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Gathering and Releasing

Proverbs 11:24-26 “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.  The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”  
Life is a process of inhaling and exhaling air, of the heart receiving and releasing blood, of sowing and reaping, and of gathering and releasing. Life begins with God as the Source.  In order to give life, we must first receive life.  We must be willing to receive ministry in order to give ministry. Gathering and releasing is the essence of life. 

For many of us, our Christian life has been a continual season of gathering. We have become hoarders. Our lives are crowded with “stuff” that we cannot possible use in several lifetimes. When we run out of room to keep it, we build more storehouses. We have also become spiritual storehouses of resources, information, and revelation. Many of us have been taught more in one year than others would hope to receive in a lifetime. And somehow, we keep gathering and storing!

Many of us sit on a wealth of “seed” that needs to be scattered in order to bring blessing and increase in the kingdom of God. It is time to transition from being storehouses to being distribution centers. It is time to release or “scatter” the seed that God has put in our hands. 

God has lavished on us His precious treasures.  Now it is time to pour out. The paradox is that the more we give, the more we will increase! That is why Jesus said it is “more blessed to give than to receive”. (Ac 20:35) As we scatter our seed, God will multiply it so that we gather more.  Sowing and reaping are spiritual principles of life. We cannot bring life to the seed, but we can scatter the seed and allow God to bring life. We are not the source of life, but He has given us seed to sow. As we sow what God has given to us, God will give it life and multiply it to our account. As we receive seed from the Father and then scatter it into the lives of those around us, we receive back a fruitful life, a life that has been increased and multiplied. 

Jesus said in John 12:24-25: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  Jesus came to give His life away on the Cross. In giving His life, He received back a harvest of souls to the glory of God. Jesus increased the fruitfulness of His life by giving it away.  He became the Seed that is still producing a mighty harvest of souls! 

If we try to hold on to what we have, we will lose it.  But if we scatter the seed that God has given us, then we will increase more.  If we continue to gather and not release, we are destined to become like the Dead Sea that has no life.  Why is the Dead Sea dead?  It is dead because it has an inlet but no outlet.  One of the reasons we do not see fruit in our lives is because we have trained ourselves in receiving but not in giving. We must change. Let’s begin to scatter what we have been given. Let’s not be a reservoir.  Let’s be a RIVER! 

One of the greatest ways to release God’s blessing upon our lives is to give. It is hard be depressed when we are focused on giving rather than on what we receive. The principle of God is this:  we will reap what we sow—not what we hold. A farmer’s harvest produces both food to eat and seed for a future harvest.  Grain that is stored very long only ruins or is destroyed by pests.  The only way to keep the benefit of the grain is to use what we have been given. God has given each of us talents, gifts, abilities, knowledge, experience, money, wealth, and resources.  What a waste to see them sit in the storehouse and never be released to benefit others including God. Ask God to show you ways to release what you have in a way that blesses His kingdom and the people around you.  We have one life to live and one life to give.  Let’s take every opportunity to scatter the seed God has placed in our hand.  Only what we sow can grow. Don’t leave this life sitting on your bag of seed!
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank you for the resources you have placed in my life. Help me to increase the fruitfulness of my life by giving it away.  Help me to be a blessing to those around me. I believe as I scatter the seed you have placed in my life, You will cause me to increase for greater ability to give again.  Help me not to be a reservoir.  Let Your river of life flow through me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The Invasion of Christ

Isaiah 59:16-19 (NKJV) “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.  According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay.  So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against Him.”
The coming of Christ into this world was nothing less than an act of war against the kingdom of darkness. It is an invasion against the gates of hell. Its purpose is to redeem lost souls held behind enemy lines. 

