A Double Blessing

A Double Blessing

Our God is a God of comfort and restoration, a God who rewards His people with abundant blessings.

Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope.  Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.  (Zech 9:12)  This is speaking to people who are captives, yet because of their faith in the Lord, they have hope.  God is their stronghold, their fortress, and their shield—who provides for their needs.  (Nah 1:7; Ps 18:2)

“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  (Isa 40:2)  This verse says that their warfare is ended because God fights on behalf of His people.  (Deut 3:22; Josh 23:10)  He is the same today—He still fights for His people—for you and for me.  Hallelujah!

Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.  Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.  (Isa 61:7)  Our God promises that instead of shame, all who place their faith in Him shall have double honor.  He also states that instead of feeling confusion, we shall rejoice over our measure of blessings from God; and in our land, we shall possess double.  Double what? Double blessings and benefits from the God who is love. What a promise!  What a gift from God’s loving hand!

In a spiritual sense, all unsaved people are enslaved by sin and satan.  Many are not aware that they are imprisoned, yet others yearn for a way out of their state of affairs.  All that they need to do is to cry out to the Lord, and He will respond by saving them.

That is true for saint and sinner:  God responds to each one of us when we cry out to Him for help, deliverance, or wisdom.  God is the deliverer who sets people free, and pours out His blessings upon all who trust in Him.  May God bless you.

Use the Gifts that You’ve Been Given

Use the Gifts that You’ve Been Given

Each and every believer has been given gifts from God.  The Lord gives us the grace that we need in order to use each of these gifts.  Gifts are given to us for the advantage and the salvation of other people which is why it’s so crucial that we USE the gifts that God has given to us.

. . . for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.  (1 Cor 12:8-11)    

There are various gifts, but they all come from one God (our Father), one Lord (Jesus), and one Spirit (the Holy Spirit).  God is the giver of all spiritual blessings.  If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any ability to make it known, we must give all of the glory to God.

Whatever gifts that God wanted each one of us to have were the ones that He bestowed upon us.  As we mature in the life of faith, He may give us additional gifts.

The purpose for giving the church the gift of prophecy was to edify (build up), exhort (encourage) and to comfort the church.  (1 Cor 14:3)   We’re also to use our various, individual gifts to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  (Eph 4:12)

In unity and dependence upon one another, we are taught to speak the truth in love and thus, we will mature into the full stature of Christ.  (Eph 4:13)  Hallelujah! 

Choose Boldness & Endurance

Choose Boldness & Endurance

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  (2 Tim 2:12)  We must sustain our faith throughout our lifetimes, and when we do, the Lord promises that we will one day reign with Him.

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.  (Mt 10:33)  Let us be watchful that we never—in any way—deny the Good News of Jesus Christ.  It takes the grace of God to boldly and persistently pursue a life of faith in Jesus.

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.  (Lk 9:26)

To deny Christ means to reject Him and His claim to be the Son of God and savior of all those who believe in Him.  This denial is a life-long denial, where there is no repentance and no acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To those whose lives deny the Lord, the Lord will also say to them one day, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” as we read in Matthew 7:23.    (Source:  http://answersfromthebook.net/jesus-said-that-if-you-deny-him-before-men-that-he-will-deny-you-before-his-father-peter-denied-the-lord-does-this-mean-that-jesus-will-now-deny-peter-before-his-father)

We need to be bold and brave in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We aren’t all called to be preachers, pastors, missionaries, or evangelists, but we are ALL called to let our light shine in a dark and pain-filled world.  One way to do that is through good works that bring glory to God.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Mt 5:14-16)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16)

Each one of us can be courageous in living our life as a follower and servant of Jesus Christ.  We may do that quietly and without fanfare, but all who know us should perceive that we have been with Jesus.  (See Acts 4:13) 

For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.  (Rev 19:10, emphasis added)

Another way to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel is through telling others about our own, personal testimonies of God’s goodness to each of us, and of His miracles and wonders.

Power Belongs to God

Power Belongs to God

All power and all authority belongs to God.  That also means that any power or authority that anyone exercises in any position of authority comes FROM God!  That’s why the Word instructs us to obey governing authorities. 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  (Rom 13:1 NIV)  We’re instructed to obey all who are in authority.

