Joy and Peace

by Rick
Joy and Peace

In January 2008 I was at a church conference in Montgomery Alabama where I heard a Word from Pastor George Matthews that resonated in my spirit.  He said that Romans 15:13 revolutionized the way he looked at challenges.  I had read this scripture before, but that day it seems to jump off the pages of my Bible and settle within the recesses of my heart.  I have been meditating this verse since that day and it has become part of my family’s vision for this year.  This verse is part of a prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the church at Rome.  He prayed that the God of hope would fill the believers at Rome with Joy and Peace in believing.  In other words, he wanted our God, the God of hope (as He calls Him) to fill the believers in Rome with an overflowing joy and a supernaturally settling peace while they were in the believing phase of a breakthrough.  See, the believing phase is the phase you go through in the space between the promise and the performance; the space between your confession and the completion.  It is in the space that many believers give up, get frustrated, and throw in the towel.  Not only did Paul not want them to throw in their spiritual towel, but He wanted them to experience God’s Joy while they waited on the manifestation of God in their lives.  Having God’s Joy should be good enough, but Paul also prayed that they would have God’s peace.  Isn’t that awesome.  Paul wanted them to have Joy while and the waited on God, and a peace about whatever situation they were facing.  He desired for them to have this, even without any inkling of sense-realm-evidence.  Meaning that they could believe that God was going to do it – whatever the “it” was – without any worldly evidence to support their belief.  Believing without seeing, that’s called FAITH!

So get ready to feed your faith and starve your doubts.  This second installment of the Faith and Patience series is called, “Joy and Peace In Believing!
Joy and Peace In Believing (Series Intro)

Series Intro (Part II)

Series Intro (Part III)

Series Intro (Part IV)

Series Intro (Part V)

Understanding Joy

Understanding Peace

Understanding Faith

How is Faith Developed?

Understanding Patience

The Power Twins

You’re Still Going to have That Baby!

Learning from Abraham

Fully Persuaded

Learning from Courageous Caleb

You cannot continue what you have not First Started

Can you Stand to be Blessed?

Life is a GIft for those who Stay the Course!

Job’s Staying Power

The Power of Knowing that God Cares

Perfect Peace

Joseph – The Dreamer

Know that the Attack is Against Your Dream

The Right Attitude while you Wait

Staying Focused While you Wait

God is Bigger than Any Attack

Taking The Blessing everywhere you Go!

Don’t let the situation you are in be IN You!

Being a Blessing, Regardless of Your Situation

Keep Your Trust in God

God’s Timing

Be Ready for Your Chance

Are you Afraid to Take God Public?

Are you Ready to Live by Faith?

Fearless Confidence

Your Faith Sets God’s Plan in Motion

The Look and the License

The Power of Perseverance

Don’t Cast Away Your Confidence

Believing for the Future, Focused on the Present!

Believing for the Future, Focused on the Present (Part II)

Letting Go, to Lay Hold!

God did not bring you this far to Fail!

Having Peace to make Wise Decisions

Flourishing in the Midst of a Famine

Applying Your Faith to Your Famine

Free from the Bondage of Fear!

Peace is Your Guard

Progressing in God

Never Letting Go of your Dream and Trusting God while you Hold On

Controlling Your Emtotions to Receive God’s Best

Passing the Test

Getting Past the Pain

The Purpose of The Blessing

Making Holy Garments out of Flawed Material

The Blessing is the Difference Maker

Maximizing Every Level in God

Faith and Patience, Not Faith and Frustration

Believing and Receiving the Love of God

Enough Peace to remain Focused on Your Purpose

God’s Permanent Blessing will Outlast Temporary Challenges

Passing the Tests of Life

Comparing Jesus and Joseph

Its Never Too Late for God

Guilt Free Living

Looking at Life through the Lens of Faith

Do Your Ways Please God?

Resisting Discouragement

No matter what – Keep On Going!

Do Not Let

Do You Trust God?

Having Peace to Stay Focused on Purpose

Hope that Does not Disappoint

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part II)

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part III)

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part IV)

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part V)

Having Joy and Peace while You Live Your Life’s Journey

Stand

The Armor of God

Unshakable Confidence

Internal Stability in the midst of External Challenges

The Liberating Power of Worship

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha)

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part II

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part III

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part IV

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part V

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part VI

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part VII

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part VIII

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part IX

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part X

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part XI

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part XII

A Tale of Two Sisters (Marty and Martha) Part XIII

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part XIV

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Part XV

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) Pat XVI

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Matha) Part XVII

Unmovable

Sowing the Seed of Peace

Living Your Life as a Sower

What to DO while you Wait on God

Closing Prayer

Joy and Peace In Believing (back to the top)

(Rom 15:13 NASB)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is with great joy and excitement that I embark upon a new series.  I get excited about every series the Lord leads me to teach/share with you, because I know that it will preach TO me before it preaches THROUGH me. My family and I have been facing a pretty strong challenge since November of last year (2007).  For the past four months we have been standing in faith and believing God for what I believe He has told me, although the situation has not gotten any better.  As a matter of fact, it has gotten worse.  My family and I, however, still rejoice in the fact that we love God, He loves us, and we remain rooted and grounded in His love and expectant for this situation to change. I don’t know how God is going to do it, but I sincerely believe that He will.

This situation has taken me back to a series that I shared a few years ago entitled Faith and Patience – The Power Twins. Indeed, faith and patience are the power twins for the believer.  Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God.  Nothing in the Kingdom operates without faith.  And patience is the necessary ingredient we need to whether the storms we will face and overcome the obstacles that life brings our way.  Patience is not passively waiting; Bible patience is literally a force of consistency.  It is the ability to remain the same, in spite of circumstances.

In January I was at a church conference in Montgomery Alabama where I heard a Word from Pastor George Matthews that resonated in my spirit.  He said that Romans 15:13 revolutionized the way he looked at challenges.  I had read this scripture before, but that day it seems to jump off the pages of my Bible and settle within the recesses of my heart.  I have been meditating this verse since that day and it has become part of my family’s vision for this year.  This verse is part of a prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the church at Rome.  He prayed that the God of hope would fill the believers at Rome with Joy and Peace in believing.  In other words, he wanted our God, the God of hope (as He calls Him) to fill the believers in Rome with an overflowing joy and a supernaturally settling peace while they were in the believing phase of a breakthrough.  See, the believing phase is the phase you go through in the space between the promise and the performance; the space between your confession and the completion.  It is in the space that many believers give up, get frustrated, and throw in the towel.  Not only did Paul not want them to throw in their spiritual towel, but He wanted them to experience God’s Joy while they waited on the manifestation of God in their lives.  Having God’s Joy should be good enough, but Paul also prayed that they would have God’s peace.  Isn’t that awesome.  Paul wanted them to have Joy while and the waited on God, and a peace about whatever situation they were facing.  He desired for them to have this, even without any inkling of sense-realm-evidence.  Meaning that they could believe that God was going to do it – whatever the “it” was – without any worldly evidence to support their belief.  Believing without seeing, that’s called FAITH!

So get ready to feed your faith and starve your doubts.  This second installment of the Faith and Patience series is called, “Joy and Peace In Believing!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God does not want you to become weary in well-doing.  He does not want frustration to suffocate your faith.  God wants you to be able to believe Him, without any sense-realm-evidence, and to have both Joy and Peace while you are waiting on the manifestation of what You believe He is going to do in your life.  It is my prayer that this series charges your faith and takes you to the next level in your walk with God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am a believer and not a doubter.  I walk by faith and not by fear.  I live with expectation and not frustration.  I am Godly-excited about this series and I welcome Joy and Peace while I believe God.  Father, I bask in your Joy and I have a peace about everything I am believing You for.  This too shall come to pass!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Joy and Peace In Believing (Intro Part II) (back to the top)

(Rom 15:23 NASB)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we continue the introduction of our new series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  I have received several responses already, with only just the introduction.  I have a peace in my heart about this series and I know it is the right series at the right time.  As we get into it we will learn how to combat the enemies of frustration, fear, doubt, and unbelief.  The space between the promise and the performance, between your confession and the completion, between “amen” and “there it is” it is very critical space. What you do while you wait can determine how long you wait and more importantly, whether or not your prayer will ever come to pass.

I encounter believers all the time who are concerned with whether or not God heard their prayer.  Their concern often turns to worry, their worry gives birth to doubt, their worry and doubt manifest into fear, and eventually their fear suffocates their faith.  This is why I subtitled this series, “Standing strong in the space between the promise and the performance.”  Faith is not a one-time experience.  Faith must become our lifestyle and it must be the foundation upon which all of our actions rest.

In this series we will learn about a woman who asked a judge to right her wrong.  The judge seemingly ignored her, but she was relentless.  She refused to give up.  She refused to throw in her towel.  Since the woman was persistent and dedicated to believing that her situation was going to get handled, the judge eventually handled it.  He righted her wrong and she received her answer.  Jesus told that story and taught us that the lesson we can glean from her diligence is that, “Men ought always to pray and not faint” (Luke 18:1).  The point being that if we faint, if we give up, if we throw in the towel, we may never see the manifestation of our prayer.

We will also look at a man that received a promise from God for him and his wife to bring forth a baby.  That sounds like a wonderful thing, and it was, but it took 25 years for it to happen.  This man and his wife had to believe that a God they could not see would bring them a child that they could see and that He would bring them the child in their old age.  The baby was not born until the man was 100 and the woman was 90.  To make matters worse, the woman had been barren all her life.  She could not have children at 20, much less 90.  But in spite of it all they believed God and after 25 years of waiting Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you too can learn how to wait on God.  But the point of this series is not just merely to wait, but to learn HOW to wait; to be excited in your waiting time; to literally enter every day with a joyful expectation and a peaceful heart.  To have the joy that knows that God will do what He said He will do and to have the peace that wards off the enemies of worry, doubt, and fear. Yes, it is my prayer that in this series God develops an ability in you to have Joy and Peace while you are believing Him for the unseen and the not-yet manifested.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am a believer and not a doubter.  I believe You.  I believe Your Word.  I believe You are faithful to accomplish everything You said You would do.  My belief gives birth to faith.  My strong faith ignites Your joy in my life.  My faith and joy enable me to have an overwhelming peace; a peace that passes all understanding.  My faith, joy, and peace help me to ward off and resist worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief.  I remain strong in faith and I will see the manifestation of Your promises in my life.  I have Joy and Peace In Believing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Joy and Peace In Believing (Intro Part III) (back to the top)

(Rom 15:23 NASB)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we continue the introduction of our new series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  We will soon get into this series full-bore, but I want to take the time to set the stage for the full impact of what I believe the Lord wants to do through this series.  When I shared the series entitled, “Expanding your capacity to Believe God,” I shared with you that one of the greatest enemies of expanding your capacity to believe was mediocrity.  Many have coined the phrase, “The enemy called average.”  Yes, average is the enemy of good; good is the enemy of better; and better is the enemy of best.  The point being that if we accept average and live therein we will never get to good, and the same can be said for good and etc.  We are to be thankful for everything stage of our lives, but we should have an innate desire to want God’s best and to manifest His full purpose in our lives before we die.

With this in mind I bring up another enemy, the enemy of this series, and that is frustration.  The definition of frustration is: “A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.”  This definition says it all.  In the Body of Christ I frequently run across people, good people, well intentioned people, that fit this description to a tee.  They are dissatisfied with the church, with God, with themselves, and with their walk.  This dissatisfaction leads to worry and sometimes even depression.  Yes, it is a sad commentary, but there are many Christians that have dibbled and dabbled within the abyss of depression.  What has happened to them?  Some way, some how they have lost their hope.  They have given up on their situation, their expectation, and sometimes on God altogether.  Paul warned us not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes, because if we are he will get an advantage over us (2nd Cor 2:11).  One of the greatest schemes of the devil used to stop you from believing God is to tell you that “it” won’t happen.  The enemy wants you to get frustrated and throw in the towel of belief.  If he can get YOU to stop believing then YOU literally stop yourself from receiving.  Frustration is the enemy of hope.

The definition for hope is: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust; to feel that something desired may happen.”  Hope is powerful.  Hope is necessary.  Hope is required for the believer.  Now, you may be thinking, “But Rick, I thought faith is what is required or the believer, not hope.”  But the reality is that if you lose your hope you will never get to faith.  Faith adds substance to what you hope for (Heb 11:1).  Faith puts the meat on the bones of hope.  If you lose your hope you have forfeited your opportunity to exercise faith.  I love the fact that Paul called God the “God of hope.”  He is that indeed.  God is a God that wants you to believe, He wants you to expect that He will do what He said He would do, He wants you to look forward with desire and with reasonable confidence.  He wants you to dream big dreams and to watch Him help you to bring them to pass!

So what does this mean to you today? It means God is a God of hope.  In this series I believe God will resurrect dead dreams, aborted ideas, and prematurely-terminated plans.  My prayer is that God rekindles the flame of your hope; that your hope would be strong, that you bubble over with overwhelming joy, and that you would be stable with His settling peace.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I keep hope alive in my life.  You are my God and I know You to be my God of hope.  You fill me with hope.  You enable me to get past the past failures to dream again.  You resurrect my dead dreams.  You allow me to bring back aborted ideas and prematurely-terminated plans to the surface of my mind and my heart.  I use the stumbling blocks of the past as the stepping stones of the future.  I break the back of frustration and I look forward-ever with Joy and Peace in Believing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Joy and Peace In Believing (Intro Part IV) (back to the top)

(Rom 15:23 NASB)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we continue the introduction of our new series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  The more I mediate on this verse the more it becomes alive in me; the more I am able to believe God in spite of circumstances.  In the “Expanding Your Capacity to Believe God” series I shared that you will not be able to receive what you cannot believe.  The point of that series was that your capacity to receive is limited by what you are able to believe, so if you take the limits off of our limitless God, then the seemingly impossible becomes possible for you.  I told you that you will never get to the faith stage if you are not able to get past the belief stage.  In this series I share with you that you will never even get to the belief stage if you cannot get past the perceive stage.  See, you will never believe what you do not perceive.  When you consider a situation to be hopeless, then your perception becomes your reality.  You never stir up the juices of possibility long enough to pray, believe, declare, of have faith for it.  You simply tuck it – whatever “it” is – into your draw of hopelessness, never to withdrawn again.

The Good News is that we serve a God that can turn seemingly hopeless situations around.  One Word from God can take you from hopeless to hope, from impossible to possible, from dead to alive! When Paul penned this verse he was not talking about human hope, limited hope, and fragile hope.  Paul prayed that the believers in Rome would literally abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit; supernatural power.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, that caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, the mute to speak, and the crippled to leap!  The same power that you tapped into for salvation that delivered you from the grasps of an eternal hell.  This power, the power of God, the power made available to us by the Holy Spirit, is the power that Paul said that enable us to abound in hope!

Yesterday I shared with you the definition for hope.  What is interesting is that when I looked up the definition there was another definition listed under the standard definition that I did not share in yesterday’s message.  The dictionary said, “Hope against hope:  To continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it.”  Wow!  The dictionary tapped into a biblical principle; the ability to hope against hope.  In this same letter to the Romans Paul spoke of the ability to hope against hope.  Paul wrote this about Abraham and his ability to abound in hope, even when his circumstances were screaming for him to give up: “In hopeagainst hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your seed be.”  Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:18-21).  Not only was Abraham’s body seemingly dead, but so was Sarah’s womb.  His equipment and what he was working with were both seemingly dead, his situation seemed hopeless, but he still believed.  Guess what?  He received!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Holy Spirit can enable you to abound in hope, even when the world would say that your situation is dead.  Many have told me that my situation is dead and that I should just concede to the fact that it is over.  But I, like Abraham, believe in a God that can give life to dead situations; hoping against hope!  Can you?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, that by Your power I am able to hope against hope.  It does not matter how dead my situation may seem to others, I believe in a God that can give lives to dead stuff!  I can hope against hope and I abound in hope today and every day.  I have great expectations.  I perceive, I believe, and I will receive!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Joy and Peace In Believing (Intro Part V) (back to the top)

(Rom 15:23 NASB)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we wrap up the introduction of our new series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Starting next week we will begin to delve into the meat of this series.  This week I simply wanted to give you a glimpse of what is to come.  I have highlighted different parts of this verse thus far and this morning we take a look at the words, “In Believing.”

Paul prayed that God would fill them with Joy and Peace “In Believing.”  What does this mean?  What does it mean to be in what I call the believing phase of a breakthrough?  Webster says that the word “believe” means: to accept as true, genuine, or real.  I add something to it.  I say that the word “believe” means: to accept as true, genuine, or real, without the validation of sense-realm-evidence.  This means that when you believe something you are accepting something as a reality, although you cannot verify it with your five senses.  So you cannot see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, or hear it; but you still believe it; you still accept it as true.  I don’t have to believe that I own a computer to send out Today’s Word.  I can see it right in front of me and I can touch it with my hands.  Once I can verify it with my senses then I go from believing to knowing.  I simply know that I have it and I no longer need to believe.  To take it to another level, faith comes by hearing (and receiving) the Word of God (Rom 10:17).  When I receive Word from God about what I am believing, it then helps me to graduate from the belief stage to the faith stage.  Faith adds substance to my hope, it adds power to my belief (Heb 11:1).

The letters “ing” indicate that my belief is in the active mode.  So I am actively believing for what I cannot validate with my senses.  I am waiting on God for what I believe will happen, although it has not happened and I have no human or natural way to validate my expectation for it to happen.  Not only that, in most cases the human or natural evidence will be directly against what I am believing for.  So I have to actively believe that God is going to do what I expect Him to do, even though the evidence I do have is speaking against my expectation.  I may have a doctor’s report, or another form of a report from man, but someway, somehow my belief system enables me to understand what the world has said, but still believe; and not just a passive belief, but actively believing.  Meaning that I enter every day with an expectation that my situation is going to turn around.  I may not know the-how, but I believe the-what!

This time of actively believing can be a fragile one.  The enemy will do everything he can to get us to cross over into frustration.  Oftentimes the situation will get worse before it gets better.  And that is why we need what Paul prayed.  We need Joy and Peace while we are actively Believing!  Joy gives us the excitement of expectation and peace gives us the rest that comes from an overwhelming confidence in God.  We need both – Joy and Peace – while we are believing!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that a so-called final word from man is not always final.  It means that the conclusions of human evidence can be overturned by the power of God.  It means that your belief can enable you to expect that a God that you cannot see will show up in your life in a way that you can.  It means that you can have Joy and Peace In Believing!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I walk by faith and not by sight.  I thank You for what I can see, but I am not limited to mere sight.  I can see beyond where my eyes can look.  I can see with my spirit through the lens of faith.  I can see beyond human limitation.  I can see beyond a report of man.  I can believe what You enable me to see and since I can see and believe the invisible, I know You can do the impossible in my life.  I am a believer and I have Joy and Peace In Believing! In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Understanding Joy (back to the top)

(Gal 5:22 NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Over the next few days I will establish some working definitions for us to use in this series.  The four key words we need to define are: joy, peace, faith, and patience.  To get the most out of this series we must understand these four words and how to apply them to our lives.

Today we start off with joy.  To understand what joy is I believe we first need to understand what it is not.  Joy is not happiness.  Most people are familiar with happiness.  Americans especially, because the phrase, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is one of the most famous phrases in the United States Declaration of Independence; listed among our “inalienable rights.”  The average person will tell that you they “just want to be happy.”  But for the believer, we must understand that happiness is good, but joy is better.  Why?  Because the word happiness comes from the Old English word happenstance, where we get circumstance.  Therefore, happiness is contingent upon circumstances.  If my circumstances are good, I can be happy.  If my circumstances are bad, then I can be sad.  So I say that happiness is contingent upon happenings.  That being the case, we can see how fragile and whimsical our happiness – or the pursuit of it – can be.

Joy, on the other hand, is not happiness.  Joy is a state of being.  In our focus text we see that Biblical joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit Himself, God’s presence in us, enables us to operate in His supernatural joy.  This joy includes the blissful qualities of happiness, but it is not limited it’s conditional circumstances.  Therefore, I can be joyful, even when my circumstances don’t allow me to be happy.

A good way to explain this is to point out something Paul said to the church at Philippi when they were facing some challenges.  Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).  Look at what Paul told them to do.  He instructed them to rejoice.  This word (re-joice) literally means to tap back into your joy.  Since Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit lives in us, then we can always tap into His joy.  His joy is available to us every minute of every day.  The same is not true with happiness.  If something good happens and I get happy about it, when that happiness wears out that good feeling is over.  Happiness is temporary, where joy is an everlasting well.  See, I can never re-happy, but I can always re-joice!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God wants you to maximize the power of His joy in your life.  Circumstances don’t have to be good for you to rejoice.  You can have joy no matter what the situation looks like and no matter how difficult the challenge seems.  Joy is a critical ingredient to this series.  The subtitle of this series is, “Standing strong in the space between the promise and the performance.”  You won’t be able stand strong if you don’t have the right attitude. And you probably won’t have the right attitude if you don’t tap into God’s joy.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare that Your joy is my strength.  I thank You for the times that I am able to be happy, but I am not limited to mere happiness.  I have Your Spirit in me and I tap into the power of Joy on a continual basis.  I rejoice in You always.  Your joy bubbles in my soul to the point where I am not moved by circumstances.  I shall not me moved by what I see and I won’t let what I see change what I say, what I believe, nor what I expect.  I have Your joy and Your peace while I am in the believing phase of my breakthrough.  This too shall come to pass!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Understanding Peace (back to the top)

(Phil 4:6,7 NASB)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  I previously stated that four key facets to this series: joy, peace, faith, and patience.  To get the most out of this series we must understand these four words and how to apply them to our lives.  Yesterday we looked at joy and this morning we take a look at peace.

There are many reference scriptures that I could use for peace.  Receiving the peace of God is a theme that is all throughout the Bible.  In our focus text Paul writes to the church at Philippi from a place where the peace of God was required.  He was in jail and he had enough peace to be able to take the time to minister to others.  He was being persecuted for the cause of Christ and so were many others.  In the midst of persecution and in the midst of the constant barrage of adversaries Paul tells the Philippians not to be anxious about anything, but rather to invoke the power of God in their lives through the vehicle of prayer.  The word anxious here is also translated worry.  In other words, Paul was telling them not to worry about anything, but rather to take their concerns to the Lord in prayer.  Prayer puts us in the offensive.  Prayer enables us to trouble our trouble.  Prayer releases the Hand of God over our situation.  Prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference.

