Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Fruit of the Righteous ~ a Tree of Life

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.
(Proverbs 11:30)
It has been said that “you are what you eat.” I think that has application here. When you eat of the Tree of Life you become a tree of life yourself and the fruit of your life becomes a great blessing to others. The wisdom of God begins to shine in and through you and give light to those around you.

Let me put it this way:
Q. How do you “win friends and influence people?”
A. By eating of the tree of life.
The Righteous
Who are the righteous whose fruit is a tree of life to others? They are the ones who do what is right. They walk according to rightness. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The Amplified Bible expands upon this righteousness of God as “His way of doing and being right.”

In other words, righteousness comes from God. Our own righteousness misses the mark of what God requires. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, thank God, everything He ever requires of us, He has already provided. “For [God] made [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Notice that, in Christ, we not only receive the righteousness of God, we become it.

How do we receive and become the righteousness of God?

By faith. We discover this in the first book of the Bible, where it is said of Abraham,
And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
We find this over and over in Scripture, but let one more example be sufficient. Paul said,
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
The righteous are the ones who are justified, that is, made right by faith in Jesus Christ.

The Fruit of the Righteous
Let’s consider what is the fruit of the righteous that becomes a tree of life for others. The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

This Spirit is the Holy Spirit at work in the spirit of every believer. He is the “breath of life” God puffed into Adam’s nostrils when Adam became of living being. He is the Spirit by whom we are “born again” in John 3:3-6 ( the Greek behind that phrase literally means “born from above”). The fruit the Spirit brings forth in us is life-giving for others because it comes from the source of life Himself.

Have you ever noticed that fruit is never pinned on to a tree from the outside? There would be no life in that. No, fruit comes from the inside of the tree and is the overflow of the life of the tree. That is why it can give life to others.

Earlier in Galatians 5 we read, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Many Christians somehow get this verse backwards and think it means “Do not fulfill the lust of the flesh, and you will then be walking in the Spirit.”

That is poison. It is trying to pin fruit on to the tree of life, but it is actually eating the deadly fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The choice remains the same for us as it was for Adam and Eve:
  • Eat of the Tree of Life and overflow with the life of the Spirit, or
  • Eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and try to clip on the fruit of good (but dead) works.
One will bless many through you; the other won’t even bless you.

Receive the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ and let the life of the Holy Spirit work in your spirit to bring forth His wonderful live-giving fruit in you. Only by eating of the Tree of Life will you become a tree of life to others.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wisdom ~ a Tree of Life

Happy is the man who finds wisdom
  And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
  And her gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies,
  And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand,
  In her left hand riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
  And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
  And happy are all who retain her.
(Proverbs 3:13-18)
Wisdom is a tree of life. It comes from God and brings all the things that many people are looking for: long life, happiness, peace, honor and riches. But wisdom is not automatic, you must engage it. For, as another proverb says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).
  • You must search out wisdom until you find it.
  • You must seize upon it with everything you have and establish it in your heart.
  • Out of the treasure of wisdom in your heart, you must bring forth understanding into your life.
  • Then wisdom will yield its reward and you will reap a rich harvest from the tree of life.
The wisdom of God is a tree of life to all who find, keep and walk in it. If you need wisdom, ask God and He will freely give it to you — no questions asked (James 1:5-6).

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Tree of Life

The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden. (Genesis 2:9)
Though mankind lost access to the tree of life through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, it was not lost forever. God has never abandoned His people, but has made a way for us to enjoy the abundance of His life.

The Word of God is the tree of life.
Psalm 1 speaks of the man who delights in the Word of God and makes it his constant meditation: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3). Consider the life of this tree:
  • It is planted by rivers of water. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John7:38 — verse 39 identifies this flow as the Holy Spirit).
  • It brings forth its fruit in its season. There is an appropriate fruit for every season and it will always come out at the right time.
  • Its leaf shall not wither. “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. The shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright” (Psalm 92:12-15).
  • It prospers in all things. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the tree of life.
He is the living Word who took on human flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14). By nailing our sins to the tree of death He has reconciled all who receive Him to the Father. He is the life-giving, fruit-generating vine in John 15:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing … If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father love Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:5,7-12)
Consider the overflow of the divine life we experience by abiding in Jesus:
  • Abundance of fruit.
  • Fulfillment of every good desire.
  • The revelation of the Father’s glory.
  • Abiding in the love of God through Jesus Christ.
  • Fullness of joy.
  • Divine love working through us.
The Holy Spirit is the tree of life.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). There is no law that can stand up against the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, no law that can now take away the life of the Holy Spirit in you, not even the law of sin and death. “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

The fruit of the Spirit is the overflow of our life in Christ:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness [faith], gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
God has given His Word, His Son and His Spirit to restore to you the tree of life. Immerse yourself in His Word, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and yield yourself to the work of the Holy Spirit. You will experience rivers of living water flowing from your inner being to bless the world as well as your own life. Love, joy, peace and all the fruits of the Spirit will be in you in abundance. You will begin to lay hold of life, health and prosperity and experience the glory of God changing your world. This life will be at work in you even in old age and you will be fresh and flourishing in the courts of the LORD to declare His rightness. In short, you will discover the tree of life.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Adam Failed to Exercise Dominion

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Then the Lord God took the ma and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
Adam was given dominion over everything on the earth. That is, he had authority to rule and reign over the earth on behalf of God, in whose image he was created.

But somehow, Adam failed to fully exercise this dominion. For there cropped up in the garden a death-dealing tree — the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It did not come from God but from the enemy. Like the enemy in one of Jesus’ parables, who sowed tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30).

Just as the tares looked very much like wheat — until they both came into fruition — so the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil looks so much like the Tree of Life. But the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge actually leads to death. God said, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

As soon as Adam heard that, he should have immediately exercised his authority to tend and keep the garden. He should have gone and ripped that tree out of the ground and cast it out of the garden.

And perhaps he would have done that, except that the idea somehow crept in that the evil Tree could not even be touched. That is what Eve thought. She (mis)quoted God as saying, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3:3). A seed of doubt was sown because someone added to the Word of God, saying what He did not say.

