Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Incorruptible Seed, Incorruptible Harvest

Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever. (1 Peter 1:23)
This new birth that Peter speaks of does not come about by any human agency, for that would be corruptible seed. Rather, it comes from incorruptible seed, and is divine in nature. The Word of God, which lives and abides forever, is that incorruptible seed.

The Word of God is the manifestation of God, expressing His will, His desires and His purposes. Though it is presented us in the form of the written word, the Scriptures, it is preeminently revealed to us in Jesus Christ, the Word who has always been with God, and indeed is God, and who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). It is this Word that John spoke about when he said,
As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13)
This is indeed incorruptible seed. In fact, it is God-seed.

Orange seeds produce orange trees which bring forth oranges that contain more orange seeds. Apple trees produce apple trees which bring forth apples that contain more apple seeds. As the seed is, so is the tree and its fruit — they possess the essential nature of the seed because they are “born” of the seed.

The seed by which we have been born again to eternal life is a divine seed, the Word of God — the Lord Jesus Christ and all that God has spoken. It is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). This seed has been sown in us to bring forth the life of God, His divine nature, in us. As Peter said,
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 through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
This does not imply that we can ever become God Himself, but it does mean that we become like God in some very real and important aspects, just as man was originally created to be in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). We see this, for example, when Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These things reflect the character of God in Jesus Christ, and in all who are born of that incorruptible seed.
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)
This divine essence is who we really are now in Jesus Christ. Once we were dead in trespasses and sins, living according to the lusts of our flesh, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1, 3). But now, because we have been born of incorruptible seed, we no longer have to submit to that. We can now do as Paul says, “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11). And we can declare, as Paul did,
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)
Through faith in Jesus Christ you can be born again of incorruptible seed. For God’s desire is to bring forth an incorruptible harvest in you, that you may partake the divine nature and live in His image and likeness.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The LORD Who is On Our Side

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
  Let Israel now say,
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
  When men rose against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
  When their wrath was kindled against us.
(Psalm 124:1-3)
Here the pilgrim psalm writer is recalling one of the many times enemies rose up against Israel, and would have prevailed, except for The LORD Who is On Our Side.

Jacob expressed something similar when he said his father-in-law Laban, who had continually tried to cheat him, “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely you would have sent empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you” (Genesis 31:42).

Paul declared, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and then expanded most gloriously on what that means:
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? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who has died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us form the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
When the Lord is for you, that makes all the difference in the world. How good to know that He is for us, and that in Jesus Christ, we can never be separated from His love. Whenever you are pressed about on all sides, and the voice of the enemy is laying accusations against you, stop and remember The LORD Who is On Our Side, and the rich revelation of what that means for us in Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
  Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
  The Maker of Heaven and Earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
The psalm writer is on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in the hill country. It can be a dangerous journey, not only because of the elements, but also because of robbers and thugs sheltered in rocks and crags along the way. He knows he will need help, but where will he find it?

His answer is “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

The object of his pilgrimage is the Holy City, Jerusalem, the place where God revealed His presence is a special way. It was the Lord Himself who would give him all the aid and protection he required. It is in this regard that He is called Maker of Heaven and Earth. Who knows better than He the dangers that prevail in the earth and the help that is needed. And who is more able than He to provide that help.

Not only is the Lord the creator of heaven and earth, He is also the sustainer and provider. He does not forget one bit of His creation, but has a great love and care for it all. And if He cares so for His creation, how much more does He care for you and me, whom He has created in His own image and likeness. As Jesus said,
Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)
Is there any problem too big for the One who created everything? Is there anything to small for Him to care? The Lord is not far away, but close by to assist all who will call on Him and say, “My help is from The LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The LORD Your Shade at Your Right Hand

The LORD is your shade at your right hand. (Psalm 121:5)
In the natural realm, shade is a place of refreshment and relief from the oppressive heat of the sun. To be under the shadow of something also means to be hidden and protected by it. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Psalm 121 is one of the “Psalms of Ascent” used by pilgrims who made their way through the open country and hills on the way to Jerusalem. So the need for shade and protection was very great. The psalm writer describes, in a very practical way, what it means to have the Lord as shade:
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
(Psalm 121:6)
Here is the promise of safety all along the way, whether journeying by day or resting by night. For as it was said previously in this psalm, the Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps (v. 4).

