Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Wakeful Guardian

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
(Psalm 121:3-4)
Those who look to Yahweh are standing on a firm foundation. Their feet shall not slip; they shall not be moved by calamity. It shall not harm them.

The Hebrew word for “keep” is shamar. It means to hedge about, to protect, to attend to. God desires to set a hedge of protection about you and take care of you. He is a full-time God, and His protection and provision are always dependable.

“Behold!” says the psalm writer. It is a word of focused attention, signaling a foundational truth. It is a if the psalm-writer is leaning in to let you in on the most wonderful secret: “He who keeps Israel, shall neither slumber or sleep.” Yahweh watches faithfully over His people. He never falls asleep on the job. Not ever.

This is why the psalm writer looks to Yahweh for his help, no matter what he might be facing (vv. 1-2). And that is why you and I can, too. When we look to Him, He looks out for us. We receive it all by faith in His promise.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Parsing the Hills

I will lift up my eyes to the hills —
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2)
There are hills and there are hills — and then there are hills. There are the hills which hide our enemies, waiting to ambush us. These are calamities and circumstances of life which would fill us with fear every time we set our eyes on them, if we did not have any help.

And there are the hills on which are situated the false gods and idols of the culture. They are presented as assets, but they are actually liabilities. They can do nothing to protect or provide for us and, in fact, must themselves be protected and provided for. They have no help to offer us.

And then there is the hill of Zion, the mountain of God, on which stands the temple of Yahweh. The ark of the covenant is there, signifying the presence of God Himself. It is on this hill that the psalm-writer ultimately focuses his attention. For this is a “psalm of ascent” and he is on pilgrimage to the city of God.

Today the hill of protection, provision and redemption is Mt. Calvary. It is the place where God cut an eternal covenant by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. All who look to this hill will find all the help they need in every circumstance. Lift up your eyes and behold!

Monday, November 28, 2005

How to Raise the Dead

As you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8)
If we are going to obey the Lord and raise the dead, we have to start somewhere. Here’s a good place to begin.

1. Get a revelation of heaven.
  • There are no cemeteries in heaven.
  • There are no funeral parlors in heaven.
  • There are no undertakers in heaven.
  • There are no obituaries in heaven.
  • There are no memorial services in heaven.
  • There are no burials in heaven.
  • There are no dead people in heaven.
2. Remember the prayer Jesus taught us:
  • Father, reveal who You are.
  • Kingdom of God, come!
  • Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
3. Pray that prayer.

We have authority to raise the dead, we just need to learn how to use it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Rendering Thanks

What shall I render to the LORD
For all His benefits to me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD
Now in the presence of His people.
(Psalm 116:12-14)
How do we thank the LORD for all His benefits to us?

  1. Take up the cup of Salvation. We receive what has been given--embrace it, welcome it. God has given us the cup of salvation, so the way we give thanks is to drink of it. Many people would object saying, “Oh, I’m not worthy,” as if it had anything to do with our worthiness. It does not. It is about His worthiness. It is the salvation that comes from Him. And it is about Jesus, for the Hebrew word for “salvation,” yeshuah, is the Hebrew name of Jesus, Yeshua.
  2. Call on His name. How do we render thanks to the Lord? By receiving the cup of salvation--Jesus, His Son. How do we receive this cup? By calling on the name of the Lord. The Bible says that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). His name is Jesus.
  3. Give witness to His goodness. Testify. Say out loud how good the Lord has been to you. Speak of His salvation cup. Go public with it. Don’t hold back--let it all out. When your cup overflows, let it overflow on others.

Jesus has a cup overflowing with blessings and benefits for you--salvation, freedom, forgiveness, healing, protection, prosperity. Call on His name and drink deeply from that cup.

For more about the benefits of the Lord, see Six Things the devil Wants You to Forget (But God Wants You to Remember).

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Benefits of Listening

Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you!
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
I am the LORD your God.
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
(Psalm 81:8-10)
Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.
He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.
(Psalm 81:13-16)
God has something to say, and if we will listen, it will do us a world of good. It is a word of advice, caution and promise. Look at the benefits:

1. Freedom From False Gods. “There shall be no foreign god among you, nor shall you worship any foreign God.” Psalm 115 briefly describes what it is like to be enthralled to foreign gods:
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes the have, but they do not see’
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.
(Psalm 115:2-8)
Those who make idols are just as helpless as the idols themselves; those who worship are just as powerless. Not so for those who listen to the LORD! He alone is God and no other voice compares to His.