Adam missed another opportunity to exercise dominion when he failed to cast the serpent out of the garden. For God gave him authority over “every thing that moves on the earth.”

The rest is history.

The Lord Jesus Christ has given every believer the authority to call forth the kingdom of God and command the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Learn how to walk in this authority to release rivers of living water and the knowledge of God’s glory over all the earth.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Grace-Filled Works Release God's Glory

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
This is from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ teaching to His disciples. John said of Jesus that He is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). The light that He gives is the light that He is. Those who receive His light and walk in it, they themselves become light — the light of Christ that gives light to the world.

This light is the revelation of God’s glory. The whole earth is already filled with the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3). What is lacking is the knowledge, or the revelation of that glory. The enemy blinds the eyes of the world so that it does not see the glory. But it is God “who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

There are many ways we can release the light, the revelation knowledge of God’s glory. In this passage, we see that our lives can shine with the light of God through our good works.

A word about good works. They are not about trying to please or appease God, or trying to, in any way, get ourselves into His good graces. That is the spirit of religion, a deception from the enemy. Any works you do for that purpose are not good works at all — they are dead works. As Paul said to the Galatians, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Falling from grace is not about falling into sin, is it about falling into the idea that you can somehow earn God’s favor, mercy and love.

No, good works do not lead you into the grace of God. Rather, good works flow from the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). We do not create the light of God by our good works. The light of God creates the good works in us so that we can reveal His glory.

The grace of God brings even material provision into our lives so we can bless others with the abundance of our overflow. “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’s provision is itself a revelation of His glory: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When we receive the abundance of His provision and use the overflow for every good work, we are revealing the glory of God, “giving light to all who are in the house.”

The Word of God is a revelation of His glory which prepares us for every good, so we can shine as light in the world. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Here again, good works flow out of God’s grace. As we meditate on the revelation of God’s Word, letting it penetrate every part of our heart and change our thinking in every area of our life, it will soon begin to show in everything we do. We will be glowing with the life of God at work in us and will become a walking revelation of His love, mercy and grace — the glory of God being made known.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world. You do not have to try to shine. His light is already in you, you simply need to let it shine. Get deeper in fellowship with Him through His Word. Let His grace work deeply in you. Realize that He has a great passion to bless you and bless others through you out of the overflow of your life. Always remember that it is all about His grace at work in you, not you trying to work for His grace. Then the works of your life will be good, and they will reveal the light of God’s glory to your world.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Take It—By Faith

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive it. (Mark 11:24)
Give attention to the word “receive” in this verse. It is the Greek verb lambano. It means to receive, to take, to lay hold of. It is the same verb Jesus used at the Last Supper when He said, “Take, eat, this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).

Have you ever been to a party and the host comes up to you with a plate of cake and says, “Would you like some?” You say “Yes, thank you,” then simply reach out your hand to lay hold of the plate. You have received the cake. It is now yours.

That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe you receive it.” Don’t wait and see what’s going to happen, or whether your prayer is going to be answered. No, believe that you have actually laid hold of that for which you have asked. Take it by faith. You have secured it. It is yours. The NASB reads, “Believe that you have received it.” In other words, consider it a done deal.

Just because you have not yet seen it does not mean that you have not received it. Paul tells us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking by faith means that you believe regardless of what your eyes or ears or mind or emotions tell you. You believe because of what God has said. In Mark 11:24, He says, “Believe you receive.”

Important life-changing note: Everything you do, say, ask or believe is to be processed through the Father’s love. For without it, nothing matters.

Whatever things you ask or desire when you pray, believe that you have laid hold of the answer. Take it — by faith.

(See also Whatever You Desire, When You Pray)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Invitation of Joy to the Nations

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
(Psalm 100:1-2)
God is not exclusive to one people or place. Quite the contrary. He invites all peoples and all lands to come and enter into joy with Him.

Make a joyful shout! The Hebrew word is rua and means to break out of silence with ear-splitting sounds of joy. It might be a loud “Yahoo!” or the celebratory blast of a horn. In my neighborhood, whenever our football team scores a goal, my neighbor runs out to his car and honks the horn — repeatedly! He is making a joyful noise.

To the LORD. It is a joy that is in honor of, and is caused by the LORD, Yahweh! God is the source of joy — His presence is full of it (Psalm 16:11). Joy is the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Serve the LORD with gladness. “Gladness” is the Hebrew simcha — lightheartedness, joy, mirth, gaiety and pleasure. And it comes from serving the LORD. Serving God is never just a matter of rendering service to Him, but of serving with Him. For God is love, and it is the nature of love to give and to serve. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

So the call to serve the LORD is actually an invitation to partner with Him. Yes, God invites all the earth to come and join in partnership — fellowship — with Him. No wonder it is joyful, lighthearted and full of pleasure.

Come before His presence with singing. Here is the invitation to come into the presence of the King of all kings. And the surprise is that it is not meant to be full or terror or even of sorrow. We come singing, not mournful tunes or sorrowful dirges, but songs of joy and triumph. The kingdom of God is a party!

The psalm writer continues:
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
(Psalm 100:3)
This invitation is to come and know God by His personal name, Yahweh (rendered in English translations by “LORD” in all caps). This is the name by which He reveals Himself in covenant with His people. Indeed, this is a call to come enter covenant with Him.

This is an invitation for all the peoples to know the God who created them. We certainly did not create ourselves — pulling ourselves together out of the ooze, generating for ourselves the vast library of our genetic code, instilling our own personhood and intelligence into ourselves. No, God is our Creator, making us specifically in His own image and breathing into us the breath of His spirit.

This is also an invitation to come and know God as our Shepherd. “The LORD is my shepherd,” David declared, “I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23). Here is the promise of rest, provision, protection, guidance, goodness and mercy — all the blessing of God to all who come to Him. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes to give us the life of God in abundance (John 10).
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
(Psalm 100:4)
Yes, come on in. Recognize the blessing God has for you and join the celebration. You cannot do for yourself. Let God to for you whatever you need and give Him thanks. Enter deeper into His presence with joyful songs of praise. Pull your head out and behold the wonderful gift that has been given to you, then lift your hands in worship and bless the One who has reached His hand out to you.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
(Psalm 100:5)
Yahweh is God and Yahweh is good! This is not a one-off, one-time celebration. What He is inviting the nations to is something that will endure forever. This is not just for the nations but for the generations. When you accept His gracious offer and step into His wonderful life, it will be a blessing, not only to yourself, but also to your children and your children’s children — even to a thousand generations.

