In Christ Alone

This morning we heard a word about an enemy who has a plan to engage us in a battle. It’s a battle of entanglement to dishearten us from our weapons and the authority that is ours. However, we heard a word about God as our maintainer and our provider. He does not deal in confusion, but in the position of truth. His provision comes as the living word of truth which he watches over to perform wonders. We heard a word that says God is all sufficient and he works at the place of our surrender. We heard a word that says our God in Christ left us a pattern that we should follow, so that at the pattern of the cross we posture ourselves for success not failure. It is a posture of humility by which he will perform wonders before our very eyes. Today he would say, do not be afraid, and do not listen to the voice of the adversary who would discourage your Faith in Christ alone! When you speak those words “In Christ Alone” you make a bold declaration of surrender about who you’re going to trust. By assuming this posture, you will be speaking forth a prayer of great release. Today, let him release you from the fear, let him release you from the things that keep you from realizing what only He is able to produce! I was impressed this week with something someone had given me to read. It revealed a long forgotten story of a man in New York City, who in 1857 called a meeting to gather people with him to pray. In that prayer meeting only six people showed up. Rather than be discouraged by what may have seemed to some as a failed attempt, they would continue to meet weekly for the purpose of prayer. It would be that within the next year, the Spirit of God would move on upwards of 10,000 people to meet daily in churches all over the city to pray. As a result of a little prayer meeting, it is estimated that 1 million people came to faith in Christ during the course of the next year. There are greater things to be had when we pray in agreement with the Spirit of God. Today, find the authority that belongs to you in Christ and never underestimate the power when His saints pray in faith.

Outside the Boat

In Matthew 14:26, the Disciples were afraid they’d seen a ghost when Jesus comes walking on the water. Outside the confines of that boat there is a very important principle to be understood. There was no ghost, no apparition, it was the Master of the sea who knows how to calm storm driven waters for those who follow Him. In times of trouble our eyes play tricks on us and make us vulnerable to attack. In God’s economy, the life that lives outside the boat represents the place of greatest safety. In financial terms it would be the place of greatest return. With Jesus, in that moment of trouble, the resources of God’s power are only fully available outside the boat. The disciples were caught up with their fear amid the storm waters, but stand as testimony to the fear that would hinder us walking with Jesus because of unbelief. Peter’s request to leave the boat was a wise and proper one, and so Jesus said come. Jesus treads on the water of our troubles and calls us out by name saying, ‘come beyond your belief to the place of real faith that refuses to see ghosts, or to find comfort in the seat of fear’. You and I daily have the choice to rise up with Jesus or be left to the counsel of our own fears. The boat is a picture of a false hope which cannot deliver and its fearful contents can never produce faith. No, faith comes only to those who see Jesus as the ‘only way out’ with their cries being met by His voice. The word I read says, ‘God makes a way where none existed and He speaks to say, do not fear, believe God, also believe and trust Me, for My words are life, they are true, clear and enlightening, and they are powerfully charged to liberate and navigate your troubled waters. Stop seeing ghosts and start looking and living for Me!’

The Promise of Peace

Jesus says in John 16:33; ‘These things I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace…’ The peace Jesus speaks of here in John’s gospel is directly related to what He says a few verses before about asking God things in prayer. It’s in a place of prayer I begin to understand the source of my frustration with others. I realize waiting on men and not leaning on God is really the fear of man and not the fear of God. This will leave you frustrated and angry with people as they fail to meet your expectations and demands, and it will miss the peace Jesus promises those who lean into Him.  Peace is a powerful word of promise, we all want it, but it can escape us when we fail to deal with the fear that keeps us from wholly leaning on Jesus name.  Fear will keep you from a Godly mandate to move forward in your circumstances. Others are not the problem, but failure to wait on God in prayer is. Prayer is the pathway to lasting peace with God and it holds promise that I can be part of restoring others rather that being bothered by their perceived failures.  The words of an old hymn, ‘learning to lean on Jesus’ encourage us to trust Him in every trial, finding the peace He promises.  Jesus went on to finish John 16:33 AMP; by saying, ‘I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have prefect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer…[take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!] For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Peace, is the victory Jesus gives and He calls us to pray, so we can overcome in the face of every fear.