2. Covenant With the True God. If your listen to the Lord, we will hear Him say: “I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” The Hebrew name behind “LORD” is Yahweh, the personal name of God, the name by which He reveals Himself in covenant with His people. He is the God who delivers and sustains His people.

3. Filled With Good Things. “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” God is not out to scold you but to bless you. So open your mouth, enlarge your expectation and look to Him to provide for you in every need and desire.

4. All Enemies Subdued. “I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries.” There may be people out to get you, and they are, in that sense, enemies. But our real adversaries are spiritual: satan, who the accuser of God’s people and the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy; sickness and disease; poverty and lack; anger, lust and greed, etc. God is able to subdue them all, and if you will learn to listen to His voice and walk in obedience, you will see all these enemies vanquished in your life.

5. Sustenance, Sweetness and Satisfaction. “He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.” God has reserved the finest and the best for His people, and it begins here and now. Divine provision and rich fulfillment!

All those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ are well able to hear His voice, for He promised, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). If you will hear and observe to do, you will be building your life on a firm foundation, that will withstand every adversity:
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25).
It is all about hearing the voice of God, believing what He promises, and doing what He says.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Remembering—the Essence of Thanksgiving

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And forget not all His benefits.
(Psalm 103:2)
Giving thanks is about remembering. One of the problems for the children of Israel in the wilderness is that, though God brought them ought of Egypt by His mighty hand — “He brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes” (Psalm 105:37) — they forgot. That is why an eleven day journey through the wilderness turned into forty years! Psalm 106 recounts the story of their forgetfulness and all the terrible things it brought them into:
Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders.
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea — the Red Sea.
(Psalm 106:7)

They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel.
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
(Psalm 106:13-15)

They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.
(Psalm 106:21-22)

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His Word,
But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of LORD.
(Psalm 106:24-25)

The joined themselves also to Baal of Peor,
And ate sacrifices made to the dead.
Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.
(Psalm 106:28-29)

They mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons.
And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom the sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they were defiled by their own works,
And played the harlot by their own deeds.
(Psalm 106:35-39)
Forgetfulness is a lack of faith. When we forget, be become disconnected from the all the blessing God has for us. But it is not God who disconnects us. We do that to ourselves by failing to remember and trust in His goodness.

Even in the midst of our forgetfulness, notice the extent of God’s goodness:
Nevertheless He regarded their affliction,
When He heard their cry;
And for their sake He remembered His covenant,
And relented according to the multitude of His mercies.
He also made them to be pitied
By all those who carried them away captive.
(Psalm 106:44-46)
We may forget, but God still remembers and reveals His mercy, even in the bad situation our forgetfulness has brought us.

How much more, then, will we enjoy the blessing and benefits of God when we remember to acknowledge and trust in His goodness — in a word, to be thankful! David offers the short list of those benefits:
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns [surrounds] you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth [desires] with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:2-5)
Thanksgiving is about remembering. God has provided so many wonderful blessings and benefits for you and me, let us not forget a single one of them, but lay hold of them all by faith and thanksgiving, trusting completely in the goodness of God.

(See also Six Things the Devil Wants You to Forget, But God Wants You to Remember)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving — Entering Into His Gates

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God.
It is He who made us, and now we ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
(Psalm 100)
Here is an invitation to the nations — to all peoples, tribes and tongues — and to you. Come and be filled with joy. Hoot and holler and celebrate with singing. Enjoy the LORD — He is for you, not against you.

Enter into a personal relationship with Him and experience the knowledge that He is God. He is revealing Himself in covenant with all who will come to Him.

Come and know your Creator — He is Yahweh (the Hebrew name behind the word “LORD,” all caps), and He is our Maker. We come from Him. Not only that, He is our shepherd, and will take care of us forever.

So how do you enter in? By thanksgiving and praise, being thankful to Him and blessing His name. In other words, it is by faith, coming in complete dependence upon Him, recognizing that He is the source of every good thing, and blessing His name.

What is His name? He has revealed Himself as Messiah (Isaiah 53) and His name is Yeshua (literally, “Yahweh Saves”). He is the Word John talked about, by whom all things were made (John 1:1-3). He is the Good Shepherd, who gives His life for His sheep (John 10). In English, we call His name Jesus.

Joy and celebration in the courts of God belong to all who come with thanksgiving and praise, trusting Him for everything and blessing His name — Jesus.

(See also Invitation of Joy to the Nations)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Prayer Walking at Westfield

For this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I have taken up a special project of prayer — actually of prayer walking. Four or five days a week, I am going up to the local shopping mall, Westfield Shoppingtown, for some onsite prayer.