Make a joyful noise — everybody! Everywhere! The fathers of the Westminster Confession understood this well. It declares the mankind was made for this purpose — to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

God is reaching out to the nations. Become aware of His glory manifesting all around you. Enter into covenant with Him. Partner up with the Servant King of the Ages and reach out with Him to love, give and serve. Intercede for all peoples in all places. Pray the Lord of the Harvest and let Him send you into all the world preaching the Good News, bringing forth signs and wonders of healing and deliverance. Then pass this great inheritance on to your children and your children’s children. For the LORD is good, His love and faithfulness will endure to all your generations. Come glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

God Wants You Well
Healing Scriptures and Prayers
by Jeff Doles
Walking Barefoot Ministries
ISBN 0-9744748-1-9 (Paperback)
6 x 9 in., 128 pages

Someone has said that prayer is not about overcoming God's reluctance, but about laying hold of His willingness. This can also be said of healing ministry — it is not about overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness to heal. God's willingness is seen in His Word, where He has repeatedly revealed His desire to heal His people. This book is designed to help you lay hold of God's willingness to heal you by laying hold of His Word and praying it back to Him.

The Bible says that "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10.17). The Word of God reveals the will of God, and so enables us to pray effectively. "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5.14,15). Healing is the will of God for His people, as these Scriptures show, so you can pray confidently, knowing that He hears you, and that you will receive your healing. In this book you will discover:
  • God's healing words in the Old Testament
  • How healing is revealed in the names of God
  • How to choose life
  • God's healing words in the New Testament
  • The healing ministry of Jesus
  • The healing ministry of the disciples
  • Life restoration stories in the Bible
  • How healing is revealed in the name of Jesus
  • The Lord's Prayer as healing prayer
  • The Lord's Supper as healing prayer
This is also a great tool to help you minister healing to others.

Available in paperback, Kindle, epub and PDF. Click here to for more information.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Discover the Passions of God

Do not be conformed this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you ma prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
First, note that the Greek word for behind “world” is aion. It is where we get our word “eon.” So it primarily refers, not to a place, but to a time (yes, yes, I know that time and space are relative, but I did say primarily). It should actually be translated, not at “world” but as “age.”

So we have, “Do not be conformed to this age.”

You see, they are two ages going on: this present one and the one that is to come. To one that is to come is the age of God’s kingdom — the age of His rule and reign. The age that is to come has actually already been breaking into to this present one. Has been every since Jesus began His ministry preaching “Repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

The enemy of our souls wants us to continued to be conformed to this age, to think the thoughts of this present world order. He wants to blind us to the age of God’s reign, which is breaking in all around us. Paul said,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
The light of Christ is already shining brightly in the world, and the whole earth if full of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3). But the devil, the god of this present age, has blinded the eyes of so many so that they don’t even recognized the light and know the glory.

There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who are being conformed to this age, and those who are being transformed by the renewing of their minds.

Enough about the former. Let’s talk about the latter.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” For too long we have been discipled by the present age to think that way it thinks, feel the way it feels, act the way it acts. We have been conformed by it. Even in the Church, there are many who have been deceived by the spirit of religion to adopt a form of godliness, but totally lacking the power of godliness.

We need to be transformed, and it happens by the renewing of our minds. We need to begin thinking differently. That is what repentance means. The Greek word for “repentance” is metanoeo, and it literally means to think differently.
“My thoughts re not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:11)

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
God’s thoughts and ways are different from those we have received in this present age. He wants us to think His thoughts and walk in His ways, because the age of His rule and reign is breaking in. That is why He has given us His Word and His Spirit, so we could be renewed in our thinking, and thus be transformed. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

We need to be transformed and have our thoughts renewed so we can discover the will of God. The will of God is not a plan to manipulate and control us. The will of God is the passionate desire He has for us. He has created us for great things, to partake of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). He longs for us to enter into in, to see how good His will is, how full of favor His desire for us is, how perfect and complete His passions toward us are.

Our minds were made to think God’s thoughts, our emotions were made to express God’s heart, and our wills were made to express God’s desires. When we let God renew our thinking by His Word and the Holy Spirit, it will totally transform our lives and prepare us to receive His kingdom, already breaking in all around us — to discover the passions of God.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rethinking Basic Discipleship

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature … 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 harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:15-18)
The Lord Jesus gave this commission to His disciples, and it is all part and parcel of preaching the Gospel — the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Notice first that there signs which will follow those who believe. Notice also that these signs will not merely follow the disciples, but will actually be performed by the disciples in the name of Jesus.

Jesus said, In My name they (those who believe) will:
  • Cast out demons.
  • Speak with new tongues.
  • Experience divine protection.*
  • Lay hands on the sick, and the sick will recover.
[*The bit about taking up serpents and drinking anything deadly is not a command to perform, but a promise of protection in case those things should happen. On the island of Malta, while Paul was collecting wood for the fire, he was accidentally bitten by a deadly snake. He should have immediately fallen ill and died — but he didn’t, and this increased his credibility with the islanders (Acts 28:3-6). Early Church history records the incident of a Christian leader who was deliberately poisoned but was not harmed by it.]

If these things are to follow those who believe the Gospel, how is it that so often they do not. We can trace the history of when and how these things began to fall away from the mainstream Church (Francis MacNutt does a good job of this in The Healing Reawakening: Reclaiming Our Lost Inheritance).

A lot of it was given up when the church developed the clergy/laity distinction (readily found in tradition, but not in the Bible). Only a special class of Christian was considered fit to pursue these ministries, and they pursued the less and less. When pride set in, they were not able to perform them even when they tried.

