Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 31 Thought for the day...how do you love?

In English, we only have one word for love. That is so limiting because we say we love our spouse and children, but we also love our dog/cat/fish/bird and our car/truck/motorcycle/boat. Is it the same type of love, sadly, and humorously at a time for some it is but shouldn't be. The Greeks had four words for love, and we see three of them in the New Testament. As we talk about the fruit of the Spirit, it is important that we understand where the Holy Spirit is taking us.

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love..." Galatians 5:22

Forgive me today, but I must use the actual Greek words here to get us started, 1) eros, 2) stergo, 3) phileo, and 4) agape. Each of these words means "love, " but each has a very different meaning.
Eros is sexual kind of love, but it has a negative connotation. It is a sexual desire that is self-focused, self-gratifying, self-seeking and only self-pleasing. This type of love is focused only on receiving rather than the heart of giving. It is destructive because it is not love in the sense that God wants us to understand it. Don't misunderstand, sexual desire is from God, but it should be focused on giving and receiving, it is lovingly caring for someone, and together you fully give yourselves. Intimacy done right is the closest thing to heaven we can experience on earth. Eros is about total selfishness!

Stergo is a type of love some may not have heard. It is a type of love a parent has for a child, a good friend has for another good friend, even the type of love (if you can see it) that a dog has for his master (not to belittle it in any way). We would call it devotion! In 2 Timothy 3:3 Paul uses it in the negative sense to say that one of the signs of the end times is that people will lose their devotion to one another and there will be a breakdown of the family. We see that now!

Phileo, you have heard of it in the root, in the city name, Philadelphia, the city of "brotherly love." It means so much more than that. It is affection for someone as the feeling boyfriends and girlfriends have. It can also be the feeling that two good friends have for each other, people that feel connected, complimentary of one another, compatible to one another, an affability shared between two friends. As loving and caring as this is, it is still not agape.

Agape is the type of love Paul is talking about here. It is this type of love that is part of the Spirit of God. Agape occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. When a person awakens to this type of love, they are compelled to love it, and this same love becomes irresistible. John 3:16, For God so "loved" is the agape love. When God looked at mankind, he so appreciated, recognized the value of, even though we were bound by Satan, He saw our potential. His love for us was so intense that He was compelled to action, to save us from our bondage.

Agape is a love that loves so profoundly; it knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient. It is a self-sacrificing kind of love that moves the lover to action. This is the love God has for us and the love he pours into us to shave with others. It is not dirty or profane it is true love with no strings attached.

When you love with such a pure love that you expect nothing back in return, it is impossible for you to feel hurt or let down by the response of the recipients of your love. You don’t love them for the purpose of getting something in return; you shower them with love simply because you love them. This is the way God loves us, so much so that He laid down His life for us and the love He expects us to pour into others.

This is the type of love you have and can have if you are filled with the Spirit. Just say'in lots of people talk about moving in the Spirit, but they don't love like this, let's get this right first!

Monday, July 30, 2018

July 30 Thought for the day...the right seed

One of my great joys of traveling the world is sampling different kinds of fruit. Also eating fruit that was harvested ripe from the tree or plant is amazing. My last trip to Cuba was during mango season, 10 mangos for 50 cents. They taught me how to eat them too. Slice off the top, put your mouth over the sliced area and squeeze! Wow, a little bit of heaven on earth. I think that is why Paul called the benefits from the Holy Spirit fruit because it is so delicious.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. Galatians 5:22, 23

The flesh causes work, every time we submit to the will of the flesh, it costs us time, energy, and life. Allowing the Holy Spirit to pour in us and through us causes something sweet and wonderful, fruit. The word used for "fruit" could mean the fruit of anything a plant, animal, or human. Like I mentioned Friday, everything comes from a seed. The Holy Spirit's seed inside you produces everything that is God's heart inside of you, that is the fruit.

Whatever kind of seed you plant, that will determine the outcome. If you plant an apple seed, don't expect cherries. When God plants His seed in our hearts, we should expect Christ-likeness to be the fruit.

So think about it for a moment. What is it that you want? If you want the fruit of the Spirit, you need to allow that seed to be planted in your heart through God's Word and being open to His Spirit. The fruit the Spirit produces is wonderfully sweet, and it is something people want to come back for more.

As you allow the fruit to come alive in your life, people will want to be near you. For many, it may be the first time they experience such pleasure. Coming into contact with real love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, and such touches people at their core and they want more. Why would anyone be satisfied with the works of the flesh when they could have the fruit of the Spirit.

What is this fruit really? What does it mean? We will look at it in the next post. I do hope I made you hungry for it!

Friday, July 27, 2018

July 27 Thought for the day...the test of a "real" Christian

I am about to really challenge some today!

The great revivalist Charles Finney once said, "most people who attend church are probably not born again." When asked why he believed this, Finney remarked that it was impossible for true children of God to live in blatant sin as many believers do. Ouch! Where does he pull this from?

"Anyone who continues to live in Him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know Him or understand who He is." 1 John 3:6

Wow, this is a challenge to our American Christianity! We feel no sorrow about gossip, lying, we make them practically part of our life style and business. Pornography, abuse of drugs, and alcohol are the norm in some Christian homes. Unwholesome language, backbiting, envy, jealousy are all considered OK in some circles. Rebellion against authority is considered a right. The Bible calls all of these things and more, sin. By now, some are saying, Tim, you are so old fashioned. My response would be, "No, I am living a God-filled, peace-filled, love-filled, joyous life with no guilt or regrets!" The life God has planned for all of us. Sin makes us miserable and not able to hear from God. He is with me every day, I hear Him every day, and He gets me through all the rough spots, heart-ache, and struggles I face every day. My relationship with Him is real, not a game!  Did I make you spiritually jealous yet? This is a clear delineation between religion and relationship.

