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The Importance of Humility

Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV) “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
 
Self-righteousness is the sin of the religious. It is the sin of the proud. It is a disease that blinds the eyes of the most spiritual. It is the condition that caused the religious leaders of Christ’s day to deny their own need to be saved. It was the sin that caused them to seek His death instead.  Self-righteousness is so subtle that it can grip the mind and heart of even the most unsuspecting believer. Once infected, there is little antidote except humiliation. There is a saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best prevention for self-righteousness is cultivating and maintaining an attitude of humility in view of the cross of Christ.

Self-righteousness is a distorted and inflated view of our own goodness. It is assuming a position of judge and jury in our own trial. It is human nature to justify ourselves while condemning others. Because we are imperfect, we find our greatest source of justification through selectively comparing our goodness and righteousness to that of others. It is like selectively hanging our dirty laundry next to someone’s laundry that is dirtier than our own. In doing so we feel good about ourselves.  In so doing we avoid perceiving and admitting that our laundry is still dirty. When someone else with whiter laundry comes along and hangs theirs next to ours, we are quick to point out their spots and maybe even throw a little dirt. On judgment day our righteousness will not be compared to that of others but to the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ that is whiter than snow.  When placed next to His, our righteousness will be as filthy rags before Him.

The point of Jesus’ parable is clear:  no matter how good we are, we are not good enough. Our only cure for self-righteousness is found in an attitude of humility whereby we admit our sinful condition and come to God. We come pleading for mercy as did the tax collector.  Through an attitude of humility we submit our filthy rags to the Launderer who can make us whiter than snow as He washes us in His own blood. Only the humble will walk away clean and justified in the sight of God.

Do we identify ourselves with the Pharisee or with the lowly tax-collector? Do we justify ourselves by selectively comparing ourselves to others? Do we feel better about ourselves because we are not as “bad” as someone else?  Are we quick to judge, criticize, and condemn others? Are we counting on our own righteousness to get us into heaven? If so, then we have been infected with self-righteousness.  It has blinded us to our own sinful condition. Worse still, it has prevented us from receiving the remedy we need to be justified before God. Don’t wait for humiliation to reveal your condition. Cease your comparisons, judgments, criticisms, and condemnations of others. Choose to humble yourself before a holy God and cry out for His mercy.
 
Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, forgive me a sinner. Forgive me for trusting in my own righteousness. Forgive me for criticizing and condemning others in order to justify myself. I choose to humble myself and repent of all self-righteous comparisons. I humbly plead for Your mercy and grace. My complete righteousness is found in You and You alone. Help me to always walk humbly before You, I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
 

Restricted by Your Own Affections

2 Corinthians 6:11-18 (NKJV) “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.”
 
Do you feel that something is hindering your walk with Jesus? It is possible that we need look no further than our own affections.  For instance, we can be disengaged in the discipleship process when our hearts are restricted by outside influences.

Sometimes we blame others for our lack of spiritual growth. More often than not that is only a diversion, an excuse, to shift the blame away from us. Paul said that his heart was “wide open” to them.  He desired to help them grow in their walk with God.  However, they had restricted their relationship with him. He could not disciple them without their openness to him. 

The real problem was restrictions in their life that prevented them from being open to the full measure of the discipleship process.  Paul went to the root. He addressed the wrong connections and associations that kept their relationship with him from growing.

First, they had compromised in their relationships with the wrong people. They were “unequally yoked” together with unbelievers. Second, they were enjoying fellowship with lawless people. They were hanging around a rebellious atmosphere and crowd. Third, they were enjoying fellowship with darkness. They were enjoying sinful and ungodly activities. Fourth, they were living in agreement by word and deed with “Belial”, the lawless one, i.e. the devil. They were not walking with Jesus and seeking to please Him. Fifth, they were being influenced by unbelievers rather than being influenced and accountable to other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sixth, they had become idolaters. Idolatry is more than bowing before an image. Idolatry is putting anyone or anything ahead of God in our loyalty and commitment.

