Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don’t Be Fooled: Hold Fast the Word

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)
The company you habitually keep is either going to build you up in the faith, or tear you down. The issue at hand in 1 Corinthians 15 was the resurrection of the dead:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (v. 12-14)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the keystone to the Christian faith. Paul goes on to explain the necessity and importance of the resurrection and demonstrate its truth.

But there were some among the believers at Corinth who taught that there is no resurrection, and perhaps suggesting that it was not really the message that Paul and the apostles were bringing. If that was so, Paul asked, then “why do we stand in jeopardy every hour” for the sake of the gospel (v. 30): “If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (v. 31).

This false teaching, if left unchecked, would have sucked the life out of the Corinthian church, leaving them in despair. But like see many other life-sucking situations they were allowing to continue in the church, the believers allowed themselves to be lulled to sleep.

That is what happens when you hang out with a faithless crowd — they nip away at your faith until you are filled with doubt and finally sink into unbelief. Don’t be fooled, Paul says. Then he offers the antidote:


The Greek word for “awake” means to rouse up, as out of a deep sleep or drunken stupor.

Wake up! Sober up! Pull your head out!

“Awake to righteousness.” Return to what is right. Don’t let your faith be corrupted; eaten away by rot; rusted away by neglect. You have people among you who don’t even know God, and you are letting them influence your faith and pull you away. Don’t let them lead you astray — get out of there!

Picture Paul waving the “smelling salts” under their noses, preaching to them about the gospel, for that is how he began this section, reminding them of the truth they were in deep danger of forgetting:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-3)
Who are the people you allow to have influence in your life. Do they build you up in faith, or do they fill you up with doubt. Don’t let yourself be lulled away, but get a firm hold of the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith come by hearing the Word of God), and let yourself be renewed and strengthened.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Laying Up Treasure in Heaven

Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
This begins a section of Jesus’ sermon on the mount in which He teaches on the relationship between wealth and riches and the kingdom of God. This section includes the teaching on laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), the difference between the “good” eye and the “evil” eye (Matthew 19:22-23), the teaching that you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), about how God will take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:25-32), and the command to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33-34). It all goes together and shares the same context.

In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus teaches us to not lay up treasure for ourselves on earth, but to lay them up for ourselves in heaven. And He gives use the key to what this means: “Where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.”

In other words, the whole question of treasuring — what we treasure, how we treasure it, and where we lay it up—is a matter of the heart. What is going on in your heart will determine what your treasure is all about.

Now, we know that there is no need, no lack, no want in heaven. Heaven is perfectly provided for in every way. Therefore, it does not need any of the treasure of earth. We do not need to try to crate up gold and jewels and earthly treasures and ship them up to heaven.

Heaven does not need the treasure of earth — but earth desperately needs the treasure of heaven. And that is why we are to seek the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of heaven. We need it here.

That is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of the devil, redeem fallen humanity, and establish the kingdom of God on earth. When He began His ministry, He came preaching, “Repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is here.” His teaching was about the kingdom, and His works of healing and deliverance were manifestations of the kingdom. Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended to His throne in heaven, where He now rules over all, forever and ever.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come — and keep coming! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven — and keep being done!” (that is the sense of the Greek text).

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” But we are not to seek it in heaven only, but on the earth. For the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God, and the righteousness of God is His way of doing and being right. Everything is already set right in heaven by the rule and reign of God. Where it is really needed now is upon the earth. And that is what we are to seek — for the rule and reign of God and His rightness to be established on the earth. When we do, everything else will be fully taken care of.

So the kingdom of heaven is now here, and has been ever since Jesus came. Laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven is to be understood in the context of the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of heaven.

Heaven does not need the treasure of earth; earth needs the treasure of heaven. If we merely treasure up for ourselves treasure on earth, neither heaven or earth will benefit from it. But when we treasure up for ourselves treasure in heaven, then it can truly become a blessing on earth, manifesting the prosperity of heaven to meet every need.

We are the people of heaven. We are in the world system, but we are not of it. Our new birth by the Holy Spirit is from above, our citizenship is in heaven, and we are seated — right now — in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. We are on the earth, but we of heaven, and therefore, uniquely qualified to bring forth the blessing of heaven to the earth.

We are authorized to pray for the kingdom of God to keep coming onto the earth, to call for the bread of heaven to be distributed on earth, to bind on earth what has been bound in heaven, and to loose on earth what has been loosed in heaven. We are of heaven, and we are bringing heaven to earth, by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we are to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven so that it can be filled with the purpose of heaven and manifest the blessing of the kingdom of heaven on the earth.