Once we pray, once we release the Hand of God, once we know that we have invoked the presence of God to be made manifest in our situation, then Paul says that the peace of God would guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  Let’s take a closer look at this peace:

  1. It passes all comprehension:  This means that this peace cannot be figured out.  This is not a human peace, but rather a supernatural one.  People cannot figure out how believers can seem so at peace in the midst of circumstances that bring others to their knees.  For the believer, this is not something we need to try to figure out, all we need do is receive it!  We can receive a supernatural peace that passes all understanding!
  2. It can guard our heart and mind:  The word translated “guard” here is a military term.  It literally means to pull guard duty.  It is like the peace of God pulls shift around our heart and our mind to ensure that we don’t slip into the grips of worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief.  This peace enables us to enjoy the inner confidence that God will see us through, no matter how difficult the situation may seem.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that there is a peace available to you that baffles psychologists and psychiatrists.  There is a peace that cannot be figured out.  There is a peace that passes all comprehension and this peace is accessed through the vehicle of prayer.  Prayer enables us to tap into and release the Hand of God in our lives.  God will not force Himself upon us and oftentimes we have not, because we ask not (James 4:2).  God wants us to pray, in accordance with His Word (which is His will), and he wants us to have the confidence in Him and in our prayer that we walk away from the prayer closet with an inner peace that cannot be penetrated.  This peace, God’s peace, gives us the ability to rest until it comes to pass!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for giving me the right to come boldly before Your throne in the name of Your Son Jesus.  I pray and I believe what I pray.  I invoke Your presence and I release Your Hand to move in my life and over my situations.  I walk away from my prayer closet with Your peace; a supernatural peace; a peace that passes all understanding.  Your peace enables me to rest in the space between the promise and the performance; in the space between my confession and the completion.  I have peace and I do not worry. In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Understanding Faith (back to the top)

(Heb 11:1 AMP)  Now Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  I previously stated that the four key facets to this series are: joy, peace, faith, and patience.  To get the most out of this series we must understand these four words and how to apply them to our lives.  We have looked at joy and peace thus far and this morning we take a look at faith.  What is faith?  Here are a few definitions that I agree with:
1.  Faith is a confident assurance that God will do what He said He would do.
2.  Faith is biblical evidence of what we cannot see.
3.  Faith is perceiving as real what you cannot verify with your senses.
4.  Faith is an expression of confidence in God and His Word.

We might use any or all of these definitions in this series.  The definition that I use the most is #4.  That is my working definition of faith.  There is a fundamental difference between hope and faith.  Hope is ‘open-ended,’ meaning that it is an expectation of good, but it might not be connected to a promise of good.  You can hope to be successful in life, hope to be healed of a sickness, hope to be promoted, and etc.; but to some this is no more than wishful thinking.  Lots of people hope and wish for things.  Faith adds substance to this hope.  Faith connects our hope to the God of Hope.  And faith does it by connecting our hope to the Word of God.  Faith must be tied to God’s Word.  When we can make a connection between what we hope for and God’s Word, then we have a basis for our hope.  The Word of God adds substance to our hope.  This then gives us the fuel we need to act out – in confidence – in accordance with that hope.  That expression of confidence is called faith!

We can also have faith in people.  Our faith in a person is tied to their character and their track record.  If a person that we have known for 10 years promises us that they are going to do something for us, we immediately correlate our expectation of the completion of the promise to our knowledge of their character and their track record.  Well, God has a proven track record and flawless character. He will do what He said He would do.  This enables us to believe that a God that we cannot see will show up in our lives in a way that we can.  More importantly, this enables us to confidently act like He will do it, although we are performing our actions without the support of sense-realm-evidence.  Therefore, we walk by faith and not by sight (what we can see).  It does not require faith if you can verity it in the sense realm.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you can think about being victorious and successful in life and hope that you will somehow achieve it, but when your dreams and desires are rooted in the Word of God, you can operate in faith.  Without faith we often lose the battle in our minds because of the constant barrage of impure and negative thoughts; but with faith we are able to extinguish the enemy’s darts (Eph 6:16) and listen clearly to God’s thoughts, plans, and dreams.  Search the Bible for what God has to say about your current situation, meditate on His Word and repeat it regularly with your own lips; believe His Word wholeheartedly, establish confidence in it, and you will see the manifestation of it in your life.  That is faith!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I am confident in the things that I hope for because my hope is established in Your Word.  I am not expecting You to do anything that You have not stated in Your Word that You would do.  I receive Your Word.  I believe Your Word.  I have confidence in Your Word.  I take You to be a God of Your Word and I confidently act like Your Word will come to pass in my life, even when I don’t have any sense-realm-evidence to support my belief.  I declare, that through faith, patience, joy and peace, I will see Your best manifested in my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

How is Faith Developed? (back to the top)

(Rom 10:17 KJV)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Before we get deep into this series we are dealing with the four key facets we need to understand to get the most from it, which are: joy, peace, faith, and patience.  We have looked at joy and peace thus far and this morning we revisit faith.

Yesterday we looked at what faith is and now I believe I need to share with you how faith developed.  This is key because many people believe that faith is developed through trials or tests, but James explained to us (see James 1:2-4) that our faith is actually tried (not developed) through test and trials.  The result of our faith being tried is a development of patience (not faith).  We will deal with patience more later, but let’s stay focused on faith.  So, if our faith can be tested to help develop our patience, then we ought to ensure that we develop our faith before the tests come.  To be victorious our faith must be developed before hand.  So how then is faith developed?  Let’s look at a few things:

1.  God has dealt to every believer the measure of faith:  In Romans 12 the Holy Spirit through Paul teaches us about giftings from God to believers.  These gifts are listed in verses 4-8.  Before Paul even lists the gifts he states that God has dealt to every man the measure of faith (v.3).  In context, I do not believe this is a reference to every human being, but rather to every believer.  Every believer has been dealt, from God, the measure of faith.  This measure, however, must be developed.

2.  Faith is developed through the Word:  Remember that faith is an expression of your confidence in God and His Word.  You cannot express confidence in what you do not know. Faith, then, is tied to the Word of God.  The more you investigate the scriptures on any given subject, the more your faith will be developed in that area.  The more your faith is developed in that area, the more equipped you will be to stand in faith in that area.  For example: if I am sick and all I know is one scripture about God’s healing power, I can then exercise “one scripture faith” to be healed.  But if I know 20 scriptures that indicate that God can heal me, then I can exercise “20 scripture faith,” and etc.  The more Word I know about any area the closer I get to what I call the “fully persuaded” stage.  Once I am fully persuaded I will not be moved by what I see and I will not allow what I see to change what I say!

3.  Faith is developed through experience:  Since faith is an expression of your confidence in God and His Word, then for you and I to truly be in faith we must be DOING something!  Faith is an action word.  Faith requires you to act upon what it is that you believe.  If you are not doing anything, then you might still be in the belief stage.  But when you get to the faith stage you have crossed the line from believing to acting upon what you believe.  The more you do this, the more you faith will be developed.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you don’t accomplish much by praying and asking God to give you faith.  He’s already done it.  We don’t even need to ask God to increase your faith; your faith is developed through studying and applying the Word of God.  Once you know what God’s Word says about your situation, then you can receive, believe, and act upon it.  The more you do this the more your faith will be developed and the better positioned you will be to have Joy and Peace while you are believing!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I do not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from Your mouth.  When I read Your Word I receive it as if You were in the room with me and speaking it directly to me.  Your Word helps develop my faith and it feeds the confidence that I need to act out what I believe in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Understanding Patience (back to the top)

(Heb 10:36 KJV)  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Before we get deep into this series we are dealing with the four key facets we need to understand to get the most from it, which are: joy, peace, faith, and patience.  We have briefly looked at the first three and this morning we take a look at patience.

What is patience? Most people think of patience as simply waiting.  In one sense this is true, but Biblical patience is more powerful than just waiting.  The word translated patience here is a Greek word that means: steadfastness, consistency, endurance; the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith.  I have two definitions that I commonly use for patience and they are: (1) The force of consistency, and (2) The ability to remain the same, in spite of circumstances.  Yes, patience is more than simply waiting for something to happen.  Patience gives you the power to remain consistently the same while you wait.  It is clear to see then, why this ability, coupled with faith, is very important.  You must not lose heart in the space between “I believe, in Jesus’ name” and “There it is!”  This is what I call the space between the promise and the performance.  The enemy will make every attempt to get you to give up during that space.  He will tell you that God is not going to do it, that He did not hear your prayer, that you need to lower your expectations, that its not God’s will, and etc.  This ability to remain the same (patience) will enable you to combat the thoughts of fear, doubt, and unbelief; and make it possible for you to remain in faith.

Patience is critical to the believer.  Our text tells us that we need it! We need it to couple it with our faith.  I have stated that faith is the currency of the Kingdom and that nothing happens in God without faith.  This is true, but patience gives us the ability to remain the same while we are waiting on the manifestation of our faith.  The devil wants to get us into fear.  Fear cancels faith and faith cancels fear.  Without patience – without the ability to remain the same – most people will cancel out their faith with fear, doubt, and unbelief before they ever see the manifestation of it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you need patience in your Christian walk.  Patience will enable you to remain consistent, especially in the space between you receiving the promise in your heart and you seeing the manifestation of the promise in your hands.  You will see in this series that patience is developed by the testing of your faith.  When you combine both faith and patience you are able to receive the promises of God (see Heb 6:12).

Are there some things that you have prayed for, by faith, that have not yet happened?  Are you still expecting those things to come to pass or have you given up hope?  Remember, God is the God of hope and He can enable you to abound in hope by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).  The enemy wants you to doubt and not operate in faith.  The message for you this morning is to doubt your doubts and have faith in your faith.  Don’t lost heart.  Have faith in God.  Remain the same; continue to operate in faith until you see in your hands what you already see in your heart, by faith!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I declare by faith that patience working in my life.  Patience enables me to remain the same, no matter the circumstances.  The force of consistency is working for me!  I am not inconsistent.  I am not driven by the wind.  I live a strong and stable life, because I live a life of faith and patience.  I doubt the doubts that the enemy attacks me with and I have faith in the faith that I release when I pray in accordance with Your Word.  I consider You faithful, Lord, to bring to pass all that You have promised.  I have great expectations!  While I wait I have Joy and Peace in Believing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Power Twins (back to the top)

(Heb 6:12 NASB)  So that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Now that we have provided at least a basic understanding of joy, peace, faith, and patience, I believe we can get delve into the series.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we ought not be sluggish or lazy in our Christian walk.  He is writing this in a chapter where he warned about falling away; about giving up on our faith.  He goes on to say that he desired that the Jewish Christians (those he wrote the letter to) would show, “Diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end” (v.11).  In other words, he did not want them to give up their hope.  He wanted them to abound in hope in the God of Hope!  The 11th verse gives us better light on the 12th.  It is because of this hope, this overwhelming expectation of the manifestation of God, that they would have the ability to remain steadfast and not become weary or lazy.  Instead of becoming weary or lazy, the writer tells the believers to become imitators of those that have gone before us.  Further, he explains that those that have gone before us that have been successful in receiving the promises of God have done so because of faith and patience.  In other words, they had the faith to believe and express confidence in an unseen God and they also had the patience to remain consistent while they waited on the manifestation of His promises.  Yes, faith and patience, together, are required in our walk with Christ, if we are going to see the manifestation of His promises in our lives.  That’s why I call faith and patience “The Power Twins.”

The writer then gives us an example.  He says, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.”  And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (verses 13-15).  God gave the promise to Abraham to have children, but we know that it took 25 years between the issuing of the promise and the manifestation of it.  What did Abraham do in those 25 years?  What did he do in the space between the promise and the performance?  How did he wait?  He exercised patience – the force of consistency – as he patiently waited and he eventually obtained the promise.  His faith and patience enabled him to enter into God’s rest.  Even when he was 100 years old and his wife was 90, he believed in a God that could give life to dead stuff!  Yes, he was believing, but he was not weary while he was believing.  He was not worried while he was believing.  He was not afraid while he was believing.  He had joy and peace in believing.  His joy, peace, and patience enabled him to remain in faith.  His unswerving faith enabled him to receive the promise, even though it took longer than any of us would want to wait.  But remember that Abraham did this without any point-of-reference.  He did not have a Bible to read.  He did not have a brother or sister in God to glean testimonies from.  He did not have a Pastor.  He was blazing the trail for us and he became the father of faith.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you too need faith and patience to receive the promises of God.  You are not in the position that Abraham was and it will more than likely not take you 25 years, but you too must remain strong in faith in the space between the promise and the performance.  You too must couple patience with your faith.  If you are able to couple the consistency of patience with the power of faith you will see the manifestation of the promises of God in your life!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, the power twins are working in my life.  I have patience, the force of consistency.  I have the ability to remain the same, even in the midst of fluctuating circumstances.  I also have faith.  I have faith in You and in Your Word.  I believe that You will do what You said You will do.  I express my confidence in You and in Your Word daily.  I live by faith and not by what I see and I have Joy and Peace while I do it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

You’re Still Going to have That Baby! (back to the top)

(Gen 18:10-14 CEV) The Lord said, “I’ll come back about this time next year, and when I do, Sarah will already have a son.”  Sarah was behind Abraham, listening at the entrance to the tent.  Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah was well past the age for having children.  So she laughed and said to herself, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, will I really know such happiness?”  The LORD asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?  Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age?  I am the LORD!  There is nothing too difficult for me.  I’ll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I mentioned how the Power Twins (faith and patience) were at work in the life of Abraham while he and his wife Sarah waited 25 years for their baby.  Let’s delve a litter deeper into this story.

By Genesis chapter 17 Abram (known later as Abraham) was 99 years old.  He had received a promise from God at 75, but 24 years later he still did not have the promised child from his wife Sarai (later known as Sarah).  Abram, like most of us, was not a perfect man.  He and his wife had made the mistake of trying to help God out.  Since their attempts to have children were continually unsuccessful, they tried a “Plan B.”  Sarai asked Abram to have a child with her servant.  He agreed and he wound up having Ishmael.  Ishmael was 13 yrs. old by this chapter.  It was here that God reminded Abram of the Covenant that He had established with him (back in chapter 15).  God reconfirmed to Abram that He was still committed to fulfilling His part of the Covenant.  God changed their names and he had Abraham to establish a new ritual that would become an everlasting reminder of the Covenant; circumcision.  Abraham was circumcised at 99 yrs. old.  In the next chapter we see that the Lord clearly told Abraham that within a year they would have their promised son.  Sarah overheard the conversation between her husband and God.  She basically overhead that she was still going to have that baby! I am not sure if Sarah was in-faith the entire time, because the news was a bit surprising to her.  It was Good News.  So good that it made her laugh!

The Lord heard Sarah laugh and he asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?  Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age?  I am the LORD!  There is nothing too difficult for me.  I’ll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son.” What can we learn from what the Lord told Abraham?

  1. That we are not to doubt God.  God is pleased with faith, not doubt (Heb 11:6).
  2. That there is nothing too hard for God! This is something that we need to drive home into our spirits.  There are no impossibilities in God (Mark 9:23).
  3. God is committed to His promises.  God will do what he said He will do.
  4. God’s timing is not our timing.  God is not required to operate on our clock.
  5. Delay does not mean denial.  It took them 25 years, but they still had that baby!  How long has it been for you?  Have you thrown in the towel of your faith or can you still believe God – with Joy and Peace – for your baby (whatever your baby may be)?

So what does this mean to you today? It means that it’s never too late.  God can make you laugh today.  Don’t make the mistake of developing your own Plan B.  Hold fast to your faith, believe God, and have Joy and Peace while you are doing it!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am committed to believing You, because I know that You are committed to bringing to pass Your best in my life.  I thank you for the precious promises You have given me and I declare that I believe them, I operate in faith for them, and I have Joy and Peace while I wait on them.  I am still going to have my baby and I laugh with gladness every time I think about it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Learning from Abraham (back to the top)

(Rom 4:19,20 KJV) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I showed you how God told a 99-yr-old man and an 89-year-old woman that they were still going to have their promised baby.  This morning we take a look at what Paul said that Abraham did while he was waiting on God.  If we can learn from what he did we can see similar results in our lives.

Our focus text tells us some things that we can apply to our lives:

  1. Abraham was strong, not weak in faith:  Another translation says that his faith was not weakened.  Think about that for a moment.  After all those years of waiting and believing God, he still had the ability to muster up the faith for the seemingly impossible.  Why?  Because he had received a promise from God and he believed that God would be faithful to His Word.  While we are waiting on God the enemy will do everything he can to get us to release the hold of our faith.  He will make every effort to get us to doubt.
  2. He considered not:  In my experience this is one of the most difficult things to do.  Abraham had the reality of his situation staring him in his face every day, but he chose to factor it out.  Why?  Because God had.  If he would have started considering how old he was and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, then he would actually be factoring in what God had already factored out.  Spending time mulling over the negative aspects of your situation will lead to fear, doubt, and unbelief.
  3. He staggered not:  He staggered not at the promise of God.  Even though the promise was significantly awesome.  For a 100 yr old man to have a baby with a 90 yr old woman that had NEVER had a child is relatively humanly impossible.  But because he ‘considered not’ he was able to ‘stagger not.’  His hard stance on focusing on God more than his situation enabled him to remain strong in faith; instead of falling into the grasps of unbelief.
  4. He gave glory to God:  This is where the Joy and Peace come in.  Abraham did not grudgingly wait, or frustratingly wait, no, he joyfully waited.  He glorified God while he waited.  He had a thankful heart.  He exercised an attitude of gratitude.  His posture of thankfulness enabled him to resist bitterness.  The enemy wants us to get bitter at God when He takes longer than we expected, but if we are able to remain thankful and joyful, we will be able to operate in His peace in the space between the promise and the performance.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you can do what Abraham did to get what Abraham got.  Abraham was not superhuman.  He was a man just like us.  If he could do it then you can too.  Remain strong in faith.  Continue to believe God, no matter how long it takes.  Never give up on your expectation.  If you ‘consider not’ you will be able to ‘stagger not.’  So don’t factor in what God has already factored out.  Don’t put a “no” where God has put a “yes!”  And finally, enter every day with a thankful heart.  Exercise an attitude of gratitude.  Resist bitterness and give glory to God every day of your life, no matter what things may look like!  As you do these things you will realize that you will have both Joy and Peace while you are Believing!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I am like Abraham.  I am strong in faith and I do not waver.  I stagger not at Your promises, because I am able to consider not the things the enemy would want me to.  I give You glory every day of my life.  I enter every day with Your goodness on my mind and with Your joy and peace in my heart.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Becoming Fully Persuaded! (back to the top)

(Rom 4:20, 21 KJV) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  For the last few days we have been looking at how a 99-yr-old man and an 89-year-old woman still believed God that they would receive a baby on a 24-yr-old promise.  We have an opportunity here to develop our capacity to believe and our enduring while believing.

As we look at our focus text for this morning the words “fully persuaded” jump off my computer screen and into my heart.  This is where I want to be, this is where I desire for you to be: the place called, “fully persuaded.”  Just so you get a clearer picture of where Abraham was in his mind and in his heart, let’s look at how some other translations mention this portion of the text.  The ASV says, “fully assured,” the BBE says, “being certain,” the DRB says, “most fully knowing,” and the GWT says, “absolutely confident.”  When you look at Abraham’s position in this light you see that he was at the point of no return.  He had crossed what I call the ‘faith-line.’  This is the line that you cross when you get to a point that it cannot and will not happen without God.  Your trust and confidence is completely in Him.  You have taken God public; meaning that you have told people that it is going to happen, even before it does.  You are so far out there that you are literally putting faith-pressure on God to bring to pass His promises in your life.

Most people don’t cross the faith-line until they are fully persuaded.  But once they are fully persuaded – once they are assured, certain, and confident – they act with a higher level of boldness than they ever did before.  This is where we should all want to get to while we are waiting on God.  The place where we know that it is going to happen, even though our sense-realm-evidence is not supporting our belief.  At this stage we are not walking by sight, we are walking by faith!  And we are doing it because we are fully persuaded.  Not only are we convinced that God is able to do it, we are confident that He will!

If I stopped right there this message would be good enough, but I also want to mention something from the 21st verse.  This stance that Abraham took, this position of faith, this ability to get to the fully persuaded stage, was imputed or accounted to him as righteousness.  Jesus had not died yet for the remission of our sin.  Jesus had not yet been raised from the dead to conquer satan, hell, and the grave.  But even before Jesus, the Bible says that Abraham was righteous and his righteousness came from his ability to believe God and operate by faith in the midst of circumstances that would drive him to do otherwise. Now, you are I don’t operate by faith to become righteous, because we have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus.  So, you don’t need to become fully persuaded to be righteous, but righteous people become fully persuaded.  You don’t have to operate by faith to become righteous, but righteous people operate by faith.  You don’t have to stand on God’s promises to become righteous, but righteous people stand on the promises of God!

So what does this mean to you today? If you are a Born-Again believer, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord, then you are the righteous of God.  As a righteous person you are to make every attempt to get to the fully persuaded stage while you are believing God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for sending Jesus to be made sin for me, who knew no sin, that I may be made righteous by faith.  I have been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus and I operate as the righteous in the earth.  As a righteous believer I stand on Your promises.  I declare, by faith, that I will get to the point where I am fully persuaded.  Once I am fully persuaded I will not be moved what I see and I will not allow what I see to change what I say.  I am strong in faith and I see that manifestation of the promises of God.  I wait on You Lord, and I have Joy and Peace while doing it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Learning from Courageous Caleb! (back to the top)

(Joshua 14:10,11 NASB) And now, as you see, the Lord has kept me safe these forty-five years, from the time when the Lord said this to Moses, while Israel was wandering in the waste land: and now I am eighty-five years old.  And still, I am as strong today as I was when Moses sent me out: as my strength was then, so is it now, for war and for all the business of life.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  We had been dealing with Abraham, but this morning I a excited to introduce you to a man that waited even longer than Abraham.  This man waited 45 years and what is interesting is that he did not have to wait because he did anything wrong.  He was one of only two people (within millions) that were ready for the promise 45 years earlier, but since the rest of the nation of Israel wasn’t ready he wound up having to wait.  He had to keep a good attitude while he waited for all the unbelievers to die off in the wilderness.  We will see that even after all the time he was still joyful and excited about receiving the Promise of God.  His name is Caleband over the next few messages we will seek to learn from what he did while he was waiting on God!