What does Paul say to the Corinthians? What was the answer to the restriction in their hearts that kept them from growing spiritually? Paul said, “Come out from among them and be separate!” In other words, if they would repent of the things that had robbed their intimacy with Christ, then their intimacy with him as a spiritual leader would be resolved. Their restricted relationship with him began with their restricted relationship toward Christ. When someone begins distancing themselves from the church and other believers, it is a sign that they are distancing themselves from Christ.

Is something restricting your heart today? Have you allowed other things to steal your affection toward Christ? Has your time with the Lord grown cold? Has your commitment to be with other believers begun to slip? Are you hiding from people who would care enough to see you restored? It is time to stop running away from God and start running back to Him.

When we do not make our relationship with God the central focus of our lives we will soon find that other things will rush in to fill the vacuum.  People who say they have no time to serve God soon fill up their time with everything else but God. Time is not the problem; it is our affections.

Once we back away from God’s people we begin forming relationships with the wrong people. We start identifying with another crowd and a way of life. We start making excuses that we never made before. Being sold out for Jesus now seems extreme. After all, other “Christians” seem okay living a less committed life, “Maybe we should just chill a bit.”  We start watching things we would never have watched before.  We start listening to music that we would never have listen to before.  We start going places we never thought we would go.  We start doing things we never thought we would do.  We start saying things we never thought we would say. We invest our time and money on hobbies and “toys” that we now feel obligated to use and maintain as “good stewards”. Taking the family to church on Sundays was once regarded as family time but now we argue that it takes away from family time. Setting a godly example for our children and others to follow is no longer important. Now they will follow our bad example. Our former testimony has slipped away.

If we will admit that the restrictions are rooted in our own sinful affections, then we can repent, return, and “come out” from the sin and compromise.  It is not always easy but the reward of being restored in our affection toward Christ is worth it.
 
“Heavenly Father, may our hearts be open wide to You. Your heart is open wide open to us. May we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and be Your disciples. May we not allow sin, pride, compromise, or excuses to keep us from You. Please grant us the grace to repent of our sin and the resolve to come out from among the things that have restricted our hearts.  May we truly reflect the heart of one of Your children that we might know You as our Father and to fear You as our God.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Influence or Influenced?

Romans 12:21 (NKJV) “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  
 
Influence is the affect upon others through indirect or intangible means. Some have said that the power of influence is greater than the power than position. It is not those in positions of power but those in positions of influence who actually direct the power of that position. We are either being an influence or we are being influenced. We are either bearing the image of Christ or we are imitating someone else. We are either influencing others toward Christ or we are being influenced by others toward the world. Are you transforming the people around you by your Christian influence or are you conforming to the world’s influence? It is very important that we make sure that the influences we have in our life are helping us to become more like Jesus.

As a Christian grows in their maturity in Christ, the power of this world’s influence begins to weaken.  However, for the new believer and the immature believer, setting proper boundaries for ungodly influence is very important. Many well-intended people drift away from Christ due to the ungodly influences they allow in their lives.  Influence comes in many different ways. It can come through family, friends, music, movies, video games, books, etc.  The mistake many new and immature believers make is that they fail to cut off the ungodly influences from their past. Somehow they believe that their newfound love for Christ protects them from the power of ungodly influence. That is why Paul said, “Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33) The weakness of their flesh makes an immature believer unprepared to stand victoriously against the temptations that they face. How do we know when we are able to handle a worldly influence? It is when the power of Christ’s influence on the inside is greater than the influence of sin on the outside.  1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.” The greater the depth of sin around you requires a greater depth of Christ inside you.

Men are unable to live at great depths in the sea due to “hydrostatic pressure”. Hydrostatic pressure is the force per unit area exerted by a liquid on an object. The deeper a person goes under the sea, the greater the pressure of the water pushing down on them. For every 33 feet a person goes down in depth, the pressure increases by 14.5 pounds per square inch (psi). Since the ocean is several miles deep in some places, it would seem that life could not exist at that depth. However, biologists have discovered sea life at depths where they thought life could not exist.  They discovered that these sea creatures were designed with an internal pressure that was equal to the hydrostatic pressure on the outside.  In the same way, deep-sea divers must have suits with internal pressure equal to the hydrostatic pressure they face below the surface.  Otherwise, the suit and the diver will be crushed under the pressure. 