Psalm 121:5 presents us with two names for God which demonstrate both His ability and desire to protect and preserver you. He is The LORD Your Keeper and The LORD Your Shade at Your Right Hand. The final verses of this psalm show that this protection is all-inclusive, from beginning to end:
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
  He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
  From this time forth and forevermore.
(Psalm 121:7-8)
Though you may walk through difficult circumstances, look to the Lord for protection and refreshment. Call on His name as The LORD Your Shade at Your Right Hand, and He will bring you safely through.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The LORD Your Keeper

The LORD is your keeper. (Psalm 121:5)
The Hebrew word for “keep” is shamar, and means to keep, guard, watch over, hedge about, protect, observe.

The psalm writer declares, “The LORD is your keeper.” Actually, the “is,” in most translations, is shown in italics, signifying that there is no word behind it in the Hebrew text. It was added to smooth out the sense in English. Literally, it is “The LORD your keeper,” a crescendo to the build-up presented in verses 3 and 4:
He will not allow your foot be to be moved;
  He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
  Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
What is described in these verses is given to us as a name of God in verse 5. He is called, “The LORD Your Keeper.”

The Lord will not allow your foot to be moved. Regardless of whatever may happen, when the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared, you will still be standing.

The Lord is never caught off guard. He does not fall into deep sleep; He doesn’t even “cat nap” or “rest” His eyes. He is ever vigilant, always watching out for His people.

Now, all of this depends upon whether we trust in Him. That is always how we appropriate His blessings and benefits, by trusting in Him and not depending on our own strategies and resources. The Lord will never turn His eyes away from us, though we may take our eyes off of Him and move away from the place of protection He has prepared for us. But if we will ever turn to Him, we will find that what Isaiah said to the Lord is true: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what happens, you can always call on Him as The Lord Your Keeper, and know that you are going to be alright.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Table of Tender Mercies

Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
For Your law is my delight.
(Psalm 119:76-77)
The Hebrew word translated “merciful kindness,” in verse 76, is chesed, the steadfast love by which God has promised to love us, to show us His mercy and be kind to us. It is His favor, the manifestation of His grace toward us. It is His covenant with His people, and we can trust in it fully. The “comfort” the psalm writer seeks is the comfort of a repentant heart, for he is aware of his shortcomings, and brings them to the Lord that he might find the relief of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

The word for “tender mercies,” in verse 77, speaks of a compassionate and tender love, as of a father toward his child. The psalm writer seeks the manifestation of Father God’s heart so that he may truly know and enjoy what life is all about. For he takes great pleasure in the law (Hebrew torah) of God, the wisdom and instruction He has given to His people.

So here is the eager anticipation of covenant and mercy and forgiveness, and even instruction for living from the father-heart of God. And all of this can be found at the Table of the Lord, the Table of Tender Mercies.

In Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of sins, and the tender mercies of the Father’s heart poured out for us, and we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). When Jesus took the cup and gave it to His disciples, He said, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). It is the promise of God to be kind toward us and show us His mercy and favor, and it was won for us at the cross, where Jesus died in our place.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law of God and all its commandments, and in Him, we are made the righteousness of God. So all the blessings and promises that belong to the righteous now belong to us, if we have received the Lord Jesus.

The Table of the Lord, His body given for us and His blood shed for us, is the sign of our covenant with God, that we are truly accepted in Jesus Christ, and that the Father will show us every kindness. We can always find comfort and relief, and joy for living at this Table — the Table of Tender Mercies.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just As You Have Spoken, So I Will Do

Say to them, “As I live,” says the LORD, “just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you. (Numbers 14:28)
This was the conclusion to the matter of the twelve spies Moses sent to check out Canaan, the land God had promised to His people. Ten came back with a faithless and fearful report: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we... There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:31, 33).