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis has a chapter entitled “Invasion”. In it he says, “One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe---a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees . . . this universe is at war.”  The truth is that we cannot understand what is happening around us until we understand that we are at war.  Unless we understand that we have an enemy, we will misinterpret most circumstances in our life. It is very hard to believe that God has a good plan for our lives if we believe that He is the source of all that is bad, corrupt, and evil.[1]

If we fail to recognize that we are at war, then we begin to believe some very terrible things about God. What about that son or daughter who was killed by a drunk driver?  What about the four-year old girl who was sexually molested? What about the faithful wife who died of AIDS which she contracted through her unfaithful husband? What about victims of murder, rape, and terrorism?  What about the tragedy of divorce that devastates an entire family? What about the people who are killed in a violent plane crash? What about families killed in fires? What about destruction and death caused by violent acts of nature? What about the famine where thousands of people are starving?  What about the horrors of war?  Are all these things God’s will?  Is God the author of evil?

In the beginning of God’s creation all that God made was very good.[2] There was no death, sickness, crime, pain, hate, adverse weather patterns, sin, or curse.  All was good until the old Serpent, who is called the devil, Satan, and the dragon, came on the scene.[3]  Through his deception, the evil consequences of sin, death, and the curse came upon our world. The effects have touched our bodies, minds, emotions, marriages, children, society, and nature itself. All creation longs to be delivered from the bondage of this corruption.[4]

Jesus came into this world to destroy the works of the devil, the power of death, and our bondage to fear.[5] Our deliverance from the penalty of sin and death was secured through Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross. His sacrifice was validated through His resurrection from the dead. Our deliverance is enforced through His exaltation to the right hand of the Father where He reigns until all of His enemies are put under His feet.[6]

The Incarnation of Christ was a divine invasion into the enemy’s territory to deliver those held captive through deception, sin, and death. Let us remember that we are in a war.  The victory is already sure even though the battles of resistance are sometimes fierce. War is not pretty. The devil does not play fair. The fallout of sin and the curse have taken their toll. Do not be shaken by Satan’s tactics. Rise up, put on your armor, and fight for the sake of others who are still under his control.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for invading this earth to rescue my soul. Help me to see that I am in a war. Help me to see the lost and the deceived who are still held captive by the devil. Help me to be a faithful soldier and to fight to rescue others even as You fought to rescue me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
[1] Jeremiah 29:11; John 10:10
[2] Genesis 1:31
[3] Revelation 12:9
[4] Genesis 3:14-19; Romans 8:20-23
[5] 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15
[6] 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

The Power of a Godly Mentor

Mark 1:16-18 (NKJV) “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
God sees in us what we cannot see in ourselves. We are often too aware of the flaws and weaknesses in our life. God already knows them all and yet He is for us and not against us. When Jesus came into this world, He could have come with His sword swinging—cutting down sinners on His right and left.  But He didn’t.  Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”[1] God sent Jesus to redeem rather than to condemn. God didn’t wait for us to change before He sent Jesus.  Rather, “even when we were dead in trespasses, (He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” [2]

Jesus mentored twelve disciples to carry on the work given to Him by His Father.  Jesus did not choose anyone that the world deemed qualified. There were no doctors, lawyers, philosophers, or princes among them.  They were just ordinary men living ordinary lives.  None of them were alike. Many of them struggled with issues of ambition and competitive jealousy. They were more like a rag tag team of misfits.  Yet Jesus saw in them something that neither they nor anyone else saw. He saw their potential—and what potential it turned out to be!  These ordinary men became the apostles of the Lamb who laid the Foundation upon which the entire church is built.

When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew, they were just ordinary fishermen.  No one would have believed that these very simple and unlearned men were destined for greatness in the kingdom of God.  Not even Simon and Andrew believed it about themselves.  It takes a godly mentor to see and believe in the potential that God can work in our lives.  It takes someone who can look beyond our character flaws, lack of training, and emotional baggage to see the precious treasure of Christ buried deep inside.  Like a gold miner, it takes someone who can look past a lot of “dirt” to mine the gold.

Jesus was a leader who saw the “gold” in these men. Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Jesus declared the potential He saw in them and accepted personal responsibility to mine and develop that potential if they would meet His one condition—they must follow Him. These men responded immediately to Jesus because He believed in them.  They were willing to walk away from their secure, routine, and predictable life for the sake of what He saw in them. Ultimately, they believed in Jesus because He first believed in them.  Jesus saw what they could be rather than what they were. 