The deeper the influence that sin has had in our lives, the greater the influence of Christ must be on the inside.  If we are weak in an area of temptation, we should avoid anyone and anyplace where that could influence us negatively in that area.  If the power of temptation still influences our heart, we are not yet ready to re-enter that atmosphere to reach others. If we are being influenced by evil, then we must back away until the influence of Christ within is greater than the temptations without.  Otherwise we are no better off than a deep-sea diver without his pressurized suit.

Sadly, many Christians have suffered moral shipwreck because they foolishly trusted in their own will power to resist sin. Falling into sin usually does not occur with a spontaneous encounter. It occurs over time as the influence of old friends, environments, and activities weakens our resolve and justify indulgence. We must not maintain relationships with old friends, including boyfriends or girlfriends, that have strong emotional influences on our lives.  We must not be around anyone who still participates in the old sinful behavior from which Christ has delivered us.  Instead we must come out from among them and then form strong new relationships with godly Christians who will influence us toward doing what is right.  We need true friends who will hold us accountable to God.  We need to develop a strong relationship with Christ through Bible study and prayer.  Once our hearts are established in Christ, then we can begin to be a godly influence.
 
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, help me to be an influence for good rather than one who is influenced by evil.  Give me wisdom to know the difference. I choose not to trust in my own ability to resist temptation but to be accountable to spiritual leadership. Help me to avoid people and situations that make me vulnerable to temptation.  Help me to trust that You can reach those I am unprepared to reach.  I thank You for Your preserving mercy, grace, and wisdom in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
 

Harnessing Your Potential

God’s purpose and destiny for your life resides inside of you as potential. Some of your potential is yet to be discovered while much of what is already known has yet to be harnessed. Leadership can help you discover potential.  However, potential is of no value until it is harnessed

“Harnessing” has to do with being fitted to pull a load. Many of us resist the harness. We would rather be Mavericks, running wild and free.  Mavericks are strong, fast, and independent but useless to others. Their potential is of no value until they can be broken and harnessed. Mavericks must be broken and harnessed by God if they are going to be connected to the work of the kingdom. 

Will we allow God to harness the potential in our lives?  Will we allow God to put the bit in our mouths and lead us?  Will we allow Him to hold the “reign” in our lives? Jesus said to take His yoke upon you (Matthew 11:29). A yoke is a particular type of harness. The purpose of a yoke is to harness one person in “partnership” with another person. Only two going in the same direction with equal determination should be harnessed together in one yoke.  That is why the Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).  God does not want us in ungodly partnerships that hinder our ability to accomplish our potential and God’s purpose for our lives. 

A yoke of horses or oxen is called a “team.” Much of the work that God has called us to do as a church can only be accomplished as we are willing to be harnessed together as teams.  We can do as a team what we could never do alone.  When two horses or oxen are yoked together to pull a load, their ability is not doubled but multiplied! They can pull much more together than their combined individual loads. I think this is a wonderful picture of why God intends for us to work in partnership with others.  Yes, we can accomplish a certain amount for God alone, but our ability is multiplied when connected in meaningful partnerships with others. 

Being harnessed requires the heart of a bondservant—a servant who willingly serves from a heart of unselfish love.  God has called us to be sons and daughters in His house. The greatest in the kingdom is a son or daughter who lives as a servant.  Jesus gave us the supreme example of this as the Son of God who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). May God give us individually and corporately the desire for kingdom greatness through humbly serving those around us.

Take time to look for opportunities to serve.  Overcome the selfish nature that desires to be served by others and learn to serve others in the little things.  When you do, you will surprise and bless those you serve. When service is motivated by sincere love, it will become contagious! The grace of God will increase! Look for opportunities to serve at the weekly gatherings of the church. Find opportunities to serve throughout the week.  Sow a seed of service and watch it grow! 

Keep your eyes open for the “little” things that need to be done: picking up trash, vacuuming a dirty carpet, cleaning a spill, tidying up a dirty bathroom, setting up chairs, assisting as catchers in the ministry line, being an usher, being an “unofficial” greeter to those around you, helping visitors find their way around or help them get their kids to the right place, or watching someone's kids while their parents are in the ministry line. Make guests feel welcome and introduce them to others.  Volunteer to serve in areas of ministry.  Do it with a heart of joy, enthusiasm, and blessing knowing that you will receive your reward from the Lord. The potential is there. Discover it and harness it for the glory of God!


Copyright 2017. Edward Keith Hassell. All Rights Reserved.

How Is Your Vision?

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” 
 
David Yonggi Cho, founder of the largest church in the world in Seoul, Korea, said about vision:  “Show me your vision, and I will show you your future!” What a powerful statement! The question then begs to be asked, “How is OUR vision?” and “How is YOUR vision?”

There is no doubt that natural vision is important. Without natural vision, opportunity may surround us, but we have no ability to perceive it. Therefore we cannot pursue what we cannot perceive. In addition to natural vision, there is another type of vision—spiritual vision. Spiritual vision is the vision of the heart. If we have no spiritual vision in our heart, we will not perceive and pursue God’s purpose for our life. We all need to walk with a sense of purpose or destiny. We all need spiritual vision to do that.  Without spiritual vision we stumble around in darkness. A lack of vision leads to frustration, disappointment and, in the end, a wasted life. 

The condition of our vision is also important. Perfect vision is 20/20.  With 20/20 vision we are able to see both far and near with clear focus.  Farsightedness is a vision problem in which we see things at a distance most clearly.  Nearsightedness is a vision problem in which we see things close up most clearly.  Either way, our vision is hindered. 

When it comes to spiritual vision, it is also important to have “20/20” vision.  Unfortunately many are spiritually “farsighted.”  They are “dreamers” who always talk about what God is going to do “one day.” They are full of enthusiasm but nothing ever materializes. Why?  Their vision is unbalanced. They lack the ability to see the importance of daily steps of obedience that move them toward the overall vision.  On the other hand, many are spiritual “nearsighted.” They have no long-range vision. They cannot see the bigger picture. Their focus is on the daily challenges without any sense of purpose or destination. Because they have no long-range vision, they perceive every temporary problem or setback as a devastation. They cannot see these challenges as part of God’s character building process. Rather than allow God to form their character, they always look for another “quick fix” to solve the problem. However, these quick fixes are only Band-Aids that will never fix the root problem.  The problems persist until they catch the vision for what God has planned for them and then commit to God’s process to get there. Healthy spiritual vision is 20/20.  20/20 vision sees clearly the destination in the distance while also seeing the daily steps to get there.

Healthy vision enables us to rest as well as work. Vision makes rest possible because it knows that God has determined the destination, has mapped out the journey, and is leading the way.  Vision also “works” by being obedient to take every step to follow the Lord. 

So, how is your vision? Are you walking with spiritual vision from the Lord? Spiritual vision is a revelation of the mind and purpose of God. Without vision we will “drift” toward sin and complacency. Don’t be deceived. If we don’t receive vision from God, Satan is sure to give us a substitute.  He will give us a carnal “dream” for life that robs us of God’s plan.  Many have lived and died without ever knowing why they were created. What a waste of a life!  Without a vision from God, we focus on negative experiences or on temporal fulfillment rather than on obtaining the promises of God.  Like a Polaroid snapshot, what we focus on will “develop.”  Don’t settle for long-range vision that produces no short-range obedience. Don’t settle for short-range vision that is disconnected from God’s eternal purpose. Ask God to give you a healthy vision for your life.
 
Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, give me 20/20 spiritual vision.  Give Me Your long-range vision for my life and the short-range vision that I need to take the next step.  Help me to be at rest in Your final destiny for my life and to work through obedience to follow You each step of the way. I thank You for giving me the vision that I need. I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

The Judgment of this World

John 12:31 NKJV “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
 
In April 1912 two thousand two hundred and twenty four passengers boarded the greatest luxury liner ever built up to that time as it embarked on its maiden voyage from England to New York City. Its name was the Titanic. The ship was almost three football fields in length and could carry up to 46,328 tons of passengers and cargo. It had a double-bottomed hull, divided into sixteen watertight compartments. Because four of these compartments could be flooded with water without causing the ship to sink, the ship was considered unsinkable. One comment made was, “Not even God could sink this ship!” So confident were they of this that lifeboats were only available for about half of its passengers. The ship was fitted with this world’s finest food, fun, finery, and pleasure. It was a showcase of what man could achieve and what this world could offer.

Icy waters lay to the north and advisories to take a more southerly route were given. Because the ship’s captain wanted to set record time for crossing the Atlantic and because it was believed that icebergs posed no danger to the ship, the advisories were ignored. Shortly before midnight on April 14, 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg that ripped a three hundred foot gash in its side---flooding five of its sixteen watertight compartments.  The unthinkable had happened. The unsinkable Titanic was going down! Because the ship was believed to be unsinkable, many did not realize the peril they were in. While they partied, they were on the verge of perishing. Within two and one half hours after it struck the iceberg, the mighty Titanic sank below the icy waters. The total number of people who died that fateful night was one thousand five hundred and thirteen.

In the same way Satan, captain of the World Party Liner, has promised all that this world has to offer. Multitudes upon multitudes have boarded this ship headed for what they believe will be the good life—the ultimate party. No one seems to realize that the ship’s pleasures are nothing but intoxication to keep its passengers from realizing that it actually is a slave vessel on its way to the prison of hell. But God loved us so much that two thousand years ago He ordained that Satan’s slave vessel would find itself on a collision course with the Cross of Jesus Christ. At that moment this world was judged. This world is going down!  Like a prisoner on death row who has been judged but still awaits execution, this world has been judged but awaits its final destruction. It is only a matter of time before it sinks down into the eternal flames of the lake of fire. Meanwhile its drunken passengers cannot discern that the ship is listing to the left. They are too intoxicated to sense the danger. Because Satan has so convinced them that his ship is unsinkable, its passengers continue to party even as they perish. Others sense the danger. They know that although the world still parties, it is just a matter of time before it all ends. They are looking for a way off the ship. Thankfully, God has dispatched the heavenly Ark of Salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. All who call upon His name will be saved. As their faith secures them a place on this Ark of Christ, God pleads with the saved to use whatever precious time is left to warn and rescue others before it is too late. 

Are you building a future on a sinking ship?  Are you partying until you perish or are you busy trying to save yourself and others?  Don’t listen to the jeers of those intoxicated by this world. Listen for the cries of those wanting to be saved. This world has been judged. It is going down. Remember, it is just a matter of time.
 
Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, help me to always remember that no matter how alluring this world may become, it is passing away. Only those who do the will of God last forever. Thank You for sending Jesus to rescue me from perishing in hell and the fiery flames of the lake of fire. Use me as Your hands today to rescue others who need to call upon Your name before it is eternally too late. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
 

Meet Me in the Secret Place

Matthew 6:6 (NKJV) “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” 
 
