A Stone's Throw

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John 11:39 “Jesus said, take ye away the stone”

You know something? If you are born again, no matter what your circumstances are telling you, you’re not that far from your answer at all. That’s good news! “A stone’s throw” is something that is really close by, closer than what you even think. Your answer is right near you, in fact it’s already IN you. The law is like a stone blocking the resurrection life. Remember when Lazarus was raised from the dead, and when Jesus was raised from the dead? Life was in Lazarus, but the stone was in the way. That’s why Jesus said, “Roll away the stone”. The stone must be removed before resurrection life can flow.

Now, just to clarify, we’re not removing the stones for dead people, unbelievers. If you remove the stones from dead people what you get is “stink”! You can’t remove the Ten Commandments from people in the world. They still need the “thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness…” But in the church, it is a hindrance because resurrected people are alive, but behind the stone. So, move that stone folks! Roll it away. Get the law out of your life and let resurrection life flow!

 

Introducing the "Hamon" Sandwich

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Esther 5:9 “Hamon went away that day joyful and elated in heart. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate refusing to stand up or show fear before him, he was filled with anger against Mordecai.”

I didn’t say ham sandwich…I said Hamon sandwich. Let me explain.

Chapter five of the book of Esther talks about an evil man named Hamon who hated the Jews. He had great influence with the king and had just been invited to a special dinner at the palace. He went away ecstatic at what had just happened, but as he was walking away ONE person spoiled everything for him!

That person was Mordecai, who refused to stand up and show reverence for him at the king’s gate. In verse 10 it says that Hamon kept it inside his heart. It says in verse 11 that when he went home he recounted to his family the glory of his riches, the abundance of his ten sons, and the promotion he had just received. Then in verse 13 he said, “Yet none of this benefit me as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate”. He couldn’t enjoy all the blessings of his life because one person really annoyed him for not honoring him like he supposedly deserved.

Ever done that? You were going through your day, everything was going just great, life was wonderful, then one person does or says something that annoyed you and BAM, there goes your joy. You just ate a “Hamon sandwich”! Don’t do it! Don’t allow that one thing to steal so much good in your life, your marriage, your children. Just keep moving and focus on all the good. Let the fruit of the Spirit be your immediate response to comments and situations. Your choice, fruit of the Spirit or Hamon sandwich!

 

Wounded Time is Wasted Time by Natalie Fortunato

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Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

"If you're going through hell, don't stop!” I heard this line in a country song while I was waiting at the car dealership for my oil change. Loved it! Totally got my attention. Such great advice, right?

When we really mess up, totally miss God, sometimes the guilt and shame is paralyzing. It's almost unbearable. But the worse thing we can do is stay there. All wounded and condemned, kicking ourselves. What a waste of time.

The enemy loves to rehearse the incident over and over again in our minds. How we failed. But the Holy Spirit is the exact opposite. When we miss it, He loves to remind us of who we are in Christ. He reminds us that we are loved, accepted, forgiven and righteous. He reminds us of our calling and our assignment.

If you've messed up big time, change your mind and change your direction. Admit where you got off track, take responsibility for your actions, take dominion and authority over the enemy, and allow the Holy Spirit to get you back on track…and move on!

 

God is a Rewarder

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Mark 10:28 “Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.”

Did you know that God wants you to be confident in His rewards? I love rewards! I had the privilege of flying home every month while I was attending Charis Bible College, to see my family and my church family. That’s nine times! What a blessing. And another blessing was receiving travel “rewards” every time I flew. I flew so much, I earned a free flight to anywhere in the USA. What an extra blessing!

Did you know that you can be confident that God is rewarding you? It says it, plain and simple, in Hebrews 11:4 that God is a Rewarder. In Mark 10:28 Peter says, “Lord we have left all, and followed you”. I love what Jesus replies, “There is no man that has left house, brothers, sisters... mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time.” What a promise!

Since I literally left my home and family for nine months, this really caught my eye. But the real key here is “for the gospel’s sake”. What have you left behind “for the gospel’s sake”. Whatever it is, be confident that you will receive a hundredfold reward in this time…that means now. Try and beat that reward system - impossible. God wants you to be excited and have an expectation about the rewards He has waiting for you to claim. Having a hard time believing it? That’s why the true meaning of the word gospel is the “nearly too good to be true news”. Enjoy!

 

Grace Renews Your Youth

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Genesis 21:7 “And she [Sarah] added, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."