John the Apostle who understood God's love better than most is saying you can't really be born-again and keep sinning! The word "continues" means to habitually, continue, to live a life of sin, a person habitually living a life of sin does not know or understand the Lord! A person can come close to the power of God, but if their life and lifestyle is unchanged, they have not been born-again.

In verse 9 of this same chapter, John says that if God's seed is in someone, they have been born of God. When we are truly born again, God sows a seed in us that changes our spiritual DNA, part of the very heart of God has been sown into us and we are changed into being like Him. God can not sin so, as He has sown into us, we change, and our habits and lifestyle are to change as well. Peter writes (1 Peter 1:23) "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." God's very nature has been sown into us so we should change into healthy reflections of Him.

In Genesis 1, God talks about how each thing will produce seed after its own kind, and so does God when He plants His seed in you! We should long for Him, for righteousness, and to live holy before Him. We should long to shine out His power and life. Instead, we live in fear, angst, frustration, and continue to be defeated. I am not saying I understand why and how God does things all of the time, but I have learned that He can be trusted and that I want what He wants for my life more than what I want. Sin is easy, but it is also true that living a God-filled life is easier than you may think when you begin to believe that you have His nature set in you that if nurtured will change you to becoming more like Him!

If you a struggling with habitual sin in your life, stop believing you have to live there! A seed was sown inside of you, as you became born again, that destroys generational things, past sins, habits, and lifestyles. He changes us from corruptible to incorruptible and will complete that in us when we go to be with Him!

We live in a culture in American that is pervasive with excuses. God doesn't want excuses, He wants us free, powerful, and living in the fruit of the Spirit. Our excuses stop that dead in its tracks! Being a "real" Christian is not about perfection, but maturity. God's seed matures in us, and we become more like Him and less like the world. Our job is to bring life, hope, and freedom (relationship) but we can't do that if we are still in bondage ourselves (religion)!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

July 26 Thought for the day...the final three

As we wrap up the "works" of the flesh, we need to see them in the light of our culture. These last three can really hit home in the American culture.

Galatians 5:19, 21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:... envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

Envy is simple, the desire to want something someone else has so much that it can lead you to do anything to tear that person down to raise you up. If a person is envious they simply hate what the person has, their reputation, power, stuff, relationships and they will get to the point of lying, stealing, backbiting doing whatever it takes to destroy that person so they think they can build themselves up. This is the way the Pharisees were described regarding Christ. They developed a spirit of murder and ended up having Jesus crucified because of their envy. The ironic thing is that God would have used them powerfully and fulfilled their dreams if they would have just submitted to His plan. The Lord wants to do the same with the envious person, but they can't see past their hatred to trust the Lord.

The word translated drunkenness means anything that causes us to lose control of our senses. Drunkenness was constant in both the Greek and Roman cultures, and it was so common, and loss of control was so common Paul challenged Christians to not be drunk with wine but filled with the Spirit. We are to choose not to lose control but the use of some substance instead to flow in the power of the Holy Spirit. The challenge for us is drugs, alcohol, food, adrenaline, and so many other substances can fall into this category. I have seen many in business drunk with power, many in sports and entertainment drunk with popularity and when something goes south, they choose to end their own lives because they can not live without the "high." Be filled with the Spirit!

Last, the word translated here "wild parties" would be akin to what we would call a fanatic or fan for short. Someone who needs to be entertained "lives for the game" their lives are impacted by their entertainment, everything is wrapped around their entertainment. We see this in "fans" of the Kardashians and others, we also see it in sports "fans." If a game is good, if Chloe is on some show then, "Wow" their world is made, but if the game is lost or something bad happens to your hero then your mood fails, your day or week are impacted because you are a "fan." All of these things are fleeting. The time spent caught up in these things when people are dying without hope or Christ is sad. Our flesh wants these imaginary relationships to make us feel important or like we belong to something bigger than ourselves. When in fact we do, the Body of Christ, the most powerful force in the world if we will but choose to live like it.

All of the "works" of the flesh are distractions from what is real, powerful, and full of life. Don't allow all that God has for you be stolen from you because of your choices. Flesh or Spirit, they are your choice and your future!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July 25 Thought for the day...selfish, disloyal, or judgmental? I hope not!

As we continue today talking about the "works" of the flesh. Please keep in mind while these are things our flesh wants it doesn't mean we have to do them. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can overcome any "work" of the flesh and live in the fruit of the Spirit (which we will be talking about shortly). God's plan is joy, peace, love, and so much more. The works of the flesh crush that.

Galatians 5:19, 20 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:..... selfish ambition, dissension, division,

Are you self-consumed? Are you so focused on what you are doing that you never think to ask about others? This is what Paul is talking about when he uses the word, translated here as selfish ambition. Do the people around you know all about you, but you know nothing about them? Then you are most likely functioning in this "work." Ask the Lord to break the selfishness in your life and start being interested in the lives of others. They are key to your dreams as well, so you hurt yourself and your dreams by being all wrapped up in your selfish ambitions.

