Trial, Crucifixion, Death

From Pastor Zach’s Holy Week Devotional

Day Six: Trial, Crucifixion, Death

Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, John 18:28-19:37

Good Friday is the most horrific day of the Passion Week of Christ. It is the final hours of Christ’s life. We find Christ in the early morning hours praying on the Mount of Olives. His disciples are with Him but are easily led to sleep. The anguish and agony of Jesus’ heart and soul are displayed as He begins sweating blood. Yet, being in agony He prayed more earnestly (Luke 22:44). He did not give up. He did not stop. He did not give in to the agony of His heart. He knew what was coming. He understood the brutality and hatred that was to be unleashed on Him. Yet, He prayed more earnestly!

Around 9 a.m. Jesus endured false accusations, condemnation, judgment, mockery, beatings, loneliness, and abandonment. His own disciple betrayed Him and then killed himself. His followers were demanding His execution. His disciples were betraying him and in hiding. He was sentenced to death while a known criminal was released. His punishment would be one of the worst capital punishments known at the time.

Soldiers spit on Him and mocked Him. They thrust a crown made of long thorns into His head. They made Jesus carry His own cross to Golgotha where He would be insulted, mocked, and nailed to this cross. The cross was then lifted into the air and dropped into a hole, causing the nailed arms and feet to tear and bring even more excruciating pain to Jesus. His back that was raw and torn from beatings with a leather whip formed with glass and rocks in it was now writhing against bare wood, nails in His hands and feet, a crown of thorns on His head, and hanging naked on display for the world to see.

Jesus spoke seven final statements from the cross.

  1. Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said the disciple, “Behold, your mother! (John 19:26-27, ESV
  2. Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? That is, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46, ESV)
  3. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34, NIV)
  4. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43, ESV)
  5. I thirst. (John 19:28, ESV)
  6. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! (Luke 23:46, ESV)
  7. It is finished (John 19:30, ESV)

At about 3 p.m. Jesus breathed His last on the cross. By 6 p.m. Friday evening, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross and placed it in a garden tomb.

Passover & Last Supper

From Pastor Zach’s Holy Week Devotional

Matthew 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, John 13:1-38

On Thursday, things continue with a more somber feel. From Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to prepare the Upper Room in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. That evening after sunset, Jesus and the disciples went to the Upper Room. The evening began with Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Jesus demonstrated the humility that every believer should have towards one another. Christ was willing to wash the feet of His followers, and we also should be willing to humble ourselves and serve one another. How might we this Passover week humble ourselves and outdo one another with brotherly love (Romans 12:10)? All the while the chief priests and scribes are looking for ways to put Jesus to death (Luke 22:1).

And he (Jesus) said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:15-20, ESV).

Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper or communion as a part of this meal. As the New Testament church continued, this remembrance celebration continued weekly for the early church, as they celebrated the Lord’s death, resurrection, and His soon return together. Jesus took what was known as the “Cup of Joy” during the Seder feast, and said this is the cup that is being poured out for you. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2)! Jesus willingly laid down His life that I might drink from the wells of salvation with joy (Isaiah 12:3).

Today, there is an eternal supply of joyful drink in His presence. In His presence there are eternal joys and pleasures. Today, you determine which cup you will drink from. Will you drink your full from sadness and sorrows of this fading life? Or, will you drink the joyful drink of God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).

Although the week took a more somber turn, and the reality of Christ’s death was becoming more clear for His followers, today our week takes a joyful reality in knowing that Christ has overcome this world and given us a joy that no one or no thing can take away (John 16:33).

Jesus’ Ministry

From Pastor Zach’s Holy Week Devotional.

Matthew 21:23-24:51, Mark 11:20-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:38, John 12:20-38

Jesus’ ministry continued the Passover week in the temple teaching and spending time at the Mount of Olives. We know that Jesus also spent His evenings with his friends in Bethany.

One evening while Jesus was eating at the house of Simon the leper, a woman approached Him. Before we continue with the story, it is interesting to note where Jesus was and who He was sitting with—a leper. Lepers were not allowed around the general population, and yet, we find Simon and Jesus spending time together. Jesus had healed this man’s leprosy.

This woman came to Jesus and brought her alabaster jar of expensive ointment, costing nearly a year’s wages, and she lavishly poured the perfume on Jesus while He reclined at the table. This was a dramatic scene of love and honor, and to many would have seemed inappropriate. In fact, even some of the disciples started interrupting the passionate display, saying the ointment should have been sold and the money used for ministry purposes.

Then Jesus says something absolutely shocking: For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial (Matthew 26:11-12, ESV).

This was shocking because the conquering king was now preparing for death and not a victory. Shocking because He has allowed this woman to continue. Shocking because the ministry many had given their careers and families to pursue was ending. Shocking because this was supposed to be the time to overtake the Roman empire, not succumb to defeat and death.

Judas had had enough. The heart of the betrayer is always revealed when passionate worship disturbs it. Are you willing to pour out your most precious, most expensive, most valuable upon the Lord? Maybe the sacrifice is your career, your family, your possessions…are you willing to lay them upon the Lord as a testimony to His burial and resurrection. What you lay at His feet in preparation for burial, will always live again through His resurrection power. What this woman did has been a testimony and will continue to be a testimony for us all to worship more fully.

We have a sign in our prayer room that says, “Worship like it’s your last earthly worship.” What would happen if we lived with the motto of this woman and to worship like it is the last chance on this earth before you step into eternal worship. There is an experience on this side of Heaven in worshipping the Lord that you can only experience here–the moment when you press through the veil of your own flesh and enter boldly into the holy place in this life. Once you step into eternity, worship will be sweet, but it will be different than the sacrifice of praise you offer in this life. Pour out your costly perfume of praise upon the Lord today!

The Mount of Olives

Taken from my Holy Week Devotional.

Matthew 21:23-24:51, Mark 11:20-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:38, John 12:20-38

Jesus and His disciples spent their days teaching and ministering in the temple during Passover week, and their evenings at the Mount of Olives. Scripture is filled with teaching during this week: paying taxes to Caesar, the resurrection, signs of the end of the ages, the widow’s offering, the coming of the Son of Man, and many more teachings.

That morning, back at the temple, the religious leaders were furious. They were upset about Christ’s teaching. They were upset about the crowds being healed and ministered to. Now they wanted to know why and by what authority Jesus was operating. Their intent was to trick Jesus and arrest Him.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean (Matthew 23:23-26, ESV).

In Matthew 23, Jesus issued seven woes to the religious leaders. He told the people the religious leaders are doing their deeds to be seen by others (Matthew 23:5). It was confrontational. It was revolutionary. Christ was setting the record straight and liberating His people from religious bondage. It was during these teachings and Jesus’ ministry that Judas Iscariot began negotiating with the Sanhedrin for Jesus’ arrest.

The message of the cross is confrontational. Christ’s message during the Passover week challenged His hearers. The religious crowd was confronted, and the broken and infirmed were healed and made whole. Even one of Jesus’ closest began plotting to betray Him. Jesus taught that if we are to follow Him, we must take up our own cross (Matthew 16:24). Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, but we also will deny our flesh, sacrificing it on an altar of worship to follow faithfully after Him (Romans 12:1).

As you read through Christ’s teachings from the Passover week, take time to reflect on what He is speaking to you this week. The signs of Christ’s return are all around us. Let us diligently prepare the altar of our own sacrifice and look up with great anticipation, for He is coming again!

A Year of Great Joy

Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! (Luke 2:10, TPT)

Most would probably agree the world in 2020 has not been full of “joyous news.” The daily news is full of scandals, global pandemic, devision, hate, crime–do I need to continue? Death is all around us. Many have been furloughed or lost employment. Even as I write I think about the many stories we have heard this year as we have distributed hundreds of thousands of pounds of groceries throughout our region. I can hear the kids screaming for joy when they got their food because they knew they had groceries for a while longer.

Thinking about our present circumstances, I also consider the times of Jesus’ birth. There was political upheaval, everyone busy about fulfilling government mandates, and the government-ordered murder of two-year-old and younger boys. Herod the Great was a paranoid leader, even killing some of his own family because of “treason.” Joseph and Mary even fled to Egypt to escape the treacherous times.

To borrow the quote from Charles Dickens, “it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.” In the midst of great darkness, a light was shining (Isa 9:2). It was not necessarily a light shining from the manger, glowing around the baby–but a spiritual light. The one who spoke, “Let there be light,” in Genesis, was now the Light of the World (John 8:12). The baby lying in an animal watering trough was the River of Living Water (John 7:37-38). In the barn where animals ate was Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:35). In the pastures lay the Great Shepherd (John 10:11, Psalm 23).

Jesus was not the “joyful news” everyone was looking for. They wanted a ruler, someone to stop the madness of the time, and all they got was a baby. What would an insignificant, innocent, powerless baby do for their desperate situation?

In the midst of this year, full of its disappointments and hurdles, Jesus has still been speaking. He’s not a baby in a manger any more. He’s seated on the throne of glory, ruling all things by the word of His power (Her 1:3), over every principality and power (Eph 1:21). To those who receive Him, find joy and rest in the midst of storms of life. He captivates the attention of those who look upon Him with humility. He is the desire of those who see His goodness. Though life’s storms continue to tumult, with Him I can find rest and peace on the storm-tossed boat. Can you hear the whisper of His voice in the midst of the storm? “Peace.”

As I think about this year and how I have seen Christ in the insignificant, simple, ordinary places, I am reminded of how He came at His birth. It was simple, ordinary, even insignificant to the usual onlooker, but to those who came and worshipped He was the King of kings and Lord of lords. So in Christ I find 2020 to be a year of great triumph and great victory. I see the lives that were changed and affected by the Gospel ministry. I see the Christ-followers around me that have allowed their roots in Christ and their roots in the church go deeper in the foundation of His Word. I see the supernatural provision of God that has enabled us to continue to minister and serve our community through tangible compassion and virtual ministry. I see the reports of healing, deliverance, encouragement, breakthrough, provision, and so much more throughout our church family and community that have been a part this year’s ministry.

Lastly, I look at how God’s providence has kept me every step of this year, and I look to 2021 knowing “though Satan should buffet, though trials should come; let this blest assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul.” Knowing that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

My friend, Christ is JOY in every season of life. He is not just an idea or trend of joy. He’s not the Hallmark greeting card idea of joy. Christ is JOY! I have good news for you today. To you and to me has been born the Savior. He is the news. He is the joy! And He can be YOUR JOY as we leave 2020 and move into 2021.

Have a Joy-Filled Christmas and a New Year!

God is in Control

…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
Hebrews 1:3, NKJV

Life is always full of surprises. No one would have planned this year to go the direction it did. Indicators may have suggested certain predictions. Scientists may have theorized. But no one knew what really would transpire, except God. In the midst of life’s difficulties, the anchor of our soul is the hope we have in God (Hebrews 6:19). Not only does He know, He’s in control. Not only is He in control, but He’s working all things for His glory. God’s eternal plan of the ages is being carried out, in triumph, and even in adversity.

Truly, God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3, NKJV). Our human response to verses like this are often fear, anxiety, and confusion over a possible vengeful, tyrannical God. We must remember, though, our God is constrained by His own nature. He is not like man. “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through” (Numbers 23:19, NLT). He is holy and operates like no other ruler. He is love and is motivated in compassion. Yet God is just and requires justice for sin. God who is both love and justice acted the plan of the ages through Christ’s redemption. It was the only plan that would work—because Jesus was sinless, but also because God came to humanity, became a human and became both the just and the justifier (Romans 3:26). What an incredible display of how God rules all things!

In the end of all things, God’s plan of redemption will remain. Justice will be brought to the devil and his actors. Heaven will rejoice and hell will know His judgment. Jesus will reign forever as King to the glory of God the Father.

Let’s consider some of the horrible atrocities in Scripture and how God demonstrated His control and worked all things for His glory.

We can go all the way back to the fall of man. God was still reigning supreme and yet had given dominion to man in the earth. Man sinned and consequences for sin became evident. In the midst of depravity, we find God’s promise for redemption through a human savior in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (NKJV).

The Israelites were enslaved for 400 years under the Egyptians–abuse, neglect, murder, hardship. Generation after generation were caught in this cycle under earthly rulers manipulated by demonic schemes and selfish ambition. Yet God remained in control and used the story of hatred and slavery for His glory and the blessing of a nation.

Esther was faced with an ancient holocaust. God had moved her into a position of influence in the king’s court. Mordecai recognized the sovereignty of God in the midst of the horrible situation. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NKJV). God’s plan was for deliverance, and He would use a willing person to bring about His plan.

Even in Jesus’ death and resurrection we find that God allowed the very things He abhorred in order for the eternal plan of the ages to be carried out. He gave His only son to be betrayed, brutally beaten, mocked, and murdered in one of the most horrific deaths imaginable. “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18, NLT). Some would say that Jesus’ death was only the work of the devil’s scheme acted out through human players. True the devil was at work. We see this demonstrated in Luke 22:3 when Judas was manipulated by the devil to betray Jesus. Yet in all of it, God was still in control. The plan of redemption was being carried out. No one could take Jesus’ life unless the Father commanded. The devil and human actors in their pride could only see as far as the end of their noses so to speak. They only saw what was happening in front of them and how their plans to murder the savior were being carried out. Even the disciples hid in fear because their conquering king was being killed. But to those with spiritual eyes, there was more happening than just a crucifixion. The blood that was being poured out was the blood to cleanse sinners clean.

Right now, there’s more than meets the eye happening in the world around us. Creation is crying out with birth pangs (Romans 8:22). The revelation of our adoption is at hand. The signs of the coming destruction in Matthew 24 are being acted out in our day. Jesus, thousands of years ago, prophesied about what would be taking place in our time. He knows, and He is in control. That’s why He tells us in Luke 21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (NKJV).”

What lesson can we learn from the accounts throughout the ages? What work of God is being completed in us as we yield to His control?

  1. Practice humility

“Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil” (Andrew Murray).

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble” (Andrew Murray).

Humility recognizes that Jesus is the Lord, and I am His redeemed. Humility keeps the proper perspective of Christ glorified, and self crucified. A humble life is a pliable life in the Master Potter’s hands. A prideful life becomes a lump of clay unmoldable only fit for the trash.

James 4:10, NKJV: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Proverbs 22:4, ESV: The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.


  1. Be About the Father’s Business

The work of faith in your life are works that glorify the Lord (James 2:17). Salvation’s work is a worshipful display of God’s beauty through good works in your life (Ephesians 2:8-10). While the Master tarries in His return, let us keep watch and preparing for His return (Mark 13:35-37).

“A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart” (Charles Finney).

“Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die-or if need be, to win and die! ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force’” (Charles Finney).


  1. Stay in Communion

Fellowship with God ensures you are walking with Him. Like an obedient sheep, we are led by His voice (John 10:27). When walking with our Great Shepherd we are not led astray by cunning and crafty deception. He is the overseer of our lives (1 Peter 2:25). His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

“Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ, and expect great things” (Andrew Murray).

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine” (Andrew Murray).


  1. Stay in Community

The expression of Christ’s body in the earth is the local church. We were made for community. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, NKJV). And in this body we are to support one another (Galatians 6:2) and spur each other on to good works (Hebrews 10:24). In this body we are given gifts of ministers to edify and equip us into maturity, into a unified body (Ephesians 4:11-16).

“If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. …How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?”  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

The Pursuit of God

My soul follows hard after You; Your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:8

The things we value, the things we are passionate about become our pursuit. Psalms 63, we find the essence of our pursuit of God. The meaning of “follows hard after” in the Hebrew is to cling to or take hold of. We lay hold of God in our passionate pursuit of Him.

Philippians 3:9, The Passion Translation, Paul writes:
My passion is to be consumed with him and not clinging to my own “righteousness” based in keeping the written Law. My “righteousness” will be his, based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—the very righteousness that comes from God.

Paul teaches us in Philippians 3 why it is important to follow hard after God:

  1. We follow hard after God to Know Him

Philippians 3:7-8, The Passion Translation
Yet all of the accomplishments that I once took credit for, I’ve now forsaken them and I regard it all as nothing compared to the delight of experiencing Jesus Christ as my Lord! To truly know him meant letting go of everything from my past and throwing all my boasting on the garbage heap. It’s all like a pile of manure to me now, so that I may be enriched in the reality of knowing Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord in all of his greatness.

Paul writes to the Ephesians that his prayer was for them to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:17-19). There is a difference between having an understanding that God is good and experiencing His goodness in present reality. Hosea writes about this experiential knowledge saying, “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established in the morning; He will come to us like rain, like the latter and the former rain to the earth (Hosea 6:3).” This experiential knowledge was to encounter God not just have an understanding about an attribute of God. In this verse Hosea is describing the presence of the Lord like the rain. He comes to us like the refreshing and soaking rains. He revives us in His presence and brings healing through His living streams of water.

  1. We follow hard after God to demonstrate justification

We have been justified by faith and the evidence of this saving faith is an ongoing pursuit of Christ above all others. We are justified by faith, and it is demonstrated by our pursuit. Good works cannot produce faith, much like a seed cannot produce fruit without water and sun. Once the sun and water affect the seed, fruit is on its way.

Saving grace produces a desire for the pursuit of heavenly things. The work of God in the believer begins a desire for the Word of God and His presence. So often we misdirect our passion and try to pacify eternal longings with temporal fixes. The pursuit of God is the expression of the desire for God awakened by faith.

Philippians 3:9, The Passion Translation
My passion is to be consumed with him and not clinging to my own “righteousness” based in keeping the written Law. My “righteousness” will be his, based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—the very righteousness that comes from God.

  1. We follow hard after God to experience His resurrection life

We are yet perfected. The precious work of grace has begun, but is yet to be perfected. Daily I need to drink of His resurrection streams. Daily I need to experience His love. Daily I need to hear His voice. Pursuit of God is laying aside any weight or distraction to know Him and His resurrection.

Philippians 3:12, The Passion Translation
12 I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover.

Paul writes, “I admit that I haven’t yet acquired…” I haven’t arrived. There is still more to know and enjoy and delight in and be changed by. Resurrection life takes off the grave clothes, leaves the cemetery of despair, and walks in newness of life.

