Monday, December 31, 2018

December 31 Thought for the day....seeing the most difficult situations healed

Do you believe God still heals today? It is always difficult when people are suffering to watch them go through it. James challenges us that there is a time when we are supposed to call for the leaders of the church to believe for God to heal.

Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. James 5:14,15

James is writing, if someone is "sick" meaning frail, extremely sickly, feeble, so much so that they are unable to make it to the fellowship, homebound, they can "call" request, ask, invite, certain people to come to them and pray.

Jesus commanded all of us, if we are filled with the Spirit, to lay hands on the sick and they will recover. However, James is talking about a different circumstance here.

There is an authority that comes with ordination. The word James uses, interpreted, "elders," means those in authority, the ones that are ordained, and chosen for leadership. This word is used over sixty times in the New Testament and each time means those who are leadership, officially recognized in the church.

When these leaders come to those who are frail, feeble, extremely sick, they are to "petition with great passion," specifically asking God to perform the needed miracle. They are to do this by anointing with oil. The type of oil normally was a simple olive oil. However, the emphasis is not on the oil itself. The oil has no power it is merely a symbol of the Holy Spirit's presence to heal. When the oil is applied the leadership and the ill are to believe the Presence of God is coming upon the person to heal!

As faith is applied to this prayer, there is an expectation of God's power pouring out over the person. The "name" of the Lord is an important part of faith. The name represents the authority of Christ. As the elders are anointing and praying in that authority of Christ, we are standing in the position of Jesus as his representative. This is powerful but the prayer offered in faith is absolutely necessary, or there will be disappointing results.

Despite all of this, James is making it clear it is the Lord who does the healing! God is always the healer, no human possesses the ability to heal. We possess the faith to believe for it, but all healing is performed by God. However, we must respond the way God designed in order for the healing to take place.

James is giving us hope here. Those who have extremely difficult illnesses will be healed as the prayer is offered by the leadership, anointing representing the presence of the Holy Spirit, calling on the name of the Lord, to heal. There is no time limit here, it is simply God will act according to His will and purpose as we cry out to Him.

In the church, pray for the colds, backaches, toenail fungus, it does not take the special authority to believe for these and other type things. However, if someone is gravely ill, this requires for the authority of the leadership to come and pray. So as a part of the church function in the power of the Holy Spirit to allow the Lord to heal through you, but difficult circumstances require the authority and anointing of leadership. As the church, we need to believe God still heals and wants to heal, and He makes the impossible possible!

Let's begin to believe for the impossible!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Fasting....if you want


Just what everybody wants to hear….a great groan goes up from the congregation greater than the sounds made when the Steeler’s playoff options go down the drain.

What it is
What it isn’t
Why we do it?
Benefits of it.
How do we fast?

What it is

Dictionary definition - abstinence from food, or a limiting of one's food,. When voluntary and as a religious observance; fasting.

Bible definition – to cover the mouth, to abstain from food, to voluntarily, religiously abstain from anything.

The idea is to set aside time from the normalcy of life to seek the Lord. It is not about lack of food, but about choosing to abstain from food or whatever to seek the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:12, 13

12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,

What it isn’t

It isn’t a diet plan
It isn’t  some kind of torture to try and please God.
It isn’t religious it is about a relationship.

Why do we do it?

To be obedient
Jesus told us too – Matthew 6:16 -18  Matthew 6 Jesus taught us to give, to pray, to forgiveness and then in verses 16 – 18 instructed his disciples what to do when they fast.
It is just part of our Christian ministry
2 Corinthians 6: 4,5

4But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings6by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,

 What happens when we fast?

Physically – We purify our bodies. Every American has so many pounds of meat packed into their colon at any time. We break addictions to food, caffeine, and sugar.
- Our minds become clearer because the pollutants we eat are out of our systems.
- Get more rest

According to Dr. Don Colbert physician to Bill Bright, John Hagee, Joyce Myer, Beth Moore, Benny Hinn and several others. During fasting, the first thing our bodies devour is cells out of order like cancer cells, then fat.

Fasting brings the flesh under control
-       In our culture, nearly everything involves eating…if you don’t believe me count how many commercials for food there are during any hour of television programming
-       Most Americans are overweight or obese the Centers for disease control estimates that 67% of Americans fall into one of these categories. The result high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease.
-       Hunger reminds us to keep our eyes on Jesus and off of our situation

Spiritually (brief list)
-       Sexual addictions can be broken – Judges 19, 20 tells the story of a man whose wife was raped and murdered by a gang of homosexuals. This sin a taken control over the tribe of Benjamin. When the nation went against Benjamin twice they were defeated, this stronghold overcame them until they fasted and then they were able to overcome the stronghold. Pornography, masturbation, lust, homosexuality, lesbianism, all kinds of sexual sin can be broken through fasting. 

-       I believe it is the same for other addictions some sever like drug or alcohol abuse, anger, fear, gossip, some not as sever like, television, laziness, computer
-       Generational Curses can be broken – there are certain fleshly strongholds that come under subjection to Christ when we are saved but if not dealt with fully can raise up again and be influenced by demonic powers. There are also the genetics we are given from generation to generation that determines heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. to me those too are generational curses

Isaiah 58:12 says

 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
      you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
      you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
      the restorer of streets to dwell in.

