What Are You Doing Here?

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1 Kings 19:9 “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

I don’t really like caves. This past May, my daughter and I went to the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs, CO. We took a tour inside tunnels that had been excavated over a hundred years ago. It was interesting and insightful, I learned so much, but…I was really looking forward to seeing the light of day outside!

In 1 Kings 19:9, God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” How many of you know that God knew Elijah was there in the cave? So He was really saying “you’re in the wrong place, Elijah.” In 1 Kings 19:1-3, Elijah made a very important decision but for the wrong reasons. Have you ever made a decision for the wrong reason? I know I have. Why did Elijah “run for his life”? Because of a fearful imagination.

In verse 2, Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life. In verse 3 it says something interesting, “When he saw that, he arose, and went for his life”. He began to envision what it would be like to die from a sword. Our negative imagination can cause us to make a wrong decision in a moment of panic, fear, or intimidation. The Holy Spirit always leads us, but the enemy always forces or drives us. Today, let the peace of God be the umpire of your heart and mind. Don’t stay where you shouldn’t be and don’t go where you shouldn’t go. Be lead by God’s peace and prompting, even when you’re a little nervous. Bottom line, may we never find ourselves in a place where God needs to ask us, “What are you doing here?”

 

Our Alarm System

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"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 ESV

I'm so glad God blessed us with built in "alarms". We have negative emotions that tell us that something is wrong with our thinking. We have symptoms when there is something wrong with our body. We even have godly spouses, friends and parents to show us things we are too stubborn to receive from God on our own!

But there's one more thing that may not be so obvious. It's a "condemnation meter". It looks like a fuel gauge on your dashboard, but it works in reverse. When the needle is on "Empty", that's good. According to Romans 8:1, God says there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. If you're born again, you have received the gift of NO condemnation.

When you give place to condemnation, the needle begins to move away from "E" and guilt and fear set in. If you give place to guilt and fear, the needle moves again and destructive habits set in. Condemnation is now at dangerous levels! The answer, resist all condemning thoughts, accusations and lies with the truth of God's Word. Warning! Resist ALL condemnation.

 

Breaking Point by Natalie Fortunato

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Mark 2:22 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins." (New Living Translation)

Something happened to me in 2018 that changed my life forever...I came to my breaking point. I had been living by the Old Testament (all about what I do) and New Testament (all about what Jesus did) at the same time. I was putting old wine into new wineskins. I was constantly frustrated. Something had to give..."New wine calls for new wineskins".

Then it happened, I turned in my old wineskin of self-effort and sin consciousness for a new wineskin - the pure, unforced rhythms of God's goodness and grace. A life where the Word is more real than my senses. A life of faith in the finished work of the cross.

As you enter into 2019, consider these powerful words, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message). After all, “no one puts new wine into old wineskins”.

 

In His Presence are Presents

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Did you know that every day is Christmas when you are in Christ? I love Christmastime! When I was a kid, my parents would pile the Christmas presents, it seemed like, all the way to the ceiling. We would be excited for weeks waiting for Christmas morning. Then the time would come to open up our presents, and then in a blink of an eye it was over. Opening them was so much fun, we would look around and wonder, are there any more? No, we had opened them all…until the stocking gifts after Sunday mass, ahhh!

Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is (present tense) your shepherd. A shepherd provides for his sheep, feeds them, and protects them, every day, all day. Because Jesus IS your Good Shepherd you don’t want for anything . You don’t lack wisdom, direction, provision - anything. In His presence are His presents, Hallelujah! Jesus IS with you, He is our Emmanuel, God with us. He is present with you providing presents. Now, right at this moment, just meditating on Jesus, faith is released out of your spirit, the faith of Jesus. Let your heart be encouraged with the reality that Jesus IS with you.

When you are facing your challenges, Psalm 16:11 says, “In His presence is fullness of joy”. Fullness here means completeness, wholeness, abundance. John 1:16 says “of His fullness we have all received grace for grace”. That’s grace replacing the grace that was there before it! In His presence you release this fullness. In His presence there are presents! Enjoy Christ in Christmas. Enjoy family. Enjoy!