Jesus told a parable of some different soils — some hard and compacted, some rocky, some full of thorns and thistles, and some very good soil. The seed that was scattered was very good seed—the best, in fact — but the differences in the soil made all the difference in the world in regard to the harvest.

In another parable, Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a man who planted a seed, and then when about his business. The seed grew, though the man did not know how. He simply prepared good soil, planted good seed and then had full confidence that there would be a wonderful harvest — and there was.

So my project is to prepare the soil for a good and fruitful planting. During this next month, there is going to be a special opportunity for the seed of the Gospel to be presented as people go about their holiday preparations. It will be a witness of the coming of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, and also a consideration of why He came.

Yes, there is a lot of commercialization that has grown up around it, and for many or most people, the commercial tends to choke out the spiritual. That’s why I’m praying. I’m preparing the soil at Westfield to set an atmosphere where that will be receptive to the Gospel message inherent in the Christmas story. As I go up and down the mall (I probably look like I’m just walking the mall for my health), I am praying. Things like:
  • Father, show how remarkable you are at Westfield.
  • Show Your glory and reveal Who You are in this place (sometimes I actually sing this to a little blues riff).
  • Kingdom of God, come to Westfield.
  • Will of God, be done at Westfield just as it is being done in heaven.
  • Sometimes I pray a particular Scripture that comes to mind.
  • Sometimes I pray in tongues.
  • Often I sing in tongues.
  • And I release praise and thanksgiving as I go.
When I finish, I go to one of the sitting areas and have a little personal devotional time God. I have a handy little New Testament with Psalms. My habit is to open up the Psalms and beginning praying them to the Lord.

The Christmas story is good seed, and as it begins to be sown into the soil prepared at Westfield this season, I am watching for a harvest of joy and salvation for many who frequent the shops and kiosks of this place.

I have taken on this project because it is my conviction that things and places are sanctified (made holy, set apart for God) by prayer and thanksgiving. I invite you to join me in this, wherever you go this Christmas season.

See also:

Monday, November 21, 2005

Believing With God

God is faithful — that is, He is full of faith. He believes everything He says and expects to see it all come to pass. Indeed, from His eternal perspective, He already sees it as accomplished.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has said some wonderful things about you — and He believes everyone of them with all His heart. Though you and I may find it hard to see in each other, when God looks at us, He sees all His plans and promises in us as already fulfilled.

Our job now is simply to get into agreement with God about what He has already said and believes about us — to join our faith with His.

God has called you to live life full of faith, to believe with Him all the things He has promised in His Word. Indeed, God is calling us all to believe His Word with Him.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Obedience — Obligation or Opportunity?

Many Christians look at obeying God as nothing more than a matter of obligation — just something we gotta do. They treat the will of God as something to put up with, something to acquiesce to, whether we like it or not. It is just a sacrifice we make. What a drag!

But people who know only obligation, duty and sacrifice have not yet come to the place where love is reigning in their hearts.
  • Love does not speak of obligation but of opportunity.
  • Love does not dwell on the duty of obedience, but the delight of loving God.
  • Love does not think of sacrifice, but of serving the one we love.
When we love, the will of God becomes, not something we gotta do, but something we get to do. For the will of God is the unveiling of the powerful passions, delights and desires of the He who loves us more than our words can described.

The Bible says that “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). But if we stop there, we have missed what God is about. Obedience and sacrifice are the technical terms of bean-counters and legalists, not the language of passionate lovers.

But God is a lover, not a legalist; He is about relationship, not rules. He gave Moses the Law, that is true. But it was not for the purpose of restricting His people; it was given to enable the relationship—He was after the heart of His people. The Law simply serves the relationship. The Bible says that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), not Law.

Rule-watchers and score-keepers, who see everything in terms of obligation, eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is a bitter food that leads only to death. God-lovers, who see God’s will as opportunities to enter into divine passion and delight, are going after the Tree of Life — and they shall find its fruit in abundance (John 10:10).

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sow Good, Reap Grief?

Someone asked, “There are many people who sow good and reap grief. How do you explain it?”

If we sow good, then we will reap good, and if we are patient, we will see it come to pass.

If we have reaped grief, it is because we have sown grief. The Bible says that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In other words, all have sown grief. God created us to participate in His glory — to reflect and express His glory, which is the manifestation of His goodness. But we have all declined in one way or another. The Bible calls that "sin." The Greek word is harmatano and literally means to "miss the mark." We've missed the mark of sharing in God's goodness.

