Monday, March 30, 2009

Give No Place to Fear

Do not … give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7).
The devil delights in fear and knows how to use it. Take Job, for example. We know that God allowed satan to go after him, but I believe that was because Job himself allowed it. Peter said that satan is like a roaring lion, going to and fro, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). So satan went looking for how he could devour Job. Paul said, “Do not give place to the devil.” He cannot come in on us if we do not give him a place, and if we give him place, he will not pass by an open door but will go right on in. That is why James said, “Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee” (James 4:7). If we resist the devil, he must flee.

So, it was not enough that God allowed satan to pursue Job. He would also have to find Job with his guard down, leaving a place for him to enter in. I think we find that place in Job 3:25, where Job says, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.”

Where did this fear and dread come from? Certainly not from God, for it was not the fear of the Lord, but the fear of circumstances. Job inadvertently opened himself up to the work of the devil by first listening to his whispers, then by meditating on his lies, letting himself be filled with worry and all the things the world fears. Then he probably started speaking out his worries and fears instead of trusting in the goodness of God, which is much greater. Before long, what began as worry turned into great fear and dread; satan soon found that opening and played it for all it was worth.

But what if Job had not been full of fear and dread that these things might happen? What if he had not dwelt on them, letting them become magnified in his heart? The devil would have had no other way to get in, for Job was a righteous and upright man (Job 1:8). But fear left an open door into his life.

The word “fear” has sometimes been defined by the acronym F.E.A.R. — False Evidence Appearing Real. Job worried that these things might one day come upon him. They appeared real to him long before they actually came to pass. Some might say that this was just coincidence, but isn’t it interesting that the very thing Job greatly feared and dreaded was the thing satan actually ended up doing to him?

Now, satan does not usually go for outright terror. That would be too obvious for many Christians and they would not fall for it. But if the devil can’t get terror going, he’ll gladly work on low-level fear, the little worries and anxieties of life. Worry is like a seed, just as faith is like a seed, and when it is planted in the heart, it can spring up quickly into paralyzing fear.

God has not given us the spirit of fear. Neither full-grown fear nor the seedling of worry comes from Him. Rather, God has given us the spirit of power, love and sound mind. This power is actually the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit. This love is the love God has for us, and when we let it fill our hearts, it casts out fear (1 John 4:18). The Greek word for “sound mind” speaks of self-control. It is about the discipline of understanding and living by the truth. That is how we resist the devil and overcome fear: We believe the love God has for us, and the power we have in Him, and we live by it.

The best time to deal with fear is when it first enters in as anxiety. As Barney Fife might say, “Nip it! Nip it in the bud!” Jesus put it this way:
Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)
The world is anxious, seeking after all these things. But for those who know the Lord Jesus, that problem has already been solved. Our job is to seek the rule and reign and God, and His way of doing things. Everything else will be taken care of. No worry, no fear. Just divine power and love, and a sound mind. For God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Do not give the devil a place in your life by letting worry and fear into your heart. Believe the love God has for you and the divine power at work in you, and be at peace. Seek His kingdom, and whatever is needed will be provided.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Table of Splendor and Majesty

The Lord’s works are great,
Studied by all who delight in them.
All that He does is splendid and majestic;
His righteousness endures forever.
He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He has provided food for those who fear Him;
He remembers His covenant forever.
(Psalm 111:2-5 HCSB)
The works of the Lord are great. They are studied — earnestly pursued, carefully sought out, diligently researched — by those who desire and take delight in them. For the works of the Lord reveal something about the character of God, what He is like and what He desires.

Those who take delight in His ways study and mediate on them; they understand that, as Spurgeon said, “What God has done once is a prophecy of what He intends to do again (The Story of God’s Mighty Acts). The works of the Lord are not just a testimony of what once way, but also what is now and what shall be, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8).

Everything God does is grand and glorious, full of splendor and majesty. They demonstrate that everything He does is exactly right, just, proper, true and prosperous. These are wonderful works — that is, distinguished and unique, extra-ordinary, surpassing all others — and He has caused them to be remembered by His people, for they do not speak of what He was but what He is. His grace and compassion are just as much for us today as they were for yesterday, and they will be here for us tomorrow as well.