  1. We follow hard after God because He has made us His own

Christ Jesus has laid His hand upon you. He has made you His own. What a humbling honor that the creator has taken us out of the pit of this world, clothed us in His righteousness, and has laid His hand of anointing and calling upon us. He has made us kings and priests. He has set us apart for His plans and purposes. In the pursuit of God we discover more of who He has made us to be and more of how He has called us to live.

Philippians 3:12-13, The Passion Translation
12 I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. 13 I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this;[a] however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead.

What delight in God do you still have to experience? What joy still remains for you? What promise has yet to be obtained? Pursue hard after God and find Him to be all you ever need. The pursuit will not end in broken promises and will not leave you wanting. Embarking the pursuit of God will satisfy every longing and desire. The pursuit of Him was what you were made for!

7 Realities About Suffering

The following is taken from the sermon, “Invincible, Irrefutable Joy: God’s Glory in Human Suffering.”

In the midst of life, we are faced with tragedy, hurt, hang ups, brokenness, loneliness, and suffering of all types. What is the response? What is the hope? How are we to find joy in God in the midst of suffering?

It is true that God’s greatest display of His greatness is redeeming fallen man. If redemption is the greatest display, then God is glorified the greatest in my life when I delight in Him the most. How does joy in God and suffering reconcile? We often think as joy and suffering as opposing agents.

In the midst of World War 2, a man by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer did much to train and equip pastors and the church during the tragedy of Hitler’s destruction in Germany. In one of his last letters to his seminarian brothers before his execution, Bonhoeffer penned this line: “The joy of God has gone through the poverty of manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable.”

Bonhoeffer goes on in the letter to state that, “It [joy] does not deny the anguish, when it is there, but finds God in the midst of it, in fact precisely there; it does not deny grave sin but finds forgiveness precisely in this way; it looks death straight in the eye, but it finds life precisely within it.”

Here 7 Realities to Find God’s Invincible, Irrefutable Joy:

  1. Suffering Comes in Many Ways

In fact, the Bible guarantees suffering. Throughout Scripture we see that troubles, persecution, trials—suffering will come. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual trials will come, but in them all, God is our deliverer. Psalm 34:19, “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

  1. Suffering is to Happen within our Christian Community

Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “Bear one another’s burdens…,” and Hebrews 10:24 says to, “watch out for one another…” The Royal Law (James 2:8) written on our hearts results in a demonstration of compassion and care for our brothers and sisters. We were created to do life in God’s presence in the Body of Christ. The reality is that we need Him, and we need Him in the context of our spiritual family. We sharpen one another, and we provoke one another to good works.

  1. Suffering is Actually a Gift

In Philippians 1:29, Paul writes, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  Wait! What?! We have been given the gift of faith to believe in Christ, and also, we have been given the gift of suffering for His sake. I am certain we do not always consider our present trials and troubles a gift. Paul had experienced many troubles for the Gospel, and He considered each of them a gift, knowing that “the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (Phil 1:12).” Knowing troubles are assured, and knowing they bring deeper delight in God, and knowing they are opportunities for the furtherance of the gospel, then let us prepare to suffer with even greater joy and even greater determination in the gospel demonstration. The gift of suffering perfects us and advances the gospel as we find our invincible, irrefutable joy in God. When facing troubles, know it is another opportunity to discover deeper delight in sweetness of our Savior.

  1. The Suffering Savior is our Example

Jesus, our Great Shepherd leads us along the journey through the mountains of triumph and the valleys of shadows and death. Whether in life or death I am more than victorious in Christ. “…So now also Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:20-21).” In other words, I’m satisfied, and He is glorified whether I live or I die.

Jesus is our example in suffering: Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross”

Jesus is our example in temptation: Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus is our example in sickness and death: John 11:35, 40: “Jesus wept. Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’”

Jesus is our example in persecution: 1 Peter 2:21-23: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

  1. The Work of Suffering

Trials and troubles are a gift, and Jesus is our example of finding invincible, irrefutable joy in God through the suffering. As we delight in God, suffering has its work in our lives. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).” Command yourself to be in a place of joy. Refuse to live anywhere else, except the place of absolute invincible, irrefutable joy in God. It is in this place in God where perseverance is working its work of completion in you. A life delighting in God, no matter the landscape or season, can be found to be a life in which perseverance can have its way.

  1. The Secret to Enjoying the Sweetness of the Savior in Suffering

Paul writes in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” What was Paul’s secret to “knowing how to be” in all these circumstances? He tells us in Philippians 3:8, “Yet indeed I also count all things for loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” And in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We learn to discover the Savior’s sweetness when we can count anything outside of Christ as loss. Our difficulty is that we often hold things more valuable and of higher priority than Christ. Whether tangible things, or our own imaginations and ideas, we esteem them more highly than Jesus, and when trouble comes our value is shaken because what we hold dear has been shaken. To the one who has lost it all, yet has found the value of Jesus, has found something greater than any loss or suffering. To the one who has it all, yet has found the value of Jesus, has found the pearl of great price, worth selling all to have. I can walk thru any adversity with His joy, because His joy is my strength (Neh 8:10)!

  1. My Redeemer Lives!

As Job declared in the midst of adversity, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:25-26).” No matter the loss, even to my skin wasting away as dust to dust in the ground, there will be a day when I see God in my flesh. As the old song says, “my faith shall be sight.” What I have known, and enjoyed, and found joy in will continue throughout the eternal ages. I have strength in this life, and I have a hope in eternal life!

When God Presses In

You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power. Psalm 139:5, GNT

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5, ESV

What happens when God presses in upon you? What does life look like when the hand of God is upon you and He encircles you? The word picture here reminds me of Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea. Their enemy was behind them, the red sea in front of them. There were millions of people ready to be slaughtered by the Egyptian army. They were like helpless sheep waiting to be slaughtered by a prevailing army. God was pressing in upon the Israelites.

Some may view this as certain doom and despair, but God saw this as an opportunity for His glory to be shown in the earth and lives to be transformed. God encircled round about the Israelites. His fire protected them, and the breath of life parted the Red Sea. In His goodness He even dried up on the ground the Israelites would walk on so they would not sink in the mud.

The Lord, the Victorious one has gone before you. He stands as your rear guard and He leads onward as the conquering King. He has hemmed you in and has laid His hand upon you. What will you do now? Will you quit and give up at the first sign of trouble? Will you return to the Egyptian army hoping they will not slaughter you as they had been sent to do? Will you go back to the way things used to be, hoping for some sort of peace in slavery? Or like Moses and the millions of Israelites, will you move forward, deeper into the greater things of God?

God has even ensured that you will not sink into despair along the journey. The muddy path had become dry ground. Walking in God’s grace makes muddy paths become dry. He leads you into paths of righteousness. He places you on His highway of holiness. To turn to the right or to the left will guarantee quick sand in which you will surely sink into despair. But to remain on His path with His Word as your light and your direction, you cannot fail.

When God presses in upon you, in the natural you may see chaos and uncertainty; however, God sees provision, blessing, and growth. Your God-given assignment is only validated by the pressure. As wheat is threshed under great pressure, God separates the chaff from the wheat in your life through the weight of His hand upon you. Just as the olives are pressed for the abundance of oil to flow, God lays His hand upon you to press out what is within you.

It is during these moments we realize what inadequacies we have. As God encircles us we see His greatness and our lack, our vulnerability, our need. We see the uncrossable sea and the fierce army. God sees His power to deliver. God sees His promise being fulfilled. God is certain of His ability to do what He has promised in your life. He will use the enemy to bring about His plan. He used the Egyptian army to apply pressure. He used the army to reveal His power. He used the army to reveal the heart of man. He used the army to drive the Israelites forward. And when He was finished with the enemy, He brought down the waters of judgment upon them. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of God’s judgment. But, oh how wonderful it is to be in the hands of God’s grace. He has encircled me and laid His hand of grace and power upon me!

Jesus spoke of these wonderful hands. John 10:28: “No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Paul said it like this in Romans 8:31, 35: “If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

In the natural you may see the problem, but through the eyes of faith you will see His power upon you. It is foolish to kick against the goads. Saul learned the great lesson of God’s hemming when God’s glory shone about him, knocked him to the ground, and changed His life.

In what ways might God be hemming you in? Like the caterpillar, the hemming brings about a change to great beauty. Learn to rest in God’s sovereign hand. When the pressure comes, don’t resist His hand, but yield and rest in His power upon you. God is ‘round about you, and He has placed His hand upon you. Yield to God’s unchanging hand! Certainly, He will deliver you. Certainly, He has brought you to a place of victory. If you could only see what’s awaiting you on the other side of the Red Sea!

There’s an old song written in 1906 by Jennie Wilson that captures the eternal, unchanging nature of God’s hand upon you:

Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

Trust in Him who will not leave you,
Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling.

Covet not this world’s vain riches
That so rapidly decay,
Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures,
They will never pass away.

When your journey is completed,
If to God you have been true,
Fair and bright the home in glory
Your enraptured soul will view

Hold to God’s unchanging hand,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand;
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

Advent and Why We Celebrate

Advent and Why We Celebrate

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming, which comes from the Greek word parousia.

In the fourth and fifth centuries, Advent was a season of preparation for the celebration of Epiphany, a festival on January 6, commemorating God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to Jesus, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, and His first miracle at Cana. During the Advent season, Christians would spend 40 days in prayer, repentance, and fasting for the coming of Epiphany; originally, Advent was little connected to Christmas.

By the sixth century, Roman Christians tied Advent to the coming of Christ—but not His coming in a manger. Advent became a celebration of Christ’s second coming. It was during the Middle Ages that Advent was linked to Christ’s first coming in Bethlehem.

Today, Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The new Christian year begins with a 12-day celebration from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6.

The Church in these last days is much like the Israelites at the end of the Old Testament. We find ourselves, as it were, in exile in a foreign land, waiting with eager expectation of Christ’s second coming.

Advent combines the elements of remembrance and anticipation. We reflect and remember and we anticipate His second coming. To balance these elements, the first two Sundays of Advent look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays look backward to remember Christ’s first coming.

Though it may be challenging to keep in mind in the midst of holiday decorating and shopping, Advent is intended to be a season of fasting and reflection. One catechism describes Advent in this way: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming.”

Advent celebrates Christ’s coming as Emmanuel, God with us! Advent celebrates God’s coming in Acts 2 at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Advent celebrates and anticipates Christ’s soon return.

The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays. Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and eternal life in Christ.

The most common Advent tradition involves four or five candles. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas and the fifth on Christmas Eve. We often think of Christmas colors of red, green, silver, and gold. However, these are not the common Advent celebration colors. Three of the four candles are purple or violet representing royalty and repentance. These three candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays. The third Sunday candle is pink, representing the joy of Advent. The fifth, a white candle, is lit on Christmas Eve, representing the purity and holiness of Christ and His birth. Oftentimes, the first candle is used to remind us of God’s creation and the forgiveness granted at the garden. The second candle reminds us of God’s incarnation. The third, represents the joy found in God’s covenant with David of an eternal seed and redemption from sin. The fourth, represents the second coming of Christ.

Why should believers make the Advent festival a family and church priority?

  1. Advent reminds us we are not the center of God’s plan

We are reminded throughout Scripture of God’s eternal plan. Romans 5:8 reminds us that while we were still sinners, enemies of God, Christ gave His life for us. Revelation unfolds the eternal portrait of redemption. Hebrews declares the mystery and revelation of this eternal plan throughout the ages. Continually we are reminded that we are included in this eternal plan, and are benefactors of it, but we are certainly not the main characters in the story.

  1. Advent reminds us of those who have gone before us

Hebrews 11 reminds us of the faith of many of those who have gone before us who by faith obtained a good testimony, but their faith is connected to ours (Heb 11:40). Many generations awaited the Messiah’s first coming. They endured hardships, were pilgrims in exile, were persecuted. Advent reminds us of their faith and humbles us to see God’s plan of the ages unfolding. We are reminded to endure with longsuffering in an evil age.

  1. Advent reminds us to reflect

In the hustles and bustle of holidays, we are reminded to slow down, remember and celebrate. The end of the year is not about gift giving and decorations, but so much more. We remember the ages of prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. We remember the covenant of God with David for an eternal seed. We remember the generations that awaited the Messiah’s appearing. We remember Simeon and Anna who eagerly awaited the Messiah in the temple. We remember Christ’s coming in a manger and that God came into His creation. We remember Christ’s ministry on earth and His heavenly ministry today. We remember the prophecies concerning Christ’s second coming. We remember who He has called us to be.

  1. Advent reminds us of Christian discontentment

Christ’s coming, crucifixion, and resurrection would have been enough—more than enough, but He gives so much more and calls us to hunger and thirst after Him. It is our blessing to cultivate and nurture our desire for Him. There is a longing in our hearts for His second coming. There is a longing for Him to reveal Himself to us in Scripture and in our worship. Creation is groaning for this revelation (Ro 8:23). The martyrs cry out, “how long, O Lord” (Rev 6:10). Jesus blessed hunger and thirsting for righteousness in the beatitudes. Advent encourages our holy discontentment.

  1. Advent encourages us in the promises of God

As we reflect on God’s promises and His answers of the past, we are able to have great anticipation for what He will do ahead of us. We have confidence in His promise of His soon return and thus we are inspired to evangelize, to continue on in our fellowship together and brotherly love, and willing to endure suffering with great joy. Advent reminds us that as God has met many others in the unfolding of His eternal plan, He also will meet us today. He truly is the same yesterday, today, and forever! (Hebrews 13:8)

Just Relax

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers–most of which are never even seen–don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Matthew 6:30-33, The Message

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a stressful situation and wondered how you got there? Even worse–worried about how you were going to get out? Maybe there was a time when your young child was stressed out and as the parent you realized the situation would quickly change and there was no need for the drama.

I love how The Message Bible phrases Jesus’ words here: What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax. We have a saying we use frequently: Just Drink. In other words–just chill. Just relax and have a big drink of God’s River of Living Water. Living Water will change your stress into joy! Like the parent above, we comfort the child and say, just relax; it’s going to be okay.

After all, stress and anxiety stem from our need to get something. We are stressed about someone not meeting our expectations. We are stressed because we spent more than our income. We are anxious over what the doctor might say. These are all things we are receiving or not receiving that cause stress. We worry about what we are getting.

Why not turn loose of the worry about getting and have joy in giving? Jesus wants us to stop worrying about our getting and be occupied with God’s giving. What is God trying to get into my life? What do I need to turn loose of in order to receive what God is giving? God’s giving is sow and you reap; give and it will be given. If you find yourself stressed about the doctor’s report, go and sow joy into someone else. If you find yourself battling loneliness, go and be a friend to another. Anxious about your finances–give an offering.

A while back I did an illustration with an apple. We know when eating an apple we do not eat the seeds of the apple. When we cut the apple, we immediately find the seeds and remove them so they are not eaten. Our income is the same. When God gives–we look for the seed. When our receiving becomes a giving, we move from worry about what we are getting to joy in God’s giving.

God has your everyday human concerns handled. This reminds me of someone going into work to do a job they have not been assigned to do. It’s like someone that is a bookkeeper trying to do the janitor’s job. The bookkeeper can be stressed out and anxious about the cobwebs in the building, but they are worried about something outside of their responsibilities. The boss in this organization would remind the bookkeeper that they are concerned about something that they have no control over. We often try to do God’s job when we have no control over Him or His responsibilities. He says our job is to seek first His Kingdom. The rest is up to Him.

Are you worried and anxious because you want something that God is not giving? Are you driven by a need to get and God is trying to give something greater? Maybe you are anxious about what God is giving and you would rather hang on to what you already have.

The more you saturate, or as The Message says, steep, your life in God, the more you walk in His reality, His provision, His vision. It is easier to trust Him when your life is full of Him. It is less stressful when God is the center focus–not the fear over what you are getting or not getting in this life. God has clothed the wildflowers of the field in splendor; He will certainly take care of me! Just relax! He’s got you covered!



Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3, NKJV

This is a word we do not commonly hear these days. Regeneration is defined as being reborn or formed again. Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains regeneration as follows:

This word literally means a “new birth.” The Greek word so rendered (palingenesia) is used by classical writers with reference to the changes produced by the return of spring. In Matthew 19:28 the word is equivalent to the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). It denotes that change of heart elsewhere spoken of as a passing from death to life; becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus; being born again; a renewal of the mind; a resurrection from the dead; a being quickened. This change is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God. As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins.” The necessity of such a change is emphatically affirmed in Scripture.

Here in John 3, Jesus describes regeneration as being born again. The instruction to Nicodemus was not something that could be accomplished through his efforts in studying the law or through good works. Nicodemus could not be regenerated by being in a dignified, prestigious religious office. Regeneration occurs only as a work of the Spirit of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6, NKJV)

This is the life of God at work in the soul of man. As we repent, we are made new. Redemption’s effect is this work of regeneration. This is more than turning over a new leaf or endeavoring to be a better you. Regeneration is a complete overhaul of what was. What was once dead is now alive. The sin that was once acceptable is now detestable. The enjoyment of divine things surpasses the hobbies and interests of this life. That which is godly and honorable are now delightful and pleasing attributes.

The sin that held your conscience captive for so long is erased and the skeletons in the closet of your mind are removed. The Spirit of God transforms you finally and forever. His work is complete and permanent.

Regeneration makes Christ and His work appealing and attractive. Nicodemus was a ruler in the church, and should not be associated with Jesus’ ministry. Regeneration changed His life and changed His desires. The same man who should not associate with Christ was found burying Him after the crucifixion. He brought 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint the dead body of Jesus and prepare Him for burial. What changed in Nicodemus? What made him go from a man that sought Christ in the secrecy and cover of the night hour to one who would publicly remove the body of Jesus from the cross and care for the mutilated remains? Regeneration! The words of Jesus echoed clearly that day as Nicodemus anointed that precious body for burial. Nicodemus, unless a man is born again. Nicodemus, I am the resurrection and the life. As you anoint my body for burial, this body will not remain in the grave. Just as those who come to me, they will be born again. Though they may appear to be dead, I will make them live!

