Fooling Ourselves

Not too long ago I was seeking the Lord for a message for a particular group I was to speak to.  All I heard was, "preach what's on your heart."

I thought about what I had been pondering the previous week or so.  I had been noticing that many times we, as children of God, have a tendency to think we are in good spiritual shape and can handle anything that the enemy brings our way.  In reality when a test or trial comes we find out we are not in as good of shape as we thought.  Why?  The apostle James put it this way: "be ye doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving your own selves."

  One of the problems we have is we are hearers and not doers of the word.  Granted, not everyone is that way, but many of us fall into that category.

 Jesus talked about this in the parable of the sower and the seed.  Read Mark 4:1-19.  The seed was the same in each of the four groups.  The difference was how the seed was planted and what was done after the seed was planted.

 Look at the first group.  The word was just thrown on top of the soil and nothing was done to it.  Jesus said birds of the air ate it up.  The people in this group heard the word but paid no attention to it.

 The next group also heard the word and they were excited about it.  Even though they were excited they didn't do much with the word they heard.  They just knew it sounded good and they wanted the promise but they didn't study the word much and didn't meditate on it.  The bible says when things got tough they were persecuted for the words sake and quit.  They weren't well grounded on the promises and when it got uncomfortable they threw their arms up and quit.

The third group heard the word and acted upon it. They meditated on it and put it to use in their lives.  Then the weeds choked out the word.  The weeds are the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things.  Cares of this world can be anything that we put ahead of God or problems and worries we may have.

 The fourth group heard the word and didn't give up.  Their hearts were full of the word and they kept believing and stuck with it until they saw the harvest. 

We are supposed to be like the fourth group.  Unfortunately, many times we go to church, we hear the word, and only mentally agree with what we heard.  The problem is mental assent isn't the same as faith.  Faith comes by hearing the word over and over again -  pondering the scriptures and allowing the Holy Spirit to give you insight on how they apply to your particular situation. Mental assent is just agreeing with your head that something is so.  We aren't to be head smart in the scriptures but heart smart.

 In James 1:22-4 it says, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."

 If we only hear the word then we are like a person who looks in the mirror and goes on his merry way, forgetting what he saw in the mirror.  God talks about a natural face in a mirror but he is also trying to get us to understand that there is another mirror we need to look in.  That mirror is the Word of God.  Look at James 1:24-26.   It says, " For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."  God calls this other mirror the perfect law of liberty.

 As I meditated on this passage of scripture I saw that there are indeed two mirrors we can chose to look in.  The first is a natural mirror that shows us what we look like in the natural.  In it we see all of our faults and mistakes.  The second mirror is God's word and it shows us how God sees us from a spiritual standpoint.  He sees us as powerful, healed, joint heirs with Jesus to mention a few.

 When we fail to really meditate on the word and are just mentally agreeing with what we have heard then we are like the man looking in the natural mirror.  We get in a test or trial and listen to the thoughts of defeat that our adversary puts into our minds.  At this point we are like the guy who walked away and forgot what manner of man he was.   He forgot that God always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus.  He forgot that God gave him a spirit of power and not a spirit of fear. Why?  Because he is trying to do spiritual battle using natural weapons.  Paul said "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)   Carnal means natural, not spiritual. 

 Paul, in this same passage, went on to tell us how to do spiritual battle: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor 10:5)  If you look into the "perfect law of liberty" James mentioned you will know what the word of God says and you will be able to cast down imaginations and thoughts that try to exalt themselves above the truth of God's word.  You will be able to bring those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.  Remember, Jesus is the word made flesh.  So you could say that we are to bring our thoughts captive and measure them against the truth of God's word.  If they don't line up we cast them down and replace those thoughts with what the word does say about our situation.

 James said something else about those who looked into the perfect law of liberty.  He said "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."  If we look into the word and meditate on it and do it we shall be blessed in our deed.  If we do what the word says we will have the victory.