We inherited this affliction of grief from Adam. He had the choice of eating from the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life is relationship with God. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is about trying to be God ourselves, something we were never created to be. Adam "missed the mark" and passed his sickness of spirit on to us.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to redeem us from that affliction, to forgive our sins and bring us back into relationship with Father God. Speaking of Messiah (the Hebrew name for Christ), the Bible says:
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:5-6)
In other words, Jesus took our place.
  • We sowed the transgressions, but He reaped the wounds.
  • We sowed the iniquities, but He reaped the bruises.
  • He reaped our chastisement, we reaped His peace.
  • He reaped our stripes, we reaped His healing.
  • He reaped what we sowed, and we reaped what He sowed.
In the New Testament, we read more about this great exchange: "God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, He took our sin and so we could become righteous.

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). We should have reaped eternal death (which is separation from God), but Jesus gives us eternal life — the Tree of Life that Adam passed up.

We receive this great gift through faith in Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Though the devil (the thief of this world) comes to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes to give us abundant life (John 10:10).

Now we are free to sow the good — something we could not do before when we were, as the Apostle Paul puts it, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). We may still reap grief, but often it is because we still sow grief, or have not dealt with the grief we have already sown. Repentance and confession are wonderful means for healing and detoxifying in this regard. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Jesus has also given us authority over sickness and the demonic strongholds we may have let into our lives — we just need to learn how to exercise that authority (which is one of the things Christian discipleship is supposed to be about, but is often neglected).

Make the "Great Exchange" with Jesus Christ. Stop sowing grief. Keep sowing good. Grief will decrease, good will increase. Overcome evil with good.

The Reaches of Faith

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible."
—Corrie ten Boom

Friday, November 18, 2005

Getting Heard By God

Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O LORD,
For I cry to You all day long.
Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O LORD, I life up my soul.
For You, LORD, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplication.
(Psalm 86:1-6)
Notice the basis, and all the elements thereof, by which David makes his appeal before Yahweh (the name signified by the word “LORD,” in all caps).

Need. “Hear me, for I am poor and needy.” In Psalm 23, David identified Yahweh as his shepherd, and that he would he would not be in want, but that his cup would overflow.

Holiness. “Preserve my life, for I am holy.” It is very important to understand that holiness is not about our behavior, but about God’s purpose. For to be holy means to be set apart for divine purpose. God is not willing for His purposes to go unfulfilled, therefore we can look to Him to preserve us.

Covenant. “You are my God.” Yahweh is the name by which God reveals Himself in covenant to His people. David lays out the relationship before the LORD and stands firmly upon it: You are my God, I am Your servant — we are committed to each other. Though we might often falter in our commitment, God never falters in His.

Trust. “Save Your servant who trusts in You.” The Hebrew word for “trust,” batach, indicates a bold confidence. We come to God believing, expecting to receive, for He has promised.

Single-minded Faith. “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I cry to You all day long.” The word behind “merciful,” hanan, means to bend down and show favor. David expects the favor of God because he is focused upon God alone for his help. He is not a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (see James 1:7). He is confident God will hear because he calls only on the name of the LORD.

Humbleness. “For to You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” David is not lifted up in pride, but yielded before God. The Bible says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). It is letting God have His way in our lives — and His way is always good.

The Goodness of God. “For You, LORD, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.” David has experienced intimate relationship with Yahweh and discovered His heart. Three things he has learned about Him:
  • He is good. He is totally good, in and of Himself. There is no evil or lack of any kind in Him. He is good and He loves goodness.
  • He is ready to forgive. He is not implacable or inaccessible, but ready to be found and eager to forgive.
  • He is merciful. Here the word for “mercy” is hesed, the deep love by which Yahweh has committed Himself to His people.
The key to experiencing the goodness, forgiveness and deep, abiding love of God is to call upon Him. The Bible says, “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Notice that David never made his appeal to God based upon his own goodness, his own behavior, his own worthiness. It is all about God and God alone — His goodness, His love, His mercy, His purpose, His desire. We simply yield, call on His name and believe Him to do what He promised.

It is not hard to get heard by God. We must come by faith, believing that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:3). And when we know that He hears us, we know that we have whatever we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Two Trees

Thought I'd take a moment to compile a list of recent articles on the Two Trees—the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is important for us to understand what these two trees are about for this reason: one leads to life, the other to death. I've made reference to this tree many other times because I am becoming conditioned to ask of any given thought, behavior, attitude or thing: Which tree does that come from?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Forgiving and Being Forgiven

Someone wrote to ask “Does your church believe in the literal interpretation of what Jesus taught in Gospels that people need to repent before forgiveness is given and woe comes to those who cause offenses?” He then cited Luke 17:1-4; Luke 18:1-8 and Matthew 5:21-26. Here is my response:

Jesus came preaching, "Repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is at hand." We believe, therefore, that people need to repent and believe. The Greek word for "repent" means to have a change of mind, to think differently. We need to change our thinking about a lot of things—sin, our self-dependence, living like the kingdom of God is not here — and start thinking in line with what God says. In other words, we repent (change our mind) in order to believe God.