Joshua and Caleb returned with a fearless and faithful report. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Joshua said,
If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor 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 14:8-9).
The congregation of Israel, believing the report of the ten, cried out in despair, “If only we had died in the wilderness” (Numbers 14:2).

In the end, everyone got what they believed, and everyone received what they had spoken. The ten spies never went up in victory against the inhabitants of the Promised Land, but died of a plague (Numbers 14:37). To the rest of the congregation, who said, “Better we should die in the wilderness,” God said issued this judgment:
The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in the wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. (Numbers 14:29-30)
Because of their unbelief, they never entered into the Promised Land, but perished in the wasteland (Hebrews 3:16-19).

Joshua and Caleb likewise received what they said. After the rest of their generation died in the wilderness, they crossed the river into the land of promise. The book of Joshua records how, under his leadership, the next generation of Israel conquered and inhabited the “land of milk and honey.” And Caleb, who boldly challenged the people, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it,” still in full strength, even at the age of 85, invaded and conquered the region of Kadesh Barnea (Joshua 14:6-15).

This is how it always is. As it was for them, so it is for us: We each receive what we believe in our hearts and speak with our lips. As Jesus said, it is out of the overflow of our hearts that our mouths speak (Luke 6:45). He brought home the importance of this when He said to His disciples:
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)
The apostle Paul also saw the significance of this truth, especially in regard to salvation and relationship with God: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

What is it that you believe in your heart? And what is it that you are saying with your lips? Are you believing and speaking in agreement with the promises of God, as Joshua and Caleb did? For what you believe and what you say is indeed what you will receive.

(See also, When It’s All About God.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Sign for Good

Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
(Psalm 86:17)
Today I took the Table of the Lord using this verse, for the bread and cup of His Supper, being divinely instituted, is indeed a sign of His favor*. The bread is the revelation of Jesus’ body given for us, and the cup is the sign of the New Covenant issued in His blood.

Our adversary, the devil, hates the blood of Jesus with fervent intensity, for it spells out his doom, and the destruction of all his works. So when we take of the Lord’s Table, it is a sign of God’s favor and goodness toward us that puts him to shame.

Anytime is a good time to enjoy the Table of the Lord, for as often as we eat that bread and drink that cup, we show the Lord’s death until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26) — that is, it is a revelation of Jesus Christ and a promise of His return. But when the devil is trying to come in on you with his strategies and schemes, that is a particularly good time to take the Lord’s Supper, for it shows the death of the Lord Jesus, by which He triumphed over satan. As David said, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

So as you sit at this Table, let it speak to you of the victory you have in Jesus Christ. And remember what David said in Psalm 86:17 (rendered here from the Message Bible):
Make a show of how much You love me
So the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As You, GOD, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet.
The Table of the Lord is the sign of God’s favor toward you in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it puts the devil to shame.

(* Baptism is also a sign of God’s favor, divinely instituted by Jesus Christ, and demonstrates our entrance into the body of Christ and the family of God. I have written a song about this wonderful sign, called I Have Been Baptized, from our Walking Barefoot CD. You can listen to it in streaming MP3.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Are You Naming Things?

Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19-20)
The world was created by the Word of God (Hebrews 11:3) and will always responds to faith-filled words, because faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). God created Adam to speak faith-filled words when He puffed His breath into the man-shaped clay He had formed, and it became a “living being” (Genesis 2:7). Ancient Jewish commentary understood by this that man became a “speaking spirit.”

So God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. He did not tell Adam what to call them, but simply observed what Adam would do with this creative opportunity, and how he would shape the identity and destiny of these animals with the words of his mouth and the breath of God that permeated his being. “And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.”

