Saturday, April 30, 2016

Desperate For a Touch

Mark 2:3-5
3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

Mark 5:25-34
25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”
29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Contained within these two passages are the stories of a desperate man and a desperate woman: The first is the story of a man who had been paralyzed his entire life, and the second story is about a woman who had been dealing with a medical condition for several years, had spent all her money trying to find relief, but the doctors had no cure. There is absolutely no doubt that these two individuals who, though their situations were extremely different, their desperation led them to the same place.

People become desperate when they reach a point where all hope of resolving their situation on their own is gone, and they are forced to seek a solution outside of themselves. I know what this kind of desperation feels like, because I’ve been there.  You reach the point where you realize that none of your efforts to change your current situation have worked and you are willing to try just about anything. You no longer care what anyone thinks or says, you are willing to be ridiculed if it can bring you peace. You will go where you never thought you would go, you won’t allow anything or anyone get in your way, because you’re desperate and you’re are ready to take desperate measures.

Desperation is the condition that exists when a recognized need is present and we have no way of meeting it on our own.  God’s people are needy, every last one of us, but many are stubborn, and few are willing to acknowledge their need. Desperation only comes when there is a recognized need that is beyond our own ability to meet.

Webster’s Dictionary defines desperation as: feeling, showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad, as to be impossible to deal with.

Contrary to the way that most people traditionally view desperation, I want to enlighten you today of the truth, desperation is not a bad thing. The world has taught us that the last thing we want to be is desperate. It is looked upon as a sign of weakness to ask for help. But from God’s perspective, desperate people are those who are willing to acknowledge that there are some circumstances that only He can rescue us from.  God loves it when we are desperate, because in our desperation we are forced to acknowledge that we need Him. There are many promises contained in the pages of His Word that only come to those who are desperate.

I believe the will of God is that every one of us would reach some measure of desperation. I believe His message to us all is that we have been examined by the great physician and diagnosed, “weary and heavy-laden.”

When I see in the pages of His Word the life that is available to us, and then I see in my own life, in other believer’s lives and in the church, the low level of spiritual life and the absence of spiritual power, it creates a sense of emptiness in me, a recognition that we are many times falling short of the glory that has been prepared for us, and it stirs in me a feeling of desperation.

I am desperate today because I recognize the need for spiritual power to reach the lost, to heal the sick, and to help set free those in bondage, and because I know that only God can give us what we are lacking.

The desperate will receive their blessing from God because they absolutely will not be kept from the presence of their healer by physical boundaries! They are willing to press through hopeless circumstances just to touch Him for a moment!  They are willing to shout out His name when the world around them discourages them and tries to quiet their cries! They are willing to rip off a roofs to obtain an audience with the Lord, push their way through the crowd, they won’t be offended – “even the dogs eat the crumbs.” 

Desperate people happily let go of their dignity for an opportunity to be touched by deity.  I don’t know about you, but I’m desperate for more than a simple, basic Christian existence, I want to go beyond just getting by with the minimum requirements.  I want to fulfill Christ's command to "go and make disciples of all nations."  I want "these signs" to follow and His Spirit to flow in my life.  I am desperate for, as the modern worship song proclaims, "more love, more power, more of you in my life."  I am desperate for just a touch, just a glimpse of His glory, just a moment in His presence, so that I might receive the power promised to those who, in desperation, cry out for more!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The World Can Leave a Bad Taste

I was reading the story of Noah again this week, and like never before it struck me that, like Noah, we live in the midst of a perverse generation.  A generation that calls evil good, and good evil.  A generation that fines a Christian baker $135,000 in Oregon for refusing to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, and then glorifies musicians for canceling concerts in venues where the states have decided that men should use “Men’s” restrooms and women should use “women’s” restrooms.  It’s like I woke up one day and found myself in an alternate universe.

The truth is however; this hasn’t come upon us suddenly, we’ve just been passively allowing it to happen.  And if the Church continues to allow "cultural norms" to infiltrate our lives, it is my opinion that it won't be long before our women look like Ellen DeGeneres and our men look like Bruce Jenner.