As we fast God begins to rebuild his truth in our lives, the plan that He had for mankind from the beginning is restored. The enemies’ stronghold of generational sin is broken as all the breaches in our family history are repaired. I am believing the Lord to break the power of genetic history my family is a genetic nightmare as far as disease is concerned and I believe the Lord is breaking that and has broken that already.

-       Brings abundance and fruitfulness to barren, abused, and neglected situations. Joel talks about how an army is so vast so overwhelming that the people are without hope. This army devours all the good of the land, the people are so barren and destitute that they don’t even have enough to bring a gift to the Lord. Their tithe has been dried up the attack is so severe. God speaks through Joel how to stop the ravaging of the land, the neglect, and abuse.
           Joel 2:15
           Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly.
            The result: Joel 2:24 – 26

             “The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
      The vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25      I will restore to you the years
      that the swarming locust has eaten,
      the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
      My great army, which I sent among you.
26      “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
      and praise the name of the Lord your God,
      who has dealt wondrously with you?
      And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Threshing floors full and vats overflow is prosperity in your life. You will have plenty, you will have broken barrenness, abuse, and neglect in your life

-       God reveals things to come – when we seek him we find Him. Taking time to fast separates us so we can hear Him better.

Daniel’s 21 day fast in chapter 10 gave him spiritual insight, He heard from God through an angel and was told what will happen in the future including when Jesus would be born.

- Fasting revealed the call people had for their future ministries

Acts 13: 2- 4
 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

-       Demonic powers are broken
  Mark 9:28,29 

 28And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer  and fasting.”

When Jesus talked about “this kind” that is to say that there are some demonic controls that are only released through prayer and fasting

There are many other reasons for fasting and why people fasted.

David repentance and God's will 2 Samuel 12
Jehoshaphat – humility and defeat the enemy 2 Chronicles 20
Nehemiah – answers from the Lord 1 and 9
Esther – favor, and wisdom
Isaiah, Moses, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Prophets, and leaders of the early church, Paul, Council of Nicea, Reinhard Bonnke, Billy Graham, DL Moody, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, David Wilkerson, Bill Bright, 

How do you fast?

A meal a day, two meals a day, all meals. No TV, No meats or sweets, no arguing or gossiping.

If you choose to limit your food intake
1)    drink more water (Juice is not a water substitute)
2)    Get plenty of rest don’t fight staying awake
3)    Keep mints near fasting breath is nasty
4)    Don’t think “I’m not allowed to eat” think instead “I’m choosing not to eat today or this meal.”

Focus your fasting

-       make a list of prayer needs and directives – you are breaking free, and you can break others free as well
-       give your self-more time to be in the word
-       Give yourself more time to be with the Lord (hunger is a sign it is time to pray

Pray for them as they choose to fast.

Friday, December 28, 2018

December 28 Thought for the day...laugh, dance, sing

Our faith is a battle, a struggle, and war, however often we forget it is also filled with love, joy, and peace! God gave us the ability to laugh and rejoice, and I think we don't spend enough time doing that. James challenges that in our lives as we continue to look at James 5:13.

"Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms."

The word James uses for "cheerful" come from the combination of the root of our English word euphoria and the concept of a swelling and growing passion or emotion. It is the idea of something happening that brings great joy, you want to explode with a joy that you just can not contain.

James is telling us because of our walk with Christ, we should have these type of feelings. As Christians we need to celebrate each other, what God has done and is doing, and simply that fact that we are blessed with a deep relationship with Him! We don't do that enough. Take time to think about all the ways you are blessed and begin to be thankful and celebrate all of God's handy work in your life.

James tells us just how to do that, "sing psalms!" The idea James is giving us is different than you may think. The word interpreted "psalms" literally means to pluck an instrument, but the implication is to do something that expresses great joy; to dance, to sing, to shout at the top of your lungs, to laugh so hard you cry. James wants us to let the joy and gratitude we feel for the Lord at that moment out and to celebrate God's goodness toward us.

It is great to do it with people around but remember even if you are alone, you are never alone God is with you. If you are overjoyed about something. Thrilled about what God has done for you, even if you are alone, celebrate with God. Sometimes I find it actually easier to express my joy alone with Him, shouting dancing, singing, high-fiving God. It is fun to celebrate and to especially celebrate how good God has been to us!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

December 27 Thought for the day...dealing with suffering

At one point or another, all of us will go through a time of suffering. It is part of the human condition and to be honest, it seems to be one of the ways that we grow as people of faith. Whether our suffering is physical, mental emotional or spiritual God has a way to get us through it and not just through it but to overcome.

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." James 5:13

Have you ever noticed that the tone of James letter is different than the other letters? The reason being James was a Pastor the other letters were written by Apostles. As a Pastor, he dealt with people's day to day problems and helped them focus to get through them.

The word James uses for suffering here means something that is so evil it produces a devasting result in the person's life it may have to do with sickness or disease, or it may be much more than that. It is the idea of a day in and day out being harassed by a problem that is wearing you out and down.

The challenge James saw in his church was people floating from person to person telling their problems. They were getting some kind of dysfunctional need met but weighing others down with their problems rather than seeking for real answers. We all need to have people in our lives that we trust with whom we can share our struggles and know that they will take them to the Lord for us. James is saying while that is nice and appropriate to have spiritual mentors in your life that will do that, we must take responsibility for ourselves.

James challenges us in our suffering to "pray!" The word used for prayer here is an intimate word. It is not a request but a command. The word means to draw close and intimate to God and to do so by bringing an offering. The culture of the day understood how when they were coming to a "god" they make any and all sacrifices to create an altar so a gift might be given that would be pleasing to their god. James chose this word specifically, but his implication is slightly different. It is the idea of breaking your intense suffering by honestly surrendering yourself and all that you are going through to  God.

Suffering in the life of a Christian is always used to draw us closer to Him. He does not cause the suffering, but the idea James is conveying is when we are in the suffering, and we draw intimately close to God we allow Him to change us. We offer ourselves to Him, and He takes and changes us more into His image, showing us how to overcome by becoming more like Him. He causes growth and maturity, molding us, so we become a greater reflection of Him. In turn, we grow in grace, strength, power, and authority as we overcome one more obstacle the world, the flesh, or the devil have thrown our way. Our suffering ends, and victory is ours as we see our suffering in light of Him and draw close to Him giving ourselves even more to Him and His plan for our lives.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

December 26 Thought for the day....being different is OK

Being a team player is not always easy. Many men, especially, have the "lone wolf" mentality. We are far better together, are able to accomplish so much more, and encourage the use of everyone's gifts when we work as a team. Paul stresses that in 1 Corinthians 12;12

"For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ."

The word Paul uses for "many" in this verse describes both "huge quantities" as well as "great variety."  Paul is telling the church not only are there significant numbers in the church, each called by God with a specific purpose but there are multitudes of different types of giftings that are individually from God for the purpose and need of fulfilling the unity of the Body of Christ.

Some people believe that unity is when we all walk in lockstep together, acting and speaking exactly the same. Paul's description here is saying there are so many people and such a wide variety of gifts that the Body to be whole must make use of all of these people and gifts.

True unity does not mean that we all look and act the same. Instead, true unity is every person and every gift being fulfilled so that we are all unity in cause and passion. This is so strong that all hostilities and disagreements are set aside, and every gift, anointing, talent, personality is connected to honor and glorify God and to fulfill each of our destinies. The results are an amazing valuing and honoring of each other and God and an impact in the world that has never been seen.

I believe this is possible and that God has given the church a window of opportunity right now to make this happen. You are a gift and needful in my life and the life of the church as a whole. You are not expected to be anything or anybody other than who God called you to be, but you are expected to use all of that for the purpose of building up the Body and honoring God. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

December 25 Thought for the day....a different Christmas story

I love Christmas. It is a time of the year, where if kept in perspective, is truly the most joyous time. There is an anticipation among nearly everyone, of celebration. We read the story in Matthew and Luke and it comes to life. Today I want to share a different verse to remind us of the power of this story. 

Paul writes something a profound Christmas message to the Philippians in 2:7.

"but made Himself (Jesus) of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men."

Paul is verifying to us first, that before the baby was born in a manger, Jesus already existed. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have eternally existed before anything else was, God was!

"Made of no reputation", before the baby, Jesus in all his power and glory would not have been able to be in the presence of human beings. Paul is saying here that Jesus divested, relinquished, vacated certain things in order to come and live in human form or else mankind would not have been able to be around Him.

Christ literally "taking on the form", took from His own creation a form of humanity so He might be able to live among us. Not in just any form but that of a slave. The Almighty, all-powerful God who created everything surrendered glory to reveal His character, His heart, His love to all mankind.

He did this in the "likeness of men". Hebrews 4:15 explains why He did it this way. He not only took on the appearance of mankind but was like mankind in every way, being able to feel the same suffering and temptations we battle as well. He did it all so He could stand and take on all sin for us as our high priest.

That is the greatest gift of the season and a wonderful reason to celebrate regardless of what you may be going through. He really loves you!

I hope this is a Christmas message for you. I want you to know because He came we have someone who knows exactly what we are going through and can bring us to a place of joy and peace through it! Have a blessed and Merry Christmas this year!

Monday, December 24, 2018

December 24 Thought for the day...being kind

We don't think much about kindness these days, but for Christians especially during Christmas, this should be an easy thing to do. Sometimes what happens in the midst of celebrating the birth of our savior the one who loved us enough to die for us, we lose the meaning. We can get short-tempered, anxious, or even mean. Today I want us to keep kindness in mind.

In Ephesians 4:32 Paul writes this

"Be Kind to each other..."

This simple phrase will help our Christmas celebration to be so much more amazing. What Paul states with "be," our English doesn't quite express the full meaning. The word Paul uses signifies, constantly becoming, always being, in other words, to always be in the process of becoming.

In this case what we are constantly becoming is "kind."  Paul chose a special Greek word here for kind. It goes beyond what we think of as kind, to also mean, useful, good, worthy, and benevolent. It is the same word that he used in describing the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.

A way to interpret this scripture that is entirely in line with the meaning is, "If something is important to my loved one, I'll do my best to make it important to me."

Kindness is not something we generally grasp overnight, but it is here, a command from God for us. It can be hard to keep this in mind with all the expectations we have, but a little kindness can trump much preparation and be remembered far longer as well.

Have a Merry Christmas and a kind one as well!

Friday, December 21, 2018

December 21 Thought for the day....a key to enjoying Christmas

For many Christmas is a time of friends, family, food, and faith. A time where we celebrate the Lord, life, and each other. Yet for some, it is a time of battle, warring depression, loneliness, failed expectation, loss, and many other things. At Christmas and throughout the year we need to maintain our armor, so nothing overcomes us, allow me to help you have a most joyous Christmas and a great New year with this thought.

Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16

Paul has listed the armor and then states "above all!" He is not saying that faith is more important than salvation, truth, the Word, or anything else. What he is saying is that each of these things works because you choose to apply faith to them. It is impossible to please God without faith, but the Word becomes active in our lives because we believe it by faith. Faith is not greater than any other weapon but is necessary for each weapon to be most effective.

We can go through the holidays and sometimes hit lows, family cause struggles, life hits hard! We know God's Word, but we need to apply it, stand on it, and believe it despite how we feel. It takes faith to make that happen. It also takes to believe God's truth about us that He loves us always and will never let us down!

Another important point Paul makes is "taking the shield of faith." He is saying we can pick up or lay down faith. We have the power to choose to walk by and in faith or not. It is foolish to face this world, the devil, and our own fleshly desires without faith being alive in us.

I want to remind you today that faith is not about feelings. It is choosing to believe God's Word despite how you feel, what you see, or what others may say to you. It is choosing to believe you are loved even if you don't feel it. It is choosing to believe that all things do work together for good when we believe God. It is choosing to believe God always has an awesome plan for our lives despite what people, our bank statement, or our feelings may say! Get ready for a great holiday by raising up the shield of faith always!

I pray this is your best Christmas ever! If you can, come to join us for our Christmas Eve celebration on Sunday, December 23 at 6PM or Monday, December 24 at 6PM. Christmas Carols, shepherd, wise man, candle-lighting and a time of celebration...See you there!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

December 20 Thought for the day...there are no problems for Christians only opportunities

I like to share the stories of how the Lord met and delivered me out of so many difficulties. As I look back on them, they are "a-ha" moments. These are times where the situation was impossible, but God increased my faith, grace, love, or patience to see His hand move. Jesus brought the disciples to that place multiple times. Let's look at one today.

Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. John 6:5,6

A great mass of people followed Jesus into "a desert place." Conservative estimates put the actual number of people at 30,000. Most likely, 5000 men, 5000 women, and the average family in Israel at the time had 5-6 children.

The question Jesus asked Philip was a ridiculous one. I can see Jesus asking it with a knowing smile. The villages all around would have never been able to come up with 15,000 loaves of bread and fish to feed all of these people.

Jesus was testing them! I know we don't like to think about that, but often the Lord will walk us directly into impossible situations so we can see the level of our faith. We are not called to be bystanders in the world, but called to actively impact and change it. We can't change our world without moving by faith and the greater level of faith the greater level of impact. However, we don't know how limited our faith is until we come against an impossible situation.

Andrew and Philip frantically searched for some kind of food. Andrew brought the five loaves and two fish to Jesus. They were trying to solve a supernatural problem by natural means. The Lord is gracious toward us always. He is the God of multiplication. As a side note, this is part of the reason we should always tithe, give of our time, and our talent, God takes what we give Him and will always multiply it to bless us and so much more than we possibly could on our own.

When faced with an impossible situation don't make the same mistake Philip did. Worry and fretting will get you nowhere. Instead, rehearse the miracles God has done for you and others. Remember the way the Lord has met you in the past. Trust that if you are in an impossible situation, it is only because God trusts you enough to want to take you deeper and enable you to have a more significant impact to change our world.

I know for many years people looked at struggles as people having failures in their lives. Yes, it is true for some, but for most of us, God is merely stretching us to trust Him more. He loves and believes in each one of us more than we know but must walk us through these challenging places so we can grow to become everything our hearts are crying out to be! Keep your focus on the opportunity instead of the problem! As a person of faith, God will continue to create opportunities for you to seize them to shirk from them!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

December 19 Thought for the are never really abandoned

Have you ever had a friend fail you? Of course, you have we all have had at one point or another some have failed us because our expectations were too high. They did not actually fail us just didn't live up to expectations that were too high! Others have let us down for a myriad of reason, but regardless of the reason, we were let down. Timothy was seeing it happen left and right and Paul reminds him of what he went through as an encouragement.

"At my first defense, no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them." 2 Timothy 4:16

Paul was writing to Timothy of the times where he stood before the Roman court. He needed friends to stand and testify on his behalf. When he turned, no one was there! He had to completely depend upon the Lord and the Lord alone.

In his encouragement to Timothy Paul tells him about his abandonment. Paul is reminding Timothy that in his court case as things where at there worse not only did no one testify for him but the phrase translated "no one stood for me" means at the time they were called to testify they all walked out on him. "Ouch," that would really sting! You would think something like this would make Paul bitter and of course why would he share such a bitter thing with his young protege? Paul did not grow bitter he loved people, trusted them, and believed in them. However, his ultimate hope and trust were not in people but in the Lord who doesn't ever disappoint (Romans 5: 3-5).

How do I know? Here is what the next verse says...17 "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." The word Paul uses here for "stood" means that Jesus came beside him in his time of need. He "strengthened" him which means the Holy Spirit poured into him with a power like never before so rather than feeling abandoned he felt a fresh infusion of God's power!

Stuff happens to us all of the time, but if we choose to act like Jesus and place our hope in Him, He will meet our need every time. If Paul had become bitter, he would have grieved the Holy Spirit, and He would have not been able to help and deliver him. But instead, he chose to trust in the Lord for his defense and encouragement, and God did not fail.

Friends, family, and others will fail us, but as we choose to trust God, He will never fail us! Paul didn't hold this against his friends, he modeled forgiveness, setting others free. In short, when you are hurt, rejected, or feel abandoned, the Lord will never let you down as you choose to act and live like and for Him! You are never abandoned!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December 18 Thought for the day...nothing to hold you down

I remember when my kids were very young, neither of them knew how strong they were. If they weren't careful, they could generally hurt one another. From a positive point, we taught them that their strength was given to them to protect one another, not to hurt one another. When it comes to our faith, I am not sure how many fully understand how strong they actually are. Paul helps us with a better understanding...

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds" 2 Corinthians 10:4

We need to recognize that there are some strongholds in our lives that only God can tear down. Our best efforts, all the counseling, self-help in the world won't help, only God. The good news, as a Bible-believing Spirit-filled Christian through Christ you are powerful, and no stronghold has a chance!

The word translated "stronghold" does mean fortress but in this case, it also leans more toward being a prison a place of detention, bondage, a place of no escape. The devil likes to find weaknesses in our attitudes, insecurities he can take advantage of, fears he can manipulate, wounds he gets us to nurture rather than heal. These are the strongholds Paul is talking about here.

The strongholds are things that become ingrained in us. They are attitudes of entitlement, fear, insecurity, woundedness, unforgiveness, and others that should not be in our lives however they have been there so long they have become old friends that we nurture. Paul makes it clear that God has given us the weapons (offensive ones) to tear down everything that would limit our growth and authority in Christ.

When we allow these strongholds to control us, we are insulated and isolated from the freedom and love God has for us in these areas. We are limited in our ability to walk in freedom, and we certainly can not set others free. When strongholds control areas of our lives, we will not fulfill our full potential in Christ.

Are there any areas in your life where your joy, peace, or love are limited? Are there any areas in your life where you are frustrated? Are there any areas in your life where you are not feeling or seeing the victory? Are there areas in your life where you are easily made angry? These are all signs of a stronghold being present. God is your high-tower, your only fortress for your protection and blessing, anything else is bondage. If a stronghold is in your life it is still there because you need His power and strength to overcome it! Surrender that area to the Lord. Ask for forgiveness for allowing it to control your life. Push into Him for freedom today. No strongholds only freedom!

Monday, December 17, 2018

December 17 Thought for the day...remembering what is important!

I remember seeing the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials for the first time, they are amazing. Beautiful monuments to our Founding Fathers, not perfect men but men who granted us the freedom to even criticize their imperfections. In Kyrgyzstan, I saw ziggurats that were 1000's of years old, Egypt, pyramids and the Sphynx, they too are thousands of years old. All great monuments to monumental cultures and people that have stood the test of time, but will one day fade away.

But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 2 Peter 3:10,11

Peter is telling us to prepare for what is going to happen. After the church is caught away, lifted from the earth, the Lord is going to purify everything. The heavens will pass away with a terrible sound, the phrase means there will be a hissing as if steam is boiling so loud that it will be deafening.

The "very elements will disappear in fire," the word translated elements means everything, all the way to subatomic matter, will be completely obliterated. Nothing in the heavens or on the earth will remain. Which leads us to Peter's question, "what kind of lives should we live?"

The wealthy and the powerful create impact in our culture and are remembered by buildings, roads, and monuments named for them. All of this is one day going to be burned up, and nothing will remain. We spend time on our homes, landscaping, vehicles and yet all of it is going to be destroyed never to be remembered. These things in themselves are not wrong. I believe the Lord would have us do great acts of kindness and generosity to be remembered. I believe He would want our homes to be nice and taken care of because they are gifts from God but we must bear in mind what is important and what will last!

Only those things done for eternity will survive. We must remember our priority of impacting lives, advancing God's Kingdom. We must win souls for eternity. Your career, home, portfolio, lands, businesses, vehicles will all fade away. What we invest in the Kingdom will last for eternity!

What is most important to you right now? Does it have eternal value? The relationships we build, the things we do for Christ, the lives we impact every day, these are the things that will last? Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, it reiterates this passage Peter has written. Remember God blesses us with things in this world, and they are only temporary pleasures, but our goals should be to remember what is important. The words we say, the actions we make, the love we pour out, the lives we touch and so much more are what is important, and with them, they bring rewards in heaven. Please ask the Lord to show you and remind you what is important today!

Friday, December 14, 2018

December 14 Thought for the day...we will win and have won

I have mentioned before my frustration with people believing the devil is so powerful. While I don't want anyone to underestimate his authority, I want to make sure that we do not underestimate the power of God. He is all powerful, you are His child, the same Spirit lives in you! Paul shows us just how powerful Jesus is in today's "thought."

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8

Jesus is so amazingly powerful that the world leader, the leader of billions will be utterly annihilated in an instant. Can you imagine it, the world is in the ultimate deception having wholly rejected Jesus birth, death, and resurrection. The world will have completely turned their backs on the God of the Bible having cast Him off as myth, legend or just not relevant. In an instant, He appears!

In the instant of His appearing the world leader, the anti-Christ will be completely obliterated, wiped out, he will no longer exist, that is what the word translated "consume" means. Everyone was looking to this leader to bring peace and harmony but as we understand from other passages he brings nothing but bondage, destruction, and slavery. Jesus came to set people free, and at the end of the age, He will do so as he destroys Satan's attempt at becoming God.

How will Jesus do this? It will be done with the "breath of His mouth!" The meaning here is either Jesus will quick literally "blow" him away with a short burst of breath or that He will speak a word and the anti-Christ will no longer exist. He has taken millennia for Satan to work out his strategy for the domination of mankind, to bring them all to a place of worship. Satan manipulates, tries to control and attempts at every level to defeat God (as he thought he did with the cross). Yet Satan is a created being, he is not God, and there is no comparison to God. A grain of sand as compared to the Rocky Mountains would not even be an adequate comparison of Satan to God. Yet we fear and submit to him and believe he has more power or nearly the power of the Lord most high. How foolish we are! Just a word, just a snort from his nostrils totally obliterates the anti-Christ and all of Satan's plans.

The "brightness of His coming" refers to a gloriously, captivating, suddenly, of power that takes everyone by surprise. Jesus shows up, and all the enemies of the Kingdom scatter or are destroyed. He is the greatest champion in history. We worship the greatest warrior, a champion who will wipe out everything the enemy had planned in an instant! Now please hear me in this, you are a joint heir with this power and authority. You have, as a servant of the Lord God almighty, indued with this same power from on high. He has given you this power so you might fulfill His commission to allow the whole world to know they are loved by God and can become His children. Don't get distracted by the devil and his cohorts. He is a liar and wants to steal your time, energy, confidence, and freedom.

One breath, one word will obliterate the enemies plans and future. Walking with Christ, you too can do the same with the enemies plans for your life and the lives of others. "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!" (1 John 4:4) If we begin to believe it and live it, we will tick the enemy off because we will be taking his ground. He will be upset, throw a fuss try to stop you any way he can, but if we persevere we will crush him every time! We win!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

December 13 Thought for the is the time

I can sense the move of God stirring everywhere. I see Him drawing people, and at the same time, I see people become deluded by the enemy. I see humility being poured through people and I see arrogance rising. However, thankfully I am mostly seeing people grow hungrier and hungrier for the Lord. God is on the move I see it in my church every day, this is not the next outpouring but the groundwork for the next outpouring. God is on the move, and His timing is everything!

And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-8

I know we all see evil in the world. People blame the devil for a lot of it but sadly the devil is not directly involved in most of it, the flesh is more responsible than the devil. It makes people feel better if they can blame the devil. Most of the enemies power is being "restrained" by the Holy Spirit.

Paul didn't spend much time with the Thessalonian church, but he felt an understanding of the end times was an important doctrine that they needed to grasp, and so do we. Paul says the Holy Spirit is restraining the enemies advances. The word translated "restraining" means to hold down, suppress, hold back, control, limit, delay. You see the Holy Spirit is limiting the power of the devil because the Father's heart is for people to come to Jesus (2 Peter 3:9).

When the enemy is released a full-on deception will take place. Conviction of the Holy Spirit will no longer be felt by people, real love will no longer be known. All the things we take for granted now will diminish because the only way we know love, joy, peace, selflessness, kindness, goodness, and so much more will disappear over night. People will no longer repent of the sin but will choose an even greater rebellion, making the anti-Christ god.

Once again it will be as if a curtain has been drawn back ( the translation of revealed). God is in complete control, He is pouring out His Spirit, always on the church, breaking our hearts for the lost so that we might share the greatest story every told. He wants the world to know that He is real, His power is real, and anyone can have a real relationship with Him. In the Old Testament, we see numerous examples where God allowed people to choose what side they would be on before He poured out judgment.

I don't know when that day is coming. What I am thrilled about is the way the Lord is pouring out His Spirit, especially in our church right now. It is very sweet and gentle but at the same time to those who are willing, powerful. He loves people and wants them all in heaven with Him so he is strengthening us, blessing us, preparing us so the world can see Jesus. The enemy is easily held back by God so we can share and people can receive.

How many people in your life have yet to come to Christ? Pray for them, pray the Lord opens opportunities for them to receive, through you, this life-changing message. Jump into what God is doing, sticking your toes in the water of what He is doing is never going to get you to where you want to go...luke warm Christianity kills. Now is the time to dive in 100%

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

December 12 Thought for the day...signs and wonders

I love to see the Lord move powerfully. In the last few weeks, we have had people delivered of various problems and bondages; some have been healed, heard this morning that someone who has stuttered for years due to an accident no longer stutters. Backs have been healed; families are being restored. I love it! But there is a danger to be a seeker of signs and wonders rather than He who does them.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9

I have been in places around the world where Satan has "healed," a stronger demonic force has replaced a weaker on, and it appeared to bring healing. Satan has "prophetically" spoken over people. It is not a prophecy at all. Instead, a demon speaks to a situation then causes it to happen. The anti-Christ will do these types of things.

The anti-Christ will function within the realm and authority of the angel of light, Lucifer. He has certain authority, and he will grant it to the anti-Christ. The word interpreted "sign" here means a beacon that points in a direction. The anti-Christ will do things that will point to himself as being the one full of power and being god!

He will do "lying wonders" these are the things that amaze people. miracles that make people marvel and say, "Wow!"  Jesus warns that in the last days, there will be people that will do this. There have been people with this ability for ever. Jesus warned us that things like this would happen in Matthew 24:24, "For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Satan will do whatever he can to deceive people to attempt to destroy them in a way to hurt God. He will use these things to draw people away from God who do not know how to discern what is God and what is the devil.

Signs, wonders, prophecy, and other gifts do not necessarily mean the Lord is doing something. As I said earlier, I like when they happen, but the last day's church will be surrounded by things like this happening because people want the "magic" and not intimacy with the Lord. How do we know something is of God or not. Jesus told us how. Matthew 7:15,16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits." 

When we are filled with the Spirit, gifts are a natural outgrowth of the Spirit being alive in us. They are, after all, "gifts" that the Lord pours out freely. Anyone can have them and use them to impact the lives of others. However, fruit is the work we allow the Lord to perform on our character. He teaches us to live: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control. These are things a mature Christian chooses to example in their lives. Even an immature or baby Christian can flow in the gifts, but the nature of the fruit is that it is time tested.

I have really upset people in the past when I have not just accepted them because a particular gift or gifts are flowing through them. I hunger for integrity and for what is real. Someone can move in a powerful gift today and fall very badly tomorrow, but they will still possess the gift God gave them. Satan still has his gifts because God does not take them back. Fruit is something that assures life from every gift. Watch for the fruit when you see gifts flowing. If the fruit is good rejoice and join in. If the fruit is bad, stay away, trouble is coming.

Seek the Lord, never the gifts. The gifts will come if you seek Him. He desires to give good gifts to His children, and He desires for the world to know He is real!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11 Thought for the day....Satan has his day

I have heard many theories about who the anti-Christ is, Ronald Wilson Reagan (his name has six letters in each part so 666). Henry Kissinger, Barak Obama, and Donald Trump have all made someone's list. Yes, there have been those in history who possessed the anti-Christ spirit; Nero, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, and Kim Jong Un. The anti-Christ spirit has been around since Herod tried killing the Christ child within two years of his birth.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4

Paul talks about the falling away, which you can read about in my last "thought for the day" if you missed it. After those outside the church become so anti-Christ themselves, the place for the anti-Christ himself has been opened. It is as if a curtain has been pulled away, and this man of lawlessness will be revealed. The word "sin" means "lawless" or anti-Christ, and Paul is saying this man will be alive, but at the appropriate time, the curtain will be pulled back, and he will be revealed to the world.

The world will see him as a savior, a hope for the society, but Paul calls him the son of perdition meaning the son of rot, ruin, decay, and doom. The world will think that this man will bring peace and harmony; he may, in some ways, but he will spell doom to the world and the people.

Isaiah tells us (Isaiah 14:13,14) that Lucifer desired to be worship and to be like God. Through the anti-Christ, he will destroy all religious observance of all religions, and he will be his own religion, so he alone might receive worship. The Greek tense and definite article indicate to us the anti-Christ will not just oppose God once, but his rule and reign will be a continual opposition to God. He will be so blatant in his opposition that in the rebuilt temple, he will go into the Holy of Holies and proclaim himself the god!

We need to understand this all needs to happen before the end of days. We have not discussed whether this is pre or post-rapture. We must also understand that all of this can take years or the Lord can make it happen in an instant. Despite what the devil may desire, God is always in control. If someone tells you they know who the anti-Christ is, they are wrong. Paul says there will be a specific time when he will be revealed.

Until any of this happens, let's work while it is yet day (while the light is here) because night comes (when the light is gone) when no one can work! God's Spirit is being poured out right now. Jump into what He is doing and watch Him bless!

Monday, December 10, 2018

December 10 Thought for the day...not quite yet

I love Christmas! The sights, sounds, smells the joy and anticipation. I enjoy that many are happier and that the world feels the love of Christ through all the muck and mire of life. I know it is a hard season for many, but Christ can still be revealed through the season, even in tough times. Believe it or not, Christmas is one of the reasons that the end of times is not quite yet!

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2: 3,4

All of my life, I have been told, "Jesus is coming soon!" I think this was very deceptive of the church to focus on this, not that we don't want and look for the return of Christ, but I believe it took the focus from telling the world about Him to a selfish position of "rapture practice!" The Father's heart is that all would come to know Him, and that must be our drive and passion. We do it in different ways, leading people to Christ, disciplining them, challenging them, encouraging them. We each have been given gifts and skills to impact our world.

So how does the celebration of Christmas impact the second coming? I'm glad you asked! Paul says, don't be deceived the return of Christ will not happen until a few things happen first. He is already assuming that we understand the Gospel being preached everywhere has already been accomplished.

I have been taught all of my life that the "falling away" was Christians walking away from Christ. While that may happen in some cases, that is not the inference Paul is making here. The phrase means a mutiny, defiance, or a revolt against God. What is not implied nor inferred here is that it is in the church. Paul is talking about the general attitude of society. Paul is saying there will be a purposeful outright revolt against God, everything He stands for a complete turning away.

This absolute rebellion against God in every way permeating throughout world society is necessary. Nature abhors a vacuum, so Satan, through this defiance against God, is establishing the perfect set up for his anti-Christ to arise on the scene. Can you imagine a world so anti-Christ in mentality that they willingly accept an anti-Christ as a leader? Look for it because it is going to happen!

BUT NOT QUITE YET! While we have an open door, before the hearts of the world turn against Christ, we must share the love, joy, peace, and life that we have been given! Our lives have been changed; we have hope because of Him. It is a hope that the world needs, and this season is a great time to remind people how they can have this hope all year long! Tomorrow, I will pick up these verses and go a bit deeper. I hope this is encouraging you and that you are beginning to understand the real signs of the Lord's return and will not allow yourself to be deceived by signs on the earth, in the sky, or by any words other than those that come from the Lord.

We have a great privilege to bring the most powerful life-changing message to the world that needs the truth. Please no longer allow yourself to be taken off track from our most important call. Be who the Lord has called you to be, and you will change the world!

Friday, December 7, 2018

December 7 Thought for the day....when will Jesus return?

If you have heard it at all. I will criticize very severely those who say, "This is happening in the world, or the planets are doing this, that is a sure sign of Jesus return!" It is all bogus, jargon either as a well-meaning person who doesn't really understand the Word, or someone looking to make a buck. What bothers me is no one holds them accountable! People keep buying their books. There is one book that explains the signs of Jesus' return; it is the Bible. Paul writes about it in his second letter to the Thessalonians....

"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come" 2 Thessalonians 2: 1,2

Jesus told us that there would be signs in the heavens and on the earth but not to worry about them but to look for "....this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."  We are not there yet, but with today's technology, it could happen fairly quickly, but then again, many still do not have the technology available to them. However, the Lord is on the move.

Paul is saying here that there is another sign of the Lord's return that will occur within the church. The "gathering together" Paul is talking about is the end of the age when Jesus returns to gather His bride to himself. He is speaking very clearly about the last days. Yes, he does give us a sign. Are you ready for it?

The sign Paul gives us is in the phrase "the coming of our Lord." The Greek word Paul uses there gives us an indication of what will happen just before Jesus returns. The word he uses for "coming" is talking about a manifest presence of the Lord. Paul is saying just before Jesus returns as the church is meeting, worshiping, and living their lives, we will sense and feel a very tangible presence of the Lord. The idea behind his words is there will be an ever-increasing presence of Jesus in the church before. It is as if he is already with us in a very real way, His return will be a very natural next step as the church is already prepared.

I think that is pretty exciting. We will know when Jesus is coming because we will already be living in a very real sense of His presence. I'm looking forward to that, how about you?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 6 Thought for the day...a long term investment strategy

I am so grateful for all of the people who faithfully give their tithes and offerings. I am especially grateful for those who are wealthy in this world (which compared to the rest of the world is most of us in America). Why? Because wealth is a temptation, you can handle it wisely or poorly. Paul challenges us to not think of only the short term pleasures but to always be thinking long-term with our investments.

"storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." 1 Timothy 6:19

Paul is encouraging Timothy to speak to those with means that with their means they think about long-term investment strategies. He is not saying to never enjoy the fruit of your work. We talked about that yesterday. We are to enjoy the way God blesses us, but we have to keep in mind the bigger picture. The fruit of our work expended on ourselves quickly fades away, but the investment in the Kingdom has eternal value.

"Storing up" refers to placing your investment into a safe place where it can never be stolen or destroyed. Most people want their investments to grow, so they look for the place where they will get the greatest return. They don't want to see their wealth diminish. Jesus commends the wise servants who invest well and condemns the one who has no forethought for the future (Matthew 25). We are encouraged throughout scripture to invest wisely to take care of our families; this is part of the meaning of the "good foundation."

Our call to store up is not so we would hoard, or spend frivolously but so we could invest wisely for the time to come. This phrase, "time to come" refers to eternity.

The Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul, saying, everything you invest in the Kingdom has eternal value. Build on a foundation of long-term investing in rebuilding families, reaching the lost, impacting the world with the Gospel, and it will be the best investment strategy you can make!

The money we spend on ourselves is good for temporary pleasure, but it is gone in eternity. However, when you invest in the Kingdom, when you give your tithes and offerings, you are blessing the Lord, and it has eternal, positive consequences. Enjoy the fruit of your labor, but understand it is gone as quickly as it came. Make sure you have a long-term investment strategy. Knowing that lives are being changed for eternity because of your finances.

Bear in mind, like some wise investment plans, you may not see the return right away. It takes time for some seed to come to harvest. Fruit trees take, on average, seven years. Just because you don't see it right away doesn't mean it is not germinating and has thousands of apples in that seed.

Think long term. The investment will have a more significant impact that way. Invest in your eternity and the eternity of others. Enjoy your harvest now, but do your best investment long-term!