So there was a drought of these signs, but not a complete absence. They still turned up in many times and places in the history of the church. The attitudes of the institutionalized Church carried over into the Reformed and Evangelical Church and the signs were absent in these churches as well, not altogether, but to a significant degree.

Another reason for the lack is that the Gospel has often been limited, in modern Reformed and Evangelical churches, to salvation from sin. But Jesus never did this. Everywhere He went, He was always teaching and preaching the kingdom of God, casting out demons and healing all kinds of sickness and disease. Even His death on the cross was not limited to forgiveness of sin. The meaning of “salvation” in Scripture is much broader than that. The Greek and Hebrew words refer to deliverance, healing, wholeness, prosperity, and being rescued from whatever you need to be rescued from. And the name of Jesus in Hebrew, Yeshua, is actually the Hebrew word for salvation, so even His name includes healing and deliverance.

Is it any wonder then that whenever the Gospel is preached and believed, we should see people healed and delivered from demonic affliction? No, what we really ought to wonder about is when we don’t see those things.

Because of many of the traditions of the Church and the limiting of the Gospel to nothing more than the forgiveness of sins, many Christians have not been taught to expect these signs to follow. In fact, they have been taught to NOT expect them, even to reject the idea that they should happen at all.

Consequently, there is a big hole in their discipleship. For if these things — casting out demons, speaking in tongues, experiencing divine protection, and healing through the laying on of hands — are supposed to follow those who believe, then out not the basic instruction of new believers include how to minister and walk in these things?

Let that percolate a while (or if you prefer — Selah).

The need for these things has not disappeared. The Church has just largely forgotten how to minister them. Isn’t it time to rethink basic discipleship?

Miracles and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the History of the Church
Miracles and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit
in the History of the Church

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

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

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Give Us Today the Bread of Tomorrow

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
No doubt, you will recognize this verse from the Lord’s Prayer. But I think it may be greatly misunderstood. Most Christians think of it as a request for God to take care of the little everyday necessities of life. For example, The Message has it as beggarly “Keep us alive with three square meals.”

There must be more to it than that. Just a few verses down, in Matthew 6:33 (another often-quoted verse) Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

This is in response to the questions, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What clothes shall we wear?” God has already promised these to us. So the way to get our daily needs met is to seek God’s kingdom, and these things will follow as a matter of course. We don’t have to ask for them, we just need to believe God’s promise for them.

So what does “Give us this day our daily bread” mean? Let’s look at the word “daily” for a moment. The Greek word is epiousios. It is found only twice in the Bible — in Matthew's and Luke's versions of the Lord’s Prayer. Many Bible commentators believe that it actually means “for the morrow.” This is supported by the translation of a related word, epiouse, as “the next day” in Acts 7.26 and 16.11. The “daily bread” is not the bread of today but the bread of tomorrow.

So what is the “bread of tomorrow?”

To understand that, we must recognize that the Lord’s Prayer is a kingdom prayer. It comes in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). On the other side of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God.” And in the middle of the prayer itself, right before the part about “daily bread,” is this powerful petition, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

You see, it’s all about the kingdom of God. This kingdom is not primarily about a place but about an authority — the rule and reign of God. And it is about the coming age that is breaking forth into this present one.

The prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” is actually set in the imperative mood. That is, it’s a command: “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!” This may seem startling, but Jesus actually gives us the authority to call forth the kingdom and will of God upon the earth.By this prayer, we are actually calling forth the reality of the next age — the age when God’s kingdom and will are fully in manifestation on earth just as they are in heaven — into this present one.

Then comes the next line, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is the bread of “the next day,” or “tomorrow.” Young’s Literal Translation calls it “our appointed bread.” It is the portion that belongs to us in the kingdom age.

The kingdom of God — His rule and reign — has been breaking into this present age ever since Jesus came, and it will continue to come until it is completely fulfilled. Our part is to pray and command it to come, just as Jesus taught us.

We no longer belong to this present age. We may be in it, but we are not of it. Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to it, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are kingdom people, and we require the provision of the kingdom. The resources of this present age simply will not do. We need the provision and power of the next age in order to see the kingdom come into this one. We need the bread of tomorrow — today!

Give us today the bread of that coming day, the provision and power of God’s kingdom. Amen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Releasing the Glory

If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been born from above by the Spirit of God (John 3:3). You are an authorized agent of heaven, where you are seated with Christ at the right hand of God the Father (Ephesians 2:6). Not only are you a possessor of the glory of God, but you are also fully qualified to be a releaser of the glory of God.

You see, the whole earth is full of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3). It is not absent, only veiled (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). But you and I have the privilege of loosing the glory and changing the spiritual temperature of a place, wherever we go, to set an atmosphere that is conducive to the revealing of God’s love, mercy and power.

Here are some simple prayers and faith declarations you can use to begin changing the world by releasing God’s glory. These can be effective in prayer walks through neighborhoods, shopping malls, hospitals, and everywhere else you go:
Rivers of living water. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The next verse adds, “This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.” Wherever you go, you can begin to release the glory by saying: “In the name of Jesus, I release rivers of living water from out of my innermost being.”

Let God arise. Wherever you go, declare as the psalm writer declared: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered. Let those also who hate His name flee from before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away. But let the righteous be glad. Let them rejoice before God. Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:2-3). That will help bind the enemies of God and loose an atmosphere of rejoicing.

Kingdom come. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has given us the authority to call forth the kingdom of God and command the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. You can call for those things to manifest wherever you go: “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth (at Walmart, McDonald’s, school, work—wherever) as it is in heaven!”

The healing hand of God. The early Church set a powerful atmosphere for witness by praying, “Lord, grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30). The result is that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the Word of God with boldness. Signs, wonders and healing miracles began to show up.