His story really begins when he was selected as one of 12 spies to perform a reconnaissance mission into Canaan.  Next week I will show you how only two of the 12 (Joshua and Caleb) had the faith in God required to believe Him for the land.  See, God promised theme the land, but it was inhabited.  Not only that, it was inhabited by giants.  So for them to receive their promise they were going to have to fight for it! Caleb was ready to fight for it as 40 and here we see that he still had a fighting spirit at 85.  Let’s look at his attitude 45 years later:

“Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. “I was forty years oldwhen Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as itwas in my heart. “Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully. “So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be aninheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’ “Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. “Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.”  So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully” (Joshua 14:6-14 NASB).

So what does this mean to you today? We will learn more about this next week, but for today I will share with you that you must keep the proper attitude while you are waiting on God.  Caleb did and he received the promise, even though it took 45 years.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I wait on You and while I wait, while I believe, I wait with Joy and Peace in Believing.  I keep the proper attitude.  I remain ready to fight the fight of faith.  I will not lose hold of the grasp that I have on my belief, my faith, my confidence, and my expectation.  I am a believer and I have a bulldog-tenacity when it comes to believing.  I won’t give up, I won’t lose heart, I won’t throw in the towel, no matter how long it takes.  I keep believing and I know that I will see Your goodness come to pass!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

You cannot Continue what you have not Started! (back to the top)

(Joshua 14:7 NASB) “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.” Last week I closed out the week by introducing you to Courageous Caleb. I shared with you how after 45 years he still believed God for his mountain – a hill country that had been promised to him and his descendants by Moses. But before we get too far with the 85-yr-old Caleb I want to share with you a few things about the 40-yr-old Caleb.
When Caleb was 40 he was one of the 12 spies sent in to recon the Promised Land (Canaan). Canaan was the land that was supposed to be flowing with milk and honey. It was destined to be their land. This was the land that God had promised to Abraham several hundred years earlier. It was now up to Moses and the millions of people that had just been delivered from Egypt to come together, believe God, and take possession of the land. Moses sent twelve spies in and specifically told them that they were to check to see how the fruit was in the land. He wanted them to bring back evidence that the land really did flow with milk and honey. I don’t think Moses doubted God, but I believe he wanted the people to see something with their own eyes. Moses was not sure how confident the people were in God.
The 12 spies went in and they did retrieve some of the fruit. They brought back branches with grapes on them so big that one person could not carry them. You would think that that would have been enough evidence. But no, 10 of the 12 spies began to tell the people about the giants in the land. They did not care about the grapes; they got scared when they saw the giants. They said that they giants made them look like grasshoppers. They developed a grasshopper mentality and their words of fear, doubt, and unbelief polluted the entire nation. Even though two of the 12 (Joshua and Caleb) tried their best to convince the people that they could do it, the millions believed the 10 and ignored the two. Their unbelief wound up keeping them in the wilderness for 40 years. God waited until EVERYONE from that generation, everyone except Joshua and Caleb, died off in the wilderness before they got in. What’s my point? My point is that millions of people were against Joshua and Caleb. An entire nation came up against them, their faith, and their confession, but guess what? The doubt of millions could not compete with the faith of two! The two received their blessing, even though they had to wait 40 years to get it.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you cannot wait on God to do what you have not believed in the first place. Your journey of faith will have to start and end with faith. Once you believe God, once you stand on His Word, once you declare His promise with your own lips, once you are convinced that you will hold fast to your confession for the long haul, then no devil, no demon, no person, and no crowd (not even millions) can stop you. The only person that can stop you is you. You can stop you by giving up on your faith.
Confession for this day: Lord God, no matter how long it takes, no matter how bad it gets, no matter how many people come up against me, no matter how big the giants seem, I declare that I will believe You, I will declare Your promises with my own lips, and I will hold fast to my confession no matter how long it takes. I keep Joy and Peace in my heart while I am believing You! In Jesus’ name. Amen!

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

Can you Stand to be Blessed? (back to the top)

(Joshua 14:11 NASB) “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  We have been looking at Courageous Caleb for a few days now.  I love his attitude.  He was a strong believer.  I shared yesterday how he and Joshua believed God, even when the entire nation of Israel (millions of people) were against them.  Guess what?  They became the only two, of those millions, to make it in to the Promised Land.  All those that doubted God wound up dying in the wilderness without ever entering Canaan.  Joshua and Caleb stood in faith and no one was able to keep them from receiving God’s best.  This morning we look another aspect of what Caleb did while he waited: he remained prepared for the challenge.

When Joshua, Caleb, and the other 10 spies originally went into the land it was inhabited with giants.  They knew then that if they were going to take possession of the land they were going to have to fight the giants for it.  Caleb was ready to fight at the age of 40.  He was physically, mentally, and spiritually ready to enter into combat for what he believed God was giving them.  You and I can understand this and it does not seem strange.  However, what is uncommon is that he was still ready – physically, mentally, and spiritually – to take possession of the land, by force, at the age of 85.  It is obvious that Caleb maintained a high state of readiness for the 45 years that he waited.  He fully expected God to fulfill His promise.  He did not doubt.  He did not allow frustration to force him to give up.  He remained in faith.  And what is most amazing to me is that he maintained his state of physical readiness.  He knew that the danger in the land was not going to change.  He knew that whenever God opened the door for him to possess the land that it was still going to require a physical fight.  So he kept his body conditioned for the fight.  He said he was “as strong” at 85 as he was at 40.  He said, “As my strength was then, so my strength is now.”  Wow!  Not only did he not relax his mental or spiritual hold on the promise, but he did not relax his physical conditioning and he maintained it for the 45 year span in between the promise and the performance.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you and I need to be ready to receive the promise of God, no matter how long it takes, and it we need to be ready at all times.  Are you really ready for God to do in your life what you say you are expecting Him to do? Many prisoners dream of getting out of prison, but they don’t prepare for their release.  When the day finally arrives and they walk out as free men many are not prepared for their freedom.  They soon find themselves back in the same situation, all because they failed to prepare for the manifestation of what they say they dreamed of.  The same can be said of many young entrepreneurs who dream of getting the funding required to start their businesses.  Sometimes the funding comes in an unexpected manner and they realize that they were not as prepared as they thought they were.  Also, I have seen something similar within relationships.  I have talked to couples that have been separated for while and one of them might tell me that they just “can’t wait” until they are reunited, but if they are not prepared for the reconciliation, then when it comes it is short-lived.  So let me ask you, are you ready for your breakthrough? Are you physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared for God to do what you say you expect Him to do in your life?  Could you stand for God to bless you with what you say you have been believing Him for? Caleb could stand be to blessed, because he was ready for it.  Are you?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I wait on You and while I wait I do everything I need to do to be physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and socially prepared for my breakthrough.  I will not relax my hold on my faith, or on my conditioning.  I remain in expectation, but I also remain ready.  I enter every day with the preparedness required to receive Your Blessing.  I can stand to be blessed.  I am ready for it.  I wait and I have Joy and Peace in Believing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Life is a Gift for those who Stay the Course! (back to the top)

(James 5:10,11 MSG) 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! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Already this series has been a blessing to many and I can tell you that it is blessing me.  This series has reminded me of the “staying power” that I need to live and walk the Christian walk.  Brothers and sisters, our Christian journey is not always going to be easy.  Jesus Himself said that in this world we would face trouble, but He also told us to have a good attitude while we do it (John 16:33).  That’s what this series is all about.  It is about learning to couple the situation-changing power of faith with the staying power of patience; all the while enjoying the excitement of joy and the stability of peace.  Joy and peace fuel our staying power (patience) and if we are able to refuse the urge to give up, then we will eventually receive our breakthrough, because of our unyielding faith.

Let’s take a look at what James tells us this morning.  He teaches us that the prophets of old should serve as mentors to us.  The prophets dealt with all sorts of challenges and attacks.  James tells us that they never once quit and that their patience and persistence honored God.  God is honored when we are able to believe and trust Him, in spite of whatever may be coming against us.  Yes, God is pleased when we refuse to quit.  James said, “What a gift life is to those who stay the course!”  I could meditate that one line for a while.  Life is a gift to me, an enjoyment, a pleasurable journey, if I resolve to stay the course; if I make up in my mind that I will not throw in the towel, that I will never give up, and that I will never quit.

Don’t think that being a Christian means that everything will be handed to you on a silver platter.  No, we have an adversary and he will do everything in his power to get you frustrated.  But he knows that he cannot make you lose.  All he can do is attempt to force you to quit.  If you quit, if you give up on God, if you stop believing, if you loose the hold of your faith, then you will not receive what you are believing God for and it will be on you.  When Skip Wilson said, “The devil made me do it,” it might have gotten lots of laughs, but it was simply not true.  The devil can’t make you do it.  He can’t make you to quit.  But he can make quitting attractive.  No matter how attractive he makes quitting look you must resist the urge to do so.  Tapping into the power of God’s joy and peace will help you to stay the course!  Tomorrow we are going to look at how Job stayed the course and how he was blessed for it in the end.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that life is a gift for those who stay the course.  You will never experience God’s best in your life if you quit at the first inkling of trouble.  The enemy will do all the he can to send trouble your way, but when you stay the course you literally trouble your trouble!  So resolve to remain strong in faith and patience.  Allow the force of consistency to be developed in your life; and tap into the deep recesses of God’s Joy and Peace while you are doing it.  Joy and peace will fuel your staying power!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for all the experiences You have permitted me to endure in the past.  Those experiences have developed my staying power.  I have the ability to stay the course, no matter what the enemy sends my way.  I trouble my trouble by remaining strong in faith and patience.  The force of consistency is working in my life.  I wait on You Lord, and I have Joy and Peace while I do.  Faith, patience, joy, and peace all enable me to stay the course and never quit!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Job’s Staying Power! (back to the top)

(James 5:10,11 MSG) 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! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday we dealt with this passage and I taught that life is a gift for those that are determined to stay the course.  In this series we are learning that we are not only to stay the course, but we are to literally enjoy the ride.  Not only can we wait on God, but we can have Joy and Peace while we do it.

Our text talks about Job.  If there was anyone that needed the ability to stay the course it was Job.  James talks about Job’s “Staying power.”  This is what we all need, especially as believers.  I am sure that you have heard the phrase, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”  David said, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  In this series we are learning that we don’t have to wait until the morning to have joy.  We have joy in the midst of challenges.  We can benefit from the joy and peace of the Lord, even while we wait on the manifestation of His promise.  This takes us back to Job and his staying power.

The King James Version says, “You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord.”  We know that the word patience literally means the force of consistency.  We know that Job refused to give up on God, he refused to throw in the towel of his faith, and eventually he saw “The end of the Lord,” in other words, he saw the end of the story.  Let me pause right here long enough to tell you that if you have not seen the manifestation of God’s goodness in your situation, then you have not seen the end of the Lord.  You have not seen the end of the story.  Refuse to give up.  Refuse to quit.  Refuse to throw in the towel of your faith.  Remain strong, continue to believe God, and tap into His Joy and Peace while you do.

In the middle of Job’s fight of faith, right smack dab in the middle of all the challenges that he was facing, the person closest to him gave up.  His wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).  Wow!  Did you get that?  Not only did she tell him to curse God and die, but she expressed her frustration with his determination.  She was mad at him for holding on to his integrity.  Will you be able to hold on to yours?  Will you be able to remain the same, even in the midst of changing circumstances?  Job did not change.  Job refused to quit.  Job said to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.”  The Bible says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  Job was determined to see the end of the Lord in his situation.  Towards the end of the book, or the end of the story, the Bible says, “After Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored Job’s prosperity and gave him twice as much [as he had before]” (Job 42:10).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should learn from Job and develop your own staying power.  You must be determined to hold on to your integrity, no matter how long it takes, and no matter what challenges you face.  If you hold on, if you operate in staying power, if you refuse to quit, you too will see the end of the Lord in your situation!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for enabling me to learn from those that have gone before me.  I learn from Job this morning and I develop my own level of staying power.  I hold on to my integrity, no matter what things may look like in my life.  I refuse to quit.  I refuse to throw in the towel of my faith.  I ignore the negative influences that may tell me to give up on You.  I fuel my faith with Your Word and with the words of the positive influences in my life.  I wait on You Lord and I am determined to see the end of the story!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Power of Knowing that God Cares (back to the top)

(James 5:10,11 MSG) 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! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  For the last couple of days we have been looking at Job and yesterday we talked about his “Staying power.”  Job had tremendous staying power.  No matter what came his way he refused to quit; refusing to give up on God.  Even when his wife urged him to curse God, give up, and die, he refused to do it.  In the end he received his turnaround and he got his breakthrough.  The text says that, “God brought it all together for him at the end.”  In this series we are learning to believe just that.  We are learning to believe that God is going to bring it all together for us at the end.  We are learning that our state is not our fate.  We are learning that God is a good God and he wants to release His goodness in our lives.  And we are learning that while we wait on Him we are to wait with the power that is released from His joy and the stability that we can anchor ourselves in with His peace.  Joy and peace together, will enable us to see the “end of the Lord” in our situation.

How is it that believers can wait on God, even when the situations seem exceedingly grim, beyond repair, and borderline impossible?  And how is it that some can actually seem happy while they wait; waiting with a smile on their face, a song in their heart, and a spring in their step?  Well, part of the fuel in the believer’s fire is found in the end portion of our text.  It says, “That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.”  The key to combat worry, doubt, and fear is the trust factor.  You can’t truly trust God and worry at the same time.  When you really trust God then you know that He has your best interest at heart.  You know that He cares about you.  Think about that for a moment.  The God of Universe, the God that created everything, the God that spoke light from darkness, order from chaos, and life from death, cares about you.  Several places in the Bible it tells us that He spends time thinking about you.  He has you on His mind.  He has developed plans for you, plans to bless you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11).  He cares for you right down to the last detail!  He cares about your dreams.  He cares about your desires.  He cares about the things that you care about.  He is a loving, caring, and sharing heavenly Father.  Yes, God almighty cares for you!

If you can really get it down in your spirit that God cares for you, right down to the last detail, then you will be able to develop the Joy and Peace you need in the space between the promise and the performance.  God is not some mean God that is out to get you.  Believe me, if God wanted to get you, you would have been “got” a long time ago.  Thank God for His grace and mercy.  Thank Him for His goodness, His kindness, and His compassion towards you.  Most importantly, thank Him for taking the time to care about you.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the reality of knowing that God cares for you – right down to the last detail – should breed a confidence in you that cannot be shaken.  This confidence helps to solidify the trust you have in Him. This trust gives birth to peace and His peace enables you to resist worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I trust You.  I trust You and I am thankful for You.  I am overwhelmingly thankful that You care about me; right down to the last detail.  Thank you for caring about the things that I care about.  Thank You for taking the time to think about me and be there for me.  I know that You care and I since I do, I am able to resist worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief.  Instead of worrying I have peace while I wait on You.  Not only just peace, but also Joy.  I have Joy and Peace in Believing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Perfect Peace (back to the top)

(Isaiah 26:3 KJV)  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  We have been dealing with the fact that we, as believers, must have the resiliency to not quit when the enemy brings obstacles in our path to God’s best.  I often say, “The only way we can lose is if we quit.”  If we are determined not to give up, not to lose hold of our faith, not to stop believing, then we will see the manifestation of God’s goodness in our lives.  What the enemy wants us to do is quit.  He loves it when a believer throws in the towel of their faith.  This is where Joy and Peace come in.  If we can tap into the invigorating power of God’s joy and the stabilizing force of His peace, while we are believing God, then we will be able to hold fast to our faith, no matter how long it takes and no matter what comes our way.

In this morning’s focus text we look at a way to hold on to our peace.  Isaiah teaches us that God has “perfect peace” available to the believer.  But this perfect peace is received by keeping our mind stayed on God.  If we can keep our mind completely focused on God, then we are showing God that we trust Him above whatever may be going on in our lives.  If we are able to control our thoughts, we will be able to control our temperament; we will tap into God’s perfect peace.

To get the full affect of what Isaiah is saying I want to share this verse with you in a couple of other translations.  God’s Word Translation says, “With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you.”  Did you see that?  Perfect peace will become the shield of the person whose mind cannot be changed.  See, the enemy simply wants you to change your mind, to give up on your belief, to lose hold of your faith.  But if you are determined to not change your mind, to believe God, to have faith, and to hold fast to your confession (your words), then perfect peace will become your protection.  Peace will protect you from the unrighteous thoughts of the enemy.  Even when he tries to flood your mind with thoughts of failure, your peace will enable you to quench those fiery darts and to keep on believing!

Let’s look at yet another translation.  The Message Bible says, “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.”  Wow!  The Bible just told us that we can be completely whole while we wait on God.  We can literally be steady and stable on our feet while we wait, but our part is to keep at it and never quit!  If we are determined not to quit, to keep believing, and to keep trusting God, then God will keep us whole and steady while we wait, and more importantly, He will ensure that the thing we are waiting for will come to pass.  Isn’t this what you want in your life?  Don’t you want an assurance that you will see what you are waiting on and believing God for?  Then God says to you to keep on believing, to never quit, to trust Him while you are waiting, and to enjoy the stabilizing power of His peace while you do.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your faith must be focused.  You must have a bulldog-tenacity when it comes to believing God.  If you are easily swayed, then you will not see the manifestation of God’s best in your life.  When you hold fast to your faith and you refuse to quit, even in the midst of adverse circumstances, you are showing God that you trust Him to be bigger than any challenge that may come your way.  Since His timing is not your timing, He may not give it to you right away, but He will give you His peace while you wait!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, You know better than I do the perfect timing for the manifestation of things in my life, so I am determined to wait on You, no matter how long it takes.  I believe You, I have faith, and I refuse to quit.  I will never give up on my faith.  I will never lose heart.  I will never throw in the towel.  I have a bulldog-tenacity that does not quit.  I trust You and I receive Your perfect peace while I wait.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Joseph – The Dreamer (back to the top)

(Gen 37:5 NASB)  Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  In most of my series I attempt to teach you by precept and example.  Most of what I have been sharing about joy and peace in believing thus far has been in the form of principles and precepts.  We have looked at the examples of Abraham and Caleb.  We saw how Abraham waited 25 years for his promise and Caleb waited 45.  This morning we look at another powerful example of a person that received a promise from God and waited for that promise to come to pass in their lives.  This guy received the promise at the tender age of 17.  He was just a teenager and I am pretty sure that he did not know what the promise fully meant and all that he was going to have to endure in the space between the promise and the performance.  It took 13 years, but the promise finally came to pass.  We will look at some of the things that he did in that 13 year span.  He went on a journey that took him from a pit, to a man named Potiphar’s house, and to prison, before he finally landed in the palace that was destined for him.  His name is Joseph and I pray that we all learn from his example.

We start our journey by looking at Joseph’s journey in Genesis chapter 37.  In this chapter we learn that Joseph was the 11th of Jacob’s 12 children and he was his favorite.  He was his favorite because he was born in Jacob’s old age and he was also the firstborn son of Jacob’s first love (Rachel).  Jacob made it known that Joseph was his favorite and that caused strife and jealousy between Joseph and his older brothers.  To make matters worse, Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors; to signify his position as the favorite child of the father.  Oh, the brothers hated him even more when they saw him where that coat.  To add insult to injury, in the midst of all of this, God gave Joseph a dream.  He showed him in the dream how he was going to be above his brothers and how his brothers would bow to him some day.  The young teenager made the critical mistake of telling his brothers the dream. This would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Our text says that they hated him even more for the dream.  They hated the dream even more than they hated Joseph.  They could not stomach the fact that their little brother, the one they considered a spoil brat, would some day be over them.  They wanted to kill Joseph, thereby killing the dream.

The Lord gave Joseph second dream.  This time it was clear that even Joseph’s father would be under him some day.  So guess what Joseph did?  He obviously had not learned from the hatred brewing in his brother’s hearts.  Joseph went and told his father about the dream.  His father was upset and rebuked him for it.  The dreams that had been given to him, from God, where now alienating him within his own family.  His brothers began to call him “The dreamer,” and they so wanted to kill the dream.  We will stop here for today.

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

  1. God does not speak to where we are, He speaks to where He desires for us to be.
  2. God will show you your destination, but you must be prepared for all that you will have to endure in the space between the promise and the performance.
  3. Though the vision (dream) tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come to pass (Hab 2:2-4).
  4. Be careful who you share your dream with.  There will always be haters that will attempt to become dream-killers in your life; but their poison cannot stop your purpose.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for making me a dreamer.  I may not receive traditional dreams that come in the middle of the night, but I thank You that You can also put dreams in my heart in the middle of the day.  I receive what You put in my heart.  I believe it will come to pass and I know that even though haters may develop along the way, their poison cannot stop my purpose.  I keep joy and peace while I believe!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Know that the Attack is against Your Dream! (back to the top)

(Gen 37:19,20 NASB)  They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I introduced you to young Joseph, the dreamer.  This morning we go further into his life.  One day his father (Jacob) sent Joseph’s brothers to take their flocks out to Shechem.  The boys were taking a long time so Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers.  He was supposed to bring word back to his father.  Joseph went looking for his brothers and he ran into a man that told him that they were in Dothan.  So Joseph traveled to Dothan.  His brothers saw him coming from a distance and they took the opportunity to devise a plot to kill him.  Think about that for a moment.  I understand we all have our fair share of family quarrels, but murder? These guys were the great grandchildren of Abraham.  They had the blessing on them.  Their father had been through a great deal and was now a changed and a blessed man.  Even with all of that, they wanted to kill their little brother.  Why?  Our text reveals the reason – because of the dream! When they spotted him they said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer!

I am sure that the boys were annoyed that Joseph was their father’s favorite, but that should not have been motivation enough for murder.  Even when Jacob gave Joseph the coat of many colors, it made them dislike him even more, but nothing like this.  The real issue was the dream.  Once he said that he was destined for greatness, once he revealed that something good was going to happen to him, once he had a dream, they hated him to the point of death.  Look at what they said, “Come and let us kill him… Then let us see what will become of his dreams!