By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, all the judges of the earth.  (Pro 8:15-16 NKJV)  The Lord reminds us that He is the One who establishes kings, princes, nobles, judges, and all who are in positions of authority.

God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God.  (Ps 62:11 NKJV)  This verse is yet another reminder from God that it is always to Him and to HIS POWER that we submit.

For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen.  (1 Pet 5:11 VOICE)  God holds and owns all power FOREVER.

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  (Rom 13:2 ESV)  If we resist authority, we resist God Himself, and we invite judgment from God.  Doing such a thing is not a wise move.

Titus 3:1 implies that being submissive to rulers and authorities is the same as being ready for every good work!  If you would like the Lord to credit you with performing good work, submit to and obey those who have authority over you in the world—whether in your family, your church, your community or your work environment. 

God loves to bless the obedient because to Him, obedience is better than sacrifice!  (1 Sam 15:22b)

Glorify the Lord

Glorify the Lord

One of our assignments, as believers in Christ, is to glorify the Lord.  Let’s look at what the Scripture says.

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . .  (Lk 1:46-47 NIV)

I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 12 I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.  (Ps 77:11-12)

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore.  (Ps 86:12)

Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands.  (Isa 42:12)

Glorifying God means to acknowledge His impressiveness and to give Him respect by praising and worshiping Him.  We do this mainly because He alone deserves to be praised, honored and worshiped.

God’s glory is the core of His nature, and we give glory to Him by recognizing it.  In glorifying God, we exalt Him; we recognize and honor His deity; and we elevate Him above all else in our lives and in our thoughts.

Adoration [devotion, high regard, esteem] is also a component of glorifying God.  When we have this type of respect for God, our reverence is shown in ways that we can’t even perceive.  However, other people do notice it, and hopefully it will lead them to ask us for the reasons that we have for the hope that lies within us!

Feet of a Deer: Hind’s Feet

Feet of a Deer: Hind’s Feet

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.  (Hab 3:19 NIV)

The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.  (Hab 3:19 KJV)

In Habakkuk 3:17-18, the prophet says:

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Verses 17 and 18 show us that Habakkuk chooses to praise the Lord and to be joyful in Him in spite of life’s challenging circumstances. 

He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.  (2 Sam 22:34 & Ps 18:33 KJV)

So what is the significance of hind’s feet?  A hind is a female deer (or a gazelle) who is able to place her back feet unerringly where her front feet have walked.  Because of this, a hind is able to run unreservedly on the roughest terrain.  In times of peril, the hind can run securely and stay on course.  Because the hind can scale high places, it can elude predators.

The spiritual lesson for us is that, despite our circumstances, when we are truly anchored by faith in Jesus, we’ll be able to run with joy the race that is set before us.  The Word reminds us that God Himself is our strength, and in Him our spiritual feet have become as sure-footed, nimble, and fast as the hind. 

The strength that God gives to us is an inward strength—confidence and assurance and courageousness in the face of all external afflictions and trials.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Phil 4:13 NKJV) 

. . . that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man . . .  (Eph 3:16 NKJV)

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and the strength of the Lord is within each one of us.  Glory to God!

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  (Ac 7:59-60)

Focus on the extreme mercy and forgiveness that Stephen displayed!  Here are people in the process of killing him, and he forgives them and asks the Lord to forgive them.  Then he dies. What mercy!  What forgiveness!  Stephen went to heaven as a martyr for the gospel.

According to Daniel 9:9, mercy and forgiveness belong to God.  The Bible says (see below) that mercy and unlimited forgiveness belong to God.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is unlimited forgiveness.  (Ps 130:7 GW)

In the church of Jerusalem, Stephen was chosen along with six other men to serve as deacons.  As deacons, they would take charge of the gifts of the people, and give assistance to those who were in need, including widows.  The criteria for choosing these men was that they had to have the Spirit of God and to have wisdom. 

Stephen not only cared for the poor, but he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—Jews and Gentiles both.  This conduct enraged some of Jews, who plotted against him.