 

The Accepting Church

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Romans 15:7 NIV - “Accept one another, as Christ accepted you”.

Divine acceptance will change the world! But before it does, it must first change the church. The problem with a “mixed” grace message (mixing grace with the law or a works based message) is that it makes the children of God fearful of their Heavenly Father. It paints a frown on the face of love. Can you imagine God the Father frowning at Jesus? Of course not. Neither is He frowning at you.

In the old covenant they prayed for the day when the Lord would make His face shine upon them, be gracious to them, and give them peace. The awesome news is, we are living in that day, right now. He is looking you in the face and beaming with a galaxy sized smile. You are the apple of His eye. He rejoices over you with singing. When we get a hold of this, it will transform us into the “accepting church”.

Freedom is found in the Fathers acceptance, when you know that you are your Daddy’s delight. When you know that He loves you and accepts you, unconditionally. You are accepted in the Beloved. People who know that they are accepted, are more apt to accept others. Be free! “Accept one another, as Christ accepted you”.

 

End Time Global Chilling

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Matthew 24:10-12 “Then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and many false prophets shall arise and deceive many…and the love of many shall wax cold”.

The greatest end time threat to our lives and to our society is not global warming, but global chilling. Let me explain. In Luke 17:1 Jesus said “it is impossible that no offenses should come”. What a statement. Every one of us will have the opportunity to be offended, be misunderstood, experience an injustice, and a heartache of some kind. However, it’s our choice how to respond when these things happen, because they will happen. Unfortunately, offense has become the “legal drug” of the church.

When we get offended, we get deceived, and then we begin to view everything through the prism of our pain. Notice the progression, first the offense, then the decision to be offended, then betrayal, hatred, false prophecy, and then finally our heart becomes cold... frigid…and global chilling sets in toward others…brrrrrrrrrrrr!

But, here’s the good news. We can be set free from offense. Psalm 119:165 says that people who love the Word of God have great peace, and nothing offends them. They don’t judge other people’s motives behind their actions. In Exodus 15, the people of Israel came to a body of water and it was bitter. Then God showed Moses a tree, and instructed him to throw it into the waters, and they became sweet. That’s an example of the cross of Calvary when applied to bitterness in our souls. Nothing so bad has happened to you that is greater than what Jesus has done for you at the cross. So when offenses come, and they will come, let all bitterness be turned into sweet waters that will produce healing for others. The change starts with you. Put a stop to global chilling!

 

Stressed Spelled Backwards

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1John 4:19 - ESV Translation - “We love because He first loved us”.

This morning I was in a beautiful town of Woodland Park, CO and I noticed a little donut shop with lines going out the door, onto their porch, and down their stairs. Can’t beat that for advertisement! I got in line to see what was so great about the place. When I finally got inside, I saw a sign that read “stressed spelled backwards is desserts”…LOL! I know some of you who would love that!

In the New Testament, 1 John 4:19, says, “We love because He first loved us”. In the Old Testament, Deut. 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”. That’s backwards. It’s impossible to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and strength. Utterly impossible. When we live backwards from the new covenant we get stressed. When we live under the old covenant, it’s all works. We are trying to get something through our own works that’s already ours through the finished work on the cross.

If I had a choice between being stressed and enjoying desserts, I choose desserts. They’re much more fun. God wants us to live the sweet life, the good life, the new covenant life. Like 1 John 4:19 says, it’s what He has done first that empowers you second. You decide, old covenant , performance, comparison, impossible standards, always falling short, looking at yourself…OR new covenant, all eyes on Jesus and His finished work! God always serves dessert first. Enjoy it. Guilt free!

 

A Grace Growth Spirt

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2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever, Amen”. 

As children head back to school, they may notice certain classmates that grew several inches over the summer.  They experienced a “growth spirt”, they grew faster than others at an exponential rate. Interestingly, a lot of growth happens at night during sleep.  Secretions of human growth hormone peak throughout the night.  In fact, it is recommended that children ages 6-13 sleep at least 11 hours a night. 