A word often related to repentance is the word "confess." For example, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). The Greek word for "confess" is homologeo (from homo = “same” and logos = “word”). Literally, it means to "say the same thing." That is, when we confess our sins, we are saying of them the same thing God says of them, recognizing that they do not belong in our lives. It is a result of repentance.

Before repentance, we were thinking contrary to God and denying that our sin created a barrier between us. After repentance, we are thinking with God and saying the same thing about our sin that He said. We are acknowledging the problem so that we may then embrace the solution — forgiveness and cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Does woe come to those who cause offenses? Certainly. It is a matter of sowing and reaping. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). Sow good, reap good. Sow evil, reap evil. Sow offense or woe, reap offense or woe. Woe will come naturally because of what is sown, and it will come unless the harvest is somehow prevented. We believe that repentance and receiving forgiveness is a way that such a harvest can be avoided, mitigated or ameliorated.

In regard to forgiving others, Jesus said, if a brother sins against us, but then repents — forgive him — even if he sins seven times in a day and repents seven times (Luke 17:3-4).

About the role of the offender, Jesus said this: "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-34).

Jesus also spoke about forgiving in Mark 11:25-26, immediately after talking about mountain-moving faith and receiving the answer to our prayers: "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your trespasses."

We don't have to wait for the offender to come and repent or apologize to us before we forgive. In Mark 11:25, Jesus does not even bring up their repentance. He simply tells us to forgive. The other person may never apologize to us — shall we then carry forever the burden of what they did to us, because they refuse to repent?

No, forgive anyway, and be set free from the hurt they caused, be healed from the wound, and let God deal with them. Then our faith and our prayers will be unhindered. But if we do not forgive, we will not be walking in the experience of the forgiveness our Father extends to us.

Our job is not to call down woes on people, but to forgive them — for our own sake as well as theirs. We pray for them that God, in His goodness, would lead them into true repentance so that they might experience the fullness of His blessing.

See also :

A Monk’s Tale of Forgiveness

Two monks set out on a long and perilous journey to a holy site. Wanting to arrive pure in spirit, they vowed not to speak or enjoy any feminine company. As they came to a large muddy hole in the road, there stood a lovely young woman dressed in finery. She was hesitant to cross for fear of ruining her clothes.

One of the monks, recognizing her concern, picked her up and gently carried her across. Then the monks continued their journey. The next day, when they arrived at the shrine, the other monk scolded his friend for breaking his vows of silence and self-control.

“What?” said the first monk, “I released the burden of that young lady immediately after we crossed over yesterday. But why are you still carrying her?”

In forgiveness, we release all the burden of care of those things which have wounded or offended us.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mightiest of the Mighty

“Faith is mightiest of the mighty. It is the monarch of the realms of the mind; there is no being superior to its strength, no creature which will not bow to its divine prowess. The want of faith makes a man despicable, it shrivels him up so small that he might live in a nutshell. Give him faith, and he is a leviathan that can dive into the depths of the sea; he is a war horse, that cries, aha! aha! in the battle; he is a giant who takes nations and crumbles them in his hand, who encounters hosts, and at a sword they vanish; he binds up sheaves of scepters, and gathers up all the crowns at his own. There is nothing like faith, sirs. Faith makes you almost as omnipotent as God, by the borrowed might of its divinity. Give us faith and we can do all things.”
~ Charles H. Spurgeon, The Victory of Faith

Have faith in God.
~ Jesus (Mark 11:22)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

El Gamar Ali, God Who Does For Me

I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
(Psalm 57:2)
The words “all things” is italicized in the NJKV, indicating that they are not in the original but have been added by the translators as an aid to understanding. So we have: “God who performs for me.” Other versions have:
  • “God who does all things for me.” (Bible in Basic English)
  • “God who holds me together.” (The Message)
  • “God who is perfecting for me.” (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • “God who will fulfill His purpose for me.” (New Living Translation)
  • “God who accomplishes all things for me.” (NASB)
The Hebrew is El Gamar Ali.