Proverbs 30:11-13

11 There is a generation that curses its father,
And does not bless its mother.
12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
13 There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are lifted up.

But really for a student of the God’s Word, none of this should come as a shock:

II Timothy 3:1-5

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

God has called us to be separate, different, and distinct from the world!

Romans 12:1, 2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Philippians 2:15

“That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”

Peter wrote that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, God chose Noah to build the ark for that reason, and when the flood came Noah and his family rose above the destructive waters and were saved.  Noah built the ark, but God chose the material (gopher wood) that Noah used and God gave Noah the instructions (pitch it from within and without) on how to build it.

God has likewise given us the material to build a life that will allow us to rise above the destructive forces of evil that are destroying our world today:  He has given us His Word.  It is up to us to build upon what He has given us.  To pitch our lives with His Word, from within and from without.  To pitch means to seal.

There are some things we need to seal in: character, integrity, dignity, holiness, compassion, and forgiveness.  These things must be an inside job.  And there are some things that we need to seal out: Fear, doubt, anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness, things that stir up the carnal man, and the works of the flesh.  We’re in the world but not of the world.  We need God’s word to seal us, to pitch us from within and without so that we rise above the destructive waters in the ark of His protection.  I don’t care how good a swimmer you are; you can’t swim across an ocean of sewage without getting some of the waste in your mouth.

Genesis 7:18 - “And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth;”

There is no doubt about it, the waters of sin, and ungodliness, and perversion are increasing greatly upon the earth, but listen to the last part of that verse: “and the ark went upon the face of the waters.”

That means the ark rode over the top of the waters of destruction.  It is still true today that those who live righteously, and holy, and separated lives unto God, are going to rise to the top.  The darker it gets the brighter our light shines, the higher the waters of sin rise, the higher we will rise.  Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world.

Like Noah, we must be willing to be thought foolish for the sake of the gospel.  It must have seemed foolish for Noah to be building an ark when it had never even rained upon the earth.  They made fun of him, but he kept on building.  He didn’t compromise, he didn’t deviate from God’s plan, he didn’t let his culture and their criticism interfere with his commitment to God’s plan because Noah knew the rain was coming.

We must look a lot like Noah prophesying to the world of a coming judgement, that Jesus is coming back, that only those who have been washed in the blood of the lamb, and who have turned their back on sin can enter into heaven.  But, like Noah, our message must be pure, our message must be powerful, and our message must be plain.

I Corinthians 14:8 - “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

Our message must be consistent!  Like Noah, we must be disciplined, motivated, and encouraged by the Word of God.  We must be holy, "for without holiness no man shall see God." - Hebrews 12:14. Holiness is not just an internal state of change, it's a lifestyle that says, "I belong to God."  We must become the pure and spotless bride of Jesus.  We must allow His Word and the Holy Ghost to pitch us from within and without.  We are building for future generations.  We must be willing to work without Immediate reward.  We must Finish the race!

What a tragedy it would have been for Noah to build on this ark for 85- 90 years then quit, and say It ain't worth it, or I don’t believe it’s coming.  It wouldn’t have mattered how great his start was, because finishing that was all that really mattered.

Matthew 24:13 - “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Shepherd's Blog: There Is No Power In Neutral

Shepherd's Blog: There Is No Power In Neutral: I Kings 18:21 21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow h...

Lead Me To The Rock

Luke 6:46-49

46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Here in this passage of scripture Jesus gives us the parable of the two different houses, two different foundations, two different men, but the same storm.  The other thing that Jesus does in this passage is that He clearly divides all the people of the world into two classifications: The wise and the foolish.  Jesus teaches us in this text that no one is born with either a predisposition to be a fool or a predisposition to be wise, it’s a choice.

Even though this parable is intended to be a teaching of contrasts and variables, one thing is the same for both the foolish and the wise; they both are faced with the same storm.  The point is that storms come to everybody.  In this life there is no question that we will all face the storms, the question is not if, but when.