 I want to encourage all of us to start looking into the mirror of God's word until we have in our spirits the picture of how God truly sees us- as victorious, world overcomers and more than conquerors in Christ.  If we will look into the mirror of God's word until we have that picture in our spirits we won't walk away and forget what manner of man we are.  We will know that we know that is how God has made us and we will be blessed in our deeds.

 Kenneth Hagin has written a mini-book entitled "In Him".  In this book he explains about all the things we have because of Jesus and the fact that as believers we are the Body of Christ.  This book is a blessing, and if you will meditate on all the scriptures he lists in the book it will change your perception of how God sees you and who you are as a child of God. 

Because I feel so strongly about this message, I want to offer this book to you for free.  Simply go to our contact page and tell us you want a copy of “In Him” by Kenneth Hagin. Give us your name, mailing address with the zip code and I will send it to you at no charge. Please allow up to two weeks for delivery.

Prayer from the Heart

 

As I have been studying for my next two workshops on prayer I have been fascinated by how little time many believers put into their prayers.  All too often we just rush into prayer and tell God our problems and what he needs to do about it and then rush out the door of the throne room.

I remember doing that very thing when I was a babe in Christ.  I didn’t know any better.  As I grew in the Lord I learned about prayer and basing it on the word. How when we pray according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:14-15)

Lately though, I am finding many are praying from their heads and not from their hearts. It just seems to be a rote thing with them.  There is no preparation time to their prayers and no real fervency to their prayers.  Sometimes they pray in fear and not in faith.

If we are going to be successful in our prayer life we need to get in and find out what God says about our situation and then meditate on those scriptures.  By doing so we build up our faith and our confidence in God’s word.  Then when we pray we can have real fervency or intensity of feeling.  It will be coming from our hearts and not out of our heads. Too many people pray from the standpoint of mental assent and not from one of faith.

I encourage you to take the time to look up scriptures and meditate or think on them until faith is formed in your spirit. When you get those scriptures settled in you then you are ready to pray.  You will be praying like the righteous man James talks about in his epistle. (James 5:16)  Let’s all put more time into our prayer life and into our preparing to pray. 

God Said "I Love You"

The other day I kept hearing the phrase, "God said I love you--What did you say?"  As I pondered this phrase I was reminded of the many things the bible says about love - God's love toward us as well as our walking in love towards others.

            I know that people's love is rather fickle.  They say they love you one minute and hate you the next.  Some try to buy other people's love and affection.  I guess the one thing I see the most is people attaching strings to their love.   "If you love me you would do this thing for me."   Some try to control and manipulate by giving or withholding love from their spouses, friends, etc.

            I am so glad that God's love is not fickle.  His love is unconditional and it is constant.  There are no strings attached to His love.  He loves you the same whether you are being obedient to Him or if you are off in disobedience.  Granted, when we are disobedient or in some kind of sin He is not pleased with our behavior, but His love for us stays the same.

            Keep in mind that unconditional love is out to give and not out to get.  A fine example of this is found in 1 John 4:9-11.  It says,  "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

            In this passage we are told love is that God loved us and gave us His son when we didn't even love God.   He gave Jesus, His Son, the way of salvation, without our asking.  Just think about that for a minute.   People could have refused salvation and God still would have sent Jesus anyway.  He did it regardless of the outcome.   He did it because He loves us!

            Luke 2:10 says, "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."  The good tidings were for all, not just a select few.  They were given unconditionally to all regardless of whether or not they would accept the good tidings.  In Luke 2:14 we are told, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."   Jesus was given out of God’s love as a token of His good will. 

            Even after meditating on all of this I still wondered why I kept getting this phrase, "God said I love you ...What did you say?"   It finally dawned on me what God was trying to get across to me.   God has spoken out that he loved us and has shown it through His actions and deeds.  He wants us to remember to love him unconditionally.