The word translated here, dissension means to be a disloyal, rebellious usurper. It implies being rebellious against someone to whom you should be loyal. God places authority in our lives for our good, to cause us to grow, to keep us from harm. Some adults, like little children, try to undermine, lie about, and generally gossip, trying to usurp the authority of the leadership God places in their lives. They don't recognize that when they do so, they fight God, not a man or woman, they criticize God, not their authority when they do so. All authority, Paul writes, comes from God for our good. They might be blatant about their rebellion or subtle. Like a child, acting in stubborn disobedience. Every business and church has them. The business or church is hurt by these people, but God always rises above it and will use others in their place. The people who act this way always hurt themselves because God can not bless rebellion, in fact, you have found yourself fighting God if you operate in this "work."

The last word we are going to look at today is the word translated divisions. These are people or groups who consider themselves to have a special or hidden truth. Actually, people function in either of the two words we have already defined today could fit in this category. People who believe they are the only ones with that see clearly and understand properly. There is little love in them and lots of judgment. It is their truth, or you have no truth. They create divisions in families, businesses, churches, communities, and even nations. Jesus high priestly pray was Father make them one as you and I are one. Being "one" doesn't mean we are all "cookie-cutter" Christians but instead that we use all of our difference to make the whole Body complete. Unity through uniqueness!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July 24 Thought for the day...pick a fight, blow up, and wanting everything

Today I want to talk about a few works of the flesh that you might not think of as evil but genuinely can be. They can be as destructive as any other "work" but can be masked as something else.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear.... quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,

The word for quarreling is a political word. It means divisions like differing political parties. This is not infringing on our rights to have differing points of view or opinion. It is however, what I see happening in the church and in our nation every day. It is when we allow an opinion to get in the way of the facts, truth, and especially the love we are supposed to have for one another. This is especially grievous to Jesus because He said we would be known by our love for one another. When we allow divisions to come into the church in any way that limits the love and/or power of God, then we have stopped acting like Jesus and started being more anti-Christ. We should never allow offenses to take hold of our lives, but instead, pray for one another and build one another up until we all attain to being like Jesus.

Next "jealousy" simply put anytime we do not cheer on the attention, blessings, and/or promotion a brother or sister gets we are exhibiting jealousy. If you feel resentful at another person's success, you are being controlled by jealousy. God's plan is to meet and exceed all of your needs, but he only does that when He knows He can trust you. If you are not generous, tithing, giving to those in need, and thanking the Lord for all you have on a regular basis, then chances are you are living in a realm of jealous. Your satisfaction can and will come from the Lord when you live with a generous heart, being obedient to God's call to give and live with an attitude of gratitude.

Everyone gets angry every once in a while. Some anger is even godly, like when you see sin destroying a person's life. This is referring to the type of explosive anger, people you know who will at any time explode. They get offended, hurt, or wounded and rather than taking it immediately to the cross and asking the Lord to deal with it, they simply shove it down inside. Then when they are offended again, it could be even slight, because they never really dealt with the last offense, they explode. We are supposed to be dead to our flesh. This shows the flesh very alive. We are supposed to walk in grace and forgiveness, this reveals that we have a lack of both. The real danger here is that if we don't forgive others, then the Father will not forgive us. This work can literally cause us to wind up in hell.

So, walk in love, be generous and obedient to God's word, and live in forgiveness, and you will have amazing peace, love, and joy all of your life!

Monday, July 23, 2018

July 23 Thought for the day...today's witchcraft and hatred

When you think of witchcraft, you may think of the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, or some other form of pure evil. However, the Holy Spirit reminds us that it is a work of the flesh that like all works of the flesh is a counterfeit to a blessing God has for us. Let's take a look together.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5: 19-21

This translation uses the word "sorcery" for witchcraft, but the root word is the same root for our modern word pharmaceuticals. In Rome, at this time, people would go to the pagan temples looking for healing from their pain, heartache, and difficulties. What the priest would do is give them various drugs which would not cure their ailment permanently, instead they would get them "high," so they cared about nothing. This was a problem then and is a real problem now. Much of the struggle in our culture is regarding drug use, sales, and everything about it. God wants to be the one who gives real hope, heals every disease of the body, mind, and soul. Instead, some have chosen witchcraft (sorcery) to turn to for their temporary relief. God has real relief in mind. Everyone and anyone who uses drugs other than for their prescribed use are trying to handle a problem in an anti-Christ way. Christ brings freedom, peace, and hope if we will choose to allow Him.

The big "H" here the translation reads hostility, but the root is much deeper than that it would be more akin to "hatred, extreme hostility." This word pictures people who cannot get along with each other. They have deep issues with each other, holding resentments, grievances, complaints, and grudges that go way back in time and have very deep roots. Something occurred along the way that caused one or both of them to be offended. Instead of letting go of the offense, they became divided, hostile, and fiercely opposed to each other. Now they are antagonistic, aggressive, and harsh. They hate each other. They have a grudge and are determined to hold on to it.

We are called to love one another even to love and pray for those who hurt us. Don't misunderstand we are not to be doormats walked over by someone. God is our defender, protector, justifier. There have been so many times in my life where someone has come against me with false accusations, lies, or blatant slander. I have found that defending myself is not an option. Those who know me generally don't believe it or need a defense and those who don't need to see me walk in integrity, so they see for themselves the accusations are unfounded. Loving people, especially those who don't love you or may seem to be your enemies is hard, but it is exactly what Jesus did. He calls us to overcome not be overcome. The tools we have are the power of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit these two things will cause love to win every time!

Friday, July 20, 2018

July 20 Thought for the day...stuff of the flesh...control

I know these next few days are sounding somewhat negative. The truth is we allow things in our lives that make us "feel" like garbage, our minds get cluttered with stuff that leads to hopelessness, we have a hard time hearing from God, and the fruit of the Spirit struggles to be evident in our lives. This is not God's plan. He wants us free, but our flesh wants us in bondage. It becomes our choice, and I hope once we understand better the battle, we will win!

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

The word sensuality for those who have read the KJV is the word lasciviousness (there's a word you use every day) it describes an uncontrolled appetite for anything food, sex, exercise, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, fear, stress. If it is controlling you rather than you controlling it, you are losing to sensuality. Most of the things I have listed are not bad things, but they can become bad if you are trying to fill a hole in your life or heart with them. This sin is wrong mainly because God wants to be the one who fulfills you. He knows how He created you and knows what will fulfill you. Don't settle for a substitute that will only make you hungry and thirstier. Giving in to sensuality is like being very thirsty and drinking ocean water, it never satisfies so you try to drink more and it can kill you!

What do you think more of than anything else? What do you spend more time and money on? Be careful because whatever the answer is, this may be your god! Idolatry means giving your complete and undivided attention, devotion, passion, love, or commitment to a person, project, or object other than God. When something other than God takes first place in your life, you have entered into at least some version of idolatry.

Most of the things you desire have been placed in your heart by God, and He wants to fulfill you with them. Idolatry twists even good things like family, jobs, dreams, and desires, so we no longer keep God in first place and allow Him to fulfill these things. Instead, we make them first place in our lives. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 if we put Him first in all things, we will fulfill us in all things. When we don't, we are left with broken hearts, empty dreams, and relationships.

God wants to fulfill every dream He has placed on our hearts, and He created us each uniquely to fulfill His dream and made us so that would be the thing we would love the most. Ask Him if He is first in your life. If He shows you things, repent and deal with them and watch the joy, love and peace return to your life.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

July 19 Thought for the day...be careful little eyes what you see

Our culture has shifted and changed. However, the Bible, God's Word remains the same. The things God outlines for our good are to be a blessing. The things He condemns are not to be prudish but instead to keep us from heartache, pain, and brokenness. Some fight God's ideals for us, we need to remember He has amazing blessings, a great hope, and a love that would overwhelm us if we would simply live as He asks us to live. Paul is outlining some of the things that will cause us great pain in

 Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Because of space, I am not going to go over things I think are obvious in our understanding. "Impurity" means unclean, or lewd the word suggests that these are thoughts. In Mark 1:23, we are told Jesus had to deal with a man with an unclean spirit. He had become so overwhelmed with pornographic, lewd, demented, thoughts that a demonic spirit had taken hold of him. We the same thing with Mark 5:2. Once again, a demonized man controlled by an unclean spirit. Pornography has become so commonplace, things that should make us blush no longer do, and we simply accept them as normal.  Science has now proven that porn is more addictive than crack, and it is doing mental and emotional damage to men and women. It begins in some popular ways through fantasy. The Shades of Grey movies are an example of erotica that some Christians have felt are normative but have damaged relationships and ideas in many. We have become numb to erotica in Game of Thrones and other series in our pop culture that has robbed us of true and real intimacy. This is part of the damage of impurity. OK, some are mad and don't believe me let me just put it this way...keep watching this stuff, and I'll put you on my calendar for counseling soon enough.

The Father's heart is for us to have intimacy with him and with the family of God growing in real and healthy relationships. Pornography and lewdness rob us of intimacy and replaces it with emptiness.
What are you watching? What are you reading? What music are you listening to? How does it make you feel after you allow it into your life? God's ways and plans are for love, blessings, joy, and a deep sense of intimacy that is not dirty but fulfilling. God longs for you to be free. Don't allow the enemy the freedom in your life to place you in bondage and torment never being able to achieve the joy of real freedom and true love and intimacy in all of your relationships, knowing you are loved!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July 18 Thought for the day...there is a high cost

I remember some years ago ministering to a man I thought was in his late 60's to early 70's. I spent hours helping him through some of his problems. His face was sunken, his nails brittle, many of his teeth were missing. He was typical of many homeless men I had met over the years who had lived a hard life on the streets. However, not only had alcohol been his choice of vice but so had many harder drugs and concoctions of common household cleaners. My heart went from brokenness to shock when he told me he was only 38.  Paul talks about the cost we pay in Galatians 5:19

"Now the works of the flesh are evident..."

The word Paul uses for "work" is the same word that is often translated vocation or job. When the flesh is reigning in our lives, it is just like our job. In our vocation, we work very hard to reap the benefits of our labors. The flesh does the same thing from us, it will reap...the flesh — if it is allowed to go its own way and do what it wants — will work very hard to produce fleshly results. When our flesh is not surrendered to the Holy Spirit, it will work overtime to accomplish what it wants to gain fleshly results.

The word "flesh" refers to sinful impulses and desires. Paul is implying here that it has its own desires. If a believer is not able to crucify their own flesh, it will have its way in that believer's life.

The last word I need to expand upon is "manifest." This word means, it will appear, be made known, become conspicuous. If allowed to have its way, our flesh will become very apparent through things like... (Galatians 5: 20, 21) uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.  The very things we long for, love, peace, joy, will be robbed from us. The fruit of the flesh will only hurt us! The gentleman I was talking to had never heard the Gospel, never knew there was another way other than the way he lived and the flesh reaped its toll on him. It cost him everything.

You may not be an alcoholic, drug addict, or abuser of some other type of substance, but you could be allowing bitterness, anger, frustration, fear, jealousy, or rebellion rule your heart. These things age you too quickly and rob you of precious life and your destiny. There is a very high cost to giving in to your flesh and God has an amazing plan for your future, but His cost is crucifying our flesh in exchange for His life and destiny

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July 17 Thoughts for the day...being with God

One of the privileges I have as a pastor is being with people as they lay dying. You might not think it is a privilege, but when someone has lived a Christ-filled life, and they are going to be with the Lord, it is a time of great peace and joy, as well as sorrow. We don't need to wait until that moment to be with the Lord; we can be with Him all the time, right now and know it!

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

There is a wonderful, loving, gracious plan God has for all of our lives, yet so many of us feel like God is so far away. Paul challenges us to "walk in the Spirit." We have super-spiritualized that phrase so that we have made it impossible to accomplish, but Paul is giving us a command that he expects us to follow!

The word "walk" is a Greek word that means to habitually walk around in one general vicinity, the implication being "live" in the Spirit. The idea is this, if you are habitually going and doing the same things over and over, it becomes second nature, it is normal, you know it so well there is no doubt where you are going. You have walked this way so much that you could do it blindfolded.

Paul's challenge is; keep focusing on life in the Spirit of God so much, you are living in the Spirit like it is your natural state. You have learned to hear from the Lord so well, you know and are comfortable in His presence. This takes time, practice, and desire. It takes failure to know what "not" walking in the Spirit is like. As you keep at it, you will find yourself walking in the Spirit daily.

What does that look like? First, it is not spooky; you don't have to tell people you are walking in the Spirit, they will know. It is living out the fruit of the Spirit. It is walking humbly, looking for opportunities to be used of God to serve Him and others. Allowing the Holy Spirit to move through you to bring just the right words at the right time (he is the encourager), speaking a healing and delivering word and moving in the power to do both. Most of all, it is loving people the way Christ loves them, that is truly walking in the Spirit of truth! We are then not just living out the fruit of the Spirit but also living in the fruit of the Spirit!

Paul chose, daily to "live" in the Spirit, we will defeat the flesh and allow God's power to move through us. The flesh hopes for our bondage, God's Spirit is always working for our freedom! As we determine to and practice living there, we can live in His presence now, and heaven will be just a deeper extension of living in His presence here.  Paul goes on to say, "not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Our flesh wants to do anything but serve the Lord and others. As we chose, daily to "live" in the Spirit, we will defeat the flesh and allow God's power to move through us. The flesh hopes for our bondage, God's Spirit is always working for our freedom! As we determine to and practice living there, we can live in His presence now, and heaven will be just a deeper extension of living in His presence here.  

Monday, July 16, 2018

July 16 Thought for the day...real healing

I have been blessed to participate in numerous healings. I have prayed for people and experienced the "Acts" miracles from blind eyes, deaf ears, a baby that was dead coming to life, cancerous tumors disappearing or falling off of people, HIV being healed basically all kinds of healings, but I am not special, you should be able to be part of it too!

"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17,18

First, it should be obvious, but the meaning of laying hands on the sick means to physically lay your hands on the sick. However, as Christians, we need to be wise and be careful to do this appropriately so as to not make the person we are praying for feel uncomfortable. Jesus placed His hands on the sick.

Who are the sick? The word sick here means without health, to be so weak, worn down as to be critically ill. In Matthew 14:14, Mark 6:5,13, the same word is used to refer to people who were critically sick, they were devastated by illness. Jesus healed each one that came to Him.

In Luke 4:40, we see a different word for sickness. "When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them." This phrase "sick with various diseases" this is talking about a wide range of diseases. The word "sick," refers to virtually anything, and the word "diseases" has to do with those who are terminally ill with no cure.

Jesus laid His hands on people, and they were cured. However, we misinterpret things sometimes in our haste. The phrase Jesus uses for "will recover" means just that they will recover, but the implication is not necessarily immediately. PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS... Jesus is saying that recovery is promised, but it can come instantaneously or gradually over time. Many feel disappointed if they do not see the healing immediately, but Jesus does not promise that here. He promises they will recover steadily and many times gradually but people will indeed recover. This phrase can be translated this way, “…they shall progressively feel themselves getting better and better until finally, they are well and healthy.”

We need to grasp that Jesus does not promise instantaneous healing all of the time. It does happen a lot, but many have left prayer meetings and the altar thinking they are not healed when in fact God is doing the work to bring healing as he promised, but we miss the healing because we drop our belief.

We are called to believe for healing. All that is required for God to use you in this way are three basic criteria: 1) That you have a desire for God to heal through you; 2) That you have hands to lay on sick people, and 3) That your faith is released to activate the power of God to heal. If you can fulfill these three requirements, you’re ready to get into the healing ministry!

Healing the sick is part of your responsibility as a believer. You can't do it alone, but the Holy Spirit is present to pour out His power when you act in Jesus’ name. So rather than look at sick people and feel pity for them, why don’t you pull your hands out of your pockets and go lay them on those sick people, just as Jesus did when He was ministering on the earth?

Friday, July 13, 2018

July 13 Thought for the day...what are you eating

In my travels around the world, I have eaten, sheep face, every part of the pig you can imagine, dog, guinea pig, camel, and baboon and those are not even the stomachs turning things. I haven't purposely said, "Boy I want to eat something bizarre to our culture. These are the things that have been placed before me, as the cultures best, so I have gladly received them. Jesus tells us about that kind of thing.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; Mark 16: 17,18

I know I was talking about "eating" strange things, but we must understand the word used for "drink" means to consume any deadly or fatal thing, chemical, food, or drink. The word translated "hurt" means to harm, damage, disable, or make you ill. Are we supposed to test our faith by drinking poison, as some have done in the past? Absolutely, not!