I currently live in an area of the country where we face the danger of tornadoes fairly regularly, especially this time of the year.  There is no question, if the storm will come, the question is when they will come and which direction it will come from.  And the truth is that in reality a lot of the time that question cannot be answered because no one can control the weather.  The same is true of life; no one knows when the storm will come.

Many times we have the advantage of the “daylight” hours and we are able to see the storm coming and we have time to brace for it or to get out of the way.  But there are other times when there is no warning.  Many have gone to bed after a beautiful summer or spring evening and woke up to the sound of a tornado ripping their house apart and destroying everything they hold dear.  In the morning light all that remains are the broken shattered pieces of a life that used to be: a home that used to be, a marriage that used to be beautiful, a body that used to be healthy and strong, a family that used to be close, a mind that used to be uncluttered by drugs and alcohol, and dreams and aspirations that were destroyed.  And it all happened without warning, it happened while they were sleeping.

I wonder how many storms could actually have been avoided had we not been sleeping.  I know some storms are unavoidable, but there are some storms that could be avoided if we would just wake up.  A lot of things happen in our lives simply because we are asleep, we’re not watching, or we’re not paying attention.

I Thessalonians 5:2-7

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

Samson didn’t have to have his eyes gouged out, he didn’t have to suffer humiliation and play the part of a fool and a slave in a Philistine prison.  This was a storm he could have avoided.  Samson’s problem was that he was sleeping when he should have been praying, sleeping when he should’ve been hiding God’s Word in his heart, sleeping when he should’ve been in fellowship with God instead of in bed with the world. Samson was sleeping while the storm was brewing and he closed his eyes to the obvious threat around him.

I believe that the Lord gave me this word today for those of you who are going through a storm in your life right now.  I know some storms are unavoidable, but there are some storms that you don’t have to go through.  Some are in storms right now that you didn’t have to go through, hell you didn’t have to go through, heartbreak you didn’t have to experience.  These are storms that are the product and the fruit of fleshly desires and decisions.

Samson’s life was a series of storms, tragedies, loss, heartbreak, and every one of them was a product of his own self-will and actions birthed out of the desires of his flesh.  We’ve all been there, God knows I have.  We’ve all blown it, we’ve all moved in the flesh, we’ve all ignored wise counsel, and did what we wanted to do.  And like Samson we have found ourselves in a storm.

In two of my favorite verses in the bible David said:

Psalm 40:2

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and "set my feet upon a rock" and established my goings.”

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

What is David saying in this verse?  It doesn’t matter what comes my way in life, where I find myself standing, or how bad it seems: God is my refuge and if I am willing to cry out to Him, I am going to make it because He is my Rock and nothing can move my Rock.

Somebody receiving this message is in the storm of your life.  I am not concerned today with whether it was avoidable, I am not asking you if you caused it, or not.  You are in a storm and you need help and you need it now.  Everything you’ve been holding on to is shaking and falling apart.  Listen to what David said:

Psalm 61:2

“When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to that rock that is higher than I.”

I want to lead you to that rock that is higher than you.  That rock that is higher than your storm, the rock that is higher than the fight you’re in, the rock that that is higher than the fire you’re going through, higher than the enemy that is warring against you.

I want to lead you to Jesus.  That’s the rock I came to lead you to today: He is the rock that never rolls, He is the foundation that never shifts, He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother, He is the captain that never lost a battle, He is your shelter in the time of storm, and He is your fortress, and your high tower.

Everything in your world may be shaking right now, the wind and the rain may be beating on your life, and it may look like there’s nothing and no one, you can depend on, but I came to lead you to that rock, and if you’ll step up on the rock, you’ll make it.  I can’t promise you the storm will stop, I can’t promise you that all your problems will disappear, but I can promise you that if place your life on the firm foundation of Jesus, you will make it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Living On The Edge

There is one fact in life that I am absolutely convinced of, the name of Jesus has the power to break the chains that bind men and women in the bondage of sin.  Although we suffer from many different struggles with our flesh, every one of us come to Christ in the same fashion. At the foot of the cross of Jesus every one of us is on the same level.  The Bible says in Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Not even one of us can stand before God and declare our own worthiness. The fact is that none of us are worthy of Heaven and all of us must fall on our face before God in repentance and surrender our lives to Christ if we want to make Heaven our eternal home.