Successful leaders do not pressure people through intimidation, manipulation, condemnation, and domination. Instead, they lead through inspiration and vision. Sure, Jesus called men to repent of their sins, but He did not do it through condemnation. He called them to repentance because sin stood in the way of their relationship with the Destiny-Giver. Jesus demonstrated the power of godly mentoring. His disciples are the evidence.

God desires to bring forth His plan for our lives.  However, we need mentors to help us realize our potential.  We need people who will see beyond what we are and call us up to what we can be.  We need people who will walk with us through the issues in our lives and not give up on us when we stumble.  We need people who will be like Jesus.  If we really want to be mentored, we must respond like Jesus’ disciples. We must be willing to leave our comfort zone, to be led, and to follow.  When we find that type of relationship with a godly mentor, then we have been granted one of the greatest blessings and opportunities we could ever have in this life.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank You for not condemning me in my failure. Thank You for seeing potential in me and sending Jesus to redeem me back to You.  I submit myself now to Your mentoring process.  I ask You to send people into my life who can see what I cannot see in myself.  Help me to let go of what I am now so that I can become what I never imagined possible for.  I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
[1] John 3:17 NKJV
[2] Ephesians 2:5 NKJV (He) added

Rejoicing in Another Man's Light

John 5:35 (NKJV) “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.”
John the Baptist was sent by God. He was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah.  He was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’”   He came to cast down pride, lift up the oppressed, straighten crooked hearts, and remove what was offensive to God. He came to expose darkness by revealing the Light of the World. He foretold that One was coming after him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. John was a man with a purpose and he was faithful to that purpose.

John made a powerful impact upon his generation in a short amount of time. His ministry was so influential that the Scripture says, “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.”[1]   Many considered him to be a prophet, including Jesus. Jesus said of John, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.”[2]

One day Jesus came to be baptized by John. Upon His baptism, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit like a dove descended upon Him, and the voice of His Father declared from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[3] This baptism inaugurated the public ministry of Jesus. In time, more people followed Jesus rather than John. John’s enemies observed this and said, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”[4]  John was not insecure. He was not threatened by Jesus’ expanding ministry. He was not bothered by Jesus’ increasing influence. He was not worried about his shrinking crowds. He responded, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.[5]   He knew that no one could take from him what God had given. He rested in God’s sovereign control. He was secure in his role as a servant to prepare the way for Jesus. He had fulfilled his assignment and was ready to turn the spotlight on the One for whom the way had been prepared. John came into human history for an appointed season. His chapter in history was ending and a new chapter was beginning. It was time for the spotlight to shift to Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”[6]

There is no competition in God’s kingdom. We must learn to rejoice in the God who sent us as we also rejoice in the ministry of others that God is sending.  We must not be threatened by those whose ministry and influence exceeds our own. To do otherwise is to question and challenge the One who sends.

God wants us to be secure in the ministry and influence that He has given us. We must be willing to gracefully “bow out” when our season in the spotlight is ending. We must learn to rejoice in the ministries and influences that God has given others. We must thank God for allowing us to prepare the way for others that He is sending. There is no competition in God’s kingdom. Each receives only what he has been given. As we rejoice in the light that God has given to us, let us also learn to rejoice in the light that has been given to another.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for what You have given me. Help me to remember that I received it from You.  Help me to rejoice in what You have given to me and then to rejoice in what You are giving to others. I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
[1] Matthew 3:5 (NKJV)
[2] Matthew 11:11 (NKJV)
[3] Matthew 3:17 (NKJV)
[4] John 3:26 (NKJV)
[5] John 3:27 (NKJV)
[6] John 3:30 (NKJV)