REST CAUSES GROWTH!  The more we rest, the more we grow.  In what?  Grace.  And what else?  In 2 Peter 3:18 it mentions another important component to growing in grace…the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  We grow in grace when we receive more knowledge.  Not just any knowledge, but knowledge of Jesus.  If you want more growth, study more about Jesus.   Jesus is full of grace and truth. Get ready though, when you grow in your knowledge of Jesus, you will experience a “grace growth spirt”!  Others will take notice that there’s something awesome happening in your life.  You’re standing taller, you’re more confident, and happier, and at peace and rest.  Grow!  Grow!  Grow! 

 

May the Fourth Be With You

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Genesis 1:19 "And the evening and the morning were the fourth day" 

With Independence Day just behind us, I trust you enjoyed a day of rest and celebration of our nation’s birth, and the blessing that we have in being…the United States of America.    

However, there is another “fourth” that is very, very meaningful to all of us, no matter where we live. On the fourth day of what is called "creation week", God spoke into existence our sun, the moon, all the stars and the seasons. (Genesis 1:14) Interestingly, the Hebrew word for "seasons" is MOED, which is literally translated as "appointed times" (divine appointments).  Get ready for divine appointments in the coming days and some appointed times that are waiting specifically for you. 

“In the evening and the morning were the fourth day".  The Hebrew day started in the evening.  This means that while you are sleeping and resting, God's day has already begun.  Before you open your eyes in the morning, God is already causing favorable opportunities to be presented to you in your life, career, relationships, and pursuits.  

I really believe this means that God wants us to rest.  In the days, weeks and months ahead, as you rest in what He has already finished, divine appointments, key relationships, and Holy Ghost led associations are coming your way.  It's your appointed time.  A time where you will be at the right place with the right person.  

May the 4th be with you!...divine rest, divine activity, totally directed by the Spirit of God, that brings you to your appointed time.  So get ready and get excited because the 4th is with you, and His name is Jesus!

 

Don't Let Fear Shut You Up

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John 20:19-20  "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." 

Why were the doors shut?  "For fear of the Jews".  Fear will always try and shut you up, close you in, and restrict you in every way.  It will try to stop you, keep you from moving forward, and from breaking free of all limitations. But be encouraged, fear did not stop Jesus when He found His disciples gathered together, behind closed doors, and it can't stop you. He came and stood in the midst of their fear.    

And what was the very first word the resurrected Jesus said to His frightened disciples?  In our English bibles, it says "peace be with you", but our Lord would have spoken in Hebrew.  He would have used the word shalom.  Shalom is taken from the root word shalam, which means, “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.” It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages you to give back. 

"Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side."  These were the receipts of His payment for their shalom, and of His guaranteed peace.  Jesus paid the price for your shalom. You don't have to be full of worries and cares.  For every fearful and threatening situation in your life, you can declare the same thing that Jesus said to His disciples, "shalom".  Fear can't shut you up, unless you let it.  So don't let it.  Shalom.  

 

Let Go, Live Long

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Psalm 91:16 - "With long life will He satisfy you and show you His salvation" 

It's okay when the Bible says to "number our days" (Psalm 90:12), but it's not okay when the doctor says, "Your days are numbered!"  That's not good news. Maybe your parents died young, and you're fearful that you will die young too.  Thank God for doctors who are doing all they can to fight sickness, but the things that are impossible for man are possible with God.  

God's Word is health to all your flesh (Proverbs 4:20-22).  God's Word is health to your kidneys. Healing to your bones. It's healing to your skin. It's healing to your lungs. Not a single part of your body will be left untouched by the healing power of God's Word!   

Like many people, I used to say, "Well, life is short" to express how we shouldn't take anything for granted.  I stopped confessing that over my life many years ago, because my Bible says "with long life will He satisfy me…" 

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones".  A heart at peace is sound.  The Hebrew word for sound in this verse is "marpe" which means "a healing" or "a cure".  So what does that tell you?  When your heart is at peace it becomes a healing heart that gives life to your body!  If you want to live long you need to have a relaxed attitude. Don't let your heart be troubled.  Be at peace.  Be at rest.  Declare today, "I let go and live long".  

 

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

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Isaiah 41:13 "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee" 

It seems like yesterday that my whole family would gather around our TV in our basement every Sunday night to watch the Ed Sullivan show.  Anyone with a TV set was doing the exact same thing, all across America.  On one particular Sunday night in February of that year, a band from England rocked the nation with their new hit called I Wanna Hold Your Hand.  The band…the Beatles.  

In Isaiah 41:13, the prophet Isaiah says "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy hand".  How many of you know that a child holding on to a mother's hand is never as secure as when the mother holds the child's hand. I would always grab hold of my daughter's hand when she was young, when we were in a store or at some kind of event.  I held her hand tighter and more secure than she held mine. 

I want you to encourage you, you're not holding on to God's hand, God is holding on to your hand, and He'll never let go. The verse says "I will hold your hand, fear not".   When God holds your hand, there's nothing to be afraid of.  Even when we are weak, His hand is strong. Hallelujah!  Do you feel weak today?  He's holding on to you. 

You might ask, "What about Psalm 51 where it says, "Take not your Holy Spirit from me"?  David prayed that because he was under a dispensation where the Holy Spirit would come upon you, and the Holy Spirit would go.  As a born again believer, the Holy Spirit lives and abides in you, and will never leave you, ever, no matter what. That's good news for us today.  Let that sink in.  Rest and be secure in His love for you. He will never let go.

 

Trust Now, Understand Later

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John 13 :7 " What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand" 

Much of the Christian life is spent trusting Jesus now and understanding later. Jesus typically doesn't always explain on the front end why He is doing something the way He is doing it. Like Peter, when something looks wrong to us, we are tempted to go against the Lord's will.  God wants us to trust Him.  During those times when we don't understand, we need to remember Jesus' words to Peter, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand". 

Peter had grown used to Jesus doing and saying unpredictable things, but in the context of John 13:7, the way Peter saw it, Jesus washing the disciples feet was just plain wrong.  He believed Jesus was the last person in the room who should be washing feet, that was a house servant's job, a non-Jew.  People traveled in sandals, their feet were smelly, dirty and came in contact with things the law declared unclean.    

Here's the twist.  Under the law the unclean makes the clean, unclean.  But under grace, the clean makes the unclean, clean.  Jesus washed the disciples feet, when it should have been Peter down washing the feet of Jesus.  It looked like it was all backwards.  Peter didn't understand in the now, but he would later.

Today you may not understand what God is doing in your life, but trust Him, you'll understand later.  Follow the example in His Word, listen to that still small voice that says "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). Remember this simple truth, God is good, all the time. When your down to nothing, God is up to something!  Something good.  

 

Step Into Peace

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Mark 5:34 "and He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague" 

Imagine being healed of a blood disorder after 12 years of going to every doctor you could find, spending every penny had, and things just getting worse.  Just like that, one encounter with Jesus and she was instantly healed.  What happened next?  He said to her "Go in peace", or in the original Greek, "Go into peace".  This is really important.  Jesus wasn't bidding her farewell.  He was telling her to step into the realm of peace, the way you would step into a house. 

You might be going through a prolonged season of challenges where nothing you have done seems to work. Perhaps you are dealing with a chronic condition.  Or maybe you’re a single parent struggling to make ends meet. Or possibly you have done all that you can to mend a broken relationship, but all your efforts have come up short.  

Jesus is inviting you to receive grace for your situation, step out of your place of fear, worry, and anxiety, and step into the realm of peace.  Peace is a key component to keeping what grace has given through the finished work of the cross.  Grace and peace always go together, as seen in so many of Paul's epistles.  So, go ahead, receive your victory, and step into peace, it will change the course of your life.