Thank God for all of you who are saved and have the Lord Jesus living in your heart. Thank God that one day you answered the call of the Holy Ghost as He gently tugged at your heart and begged you to come to Christ. Salvation is such a wonderful experience.  But, the question I have for you this day is this; where are you living right now?  Are you as close to the Lord now as you were the day you were saved? Has your relationship with Jesus grown stronger or has it grown weaker? I find that there are far too many people, who claim to love Jesus, and yet they are living on the edge of Hell itself.

What makes us think that a half-hearted commitment to Christ is going to get us into Heaven? There are far too many people who think that they are going to Heaven and yet they live lives of little or no real commitment to Christ. These folks are living on the Edge of Hell!

I urge you today to examine your own life. How much real commitment to Jesus is in your life? How much time have you spent in getting to know the Lord in a deeper fashion? How often do you stop to pray and then take time to listen for the voice of the Lord? How many days do you go without trying to get to be more like Jesus?
Many claim to love the Lord and yet they show their love for Him by attending church when it’s convenient, when they are feeling good, or when it doesn’t interfere with what they want to do.  They claim to love Jesus, they say they want to be like Him, and spend eternity with Him, and yet they live so close to the world that it’s hard for them to see Jesus, much less hear from Him.

I’ve seen so many people, who once loved the Lord, slowly slip away as they began to live on the Edge of Hell.  As the song goes, “It’s a slow fade,” missing church a little more than usual, neglecting Bible study and prayer, hanging around old friends, they begin smoking again, cursing again, and finally they turn their backs on God and go back to their old life completely.  How quickly we forget the warnings from the lips of Jesus that are recorded in His Word…

Luke 11:23-26 -  "He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."

Many of us were caught up in lives that were hell on earth! Some of us were into alcohol, or drugs, or sexual immorality. God lifted us out of that slimy pit of sin that we were powerless to leave. He set our feet on the solid rock and saved our souls from certain death, and yet we neglect Him and think that we can still make it on our own.

Old desires begin to come back as temptation enters into your heart to convince you that just one puff, just one fix, just one drink and I will feel better. Little do we realize just how far that one little thing can take us. Listen to what I am trying to tell you, listen to me because I am an expert on the life of a backslider!  Sin will always take you further than you want to go and then leave you in a pit you thought you’d never see again, only this time deeper than before, and harder to get out of than before.

How many lives have been destroyed because of one “little” sin? How many homes are broken and divided? How many little children don’t have mom and dad around the way that God intended? How many moms and dads cry themselves to sleep wondering what happened and why did this have to happen to me?  I tell you that Satan is out to kill, steal and destroy every good thing in your life – your family, your home, your job, your church and especially your relationship with Jesus.

Jesus will not interfere with your power to choose. He will never force you to do what is right. He will not knock the glass of alcohol out of your hand. He won’t grab the pill or the needle from your arm. He won’t stop the profanity from leaving your lips. He will let you do what you want to do. But, thank God, He makes a way for us to come back to Him.

It’s decision time! What will you do with Jesus Christ?  Will you continue to ignore the warnings and walk away from God?  Will you turn your back on Jesus and go back into your old life?  Will you let the unclean spirit back into your life and then let that spirit bring seven more of his unclean spirits with him?  Are you going to put everything dear to you in jeopardy?  Are you going to yield to temptation and let Satan destroy every blessing that God has given you?

It’s time, right now, to quit living on the Edge of Hell and step over into the full commitment of living for the Lord! It’s all or nothing. God will not settle for second place and He will accept nothing less than your whole heart!  Jesus has promised that if we will come to Him, confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness, that He would be faithful and just. He will forgive you of your failures, faults and sin and He will place your feet back on the rock.

It is not God’s will for your life to come to ruin. He has promised you life, and life much more abundant. He has promised you so many blessings that you can’t even contain all of them. He has a plan for your life that is wonderful and happy and fulfilling. Will you give all that away?

