.” Isaiah 58:1
I have to sound the alarm and I have to make the warning clear.
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” I Corinthians 14:8
I have to bark in order to wake up the slumbering saints, I must sound the alarm to warn those whom are half in and half out of the church. I’m barking today to warn the people who have one foot in the world, those that have a bible in one hand and a pair of dice in the other, a bible in one hand a glass of wine or a joint in the other, and those that read the Bible from their phones on Sunday morning and use the same phones to view pornography all week.
The church is filled with people that say, “We don't need revival, we've got all of God we need, we don't need repentance, we don't need mercy, we don't need forgiveness, we don't need Gods help, we’re happy and we're good.  We're holy; we confess we are so we are.  We're rich, we're prosperous, we're happy, and we're comfortable.  We confess we're free so we are.”
If it were that simple, if all you had to do was make some kind of confession to get everything God offers, then Jesus died for nothing, He suffered for nothing, He shed his blood for nothing and the Holy Spirit came for nothing.
There is far more to the life of a true believer than just moving your lips. The life of a true believer is a transformed life, it is a life of repentance, of turning your back on sin and the world, a life of separation, of sanctification, of consecration, it is a life of submission, and a life of faithfulness and obedience to God. 
A true believer strives to have pure thoughts, to speak words of grace, to die daily to self and to take up your cross and follow Christ.  We are to have no fellowship with the works of darkness, to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us, and to have a disciplined life of prayer, reading our Bible, being faithful to church, tithing, sowing, and witnessing.
The time we are living in is not a time to be spiritually asleep, it’s time to be awake, to be alert, aggressively and boldly confronting the powers of darkness, rebuking sin, casting out devils, healing the sick and the oppressed and boldly confronting false doctrines and seducing spirits that are infiltrating the church.
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober vs (7) For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.” I Thessalonians 5:6
“And that knowing the time it is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11
How can you sleep at a time like this?
How can you bury your head in the sand and pretend everything's fine?  How can we be silent when truth is being trampled in the street?  How can we be silent when the Word of God is being watered down, deluded, stripped of its power, candy coated and sugar sprinkled?  We have a responsibility to defend the truth!
To prove all things and to hold fast that which is good, to rightly divide the word of truth, and to contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.  Just like the shipmaster came to wake up the sleeping prophet, the Holy Spirit, who is the ship master of the church, is sending a wake-up call for all of us today.
120 thousand souls were saved because a slumbering prophet woke up.  He woke up to his calling, he woke up to obedience, he woke up to his responsibility, and he woke up to the desperate need of those around him.  I was just wondering, how many souls will be saved when we wake up?
How can we sleep at a time like this?  Get up and start barking!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Time to Get M.A.D.

I Samuel 11:1-11
Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.”
2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.”
3 Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, “Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you.”
4 So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept.  5 Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh.  6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.  7 So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.”
And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.  8 When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.  9 And they said to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’” Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad.  10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.”
11 So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together
In this passage of scripture one could liken Saul to a radical believer, or a “Radical Christian.”  He was “radical” because his actions were extremist, they were far beyond what was considered “normal,” they were what some might call “over the top,” and others probably would have said his actions were “crazy."
If there has ever been a time in the history of our nation that we needed some “Radical Christians,” it’s now!  We need some preachers who are not afraid to be labeled “extremists” because they are anointed and continue to preach standards and refuse to go along with the mainstream trends of the church!  We need some worship leaders who are “over the top” and are tired of entertainment that does not promote God’s presence!  We need believers that are called “crazy” because of their zeal to live a holy life and walk daily in the power of the Holy Ghost.  We need believers that are so radical that the devil knows their name!
There are all kind of radicals in the world: People do all kinds of radical things, extreme things, and even crazy things.  There are radical sports fans, politicians, religious extremists like ISIS and the Westboro Baptist church, racists, and extreme environmentalists.  Everywhere you look there are all kinds of radicals.  We have become accustomed to seeing people in the secular world doing all kinds of crazy, extreme, over the top things, but we are not used to seeing “radical Christians.”