It is time to allow the anointing of Christ to come upon you that you may live. The regenerating power of God can flow through your life and make you come alive—really alive. Christ is the King who makes all things new. If He can regenerate the lost person, He can certainly quicken you. If you are saddened or discouraged, His anointing power can awaken you. The one who came out of the tomb can bring breakthrough in your life. Like Nicodemus, go to Him at the cross and let the power of Gethsemane’s hill flow into you. Run quickly with Nicodemus to the garden tomb where Christ’s body was laid, and see the resurrection life that can flow into you. Behold Christ today and He will bring life into your weary world!


Revive Me

Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
Psalm 143:11

Life is filled with trouble. The word used by David for trouble means distress or trouble; sorrow, pain, anguish. David faced the troubles of life. His leader turned on him and tried to kill him. People he trusted left him. His own family tried to defame him. Sin always invites distress. The consequences of sin are sure to find us out–whether by our own sin, the sin of others, or the sin of this world. Sin will always come around and bite us. The words of the snake may be enticing, but they are filled with venom.

If you have suffered the effects of sin, this verse offers hope: Revive Me! David was asking God to sustain his life; to quicken his life in order that he may live. At times the effects of sin may weary you to the point of depression and a desire to no longer live. The effects of sin may take away your strength, your ambition or zeal. But in the midst of his agony, David cried to the Lord for life! This is supernatural life. It is the God-kind of life given by the work of His presence. It’s the life of God in the soul man. Romans 8:11 tells us that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will quicken us.

Is the Spirit of God living in you? Have you become the temple of the Holy Spirit. If He has taken up residence within you, you have the same person that brought the crucified Christ out of His grave. The same Spirit that quickened Lazarus is in you. The same Spirit that raised the widow’s son is in you. The same Spirit that raised the Shunammite’s son is living in you. And if He is in you, He can revive you to new life.

God will work this miracle in you based not on your merit, but according to His name. David said, “for your name’s sake!” Translated from Hebrew, David is saying, “according to or for the purpose of your reputation or glory” quicken or revive me. It is the desire of God to revive you, not by the works of your own righteousness that is like dirty laundry, but according to His righteousness and fame which is perfect and holy. His motive in reviving you is pure, without manipulation or ulterior motives. He is not demanding a hidden agreement; there is no fine print to read. God desires that you be revived according to his righteousness for His own glory.

What a divine picture! God desires you to be quickened and full of life that His glory might be put on display for others to see. You are a living epistle. You are God’s masterpiece. He has displayed you for the world to see His work in you. You are incapable of reviving yourself. No person when they are dying are able to administer resuscitation on themselves. We must have the hand of God massage our heart to life and breathe life into our nostrils.

Lord, revive me! I do not know what others may decide. I do not know how others may respond to my new life. All I know is that I am dying without you. For your glory and my enjoyment, will you come?! The same Spirit that regenerated me at salvation can renew the joy of my salvation. The same Spirit that made me alive to Christ, can sustain and quicken this divine life I am living. Have the troubles of life got you down? Christ can raise you up and quicken you to new life!

Night of Hope

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God
Acts 16:25, NKJV

Can you imagine being beaten and imprisoned for no crime other than being used of God to set a demon possessed person free? Paul and Silas were completely innocent of a crime, but completely guilty of loving the hurting and the broken.

Three years ago, our church launched an outreach called Night of Hope. We were asking God to give us a vision to reach our community in a unique way. Much like Paul and Silas, this ministry has come to people often at their darkest hour. We have the privilege of loving those who feel as though they are in bondage or are broken by life’s hang ups and hurts.

For three years we have given away groceries, hot meals, haircuts, spa treatments, medical screenings, chiropractor adjustments, vaccinations, resources and community assistance. Nearly 100,000 meals have been served. But beyond the tangible ministry, the Gospel has been preached and demonstrated. We have walked with families through death, drug addiction, financial hardship, and salvation.

What had become the midnight hour for Paul and Silas came as the result of bringing the radiance of the Son into a darkened life. Here was a woman bound to her masters and bound to a demon. The fortune telling woman encountered God. In one moment, the brightness of God’s glory invaded her life and liberated her from bondage. It was that miracle that brought Paul and Silas to the prison. But at midnight—in their darkness—they were able to sing out songs of praise because they trusted in God. They had seen His power liberate the demoniac, and they knew that His same power could liberate them from their prison walls.

Are you afflicted today in bondage and brokenness? Has hardship overcome you in this life? Have you seen the spiritual condition in which you lay helpless? The light of God’s glory can liberate you from all oppression! Are you a friend of God discouraged by circumstance? Have you come into a dark place because of your good works? Do you, like Lazarus, feel you have given all for your friend Jesus, and yet He has allowed you to die? Be encouraged! Jesus is on His way to your tomb. Be edified! The resurrection life that liberated the demoniac has come to liberate you.

You can look at your night and say this is a place of hope. Others may have prospered from this woman’s fortune telling, but what had been sown in darkness would now be reaped in everlasting life. God took her out of her night, and brought her into His marvelous light that she might proclaim His wonderful works. God delivered Paul and Silas out of their night and into the light of His joy.

God brought hope to Paul and Silas, and He brought hope to the prison jailer. In the midst of Paul and Silas’s night of beating, torment, and imprisonment God used them to bring salvation to the jailer and his family. In just a matter of hours they witnessed the power of God set the demoniac free, save the jailer, and save the jailer’s family. God delivered the tormented, the tortured, and the trembling persons. He brought hope in the midst of hardship. He will do the same for you! Today might be your Night of Hope!

One Desire Above All

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord.
Psalm 27:4, NKJV

Our lives have the tendency to be filled with so many things: family, relationships, career, finances, health. Many times, most of us could spend hours talking about the many things happening in our lives.

Here we find David declaring out his single focus and single passion—God I need you more than anything. Not that David was always perfected in His focus, but when he was distracted, he was quick to repent and return to this one desire.

We are all born with desire. Babies from birth want to be held and nurtured by their mother and cry for this affection. Babies communicate their desire for food when they are hungry. Desire still motivates us to action as we get older. We see and experience things in life that are pleasing and pleasurable and thus desires are formed.

How are spiritual desires formed and fed? David answers this in Psalms 27 also. The fulfillment of the desire of His heart also feeds the desire from which it springs forth: I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord. Observing God in His house and gazing upon His beauty ignites a desire for more of Him.

Observing God in His house is to enjoy His presence in your private times of prayer and worship. Seeing and savoring His sweetness happens as you see Him move among your spiritual family in church or small groups. Delighting in God can be done as you see Him revealed in Scripture. Observe Him in His splendor in the avenues by which He reveals Himself and you will desire to see Him more.

Gazing upon the beauty of the Lord will leave you in awe and wonder. Like Jeremiah, you will say, There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might(Jeremiah 10:6, ESV).

Have you been awakened to the Lord’s beauty? Like David, is your heart beating with a single desire to know Him passionately and intimately? If not, let this be your goal before God: to observe Him in His sanctuary. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Like Moses, be bold enough to ask God to show you His glory. God never disappoints, and one moment of revelation will change your life—it will change your desires. Like David, be quick to repent and return to your first love.

As you see Him, allow desire for Him to rise and continue. Do not be like to foolish virgins that are lulled to sleep when the Master is calling. The world and your carnal nature will tell you that desiring God is emotionalism, irrational, or radical. The writers of the Bible will tell you another story. The Holy Spirit will reveal something greater. Allow your passion for God to grow. Deepen your desire for more of Him!




For Such a Time

Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for sucha time as this?
Esther 4:14, NKJV

How wonderful is the call of God on our lives! He brings us out of our orphaned state, adopts us as His children, and makes us His instruments of praise. Esther’s story is a great example of the life-transforming work of God. She became the instrument of praise to declare the salvation of God for her people.

Have you considered lately the work of God in you? He has awakened you to His love. He has immersed you into His presence. He has purified you and washed the stench of sin from you. God has anointed you with His fragrant oils, and placed within your mouth a new song of joy. He has brought you to the Kingdom for such a time as this! Alexander MacLaren expounds on this verse from Esther here:

Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? There speaks the devout statesman, the court-experienced believer. He has seen favourites tended and tossed aside, viziers powerful and beheaded, kings half deified and deserted in their utmost need. Sitting at the gate there, he has seen generations of Hamans go out and in; he has seen the craft, the cruelty, the lusts which have been the apparent causes of the puppets’ rise and fall, and he has looked beyond it all and believed in a Hand that pulled the wires, in a King of Kings who raiseth up one and setteth down another. So he believes that his Esther has come to the kingdom by God’s appointment, to do God’s work at God’s time. And these convictions keep him calm and stir her.

 No man receives the Gospel for his own sake. We are not non-conductors, but stand all linked hand in hand. We are members of the body that the blood may flow freely through us. For no loftier reason did God light the candle than that it might give light. We are beacons kindled to transmit, till every sister light flashes back the ray.

Now is the time for you to arise and radiate the glory of the Lord. His message is redemption and His plan is salvation. He is baptizing people in the Holy Spirit. He is breaking bondages and cleansing the captives. God has positioned you, given you power, and filled your mouth with praise. Now is the time to release the sound. Now is the time to minister to the broken. Now is the time to freely give as you have freely received.

Do you lack assurance in His assignment? Do you lack confidence in His commission? Have you felt that you are incapable to minister to the broken? What timidity keeps you from speaking to the hurting? Be reminded of how God has orchestrated your steps, redeemed you from the pit, washed you from faithlessness, and immersed you in the boldness of His Spirit. Let your light shine so that all men might see your Father’s radiance. You have come to the Kingdom and now you have been made an ambassador of the King.

I’m in Need of Him Alone

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God
Psalm 42:2, NKJV

Charles Price in his book The Real Faithtells the story of a cripple man who was continually brought into the services for healing. Many times, Price and others spent much time praying for the man. Days went by and there was no sign of healing.

One afternoon they wheeled him to a corner in the building. He asked the people to leave the two of us alone, and then said something that has lingered in the chambers of my memory. “What a failure I am,” he declared. “I came here strong in what I thought was my faith in the Lord. As I look deeply into my heart I find something about which I wish to confess. What a poor, miserable failure I have been. I have been spiritually proud of the fact that people have pointed to me as a man who suffered without complaining. They pointed me out as the man who never grumbled, although he had a cross to bear. I grew proud of my reputation and I can see now that what I termed my goodness has been self-righteousness in the sight of my Lord.”

“Dr. Price,” he said, “I don’t need healing half as much as I need Jesus. I am so hungry for His presence. More than anything else in my life, I want to know Him better, and I am content to spend my days in this chair if only He will flood this self-righteous heart of mine with His peace and love.”

Dr. Price describes how he watched the cripple man in the wheel chair disappear around the corner of the building after that conversation. A few days later this man came back to the church for the evening service. He described to Dr. Price how Jesus had met him the night before. He spent the night in prayer and praise and worship. He described how the fog had lifted from his heart and mind and he became conscious of an infusion of Life Divine.

“Why does this man have to wait until tonight?” “He does not,” I replied. “The Great Physician is here now. Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” A moment later it was over. Out of his wheel chair arose that man. He ran and jumped and praised the Lord for his deliverance.

Our God is the Great Physician and He desires to heal. Just as much as He is our healer, He is our creator. If you were to be admitted to Heaven’s triage, the first condition of healing to apply would be that of your heart. What offense lingers there or spiritual pride? Oh, the cancer of your heart that must be cleansed for the life of God to flow into every spiritual extremity. Jesus wants to heal every brokenness and of great importance is that your inner man be made whole.

Do you desire to be healed only in the external, or is there a desperation for utter deliverance–spirit, soul and body? Let the sickness of vanity and pride be cleansed and love-sickness for your first love return. Let your inner man be restored from its blockages that it may be moved with compassion for the lost. Cleanse your soul from every hinderance that the rivers of life may flow freely from within. The Healer is able to heal your physical body, but He also has great concern for your spirit man and soul. May the cry of your heart be:I don’t need healing half as much as I need Jesus. I am so hungry for His presence.

It’s Easy to Receive

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3, NKJV

What is it that you need from the Lord; is it direction for your path? Do you need divine healing, divine providence, divine wisdom? Where you lack, He can supply. There is a bountiful, surpassing overflow of perfect gifts available to you in Christ.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17, ESV).

We can come to our Father knowing He will not give us a stone instead of bread (Matt 7:9). He has gracious and wonderful gifts to bestow upon His children who will come in faith. He is the Reward and Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him in faith (Heb 11:6). Our Heavenly Father is neither changed by circumstance or diminished by need. With Him there is no variation or shadow due to change. He is always at His zenith. The brightness of His glory is always brightly radiant and continually flowing forth like a perpetual spring of water that neither ends nor is quenched.

Have you become as a humble child with the persuasion of your Father’s love? Might we not receive at times from Him because we withhold ourselves in timidity before Him? Does sickness linger in your body because you understand Him to be a loving Father, but have yet to come to Him in faithful assurance that you might receive of the Father’s love which is continually pouring out in crashing tides that might catch you away like an ocean’s billowing waves.

Healing is not dependent upon the development of a perfect faith by any process of self, but rather contact with Jesus (Charles Price).

You may humble yourself before Him and request the faith to embrace Him. Like the woman with the issue of blood who had heard of Christ’s power, you may come trembling and unclean into the crowd, and leave completely whole as you make contact with Him through faith. He is willing that you come to Him, and He desires that you come to Him. It is through simple childlike faith that you obtain Him and the precious promises He has made available to you. It requires no striving or power of the mind to obtain. The promises of His blessing are not spells that can be chanted until some magic occurs. His Word concerning you is His promise—His declaration concerning you. If He has spoken a word of healing in His Word for you, then healing can be received. If He has spoken a word of salvation in His Word for you, then salvation can be received. Ask the author of His Word to reveal His promise in it concerning you, and may the Revealer of this Word impart the faith to obtain all that He has spoken.

With childlike humility we may receive the faith which receives the reward and the Rewarder. Like the child in Matthew 18, Christ is positioning you in the place to receive all He has spoken. Today is your day to receive!


And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship
Acts 2:42, NKJV

Webster describes the origin of the word vulnerable as originating from the Latin noun vulnus or wound. Vulnus led to the Latin verb vulnerare, meaning to wound, and then to the Late Latin adjective vulnerabilis, which became vulnerable in English in the early 1600’s. Vulnerable originally meant capable of being physically wounded or having the power to wound (the latter is now obsolete), but since the late 1600’s, it has also been used figuratively to suggest a defenselessness against non-physical attacks. In other words, someone (or something) can be vulnerable to criticism or failure as well as to literal wounding.

The word denotes a sense of letting down one’s guard or defenses—becoming open and receptive. Vulnerability is a key in community. To have true community and fellowship, it requires those in the community to let down their guard and become transparent and open. Figuratively, it is not merely allowing others to look at your yard through the privacy fence; it is actually removing the fence altogether and allowing others into your space.

The Bible uses a Greek word Koinonia to help paint this picture. It means fellowship, intimacy, joint participation or camaraderie. It is the sharing of mutual risk and mutual benefit. In Christ’s community this is expressed in the joining of many backgrounds, diversities, and experiences into one Body with Christ as the head.

I used to run a communal living discipleship home for men. In this sense of community, everyone shared not only space and housing, but our lives. If someone in the house was having a bad day, everyone noticed. If there was a success, we all rejoiced. Challenges were faced collectively, not just individually. This environment demanded vulnerability.

Our community in Christ demands vulnerability. When God is convicting and challenging you, community requires vulnerability to share this conviction with others. As James says, confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed (James 5:16). Community requires outdoing one another with love and honor (Romans 12:10). This means you intentionally are looking for ways to bless one another. Vulnerability means that you first walk in forgiveness with your community before you offer your worship (Matt 18). There are nearly 60 commands in Scripture that begin with “one another.” Vulnerability requires walking in community with others.

Ask God to help you let down the walls of fear and pride and become vulnerable within your community. There is no command in scripture that you must score 100% on an entrance exam for Christ’s community. Consider those who followed Jesus: drunks, murderers, thieves, prostitutes, business people, religious people. Come as you are into His community. Let down the walls with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. See what power flows in community as it did in the New Testament church.

The words in this verse “continued steadfastly” means to be preserved in; kept from spoiling; or maintain for future use. There is a direct link between your involvement in Christ’s community and your spiritual preservation. The moment you disconnect from divine fellowship within the Body of Christ, you begin to spoil. At this point some may offer excuses such has offense, hurt, wrongful actions by church leadership, and the like. While unfortunate things happen within the Church, the Church is God’s plan for your spiritual life and fellowship. Walking through these difficulties perfects you and shapes you as you humble yourself before God and remain vulnerable in community.

Today is a new day to walk in community with vulnerability. Take the small step of opening up to someone about what God is doing in your life. Share a Scripture that has been meaningful to you. Pray for one another. Look for way to bless others in your community. You might be surprised at the power of God that flows into your life through community!

Faith of a Seed for Healing

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Luke 17:6, NKJV

To believe in healing is one thing; but to have faith for it is something completely different. To trust that God is able to heal is one thing; but to know Him as your Healer is entirely another. Faith is applicable for more than healing—the very essence of our salvation is founded in faith. For the moment, however, let me address specifically faith for healing.

Consider the faith that was needed for your salvation. Did you create this faith? Were you redeemed from the awful pits of hell because you gave mental credence to a doctrine? Faith was imparted to you through the reality of Christ’s gift by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to hear what the natural ear cannot hear. This is why Jesus spoke of religious leaders having ears but they could not hear. The message of Christ was being proclaimed, and the ministry of Christ was being demonstrated—yet they were still darkened to His reality. It is an awful thing to be face to face with His presence, and still be unaware He is even in the room.

Remember that faith, even the weight of a single mustard seed, can do more than a ton of determination or wishful thinking. True faith, when it is present, produces results just as the sun when it has risen produces light. It is inevitable that faith brings God-results.