The Secret of the LORD

The following scriptures refer to the secret of the Lord.  These passages speak for themselves.
Deuteronomy 29:29 (NKJV) “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Proverbs 3:32 (NKJV) “For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, but His secret counsel is with the upright.”
Proverbs 25:2 (NKJV) “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
Proverbs 25:14 (NKJV) “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.  And He will show them His covenant.”
Song of Solomon 2:14 (NKJV) “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Isaiah 45:3 (NKJV) “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.”
Isaiah 45:15 (NKJV) “Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!”
Daniel 2:22 (NKJV) “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.”
Amos 3:7 (NKJV) “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
Matthew 6:3-4 (NKJV) “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
Matthew 6:6 (NKJV) “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Matthew 6:17-18 (NKJV) “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Matthew 10:27 (NKJV) “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”
Matthew 13:34-35 (NKJV) “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:  'I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.'“
Mark 4:22-23 (NKJV) “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, for has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
1 Corinthians 2:7 (NKJV) “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages to our glory.”
Luke 11:33 (NKJV)  “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, that those who come in may see the light.”
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, You are a God who hides Yourself. Yet You have chosen to reveal Yourself to those who fear You.  May I be among those who fear You and seek Your face.  Reveal to me the secrets and the riches of the mysteries that You have ordained for me to know.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Concerning Modesty

1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NKJV) “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” 
Does modesty matter?  Does God care about how we dress or what we wear?  The issue of modesty was first addressed in the Garden of Eden. In their innocence, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.  As it is with small children, innocence stirred no evil or carnal desire.  However, when sin entered their hearts, the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened. The knowledge of good and evil stole their innocence. The “flesh” was awakened and they discovered that they were naked.  To cover their nakedness, they made for themselves loin coverings made from fig leaves. Later, God made tunics of animal skin to cloth them more adequately.  Obviously, God took a personal interest in covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness. 

God covers nakedness.  The world uncovers it.  Clothing that was unnecessary in the age of innocence became necessary under their fallen condition. God did not immediately address the issue of clothing with Adam and Eve after they sinned. Why? Clothing and modesty are first a reflection of the condition of the heart. Modesty must first be addressed as an issue of the heart lest it lead to legalism. Since we no longer live in a state of innocence, sin and the “flesh” are now issues with which to contend. If we ignore or deny this battle, we will conform to the basest of worldly fashion and adopt the crudest displays of carnality.

As Christians, we must learn to order our lives according to purity.  We must avoid the confusion and distortion between what is holy and what is unholy and between what is pure and what is impure. We must remember that we are in this world, but we are not of it.

The Greek word for modesty means, “order.” As believers, we should seek to reflect God’s Kingdom order.  If we profess godliness, then we should reflect godliness in how we “order” our outward appearance and behavior. We are neither to be extravagant nor seductive.

Modesty begins as an attitude of the heart that, lovingly and without compromise, seeks to reflect godliness in a world that has lost its innocence and uncovers its shame. If we profess godliness on the inside, then we should reflect godliness in how we order our lives on the outside.

As we consider issues of modesty, we need to ask ourselves:  Where am I going? What is the cultural standard? What is fitting for the occasion? Will I encounter those of the opposite sex? Who are the people whose conscience I should consider? What does God require of me as His representative? What reputation will I foster by how I dress?  What is my motive for wearing what I wear?  Am I exposing too much skin or drawing attention to private areas of my body? Could the way I dress cause others to stumble?  Are my clothes too tight?  Are they too short?  Are they too revealing?  Am I reflecting godliness?  Will I discredit the name of Jesus? Will my extravagance or gaudiness draw unnecessary attention to myself rather than to Christ?  When in doubt, always defer to conservatism. 

Ask Jesus to take a tour of your closet. Get rid of immodest and ungodly clothing. Make godly choices when purchasing clothes. Take up sewing if necessary. Establish and teach principles of modesty to your children.  Train your children in how to evaluate and determine modesty in clothing.  Allow husbands and fathers to evaluate the clothing of the wives and daughters. Allow the wives and daughters to evaluate the clothing of the husbands and sons. The testimony of godliness must be our motivation and standard.  Believers should especially reflect godliness through modesty within the church and its gatherings.  The gathering of the saints should reflect the highest example of godliness and modesty after which the new believers can pattern their lives.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I want to be a godly example to others in how I dress.  I realize that modesty is first an issue of the heart.  Search my heart and see if there is any wicked motive in me that would defend impurity. Evaluate my current wardrobe and show me anything that I need to remove. Help me to cloth myself modestly so that I may be pleasing to You, that I may not cause others to stumble, and that I may be an example of godliness to others.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Are You Legitimate?