This reminds me of something I saw as a kid in Brooklyn.  By the mid-1980s we did not have many gangs in my neighborhood, but two I remember were the Senior Crash Crew (SCC) and the Junior Crash Crew (JCC).  The SCC would get out of high school at 2:20pm and they would walk several blocks to the junior high school to pick up the JCC.  Both crews would then walk back to their housing projects.  By the time they left the junior high school they were several hundred strong.  They walked through the streets robbing and beating up anyone crazy enough to go close to their mob.  One day I saw a man walk directly through the entire crowd untouched.  Not one of the members of the JCC or the SCC bothered him.  He was a drug addict.  Excuse the term, but he was what we called a “crackhead.”  Many years later God reminded me of that incident and told me that the reason they did not touch him was because they perceived that he did not have anything worth taking.  They only attacked those worth attacking.

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

1.  People don’t have a problem with you when you speak negative and have a defeated mentality; it’s when you start speaking like a winner that they turn against you.
2.  The number one thing satan is after is your dream.  If he can get you to stop believing in God’s plan for your life, he has you defeated.  If he can get you to throw in the towel, then you basically defeat yourself.  That’s what he wants you to do, to give up on your dream!
3.  You will only be attacked if you have something worth attacking.  If the enemy is coming against you, it is evidence that he perceives you have something worth taking.  Don’t allow his attacks to cause you to quit.  Keep believing and never lose hold of your faith!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I believe Your dream for me and I am diligent to do whatever it takes to bring it to pass.  I do my part and I believe You will do Yours.  Regardless of the attacks against my character and my dream I declare that I will never give up.  No weapon formed against me will prosper.  I keep believing and I have joy and peace while I do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Right Attitude while you Wait (back to the top)

(Gen 39:2-6 MSG) As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I showed you how Joseph’s brothers wanted to destroy his dream.  He hated the dream even more than they disliked him.  The brothers grabbed Joseph and threw him into a pit.  They deliberated over whether or not they should kill him.  Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed as they saw a band of Ishmaelites approaching.  They decided to make some money out of the deal and they sold their little brother as a slave for 20 pieces of silver.  As it turned out, the Ishmaelites took him into Egypt and sold him to a man named Potiphar.  So there he was, betrayed by his own family, sold to a pack of strangers, taken to a foreign country, then sold again to a foreign man, but Joseph still had his dream.  He knew that someway, somehow, the dream was still going to come to pass.  He believed in the dream and his belief enabled him to keep the proper attitude in Potiphar’s house. This attitude enabled The Blessing of God to work in his life.  To the point where The Blessing spilled over to Potiphar.  Did you see that?  The owner was blessed because of the slave.  That’s the kind of impact you are to make everywhere you go! Know that The Blessing is on your life to make a difference.

Joseph’s new master (Potiphar) was on Pharaoh’s personal staff.  He was the commander of the palace guard; the head of the Secret Service.  Potiphar’s position enabled him to live well. Joseph was the new guy, the new slave, but The Blessing was still on his life.  Instead of murmuring and complaining about his situation, Joseph kept the right attitude and started working.  He worked hard and God favored his work.  Potiphar noticed that God was blessing everything that Joseph did.  Everything he touched was successful.  So Potiphar promoted him and made Joseph his personal aide.  Before you knew it, Potiphar had put Joseph in charge of his entire household and all of his property.  All Potiphar concerned himself with daily was what he was going to eat.  Other than that, Joseph was in charge.  He was a prosperous slave! Wow!

So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:
1.  Keep the right attitude:  The right attitude can help you make the most of every situation.  This is what this series is all about.  If you are able to keep Joy and Peace while you are believing God, then you will have the right attitude while you wait for your breakthrough.  Joseph could have easily had the wrong attitude, but it would not have helped him in the long run.  His attitude helped determine his altitude.  And why did he have the right attitude?  Because he believed God would do what he said he would do and elevate him some day.  How is your attitude today?
2.  Give God something to work with:  Joseph did not crawl up in a corner and pray 24 hours a day – he worked.  He worked and God Blessed everything he did.  For God to bless what you are “doing” you have to be “doing” something!  Waiting on God does not mean that you stand idle.  No, it means that you go on with your life; you do what you need to do every day, all the while believing that God is working to bring a change in your situation!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I believe You and Your Word.  I believe You are able and willing to do what You said You will do in my life.  My internal belief enables me to keep the right attitude.  I have a positive outlook on life and I enter every day with an expectation that You will take me one step closer to Your expected end for my life.  I do what I can and I expect You to do what I can’t.  I work while I wait and I have joy and peace while I do it.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Staying Focused while you Wait (back to the top)

(Gen 39:6-10 MSG) Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master’s wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, “Sleep with me.”  He wouldn’t do it. He said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?” She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how he was a prosperous slave.  I know that sounds funny, but that’s what he was.  He was a slave and he was prosperous.  He had a great attitude and he knew that God was still working in his life.  But you know that our enemy is never happy when we are.  There came an attack.

Our text says that Joseph was strikingly handsome.  He had the looks and the blessing.  Potiphar’s wife approached him and asked him for sex.  Now, let’s think about this situation for a moment.  Joseph is a kid at this point; 17 yrs. old.  He was away from home.  His brothers sold him as a slave.  If he thought that his dream was dead he could have delved into unrighteous living. If he believed that God was no longer working in his life, then he would have been vulnerable to this attack.  But no, Joseph somehow knew that his state was not his fate.  He knew that his dream would some day come to pass.  He knew that the hand of God was on his life and he refused to violate his integrity and his relationship with God.  Although he was basically in charge of everything else in his master’s house, he refused to touch the untouchable.  He refused to cross the line into sin.

Joseph was guided by God’s purpose in his life, he was enjoying God’s provision, but he also understood God’s parameters.  I have shared before that provision without parameters is dangerous.  Joseph said to Mrs. Potiphar, “How could I violate his trust and sin against God?” Not only did he refuse to sin against God, but he also respected Potiphar.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:
1.  Don’t believe the lie:  This series is about learning what to do while you are waiting on God.  The enemy wants you to believe that your dream is dead and that you should resort to a life of unrighteous living.  The enemy wants you to believe that what you do will not affect your outcome; that you can do whatever you want to do, even if it goes against God’s Word.  Well, don’t believe the lie.  What you do in the space between the promise and the performance is of utter importance.  God wants to bless you, but he expects you to live in accordance with His set order.  Sin is sin and God will not bless mess.  Don’t disqualify yourself with sin.
2.  Stay focused:  God blessed Joseph quickly.  He was in charge of “almost” everything in his master’s house.  However, Joseph understood his parameters and he operated therein.  Although he was only a teenager he exhibited the spiritual maturity to restrain himself and not sin against God.  He knew what lines not to cross.  He knew what he was able to do and he also knew what he wasn’t.  Knowing what not to do is equally as important as knowing what to do.  Purpose gives birth to restraint.  When you know you are working on something, when you know you are on a mission, when you are purpose-driven, you know you don’t have the luxury of doing everything!  Purpose gives you the blessed ability of being focused.  Stay focused while you wait on God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I believe You want to bless me and I believe it is Your will for me to be successful; but I do not believe the lie that I can do whatever I want and choose to ignore the parameters established in Your Word.  I thank You for the provision and I declare that I will within Your parameters.  I abstain from sin and if I do miss the mark, I am quick to repent and to move forward.  I am focused and I will receive Your prize for my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

God is Bigger than Any Attack (back to the top)

(Gen 39:19-20 MSG) When his master heard his wife’s story, telling him, “These are the things your slave did to me,” he was furious. Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the jail where the king’s prisoners were locked up.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph remained focused and resisted the advances of Mrs. Potiphar.  However, Mrs. Potiphar would not let up.  She begged Joseph to make love to her every day.  Joseph got to the point where he did his best to avoid her altogether.  One day Joseph was in the house doing his work and Mrs. Potiphar realized that they were all alone.  She went in for the kill.  She grabbed his coat and said, “Make love to me!”  Once again, Joseph could have easily sinned.  He had every opportunity to do wrong, but he was still holding on to God and his belief that his dream would some day come to pass.  Joseph refused.  However, she would not let go of his coat.  They struggled and he eventually broke loose, but when he did, she still had his coat.  He ran out of the house and left her standing there with his coat.  It’s ironic to me that a coat had already gotten him in trouble with his brothers, now this coat would get him in trouble with Potiphar.

Mrs. Potiphar called in her servants and said, “He tried to rape me, but I screamed for help.  And when he heard me scream, he ran out of the house, leaving his coat with me.”  She kept Joseph’s coat until her husband came home and she told him the same lie.  This is where we pick up our text and we see that Potiphar became very angry and threw Joseph in the same prison where the king’s prisoners were kept.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  We have an enemy:  I run into Christians all the time that say that they believe in God, but not in satan.  It is as if they would like to simply omit the great portion of the Bible that points out the reality that we have an opposing side.  We have a real enemy and he wants to do all the he can to get you to throw in the towel of your belief.  He wants to strip you of your joy and peace.
2.  He does not want to see you prosper:  Joseph was doing well.  He was a prosperous slave.  The blessing upon his life was in operation and the enemy was not happy about it.  It is the same with you.  You will realize that you don’t get attacked much if you are broke, busted, disgusted, and void of any dreams or aspirations in life.  It is when you believe God, dream big dreams, and step out in faith that the barrage of attacks come.  That is why you need faith and patience, joy and peace.  You need them to hold fast and to never give up.
3.  He is persistent:  He first attacked Joseph with a temptation that most young men would have fallen for.  When the temptation did not work, even after daily attacks, the enemy tried a new scheme – slander.  Just like God is out to bless you every day, the enemy is out to destroy you every day.  He has nothing better to do.
4.  God is bigger than every enemy:  This was the hope that Joseph had and it is the hope that we have.  Tomorrow we will get into how God even blessed Joseph in the prison.  He went from being a prosperous slave to being a prosperous prisoner.  If you continue to believe God, to hold fast to your faith, and to operate in joy and peace while you do, then you will see like results.  The enemy’s bark is big, but God’s bite is bigger.  The enemy’s might is strong, but God’s might is stronger.  The enemy’s fight is long, but God’s fight is longer.  So don’t give up, your God is bigger than your problem!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, my hope is rooted and grounded in You. I operate in belief and faith every day.  Faith and patience are in operation in my life.  Although I may be consistently attacked, I consistently believe.  Not only do I wait, but I have a good time while I do.  I have joy and peace in believing.  I believe that You are bigger than any problem and my trust is firmly in You to bring to pass Your best in my life.  I do my part and I know that You will do Yours.  You are the God that can turn hopeless situations around.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Taking the Blessing everywhere you Go! (back to the top)

(Gen 39:21-23 MSG)  But there in jail God was still with Joseph: He reached out in kindness to him; he put him on good terms with the head jailer. The head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners—he ended up managing the whole operation. The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how the enemy used Mrs. Potiphar to falsely accuse Joseph of rape and how he was thrown into the same prison that the king’s prisoners were kept – this will be important later.

Sounds bad, huh?  Seems like Joseph was in a bind again, doesn’t it?  But the key to this is that Joseph did not do anything wrong.  He was being persecuted for doing right.  He was imprisoned for keeping his integrity.  He was jailed for not violating God’s Word.  See, there is a difference between experiencing a difficult situation because you are being persecuted for doing right and experiencing difficulties because of your own wrong actions.  If you did something wrong, then you are simply reaping what you have sown.  However, if you are living right, living in accordance with God’s Word, and you still encounter challenges, then know that God will see you through them.  God will empower you with whatever you need – grace, favor, etc. – to make it through the challenge.  Paul knew what it was to be persecuted for doing what was right and he said, “I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ.  Because when I am weak, I am strong” (2nd Corinthians 12:10).  Paul knew that he could welcome the challenges that he faced for the cause of Christ, because God would ultimately enable him to overcome them.  He knew that his scars would some day become stars!

It is clear in this case that Joseph was in the right, so we can expect God to protect and bless him, even in the prison.  Guess what happened?  The favor of God kicked in again and moved upon the heart of the warden.  I have shared before that favor is when God raises up people who use their power, their ability, and their influence to help you. It had already happened with Potiphar and now it happened again with the warden.  Before you knew it, Joseph was in charge of all the prisoners, managing the entire operation.  The warden literally gave Joseph “free rein” of the prison, because he knew that God was blessing everything he did.

Now, does this sound like a person that was upset with God and mad at the world?  Absolutely not!  This sounds like a young man that was focused on what God was going to do in his life.  His dream was driving him.  He knew that someday, somehow, his dream was going to come to pass.  He entered every day with an expectation of good.  No matter where he was and no matter how dire the situation seemed through carnal eyes, Joseph had Joy and Peace in believing.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  There is a difference between reaping what you have sown and being persecuted for doing right.  If you are in the right, then you can expect the Blessing of God to flow in your life.
2.  If the blessing of God is upon your life, you take that blessing everywhere you go.
3.  The dream does not die because bad things happen.  Keep hold of the dream in your heart.
4.  It CAN happen for you.  If Joseph was a prosperous slave and a prosperous prisoner, then you too can be blessed WHILE you wait!  So believe God, walk in integrity, work hard, and expect your dream to come to pass and also expect to be blessed while you wait on God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know that I may be persecuted for doing right, but no persecution can stop Your blessing and Your favor from operating in my life.  I am blessed and I take that blessing everywhere I go.  I walk in integrity and righteousness.  I work hard and I expect to prosper in everything I do; having joy and peace in believing.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Don’t let the Situation you are in to be IN You! (back to the top)

(Gen 40:4-7 MSG) After they had been in custody for a while, the king’s cupbearer and baker, while being held in the jail, both had a dream on the same night, each dream having its own meaning. When Joseph arrived in the morning, he noticed that they were feeling low. So he asked them, the two officials of Pharaoh who had been thrown into jail with him, “What’s wrong? Why the long faces?”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph was a prosperous prisoner.  He went from being a prosperous slave, running Potiphar’s entire estate and all that it entailed, to now running and entire prison, with all the logistical and social challenges that came along with it.  It is obvious that Joseph did not have a sour attitude towards life and he was definitely not bitter towards God.  He did not know why these things were happening to him, but he kept God first, he kept the proper attitude, and he kept his dream burning in his heart.  He is a great example of having Joy and Peace while you are believing God.

Now, this morning I finally get to the verse that I thought about when I first thought about Joseph for this series.  Remember, nothing just happens.  When his brothers sold him as a slave he was sold to a traveling band of Ishmaelites.  The Ishmaelites ‘just-so-happened’ to sell him to the head of Pharoah’s Secret Service (Potiphar).  Then, after being falsely accused of rape, Potiphar ‘just-so-happened’ to send Joseph to the prison reserved for those that violated the king.  Now, while Joseph was in prison and running the entire operation, it came to pass that the king’s cupbearer and baker offended him.  Pharaoh was so upset with them and that he had them thrown into prison.  Guess what prison they wound up going to?  You guessed it!  The one that Joseph was running.  We will see later that this was all a setup.  After they had been in custody for a while they both had a dream.

Joseph – the dreamer – would be used by God to interpret the dream.  But before we deal with the dream I need to highlight the point of this morning’s message.  When Joseph stopped by to check on them in the morning he realized that they were feeling low.  They were sad.  They had their heads held down.  They were having a bad day.  Joseph asked, “What’s wrong? Why the long faces?”  Take a moment to pause and ponder that statement.  Here you have a guy that was in prison and he is talking to two other prisoners, yet he did not expect them to have a bad day. Joseph was surprised that they were sad.  Joseph himself did not experience, nor did he want others to experience depression while they were in the middle of a seemingly terrible situation.  Joseph’s posture was one of Joy and Peace. He was in the prison, but the prison was not IN him. What was driving him was his dream.  His dream enabled him to be in a prison with a smile on his face, a song in his heart, and a spring in his step!  That is what I call Joy and Peace in believing!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you might be in a situation, but the situation does not have to be IN you!  Not only can you endure challenges with joy and peace while you wait on God to turn them around, but you can also affect the lives of others to do the same.  It is obvious that the cupbearer and the baker did not normally have a frown on their faces.  Why?  Because Joseph’s happiness was contagious.  Are you the same way?  Are you affecting others in a positive way or are you allowing circumstances to bring you down? When you have joy and peace in believing you can go to work and whistle while you work!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for blessing me to realize that even when I am in the middle of a situation, I don’t have to allow that situation to be IN me.  I enjoy myself in You every day and in every way.  I have joy and peace in believing my God.  My inner happiness is contagious and I arouse the inner joy in the lives of others.  I am blessed to BE a blessing and I make every environment that I enter into a better place by Your grace!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Being a Blessing, Regardless of Your Situation (back to the top)

(Gen 40:8 MSG) They said, “We dreamed dreams and there’s no one to interpret them.”  Joseph said, “Don’t interpretations come from God?  Tell me the dreams.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph maintained and exceptionally positive attitude, even while he was in prison.  I said that he might have been in prison, but the prison was not in him.

After Joseph asked the cupbearer and the baker about the reason for their long faces they replied, “We dreamed dreams and there’s no one to interpret them.”  Here’s another irony, Joseph was in the pickle he was in because of dreams.  Now God was going to use dreams to get him out.  But to our knowledge, Joseph had never interpreted a dream before.  However, I like what Joseph said about the dilemma.  He said, “Don’t interpretations come from God?”  In other words, he was saying, “Hey, God is the source of interpretations and if interpretations are available from God, then they are available to me!”  Think about how awesome that statement was.  It exposes to us the condition of Joseph’s heart towards God.  Even though he had been betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave to a traveling caravan, auctioned to the highest bidder (Pharaoh), and falsely accused of rape, he was still in a close and intimate relationship with God. Joseph did not allow the obstacles he faced to cause him to question His God and he still believed that God was going to make his dreams come to pass.  So Joseph boldly declared, “Tell me the dreams.”  By doing so he was speaking the language of faith.  He was crossing the faith line.  He knew that he could not interpret the dreams by his own might, nor by his own ability.  But he trusted God enough to step out there by faith.  He wanted to hear the dreams and he believed – by faith – that God was going to give him the interpretations of the dreams.

This series is about learning how to operate in Faith and Patience.  Learning how to couple the force of consistency (patience) with the life changing power of faith.  It is also about enjoying the ride.  More times that not there will be a long space in between the promise and the performance in your life and I want you to know that God can give you the grace for the space.  He wants you to wait on Him, but He does not want you to be bitter about it.  He needs for you to continue to live your life, to BE a blessing everywhere you go, and to submit yourself to be a tool in His hands.  Joseph was willing to be used of God to BE a blessing, even while he was waiting on his breakthrough.  Can God trust you to look beyond your problem long enough to BE a blessing to someone else? If you have Joy and Peace operating in your life, while you are believing God, and while you are waiting on God, then you will have the ability to focus on others long enough to want to BE a blessing to them.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jesus connected us with The Blessing of Abraham (see Gal 3:13,14,29) and The Blessing of Abraham was that he and his descendants were Blessed to BE a Blessing to others.  The reason God wants you to have Joy and Peace while you are believing Him is so that you will not be so consumed with your situation that you cannot focus on someone else. So trust God for your situation, do your part and know that He will do His, and seek to BE a blessing, even while you are waiting on Yours!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am blessed to BE a blessing.  The blessing of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Jesus are mine.  They flow freely in my life.  I am blessed and in me shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.  I trust You to bring to pass Your best in my life.  I do what I can and I trust You to do what I can’t.  I do my part and I trust You to do Yours.  And while I wait I am not bitter, nor frustrated.  I have Joy and Peace in believing and I am free to be used of You to BE a blessing to someone else.  Use me to today as in instrument of Your glory, as an example of Your righteousness, as an emissary of Your love.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Keep Your Trust in God (back to the top)

(Gen 40:23 MSG)  But the head cupbearer never gave Joseph another thought; he forgot all about him.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph’s attitude was so positive that he was willing to be a blessing to the cupbearer and the baker.  They needed someone to interpret their dreams.  Joseph was ready because he knew that interpretations came from God and he believed God would use him to do provide them.

The cupbearer went first and told his dream to Joseph: “In my dream there was a vine in front of me with three branches on it: It budded, blossomed, and the clusters ripened into grapes. I was holding Pharaoh’s cup; I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and gave the cup to Pharaoh.”  That was it.  Joseph wasted no time.  He did not have to go on a fast.  He did not have to spend hours in prayer.  He simply and immediately spoke what he believed God gave him.  He said, “Here’s the meaning. The three branches are three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will get you out of here and put you back to your old work—you’ll be giving Pharaoh his cup just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.”  Wow!  Talk about good news.  That is exactly what the cupbearer wanted to hear.  But then Joseph did something that I know we can all identify with.  He wanted so badly to get out of his situation and since it was taking so long, he said, “Remember me when things are going well with you again—tell Pharaoh about me and get me out of this place. I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews. And since I’ve been here, I’ve done nothing to deserve being put in this hole.”  See, Joseph was a blessed prisoner, Joseph was in charge of the entire prison, Joseph had the blessing working in his life, but don’t think for one moment that Joseph had become comfortable in his situation.  That is the mistake that some people make.  Some folk become so comfortable in the space between the promise and the performance that they lose sight of the promise altogether.  Although Joseph was doing well he knew that God had more in store for him.  He knew that his state was not ultimately his fate.

When the head baker saw how well Joseph’s interpretation turned out, he was excited to go next, he said, “My dream went like this: I saw three wicker baskets on my head; the top basket had assorted pastries from the bakery and birds were picking at them from the basket on my head.”  Once again, Joseph did not pause, he said what he believed God gave him to say, even though it was harsh news.  Joseph said, “This is the interpretation: The three baskets are three days; within three days Pharaoh will take off your head, impale you on a post, and the birds will pick your bones clean.”  No one would ever want to hear something like that, but both interpretations were true.  Everything happened just like Joseph said they would, but when the head cupbearer got back to his position he never gave Joseph another thought; he forgot all about him and did not say anything about him to Pharaoh.

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

  1. Never lose sight of the dream.  No matter how much God blesses you in your “in-between” stage, never lose the hunger and the thirst for what He said you will eventually have!
  2. Keep your trust in God.  I have done what Joseph did and made requests of people along the way, but even well intentioned people may ultimately fail you.  If God uses someone to bless you, that’s great, but your trust should not be in man. If Joseph had put his trust in the cupbearer he could have gone into a depression. Keep your trust in God.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for blessing me greatly in the space between the promise and the performance, but I declare that I will never allow complacency to diminish my expectation of the fullness of Your best in my life.  And I declare that my trust and confidence are completely and totally in You.  I thank You for using people to bless me, but my trust is not in man.  My trust is in my God.  I wait on You Lord with Joy and Peace.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

God’s Timing (back to the top)

(Gen 41:9 MSG) The head cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, “I just now remembered something—I’m sorry, I should have told you this long ago.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how the head cupbearer disappointed Joseph, by forgetting all about him when he got his position with Pharaoh back.  We learned that our trust and confidence must be rooted and grounded in God and not in man.  This morning we see why.