God has created us in such a way that our words have great power. They create identity and call forth destiny. That is why Jesus said that we will each have to give account to God for every idle word we speak (Matthew 12:36). That is why He taught the disciples that what we speak with out mouths and believe in our hearts can move mountains (Mark 11:22-23).

Whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name! God didn’t change a thing, but let stand whatever Adam said. Why? Because He created man to subdue the earth — that is, bring it into divine order — and have dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). God knows how to delegate authority and honor the arrangements He has established in the earth.

When Adam fell, sinning against God, he disconnected himself (and all the human race in him) from the life of God. Since then, the words of man have often been very wicked, and whatever man called things, those were their names. Words of fear came in and anger, hate and pride dominated. Words of anxiety, and even of despair, became self-fulfilling prophecies. These are faithless words, the outworking of a heart in rebellion toward God. For as Jesus said, it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).

Thankfully, when mankind fell in the sin of Adam, God had a plan of redemption and restoration. That is why Jesus came, to remove the sinful barrier and restore us to fellowship with God our Father and Creator, and that the words of our lips and the meditations of our hearts might bring forth the manifestation of God’s will and ways on earth. That is why He taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10).

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, God has created in you a new heart and given you new words to speak in faith. Some men look at the desperate circumstances of their lives and call them “Impossible.” They shake their heads at the world and pronounce it “Hopeless.” They cringe in terror at sickness and disease and whisper, “Terminal.” They see broken and dysfunctional families and say, “Irreconcilable.” And whatever they call it, that is its name.

But if you know the Lord Jesus Christ, who came that all things might be gathered together in Him (Ephesians 1:10), God has created in you a new heart, and given you faith to speak new words that call forth healing, restoration, forgiveness, peace, life, joy, hope.

For every problem and difficulty in the world, God has a word by which it may be redeemed. Speak it, in Jesus’ name. Say about it what God says about it. And whatever you call it, that will be its name.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Destiny of Holiness

Because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “holy” mean to be set apart. In the Scriptures, being made holy, or sanctified, means to be set aside for God’s special purposes. Some people think of holiness as a somber and dour thing. But I tell you that it is a joyful thing, full of awe and wonder. For holiness speaks of divine destiny and purpose — a fellowship, even partnership, with God.

Now, understand that you and I could never set ourselves apart for God’s purposes. It is something He must do for us. But that is what the grace of God is all about and why Jesus came. He said to the Father, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” It is by that will, the author of Hebrews says, that we have been sanctified — made holy — through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

God sets us apart by the offering of His Son, but also by the truth of His Word. For Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).

So Peter exhorts us, not to try and make ourselves holy, but to live according to the holiness by which God has already set us apart in Jesus Christ. It is living according to the truth of His Word, according to the life of the Lord Jesus that now dwells in us. As Paul said,
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)
Holiness is partaking of the divine nature:
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of the Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that thought these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
It is a call to step up into the life of divine destiny, to be who we really are in Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to embrace this holy calling and step up into life of divine nature and fellowship? To live according to the faith and power of the Lord Jesus Christ? That is destiny indeed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Prosperity of God is Also Financial

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)

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
The Scriptures are clear that God wants His people to prosper. The Hebrew word for “prosper” means to push forward, break out, come mightily, go over, excel, be profitable, advance and make progress. The Greek word means to have a good journey, be successful, even to succeed in business. That is what God has for all of His people.

It is important to note that the prosperity God has for us is, first of all, a prosperity of soul — a matter of the heart. That is clearly stated in 3 John 2, but we also find it spoken of in Psalm 1 in this way: “Blessed is the man … His delight is in the law of the LORD and in His law he meditates day and night” (v. 2). As we have seen, the result is that whatever he does shall prosper.

But does this prosperity include money? Many Christians believe it does not. But what does the Bible say? “Whatever he does shall prosper” and “I pray that you may prosper in all things.” All and whatever are inclusive terms — they leave nothing out. Certainly prosperity is more than just financial and material wealth, but it does include them. They are part of “all” and “whatever.”