It does not mean that we are not to have wealth and riches on the earth. Rather, it means that our wealth and riches must have the purpose of heaven. And that is a matter of the heart, for where our treasure is, that is where our heart is.

It is impossible for us to have our hearts in one place and our treasure in another. As Jesus said in this same passage, we cannot serve both God and mammon. Where one is, that is where the other is.

To lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, we first need to settle the matter of the heart. We need to line up our hearts with the heart of God and the purpose of heaven, seeking the establishment of the rule and reign of God (a.k.a. the kingdom of God) on earth, just as it is in heaven. When we do that, then we will be able to direct all our wealth and riches towards that purpose.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Discipleship: The Stunning Revelation of Jesus Christ

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have not faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:39-41)
The disciples had been fearful enough about the storm that raged against them out on the sea; they thought they were about to perish. But they were even more afraid when Jesus calmed the wind and the waves by the power of His words. The Bible says they “feared exceedingly.”

“Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Though they had already been with Jesus for some time, being instructed by Him and observing the many wonderful miracles He performed, this was a new revelation about Jesus for which they were completely unprepared.

The goodness, the greatness, and the grace of God in Jesus Christ is so stunning because our own experiences are so limited, our thoughts so restricted, and our faith so weak. There is also the awareness of the greatness of the distance between us and God, that He is so holy — so completely unlike anything else in the world, and that we are so unholy, so unlike Him.

Isaiah experienced this in his vision of the LORD in His holy temple: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I come from a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).

Peter experienced this when Jesus instructed him to cast the net on the other side, and Peter hauled in an amazingly and totally unexpectedly prosperous catch of fish. He fell before the Lord Jesus and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).

The revelation of Jesus Christ always generates controversy:
  • No, God isn't really like that.
  • No, He doesn't do that today.
  • No, His grace is not that free.
  • No, Jesus didn't really mean that.
It's too much for us. Even the Lord Jesus recognized that He couldn't unload all this revelation at one time on His disciples. He told them, “I have many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them now.” That's why He sent the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all truth. And we are still unpacking what that all means (John 16:12-13).

That is what our discipleship is about: processing the revelations of Jesus Christ. Each step stretches us past our limit, and a lot of times we don't want to go any further. Our job is to keep going further and further with Him, continually being stunned.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don’t Be Fooled: Inheriting the Kingdom

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
This is not an exhaustive list; the apostle Paul expands on it in some of his other letters:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)
Paul summed it all up pretty well in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Greek word for “sin,” hamartano, and means to “miss the mark.” Think of an archery event in which you win the prize for hitting the bullseye. To sin is to miss the bullseye.

But Paul not only said that we have all missed the bullseye, but we have also fallen short — we’ve missed the target altogether! God created us to share in His glory, to experience and enjoy all the goodness that is in Him, but we have fallen far short of that.

None of the things Paul listed have any place in the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is all about the glory of God, all these things fall far short of that glory. God is all about life and light, but the things on Paul’s list bring only death and darkness. God is love, but the things on the list demonstrate nothing more than selfishness. They are lacking in love for God and one’s neighbor.


But there is a solution. No one has to remain this way. For in 1 Corinthians 6:11, Paul is quick to add, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
  • We can be washed (made clean).
  • We can be sanctified (set apart to experience God’s glory).
  • We can be justified (declared righteous).
Now, we cannot wash ourselves — but we can be washed. We cannot sanctify ourselves — but we can sanctified. We cannot justify ourselves — but we can be justified. How does this happen? Through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul addresses this in another letter:
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)
Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and through faith in Him, God makes us new—gives us a new birth—by the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not come short of the glory of God, and in Him, neither do we, for we are new creations in Him.

When we receive the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us to bring forth the same fruit He brought forth in Christ: “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

This is what you and I were created for, to experience the life of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the glory of God. This is what the kingdom of God is all about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Don’t Be Fooled: Understanding Sowing and Reaping

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
“God is not mocked.” Paul is speaking of an immutable principle: Whatever you sow is what you will reap. God established that at the very beginning, when He created plants and animals each to reproduce after their own kind, and told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. God also reaffirmed this same principle to Noah when He promised, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). It is true in the natural realm; it is just as true in the spiritual realm. Do not treat it lightly!