If you just stand there and refuse to answer the call of God, then God will have little choice but to let you go but that decision will carry some terrible consequences and they won’t be long in coming!  God’s rod of chastisement will begin to come against you and troubles will increase, temptation will increase and they will only grow worse until we either hear the voice of God and obey Him or we slip away completely into a life of sin.

Turn to God right now! Repent of the sin that has already happened!  Don’t let Satan keep you from coming clean before the Lord right now!  Today, right now, is the time to make it right! There is no promise of tomorrow and even if tomorrow does come, are you willing to take the risk of losing it all?  It’s time to quit living on the edge of Hell!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

There Is No Power In Neutral

I Kings 18:21

21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

How long halt ye between two opinions?

There is one thing that I have come to understand as a professional mechanic: You can have the most powerful engine in the world under the hood of your car, but until you select a direction by putting the car in gear, you ain’t going anywhere. There is no power in neutral.

Revelation 3:13-17

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”
A Christian life in park or neutral is as useless and powerless as a car without an engine.
You cannot be for true worship, worship in spirit and truth, without being against selfish living and spiritual idolatry.  A Christian cannot be for humility and service without being against Pride and carelessness.  A child of God cannot be for holiness and sanctification without being against impurity and corruption.

Satan accomplishes his greatest work when God’s people fall into the sleep of indifference. It’s not the devil who defeats backsliders, it’s the slumber of indifference, indecision,  and neutrality.  It is the spirit of indifference that produces spiritual impotency in the life of a believer. Why?  Because power can only be channeled through passion.  It is a passion for the presence and the voice of God that causes the power of God to be manifested in our lives: Power follows Passion!

What causes an individual or church, or ministry to lose it’s passion and Power? Loss of vision.

Proverbs  29:18  - “Where there is no vision the people perish”

Even the evil Jezebel knew this.  She knew that in order to lead God’s people into apostasy she first had to blind them to God’s purpose for them.  She thought that she could accomplish this task by destroying the prophets of God.  She discerned that once God’s true prophets were destroyed Israel would have no divine vision and could be led Into witchcraft and idolatry.

In the church today “Jezebel” is the spirit of religion that despises and rebels against the vision and the authority of the prophetic ministry.  Why does this spirit of rebellion exist?  Because prophetic ministry calls people to repentance and a passionate commitment to obey the righteous commands of God.

How does this “Spirit of Jezebel” destroy God’s prophets today and blind His people?

Exodus 20:19  - “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

Today the “Spirit of Jezebel” destroys the prophetic voice in the church by producing an attitude and mindset that disassociates the man of God and his message from the power and authority of God.  By mentally separating the prophet from the authority of God it produces a “spirit” of individual sovereignty.  Once this “spirit” is produced in the body or individual, they then feel qualified to analyze, criticize, condemn and ignore the word of God.  It is this “spirit” of individual sovereignty that is killing the prophetic vision of God in our churches.

Why do many people not want to recognize God’s voice and authority in his prophets?

Exodus 20:19 - “Lest we die.”

Most people in the body of Christ have come to understand that a God encounter means self has to die: pride, lust, criticism, self-righteousness, slothfulness, prejudice, traditions, stubbornness, anger, resentment, and religion will all have to die.

By mentally separating the prophet from the spiritual power and authority of God, God’s people lose their spiritual Vision.  The only place the Body of Christ can receive God’s vision is through the prophetic ministry.  The ministry that brings to us uncompromisingly God’s voice or His Word revealing his plans and purposes for our lives.  The prophetic voice is never a multiple choice, but rather a simple and undeniable, “Thus Saith the Lord.”  Specifically speaking, the pastor is the prophetic voice to any given church, he speaks for God, with God.

The voice of God brings God’s Vision, when this vision is received it produces passion in the people who receive it, and when the people of God become passionate for His vision, God’s power is manifested in our lives through the Holy Spirit.  It’s a progressive process: God’s Voice, then God’s Vision, then a Passion for His plan, and finally Power to do His will.