All Because of the Son

While recently waiting at an airport with my wife and son, I reflected upon a story my wife had told me some 18 years before during a holiday visit home to Texas when we were living in Maine. My wife was always a good-mother to be there for her children; she took great pleasure in seeing our children were well clothed, well taught and well cared for (something I will always honor her for).  Isn’t it interesting in a world that says, ‘woman get out there and make something of yourself’ your real blessing will depend on your children and what they say about you.  On this particular occasion, she was traveling alone with our children.  She would often dress them alike or in coordinated outfits. A well remembered favorite of mine were the little denim dresses my two daughters wore to match my son’s blue denim hat… all that to say, she was making a statement that said to the world around her, “these are distinctly mine”.  As I’d reminisced about the story she once told me, I got her to tell it to me again.   It seems her plane was late in arriving to make a late night connection for Dallas.  When they arrived at the very large metropolitan airport they got turned around and had to run hand in hand to the connecting gate.  When they finally found their gate, the attendant said that the plane had already left. My wife realizing there were no more planes out, leaving her and our 3 children stranded in a strange airport, began to cry as they walked about holding each other by the hand.  The cries were tears of what if, and why, and how come.  As tears continued to flow, my wife felt my son’s small hand begin to gently pat her face. Isn’t that like the son, a loving touch to say, ‘I’m here, it’s okay we’re together it’s going to be alright….’ My son always did have a very good sense of direction!  A short time past and a very important looking man came by and saw her crying.  He was moved as he saw her tears and the children holding hands beside her.  He asked what was wrong and she proceeded to tell him the story.  “Quickly”, he said, “come with me.” Understanding there were no more planes to Dallas leaving out that night and her dilemma, he got on his radio speaking to someone all the while whisking them downstairs and onto the tarmac. She said from there he put them on little cart and drove them at full speed across the runway to board a plane that He had held up to take them aboard.  As she re-told what happened, I had to choke back the tears, but I was moved by the reminder God uses small things to tell one very big story.  He reminded me that while I could not be there, He was able to use my only son to accurately convey His love and sentiments!  I believe He is saying to you, ‘I see you in your tears and I understand your problem, I’m here, it’s okay we’re together it’s going to be alright….trust Me!’.  I believe the Father wants to say, ‘I’m going on ahead of you, moving on your behalf and if you’ll trust Me, I’m holding some things up to get you where you need to be.  It may not be the most comfortable means, but if you’ll trust Me it will be okay.  It will be better than okay, it will be a testimony of My Unseen Power that moves others and moves out ahead of you to change what you cannot foresee.’  ‘You must trust me and receive my touch and the Son of My Love.’  ‘He has the mantle of my blessing and is able to touch you offering comfort in your long standing pain.  Believe Him and trust Me.’  There is and should be a moral to every story, but how seldom we see it as we stand blinded by our fears and our tears.  God says receive the touch and obtain the promise.   What about your story?  God is writing a story on the pages of your life– a story little different from the one I just told.  I’m so moved sometimes when my wife tells me of these little miracles of how she believed God’s hand was moving in her life. Our lives are always better for having acknowledged how the hand of God moves on our behalf helping us in times of trouble!  This little story has been stored away in my files for months; I kept coming back to it, but couldn’t delete it because of the truth it conveys. I believed God saved this story for your benefit, so that you might see in your sorrow, when in your tears, the Spirit of Jesus gently comes alongside you to touch you and say, ‘I’m here, it’s okay we’re together it’s going to be alright… Trust Me!’  Today in your struggle, don’t fail to see Jesus; He’s there beside you; He walks with you; He moves ahead of you, to command your miracle in spite of you, and to open what has been shut, and to shut what has been opened!  He’s waiting for your response of complete trust, and through it He is moving to bring forth your story–a unique testimony of His advancing power that comes in your present circumstance to say to you, “You are distinctly Mine, all and only because of the Son!”  Trust Jesus today and don’t miss this opportunity; God saved it especially for you!