Unfolding the Word. The psalm writer said, “The unfolding of Your words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:30 NASB). Whenever the Word of God is opened up, it brings light into dark places. So wherever you go, watch for the Lord to show you a Scripture, then simply start declaring it. It may be something as simple as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, very simple but very powerful). Declare it in faith, even if it is only under your breath, trusting that the Word of God will not return empty-handed (Isaiah 55:11).
As you go, releasing the glory of God, recognize that you are preparing the soil for gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) to penetrate. Watch for opportunities to manifest God’s glory. Ask God to lead you to someone who needs His touch through you. Ask Him also to give you words you can say to them.
  • To share the good news of Jesus Christ — the forgiveness of sins and restoration of fellowship with God through Him.
  • To pray for someone in distress of who needs healing.
  • To speak a word of blessing over someone.
  • To give a word of wisdom to someone needing direction.
  • To encourage someone with a kind word or action.
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive. Just some things to help you get started. As you go, ask the Lord to show you more. Then watch for His glory to appear.

You were made to release the glory of God, by your life, by your words, even by your presence.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Whatever You Desire, When You Pray

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 NKJV)

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (KJV)

That is why I tell you, as to whatever you pray and make request for, if you believe that you have received it, it shall be yours. (Weymouth)
Ask, desire, request — it is all the same word in the Greek, and all in the context of prayer and faith. And yet, some people, when they pray, don’t do any of them. They don’t ask, they don’t make request, they don’t speak their desire — they just complain. They whine to God and call it prayer.

But their prayers don’t get answered because they don’t have anything of faith to them. The Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). God hears faith — and His desire is aroused by it. But whining doesn’t even get His attention.

Remember the man in John 5, who had had an infirmity for thirty-eight years, and he was waiting for the troubling of the waters by the pool of Bethesda? Jesus came to him and asked him, very directly, “Do you want to be made well?” (v. 6).

But the man was actually confused about what he really wanted. So he began to complain, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me” (v.7).

Can’t you just hear him whine? He lost sight of the solution and focused on the problem, and the problem about getting the problem taken care of.

The Answer was literally staring him in the face and asking, “What do you want?”

Now consider what happened with two blind men Jesus met as He was passing from the old city of Jericho to the new. It is found in Matthew 20:29-34. These two men cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David.” Even when the crowd tried to hush them up, they just cried out louder, “Have mercy on us.”

So Jesus stopped and asked them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And what do you suppose they answered? Just this: “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” No whining. No complaining. But a simple, faith-filled request. They spoke their desire.

In Mark 11:23, Jesus declared, “Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed ad be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”

Don’t whine to the mountain — speak to it. Don’t complain about how hard it is to get around or to climb over it — tell it to move. Don’t explain to your friends that, you know, you would like to move ahead, but you see, there is this huge mountain in the way, and you’ve called this person and that one, but nobody really seems to understand or is willing to help, and now you just don’t know what you’re gonna do. You might as well have a seat, because you are going to be there for a long, long time — looking at that mountain.

Or you can do what Jesus says in the next verse and speak what you desire. Not only that, Jesus says, but believe that you receive it. The NASB says “believe that you have received it.” When you do, Jesus says, you will have it — it will be yours.

Whenever you pray, understand the difference between speaking your desire to God and simply complaining. God can do tons with the former and nothing with the latter. Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the answer. Have faith in God’s Word concerning it and believe that you receive what you are believing Him for, then you will see it come to pass.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Rhema Revelation

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)
Which is more important — faith or revelation? Which is more important — your left leg or your right leg? The answer in both cases, of course, is that they both are equally important. They are two sides to the same coin.

We need to hear the Word of God because it is itself a revelation of God given by the Holy Spirit. In the Greek New Testament, there are two different words for “word.” The first is logos, and refers to words in general. All the words of Scripture are logos (or logoi, plural). They are all God-breathed and given to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). By themselves, they convey a certain understanding of God, His ways and His purposes. But there are things in them that are not going to be understood by the natural man. Paul tells us why:
We speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age know; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of god, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(1 Corinthians 2:6-14)
Long passage, I know. But very helpful to understanding the dynamics involved in the Word of God. You see, without the Spirit, so much of the Scriptures seems like foolishness. The wisdom of the world simply does not comprehend the things of the Spirit. The words (logoi) of Scripture are given by the Holy Spirit, and that means that we must have the Holy Spirit at work in us before we can come to a full understanding of them.

Paul says that the Holy Spirit “compares spiritual with spiritual” (the word “things” is not in the Greek text). That is, He teaches us Holy Spirit truths using Holy Spirit words. The natural man does not understand because they are “spiritually discerned,” that is, discerned by the Holy Spirit revealing them to our spirit.

That is why Paul prayed for Christians in Ephesians that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation — that is, revelation by the Holy Spirit — so they could know God more and more in intimate relationship.

So what does that have to do with “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God?” That brings us to the other Greek word for “word,” rhema. Logos refers to words generally, but rhema refers to words which are acutely spoken, words that are especially needed in a particular instance.

All the words of God are true all the time. But there are some words I need particularly for this hour to deal with specific circumstances in my life. All the words of God are wisdom, but there is a particular guidance I need for this moment. It is when the Holy Spirit takes from the words of Scripture the thing that I especially need to hear today, and speaks it to my heart — then it has become a rhema.

Perhaps you have experienced, in your quiet time with God, reading a passage from Scripture that you have read dozens of times before. The words may be very familiar to you, and though they are inspired, they may seem very uninspiring to you. But then one day, while you are reading that same passage, all of a sudden the words seem to leap off of the page and strike up an excitement within you. Now you understand them with a depth you did no have before and you have an intense realization of what they mean in your life and in your relationship with God. You have had a rhema moment. The Holy Spirit has taken the Word of God and spoken it to your heart with an astonishing acuteness and clarity. The light has come on and now you can see. God has awakened your spirit with Holy Spirit insight.

That is what Paul is talking about in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” The word for “word” here is rhema. When the Holy Spirit speaks the Word of God to your spirit with precision and simplicity, it has become a rhema. Then faith begins to arise and become powerful inside you.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the rhema of God. If you have been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within you. If you listen very carefully, He will bring the Word of God to you today with such amazing lucidity and relevance that it will change your life forever.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

You Don’t Have to Take It

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(Matthew 6:31)

The New King James Version reads, “Therefore do not worry, saying …”
Many people worry all the time. Some worry about implausible things, things that are not very likely to happen, but somehow grip the mind and fill the heart with fear anyway. Others worry over “sensible things,” like the basic necessities:
  • How shall we pay the rent?
  • How shall we buy our food?
  • What will we do for clothes?
  • How shall we get to where we need to go?
  • What will we do for money?
  • How shall we pay the doctor bills?
  • How will we ever get out of debt?
These are the people Jesus is addressing, and He tells them, “Take no thought.” This reveals something very important about how we get into the place of worry. We have generally been conditioned by the world to think that we have to take whatever thought comes into our head and accept it as our own. We do not. We are perfectly free to choose the thoughts we will accept and which ones we will reject. Jesus shows us that there are some thoughts that do not belong to us and we don’t need to accept them.