Saul was a man who became radical, he was the king of Israel, and he was anointed by God.  Pay special attention to that word "anointed."  The anointing sets you apart from everyone else.  The anointing places the power of God on your live.  The anointing changes a person: it encourages boldness, it produces fearlessness, it makes us more assertive, and the anointing confronts error.
In our text all the people were crying, they were sad because of the threats from their enemy, but what made the others sad, made Saul angry.  He was angry at the enemy, angry at the willingness of the people to compromise with the enemy just to avoid a fight.  But Saul was not just an angry man, he was an anointed man.  There is something that the enemy will always take notice of:  A radical, angry, and anointed child of the living God!

In this age of compromise, this day of backing up and backing down, this era of diluting the gospel and going along to get along with everybody and everything, so many in the church have lost the fire of God and have settled for a, “form of godliness that denies the power thereof.”
But this to me because I can tell you what I have seen in the young men of my church, God is raising up ab army of “Radical Christians.” The Lord is anointing an army of ministers who are going to be more than just echoes of political correctness, more than just pew warmers, and more than just singers in the choir.  This army is the radical, extreme, crazy, and over the top Jesus freaks who are going to shake up the church world!
 In fact he is raising up some people, who like Saul, are angry at the enemy.  They are M.A.D. – Motivated Against the Devil.  They are angry at the devil, angry at the spirit of compromise in the church, angry at the spirit that rejects the cross and the blood of Jesus, and angry at the “Ecclesiastical Pimps” that stand in pulpits Sunday after Sunday and label everyone saved regardless of how they live just to get a paycheck!
There has been a spirit of passivity in too many churches for too long now, they have become very comfortable and casual in our attitude toward sin.  There has been a seeker friendly mentality and attitude to make everybody comfortable and happy.  An attitude that we must get rid of anything that would offend the seeker.
The cross, the altar, the blood, speaking in tongues, emotional responses to the Spirit, messages that mention hell or condemns sin, and sinful lifestyles.  All this must be removed, we have got to make the sinner comfortable.
But I feel a stirring in my spirit and I have an assignment from the Holy Ghost to tell the church: Something is about to change!  There's someone sitting in your church, somebody that you never really noticed, and that you never suspected and an anointing that is getting ready to fall on them. God is getting ready to put His mantle on them.  They are going to stand up under the anointing of the Holy Ghost and become like an Elijah to this generation.  They are not going to be seduced by this adulterous spirit of idolatry and witchcraft that has hypnotized the church, and they're going to call Gods people to repentance.  They are not going to soft soap sin, or sugar coat the word of God.  They are going to declare that there is a difference between the clean and the unclean, the vile and the pure, the right and the wrong, righteousness and sin.  They are not going to be concerned about fitting in, about being popular with men, they are going to be clothed with the zeal of God, and their only concern is going to be to pleasing Him.
I have to throw this in here because the Holy Ghost just put in on my heart.  I heard someone proclaim recently regarding homosexuals, lesbians, fornicators, Muslims, etc., that we are all on a “journey” and that they are just at different places in their “journey” and we have to give everybody time to become who they are supposed to be.  The message he was conveying is that we are all on the same “journey” we are just at different places along that “journey.”
Let me tell you what the Word of God says about the “journey”: Along this “journey” called life there are only two roads, the Broad way, “which seemeth right unto man,” which leads to destruction, and the narrow way that leads to eternal life and “few there be that find it.”  What I am about to say is not real popular these days, but I must say it regardless:  If you have not confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, if you have not been washed in the blood of the Lamb, if you have not repented and been “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sin (Acts 2:38),” then you are not saved.  You are lost, you are on the wrong road and you need to make a U-turn.  If you are a sinner and you have not been redeemed by the blood of Jesus then you are on the wrong road, and it doesn't matter how far you journey down that wrong road it will never become the right road, the only way to get right with God is a course correction.
If you do not receive Jesus as your personal savior and forsake your sins, you will be eternally lost. I know that's not popular but it's the truth, and I say it because I love you.  God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
There is an anointing that is being stirred up right now in some people that God has called.  I want to warn you though, when it happens and you start standing up and declaring the non-filtered Word of God, some sleepy, sloppy, lazy, passive, and indifferent pew potatoes aren't going to recognize the anointing, they are just going to accuse us of being angry.