It’s a bedrock principle: Whatever you, that is what you will reap.” In his second letter to the Corinthian believes, Paul brought out this accompanying principle: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Not only do you reap what you sow, but also according to how you sow. You will also reap more than you sow. Jesus said,
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measure back to you. (Luke 6:38)
“Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” will be either a blessing or a curse for you — it all depends on what you sow. There’s really only two directions you can go with this: You can sow to the flesh, or you can sow to the Spirit. Here’s how Paul lays it out:
  • He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.
  • He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
Sowing to the flesh is thinking that everything we say and do, and how we spend and invest our money is about us. It has no lasting value and results only in a harvest of corruption, decay and a ruined life.

Sowing to the Spirit, on the other hand, is realizing that everything we say and do, and how we spend and invest our money is all about God. It has eternal value and that harvest of a life that is rich and full.

Sowing to the flesh is like a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Sowing to the Spirit is lining up with Jesus, the good shepherd who comes to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10).

Earlier in his letter to the Galatians, Paul made this comparison between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told in the time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we life in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25)
Don’t be fooled. Everything you say and do will either bring life and light, or death and darkness into your world. Choose carefully what will you sow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

All You’ll Ever Need (Part 2)

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has given you everything that has to do with life and godliness. Jesus came to give us life and abundance of life (John 10:10). Not only is life to be found in Him (John 1:4), but He is life (John 14:6). It is the life of Jesus that the apostle Paul was speaking of when he wrote,
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
God has given us everything that pertains to this life as well as to the next. Jesus said,
Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
The apostle Paul said, “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).

God has also given us everything that pertains to godliness, that is, fellowship with and devotion to Him. In Jesus Christ, we come into a life that is poised to experience the divine glory and virtue, the greatness and the goodness of God at work on our behalf.

Peter called these “exceedingly great and precious promises,” through which we not only escape the corruption of the world, but much more than that, we become partakers of the divine nature! (See Partaking of the Divine Nature).

In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul outlined the mystery of godliness (see The Mystery of Godliness), and later on he declared, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

We were created to be like God, and though this was lost to us through the sin of Adam, it is restored to us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him, we receive a new birth from above, a birth by the Holy Spirit of God. To partake of the divine nature, to fellowship with God and to be like Him in this life — could there ever be anything better than this? It is all you’ll ever need.

(See also All You’ll Ever Need, Part 1)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

All You’ll Ever Need

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has blessed with you everything you’ll ever need. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies already belongs to you.

Now, don’t go thinking that, because it says spiritual blessing, it has nothing to do with the natural world. What goes on in the spiritual realm has everything to do with the natural realm. For this natural world was created by God, who is Spirit. What happens in the natural realm is totally dependent upon the spiritual realm. So when God blesses you with every blessing in the spiritual realm, it also affects everything in the natural realm.

Many Christians seem to think that we only receive a few spiritual blessings now, and that we will receive the rest, the greater majority, when we leave this life for the next — at least they live like that is what they think. But the truth is that, when we get to heaven, we will not receive anything there that we have not already received here.

We do not need to receive any more blessing from God. All we really need to do is learn how to live in the blessing we have already received, for it is more than enough to enable us to be and do what God has called us to be and do in this world. And that is what discipleship is about — learning how to walk in the blessing of God in such a way that it changes the world.

We are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. In fact, that is where we are seated in Christ Jesus—in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6). We are born of heaven, our citizenship is in heaven and we live on this earth as ambassadors of heaven. Our job is to bring forth heaven on earth, just as Jesus taught us to pray: “Kingdom of God, come. Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We are authorized to bind on earth what has already been bound in heaven, and loose on earth what has already been loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). Jesus also promised that as we come into agreement with each other on earth concerning anything, it will be done for us by our Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19). In this way, the spiritual blessing we have received is able to bring forth blessing in the natural realm.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has already blessed you with everything you’ll ever need. Are you learning to walk in the blessing and live the life of heaven on earth? Then you are becoming a world-changer.

(See also All You'll Ever Need, Part 2)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Table in the Presence of My Enemies

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. (Psalm 23:5)
This morning I took of the Table of the Lord with this verse fully in mind. I took of it, very deliberately, in the presence of my enemies.

The particular enemy we are dealing with at this time is debt — mortgage, car note and unsecured debts. These are enemies because they represent lack, and Psalm 23 opens famously with line, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” To want, or be in want, is to be in lack. When the Lord is our shepherd, we do not have to be in lack. It is not God’s will for us.