Two years later Pharaoh had a dreamHe was standing by the Nile River.  Seven cows came up out of the Nile, all shimmering with health, and grazed on the marsh grass.  Then seven other cows, all skin and bones, came up out of the river after them and stood by them on the bank of the Nile.  The skinny cows ate the seven healthy cows.  Then Pharaoh woke up.  He then went back to sleep and dreamed a second dream: Seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, grew out of a single stalk.  Then seven more ears grew up, but these were thin and dried out by the east wind.  The thin ears swallowed up the full, healthy ears.  Then Pharaoh woke up again.  He was troubled by the dreams.  In the morning he called for all the magicians and sages of Egypt.  Pharaoh told them his dreams to them, but they couldn’t interpret them.

This is when Joseph’s life was about to change and he did not even know it.  He was still in the prison, waiting on God, believing God with Joy and Peace, when the head cupbearer finally remembered him.  The head cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I just now remembered something—I’m sorry, I should have told you this long ago.  Once when Pharaoh got angry with his servants, he locked me and the head baker in the house of the captain of the guard.  We both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning.  It so happened that there was a young Hebrew slave there with us; he belonged to the captain of the guard.  We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us, each dream separately.  Things turned out just as he interpreted.  I was returned to my position and the head baker was impaled.”  Pharaoh wanted to see Joseph immediately.  We will see tomorrow that Joseph’s life was about to change forever.  All his waiting and believing God had not been in vain.

So what does this mean to you today? What I want to highlight this morning is the timing of God. Let’s say that the head cupbearer would not have forgotten about Joseph (at least temporarily).  Let’s say that he had gone and done exactly what Joseph requested, and told Pharaoh about him immediately.  What would that have accomplished?  Pharaoh would more than likely not want anything to do with a Hebrew slave and he could have told the cupbearer to never bring him up again. However, since the cupbearer never brought him up until the exact time where his gift was needed, then Pharaoh more than welcomed Joseph.  The point is that we should never question God’s timing.  He obviously knows better than us the proper “when” behind our what!

Have you been waiting for what seems like an eternity?  The message for you is to maintain your Joy and Peace, to couple Patience with your Faith, and to never give up your expectation.  God knows the right time to bring it to pass.  Trust Him enough to wait and to keep a good attitude while you do!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I trust Your timing.  Your timing is perfect and my timing is often flawed.  I know that I say what I want and I thank You for not always giving me what I want when I want it.  I thank You for overlooking my zeal from time to time and for bringing to pass Your best in my life at the best possible times.  I hold fast to my faith.  The force of consistency is working in my life.  I will not stop believing and I maintain joy and peace while I do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Be Ready for Your Chance (back to the top)

(Gen 41:14 NASB) Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we learned about God’s timing and this morning we see what Joseph did when the time was right.

Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment.  He was 17 years old when he received the dream that changed his life forever.  Many years have past and he has been through some very challenging times.  Remarkably, however, he has kept a positive attitude, a high level of expectation, and a close relationship with God.  He has never allowed his circumstances to affect his relationship with God.  And now, all of sudden, guards from Pharaoh’s palace show up and they tell him that he must go and present himself before Pharaoh at once.  He does not know what this is about and the guards are rushing him to get ready.  Someway, somehow he senses that his breakthrough is near.  So Joseph decides to shave and change his clothes before he stands before Pharaoh.  He knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he did not want to mess it up. He was determined to be prepared for his big break.  He was preparing himself for his blessing.  He knew that one word from Pharaoh could change his situation forever.  Why?  Because Pharaoh was a king.  I have to bring this out, because most believers today live in democracies and we know a great deal about presidents and prime ministers, but very little about kings.  Presidents and prime ministers do not have absolute authority; they do not reign or rule, they simply serve or govern.  The word of a king is final; the word of a president or prime minister is subject to checks and balances.  The distinction is important for us to understand, because in the Bible God does not liken Himself to a president or a prime minister, God likens Himself to a King!  More specifically, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  So, like God, Pharaoh had the ability to change Joseph’s life with his words.  One decision in his favor and Joseph could be promoted from a prisoner to a president and no one could say anything about it. No wonder Joseph took the time to get himself ready.  Are you ready for your shot?

When Joseph finally stood before the king, Pharaoh said, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”  Whatever came out of Joseph’s mouth next was going to be critical.  If he had allowed frustration to strip him of his joy and peace he could have said the wrong thing, but since he had joy and peace in believing he was able to speak the language of faith.  Joseph boldly said, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”  Joseph was sure about it.  He was completely confident in God’s ability.  He knew that God would put His super on his natural.

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

  1. Your preparation will show up in your performance.  Joy and Peace enable you to remain prepared and when opportunity meets preparation your breakthrough occurs.
  2. One Word from Your King (God) can change your life forever.  God does not have any checks or balances.  He does not need approval to promote you quickly.  So remain prepared and expectant.  Do your part and expect Him to do His.
  3. God is looking for availability, not ability.  Joseph knew that he could not interpret the dream, but he also knew that God could.  He knew that if he was willing, God was able!  Are you available to be used of God today?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I remain prepared and expectant for You to perform Your best in my life.  You are my King, Your are my Lord, You are my God, and I worship You.  I know that one word from You can change my life forever.  Joy and peace enable me to be available for Your use today and every day.  I am ready for my opportunity!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Are you Afraid to Take God Public? (back to the top)

(Gen 41:16 NASB) Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ” It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph sought to maximize the opportunity to stand before the king.  He shaved and changed his clothes, because although he was a prisoner and a former slave, he knew that he did not have to look like one.  Joseph stood before the king and when Pharaoh asked Joseph if he was able to interpret the dream that NO ONE else in his kingdom was able to interpret, Joseph immediately said, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

This series is about faith, patience, joy, and peace.  All four of these contributed to Joseph’s confidence before Pharaoh.  If he didn’t have patience he would have given up on God a long time prior to this event and he would have thrown in the towel on his relationship with God.  Patience enabled him to endure while he waited.  But he did not wait with a bitter spirit.  Joseph had a positive attitude and outlook while he waited for his turn around. He had an inner joy that enabled him to keep a smile on his face, even while he was in prison.  And he had an inner peace that stabilized him during the years it took for him to get to the point where he stood before Pharaoh.  His joy, peace, and patience fueled his faith in His God and when he finally got before Pharaoh he was ready to step out in faith.

Notice that Joseph did not say that he needed to pray about it.  He did not need to go on a three day fast.  Joseph heard that Pharaoh had a dream and he that NO ONE else in the entire kingdom could interpret it and he was still ready to put faith-pressure on God to provide the answer.  He basically said, “I can’t give you the answer, but God will.”  He didn’t say, “God might,” or “It is possible,” or “Maybe.”  No, Joseph said, “God will.”  Period!  He publicly put his God and his faith on the line in front of a man that could have had him killed.  I love Joseph’s attitude.  Now, some people today may have called Joseph cocky or maybe even arrogant.  Sometimes confidence is mistaken for arrogance, but God wants you to operate in confidence nonetheless.  Joseph carried a holy boldness in him.  He was standing before the king, but he knew that the King of Kings was with him.  The point for you is to face every day and every situation with a fearless confidence and know that God will bless you for it.  When you walk in fearless confidence you are telling God that you trust Him to be bigger than your situation; and you are not making your situation bigger than your God.

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

  1. God wants you to operate in fearless confidence.  Another word for this is faith.
  2. Joy and Peace will help you to keep your faith for the long run.  Without joy and peace you might give up on God before the manifestation of your breakthrough.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take God public:  Joseph was standing in front of man that worshipped the sun, but he still took his God public.  When you openly declare, by faith, what you believe will happen, before it happens, then you are taking God public.  God loves when you believe Him enough to say it in front of others.
  4. There is nothing too hard for God:  Joseph did not know what the dream was about, he did not know any of the specifics, but as far as he was concerned they did not matter.  No matter what – Joseph believed that God could handle it.  There are no impossibilities in God.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I maintain joy and peace daily.  My joy and peace enable me to remain patient and to operate in faith in every aspect of my life.  I literally live by faith.  I face every day and every situation with fearless confidence.  Whether before a president or a pauper, a General or a Private, I have fearless confidence and I am not afraid to take You public.  I speak the language of faith and I do it without fear!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Are you ready to Live By Faith? (back to the top)

(Gen 41:16 NASB) Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ” It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph was not afraid to take God public.  I can’t get past this verse.  This is faith at it’s best.  When Joseph said that God would give him the ability to interpret the dream and that Pharaohwould have the answer he desired, he was doing so as an expression of confidence in God – that’s faith.  Sure, the pressure was on.  Joseph was standing in front of the most important man in the land.  One word from this man, either way, could deliver him or destroy him.  Not only that, I am sure that Pharaoh had his magicians and sorcerers present.  These were the same people that failed at interpreting the dreams.  But Joseph had learned quite a bit over the years.  His experiences had prepared him for this critical moment in his life.  More specifically his experience in the prison when he interpreted two dreams for the cup bearer and the baker.  Joseph knew that God had provided him ‘spot-on’ interpretations before and this same God would do it again.  Joseph expanded his capacity to believe God in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in prison; and these experiences prepared him fro the palace.  Joseph’s confidence in God was so strong that he did not even need to hear the dream first.  He said – by faith – that the dream would be interpreted and that God would give him the ability to do it.  What was Joseph doing? He was putting faith pressure on His faith-honoring God.  He stepped out past his ability and he was now in the realm of faith.  If God did not do it, it would not get done.  His total reliance was on God and His ability.

I heard Kenneth Copeland once say, “To be in a place where you don’t need faith is one of the most dangerous places a Christian can be.”  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever stepped out in faith?  It is a sad commentary if you have not.  This is the way that God desires for us to live.  Joseph crossed what I call “The faith line.”  This is the line you cross when you get out into a place where you have exceeded your abilities and you are totally relying on God.  This is exciting stuff.  This is where my family and I are right now.  We have done (humanly speaking) all that we can do.  We are in a situation where if God does not do it, it will not get done.  But we have complete confidence that God will.  Like Joseph, we are keeping our Joy and Peace while we are believing God.  We are not frustrated, we are not afraid, we are not worried, we are believing, because we are believers!  I have all the members of my family to declare a confession of faith every day that lines up with what we are believing God for.  We have taken God public, we have told others what we believe God is going to do, and we are fully expectant that He will.  It is uncomfortable to live like this?  Is it easier to just do what you know you can do and limit your life to the things that you can control?  Of course it is, but God expects us to live by faith.  He wants us to trust Him.  He wants us to stretch our faith so we can get to the places where He wants us to be.  A very familiar verse is 2nd Corinthians 5:7 where Paul said, “We walk by faith and not by sight.”  The Message Bible translation of this verse says, “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that when you resolve to live by faith you will live your life from the inside out.  The things that are birthed inside of you, the things that you trust and believe God for that you cannot yet see, those are the things that keep you going and fuel the faith of your relationship with God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I look back over my past experiences and all that You have enabled me to learn along the way.  I have expanded my capacity to believe and I am now ready to walk and live by faith.  I look at every situation through the lens of faith and I speak the language of faith.  I release my faith and I express my confidence in You.  What I trust in and don’t yet see is what keeps me going.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Fearless Confidence (back to the top)

(Gen 41:17 NIV) Joseph said, “Your Majesty, both of your dreams mean the same thing, and in them God has shown what will happen.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph crossed the ‘faith-line’ by publicly declaring that God would give him the interpretation of the dream, without even hearing it first.  It was now time to put action to his words.

Pharaoh told the two dreams to Joseph and once again, Joseph did not skip a beat.  He had operated under the unction of God before and he was ready to do it again.  He knew that he did not have the power to give the interpretation, but he believed in a God that could. The same God that gave him favor with Potiphar and the warden of the prison, the same God that gave him the interpretation for the cupbearer and the baker’s dreams, the same God that had kept him – and even blessed him greatly – while he went from a pit, to Potiphar’s house, to the prison; this same God was the God that Joseph was totally relying on again.  Why?  Because he was able to keep joy and peace in his heart every step of the way.  He did not allow his circumstances to make him bitter with God.  He did not resent the challenges he faced.  He knew that God was STILL going to bring to pass the dream that he held so dearly in his heart.

So with the confidence of years of walking with God inside of him, Joseph said, “Your Majesty, both of your dreams mean the same thing, and in them God has shown what will happen.  The seven good cows stand for seven years, and so do the seven good heads of grain.  The seven skinny cows and seven bad heads of grain also stand for seven years.  The dreams mean there will be seven years when there won’t be enough grain.  It is just as I said – God has shown what will happen.  For seven years Egypt will have more than enough grain, but that will be followed by seven years when there won’t be enough.  The good years of plenty will be forgotten, and everywhere in Egypt people will be starving.  The famine will be so bad that no one will remember that once there had been plenty.  God has given you two dreams to let you know that this will definitely happen and it will happen soon” (see Genesis 41:17-32).  Let’s stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:
1.  Your experiences get you to where you are:  God is a God of progression and not regression.  If we look back over Joseph’s life we can see that he was allowed to go through a series of experiences that progressively prepared him to fulfill the dream that God put in his heart.  It is good to take a few moments, every now and then, to look back and realize how far you have come with God.  Your experiences have prepared you for the challenges you face.
2.  Faith operates in fearless confidence:  Think about the on the boldness and the confidence that Joseph (the prisoner) exhibited before Pharaoh (the king).  He was not afraid.  He was not intimated.  He knew who he was in God.  His past experiences helped bolster his confidence and he operated as a man that was respectful, but fearless!  He spoke with confidence, clarity, and conviction.  That’s the way we should operate.  God has blessed me to stand before many senior military leaders and when I do I am never intimidated.  There was a time when I was, but I now know who I am in Christ and my relationship equips me with boldness, confidence, and courage.  You can do the same.  Once you know who you are in God you will be able to face every challenge with fearless confidence.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I look back over my past experiences and all that You have enabled me to learn along the way.  My experiences have bolstered my confidence in You.  I speak as a person of faith.  I speak the language of faith.  The joy and peace in my heart, coupled with the confidence that I have developed along the years, enable me to operate in the realm of the fearless.  I am not afraid of any challenge, I am not intimated by any person, I am a child of God and I act like it as I enter this day with fearless confidence.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Your Faith sets God’s Plan in Motion (back to the top)

(Gen 41:41 MSG)  So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: “I’m putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In our last message we saw how Joseph operated in fearless confidence before the king.  This morning we will see how his life changed instantly, because he was willing and able to operate in faith.

Not only did God bless Joseph to interpret the dreams, but he also gave Pharaoh a ready-made plan on what to do with the situation.  Joseph said, “Pharaoh needs to look for a wise and experienced man and put him in charge of the country.  Then Pharaoh needs to appoint managers throughout the country of Egypt to organize it during the years of plenty.  Their job will be to collect all the food produced in the good years ahead and stockpile the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, storing it in the towns for food.  This grain will be held back to be used later during the seven years of famine that are coming on Egypt.  This way the country won’t be devastated by the famine.”  What do you think Pharaoh and his officials thought of the plan?  They liked it.  They had no time to do anything but like it.  This young man had just walked in there, spoke to the king with authority, interpreted both his dreams (which no one else could do), and then presented a plan to deal with the situation.  All this from a prisoner/slave!  Joseph was able to do this because he had faith and patience operating in his life and joy and peace operating in his heart.

Then Pharaoh said to his officials, “Isn’t this the man we need?  Are we going to find anyone else who has God’s Spirit in him like this?”  Pharaoh even acknowledged that God was working through him.  When you operate in faith and confidence, even unbelievers  will acknowledge the hand of God upon your life. So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “You’re the man for us.  God has given you the inside story – no one is as qualified as you in experience and wisdom.  From now on, you’re in charge of my affairs; all my people will report to you.  Only as king will I be over you.”  Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: “I’m putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt.”  Joseph woke up that day a prisoner/slave and went to sleep as the second in command of the most powerful nation on the planet at the time.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  God has plans for your life (Jer 29:11).  God had plans to prosper Joseph and to use him for His glory.
2.  God’s plans will require faith on our part.  We can want God’s plans to manifest in our lives, but His plan require our faith.  Fear moves satan, faith moves God.
3.  Our faith sets God’s plans in motion.  None of this would have happened if Joseph would have been afraid.  Fear is an incapacitating force.  Faith enables us to overcome the fear factor.  Fear cancels faith and faith cancels fear.  Once we operate in faith we release God to do His part.
4.  Faith releases favor.  Pharaoh made his statements about Joseph after only knowing him for a few minutes.  Pharaoh did not make it to his position by making poor decisions.  He was obviously a wise man and a wise man would not have put Joseph in charge of the entire nation after just meeting him, but the favor of God will cause people to bless you without them even knowing why they are doing it.  Favor can do more in a minute than labor can do in a lifetime.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I, like Joseph, walk in Your supernatural insight by faith.  You give me wisdom for the daily affairs of my life.  You also give me favor with everyone I will encounter today.  You raise up people who use their power, their ability, and their influence to help me; even when they do not know why they are helping me.  I release my faith to bring these things to pass.  My faith is the trigger that sets Your plan in motion; and I am pulling the trigger with my words and actions.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Look and the License (back to the top)

(Gen 41:42-43 MSG)  Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his finger and slipped it on Joseph’s hand.  He outfitted him in robes of the best linen and put a gold chain around his neck.  He put the second-in-command chariot at his disposal, and as he rode people shouted “Bravo!”  Joseph was in charge of the entire country of Egypt.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  After Pharaoh appointed Joseph over all of Egypt, he gave him his royal signet ring, he outfitted him in the best robes, and he put a gold chain around his neck.  Joseph held on to his faith and he finally got his breakthrough.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s see what is meant in different ways:
1.  What this meant for Joseph:  The clothes and the chain helped Joseph look the part.  Joseph knew the importance of looking externally what you feel like internally.  That is why he shaved and changed clothes before coming to the king.  He wanted to look his best when he stood before the throne.  Now the king would ensure that Joseph could look his best every day.  Why?  Because Pharaoh knew that Joseph would be representing him, and the throne, in the daily affairs of the kingdom.  An unkempt external appearance often stifles your ability to influence others because some may immediately turn your off and tune you out.  In other words, it is important for your video to match your audio.  If you look like a pauper, you might have a royal message, but it might not be received.  Joseph could now wear the royal robe.  Furthermore, the ability to use the king’s official signet ring sealed the deal.  This was the official signet used to sign documents and to sanction business transactions on behalf of the throne.  Possessing this ring meant that Joseph had a legal right to operate in the authority of the king.  In one fell swoop he was given both the look and the license.

2.  What this meant for the people:  The clothes made Joseph more presentable and possibly more acceptable to the people, but even if they found out about his past (prisoner and slave), it would not matter because he had the ring.  The signet ring meant that they HAD to submit to Joseph, whether they liked him or not.  Even Potiphar, the man that used to be Joseph’s master, was now his servant.  This is what happens when we operate under the authority of God.  Whether satan and his kingdom like it or not, they have to submit to God’s power in us!

3.  What this means for you:  It means that God wants us to both look the part and to yield His authority.  The Bible says that God has made us royal priesthood and a holy nation (1st Peter 2:9).  Your external appearance is not everything, but it does play a role.  Remember, we deal with people on a daily basis that are not spiritual.  They are NOT looking at you through spiritual eyes.  So take pride in your appearance and know that you are spiritual royalty.  Allow your external appearance to match your internal condition.  The point is that you don’t want to hinder your influence by looking like a pauper when God has made you a king.  Additionally, and more importantly, it means that God has given you the legal right to operate in the authority of the King of Kings.  Jesus gave us the right to operate in His name, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Having joy and peace in believing means that you are ever-ready to be used of God for His glory.  Even while you are waiting on your breakthrough, you don’t allow your situation to hinder you from BEING a blessing to others.  You enter every day ready, willing, and able to operate under the power of God.  Jesus put down His righteousness and clothed Himself in your sin, so that you could put down your sin and clothe yourself in His righteousness.  If you think the king’s robe did something for Joseph, see what clothing yourself in the righteousness of Jesus can do for you!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for clothing me in Your righteousness.  I internalize the reality of Your royalty in my life and it gives me the internal drive to operate as royalty in the earth.  I will do my part to look like what You have made me and I also thank You for the power and authority made available to me in the name of Jesus.  I operate in Kingdom power and Kingdom authority.  This changes my perspective of myself and of any challenges I may face.  Your spiritual signet ring helps me maintain joy and peace.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Power of Perseverance (back to the top)

(Gen 41:46 MSG)  Joseph was thirty years old when he went to work for Pharaoh the king of Egypt. As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he began his work in Egypt.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  After giving Joseph his signet ring, Pharaoh put Joseph in the chariot reserved for the second in command and took him for a ride. The favor of God upon his life spilled over to the people and they shouted for Joseph.  If that was not good enough, Pharaoh reiterated Joseph’s position by telling him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one in Egypt will make a single move without your stamp of approval.”  Wow!  That is favor at the highest level.  To further incorporate Joseph into the Egyptian culture Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian (Zaphenath-Paneah).  Now, you might think that this could be a bad thing, but this name meant “God Speaks and He Lives.”  Joseph would now be a walking talking billboard for God.  Pharaoh also gave him an Egyptian wife, Asenath.  Getting to our text we learn that Joseph was 30 yrs. old when this happened and he immediately got to work.

There are several things worth highlighting from this passage, but one that blaringly sticks out to me this morning is the fact that he was 30 yrs. old when this happened.  What I want to highlight about his age directly lines up with the point of this series.  Joseph was only 17 yrs. old back in chapter 37 when he received his dreams.  Although I have only been teaching on Joseph (in this series) for a little over three weeks and we have covered about five chapters of the Bible in that span, it is easy to overlook the fact that these five chapters cover an actual span of 13 years in the life of Joseph.  It would be at least another seven years before Joseph’s brothers would sit under him and the dream would finally come to pass.  This means that the space between the promise and the performance for Joseph was more than 20 years.