The word gamar means to bring to completion, to accomplish, to perfect, to perform. That is what God does for us. He perfects in us, accomplishes in us, brings to completion in us, performs in us. It is found again, and in that sense, in Psalm 138:8:
The LORD will perfect [gamar] that which concerns me.
The Septuagint (early Greek translation of the Old Testament, signified by LXX), translates the Hebrew gamar with a form of the Greek verb euergeteo, which means to do good, to bestow benefits, to be a benefactor. It is the verb used in Acts 10:38, describing the ministry of Jesus, “who went about doing good.”

He is El Gamar Ali, God Who Does for Me.

In the South, when someone takes care of us, we say that he or she “does for us.” That is how God is for us. He takes care of us in every way, as in Psalm 23. He is also the great benefactor, as in Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” (See Six Things the Devil Wants You to Forget.)

Some people think they can make it on their own. They are not thankful for what they have. They think they provided it for themselves, went to work and earned it for on their own. As if they caused themselves to live and move and breathe and have the ability to do anything of themselves.

No, it is God who does for us, and not we ourselves. All the praise, honor and glory belongs to Him.

I’ve given up trying to do for myself—I always came up short. But God does all things well. From now on, I’m calling on El Gamar Ali, God Who Does for Me. What a wonderful name!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Receive Your Healing

By “receive,” I don’t mean that you simply sit back and wait for somebody to hand it to you or wait for it to land in your lap. I mean that you welcome it, embrace it, lay hold of it, lay claim to it, appropriate it. I’m talking about an active receptivity, not a passive “wait and see.” We are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Many people want to have the manifestation of healing first, and then they will go ahead and receive. But that is backwards. First we receive, then comes the manifestation.

Remember the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48). She was very receptive toward her healing. As she pursued Jesus through the crowd, she kept saying to herself, “If I can just touch the hem of His garment, I’ll be healed.” She was not waiting for the manifestation of her healing to come before she believed it. She received it by faith while she was waiting for the manifestation. The result is that, when she finally laid hands on the hem of Jesus’ robe, healing power went out from Him into her body and her healing manifested.

In another place, Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Notice the difference in tense between “receive” and “will have.” Receiving in present tense (actually, the NASB says, “believe you have received” — past tense). The having is future tense.

Notice what the woman with the issue of blood did. She believed she received her healing when she prayed (went to the Lord) for her healing. Jesus commended her for her faith: “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well” (Luke 8:48).

Jesus has already done everything that is necessary for you to have your healing. Isaiah tells us that Messiah (the Christ) came to bear your sicknesses as well as your sins. All you have to do is receive it. Receive your healing in Jesus’ name. Then watch for the manifestation.

Healing Scriptures and Prayers

Healing Scriptures and Prayers
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Friday, November 11, 2005

God of the Overflow

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want … My cup runs over!
(Psalm 23:1, 5)

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4)

Praise the LORD …
Who satisfies your desires with good things
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:1, 5)

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
  • He is the God of abundance.
  • He is the God of enough, and more than enough.
  • He is the God who supplies all your needs
  • He is the God who satisfies all your desires with good things.
  • He is the God who exceeds all you can ask or think.
  • He is the God of the overflow.
He is God and He is good. Believe Him for everything that is in your heart and life, and He will exceed your wildest expectation.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Live In Such a Way

“Live in such a way that your heavenly Father may be proud of you, as he is proud of so many others chosen souls. Live in such a way that you may be able to repeat at every moment with the apostle St. Paul: Be imitators of me, as I am of Jesus Christ. Oh, for pity’s sake, do not consider this an exaggeration! Every Christian who is a true imitator and follower of the Nazarene can and must call himself a second Christ and show forth most clearly in his life the entire image of Christ. Oh, if only all Christians were to live up to their vocation, this very land of exile would be changed into a paradise.” ~ Padre Pio, quoted in Mystics and Miracles: True Stories of Lives Touched By God, by Bert Ghezzi.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Put Together and Held Together By the Word of God

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)
In Hebrews we discover that all things were framed, or put together, by the Word of God. It is the substance, the underlying reality of everything.

In the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus IS the Word of God. That is, the Word is all about Him and is in perfect unity with Him. Though God has spoken to many people, there are not many words, only one. There may be many facets to it, but there is only one Word, and Jesus is the perfect embodiment of that Word.

In Colossians, Paul tells us that not only were all things created by Jesus Christ, they were also created through Him (for He is the Living Word) and for Him, and in Him all things consist. That is, all things are held together and sustained in Him.