Out of His grace, God has given food to those who fear Him, because He is always remembering His covenant, and He has caused us to remember, too, so that we may draw on His provision for us. In this, we can see the Table of the Lord.
  • It is a table of sustenance. This is the food and drink God has prepared for those who know, love and fear Him. Jesus is the “bread of life … which comes down from heaven. that one may eat of it and not die” (John 6:48, 50). By faith, we eat His body and drink His blood (John 6:53-58) and it is for us spirit and life (John 6:63).
  • It is a table of remembrance. Here we remember the wonderful works of God on our behalf. As Jesus took the bread, blessed it and gave it to the disciples, He said, “This is My body which is given for You; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
  • It is a table of covenant. Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Jesus, our High Priest, who has offered His own body and blood for our sakes, is now forever seated at the “right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1), that is, the throne of God. He is there as the “Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). If God was faithful to remember His former covenant, how much more will He remember the new and better covenant we have in Jesus Christ, when the one who cut it with His own blood is always seated before Him?
The Table of the Lord is a table of splendor and majesty. It reveals to us the Lord Jesus Christ, brings us again to the reality of what He has done for us, focuses our hearts on the source of all true delight and prophecies the wonderful works God has in store for us today.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Super-Elated with the Things of God

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Here is a verse that is commonly misunderstood on a number of points. It is often thought that, because of the revelations Paul received from the Lord, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” (often erroneously thought to be a sickness of some sort; see Pulling Paul’s Thorn) in order to keep him from becoming proud — lest he be “exalted above measure.”

Let’s take a look at the Greek word for that, hyperairo. It is found twice in this verse.” It is a compound word made up of hyper, which means “over, beyond or more than,” and airo, which means to lift or raise up. Sometimes it is used to speak of exaltation, which might be unseemly when it is applied to a man. But there is also another way this word is used that can have a very positive connotation.
  • Renn’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words says of hyperairo that, in this verse, it means to be exalted “in the sense of being affected by a feeling of supreme elation.”
  • Weymouth’s New Testament translation has it as “lest I should be over-elated.”
  • The English Standard Version has “to keep me from being too elated.”
  • The Revised English Bible says, “to keep me from being unduly elated.”
  • The Revised Standard Version: “to keep me from being too elated.”
For a human being to be exalted brings up negative connotations, and for a man to be exalted “beyond measure” causes people to think that a humbling is in order. That is what many interpreters have done with this verse. They read “exalted beyond measure” and immediately jump to the conclusion that what comes next, the “thorn in the flesh,” was given to Paul to humble him. Never mind that the word “humble” does not even appear in the text, but is simply assumed.

What is more, they often assume that it was God who gave Paul this thorn in order to humble him. Again, never mind that the text does not identify God as the one who gave him this thorn; it is called a “messenger of satan.” Unfortunately, though, the prevailing, and generally unexamined, assumption is that it was God who gave it and that it was for the purpose of humbling Paul, to knock him down a few pegs and keep him from becoming proud.

On the other hand, if hyperairo can just as well be rendered as “elation,” as many versions do, then the story this verse tells is more consistent with what the Bible teaches us about both God and the devil: God wants us to be full of joy; satan wants us to be full of pride. And it makes better sense of what the verse actually does say instead of assuming things it does not say.

“Elation” does not speak of pride or arrogance, but of joy and exhilaration. What did Paul have to be elated about? What could have filled him with such joy and exhilaration? The revelations He received from God. Paul was elated about the things God was showing him, and that is something to be excited about. Indeed, it is something to be super-elated about, as the Greek prefix hyper here implies.

Now think for a moment: Who is pleased when we are excited and filled with joy, super-elated about the things of God? Is it not God? And who is displeased when we are thrilled and overjoyed by the things of God? Is it not satan? So why should we assume that God would want to keep Paul from being excited and overjoyed about the things He was revealing to him?

Doesn’t it make more sense that satan gave Paul this thorn (remember, it is called a “messenger of satan”) to keep him from being thrilled and elated about the what God was showing him. If Paul was super-excited about these divine revelations, it could only mean bad news for satan. He would certainly want to deflate Paul, to knock the wind out of his sails. But if Paul was full of pride and arrogance, that would have played right into the devil’s hand. Satan would not try to prevent it. Quite the opposite, he would have done whatever he could to promote it.

The devil wants you to be full of pride and arrogance. God wants you to be joyful, exhilarated, super-elated with the things of God.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Nations for Your Inheritance

Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession
(Psalm 2:8)
This is the promise of God to Messiah: Ask of Me and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance. But it is a promise made all to His people:
He has declared to His people the power of His works,
In giving them the heritage of the nations.
(Psalm 11:6)
The reference here is to the land of the Canaanite nations that He gave to Israel, but the application is much greater: God is interested in gathering in the nations themselves, in the days of Messiah. This is richly portrayed in the prophet Isaiah:
Now it shall come to pass in that latter days
That the mountain of the LORD’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
(Isaiah 2:2-3)

In that day there shall be a root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles [nations] shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.
(Isaiah 11:9)

Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants —
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant —
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.
(Isaiah 56:6-7)
This is the inheritance of nations promised Messiah, and through Him, for His people. For we are joint-heirs with Him:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ [Messiah], if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)
“Joint-heirs” means that whatever He inherits, we inherit with Him. If He has the nations for His inheritance, then so do we. All those who know the Lord Jesus Christ, whether they be from among the Jews or the Gentiles (nations), partake of this inheritance with Him. Indeed, we are the inheritance, we belong to each other as well as to Him.

Years ago, I was praying in Psalm 2 (my habit is to pray through the Psalms each month) and I was moved by verse 8: “Ask of Me and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance.” Realizing that those who know Jesus are joint-heirs with Him, I desired to know this inheritance in a deeper way. So I went for it. I asked God, “Lord, give me the nations for my inheritance.”

The next thing I knew, I was on the worldwide web with a ministry home page. It has since grown and now we have many blogs and articles on Christian prayer and Biblical faith that are accessible through the world. Over the years, our pages have received many visitors from the nations. Some have emailed us to tell us how our ministry has blessed them. As I have often said, it really is a worldwide web. I consider that God has indeed answered my prayer, and is continually enlarging our inheritance. Thanks be to God.

God has created an inheritance for Jesus Messiah and all who receive Him.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Time for Witty Inventions

I wisdom dwell with prudence and find out knowledge of witty inventions. (Proverbs 8:12)
Prudence is the practical application of wisdom. It leads to “witty inventions.” Young’s Literal Translation renders this as “knowledge of devices.” The English Standard Bible has “discretion.” John Wesley calls it “ingenious contrivances for the glory of God, and for the good of men.” In his Commentary on the Bible, Adam Clarke has this: “The farther wisdom proceeds in man, the more practical knowledge it gains; and finding out the nature and properties of things, and the general course of providence, it can contrive by new combinations to produce new results.” Here is Keil and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament) on this verse:
It denotes well-considered, carefully thought out designs, plans, conclusions, and da’ath [“knowledge”] is here the knowledge that is so potent. This intellectual power is nothing beyond wisdom, it is in her possession on every occasion; she strives after it not in vain, her knowledge is defined according to her wish.
God wants to give you some witty inventions, clever devices, ingenious contrivances and bright ideas. Surely, that would be very helpful for these challenging times. Crisis is really opportunity in disguise — and what a lot of opportunity has been dumped in our laps!

Witty inventions come from prudence; prudence is the practical application of wisdom; wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord — living in awe and honor of God. When we seek Him, He will give us wisdom for the asking (James 1:5), for His desire is for us to succeed and prosper in all things and every situation (Joshua 1:6-8; Psalm 1:1-3; 3 John 2).

In Genesis, Joseph experienced many adversities, but he looked to the Lord and prevailed over them all. When famine was about to come upon the land, Joseph recognized it by Pharaoh’s dream and the wisdom God gave to interpret. Then he received divine wisdom about what to do about it. As a result, Joseph ended up as vice-regent over all of Egypt, and his “witty invention” blessed all the people in the land and brought in much wealth and prosperity for Egypt.

The prophet Daniel was another man who knew how to face adversity with divine wisdom. As a captive in Babylon, when other young men were being fed rich meats, foods and wines from the king’s table, Daniel developed a very healthy diet for him and his three friends, and then devised a clever test to convince his superior of the benefits of this diet. Not only did these four young men turn out to be the healthiest in the bunch, God also gave them great knowledge and skill in literature and wisdom, and they were ten times better than all the king’s magicians and astrologers (Daniel 2). Like Joseph before Pharaoh, God gave Daniel the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, which brought glory to God and promotion to Daniel. He ended up as the chief of the wise men, lived in the gate of the king and became governor over Babylon.

This is a time for the practical application of wisdom in crafting solutions, a time for ingenious contrivances, clever devices and bright ideas. This is a time for Josephs and Daniels to arise, a time for witty inventions. Ask God for divine wisdom, then watch for what He will show you. You might very well end up with something that brings great glory to God, great blessing to others and great promotion and prosperity for yourself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Expect God’s Mighty Acts Today

Reading Bill Johnson’s book, Release the Power of Jesus, I came across a sermon quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I include it here, with a bit more from that sermon, because it is so good about expecting to see the power of God today:
When people hear about what God used to do, one of the things they say is: “Oh, that was a very long while ago.” They imagine that times have altered since then …Things were in a different state then from what they are now.” Granted; but I want to know what the things have to do with it. I thought it was God that did it.

Has God changed? Is He not an immutable God, the same yesterday, today and forever? Does not that furnish an argument to prove that what God has done at one time He can do at another? Nay, I think I may push it a little further, and say what He has done once is a prophecy of what He intends to do again — that the mighty works which have been accomplished in the olden time shall all be repeated, and the Lord's song shall be sung again in Zion, and He shall again be greatly glorified.

Others among you say, “Oh, well I look upon these things as great prodigies — miracles. We are not to expect them every day.” That is the very reason why we do not get them. If we had learned to expect them, we should no doubt obtain them, but we put them up on the shelf, as being out of the common order of our moderate religion, as being mere curiosities of Scripture history. We imagine such things, however true, to be prodigies of providence; we cannot imagine them to be according to the ordinary working of His mighty power. I beseech you, my friends, abjure that idea, put it out of your mind. (The Story of God’s Mighty Acts)
Spurgeon knew the mighty acts of God in his own day. He knew about the power of faith to heal in Jesus’ name and experienced many remarkable healings in his ministry. He also had frequent “words of knowledge” about things he could not have known unless God had revealed them to him. I have compiled many of these in Miracles and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the History of the Church. God is still doing today what He has always done.

What God has done in the past is a prophecy of what He intends to do again. If we learn to expect it, we shall see it. What is your expectation?

Monday, March 9, 2009

We Have a Confession to Make

Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 3:1)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
God has given many wonderful promises and benefits for those who know, love and serve Him, and they are all found in Jesus Christ, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

The Greek word for “confess” is homologeo and means, “to say the same thing” (homo, same; logeo, to speak or say). To confess is to speak in agreement with something. Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. He is the one we confess, speak in agreement with and about. To confess Him is to declare our faith in Him.
  • We confess that Jesus Christ is Apostle. The word “apostle” refers to one who is sent. By confessing Jesus Christ as Apostle, we agree that He is the one who is sent by God. He represents the Father before us. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” He said (John 14:9). All other apostles are apostles of Jesus Christ, sent by Him, but Jesus Christ is the Apostle of the Father, the One sent by God.
  • We confess that Jesus Christ is our High Priest. The role of the High Priest is to represent God to the people and the people to God. Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to do that because He is fully divine and fully human, Son of God and Son of Man.
As High Priest, Jesus Christ has made complete atonement for us, taking our sins upon Himself and nailing them to the Cross. He has cleansed us from all guilt and shame. As High Priest, He is the mediator of a “better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6), a covenant cut in His own blood (Luke 22:20). As wonderful as the promises of the Old Covenant were, this covenant is even better, adding to those promises.

When we confess Jesus Christ as Apostle and High Priest, we are agreeing that He is the one sent by the Father to us. In confessing Him, we also confess the covenant He has mediated for us, for He completely fulfills all the requirements of both the old and new covenants. He has done all that is necessary; our part is to commit ourselves to Him by faith.

With that in mind, I have written two confessions based on two passages from the old covenant. I chose these because they are wide-ranging and form a good foundation for laying hold of what God wants to do for us in this life. I believe they will be an encouragement to you, especially in these difficult times. Do you confess Jesus as your Lord? Are you trusting Him with your life? Then these confessions are for you, too.