I Kings 18:30  - “And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him.”

Elijah stood on Mt. Carmel that day not only as a man, or even as a man of God, but a prophet.  He was the very representation of God’s voice. God’s pure, undefiled, undiluted, uncompromising, inexpressible, inescapable voice.  

Jezebel had tried to destroy it by destroying the prophets, but she could not destroy it because it was not the voice of the prophets but in fact the voice of the living God speaking through them.  She had made the same mistake as the Children of Israel in Exodus 20:19, She had separated the prophet from God. She thought if she could kill the man she could silence God.

Elijah knew Revival in Israel could only come when prophetic authority was restored, When they came around him, and near to him it symbolized their return to the prophetic Voice of God, the would restore the Vision of God, and produce a Passion for God, resulting in a manifestation of Power to serve God.

The only way we will see the Power of God is to embrace The prophetic, The word of God as the final and supreme authority, that calls us above and beyond anything we have ever heard or seen before.  Jesus said my sheep know my voice, today as never before we must become intimately acquainted with the voice of the Lord.

When we hear His Voice it will give us His Vision, which will in turn give us Passion for His work which will produce Power through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Praise Ain't Gotta Be Pretty

Whenever we read the story of Joseph there are some undeniable facts that should become clear to us: Joseph was chosen by God, he was anointed by God, he had a destiny given by God, he was favored by God, and without a doubt God was with him.  Sounds like a recipe for the easy life doesn’t it?  Just judging from that criteria it would seem that Joseph was headed down “easy street.”  But when we read his story we discover that out that one day joseph found himself in a pit.

If somebody told you when you became a Christian that all your problems would be over, and that you would never be hurt again, never cry again,  or never suffer again...they lied to you.

Psalms 34:19 - “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”

What I am trying to convey is that the fact is, and so many it seems fail to understand, that Christians face difficulties in life too.  Christians get sick, they have debt, they get divorced, they get their hearts broken, and sometimes they wind up in pits. Sometimes they fall in, sometimes they jump in, and sometimes they are pushed in.  But regardless of how they got into the pit, it’s still a pit, and if they stay there, death will come.  Dreams, ministries, gifts, callings, marriages, and even the anointing will die in the pit.

I don’t know what that pit is for you today: It may be a pit of debt, it may be a pit of sickness, it may be a pit of addiction, it may be a pit of depression, It may be a pit of marriage problems that seem so deep, dark and overwhelming that you feel like giving up, or It may be a spiritual pit and you just don’t feel God like you used to, so you’re dry and discouraged.  Our pits come in all different shapes and sizes...but they don’t have to be our end!

Psalm 30:5 - “Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.”

I want to prophesy to you today - your praise can pull you out of your pit!  Reuben came back to the pit where he last saw Joseph, but Joseph wasn’t there.  There are some people that think they know you, they think they know where to look for you, they’ve gossipped about your pitiful condition, but that was yesterday!

Yesterday you were in the pit, it looked like you were going to die in your pit, and you felt like you were going to die in your pit, but that was yesterday!  Here what the Lord is saying to you today:  Your fall doesn’t have to be fatal!  Don’t die in the pit!  Don’t quit dreaming!  Don’t quit believing!  Don’t quit trusting!  Don’t quit expecting!

It looked like Joseph was going to die in the pit, but through a turn of circumstances in a matter of minutes Joseph was up out of the pit on solid ground.  I want to tell you that if you cry out to God, God can take you from the pit to the palace.

From Joseph, Job, Daniel, The three Hebrew Children, Jonah, Jesus, to Peter, Paul, and John.  From Genesis to Revelation God is turning it around.  And for a lot of you, if that’s not enough evidence to convince you, all you have to do is look in the mirror.  Some of you use to be fornicators, thieves, liars, alcoholics, and drug addicts, but that was yesterday!

II Corinthians 5:17 -  “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away behold all things become new.”