All the world is put together and held together by Jesus, the Living Word of God. Therefore, the world must always respond to Him and His authority. It exists expressly by the Word of God, takes its direction from the Word and must always be responsive to it. God declares that His Word will not return void but will always be fulfilled (Isaiah 55:10-11).
  • By the authority of that Word, Moses commanded the Red Sea to part (Exodus 14:15-16, 21).
  • By the authority of that Word, Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still in the sky (Joshua 10:12-14).
  • By the authority of that Word, Elijah commanded the rain to cease (1 Kings 17:1) and for the drought to end three and a half years later (1 Kings 18:41-45).
  • By the authority of that Word, Jesus rebuked the wind and waves, and they obeyed (Mark 4:37-39).
  • By the authority of that Word, Jesus spoke to the fig tree so that it withered away (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21).
  • Jesus taught the disciples that when they use the authority of that Word to speak to mountains, not doubting but believing in their heart that what they said would be done, those mountains would move (Mark 11:22-23).
Paul tells us that all creation groans together waiting, eagerly waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19), that is, for those who will obey Jesus and rise up to speak the Word of God to all the earth. It is eagerly waiting to respond to the Word of God spoken in faith.

All the world is put together and held together by the Word of God, and it will always respond to the Word of God spoken in faith. All creation is eagerly waiting for you to speak that Word in faith. Mountains will move and the world will change.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Walking in True Freedom

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:1, 13)
Reflecting on these Scriptures, these two reciprocal truths strike me: First, it is impossible for you to walk in true freedom and not change the world in a very positive way. Second, it is impossible to change the world in a very positive without walking in true freedom.
    According to Paul, in this letter to the church at Galatia, true freedom is about loving, giving and serving. It is therefore an expression of the love of God, for God is love, and it is the nature of love to give and serve.

    In the beginning, we were created in the image of God, both to bear His image and to be His image on the earth. Adam and Eve were given the charge to be fruitful and multiply. Multiply what? The image of God.

    God’s plan has always been to fill the earth with His image — and with His love. That is why, when Adam disconnected from God in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan for restoration. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

    Since we were created to be the image of God on the earth, it follows that we were made to show the love of God on the earth. That is the liberty by which Christ has made us free — to love, give and serve — in a word, to be like God. This is the essence of godliness.

    The spirit of religion says that we will be like God if we live by rules and regulations — the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, that is what satan promised Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:5). That way always ends in death, not life; in bondage, not freedom.

    The Spirit of God leads us to the Tree of Life, living, not by rules, but by intimate relationship with Him. That is the true freedom Jesus talked about:
    If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:31-32; 36)
    Knowing the truth is not about the mind, but about the heart. The Greek word for “know” does not refer merely to head knowledge, but to an experiential knowledge, an intimate relationship with truth. Truth is personal — that is, it is found in a person. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” It is in knowing Jesus, entering into a personal relationship with Him, that we become truly free.

    The essence of true freedom is in loving, giving and serving — without obligation or compulsion. It is the pathway of God, who is the most free being in the universe. By faith in Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God and set at liberty to walk that path in intimate fellowship with Him.

    Friday, November 4, 2005

    Being Remarkable

    Been thinking about what it means to be remarkable. This was spurred on by a couple of books by Seth Godin: The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable, and The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable.

    It has occurred to me that being remarkable is what holiness is about (see Being Holy). To be holy means to be set apart. In the context of Scripture, it means to be set apart for God’s special purposes. The Bible teaches us that God is holy. That means that He is uniquely and completely set apart. There is nothing else in the universe like Him. He is infinite in all His attributes. He is altogether remarkable.

    In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.” To hallowed means to be recognized as holy. The Message Bible translates this as “Reveal who You are” (see Father, Reveal Who You Are). If holiness is remarkableness, then we can say it this way: “Show how remarkable You are.”

    Yes, Lord, show the world how totally unique and remarkable you are!

    The Bible says that Jesus came to sanctify us (Hebrews 10:10), that is, to make us holy — set apart for God alone. In other words, He came to make us remarkable.

    For years now, my father has operated a nursery for tropical foliage plants, selling them primarily to flower shops. He calls his business Old Weird Harold’s. This name is a play on three things—my father’s given name (Harold), the name of a character developed by Bill Cosby and, more importantly, a verse in Scripture which says, “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14 KJV — the NKJV says, “His own special people”).

    Jesus has redeemed us from all iniquity. He has purified as to be His own special people who have a zeal for good works. Remarkable!

    When my father ran a flower shop, he had his sales receipts printed to read, “Old Weird Harold’s Nursery and Emporium — a wholly owned subsidiary of Jesus Christ.”

    All those who know the Lord Jesus Christ are holy — wholly owned subsidiaries of Jesus Christ. We belong to God alone — the remarkable people of a remarkable God, called to be remarkably zealous for good works. This is what changes the world.