Hebrews 12:5-8 (NKJV) “‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord; nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” 
This passage addresses the issue of legitimacy.  Are you a legitimate child of God? In the natural, an illegitimate child is a child born outside of wedlock, i.e. outside of a legal marriage. “Illegitimate” means “unlawful.” Illegitimate children are born contrary to God’s moral law.  Unfortunately, the response of society toward illegitimate children has often been one of emotional rejection, resentment, and abuse.  Illegitimate children are sometimes considered unworthy to carry their own biological father’s name or to share in the inheritance with legitimate children. Illegitimacy bore great consequences in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 23:2 attached the stigma of illegitimacy upon a person until the tenth generation. The child is often neglected, unloved, and abused. According to our passage in Hebrews 12, if a child does not receive loving correction and chastening from a father, then it is evidence that the child is illegitimate. Whom a father loves, he disciplines.

The writer of Hebrews says that our Father God loves His children. In love He will correct and chasten them. Rather than be disheartened or discouraged by this, we should rejoice that He cares enough to correct us. It is evidence that we are legitimate, born of the Father by the Spirit.

Can a genuine child of God resist the Father’s discipline? Yes. However, if they are truly His child, He will not relinquish correction until the child’s heart is turned back. If a child of God resists the Father’s correction and discipline, everything else that do they will be regarded as illegitimate in the eyes of their Father. Only that which is done in obedience is pleasing to and approved by Him.

In a similar way, God has placed spiritual fathers in our lives as an extension of His Fatherly  work in our lives. A spiritual father’s role is to lovingly protect, encourage, develop, train, and hold the person accountable in their spiritual health and progress. Spiritual fathers in the faith may be pastors, elders, or mature men of God. Sadly, many believers have refused the input and correction of genuine spiritual fathers. This is tragic. Many spiritual fathers have grieved over those who have resisted, rejected, and rebelled against them. Some, in their rebellion, launch out to begin a new ministry in competition to the one they left. Those who seek to “birth” their own ministry in such a state are birthing an illegitimate work that will bear that stigma.  It may take years for that stigma to be overcome, and only as they repent of their pride and submit to legitimate spiritual fathers in the Lord. It is important to gain the blessing of “legitimacy” that comes from God through spiritual fathers. It is time for God’s people to prove that they are legitimate sons and daughters of God. It is time to see loving correction and discipline as confirmation of God’s love. It is important to birth “legitimate” ministries that bring honor to the Lord.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I thank You that I am Your child.  Forgive me for despising Your correction and discipline.  Help me to embrace Your correction and discipline with joy knowing that it is for my own good.  Help me to receive the correction and training I need through Your legitimately appointed leadership in my life.  I know that as I do, I will obtain the blessing and favor of legitimacy in Your eyes.  I thank You for this  in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Called to Be a Witness

John 1:7 (NKJV) “This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.” 
God sent John the Baptist to be a witness. The reality is, God intends all of us to be His witness. That is one reason He saved us. If salvation alone is the goal, then why doesn’t God just carry us on to heaven once we are saved?  Wouldn’t this spare us a lot of trouble, pain, and encounters with temptation? The reason God has placed us here on this earth is to be a witness for Him.  The word “witness” comes from the Greek word martus from which we get the word “martyr.”  The word was used for a material witness in a judicial case.  John the Baptist came to this earth to be a material witness to Jesus Christ being the Messiah Son of God.  Through his witness many believed on the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

A Christian witness is not necessarily a theologian or an expert in the Scriptures. A witness is one who can testify of what they have seen, heard, and experienced.  Every believer is called to be a witness of what the Lord has done in their life. Ananias told Paul at his conversion: “For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15)

Jesus chose twelve disciples so that they might be with Him and witness firsthand what He said and what He did.  He said to them in John 15:27, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”  The basis of the disciple’s ability to be witnesses was found in their walk with Jesus.  They testified to others of what they had both seen and heard. After He ascended into heaven, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to enable them to be effective witnesses: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) All but one of Jesus’ disciples was martyred for their witness of Jesus and for their witness of God’s truth. In the same way we are called to be witnesses unto the Lord Jesus and to His truth to every person—family member, work mate, friend, stranger, and even to our enemies. 