Notice another thing Jesus teaches us about worry — how we activate it. Once we have taken the worry thought, we usually then give voice to it by our words. But Jesus said, “Take no thought, saying.” What we say is very important because our words cause things to happen.

Words are very powerful. In the beginning, when darkness was on the face of the deep, God spoke a word, “Light, be,” and there was light. He did not worry over the darkness and start talking about how terrible it was. He simply spoke the answer. We are created in the image of God, we have the breath of God in us, and we have been given the mandate (authority and responsibility) to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. We do this in the same way God did — by words. (See Having Dominion)

When we take thoughts of worry and then begin speaking them, we are calling for the very things we dread. We are giving place to them in our lives by our words. Jesus says don’t do that.

Look in the next verse: “ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32).

Here is another reason why we get into worry: We think that it is our job to seek after the necessity of our lives. That’s the way the world thinks, and that’s the way the way the world has taught us.

Pagans (that is what the word “Gentiles” actually refers to) have no covenant with God, and so they think their provision is all up to them. But if you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a covenant with God. You have a heavenly Father who already knows your need. You don’t have to take thought about it because Father God has already considered it and made all the provision you’ll ever need.

Instead of getting into worry and fear, we can start taking different thoughts, speaking different words and seeking after something the world does not even know to seek after.

1. Take God’s thoughts.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). That does not mean you cannot know the thoughts of God. He sent His Word precisely so you could know His thoughts and think them with Him. Your mind was made to think His thoughts. (See Created to Know and Speak the Mind of God)

So when the world tries to plant thoughts of worry, you do not have to take them. You can take the thoughts of God instead. His Word has a promise for every need and circumstance of your life. Start finding those promises and thinking them with God.

2. Speak God’s words.
Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:23). Just as worry is activated by what you say, so it is with faith. The words of Jesus are pretty straightforward: Believe in your heart, say with your mouth, and receive what you say.

Now, God always knows what to say in any given situation. So find out what He says, then start saying it with Him. That is how Jesus operated. “I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him … I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:26, 28). If that was His modus operandi, shouldn’t it be yours also? Your mouth was made to speak the Word of God.

3. Seek God’s Kingdom.
The world seeks after the necessities of life and gets stressed out over it. That is completely upside down, for Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The way to get your needs met is not by seeking what you need. The way to get your needs met is to seek God’s kingdom, for that is where every provision has already been made for you.

The kingdom of God is His rule and reign. His righteousness is His rightness — His way of doing and being right. Your heart was made to seek His heart and walk in His ways.

The world teaches you to take thought for your needs, which leads to anxiety and stress. But you have a choice. You can think God’s thoughts, speak Gods words and seek God’s kingdom. When you do, you will find that they are more than enough to take care of everything you’ll ever need.

(See also How to Not Worry)

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Faith Gets Heard

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
(Proverbs 28:9)
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who delight in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2) and those who turn away from even hearing it. Those who delight in God’s Word, who meditate on it and obey it, are blessed. Those who refuse to hear will themselves not be heard by the Lord.

A word about God’s law. People often think of it as nothing more than a series of do’s and don’ts, a system of “Thou shalt not’s” and “I’m gonna get ya’s,” designed to control and manipulate and smother the joy of living.

Not so. The Hebrew word for “law” is torah, and can just as well be translated as “instruction,” which sets a much different tone. Instruction helps us, enables us, frees us. The Word of God, which is the law of the Lord, presents us with the precepts, the beginning principles, of living successful, fulfilling lives.

That is all well and good — but why is it that the one who turns away from hearing the law does not get his prayers heard by God?

The answer is that God specifically tunes in on faith. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). And how do we get faith? By hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith is believing what God has said. Those who have never heard the promises of God’s Word are not in any kind of position to believe them. Those who refuse to hear have cut themselves off from relationship with God.

There are three things: faith, doubt, unbelief.

Faith is hearing and believing the Word of God. God always listens to faith when it prays, and is very pleased by it. John said, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15). Faith gets heard — and receives the answer.

Doubt is lack of knowledge about what God has said. When you don’t know what God has promised and provided on your behalf, you are uncertain about what He will do for you. Your prayers will be tentative and feel like a “crap shoot.” James said, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he shall receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-7). Doubt has no guarantee of ever getting heard. The solution to doubt is simple — start getting into the Word of God, listening to His promises and following His instructions. Faith will come.

Unbelief is the deliberate turning away from the Word of God. This is what Proverbs 28:9 is talking about, a man who is not simply ignorant of what the Word says, but has turned away and refuses to hear what it says. Faith is far from him, for he has despised the very source of faith. Consequently, when he prays, his prayers do not get heard. God is in no way pleased by them because they have nothing of faith to them.

It might seem odd that there would be someone who turns away from the Word of God and still prays. But that is where the spirit of religion, which is prevalent in the churches, leads people. Listen to the story Jesus tells of two very different men who went to pray:
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
(Luke 18:9-14)
The Pharisee observed the outward form of the law, but his heart was turned away from hearing the heart of God in the torah. He had plenty of pride, and tons of faith in his good works, but he did not have the Bible kind of faith, which comes only by hearing the Word of God. Jesus says that the Pharisee prayed “with himself.” His prayer got all tangled up with his pride and never reached the ear of God.

The tax-collector heard enough of the Word of God to know that he was a sinner, but more than that, he heard the promise of God’s mercy. He was full of faith about both those things and he believed the mercy with everything that was in him.