            It seems to me God is saying to the church, "You have been following my word and walking in love toward others, and loving your neighbor as yourself, but you need to get back to loving me with all your heart, soul, and mind."   I get the impression that we have forgotten to spend time with God just loving on Him. 

            What do I mean by loving on Him?  We fellowship with God through reading and meditating on His word, by praising and thanking Him for who He is.   To love on God  is doing those things plus just getting into His presence to spend time with Him - time where you aren't asking for or needing anything.   A time where you can love on Him and He can love on you.  God does enjoy spending time with us.  I'm sure you have probably seen the plaque that has a letter that was supposedly written by Jesus to each of us.  It talks about how He watched us get up and go through our day, watching and waiting for us to spend time with Him and yet we didn't. 

            I believe the Lord wants us to keep walking in love toward others and to remember to walk in love toward Him, too!  Yes! That's right I said walk in love toward Him.  He said "I love you" to each of us.  Now what did we say back?  We may have said I love you, but did our actions back that up?  Or did we only spend time with Him when we wanted something from Him?  Do we spend time with God when we are having problems and then forget to spend time with Him when things are going good?  God wants us to love Him unconditionally.  We need to spend time loving Him regardless of our situation.

            I want to encourage you to spend more time fellowshipping with the Lord - especially time where you just get into His presence wanting nothing more than to be with Him.  I believe that we all need to do more of that.  I also believe that it will be of great benefit to us because of the time we are living in.

 God said, "I love you!"  What do you and your actions say?  I pray that from this day forward all of our actions and our words say, "I love you too!" 

Praying for our Nation

“God Bless America” is a familiar cry from people across the country after a tragedy of some kind.  You will see it on signs in yards, on billboards, on cars and you hear people saying it as well.  It is good to see people rallying together to support one another after a tragedy. 

 

I remember right after the bombing of the World Trade Center I saw these signs all over town.  As I was driving I kept thinking to myself, "That's great guys and we do want God to bless our country, but He told us some things we need to do to receive the blessings."  

 

One of the most frequent scriptures quoted is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.  "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."   Lord knows we need a healing in our land.  In order to get that healing we need to humble or submit ourselves to God and His way of doing things.  This is not what many folks in the world want to do.  Most want to live their lives their way and don't care about others.  "Look out for number one" and "If it feels good, do it" are their mottos.

 

If you truly want to see God's blessings in your life then you need to line up with His word.  God can only bless us as far as we will let Him.  The more we are lining up with His word the more He can bless us.

 

As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."  This is something we are supposed to be doing every day. Unfortunately, many times we fail to do so.

 

I want to encourage you to start praying for our leaders, our country, our military, and our churches.  Many times when I explained this to the residents in the nursing homes, where I used to minister, they responded with, "But I don't know what to say or pray about."   You may even feel that way about your prayers.  Don't sweat it!  I have come across a book that was published several years ago entitled "Pray for Our Nation” by Harrison House publishers.  In this book are prayers you can pray for our president, congress, the military, teachers, and many others.  At the end of each prayer is a list of the scriptures that the prayer is based on it also quotes notable people from throughout history. This book will be a blessing and a great help to those who struggle with what to pray. You should be able to get it at your local bookstores.  If not contact us at ExodusMinistries@aol.com and we will help you get a copy.

 

Let’s not wait until a tragedy hits to support one another and pray for our leaders, our country, our military, and our churches. Let’s do it now and watch the blessings flow as we line up with the God’s word.