What was it that got Joseph out of the pit?  JUDAH GOT HIM OUT!  That is significant, because Judah’s name means praise.  So literally it was praise that got Joseph out of the pit.  It wasn’t his coat of many colors that got him out, it wasn’t his anointing that got him out, it wasn’t even his dreams that got him out - it was praise that got him out.

Anybody can put on a pretty praise when the battle is over, anybody can praise when the sickness is healed, anybody can praise when their marriage is restored and their family is mended, anybody can praise when they’ve got a good retirement, money in their wallet and money in the bank.  But it takes something powerful to shout in the face of the devil, it takes anointing to praise in the face of the doctors bad report, it takes something supernatural to shout when you don’t have two nickels to rub together, and it takes the holy Ghost to praise when you’re going through the fire!

The point is: Don’t wait till the battle is over, shout right now!  Start in the dark with the walls closing in on you, when you are laying in that hospital bed, when you are at the bottom of that pit, when you are in the middle of your pain, start praising God when you are in the inner prison at midnight with your hands and your feet bound and your back bloody, beaten black and blue.  It may not be pretty, in fact it may be ugly, but give God an ugly praise if that’s all you have the strength to give.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skipped church in the past because I felt like I couldn’t praise God because my attitude wasn’t right.  Things weren’t going well and I was feeling foul.  I felt like I couldn’t go and enter into the presence of God because I wasn’t feeling very worthy.  But I have come to understand that God wants my praise, even if it’s ugly praise.  He wants it through my tears and my groans, He wants it even when my heart is breaking, He wants it through my bloodshot eyes, when it don’t make no sense, He wants it loud, he wants it crazy, He wants it when I’m going through hell, and He wants it even when I don’t feel very spiritual.

Job lost everything that he had, his heart was breaking into a million pieces, he had experienced more tragedy than one human being should ever have to endure, but in the middle of it all Job gave God an ugly praise.  The bible says: he arose, rent his mantle, shaved his head and he fell down on the ground and he worshiped.  It wasn’t a pretty sight: he worshiped through tears, he worshiped through groans, he worshiped with a broken heart, he worshiped through his pain, through his confusion, he gave God an ugly praise and God gave him a beautiful future.  Job’s worship kept him connected to his destiny, and in the end God blessed him with more, restored everything and gave him double.

I don’t always have the benefit of choosing the problems and trials and afflictions that come my  way in life: sickness, the loss of a loved one, debt, false accusations, betrayal, but I have come to understand that I can choose my response and I choose praise.

You see the devil’s purpose for the pit is to kill your praise.  The devil hates your praise and he knows that if you ever get your praise on, he’s in trouble.  If I have learned anything about fighting the enemy, I have learned that if I can get my praise on, I can get the devil off!

Jeremiah the Prophet found himself in a horrible pit: Jeremiah 38:12 - “And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah: put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords.”

He offered Jeremiah, God’s man, the prophet of God, mighty man of faith and power, old thrown out filthy rotten stinking rags, and he put them under his arms and they lifted him out of the pit!

Somebody ain’t gonna like this: but the reason some of you haven’t got out of your pit yet is you’re too proud.  You want to praise God on your terms, you want to praise God when something big happens, you want to praise God when you feel like it, you want to praise God when it makes sense, and you want to praise God moderately, conveniently, and quietly.  Your pride is keeping you bound!  Your pride is keeping you in the pit!  Your pride is keeping you from your miracle!

Isaiah 61:13 - “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”

God didn’t say it would be easy, He didn’t say it would feel good, and He didn’t say it would be pretty, and as a matter of fact it’s pretty easy to see that He’s talking about going from a low place to a high place, He’s talking about moving out of heaviness into praise, He’s talking about getting something off and putting something better on.

To some my praise may look like old rags, it may seem extreme, it may appear emotional, it may be “too” loud, it may even be ugly, but that’s alright because it was an ugly praise that brought Joseph out of the pit, it was an ugly praise that brought Jeremiah out of the dungeon, and it was an ugly praise that brought Paul and Silas out of their Prison.

I don’t know about you, it may be ugly, but I’m gonna praise Jesus, I’m gonna get my praise on and get the devil off my back!