The Fountain of Youth is a spring in St. Augustine, FL, discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. I don’t know about you, but drinking and bathing in the same water where others are doing the same thing seems pretty disgusting to me.

In the Word of God, Sarah represents grace and Hagar represents the law. Ishmael was a child born out of the flesh or self-effort , while Isaac was a child of the supernatural and represents a child of grace. I found this amazing that when Sarah gave birth to Isaac at 90 years old, not only did her body change to conceive a child at that age, but her body actually changed so much that she was able to nurse her baby.

Her youth was renewed, that’s what grace does. It changes your body, it changes cells and organs and makes them healthy. No matter what products or programs are on the market, there’s only one way to renew your youth, through God’s grace. So sit back, relax, rest, and receive messages from God’s Word on unmerited favor. As you do tissues will be healed, and growths disintegrated, effortlessly. Praise God. This also includes your finances, your family. Just receive and be renewed by God’s grace!

 

The Cure For Frustration

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Galatians 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law then Christ died in vain”

Frustrate: prevent (a plan or attempted action) from progressing, or succeeding, or being fulfilled, to thwart, defeat, foil, block, stop, put a stop, circumvent, disappoint, nullify.

I was walking up a trail near my condo in Colorado the other day, and the wind was so strong it was almost pushing me backward. A walk that would normally take me an hour took a whole lot longer. I pressed forward, but the wind pressed back, opposing me every step of the way. That’s what it’s like when we frustrate the grace of God.

In Galatians 2:21, Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God”. Do you know we can actually hinder and stop God’s grace from working in our lives? How? He tells us in the same verse, by thinking that our righteousness comes by self-effort, by trying harder to do right, by trying to come up with all the answers, by trying to earn our way. These works frustrate the grace of God. They stop the progress and circumvent what God wants to do in our lives through His free gift.

Romans 5:21 says that “grace reigns through righteousness”. Grace reigns in our lives when we know and believe that we are made righteous through the blood of Jesus. An endless supply of God’s unmerited favor flows in our lives when we simply receive our righteous standing and add nothing to it by our own works. Every time you face a challenge, let God’s grace bring you through. Let the grace of God work through you to work it all out. Be like Paul and boldly declare, “I do not frustrate the grace of God”!

 

The Wet Comes With the Water

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Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus”

Many, many years ago, I was a competitive swimmer and diver. I really loved those days…early morning practices, swimming miles of laps in the pool. I’m so glad I got to do that. It was a grueling but rewarding sport that spanned ten years of my life. But you want to know something? When I was on the diving board, I wasn’t thinking about getting wet, I was more interested in if there’s water in the pool!

Same as with being a Christian. The “wet” is not what I’m focused on. I’m talking about an intimate relationship with Jesus! A genuine relationship where we value Him more than any of the things that flows out of that personal intimacy. In Acts 4:13, it says that people saw the boldness of Peter and John, and took note that they were “unlearned and ignorant men”. In our world today, good looks and talent are a premium. Even in the church. We see how God uses certain people and we practically ascribe them celebrity status. But with Peter and John, they were bold AND unlearned. Their boldness didn’t come from their education. It didn’t come from their good looks or eloquence. It came from being with around Jesus.

That means ALL of us can be bold, no fame or fancy degree required. Our boldness comes from being around Jesus, spending time with Him. Focus on Jesus. Being with Jesus is what attracts all the things we could ever want or desire. The wet comes with the water, not the other way around.

 

Supply Minded

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1 Corinthians 15:10 “…I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”             

When you wake up in the morning do you think about all the demands that you have for the day? Are you stressed out about an upcoming meeting?  How about that big project you’re working on?  Is your mind racing about all that needs done?  Are you feeling pressured and overwhelmed and exhausted?   

If your answer is yes to any of the above, you are “demand minded”.  You’re depending on you-you-you.  You see, grace is all about supply, and the Law is all about demand. God wants us to be supply minded not demand minded.   

Being supply minded is all about what Jesus is doing in and through you.  It’s about His power, His supply.  In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul says “I labored more abundantly than they all...” If he stopped there, it would be all about stress and pressure and demand.  But thank God he didn’t stop there.  He went on to say “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”!  Not only does Jesus give you the grace to do what He has told you to do, He also rewards you for using the grace that He gave you.  

So today, I want you to stop and ask yourself, “Am I supply minded or demand minded?”  Then ask the Lord, “What have I been doing in my own strength?” When He shows you, quickly say “Lord, I turn these things over to you right now”.  Then rest, and be confident in His inexhaustible supply of grace within you to do all that He’s called you to do. 