The only way the church will ever come together, be united for the purpose that the Lord has called us to, “to destroy the works of the devil,” is if someone gets sick and tired, if someone gets fed up with accepting compromise to avoid a fight, and if someone gets angry!
I want to end this “screed,” by saying just one more thing, it’s about time some of you got M.A.D.!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

It's Time To Recognize The Anointing

Luke 4:18-19
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Contained in this passage of scripture are two very powerful spiritual truths.  First we can see that Jesus knew exactly what He had come to earth to accomplish, He knew what it was that He was supposed to do.  And second, we can see that Jesus was aware that He had been empowered with a supernatural power through the infilling of the Holy Spirit called the “anointing.”
I believe that it is the will of God that every believer would be consciously aware of this anointing and that every one of us could say: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”  The concept that the Spirit of Christ dwells within each of us is not simply an idea, an expression, or a figure of speech, it is a tangible reality. The power of God is manifested and resting upon the life of every believer who desires it and is surrendered to God’s will.
We can see from the story of Samson in the book of Judges that when the anointing would come upon Samson, he was very aware of it.  He had a conscious understanding, an awareness that a supernatural power was upon him.  Samson knew when this power was on him and he knew when it wasn't.  When the anointing, this power, was upon him he was unstoppable he operated in a supernatural realm.  But without it, he was limited by the weaknesses of his flesh just like any other man.
Samson’s anointing was just a shadow, a type of the anointing that was going to come upon Jesus Christ and His covenant children through the power of the Holy Ghost.  It is my purpose today to help believers everywhere realize that this anointing was not just for Samson, it wasn’t just upon Jesus, nor is it just for pastors, prophets, apostles, evangelists and teachers, it's for every blood bought, Spirit filled child of God.  I believe it is the desire of our Lord that every believer could say with the same authority as Jesus did, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me."
The anointing is the divine enablement and supernatural ability to carry on the ministry of Jesus.
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 was our example.  The Word tells us that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us.  We can claim with authority, that if we have been baptized in the Holy Ghost, then we are anointed with power to go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil for God is with us!  The Spirit of the Lord is upon us and we are anointed!
Jesus is no longer physically among us, but His Spirit is, the Holy Ghost is, the power is, and the anointing is!  Now we are His body, we are His hands and feet, we are His voice, and we are anointed to carry on His work.  We are anointed to preach the gospel, to cast out devils, to heal the sick, to deliver those in darkness, and to set the captives free.
The anointing is Heavens power, it's like Holy Ghost electricity and just like natural electricity you can't see it with your natural eyes, but when it touches you, you will know it.  The anointing is the burden-removing, yoke destroying power of God.
Isaiah 10:27
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”
There is a lot of needless things we bare as believers because we do not seek the anointing.  The sad truth is that a large majority of the body of Christ have never discovered the power that is available to them through the anointing.  Too many believers are living weak, inferior, anemic spiritual lives because they refuse to tap into the power of the Holy Ghost. 
Because of this they are always looking for someone else to bless them, someone else to encourage them, or someone else lift them up when the power is right at the tip of their tongue.  All they need to do is surrender their life to God and ask for more of His presence in their life.
Too many of God’s people live their lives as a professional patient: always in need, always struggling, always hurting, and always suffering.  God wants to give them the power and the anointing of the Holy Ghost and transform them from a patient into a doctor.  To bring them to a place where they are functioning by the anointing, to a place where they are operating in the anointing and are able to inject others with the power of God that will save them and heal them and deliver them.
Acts 3:1-8
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being 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 of them that entered into the temple; 3 who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee: 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. 8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
Peter and John looked at this poor crippled beggar sitting at the temple gate asking alms from any who would pass by.  Here was a poor unfortunate soul who lived dependent upon the generosity and the surplus of others.  He was a taker, always reaching out, always in need.  Everyday someone would pick him up and carry him to his spot outside the beautiful gate of the temple where he would sit and beg for alms.