As witnesses we are to bear record of the reality of Jesus because we have the testimony that He is alive in us. We are to bear record of the truth, because we have the testimony of His truth working in our hearts.  We are to bear witness of His Spirit, because we have the testimony of His Spirit dwelling in and empowering us to do His work.  We are to bear record of His power to deliver, because we carry the testimony of His deliverance in our lives. We are to bear record that He heals, because we carry the testimony of His healing power in our bodies, minds, and emotions.  We are to bear record that He loves sinners, because we carry the testimony that He demonstrated His love for us.  
We are here to be a witness unto others of what Jesus has done in our lives in hope that they might believe in Him. Will all receive our witness? No. Some may reject our witness while others may actually attempt to silence our witness.  Some may try to argue about religion, beliefs, and theology, however it is hard to refute our testimony as a material witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is why we are called to be witnesses rather than theologians. Anyone who has been saved and changed by faith in Jesus Christ is qualified to be a witness.

Since God has called us to be His witnesses, it is important that we not keep silent about what the Lord has done in our lives. Our witness is not only in our words but also in the way we live. We are Christ’s witness before our friends, family members, schoolmates, and work mates who have not yet believed. We bear the testimony of Christ’s power to save, heal, deliver, and restore. Without our witness, Satan, the prosecutor of sinners, will rest His case in the lives of those around us.  We cannot allow the devil to intimidate us into silence. We must approach the witness stand and declare what we have seen, heard, and experienced. We must bear witness to Christ’s Light and to His Truth. God has called you to be His witness. Determine today to be Christ’s witness so that others might believe upon Him and be saved.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I answer Your call to be a witness. I will testify of what I have seen, heard, and experienced. I will bear witness of Christ’s Light and Your Truth so that others might see, hear, and believe. Lord Jesus, anoint me as Your witness with the power of Your Holy Spirit. May You be glorified through me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”

Take Heed What You Hear

Mark 4:23-25 (NKJV) “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.  Then He said to them, Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” 
Have you developed a hearing ear? It is our responsibility to develop a hearing ear. A hearing ear is one that is inclined to hear the Lord. People are pretty good at inclining their ear when they eavesdrop on another conversation! In such cases people will position their ears to maximize their hearing ability.  It is amazing how a person can tune into a conversation in another room while oblivious to the conversation taking place next to them. Although the situation is somewhat different, the principle of inclining our ears is the same. Jesus said, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Not only are we to hear, but we are to listen and take heed to what we hear. We must treasure what we hear and implement it in our lives.  Here is a little word of advice: develop a practice of recording what God speaks to you in your time alone with Him or through a public proclamation of the Word of God. In this way you can go back and meditate on it later. What is the Biblical concept of meditation? Consider the digestive track of a cow.  A cow grazes for hours and then lays down.  During this time of rest, they bring back up and chew on what they spent hours collecting.  In the same way, we need to meditate on what God has already spoken to us. In doing so, we will be given more.  If we neglect to take heed to what we have already been given, we will lose what we had. How many times do we fail to record the little nuggets of wisdom and insights that God shared with us? How many times have we regretted this after they have slipped from our minds? What God reveals to us needs to be meditated upon until it becomes part of our spirit so that it is not easily lost.

David said in Psalm 63:6, “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.” Again he says in Psalm 119:148, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.”  David was a man who took heed to what he heard. He spent time “chewing” on God’s Word and meditating upon the awesomeness of God.  As king, David had “recorders,” people who stood by him to record what he had to say.  Many of David’s psalms and the wisdom he passed down to Solomon came out of the overflow of heeding what he heard. 