This reminds me of one of the laws John Maxwell teaches in his book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.”  The law I am reminded of is the third; “The Law of Process.”  The law of process states that leadership develops daily, but not in a day.  This law shows that what matters most is what you do over the long haul.  Success in life requires a lifetime of perseverance and dedication.  My goal in this series is to teach you about the ‘staying power’ of faith and patience (the power twins).  If you can develop the ability to maintain joy and peace while you are believing God, then you will be able to maintain your faith and patience.  If you do, you, like Joseph, will see the manifestation of the promises of God.  If you want to see how someone becomes a champion you should look at their daily routine.  What you consistently do is what you eventually become. Joseph was just a dreamer at 17, but by the time Pharaoh appointed him governor of Egypt – 13 years later – he had developed his relationship with God, he knew how to hear from God, he had a strong work ethic, and he knew God would provide the blessing if he provided the work. Further evidence of this is right in our text.  As soon as he got promoted he got to work.  He did not get caught up in the opulence of his new position.  He knew that God had given him the revelation, but he was going to have to put in the work!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that in the space between the promise and the performance in your life God requires you to remain diligent, to develop perseverance, to operate in integrity, and to work hard.  You are being developed daily, but you will not be developed in a day!  You need the power of perseverance working in your life!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know You have provided me promises and I have faith that those promises will become a reality in my life.  I now declare that I will add work to my faith.  I remain consistent, diligent, and faithful in the space between the promise and the performance.  I know I am being developed daily and I know my development will not be complete in one day.  So I maintain joy and peace while I work and wait, so that I will not lose hold of my faith and patience.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Don’t Cast Away Your Confidence (back to the top)

(Heb 10:35 KJV) Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  We have been dealing with Joseph in this series for a little over three weeks.  Rest assured, I am not done with him yet, but this morning I woke up with a scripture in my spirit that Joseph did not know, but he did exemplify.  This Word is what I needed to hear this morning and I feel led to share it with you.  It lines up perfectly with this series.  It is found in the 10th chapter of Hebrews and it says, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”

There are several definitions for faith out there and the one that I use is: faith is an expression of your confidence in God and in His Word.  When Joseph stood before Pharaoh and publicly told him that God would give him the interpretation of the dream that no one else had been able to interpret – and he did so without even hearing the dream first – Joseph was expressing his confidence in His God.  The 13 years of ups and downs, being thrown from place to place and from pillar to post, had not shaken the young man.  As a matter of fact, his experiences had helped bolster his confidence even more. Joseph had not thrown away the confidence he had in what God had said and he maintained that confidence for over 13 years.

To illustrate the fact that faith requires effort on your part I want to share with you why the Lord reminded me of Hebrews 10:35 this morning.  Last Sunday my Pastor preached a message from Hebrews 11:6.  The Lord spoke to me from that message and I am to stand on Hebrews 11:6 while I am in the current situation that my family and I are believing God to get us out of.  On Sunday I was fired-up about the Word.  On Monday I was still fired-up about it and I kept it in my mouth and in my heart (Rom 10:8).  Well, I traveled to New Jersey this week and I was gone from Monday through Wednesday.  I was back in my office yesterday and I had to get caught up on email and other tasks, because I was on vacation last week and I had not been in my office for almost two weeks.  I came home yesterday a bit tired from the daily grind and I enjoyed some time with my family.  This morning, as soon as I got up, the Lord reminded me of Hebrews 10:35.  What did that do?  It took me back to the Word I received on Sunday and I rejoiced over it.  I am fired-up again and I was led to share a few things with my wife about what we are going to do over the next few days.

What’s my point?  My point is that I love God and I love His Word, but I had relaxed my hold of what He told me on Sunday and it has only been a few days.  It took the Lord reminding me to hold fast to my confidence for me to go back to the Word I received on Sunday.  This was just 5 days, not 5 months, or 5 years.  Now, to be fair, I have been standing on and in God and I confidently know that He will bring us out of this situation, but you can see how easy it is to forget about something that God told you.  Joseph refused to forget.  He held on to his dream, even though it took 20 years to come to pass.  It has been several months for us, but my family and I are still in faith.  Like Joseph, we have faith and patience, and we maintain our joy and peace while we believe God!

So what does this mean to you today? This is a simple reminder to you, like it was for me, to not cast away your confidence in God.  There is a great reward reserved for those that maintain their confidence (faith) and continue to believe God, even in the midst of challenging times!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I refuse to cast away my confidence in You and in Your Word.  I live by faith by operating in the confidence that I have in You.  My ability to hold fast to my confidence has a great reward attached to it.  I have staying power.  I will not quit.  I continue to believe You and I have joy and peace in my heart while I do it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Believing for the Future, Focused on the Present! (back to the top)

(Gen 41:47-49 MSG) During the next seven years of plenty the land produced bumper crops. Joseph gathered up the food of the seven good years in Egypt and stored the food in cities. In each city he stockpiled surplus from the surrounding fields. Joseph collected so much grain—it was like the sand of the ocean!—that he finally quit keeping track.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to learn from the life of Joseph.  In my opinion Joseph was ‘faith and patience’ personified.  He still had his dream in his heart, but he learned how to focus on being faithful every day, even though his dream was still afar off.  He somehow knew that every day he was getting incrementally closer to the manifestation of his dream.

At this point in the story of his life Joseph was in his new position as governor of Egypt.  He was in charge and he immediately got to work.  Our text tells us that the next seven years were just as God had revealed through Joseph; they were a time of abundance.  The land produced bumper crops and Joseph devised a plan to store a portion of the crops in strategically designated sites.  Instead of building the national reserve in one location, which would later require an elaborate distribution system, Joseph targeted specific cities throughout the nation that could serve as local distribution centers during the years of famine.  These cities collected a portion of the surplus from the surrounding fields and they prepared themselves for the time to come.  The wisdom of God upon Joseph’s life would make Pharaoh and Egypt abundantly prosperous during the time where other nations were unprepared.

Joseph went to work every day with the Blessing of his great-grandfather Abraham operating in his life.  He honored God daily and God honored him by blessing his work.  He never questioned God about when his dream was going to come to pass. Joseph simply accepted where he was and determined to make the most of every day. He allowed joy to provide him strength and peace to provide him serenity.  With joy and peace operating in his life he was able to be successful at work.  This is very important, because many believers today think of God, His blessing, and His favor to be for things like: church, Bible study, charitable projects, and etc.  They think God’s wisdom is only released for preachers or teachers that need to interpret Bible scriptures for sermons or classes.  Or they think of God’s favor upon them for things like being an usher, singing in the choir, or helping out in the church.  God is much bigger than that.  Unfortunately, some believers limit their faith to Sunday mornings.  Church is where you should go to learn how to live by faith – Daily!  That’s what this series is all about.  In this series I want you to know that God will do what he said He will do in your life, but you don’t have to sit around and wait for it to happen.  You are to enter into every day with joy and peace, faith and patience operating in your life.  If you can be faithful over the things that you need to do today, then God can take you incrementally closer to the manifestation of His overall purpose in your life.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should not be so focused on the future that you fail to excel in the present.  Joseph trusted God for the future, but he focused on the present.  You can do the same.  What do you have to do today?  If you are an engineer God can give you wisdom to design the most complex systems in your field.  If you are a military commander God can give you wisdom to lead and release protection for the led.  If you are a homemaker God can give you wisdom to nurture and to train your children in the way that they should go.  Whatever you do, with God, you can do it better!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I thank You for Your favor and wisdom operating in my life.  I apply my faith to every area of my life.  I am not so focused on the future that I fail to be faithful over the present.  I have things to do today and I ask You to bless my work.  Whatever I do, You enable me to do it better!  I have faith and patience that my dream will come to pass and my faithfulness today takes me incrementally closer to it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Believing for the Future, Focused on the Present (Part II) (back to the top)

(Gen 41:47-49 MSG) During the next seven years of plenty the land produced bumper crops. Joseph gathered up the food of the seven good years in Egypt and stored the food in cities. In each city he stockpiled surplus from the surrounding fields. Joseph collected so much grain—it was like the sand of the ocean!—that he finally quit keeping track.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  I was talking to a friend of mine about yesterday’s message and the more I talked to him the more flowed out of me about Joseph’s focus.  Here you have a guy that had been through a great deal and who was obviously being held together by the dream that drove him, but he did not allow the futuristic nature of his dream to hinder his daily progress.  He was focused when he was at Pharaoh’s house.  So focused that he was quickly promoted from common slave to domestic manager.  Yes, he knew he had a dream inside of him, but his dream did not hinder his progress.  As a matter of fact, I believe it helped fuel his fire to do better.  When he wound up in the prison he still knew that his state was not his fate.  He believed that someway, somehow his dream was going to come to pass.  But he did not allow the surety of the dream to stifle his work ethic.  Once again, the person in charge (the warden) quickly promoted Joseph to the head position.  He may not have known it, but he was really being prepared for his eventual position as the leader of Egypt.  In Potiphar’s house he learned how to manage money, to submit to authority, and the importance of abstaining from sin.  In the prison he learned how to overcome the logistical and social challenges of running a state-funded facility.  His past focus had paid off and he was now ready for his future.

As soon as Joseph took over as governor of Egypt his work ethic kicked in again.  He quickly got to work and he exhibited a focus on his present tasks that is required for success, all the while keeping his dream burning in his heart.  In Joseph I see balance.  Balance is necessary while we wait on God.  We can’t be so focused on what we believe God is going to do in our lives that we fail to do ANYTHING in the space between the promise and the performance.  Paul, like Joseph, had something that was driving him from the inside out.  He knew what God had called him to do and he also knew that he had to work to get it done.  In his first letter to the church at Corinth Paul admitted, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”  But he couldn’t stop there, because that sounds like he did not have anything to do with it.  So Paul goes on to say, “I worked harder than all of them.”  Paul did not want anyone to think that you will arrive at your destination in God by His grace alone.  No, it will require focus and effort on your part.  Your dream must be burning in your heart for tomorrow, but your focus must be clear in your head for today. But Paul knew that someone might take his words the wrong way and think he was being arrogant, so he goes on to say, “Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1st Cor 15:10).  What do I see in the life of Paul?  I see the same thing I see in the life of Joseph: BALANCE!  These guys were able to allow their dream to fuel their fire, their faith, and their focus.  Their dream was an enhancer, not a distracter.  When you become so focused on your dream that you fail to focus on the tasks at hand you run the danger of becoming so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your goal should be to find balance.  Find a balance between your future and your present.  Find a balance between God’s grace and your effort.  Find a balance between waiting and working.  If you can find that balance you will be able to tap into joy and peace while you work and wait on God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for helping me to find the balance between waiting and working; helping me to know the difference between what I should wait for You to do and what You expect me to do.  You have a part and I have a part.  We are co-laborers together in writing the book of my life.  I am what I am by Your grace, but I know that it will still require my work.  I life by faith, fueled by a burning fire, and I do it with clear focus.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Letting Go to Lay Hold (back to the top)

(Gen 41:52 MSG)  He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  We have seen how God gave him the wisdom to establish a decentralized network of storage locations which would later serve as local distribution centers.  The Bible says that there was so much grain that they stopped keeping record, because it was like counting the grains of sand along the beach.  It was during this time – the seven years of plenty – that God prospered Joseph in his personal life.  Joseph and his wife had two sons before the famine began.  They named their first son Manasseh, which means, “God has let me forget all my troubles and my family back home.”  This is important, because it shows that Joseph was not bitter.  You can’t have Joy and be bitter at the same time.  His ability to forgive his family and his ability to let go of the past pain allowed him to enjoy his life to look forward and not backward.  His second son was named Ephraim, “God has made me a success in the land where I suffered.”  This reveals to us some things about Joseph that we can learn from.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  Personal prosperity is also God’s will:  First of all, let me say that prosperity is not limited to money, but it does not exclude it either.  To say that prosperity includes money is not incorrect, but it is incomplete.  What good is money if your family is failing apart, your children are running astray, or your body is racked with pain and disease?  God wants us to prosper in every area of our lives.  Yes, God wants us to have blessed relationships, health, peace, a sound mind, the finances to meet the needs of every situation, and etc.  Joseph was being a blessing to Egypt, but Joseph was also being blessed.  His personal life was blessed and there  is nothing wrong with that.  The same God that will bless you to fulfill your assignment at work will bless you to enjoy a thriving personal life.  So believe God for a great marriage, to be a great parent, to have great kids, to enjoy a long and healthy life, and to have a thriving career.  Like a shared in the last series, God wants you to enjoy “The Good Life.”
2.  Letting go:  Joseph had been through a lot.  He was betrayed by his own blood, was made to live as a slave, and spent several years in prison.  Even though he had the favor of God upon his life he had suffered a great deal.  He named his first child Manasseh as a testimony of the fact that God had helped him forget his troubles and let go of his past.  Letting go is critical.  You can’t be bitter and get better at the same time.  Whether our past was good or bad, we cannot live there.  There comes a time where we have to let go of the past if we are to move forward.  Let me share with you four words that have blessed me greatly over the years, especially when I had a challenging day, they are, “Yesterday ended last night!”
3.  Laying hold:  Once you let go of your past you are free to lay hold of your future.  Joseph had to have a “Manasseh” experience to have Ephraim.  Our text tells us that Ephraim also means double prosperity and he was a testimony of the goodness of God in his land of sorrow.  Ephraim is a reminder that God can use the same place that used to be a place of sorrow and turn it around for you.  If you have maintain your joy and peace, while you exercise faith and patience, you too can see a turn around.  God can transform your place of sorrow to your place of blessing, but you must first be willing to let go so you can lay hold.  What are you holding on to this morning that you need to let go of?  Bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, etc., will keep you from laying hold of God’s best!

Confession for this day:  Lord God.  I know it is Your will for me to prosper in every area of my life.  I let go of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and pain.  I am free to move forward and to lay hold of Your best for my life.  I am physically, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, professionally, relationally, socially, and financially blessed.  I let go to lay hold and I walk in Your best.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

God Did not bring you this far to Fail (back to the top)

(Gen 41:55 MSG)  When the famine spread throughout Egypt, the people called out in distress to Pharaoh, calling for bread. He told the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we discussed how Joseph prospered, along with everyone else, during the seven years of plenty.  Well, Egypt’s seven good years came to an end and the seven years of famine arrived, just as Joseph had said.  All countries experienced the famine, but Egypt was the only country that had food.  Not only that, because of God’s revelation and Joseph’s planning, there was an abundance of grain pre-positioned all over Egypt.  The question was, was it enough?  Joseph had done what God told him to do.  He operated in Godly wisdom, he prepared the nation for the famine, and he held reserves of grain throughout a decentralized distribution network.  This is where Joseph needed to maintain his joy and peace.  When the people started to call out in distress to Pharaoh, he directed them to Joseph.  Pharaoh said, “Go to Joseph.  Do what he tells you.”

Not only did Joseph have to trust God for the plan, but he now had to trust God for the execution.  Humanly speaking, all the pressure was on him.  The people were expecting Joseph to exercise the same wisdom during the years of famine that he did during the years of plenty.  As a matter of fact, the stakes were higher.  A mistake made during the years of plenty could go unnoticed.  A mistake made during the years of famine would mean that people would starve to death. Joseph had to know how much grain to sell and at what intervals to sell it.  He also had to balance the selling of the grain between the Egyptians and those from other countries who would soon be arriving with starving people.  Everything was riding on Joseph.  The survival of millions of people would depend on the decisions of a 37 yr. old ex-prisoner and ex-slave.  This was a lot to deal with.  The average person could buckle under the pressure, but Joseph was no average person.  He was God’s chosen man for God’s assigned time.  He was where God blessed him to be, doing what God blessed him to do.  If Joseph ever became overwhelmed he could simply remind God that He was the one that elevated him there in the first-place.  If God had kept him through the pit, Potiphar, and prison phases of his life, surely God would keep him through the palace phase.  God had not brought him this far to fail.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  The best thing to do with care is to CAST it.  Peter taught us to cast – to literally roll over – all our care (anxiety) upon God, because God cares for us (1st Peter 5:7).  It is not God’s will for you to walk around stressed out and frustrated.  Cast your care on Him and live in a stress-free environment every day.  Carrying care will rob you of your joy and peace; casting care will help you maintain them.
2.  If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill! Since God had given Joseph the plan, then He was responsible for the execution.  Joseph kept his trust and his confidence in the God that had given him the revelation.  Since he was doing God’s will, then it was also God’s bill!
3.  Trust God.  Think back over your life.  The same God that brought you to the point where you are today, the same God that kept you time after time, the same God that made a way when there seemed to be no way, is the same that  will see you through whatever you are going through.  You can’t trust and worry at the same time.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I don’t carry care, I cast it.  I cast all my cares upon You, for You care for me.  I declare that I will leave this computer screen stress free.  I release the stress and the pressures of my current responsibilities to You.  I know I can handle everything I must do today because You have blessed me to be in the position that I am in.  This is Your will, so I know it is Your bill.  You did not bring me this far to fail.  I trust You and my trust enables me to operate in joy and peace.  I have peace in my heart and joy in my soul.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Having Peace to help make Wise Decisions (back to the top)

(Gen 41:55 MSG)  When the famine spread throughout Egypt, the people called out in distress to Pharaoh, calling for bread. He told the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we discussed how all eyes and all pressure (humanly speaking) were on Joseph when the years of famine finally arrived.  I was planning to move on from this text, but I feel led to remain here a little longer.

Let’s think about this for a moment.  First of all it is important to point out that when the people ran out of food they called out for their king to do something about it.  They expected their king to take care of the subjects in his kingdom. Why?  Because the subjects of a kingdom represent the king.  Let me further explain.  Those of us that live in a democracy are citizens of a nation, not subjects of a kingdom.  Our prosperity, or lack thereof, is a representation of our nation, but not necessarily our leadership.  When people abroad have an encounter with an American they leave with an impression of our country, not our president.  Citizens of a democracy represent their country, whereas subjects of a kingdom represent their king.  A king knows that his reputation is tied to subjects, just as much as it is tied to him.  So a king takes it upon himself to ensure that he makes provisions for his subjects.

Now we understand why the subjects came to their king.  They knew that he had a responsibility to do something about their dilemma.  He was their king and if they were starving he was supposed to do something about it.  Well, notice what Pharaoh said.  The king directed the people to Joseph by saying, “Go to Joseph.  Do what he tells you.” Joseph had spoken the language of faith already.  Joseph had put his faith in action by storing a national reserved during the years of plenty.  But now Joseph was faced with the biggest challenge of his life.  The weight of the fate of millions of people was riding on Joseph and Joseph had to totally rely on God. Had Joseph not trusted in God he could have easily succumb to the stress and pressure.  If Joseph ever needed joy and peace, he needed it during the years of plenty.  He needed peace to make wise decisions.  When you are flustered and worried you can easily make mistakes.  Joy and peace are key facets to making wise and Godly decisions.

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

1.  God is your King:  I have mentioned many times the fact that God is not a president, but rather a King.  As your king he has a direct interest in making sure that you represent Him well.  If you call upon him, like the subjects did in the text, then as your King He will do something about it.  Our King says to us, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:15).
2.  Joy and Peace will keep you stable:  Remember, fear moves satan, just like faith moves God.  The enemy wants to get you worried, frustrated, flustered, and afraid.  If Joseph had not trusted God the worry would have taken a toll on him.  God does not promote you to greater levels of responsibility, just so you can stress out.  The same God that gave you the promotion will bless you in the new position, but you must keep your trust and confidence in Him.  If you trust God you will maintain your joy and peace.  If you maintain your joy and peace you will be able to make wise decisions.  By making wise decisions you will experience God’s best.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare with my own lips that You are my king, You are my Lord, You are my God, and I trust in You.  I call upon You in the day of trouble.  You rescue me and I glorify You.  My trust and confidence are rooted and grounded in You and Your love towards me.  I am not afraid, I am not stressed, and I am not worried.  I am stable, I am strong, and I make wise decisions today, because I have joy and peace in You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Flourishing in the Midst of a Famine (back to the top)

(Gen 41:56-57 NIV) When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.  And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  I was about to move on to chapter 42 this morning, but the last two verses of chapter 41 were strong in my spirit.  Not only had Joseph received the wisdom of God for the years of abundance, but he was also confident that God’s wisdom would lead him through the years of famine.  When the famine had spread throughout the entire country he sensed it was time to open up the national reserves.  He began to sell the stored up grain to the subjects of his kingdom, but then People started showing up from all over the world.  The famine had spread throughout the entire globe.  The wisdom upon Joseph’s life would not only save people from his [adopted] country, but from everywhere.

As I previously stated, Joseph was had faith for the future – for his dream to still come to pass – but he also had focus for the present. His decisions impacted the lives of millions.  Had he not maintained his faith and patience he might have given up in the pit or the prison, before he would have experienced the palace.  Had he not maintained his joy and peace his frustration would probably have led him to throw in the towel.  However, as it turned out, his faith enabled him to be a blessing to millions in the time of famine.

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

  1. One person CAN make a difference.  Never underestimate what God can do through one person that is submitted to Him – in faith.  Joseph single-handedly gave Pharaoh and Egypt what they needed to not only survive, but thrive in the midst of a famine.  Not only were the Egyptians saved, but also people from all over the world.  All because one man was willing to be used of God.  Will you be that one man (or woman) today?
  2. God’s wisdom can cause you to flourish in the midst of a famine.  I know our national economy has taken a dip over recent years.  Gas prices are skyrocketing and we are in the middle of a war, but those of us who are believers, who honor God with our finances, and who operate in His wisdom, can remain unaffected by the national economy.  Like David said in the 91st Psalm, a 1,000 can fall at our side, and even 10,000 at our right hand, but it shall not come upon us.  With God we can walk through tough times and still come out on top!  Joseph flourished in the midst of a famine.
  3. It’s bigger than you.  Did Joseph have to endure some tough times?  Sure he did.  Did Joseph always like the situations he was in?  Of course not.  But Joseph retained his joy through it all because he knew that he still had something to do.  His dream was still going to come to pass.  And since he maintained a positive attitude, God was able to use him to BE a blessing to millions.  No matter what you face today or in life, remember that your assignment is bigger than you.  If you throw in the towel, if you give up on your faith, if you lose your joy, if you allow the enemy to steal your peace, you will not only fail yourself, but you will fail those that are relying on you.  God did not allow you to be born just for you, but the lives of others are also riding upon your actions.  So remain in faith and keep a positive attitude while you do it (joy and peace), because your life is not just about you.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am Your man (or woman) for today.  I know that one person can make a difference and I choose to be a difference maker today.  I receive Your wisdom to excel, even when others are failing, and I understand that Your blessing upon my life is not just for me.  I am blessed to be a blessing I will impact the lives of others; for Your glory.  Use me as an instrument of Your grace and a vessel of Your love.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Applying Your Faith to Your Famine (back to the top)

(Gen 42:1 MSG)  When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you sit around here and look at one another?