 

Fasting? What For?

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Matthew 17:19-21 "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

What comes out only by prayer and fasting? The spirit? No. He was referring to unbelief. It's unbelief that only goes out by prayer and fasting. He fully expected the disciples to cast that spirit out, on the spot, or He wouldn't have rebuked them saying in verse 17, saying, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" The issue wasn't casting a spirit out, it was their unbelief.

Prayer and fasting brings us from a place of unbelief - where my mountains refuse to move, where everything seems impossible to me - to a place where nothing is impossible for me.

When we fast, we are enforcing the positional truth that the sin nature was crucified with Christ and our flesh no longer has the power to rule over our spirit. Our fasting doesn't move the devil, he's not the one with our problems. Fasting doesn't move God, it moves us into a place where we can receive from God.

Fasting destroys the hold that the flesh has had on our lives, that has defeated us time and time again, year after year. Lies that tell us things will never get better, or that we will never accomplish more than we've already accomplished, that this is it for us.

Fasting has the same effect on our flesh as it had on Jesus' flesh: it braces us against the temptations of the devil and helps us shut down the flesh by enforcing the perfect standing Jesus has already given us. As the flesh loses ground, the peace of God can begin to rule in our lives.

You choose. A meal. Or a mountain. Which would you rather do without?

 

It's Worth the Wait by Natalie Fortunato

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Acts 1:4-5 - "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Jesus didn't recommend or suggest that the disciples not depart from Jerusalem until the "Promise of the Father" had come, He commanded them. After His resurrection, they had spent many amazing days together, He taught them kingdom principles, and He knew the disciples were eager to share the good news all over the world. But He commanded them not to get started until they had been clothed with the Spirit's power (Luke 24:49).

In 1 Corinthians it says that He gave this command to about 500 people, yet in Acts 1:15 it says there were only 120 men and women in the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit. What happened to the other 380? Perhaps they didn't want to wait. They wanted to get started doing the work of the ministry…without the power of the Holy Spirit!

When God calls us to do something, we need to make sure that we don't get so excited about the task, that we move out ahead of Him. Moving out in our own power and timing will actually interfere with what He wants to do in our lives, and interrupt the process. Our decisions greatly affect the lives of those around us, and the people that God has called us to reach. Slow down! Don't worry, you'll know when the Holy Spirit says to move, and He will empower you for the task at hand. It's worth the wait.

 

Time to Raise Up a Grace Generation

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Judges 2:10 “and also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel“

As many of you may know, I am finishing my third year at Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, CO, in the World Outreach Global Training School. I have been assigned a year end project with a group of my classmates called “Charis on College Campuses”. It’s been a very eye opening experience to say the least. I’m getting quite an “education” about what’s happening in the 17-30 age group in America. Part of our project includes visiting local college campuses to conduct a survey regarding biblical beliefs and the relevance of the church. My first stop - a branch campus of one of the largest secular colleges in CO. My first student – a Satanist who responded with a resounding “No!”, then proceeded to get up in my face and yell vile things about Christianity. Whoa. Though there are some students who openly believe in Christ, it’s no secret that many of our college campuses in America are purporting a philosophy and ideology that strongly opposes the Word of God.

Judges 2:10 sadly speaks of a generation that grew up after Joshua died, who “knew not the Lord” nor “the miracles that were done for Israel”. What happened? The older generation failed to share the Word of God with the younger generation. To tell of who He is, the miracles He did for them, and how He delivered them from bondage. Folks, no matter how older you are, there’s always going to be someone younger than you in your life. God has called us to raise up a GRACE generation that knows Him intimately. How? By living a life evidenced by God’s favor, goodness, miraculous power, and love for them to witness firsthand. Simply stated…to “attract” them, not “attack” them. The time is now!

 

What Did Jesus Leave Us?

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John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you…”

Last week I was watching a movie about two very, very, very, (that’s 3 very’s) rich uncles that left their nephew millions and millions of dollars in their will. One summer when the young boy went to visit his uncles, little did he know that his life would totally change at such a young age. That summer the two uncles died when they tried to fly a prop plane through their barn! Similarly, John 14: 27 is likened to a man getting ready to leave his life on earth who bequeaths his wealth, mansion, estate, and even his Lamborghini…to you!

But in this case, it’s the Lord Jesus who is preparing to leave earth, and of all the things that He could bequeath to us, He left us His peace. As a Jew, Jesus would have spoken Hebrew or Aramaic to His disciples, so He would have used the word, shalom. “Shalom I leave with you, My shalom I give to you”. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, prosperity, and peace. Not the kind of conditional and fleeting peace the world gives. He left us so, so much more. It’s all in His last will and “testament”, the New Testament in your Bible. It’s filled with everything that He left for you. Take it. Receive it. Tell everyone about it. It’s all yours!

 

Do You Want Your Receipt?

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John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost”.

I’ve noticed lately that instead of automatically handing me my receipt after a purchase, the cashier asks me if I want a receipt. Possibly more and more people are not taking their receipt? Maybe they rely on their bank app, online banking, or memory to keep a record of their purchase. Me? I want my receipt. When I filled the gas tank in my car (I look forward to not having to pump my own gas when I get back to New Jersey!), a woman’s voice came over the speaker on the pump and asked, “Would you like a receipt?” My answer, “Yes”.

In John 19:30, when Jesus said “It is finished”, He was saying that “It is paid”. This is powerful. The penalty for all sin, past, present, and future? Paid. Healing? Paid at the whipping post when Jesus was scourged and beaten unrecognizably. The curse of poverty? Paid. Condemnation, guilt and shame? It was nailed to the cross with Jesus. What did He pay with? His precious blood, He exchanged His life for ours. What did He pay for? Our righteousness, our healing, our victory, deliverance, redemption, peace, joy, and so much more. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your receipt. What receipt? You Bible, it’s a record of the payment Jesus made on your behalf. Paid in full!

 

#1 Hit Single of All Time

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2 Chronicles 20:21 “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever”

According to Guinness World Records, "White Christmas" (1942) by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies. The song recognized as "the best-selling single of all time" was released before the pop rock singles chart era and "was listed as the world's best-selling single in the first-ever Guinness Book of Records (published in 1955) and—remarkably—still retains the title more than 60 years later".

In 2 Chronicles 20:21, Judah was being attacked by three armies. The battle strategy? Appoint singers unto the Lord to go out before the army singing Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever. THIS is the #1 hit song of all time! Judah may not have topped the charts, but they toppled the enemy.

The word mercy in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word for grace. Praise the Lord, for His grace endures forever. His grace is sufficient for you. It surrounds you like a shield when it seems like your enemy has you surrounded. Praise Him with a loud voice, singing “Praise the Lord, for His mercy and grace and favor endures forever”. Make a declaration of your victory. It’s your praise that stills the avenger. Sing! Sing! Sing!

 

Bitter or Better...A One Letter Difference

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Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”

Ever been bitter about something? We all have. Ever been through something and came out better? What a great idea! It’s amazing how one letter can affect your life. Years ago, I felt like someone had deeply wronged me. I couldn’t shake it out of my mind. I kept telling myself it didn’t matter. It did. For days. Ever been there? Just nod your head up and down. Then I heard about a man who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars from a dishonest business deal. A friend told him to change his focus and insisted that he start praying for the people who wronged him. Within 30 days he recovered $130,000. In fact, within 3 minutes of praying, someone handed him a card with $50,000 in it. Praise God.

Hebrews 12:15 says that when we allow a root of bitterness to spring up, the grace of God cannot flow through us. See, it’s from the heart that this bitterness springs up, we need to guard our hearts with all vigilance (Proverbs 4:23). When we allow a root of bitterness to spring up, it troubles us and defiles everyone around us. Is that what we really want? That’s the opposite affect we are to have on others. The next time you are tempted to get bitter, change that one letter. Change from bitter to better. Let God turn the situation around on your behalf. Believe me, you’ll live better.

 

Mangia! Time to Eat

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Ezekiel 3:8 “And he said to me, son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it, then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth”

When I was younger (notice I said “younger”, because I’m still young!), dinnertime was a big part of the day in our Italian family. I loved to hear my mother say, “Time to eat!” I like to say, “Mangia!” It's a typically direct Italian way of saying, "Dinner is served”, or maybe asmangiamo, "Let's eat," or mangia tutti, "Everybody eat." It’s all music to my ears.

In January of this year, I heard the Lord say to me “I want you to eat My Word”, specifically in reference to the vision He gave me for our church – 2019: The Year of Great Change. So, I have been taking the scriptures from the vision and meditating on them regularly, like I would one of my daily meals. Ezekiel 3:8 says, “And He said to me, son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it, then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth”. This is powerful.

You see, I believe that we need to do more than just skim the Word. It becomes part of us when we eat and digest what God is saying. When we chew on it, mull it over, think on it, and meditate on His Word. To truly experience great change, to see the promises of God manifest in our lives, to see what we’ve believed for, this is a key. We can snack on the Word, or we can eat the Word. In 2019, make it a necessary and essential part of your everyday life. Make it your highest priority. Mangia!!

 

Recalibrate

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Jeremiah 10:23 “Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man to direct his own steps”

The word “recalibrate” has become quite familiar to all of us GPS users out there. Where would we be without them…literally? When we take a wrong turn, we rely on the GPS to recalibrate. If I didn’t have the GPS I’d have gotten lost so many times! I still remember the days when my dad would pull over and dig out the map from the glove compartment of our station wagon. Those days are long gone. Now we just wait for our GPS to figure out a way to get us back on track.

Recalibrate means to calibrate again, to get back on course again. If you’ve gotten off course, no worries, you have the Guide inside. The Holy Spirit will recalibrate within you. He will prompt you to make a simple course correction. Jeremiah 10:23 says “it’s not in any of us to direct our own steps. In life, we need to recalibrate many, many times. God is okay with that. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit to recalibrate us as soon as we begin to make a wrong turn. He guides us to make a small course correction, that’s all we need. The sooner we yield to Him, the less recalibration we need on the path ahead. If you’ve gotten off course, listen to the Holy Spirit and just recalibrate. You’ll get to your destination. Trust your “God Positional System”.

 

Weapon of Mass Instruction

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Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge“

I was reading the other day about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), such as chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons that can do significant harm and damage on a large scale. Mass means large, massive, profuse, overwhelming. But there’s something even more powerful and effective in the spiritual world called “weapon of mass instruction”.

Hosea 4:6 says that God’s people are destroyed for a lack of one thing…knowledge. Knowledge of God’s Word is the most powerful and destructive weapon in the spiritual realm. That’s precisely why the enemy will do anything and everything to try and stop you from gaining revelation knowledge. Mark 4:15 says that Satan comes immediately to steal the Word. Why? Because he knows it’s a weapon of mass, large, huge, effective proportions.

God’s Word is the only offensive weapon that we have. It destroys every work of the enemy. It tears down strongholds of thoughts. It is sent to heal cancers. With it you rebuke every attack. God’s Word is a weapon of mass instruction that will cause you to win in every battle, in every contest, in every challenge. So the answer to any destruction or problem is instruction, the knowledge of God’s Word. Make a decision this year to give God’s Word first place and final authority in every area of your life. Then watch the supernatural changes manifest as never before.

 

A Change of Diet in 2019

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Joshua 5:12 “and the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of Canaan that year”.

After I returned from Winter Break at Charis Bible College a few weeks ago, I saw a friend of mine and they looked so different. I asked, “What are you doing that you look so different?” They explained about their special diet, listing their change of foods and eating habits.

Speaking of eating habits, can you imagine what it would have been like to eat the same food every day for 40 years? That’s what happened to the children of Israel, before they came into the promised land of Canaan. The manna in Canaan represents “just enough” provision for each day. This is survival. Thank God for His provision, but He wants better for His children.

When they entered the land of Canaan, they began to eat fruit. The fruit was already there. The fruit represents “more than enough”. That’s the difference between a miracle and the blessing. A miracle is for crisis. Thank God for miracles, but the blessing is for every day. It’s a way of believing. It’s believing in God’s commanded blessing on His children because of the cross of Christ. In 2019, choose God’s diet. Choose more than enough! Let’s eat!

 

Death, Taxes and the New England Patriots

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Hebrews 13:5 Amplified “He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. (I will) not, (I will) not, (I will) not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let (you) down...(assuredly not)!”

Super Bowl Sunday, an American football tradition, is finally here. Get the Velveeta ready, hold your nose to your Zenith (they still make those?), and watch the New England Patriots take the Super Bowl field for the ninth time. Please repeat after me, “Tom Brady is getting old!” Yet at 41, he keeps getting better like a fine wine. Quoting the familiar phrase, “You can count on two things in life: death and taxes”, sports media has added a third…the New England Patriots.

In Hebrews 13:5, God says five times (the number of grace), “I will not, I will not, I will not…I will not, assuredly not leave you, fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support, or let you down”. Hallelujah! Do you get the picture? He will not ever, no never leave you nor forsake you. God is more of a sure thing, more unchanging than anything. So, stay secure in His Word, His nature and His love.

Get the chips and salsa ready, God loves you and so do we! Enjoy