Drawn by God

No man can come to accept Christ except God draws him. (John 6:44) He does so by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will gently woo us and draw us to Christ. Over a period of time the Holy Spirit will show us our sins and our need for a savior. He does it with a gentleness but a firmness that lets us know we are loved but that our spiritual heart condition is serious. It requires a surgery that only God can perform. He will remove your stony heart full of sin and replace it with a heart of flesh. Thus giving you a new heart or spirit mentioned in (Ezekiel 36:26). This new heart is one that is soft, pliable or teachable, free of sin and is hungry for more of God. In many circles this spiritual surgery is called the new birth. (John 3:1-6)
Many think the way to win someone to Christ is to beat them over the head with the gospel message. Not so! The best way is to allow God to use you to demonstrate the love of God toward the lost. How do we do that? By praying for those that God places on our heart and then using our gifts and our talents to demonstrate God’s love toward them. When we let our actions and our lives show the love of God to them they fall in love with Christ without knowing it is him they are being drawn to. They see themselves being drawn to a person who loves and cares about them. As we believers know God is love and His love, unlike the world’s, is unconditional. It is this love that we are showing that they are being drawn to. There will come a time when these people will ask us what it is that makes us different. They will ask “What is it that you have that makes your life so different? I want what you have.” Then we will have the opportunity to share the gospel message with them and they will not only be willing to listen but receive Christ as their Lord and savior.

Worries got you down?

Worries got you down?

 

Many times in our life we have the opportunity to worry.  I know I sure have had them.  I remember my mother telling me “not to worry it would all work out like it was supposed to”.  That sure didn’t help me any.  I still would worry about the situation. When the situation was all over my mother would say, “See you wasted a good worry.”  I’m sorry to have to say mom was wrong. There is nothing good about worrying.  It can cause you to have ulcers, and raise your blood pressure to name a few things.  God never intended for us to worry.  As a matter of fact he said we were to cast all of our cares (worries, fears, frets, anxiety, and concerns) over on him. (1 Peter 5:7)

 

I know the first time I heard someone talk about this I thought, “Well what am I supposed to do if I can’t worry?  How do I change things if I can’t worry?”  The first thing you need to do is realize that worrying never changed a thing.  Worry is simply fear of the unknown.  You don’t know what is going to happen and you want to try to control the situation.  I’m sure we all can admit that we can’t control everything but we sure would like too!  Worrying is wasted energy.  Why not channel that same energy into something that is productive.  What would that be?  Prayer!

 

In Philippians 4:6-8 Paul gave us direction on how to quit worrying and put God to work on the situation.  “Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  In simple terms pray to God with your specific request (supplication) and thank him for the answer.  It could be as simple as saying “God I have a big meeting tomorrow and I need your help to get through it.  I thank you for you help and your wisdom to answer any questions that arise out of this meeting.  I ask this in Jesus name. Amen”

 

When you do this you are completing the requirements of verse 6 and then will receive the benefits of verse 7. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  When you pray about the situation and ask God to move in it then you will receive peace in your spirit and in your mind.  You may think it can’t be that easy.  Well it is and it isn’t.  It is just that easy to get God moving on your situation.  What isn’t easy is keeping that peace of God.  Why? Because of our adversary who is always trying to get us to let go of the peace of God and to pick up that worry again.  He does it by bringing thoughts about the situation to your mind. When he does we quite often start thinking on the situation and trying to figure it out in our heads and before we know it we are right back to worrying again.  Don’t fret there is a way to avoid this!

 

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  If we want to keep the peace God gives us then we need to focus on what God’s word says about our situation and not what the enemy wants you to believe.  The devil always sends thoughts of doom, gloom and defeat.  God says he always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

This new way of handling worry isn’t easy at first but the more you do it the easier it gets.  For sure this way is more productive than worry after all worrying has never changed a thing.

No Shortcuts with God

In today’s world people are always looking for and using shortcuts to make things easier. In God there are no shortcuts. Every step we take on the path God has placed us on prepares us for the next phase of our journey. If we try to take a shortcut then we are not properly prepared for what lies ahead. Thus slowing us down and making the journey tougher. The journey will not be without rough spots and some tough times but we certainly don’t want to make it worse by trying shortcuts and thus being ill-prepared. If you want your journey to be easier then stop looking for shortcuts and simply follow His plan.