Yesterday we talked about how Jesus sent the disciples out to share the Gospel in Luke 10:7,8 "And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you." As we are going about the Kingdom purposes we may end up eating mystery foods, things we aren't sure what they are. The disciples had added pressure in that they would eat foods offered to idols, things that went against their culture and foods they were not used to digesting. Jesus was saying, "don't worry about what you will eat or drink, as long as you are a believer, whatever is put in front of you, I will bless and keep you from harm."

Do we test this, no I don't think we should ever purposely drink or eat things we know are bad, but if we do, it will not have a long-lasting effect on our systems? It is always a matter of faith, we must be believers that know God is with us and for us. We must know wherever He sends us He will protect and bless.

BTW this is mango/key lime cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory if you were drooling! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

July 12 Thought for the day....handling snakes

We have all seen them or at least heard about the churches that literally pass poisonous snakes back and forth during a religious meeting, trying to prove that they can handle snakes. While these people are sincere in their belief, they are sincerely wrong in what Jesus meant.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; Mark 16: 17,18

The Greek word for serpents means serpents, so how can I say they were sincerely wrong about handling serpents. The first rule of interpretation is context. What is the context of this statement? In Luke 10, Jesus is talking about challenging His followers to go out into the harvest fields continually! In verse 19 He says this, "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

The word "trample" means walk with force. Jesus was challenging His followers to keep sharing the Gospel. His promise is, that as we are walking, by faith, to share the Gospel, He would protect us. We could travel the highway and by-ways and know that the Lord is with us. Both snakes and scorpions were a very real problem in Israel. One bite would be death or permanent injury. Wherever you are traveling for the Lord He will be with you, for you, go ahead of you and protect you!

Jesus goes on in Luke 10: 19b to say, "nothing shall by any means hurt you." The word "hurt" means, no injustice or no wrongdoing will be able to overcome you. God will always plan a way of deliverance.

For us today, this means we can travel in shoddy transportation, be in uncomfortable areas, do things that are way out of our comfort zone and he will be with us, protecting, encouraging, and enabling our success if we will trust Him. We see it every day with the ministry center, our various outreaches, and just ministering to people one on one. God meets our faith as we choose to trust Him, handling any snakes that may come our way!

By the way, this was me in Iquitos, Peru, with an anaconda and someone who knew what he was doing with it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July 11 Thought for the day...talking God's way

Communication is a very difficult thing. It is probably the number one problem I help people through on a regular basis. God entrusted His powerful message of freedom to a group of humble, lower class, less educated people, but He gave them the power to speak to change the world.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; Mark 16:17

Let's go down the road together to understand one form of God's communication. In Acts 2, we see the first experience of speaking in new tongues. I am not going to quote the scripture here for space reasons. The scripture says there was a multitude gathered in Jerusalem. This is a huge crowd of people from many different countries speaking not only various languages but numerous dialects within those languages.

The Bible records that disciples were speaking so loudly, and the tense means, non-stop, continuously! It caught the attention of the people in the street. The people were confounded or "overwhelmed" by them. They heard each one in their own "language," meaning not only the words but the exact dialect, slang, and accent that was spoken by every individual. In other words, 120 people were being heard in the exact style of language of the thousands of people in the street that day. How could that happen? We'll get there in a moment.

In Acts 2:7, the people were amazed because these were humble, common Galileans. The word "amazed" means, shocked, stunned, speechless. Imagine 120 people speaking in the language, dialect, and exact accent of over 5000 people. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 how that happens. Paul states when we speak in tongues, we are speaking in an unknown language. The implication in the Greek is that tongues are not a language known by humans but a God language.

Three miracles occurred that day, believer's were filled with the Spirit of God, they were liberated so they could worship the Lord in Spirit, then the third is found in Acts 2;6,8, and 11 that the crowd "heard" them in their own language. The disciples were speaking freely as the Spirit spoke through them, a heavenly language. As they spoke, everyone heard them in the exact language and style as if they were home.

Tongues are the language of God, He certainly understands every language, but it is the special language of heaven. As a believer, we can all have access to this language by asking. I spend time every day praying in tongues, knowing that these prayers are the language of heaven. Take time today to ask the Lord for this language. It is an important gift for you to prepare for your daily walk and allow others to see the power of God in you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

July 10 Thought for the day..."NO DEVILS"

Hollywood has made a great show of demonic and satanic activity. If you watch these movies, you would think that demons and Satan are all-powerful and that God is merely an old man past His prime. We have been empowered to deal with forces greater than we are because of Jesus' love.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; Mark 16:17

If you are like most people casting out demons is not high on your list. If anything you would rather not stir up and trouble with demonic forces. The question is, why? I need you to think about why these forces intimidate you. If you contemplate long enough, you will most likely come to the conclusion that Hollywood's version of their power is what comes to mind.

Demons are powerful beings to be sure, and if we are arrogant, they can overrun us. But "greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world, and Jesus came to destroy the works of the enemy. How is he going to do that? First, He did it on the cross, the bondage and right the enemy had over us was broken at the cross. Second, He has given us the power to defeat the enemy in every way!