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we learned that the famine affected the entire globe.  Starving people were coming to Egypt from all over the world.  Because of the wisdom of God operating through Joseph Egypt was the only nation that thrived in the midst of a universal famine.  So where did this leave Joseph’s father (Jacob) and his family?  We know that 20 years earlier Jacob was flourishing and all that he touched prospered.  We cannot assume that the departure of Joseph removed the blessing of Abraham from Jacob and his family.  They were still blessed, but like everyone else, they were affected by the famine.  It is interesting to note that Abraham had to deal with a famine – he dealt with it by going down to Egypt.  Abraham’s son Isaac had to deal with a famine – he dealt with it by sowing a seed in the midst of the famine and he reaped a hundred-fold harvest in the same year.  Isaac’s son Jacob now had to deal with a famine.  Like his father and his grandfather, he refused to take it lying down. He knew that there were some people who would simply give up on life, passively accept the famine as their fate, and just roll over and die.  Doing nothing in the midst of a famine is sure death. A famine is nothing more than a dry season.  We all face dry seasons, but we should know that we don’t have to face them lying down.  We can apply our faith to our famine and if we do, God can bless us to thrive, even while others attempt to survive.

Jacob was a man of great faith.  He knew his God was bigger than the famine.  What did he do?  He sought God for an answer.  He wanted to know what to do.  Our text says that when he “learned” that there was food in Egypt he was ready to do something about it.  We are not sure how he learned it, but the point is that he came into the knowledge of a possible answer to his problem. Many come into the knowledge of a possible answer to their problem, but they fail to do anything about it, because they are simply too lazy.  God is not a rewarder of slothfulness; He is a rewarder of faithfulness.  That’s what this series is all about.  One of the foundational scriptures for this series is Hebrews 6:12 where the writer tells us not to be slothful (or lazy), but rather imitators of those that have gone before us who used faith and patience to obtain the promises of God.  Jacob was a “faith and patience” man, not a slothful man.  However, his boys were clueless.  They were sitting around looking at one another.  Jacob snapped them out of the complacency and directed them to action.  He said, “I’ve heard that there is food in Egypt.  Go down there and buy some so that we can survive and not starve to death” (v.2).

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  How you face your famine (dry season) is up to you.  Some did nothing and starved to death.  God is not going to force you to put your faith in action.  As a matter of fact, He will not force you to do anything.  He will help you get the information, but you have to decide to do something about it.  Your life is a grand-sum-total of your decisions.
2.  Your outlook will determine your outcome.  Jacob was looking for an answer, so he found one.  He had a Godly expectation and God met it.  He refused to roll over and die.
3.  Use what you have to get what you don’t.  You always have something left.  Jacob did not have food, but he had money.  He sent his boys to use the money to get food.  What do you have left?  God can use your ‘leftovers’ to get you out of your situation.  Don’t just focus on what you don’t have; determine to use what you do have and do something about it.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I apply my faith to my famine.  I refuse to roll over and die.  I will not sit by and allow my family to be affected by a dry season.  I seek Your wisdom and Your revelation.  As You reveal to me what I should do, I declare by faith, that I will leap out into action.  Faith is an action word and I act by faith towards my expected end.  I keep the proper perspective, I use what I have, and I expect to come out victorious!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Free from the Bondage of Fear! (back to the top)

(Gen 42:4 MSG)  But Jacob did not send Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something might happen to him.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph, with emphasis on his father Jacob.  Yesterday we learned that the famine had affected Joseph’s family and his father, Jacob, had the faith and the confidence to do something about his situation.  As soon as he learned that there was food in Egypt he decided to send this boys there to use what he had (money) to get what he did not have (food).  Now, it had been 20 years since 10 of his boys, unbeknownst to him, sold Joseph into slavery, desecrated his coat of many colors, and lied by telling him that Joseph was dead.  As far as he knew, he had lost his favorite son.  Joseph was one of just two boys born of Rachel.  Rachel was Jacob’s first and strongest love. He loved Rachel so much that he worked 14 years to marry her.  He loved her more than his other wives.  She was able to give him two boys, one of which he thought was dead (Joseph).  The other was Benjamin, his youngest.  Benjamin was also special in another way.  Rachel – the woman who had his heart – died while giving birth to Benjamin.  Joseph being dead (as far as he knew), meant hat Benjamin was his only living reminder of Rachel.  Needless to say, Benjamin held a special place in his heart.

But now here comes the sad commentary about Jacob.  Jacob was willing to send 10 of his 11 boys to Egypt, but he refused to send Benjamin.  Not because he wanted someone to stay home and help him around the house.  Not because he needed Benjamin to watch over the sheep.  Not because Benjamin was working on a major project.  No, Jacob refused to send Benjamin because he was afraid something might happen to him. This series is about operating in faith and patience and maintaining joy and peace while you do it.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Fear is an incapacitating force.  Fear will keep you from doing what you need to do, when you need to do it.  Although Jacob was a man of faith, he was not completely free from fear.

Fear is a perverted form of faith.  Faith is an expression of confidence in God and in His Word.  Fear is an expression of confidence in satan and in his word.  Example: God says that He has given His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  Then the enemy says that life in your neighborhood is dangerous and if you travel through it something bad will happen to you.  Now, you have two “words” operating in your life.  If you express confidence in the Word from God, that is called faith, and your faith will cancel out any fear.  You will leave your house with a fearless confidence that God will protect you.  If you express confidence in the word from satan, that is called fear, and your fear will cancel out any faith.  You will stay home, afraid of your environment, and you will never do what you need to do.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  Faith is a choice, just like fear is a choice.
2.  Fear cancels out faith, just like faith cancels out fear.
3.  Maintaining joy and peace will go a long way towards keeping fear from having any power over you.  If Jacob had kept God’s peace in his heart he would not have been afraid.
4.  Faith frees you from the bondage of fear.  The incapacitating force of fear will keep you from operating in the liberty God wants you to operate in.
5.  Fear brings torment (1st John 4:18), faith brings freedom.  Believe me, freedom is better!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I am able to overcome the fear-factor in my life.  No fear here!  Fear has no power over me.  You said in Your Word that perfected love casts out all fear.  Your love is so strong in my heart that I am not afraid of the enemy or of anything that he says that he can do to me.  I believe You and Your Word.  I express my confidence in You and not in the enemy.  I am free from the bondage of fear.  My joy and peace enable me to resist all fear.  Thank You Father for making me free!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Peace is Your Guard (back to the top)

(Gen 42:4 MSG)  But Jacob did not send Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something might happen to him.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph, with emphasis on his father Jacob.  Yesterday I highlighted the fact that Jacob, a man of great faith, also had to deal with fear in his life.  When we look at the great men of the Bible we see that they were great, but they were men nonetheless.  They had flaws like we do.  They faced challenges like us.  They were real people attempting to live out their real lives by serving their real God.

The person that led me to the Lord in 1995 was a guy I was stationed with in Kuwait named Leo Jacobs.  Leo is still a mentor to me after all these years and he and I often discuss Today’s Word.  As he and I discussed yesterday’s message I mentioned how I brought out the fact that if Jacob had operated in God’s peace it would have helped him resist the tendency to fear that anything would happen to Benjamin.  In our conversation I began to teach about what Paul said to the church at Philippi.  I feel led to share with you what I shared with him yesterday.

Paul taught the believers at Philippi to, “Be anxious for nothing.”  The word used for “anxious” here is a Greek word that can be translated: worry, fear, care, or concern.  Paul’s emphasis was on the power of prayer and he taught that we ought not be worried about things, but we should rather pray about them.  He went on to say, “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).  When I first gave my life to Christ I remember a senior mother in the church telling me from this verse, “Baby, if you pray, don’t worry.  Now, if you are going to worry, then don’t pray.  They don’t go together.”  Paul was clearly teaching that prayer can keep us from worry, care, and fear.  Paul then continues and says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).  Paul says that there is a peace that comes from God that cannot be explained by human reason.  This peace passes all comprehension – another translation says, “all understanding.”  There is no clear way to explain the overwhelming peace that can flood our hearts when we cast our care over to God in prayer.  It is a release that is both liberating and empowering.  Paul teaches that this peace, God’s peace, can literally guard our heart and our mind.  The Greek word used here for “guard” is a military word that literally means: to pull garrison or guard duty.  When we cast out care upon God in prayer and we receive His peace it is as if His peace literally pulls guard duty, pulling shift, around our heart and our mind.  When the enemy attempts to fill us with fear, doubt, and unbelief, the peace of God – on guard duty – does not let them in.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that prayer is one of the vehicles that we can use to tap into the joy and the peace of God.  If Jacob had released his cares and concerns over to God in prayer, then he could have benefited from God’s peace and God’s peace could have kept him from fear.  This series is about learning how to stand in God in the space between the promise and the performance; how to remain consistent while you wait on God.  One of the main ways to do it, one of the key ways to maintain joy and peace, is to take your cares and concerns to God in prayer.  When you roll your cares over to God in prayer, His peace can pull guard duty around your heart and your mind so that you will be able to resist fear.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am careful, anxious, or worried, about nothing; but in everything through prayer and supplication I make my requests known to You.  I roll every concern over to You.  I don’t carry care, I cast it.  I cast it over to You I receive Your peace.  Your peace passes all reason and comprehension.  Your peace pulls guard duty around my heart and my mind.  Your peace helps me to resist fear, doubt, and unbelief.  I have Your peace.  I have Your joy.  I have Your power and I will not be afraid.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Progressing in God (back to the top)

(Gen 42:8 MSG)  Joseph knew who they were, but they didn’t know who he was.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  We have already looked at how Jacob was afraid that something might happen to Benjamin, so Jacob held on to Benjamin and sent his remaining 10 sons to Egypt to purchase food.  The 10 men traveled with people from all over the world who were coming to Egypt during the famine.  By this point Joseph’s God-given plan was in full swing and he was overseeing the selling of the grain.  When Joseph’s brothers arrived, they treated him with honor, bowing down to him. Joseph immediately recognized them.  Although he initially chose to have a little fun with them, we will see that Joseph did not have bitterness or resentment in his heart towards his brothers.  He had forgiven them and his ability to let go of the past was a clear sign of his maturity. Joseph had grown in the 20 years since he had seen his brothers.  The last time they saw him he was leaving a pit and now he was in a palace.

Another thing to point out is that he was unrecognizable to them.  Now, I am sure that some psychologists could attribute this to mental blindness – a conditional where the mind blocks out the possibility of something, therefore visually blinding you to its presence, even when it’s right in front of you.  Or a super-spiritual person might say that God blinded them from recognizing Joseph, but the text does not lend itself either interpretation.  I simply believe that Joseph did not look the same way that he looked 20 years earlier.  He would have been dressed in fine Egyptian clothing and would have been surrounded by the best that money could buy.  His brothers left him as a slave and never in their wildest dreams would they expect to find Joseph as the man-in-charge of the most precious commodity in the world, during a time of famine.  What had Joseph done?  He had prospered.  He had progressed.  He had moved forward.  He was not the same person he was 20 years earlier.  He had matured physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. He had taken the punches that life dealt him and instead of coming out bitter, he came out better.  He had faced challenges head-on and his attitude enabled him to become the person that God had destined him to be.  His faith and patience enabled him to weather the storms he faced in his life.  His joy and peace enabled him to do it with a positive attitude and outlook.  He now had the power and the opportunity to destroy the brothers that had done him wrong, but he chose not to.  Why?  Because he had grown in God.  That’s what this series is about.  Maintaining joy and peace in our heart so that we can grow in God.

My question for you is: are you progressing? Are you the same person you were 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago?  Let me clarify.  I know you are the same person, in a physical sense, but are you the same person spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc.?  Have you progressed or are you still in the same place?  Are you still holding the same grudges?  Are you still harboring the same bitterness?  To progress in God there will be things that you need to let go of and hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, and etc. are just of few of them.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we serve a God of progression and not regression.  The writer of Hebrews said, “By now you should have been teachers, but once again you need to be taught the simplest things about what God has said.  You need milk instead of solid food” (5:12).  The point being that you should constantly be progressing in God.  Progression in God will cause progression in life.  Operating in faith and patience and maintaining your joy and peace while you do it will empower you to progress in every area of your life!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know You are a God of progression and not regression or stagnation.  I declare, by faith, that I will not be at the same point next year that I am at today.  I will be better.  Every year I progress spiritually and my spiritual progression promotes progress in every area of my life.  I am so blessed that people from my past may not initially recognize me, because Your blessing upon my life is so outwardly evident.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Never Letting Go of Your Dream and Trusting God while you Hold On (back to the top)

(Gen 42:9 MSG)  And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  We left off last week with 10 of Joseph’s brothers standing before him in Egypt, not recognizing who he was, asking to purchase food for their starving family.  One thing I had not brought out yet was that since Joseph was the governor (the sultan) of Egypt, it was proper protocol for the brothers to bow down before him.  As Joseph looked down at his 10 brothers something special happened, he remembered his dreams. The scene before his eyes was a completion of the first of his two dreams.  In the first dream Joseph was out in a field with these 10 brothers gathering bundles of wheat when, all of a sudden, Joseph’s bundle stood straight up and their bundles circled around his and bowed down (see Gen 37:7).  When Joseph told his brothers about the dream it fueled their hatred for him even more.

More than 20 years later Joseph looks down at the men that betrayed him, threw him in a pit, and sold him as a slave.  He sees their faces to the ground and he remembers the dream.  As we progress in this story I will teach why Joseph sent his brothers on a long goose chase, but for this morning I want to focus on the fact that he remembered the dream.  Over half his life had expired between the time of the dream and the completion, but he still remembered.  He held on to that God-given dream and he believed that some day it would come to pass.  Joseph believed God, he often spoke the language of faith, but we have seen that he faced many challenges in the space between the promise and the performance.  He had to get to the point where he trusted God, no matter what the circumstances looked like!  He had belief, he operated by faith, but he also had to get to the point where he truly trusted God.  When you trust God you hold on to what you are believing Him for, even when you have no earthly idea how it is going to come to pass. Truly trusting God will help you to maintain your joy and peace while you believe Him.  Truly trusting God liberates you from the grip of fear, doubt, and unbelief.  Paul said, “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going” (2nd Co5 5:7 MSG).  Joseph trusted in the God of his dreams and he trusted Him for over 20 years.  That trust kept him going when every earthly indicator told him that his dreams would never come to pass.  But Joseph trusted God anyway, he never gave up, and in our text he finally received the manifestation of the first dream.

So what does this mean to you today? Make it personal.  Are you a dreamer?  Do you have a God-given dream?  If so, then no matter how long it takes between the promise and the performance, never give up on your dream.  I grew up in a neighborhood full of broken homes and broken dreams.  Many talked of greatness, but most gave up on their dreams and buckled under the pressure of the harsh environment.  Joseph was a prime candidate for giving up on his dream, but he refused to. You would have thought that the pit and the prison would have made him abort his destiny, but true men and women of God have the ability to endure the pit and prison phases of their lives while still holding on to their dream!  Do you remember your dream?  Are you still expecting it to come to pass?

If you maintain your hope, if you continue to believe, if you remain in faith, if you maintain your joy and peace, one day you too will have a Joseph-like experience; you will look out and realize that your dream is manifested before your eyes.  Allow your dream to be the fuel in your fire!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, my dream is the fuel in my fire.  I refuse to abort my dream and my destiny.  I endure the pit and the prison phases of my life and I know that I will eventually make it to the palace phase.  I trust You!  Even when I cannot understand the circumstances that surround me, I choose to trust You anyhow!  I dream big dreams and I put the action and faith behind them to bring them to pass.  I have the power of patience operating in my life.  I keep believing no matter what and I maintain joy and peace while I do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Controlling Your Emotions to Receive God’s Best (back to the top)

(Gen 42:13 MSG) They said, “There were twelve of us brothers—sons of the same father in the country of Canaan. The youngest is with our father, and one is no more.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we left off with Joseph seeing his first dream manifest right before his eyes.  That was awesome.  He had waited for over 20 years for the manifestation of it.  But then Joseph wanted to know if the second dream was going to come to pass.  He needed to get information from the brothers.  So he accused them of being spies.  They adamantly refuted the accusation and explained that they were honest men from the same family.  The point being that it is very unlikely that a father would send 10 of his sons to spy out another country.  This is when they let out the information he was after, saying, “There were twelve of us brothers—sons of the same father in the country of Canaan. The youngest is with our father, and one is no more.”  Joseph now knew that his father and little brother were alive.  This meant that the second dream was still possible.  The fulfillment of the second dream included his father and little brother (Gen 37:9).  Why is this important?  Because it was reassurance to Joseph that both dreams would come to pass.  Now Joseph had to be careful to not do anything that would jeopardize the completion of the second dream.

It is important to point out that Joseph was not eager to jump the gun.  He had developed patience (the force of consistency) over the years and his patience was serving him well.  He was not in a hurry to expose himself.  I am sure he was very emotional when he first saw his brothers.  These were the men that betrayed him, threw him into a pit, and sold him off as a slave.  We already saw that Joseph had patience, but the greatest test now was the test of peace.  Did he have peace in his heart about the situation?  The test of his character would now be proven within the internal jury of his soul. If he still harbored resentment and hatred towards his brothers it would come out or if he had truly developed into a man of God he would have the ability to love them in spite of their actions towards him.  Remember, Joseph had the power to have them all executed, but it is clear that Joseph was more interested in seeing the promises of God manifested in his life.  The dream was more important than revenge and love was more powerful in his heart than hatred.

Joy and peace are very important for believers, because without them we can make foolish and irrational mistakes.  Had Joseph operated in hatred and bitterness and had his brothers killed he would have cancelled out the manifestation of the second dream and ruined his family. If he did not have his emotions under control he could have forfeited God’s best with just a few seconds of anger.  Many today forfeit God’s best for just a few seconds of uncontrolled action; others lose their families over a few seconds of uncontrolled passion. Joseph remained in control of himself (spirit, soul, and body), he remained in character, and he calmly expected the manifestation of the second dream. You can do the same!

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  God wants to fulfill every promise He has made in your life.
2.  Your expectation should be to see the manifestation of everything God wants for you.
3.  Discipline is the ability to make the decisions that will take you towards an expected end.
4.  Your decisions will either bring you closer to or further from God’s best.
5.  If you do not master your emotions you can abort God’s best with just a few minutes of uncontrolled action.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for enabling me to operate in integrity.  Being a person of integrity means that I am fully integrated – spirit, soul, and body.  I master my emotions and I make decisions that take me towards Your best in my life.  My joy and peace help me to walk in love and forgiveness, not hatred and revenge.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Passing the Test (back to the top)

(Gen 42:21 MSG) Then they started talking among themselves. “Now we’re paying for what we did to our brother — we saw how terrified he was when he was begging us for mercy. We wouldn’t listen to him and now we’re the ones in trouble.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we left off with Joseph realizing that his second dream could still come to pass, while his brothers denied being spies.  Joseph insisted that they were spies and said, “This is how I’ll test you.  As Pharaoh lives, you’re not going to leave this place until your younger brother comes here.”  The younger brother was Benjamin.  Benjamin was the only brother Joseph born of his mother.  The 10 men standing before him were brothers from other mothers.  Benjamin held a special place in his heart and he knew that Benjamin would also hold a special place in his father’s heart.  Joseph and Benjamin were born of Rachel and Rachel was Jacob’s first love.  This was a test to see if the 10 brothers had changed over the years.  Joseph wanted to test their character and their progress.

Joseph had them thrown in jail for three days to think about it.  After three days he came to them and said, “Do this and you’ll live.  I’m a God-fearing man.”  Whoa!  That was a powerful statement.  Remember, they were in Egypt where people worshipped the sun.  Joseph was dressed like an Egyptian and spoke to them through and interpreter.  They had no idea that he too worshipped Jehovah.  The declaration of his faith should have served as a source of motivation for the brothers.  They then knew that the man that they were dealing with served the same God they served – the only ONE true God.  This should serve as a reminder to all of us that even when we find ourselves in tough situations, God is able to move on the hearts of people to favor us.  Joseph went on to say, “If you’re as honest as you say you are, one of your brothers will stay here in jail while the rest of you take the food back to your hungry families.  But you have to bring your youngest brother back to me, confirming the truth of your speech – and not one of you will die.”  Although he was testing his brothers he did not want his family members back in Canaan to starve to death.  He ensured they would get the food they needed.  The brothers accepted; but it was not like they had many options.  They then said, “Now we’re paying for what we did to our brother – we saw how terrified he was when he was begging us for mercy.  We wouldn’t listen to him and now we’re the ones in trouble.”

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  You will reap what you sow:  There are several scriptures that attest to this fact.  No matter how long it takes, harvest time (Good or Bad) will come.  That is good news for those of us who sow godly deeds, but bad news for those who sow wicked deeds.  It took 20 years, but what they did came back on them.  So if you do not like what you are reaping, check your seed!
2.  God can give you favor in the midst of a trying situation:  Joseph did not have to let them know that he served Jehovah, but by doing so it gave them a glimmer of hope in a dark situation.  No matter how hopeless your situation seems, remain expectant, continue to believe, maintain your joy and peace, and trust God to bring you out.  God can turn any hopeless situation around.
3.  Your character will be tested:  The brothers were being tested to see if they still had the same flawed character they possessed 20 years earlier.  The only way to know if you are growing is to be tested.  If you are growing in Christ you should expect to be tested.  The test will either expose your progress or your lack thereof.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know that You are the Lord of the Harvest and that I will reap whatever I sow.  I therefore declare that I sow love, peace, mercy, goodness, kindness, benevolence, and etc.  I sow righteousness and I reap the same.  I am no longer the person I used to be.  If tested, the test will prove that my character has developed to emulate the character of Christ.  I remain expectant in every situation.  You are the Lord of the breakthrough and I expect to break through and break out of every challenge by Your grace.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Getting Past the Pain (back to the top)

(Gen 42:23,24 MSG) Joseph had been using an interpreter, so they didn’t know that Joseph was understanding every word. Joseph turned away from them and cried. When he was able to speak again, he took Simeon and had him tied up, making a prisoner of him while they all watched.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we left off with the brothers realizing that they were reaping the harvest from the seed they had sown over 20 years earlier.  They said amongst themselves, “Now we’re paying for what we did to our brother—we saw how terrified he was when he was begging us for mercy.  We wouldn’t listen to him and now we’re the ones in trouble.”  Reuben jumped in and said, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t hurt the boy’?  But no, you wouldn’t listen.  And now we’re paying for his murder.”  What’s amazing is that they were talking about Joseph right in front of him.  Joseph was listening to the entire conversation as they went back and forth about what they did to him.  They spoke freely in front of him because they thought he could not understand their language.  Joseph remained in character the entire time and spoke to them through a translator.