What I love about this story is that is shows the character of Peter and John after they had been filled with the Holy Ghost.  Remember what they had said to Jesus when Jesus asked them to feed the crowd, “Send them away so they can find something to eat.”  In other words, “they’re not our problem.  Look how the Holy Ghost has changed their perspective:  They saw a future for this man beyond what he could see.  He couldn't see anything different in his future other than to sit and to beg every day for the rest of his life.  When Peter and John saw him, they were moved with the compassion of Jesus.  Compassion and pity are two different things.  Pity may look and feel sorry, pity may even demonstrate itself in tears, but compassion is demonstrated in action and changes the situation.
Peter and John saw this poor man and they saw a future for him, and they were moved with compassion.  When they told him to look upon them, it was because they were anointed with the Holy Ghost and they understood that they had the capacity to change this man’s situation.
I wish more believers understood how much power is available to us through the anointing of the Holy Ghost.  We are walking around with the same Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, living on the inside of us.  The supernatural miracle working power of God is in us.  One of the devils greatest fears is that we will recognize who we are and what we have and what we can do.
Peter and John knew this supernatural power was in them.  And they also knew that they had the ability to transfer and to release that power to others.  Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give to thee.  There's the key: Such as I have.  In other words, “I know what I have.”  Just like Samson was aware of his anointing, just like Jesus was aware of His, Peter and John were consciously aware that they had in their possession a power greater than themselves.
Such as I have…give I thee.  I present to you, I offer to you, I release, I transfer, I give to you.  And Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up.  Peter was pulling him into his destiny.  Pulling him out of his past, pulling him out of all his guilt and shame, pulling him out of his emptiness and helplessness, pulling him out of his brokenness and pulling him up into wholeness, up into joy, and up into fullness of life.
Was it God’s will to heal this man and make him whole?  We know it was.  Why didn't it happen prior to this day?  Because no one had passed his way with the knowledge that they possessed the power to change this man’s situation.
I'm telling you, it is the will of God to heal the sick, to deliver the bound, and to set the captives free.  It is Gods will, Jesus paid the price, the power of God is available, but nothing is going to happen until we realize that we are the carriers and the conduits of the power of God and it’s time we start laying our hands on the sick, lifting them up in Jesus’ name, and casting out devils.
There are people just like this crippled beggar all around us, and even though God wants them well and whole they will die lost, sick and afflicted if we don't recognize that, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us and He has anointed us.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Then Came Jesus

Matthew 8:1-3
“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.  2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
Jesus had just finished his Sermon on the Mount. His words were spoken with an authority and power that none had known before.  It had been a long time since a prophet had entered the land of Israel and spoke the oracles of God with such power.  John the Baptist had come preaching but even his powerful preaching could not compare with the power behind the words that Jesus spoke.
I have often wondered what it must have felt like to have been there to hear Jesus speak.  What power and anointing there must have been in His voice!  This was God in the flesh, not just a mortal man.  I believe that the closest we can come to that experience is when we hear the Word of the Lord preached and taught under the anointing of the Holy Ghost.
I think that it is a shame that many people today do not regard the preaching of the Word as important as they should.  I often wonder how many miracles people miss out on because they aren’t close enough to see them, how many blessings they miss because they aren’t hungry enough for them, or how much anointing they’ve lost because they didn’t give place to the leading of the Holy Ghost.
As he descended from the mountain to enter into the city of Jerusalem, the crowds pressed into hear and see what he would do next. Would he perform some great miracle?  Would He heal a sick body, or maybe even raise someone from the dead?
When the Holy Ghost is moving and people are being healed, set free from sin, delivered from the oppressing powers of hell, being saved by the Blood of the Lamb, and the Word of God is preached with the anointing power of God upon it, you won’t have to beg people to come. They will come just to see the fire burn.
As he walked along there came a leper and fell at his feet with a humble spirit, seeking to be healed and cleansed.  From a natural perspective, there was no hope for the leper.  He was trapped in a prison of rotting flesh and was slowly dying. No doctor, no priest, or any power on earth could release him from this death sentence.
But then came Jesus!  Oh how I love that phrase!  When all things seem impossible and all hope seems lost, I have learned to lean upon that phrase, “Then came Jesus.”  The disciples were out in the middle of the sea in a raging storm, then came Jesus!  There was a woman with an issue of blood, then came Jesus!  Three Hebrew children were thrown into a fiery furnace, but then came Jesus!  Lazarus was dead and buried in a tomb for days, but then came Jesus!  I was lost, had thrown my calling aside, most everyone had written me off, but then came Jesus!  He can do what no one else can.  He is your answer, not some man.