We see this stated even more directly elsewhere in Scripture. For example, Psalm 112:3 says of the righteous man (that is, one who lives in awe of God and delights in His commandments), “Wealth and riches will be in his house.” Though some might try to say that this is referring only to spiritual wealth and riches, it is clear from the context that the psalm writer is talking about material wealth and riches.

Is God interested in our possessions? Yes, He is. Look at the word of wisdom He gives us in Proverbs:
Honor the LORD with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
(Proverbs 3:9-10)
When we honor Him with our possessions, and with the firstfruits of all our increase — that is, the first and the best, not the last and the least — then He will also honor us in kind: Our barns will be heaped up with plenty and our vats will overflow with new wine. This is not just having just enough, it is having more than enough.

We find something similar in the New Testament, in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. He is preparing to receive an offering from the believers there to take to the believers in Jerusalem. In other words, it is a financial context. Now, notice what Paul says:
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
That is wealth indeed: always have all sufficiency in all things, and abundance for every good work! You see, that is what financial prosperity is for, and why God wants it for all His people. It is always having everything we need to take care our families, ourselves, and whatever God has called us to do, PLUS having abundance — more than enough! — so that we can give to every good work. As Leroy Thompson calls it, it is “Money with a mission!”

The clear word of Scripture is that God wants all His people to prosper in all things, and that includes finances. He does not want us to love money, serve money, or trust in money, but He wants to prosper us financially so we can use money for His kingdom purposes, and to supply every good work.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Size of Your Miracle

The size of your God determines the size of your miracle. That is, how great and powerful and good you understand God to be will determine how big a miracle you will be able to believe Him for.

Little God, little miracle. Big God, big miracle.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Forgiving Ourselves

Over the past few years, I have written a number of articles on forgiveness and forgiving others (see About Forgiveness). Unforgiveness — unwillingness to forgive others — is a prevalent scheme of the devil, and a great hindrance to prayer and faith. But I am discovering that, very often, forgiving ourselves is the hardest one to do.

Recently I was talking with a woman who called our ministry. She was very distraught about her life, and also very angry. But her anger was not at other people; she was able to forgive everyone who had hurt or betrayed her. But she now realized that she had come to this point in her life because of her own actions and choices, and she was very angry with herself.

She needs to forgive herself.

Reflecting on this, I have been asking the Lord why we often find it so hard to forgive ourselves. The answer I heard back was that we need to believe the gospel more, to trust that God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ.

All our sinful actions and choices were taken up by the Lord Jesus and nailed to the cross. He was made sin for us, though He himself never sinned, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). That is, in Him, through faith in Him, we are made righteous before God. Our sins are forgiven, done away with, and it is God’s own righteousness that is now at work in us.

We may have gotten ourselves into some terrible messes, but Jesus came to get us out and put us on track with the wonderful purpose God has for us. We receive this forgiveness, this deliverance, this salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ. If God has forgiven us, then we can forgive ourselves.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Who Has Pleasure in Your Prosperity?

Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion
Who rejoice at my hurt;
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
Who exalt themselves against me.

Let them shout for joy and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
Ad let them say continually,
“Let the LORD be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
(Psalm 35:26-27)

There are those who are for you and those who are not. There are those who are rooting against you, waiting for you to fall, and will rejoice when you do. Some are very open about it; others keep it secretly in their hearts. Obviously, these are not the people you want to gather around you. They do not build you up; they only undermine you and tear you down. Share your dreams with them, and they will only taunt and deride you.

But there are others, praise God, who are for you. They’re in your corner rooting for your success. Not only that, but they are people of faith who understand that God is in favor of your success, as well. They believe that God takes pleasure in your prosperity, and that your success is an occasion to give Him great praise. These are the people you want to surround yourself with. They build you up, and encourage you when your down, reminding you of the promises and plans God has for you. Share your dreams with them, and they stand in faith with you, believing God to bring you into it, even if it seems impossible

It has been said that you attract what you are. If you are dour and sour and cranky, you will draw to yourself people who are dour and sour and cranky, and you will soon be slogging through a toxic brew of negativity, complaining about how unfair life is, and wondering why you can never seem to get a break.