The work of God in our lives is born out of intimacy, and intimacy with God is experienced in the “secret place.”  The secret place is a place of intimacy.  It is the place of secret prayer. As a bride and a groom steal away to the secret place in order to know one another in intimacy, so our Heavenly Father beckons us to steal away to the secret place of prayer.  There we experience the intimacy of His presence.  The secret place is a “place” we must go:  “go into your room.”  The secret place may be an established place set apart for times of worship, meditation, and prayer or it may be a spontaneous place to steal away as directed by the wooing voice of our heavenly Father.  We hear His voice calling to our hearts, “Meet Me in the secret place.” Our hearts are quickened with a longing to be there because we know that we cannot live without Him. Our hearts are captured with His love.  The secret place is a place free of distraction:  “and when you have shut your door.”  The secret place is a place where we can get alone with God and spend time with Him apart from distractions.  We must seek out a “secret place” of prayer. Jesus was on the move in His ministry.  And yet He found time to steal away to the secret place with His Father in the mountains or in the desert.  No matter how tired he was or how late or early it was, He always found time to meet His Father in the secret place.  The secret place is a place to meet with our Father:  “pray to your Father who is in the secret place.”  Our Father dwells in the secret place. The secret place is the place of His presence (Psalm 31:20).  It is there that we can meet with Him, talk with Him, and worship Him.  The secret place is a place of impartation:  “and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”  It is in the secret place that we can receive from Him forgiveness, cleansing, healing, restoration, love, counsel, blessing, peace, joy, friendship, protection, provision, grace, and strength.  When we rise up from the secret place we enter the world refreshed, transformed, and empowered by our Father.  This is His reward to us that becomes openly obvious to those around us. (Read Psalm 27:4-5 and Psalm 91 for more on “the secret place”)

Corporate prayer is taught in the Scripture, but the power of corporate prayer flows out of the individual time each person has spent alone with their Father in the secret place.  Our effectiveness in life flows out of what we receive in the secret place. Sometimes we feel that we just do not have time to pray. Actually we do not have enough time NOT to pray. God will help us redeem the time for what is most important. Jesus is the Son of God and yet He always made time to be with the Father.  Everything He said and did flowed out of what He received in the secret place. 
When we realize that our efforts apart from Him will always fail or fall short of His glory, then we will spend more time in the secret place.  It would do us good to do less and pray more.  Out of that time in prayer the Father’s reward will begin to manifest in our lives, our families, and our ministries.  Don’t ignore the urge to be in the Father’s presence.  Listen and you will hear Him say, “Meet Me in the secret place!”  You can’t afford to miss this opportunity to be with your Father.  He awaits your arrival! Take the time, make the time, even steal away the time, to meet Him in the secret place.
 
Prayer:  ‘Heavenly Father, thank You for the secret place of Your Presence. Help me to never forget that I need Your presence more than anything else in life.  Father, may the blessing of the secret place be manifested openly so that others will see and desire to be with You also. I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen!”

Speak to the Rock

Numbers 20:7-8 (NKJV) “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.’”
 
If you live in a desert, water represents life itself.  Without water, human existence is impossible.  After delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage, God led them into the desert where there was no water. It was a test. When the people cried out for water, God brought water from a rock. The first time God told Moses to strike the rock. The second time God told Moses to speak to the rock. In doing so, the rock would yield its water to meet the people’s need.

There is a spiritual principle here that God wants us to learn. In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul tells us that the Rock that followed Israel was Christ. God had not led Israel into the wilderness without that Source going with them. The water that they needed was in that Rock.  In fact, there was a river in that Rock! While the people saw only a rock, God saw a river!  As in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, all that was needed for life to be released was for a man of faith to believe God and call things that are not as though they were.

The Rock of Christ dwells in every believer. All that Christ is dwells within us. Consider that for a moment!  We can minister to the sick because the Healer dwells within us!  We can be effective witnesses because the Evangelist dwells within us!  We can be effective pastors because the Great Shepherd dwells within us!  We can prophesy the word of the Lord because the Prophet dwells within us! We can be effective teachers because the Teacher dwells within us! We can fulfill the Great Commission because the Apostle dwells within us!  Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”   Christ within us is waiting to burst forth as a mighty river to satisfy the needs of people around us. That river is the River of the Holy Spirit.

How is this “River” released? It is through our declaration of faith. Although the Rock of Christ dwells within, we can die in our need unless we draw from the supply of Christ. We must release the “River” from this Rock! How? We do as God instructed Moses. We must call forth a release of the unseen realities of Christ within us. As we do, the rivers of the Holy Spirit begin to flow out of us.