Be bold when you make these confessions. Years ago, I began making confessions like these, based on similar Scriptures. I was in a very difficult time in my life and I knew I needed a strong, bold faith in God if I was going to get the turnaround I needed. So I printed out a number of Scripture promises, cast them in the first person, in the form of personal confessions, and began speaking them out. I did not just read them silently to myself — I knew I had to get these down deep into my heart. So I read them out loud. It was awkward at first, but I kept at it. I paced back and forth in the hallway of my house, reading and repeating these promises and confessions out loud, over and over. Before long, I began to speak them out louder and louder. I got to where I was shouting them out regularly.

What was I doing? Letting them fill my eyes, my mind, my mouth and my ears, and before long they began to fill my heart. You might say I was defibrillating, shocking my heart back into the rhythms of faith with the Word of God, recalibrating my thoughts and emotions with the promises of God, realigning my will with the heart of God. After about a month, I began to see breakthrough. My life has been different and I have walked in a deeper level of faith, and joy, ever since.

It seems to me that now is a good time to pick up these “defibrillating” paddles once again and reinvigorate our faith with the promises of God. I invite you to join me in these confessions:
All the blessings of God come upon us and overtake us, because we obey the voice of the LORD our God. We are blessed everywhere we go, in the city and in the country. We are blessed with increase in every area of our life — at home, in business, in ministry. We are blessed in all our comings and goings — when we go out, we go out in safety; when we come home, we come home in safety. The LORD causes all our enemies to be defeated — they scatter from before us in every direction. The LORD commands His blessing on us in our storehouses, and in all we set our hand to. The LORD establishes us as holy unto Himself, to fulfill His plans and purposes for our lives — He leads us into our destiny. The LORD gives us plenty of goods and abundance of prosperity. The LORD opens His treasury to bless all the work of our hands. We shall lend to many and shall never have to borrow. (from Deuteronomy 28:1-14)

We are blessed by the LORD, because we delight in His commandments. Our descendants will be mighty on the earth. Wealth and riches are in our house. Light arises for us in the darkness. We are gracious, full of compassion and righteous. We deal graciously and lend, and we guide our affairs with discretion. We will never be shaken. We will be in everlasting remembrance. We will not be afraid of evil tidings. Our hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. We are established in heart, and we will not be afraid. We shall look in triumph on our foes. We are generous and share our gifts abroad. We remember to give to the poor. Our righteousness (the righteousness of Christ now at work in us) endures forever, and we will be exalted with honor. (from Psalm 112)
Jesus is our High Priest, and in Him, we have many wonderful promises to confess.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Kingdom of Heaven is Now on Earth

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

by Jeff Doles

JESUS began His ministry proclaiming, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” In other words — it is now here! Everywhere He went, He preached it, taught it and demonstrated it by signs and wonders, healing the sick and setting the spiritual captives free. He brought heaven to earth and taught His disciples how to do it, too.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is a study of the nature and dynamics of the kingdom of Heaven on Earth, and how to live and operate effectively in its dominion. It is a motivational commentary on select passages in the Gospel of Matthew, to stir up your passion for the reality of God’s kingdom now at work in the world. In this book, you will learn about:
  • The Kingdom of the Heart
  • The Kingdom of Authentic Living
  • The Treasure of Heaven on Earth
  • Discerning Heaven on Earth
  • The Authority of Heaven on Earth
  • Parables of Heaven on Earth
  • The Glory of Heaven on Earth
  • The Incomparable Value of Heaven on Earth
  • The Controversy of Heaven on Earth
  • Heaven on Earth and the End of the Age
  • The Victorious Kingdom
"The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth by Jeff Doles is an excellent and insightful presentation of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. With his usual thorough and thoughtful style, Jeff shares the passionate heart of Jesus to bring the blessings of Heaven to the earth. This book is a tremendous guide for personal or group Bible study. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand the essence of the Christian life from the transformational teachings of Jesus, the King of Kings, who will rule over the Kingdom of Heaven on the Earth."
— Ben R Peters, President of Open Heart Ministries.
international conference speaker and author

Thursday, March 5, 2009

If I Am Not Filled with Wonder

If I am not filled with wonder, am I really positioned to say He is wonderful? If I am not filled with power, am I really positioned to say He is powerful? Where I have set the eyes of my heart will determine the reality that I release around me.

Heaven is filled with perfect trust in God, and the earth is filled with mistrust. We will always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of.

What Will You Call It?