Train your ears to listen to God’s Word and for His voice. Carry a pen and pad with you to jot down what the Lord speaks to your heart. You might want to carry a small voice recorder to record what the Lord is speaking to you. Make a habit of taking notes anytime the Word of God is being taught or preached. Developing the simple habit of taking notes has a way of helping you cultivate a hearing ear.  Plus, you can always go back and digest what you heard.  As you are reading the Bible, jot down anything that God illuminates from His Word.  Writing can tap into the flow of revelation as often happens when one speaks prophetically. I have discovered that even as I begin to write down what God has given me, a flow of prophetic writing sometimes begins and whereby I receive more.  Keep a journal where you can record what the Lord is saying and doing in your life. Not only will this become a source of encouragement as you look back upon what the Lord has done in your life, but it can become a part of the spiritual heritage passed down to your children and grandchildren.  Journaling is a great way to take heed to what we have heard and to pass it on to the next generation.  If you have not done so, begin a journal today.
Prayer: “Lord, grant unto me a hearing ear that takes heed to what I hear. I incline my ears unto Your sayings. I choose to listen for Your voice.  Teach me Your ways, O Lord, and lead me in Your paths.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 13:13-14 (NKJV) “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.”
Are you properly dressed for your environment?  If you lived in the artic, you would be clothed in the warmest clothes available. If you lived in a desert, you would be dressed in clothes that would keep you cool while protecting you from the harmful rays of the sun.  If you lived in a rainy region, you would be dressed in galoshes and carry an umbrella. How foolish you would look and how unprepared you would be to wear cold or rainy weather clothes in the desert!

Although the thought of such would be ridiculous, in truth we are not always dressed for the worldly environment in which we live.  As believers, we live in a hostile spiritual environment.  Rather than rain, sun, and ice, we are exposed to demonic powers, temptations, and the wickedness of this world.  We need to be dressed to withstand and survive these adverse spiritual elements.

As believers we are not to adorn ourselves with the clothing of this world to engage in boisterous partying, drunken stupors, obscene and vulgar behavior, fighting and quarreling, and attitudes of ill will or jealous competition. Such things are not the proper attire for a person claiming to know Jesus Christ. Instead we are to put on Christ and to make no provision for the flesh.

What does it mean to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ?” It means to wear a different kind of spiritual clothing. We are to clean out the spiritual closets of the old life and get rid of the garments defiled by the flesh. In other words, we need to change our lifestyle—a change in our “habit”. While the word “habit” refers to a particular pattern of action that has become automatic in our lives, the word “habit” originally referred to a person’s clothing, costume, or dress. A person would have a different habit for different settings or activities.  For instance, a person could have a golfing habit, a hunting habit, a fishing habit, a religious habit.  The person’s choice in habit depended upon their circumstance or situation.  Social classes were also required to wear certain types of habits such as in a peasant’s habit or a royal habit.  In this world we need to put on the habit of the Lord Jesus Christ. This habit includes the robe of Christ’s righteousness and the armor of God which He wore.

What does it mean to “make no provision for the flesh?” It means that we should put away the old “habits” from our spiritual wardrobe. We need to clean out our spiritual closets. We must get rid of all patterns of behavior and choices that seek to pull us back to the old life. Our new “habit” will cause us to be dressed differently than those around us, but it will reflect of our new relationship with Jesus Christ. So, as we come out of the darkness into the light of Jesus Christ, be sure to put on a new habit—the Lord Jesus Christ!

Many people are satisfied to just be saved. They never change their old habits or patterns of behavior.  They continue to live just like they did before. This is not Christianity. Christianity is not only a new relationship with Jesus but a new way of life. So the question is, how are you dressed today?  Have we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, or are we still dressed in the defiled garments of our old nature? Maybe it’s time to go through our spiritual closet and get our wardrobe up to date with our decision to live for Jesus Christ. It is time to put on Christ!
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I thank You for calling me out of the darkness of this world. I determine to put off the old habits of sin and to put on the new habit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Inspect my spiritual closet and to show me any habits that I must discard. I thank you for this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
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