I have cast out my share of demons over the years, and I have also watched people go through all kinds of gyrations and drama to make deliverance seem more like something you need a college degree to obtain or you have to be very dramatic to make it happen. Neither is true when you walk in the confidence of who Christ is and the power of the Holy Spirit in you deliverance is a natural occurrence around your life.

Discernment is the key to understanding deliverance. Jesus never went looking to perform deliverance and neither should we, God will cause the people who need deliverance to cross our paths, and when they do, we need to be aware that deliverance is necessary and set people free.

Casting out demons has another important part as well. In Acts 19:18,19, we see many came and told their "deeds" and brought their books to be burned. Many who came to be believers had been involved in magic, spells, incantations, and such things. Today we have things that seem innocent but are this type of witchcraft they are horoscopes, astrology, tarot card or psychic readings, anything that places even a meager sense of your future in something that is not God is witchcraft. We have to burn it from our lives eliminate any influence, we might not be like the demonized people of old, but these things will control us if we place even the smallest trust in them.

Casting out demons is sensing an influence in the life of an individual that is not God. It can begin as something natural, but if fed on a regular basis becomes a demonic influence in our lives. We lose control, and we might not even know it. We are called, not allow any influence in our lives except that of the Holy Spirit and also called to set others free. The power of God in you is more than enough to cast out any demon or demonic force.

Monday, July 9, 2018

July 9 Thought for the day....what's following you?

We can't help but influence people. As people see us and talk with us, they are impacted and influenced by who we are, what we say, and what we do. Jesus has called us to have an even more significant impact than we can imagine.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17,18

What does this mean? A "sign" here means a signature, the way we live our lives and the things we do are to so God's signature on our lives. The power we flow in is to be the "stamp" of God's life on our lives. The things we are supposed to do so that God is with us in a world of unbelief. The specific "signs" in our lives are...

- They will cast out devils.
- They will speak with new tongues.
- They will take up serpents.
- If they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them.
- They will lay hands on the sick, and the sick will recover.

Wow, that is some powerful stuff! I will talk about what each of these means in the next few days of "thoughts."

I do want to talk about "follow," what does Jesus mean when he says, "follow?" The idea here is not of passivity but actively not just following but pursuing, being a true disciple of Jesus. It shows someone tirelessly accompanying someone, sticking by their side in every season and situation, it is a commitment to be in step with the message so as a direct result the signs follow the message we live.

These signs are the verification of the message we live so no matter where we are, we should be sharing the message through words, deeds, or words and deeds and these signs will verify the message.

By now you are asking why don't I see them? The answer is in the next word, "believe!" The tense used for this word means "constantly believing." We should always believe that every time we minister to someone, God will begin to put His signature on what we are doing by showing up with these signs. The number of signs and wonders that follow us is determined by the activation of our faith to believe for them. God wants them flowing through us; we need to believe and allow them to flow. So when you preach and share the Gospel, expect things to happen! When you pray for the sick, expect them to be healed. When you confront someone who is demonized, expect that person to be set free. When you are in a situation that requires the miraculous, expect the miraculous to occur. When you need protection, expect God’s hand of protection to be upon you.

If you haven't seen these things in your life, that's OK. However, having read this, you need to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle that flame in you to expect God's signature on you as you begin to apply faith to the message you live and share!

Friday, July 6, 2018

July 6 Thought for the day...be the "Kerux"

Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant by "preach the Gospel?" Did you think that means you need a pulpit and a church? The word preach tells an interesting story. Let's look at the scripture.

"And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

The word Jesus uses to say, "preach" means to be God's spokesman. The title used for a spokesman of the king is called "kerux." This is what Jesus was talking about when he said: "preach." A kerux had an extremely important role. He was respected by all people because he was one of the few people who had direct access to the King.

When the King had a message to deliver, he would summon the kerux. The kerux would sit silent listening to every word of the King so he might deliver the message exactly as the King wanted it. Once the King was done speaking, he had the freedom to ask any and all questions he might have. The kerux was to deliver not only the words of the king but so understand the King's heart and emotions behind it that it came out of their mouth as it came out of the mouth of the King!

The words were not the only message conveyed by the kerux. They must be a person of grace, kindness, strength, and love. They had to deliver the heart of the King in every way. They would only deliver the King's words, not adding or subtracting anything from it. If he were not versed on what the King had to say about a particular subject, he would remain silent. He also was a man of character and integrity because he was representing the King.

So as those who are to "preach" the Gospel we must...

1) Spend time listening to and being with the King
2) We must not only know the Kings words but his heart as well
3) We must be an example of the King in words and action
4) When we are unsure what to do, we must remain at peace until we hear from the King. We must never respond out of our will
5) We must also always be people of character and integrity

You thought preaching meant only to share the Gospel with people...it does, but it is not merely in words but action and attitude as well. So preach the Gospel many times you will use words, but sometimes it will be your actions and attitude will speak more than your words!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

July 5 Thought for the day...reaching your world

Each of us has a purpose for our lives. We are called to influence those around us for the good, to be salt and light but are we all called to pack up and leave everything and everyone to travel around the world? Let's look at how we are to change our world.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19

We will look at this verse then one other version of it today to see what Jesus meant. The word, "nations" here is the word "ethos" or ethnic groups, groups of differing cultures, customs, and civilizations. Jesus is challenging us to look beyond our heritage, skin color, culture, and custom to more than share the Gospel but to make disciples (help people become like Jesus). We used to have to travel around the world to do that, but now the various "ethos" is down the street from us, come into our places of work, play with our kids on their teams. We don't have to travel the world to reach every nation.