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)
Here’s an amazing thing: God created man in His own image — to be like Him — and gave him dominion over all the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). He formed Adam from the dust, then puffed the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a “living being” (Genesis 2:7). The Hebrew is nephesh chayah. The Targum Onkelos, an ancient Jewish commentary, says that man became a “speaking spirit.” Just as God had the ability to speak — and by it called the heavens and earth into existence — man, created in the likeness of God, had the same ability to use word.

We see this in the first thing God had Adam do: He brought the animals to him to see what Adam would call them. Notice, God did not tell Adam what to call them. He simply observed what Adam named them — that is, how Adam exercised his dominion and the power of his words, and whatever Adam called each animal, that was its name. The decision was Adam’s. God did not change it in any way, for He had given dominion of the planet over to Adam.

This often forgotten little episode is quite significant today because the names you give things determine how you see and relate to them, and what they will be in your life. Your words have a creative ability. This is a vitally important truth to remember as you consider the current economic climate and the challenges it presents: Whatever you call it, that will be its name!

What will you call this present situation you find yourself in? Because you will name it something. Will you name it out of fear, or out of faith? Because it will be one way or the other.

Remember what Job went through. We know that satan wanted to have a go at him, and God allowed it to happen (see Job 1-2). But what a lot of people do not see is that Job himself was also a participant in what happened to him. He left an opening for satan to exploit. It was not a matter of sin, as Job’s three friends had wrongfully supposed, for God had already declared that Job was “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). No, this was about something Job spoke out of his own mouth. When satan’s calamities began to come upon him, Job revealed what had been going on in his heart: “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25).

Great fear and dread had gripped Job long before his physical situation started to fall apart. It filled his heart in abundance, for it was not just a little anxiety and worry he possessed but great fear and dread. Because it was in his heart in abundance, it is very likely that he often spoke it out, calling it with his words. And whatever he called it, that was its name, and was exactly what happened to him. In the end, we see that Job had to “repent in dust and ashes” for wrongfully accusing God for his troubles (John 42:1-6).

Or remember what happened with the twelve men Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give to Israel. Ten came back with a sorry and fearful report. They recognized that it was indeed a marvelous land, flowing with “milk and honey,” but then they called forth their fear: “Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large … 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).

However, the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb gave a very different assessment.
Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. (Numbers 13:30)
The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 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 14:7-9)
The ten and the two each called the situation by very different names:
  • The ten said, “We saw the giants.” The two said, “They are our bread.”
  • The ten said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” The two said, “We are well able to overcome.”
  • The ten said, “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” The two said, “The LORD is with us … He will bring us into this land and give it to us.”
Whatever each called it, that was its name and how it operated in their lives. The ten never went up against the “giants,” never possessed the Promised Land, but died in the wilderness. On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb eventually went in, overcame and possessed the land, for God was with them and gave it to them.

Some people say, “Well, I call it like I see it.” Okay, then maybe you need to change the way you see it. The ten spies saw themselves as grasshoppers and then assumed that that was how the Canaanites saw them. Joshua and Caleb saw something different. They saw that God was with them and that He had given them a promise. The ten spies spoke out of their fear. Joshua and Caleb spoke out of faith in God and what He said — and that made all the difference, for whatever they called it, that was its name.

God has given promises to those who know, love and serve Him. Here are a few that are pertinent to the current economic situation:
  • God has given us the ability to create wealth, because He is establishing His covenant in the earth (Deuteronomy 8:18).
  • God commands the blessing on us in our storehouses and in all to which we set our hands (Deuteronomy 28:8).
  • God enables us to prosper in whatever we do (Psalm 1:3).
  • God does not hold back any good thing from those who do what is right (Psalm 84:11).
  • Wealth and riches will be in our houses (Psalm 112:3).
  • The blessing of the Lord makes us rich, and there is no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22).
  • God makes His grace abound to us so that we, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians (9:8). Paul made this statement in a financial context.
  • God supplies all our needs according to glorious riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19). In other words, it is not about our own resources but His.
  • God’s desire is for us to prosper in all things and be in health, even as our souls prosper (3 John 2).
Don’t over-spiritualize these promises to the exclusion of material prosperity, for true and lasting material prosperity is based upon the reality of spiritual prosperity. God wants you to prosper in all things (finances are not excluded) according to the prosperity of your inner being.

What will you call your financial circumstance at this time? Will you name it out of fear or out of faith? Will you look at it in the panicky way the world sees it, or will you let the promises of God change the way you see it, and therefore, what you will call it? For whatever you call it, that will be its name in your life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

In the LORD I put my trust (Psalm 11:1)
David is cool in the face of turmoil. While those around him are in a panic, David asserts his faith:

In the LORD I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain?
For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”
(Psalm 11:1-3)
It is a wonder to him that anyone would even think of speaking to him this way. Why? Doesn’t he know what is happening all around him? Is he unaware of all those out to get him, the wicked who want to do violence to him? Yes, he understands that, but he also knows something more important and far greater than that:
The LORD is in His holy temple,
The LORD’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.
The LORD tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
(Psalm 11:4-5)
The fearful ones around him think that the foundations of the righteous have been destroyed. But David understands that this is impossible because the Lord is in His temple, and His throne is in heaven. The Lord still rules and reigns; His throne has not been shifted by calamity. Or as my wife likes to remind the worriers, “My God hasn’t gone anywhere.”

God has not been shaken, and He is the foundation of the righteous. The events of earth have not taken Him by surprise. He is well aware of what is going on, and He knows exactly what the wicked are up to, but it does not find Him wringing His hands.

This is David’s confidence and the reason he refuses to be full of anxiety and dread.

Many today are in a panic about the state of national and world economies. Even a lot of Christians are running scared. And that is exactly where the enemy wants you — full of worry and fear, thinking that your foundation has been, or is about to be, destroyed. But if you know the Lord Jesus, if your trust is in Him, your foundation can never be destroyed but will stand forever.

God is in His temple and His throne remains in heaven where it has always been. Jesus our King is seated there at His right hand, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). And that is where everyone who puts their trust in Him is as well, for God has “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18) and He is with us always, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He will take care of us, now and forever.

Let not your heart be troubled. If your trust is in the Lord, your foundation is secure.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How to Prosper in Everything

He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
That bears its fruit in season
And whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
(Psalm 1:3 HCSB)
True prosperity is not a function of the economy. It does not come from Wall Street. It cannot be guaranteed by the president or Congress. Therefore, it cannot be taken away by Wall Street, by the president or Congress. It does not arise because of an “up” economy, so it cannot be lost because of a “down” one.

True prosperity comes from God.

It does not come by following the advice of the world, acting the way the world acts, thinking what the world thinks (v. 1). It comes by a radically different path, rooted in a completely different source. It comes by delighting in the instruction of the Lord, the “law” of the Lord. The Hebrew word for “law” is torah and means instruction. God wants to instruct you, to teach you how to prosper.

If you will delight in His ways and let His instruction saturate your heart, fill your thought and direct your path, you will be like the man in Psalm 1:3.
  • You will be like trees planted beside streams of water. This is stability, even in a drought season, because the streams of God do not dry up.
  • You will bear fruit in season. When the season for bearing fruit comes around, you will not miss it. You will not cast off your fruit early, in the unripe stage, nor will it come too late to be any good. It will come in its proper time.
  • You will not wither away. Your supply will not dry up. God is your source and will keep you fresh and green to keep on bearing fruit in His courts (Psalm 92:12-15).
  • Whatever you do will prosper. When you follow the direction of the Lord, your efforts will not be in vain but will produce good things.
Whatever you do will prosper. God makes a similar promise in Deuteronomy 28:8, “The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand.” This, of course, assumes that you are setting your hand to something. Some people focus on their circumstances and let that keep them from doing anything. But if you are not putting your hand to something, there is nothing there for the Lord to command the blessing on. When you sow seed, He can multiply it for the harvest, but when you sow nothing, there is nothing to multiply.

Now, notice that God says, “Whatever he does shall prosper.” It would be wrong to make this just about finances — it is about so much more than that. It is about everything in your life. By the same token, although it might sound very pious and spiritual, it is just as wrong to think that financial prosperity is somehow excluded from the promise of God — whatever includes everything!

This is not just an Old Testament promise, as some have supposed, as if God does not want to do the same thing for us under the New Testament. The apostle John demonstrates the will of God for us when He says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). The blessing of God on those who love Him is for every area of life today, just as it has always been.

Do not focus on the circumstances, the drought, the famine, the “down” economy. These do not determine the prosperity of your soul or even of your finances. But love the Lord with all your heart, delight in His ways and look to Him for instruction and direction in your life. Focus on Him as your source and supply, and whatever you do will prosper.