So many people when needing a healing from the Lord, come to the Lord on the basis of His Word and try and tryto affirm they are healed by repetition or having some mindset of healing. Herein lies a fundamental problem. Faith is not repetition of words nor a mental state. We have made difficult what God intends to be easy.

Galatians 5:22 tells us that faith is a fruit of the Spirit. Who is responsible for this work of faith in our lives? The Holy Spirit! When New Testament saints were faced with persecution, was it the natural man’s tendency to love the unlovely? Of course not. It was God’s love shed abroad in their heart according to Romans 5:5. It was the wonderful fruit of love from God. Belief is an element of faith, but the fruit of faith is more than belief. It is a fruit that is produced as we are connected to the vine.

Instead of operating in condemnation over lack of faith or being anxious about faith—why not ask the giver of faith to impart this wonderful fruit into your life. It does not take much. Even an amount much smaller than the size of a smallest blueberry can remove mountains. Faith is the assurance, conviction, and certainty of God’s promise. Faith is being fully persuaded by God of God’s promise and His work. Faith cannot be produced by people. Faith is God’s warranty certifying the revelation He has birthed in you will come to pass in His way and His time. Faith in God’s Word is the guarantee from God in us that everything He has spoken in His Word will come to pass. I am not confused about my salvation because I have faith from God in God and by God that I am born again. Faith for healing operates the same in that it is from God in God and by God you are healed and restored. Today, ask God for faith regarding your healing.



Don’t Profane the Holy

By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.
Leviticus 10:3, NKJV

Nadab and Abihu is a shocking encounter with God. It reminds me of the New Testament account of Ananias and Sapphira. In both occurrences the individuals involved were profaning the holiness of God.

The New King James uses the word “profane” to describe Nadab and Abihu’s fire. Some translations call it “strange.” The Hebrew says it is estranged, foreign, loathsome, that of a prostitute. The description here is that Nadab and Abihu were performing what was to be holy worship in the wrong manner—a manner that was offensive to a holy God. What is dedicated to the Lord can neither be taken for personal gain or attributed to another. They took the presence of the Lord as common place and ordinary, and the fire of the altar consumed them. They decided to act according to their own judgment and did not follow the pattern God had given them for worship.

What was God’s pattern? God had already given direction to Moses and Aaron that He is to be regarded as holy and must be glorified. If we are to honor God, we are to recognize there is none like Him; we recognize His heavy or weighty presence, and we exalt Him. This was more than understanding a dogma of God’s holiness. Those present witnessed the reality of God’s glory for themselves. God is looking for worshippers who worship more than concept. He was looking for pure worship that was in order with His holiness. Watching the fire from the altar leap out and burn these two men to death left an unforgettable memory in the minds of those who saw the reality of God’s holiness. Watching Ananias and Sapphira fall to their feet dead left a last impression of God’s holiness upon those who witnessed this account. Let us never forget the holiness of God, and may we never lack in awe and reverence for Him.

Alexander MacLaren continues this thought about Nadab and Abihu:
They have had many successors, not only in Israel, while a ritual demanding punctilious conformity lasted, but in Christendom since. Alas! our censers are often flaming with ‘strange fire.’ How much so-called Christian worship glows with self-will or with partisan zeal! When we seek to worship God for what we can get, when we rush into His presence with hot, eager desires which we have not subordinated to His will, we are burning ‘strange fire which He has not commanded.’ The only fire which should kindle the incense in our censers, and send it up to heaven in fragrant wreaths, is fire caught from the altar of sacrifice. God must kindle the flame in our hearts if we are to render these else cold hearts to Him.

Let your life be consecrated to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. He calls us today to come boldly into His presence based on Christ’s sacrifice. Efforts to come into God’s holy presence based on any other work will find us in the company of Nadab, Abihu, Ananias, and Saphhira. Literal fire may not come from the altar and consume you, but it will be impossible to delight in God’s presence with dishonor towards Him in your heart.






Don’t Trust the Snake

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
Romans 16:20, NASB

Have you ever felt like every time you turn around the enemy was out to stop you from advancing–Relationship issues, financial trouble, doubt in God’s Word?? Our God is a God of peace. The word here used for “peace” means “to be in a place of rest or tranquility; free from rage or war.” The word for “soon” means “with haste or speed.” Our God of tranquility and victory will quickly crush the enemy under YOUR feet!

Here, the word for “crushed” means to “smash, utterly destroy, break into pieces, obliterate, demolish.” Your victory is guaranteed because Christ is demolishing the power of the enemy from your life. In Christ, every chain is pulverized. In Christ, every bondage is utterly destroyed. In Christ, every distraction is laid to waste. In Christ, every lie is broken into pieces.

Christ has made you victorious over every temptation, every sin–even death itself. And He is working out in you this victory through every step you take on His path. Christ paid for your ultimate freedom and we learn to live out this freedom, crushing the enemy as we walk out our divine purpose in Christ! Every step is a blow to the enemy. Every act of worship is crushing and grinding of the old venomous head.

MacClaren expounds on this verse:
Yes, it is God that bruises, but He uses our feet to do it. It is God from whom the power comes, but the power works through us, and we are neither merely the field, nor merely the prize, of the conflict between these two, but we ourselves have to put all our pith into the task of keeping down the flat, speckled head that has the poison gland in it. ‘The God of peace’-blessed be His Name-’shall bruise Satan under your feet,’ but it will need the tension of your muscles, and the downward force of your heel, if the wriggling reptile is to be kept under.

Determine today to walk in victory. In Christ, walk according to the path of peace. This doesn’t mean distractions and attacks will not come; it means that you are determined to lay a defeating blow by the power of God by each step you take with Christ. It means you will not stop worshipping. It means you will not stop praying. It means you will not stop walking in your God-given authority. You will not be bitten by the venom of bitterness or offense.

Lift your shout of praise. Exalt the Lord and make your boast in Him. The God of peace has brought to you victory over every scheme of the doomed reptile the Devil!


Kingdom of Joy

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 14:17, ESV

People continually are trying to find fulfillment and pleasure. Some work hard in their careers to find a sense of fulfillment and delight. Others pursue hobbies and entertainment. Still others indulge in worldly, sinful activities. Yet, how many say, I will find my fulfillment and my pleasure in God and His church. Is this at the top of the career-minded person’s list of pleasure? Is finding delight in God on the top of the thrill seeker’s bucket list? Even the religious–do they have a longing for absolute satisfaction in God or are they seeking a sense of identity by the dogma they know and the religious checkboxes marked on their rites and ritual list?

Paul teaches us plainly here we should cease our striving and enter into the Kingdom way of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thrills and delights at the ballgame are considered to be normal. Getting excited, showing emotion, and having a good time in any area of life other than church seems to be approved by others. But to tell someone they can have more delight and joy in the Holy Spirit elicits strange looks and religious vomit. Laughter and dancing in the presence of the Lord is frowned upon. Why would a joyful God expect those He loves to find greater joy outside of Him. Seems that this would break the first and greatest commandment to love God first. If we love Him more than any other, our greatest delight is in Him more than any other.

Joy in God is more than finding some sense of self awareness in meditation. Joy in God is more than feeling accomplished by attending a church service or special religious event. Joy in God is more than even finding a temporary happiness from a good sermon. Joy in God is pure and the zenith of all joys. It brings delight, laughter, enjoyment, liberty, peace, dancing, shouting, clapping, lifting of hands, singing of songs, declaring His greatness, and much more. Heaven is not a quiet place–but is filled with the sounds of joy and delight in God. Today, you can delight in God more than any other–more than entertainment, more than a good movie, more than another concert, more than a good book, more than a party, more than another drink, more than another relationship, more than another career. Delight in God will leave you changed! If you have a view that heaven, delight in God and religion is nothing more than fat cherubs sitting on clouds playing harps while the saints sit in white robes telling “war stories” from their life on earth, you have missed Biblical Christianity. It’s time to delight in God!

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. (Jonathan Edwards)

Today, it’s time to jump into the ocean of His joy! No longer do you need to attempt pleasure at “drops in the bucket,” but dive into the ocean of His fullness. You won’t be disappointed!

Streams in Dry Places

He will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Isaiah 32:2, ESV

Have you ever been dehydrated? Your whole body is affected by dehydration. Extreme dehydration leads to death. Common symptoms might include dry mouth, headache, dry skin, muscle cramps, and lack of energy. Dehydration affects the entire body and its systems.

Spiritual dehydration can be just as serious and look very similar. Someone lost in the spiritual barren places, cut off from the source of water, can begin to have “mouth” problems or problems with the things they speak. Spiritual dehydration can lead to confusion and lack of clarity. This ailment can cause one to be rough and harsh or unloving. Any use of spiritual exercise or limbs cause cramps and discomfort. Eventually spiritual dehydration can lead to burn out, lack of zeal, and sooner or later death. Unfortunately, dehydration affects the entire body, and not just one member.

Isaiah is prophesying concerning Christ. He will reign as a righteous King. He describes Christ as a rock in weary places, a shelter in the midst of the desert storm, and streams of water in the barren land.

Jesus spoke of himself in John 7 as the one who would give limitless divine water to drink. This spiritual drink would become in its partakers a river of living water flowing from within. Those who are thirsty can come and drink freely without reservation.

Jonathan Edwards describes Christ as this river of living water as this:

He shall be as “rivers of water in a dry place.” This is an allusion to the deserts of Arabia, which was an exceedingly hot and dry country. One may travel there many days, and see no sign of a river, brook, or spring, nothing but a dry and parched wilderness; so that travelers are ready to be consumed with thirst, as the children of Israel were when they were in this wilderness, when they were faint because there was no water. Now when a man finds Jesus Christ, he is like one that has been traveling in those deserts til he is almost consumed with thirst, and who at last finds a river of cool and clear water. And Christ was typified by the river of water that issued out of the rock for the children of Israel in this desert: he is compared to a river, because there is such a plenty and fullness in him.

Drinking of the river of God is no more a one-time taste as drinking of natural water is not a one time experience. Though one drink of God’s river is enough to save and transform, no one who has truly tasted of its delight can only have one enjoyment. Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to keep drinking–keep receiving–from God’s sustaining power. Jesus told us to abide in Him or remain in Him. Drinking of the river of God is learning to live in the waters of life, not drinking and return to life as usual.  After all, who can return to life as normal after drinking of such divine water!




Get Your House in Order

Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”
Joshua 1:11, NKJV

The Lord has called our church to possess the promise land. He is calling you to possess the land He has promised to you. Maybe the land it is time to possess is the salvation of your family. It could be time to see your neighborhood affected by the presence of the Lord. God could be speaking to you about a new ministry or small group. Where have you settled for anything less than possessing your promise? What land is God calling you into.

Moses had died and the Israelites were in mourning. It took boldness in the Lord to step out and face the fears of what is to come. It took faith to walk into this promise differently than they had walked into the promise in the past. Moses was no longer holding a rod of the river’s waters; the priests had to step out with the ark of God’s presence before the waters would roll back. There was uncertainty as to who or what would be awaiting them on the other side.

Your first step in possessing your promise is preparing your provision. Joshua gave word to prepare yourself. In other words, get yourself, your family, and your belongings in order. What in your home and your family needs to be brought into order so that you can step fully into your promise? I would imagine some of the people had to leave things behind. Others had to have some family conversations about what was to happen. People had to leave their mourning over what was and step into what God was doing today. The season of mourning and grieving had to end. There were others who may have had to deal with conflicts they had with Joshua and his leadership. God had placed His hand on Joshua to lead the way. Before you can possess your promise, God will bring order to your home, your family, and your possessions.

If your financial stewardship is not Biblically aligned, you will miss the promise. If your family altar is not aligned, you are in danger of missing the promise. Perhaps there is someone like Lot’s wife hanging out in your family–someone who is not moving in the direction the Lord is calling–you will find yourself being hindered in receiving the promise. God will begin to bring order in your family and your home so that you may cross over into your promise land.

Perhaps the first step for you is to “prepare” your home. This word prepare in the Hebrew is to establish, fix or make firm, or set in order. Here’s how God is “preparing” you:

Establish: To make permanent or to get the facts in order

Psalm 1 – He’s planting you with roots in His Word so that you will not falter when walking into your promise.

Make Firm: Resolute and determined

Hebrews 10:23 – You will not waver, but walk in faith.

Set in Order: Authoritative Direction or Organization

James 4:7 – Submit to God. Submit to His Authority. YIELD! To be fully yielded to God leaves no room to entertain the devil.


Draw Me Away

Draw me away! We will run after you.
Song of Solomon 1:4, NKJV

Solomon begins this chapter with the Shulamite longing for the kisses of her lover. What a picture of our desire for Christ. “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is better than wine” (SOS 1:2). He continues this passion and desire for love into verse 4, “Draw me away!”

He wants to captivate you. The Lord wants your full attention and desires. The Lord wants you to hear His call to run after Him. What would distract you from His affection today? What sin or weight would hold you back from running after Him? The Lord wants to bring you closer–bring you into His chamber of love.

Life and its issues can distract us. Our eyes get fixed on our problems. Our heart gets wounded by the unmet expectations of others. We become offended and burdened down with weights. We ask ourselves if we can ever find rest and happiness in God. Is it really possible? All we see is the baggage. All we feel is the hurt and anxiety. But today, Jesus is calling after you. He wants to draw you away. He wants the burdens to melt away and for you to run after Him.

He is awakening your passion for Him. He is awakening your desire for Him. He is calling out to your on your bed. He is calling out to you in His creation. He is calling out to you through your family or your coworker. He is beaconing for you to run after Him.

The Spirit of God is wooing you and captivating your attention towards Christ. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this captivation:

The more sensitive a conscience is in a diseased soul, the less easily it is quieted without a real healing. The influence of the Spirit of God is even more clearly demonstrated when people have their hearts drawn away from the world. The Spirit weans them from the objects of their worldly lusts and takes from them worldly pursuits. He accomplishes this by giving them the sense of excellency of divine things and affection for spiritual enjoyments of another world that are promised in the Gospel.

Can you see the enjoyments of another world? Can you hear the sounds and taste the delights of heaven? Has the Word of God and its enjoyments become real to you? Jesus is calling out to you. Will you run after Him?

The Mercy and Wrath of God

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Psalm 2:12, NKJV

Consider today the great mercies of God that have been poured out upon you. It is because the Creator has stepped into His creation and bestowed lavishly His grace and His mercy that we are not consumed. Lamentations tells us that it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. His lovingkindness towards us are new every morning.

Here in Psalms we find a great contrast of these mercies to God’s wrath. Judas kissed the Son unto judgement, but we are invited to kiss the Son in His mercy. Judas betrayed the One who came with mercy and forgiveness. His kiss of betrayal brought guilt and judgment.

The scepter of God’s mercy has been extended to you in the cross. The blood of forgiveness has been applied to the mercy seat. Access into the holy place–the very presence of God has been given. Come today and find mercy for your life.

The grace of God will transform your life. Kiss the Son and find that nearness to His heart will compel you deeper into His love. Kiss the Son and hear His heartbeat as it beats in compassion for you. Kiss the Son and feel the breath of His Spirit upon your cheek. Kiss the Son and know that place of intimacy and change for yourself.

As there is great mercy at the throne of God for you, there is also great wrath towards those who do not come with a kiss of humility. Like Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus, you can kiss the Son in worship, or like Judas you can kiss the Son in betrayal.

Oh the fierceness of the wrath of God that is upon those who do not kiss the Son in worship. Jonathan Edwards had quite the ability to describe this wrath of God:

The wrath of God is like great waters that are damned for the present. They increase more and more and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given. The higher the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when it is let loose. If God should only withdraw His hand from the floodgate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury. They would come upon you with omnipotent power. Even if your strength were ten thousand times greater that it is–even ten thousands times greater than the strength of the stoutest devil in hell–it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The greater of understanding we have of the fury of God’s wrath towards sin the greater value and appreciation we have for His mercy and salvation. As we read in Scripture about His holiness, righteousness, grace, and justification–let us not forget the great fires of hell that burn towards sin. Let us continually come before the Lord, and kiss Him in our worship, knowing how great a salvation we have been given. We have left the kisses of betrayal behind and embrace the Son with great affection.

My Rights

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 
Galatians 2:20, NASB

Maybe you have heard this or even said something like this before. “I have rights.” It interests me how bold and spoiled we can be as Christians. Remember, our rights are lost in Christ, as He gave Himself for us. In a society where everyone demands to be treated as equals; being treated as equals can only come when we see one another in the light of the cross. Remove the cross, remove the great leveler. Remove His blood, remove the fountain that washes prejudices away. Remove fellowship with the Holy Spirit, remove the one who unifies us into one chorus.

We have all sorts of demands. We demand and place expectations of others in the church, our pastors, the church service, church leadership. We want the best sounding worship. We want the most well-spoken pastor. We want money in our bank accounts. We want God to move in a way that is comfortable and not convicting. We want our order and not God’s order. We don’t want to be challenged to pursue God. We want to be the center of attention in our own way. We want control.

What filth we carry with us! What stench of pride arises from our hearts before a holy and pure God! And we are shocked that our churches and leaders are in such compromise. Let us remember that God sets the expectation. God has called us to holiness. God has sent His Spirit to remind us and convict us of all truth. God has called us to unity.

Here’s a quote from Evangelist Steve Hill regarding the demands of God:

But what about God’s demands? After all, He’s the one who formed us in our mother’s womb. He’s the one who has given us life. God is the Master Potter and we are the earthen clay. He is the one we will give an account to. Therefore, it would be good to know what He demands of us. First of all, God demands a total allegiance to His person. That means He wants no other idols in your life. An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our lives. It can be sports, fame, or money. Jesus even spoke of loving God more than family. For many, that is a strong demand, but it must be obeyed. God also demands total allegiance to His cause. That means He expects you to spend your life speaking about His kingdom, not yours. He also demands total allegiance to holiness. “Without holiness,” the Bible says, “no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). It is not a suggestion that we be holy–it is a command. So next time demands are being made to God, make sure His demands are being met first.

Could it be that your demands of God are keeping you from experiencing His fullness? Today, your own assumptions and your own comfort could be hindering you from finding the best God has for you. Your demand that God move a certain way in your life, or a demand that God respect your own comfort and pride could be blocking your breakthrough and leading you to a breakdown. Naaman wanted to place demands on God, but God had His own demands. Healing came when Naaman yielded to the Lord. Today is a great day to cease your striving over demands, and come humbly before God to receive all that He has for you!

Spiritual Intoxication

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled wit the Spirit
Ephesians 5:18, NKJV

Our society has become drunk on carnality. I’m not just speaking of alcohol–but the entirety of carnal pleasures. Moderation is not even a consideration when it comes to the  sin saturated world in which we live.

When it comes to heavenly delights, there’s no risk of over doing it. You can delight yourself in God as much as you would like. We can never have too much of God. At no time does someone reach a place of having received all from the Lord there is to receive. At no time does the believer become so satisfied that another drop from God’s boundless ocean of spiritual drink that he or she cannot take another indulgence.

Paul exhorts us to be filled, or “be being filled,” in the Greek. This is a continual action. Drinking of the Lord’s delights and goodness never cease. Solomon described this love of God as intoxicating.

Has the Lord’s work had an inebriating effect on you? Drinking deeply of His joy will affect your happiness. Drinking deeply of His peace will affect your demeanor. Drinking deeply of His goodness will affect your attitude. Drinking deeply of His pleasures will affect what you find delight in.

Here’s a glimpse from Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards, on drinking in the goodness of her Savior:

My safety and happiness and eternal enjoyment of God’s immutable love seemed as durable and unchangeable as God Himself.  Melted and overcome by the sweetness of this assurance, I fell into a great flow of tears and could not forbear weeping aloud.  It appeared certain to me that God was my Father, and Christ my Lord and Savior, that He was mine and I His.

Under a delightful sense of the immediate presence and love of God, these words seemed to come over and over in my mind, ‘My God, my all; my God, my all.’  The presence of God was so near and so real that I seemed scarcely conscious of anything else.  God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, seemed as distinct persons, both manifesting their inconceivable loveliness and mildness and gentleness and their great and immutable love to me.  I seemed to be taken under the care and charge of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner; and Christ appeared to me as a mighty Saviour, under the character of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, taking my heart, with all its corruptions, under His care and putting it at His feet.  In all things which concerned me I felt myself safe under the protection of the Father and the Saviour; who appeared with supreme kindness to keep a record of everything that I did, and of everything that was done to me, purely for my good.

Have another drink today of God’s overwhelming pleasure. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore! (Psalm 16:11)

Spiritual Songs

I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:15, NKJV

Throughout history, one of the characteristics of New Testament revival is songs of the spirit. These are songs that are spontaneous and unrehearsed. Songs that erupt from a place of intimacy and worship. We have become a generation that is so programmed and performance driven, we often lack opportunity for spontaneous Spirit inspired songs. These are even more than semi-spontaneous phrases that are orchestrated ahead of time by the worship leader into a worship set list. It is actually quite silly how we attempt to even orchestrate how the Holy Spirit will move spontaneously.

The Azusa Street Revival was characterized by this spontaneous song of the Spirit. Here is how Frank Bartleman attempts to describe this song:

No one could understand this “gift of song” but those who had it. It was indeed a “new song” in the Spirit. When I first heard it in the meeting a great hunger entered my soul to receive it. I felt it would exactly express my pent up feelings. I had not yet spoken in tongues. But the “new song” captured me. It was a gift from God of high order and appeared among us soon after the Azusa work began. No one had preached it. The Lord had sovereignly bestowed it, with the outpouring of the residue of oil, the latter rain baptism of the Spirit. It was exercised, as the Spirit moved the possessors, either in solo fashion, or by the company. It was sometimes without words, other times in tongues. The effect was wonderful on the people. It brought a heavenly atmosphere, as though the angels themselves were present and joining with us. And possible they were. It seemed to still criticism and opposition, and was hard for even wicked men to gainsay or ridicule.

Recently in a service during this outpouring of God’s Spirit upon our church, there has been incredible songs of the Spirit. It is tongues, English, and sounds of worship blended together in harmony. No person is leading this choir, but certainly the Holy Spirit is inspiring the song. No person can take credit for leading it or causing its inception in the service. God seems to still us under His wings, and the gentle breeze of the Spirit brings forth this heavenly song of worship.

Paul encourages us to sing out this “new song” to the Lord. Allow the same vocal chords that sing a written song to sing out a spontaneous song of worship. Soon you will find yourself lost in the glory of the one to whom you sing.

Revival Fire Fall

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
Acts 10:44, NKJV

Lately, in the outpouring our church, the revival song from the ‘90’s Revival Fire Fallhas been stirring. I find myself singing this song all the time, and it seems to capture what is happening in our church.

We are like those who had gathered at Cornelius’s home. We have come together hungry and anticipating the word of the Lord. Little did we know what God had in store for us at the end of June and on July 4. As at Cornelius’s home, many had gathered at Cornelius’s invitation, but no one was real certain of what would happen. Our church had gathered as normal, but nothing about July 4, or the services immediately preceding July 4, were normal. On Sunday, June 24, my wife and I were out of town, and we had a guest fill in for us. Our worship pastor was also out of town. A stirring started. God was interrupting church as normal. On Sunday, July 1, I found myself completely undone in the presence of the Lord at the sense of what He was doing in our congregation. Could this be what we had prayed for? Could God be pouring out the very thing we were asking Him for? Then on Wednesday, July 4, it was undeniable that God was interrupting “church as normal” and we would not be the same.

The believers at Cornelius’s home had gathered, were hungry, many had prayed about what they were to experience. But now, as Peter was preaching, the very gift they had asked for was being poured out. It didn’t come as they had anticipated. The outpouring was not neat and fitting man’s order. God was now in charge and in control. Even as God’s servant preached, Peter was interrupted by God. God interrupted church as normal to deliver exactly what they needed.

Here’s what Jonathan Edwards preached concerning God’s interruptions:

But if God is pleased to convince the consciences of persons, so that they can’t avoid great outward manifestations, even to the interrupting and breaking off those public means they were attending, I don’t think this is confusion, or an unhappy interruption, any more than if a company should meet on the field to pray for rain and should be broken off from their exercise by a plentiful shower. Would to God that all the public assemblies in the land were broken off from their public exercises with such confusion as this, the next Sabbath day! We need not be sorry for the breaking the order of the means, by obtaining the end to which that order is directed: he that is going a journey to fetch a treasure, need not be sorry that he is stopped by meeting the treasure in the midst of his journey.

I agree with Edwards! Lord, would you interrupt our church as normal this Sabbath day!

No More Trash Talking

Death and life are in the power of the tongue
Proverbs 18:21, NKJV

Momma always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This might not be a quote from the Bible, but it’s pretty powerful. One of the keys to maintaining an atmosphere of God’s outpouring and revival is understanding the importance of the words we speak. Scripture is full of wisdom and revelation on the power of our words.

It seems as of late, social media and conversations are full of vile against the Church. And I hear it mostly from people who consider themselves a part of the Church. There are so many outside of the Body of Christ who would love to pick holes in the garments of the Church already, why should we add to the nagging moth’s work? Let’s not destroy our own wedding garments! Imperfect as well all may be, we must contend for the Church and bless one another, not attack. We are to outdo one another in honor (Romans 12:10).

An element of this overflowing honor is to speak blessings, not curses. We must be people who speak the blessings of the Lord rather than the curses from our own flesh. Our natural response is to speak out of fear, rejection, hurt, insecurity, and other carnal motives. As believers, we are called higher—to speak blessings and life, not curses.

In Biblical history and in Jewish tradition, the power of speaking blessings is very powerful. Many Jewish families speak blessings over their children weekly. These blessings in Scripture oftentimes seem prophetic in nature, as we see their fulfillment looking back over time. But deeper than the prophetic nature, I believe it is the power of aligning our words with what God says about someone, not what our flesh sees about someone.

We see the power of blessing demonstrated as Jacob receives the blessing from Isaac rather than Esau. Esau wept and hated his brother when he discovered Isaac’s blessing was bestowed on Jacob. Later in life Jacob blesses his own sons. You can find the account of Jacob’s blessing of his sons in Genesis 49. The blessing bestowed on Joseph and the life of Joseph are a great example of the almost prophetic nature of the blessing bestowed by Jacob.

Fast forward to the New Testament we are told to “bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28).” Paul writes in Romans to bless and not curse (Romans 12:14). In the Old Testament the blessing brought a sense of identity and purpose. In the New Testament, our identity and purpose are found in Christ. As we are found in Christ, we speak words of life, purpose, and identity. In John 12:49, Jesus says He speaks only what He hears from the Father.

What would happen if you spoke blessings and life, instead of speaking out of frustration, hurt, or anxiety? Recently in a prayer time with our worship team I began to bless them instead of just pray for them. The prayer time was powerful, but as the spiritual leader of our spiritual house, I began to bless our team, and I watched them blossom like a flower. I watched as they opened up to receive the anointing I had just prayed that they would have.

In the course of ministry, I had a family that spoke negatively about me around their children. One day, one of the children faced a crisis, but the parents did not understand why the child was resistant to receiving from their pastor. Speaking curses had shut the family off from receiving the blessing from pastoral counsel. There had to come repentance before there could come breakthrough.

There’s power in speaking blessings over your church, blessings over your pastors, blessings over your family, blessings over your children, blessings over your job! Be tuned in to what the Father is speaking, and say what He is saying. Speaking blessings will position you and others to walk in the fullness of God’s plan, and not lockdown the storehouses because of hurt, fear, and rejection. Instead of speaking out of fear and anxiety, ask the Lord what His Word says. Speak His Word instead of your own. Begin to speak blessings in faith, and the reward of faith will come!

From One Glory to the Next

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV

Revival is not a once-only occurrence, a set of good services, or a special event. To be revived and live in a place of awakening, means to be continually stirred to the reality of heavenly realities. Someone asked me recently about the outpouring in our church, “What’s next?” Meaning–what’s the agenda? How will this bring church growth? What’s the formula? How does man get the glory?

I responded with–this is it! There is no next. God’s glory is the objective. The presence of the Lord and His agenda is our agenda. I don’t want anything else.

This outpouring and what God is doing is changing the hearts and lives of people. He’s setting His church on fire for purity and power. He’s snatching souls out of the pits of hell’s eternal torment. There is no other agenda but to be changed from where we are now into who He wants us to be next.

God is constantly bringing us from one degree or place of glory to the next. As God is pouring out His Spirit, remember, there’s always more. There’s a new revelation of God’s mercy for you. There’s a new revelation of God’s justice for you. There’s a new revelation of God’s love for you. There’s a new revelation of God’s goodness for you. There’s a new revelation of God’s provision for you. There’s a new revelation of God’s power for you. There’s a new revelation of God’s purity for you.

Should we lose our hunger for God, and not foster our spiritual desires, Revivalist Charles Finney in Experiencing Revival gives us a glimpse of what might happen:

A revival will decline and cease unless Christians are frequently revived. By this I mean that Christians, in order to keep in the spirit of revival, need to be frequently convicted and humbled before God. The idea of a Christian being revived is something that many do not understand. But the fact is that, even during a revival, the Christian’s heart is able to get crusted over and lose its exquisite desire for divine things. His anointing and prevalence in prayer abate, and he must be renewed again.

How do we maintain this precious gift that God has lavished upon us? We must live in a place of repentance and humility before the Lord, continually being transformed. We must allow the Holy Spirit to continually search our hearts and reveal the wicked that keeps us from pressing in closer to the Lord. Let us never come to the place that says, “I’ve arrived.” A taste of His glory leaves us wanting more, needing more, desperate for more. To drink of His glory stirs a longing to be transformed. To truly partake of His goodness leaves us wanting to be clean and spotless. To bask in His holiness brings an inward desire for this sanctifying presence to work deep in our own hearts—to be changed from our current status into the next.

What is the Lord transforming in you? Maybe He is releasing you from your past. The Lord might be breaking off the stubbornness and pride that lurks in the depths of your heart. He might be exposing hindrances to your fellowship with the Holy Spirit. He is creating His masterpiece within you that He might reveal this great glory through you.

I’m not satisfied with another service, another feeling, another great meeting. I must have Him! I must be changed to be like Him! What’s next? To experience God in a greater degree that I might be like Him in a greater degree.

Can This Nation Live?

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry…Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
Ezekiel 37:1-2, 4, NKJV

Many today are concerned with the state of our nation: politics, sin, war, nuclear threats, and so much more. Like Elijah, we must survey the reality of what lies in the valley. The stench of death fills the air. The bloodshed of innocence and purity has soaked the ground, and the only hope in sight is the awakening, reviving breath of God to blow again.

It is time for the church to rise and declare again the power of the Gospel. The Gospel is only good news if it can really transform. The Gospel is only powerful if the dead are raised to life. The fulfillment of Christ’s death and resurrection means this Gospel is more than traditions of men—it is the power of God to salvation. It is the power of God over sickness and sin. It is the power of God to restore marriages and families. It is the power of God to change a nation—to change the world!

Here’s a quote from Leonard Ravenhill from his book Why Revival Tarries concerning the valley Elijah saw:

Here was a curse—had he a cure? Here was death—could he bring life? This was no pretty declaration of doctrine. Dear believers, listen. The world is not waiting for a new definition of the Gospel, but for a new demonstration of the power of the Gospel. In these days of acute political helplessness, moral lawlessness, and spiritual helplessness, where are the men not of doctrine, but of faith? No faith is required to curse the darkness or give staggering statistical evidence that the dikes are down and a tidal wave of hellish impurity has submerged this generation. Doctrine? –we have enough and to spare, while a sick, sad, sin-sodden, sex-soaked world perishes with hunger. At this grim hour, the world sleeps in the darkness, and the Church sleeps in the light…


In this hour the Spirit of God is crying out not for a great political leader or another great cause—He’s crying out for truth and holiness in the Church. He’s restoring the Church of Christ to purity and power. Jesus’ anthem has not changed over the years:

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, NKJV

Step into your valley today with the boldness of the Spirit of God that came upon Elijah to prophesy over dead bones. Step into your valley today with the boldness of the Spirit of God that came upon David as he brought Goliath and the Philistines to their knees. The breath of the Spirit of God is blowing and awakening hearts today. The breath of the Spirit of God is blowing, making stones soar through the air and kill giants today.

Walking in Repentance and Revival

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
Acts 3:19, NKJV

During the Great Awakening, Pastor Jonathan Edwards was met with persecution and resistance concerning the divine happenings in the services. There were supernatural signs and wonders like spontaneous laughter and joy, people falling on the floor, shrieks and crying out, and the like. In an effort to bring Scriptural clarity, Edwards explained from 1 John 4:1, and other scriptures what God was doing. The sermon The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of Godis a great message and worth reading today.

Let me highlight some of Edwards’s excerpts from the applications of this message:

  1. The Recent Extraordinary Influence is from the Spirit of God

The Spirit who is at work takes people’s minds off vanities of the world. He engages them in a deep concern about eternal happiness. He puts their thoughts on earnestly seeking their salvation. He convinces them of the dreadfulness of sin and of their own guile and miserable natural state.

  1. We Should Do Our Utmost to Promote It

We should not oppose or do anything in the least to clog or hinder the work. On the contrary, we should do our utmost to promote it. Now Christ is come down from heaven in a remarkable and wonderful work of His Spirit. It is proper for all His professed disciples to acknowledge Him and give Him honor.

  1. Friends of This Work Must Give Diligent Heed to Themselves

Let me earnestly exhort such to give diligent heed to themselves. Avoid all errors and misconduct. Avoid whatever may darken and obscure the work. Give no occasion to those who stand ready to reproach it…Humility and self-denial and an entire dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ will be our best defense. Let us therefore maintain the strictest watch against spiritual pride. Let us avoid being lifted up with extraordinary experiences and comforts. Let us not take pride in the high favors of heaven that any of us may have received. We need these favors in a special manner in order to keep a strict and jealous eye upon our own hearts. Pride is the worst viper in the heart. It is the first sin that ever entered into the universe. It lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin. Of all lusts, it is the most secret, deceitful, and unsearchable in its ways of working. It is ready to mix with everything. Nothing is so hateful to God, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, or of so dangerous consequence. There is no one sin that does so much to let the devil into the hearts of the saints and expose them to his delusions.


Now is the time for another Awakening that will transform our country and the world. The rains of revival and renewal are falling. Embrace what the Lord is doing and be changed by Him! Allow your devotion to deepen and your pride to be purged. Shout from the rooftops the work of the Lord!

Immersed into God

Matthew 3:11, NASB
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

The continual crowds had gathered outside of the city to hear John the Baptist preach his message of repentance, and they were baptized by him. Even the religious vipers had gathered to hear this message with unrepentant hearts. This was new. It was a similar, yet different message. It was a sermon preached in a different location. Instead of finely dressed religious leaders pontificating, a man dressed in camel’s hair clothes was declaring the message of the Kingdom. It was a similar, but very different season. Something was happening, and to those who were spiritually aware—they received!

John was baptizing to repentance, but there was coming one who would immerse people into the very presence of God. This baptism of repentance was followed by a baptism of His presence, His power, and His purity.

John 14:16
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever  

Acts 1:8
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

John 14:26
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

This baptism of fire that John spoke of was cleansing, fortifying, and intensifying. It would bring to the surface the impurities that lay within the repentant heart. It would melt away the hardness of spiritual apathy. The fire of God would set ablaze the altar of one’s life to burn for Christ. This Holy Spirit fire would set the mouth of its recipient on fire with worship, prayer and the bold message of the Word.

We are to be continually immersed into God and His cleansing fire. At no time do we find ourselves fully purged, and at no time is the flame of our passion as great as that of God’s passion for His own glory. We continually lack with regards to Christ, and thus we must be continually filled. Continually, we must be immersed for cleansing. Continually, we must be immersed for passion. Continually, we must be immersed for power. Continually, we must be immersed for righteousness. Continually, we must be immersed for peace. Continually, we must be immersed for joy. This is what Paul declared in Ephesians 5:18, we must be continually filled!

Today is a great day to be immersed into God. Be baptized into His Spirit. Drink deeply of His love. Just as John the Baptist laid his hands on them and placed them under the water of the Jordan, let Christ place His hands upon you and place you under the flow of His Spirit.

Signs and Wonders

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3, NKJV)

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord? The Bible speaks of many times and many people being physically overcome by His presence. The Lord grants to us signs and wonders to exalt His word of grace. His glorious presence declares to us His wonderful name and the greatness of His power. Jonathan and Sarah Edwards often spoke of being swallowed up in God. What a great place to be—totally submerged into His essence and goodness. Seeing and experiencing the miraculous manifestation of His grace through signs and wonders and His overwhelming presence. At times He comes in as a gentle whisper, and at other times like a heavy cloud full of showers of mercy. At times He comes as a calming breeze, and at other times like rushing wind.

As I’m writing, I’m reflecting on the amazing time in the presence of the Lord tonight in our church. As the singing was closing tonight, it was as if the heavy, rain filled clouds of His glory descended upon us. The brightness of His radiance as the unencumbered noon day sun was shining with brilliance, even though the cloud of His glory was upon us. How diversely excellent that the cloud of His glory would fill the room, and yet simultaneously His brightness would be so immense.

I was overcome, caught up in the Spirit. It was if I could hear the spiritual songs of heaven and the joyful singing around the city of God. In the natural, our worship leader had stopped singing and playing, but in the spirit I, and those present had stepped into a heavenly world where God was revealing Himself. At one moment it was as if the veil between the natural world and the heavenly world became so thin, and not only were the sounds of heaven perceived spiritually, but heard with our own ears. Myself and others began to hear the heavenly music and heavenly choirs singing and playing around us. It was distinct and noticeable singing and a melodious heavenly music. Several were overcome with joy and laughter, others fell to the ground under His mighty presence. Still others found themselves sinking lower and lower to the ground as His glory and Heavenly chorus filled the room. Multiple were instantly healed of various ailments. Later in the service, I asked if others had heard the sounds. Many raised their hands and spoke of hearing angelic singing and music, each describing the heavenly sound. Others reported also feeling the intensity of His radiant beams shining upon us. Even the sound operator was reporting how he was confused by the music, trying to identify where it was coming from in the sound system—thinking it might be something left on mistakenly—and yet he could find no source. How wonderfully He came and ministered to the hungry hearts and gave fresh bread and water to those who would receive Him tonight.

It had been my plan to share a pre-planned excerpt about Maria Woodworth-Etter’s ministry this evening, as we had been studying revival history. As God would have it, His orchestration of the service was quite overwhelming, leaving us in awe and incapable of doing anything but joining with the heavenly choir in worship. As the Spirit permitted, I was able to read this excerpt later in the service. It was as if God decided to illustrate the wonderful graces of His presence Himself, and the excerpt I was to read became just the added blessing. God truly demonstrated for us the reality of this excerpt regarding the signs and wonders of His grace. Here’s the passage from Maria Woodworth-Etter’s book “Signs and Wonders:”
The heavenly choir was glorious. It was if heaven had come down and the angelic choir had joined in with the redeemed of the Lord, having many invisible instruments. The large platform was filled with baptized saints, with their bright faces looking up to God, holding up holy hands. Bright lights were often seen over them. Jesus was seen by many of them standing or walking in their midst. Musical instruments (spiritual) were heard away back to the rear of the tent. A thousand or more were present. A holy stillness and a spirit of awe settled over the audience; they knew that God was in the midst. Two or three different times I asked the people to answer me honestly, in the fear of God, if they heard different instruments of music from the platform. The sounds were not given on instruments but by the Spirit. I knew they had heard it. I asked all who had heard the heavenly music or instruments to rise in the presence of God. Men and women rose up here and there, clear to the back of the tent. The prophet said God would in these last days bring heaven down to validate His Word. He would visit us with celestial fireworks like on the Day of Pentecost. They would see, hear, and feel the Holy Spirit work His work, His strange work. Once, when the power of God was wonderfully present, I heard a sister’s music; looking round I saw a sister (an evangelist) with eyes uplifted to heaven, her face shining, playing the harp in the Spirit. She said the glory of the Lord covered her, and the Lord placed a golden harp in her hands. Her fingers began to play, bringing forth the heavenly sound. Several others were playing on different instruments, sending out heavenly music.

We worship God, not the experience. But He gives us the experience that we might, as Paul said, discover the depths and riches of His love more fully. This knowing is not by understanding of a truth only, but having divine revelation by experience that God is love. These signs and wonders declare the greatness of His love through principle, and through experience. Truly, this is what the hungry heart is looking for. To those who are hungry and thirsty, principle alone will not satisfy. Knowing food and drink is sufficient to satisfy is not the same as being satisfied. To those who are hungry and thirsty, they must eat and drink ‘til they are full. Jesus graciously invites us to feast on Him, our bread and living water. Tonight, was another reflection on and opportunity to indulge in the great feast prepared in our wilderness.

A Christian’s Response to Guest Ministers

Recently, we had guest ministers at our church. As a pastor, I believe it is important to have other ministers share with our congregation for many reasons. A highlight of these important reasons include the importance of the Ephesians 4:11 leadership working in cooperation and bringing maturity to the congregation; there is a unique expression of God’s grace and anointing in every ministry leader; opportunity is given to the congregation to hear of God’s work around the world, providing an opportunity for greater global vision; together we see the Body of Christ in operation.

I also think about the clear opportunities the congregation has to share with the guest minister. Almost always, when I have had the privilege of serving as a guest minister in another congregation or ministry, I have walked away feeling more blessed, having received from wonderful partnership in the Gospel.

My effort here is to give some highlights of scriptural truth and teaching on the subject of believers receiving Biblical ministers with Biblical lifestyles:

Bless them financially

Through offerings to support their ministry, which is over and above the tithe.

Galatians 6:10, NKJV
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NKJV
Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive[a] the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, NKJV
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.


Be Present

In attendance, but also with expectancy to receive from the Lord through their ministry

Philippians 1:3-6, NKJV
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

2 Timothy 1:4, NKJV
greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,


Receive from their Ministry of the Word

Guest Ministers bring a unique perspective on what God is doing elsewhere in the country or world, but they also bring the power of God’s Word.

Romans 1:16, NKJV
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

1 Corinthians 2:1, NKJV
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony[a] of God.


Understand each minister brings a unique perspective and expression of the anointing

Every minister is a gift from God to the church, and like gifts, each fulfill a unique purpose and have a unique expression of ministry.

1 Corinthians 3:5-6; 8, NKJV
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NKJV
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.


Receive from their Ministry Gifts

God uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect plan. Natural wisdom says 1+1 does not add up here. But God chooses the foolish and the weak. Consider the people that Paul ministered to who probably initially did not like something about him. John the Baptist irritated many, and yet there was a deposit of God’s Word into their hearts.

2 Timothy 1:6, NKJV
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NKJV
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[a]wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.


Pray for Them & Support Them

As we partner together in Gospel ministry, we pray and support one another.

Hebrews 13:18, NKJV
18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.

Philippians 4:16, NKJV
16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.



A Slippery Slope

From a Sermon delivered at Celebration Church, November 20, 2016


Life is a slippery slope into eternity. One minute we are in this life, standing on what we believe is a firm foundation—and the next, we are sliding into eternity. Here was a woman who was on our property—and missed an opportunity to experience the love of God.

Deuteronomy 32:35 says this about the slippery slope of life:
Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, that were God’s visible people, and lived under means of grace. The expression, here, “Their foot shall slip in due time,” seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction of the wicked:

1. The wicked are always exposed to destruction, as one who stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. Psalms 73:18: Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.

2. It implies that the wicked are always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As one that walks in slippery places cannot know when he or she will fall, so it is with this verse. Psalm 73:19: Oh, how they are brought to desolation; as in a moment! They are utterly consumed

3. Another thing implied is that the wicked are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another. Just as one who walks on slippery ground, they do not need anything but their own weight to throw them off balance.
4. The reason why the wicked have not already fell into hell, and do not fall now, is only that God’s appointed time has not come. As the verse says, “in due time,” or the “appointed time” their foot shall slide. They will slip according to their own weight, and God will not hold them up any longer. They will fall to their utter destruction

My observation in this verse and the reason for my thanksgiving is this: There is nothing that keeps wicked, at any moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God. By His pleasure, I mean His sovereign will, His own choosing. God is not hindered by any manner of difficulty or any person, but it is His own mercy that keeps any person from slipping into hell.

1. There is no lack of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment.

The strongest man has no power to resist God, and no man can deliver another out of the hands of God. God is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes earthly rulers have great difficulty in executing punishment or subduing rebellions, but it is not so with God. There is no defense against the power of God. Though men were to join together against God—even in great multitudes—God would break them into pieces. They are like light chaff before a hurricane or dry twigs in a devouring fire.

We may find it easy to crush an ant that we see crawling on the earth; it is that easy for God, when He pleases to crush His enemies. What are we to think that we can stand before Him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before Him the rocks are thrown down.

2. The wicked deserve to be cast into hell so that divine justice may be complete.

The justice of God calls loudly for infinite punishment of their sins. The sword of divine justice is always hanging over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of God’s mercy that holds it back.

3. The wicked are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell.

The wicked not only justly deserve to be cast to hell, but the sentence of the law of God, the eternal and unchanging rule of His righteousness, has gone out against them. John 3:18: But he who does not believe is condemned already.

4. The wicked are objects of the full wrath and anger of God, and the reason why the wicked do not go to hell at every moment of every day is not because God is not angry with sin, but because of His mercy.

It is not because God is unaware of their wickedness, and doesn’t resent it, that he holds his hand from cutting them off. The wrath of God towards them and their sin is burning against them, and the furnace has been made hot and ready to receive them. The flames of hell do now rage and glow. The sword of vengeance is held over them, and the pit of hell has opened its mouth under them.

5. The devils stand ready to fall upon the wicked and seize them as their own at the moment that God will allow it

The wicked belong to the devil; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The devils watch them; the devils are always by the wicked, waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. But if God should withdraw His hand, by which the devils are restrained, those devils would in one moment fall upon the poor souls of the wicked. And if God should allow it, hell would quickly swallow them up.

6. Hellish principles are reigning in the evil nature of wicked men, and if not for the restraining hand of God, this evil nature would burst into full flame, consuming the wicked person.

Isaiah 57:20: The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

Job 38:11: When I said, This far you may come, but no father, and here your proud waves must stop!

These wicked principles in the evil nature of man are active and powerful, and exceedingly violent, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, the evil in wicked men would fully overtake them, turning their soul into a fiery oven of fire and brimstone.

7. Just because a wicked man does not see imminent death upon them is no security to them.

Being in good health and not seeing imminent death or any visible danger shows no evidence that a man is not on the brink of eternity, and that his next step won’t be into another world. The unseen, unthought of ways a person may suddenly go out of this life are innumerable. Wicked men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are many places in this covering so weak that it will not bear their weight. The arrows of death fly unseen. There are so many different ways of taking wicked men out of this world and stepping into hell’s flames.

8. Wicked men’s attempts to preserve their lives or the attempt of others to preserve their lives does not secure them for one moment.

Men’s own wisdom is no security from death. Ecclesiastes 2:16: And how does a wise man die? As the fool!

9. All of wicked men’s efforts to escape hell, all the while rejecting Christ, do not secure them from hell.

Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he will escape it; he depends on himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is no doing, or what he intends to do; everyone plans out in his own mind how he will avoid destruction, and flatters himself in that his schemes won’t fail. But they are trusting in nothing but shadows. There are millions—billions—who have lived before us and are now dead and have not escaped eternity. If we were able to speak with each of them who have died and gone to hell, they would tell us about the times when they heard of hell and rejected it; they would tell us of the times they heard of God’s mercy and did not listen. They would say, “No, I never intended to come here; I had laid out plans otherwise; I thought I was a good person and I would handle this later in life before I died, but it came as a thief; death outwitted me; God’s wrath was too quick for me. I was flattering myself, pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do in the afterlife, and when I was saying peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me.”

10. God has not put himself under any obligation to keep men out of hell at any moment.

God has made no promise to keep wicked men out of hell for any moment. He has made no provision for deliverance or preservation from eternal death outside of what is contained in the covenant of grace, given to us in Christ. But the wicked have no interest in these promises in the covenant of grace, and are not children of that covenant, and have no interest or mediator of the covenant, and thus God is not obliged to maintain a promise they have not enjoyed. God is under no obligation to keep the wicked at any moment from eternal destruction. They have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is provoked, his anger is great towards sinful man, and wicked man has done nothing to appease or abate the anger of God; the devil is waiting for them, hell is opened wide for them, the flames gather and leap about them, the sword of vengeance is drawn above them. They have no refuge, nothing to hold them from slipping, and all that preserves them every moment is the mere forbearance of a merciful God.
What you have heard is the case of everyone of you that are out of Christ. That world of misery, the lake of burning sulfur is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide open mouth, ready to devour you; and there is nothing that you may take hold of to keep you out of hell; there is nothing between you and hell except for a vapor; and it is only the mere pleasure and power of God that holds you up.

You probably are not aware of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but don’t see the hand of God in it, but you flatter yourself in that it is your own plans that keep you from hell. But if God were to withdraw his hand, they would not avail, no more to keep you from falling than a thin vapor that would hold a person upright. Your wickedness makes you as heavy as lead and weighs you downward towards hell, and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and quickly slide and plunge into the bottomless lake of fire, and nothing you could do or say would have any influence to keep you out of hell, just as a thin spider’s web would have no power to stop a falling rock.

Were it not for God’s mercy and His own desire, the earth would not bear you any more, for you are a burden to it; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain your life while you spend your life serving God’s enemies. God has subjected them to you, and should He remove His sustaining hand, the earth would spew you out. There are black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your head, full of the dreadful storm and thunder and lightning, and it is the mercy of God that keeps it from breaking upon you. The fury of the hurricane of His justice would consume you like chaff on the summer threshing floor if not for His mercy.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are restrained for the present; they increase more and more and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given. The rapid and mighty river will overtake you. The floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld, but your guilt in the meantime is constantly increasing, and every day you are storing up wrath. The waters are continually rising and growing in strength, and the mercy of God has shut the floodgate, but once His hand is removed, the waters will flood in, and the fierceness of His wrath will rise upon you; and if your strength was ten thousand times greater, it could not withstand the fiercest wrath of God towards sin.

The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.

All who have not been born again, made new creatures, raised from being dead in sin to a state of new life, experiencing the light of God’s glory, will experience everlasting destruction.

However unconvinced you may be of this truth today, there will be a time when the reality of it will come upon you.

The God that holds you out of the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or an insect over the fire, He abhors sin and is provoked; His wrath towards you burns like fire. His eyes are pure and should not bear you in His sight. You have offended him infinitely more than any other. It is His hand of mercy that has kept you out of hell: it is His mercy that you did not go to hell last night, that He suffered you to wake again in this world; there is no other reason why you have not slid into Hell since you woke up this morning, but that God’s hand is upon you; there is no reason why you have not gone to hell since you sat here in the house of God, provoking His pure eyes by your sinful wicked presence in His house this morning, other than His merciful hand upon you.

You are like the annoying cobweb in the corner of a home in which the owner will take a broom and sweep it away; even so God is as easily inclined to remove you from this life and everlasting judgment will overtake you.

May the wicked sinner consider the fearful danger you are in: a great furnace of wrath, and a wide bottomless pit full of endless waves of torment are held open for you and the wrath of God is provoked against you. You hang by a thread over the flames, every moment the flames singe the thread until one day the thread will give way and you will fall into the pit of utter torment and despair.

Consider this wrath that you are in danger of:

1. Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, it would be comparatively little. But this is the wrath of the king of Kings, the absolute sovereign of all the universe who is absolutely perfect and holy and just in all His ways. The person that rebels against an earthly ruler is subject to the most heinous of torments that human power can inflict. But the greatest of earthly suffering and torments cannot compare to the weakest of hell’s fierceness.

2. Consider the fierceness of His wrath that you are exposed to. Isaiah 59:18: According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies… Isaiah 66:15: For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. Revelation 19:15: He Himself treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. These words are greatly terrible. We read of the fierceness, the fury, the hurricane of his wrath and judgment. If Scripture had only said “the wrath of God,” they would have implied great torment; however, Scripture speaks of the great and exceeding wrath of God that will come on the wicked. Who can conceive or begin to speak of such torment and destruction these words carry in them. Just as God worked a great manifestation of His power in redeeming fallen man, He will work a great manifestation of His power in judgment against those whose names are not found in the Book of Life.

Consider, as this verse has said, according to or in proportion to your sin He will judge you. The fullness of God’s wrath is against sin, and yet the intensity of His judgment will increase upon you as you will find yourself ensnared to chains of sin in Hell for all eternity. There will be no escape from His judgment and there will be no escape from your sin and there will be no escape from your absolute misery. Just as the born again will take on the nature of Christ in heaven, in hell, the wicked will continue in the nature of their father, the devil. The sinful chains you carry to your grave will hold you captive for all eternity as you suffer the fury of God’s wrath. Your addictions will hold you captive. Your pride will hold you captive. Your lying and cheating will hold you captive. Your earthly successes will hold you captive. Eternally reminding you of your opportunities to repent; eternally reminding you of why you are suffering; and eternally conflicting your soul to act out more sin while you suffer its judgment.

Consider this, that you are here in this world, unconverted to Christ. Consider that God will execute the fierceness of His anger, without hesitation, against you in judgment in Hell. At this time, His full judgment is withheld because of His mercy, but in that day, there will be no moderation or mercy. God will no longer stay the sword of vengeance, and you will suffer what justice requires according to your sin.

Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of mercy. Today God stands ready to forgive through the sacrifice of His son. But when the day of mercy has past, your most desperate cries will be in vain; just as it was when God shut Noah and his family in the ark, the cries of the wicked outside would not save them from the fierceness of the floods of judgment that were rising around them.

Isaiah 63:3: For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. It is quite impossible to fully understand the magnitude of this verse; to see those being utterly trampled under the vengeance of God; to hear the cries of misery and pride and rejection that spew from their mouths as justice is executed; to smell the stench of death in the air as their blood is splattered about the garments of the Righteous King.

3. Consider the misery which will be inflicted upon you that it might show what the wrath of God is. God has intended from before creation to show angels, men, and creation how excellent His love is, and how terrible His wrath is. In His love and mercy He has shown great forebearance towards sinners, and when the appointed time has come, His forebearance removed, He shows forth His great judgment and wrath. When God arises against His enemies and displays His great judgment upon sin, He will call creation to behold His majesty and His power against sin. Just as the earth gave testimony of the destruction of Sodom, the earth and its inhabitants will give testimony to the fierceness of God against sinners.

So it will be with you if you continue in an unconverted state. The infinite might and majesty of God, the greatness of His power will be against you and will come upon you quickly. And He will make you a spectacle of His judgment to others; he will demonstrate in you the fierceness of His wrath towards sin.

4. Consider that His wrath is an everlasting wrath. It is extremely dreadful to think of God’s wrath even for one moment, but consider this wrath that will last forever. There will be no end to this misery. You will look behind you and see nothing but fury and judgment, and you will look forward and see nothing ahead but torment and extreme misery. You will be in absolute despair and nothing will mitigate the suffering. Your punishment will be infinite.

Consider those that have died in sin many, many years ago, and are to this day experiencing the wrath of God in hell. Moment after moment, day after day, there has come to them endless torment, even to the present day. And this suffering will not end for them, and neither will it end for you if you continue in your unconverted state.

There is reason to think, that there are those in this congregation now hearing this message, that will actually be subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We don’t know who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they have: it may be that these persons are now flattering themselves in their pride, promising themselves they will escape the wrath of God. If we knew that there was one person in our congregation that was to be subject of this misery, what an awful thing to consider. If we knew who it was, would we not cry over them and warn them of coming judgment. Would we not remind them of hell and God’s judgment. Would we not love them with the love of God. It would not be surprising if someone that is sitting here now, quiet and secure, should awake tomorrow engulfed in the flames of hell.

Those who continue in their natural man, and should stay out of hell the longest, will find yourself someday quickly engulfed in hell’s flames. Swiftly and suddenly judgment will fall on you.

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to all sinners; a day where many are flocking to Him daily; many who were miserable are now finding life and healing in His arms of mercy. How horrible to be left behind in such a day! To see so many others feasting and rejoicing in the mercy of the Lord, while you are still perishing. How can you rest one moment in your condition?
To the young, do not neglect this precious season. You have a great opportunity to feast on the goodness of God and rescue others from the fury of hell’s torment. But if you become apathetic and waste your days on your own pleasures, you will find the judgment of natural men falling upon you.

To those who have lived long in the world, especially consider your days. Has your heart hardened to the love of God? Have your affections towards God grown cold? Have you been born again? Consider yourselves and wake out of sleep; you cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God.

And let everyone who is yet outside of Christ, hanging over the pit of hell, whether young or old, man or woman, give heed to the loud calls of Christ, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink…” This is the acceptable time of the Lord; this is the day of His favor; do not harden your heart and allow your mind to become blind.

To those who are in Christ, consider John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord in the wilderness. Do not walk according to the ways of the religious leaders of the city, but go outside the city, outside of the way of natural man, as Christ was crucified outside the city; go to those in the wilderness and proclaim the way of salvation. Let your voice be heard; let the power of the Gospel be seen in great demonstration; let your prayers and worship ascend the heavenly heights. Today is not a day to sleep and grow apathetic. We are not of those who slip back and slide down the slippery slope of judgment. We are those who walk by faith on the foundation of His Word. Preach the Word, love the unlovely, and give the reason for your hope without shame.

Resting in God’s Knowledge

The following is a summary of a sermon preached at Celebration Church on October 12, 2016.

Men and women spend their lives attempting to gain knowledge of God–whether they are seeking THE God, a god, or find themselves to be god. Religions strive to gain knowledge by vain works which become self-centered endeavors. Yet, in Christianity, knowing God is by revelation. God reveals Himself to man. Scripture tells us about this mysterious God.

Colossians 1:26-27, NKJV
The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Why is God Mysterious?

1. God is infinite and man is finite.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25, NKJV
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputed of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For the Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

2. The deeper problem is that man is sinful and God is holy.

Sin creates a barrier to knowing God because man cannot comprehend Him.

2 Corinthians 3:13-14, 16, NKJV
Unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. Nevertheless when one turns (to be converted) to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

God has revealed Himself through creation itself. Creation around us, and the act of creation itself declares the glory of God! Without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, this general revelation is distorted and with sinful influence becomes self-focused. The ultimate end in creation, man, & history are self-fulfilling and exist only for personal pleasure. We see this illustrated in:

Romans 1:20-21, NKJV
(20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (21) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened

To those whose minds have been blinded by sin, the wine of God’s knowledge becomes the vinegar of human confusion.

For those who believe, the source of God’s revelation of Himself comes by and through the Word of God– the Written Word (Scripture); the Incarnate Word (Christ); the Spoken Word (God speaks); and Revealed Word by the Holy Spirit. And all of these are cohesive and never contradict the truth of what God has expressed in His written Word and through Christ.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 illuminates God’s delight in revealing Himself to those who delight in Him.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, NKJV
Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.

I would show here that God is the all wise, all knowing God, and thus the true believers can rest in His knowledge, which He reveals to those whom He wills.

Isaiah 40:13-14, NKJV
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?
I. God is the Source of all Knowledge

Having knowledge is as a stream from an endless spring. God is the fountainhead of all knowledge. To have this revelation from God is both rational and experiential. Jesus spoke of this in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” True Christianity is expressed through our enjoyment of God, and our enjoyment of God brings us to greater revelation of God.

1. Knowledge itself is not God, nor is salvation obtained by enlightenment as the Gnostics believe; rather, God reveals himself in Christ through divine knowledge as the Savior

The work of the believer is to have knowledge given through enjoyment of God that we might speak about God more accurately and to savor God’s beauty in that knowledge
If everything in creation is originated and designed by God, to reveal His glory, then to pursue knowledge without reference to and enjoyment of God is not learning but insurrection

2. God knows all things because He declares all things

What God knows is perfectly true and accurate because He declares it. It originates with Him.

Isaiah 46:9-10, NKJV
Remember the order things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”

3. God’s knowledge is boundlessly perfect, expressed infallibly in His Word

Psalm 19:7, NKJV
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of
the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

John 17:17, NKJV
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Hebrews 4:12, NKJV
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerning of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Christ is the expression of this Word. He is the representation of the Father’s idea of Himself to mankind. Christ’s nature is the Word of God. He fully man, yet fully God.
4. Nothing can be hidden from God

Daniel 2:22, NKJV
He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.

Hebrews 4:13, NKJV
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account

Ezekiel 11:5, NKJV
Thus says the Lord…for I know the things that come into your mind.

The trees of the garden of Eden could not conceal Adam and Eve. No one saw Cain murder his younger brother, but his Maker witnessed his crime. Sarah laughed insider her tent, but God heard. Achan stole gold and hid it, but God brought it to light. David went to great lengths to cover up his wickedness, but God took note of it all. God is not only thoroughly acquainted with the events of the universe, but even the smallest, seemingly insignificant detail of our lives (and He is not surprised).

Luke 12:7, NKJV
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered…

5. The knowledge of God is infinitely greater and higher than any knowledge that man may have or may obtain

Psalm 147:5, NKJV
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Considering these truths regarding the knowledge of God, His omniscience, true believers can rest in God’s knowledge:

I. My path is known by God

Job 23:10, NKJV
But He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Psalm 37:23, NKJV
The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, and He (The Pleasure of God) delights in his way.

There is nothing that happens in your life which surprises God or catches Him off guard.God is confident in His ability to sustain you, no matter what happens in this life.

Consider Christ’s death: God allowed what He abhorred for the sake of His eternal plan; and He sustained Christ through it. Even, when Christ cried from the cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” Christ was crying out the very essence of His nature, deposited into Him by His Father as He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb—the Word of God—prophesied by David thousands of years earlier in Psalm 22. For the joy of the Father’s Promise (Luke 24:49) set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), Christ was sustained through even death on the cross.

II. God knows how and to what end we were formed

Psalm 103:14, NKJV
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Isaiah 42:3, NKJV
A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench…

MacClaren says this regarding Isaiah 42:3:
The two metaphors which we have in the former part of these words are not altogether parallel. ‘A bruised reed’ has suffered an injury which, however, is neither complete nor irreparable. ‘Smoking flax,’ on the other hand-by which, of course, is meant flax used as a wick in an old-fashioned oil lamp-is partially lit. In the one a process has begun which, if continued, ends in destruction; in the other, a process has begun which, if continued, ends in a bright flame. So the one metaphor may refer to the beginnings of evil which may still be averted, and the other the beginnings of incipient and incomplete good.

Chris is the Healer of the Broken. For as Isa 53:4-5 declares, He was wounded and bruised. And Christ is the Restorer of the Flame. Isaiah 61 creates a beautiful picture of Christ raising beauty out of the ash heap of our lives. The burned out ashes of your life, influenced by the fire of Heaven can bring again a bright a burning flame.

III. God knows my thoughts and meditations of my heart and thus I am never alone

Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

John 21:17, NKJV
…And he said to Him, “Lord You know all things…”

Psalm 19:14, NKJV
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

IV. God acts on His omniscience

Consider for a moment if God based His decisions and actions on man’s advice: In this action, He would be sinning by breaking the first commandment, “have no other gods before me;” additionally, consider how flawed God’s eternal plan would be following the counsel of fallible humans.
What produces action? Our minds conceive a thought based on its meditations or outside influence. The desires are then stirred if the thought is allowed to progress, and eventually a man’s emotions, or the heart of a man, becomes affected by these desires and thoughts, resulting in action. Jesus addressed this process of an evil man:

Luke 6:45, NKJV
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Proverbs 4:23, NKJV
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

If God is motivated by infinite love towards His Son that has been imputed to us as adopted sons and daughters, then God’s actions regarding us are the eternally supreme best activities towards us in that we are the objects of His love in Christ. Thus the greatest display of His glory is that we are ultimately satisfied with God alone. God’s knowledge of our enjoyment in Him, His desire for us to enjoy Him and thus display His glory, and being that He is full of infinite love towards His son and expresses this love to us; God’s actions towards us are those that bring about our ultimate satisfaction in Him alone and thus magnify His majestic nature.

In other words, all that God does is rooted in His knowledge of our satisfaction in Him and His desire to display His glory in and through our lives through our enjoyment of Him.

V. Revelatory Spiritual Gifts are inspirations from God of pieces of this divine knowledge for the comfort, encouragement, and exhortation of others

Regarding these wonderful spiritual gifts that are still in operation today: Prophecy, Words of Wisdom, & Words of Knowledge

1 Corinthians 14:3, NKJV
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

VI. Instead of acting recklessly we should seek the knowledge of God

Romans 12:2, NKJV
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Ephesians 5:26 says that, He washes us with the water of His Word.

VII. Knowledge of God is not an end to itself, but the beginning, which results from faith-produced godly fear

Proverbs 9:10 & Psalms 111:10 both declare: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

We are apprehended by grace as a free gift of God. Grace produces faith, or our spiritual perceptivity to divine realities. Faith produces godly fear, and according to the Word of God, this fear is just the beginning of knowing God.
VIII. To enjoy God more fully results in greater revelation of God. This is the true pursuit of the believer: to enjoy God more fully that we may know Him more richly.

Ephesians 1:17-19, NKJV
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power

You know more about someone the more time you spend enjoying them. You can spend unenjoyable time with someone and know nothing. Intimacy is developed by mutual enjoyment.

In this wonderful enjoyment of God, both our experience with God, and the truth of what God says about Himself must kiss:

John 4:24: God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Victorious in Death

We all know the certainty and reality of death. As a pastor, I have had the honor of walking through death’s valley with many from various backgrounds and beliefs. One thing is certain in this life: the sting of death is inevitable.

For the believer, though, that sting is removed. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting?”

To the Philippians, Paul wrote:
According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:20-21, NKJV)

As Paul faced imprisonment and death, he knew that Christ would be glorified in his dying because he had enjoyed God in his living. The believer is truly victorious in death because he or she has found their greatest satisfaction by enjoying God to the fullest in life.

Oh, the wonderful gains that await the true believer the moment he or she steps from mortality to immortality. The reign and torments of sin are permanently and finally over. Temptation will cease. The sorrows of this world will have passed away like the vapor of smoke that dissipates in the wind. The believer will finally forever be with the Lord, and the Lord will bestow on him or her the rewards and pleasures that have been stored up in heaven. The list of the eternal enjoyments of God in heaven is endless. Truly, the believer is victoriously gainful in death.

Paul doesn’t examine here the benefits of death only: “For to me, to live is Christ.” Both dying and living for the true believer is to gain Christ. The richest enjoyment of this life is only a shadow compared to the gains of enjoying Christ. In this life, He makes heaven sweeter; the doctrines of the Gospel are more delightful; and even the passing enjoyments of this life are more enjoyable with Christ.

So, like Paul, we can truly say–whether I live or whether I die, it is gain for me because I have found my delight in Him.

Christian Citizenship

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
Philippians 3:20, NKJV

As born again believers we are eagerly waiting, inwardly groaning, anticipating the return of our King, the Lord Jesus Christ. While we greatly expect and anticipate this coming at any time, we are also commissioned as ambassadors of our King:

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20, NKJV

While we have heavenly citizenship, and a heavenly King, we operate as His ambassadors in this earth. An ambassador is an official representative sent on behalf of a sovereign. An ambassador carries only the authority of His leader and is limited to the extent the authority given.

As Christ’s amabassadors in the earth, we represent a heavenly Kingdom with heavenly values and principles. When it comes to our earthly government, and our involvement in our government, we are to represent these heavenly values of our King.

Interesting, though, that a study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, says that 62% of Americans say their faith has little to do with their voting decisions.

According to George Barna’s research, there are 90 Million born again Christians in the US eligible to vote, and in the 2012 general election, only 39 million voted.

So what is our response to the current tempest in our government? It is certainly not to keep quiet and do nothing. Remember, we have been sent, commissioned by the King. Our response should be to:

1. Pray for our Government (1 Timothy 2:1-3; Jeremiah 29:7; 2 Chronicles 7:14)

2. Pay for our Government (Romans 13:1-2, 6-7; Titus 3:1; Luke 20:21-25)

As we commit to these, let us remember who we are to represent and those Biblical values on which Christ’s amabassadors operate. With these values, we participate in government.

Three values of which I believe are crucial in our world today and are under blatant attack:

1. The Right to Life (Proverbs 24:11-12; Leviticus 18:21; Psalm 139:13-16)

2. The Biblical Family (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:22; Matthew 19:4-6)

3. Religious Liberty (Galatians 5:1)

In 1799, Samuel Chase, appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington, said this in case Runkel v. Winemiller:

By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.

Today, in 2016, the US Civil Rights Commission, says otherwise. They have likened religious liberty to hypocrisy and discrimination. The very foundations of our country and reason why we exist is under attack.

Martin Castro, chairman of the commission says this regarding “religious liberty”:

The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

America’s first political document, the Mayflower Compact, says this

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken for the glory of God, an advancement of the Christian Faith, and the honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politik…

William Bradford, said this of the Plymouth Colony in 1620,

Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations or at last of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the Kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.

I recently shared a message with our congregation on living as Victorious Citizens. I would encourage you to listen to this podcast available on our site as it will give greater depth to this writing.

Let us consider the great blessing the Lord has given us in this great country of the United State of America, and consider the blood of those who have laid down their lives on the altar of freedom–both for our country and those who have given their lives as Christian martyrs.

How to Pray Corporately

Let me begin by saying there are many styles of prayer to God, in the name of Jesus. Utmost priority should be given to prayer in the various manners. Specifically, I will address corporate prayer as it is displayed to us in Acts 4.

Acts 4:23-37, NKJV
And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: “Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’  “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.  Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

1. The occasion of their corporate prayer

Peter and John had been arrested, imprisoned, and questioned about their ministry and the healing of the lame man. At the start of the New Testament church, and continued on to today, people despise supernatural ministry that proclaims Christ. Upon their release from prison, Peter and John gathered together with other believers to engage in corporate prayer. The urgency of the hour had gripped their souls. Reality of the government’s opposition was upon them. A great revival was sweeping the land, but it came with a great price. Intercession was the birthing place to this revival, and it was what would carry the work of God onward.

2. They raised their voice to God

Passion and urgency in the dimension of faith result in a heart ablaze for God. Out of the abundance of a heart on fire, does the mouth pour forth prayers and worship with great fervency. The believers in Acts 4 were not praying weak or half-hearted prayers, but corporately, a passionately vocal prayer that increased their faith and set them on a path towards breakthrough. Even as their mouth proclaimed the excellency and power of God, their path was being laid out before them. There are times in which we silently wait corporately in the presence of God, but often God uses the passionate vocalizations of the innermost desires and meditations of our heart to work out His plans and purposes, as well as reveal to us the depths of what He has deposited in us.

3. In harmony

Truly, unity of many people is a work of the Holy Spirit. Even unity of two in marriage takes divine enabling and determination. To watch this corporate prayer meeting in Acts 4 unfold, is watching the divine communicator and orchestrator supernaturally move and lead people to a place of unified, passionately vocalized prayer. Psalms 133 tells us commanded blessings flow on those who operate in unity. Unified prayer and passion was not unfamiliar to this early church. This had been the context of the outpouring on the Day of Pentecost, and would be the atmosphere of subsequent outpourings in the days ahead. It was the attitude of supernatural fellowship and partnership that permeated every aspect of their lives; and thus, a time of corporate prayer would display the same attribute. Someone walking in unity with God cannot cause strife in God’s church.