Unfortunately, Moses became frustrated with the people’s complaint the second time around. Instead of speaking to the Rock, he struck it as he did the first time. In the same way, we can get focused on the flaws in others and strike out in an attempt to force the character and nature of Christ to come out of them. Rather than try to force change in others, we must begin to speak to the Rock of Christ’s potential within them. The Rivers of the Holy Spirit will begin to flow when we stop striking out at others and start declaring a release of the potential of Christ within them.

Problems are real. However, the “real” problem is not the “problem” itself but our lack of faith in the Source who dwells within us.  Jesus is the answer to every problem. He is the Source to meet every need.  He is also the Source of what others need. Don’t focus on the flaws and weaknesses in others.  Don’t strike out at them. Speak to the Rock and release the River inside!

Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I thank You for the Rock of Christ that dwells within Me. I look to Christ who lives within me and declare a release of the River of the Spirit. I declare, “Soul, you WILL yield to the life and nature of Christ. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I open my heart as a channel for Your Spirit to flow as mighty rivers of living water to this world.  I declare this in Jesus’ name. Amen!”
 

Don't Be Deceived by the Devil's Distortions

One of the greatest tools the devil uses to deceive a generation is to take Biblical terminology, distort its meaning, and then replace it for the original meaning. Examples include "Jesus", "Holy Spirit", "Grace", "Truth", "Hell", "Judging", "Christian", "Church", "Gospel", "Revival", "Marriage", "Family", "Freedom", "Rights", "Tolerance", "Love", and a host of other things. The devil has worked so masterfully in this biblically illiterate age that we are living in a time when Truth is now regarded as a lie and the lie is regarded as the truth, when good is regarded as evil and evil is regarded as good, when light is regarded as darkness and darkness is regarded as light, and when those who stand for God's Truth are regarded as bigots and those who defend and promote perversion are regarded as liberators. This is the Satan's means to bring in the great apostasy among "Christians" prior to the revelation of the man of lawlessness upon the earth. I came across some notes from a graduation I attended several years ago. Judge Cynthia Kent's words are truer now than then.

"We are living in an age of distortions. People are taking foundational concepts such as the family and distorting them until they are unable to be recognized. There really is a right and there really is a wrong. We must confront these distortions by confronting them--challenging them--with the truth. The power of distortion is in who is asking in the questions.

Example: 

Pick a number between 2-10.

Multiply that number by nine.

Add the two numbers in the two digits together.

Subtract 5 from that number.

Transpose the number to a letter (A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.)

Pick a country or state that starts with that letter.

Take the second letter in that name and think of a circus animal that starts with that letter and its color.

(Note: The answer is below. No peeking!)

The truth is not complicated for those who believe the Word."

--Judge Cynthia Kent, Tyler Christian Fellowship School Graduation, May, 1993

Don't be fooled by the devil's distortions! Stay true to the Word of God.

(ANSWER: Gray Elephant)

God's Hunger Test

God designed our natural bodies to hunger. The LORD set certain trees in the Garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve could eat and one tree from which they were forbidden to eat. In the Old Testament God used the dietary laws to teach His people to discern between what is clean and what is unclean. Eating what is unclean made them unclean in regard to their worship. It was not for them to determine what was clean and unclean based upon their opinions, philosophies, traditions, reasoning, or experiences regardless of their intentions or sincerity. Their responsibility was to believe and obey what God said. God created us with spiritual hunger. How we choose to satisfy our spiritual hunger will determine our spiritual health. Satan deceived Eve into satisfying her hunger with forbidden fruit. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger outside of God's will. The Word of God rather spiritual hunger is to guide our lives. Spiritual hunger should drive us to the Word of God. God uses spiritual hunger as a test to see if we will be loyal or disloyal to what the LORD has spoken. Our hunger will lead us either to truth or to treason, to discernment or to deception, to holiness or to heresy, to worship or to wickedness, to deliverance or to death. The LORD has set His table of truth before us. Don't feast at Satan's table of lies. Satisfy your spiritual hunger on the Word of God and pass God's hunger test.

Deuteronomy 8:2–3 (NKJV) "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD."

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