Result: The Lord despised the haughty prayer of the Pharisee, who turned from hearing the law of God, but was greatly pleased by the humble prayer of the tax-collector, who fully believe the Word of God’s mercy.

God always listens to faith, and His passions are aroused by it. Faith comes by hearing what God has said. If you will hear Him, He will hear you.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Four Views of Joy

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:11-12)
Here are four words used for “joy” in the Old Testament:
  • samach — to be cheerful, light-hearted.
  • ranan — shouting for joy.
  • alats — jumping for joy.
  • gul — spinning, whirling, twirling for joy.
We see the first three in the passage above:
But let all those rejoice [samach] who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy [ranan], because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name be joyful [alats] in You.
We find the fourth one in this well-known verse:
This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice [gul] and be glad [samach] in it.
(Psalm 118:24)
The Bible says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:16). The word for “joy” there is simcha, from the same root as samach. God is all about joy. In fact, it is in His presence that joy originates and finds its complete fulfillment and expression.

In the verses above, we discover that joy comes from trusting the LORD, knowing Him as our defender, loving His name, living in the victory day He has made for us, and pressing into His presence.

Yes, we can rejoice mightily in the LORD. But did you know that He also rejoices over you? Its true:
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice [sus] over you with gladness [simcha],
He will quiet you with His love.
He will rejoice [gul] over you with singing [rinnah].
(Zephaniah 3:17)
Sus, like samach and simcha, means to be bright and cheerful. Rinnah comes from ranan.

Good news! God is not mad or sad at His people — He’s glad! He is lighthearted and cheerful over us. He comforts us with His love and whirls and twirls over us with shouts of joy.

You can get in on this wonderful celebration by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Mighty One Who Saves (even His name means “salvation”). He came to carry off everything that stands between you and a personal relationship with the Father.

Put your trust in the Lord and be lighthearted and cheerful. Shout for joy as you look to Him as your defender. Love His name and jump for joy. Whirl and twirl with joy because God has created this day to be a day of victory for you. Rejoice and dance with God as He rejoices over you — whirling, twirling, spinning and shouting with delight. The kingdom of God is a party!

Sunday, August 7, 2005

God’s Desire for You

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
This verse perfectly expresses God’s will and desire for you. It was written by the Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), that is, He is ready to show equal favor to all who come to Him. That includes me and you.

In this verse, we see three things God desires to bring forth in your life:

1. Prosperity of soul. This is key, for out of it flows everything else. The Bible says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

2. Prosperity in all things. Not just spiritual things, not just physical things, not just financial things, and not in everything except finances — but in all things.. Listen to what the Lord says about those who delight in His Word and make it their constant meditation: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).

3. Health. Not just healing, but health. The Greek words means wellness, soundness, wholeness. Some Christians try to make a deal with God: “Heal me of cancer, Lord, and I’ll keep the diabetes.” That misses God’s will — He wants to heal us of everything, not just some thing, so that we can walk in divine health. God has identified Himself to us as “The LORD Who Heals You” (Exodus 15:26).

Wow! Consider what this means:
  • God does not want you to be soul-sick: full of anger, envy, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, fear and doubt. Instead, He wants you to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control (the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23).
  • God does not want you to be broke. Poverty and lack do not come from Him. His plan for you is just the opposite — full provision and prosperity. 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, study this passage and carefully note the financial context).
  • God does not want you to be afflicted with sickness or disease. He does not send them to punish you, teach you or humble you. In fact, they do not come from Him at all. He can certainly teach you in the midst of sickness, to help you overcome by faith, but He does not send them to you.
Now, some Christians (especially those afflicted with a religious spirit) are so blown away by these promises that they feel they have to explain them away. “Oh, that’s John’s way of greeting people. He doesn’t really mean all that.” Or, “John simply means spiritual blessing, nothing more” (as if the spiritual realm has nothing to do with the natural realm — see The Connection Between Spiritual and Natural). Or “It is just John’s wish, not God’s will.” They are not ready to give themselves fully to the abundance of God’s grace.

But the Holy Spirit does not use words lightly. Neither does John. John’s prayer is given to us precisely because it reflects the heart of God for His people. You and I might say, in a very perfunctory manner, “Hi, how are you? Hope you’re doing well,” and not really be thinking about what we’re saying. But God is not like that. He does not use words lightly — what He says, He means. He will do all that He promises, and if we are willing to believe, we shall receive it.

John much more than spiritual prosperity in mind. He covers that aspect under “just as your soul prospers.” The health he prays for is the health of the body. Prosperity in all things includes physical, financial, family, business, ministry and every other kind of prosperity — in addition to prosperity of soul. As we have already seen, prosperity in all other things is actually based upon prosperity of soul.

Of course, there are many Christians who do not experience prosperity in all things, in their bodies, or even prosperity in their souls. That is because, although God desires to bring these things forth in their lives, they are not automatic. We must receive them by faith and resist the devil. You see, it is the devil, not God, who sends sickness, lack and failure into your life. But the Bible says that, if you submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you (James 4:7).

You submit to God by believing His promises and obeying His Word. You resist the devil by refusing to accept sickness, lack and inner turmoil in your life. This does not mean that you deny their reality, but that you deny their right to be in your life. If you have somehow given those things a right to afflict you, you can deal with that by repenting, confessing and renouncing whatever has given the devil a place in you. God is faithful both to forgive and to cleanse you from all everything that is not right in your life (1 John 1:9). Then keep speaking the promises of God over lack, sickness and confusion. The devil will flee and the abundance of God will begin to come forth.

God’s desire is for you to prosper in all things and be in health, even as your soul prospers. So submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you, taking his afflictions with him.

Healing Scriptures and Prayers

Healing Scriptures and Prayers
by Jeff Doles

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

Friday, August 5, 2005

The Story of Inheritance

Inheritance — we find it in the Old Testament from beginning to end. In Genesis 1, we see that every thing is to reproduce after its kind. That is, each generation receives its character, nature and destiny from the generation that precedes it. Dogs give birth to dogs; cats give birth to cats, and so on.

