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.

The Miry Clay

In Psalm 40, David says of God, ‘He took me out of the miry clay and put my feet upon a rock!’  The miry clay is a picture of something, it represents a horrible place, but a timeless reminder of what to do when you get your feet stuck. While hopeless for the unbelieving, it holds a truth that there is great hope for all who call upon the name of the Lord by faith. Hear the lessons from the miry clay.  It’s a place of waiting, but with expectation. There’s an expectancy that God will deliver. It is a place God uses to bring about patience, but with it the ability to endure because God is faithful and He sits in the place of confident victory.  David says in that place, “He inclined to me.”  Do you recognize that place holds the inclinations of God’s heart. If you go on to read, it continues by saying, “many are your thoughts to me and too vast to number.” He inclines himself toward us by making that place abundant with his thoughts to lead, to guide, to encourage, to strengthen, to rise above, and to make our footsteps firm. The picture here is one producing a place of foundation out onto a rock.  The land longs for foundation, for when the foundations are shaken and men no more live by the principles of God’s word, things begin to crumble, and so goes the evolution of societies that failed to recognize God as Almighty!  But God has a foundation for those who cry out to him there in that horrible stuck place–it’s a place on the Rock, and it’s a place of comforting refuge! The miry clay represents a place of melody and song because David says out of that place, “He has put a new song in my heart a song of praise to our God”.  It is the sound of praise and singing that establishes us as victors and not victims. It will be a song that will call many to worship His name because of the testimony that the clay produces for the believing. It’s a super-natural place of Divine influence with a power able to raise us up because of Jesus Who says, ‘because I live, so shall you’.  Verse 4 of that same chapter says, “How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust”.

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!’

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!

You Will Overcome

Have you ever found yourself the recipient of some critical advice? My Granddad would often offer his help in the form of critical advice. Looking back now, I would have to say in regard to me, he was most always right. I have come to appreciate every bit of advice the longer time goes by. A number of months ago someone sent me an e-mail offering me some help in the form of critical advice. I found myself at a loss for what to say or how to respond. I either didn’t respond or kept my response to something like, “thanks”. The e-mail bothered me greatly then and I saved the mail, but had done little with it until something made me remember that it was sent. I looked back at at the nearly 8 month old note only with the same continued loss for how to make any meaningful response to such a well intended criticism. I mean in my head I could think of all kinds of one liners and little zingers which could justify my solid position and the choices I had made, but none of them seemed the appropriate or Godly response. I continued on with my Saturday plan deciding to go for a bike ride in the morning hours. I had a planned route in mind, but as the ride progressed I was having second thoughts about going the full distance. Rather than turn back, I made a decision to continue my ride to endure the full course. Somewhere at 3/4 of the trip I began to go up hill; it was one with a long climb. I knew it was there but thought somehow I might be able to coast my way through some of it. It proved to be more a mind game than anything else and the thought to turn around going back the other way did occur to me. I heard the Lord say, ‘Come to Me‘! There is a word that has been spoken about you, it may be true, completely unfounded, or a half truth spoken out of wrong motives, but no matter, God says, ‘Listen to Me! God says reflect on Me…and I will give to you an abundance of wisdom.’ The exercise of ‘going up the hill’ brought forth some lessons worth learning; these offer insight into your trial. Have you ever felt like you were going up a hill? People had some advice for you, although you weren’t entirely convinced they understood your struggle. Don’t worry, God in His wisdom presents you with this trial, and He has answers meant for your overcoming. God revealed, this exercise before you is really a battle for your mind. On the basis of Proverbs 22:13, I believe God says, ‘the way of wisdom is in believing you will overcome not be overcome.’ Last I checked, we overcome because of the blood of the cross. God says based on Isaiah 55, ‘My thoughts are not yours and you don’t even think like Me, If it was up to your thinking, you would have turned around, missed the hill and with it My insight for overcoming.’ In Proverbs 22:17 God says, ‘apply your mind to My knowledge….’ You see, the hill not only tests your mind, but it tests your will. You are going to have to commit yourself completely. It is applying your mind to the body of God’s thinking, not taking a little dab of truth here and there as you want to apply it. God says, ‘your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak and you need the exercise the hill provides. So make up your mind and renew your resolve to trust Me up the hill and strength will be given to you that you know not.’ As Jesus faced the up-hill of the cross, He found strength there in the garden by surrendering His will to the Father’s good pleasure and obtained the will to overcome. God says to your hill, ‘I will that you overcome….Come to Me and I will give you My mind and My strong resolve and you will overcome.’ This hill you face may have come in the form of a rebuke, or personal attack. It may be be a trial that is very real or maybe even imagined. But God says to you, ‘this hill represents a clear place for your victory.’ ‘Come to Me and I will set your face like flint and give to you the understanding you need to respond to you friends, critics and enemies….It will be a glorious testimony of Me and My power to deliver you from what the enemy says, and I will make you to overcome.’ Psalm 37:5-6 (nlt) says, ‘trust in the Lord and He will make your innocence radiate.‘ So go ahead and trust Him, your victory has been assured!

