Victory Over Stress!

by Rick
Victory Over Stress!

Help, I’m Getting Stressed Out!!!!

(Phil 4:6,7 NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

For the next few weeks I am going to take a diversion from our current Proverbs series.  Around this time every year I normally teach on Christmas and then on receiving a vision for the New Year.  I am still praying about teaching on vision, but this year, instead of teaching on Christmas, I feel led to teach on handling stress.  Christmas time can be a very stressful time, even for believers.  In the military, this is the time of the year where we have to put extra effort into making sure that our Soldiers are stable, because historically our suicide rates go up during the holiday season.  And to add fuel to the proverbial fire, the economic situation in the United States has caused many to dread the Christmas season, because of what they may or may not be able to purchase for their families.  With that in mind, I have been praying about this for a couple of weeks and I feel led to start this series this morning.  I normally start new series’ on Monday’s, but I felt strongly that I could not delay this.

We will start our journey towards understanding how to Biblically handle stress with one of our greatest stress-relieving tools: PRAYER! In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi he teaches them about receiving and walking in the mind of Christ (2:5), about understanding the power we have in Christ (4:13), and the overwhelming joy that we can tap into by the power of the Holy Spirit (3:1 and 4:4).  Sandwiched in all of this is Paul’s admonition against worry and for prayer.  If we don’t control our impulses to worry, then stress (and getting ‘stressed-out’) is inevitable.  Paul’s answer to worry is prayer.  I remember when I first came to Christ one of the senior ladies in the church, one who I lovingly called “Mother,” used to say: “Baby, if you are going to pray, then don’t worry.  But if you are going to worry, then don’t pray.”  Her advice sounds simple, but it is also profound.  Why?  Because you can’t worry and trust at the same time.  Simply put, if you worry it is because you don’t trust God.  Paul’s counsel was that we should take advantage of the direct access we have to the Father, in the name of Jesus, and take our issues to the Father in prayer.  After we pray, then if we truly believe the Father has heard us and that He is going to manifest His glory, then we have no other option but to trust Him and walk in His peace.  If we worry, after we have prayed, then it is an indictment against our faith.  We will talk more about this tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should take advantage of the direct access you have to the Father, in the name of His Son Jesus, through the vehicle of prayer; and once you do you must then make a decision between trust and worry.  If you believe the Father heard you in prayer and you believe He will respond to your faith, then trust is your only answer and you must resist every temptation to worry.  But if you do worry, then it means you are not trusting God and if you don’t get into trust quick, you might allow that worry to overtake your mind and heart.  Once that happens you will find yourself stressed!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for giving me direct access to You in prayer.  I allow my prayer to order my day, instead of allowing my day to order my prayer.  I pray, in Jesus’ name, in accordance with Your Word, in faith, not doubting, and You hear and respond to my prayers.  I thank You for always hearing me and for manifesting Your glory in my life in mighty ways.  I am a believer and not a doubter, so when I pray I leave my prayer session with the confidence that You will respond to my faith.  I resist every temptation to worry and I never allow negative stress to get a hold of my mind or my heart.  I walk in Your grace, peace, and favor every day of my life.  I live in a STRESS-FREE zone!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Peace WITH God & the Peace OF God

(Phil 4:6,7 NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This morning we continue our new series: “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out” where we are looking at Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.  Yesterday I introduced you to this passage in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi and I started off with emphasizing the importance of prayer.  The benefit of having direct access to the King of kings and the Lord of lords cannot be overstated.  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection surely paid the penalty for sin and gave us access to eternal life, but it also restored us back to the position Adam originally had in the Garden of Eden, where He was able to literally walk with God and have direct fellowship with him.  When Adam had this relationship with the Father there was no inkling of stress, struggle or strain in his world.  Adam only knew peace, power, protection, provision, and purpose.  Adam’s life, before the fall, was a perfect picture of everything we could ever hope for.  But guess what?  Jesus’ death gave us access to that type of life.  The sad reality is, however, that most of us don’t understand that, so we don’t pursue that type of life – by faith.

The Father wants His children to be settled in the fact that they will make it heaven – once we are covered by the Blood of Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and called according to His purpose – but He also wants us to enjoy our life in the earth BEFORE we make it there.  The Father does not want us to be saved and miserably saved.  No, He wants us to have and enjoy life in Him (see John 10:10).

So here we are, just days away from Christmas, and many believers all over the world, are living way beneath the picture I just painted for you in the Garden of Eden, because they have allowed the “cares of this world” to nullify (or choke) the power of the Word of God from operating in their lives (see Mark 4:19).  Instead of casting the care over to the Father (see 1st Peter 5:7), they carry that care with them everywhere they go and the weight of the care burdens them down to the point where they can’t enjoy God, themselves, or anyone/anything else.  Don’t be a care-carrier, be a care-caster and allow the Father to free you from the overwhelming weight of the cares of this world, through the vehicle of prayer.  If you do, then Paul tells us in our text that there is actually a supernatural peace available to us that will baffle any psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other mental health professional.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that once you have ‘peace with God,’ which comes only through accepting Jesus as Lord, then you must subsequently pursue the ‘peace of God,’ which comes only through the vehicle of prayer.  Wouldn’t it be a shame to have made peace with God decades ago, only to make it to heaven and realize that you spent most of your life without the peace of God?  Without the peace of God you will invariably live your life way below the quality of life the Father desires for you to have.  If you don’t have the peace of God today, take a moment to pray and ask the Father for it; and after you do, make the following declaration over your life, out loud, in faith:

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for hearing me in prayer.  I have made peace with You by accepting Your Son Jesus as my Lord.  And now, I have asked You for Your peace to manifest in my life, because I realize that I need it.  Your peace will keep me internally stable, even when everything externally is going haywire.  Your peace will enable me to sleep soundly in the midst of the storms of life.  Your peace passes anything the world can study or understand.  Your peace is supernatural and I declare, by faith, that it operates in my life NOW and it will continue to operate in my life every day I am in the land of the living.  Your peace floods my heart and my mind and I am more than ready to face this day!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Peace Pulling Guard Duty

(Phil 4:6,7 NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This morning we continue our new series: “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out” where we are looking at Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.  We have been dealing with this passage for a couple of days now.  We have learned thus far that our Heavenly Father has given us access to directly to Him, through the vehicle of prayer, in the name of His Son Jesus, and that prayer is one of the best ways we have to deal with negative stress.  We have also learned that after praying, and worshipping during our prayer time (this is where thanksgiving comes in), that we can actually receive God’s peace.  This peace is not the peace that many people think of when they hear the word “peace.”  Some people think quiet or silence is peace, but you can be in the quietest place in the world and still not have peace.  Others think peace is being solitary in a serene place, but you can be the only person on a beautiful island and still not have peace.  Simply put, the peace of God is the peace which God gives.  This peace, as Paul states, far exceeds anything that we can understand.  This is a peace that is imparted directly from the Father and it is the highest possible form of peace that we can ever experience.  It is actually hard for me to describe this peace to those that have never experienced it.  But for those that have, you can bear witness, even while you are reading this, that His peace is supernatural.  When you have God’s peace flowing through your heart you are NOT moved by negative situation.

The believer, having committed his way to God, walking in according with His Word, and being led of His Spirit, has an inner confidence in the Father that he could never experience anywhere or with anyone else. This is not a confidence in his abilities, plans, or power but rather in God’s; and this confidence (a.k.a. faith) is what produces this peace.  Furthermore, Paul tells us that this peace will literally “guard” our heart and our mind.  The Greek word used here has a military connotation.  It literally means ‘to pull garrison’ or ‘guard-duty’.  So not only is this supernatural peace available to us, but when we make our requests known to God, and we cast our cares upon Him, His peace comes in, lifts the burden of the weight of the cares we were previously carrying, and then that same peace dutifully pulls guard duty around our heart and our mind so that we can be free of distressing anxiety.  WOW!  Isn’t that a picture of the way we should all want to live?

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  The Father wants us to bring our cares and concerns to Him in prayer.

2.  Through prayer and His Word the Father gives us insight for living.

3.  Once we apply that insight we can have the confidence of knowing that He is walking with us and we with Him.

4.  That confidence produces a peace that will lift the weight of every burden.

5.  That peace will dutifully pull guard duty around our heart and our mind so that we can live the life the Father desires for us to live – free from distressing anxiety.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for teaching me this truth through Your Word.  I now see how You desire for me to deal with stress and I declare, by faith, that I will.  I will bring my cares and concerns to You in prayer, I will search the scriptures to see what Your Word says about them, I will apply Your Word to my situations, and I will leave my prayer closet with a high level of confidence that Your will will be manifested in my life.  That confidence produces an environment where Your peace is welcome and free.  Your peace comes in, floods my heart, flushes out all worry, fear, and doubt, and then that same peace pulls guard duty around my heart and my mind as I seek to live the life that You desire for me to have!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

On the Other Side of the Challenge!

(Gal 6:9 NIV)  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

This morning we continue our new series: “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out” where we are looking at Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.  I am sending this message out from Georgia.  I was here to celebrate my home church’s (Faith Outreach Christian Life Center) new facility.  My heart was made glad as I was finally able to physically walk around a facility that my spiritual father had been talking about for 15 years.  The celebration was awesome, the facility was dedicated to the Lord, and now we trust that the Father will us that facility for His glory, where burdens will be removed, yokes destroyed, lives changed, and souls saved!  The celebration service was in the afternoon.  In the morning the Father had me to preach in South Carolina.  The message was entitled, “On the Other Side of the Challenge!”  I feel led to share a few of my notes with you this morning.

I would love to be able to tell you that after giving your life to Christ that you would NEVER face another challenge again.  But if I did I would be lying.  The truth is that life in Christ is not without opposition, believers do face challenges, and we also have to deal with the repercussions of our mistakes (everything is not satan’s fault).  Paul is a great example of what can happen when a believer is submitted to God.  Through Paul’s cooperation the Father was able to take Paul on four missionary journeys, take the gospel to the Gentiles, preach the gospel when it was unpopular, continue to preach at the risk of imprisonment and punishment, help start churches everywhere he went, and then mentor the pastors he left behind.  And if that were not enough, he wrote half the New Testament, so he is still blessing us today as we read what he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  By all accounts Paul had an amazing and fulfilling life.  However, what we don’t like to point out is the challenges he faced.  Paul received 39 lashes, like Jesus did, but Paul received that punishment five times.  Three times he was beaten with rods, three times he was shipwrecked, once he was stoned, once he was even bitten by a venomous snake.  I am convinced that Paul faced so many challenges because satan was trying to get him to quit preaching, to throw in the towel, to give up on his assignment.  Why?  Because satan knows that he cannot stop God or what God wants to do in our lives when we are cooperating with the process.  In other words, he can’t beat us when we live by faith.  However, if he can get us frustrated, irritated, and stressed-out (which is what this series is about), then we will quit and we basically beat ourselves.  So with that in mind, let me give you five things to do when you are at the brink of giving up:

1.  Brace YourselfSnap out of it… come to yourself and realize that challenges are part of the process.  If you taking the fight to the enemy, he will fight back.

2.  Face YourselfThere is a difference between persecution and reaping what you have down.  We all make mistakes that cause SETBACKS!  If you made a mistake, repent, as God to forgive you, FORGIVE YOURSELF, and move on!

3.  Trace YourselfThe same God that saw you through YESTERDAY will see you through TODAY and TOMORROW!  Think about ALL the times He has seen you through before!

4.  Pace YourselfYour destiny will not be fulfilled today, this week, this month, or this year.  But you can do things today and tomorrow that will take you INCREMENTALLY closer to God’s expected end for your life!

5.  Grace YourselfWith two things:  (1) God’s Love, (2) God’s vision for your life!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this reminder this morning.  I realize that satan will do all that he can to get me to give up and quit.  But I declare, by faith, that I will not.  I refuse to allow distressing anxiety to overtake me.  I deal with negative stress Biblically and I am able to walk as You would have me to walk in the earth daily.  When facing challenges I realize that there is a blessing waiting for me on the other side of the challenge, and I declare that I will get there by faith.  And when I do, the enemy will be sorry that he challenged me in the first place.  What the enemy meant for evil, You Father will turn in around for my good!  I declare this by faith, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Great Exchange

(Mat 11:28-30 NLT)   Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you.  Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

This morning we continue our new series: “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out” where we are looking at Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.  Christmas is just a few days away and while many are Godly excited about celebrating Jesus’ birth with family and friends, others are weighed down by the traditional requirements society has imposed upon us.  But whether you are carrying the weight of the Holiday season, or any other weight, this morning we hear from Jesus as He beckons us to come to Him to make a Great Exchange.  Jesus tells us to bring our weariness and heavy burdens to Him so that He can exchange them His rest.  Now that is a Great Exchange!

Don’t underestimate the word “rest.”  Godly rest is amazing.  Learning about this type of rest will be one of the major goals of this series.  When we enter into God’s rest we find ourselves free of the distressing anxiety of the world, the weight of ungodly burdens, and the stress, struggle, and strain of ungodly yokes.  When we enter in God’s rest we are free, light, at peace, and Godly optimistic about our present and future.  God’s rest is awesome and it is available to all of us, but check the language Jesus uses.  Who has to initiate the exchange?  We do! Who has to bring the weariness and heavy burdens?  We do! And then after we bring them, who has to be willing to give them over to God?  We do! You would be amazed at how many people I pray with who, while we are praying, the Lord would instruct me to tell them to release the pain, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and weariness they are carrying, so that He can give them His rest right then and there, but they then fail to do so.  Why?  I believe it is because some people are so used to worrying, murmuring, complaining, and holding on to past wrongs that they have become accustomed to negative attention and they just don’t want to let it go.  In other words, some people are so used to living a frustrated life that they either: 1) don’t want to change, or 2) are afraid of the unknown and since they don’t know what life would be like without the turmoil, they simply hold on to what they know.  If this is you this morning, please listen to the heart of God and initiate the exchange.  He is not going to twist your arm and force you to be blessed, but He does call for you to do so.  He actually led me to write this so that you could read and hear His voice in it.  Make the exchange today.  Believe me, your life will never be the same!

The word “yoke” in the text is a reference to a wooden beam that was used between a pair of oxen to allow them to pull a load or plow a field together.  The point was that without the yoke each ox would have to work alone, but with the yoke on the oxen could work together as a team and share the load of the work.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jesus is inviting you to yoke up with Him this morning.  He is holding out His yoke and offering you a partnership.  If you let go of all the stuff you have been yoked up with in the past and exchange those yokes for His yoke, your life will never be the same.  If you yoke up with Jesus He will share the load of your life, He will work right along side you, and together you will make an indelible mark in the world, every where you go.  Will you take Him up on His offer?  Will you make the Great Exchange?

Closing Confession:  Father, I have heard from You this morning and I choose to take You up on Your offer.  I release the pain, bitterness, resentment, and stress that harboring negative energy from my past has caused and I am ready to make the Great Exchange.  I take off all the negatives yokes I have carried in the past and I decide to only put on one yoke, from this day forward, for the rest of my life, and that yoke is Your yoke.  I yoke up with You and as I do You partner with me so that I don’t have to attempt to live my life alone.  You sharing the load of my life gives me complete confidence that I will be able to maximize my purpose and potential before I die!  Let’s go make a difference!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Unwavering Trust!

(Isa 26:3 NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!

This morning we continue our new series: “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out” where we are looking at Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.  I hope you enjoyed Christmas and that you have found a way to take a break from the normal hustle and bustle of life.  I have and the break has been awesome.  I have slept in a few days, took my wife on a nice get-away without the kids, and have just enjoyed my time away from work.  Between ministry, the military, and my family, if I am not careful, stress can surely find a way into my life and once it gets in, it can negatively affect every area of my life.  Another Biblical way to conquer the negative effects of stress is to take control of your thought life.  At the end of the day, you are who you THINK you are.  If you see yourself as blessed, you will subconsciously find ways to walk in the blessing.  If you see yourself as stressed, you will subconsciously find ways to get stressed out.  With that in mind, let’s look at something the prophet Isaiah said about a peace that is available to those who fix and focus their minds on God, because of their underlying trust in Him!

Before we get into it I want you to read this verse from a couple of other translations as well.  This will help you get a better understanding of what Isaiah is teaching us.  God’s Word translation reads: “With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you.”  The Bible in Basic English reads: “The man whose heart is unmoved you will keep in peace, because his hope is in you.”  The Hebrew word translated “mind” in this text can refer to the mind itself or to anything that is formed by the mind – its thoughts, imaginations, plans, schemes, etc.  Whether Isaiah is referring to the mind or what the mind produces, either way, the message is clear that when our mind (thoughts, plans, ideas, imaginations, etc.) is fixed and focused on God, there is an awesome peace that is made available to us.  Now, let’s talk about this peace.  While the English translations say “perfect peace,” in Hebrew what is written is actually ‘shalom shalom.’  Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace and Isaiah repeats it as he writes this verse.  Repeating a word was a Hebrew way of emphasizing a point.  This perfect peace, or peace-peace, is a complete sense of wholeness, contentment, and rest that cannot be disturbed or agitated by pressures of life.  Why?  Because this person completely trusts in His God.

The trust factor is truly the key to this verse and it can easily be overlooked when reading it.  Most people focus on the words “mind” and “peace” but only reason why our mind can be fixed and focused on God, undisturbed by the distressing anxieties of life, is because we trust Him.  Listen, if you have read Today’s Word for any length of time you know that I teach faith.  The just shall live by faith and we cannot please God without it.  Faith is absolutely essential to our walk with the Father.  We are to express confidence (faith) in God and in His Word.  But trust really takes us to another level.  We stand in faith when we believe we know what God is going to do, in accordance with what He promised.  But there are times when we have no clue what is going on or what God is going to do.  On those occasions we better have our trust intact.  Without trust we can easily cross over into doubt and once doubt grips our heart it is only a matter of time before we cross over into fear and unbelief.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must be able to trust God even when you cannot trace Him (know what He is going to do).  Unwavering trust is what opens the door to peace-peace, this perfect peace that cannot be shaken, stirred, or disturbed!  Do you trust God today?

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this Word.  I want that peace-peace that is available to me and I declare that I will receive it today, because I trust You.  I live by faith and I stand on every promise You give me.  But when I don’t have a promise to stand on, and I am not at the faith stage, I still trust You.  I trust You with my whole heart and my unwavering trust in You is what helps me keep my mind fixed and focused on Your goodness.  I close the door to fear, doubt, and unbelief, I walk in faith and trust every day of my life, and I experience the life You desire for me to have!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Get Sweet Sleep!

(Psalm 127:2 KJV) It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

This morning we continue our new series: “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out” where we are looking at Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.  I believe that one of the greatest things you can do to combat negative stress is to get a good night’s rest.  The negative effects of sleeplessness are so detrimental that sleep depravation is recognized as one of the worst torture mechanisms that can be levied on a captive.  Going without sleep can adversely affect you physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually; and the sad reality is that most Americans don’t get enough sleep because of their busy schedules and when they finally lay down their sleep is not ‘sweet’.  With that in mind, let’s look at five things that can help us, as believers, get better sleep:

1.  Establish the Trust Factor and resist worry:  We talked about trust yesterday and trust is a key factor in getting good sleep.  Why?  Because what keeps most people up at night is worry, but you can’t worry and trust at the same time.  Either you are going to trust God or you are going to worry, but you can’t do both.  Solomon said, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).  Don’t allow worry to feed you a steady diet of sorrowful bread.  Trust God and allow Him to give you, as His beloved, sweet sleep.  Before you go to sleep, remind the Father of this scripture, tell Him that you trust Him, and ask Him to GIVE you sweet sleep.

2.  Get rooted and grounded in Love:  When we are completely convinced that the Father loves us, it truly helps us to trust Him, to resist the incapacitating power of fear, and to enter into God’s rest.  John said, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1st John 4:18).  When you are rooted and grounded in God’s love fear has no power over you.  Allow the Father’s love to flood your heart and your mind, and as you do fear will be flushed out.

3.  Rest in the fact that God is your protector:  If God is IN you, ON you, WITH you, and FOR you, what do you have to be afraid of?  David said, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).  David’s son Solomon said, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Prov 3:24)

Trust that God will protect you and sleep in peace and your sleep with be SWEET.

4.  Remember that God is still up:  The psalmist said, “Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps” (Psalm 121:4).  We know that God never goes to sleep.  Now this might sound funny, but there have been times when I, just before going to sleep, would say this to God, “Father, you are up, so there is no need in both of us being up.  I am going to sleep.”  He is up so that you don’t have to be.  GO TO SLEEP!

5.  Have fun:  If you are miserable all day, then you will more-than-likely be the same at night.  Don’t live a miserable life.  Enjoy your life in Christ and have FUN!  Solomon said, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22).  If you have fun during the day, you will also have fun while you sleep and your sleep will be sweet!

Closing Confession:  Father, I establish the trust factor in my life.  My unwavering trust in You enables me to resist worry at all costs.  I refuse to stay up worrying.  I am also rooted and grounded in Your love.  Your love enables me to resist every inkling to fear.  Your love floods my heart and my mind and as it does, it flushes out all fear.  Fear has no power over me and I am convinced that You Father are my protector.  You are on me, in me, with me, and for me; I have nothing to be afraid of.  You are always up; therefore I don’t need to be.  I have fun in You all day and then I go to sleep with a smile on my face, a song in my heart, and Your rest in my spirit.  When I sleep my sleep is sweet.  I get sleep and rest daily!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Vision for 2011

This will be the last message I send out this year.  I pray that you have enjoyed 2010 and that the messages you have received via Today’s Word have been a blessing to you.  I also pray that the Father would continue to give me fresh revelation and insight concerning what to write every day, so that both you and I could have a fresh Word every morning to help get our day started off right.

Last Sunday the Father had me to preach a message entitled, “The Why and the Where of Your Life!”  The point of the message was basically this: if you can look back and understand why you were born (that’s your God-given purpose) and also be able to look forward and see, through your spiritual eyes, where you are going (that’s your God-given vision), then your why and your where will inform the what of 2011.  The following is a portion of my notes, I hope this blesses you as you prepare for 2011:

This is a time when we should:

  1. Take self-inventory for the past year.
    1. Have I made any progress?
    2. Am I where I thought I would be?
    3. Am I where God’s expects me to be?
    4. What did I do right?
    5. What did I do wrong?
  1. Prepare for the New Year.
    1. What does the Father want me to do in 2011?
    2. What portions of my destiny will be fulfilled in 2011?
    3. c. Do I have the faith to see it?
    4. d. Do I have the faith to see myself doing it?
    5. e. Do I have the faith to partner with God to make it happen?

(Jer 1:5 MSG)  “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.”

  • God told Jeremiah that he had a specific assignment! – the WHY!
  • This assignment was determined BEFORE he was ever born.
  • Jeremiah’s job, and all of ours for that matter, is to find this purpose, because if we don’t we will aimlessly wander our way through life.
  • God’s provision is tied to his purpose.  In verses 6-12 we see that God provided Jeremiah everything he needed to fulfill his Godly assignment.
  • If Jeremiah would have pursued something else, that provision would not have been there.

Dr. Myles Munroe explains it this way:

“If you pursue the wrong assignment, you’re going to need things you can’t get, because the provision isn’t there unless the vision is yours.  It’s someone else’s assignment, and he has his own warehouseSometimes, people make demands on God that He can’t supply because He can’t give us what doesn’t belong to us.  Again, knowing God’s will for your life is the key to your prosperity.”

What do we learn from this?

  1. 1. If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill!
  • God is obligated to provide what you need to fulfill His assignment.
  1. His instruction is equal to His Injection!
  • God will never instruct you to do something that He has not already injected you with
  1. Understanding Your Purpose frees you to Celebrate others without jealousy.
  • Don’t hate, celebrate!

(Prov 29:18 AMP)  Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]–blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

Let’s break down Proverbs 29:18:

  • The word translated vision literally means revelation.
  • The word translated perish means to loosely stumble.
  • The word translated keepth means to guard, protect, and take heed to.
  • The word translated law means the instruction, direction, and teachings of God.
  • The word translated happy literally means blessed or empowered to prosper.
  • Read in this light, our texts tells us that, “Those who do not hear from God and receive His revelation, loosely stumble through life, but those who take heed to and protect His instructions, direction and teachings are be blessed and empowered to prosper.” (Piña Version)

A Vision helps you focus your efforts.  You can’t do everything!

(1st Cor 6:12 MSG)  Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

Just because you CAN do something, it does not mean that you should.  People with vision know what they should do and they focus their efforts therein.  People without vision are people that fail to operate in discipline, because they lack the direction to make the right decisions.

Example:  Let’s say a woman wanted to lose 20 lbs. this year.  How does she establish her base for motivation?  She gets a picture – a vision – of herself 20 lbs. lighter.  She then keeps that vision before her whenever she is about to eat.

I define discipline as the ability to make the proper decisions that will take you towards a desired end.  So, while she is eating, if she keeps the vision before her and she allows the vision to become the ruler by which she makes the decisions on what to and what not to eat, then she would be operating in discipline and she would someday arrive at her expected end.

Now, if she went into Golden Corral and paid $8.95, she would have legal right to ALL the items on the buffet.  But just because she CAN eat all the items on the buffet, it does not mean that she should.  If she keeps her vision before her and she operates in discipline, she will avoid the wrong foods, eat the right foods, and still remain on course to arrive at her expected end.

In this case, where there is no vision, the FOOD will perishJ!

What does Vision provide?

  • A ruler by which to judge your decisions.
  • A guide for the overall direction of your life.
  • A basis for prayer.
  1. A vision enables you to be focused in your prayer life.
  2. A vision enables you to be focused in your study life.
  3. A vision enables you to know what to pray, to put faith pressure on God to open doors, to bring to pass what you are believing Him for!

Dr. Munroe says, “The primary value of purpose is the translation of vision derived from purpose into a plan of action.  Purpose maximizes energy and gives time meaning.  Purpose protects you from being busy, but not effective… Purpose that is translated into a vision causes things to happen and people to act.  This is true because purpose creates vision, vision produces goals, goals permit the development of a plan and a plan allows for an orderly journey.”

In Closing:

  1. Once you understand the WHY and the WHERE of your life, you can start to lay out the WHAT (what you will do) of 2011.
  1. You are not going to arrive at your final destination in 2011, but there are some things the Father wants you to do in 2011 that will take you incrementally closer to His expected end for your life.
  1. Spend time in prayer between now and the end of January.
  1. Write down whatever the Father gives you in prayer.
  1. STEP OUT in Faith to bring those things to pass!
  1. Revisit the Vision periodically to make sure you are staying on course!

(2nd Timothy 4:7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

  • Paul never could have said that he finished HIS course if he did not know what it was!

My prayer for you is that you:

  1. 1. Find it!
  2. 2. Follow it!
  3. 3. Finish it –BEFORE YOU DIE!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Taking Your Relationship to the NEXT LEVEL

(Phil 1:21 &Rom 8:18 KJV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain… For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

First of all, the customary thing is for me to wish you a Happy New Year, but I am going to do better than just wish you a Happy New Year, I am praying that you experience the best year of your life; and to help, I am called to provide you God’s Word on a daily basis.  I gave my life to Christ August 27th, 1995 and if there is anything that I have learned over the past 15 years of walking with the Father is that His Word must be the foundation for our walk.  So with that in mind, I ask you to join with me as we journey through the Word this year.  The Father had me to start Today’s Word in 1997 with eight of my friends in Texas and here we are, over 13 years later, and it now goes out to over 2,000 people daily, all over the world.  The Father has had me teach on many topics and through various series’ over the years.  As you know, we are still walking our way through the book of Proverbs.  The Proverbs series started over two years ago and it will probably take us into next year before we can get through the entire book.  Since this series is so long, the Father periodically takes me on excursions through other mini-series’, like the one we are on right now.  This series started out entitled, “Help!  I’m getting STRESSED Out – Biblical ways to handle and deal with negative stress.”  But over the Christmas break the Father dealt with me about the title and I believe He led me to change it to: “Victory over Stress!”  We don’t want to just deal with negative stress, or simply handle it, but rather conquer over it so that it has no dominion or power over us.  That’s the type of life the Father desires for us to have.

2010 was a difficult year for many.  Personally I experienced some of my greatest challenges in 2010, but I also – by the grace of God – experienced some of my greatest victories!  As believers, while we don’t go out looking for challenges, challenges do give us an opportunity to stand in faith, to believe God, to resist satan, and to watch God show-up and show-out in mighty ways on our behalf.  The Father never promised us a perpetual picnic, but He did give us His Spirit, His Word, and His power, so that we can come out of every challenge ON TOP! It’s not that believers don’t face challenges, it’s just that we face them in-faith, confidently believing that God’s glory will be manifested through it and that at the end of the day, the enemy will regret that he ever messed with us.  It’s almost like if satan knew any better he would leave us alone.  The more he messes with us, the greater our testimony.  As we prepare for 2011, let’s develop the attitude of Paul.  Paul said, “For me, to live IS CHRIST.”  What if the enemy said, “Ok Paul, if you for to live is Christ, then I am going to kill you”?  Paul would say, “That’s OK.  Because for me, to die IS GAIN!”  So what if the enemy then said, “Well, then I won’t kill you and I won’t let you live in peace, I will make you suffer”?  Paul would say, “That’s OK too, for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us!”  In other words, if you let me live I’ll serve the Lord, if you kill me I’ll go on to glory, and if you make me suffer I will have a bigger crown when I get there!  There is NOTHING you can do to stop me from walking with the Father and maximizing His purpose and potential in my life! That’s the type of attitude we need to have as we prepare for 2011.

So what does this mean to you today? Don’t let whatever pain you may have experienced in 2010 keep you from the progress the Father wants you to experience in 2011.  Develop the attitude of Paul, thank God for what’s behind you, but focus on what’s before you.  2011 can be the BEST year of your life, if you decide to partner with God, to pursue Him on a greater level, to tune your ear to His voice, and to obey Him AT ALL costs.  The Father wants nothing less than ALL of you.  Will you give yourself FULLY over to God this year?  If so, you will experience Him like never before and whatever challenges you face will pale in comparison to your relationship with the Father!  Developing your relationship is the key to unlocking all He has for you!

Closing Confession:  Father, I look back and I say, “Thank You” for both the blessings and the challenges.  2010 is behind me and I enter 2011 with a “Forward-Ever, Backward-Never” mentality.  I develop the attitude of Paul and I refuse to allow anything or anyone to keep me from growing in You, from doing Your will, and from maximizing my purpose and potential before I die.  This year I strive to take my relationship with You to the next level.  I will pursue You, not things, with a bulldog-tenacity.  I want to know You greater.  My heart yearns for greater intimacy with You and to hear Your voice clearer and more frequently.  As I experience You on a greater level in 2011, ‘the best year of my life’ will simply be the by-product of our relationship!  I declare this by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Taking Control of Your Thought Life

(II Cor 10:3-5 KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Most negative stress is caused by worry, which is basically negative meditation.  Meditation is powerful.  Several times in the Bible the Father has instructed us to meditate on His Word day and night.  However, many choose to meditate on negative situations, past failures, and impending challenges.  This negative meditation, if not controlled, can lead to depression, and if a believer ever gets to the ‘depressed stage’ he or she poses no threat to the enemy or his kingdom.  This is why the enemy seeks to attack us in the arena of our minds.  Paul teaches us this morning that we have the ability to literally take thoughts “captive.”  Let’s take a closer look at this:

1.  We Start off with a thought:  Our minds are flooded with thoughts from either (1) ourselves, (2) the adversary, or (3) God.  What we must do is decipher and decode the origin of the thoughts before we allow them to become our actions.  Every action starts with a thought.  One quick way of knowing whether or not a thought came from God is to check it against the Word of God.  When a thought is contrary to God’s Word, then it surely did NOT come form God.  The Spirit of God will never lead you contrary to the Word of God.

2.  Our thoughts create Images (imaginations):  We do not think in words, we think in images.  When we allow impure or negative thoughts to enter our minds unchallenged, we will soon see the images these thoughts create.

3.  If not controlled, those images can create Strongholds:  Uncontrolled thoughts create unruly images.  Unruly images, if not challenged with the Word of God, create strongholds that are difficult to escape from.  In context, the word stronghold was a reference to a fortified city; a city with high and strong walls designed to keep things in and out.  A person that is trapped in addictions to pornography, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sexual immorality, gossip, and etc. are those who have allowed impure thoughts to create impure images unchallenged and now they find themselves trapped in fortified strongholds – in their own minds.  The same can be said of those who allow negative thoughts to flow unchecked.  Before they realize it they are trapped behind the walls of distressing anxiety and they can’t seem to find a way out.

Tomorrow we will look at the ‘flip-side’ of this verse, at how we can allow our thought life to literally trap us behind the walls of God’s blessings so that negative thoughts can’t get it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that what we think about is of the utmost importance.  If we give our minds over to the wrong thoughts, those thoughts will create the wrong images, and if unchecked those negative images will create a negative stronghold that will be difficult to get out of.  Now, notice I say difficult, but not impossible.  All things are possible to us who believe.  If this message describes you this morning, then there is hope and that hope is in Christ!  Through meditating on God’s Word and through the power of His Spirit you CAN break out of the negative strongholds you have allowed yourself to be trapped in!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for exposing this scheme of the enemy.  I master my mind through the power of the Holy Spirit, I take control of every thought, and I examine each thought against Your Word.  I apply those thoughts that that line up with Your Word and as I do I will be causing my way to be prosperous.  I also cast down every thought that does not line up with Your Word.  I will not allow impure thoughts to snare me today, nor any day.  You have given me the power to succeed and I am successful in my Mind, my Mouth, and my Methods!  I will never be the same.  Never be the same.  Never be the same.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Taking Control of Your Thought Life (Part II)

(II Cor 10:3-5 KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Yesterday we discussed how worry is basically negative meditation and how dangerous negative mediation can be.  If unchecked, negative thoughts will create negative images and if meditated on long enough the negative images will create a stronghold that will keep you trapped in your own mind.  This leads to depression and low self-esteem.  Once we get to this stage we pose no threat to the enemy or his kingdom, which is why satan does his best to attack us in our mind.  But if this process works in the negative, then it must also work in the positive.  Let’s look at the flip side of this:

1. Reprogrammed Thoughts:  The Bible teaches that we should meditate on the Word of God day and night (Jos 1:8; Ps 1:1-3).  I was 23 yrs. old when I gave my life to Christ.  It took 23 years to program my mind the way it was, and believe me (being from Brooklyn) my thought life was not the best.  I learned through Bible Study and worship that if I wanted to grow in Christ my mind had to be renewed (Ro 12:1,2) and that it could only happen through the Word of God.  I read and studied the Word of God and made myself think about it as I went throughout the day.  Slowly but surely, I experienced mental transformation.  I was deprogrammed and the reprogrammed through God’s Word.  The Greek word Paul uses in Romans 12:2 to explain the “renewing” of the mind is actually the word metamorphosis.  This is no small change.  A caterpillar, for example, comes out as a butterfly on the other side of the metamorphic process.  The butterfly is SO different from the caterpillar that you would have a hard time recognizing it as the same insect.  That’s what happened to me and that is what I pray will happen to you.  I think differently and therefore I AM a different person (Ps 23:7) and this was no subtle change.  Once your mind is reprogrammed towards the things of God you are more open to receive, believe, and walk in His Word.  Why?  Because you don’t see things the way they are, you see things the way YOU are.  Once you are different, then your entire world will be different!

2.  Lead to Reprogrammed Images:  Once your thought life is reprogrammed then your image life will be as well.  We learned yesterday that your thoughts lead to your images (imagination).  God starts to show you things in your mind’s eye that you have never seen before.  You start to get desires for things you never had desires for.  You start seeing yourself successful, peaceful, prosperous, loving, compassionate, kind, etc.  In the world, salesmen are taught that they need to ‘see’ themselves closing the deal.  In Christ, when you meditate on the Word of God, you will ‘see’ yourself doing things people said you could not do, going placed they said you could not go, and having things they said you could not have.  Pure thoughts lead to Righteous Images!  This is extremely important because you will rarely receive what you cannot perceive.  But once you can SEE it, then it is only a matter of time before it manifests in your life.

For the sake of time I will stop here today.  We will pick this up from here tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that if you have allowed negative mediation to ensnare you in a negative stronghold, there is HOPE and that HOPE is found in God’s Word.  When you gave your life to Christ your spirit was saved instantly, but your soul – which is comprised of your mind (your thinker), emotions (your feeler), and will (your chooser) – must be saved progressively.  As you meditate on God’s Word you will begin to see yourself as God sees you and as you do you will begin to release faith for those images to come to pass.  Once you start down this road you will find yourself stressing less and enjoying life more!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to see myself the way You see me.  I meditate Your Word day and night and as I do, Your Word produces Godly images.  As I see those images I declare by faith that I will believe them, and operate in faith in order that they may come to pass in my life.  My spirit was saved the instant I gave my life to Christ, but my soul is being saved today and every day as I endure the metamorphic process that will produce an entirely new ME for You.  I declare this by faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Taking Control of Your Thought Life (Part III)

(II Cor 10:3-5 KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Yesterday we learned how we can literally be deprogrammed and then reprogrammed through the transforming power of the Word of God.  Once we are reprogrammed we will start to think Godly thoughts and those Godly thoughts will produce Godly images – we will see ourselves as successful, peaceful, prosperous, loving, compassionate, kind, etc.  Seeing ourselves the way God sees us is extremely important for many reasons, but let me give you two this morning.  First, it is important because without seeing yourself the way God sees you, you will find it hard to cooperate with God.  Let me explain.  When God looks at you He sees you a certain way.  Not only does He see you, but He also sees your future; He even sees the legacy you will leave behind (our decisions impact our children and our children’s children).  So when He speaks to you and tells you to do something He has taken all of that into consideration.  However, if you fail to see yourself the way God sees you (failing to take your future into consideration and only focusing on the mistakes of your past), then you will not have the faith to cooperate with God and your lack of faith will hinder Him from operating in your life.  Stated another way, God never speaks to our ‘right now’ stage, He speaks to our ‘to be.’  He wants to stretch us, but if we have a negative self-image we will be so stuck in the past that we won’t be able to see our future, nor strive towards it.

Secondly, it is important because you will never release faith for something you can’t see.  If God wants us to live by faith (and He does), and we won’t release faith for something that we cannot ‘see’ (and we won’t), then it stands to reason that He wants us to develop the ability to see (spiritually) the future He desires for us to have.  The Father painstakingly took the time to help Abram see himself the way He saw him.  We all know that Jehovah’s desire for Abram (aka Abraham) was that He would become a father of many nations and the at the entire earth would be blessed through him.  However, Abram was having a hard time seeing himself that way because he met God when he was 75 years old, his wife was 65 years old, and they had never produced any children.  Even after walking with Jehovah for many years the relationship was still unproductive.  But one night Jehovah took Abram outside and asked him to look at the stars.  God asked, “Can you number them?”  Of course Abram could not, and God said, “That’s how many children you are going to have.”  Then one day God took Abram outside, in the desert, on the sand, and asked Abram to look at the sand.  As he was looking the Lord asked, “Can you number the grains of sand?”  Of course Abram could not, and God said, “That’s how many children you are going to have.”  What was God doing?  God was attempting to get Abram to see himself the way he saw him, because once Abram did, once he was able to SEE IT, then he was able to release his faith FOR IT, and then BECOME IT!  If it was daytime Abram could look down (at the sand), if it was nighttime he could look up (at the stars), but either way he had the motivation he needed to stretch his self-image to the point where he could believe God!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that if you want to cooperate with God and to live by faith you are going to have to put yourself (God is not going to force you) through the process of mind renewal, so that you can see yourself the way God sees you.  Once you do, once you get an image of yourself being what God desires for you to be, then you will have the faith to STEP OUT and do those things required to bring that image to pass!  And once you STEP OUT God will back you up!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this Word.  I now see the importance of agreeing with Your estimation of me.  I declare, by faith, that I develop a self-image that lines up with Your image.  I am able to see myself, by faith, the way You see me and I keep that image before me.  That image becomes my focal point and I then step out in faith to DO those things that are required of me to produce the image that I see, that came from You. Once I step out in faith, I know You will be there to back me up every step of the way, because You are pleased when I live by faith!  I am excited about my future!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Taking Control of Your Thought Life (Part IV)

(II Cor 10:3-5 KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been looking at this passage all week.  Yesterday we looked at Abram (aka Abraham) as an example of someone who was able to develop an image of what God wanted them to be, and he was then able to release his faith, along with the corresponding action, in order to bring to make the image a reality.   This morning we come back to Paul’s teaching and we circle around to the final thought.  When I taught you the negative aspect of this verse I explained how negative thoughts create negative images, and if negative images, if unchecked, can create negative strongholds.  We looked at all three aspects – thoughts, images, and strongholds – from the negative, but to this point we have only looked at two of the three on the positive side.  I have yet to discuss the “stronghold” portion, so we will address it this morning as we close out the week.

If it is true (and it is) that negative thoughts and images can eventually produce a stronghold (walled cities) that will make it difficult for Godly and positive thoughts to make it into the forefront of the arena of our mind, then the opposite must also be true.  Pure thoughts and righteous images, over the process of time, will not only lead to Godly actions that will produce Godly results – making our way prosperous so that we can enjoy good success (see Joshua 1:8) – but they will eventually produce a similar situation to the negative stronghold.  In other words, if we meditate on the Word long enough we can actually find ourselves living in a walled city, but not a city of sin, stress, and frustration; a city of blessing, peace, and Godly prosperity.  Once you get to this stage it will be hard for negative thoughts to penetrate your walls of Godly protection and you will be so convinced of the Godly images you have meditated on that when the enemy attempts to get you to see yourself defeated, you will quickly disregard that image and refocus on God’s image of you.  You will walk around with a hedge of protection (Ps 34:7), angels become your walls and blessings become your neighborhood.  Who would not want to move to Blessing BLVD? Who would not want to build a house on Prosperous Way? That is God’s desire for our lives.  He wants to bless us, keep us, and protect us; but it all starts with US!  We must change our ‘Stinking Thinking’ through the Word of God and allow our minds to be reprogrammed, so we can see the changes and the blessings in our lives!

So what does this mean to you today? If you submit to the process of mind renewal, allowing yourself to be deprogrammed and then reprogrammed through the Word of God, you can actually get to the stage where you are SO conditioned to think God’s way that it will be extremely difficult for the enemy to get a hold of your mind with his negative thoughts of fear, failure, and defeat.  This is the stage I pray you desire to get to and I pray that you do.  It won’t happen overnight, but if you submit to the process, little-by-little, it WILL happen!

Closing Confession:  Father, I now understand that one of the greatest ways of dealing wit negative stress is to deprogram my mind and then reprogram it to line up with Your Word.  Once I start to think like you desire for me to think, and those thoughts produce Godly images of success and victory, I will stress less and enjoy life more.  I also know that if I live this way long enough my mindset will become so fixed and focused on You that ‘walls’ of protection will be established around my mind and it will be like I am TRAPPED behind walls of blessing, where negative thoughts of fear, failure, and defeat will have a hard time getting in.  I want to arrive that this stage and I declare by faith that I will.  Little-by-little my mind will be renewed and I WILL arrive at the place where I am SO conditioned to thinking Your way that it will be second nature for me to operate in faith and it will be strange for me to operate in fear or stress.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

God will ALLOW whatever you ALLOW

(John 14:27 AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  All last week we dealt with taking control of your thought life.  A few weeks ago we started off this series by teaching on ‘the peace of God’.  What Jesus said in John chapter 14 allows us to connect the two.  In chapter 13 Jesus is fully aware that His death is extremely close.  With that in mind He starts to prepare the disciples for His departure.  Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you for a little while longer.  Then you will look for me, but you won’t find me.  I tell you just as I told the people, “You cannot go where I am going.”  It is easy to see how this could disturb the disciples.  This is a group of men who walked away from their careers to follow Jesus and they had been following Him for over three years.  For three years all they had known was Jesus, His teachings, His ministry, and His actions.  His life was their lives, their lives were His life.  So it’s easy to see how Jesus’ seemingly sudden departure could cause consternation.

Simon Peter, the one disciple who was never shy and never short on words, asked, “Lord, where are you going?”  Jesus had tried to explain this before, but the possibility of Jesus’ death and a subsequent resurrection was hard to fathom.  Instead of attempting to explain the process Jesus simply answered, “You can’t go with me now, but later on you will.”  Peter was not the type of guy who would accept an answer like that easily.  Peter questioned back: “Lord, why can’t I go with you now?  I would die for you!”  The thought of being disconnected from Jesus was obviously causing Peter distressing anxiety.  Peter did not want to hear about the possibility of some future reunion; Peter wanted to continue the fellowship he was having with Jesus and I believe it is safe to say that the other disciples felt the same way.  I don’t fault them for getting upset, for allowing their hearts to be filled with fear, fret, and doubt.  This was a BIG DEAL for them and if they sat around thinking about it they would surely ‘stress-out.’

Jesus perceived what Peter was feeling and I am sure He sensed the same thing in the hearts of the other disciples.  So what would Jesus, the King of Glory, say in a situation like this?  What answer could the Lord of Lords provide to the stress their were experiencing?  Jesus simply said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in Me” (John 14:1).  That’s it!  No laying on of hands, no miraculous power-of-God demonstration, no voice from Heaven, nothing like that.  Jesus knew that they had ALLOWED their hearts to be troubled and He simply told them NOT to do it and to simply trust God and Him.  The Greek word used for “troubled” in this verse is a word that means: to cause one inward commotion; to take away calmness of mind; to disquiet; to make restless; to render anxious or distressed; to perplex the mind of one by suggesting doubts.  Tomorrow we will pick it up from here and take it to the 27th verse.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Just like you can ALLOW your heart to be troubled, you have the power to refuse it.

2.  Faith is a choice, just like fear is a choice.

3.  You cannot trust and worry at the same time, and you get to CHOOSE which one YOU will do.

4.  God will allow whatever you allow; He will not override YOUR choice!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I have given the enemy more credit than he deserves.  I have the power to allow myself to be troubled, to be stressed out, and to accept the negative suggestions that lead to fear, doubt, and unbelief.  But I also have the power to resist, refuse, and stand against those suggestions.  I declare, by faith, that in 2011 I will allow my mind to be reprogrammed, through Your Word, so that I can get to the point where thoughts of fear, failure, doubt, and distress will have a hard time getting in.  Instead of ALLOWING the enemy’s suggestions to run roughshod through my mind, I will ALLOW Your Word to be the foundation for my life and living!  I choose trust and not trouble today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

God will ALLOW whatever you ALLOW (Part II)

(John 14:27 AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Yesterday I introduced you to this passage, where Jesus is preparing His disciples for His impending departure (i.e. death, burial, and resurrection).  The disciples were obviously disquieted by the mere thought of life without Jesus and their frustrations were expressed through the always outspoken Peter.  To calm their cares Jesus did not perform any miracle, He did not lay hands on the disciples, He did not setup a prayer line, nor did He teach/preach a long lesson/sermon.  All Jesus said was: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in Me” (John 14:1).  That’s it!  With that statement Jesus was acknowledging the fact that the disciples were stressed, troubled, and perplexed, but He was also acknowledging the fact that they did not need to be.  Faith is a choice, just like fear is a choice.  Trust is a choice, just like worry is a choice.  The disciples had allowed their hearts to be troubled.  In other words, just like they had the power to allow trouble to enter into their hearts, they also had the power to resist it, to cast it down, to force it out, and to step back over into faith, peace, and trust.

Understanding this is paramount because countless believers give satan too much credit for what goes on in their lives.  The disciples’ stress was not caused by satan, but rather by their emotions and while it is understandable, the Word of God teaches us how we can rule over our emotions.  Emotional Christians are tossed to and fro by every change of life.  Guess what?  Life is full of change.  You cannot grow without changing and you cannot change without choosing to let go of the ‘kung-fu grip’ you have on your past.  Jesus was attempting to graduate the disciples to the Holy Spirit stage.  In the rest of this chapter He teaches them about the Holy Spirit.  In verses 16-20 Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Okay, Jesus was going to have to leave, but what He was offering was actually better.  While He was alive in the earth He was external to them, but He was offering THE SAME type of fellowship, relationship, and guidance, but rather internally instead of externally.  This conversation goes on for a while.  Two chapters later Jesus said, “Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:6,7).  Once again, they did not need to be filled with grief, that was their choice.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  God has given you the power to rule over your emotions, but YOU must do so.

2.  If you allow your emotions to rule you, you will live an unstable and possibly unfruitful life.

3.  You cannot grow without changing and you will not receive tomorrow holding on to yesterday.

4.  Once you accept the change you can overcome the stress and get excited about your future!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this teaching.  I now realize how I have allowed myself to be frustrated over things that I should have been excited about.  Life is full of change, and I cannot grow without changing, so I accept the progressive process of my development in You.  I won’t allow change the cause negative stress, but what I will do is get excited about what You want to do in my life and as I change, as I grow, as I develop, and as I mature in You, I will become more and more like Jesus in the earth.  So that I can boldly declare that as He is, so am I in this world!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

God will ALLOW whatever you ALLOW (Part III)

(John 14:27 AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with this passage for a couple of days now and I think we can all identify with the distressing anxiety the disciples were facing at the thought of being separated from Jesus.  Jesus’ answer to their stress was simple, He said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in Me” (John 14:1).  In other words, “You are allowing yourselves to be overcome with grief and just like you have the power to allow the grief to come in, you also have the power to resist it and push it out.”  God is a tripartite being (Father, Son, and Spirit) and so are we (Spirit, Soul, and Body).  You and I are spirits (that’s who we really are), we possess a soul (our mind, emotions, and will), and we live in a body.  Since your spirit is who you really are, then your spirit can actually tell your soul (where your emotions reside) how to feel.  We have learned thus far that we can either allow our emotions to rule over us or we can rule over them.  Believe me, I have tried both and the latter is much better.  That is basically what Jesus was teaching.

Yesterday we covered the fact that Jesus reassured them by promising to provide another comforter, the Holy Spirit Himself, to reside IN them.  While Jesus was in the earth God Himself was WITH them, but after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection the Holy Spirit would be given and they could then have God Himself IN them.  This promise of an indwelling of God’s presence seemed to do little to calm their angst.  So in verse 27 Jesus basically repeats what He said in verse 1, but this time with a promise of giving them His peace.  Notice that Jesus differentiates this peace from the peace we can receive from the world.  The world defines peace as: freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, or anxiety; a state of tranquility or serenity.  But as a believer we can have peace even in the midst of these things.  We can have complete peace in the midst of annoyances; we can be settled in the peace of God even with distractions all around us.  Why?  Because for us, peace is not about the absence of conflict, but rather about the presence of God.

Instead of taking away the distressing anxiety, instead of laying hands on them and commanding the stress to leave, Jesus took another route and opted to give them His peace.  This is significant because what most people want is for God to take away all the things that are causing them stress, and Jesus shows us here that God sometimes gives us what we need to deal with, and conquer the situations, instead of being delivering from them.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  God is not always going to deliver you FROM challenges, but He will give you what you need to conquer them—delivering you IN it, rather than FROM it.  Remember, you cannot be an overcomer if you never have anything to come over!

2.  The peace of God is not about the absence of conflict, but rather about the presence of God.

3.  Don’t let your feelings tell you how to feel.

4.  You can have peace internally, even when everything externally seems to be going haywire.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this teaching and I thank You for Your peace!  Your peace comes as a result of Your presence.  I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Your Spirit lives in me every second of every day.  Your presence in me gives me what I need to face whatever challenges arise in my life.  I will not allow external challenges to disturb my internal peace.  When situations arise that I have to come over, I declare, by faith, that I will overcome them.  I am a believer and not a doubter.  I walk by faith and not by fear.  I am the victor and not the victim.  You are IN me, ON me, WITH me, and FOR me, who can be against me?  Not only do I win the external fight, but I win the internal one as well.  Negative stress has no power over me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

God will ALLOW whatever you ALLOW (Part IV)

(John 14:27 AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with this passage for a few days now and I have a release to move on to something else, but before I do I want to emphasis the title of this mini-series within this series: God will allow whatever you allow.  I run into far too many believers who either blame satan, God, or others for everything that happens to them; conveniently omitting themselves from the blame line, as if their decisions had nothing to do with their condition.  I preached a message one time entitled, “Making Wise Decisions.”  In the message I focused on Adam in the Garden of Eden.  Adam had it all and he lost it all because of a foolish decision on his part.  God had given him:

1.  Purpose:  Adam was to work and take care of the garden.  Adam had a purpose, he had something to do.

2.  Provision:  God made sure that all of Adam’s needs were met.  Adam’s only need to this point was food and God gave him an entire garden (more like a forest) of fruit bearing trees to eat from.

3.  Parameters:  Provision is dangerous without parameters.  God told Adam that he could eat from every tree except one.  This gave Adam the power of choice.  Right or wrong, good or bad, the choice was going to be his to make.

4.  Power:  With everything in place, the Lord brought Adam all the beasts of the field and birds of the air and God let Adam “choose” whatever he was going to name them.  Whatever he named them that would be their name.  In other words, God gave Adam the power to define.

5.  Partnership:  After Adam started naming the animals he developed another need; a need for a partner.  He was all alone.  God made Eve from out of Adam and brought her to Adam.  This was a wonderful relationship.  Adam now had a relationship with God and a thriving relationship with another human.

Was it God’s will for Adam to get kicked out of the Garden?  Absolutely not!  But did Adam get kicked out?  Why?  Because Adam chose to disobey God.  Now, when Adam had the fruit in his hand did God knock it out?  No!  Did God intervene and stop him from messing his life up?  No!  Why?  Because God will allow whatever we allow.  God did not make Adam do it, but He did not stop him either.  In the passage we have been dealing with Jesus did not make the disciples accept the grief, but He did not stop it either.  Jesus simply highlighted to them that they had the power to stop the grief, just like they had the power to allow it in, in the first place.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must take responsibility for your own decisions and stop blaming God, satan, or others for everything that happens to you.  Ask yourself: “What role have I played in my life what it is today?”  If you would be honest you would recognize the fact that you had a significant role in getting you where you are today.  God is there to help you, and He loves you, but He will not forcefully stop you from making a mistake.  And when you do, don’t blame Him, because if you had listened to Him you would have never made the mistake in the first place.  So how does this deal with stress?  Some of the stress we experience is simply due to our decision to stress-out about things.  Don’t carry the care, ‘cast it’ over to God and watch Him remove the weight you have been carrying far too long!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to realize the importance of my own decisions.  I know You love me, I know You want nothing but Your best for my life, and I know You will do all You can to keep me from making poor decisions, but when I do, when I ignore Your Spirit, Your counsel, and Your Word, and I make poor decisions on my own volition, I know I will have to deal with the consequences of those decisions.  So what I declare today, by faith, is that my ears are carefully tuned-in to Your voice, my decision making matrix in firmly rooted in Your Word, and the decisions that I make will be decisions that are pleasing in Your sight and that will bring glory to Your name!  And one of the best decisions I will ever make is to refuse to stress out over things I should simply ‘cast over’ to You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices once makes.  In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.  The process never ends until we die.  And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

I Shall Not Be Moved!

(Psalm 125:1,2 NIV) Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  All week long we dealt with a passage in which Jesus urged His disciples NOT to allow their emotions to get the best of them.  Jesus was teaching them that they had the power to rule over their emotions.  Any believer who is overly emotional is going to have a hard time maximizing their purpose and potential because overly emotional people have a tendency to be unstable and oftentimes insecure.  If we let our emotions have their way they will emote on a regular basis and we will never operate with the level of stability, security, and focus the Father desires for us operate with.  Once your emotions take over it’s only a matter of time before worry sets in, because you will begin to focus on the wrong things.  Remember, worry is a negative form of meditation and while you are worrying you are proving to the Father that you do not trust Him – you cannot trust and worry at the same time.

The psalmist tells us that those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion.  What do we know about Mount Zion?  Well, one thing we know for sure is that it cannot be moved; it’s not going anywhere.  Our translation tells us that it can’t even be shaken.  In other words, those who have their trust firmly established in the Lord – which also comes by meditation, but meditation in the Word of God, instead of the negative meditation which leads to worry – are like a rock which cannot be moved, shaken, or stirred.  When we firmly trust in the Father (in His provision, protection, power, and peace) we can get to the point where we are fixed, focused, and in-faith so strong that the enemy cannot move us with his suggestions of doubt, fear, and failure.  This is the place we want to be.  This is the way we want to live.  This is the life we want to have.  And this is the picture the psalmist paints as possible when we truly trust in the Lord.

The psalmist then takes his picture to another level.  In addition to helping us develop an image of us being like a mountain, which cannot be moved, the psalmist then paints another picture (in verse two) for us of the Lord Himself and this time the Lord is an entire mountain range.  The Jewish readers of the time would definitely be familiar with the mountains that surrounded Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was in a mountainous region and the city itself was surrounded by mountains.  The picture the writer paints is that of the Lord, who like a mountain Himself cannot be moved, surrounding us with His wall of impenetrable protection.  So not only can we be like a mountain (strong, stable, and secure), but the immutable God Himself is our protection and He is protecting us on every side.  The devil, nor any demon, nor any demonic influence can penetrate the mountain of protection the LORD Himself can establish for us when we trust in Him!

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  When we truly trust in the Lord we can be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved.

2.  When we truly trust in the Lord, the Lord Himself will establish and impenetrable hedge of protection.

3.  If we are fixed and focused in faith, and we also know that the Lord Himself is our protection, then we don’t have anything to stress-out about.

4.  If we do our part, and the Lord does His part, the devil can try all he wants, but he will never be successful against us.  The key is making sure we do our part: which is faith and trust!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for the image You inspired the psalmist to write, I have read it hundreds of years later, and it is still effective.  I see myself as strong, stable, and secure as Mount Zion.  I declare, by faith, that I shall not be moved by anything that comes my way.  I am fixed and focused in faith, I stand on Your promises, and my trust is firmly established.  Fear, doubt, unbelief or worry have no power over me, nor any place in my life.  I am a believer and I see myself as unmovable by faith.  Further, I also see You as a mountain of protection that is all around me and no devil, demon, nor demonic influence can get to me, because You have established a hedge that keeps me on every side.  Since I live this way, with this mindset, and with this outlook, negative stress has no place in my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Woman with the “Issue” of Blood (Part I)

(Mark 5:25-29 NLT)  A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.  She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.  She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.  For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”  Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  This week I introduce you to another Biblical character who was under a tremendous amount of negative stress.  We don’t know her name and most preachers simply call her by her issue, naming her “The woman with the issue of blood,” because that is how the traditional King James Version describes her.  To understand her stress we must first understand what the “issue” was.  Basically, one day her menstrual cycle started and it never stopped.  To have your menstrual stuck in the “on” position would be bad enough today, but back then the situation was exponentially worse because of the legal parameters of her condition.  The Levitical Law stated that a woman was “unclean” during her menstrual cycle; meaning that she could not have the normal physical interactions she could during the rest of the month.  Since this woman’s cycle never stopped, it caused her to stay away from everyone while she was in her condition and it basically made her a prisoner in her own body (see Lev 15:19-31).  Identify with her for a moment.  Physically she was drained, emotionally she was spent, and socially she was an outcast.  If that were not bad enough, the Bible says that she had spent her life’s savings on doctors and did not get any better.  In fact, she had gotten worse.  So there she was: financially broke, physically bleeding, psychologically hurting, and socially enclosed.

The religious system of the time made her limitations clear to her, but it provided no alternative to her life of despair.  By all accounts she was a good candidate for giving up hope.  If anyone (humanly speaking) had the right to throw in the towel and just give up, she did.  If it was understandable for anyone to succumb to the pressures of the stress, she was the one.  No one would have blamed her if she had ‘lost it.’  It seemed as though life had dealt her a bad hand and her religion had no answer.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees were sticklers for the Law, but they had no miracle working power.  Her situation was extremely dire and it seemed like she had no way out… but wait, that’s when she heard about Jesus!  She heard about a man that was going about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). I am not sure what she heard or how she heard it, but whatever she heard, it gave her hope! We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that one encounter with God can change your life forever.  I am not a big advocate of preaching “one touch” or “one encounter” type messages, because it draws people that only want to get something from God and not have a true relationship with God.  But whether I am an advocate or not, the truth is that one encounter with God can change your life forever.  This woman had tried everything else and she now believed that one encounter with Jesus could stop her bleeding and restore her to health.  She had the audacity to believe in a God she could not see, through a man (Jesus) she did not know, and she received her breakthrough.  What are you able to believe? If you can believe it you become a candidate to receive it.

Closing Confession:  Father, no matter how bad of a situation I find myself in, I know that one touch, one word, or one encounter with You can turn it around.  There is nothing too hard for You!  There is nothing that You cannot do!  Your hands are not too short that You cannot reach me.  You power is not too weak that You cannot provide a breakthrough and a breakout!  I am never hopeless, because You have committed to be with me always… never to leave me or forsake me.  Since You are always with me, I am never helpless.  Since I am never helpless, I am never hopeless.  My hope is in You and I believe You can meet me today, right where I am, and You can manifest Your glory in such a way that You will help me to get to where You want me to be!  I know You can and I believe You will!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Woman with the “Issue” of Blood (Part II)

(Mark 5:25-29 GNB)  There was a woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for twelve years, even though she had been treated by many doctors.  She had spent all her money, but instead of getting better she got worse all the time.  She had heard about Jesus, so she came in the crowd behind him, saying to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will get well.”  She touched his cloak, and her bleeding stopped at once; and she had the feeling inside herself that she was healed of her trouble.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Yesterday I introduced you to a woman whose menstrual cycle had been stuck in the “on” position for 12 long years.  We are talking about 624 weeks, 4,380 days, and over 6 million minutes.  Think about how you would feel, physically, if you had been bleeding for 60 minutes straight or maybe even a couple of hours.  I am no doctor but I would assume that 6 million straight minutes of hemorrhaging would have to leave anyone physically debilitated.  And then when you add the social, psychological, and financial ramifications of her condition to the situation, it’s an understatement to say that this woman was in BIG trouble.  She needed a breakthrough in a bad way.  I am sure some people today can identify with her; maybe not with her physical condition, but with the gravity of her overall plight.  So let’s learn from what she did.

She was Financially broke, physically bleeding, and psychologically bruised, but she somehow managed to muster up enough hope to believe that Jesus was answer and enough faith to declare: “If I just touch his clothes, I will get well.”  She did not sit back and complain about her situation.  She saw an opportunity for a breakthrough and she went for it.  And if her audacity to believe and her faith-filled words were not enough, she actually had the courage to DO IT! She busted through the crowd, touched Jesus’ garment, and immediately the bleeding stopped – just like she said!  She knew it right away.  She felt in her body that she was healed from that moment.  Now it could not have been the method, because multiple people from the crowd were pushing on, grabbing at, and touching Jesus.  He was being touched from every angle.  But this dysfunctional, disregarded, and dismissed woman with a bleeding condition touched Him like no one else.  Why?  Because her touch was connected to her faith and her faith loosed God’s power.  Faith moves God.  Jesus stopped because He felt power leave His body.  He knew someone had ‘tapped in.’  Jesus looked around and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  The disciples were baffled by the question.  They answered: “What are you talking about?  With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’  Dozens have touched you!”  But Jesus went on asking and looking around to see who had done it.  The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before Him, and gave Him the whole story.  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Don’t dwell on the past.  It would have been very easy for this woman to wallow in pity, but she kept looking for a way out of her situation.  She tried the doctors, she tried her religion, and then she tried Jesus.  And that’s the point, she kept on trying, she never gave up, and she kept moving forward!  A ‘forward-ever, backward-never’ mentality goes a long way!

2.  Expand your capacity to believe God.  Do you truly believe?  This woman did.  She believed for a breakthrough when all human hope was gone and her belief opened the door to her faith.  You will never get to the faith stage if you can’t get past the belief stage!

3.  Speak faith-filled words.  The language of faith speaks its desired outcome.  That’s exactly what this woman did and her faith fueled the action required for her breakthrough.  Nursing and rehearing the situation will never change it.  Speak what you want, not what you have!

Closing Confession:  Father, I expand my capacity to believe You this morning.  I remind myself that there is nothing You cannot do.  I believe in a God of no-limits and I remove every artificial limit I have placed on my limitless God.  I believe You can and I have the faith to believe that You will.  My belief opens the door to my faith.  My faith urges me to speak faith-filled words over my situation and I will start today.  I will speak my desired outcome, in faith, in accordance with Your Word, being fully persuaded that You can and will manifest Your glory in my life.  I am looking forward, not backward, and I am looking at my future through the lens of faith, speaking the language of faith every step of the way!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Woman with the “Issue” of Blood (Part III)

(Mark 5:25-29 GNB)  There was a woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for twelve years, even though she had been treated by many doctors.  She had spent all her money, but instead of getting better she got worse all the time.  She had heard about Jesus, so she came in the crowd behind him, saying to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will get well.”  She touched his cloak, and her bleeding stopped at once; and she had the feeling inside herself that she was healed of her trouble.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with this woman for a few days now and the more I preach/teach this story the more enamored I am about this woman.  Let’s take a closer look at what she did to get out of her stressful situation:

1.  She Heard:  The Bible tells us that “Faith comes by hearing” (Ro 10:17).  Many people do not allow their faith to grow, willfully closing themselves off to the things of God, because of the pain of their past.  If you want to talk about pain, this woman is the ‘poster child.’  She was in a terrible condition – physically, emotionally, and socially – but amazingly enough she was willing to remain ‘open’ to hear about a man who could change her life.  Many people who are scarred, frustrated, and disillusioned with their circumstances close themselves off to the world and to any glimpse of hope.  They have been hurt so many times by people claiming to be able to help that they give up completely and resign themselves to their condition.  We should all learn from this woman.  She had been disappointed time and time again, but she remained open and she was willing to listen, with a believing heart, about a man named Jesus!  If you are in a bad situation this morning you need to make sure you don’t close yourself off to God and keep going to church.  You need to be connected to a church that is preaching the Gospel and the power of God.  The words you hear from the pulpit may be exactly what you need to hear to help get you out of your situation, but you must be open to hear the Word, and to hear it with a believing heart!

2.  She Believed:  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Many who are hurt by ‘life’ become critical of everything they hear.  This woman did not hear with a critical ear, she heard with a believing ear, and there is a BIG difference.  You must be able to BELIEVE that God can manifest His glory in your situation, because if you don’t believe, you will never operate in faith and faith is what is required for your breakthrough!  Don’t allow the pain of your past to rob you of your future.

3.  She made a Faith Confession:  The power of death and life is in the tongue (Prov 18:21).  Instead of complaining about her past, this woman spoke faith-filled words – speaking her desired outcome instead of her present condition.  You, God, and satan all know what your present condition is.  Speaking the problem just helps condition your mind to keep you there.  But when you have the faith to verbalize the outcome, out loud, unashamedly, then those words of faith help ignite the internal faith you will require to cross over from confession to action!  If you have been speaking the problem, over and over again, STOP today!  Negative words don’t help.  Start speaking life – confess the Word over your situation!

4.  She Acted in Faith:  Wow!  She did not just speak a good game; she actually acted upon what she said!  This is where most believers fall short.  It is one thing to speak life and not death, to speak your desired outcome, to name it and claim it; but when the rubber meets the road and the water hits the wheel, it comes time to Act upon what it is that we have spoken.  We will get deeper into this tomorrow, but suffice is to say that she broke out of her shell and broke into the crowd to get to Jesus and touch His clothes – just like she said she could and would!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I declare, by faith, that I am open to hear whatever You desire to say to me today.  You speak to me through Your Word, Your Spirit, in prayer, and through others.  My ears are anointed to hear what You desire to say to me and I refuse to sacrifice my future because of the pain of my past.  Not only do I hear, but I hear with a believing heart.  I am a believer and not a doubter.  I believe You can do all things and I also believe that all things are possible for me!  I declare my expected end, by faith, in accordance with Your Word, and I believe that I will have what I say.  But I also know that I must add action to my words.  Not only do I have faith in my lips, but I also have faith in my legs and I am prepared to DO whatever is required of me to bring to pass Your best for my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part I)

(Mark 5:22-24 NIV)   Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Since I already introduced you to the woman with the issue of blood, I have decided to introduce you to the man whose house Jesus was enroute to when the woman broke out of her shell and busted into the crowd.  As a matter of fact, I will give the context of the entire day.  This day was a pretty busy day for Jesus.  Jesus began His morning by teaching, in parabolic form, by the seashore of Galilee.  After teaching many parables Jesus’ disciples pulled Him aside and asked Him for an explanation.  They were confused by the stories.  After providing the explanation Jesus was led to get into a boat and head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  While in the boat Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to take a nap (ministry can be hard on the body).  While Jesus was napping a tremendous storm erupted, the boat was taking on water, and the disciples thought they were going to die.  What was Jesus doing during all of this?  He was simply sleeping through the storm (we can learn a lesson from that).  The disciples woke Jesus up frantically.  Jesus was disappointed by their fear and frustrated by their lack of faith.  He simply rebuked the wind and spoke peace to the sea.  The wind and sea obeyed His words.

After the storm Jesus and His disciples landed on the coast of Gad, which is where Jesus was led to go.  They visited the cemetery where a man who was possessed with a legion of demons was.  No one could restrain this man and he was causing all sorts of havoc.  Jesus cast the legion of demons out, and just like that (mission accomplished), He was ready to go back to the other side of the sea.  Jesus’ ministry team got back in the boat and they headed back to the other side.  When they arrived on the opposite seashore a crowd was waiting for Jesus.  Although Jesus had already accomplished a great deal in this day His ministry work was not over.  The crowd anxiously awaited His return.  Some were there because they truly wanted a ‘touch’ from Jesus, some because they were curious about the miracle worker, and then some were simply there for the fish and the loaves.  So the crowd was large, diverse, and ready to see Jesus in action.  There is no telling what was going to happen when Jesus was on the scene.  So as Jesus came out of the boat and on to the seashore I am sure the anticipation was high when all of a sudden a man busted through the crowd, he threw himself at the feet of Jesus, and he explained how his little daughter was at death’s door.  As a father I can only imagine his pain.  He was associated with the religious leadership of he time, but he knew they had no answer for his situation, so he went to the man who posed the greatest threat to his way of life: Jesus the miracle worker; the man whom the Pharisees and Sadducees hated.  Jairus had no time to worry about upsetting his friends, his daughter’s life was on the line – talk about a stressful situation – and he was willing to do whatever it took to get her breakthrough! We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  When you truly trust the Father you can have the peace to sleep through any storm.

2.  When you commit to fulfilling your life’s assignment you will be busy!

3.  When you commit to fulfilling your life’s assignment you will face opposition.

4.  When you truly need a breakthrough you don’t worry about what others will think.

5.  The best place to take your issue is the feet of Jesus!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for giving me the grace to fulfill my life’s assignment.  Whenever I come up against opposition I remind myself that I am an overcomer and I simply ‘come over’ the obstacle by faith.  I refuse to allow anything or anyone to keep me from arriving at Your expected end for my life.  I also understand that bad things do happen to good people, so if I face a serious challenge, I declare, by faith, that I will bring that challenge to Your feet.  I will cast the care of it over to You and I will do whatever is required of me, in-faith, to bring about my breakthrough.  And I will not allow the concern for what others might think to keep me from coming to You.  I am NOT ashamed of my relationship with You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part II)

(Mark 5:22-24 NIV)  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Yesterday I introduced you to Jairus.  He was a ruler of the synagogue.  He was a man of prominence, power, and position in the community.  But Jairus encountered a problem that he had no power over; he faced a challenge that was bigger than his position.  What do you do when you face something you have no power over?  What do you do when you are a person of prominence and position, but you face an issue that extends beyond your realm of influence?  And this was no ordinary challenge.  Jairus daughter, his 12-year-old ‘baby girl,’ was sick; and she was not mildly sick, she was at the point of death.  Daddy’s little girl was about to die.  If that does not cause stress, I don’t know what does.  To make a bad situation even worse, the one man who represented hope for his daughter was despised by his friends and co-workers.  The only man who could help his daughter was public enemy #1 within his inner circle.  Making a break for Jesus also meant making a break from his social circle.  But Jairus had no other choice.  Jesus was not only his best option, He was his ONLY option.  So with that in mind he showed up at the seashore.  I am sure people in the crowd recognized him and questioned within themselves what he was doing there.  Was Jairus there to spy on Jesus?  Was he sent there by the religious leadership to follow Jesus around?  Was Jairus there to cause a scene and interrupt Jesus’ ministry?  Well, all those questions were answered as Jesus arrived.  When Jairus started walking towards Jesus I am sure some in the crowd expected something quite different to happen.  I can just imagine the surprise on their faces when Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, fell at Jesus’ feet and asked Him for help.  Jairus swallowed his pride in order to get his breakthrough!

Okay, now we understand all he had to get past to get to Jesus.  Got it!  But now Jairus is there.  He is on the ground with his face at Jesus’ feet.  It’s safe to say that he has Jesus’ attention by this point.  He has gotten past the embarrassment of the situation and he is ignoring the people who are staring at him.  But now what?  What is Jairus going to say that is going to get Jesus to intervene in his situation? What words could move Jesus to action?  If we learned anything from the woman with the issue of blood is was that FAITH MOVES GOD!  In her case her faith actually STOPPED GOD in His tracks.  The woman’s words of faith were backed up with her action of faith, and her touch of faith loosed the power of God to heal her body.  That’s it!  All Jairus had to do was speak the language of faith.  If there is anything that got Jesus’ juices going, it was faith.  One time Jesus encountered a centurion who had SO MUCH faith that he did not even need to SEE Jesus heal his servant, all he needed Jesus to do was to SAY IT!  Jesus was blown away by his faith, He SAID IT, and the man’s servant was healed from that moment.  Now, Jairus was not at that level in his faith, but he did say this: “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the best thing you can do when you are in a stressful situation is to speak your desired outcome, in faith, fully believing, not doubting in your heart, and your words of faith will activate God to move on your behalf.  The woman, the centurion, and Jairus all spoke faith-filled words and in each case they received EXACTLY what they said! I will break this down further tomorrow.

Closing Confession:  Father, I know that faith pleases You, fear disappoints You, and doubt frustrates You.  With that in mind I declare that I will speak the language of faith every day of my life.  I will look at every situation through the lens of faith.  Even now, even with all the challenges I may be facing, I see myself overcoming them ALL by faith.  You have made me more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.  I CAN do all things through the grace and the power of Christ Jesus and I WILL!  I will overcome every challenge I face and when it is all said and done the enemy will regret ever messing with me.  The greater the test, the greater the testimony!  There is a great testimony waiting for me on the other side of this and I shall get there, I shall experience the victory, and I WILL tell my story everywhere I go!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part III)

(Mark 5:22-24 NIV)  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with Jairus for a few days now and yesterday I highlighted the fact that Jairus moved Jesus to action by speaking faith-filled words.  I have actually done quite a bit of teach on the importance of our words.  Here are a few links to the following series that I pray will bless you: “The Message in Your Mouth,” “Mastering Your Mouth,” and “The Revelation of Your Confession.”

In yesterday’s message I made this statement: “The woman, the centurion, and Jairus all spoke faith-filled words and in each case they received EXACTLY what they said!”  By now you know the woman pretty well and you are getting to know Jairus, but le me tell you a little about the Centurion.  A Centurion was a Roman military officer who was in charge of 100 soldiers.  The underlying force of the Centurion’s faith was his understanding of authority.  He understood that the people he had authority over had to submit to him.  If he said, “go,” people went.  If he said, “do,” people did.  He was not Jew, so he probably did not know the scriptures, but he did understand authority.  He understood that anyone who has authority over something can simply speak; and whatever/whomever he has authority over has to submit to the command.  The Centurion perceived that Jesus had authority over sickness.  So when Jesus offered to go to his house to heal his servant the Centurion replied, “Oh, no Sir, you don’t need to go to my house, I don’t want bother you that long.  Just give the order and my servant will be healed” (Pina version).  The King James Version says, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”  How did Jesus respond?  Jesus was amazed by his faith and said, “You may go home now.  Your faith has made it happen.”  Right then his servant was healed.

Your words are an indicator of the condition of your heart.  When you speak words of faith they become what you receive.  Not because the words alone are doing anything, but because the words are coupled with the condition of your heart.  Jesus said, “Your words show what’s in your heart” (Luke 6:45).  Conversely, when you speak words of fear, doubt, and unbelief, they become what you receive, for the same reasons.  And this is a key point for someone who is stressed-out, because people who are under the weight and pressure of negative stress may not even realize what they are saying and how detrimental their negative speech may be.  Without realizing it their negative words may be keeping them in their situation longer.  Jairus acknowledged the fact that his daughter was dying, but he turned right around and spoke words of faith and his faith (expressed through words) caused Jesus to move.  We can learn from this.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should not underestimate the power of words.  You release a message every time you open your mouth and you should be cognizant of what messages you are releasing.  Your words can either release faith or fear and the enemy will turn up the heat on you every time you speak faith.  His hope is that the heat will make you buckle under the pressure.  We will see in this story that the pressure was turned up on Jairus.  But your God is bigger than the heat!  Don’t allow what you see to change what you say!

Closing Confession:  Father, I realize how important my words are and I declare, by faith, that I will speak faith-filled words today and every day of my life.  I am cognizant of everything that comes out of my mouth and I watch my tongue to ensure that I am saying what I want to happen.  I also fill my heart with good things.  I read Your Word and as Your Word comes through my eyes it gets down into my heart.  I listen to Your Word and as Your Word comes through my ears it gets down into my heart.  As my heart is filled with Your Word what is in me will begin to come out of me and I will speak the Word of faith in every situation.  I saturate myself in You, in Your presence, and in Your Word.  I am a believer and not a doubter and my words let everyone know that I am a person of faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part IV)

(Mark 5:22-24 NIV)  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with Jairus for a few days now and yesterday I focused in on Jairus’ declaration of faith.  When Jairus spoke faith-filled words – when he said, “Come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live” – it caused Jesus to move.  Jesus agreed to meet Jairus at the level of his faith and He started out towards Jairus’ house.  Now, I have already explained how Jairus had to get past what his friends would think, get past the embarrassment of having to come to Jesus in front of the crowd, and speak words of faith, but let me tell you that that was the easy part.  When you have an issue it’s not hard to fall on your knees and pray.  It might take some humility, but praying is not the hard part.  The hard part comes afterwards, in the space between your prayer and the performance, in the space between your confession and the completion, in the space between “I believe I receive, Amen” and “There it is!”  That’s the challenge, because in the space between the prayer and the performance, the devil will attempt to cause problems.  In the space between the confession and the completion the devil will attempt to stir up confusionIt’s in that space that we must remain in faith and patient.

I did an entire series on Faith and Patience (click here for Part I and Part II).  I call Faith and Patience “The Power Twins” for the believer.  We need both!  Abraham waited 25 years for Isaac (his promised child), Joseph waited over 20 years for the manifestation of his dream, Caleb waited 45 years for his mountain, and the list can go on and on.  Getting the promise, and getting excited about it, is one thing, but remaining IN FAITH until the manifestation of it is quite something else.  The writer of Hebrews said, “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (6:12).  The Greek word used for patience here does not mean to simply wait, but means to remain the same while you wait, it can actually be translated as the force of consistency.  If you have faith without patience you will get excited about things, you will speak the language of faith, and you will get your hopes up, but you will eventually have a faith-failure because you won’t be able to endure long enough to see the manifestation of it.  If you have patience without faith, you will be able to endure, but that’s all you will do.  You will endure and endure and endure, and suffer and suffer and suffer, and you will never have the faith to move God to change your situation.  Faith without patience produces people who get excited but then fizzle out.  Patience without faith produces people who suffer and never have any hope of a breakthrough.  But as a believer we NEED both! When you couple faith and patience together you get someone who is able to stand in faith and to stand long enough to SEE the manifestation of what they are believing God for!  Is that a picture of you?  I hope it is.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you need both faith and patience to receive the promises of God; to experience God’s best.  We will see that Jairus’ situation got much worse (she actually died) before it got better and he required the patience (the force of consistency) to remain in faith long enough to see his little girl resurrected from the dead.  Do you have faith and patience (The Power Twins) operating in your life?

Closing Confession:  Father, I declare, by faith, that I will not settle for anything less than the manifestation of Your promises in my life.  Once I receive a promise in my spirit, either from Your Word or Your voice, I resolve to operate in faith and patience until the promise is a reality in my life.  I will not allow the enemy to cause me to change my confession and I will not allow what I see – even if it gets worse before it gets better – to change what I say.  The devil has no place in me, no power over me, and no unsettled claims against me.  So he can’t stifle my faith with suggestions of condemnation.  I have been forgiven, I am in faith, I have patience, and I will HOLD ON until I see You best in my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part V)

(Mark 5:22-24 NIV)  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with Jairus all week and this story will take us into next week.  I don’t know if you can tell, but I love the Word, I love these stories, and I love reading about how Jesus lived His life.  So there they were.  Jairus had already fallen at Jesus’ feet and made his declaration of faith, Jesus had already agreed to go to his house and to lay hands on his daughter so that she would be healed and live, and they all (Jesus, Jairus, the disciples, and the crowd) took off towards Jairus’ house.  I can imagine the scene and I can imagine what was going through Jairus’ head.  If it were me I would be thinking, “Wow, I did it.  I got Jesus to come with me and now my little girl is going to be all right.  We just need to hurry up and get home so that this ordeal can be over.”  I am sure Jairus’ emotions were going haywire between the excitement of the anticipation of the healing and the stress of all he had been through to that point.  These are the types of emotions that we often deal with in the space between the prayer and the performance.  If we are not careful we will allow the stress of the situation to get the best of us and if that happens we might give up on our prayer.  And that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to do.

Because of the urgency of the situation and because Jairus was leading them to the house, I am sure this was no leisurely stroll; they were probably walking at a good pace when all off a sudden Jesus stopped, looked around and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  The disciples were baffled by the question.  They answered: “What are you talking about?  With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’  Dozens have touched you!”  But Jesus went on asking and looking around to see who had done it.  You know who did it, because you already know about the woman with the issue of blood.  The woman, knowing what had happened, fell at His feet and gave Him the whole story.  There is no telling how long this took.  While we can all respect this woman’s right to give her testimony, in the wings was man who was running out of time.  The more the woman talked the more Jairus (humanly speaking) wanted her to shut up.  I am sure he appreciated the gravity of this woman’s situation, but I am equally sure that he was still consumed with the gravity of his.  While Jesus was finally wrapping up His conversation with the woman some messengers came Jairus’ house and said, “Your daughter is dead, why bother the teacher any more?”  Oh no!  That’s exactly what Jairus feared would happen.  What a blow!  Every negative emotion imaginable to man probably flooded his body.  But while Jairus was standing there, in this state of shock and pain, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  In other words, “Don’t allow fear to cancel out your faith; just keep on believing and your daughter will be all right!”  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your faith will be tested.  Don’t think that you will pray something one minute and you will see the manifestation of it the next, without any opposition.  We do have an enemy and he knows that he cannot stop God and he actually cannot stop us when we are in-faith, but he also knows that if he can get us frustrated and in-fear that we wind up stopping ourselves.  I will further elaborate on this next week.  No matter how hot the enemy turns the heat up, you must refuse to give up on your faith, because in due season you shall reap, if you don’t give up! (Gal 6:9).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for not giving up on me and I declare, by faith, that I shall not give up on You.  I will not loose the grip I have on my faith and I shall not throw away my confidence, even if the situation gets worse before it gets better and even if the enemy turns the heat up on me.  The enemy knows that the only way he can beat me is if I give up and I am learning that now.  Equipped with this revelation I am determined to never give up, to never throw in the towel, to never relax my anticipation of the manifestation of Your promises in my life.  I rule over my emotions and I refuse to allow my emotions to cause me to give up on my prayers.  I remain in faith, no matter how long it takes, and I shall see Your best come to pass in my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part VI)

(Mark 5:22-24 NIV)  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Last week I introduced you to a man named Jairus who was dealing with an extremely stressful situation: his daughter was exceedingly sick.  Jairus swallowed his pride, approached Jesus, explained the gravity of the situation, and spoke faith-filled words saying: “Come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  There are two things I need to highlight from Jairus’ declaration.  First, Jairus’ faith level was at the point where he required Jesus to come to his house and lay His hands on his daughter so that he could be healed.  We know from other occasions that Jesus could have simply spoken a word of healing and His words could have healed Jairus’ daughter.  But Jairus’ faith could not take him leaving the scene with just Jesus’ words.  Jairus required Jesus to come and Jesus obliged his request of faith.  Secondly, it’s interesting to me that Jairus included the words, “and live” at the end of his declaration.  A person who is sick needs to be healed.  A person who is dead needs to be brought back to life.  These are two distinct miracles and Jesus was capable of performing both.  I believe it’s worth nothing that Jairus included both in his petition.  It’s almost as if he knew that his daughter might be dead by the time the get home.  So he included a petition for LIFE in his petition for HEALTH.  This should serve as a reminder to all of us that while the Father knows what we need before we ask (Mat 6:8), He still requires us to ask.  James said, “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it” (4:2).  So I don’t know if it was intuition of revelation, but Jairus included an important clause in his petition and as you know, his daughter did die before they reached the house.

Faith-filled words for life (and not just health) notwithstanding, the bottom-line is that Jairus, like any father, was shocked when he heard the news that his daughter was dead.  Fear flooded his body.  Daddy’s little girl, his little 12-year-old source of joy was now dead.  Sure, he and Jesus were on the way, but there is no question that thoughts of fear, doubt, and unbelief caused him to question whether or not Jesus needed to come any further.  As a matter of fact the messengers who came to bring Jairus the bad news actually said, “Your daughter is dead, why bother the teacher any more?”  Did you catch that?  Our opponent is a crafty devil.  The devil understands faith.  Satan knew that Jairus’ faith level wasn’t at the point where Jesus could have simply spoken life from where they were standing and he also knew that Jesus was still operating off of the last words that Jairus had spoken, when he said, “Come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  Guess what?  Those words were still good.  That petition was still in order.  Jesus was not moved by the bad news at all.  Actually Jesus ignored the bad news and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  Jesus wasn’t giving up, but the devil was hoping that Jairus would tell Him to, because if Jairus had told Jesus to quit and not come to his house, then Jesus would not have forced himself onto the situation.  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Be specific when you pray and ask in-faith.

2.  Don’t allow what you see, especially the negative, to change what you say!

3.  Faith cancels out fear, but fear cancels out faith.  Never speak words of fear, because they will cancel out your words of faith!

4.  If you can’t speak faith, then keep your mouth shut!  That’s what Jairus did and he got his breakthrough!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I look at every situation through the lens of faith, I speak the language of faith, and I live a life of faith.  I know that I have an adversary and that he will do his best to offer opposition to the things that You want to do in my life, but I declare that even when opposition comes, that I will not allow what I see to change what I say.  I won’t allow words of fear to come out of my mouth.  I will speak the Word only.  I will speak faith only.  I will speak life only!  Now matter how bad it gets, I will speak life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part VII)

(Mark 5:36, 37 NIV)  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  I trust you are enjoying the story of Jairus and his daughter.  We have lots to learn from this situation.  One of the key lessons is something I brought yesterday when I said, “If you can’t speak faith, then keep your mouth shut!  That’s what Jairus did and he got his breakthrough!”  Jairus was in no condition to speak the language of faith.  The gravity of the situation (the reality of his daughter’s death) was sinking-in and if he had spoken, his words would not have been faith-filled at that point.  The key objective of the enemy was to get Jairus to tell Jesus to STOP, so that He would never arrive at the house.  Satan knew that he had no power over Jesus and that there was no way he could stop Jesus from raising the little girl back to life once he was on the scene.  That’s why he attached Jairus and not Jesus.  By telling Jairus to stop bothering the master, the enemy was hoping that Jairus would simply tell Jesus to go away.  If Jairus had done that his daughter would never have been raised from the dead.  Why?  Because I have taught you before that God will allow whatever we allowGod will permit whatever we permit.  He is not going to force us to be blessed.  He won’t twist our arm so that we could accept His best.  Our heavenly Father definitely wants to operate in our lives, but He does so with our cooperation.  If Jairus refused to cooperate then Jesus would not have operated.  This is extremely important for every believer to understand, especially when we are facing stressful situations.  Without realizing it many believers have hindered God from moving in their lives because they have followed the negative suggestions of the enemy – suggestions that lead to fear, doubt, and unbelief; suggestions that wind up canceling out our faith and blocking God’s best from manifesting in our lives.

The good news is that Jesus stopped Jairus before he said anything and told him to keep on believing.  Guess what?  Jairus did not say a word.  I believe that since he was not in a position to speak the language of faith, he simply kept his mouth shut and there is a lot of wisdom in that.  By keeping his mouth shut Jesus was able to operate off of his last words and continue on to his house.  But Jesus knew that since the situation had taken a turn for the worse that He needed to be surrounded by faith-filled people.  So He stopped the crowd and even stopped 9 of the 12 disciples from going any further.  When the rubber met the road Jesus only wanted His inner-circle (Peter, James, and John) with Him.  There were times where Jesus was comfortable being with the 5,000, other times just with the 70, other times with the 12, and then there were times, the most intimate times, when He only wanted the three (Peter, James, and John) with Him.  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  If you want God to operate in your life, you must cooperate with Him – in faith!

2.  Don’t allow your mouth to ensnare you; speak faith only or don’t speak at all.

3.  When you are dealing with a difficult situation you must surround yourself with people of ‘like-precious-faith.’  If you surround yourself with the wrong people you will hear the wrong things.

4.  You need an ‘inner-circle;’ a small group of people you can rely on when the going gets rough.  These are people who will be there for you and you for them.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I declare, by faith, that I will cooperate with You every day of my life.  I know that faith pleases You, so I will live by faith daily.  I am so committed to living the life of faith that I refuse to speak any words of fear, doubt, or unbelief.  If I can’t speak faith I won’t say anything until I can!  And I thank You for blessing me to have an ‘inner-circle.’  I can rely on them and they can rely on me.  When I truly need a breakthrough I know I can call them and they can call me.  We pray for each other, speak life into each other, and are there for each other.  I am thankful that I am not in this race alone.  You have blessed me with people of like-precious-faith and together we maximize our purposes and potential!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part VIII)

(Mark 5:36, 37 NIV)  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with Jairus and his daughter for quite a while now.  I believe it’s obvious that I love teaching about the life of Jesus and how He went about doing the will of the Father on a daily basis.  The powerful part of studying Jesus’ life is the realization that we are supposed to be the same way.  It is one thing to read the story of the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus and identify with those coming to Jesus for help.  But it is quite something else to read the same stories and identify with Jesus – seeing yourself the Jesus in the story – and believing God to anoint you the same way so that others can come to you for help the way that they came to Him.  That is the goal of Christianity.  Jesus was God incarnate, no doubt about it, but we are the ‘continuation of His incarnation.’  In other words we are to continue what He started, living our lives the way that He lived His; manifesting the glory of the Father everywhere we go!  But we will never do that if we are stressed out, frustrated, fearful, and disillusioned.

I want to piggy-back off of something I highlighted yesterday and that was that Jesus refused the crowd, and 9 of His 12 disciples, to go any further once He found out the little girl was dead.  This reminds me of a story of some frogs.  A group of frogs were happily hopping through the woods when two them started racing each other side by side.  There they were, hopping and hopping, each making an effort to out-hop the other, when all of a sudden both of them landed inside of a hole.  Immediately the other frogs gathered around the top of the hole and the two frogs inside the hole attempted to jump their way out.  After a few minutes it became obvious that the depth of the hole was just a bit too much for the frogs to manage, as they kept coming up short.  After about an hour the frogs at the top of the hole started telling the ones in the hole to give up and die, because they believed the effort was futile.  One of the frogs believed what the others said, he crawled up into a corner of the hole, gave up, and died.  The other frog, however, kept jumping.  This infuriated the frogs on the outside.  The more he jumped the more they yelled at him to stop!  But the more they yelled the more he jumped.  It seemed like their yelling was giving him extra energy.  Finally, one of his leaps was long enough and he made it out of the hole.  Do you want to know why he made it?  He was deaf! Since he could not hear the other frogs he assumed that they were cheering him on.  That’s why he kept jumping.  Now, you may be thinking, what does this have to do with Jairus?  Actually, it has a lot to do with Jairus’ story because Jesus strategically picked whom He wanted to go with Him to Jairus house, knowing what influences He wanted with Him when the pressure was on.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Surrounding yourself with the right people can fuel your faith.  When the frog thought the other frogs were rooting for him he was able to jump longer and higher.

2.  Surrounding yourself with the wrong people is dangerous.  Some people are dream-killers.  They are frustrated with their lives, so they will attempt to frustrate yours.

3.  Picking the right people to be with you when the pressure is on just might make the difference between overcoming and succumbing.  Jesus only wanted key people with Him when He went into Jairus’ house and we should do the same when we are faced with difficult situations.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I know You have blessed me to be surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses and I am not in this race alone, however, I also understand that everyone who is with me is not for me.  I know that some people are dream-killers so I thank You for blessing me to have the insight to know who to share my dreams with, who to take with me into faith-fights, and who to surround myself with when the pressure is on.  Two are better than one, but only when both are in-faith.  So I declare, by faith, that You reveal to me who those people are and as I connect with them and they with me, together we will assist each other in striving to maximize our purposes and potential before we die!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Jairus and His Dying Daughter (Part IX)

(Mark 5:41,42 NIV) He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).  Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  By the time Jesus finally made it to Jairus’ house He had to get past the gossips looking for a story, the neighbors bringing in casseroles, and the mourners who were already emoting.  The presence of the mourners is proof that the girl was actually dead; for the family would not have called them if there had been even the slightest hope that the girl was still alive.  But Jesus said unto them, “Why all this commotion and weeping?  The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”  The word “sleep” Jesus used is the exact word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15 referring to the death of believers.  To the believer death is only sleep, for the body rests until the moment of resurrection (1 Thes 4:13-18).  The spirit, however, does not sleep; in death, the spirit of the believer leaves the body (James 2:26) and goes to be with Christ (Phil 1:20-23).  It is the body that sleeps, awaiting the return of the Lord and the resurrection (1Cor 15:51-58).

As soon as Jesus assured them that the child was not dead but sleeping, their tears turned to mockery and scorn.  Undaunted, Jesus took the immediate family to the motionless child, and taking her by the hand, said in Aramaic, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  Immediately the twelve-year-old girl got up and walked.  The relatives were stunned and doubtless delirious with joy.  Not only was the little girl alive again, but she was healed of her sickness; she was able to get out of her bed and walk around.  Then Jesus, always the loving physician, instructed the astounded parents to give her something to eat.

Jairus’ situation was over, but there are two things I need to highlight about what happened.  First is the method.  We know that Jesus could have simply spoken a word from the seashore and Jairus’ daughter would have been healed.  But I have already explained to you that Jairus’ faith was not at that point.  As Jairus petitioned Jesus he said, “Come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  Jairus wanted Jesus to physically come to His house and physically lay His hands on his daughter and that is exactly what Jesus did.  I don’t know if you noticed it, but when Jesus got to the motionless child He took her by the hand.  That subtle act was actually an answered prayer.  Secondly, Jesus really did raise this little girl from the dead.  This is extremely important to understand because, humanly speaking, death represents the worse possible scenario.  I would venture to say that whatever you are dealing with this morning pales in comparison to what Jairus was dealing with and if Jesus could manifest His glory and exercise victory over death, then surely He can exercise victory over whatever you are dealing with.  No matter how difficult your situation may seem, there is NOTHING too hard for God!

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:

1.  The Father will meet you at your level of faith.  Wherever you are today, weak or strong faith, He can meet you where you are.  Ask Him to!

2.  There is nothing too hard for God.  He is absolutely limitless.  Remove whatever artificial limits you have placed on your limitless God and watch Him show up in your life!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for meeting me where I am today.  There are times when my faith is strong and You meet me there.  There are also times when my faith is weak, and I am thankful that by Your grace You come down to meet me there.  You always meet me at the level of my faith and for that I am thankful.  I declare, by faith, that I will develop my faith to the point where I am consistent, strong, fixed, and focused.  I understand that there is nothing too hard for You.  You are a limitless God and I determine today to remove every artificial limit that I have placed on You so that You can freely operate in my life as You desire.  Your Word gives me hope, Your promises give me confidence, and Your Spirit gives me comfort and power.  I am equipped to experience Your best today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Jairus and the Woman – Let’s Review

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Over the past three weeks we have looked at the case of the woman with the issue of blood and the case of Jairus and his dying daughter.  While we have covered a lot of ground I want to point out that all of these events happened in one evening.  Talk about “A Day in the life”!  Jesus spent the morning and most of the afternoon teaching in parabolic form and He then spent the late afternoon and evening dealing with demons, disease, and deathexhibiting divine power over all three.  Jesus even spoke to a storm along the way.  Jesus no doubt lived an amazing life, but do you realize that He has called us to follow after His footsteps?  Yes, that type of life is possible for both you and me, but we must live it in-faith, led of His Spirit, and in accordance with His Word.

I like teaching the woman’s story and Jairus’ story together (as I have done in this series).  The woman had been dealing with the issue for 12 years and the little girl was 12 years old.  In other words the girl started breathing around the same time the woman started bleeding.  Who would have known that their paths would cross 12 years later?

The contrast between these two needy people is striking and reveals the broadness of Jesus’ power, love and mercy.  Jairus was an important synagogue officer, but the woman, on the other hand, was an anonymous “nobody.”  One was known by everyone the other was hardly known at all because she had been living in a shell for 12 years, but yet Jesus welcomed and helped both with loving compassion.  Jairus was about to lose a daughter who had given him 12 years of happiness, excitement, and joy (Mark 5:42); and the woman wanted to lose an affliction that had brought her 12 years of sorrow, stress, and strain.  Being a synagogue officer, Jairus was no doubt wealthy, but his wealth could not save his dying daughter.  The woman was already bankrupt!  She had given the doctors all of her money, and yet none of them could provide a cure or even comfort.  What’s amazing to me is how both Jairus and the woman found the answers to their contrasting situations at the feet of Jesus (Mark 5:22 and Mark 5:33).

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s bring this from the then into the now, from the world of was-ness into the world of is-ness.  What’s your issue?  What you are dealing with?  What is causing you stress, struggle, strain and strife?  What is the thing that is keeping you up at night?  This series is all about learning how to experience divine victory over negative stress and best place to start your journey towards victory is at the feet of Jesus!  Powerful things happen at the Jesus’ feet.  Humble yourself, worship your Lord, fall at His feet, call on His name, acknowledge His power, reverence His throne, and you will find that He will meet you where you are.  Whether you are up or down, at the end or your rope or on the top of the world, struggling or sailing, in faith or afraid, in hope or in despair, Jesus is available to you today and there is a great exchange that takes place at His feet.  Spend some time at His feet today and He will impart into you all that you need to start experience His best life NOW!

Closing Confession:  Father, I acknowledge no other deity.  I call on no other name.  You alone sit on the circle of the earth.  You alone have all things in and under control.  You alone are the King of kings.  You alone are the Lord of lords.  I have only one Lord and His name is Jesus the Christ.  Father, I have accepted Your Son as my Savior and Lord and I declare that I will spend time at His feet daily.  At Jesus’ feet I find peace.  At Jesus’ feet I experience Your power.  At Jesus’ feet I receive Your direction.  At Jesus’ feet I enjoy Your protection.  At Jesus’ feet I exchange my worries, cares and concerns for Your joy, love, and wisdom.  I find victory over stress at Jesus’ feet!  I declare this by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

You Can Handle It!

(1st Cor 10:13 GNB)  Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  I’m not sure how much longer this series will last, because I simply keep going until the Father releases me, but it has been a true blessing to me and I trust it has to you as well.

Paul was an awesome man and he was used of God mightily.  He is a great example of how God can use someone who has misdirected energy and passion and redirect it for His glory.  Paul was the #1 persecutor of the church before his conversion and he then became the #1 promulgator of the gospel.  Paul traveled extensively for Christ’s sake and He wrote letters to churches that we are still reading today.  One of those letters, his first to the church at Corinth, was focused around bringing order to a disorderly body.  The Corinthians were passionate people and sometimes their passion got the best of them.  Some believers at Corinth were slipping back into idol worship, fornication, and other sorts of sin.  Paul told them to flee these things (see 6:18, 10:14), to desire spiritual gifts (12:31), and to walk in love (chapter 13).

Were the believers at Corinth perfect?  No!  They had made their fare share of mistakes and they were reaping the negative harvest associated with those mistakes.  So what was Paul’s answer to this?  We find it in our text.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse reads: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means the Father knows how passionate you can be about things and He also knows that you have made mistakes.  Those mistakes have led to frustrating and stress-invoking situations.  But as you prepare to move forward from the mistakes of your past, learning from them for your future, remember:

1.  Every human is tempted/tested:  Don’t feel you’ve been singled out.  Everyone deals with internal temptations and external opposition (tests).

2.  The Father will not allow you to be overwhelmed:  I will elaborate on this more tomorrow.  The key here is knowing that IF YOU ARE FACING IT, then GOD TRUSTS YOU WITH IT!

3.  Resistance is possible:  The Father can aid you in both resisting the temptation and overcoming the test!

4.  There is always a way out:  If you look for it, you will find it and when you do you must have the fortitude to take the way out and not the way in; that will lead to more bad harvests.

Closing Confession:  Father, I can identify with the believers in Corinth.  I know what it is like to make mistakes and to have to deal with the consequences of them.  But I declare, by faith, that I will learn from my past as I prepare for my future.  I realize that every human is tempted from their internal lusts and tested from our external enemy.  Temptations and testings are nothing strange and by faith I shall overcome both.  You will never allow me to face something I cannot handle, so if I am facing it, it is evidence that You trust me to overcome it.  I declare that I will.  I submit myself unto, I resist satan, and Your Word says that he shall flee from me.  As I pray about how to deal with things Your Spirit will show me the way out and I declare, by faith, that I will take it!  I will make better decisions in 2011.  I will stop making decisions that lead to stressful situations.  I will make Godly decisions and enjoy the Godly results of them!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

An Overcomer’s Mentality!

(1st Cor 10:13 GNB)  Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Negative stress can take its toll on just about anyone.  Marriages have been destroyed, families torn apart, physical health deteriorated, bright futures aborted, and some have even taken their lives because of stress.  Make no mistake, if not dealt with, stress can ruin anybody, even a believer, if the believer is not walking in accordance with the Word.  I would venture to say that the worst cases of stress-related illness or activity come as a result of getting to the point where the stress is overwhelming.  Once a person feels like the stress is literally too much for them to handle, many give up, lose control, act irrationally, and the results can be disastrous.  This is where this verse comes in.  The message in this verse can provide a key revelation to the believer.

The Amplified Bible translation of this verse reads; “For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”

In yesterday’s message I said, “The Father will not allow you to be overwhelmed.  The key is knowing that IF YOU ARE FACING IT, then GOD TRUSTS YOU WITH IT!”  I am going to ‘pull the string’ on this thought a little.  We know that we serve a good God.  God is not the one who brings bad things upon us.  Satan is more than adequate at performing that task and we also have a part when we sow bad seeds.  But what the scriptures teach us is that our Heavenly Father has the power to permit or prevent things from happening in our lives.  He permits us to reap what we have sown, but not if the negative harvest is going to take up past our breaking point.  He permits the enemy to operate in the earth and walk through the doors we leave wide open for him to walk through, but once again, not if the enemy’s activity is going to take us past our breaking point.  The issue then comes down to this “breaking point.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that if we all have a breaking point (and I believe that we do) and the Father will ensure that we are not pushed beyond it (and I believe that He won’t), then we must find comfort in knowing that if we are facing a challenge then it is evidence that we can handle it!  In other words, if you are facing it, then the Father trusts you to be able to overcome it.  If you couldn’t take it, you would not be facing it, so if you are, then you can!  So face it head-on, in faith, with full confidence in God and His Word, with an overcoming mentality, knowing that the Father trusts with it!

Closing Confession:  Father, I am more than a conqueror though Him who loved me.  I am an overcomer by faith.  I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.  Greater are You, than are in me, than he that is in the world.  You are my light and my salvation, who shall I fear?  You are my fortress, my strong tower, of whom shall I be afraid?  My outlook is birthed from the foundation that I have in Your Word and my relationship with You.  I know I will face challenges, because we do have an enemy, but no challenge that I face shall overcome me.  I am never overcome or overwhelmed, because You are on me, in me, with me, and for me!  I am an overcomer and I operate in world-overcoming faith daily!  Negative stress has no power over me, because I am rooted in Your Word, established in Your love, and fixed and focused in faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Who do you THINK you are?

(1st Cor 10:13 GNB)  Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  I thought I was going to move on to something else this morning, but the Father won’t allow me to.  He wants me to continue to drive home the message of this verse.  You and I must understand who we are in Christ and we must also understand the schemes of the enemy.  Actually, in Paul’s second letter to the same church in Corinth he explained that if we are ignorant of satan’s schemes and methods then he will surely have an advantage over us (2 Cor 2:11).  In that same letter Paul taught that while we may be human, satan does not wage war against us in humanly form (see 2 Cor 10:3-5).  In other words, the battle we face against the enemy is not one that is fought with knives, swords, and earthly weapons.  The battle the enemy wages against us is a spiritual one and his main battleground is our mind!

Solomon said, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” (Prov 23:7).  If the enemy can get you to see yourself defeated, dejected, disregarded and dismissed, then you will pose no threat to him or his kingdom whatsoever.  Actually, satan does not even mind you going to church, just as long as it is a church that is not teaching you how to maximize your purpose and potential, how to receive the blessing of God so that you can be a blessing to others, and how to destroy the works of satan – just like Jesus did.  When you start seeing yourself the way God sees you and you start making a dent in the enemy’s kingdom, that’s when he turns up the heat on you.  But don’t fear he has no power over you if you remain in faith.  The problem is that many believers don’t.

Satan knows that there are a multitude of believers who will cower at the first sign of opposition.  Not only does he oppose them, but he makes every attempt to get them stressed-outIf satan can get you physically worn, emotionally unbalanced, psychologically unstable, and financially bankrupt then he could care less if you call yourself a Christian or not, because you pose no threat to him.  But if you are a believer you is getting a constant diet of the Word of God, who is applying the Word to every area of his or her life, who is being led of the Spirit, and who is ready, willing, and able to BE a blessing wherever the Father sends you, then satan is not going to be happy with you.  And what frustrates the enemy the most is that he knows that if you remain in faith – being led of the Spirit, in accordance with the Word, seeing yourself as God sees you – then there is nothing much he can do to you.  Even when he attacks you, the attacks always seem to backfire.  What he meant for evil, the Father can turn around for your good.

So what does this mean to you today? It means the Father needs you to see yourself the way He sees you so that You can do all that He needs you to do in the earth.  God’s assignment for your life is bigger than your enjoyment.  While he does give you all things richly to enjoy (1st Tim 6:17), He is also looking for you TO BE a blessing everywhere He sends you.  However, you will never BE that blessing if you see yourself defeated, dejected, disregarded and dismissed.  But if you see yourself as the head and not the tail, as above only and never beneath, as the winner and not the loser, as the victor and not the victim, and as more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus, then the Father will be able to use you mightily.  If you live this way God will be glorified, the body of Christ will be edified, and satan will be horrified!

Closing Confession:  Father, I am not ignorant of satan’s schemes.  I will not allow the enemy to get me to see myself as any less than the way You see me.  I know who I am, because I know WHOSE I am.  I have been bought with a great price and that price was Jesus’ life.  You thought enough of me to send Your own Son to die in my stead.  I am eternally thankful for that and I declare by faith since I am covered by the blood, anointed by Your Spirit, and called according to Your purpose, that I will never see myself defeated again!  I win the battle for my mind, I see myself the way You see me, and I SHALL BE a blessing today everywhere I go.  Send me Father, I am ready!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Mephibosheth

(2nd Sam 4:4 MSG)  It so happened that Saul’s son, Jonathan, had a son who was maimed in both feet. When he was five years old, the report on Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and ran, but in her hurry to get away she fell, and the boy was maimed. His name was Mephibosheth.

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  As I begin to wind down this series, so we can go back to Proverbs, I have been in prayer about how to close it out.  One of the people the Father wants me to introduce to you, within the context of this series, before I close it out, is Mephibosheth.   His story is one of the most powerful stories of redemption you will ever hear.  If you don’t know anything about him, then get ready, because you are going to enjoy this ride.  If you have read about him before, then still get ready, because the Lord has a way of reintroducing old stories in a new way.  By the way, just so you know, I love this stuff!  I can get up in the morning, sit in front of my computer, while my family is still sleeping, with no one else around but me and God, and get so excited about writing Today’s Word that sometimes I could high-give myself (smile).  Lest I regress, let’s get on to the story.

Mephibosheth was born the son of Jonathan, and grandson of Saul (2 Sam. 4:4), the king of Israel.  Think about what type of life Mephibosheth had as a kid.  He was raised in the royal palace.  He had servants waiting on him hand-and-foot.  He didn’t have a need in the world and he probably did not have a care in the world.  He was in heir to the throne, so he had the best of everything and he was also being prepared for the possibility that he could some day be king.  But all of that changed in a moment.  His life came crashing down on him at the tender age of five years old.  News came back to the royal palace that king Saul and prince Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s grandfather and father, had both been killed in the Battle of Mount Gilboa.  Everyone in the palace knew that their lives would never be the same.  So hearing of this calamity, his nurse (or nanny) fled with him from Gibeah (the royal residence) and in her haste she stumbled and dropped him to the ground.  This was no ordinary fall.  Mephibosheth fell so hard that he was left paralyzed from that day forward (2 Sam 19:26).  Talk about a tragedy!  Mephibosheth lost his father, grandfather, the throne, and the use of his legs within a matter of minutes.  So there he was… the same little boy who didn’t have a care in the world was now maimed for life and his future was completely uncertain.  How’s that for a stressful situation?

Mephibosheth was carried to the land of Gilead where he found refuge in the house of Machir, at Lo-debar, and he was raised there.  Interestingly enough, the word Lo-debar (the town where Mephibosheth grew up) means “no pasture,” “no word” or “no communication.”  And true to its name, Lo-debar was a barren place – physically, psychologically, and spiritually – it was a place of no hope.  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that some times life takes unexpected turns, but the only way we can stay down, when life takes us down, is if we decide to stay there.  We will see how Mephibosheth’s life was turned around and your can as well.  If there is still blood flowing through your veins and air flowing through your lungs, then it is evidence that God IS NOT through with you!  In other words, if you’re still alive, then you can still recover!  Your Story IS NOT over!  The last chapter of your book has not been written!  Don’t judge your future by your past… get excited about what God wants to do in and through you!

Closing Confession:  Father, I have had my fair share of setbacks and disappointments.  Many of them have come as a result of my own mistakes.  But I am thankful that I am still alive, I am still here, I am still breathing, I am still moving, and since I am, then I will keep on believing that You desire to use me for Your glory.  No matter how difficult things get for me, I am a believer and not a doubter.  I know that all things are possible to him that believes – and that’s me!  I won’t allow past pain to spoil future success!  I am looking forward to my future.  I enter this day with great expectations.  If you did it for Mephibosheth, You can do it for me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Story of Mephibosheth (Part II)

(2nd Sam 9:3 NIV) The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Yesterday I introduced you to Mephibosheth and his tragic story.  But hold on, it gets better.  One-day king David, seemingly ‘out of the blue,’ asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  David had established a covenant with Jonathan and they both agreed to take care of each other’s families if anything ever happened to one of them (see 1st Sam 20).  Ziba, one of David’s servants, said, “There is still a son of Jonathan; but he is lame in both feet.”  Isn’t that how people are?  They label us with our issue.  Here’s a side note: don’t let anyone label you with the pain of your past.  Resolve to move forward by faith.  But let me continue… “Where is he?” David asked.  Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo-Debar.”  King David sent a team to get Mephibosheth and bring him to the royal palace.  When Mephibosheth arrived he bowed down in honor of the king.  What a weird turn of events.  The kid who was destined to be king was now bowing before the person who occupied the throne that used to belong to his family.  I am sure it must have been emotionally hard for Mephibosheth to be there; especially not knowing what he was there for.  King David said, “Mephibosheth!”  “At your service,” he replied.  “Don’t be afraid,” David said went on to say, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.  I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”  Wow!  I am sure Mephibosheth did not expect that to come out of David’s mouth.  It was too much for Mephibosheth to fathom, so he bowed down again and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your opinion of yourself is extremely important.  Because Mephibosheth’s ‘train of life’ had fallen on the tracks he could no longer see himself the way he did when he was a boy.  Even when the king said that he was restoring all the land that belonged to his grandfather, Mephibosheth could not wrap his head around it, because he saw himself defeated.  Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7).

Dr. Bill Winston said: “Inside every one of us is an image I call an “invisible fence,” which dictates how far we can go and what we see ourselves doing and being.  It is an invisible wall between you and God, holding you back, and keeping you from stepping out and doing what seems impossible.  If you attempt to go outside this fence, your subconscious mind brings you back. I call it your “autopilot.” It’s designed to keep you on course at the level of your self-image.”  Mephibosheth’s self-image was set to “defeated,” so he could not open himself up to the power of the blessing he was being bestowed.  Don’t let this happen to you!  If you allow the enemy to stress you out to the point where you set your self-image to “defeated,” then no matter what God attempts to do in your life and no matter how hard He tries to bless you, you will simply not receive it, because you will not see yourself as worthy of it.  Guess what?  None of us are worthy.  Get over it!   Accept God’s opinion of you so that you can walk in His blessings!

Closing Confession:  Father, I refuse to allow the enemy to cause me to see myself as a dead dog.  I refuse to allow the pressures of life to cause me to set my self-image to “defeated.”  As a matter of fact, through the renewing power of Your Word and the encouragement of Your Spirit, I am able to see myself the way that You see me.  Like Mephibosheth, I know that You desire to bless me, not because of anything that I have done, but rather because of the covenant that You have established for me through the blood of Jesus Your Son.  When You look at me You see the blood.  When the enemy stands before You to accuse me, Your Son Jesus is my advocate and He pleads my case, once again, not on the basis of what I have done, but rather on the basis of what He already did for me!  You then bless me richly, because of Jesus.  My job is to align my thoughts with Your thoughts of me, so that I don’t fight the process and so that I am able to receive the blessing.  I declare that I will!  I walk in Your blessing today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

The Story of Mephibosheth (Part III)

(2nd Sam 9:3 NIV) The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Last week I introduced you to Mephibosheth and his tragic story.  We left off with Mephibosheth bowing before David, before the throne that he was once an heir to, not being able to mentally wrap his head around the words king David was saying.  The king said, “Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.  I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”  Mephibosheth clearly understood the power of the king’s throne.  Unlike a president or prime minister, David had no checks-and-balances.  Since Kings are elected there is no tie to external pressures for administration.  Presidents and prime ministers govern, kings rule; and there is a big difference.  Kings cannot be impeached, they have absolute authority, and their word is final!  Once king David said that the land was Mephibosheth’s, then it was, from that very moment; no bureaucracy to wade through.  You would have thought that Mephibosheth would have been ecstatic.  But his response was: “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?

Mephibosheth was so beaten-down by the events of his life that he could not receive what king David was saying.  It is often hard for us to receive what we cannot perceive.  Mephibosheth could not understand why the king would do such a thing.  In Mephibosheth’s eyes he had done nothing to deserve such a blessing.  While he may have been born royalty, by this stage of his life Mephibosheth saw himself as a nobody going nowhere, surrounded by nobodies going nowhere in Lo-Debar (a barren place).  The key issue here is that Mephibosheth actually did not do anything at all to deserve what king David was offering him.  David was showing Mephibosheth kindness because of the covenant he had made with his father Jonathan.

In 1st Samuel 20 we see the friendship between David and Jonathan so strong that they established a covenant.  The Bible basically says: (Jonathan) “I am going to find out how my father feels about you.  If he is OK with you, I will let you know, but if he wants to kill you, then I will also let you know and give you INTEL on his plans.  Let’s establish a covenant between you and I to treat each other with the faithful love of the LORD as long I live.  But if I die, treat my family with this faithful love, even when the LORD destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.  Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.” Jonathan’s words were somewhat prophetic.  It’s almost like he knew he was going to die, that his father was also going to die, and that David would become the next king.  So he was saying, “Hey David, when you become the king, after you deal with all your enemies, please don’t forget my family.”  And that’s exactly how it played out.  As soon as David was firmly established and his primary enemies were out of the way, he was ready to do something about the Covenant that he established with Jonathan!

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:

1.  God shows you kindness because of the covenant:  The Father sent His Son to die in your stead and He is committed to releasing His blessing over every person who accepts His Son as Lord.  Once you accept Jesus you can walk in the blessing; not because of what you did, but because of what Jesus did!  So accept God’s goodness, don’t worry about being unworthy, because the Father is not blessing you based upon you, He is doing so based upon the covenant!  2.  Our God is a King:  Understanding the Jehovah is king and not a president or prime minister is key, because it means He does not have any checks or balances.  His Word is final; one Word from God can change your life forever.  So accept His Words, receive them with a believing heart, repeat them from faith-filled lips, and walk in His best today!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your goodness.  You are exceptionally good and although there have been times where I could not receive Your goodness, because I could not understand why You wanted to be so good to me, I now understand that You want to shower me with Your blessing BECAUSE of Jesus!  I have accepted Your Son as my Lord and therefore You accept me in Your bosom and You release Your blessing.  One Word from You can turn any seemingly hopeless situation around.  Today I will receive that Word.  I look to You as my light, my strength, my fortress, my strong tower, my guide, and my life!  As You speak to me, I listen.  As I hear Your words I receive them with a believing heart, I repeat them with faith-filled lips, and I get to experience Your best life now; walking in love (not selfishness) and light (not darkness).  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

 

The Story of Mephibosheth (Part IV)

 

(2nd Sam 9:3 NIV) The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

 

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Last week I introduced you to Mephibosheth and his tragic story.  One of the most tragic things about this story was the fact that Mephibosheth called himself a dead dog.  Actually, many Christians today have the same problem.  They may not call themselves a dead dog, but they have a low self-esteem because of:

 

1.  Repetitious InformationYou eventually believe (and become) what you consistently receive.  Mephibosheth was more than likely – because of his environment – exposed to conversations of failure, frustration, and disappointment.  The people around him were associated with Saul’s regime and probably talked about the “good ‘ole times,” without any hope of future success.  Make no mistake, what you allow through your ear gates will eventually get down into your heart.  And then, what it is in you abundantly will come out of you eventually.  Jesus said it this way, “Your words show what is in your heart.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”  The quality and type of your words are a direct indication of the quality and condition of your heart.  Your heart is your reservoir, it is filled with what you allow through your eye and ear gates.  If you hear or see the wrong things, you will become the wrong person.  Mephibosheth said he was a dead dog because that’s how he saw himself in his heart.  If you feed yourself the wrong things you too might wind up saying things you don’t like, but if you look deeper you will have to admit that your words are actually exposing the condition of your heart.

 

2.  Personal Experiences:  Mephibosheth experienced a string of unfortunate events.  Since the age of five, all he knew was struggle.  So while Mephibosheth’s words are sad, they are understandable.  We are all, in one way or another, a product of our environment and a product of our experiences.  Maybe you can identify with Mephibosheth this morning.  Maybe you too have experienced a string of unfortunate events lately.  You may be thinking, “Yeah!  I have a right to vent.  I have a right to be frustrated!  I have a right to complain.”  You may have that right, but the difference between you and Mephibosheth is that you have JESUS and He is the difference maker.  Jesus will identify with your struggle, but He will also expect you to maintain your hope through it.  James said, “Take the old prophets as your mentors.  They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.  What a gift life is to those who stay the course!” (5:11,12 MSG).

 

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  You become what you behold:  Whatever you allow through your ear and eye gates will be what your life-sponge soaks up.  When the pressure is on your life-sponge will release whatever you have allowed in.  Garbage in, garbage out!  Righteousness in, righteousness out!

2.  Speak the language of faith:  If you protect your eye and ear gates, and engage God with a believing heart, you be able to speak words of faith.  The language of faith always aligns itself with God’s will.  Resolve to speak the language of faith today!

3.  Look forward in faith:  No matter how disappointing your past was and no matter how difficult your present is, if you are still alive, and God is IN you, then you can make it; and not only make it, but you can experience VICTORY!  Enter today with a ‘forward-ever, backward-never’ mentality!

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I refuse to allow the pain of my past or the challenges of my present to cause me to see myself defeated.  I see myself as You see me and I force myself to speak the language of faith.  I speak the Word ONLY!  I speak life and not death, blessing and not cursing, and victory and not defeat every day of my life!  I refuse to quit.  I refuse to throw in the towel.  I refuse to relax the grip of my faith.  I have STAYING POWER.  I am in this faith-walk for the long haul.  No matter what the enemy brings my way, I will never allow his attacks to cause me to give up my hope.  My hope is firm, fixed, and focused on You Father.  I am never hopeless, because with You I am never helpless!  I enter this day with great expectations!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

 

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

 

 

The Story of Mephibosheth (Part V)

 

(2nd Sam 9:7 NLT)  “Don’t be afraid!” David said.  “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan.  I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!”

 

This morning we continue our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have been dealing with Mephibosheth for a while now and yesterday I focused in on the fact that Mephibosheth’s self esteem was low.  It is understandable why it was low, but it was low nonetheless and his low opinion of himself was evident when he referred to himself as a “dead dog.”  So what was king David’s answer for Mephibosheth’s low self-esteem?  Eating at the king’s table! Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute Rick, David did two things: give him the property and offer him a seat at the king’s table.  The property would have done it for me.”  You might think that, but the reality is that money is an amplifier.  Money does not change who you are, it just allows you to do more of what you are already doing.  So if I give a drunk a large sum of money, he will drink more.  If I give a womanizer a fortune, he will run more women.  If I give a philanthropist, whose heart is in his giving, even more money, he will give more.  Giving Mephibosheth the money was great, but his self-esteem still needed to be changed.  He needed to see himself as he once did, as royalty.

 

So now you may be thinking: how would eating at the king’s table help?  I’m glad you asked.  First of all, eating at the king’s table would cover Mephibosheth’s weakness.  Mephibosheth’s greatest issue was his crippled feet.  Although David was not anointed to heal him, he did the next best thing: he covered his weakness by having Mephibosheth to sit at the king’s table.  Dignitaries that were fortunate enough to eat with the king would never know that Mephibosheth had a weakness, because the King’s table covered it.  David was taking Mephibosheth’s troubled past and putting it behind him.  While Mephibosheth was at the table he could hold conversations with other heads-of-state as an equal.  Once he felt comfortable operating as an “equal” with royalty and dignitaries he would no longer feel sorry for himself.

 

David changed Mephibosheth’s financial balance sheet when he gave him the land.  Mephibosheth became a millionaire overnight.  David changed Mephibosheth’s level of responsibility when he gave him the servants (36 in all).  These servants would assist him in any way he required assistance and it allowed him to exercise the leadership and rule he was born to yield.  Just a few days prior Mephibosheth was hating life in Lo-Debar, but seemingly overnight he inherited an estate with an army servants to help him.  Changing his financial situation was great, and changing his responsibility was smart, but David changed Mephibosheth’s life when he covered his weakness and placed him in a position of honor.

Once Mephibosheth saw himself as royalty (again) his life was changed forever.

 

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the greatest change the Father can effectuate in your life is from the inside-out.  Changing your financial balance sheet is great, because money is required in this world to accomplish most things.  Changing your level of responsibility is important, because we must all prove ourselves faithful over one level, so that the Father can promote us to the next.  But the greatest change is an inside job.  If you allow the Father to do it, He can work with You, through His Word and His Spirit, to change you from the inside-out.  Once you are changed internally and you see yourself the way He sees you, your life will never be the same!

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for covering my weaknesses and keeping me from public exposure long enough for true change and deliverance to take place.  I know that I cannot grow without changing and since I want to grow, I welcome the change.  External change is good, but internal change is better.  Therefore I commit to the process of mind-renewal.  I cooperate with You as You seek to expose me to environments that will stretch me into the person You desire for me to be.  Day-by-day I will incrementally change into the image of Your Son Jesus.  Little-by-little I am learning how to see myself the way You see me and as I do, I realize that nothing is impossible for me, because I am a believer!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Entering Into God’s Rest!

 

(Heb 4:1-11 NLT)  God’s promise of entering His rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.  For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.  For only we who believe can enter His rest. As for the others, God said, “In My anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter My place of rest,'” even though this rest has been ready since He made the world.  We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all His work.”  But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter My place of rest.”  So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.  So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.”  Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come.  So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.  For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.  So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

 

This morning we start to wind down our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have covered a lot of ground in this series and the time has come to bring it to an end.  But before we do, we will discuss this final passage.  I normally don’t lay out this many verses for you, but I was led to do so, in order that you might read the passage in it’s entirety before we truly start breaking it down.  If you have the time, please read it more than once so it can get into your spirit.

 

Listen, I was led to start this series because the times have been truly difficult for a large majority of people, even believers.  But while God never promised us a perpetual picnic, He never expects us to operate as wimps either.  The Father expects us, as His representatives in the earth, to live our lives as overcomersJehovah expects us to be light (shining) and salt (preserving) in the midst of darkness and decay.  The stories we have covered have been good, and possibly even entertaining, but the messages in the stories are the key.  If you have pulled out the golden nuggets as we have gone through each story then I trust that you are now better equipped to handle the pressures of life and to experience true victory over negative stress.

 

This passage is about entering into God’s rest.  We are called to live by faith, God’s peace is available to us when we truly trust Him, but rest, to me, is another level altogether.  When you enter into God’s rest concerning something, then that’s it! As far as you are concerned, it’s a done deal, whether the deal is actually done (in the natural) or not.

 

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as we close this series out you will want to ask the Father to anoint your heart and your mind so that you can learn to truly enter into His rest.  Once you enter into God’s rest the pressures of the situation have no power over you.  Once you enter into God’s rest the fiery darts of the enemy have no way of getting to you.  Once you enter into God’s rest the Father will show-up and show-out because He knows you are completely relying on Him to manifest His glory.  The Father wants us enjoy His rest!

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your Word.  Your Word is the foundation for my life.  As I read and meditate this passage, I declare, by faith, that it gets down into my spirit.  Your rest is possible for me and I believe that it will become a reality in my life.  I will learn to enter into Your rest concerning situations and once I do, the enemy’s attempts to get me into fear, worry, doubt, and unbelief will all fail.  No more sleepless nights for me!  I enter into Your rest and I enjoy the life You have blessed me with.  I do all that You have called me to do, by faith, and I then completely rely on You to do all that I cannot do.  As I am waiting on You to manifest Your glory, I enter into Your rest!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Entering Into God’s Rest! (Part II)

 

(Heb 4:1,2 NLT)  God’s promise of entering His rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.  For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them.  But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.

 

This morning we continue to wind down our series: “Victory over Stress!”  In the third chapter of this letter to the Hebrews the writer quotes the 95th psalm at length and speaks of the Israelites who were cursed by God to die in the desert because of their unbelief.  The author then juxtaposes the unbelief of the Israelites in chapter 3 with the faith of believers in chapter 4.  The question that is raised is: is the promise of entering God’s rest (given to the Israelites but forfeited because of unbelief) still valid in our time?  The answer is a resounding yes!  The offer still stands, the rest is still available, the blessing is still there waiting for us, but only “we who have believed enter that rest” (verse 3).  The believing part (faith) is the key and that is why the writer tells us that some might fail to experience it.  I would venture to say that many today fail to experience it because of the hustle and bustle of modern day life.  But whether we have failed to experience it in the past or not, the fact is that God’s rest – a supernatural rest – is available to us today and if we take Him up on His offer His rest can change the way we experience life forever!

 

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, when commenting on this passage, said: “The Canaan rest for Israel is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we surrender to Him.  When we come to Christ by faith, we find salvation rest (Mat 11:28).  When we yield and learn of Him and obey Him by faith, we enjoy submission rest (Mat 11:29-30).  The first is “peace with God” (Rom 5:1); the second is the “peace of God” (Phi 4:6-8).  It is by believing that we enter into rest (Heb 4:3); it is by obeying God by faith and surrendering to His will that the rest enters into us.”  I could not have said it better.

 

Having peace WITH God is one thing, but having the peace OF God is something else altogether; and this peace, this rest, the type that is available to us today is far greater than what the Israelites would have experienced in Canaan.  How do I know?  Because we have a better covenant!  Our covenant was ratified with the Blood of Jesus, not the blood of bullocks, goats, and turtledoves.  Interestingly enough, the book of Hebrews is often referred to as the “Book of Better Things” or the book that describes the “Better Covenant.”  The word “better” is littered throughout its pages.  The covenant we enjoy in Christ is far greater than the covenant the Jews enjoyed through Abraham.  That being the case, the rest offered to us today must be even greater than the Canaan rest offered to the Jews!  But guess what?  The faith-factor still applies.  Just like the Israelites had to mix what they heard with “faith” in order to experience the rest they were offered, we must do the same thing.  In essence I am announcing (or preaching) to you the fact that God’s rest is available, just like it was preached to them.  And just like they required faith to receive it, you do as well.  You must mix what you are receiving WITH FAITH if it is going to do you any good.

 

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God’s supernatural rest is available to you, but you must receive it, tap into it, and make a demand for it, by faith!  If you don’t tap into this rest by faith then you will be one of those who fail to experience it – and it won’t be God’s fault.  The Father has done His part; He has sent His Son to die in your stead, He left you his Word so you can know what is available to you, and He dealt to you the measure of faith (Rom 12:3) so you can have the means through which to properly engage Him in order to receive His best.  God’s part is done, will you do yours?  The offer still stands; will you take Him up on it?

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank Your for making Your rest available to me.  Your rest is supernatural, it’s awesome, it passes all understanding, and I want it!  Since I am a believer and not a doubter, I declare, by faith, that I tap into Your rest today, this year, and for the rest of my life.  I enter into Your rest and I live there.  Once I am IN Your rest the stress, struggle, and strain of the world won’t be able to negatively effect me.  I have lived outside of Your rest far too long.  I thank You for this series, I understand that Your offer for rest still stands, I mix what I am receiving with faith, and I LIVE in Your rest from this day forward!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

 

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

 

 

Entering Into God’s Rest! (Part III)

 

(Heb 4:2 NIV)  For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

 

This morning we continue to wind down our series: “Victory over Stress!”  Last week we closed out with this verse and we go back to it this morning to reiterate the faith-factor in receiving God’s rest.  The gospel (good news) that the writer refers to in this passage was the good news that the Lord was giving the newly freed Israelites the land of Canaan, the land promised to the forefathers to give them.  The Lord told Moses that He was giving them the land and that he was to send in 12 spies to survey the land, to bring back evidence of the land’s goodness, and to perform reconnaissance of the inhabitants because taking possession of the land would require a fight.  Moses told the people what God said (he preached the gospel), the spies went into the land, they brought back physical evidence of how good the land was, but they then made the fatal mistake of allowing fear to cancel out their faith.  Because the land was inhabited by giants (the Anakin), 10 of the 12 spies developed a ‘grasshopper mentality’ and told the people that there was no way that they could do it.  Although 2 of the 12 (Joshua and Caleb) did their best to drive home the message (preach the gospel) that they COULD do it, that they COULD take possession of the land, that they COULD enter into God’s rest, the crowd (millions of people) sided with the 10 instead of the 2 and the rest, as the say, is history.  Millions of people wound up dying in the desert without ever entering into God’s best, all because of unbelief.

 

So what does this mean to you today? You may be thinking, “I got it Rick, I have read the story, but what does this have to do with dealing with stress and what does this have to do with me?”  Actually, several things:

 

1.  Rest is part of the promises of God:  The Father wanted rest for the Israelites and He wants rest for you today.  When I say “rest” I don’t mean ‘laying down on the couch’ or ‘taking a nap.’  I mean a supernatural internal peace that enables you to maximize your purpose and potential in life, because without it, you can easily cross over into frustration.  Frustration is: “A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.”  Will there be times when you feel like you have unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems?  Of course there will be, but that’s where divine rest comes in.  The Father wants you to trust Him SO much that you can truly rest, even while you are waiting on the manifestation of His promises in your life.  Because if you don’t enter His divine rest, the enemy can creep in and get you to lose heart, to relax the grip on your faith, and to give up!

2.  The promises of God must be received by faith:  Like anything else in the Kingdom of God, divine rest must be received by faith.  The Israelites in the text failed to mix faith with what they heard and their lack of faith led to a catastrophic failure where millions of people missed experiencing God’s best.  Don’t let this be said of you.  Live by faith, engage the Father in faith, and enter into divine rest by faith!

3.  Even though God wants you to have it, it does not mean you will not have to fight for it:  Not a physical fight, but rather the good fight of faith.  The Hebrew writer goes on to say, “Let us labor to enter into that rest” (v.11).  Remaining in God’s rest is not always easy.  The enemy will do his best to get you over into fear, fret, and frustration, but you must be strong enough NOT to allow him to.  Once you are in God’s rest you must fight to remain there.  When the negative thoughts enter into your mind you must take control of them and bring them captive into the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5).  If you do that, you will be able to enjoy divine rest daily!

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this series and I thank You for taking the time to show me the type of divine rest that is possible through Your Word and Your Spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I enter into that rest today.  I receive the Word, I mix it with faith, I apply it to my life, and I enter into Your rest.  I trust You with my whole heart, I believe You can do all things in and through my life, I live by faith, and my life of faith enables me to LIVE every day in Your rest.  When the enemy attempts to get me out of Your rest, I will resist every negative thought and bring them captive to the obedience of Christ.  I will not allow myself or the enemy to get me OUT of Your rest.  I live in a stress-free environment from this day forward.  I face challenges by faith, fully confident that You will bless me to overcome them!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

 

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

 

 

Entering Into God’s Rest! (Part IV)

 

(Heb 4:3b,4 NLT)   this rest has been ready since He made the world.  We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all His work.”

 

This morning we continue to wind down our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We are walking through our final passage in this series and the Hebrew writer talks to us this morning about a rest that has been available since creation.  After creation, after the Elohim (God the Creator) did all He was going to do, He rested from all His work.  Elohim did not rest because He was tired; He rested because He was finished.

 

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee said the following when commenting on this passage: “This is the Sabbath.  God rested on the seventh day, and that was the Sabbath day.  However, the Sabbath today is not a day you keep or observe.  Have you entered into the real Sabbath today?  Do you know what it is to trust Christ and Christ alone for your salvation?  Are you trusting anything else?  Is He it?  Have you entered into rest? I had a good friend who was a doctor and who observed Saturday as the Sabbath.  We used to play tennis together, and we got pretty well acquainted with one another.  One day after we had played three sets of tennis, we sat down on the bench, and we began to have what you would call a religious argument.  He looked at me and said, “McGee, do you keep the Sabbath day?”  “Yes, I keep the Sabbath.”  He looked at me real hard and said, “What day?”  I said to him, “Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then I start all over again on Saturday.”  He said to me, “What in the world do you mean?”  “Well, the way I understand the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Sabbath day is now this day of grace in which we live, and Christ, after He died on the Cross and came back to life, went back to the right hand of the Father and sat down.  He sat down, not because He was tired, but because He had finished your redemption and mine.  So now He tells me, ‘You rest in Me.’  I have a Sabbath day every day—I rest in Christ.”  That doctor friend looked at me in amazement. “Well,” he said, “that’s better than having just one day, isn’t it?”  I said, “It sure is. Seven days a week is a sabbath of resting in Christ.”

 

Now, I am not looking to start a debate over whether or not we should rest on Saturday or Sunday.  My point, and the point of this passage, is that there is a supernatural rest that is available to us and if we would approach the Father in faith, we could tap into that rest daily.  This rest is a rest of grace, comfort, and holiness; it is a state of being that enables us to be at peace internally, even when things externally may be going haywire.

 

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jehovah and Jesus have both done what they were going to do and they are resting.  God now gives you the opportunity to rest in what He has already done.  Rest in the finished work of the Father in creation.  Rest in the finished work of Jesus the Christ on the cross.  Rest in the grace God has given you to be saved from your sin.  Rest in the hope that you have for eternal life.  Rest in the purpose the Father has placed in you.  And rest in the fact that satan is a defeated foe; knowing fully well that hell is waiting on him and hating the fact that you have cross over to the other side.  Rest in the fact that Christ Jesus died to make you free!  If you know you are going to heaven, and you know the Father wants you to enjoy the ride, then what do you have to worry about?  Enter into God’s Rest!!!

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for your finished work in creation.  I also thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die in my stead.  He paid the price for my sin, he was crucified on Calvary’s cross, He was buried in a borrowed tomb, He went down to hell to take captivity captive, and He ascended from the dead with all power in His hand!  Jesus then ascended into heaven and took a seat next to You Father, signifying that His work in the earth was complete (at least for now).  I declare that I rest in His finished work.  I rest in the grace by which I am saved from my sin.  I rest in the peace that You have made available for me.  I rest in fact that You have planned out an awesome future for me and I will maximize it by faith.  I rest in YOU!  I enter this day by entering into Your rest!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Entering Into God’s Rest! (Part V)

 

(Heb 4:6,7 NLT) So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.  So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today.  God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

 

This morning we continue to wind down our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We are walking through our final passage in this series and the Hebrew writer talks to us this morning about a rest that is available to us TODAY! The writer has already made it explicitly clear that God’s rest was offered to the Israelites when they, by the grace of God, were made free from the bondage of Egypt.  However, because of disobedience and unbelief they missed out and over a thousand years later the writer of Hebrews tells us that rest is still available.  The actual Greek language used gives us the understanding that what is being offered actually “remains over from a past time.”  It’s almost as if this is a blessing that is just out there waiting for whomever has the faith to appropriate it.  The Father has done His part by making the rest available and those who originally received the offer failed to accept and appropriate it because of unbelief.  Wouldn’t be a shame if you and I did the same thing?  Wouldn’t it be sad if we did not learn from the mistakes of those that have gone before us?  The writer even gives us additional motivation by quoting David when he said, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

 

Did you get that?  Did you understand the point the Hebrew writer is driving home?  He is saying that the offer still stands, divine rest is available, you tap into it by faith, and the time is NOW! TODAY divine rest is available to you.  TODAY you can enter into a rest that will give you peace from the inside out.  TODAY the Father can deliver you from negative stress.  TODAY anxiety can fall off of you like water falling off of a ducks back.  TODAY supernatural peace can flood your heart and your mind.  Yes, TODAY is the day!  The time is NOW!  Will you do it?  Will you tap into divine rest?  Will you appropriate the rest that remains from time past?  Will you take God up on His offer?  Don’t keep waiting on God to give you rest when He has already made it available.  He is now waiting on you to make a demand for it.  You have not because you ask not.  Will you ask (in faith) today?

 

When I preach I talk about the voice behind the voice, the word behind the word.  What I mean by this is that while I am preaching the logos (written Word) the Holy Spirit, at the same time, is preaching rhema (living words).  The written word (logos) that I preach may cut and make an incision, but the living words (rhema) that the Holy Spirit preaches, while I am preaching, cuts with precision, causing those that receive the Word to make a decision.  The same thing happens while you are reading Today’s Word.  You are reading what I wrote and that has the ability to bless you to one level, but while you are reading it the Holy Sprit Himself is speaking to you and what He says to you will be far more impactful in your life.  Understanding that, I will also quote David and say, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

 

So what does this mean to you today? Now that you know that divine rest is available to you, you must do something about it.  The Holy Spirit will attempting to get you over into His rest, but you must respond in faith when you hear His voice.  If you resist His urging He won’t force you into His blessing.  God makes His best available to you, but you must take hold of it BY FAITH.  Will you?

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this Word.  This is a life-changing Word and I receive it by faith.  I also thank You for the Word behind the Word, the voice behind the voice, the rhema behind the logos!  In addition to reading the Word I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to me behind it.  I hear the Holy Spirit telling me that divine rest is available to me TODAY and I will not harden my heart towards it.  My ears are anointed to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling me, my heart is anointed to receive it, and I declare that I will respond IN FAITH.  I take hold of the divine rest that is available for me and I take hold of it TODAY!  TODAY I enter into Your rest, by faith, and my life will never be the same!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Entering Into God’s Rest! (Part VI)

 

(Heb 4:9,10 NLT)  So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.  For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.

 

This morning we continue to wind down our series: “Victory over Stress!”  We have already covered the fact that God rested from Creation, not because He was tired, but because He was finished.  The only thing that God is creating today is Born-Again believers, as they accept His Son Jesus as Lord.  God rested when He finished the work of creation.  God’s Son rested when He finished the work of making new-creation available to all men.  And now, when we accept Jesus as Lord, we are made new creatures in Him (2 Cor 5:17).  For those believers, those children of God, those who have been born of His Spirit, the Father offers a special rest.  After making peace with God the Father offers us the peace of God, which far exceeds human understanding, reasoning, or even explanation.  This is not a heavenly rest that will be experienced ‘some day,’ but rather a current rest that is made available to every believer by faith.

 

The Hebrew writer tells us that “All who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors.”  Prior to Jesus the Jews attempting to receive atonement for sin through a series of rituals and routines under the Mosaic Law.  Because the Law was cumbersome and taxing, it could never provide true rest; especially rest from our own works.  It’s as if believers before Christ were actually working for justification and intimacy with God.  However, you and I, as New Testament believers, understand that we could never work our way to heaven.  No amount of labor could ever provide true justification and righteousness.  We have been declared righteous because of what Jesus did (2 Cor 5:21) and now we can rest in the salvation we have in Him.

 

I remember when I thought I had to basically “work” for my salvation.  I was always apprehensive, timid, and somewhat weary.  Whenever I sinned (which we all do by the way), I wearily asked for forgiveness and attempted my best to reconcile my wrongdoing with God.  It was not until the Father revealed to me, through His Word and His Spirit, that my salvation has been purchased by the Blood of Jesus and that I was secure in Him that I was able to truly rest from my own works.  Today I serve God because I love Him, not because I am trying to earn my way to heaven.  If we could earn our way to heaven it would not have been necessary for Jesus to die for our sin.  We could never earn it, and Jesus did die in our stead, so now we can truly enter into divine rest.

 

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jesus died to get us out of everything that Adam got us into.  When Adam disobeyed God satan’s dynamic duo, sin and death, were introduced into the earth and Jesus came to deal with both.  Jesus conquered sin on Calvary’s cross and He then conquered death when He was resurrected three days later.  Jesus was both the PASSOVER lamb (for death) and the Atonement lamb (for sin).  This means that we no longer need to kill animals, we no longer need to ‘attempt’ to work our way towards righteousness, and we no longer need to labor to make it heaven.  Today our work is simply to believe (John 6:29) and then to rest in Jesus’ finished work.  Once we are at peace with knowing that we are going to heaven, then we can truly rest, enjoy God, enjoy life, and be the light and salt the Father desires for us to be!

 

Closing Confession:  Father, I will never cease to praise Your name for sending Your Son to die for me.  You sent Jesus, who knew no sin, to be MADE sin FOR ME, that I might be MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD by faith.  For that I am eternally grateful.  You have declared me righteous because of what Jesus did for me and because I accepted Him as Lord.  I receive that righteousness by faith, I rest from my own works, and I know I have been delivered from hell.  Since I have been delivered from the worse possible thing that could ever happen to me, then I can surely enter into Your rest long enough to enjoy the life that I now have IN YOU!  Use me today Father to be light (to shine) and salt (to preserve) in the midst of darkness and decay!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

 

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!