Man, though a different class of being, is told to be fruitful and multiply — to reproduce and pass on the inheritance. What is that he is to multiply upon the earth? The image of God. For that is how man was created. So we might even say that God reproduces after His kind. Man is not God, but He is a divine creature — made in the image of God and given the very breath of God in his mouth. This cannot be said of any other creature, not even the highest order of angels. Man (Hebrew, Adam) is the only creature who is called “son of God” (Luke 3:38). That is why it is just as important that Jesus is called “Son of Man” as He is “Son of God.” And that is why He is called the Second Adam.

We find inheritance also in the very last chapter of the Old Testament, Malachi 4. There the promise is given of one who will come in the spirit of Elijah, whose purpose will be to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. Anytime you see the word “father” or “fathers,” you can know that there is an inheritance involved, for inheritance is the very essence of fatherhood.

From the beginning, God has desired to see the whole world filled with an inheritance that comes from Him. That is why He commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and have dominion over all things. From the beginning, the adversary, satan, has desired to stop that inheritance from filling the earth. In between Genesis 1 and Malachi 4, we see the conflict.

That is why there must be those who come in the spirit and power of Elijah. John the Baptist fulfilled this role in the New Testament by heralding the kingdom of God and the need for repentance. He pointed us to Messiah — the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus has already done all that is needed — He has won the victory. All that is left is repentance, the turning of the heart — fathers to their children, children to their fathers — and Man turning his heart back to the Father. In this way, the inheritance we be complete, and the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Rain for the Just and the Unjust

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

These are the “red words,” the words of Jesus. But often I hear people take the last line of the verse and grossly misuse it. They say, “Well, you know, God lets it rain on the just and the unjust,” and from the tone of their voice and the context of what they are saying, they mean it in a negative way. Like the old song that said, “Into each life some rain must fall.”

But Jesus meant this in a very positive way. For a day at the beach or a picnic in the park, you probably don’t want to see much rain. But for an agrarian economy, farmers looked for, even longed for, the early and latter rains. Rain is a very good thing.

So Jesus was not saying here that God sends bad things upon the just as well as the unjust. He is not even saying that God sends bad things upon the unjust at all. Quite the opposite: God sends sunshine for the those who are evil as well as those who are good. And He gives rain, not just for the just, but for the unjust as well.

Notice that Jesus started out by saying, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those you hate you.” Love, bless, do good—not just for your friends, but for your enemies as well. That is God’s way, and when we follow it, we show ourselves to be sons of the Father. “Sons” speaks of maturity, and our love and kindness toward our enemies demonstrates that we are indeed part of the family of God—we’re living up to the family name.

There are, without a doubt, battles and negative circumstances which God’s people must face, even as the unjust do. But they do not come from God. God gives only good gifts (James 1:17). So when He sends the sun, it is to bless, even the unjust. When He sends the rain, it is to do good, even to the unjust.

God’s purpose is for us to be a means of blessing. When He blesses us, it is not only for ourselves, but for all those around as well. In that way, even our very presence becomes a blessing to others, for God will always watch out for us and take care of us. He blesses with such abundance that we cannot help but for it to splash over onto others. It is designed for their benefit as well as ours, for the goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).

We are called to partner with God in blessing. We are to demonstrate our love, even to our enemies, to bless even those who curse us, to do good, even to those who hate us. That’s what it means to be “grown up” in the Lord, and everyone will see who our Father is.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

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

Monday, August 1, 2005

The Knowledge of the Glory

For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
As the waters cover the sea.
(Habakkuk 2:14)
Notice that the prophet is talking, not just about the glory of the LORD, but of the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. The earth is already filled with the glory of the LORD. We see this in Isaiah’s vision, where the angels cry out,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory.
(Isaiah 6:3)
The glory of God is already here — always has been, always will be. What is really needed is the knowledge of His glory. And that is what Habakkuk is prosphesying — that the knowledge of His glory will fill the earth.

Knowledge is awareness, perception, acknowledgement, discernment, wisdom or understanding concerning a thing. The knowledge of the glory of the LORD comes by revelation. That is how it came to Isaiah, that is how it comes to you and me. Paul’s prayer for believers in Ephesians was that the Father of Glory would give them wisdom and revelation by the Holy Spirit, so that they could know Him more and more (Ephesians 1:17).

The Hebrew word for “fill,” mala, means to accomplish, confirm, consecrate, or fulfill. When the earth is filled with the knowledge of God’s glory, there is a setting apart for the purposes of God, and a completion of those purposes.

Notice the extent of this revelation that is to come upon the earth: “As the waters cover the sea.” Now, we know that seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, but one hundred percent of the seas are covered with water. Either way you want to take it, the point is that this revelation of God’s glory is going to be all around us.

But how shall this be, and when? Habakkuk gives us a clue:
Behold, is it not of the LORD of Hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,
And nations weary themselves in vain?
(Habakkuk 3:13)
There is a feeding of the fire, the vanities of peoples and nations being revealed as God comes to set things right. In the Bible, fire is a judgment which purifies the good and destroys the evil.
  • “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). But also, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So the fire is ultimately an expression of His love.
  • Speaking of Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
  • Paul said, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13).
  • Peter concluded, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness; looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13).
Whenever the vanity of man is burned up in the fire, the knowledge of God’s glory comes forth. For it is the goodness of God which not only reveals the sinfulness of man, but also deals with it.

When Isaiah had his vision, as he became aware of the glory of the LORD, it would have killed him, had it not been veiled by smoke. In that moment, Isaiah also became aware of his sinfulness.
Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts. (Isaiah 6:5)
But the love of God had a solution — fire!
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)
The revelation of the glory of the LORD is an “end time” event, but in Bible terms, we have been in the “last days” ever since Jesus came. For it is ultimately in Him that we come to the knowledge of the glory of God. Paul said,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age had blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
It is when the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed — and believed — that we begin to see the glory of God made known. For the fire of His love reveals the vanity of our own works and points us to the Lord Jesus Christ, who took the judgment of our sin upon Himself.

Those who reject Him will be totally unprepared when the glory of God is revealed, and the brightness of that glory will be as a fire that torments them. But those who receive Him will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, cleansed and set apart for the divine destiny for which they were created. For in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ we behold the glory of God.