Now, I confess that we have made some poor choices and foolishly gotten ourselves into some financial dfficulties. But it would be even more foolish for us to think that, since we got ourselves into trouble, we must therefore get ourselves out of trouble. It is foolish for a couple of reasons: First, though we have a great ability to get ourselves into trouble, we have little skill or capacity for getting ourselves out. But more importantly, we are in covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and our Shepherd. He as already provided for what we cannot do ourselves. So we look to Him.

That is where the Table of the Lord comes in — it is a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the covenant we have in Him. The bread reveals His body given for us, and the cup is the cup of the New Covenant made in His blood. In Him we have all we need, for as the apostle Paul said, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

So I took of the Table of the Lord in the presence of my enemies. But first, I took all our bills, our mortgage and car note coupons, and everything that represents debt and lack in our finances, and I set them on the coffee table. Then in between them and me, I set the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Table, and I declared, “You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Then I looked at all those bills and notes, and I spoke to them: “I’m serving you notice, we are going to overcome you.” I thought of Caleb’s words, when the twelve spies reported back to Moses after spying out the promised land. Ten spies gave a sorrowful report about how, though the land was indeed a good land overflowing with milk and honey, it was also filled with giants. But Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). He agreed with Joshua, who said, “Do not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9). (See When Its All About God)

Then I thought of Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him [satan, the accuser of the brethren] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (See The Word of Your Testimony)

The blood of the Lamb is what is revealed to us in the cup of communion. It is a cup that runs over with the blessing of the Lord. It is how we overcome all our enemies. It is a cup of salvation. The psalm writer said, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:12-13).

And that’s exactly what I did. I ate the bread and drank the cup from the Table of the Lord and claimed my victory in Jesus Christ. I ate of the table He prepared for me in the presence of my enemies. For the Lord is my shepherd, my savior, my healer, my provider, and there is no enemy in the world that can stand up to Him.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has a table prepared for you in the presence of you enemies. Are you partaking of it?

(See also Warring with the Bread and the Cup and A Table of Victory Prepared for You)

Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Joy and Privilege of Your Kingship

The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD;
And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
You have given him his heart’s desire,
And have not withheld the request of his lips.
(Psalm 21:1-2)
The king originally in view here is David, the psalm writer. Ultimately, however, this psalm finds its most perfect fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is called the Son of David. After His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus ascended to His throne in heaven, where He rules and reigns over all, forever and ever.

But this psalm can also be applied to every believer in Jesus Christ. For the original mandate God gave to Adam and Eve was to subdue the earth and have dominion — to rule and reign over it. We were created to be kings on the earth. Though that dominion was forfeited when Adam rebelled against God, it has been restored to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. For God has “made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). We are now seated with the Lord Jesus Christ on His heavenly throne, the place of ruling and reigning. We are kings, and He is the King of Kings.

“The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD.” Nehemiah said, “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). But here we see that its works the other way around, too: The strength of the Lord is your joy!

The Hebrew word for “joy” here is samach, and means to be lighthearted. When you rely on the strength of the Lord, there is nothing that can weigh your heart down, because God is far greater than whatever might be a burden for you. So the Bible tells us, “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Regardless of your circumstance, you can be lighthearted and joyful, when you roll your burden over onto the Lord.

“And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice.” The word for “rejoice” here is giyl (gheel), and literally means to spin. It is a dancing joy that whirls and twirls in delight. David certainly knew what this was all about. When he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he was so full of joy that he danced with great abandon, leaping and whirling before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:16).

The salvation God has for you and me is indeed something to get very excited about. The Hebrew word is yeshuah. It is not only the forgiveness of our sins, it is also freedom and deliverance from everything that binds us up, holds us back or keeps us down. It is healing for all our diseases. It is even our peace and prosperity. It is wonderful. As a proper name, this word for “salvation” is Yeshua, which is the Hebrew name for “Jesus.”

“You have given him his heart’s desire.” In another psalm, David said, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The Bible refers to David as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), that is, he was a man who lined up his heart with the heart of God. Even when he stumbled, he did not run away from God, but he ran to Him. He delighted in God, and so received his heart’s desire.

Again, we see this completely fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose heart was perfectly aligned with the heart of the Father:
Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)

I can of Myself do nothing. As I her, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)

I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:28-29)
When we delight ourselves in the Lord, He transforms us, aligning the desires of our hearts with His. Then He fulfills those desires.