    Thursday, November 3, 2005

    It’s All About Love

    • God is love. (1 John 4:8)
    • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
    • Therefore, the heavens and the earth must be all about love.
    Of course, there is much in the world that does not come from love. That is because of the choice Adam made for us all way back in the Garden of Eden. God had two trees there: The Tree of Life (which is the Tree of Love) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam decided that he would rather have an intimate relationship with good and evil than with God, who is love. He failed to eat of the Tree of Love — to receive all the love God had for him. Consequently, he failed to love God, his wife and himself. This failure to walk in love soon led to Cain’s failure to love his brother Abel.

    Though love has been obscured in the world because of sin and rebellion against God, who is love, it is still present. The Bible says that the love of God abides and that it endures forever (1 Corinthians 13:13; Psalm 136:1). Not only does it abide and endure, but it thrives and is mightily at work to bring about the fulfillment of all God’s purposes for heaven and earth.

    God is love; love gives and serves. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus, the Son of God, is the Tree of Life, given by God that we may once again walk in His love.

    God is love, so everything He does will always be about love.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2005

    But Have Not God

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
    You could possess and exercise all the spiritual manifestations Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12 (tongues, prophecy, words of wisdom and knowledge, faith, miracles, etc.) but if you do not operate in love, it is all in vain. It has no real, lasting value. It is nothing.


    Because the Bible says that God IS love (1 John 4:8). If we do not have love, we do not have God. If love is not in whatever we do, then God is not in it. Love is inseparable from God; God is inseparable from love.

    Many believers at Corinth had become obsessed with their possession and use of spiritual gifts. They thought the gifts were all about them and their exaltation. Lifted up with pride, they departed from the Great Commandment which Jesus taught in Matthew 22:36-40:
    • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.
    • Love your neighbor as yourself.
    Without love, we are vain babblers. Without love, there is no benefit. Without love, we are nothing — zero!

    But now turn that around and see what happens.

    When we speak in love, our words become powerful. When we give ourselves away in love, there is great benefit. When we act in love, our faith becomes very meaningful and the world changes for the better.

    The way we turn it all around is by loving God and loving our neighbor, for God IS love. When you enter into intimate fellowship with God, it will be impossible for you to not have love. Then your miracles will be meaningful.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2005

    Deeper Into the Mysteries

    Been reading Mystics and Miracles: True Stories of Lives Touched By God by Bert Ghezzi. Here are a few excerpts from the Introduction which really light me up:
    We get the word mystic from a Greek root that means “mystery.” A mystic is a person who is “introduced into the mysteries.” Broadly speaking, all Christians are mystics. We believe that by faith we are initiated into the mysteries of Christ’s death and resurrection. But most Christians are not mystics in the technical sense because we have yet to penetrate the Christian mysteries in depth. That’s what sets a true mystic apart from the crowd….

    Why are the mystic’s lives marked by so many miracles? Why do they experience so many visions, healings, and other supernatural events? I have some thoughts on that question.

    First, mystics are lovers. They love God with their heart and soul, and they love people with every ounce of their being. When they put their love into action, signs and wonders flow….

    Second, if you look at it from another angle, you could say that mystics do not work miracles at all. You could argue that not even those who produce the greatest miracles are actually wonder-workers. They just draw near and stay close to Christ, who is the real miracle worker. The mystics are intimate friends of Jesus, and their personal relationship with him is so secure that they can ask him for favors and expect to receive them….

    Third, God grants the mystics a foretaste of heaven and allows the supernatural realm to penetrate their earthly lives.
    What Bert Ghezzi is describing is, to my way of thinking, normal Christianity. No, it is not average Christianity (the way things usually are), but the way Christians are supposed to live — fully in love with God and with people (Matthew 22:36-40), intimate friends with Jesus (John 15:9-17), always allowing the supernatural realm to penetrate our earthly lives (Matthew 6:10; 18:18-20). In the Great Commission, Jesus gave us great authority, saying,
    And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
    If we know the Lord Jesus Christ, believing on His name, then these things ought to be following us. If they are not, there is no condemnation on us. We just need to enter deeper into the mysteries* of who Jesus is, what He came to do, what His cross and resurrection are all about, and who we are in Him.

    We need to experience more of His love at work in us, and let it flow through us to others. We need to live in our new Holy Spirit birth from above (John 3:3), walk in our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20), and exercise the authority of where we are seated in Christ Jesus at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 2:6).

    The deeper we live in the mysteries of the Lord Jesus Christ, the more our lives will bring forth a foretaste of heaven on earth.

    * In the Bible, a mystery is a secret — not one that God is keeping from us, but one that God is revealing to all His people.