The Wilderness of His Glory

Often we find ourselves in a fog, wondering where God is in our circumstances. We may feel as though we made a decision to follow the Lord way back when, but the enemy would have us convinced that all those decisions for what we believed was right and honorable have left us in the middle of the desert. You think, after all these years life should be more comfortable, but instead you feel like your life is in a wilderness and everything you believed is being tested. You are not alone though you may think you are.  How you handle the wilderness will be the defining moment in your Christianity.   You said you wanted to serve God and be his disciple, but what you may fail to realize is; there is no effective ministry without a wilderness.  Matthew 4:1, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.  This wilderness is for His glory.  This wilderness is defining your call. Many a young person may think it well to serve God without fully removing the harmful effects of sin, pride, or rebellion, but without a wilderness you will serve God by what is born out of ‘pop culture’ pursuing what is popular and not what is holy. Remember Moses?  It was the wilderness that led him to a place of holy ground. The wilderness defines my call by leading me to holy ground to meet a holy God not given to the popular, but to the pure. The wilderness defines my identity as being in Christ and in Him alone because there is nothing else to cling to.   It is here the enemy comes to question your sonship saying, ‘If you’re a son, then do this or do that for instant comfort’ but in the wilderness you must discover it is Christ alone your hope of glory. It is a place of understanding my identity as the Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me….” You may feel you have spent your whole life serving people and even family, only to be kicked in the teeth. You may have worked so hard to accomplish some purpose only to be disappointed in some way, yet is it the wilderness that defines my God. He uses the wilderness to prove the true object of my affection. Was my service just my gratification or was it for His glory?  You see, the wilderness makes the object of our affection very clear; will my god prove to be self as I bemoan the circumstance, or will I recognize the greatness of our God by completely trusting Him as I offer Him my praise. Often we have come to make worship about the “lights, camera and the action”.   In the wilderness, He proves there is no power but His, and He wants to be the main attraction. While He makes us to sing, it’s not the music, it is the message.  Jesus said in the wilderness, “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God”.  The good news is, this wilderness will define your victory by advancing the kingdom for God’s glory.  Just remember this fact from the life of Christ; wilderness advances the kingdom (Matt.4:17;19).  As you are hidden in Christ and His life is yours, you will advance His cause bringing many sons to glory.   The wilderness God is using produces glory every time.   After the wilderness, Moses saw God liberate a nation in just a few days.  After the wilderness, Jesus moved with might and power.  And this wilderness you may find yourself in at this present hour is for His glory to give you a future and hope that through your tried and proven testimony He lives, He moves, He saves, He redeems, and He alone is able to rescue and recover when no one else can. God is using your wilderness to define your Christian faith so embrace it, embrace Him and glory will follow.

The Work of God in Prayer

Recently in prayer, I began to understand the source of my frustration with others.  In my discovery, I realized how I had waited on men and not waited on God.  I had waited on men to be my help;  I had waited for men to have the answer.   I was waiting on men for my next move.  It was hindering my progress slowing me down and making me angry.  I saw my failure to wait on God was causing me to miss His move and with it, His great provision.  Bottom line, it was the fear of man and not the fear of God.  I began seeing where the fear of man ensnared me and left me without a Godly mandate to move forward.  That fear of men kept me from confronting my problems and issues with others.  It left me without a voice that could speak as God to inspire true leadership that moves to victory.   I did a lot of preaching at the problem, but was distant from confronting it head on with real solutions born out of relationship.  The people were not my problem, but failure to wait on God was.  Could it be God is calling you to a ‘relationship of waiting on Him’?   In your frustations,  your failure to wait is a failure to get a word from Him to speak directly with divine wisdom into the lives of others.  You like me need to see the work of God in prayer.  It is a work that reveals willingness to wait on God bringing rest from other men’s agendas.   In prayer, the Spirit of God will cause you to find a ‘fresh wind’ to fill your sails and propel you forward to victory.