The Valley of Deliverance

The anointing God gives is powerfully useful to advance His kingdom. It becomes however, a matter of vision and focus to properly use what God gives. I think of men like Samson who with the strength God gave, delivered a nation, until he became focused on his own pleasure and his strength failed. When men choose to look away from God, their faith becomes paralyzed by fear. In the book of Samuel, David stands as a picture of faith and focus. He becomes God’s tool to set the record straight for us there in a valley between two mountains of influence. David stands against that Goliath in your life that has continued to degrade your faith and usefulness to God’s kingdom. Have you misused your freedom in Christ because you were looking the other way? Your wayward look has brought you under a yoke of fear and bondage keeping you from advancing where God would have you go. No war was ever won with decisive victory by talking the enemy to death. No sir, victory will requires decisive action. It’s the obedience factor to the word which we hear. God wants to use us, but not until fear is gone and the enemy is silenced. In some real sense our Christianity has become too much a product of our culture. Our reality based TV shows have influenced ‘real life‘ for too many believers. It’s like everyone is in the same pot of water and it is beginning to boil watching the same images that promote real-life moral decay in a society that says they are ok with everything while standing for nothing. Everyone is drinking out of the same bottle and it has made them drunk with the wine of immorality; time is past for passivity and not speaking up. It is time for God’s people to act and to move with Him. Where the enemy taunts, God calls to action. The questions are these: Will you be caught looking with the masses the other way, or will you recognize the anointing God has bestowed on you? Will you move with God to behold the situation that lies before you with the eyes of faith and focus? Will you expose the enemy’s lies to you–about you–sent to defeat God‘s purpose in you–so that you fail to possess that inheritance He’s given you? I believe God wants to bring you to a valley; it is a valley of decision, it’s a valley of deliverance. The valley is to address your passivity and blindness. In 1 Samuel 17, David represents here a type of Christ, sent to deliver a nation because he was not afraid to enter the fray. Unafraid to move forward there in the valley of decision–in the valley where forces collide. There is a valley in your life of two opposing forces, one of God and the other contrary to His will and His way. In that valley there is a very real enemy who taunts and scoffs at the things of God and at those who find themselves on His side, however timid they might be. He calls out to you; He taunts in this very hour. The word says, ‘Goliath, the champion came out to Israel and taunted God’s army’. Goliath, the word says was over nine feet tall. He was big, just not as big as the lie he and everyone else had believed, but David would not be part of that culture of fear. He had come from outside that culture–from the sheepfolds and a place where he had witnessed God’s ability to deliver from death. You see the enemy is a champion of fear; he champions fear by telling lies that he will prevail and not you. He looks to cast aspersions on your character and ability by telling you, ‘you’re not mature enough, not big or strong enough’. All of those things being what they are, still he underestimates the greatness of your God when you stand in the window of opportunity and say what God says. The word says, David ‘ran quickly to the battle line’ and took decisive action because the time for talking had past, and the need for swift action had come. Deliberate action in faith gets God’s attention and His favor, so that you do not act alone. His awesome power will move with you, bringing you to see victory and the prevailing word of God that will bring all those around you under the influence of His word and power. When you move in faith through your Goliath, you create a testimony God then uses to publish His fame in a way like you could never imagine. Your single act of obedience creates a single spark…but driven by a great wind that spreads the power of His name like wildfire. David in his youthful zeal would serve at God’s pleasure to tell a story of timeless influence proving, if but one thing, that God needs little more that your readiness to be His instrument. You see, man has a fame that awards himself, but God rewards and uses those who lay self aside–there on the battle line of His reputation to call forth glory in the face of the foolish. Are you listening to the Enemy’s degrading taunt? How’s it working out for you? Run to the battle line of obedience and sling the truth of God’s word letting it fly with boldness to declare the Greatness of YOUR God who slays the champion of fear.