Mark's version is slightly different. Mark was the scribe for Peter, so it is really Peter's Gospel that we are reading when he says in 16:15 "And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." The word used for "world" is the Greek word "kosmos" which has its root in systems as in political, a sphere of influence, circle of friends. Paul used this word when describing that Satan is the god of this world, not meaning this earth literally, but he has been given authority over various systems like our political, economic, or social arenas. Peter, under the same inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is challenging us to impact people by working in the systems of this world, our peer groups, social groups, the political world, business world. Any area that has influence in our culture we are to go into the system and impact it for the Kingdom.

Are we to go around the world to impact nations for God? Yes, is the answer! Almost more importantly, we are called to change our world right where God has us, where we work, our neighborhood, the sports teams our kids are on, and the places where we are not comfortable with different economic, racial, cultural groups as well as groups with different customs.

Look around you, there are both an "ethos" and "kosmos" everywhere you look. Where is your closest group you are called to impact? You are salt and light allow the Lord to use you to impact everywhere you are!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4 Thought for the day...encourage one another

To all my readers in the US, Happy Independence day! The United States is so named because it was not a nation divided but one united so I thought for today, it would be appropriate to encourage you about our need for each other.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

The word "exhort" gives the picture of someone who has come closely alongside another person for the sake of speaking to him, consoling him, comforting him, or assisting him with instruction, counsel, or advice. This word is meant to be so helpful; it is translated in many places as "encouragement." A form of this word is what Jesus calls the Holy Spirit as the Comforter (John 14:16)

The word also is in a tense that means to do so continually. We are to not just encourage one another once, but it should be something we always do, it keeps our hearts soft!

The writer is telling us to encourage, comfort, give advice, standing with them on a daily basis. We need to take the time to ask, "How people are doing?" Encourage everyone to know they are appreciated, not just on a one-time, basis but daily (while it is today).

The current condition of our nation is sad, rather than building one another up, we are tearing one another down. Rather than growing through encouragement and unity, we are increasing division. Generally, opinions are as a culture we have a hopeless outlook. The writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to change all of that. You need to be encouraged, and you need to encourage others, daily, continually, regularly. Let's rebuild our unity and let's start with our friends, neighbors, church, and family. From that core, we can rebuild our nation and change our world.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 3 Thought for the day...feeling a tug

It is awesome to me the way the Lord leads. Even in the simplest things he can cause us to make wise purchases, make the correct turn on a highway, and give us great wisdom in everything we do, provided we choose to allow Him to lead.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Romans 8:14

The word "lead" is the idea of an animal being trained to walk properly. A rope is tied around its neck, and the master will tug or pull on the rope until the animal begins to simply follow. If we are willing, this is what the Holy Spirit will do for us.

I don't know about you, but there are times where I can be stubborn. I get comfortable doing things a certain way, being around certain people, even having certain theological understandings. I am glad the Lord loves me enough to allow me to get comfortable. He knows my heart and knows I want so much to be everything He wants me to be so sometimes He has to tug on me to get me to where I need to be! How about you?

It can be scary to follow His lead, but after I have learned to trust in some new area, He no longer needs to tug but gently leads me to the place I want to be!

We always must remember Jesus called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. As He is leading us, we can rest assured that it is the best place, the place we were created to be, and a place of growth and maturity. Our Father will not lie to us, deceive us, nor will He play games with us. He leads us, always into truth, life, and power.

By allowing Him to lead, we reflect the Father's heart in all we say and do. This is the way we prove to the world we are the children of God. Let Him lead you every day. Choose to trust that He has an amazing plan for you, even for today! He loves you and created you for a destiny, if you allow Him to lead, you will get there and get there in His and your perfect timing!

Monday, July 2, 2018

July 2 Thought for the day...what we love to talk about but shouldn't

If there is a problem that is, blatant, out in the open, we will notice and deal with it. However, if it is hidden, chances are we will not see it unless it causes us trouble. Gossip does this to both the person who participates and the recipient. Most people do not realize the damage this "innocent" sin causes.

"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" Ephesians 4:29

I better start by defining gossip, what is one of the primary meanings for the phrase, "corrupt word."
It describes a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts, rumors, or reports of an intimate nature that are none of his business. For instance, gossip would include: Talking about other people's business and things that do not concern you. Repeating what someone else said, even though you don't know whether or not it's true. Talking to others as if you were an authority on matters that are other people's business when, in reality, you don't know what you are talking about.

One of the problems with gossip is that the person who is the victim has no way to defend themselves either they never hear about the gossip or if they do and try to defend themselves, they can be perceived as guilty even in their defense because the gossiper has damaged their reputation. God hates gossip! Gossipers are among those who do not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. That doesn't mean if you gossip once your spirit is in jeopardy, but a habit of gossiping means your heart has been corrupted and that corruption, if not dealt with, will eventually lead to your spirit being corrupted and relationship with the Lord broken.

Paul continues in the next verse, "do not grieve the Holy Spirit," the implication being that corrupt communication causes the Holy Spirit to be grieved, youch! The word gossip in the Greek also means to whisper. As most gossip is based on hearsay and a lack of facts and/or understanding, it is most often whispered. A rule to help you eliminate gossip in your life is to ask yourself, "could I say this in public? Have I said this to the person, face to face?

If we are honest, most of us have gossiped, and whether we know it or not, most of us have been the victim of gossip. When you have a heart to gossip, your heart is generally hurting. Confess your heart to gossip and ask the Lord to heal your heart or wound so you can...Philippians 4:8 Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."