The leper was unclean! According to the Law of Moses he could never enter the gates of Jerusalem for it was the Holy City, dedicated to God. That leper had to get to Jesus before he entered the gates and so he came as fast as he could. With every step he took, faith would grow a little stronger! With every step hope grew stronger!  Hope – that little 4-letter word that carries such a powerful meaning.
Hopelessness is a terrible empty feeling.  And hopelessness is what those who are held captive by the chains of sin face every day.  There is no hope for a better life, no hope for eternal life, or for deliverance from the bonds of sin that have trapped them to their lifestyles.
The Alcoholic is taught that he will always be an alcoholic!  The drug addict is taught that he will always be a drug addict!  The thief is taught that he will always be a thief!  All the world can do is attempt to control how much alcohol, drugs, or criminal activity that people do. The world does not have the power to set men free from anything!
But then came Jesus – there’s that little phrase again!  Jesus can set them free, and Jesus will set them free!
When that leper, representing the absolutely hopeless condition of the sin-sick soul, came to Jesus and fell down before him, and worshipped the Lord, and confessed that Jesus was the only one who could set him free, and cast himself upon the mercy of Christ, he was showing us just what it takes to be set completely free from all the bondages of sin that hold us back.
You can’t whip the devil on your own, but Jesus has already conquered him! You can’t defeat all the powers of darkness in your own power, but Jesus’ blood has already beaten them once and for all.
We must cast aside everything that holds us back. Cast aside your pride! Cast aside your own abilities! Cast aside your hopelessness! Cast aside the teaching that you can’t be delivered that has been given by the world! Cast aside every little weight and every sin that so easily drags you down and then worship the Lord Jesus Christ!
I believe that Jesus not only has all power in Heaven and in Earth to set you free once and for all but I also believe that it is his perfect will do to just that!  Jesus looked back at that leper and said, “I will, be thou clean!”  
What power there was in those words! Instantly the prison bars of leprosy were broken!  Instantly, that leper was a leper no more! Instantly he was made whole!  He may have been told, “Once a leper, always a leper,” but Jesus set him free!
Jesus doesn’t deliver halfway! If we aren’t completely delivered it’s because we are holding something back ourselves! We can’t expect Jesus to set us completely free if we aren’t completely surrendered and committed to him.   All too often we come to the Lord seeking deliverance, but all we want is just enough deliverance to make life tolerable again. We don’t want to commit fully so we just take what Jesus will give and go back to doing what we want to again.
It’s so wonderful that Jesus is full of grace, mercy and love, so much so that he will reach out and touch us sometimes, even when we really don’t mean what we say! But he knows the heart, and if we will fully surrender, then he will fully deliver!
I’m not saying that every Christian who has a problem in some area of their life is lost. I’m not saying that they won’t make Heaven their home. What I am saying is that, until they are fully committed to serving the Lord, placing him first in their lives, they will never know what it is like to be completely delivered and fully walking in victory!
What do you need from the Lord right now?
Healing?  Jesus says I will - Isaiah 53:5, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Rest?  Jesus says I will - Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Deliverance?  Jesus says I will - Isaiah 46:4, "And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
Encouragement?  Jesus says I will - Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
Salvation?  Jesus says I will - John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Cleansing? – Jesus says through the Apostle Paul, I will - 1 Corinthians 6:11, "… but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Wisdom? – Jesus says, I will - James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Faith? – Jesus says I will - Romans 12:3, "For I say… to every man that is among you… God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."
Power? – Jesus says I will - Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you..."
Guidance? – Jesus says I will - John 16:13, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..."
Jesus says I will meet your need but don’t just focus on the miracle, focus on the Miracle Worker and give it all to me.  The leper was in a prison that he didn’t choose and didn’t want but one that he could not get out of, but Jesus had the key.
What do you need from the Lord right now?
Are you willing to cast yourself at his feet in total surrender?
If you are willing, then Jesus will give you the desires of your heart!