On the other hand, if you are a positive-minded person who knows how to activate and exercise faith, you will begin to attract others of like mind and faith to you, and you will soon be encouraging each other, spotting opportunities, stretching yourselves, launching out into new things and experiencing fresh successes.

So it comes down to the kind of person you are. Fortunately, you can always change the kind of person you are. God’s purpose is not for you to be negative and cranky, full of fear and doubt. His desire is for you step over into faith and being enjoying success with Him. He knows quite a lot about success and prosperity, and He is more than willing to share it with you. In fact, He has recorded it in His Word, and if you ask Him, He will show you.

God delights in the prosperity of His people. Are you are ready to believe that? The first step of true success and prosperity is in knowing Jesus Christ, who came to restore us to proper relationship with the Creator of all things.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Making Sense of the Process

Someone wrote to me:
The book you wrote said, "God’s Word in your mouth is just as powerful as it is in His—when you speak it in faith!" and "The divine mandate of dominion and how to exercise it." That does not make sense at all. You are not as powerful as God. If you are that powerful and you have so much dominion why have you not changed the world? No offence, but do people buy these books? Seems very strange.
In my book, God’s Word in Your Mouth, I tell about how God created man in the image and likeness of God, and how He gave man a blessing and a mandate: “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion” (Genesis 1:26-28). In other words, we were created to be like God and given authority to fill the earth with this god-likeness, to subdue the earth (that is, bring it into order with God’s plans) and have dominion (rule and reign over the earth as God’s representative). Now, of course, Adam really messed things up when he rebelled against God, and sunk it for all of us when he unhooked himself (and us in him) from the life of God. But the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore us back to God and the purpose for which He created mankind.

But this is not an automatic process. It requires that we respond in faith to the promise of God. Nor is it an instantaneous process. It requires discipleship — training — just like Jesus trained His disciples. Then He gave them power and authority, and sent them out into all the world to teach the nations everything Jesus had taught them.

We might prefer that it all happened at once, but God’s plan is for us to be in partnership with Him. He did not create us just so He could reign over us, but so we could rule and reign with Him (see the mandate in Genesis 1:26-28). What He desires is relationship, fellowship with us. Toward that end, He trains us up into maturity and faith, not into magical expectations.

God is raising up sons and daughters for Himself through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is not mechanical nor magical, but the process of maturity.

One day everything will be set right in the world when the Lord Jesus returns. Then the kingdom of God will be here in its completeness, and the will of God will be fully done on earth exactly as it is in heaven — just as Jesus taught us to pray.

(And yes, people do buy these books, and find them to be very helpful.)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Framing Your World: Faith-Filled Words

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)
The Greek word for “idle” refers to that which is non-working, inoperative, inactive, ineffective, useless, lazy, barren. An idle word is one that is spoken carelessly and without faith. They are non-productive; they do not bring about any good in your life. In fact, they may be bring about great harm, for we will all have to give account to God about every word we speak, or perhaps especially, the careless ones.

“Oh, but I didn’t really mean what I said.” Perhaps not the first few times, but if you keep saying it, you will eventually start believing it. The apostle Paul said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The first half of that verse sets the general principle, “faith comes by hearing.” That is, if you hear something long enough, you will begin to believe it. That’s why Paul adds the very important qualifier, “and hearing by the Word of God.” Because what you give ear to affects your faith, be sure to give ear to the Word of God, and not lesser things. For the idle words that come from your own mouth might cause you believe what you are carelessly saying.

While idle words have the potential for calamity, faith-filled words based on the character and promises of God are powerful for moving mountains, calming storms, and bringing all creation into line with the kingdom of God.
Have faith in God. 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 11:22-23)
Let your heart be filled to overflowing with the Word of God, and the faith that comes by hearing that Word, then release faith-filled words that release the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven.