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Being Thankful – Part 1

In order to truly be thankful there are three things we must be seeking according to I Chronicles 16:11.
I Chronicles 16:11 – “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”
We must first be seeking the Lord for salvation. Without salvation there is just not much to be thankful for in this life.
Secondly, we must be seeking His strength to make it through trials and temptations. If we try to go through life on our own strength we will become weary and fail.
Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
When you are tired you might find it hard to find much to be thankful for, but the Lord will provide you with the rest you need to make it through. Elijah was taught this very lesson in I Kings 19.
Thirdly, we must be continually seeking fellowship with Him and remain in close contact. When out of fellowship with the Lord our life becom…

A Turkey for the Church

The Butterball Turkey Company has a telephone hotline to answer consumer questions about preparing holiday turkeys. One year a woman called to inquire about cooking a turkey that had been in the bottom of her freezer for twenty-three years. That’s right the turkey could be in college now. The Butterball representative told her the turkey would probably be safe to eat if the freezer had been kept below zero for the entire twenty-three years. But the Butterball representative warned her that even if the turkey was safe to eat, the flavor would probably have deteriorated to such a degree that she would not recommend eating it. The caller replied, “That’s what I thought. We’ll give the turkey to our church.”
So many times we are reluctant to truly give our best to the Lord. Yet, we have no trouble giving that which we want to get rid of in the first place, and then we wonder why we are not blessed because of it. God wants your firstfruits not your rotten tomatoes.

You’ll Never Be the Same

Jacob is an interesting character in the Scriptures. One of the more interesting accounts in his life, however, happens in Genesis 32 where he wrestles with an angel. There are all kinds of ideas and theories as to who this angel was, but to cut to the chase I believe the angel was God Himself. Jacob referred to this account later and called the angel somebody who redeemed him and no mere angel can do that. Then Hosea refers to this account and makes the statement that He, referring to God, spoke with us through Jacob on this night he wrestled with the angel.
My point to this whole thing is not to get into a debate but to point out one simple fact. When a person truly meets with God they will never be the same. After this account with God, Jacob’s name, which means deceiver, was changed to Israel, which means a Prince with God. He also was never able to walk normally after that since the Angel, God, touched his side and Jacob halted on it from then on.
So many today make the statement…

Faith in What?

The real question in life is not if you have faith but what do you have faith in? Everybody lives a life of faith in something. Maybe you have faith in your job to pay you regularly, faith that your car will start every morning and get you to work, faith that your doctor can heal you if you get sick, and faith that your loved ones would never hurt you.
The problem is that faith in all these things will fail at some point. Yet faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is a faith worth having. Placing your faith in Him will become a stronghold for He will never leave us nor forsake us. Since He is the same yesterday, today and forever we don’t have to worry about a faith that changes with circumstances or culture. Faith in God can be an unwavering faith that provides us a solid rock upon which to stand in the struggles of life. Faith in everything else changes with the seasons and circumstances, and leaves us cold and alone in the storm struggling to survive.
Real faith not only says…

An Attitude of Gratitude

In Numbers 21 we find the Lord sending fiery serpents into the Israelite camp to punish them for their sins. The Israelite people were committing the sins of murmuring and tempting the Lord their God.
I Corinthians 10:9-10 – “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”
Israel was murmuring and tempting their God because they did not realize the blessings of that were already upon them and they felt they deserved more. They were not grateful to the God who had delivered them and who was protecting them in the wilderness.
It has been said, “The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing.” When you expect more than you deserve that is when you will be ungrateful for what has already been given to you.
The Israelites were going to find out the hard way, through the fiery serpent punishment, that God had been supplying protection and provision for…

Where are Your Priorities?

For the Christian, God must come first before all things. When we put God first He will be faithful. When we put His work ahead of our desires He will bless and provide.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When we put ourselves first then our priorities are out of order and God cannot bless us as He desires. If we simply seek God first He will supply all our needs. If our priorities are straight and not just toward self, but toward the Kingdom of God, then we will have no trouble walking through the deserts of life because God will be by our side.
Elijah challenged a widow woman with this very thing in I Kings 17. The country was experiencing a famine, and this widow was gathering sticks to make her last meal. After this meal she thought she and her boy were going to die. Elijah asked her to bring him water and bring some bread to him first. He also said that if she did this she would not lack for b…

Loving Others

Do you ever have trouble loving others? I do! As a matter of fact I would be kind of ashamed to admit how many times I struggle with getting along with others. Yet, I believe, many struggle in this area. I think because when people come to me seeking help, it is often seeking help on how to deal with somebody else. I really never see people in my office for counseling because they are having car trouble or financial trouble. Those things might come up but the real reason they are there is because they are having people trouble. They might ask me to tell their wife to drive the car right so that they don’t have car trouble, and they might ask me to help them control their husband’s spending so they don’t have financial trouble, but it always boils down to people problems.
Let’s face it. It is easier to love ourselves than it is to love anybody else.
Ephesians 5:29 – “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”
It is easy to lo…

God Will Provide Through Faith

Throughout the Word of God we see that the Lord makes provision for us even in our desert and wilderness times and seasons. God’s provision for His children runs through every aspect of Scripture. Elijah was fed by ravens, Daniel was protected from lions, Hebrew children were spared from the fire, and disciples were taught to pray for daily provision. Faith, however, is the key to seeing all of this provision of God in Scriptures.
Without faith in Him and His ability to provide for us makes the provision null and void. The Israelites failed to see the provision of God while wandering in the wilderness simply based upon their lack of faith.
Psalms 78:17-24 – “And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give brea…

Making Excuses Comes Easy

For many of us, making excuses not to do what the Lord wants in our life comes easy. Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time, had no trouble coming up with excuses when God first called him to be a leader. At the burning bush Moses basically came up with five excuses that all of us have used from time to time and God answered every single one.
What it comes down to is that when God calls He empowers so that there are no legitimate excuses to be made.
First, Moses came up with the excuse that “I have no ability” in Exodus 3:11. God answers this excuse in our lives in Philippians 4:13.
Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Second, Moses came up with the excuse that “I have no message” in Exodus 3:13. God answers this excuse for us in I Corinthians 15:3-4.
I Corinthians 15:3-4 – “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he …

God’s Word Delivers From Temptation

When Christ was driven of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast for 40 days, He was tempted by the Devil at the end of this fast. The Devil came to Christ to test Him when He was weak physically. Christ, though weak physically, shows that in the Spirit He was strong and He defeated the Devil, not just because He was God, but because He used the Word of God to defeat him. He did this on purpose to show us the power of God’s Word.
This same weapon is available to all of us today. The Word of God is the sword that Christ used to defeat our foe called Satan.
Ephesians 6:12-17 – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteo…

Doing Something Great For the Lord

Often people dream of doing something great or grandiose for the Lord. Yet we then do nothing at all because we feel we don’t have the strength, ability, or smarts to do anything worthwhile. We use the excuse that we would do something if we were just a little more talented or gifted. The fact of the matter is that every single one of us can do something great for the Lord simply by being willing to be used by Him.
You see each of us were born into this world for a specific task that God wants us to accomplish. None of us are accidents. We were not born only to hear God say, “Oops”! He has a distinct purpose for us to fulfill in the kingdom of God and we can be used greatly if we just let Him take control. We simply have to yield to His power and not our own.
Acts 1:8 – “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Doing the simple…

Where is the Profit?

Have you ever felt that no matter what you do or how hard you work you never seem to get ahead? It becomes frustrating when our efforts are poured into something and we don’t seem to see the profit in it. Often that frustration comes from expecting immediate results and not waiting for the proper sowing and harvest time.
When a farmer sows his seed it would be insane for him to think he can harvest the crop the next day. If he tried to plant a crop in an area that is not suitable to the plant he is trying to cultivate that would be foolhardy. If he did expect this he would become very frustrated with being a farmer.
In all labor and efforts the reward does not always come immediately or through our own strength. Often it takes much time to finally see results happening. We also need to make sure we are working in the proper way and in the area that God wants us. What we need to realize is that God blesses effort and work, and views it as being very profitable if we are under His will an…

The Word of God is Magnified

The Word of God is precious and we should regard it with the same respect and honor that the Lord Himself regards it.
For instance, I believe we would all agree that the Name of the Lord is great, and that the Bible itself regards the very name of Jesus as wonderful.
Philippians 2:9-11 – “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Yet we see in the same Bible that God regards His Word as even greater than the name of Jesus! He has magnified His Word above all of His name.
Psalm 138:2 – “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
So how can we so flippantly regard the Word of God when He has exulted it to such a degree…

Dreaming Big Dreams

We all have big dreams for our lives and things we wish to see accomplished. Often, however, our visions and dreams seem to be crushed under life events we have no control over. We are not where we want to be, and we are not doing what we wish we were doing. What in the world do we do in these situations? Simply keep trusting God to work all things together for good.
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Joseph was a boy who was a dreamer and God gave him great visions on how his life was going to turn out when he became a man. He was going to be a ruler that everybody looked up to. However, his path to leadership was a rough road. He went through many years of difficulty before the dreams of his life became a reality.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brethren after they decided they best not kill him. Then Joseph was cast into prison because of the lies somebody else told about h…

Why Are My Prayers Not Answered? – Part VI

A great hindrance to prayer, and often why our prayers go unanswered, is a lack of patience. Impatience with God and His timing will cause us to sorrow and despair. Hebrews says the following.
Hebrews 11:6b – “…and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
The reward and power that you could have received in prayer may be lost due to a lack of patience and diligence in your life.
Abraham prevailed because he did not stagger at the promise of God. He willingly waited for God to work things through in his life.
Elijah prevailed because he continued to pray for rain even when there was no sign of rain. He told his servant to go seven times to look for rain until there was finally rain.
Jesus clearly was teaching us to be patient in prayer and to have the attitude of perseverance in one of the parables He gave. In Luke 18:1-8 a widow prevailed with an unjust judge because she had patience and never stopped asking until she received her request. Verse 7 and 8 says God will an…

Why Are My Prayers Not Answered? – Part V

In asking the question about why our prayers are not answered we must discus the topic of unbelief. Unbelief is a major hindrance to our prayer life. If you do not believe in the first place that God can hear you, or that He may not be able to even answer your prayer, your prayer was dead before it even began. This is because God requires faith when we approach Him.
Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Unbelief is one of the most dangerous sins that a Christian can fall into. The reason for this is because unbelief will destroy, not only your prayer life, but your whole Christian life. You will be a weak and spiritually dead Christian if you are filled with unbelief in what God has said and proclaimed.
God does not listen to prayers that have the attitude of, “God, if you are there…” or “God, if you can do anything about this…” He is a rewarder of…

Why Are My Prayers Not Answered? – Part IV

Selfishness is another great hindrance to a powerful prayer life. If you are going through a season where you feel your prayers are bouncing off the walls; then maybe you need to look at what you are praying for and why you are truly praying for it.
James 4:3 – “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
Your prayers will be worthless if they are for your own lusts and profit. We ask amiss when we ask anything for the honor and exaltation of ourselves. When we just want God to make us great or worthy, then we are just being selfish, not seeking the will or honor of God. God will not give His glory and honor to another.
Isaiah 42:8 – “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
Our prayers should be focused on what God wants and what will bring Him honor and glory rather than our own. It will help you in your prayer life to make your prayers more about others rather than about y…

Why Are My Prayers Not Answered? – Part III

We have seen that our prayers can be hindered by unconfessed sin and unforgiveness in our hearts. This week I would like you to see that our prayers can also be hindered by disregard for God’s Word.
If we have no concern for God’s Word that He has lovingly given to us how can we expect Him to listen to us.
Proverbs 28:9 – “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”
Here God has given us the Bible so that we might be able to read it and abide by it to keep ourselves from harm. Yet many times we look at it and disregard its teachings wanting to live life our own way. Then when we get in a pickle and mess of our own making we expect God to bail us out of our blatant sin.
According to the verse above such an attitude and action is an abomination to the Lord. It is not just that your prayer will not be heard or not answered, but the very words of such a prayer will be an abomination. That is very strong language. Whenever the word abomination is…

Why are my Prayers not Answered? - Part II

As we continue to look at this subject of unanswered prayers we will also see that our prayers can be hindered by a spirit of unforgiveness in our hearts. Just like we saw how unconfessed sin can drive a wedge between us and our Saviour, so can an attitude of unforgiveness.
Mark 11:25 – “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
When you are praying and an issue comes up in your mind about another brother or sister that you just cannot forgive, you need to stop in your tracts and get that right with your fellow brethren. God has forgiven us so much in our own personal life that He simply cannot allow us to harbor bitter feelings and a spirit of unforgiveness in our heart toward fellow Christians. God has forgiven us of everything so if we harbor harsh attitudes toward people God has already completely forgiven of everything, we are only hurting ourselves. Bitterness is a solution that wil…

Why are my Prayers not Answered? - Part I

Prayer is very powerful when a human heart is yielded to the all-powerful God of this universe. Many times, however, we can feel that our prayers are not being heard or answered. We end up going through a “dry spell” spiritually in our relationship with the Lord and wonder “why?”
The truth is that the prayers we pray are always heard and answered. They may not be answered in the way we thought they should have been, but they have been answered and heard. If go through times we feel this is not the case it is probably due to some hindrances in our own personal lives.
One hindrance I would like to look at today is the hindrance of unconfessed sin in our lives. If we are going through a spell where our prayers feel like they are bouncing off a brick wall we need to look at ourselves internally, and see if there is some unconfessed sin we have been unwilling to give up.
Psalm 66:18 – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”
The term regard in that verse is talking abou…

How to Climb out of Despair

As Christians we can get to a place in life where we feel things have not worked out as they should have. We feel despair either because of disappointments, regrets or actions taken against us. Sometimes these events in life are due to our own making, but then there are “uncontrollable” events that take us by surprise. In these events we can become bitter wondering why God would allow such things to happen to us.
In times like these we often get in a funk and start to despair in life. For a Christian there is an emergency ladder we can use to pull us out of this pit we have cast ourselves into. If we ask ourselves four questions, and answer them HONESTLY,it will cause us to come up out of the pit one step at a time. The key is to answer these questions honestly, however.
1.Ask Yourself Does God Still Love Me?
When you get bad news from the doctor do you know that God still loves you? God’s love does not waver for His children. I can do nothing that will cause God to love me anymore or a…

Is Jesus God? – Part IV - The Attributes of Jesus

As we have been looking at different things to help us see the divinity of Jesus Christ I would like to share one last thing. I believe that when you look at the attributes (inherent characteristics) of Jesus you will find that He possessed attributes that no mere human could possess. These attributes of His were divine and show us that Jesus could be no one else but God Himself.
First, we see that Jesus was Omnipotent or All Powerful.
Matthew 28:18 – “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
Second, we are shown that Jesus possessed Omniscience or was All Knowing.
John 16:30 – “Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.”
Third, the Scriptures declare that Jesus is Omnipresent or present in all places at all times.
Matthew 28:20b – “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Forth, we know that Jesus possesses…

Is Jesus God – Part III - The Worship of Jesus

We have seen how Jesus is proven to be God through His names and His works. Now we are going to see how He is shown to be God through the worship He received.
The Bible clearly tells us that we are to worship only God.
Luke 4:8 – “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
We can see through the Gospels, however, that many people worshiped Jesus, and He never stopped them from doing so.
At His birth, wise men came and worshiped Jesus.
Matthew 2:2 – “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
His disciples worshiped Him.
Matthew 14:33 – “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
A man healed from blindness by Him worshiped Him.
John 9:38 – “And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”
Then we see God the Father Himself commanding all the …

Is Jesus God? – Part II - The Works of Jesus

Last week we saw that Jesus is God very simply based on His names. This week we are going to see that the deity of Jesus Christ can also be shown through His works. Jesus Christ performed works that only God can do.
First, in John 1:1-3, 14 Jesus is the subject of the context and we see that He creates.
John 1:1-3, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Second, in Hebrews where the Son of God, that being Jesus, is the subject we are clued into the fact that He preserves all things.
Hebrews 1:3 – “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on…

Is Jesus God? – Part I - The Names of Jesus

When you look at the Scriptures you cannot help but come to the conclusion that Jesus is God Himself, the second person in the Trinity. One way to prove that is see how the deity of Jesus is shown through His names in Scripture. First, Jesus is outright called God in the Scriptures. Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” John 20:28 – “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
Secondly, Jesus claims to be the Jehovah of the Old Testament. You see this claim when you compare some passages of Scripture in the Old Testament to the New Testament and what Jesus said.
When you compare John 8:58 and what Jesus said about Himself to Exodus 3:14 it comes out very clearly.
John 8:58 – “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
Exodus 3:14 – “And God said un…

Work is not a Curse

Contrary to popular opinion work is not a four letter word nor is it a curse. Work is something that is blessed by God and sanctioned by Him. Work is something God instituted even before sin entered into the world.
Genesis 2:15 – “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
Work is not man’s curse for sin because God had man doing work before the curse. Work became increasingly harder because God cursed the ground but not the work.
Genesis 3:17-19 – “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and u…

A Painful Prison

I would dare say there are many times in our life we don’t appreciate or like what God is doing. We had grandiose plans and God messed them up by bringing something into our life we did not expect nor want. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in these unexpected circumstances God has allowed into our lives that we become bitter and lose faith. We end up placing ourselves in a painful prison of our own making, and literally make the situation we are in worse. There will be many times hurtful things pop into our lives that we have no understanding of, and fail to see how any possible good could come from them. I think of Job and his trials, Joseph and the prison he endured, David fleeing for his life from Saul, as well as Daniel and his captivity even though he was a righteous man. This list could go on and on. In these times I simply have to acknowledge that God has a greater vision than I do, has greater wisdom than I do, and has a greater purpose than I do. Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thought…

Relationship is the Answer

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are in a relationship and not a religion. Religion, with all of its rituals and traditions, is completely empty and useless. It might make you feel like you are accomplishing something or make you feel spiritual from time to time, but it leaves you completely void in the end.
The reason people tend to fall to religion faster than a relationship is because religion is easier. A relationship with the Lord takes a 24/7 effort. Religion only requires you to perform a few tasks from time to time and then you are good. Yet developing a relationship is what will grow us spiritually making us more mature in Christ.
In the Garden of Eden God wanted a relationship with Adam and not a religion. Adam made a religion by trying to cover himself with fig leaves, but God pursued a relationship.
We must see that a relationship requires responsibility and submission, however. Everybody pursues and wants the love and feelings of relationships. What we often fall …