Beyond the Baggage

Remember the word given to Saul? Namely this, that he would would be changed into another man and would be numbered among the prophets.  There was however with Saul an uncertainty that left him timid and restrained from doing God’s will. With all of us, God seeks to do a new thing, but the timid of spirit can’t see it–its view is clouded by all the baggage.  Get it!  God says ‘you will be endued with mighty power and with the mind to receive what I would do on your behalf; you will be changed by a heart touched by my love and declare My word to men.’ The word says as much in 2 Timothy 1:7 when it says, ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity but one of power and love and sound judgement.’ Samuel declared of the Lord’s chosen, ‘see there is none like him in all the land’.  The New Testament says we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood and yet we too easily miss His mighty acts because we all too often dwell with the timid and not the humble. Saul’s royal life was haunted by that timid spirit, and he never got rid of the baggage he was hiding behind.  Timidity will keep you in “Yourself” while humility will take you beyond yourself to behold what God will do just because He said so.  Humility will give you a front row seat to God’s glory, but timidity leaves you blocked off with a very realistic view of yourself and no faith to see beyond the strength of your own hand. I recently found myself frustrated and angry because I could not change a particular situation that I was facing.  God revealed my frustration was borne of a timid spirit causing me a place of grief instead of seeing the way of victory. The timid never go past the frustration, but continue with a passive approach that leaves them disappointed and missing the full plan of God. He showed my need to dwell with the broken not the timid. In that moment of anxiety God revealed this: the timid fail to see His move because of many reasons all driven by fear, but the broken humbly take a seat of rest by a window of recovery to behold what God says and moreover what He would do. Saul became King, but failed to possess all God had intended because he was slave to his own thinking. It left him angry and disappointed not full–timid but not broken. And the end of his life was spent still trying to change the situation by His own methods missing God by a half a step. What about you…want to be angry for the way things are turning out? The timid spirit will keep you there–mad but unable to really do anything about it. That is why it is so frustrating because there is really nothing “you” can do there behind all that baggage hiding from God’s favor. God says, ‘why don’t you look to the word that I’ve given to you as sons?’ ‘I have not given you a spirit of fear and slavery, but I give a Spirit of love so your heart becomes mine. I give a Spirit of power–an unction moving your life from uncertainty to possess the things I have said on your behalf, because son, there is to be none like you, so that I might declare my life through yours. I have given you a Spirit of discipline to think with sound judgement so you can work my plan not your own with the unlimited ability of my resources to accomplish the word I will send before you. I offer you today sound judgment enabling you to think like sons not slaves. Today, which will you be?’ He further says, ‘kindle afresh the gift of God by the Spirit I have given to you, which is powerfully appointed to enable you to focus and to act as sons.’

The Word

The Enemy uses the fog of confusion to effectively disrupt the vision and purpose of God. It is important to understand no matter where we are relative to the fog–we will live by our faith. That’s right; it is never by sight anyway.  And when sight is clouded, my hearing becomes of utmost importance.  How is your hearing?  If we know faith comes by hearing the word of God, then God’s word and His voice is the key to our uncertainty.  Your life as a Christian will be defined, refined and ultimately proven by this word that you hear.  You simply will not have faith or even proper obedience unless you hear the word correctly.  Timing is everything and perceived need essential if I am going to find the divine directives the word offers me. Isaiah 55:1; offers us an invitation by saying, “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink–even if you have no money! Come,…” The word brings an invitation into my life–a portal through which God’s thinking can flow into my darkness giving proper direction from my clouded judgement.  And where my foggy thoughts have left me stranded, this word would be the impetus to move me forward without fear.  This word promises a satisfaction that bread alone cannot.  Jesus said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  It has the power to strengthen your bones to make you stand up, fill out and fast forward you from dark to light in one single instance.  This word comes to impart the faith like Abraham as God Himself speaks to your own heart, calling you from the fog you’re living in.  It could be a fog of confusion, of doubt, of fear, of failure, of lies and deception so thick that this word could be wasted on you.  But make no mistake, the fog will break down communication of this word unless you recognize the invitation this word is making to you.   You need to see the absolute importance of this word–it’s a powerful thing!  You and I often spend money for things that leave us short and the fog remains, but God desires that we discover a line of communication that leaves us well informed and confident–ready to display His thoughts and a testimony that proves His word will affect my quality of life and living.  I have seen the fog of confusion, and I tell you this word can powerfully remove its effects to give you the will and way to move ahead toward the promise no matter what you see.  His invitation to you stands and His word will remove your fog.  I believe He is saying, ‘timing is everything, so come now, everyone who thirsts, come now…’