4. The context of their corporate prayer

It is interesting that Luke recorded the prayer of the believers at this gathering. Notice they began by declaring who God is. They honored him in His creative power and His ability to vindicate His people. They prayed according to what they had seen and experienced. They spoke of God’s sovereign hand and the signs and wonders He had performed. They prayed the Scriptures. Many times our prayers remind us of whom God is, as much as they honor Him as we pray. The ingredients of a Spirit-led, passionate prayer include a mixture of acknowledging who God is, our experiences, and the Word of God. This model of prayer reminds of Jesus’ prayer as He taught the disciples how to pray: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.”

5. The result

Notice, God did not take away the persecution. As a matter of fact, it’s only days later that the persecution greatly intensifies. The conflicts generated with an influx of believers did not go away either. Again, just a chapter over we find the difficulties increasing with the rapid growth. What was God’s response? “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” The Holy Spirit, our Helper, is the best answer to any prayer. David placed a priority on the presence of God when He said, “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” We would oftentimes love for the environment or people around us to change; however, God many times sends the Helper to walk and wrestle with us through the situation. The Holy Spirit always proclaims the Word of God. He reminds us of all God has said. In our weakness, Paul says in Romans 8, the Holy Spirit works on our behalf. No matter the circumstance, He causes us to meditate on and speak those things of the Word, which have been deposited into us. The result of corporate prayer time: A body that flows together in unity under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the Word of God with boldness and demonstration of power, and together, they live generous lives.

How to Receive Correction

Exodus 18:17-24, NKJV

So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

  1. Humble yourself & avoid the prideful responses.

Moses was “called” of God to lead the Israelites; “surely he knew best how to shepherd them” (sarcasm added). Many times our pride will lead us quickly down a path of destruction (Prov 16:18) that in actuality we really do not want to journey down. It is amazing how quickly we can allow ourselves to be caught in the cycle of justification, deflection, excuses, lying, and simply, pure conflict due to our pride.

Moses listened and responded graciously. “So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.” Moses did not try to “save face” or cover up the reality; he simply humbled himself to receive wisdom. The wisdom he received bore witness with him and the leading of God in his life, and the process of implementation began.

Protection comes from submission to the appropriate, God-appointed leadership in your life; even if you “feel” absolutely correct in your own judgment, God may have something else for you to learn and grow into. Moses would not continue in leadership successfully had he not learned this valuable lesson from a timely rebuke.

  1. Follow the Lord’s direction.

Moses truly had a calling from God to lead the Israelites. Moses met with God face to face. God could have revealed this great leadership truth in their alone time together; however, God chose to use Moses’ father-in-law to speak truth in a timely manner. God given correction will reflect to you the purposes of God’s calling and refine you for continued fulfillment of this calling. Moses recognized he was running thin on energy and carrying an emotional and spiritual load he was not intended to carry; he simply needed godly wisdom and direction from a third party. Imagine Moses’s new-found effectiveness after implementing his father-in-law’s advice.

  1. Obedience to correction is a gift to others.

As a result of Moses submitting to and honoring God by honoring his father-in-law, the Israelites were blessed. New leaders were born; the people learned to self-govern; Moses was refreshed; the new leaders grew in maturity and discernment—and so are the results of the blessing of correction. Often times we can also learn from other’s corrections and mistakes. When walking in humility we learn to extend grace to others, from the same grace of which we have received.


  1. Honor those with a different vantage point.

Correction can be difficult to receive. Our pride and ambition can get the best of us. Once placed in check and humility begins to lead us, we must honor those who come with correction.

Moses did not leave the meeting with his father-in-law and begin to share personal frustrations and “family only” drama. He honored his father-in-law by heeding his advice, and utilizing his father-in-law for wisdom for implementation. Exodus 18:27, states that, “Moses let his father-in-law depart” after implementation. In other words, Moses honored the correction, and followed through by seeking his father-in-law’s continued assistance until the corrective action was carried out.

This place of humility and honor brings the Lord’s blessing and peace to everyone involved. Long-term relationships can be continued from a place of honor. Neglect of this honor can cause tension and future factions unnecessarily.




Don’t Eat Your Seed


Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11, NKJV

All finances and resources God places into your hands contain seed for sowing and bread for eating. Be careful not to eat your seed, or there will be no future harvest.

With every blessing, the Lord provides for our needs and he gives us additional blessing to give away. Before you can receive what is in God’s hand, you must first let go of what is in your hand.

In the preceding verse (v. 8), Paul writes, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” He is connecting seed for sowing and bread for eating to our liberality in giving.

In the Greek, “all sufficiency,” means everything needed to sustain your life. God is able to provide all we need to sustain life. Remember, Jesus taught us not to worry about what we would wear or how we would maintain our life. As believers, we are now heavenly citizens with a God who cares and supplies.

Beyond meeting our needs, Paul says that God will also give us “an abundance for every good work.” In other words, God is able to take care of our needs, but also give us lavish overflow to support the work of God.

Scripture clearly teaches us, and is again stated here, that God releases finances into the hands of His people to steward the work of the Kingdom in the earth. When we walk in the principles God has placed before us, we walk in blessing on our personal lives and have overflow for the work of God. No longer do we operate under the curse of the law, squandering our resources on unrighteous living, but we have been given the ability to get wealth to be givers.

Farmers do not eat their seed. They look for and work to maintain the soil that produces healthy and abundant crops. They are looking for opportunity to sow seed in order that they may have additional seeds and additional crops. Giving for the believer should not be a struggle, but an easy overflow of the work of God in us. We should be looking for opportunities to support the work of God in this life, which makes eternal investments in the next.

Have you experience a lack of increase in your life? Do you feel like every time you get ahead something else is eating your resources? Have you considered the seed your sowing? Are you misappropriating resources that should be designated as seed into God’s soil? Every seed contains a miracle, but the seed has to go into the soil for the miracle to manifest.

Giant or Grasshopper

There we saw the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.
Numbers 13:33, NKJV

Have you ever faced a seemingly insurmountable task or opposition? I’m sure we all have faced circumstances that seem impossible in the natural. In this Scripture, we pick up the occasion in Numbers in which Moses sent out spies into the Promised Land.

We know that ten of the twelve spies came back with a negative report. Joshua and Caleb were ready to conquer every giant and take possession of their promises. Here are a couple thoughts as you encounter the giants of life. Remember, our God is not a grasshopper; He is bigger than every giant you could face!

1. The same God that gives you access and favor behind the enemy lines will give you the victory over your circumstance.

The spies, obviously shorter in stature than the current occupants, were able to move freely behind enemy lies and spy out the land. This presents an obvious issue. The Israelite spies are obviously outsiders and yet are able to determine the inhabitability of the land and the military strength of their enemy.

2. We do not shrink back in fear, but we advance to conquer.

Hebrews 10:29 says, we are not of those who turn away or shrink back, but of those who have faith and advance. The spies with the bad report reverted back to their old life of slavery and torture. They forgot the possibilities and were trapped by fear. Fear will always keep you out of what can be in the land of what was.

3. God is a Promise Keeper not a Manipulator

God did not bring the Israelites this far on their journey to the Promised Land to leave them stranded. God does not manipulate us out of fear and guilt, He brings us out to bring us in. God always exchanges our worst for His best; our sin for His righteousness; our insignificance for His identity. Consider even our tithe: God receives ten percent and exchanges it for bountiful blessing.

4. As a Man Thinks, so is He

The spies reported of their small stature: “We were like grasshoppers.” Your life in view of the great possibilities ahead, may cause your insecurities to arise and your stature in Christ to diminish. Maybe God has called you to step out of something old to enter into something new and the possibility is overwhelming. The spies said we were like grasshoppers, “in our own sight.” How the spies saw themselves became the report they shared with others. How do you identify yourself? Are you trusting in a God that is able to kill the giants or do you view Him as a grasshopper? Begin to magnify God today in worship, and see Him as bigger than any circumstance you face. It’s time to see through eyes of faith and not fear.

Faith & Finances

Then Isaac sowed in that land [in the time of famine], and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous (Genesis 26:12-13, NKJV)

There have been many times as a follower of Christ I have had to operate in faith as I have faced difficulties and challenging circumstances. Even my salvation is established in faith. Faith is more than a muscle that gets exercised by action, as some have inappropriately described faith; faith is our spiritual perceptivity of the realness of the unseen heavenly kingdom. By our natural senses we perceive what is certain and absolute in the natural world. By our faith we perceive what is absolute and certain in the heavenly world. You might be able to liken this to Lucy’s experience in the Chronicles of Narnia; at first she was the only one to truly perceive that unseen world behind the wardrobe.

The greatest news yet, is that our faith is not founded in an abstract world that we know nothing of. True faith is rooted solely in the knowledge of this heavenly kingdom laid out in the Word of God and expressed in the incarnate Word of Jesus Christ. Thus our faith is not a dead faith but a living faith through Jesus Christ.

We can have faith for many things, but often, finding faith for our finances can be challenging. The same God that saves us by faith, is the same God that prospers us by faith. We believe that God owns “those cattle” on the hills; we believe all that is created was created by God and belongs to Him; and yet our belief has yet to become faith with regards to our personal finances. Does God need the cattle, the silver, and the gold on earth? I do not see him translating the cows, the silver, and the gold to heaven. Here is a great alleviator of financial worry: God owns the source of every financial breakthrough you need, and is willing that you walk in His blessing and breakthrough. Not only does He have all the resources of Heaven at His command, but He has made all of the earthly resources available to us.

Our dilemma? We don’t follow the path God has given us to walk in His blessing. Our two-year-old daughter Zoe loves to help in the kitchen. She would love for daddy to give her a knife and allow her to cut her own fruit. We know that this would be a disaster. Someday, when Zoe is older and mature, she will get the blessing of using a knife to cut her fruit. What could ultimately be a blessing, given too soon can be a curse. It is paramount that we learn to follow the path of the Lord concerning His blessing in our lives.

Regarding Isaac, God spoke to him and told Isaac to dwell in the land….He was to dwell in the land 1.) with the Philistines, 2.) in the land that was experiencing a famine. God will often allow you to be in difficult places so that your dependence is not on your skill, but in the word of promise He gave to you and on His ability to perform exactly what He promised. Where there is faith, there is no struggle. It becomes easy to yield when walking by faith because assurance is not based on the natural world, but what is being perceived in the heavenly world.

Isaac dwells in the land, and begins to settle the land and sow seed. Isaac probably had every Philistine looking over their fences to see what this crazy man was doing in a time of famine. Why would you sow seed and expect a crop in the time of famine? When you feel like everyone is going the opposite direction, you are probably going in God’s direction.

Results are God’s to produce. Our responsibility is to act as a result of faith.

Isaiah 1:19, NKJV
If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.

In the Hebrew, the word “willing” means, “to yield,” and “obedient” means to, “listen and obey.” God spoke to Isaac. Isaac listened; he obeyed; he yielded. God brought the prosperity. There was so much prosperity that the Philistines who were looking over their fences at Isaac, became envious. They tried to prevent Isaac’s success by clogging up his water wells that his father Abraham had dug.

Sometimes people around you will become envious of the blessing of the Lord on your life, and do everything in their power to stop you and slow you down. They are not working against you, but God. God brought the increase in Isaac’s life, and God continued to provide water out of the ancient wells of Abraham.

The ancient truths of God’s Word still provide waters of refreshing today. Abraham dug wells by faith. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek by faith. Abraham and Sarah had Isaac by faith. Isaac stayed in and settled the land by faith. Today, as born again believers, we are the descendants of Abraham. The promises of God are faithful, and by faith we obtain them.

Obey the Lord. Sow your seed. And God will bring the increase!

Seedtime & Harvest

Then Isaac sowed in that land [in the time of famine], and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous (Genesis 26:12-13, NKJV)

Throughout life and throughout Christianity we see the relentless principle of sowing and reaping. There are many scriptures that reference the power of seedtime and harvest; here are two:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7, NKJV)

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10, NKJV)

Isaac found himself living in a time of famine. Famine describes a season of lack, pestilence, illness, starvation, dehydration, economic downfall, financial hardship, among other things. Famine is not a term we like to hear, and we certainly do not want to experience.

In Genesis, Isaac demonstrates for us the two separate economic systems the believer experiences: 1.) The world’s system which is under the curse of the law (that we have been redeemed from) and 2.) God’s system that is heavenly in origin.

Isaac chose to live according to God’s system of economics in the time of lack. Faith sows seed when in the natural you want to stockpile. God’s economy has never operated on the stockpile method, but has always operated in generosity.

The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. (Proverbs 11:25, NKJV)

Because Isaac trusted the Lord, he became very prosperous. He was so prosperous that the Philistines envied him. Is it possible that God desires to prosper your life in such a way that the unbelieving see the goodness of God overflowing in your life? Is your time of lack keeping you from sowing seed generously? Our God is not a stingy God, and He desires to abundantly bless His children.

We know that unfaithfulness in our tithe invites a curse on our finances. We understand that unless the seed is sown, no harvest can be produced. However, many times out of fear, forgetfulness, or pride with do not sow, and miss out on the harvest that follows. Many people want the blessing of the Lord on their finances, and yet do not sow their seed.

Here’s a some thoughts regarding your financial seeds and God’s promised harvest:


  1. All finances God places into your hands contain SEED for sowing and BREAD for eating. Be careful not to eat your seed, or there will be no future harvest. (2 Corinthians 9:10)
  1. Every seed contains a miracle, but the miracle only happens when the seed is sown. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
  1. Only God can produce the harvest. We are responsible for sowing and receiving. (1 Corinthians 3:6)
  1. The righteous live under the blessing of God, and have been redeemed from the curse of law. Righteous living brings the blessing. (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14)
  1. Your source of income is about more than putting food on the table; it is an opportunity for the Kingdom to advance in the earth. “I make a living to be a giver.” Every seed sown into God’s Kingdom affects someone’s life. (Philippians 1:1-8)
  1. Financial deposits are accredited to your heavenly account as you sow your seed. God takes notice of every seed sown, and His accounting is perfect. (Philippians 4:17; Luke 21:1-4)
  1. Know the difference between seed and need. If He’s not meeting a need, there must be seed. (Matthew 6:31-33)
  1. Your harvest is in proportion to the seed sown. (2 Corinthians 9:6)
  1. Be willing to give away what is of temporary value to gain something of eternal value (Matthew 6:19-21)
  1. Faith in God to protect, provide, and preserve you releases you from fear of lack and the control of poverty. (Philippians 4:19; Psalm 122:7)


The Way Maker

I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. 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 45:2-3, NKJV

Growing up I would go with my grandparents to visit my great grandparents in the backwoods of Missouri. To this day I can remember the up and down hilly roads that were winding and twisting through the seemingly endless forest of trees. One wrong move and someone could be off the side of the road and down the embankment quickly. As a child I had so much fun going on those winding and hilly roads because I would get the roller coaster feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Somehow I don’t think my grandparents got as much enjoyment from the ride.

Life can be full of winding, twisting, hilly roads of uncertainty, confusion, and danger. Maybe you have felt the nearness of the danger that lurks around the next corner of life. Maybe you have experienced confusion and uncertainty along the journey.

Isaiah prophesies here about the majestic character and ability of our God to not only handle, but overcome any obstacle we face. He truly is the Way-Maker in our lives. Blessed is the man or woman whom God goes before. He promises to not only handle the crooked places; He promises to go before us and guide us through whatever life may bring along our journey. As we face those uncertain times, He makes confusion cease to clarity; He makes turmoil cease to peace; He make obstacles breakforth into opportunities.

Through every circumstance, we can have childlike faith, trusting that God is not only at the wheel of our lives, He is the author and the finisher of our lives. Not only has God gone before us, but He directs every circumstance we face. Crooked places and obstacles are assured, but so is the sovereign hand of God’s providence through them all.

Behind every crooked place and every obstacle are secret riches. The riches of which God speaks may include blessings in this life, but greater than these are the riches of knowing the Lord who is calling your name. In the darkness and uncertainty, His voice brings clarity and peace. His voice stills the troubled waters. His voice instructs in the way that we should go. His voice speaks life and light to the darkness. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. How blessed we are to know Him more intimately during the uncertainties of life.

Next time you are facing twisting, winding, hilly roads of confusion and uncertainty or obstacles that seem to be blocking your progress, have assurance that your God who has gone before you is revealing Himself mighty and strong on your behalf. He is the Way Maker for you!

Spirit of Prophecy

Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy
Revelation 19:10b, NKJV

In every generation you will find those who take various Biblical truths out of context and distort them for personal gain. The early apostles dealt with this, and even today we see the same as true. Throughout Scripture we see truths to help us understand spiritual gifts. As a Spirit-filled, Pentecostal believer, I desire to know the fullness of the truth of God’s Word relating to the gifts He has freely given, and I want to experience the fullness of those truths. Here are some realities from the Word regarding prophecy. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but some bulleted points to provide guardrails along the journey of using this wonderful God-given expression of Himself.

Prophecy reveals & glorifies Christ

Revelation 19:10 clearly defines the spirit of prophecy and the testimony of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit always reveals the truth of God as revealed in Jesus. Further, Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God, and truths revealed will not contradict the Word.

John 16:13-15; John 1:14

Prophecy originates with and is an expression of God.

2 Peter 1:21

Prophetic ministry builds the church through edification, exhortation, and comfort.

1 Corinthians 14:3

We are encouraged to seek God, not men, for the use of and receiving of this spiritual gift

1 Corinthians 14:12

Prophecy is not a replacement for speaking in tongues (or any other gift), but each gift has a purpose in supernatural ministry

1 Corinthians 14:18-20; Romans 12:6-8

The best stewardship of a prophetic gift is continual use of Scripture, not ambiguities and misrepresentations.

Hebrews 4:12-13

The Holy Spirit reveals the love of God, and thus the motivation behind prophecy is founded and grounded in God’s love.

Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Prophecy is not an indicator for spiritual maturity: Gifts are given, character is developed.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Galatians 5:16-26

The believer operating in spiritual gifts must continually develop their stewardship of the gifts given. It takes a moment to receive a gift, but a lifetime to steward a gift.

2 Timothy 1:6-7