Clearly, as Stephen shared the Good News, the Holy Spirit used Stephen as an instrument for the Kingdom of God.  History records that Stephen, as he ministered to the people, performed signs, wonders, and miracles among them.  Glory to God!

Stephen clearly loved and obeyed Jesus Christ, his Savior and example in all things.  Stephen emulated the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, work, and even in death. 

This is a good moment to reflect upon our own lives; and to determine whether we are allowing mercy and forgiveness to operate in our lives, our responses, and our actions.

Enthusiasm for the Christian Walk

Enthusiasm for the Christian Walk

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  (Rom 12:11-12)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  (Gal 6:9)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters . . . (Col 3:23)

It’s not a bad idea to pray for enthusiasm for your spiritual life!  The verses above show us the importance of spiritual zeal.  Zeal means passion, or intensity.

The word “enthusiasm” is from the Greek enthusiasmoms. It means inspired by God.  Our Christian walk will get stale and boring if we are not inspired by God on a daily basis.  One way we can receive inspiration is to read the Bible daily.  Another way would be to spend time in the presence of God, not just in prayer, but also listening for His voice.  If you’re willing to hear from God, He will surely give you His insight, wisdom, and revelation knowledge.

Another great way to maintain your passion for the Lord, is to praise and worship Him regularly.  You can listen to good CDs and join along in song.  Or you can go to your prayer closet and have a heart to heart session of praising God and thanking Him for His many blessings. 

There are some great online venues for ongoing praise and worship you can check out, as well.

As you seek the Lord and His will for you, and keep your ears open for His voice, you will realize that these disciplines will assist you in maintaining your spiritual zeal and energy.  Don’t be surprised to feel your faith and trust in God growing as you do.  God bless you.

No Discrimination in Christ

No Discrimination in Christ

Here’s a reassuring thought:  God has no favorites and He shows no partiality!  If you grew up feeling that your mom or your parents had a favorite child (who was not you), this will be very meaningful to you.  It will give you reason to feel more thankful than you might have previously.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Gal 3:26-28)  We are all children of God.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Gal 5:14)

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality . . . (Ac 10:34)

For God shows no partiality.  (Rom 2:11)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.  (Rom 12:16)

These passages from the Scriptures advise us to love all people and to freely associate with everyone.  We are all equal in His sight because each and every human being was created in the image of God.  God wants every human being to be saved by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

God offers salvation to all mankind as a free gift.  He isn’t withholding it from certain continents, from specific nationalities, or from people with a certain blood type.  His invitation is open to each and every person on planet earth.  Glory to God!  And He has given us each a free will so that we can choose our own destiny.  We can say “yes” to God or we can say “no.”  The choice is ours.

And then, we must keep on choosing, day by day, to serve the Lord with a joyful heart and to remain steadfast in Him.  As long as we stay in close relationship with the Lord, He gives us His gift of grace to make such choices easily and with a sense of contentment.  Hallelujah!

What Did You Want to See?

What Did You Want to See?

But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  (Mt 11:8)

When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  (Lk 7:24)

Jesus talked about a “reed shaken by the wind” because in Bible days, reeds grew similar to sugar cane. The reeds bowed nearly to the ground during the hot daytime. At night, thanks to the cool breeze of the Mediterranean, the reeds would stand up again. This singularity was a crowd-gathering event. Groups of people came out to see the reeds rise in the cool breezes of the night. Then they would return home, unchanged by what they had witnessed. 

Jesus was telling the people that they did not follow John’s teachings, but that all they wanted was to see a spectacle (similar to the reeds).  They were not willing to repent and to be baptized.

They were also coming out to listen to Jesus in the same way—without a willingness or interest in changing their lives. Jesus was showing them how empty and frivolous they were.  They simply moved through the events of their lives without ever connecting with God or His power.

We must determine that in the course of our everyday lives, we must “see Jesus” and His power come alive in our own lives and in our own experiences.  How do we do that?  We study the Word of God and we allow it—INVITE IT—to cleanse us, transform us, and empower us to act. 

We are Christ’s disciples and we are meant to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  We are called to support the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to work in our own neighborhoods to be an influence for good and a witness of Jesus Christ.  God bless you.