“And have not withheld the request of his lips.” Because Jesus is all about the Father, the Father is all about Jesus, and will not deny any of His requests. Whatever the Son asks, the Father will do, because the heart of the Son is perfectly aligned with the heart of the Father.

Now, hold on to your hat, because here is how that relates to you and me in a very powerful way: The Father will not withhold the request of the Son; the Son has given us the authority to make requests in His name!
Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14)

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full … In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. (John 16:23-24, 26)
Jesus has given us the authority to ask in His name, that is, to ask as He would ask. When we do, the promise is that God will not withhold the request of our lips. For the Father loves all those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ just as much as He loves the Lord Jesus Himself.

God has created you to be a king upon the earth. Because of what the Lord Jesus has done for you, you can be lighthearted in the strength of the Lord, casting every single burden of care upon Him. You can celebrate without any inhibitions because of the rich forgiveness, freedom, healing, peace and prosperity God has for you. Delight yourself in the Lord, for He wants to give you your heart’s desire. Get the perspective of what Jesus is all about and ask on the basis of His name and His authority, fully expecting to receive, and God will not withhold the request of your lips.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Invitation to a Vision


We find this word in the Bible often, but many times we don’t recognize the significance of what it means when God tells us to behold.

It is an invitation to envision — to enter into a vision — with God.

Our God is the God who sees. He is called Yahweh Yireh, the LORD Who Provides. The word yireh comes from the Hebrew root ra’ah, which means to see. Even the English words “provide” and “provision” mean to foresee with the purpose of making supply. When God sees a need, He extends Himself to supply what is needed.

Time and again, God tells us to behold something, to focus our attention and gaze intently. Often, what we are called to behold is something which has not yet manifest in the natural dimension — God is telling us to see it in the spiritual dimension.

The very fact that God tells us to behold it is the evidence that it really is true in the spiritual realm. Our job is to learn how to see it in the Spirit and lay hold of it by faith. Then, with the power of divine faith at work in our heart, we can call it forth into manifestation in the natural realm. (See Mark 11:22-24, about speaking to mountains).

Monday, October 2, 2006

Don't Be Fooled: Understanding the Source of Good

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:16-18)
“Do not be deceived,” James says. The Greek verb for “deceived” is the same word Jesus used when He told the Sadducees, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Deception is a trick of the devil played upon a willing heart. He does not want you to know the Scriptures or the power of God. He will be happy enough for you to fill your head with religious theories, but he does not want you to have a personal experience of the Word of God at work in your heart or the power of God at work in your life, for that is death to his plans and destruction to his works. So he tries to lead you astray in your thinking.

Like Jesus, James identifies how it is possible to be deceived about the power of God and the Scriptures. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”

This is about the manifestation of God’s power. Everything that is good, mature and complete comes from above, from our Father in heaven. God is not the source of evil, but only of good. Many Christians, however, have been deceived into thinking that God sends diseases upon people or causes bad things to happen to them — to punish them, get them to repent, teach them a lesson, humble them, etc.

But that is simply not so. Nothing evil comes from heaven. There are no diseases there waiting to be unleashed upon the earth. There are no car crashes or any other tragic accidents there. God is the Father of lights, not the Father of darkness. But we know who is the father darkness—the same one who is the father of lies — and we have been delivered from his power into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Anything that is lacking, anything that is not mature and complete, anything that is not good—it does not come from our Father in heaven, but ultimately traces back to the evil one, in whom there is nothing but darkness.

Do not be mistaken. Anything the attributes evil to our Father in heaven is a deception.

James goes on is this same passage to comment upon the Word of God: “Of His own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

God did not send His Word — neither His the Scriptures not the Living Word, Jesus Christ—into the world to condemn you, but to save you and deliver you from the works of the devil: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse here through the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

In context, James has been addressing specifically the question of being tempted to do evil. His point is that such temptation does not and cannot come from God, for He is the giver of all good things.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and entices. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)
James makes a comparison of sources by noting what each “brings forth” (the Greek verb is apokueo). Temptation to evil “brings forth” (apokueo) death. But the Word of God is the word of truth, whose purpose is to “bring us forth” (apokueo), “that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures,” that is, reflecting the glory of His goodness.

Any idea that God is out to condemn you, destroy you or do you harm in any way is mistaken — a lie of the devil. The devil is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has come that you might have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10)