I am sure Joseph thought he had gotten past the pain and he was more focused on the dream then revenge or his past, but when his brothers recounted what they did to him it brought up painful memories of the horrible experiences he had to endure because of them.  As much as he loved God, as much as he had grown, as much as he had maintained his joy and peace, the pain was too strong to ignore.  20 years of emotion flooded through his body.  He had to step away for a few moments and he did what the average human would do in that situation, he cried. The hurt and the pain were real to him again.  This is a good point in the story to bring out the fact that being a Christian does not exonerate us from painful situations.  I have endured my fair share of pain; but the good news is that God gives us the ability to overcome the pain, to get back up again, and to move forward by faith!  Joseph did just that.  He regained his composure, he looked past the pain, and he focused on the promise of God (the dreams). His focus enabled him to operate in compassion and forgiveness, instead of resentment and revenge.  He got right back to the task at hand and had Simeon taken as a prisoner so that the other brothers could go and get Benjamin.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  Focus on the promise can help us get past the pain:  Your outlook will often determine your outcome.  Joseph was able to keep the proper perspective.  He focused on the promise and his focus enabled him to look past the pain.  If you focus on the pain too long you will never fulfill the promises of God in your life.  Keep the proper perspective.
2.  We are not robots:  I am teaching you how to maintain joy and peace while you wait on God, how to overcome difficult situations and difficult people, but that does not mean that you will not face painful situations.  You and I hurt, just like anyone else, but we must CHOOSE to forgive and to CHOOSE to move forward by faith.  Cry if you need to, release the pain to God, choose to operate in love, compassion, and forgiveness, and then seek to move forward by faith.
3.  Keep Going:  One of the most common characteristics of champions is their ability to keep going.  They just simply never give up.  Joseph could have given up in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, in prison, or during this resurrection of pain; but Joseph refused to quit.  He simply kept going and you must do the same!  Joy and peace in believing will help you to Keep Going!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I have the ability to look past the pain in my life and to focus on Your promises.  My outlook helps shape my outcome.  I have the proper focus and it enables me to walk in Your love, compassion, and forgiveness.  You are love.  You live in me.  You enable me to love with Your love and to walk in Your joy and peace while I do it.  Your love empowers me to keep on going!  I get past the pain and I refuse to quit.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Purpose of The Blessing (back to the top)

(Gen 42:30 NASB) “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly with us, and took us for spies of the country.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we saw how Joseph was human, just like us.  He hurt, he experienced pain, he cried, but then he had to get past his pain to continue on with the assignment the Lord had given him.  Joseph gave orders to fill his brother’s bags full of grain and also that their money be put back in their sacks.  Joseph was in the position where he could be a blessing to his family and he decided to be one.  He gave them the food that they needed – free of charge.

When the brothers got back home Canaan they told their father what happened.  In verses 30 and 33 they referred to Joseph (although they did not know it was Joseph) as, “The lord of the land.”  It is worth nothing that most believers do not normally associate the title “Lord” with humans in general or believers in particular.  The English rendering of Lord is normally translated from the Hebrew name of God, Jehovah.  In verses 30 and 33, however, a different Hebrew word is used.  The Hebrew word‘adon is used and it, means one who possesses absolute control; a master or ruler. This title was given to Joseph, as a man of God, in the earth, because of the position that he held. More importantly, Joseph understood the purpose of the position and he was seeking to BE a blessing.  Joseph had the power to make decisions that affected the lives of millions.  How did Joseph get to this position?  Who placed him there?  God did!  Why did God place him there?  To BE a blessing.  Joseph’s great-grandfather Abraham was called by God to make a difference.  God told him, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt BE a blessing” (Gen 12:2).  God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants so they could use the blessing to BE a blessing.

This series is about operating in faith and patience and maintaining your joy and peace while you do.  That is exactly what Joseph did and because of it, God was able to bless him and elevate him to positions of increased responsibility; positions where he could impact the lives of others.  If you and I are able to operate in faith and patience and maintain our joy and peace while we do it, we will release the hand of God for Him to bless us like He did Joseph.  However, we must remember that when God elevates us He does so for a purpose.  His purposes are always bigger than just us.  He blesses us SO THAT we can BE a blessing in the earth!

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  The Blessing of Abraham is for you:  I have previously gone into great detail in explaining how part of the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection was to connect us (Gentiles, non-Jews) with The Blessing of Abraham.  God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants (that’s us) to BE a blessing in the earth.  Receive The Blessing by faith.
2.  God can elevate you to the positions of authority in the earth:  God is not just interested in getting you to heaven.  If He was done with you in the earth, then you would be gone.  But you are here and you are still here for a reason.  You have a purpose and God wants to elevate you to get you to where you can BE a blessing to others.
3.  You must keep the proper focus:  Do all that you do for God.  Even if he blesses you, even if you are elevated in the earth, remember that it is not just about you.  Honor God by seeking to make a difference in the lives of others.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I do not neglect the positions You place me in.  I have both a natural and a spiritual assignment. You are the reason for my success.  I am blessed and I realize that You have blessed me so that I can be a blessing.  I declare that I will use my position and resources to make a difference in the lives of others.  I know the purpose of The Blessing on my life.  The more You bless me, the more I can bless others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Holy Garments out of Flawed Material (back to the top)

(Gen 42:38 CEV)  But Jacob said, “I won’t let my son Benjamin go down to Egypt with the rest of you. His brother is already dead, and he is the only son I have left.  I am an old man, and if anything happens to him on the way, I’ll die from sorrow, and all of you will be to blame.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  In our last message we saw the purpose of the Blessing in the life of Joseph.  This morning we shift focus back to his father Jacob.  The 9 brothers went on to explain to their father that the lord of the country wanted to see their youngest brother and that he kept Simeon as a hostage until he did.  Jacob said, “You have already taken my sons Joseph and Simeon from me.  And now you want to take away Benjamin!  Everything is against me.”  The old man Jacob had lost his joy and peace.  He was no longer speaking in faith.  He vented out of frustration.  He had had enough of his sons’ ways.  His true feelings came out.  It is clear that he blamed the 10 sons for what happened to Joseph 20 years earlier.  He never really believed their fabricated story.

The oldest son, Rueben, must have felt guilty.  He was the one that did not want to betray Joseph and he could have kept the others from executing their plan.  Being the oldest, he attempted to take responsibility.  Rueben said, “I’ll put my two sons in your hands as hostages.  If I don’t bring Benjamin back, you can kill them.  Trust me with Benjamin; I’ll bring him back.”  In other words he was saying, “Daddy, I know you are upset because you feel you have lost two sons.  How about this?  Give me Benjamin, your favorite, and I will give you two of my sons.  If something happens to Benjamin, then you can kill your grandsons.”  How ridiculous does that sound?  Talk about a dysfunctional family!

It is obvious that Jacob, a man of great faith, was not operating in faith in this episode of his life’s story.  Fear and frustration had robbed him of the love of God.  Jacob refused to send Benjamin with his other sons saying, “I won’t let my son Benjamin go down to Egypt with the rest of you. His brother is already dead, and he is the only son I have left.”  I understand the fact that Joseph and Benjamin were born of the same mother (Rachel), but don’t you think it a bit cruel for Jacob to look 9 of his sons in the face and say that Benjamin was the only son he had left?  How did that make them feel?  Jacob had been through a lot in his life.  He started off as a trickster and conniver, he endured 20 years of being tricked under his uncle/father-in-law Laban, he switched systems (to totally rely on God) and lived in God’s blessing, he fathered the 12 boys that would become the 12 tribes of Israel, but he never really got his family life in order.  He favored Joseph over his brothers and with Joseph gone, he was doing the same with Benjamin.

So what does this mean to you today? It means God is in the business of doing extraordinary things with ordinary people.  I like to say that He is in the business of making holy garments out of flawed material.  Abraham was not perfect; neither was Isaac or Jacob, but God used them mightily.  If God did that with them, then He can do the same with and for you.  So stop making excuses for why you are not worthy to be used of God.  God is looking for willingness, not perfection.  If you are willing, then He is able.  He can cover your flaws and magnify your strengths.  So put your life in His hands – flaws, failures, warts, and all – and allow God to use you as a tool for His glory.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, You are in the business of making holy garments out of flawed material.  I know that I am nor perfect, but I am willing.  I submit myself to You as a willing vessel in the hands of a righteous God.  You cover my faults and my weaknesses and You make me righteous and powerful in Your hands.  I am an instrument to be used for Your glory today and every day.  Help me to overcome fear, frustration, doubt, and unbelief.  With Your help I operate in faith and patience and I maintain my joy and peace while I do!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Blessing is the Difference Maker (back to the top)

(Acts 7:9,10 CEV)  These men were our ancestors.  Joseph was also one of our famous ancestors.  His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to be taken to Egypt.  But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles…

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph, sort of.  This morning’s message is a little different.  In January the Lord had me to meditate on Romans 15:13 and me and my family have been meditating on it all year.  That verse is what gave birth to this series.  It is where Paul prayed that God would fill the believers in Rome with joy and peace in believing, that they would abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  My family and I are facing an impending transition, but since I have not had a peace about it, we have kept it before God in prayer.  Several influential people have sought to help me by attempting to stop the move.  To my surprise, however, the move is still pending.  My family and I remain in prayer about it, but the main thing that we are doing is maintaining our joy and peace.  No matter what happens, I know we will continue to be blessed.  We are certain of that.

Yesterday I friend of mine – a man that I trust and I know hears from God – told me that as he was praying the Lord showed him two doors show me two doors, and me.  He said that one door was shut and the other was open.  He said that the one that was shut was too small for me and that I should walk through the other one, the bigger one, and to simply enjoy it!  Now, I wouldn’t normally share something like this with you.  Honestly, I didn’t want to, but I was led to and I believe someone will be blessed by it.  I want you to know that I am just like you.  I face challenges like everyone else.  I have to stand in faith and patience just like you.  I don’t always hit the mark when leading my family, but thank God for grace and mercy.  But in everything I do I attempt to do it by faith and I sincerely want to please God.  Because of that, I know that His Blessing remains on us and we will continue to walk in The Blessing wherever we go.

I have been teaching you about Joseph from Genesis.  This morning we fast-forward to the New Testament and we find Stephen speaking before the Sanhedrin council.  He mentions Joseph among the patriarchs of the faith.  He explained how Joseph’s brother’s sold him as a slave, because of jealousy, but how God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles.  The term “God was with him,” was used throughout Genesis to indicate the fact that The Blessing was on Joseph.  This was a reference to The Blessing of Abraham and I explained in our last series how Jesus made a way for that Blessing to be transferred to us Gentiles (non-Jews).  The Blessing is the difference maker.  Get this, everywhere Joseph went became the best place he had ever been; even prison. Why?  Because the Blessing made the difference.

So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:
1.  When you trust God you have the ability to resist worry and fear.  I am still not sure what will happen over the next couple of months, but I am at peace and I have joy, because I trust God.  Do you trust God?  If you do then you will be able to resist worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief.
2.  The Blessing is the difference maker.  Like Joseph, I know that I take The Blessing with me anywhere that I go and I believe that everywhere that I go can become the best place I have ever been.  Do you believe The Blessing is on you, with you, and for you?  If so, it can become the difference maker in your life.  What the enemy means for evil, God can turn for your good!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I have accepted Jesus the Christ as both my Lord and my Savior.  The blood of Jesus has taken me from being a Gentile – a person without covenant – to being an heir to the blessing of Abraham and Jesus.  The blessing of Abraham and the blessing of Jesus are on me.  I take The Blessing everywhere I go and everywhere I go becomes the best place I have ever been.  I trust You and my trust enables me to maintain joy and peace.  The blessing is the difference maker in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Maximizing Every Level in God (back to the top)

(Psalm 105:21, 22 CEV)  He appointed him master of his palace, put him in charge of all his business to personally instruct his princes and train his advisors in wisdom.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  In our last message we went to the New Testament and this morning we take another detour to the book of Psalms.  The Psalmist talks about Joseph in the 105th Psalm and I believe it lines up with yesterday’s message.  I made the statement: “Everywhere Joseph went became the best place he had ever been.”  Let me further explain.  Joseph experienced the favor of God at home.  His father favored him over the other boys, and this favor provided him certain privileges around his family.  This was a blessing, but it was limited.  We know his brothers sold him as a slave and Potiphar purchased him.  Soon Joseph was running Potiphar’s house.  Jacob had great possessions, but he never allowed Joseph to manage them.  At Potiphar’s house, Joseph learned how to manage the affairs of a wealthy person; his slaves and his servants.  He learned financial and managerial skills.

Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph, he refused her advances, and she accused him of attempted rape.  He was thrown into the royal prison.  God favored Joseph again and soon the warden of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners and Joseph wound up managing the entire operation.  The Bible says that the warden gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best (Gen 39:23).  This prison would be the equivalent of one of our federal penitentiaries.  Running this facility meant that Joseph became familiar with government of Egypt, its operations, and structure.  It also gave Joseph experience running a much larger operation than his previous experiences (home and Potiphar’s house) had afforded him.

Are you getting the picture?  This was all a setup.  What Joseph learned at home, at Potiphar’s house, and in prison became instrumental when it came time for him to run an entire nation (Egypt).  In our text, the Psalmist said, “He appointed him master of his palace, put him in charge of all his business to personally instruct his princes and train his advisors in wisdom.”  That last statement is awesome.  Joseph was placed in charge of all of Egypt and part of his role was topersonally train Pharaoh’s advisors in wisdom.  Joseph could not have accomplished this had he not learned what he needed to learn at his previous levels.  You can’t teach what you don’t know.  You can’t give what you don’t have.  Joseph’s experiences helped develop the wisdom he would need to impact the lives of millions.  Had he not kept his joy and peace, had he not operated in faith and patience, he could have missed the opportunity to maximize every level of his life and he could have missed his purpose.  Joy and peace helped him maintain the posture required to accept and to learn from every stage of his life.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that every stage of your life is important.  Every assignment God gives you prepares you for the next.  If you fail to remain faithful where you are right now, then you will not be prepared for the next level. If you throw in the towel, if you give up, if you quit, then you may be forfeiting God’s best.  Joseph did not know about the palace while he was in the pit or in prison, but since he operated in faith and patience he eventually arrived there.  God will not promote you until you are ready, so you might as well learn what you need to learn where you are, so God can take you to where you need to be.  What you learn today will be required tomorrow!  Don’t take it lightly.  Maximize every level in God.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I learn what I need to learn at every level of my life.  What I learn today will prepare me for my tomorrow.  I do not take it lightly.  I allow You to teach me what I need to know and I know that somehow it will be used in my future.  The blessing is on my life and trust You to make every place the best place I have every been.  I live by faith, I couple patience with it, and I maintain my joy and peace while I do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Faith and Patience, not Faith and Frustration (back to the top)

(Gen 43:14 CEV) When you go in to see the governor, I pray that God All-Powerful will be good to you and that the governor will let your other brother and Benjamin come back home with you. If I must lose my children, I suppose I must.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by getting back to Genesis to continue with the story of Joseph.  Chapter 42 ended with Jacob refusing to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt.  His decision – based in fear, not faith – caused Simeon to remain a hostage in Egypt.  The famine continued and they ran out of food.  Jacob then said, “Go back to buy more food.”  But Judah said, “The man warned us most emphatically, ‘You won’t so much as see my face if you don’t have your brother with you.’  If you’re ready to release our brother to go with us, we’ll go down and get you food.  But if you’re not ready, we aren’t going.  What would be the use?'”  Jacob was frustrated.  He said, “Why are you making my life so difficult!  Why did you ever tell the man you had another brother?”  That was irrelevant.  Frustration will make you focus on things that cannot help.

Judah pushed his father saying, “Let the boy go; I’ll take charge of him.  Let us go and be on our way – if we don’t get going, we’re all going to starve to death – we and you and our children too!  I’ll take full responsibility for his safety; it’s my life on the line for his.  If I don’t bring him back safe and sound, I’m the guilty one; I’ll take all the blame.  If we had gone ahead in the first place instead of procrastinating like this, we could have been there and back twice over.”  The criticality of the situation finally set in.  Jacob realized that all their lives were in danger.  He gave in and said, “If it has to be, it has to be.  But do this: stuff your packs with the finest products from the land you can find and take them to the man as gifts – some balm and honey, some spices and perfumes, some pistachios and almonds.  And take plenty of money – pay back double what was returned to your sacks; that might have been a mistake.  Take your brother and get going.  Go back to the man.”  Jacob had money; money was not the issue, what Jacob needed was faith.  Jacob said, “When you go in to see the governor, I pray that God All-Powerful will be good to you and that the governor will let your other brother and Benjamin come back home with you.  If I must lose my children, I suppose I must.”

Jacob’s statement reminds me of one made by a father in the New Testament.  His son needed to be healed, Jesus told him, “Everything is possible for the person who believes,” and the father replied, “I believe!  Help my unbelief” (see Mark 9:14-29).  In one breath Jacob prayed that God All-Powerful would give them grace and favor and then, in the next breath, he resigned to losing his children. It’s like he spoke words of faith, but he then followed them up with words of fear.  Jacob had faith, but he did not couple patience with his faith.  He had short bursts of faith, not consistent faith.  Why?  Because he had lost his joy and peace.  Joy and peace help you to operate in faith and patience.  But if you allow fear and frustration to seep in, then you will find yourself operating in inconsistent faith.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you are not the only person that has struggled to operate in faith, that has wavered between faith and frustration, that has prayed faith and then turned around and spoken failure.  This message helps you realize that even the Bible giants struggled between faith and frustration, but it does not mean that you cannot overcome it.  Jacob weathered this storm and you can weather yours.  Muster up the faith you have and apply your faith to your famine.  Mustard seed faith can produce mountain-like results.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I overcome fear, failure, and frustration with my faith.  I muster up the faith that I have and apply my faith to my famine.  You know my heart.  You know my frustrations.  You know my struggles.  You know what I have faced.  I now look past my past and I move forward towards my future.  I speak in faith and I declare that I overcome every frustration in my life.  My God is bigger than my issue.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Believing and Receiving the Love of God (back to the top)

(Rom 5:8 NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” but with a different emphasis.  As we continue with the story of Joseph our focus this morning is: the love of God.  Joseph’s brothers set off for Egypt with gifts, money, and Benjamin.  They came to Joseph and Joseph saw Benjamin, his beloved little brother.  11 of the 12 brothers were together, but Simeon was still being held hostage.  To complete the circle with a celebration Joseph instructed his steward to take the men to HIS house and to have a fine meal prepared.  The similarities between Joseph and Jesus are endless.  The brothers came to Joseph with guilt and shame, but Joseph received them as forgiven family members.  Instead of condemning them for what they had done, he invited them to a fine meal.  We will also have a meal with Jesus some day; it’s called the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).

The brothers were anxious, not knowing what was going on, or why they were being treated so well.  They thought it was some sort of trap.  They took the opportunity to explain to Joseph’s steward that the first time they visited Egypt to purchase food they somehow left with their money in their bags.  But he replied, “Everything’s in order.  Don’t worry. Your God and the God of your father must have put the money there.  It was paid in full.”  What they thought was their penalty, was paid in full!  Glory to God.  Now they were really confused.  They thought they were being punished for what they had done to Joseph 20 years earlier, but things kept working out for their good.  Then, to make good things even better, Simeon was returned to them.  All 11 brothers were made comfortable and their donkeys were tended to.  The brothers spread out their gifts and waited for Joseph.  They were prepared to pay the Egyptian sultan all they had.  Joseph showed up, they presented their gifts, and they bowed respectfully before him.  Joseph welcomed them and asked about their father.  When Joseph looked around, realized that all 12 brothers were now reunited, and he looked over to Benjamin, he got to the point where he could not take it any more.  He rushed out into his private chamber and cried deeply.  Although they had betrayed and mistreated him, his love for them was overflowing (see Genesis 43:15-30).

The brothers came as guilty men.  They knew they were guilty before God for what they had done to Joseph as a boy.  They believed they would be accused of being guilty before the sultan for leaving without paying for the food on their first trip to Egypt.  They laid out their money and bowed down before the Egyptian sultan in an attempt to receive mercy.  They never knew that the man they were bowing down before actually loved them and had already forgiven them.  He loved them so much that he burst into tears.  This is how it is when you come to God.  You come guilty and your guilt makes you attempt topay for your sin.  You want to do “things” to make up for what you have done, but there is nothing you can do to pay for sin. Jesus has already paid the price in full! He died for you, while you were yet a sinner.  You bow before Him as a guilty foreigner, but he receives you in love as a blessed brother from the same Father.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as you read these messages and seek to grow in faith, patience, joy, and peace, never forget that you can only do it because God loves you.  You must learn to believe and receive His love.  You don’t deserve everything He gives you, but He does it because He loves you.  Once you truly believe and receive His love it will transform your perspective of God and change your life forever.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I believe and receive Your love.  I know You are love and You love me.  I came to You in guilt and shame.  You received me in love and mercy.  You sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for my sin.  He paid a debt He did not owe, because I owed a debt I could not pay.  Jesus receives me in love.  You receive me in love.  I believe that love and Your love transforms my life.  I love because You first loved me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Enough Peace to remain Focused on Your Purpose (back to the top)

(Gen 43:32 AMP)  And [the servants] set out [the food] for [Joseph] by himself, and for [his brothers] by themselves, and for those Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, according to the Egyptian custom not to eat food with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Last week we ended off with Joseph storming out of the room to release his emotions with tears.  When he was done crying he washed his face, regained his composure, returned to the room with his brothers, and said, “Serve the meal!”  The meal was served and everyone ate, but the seating arrangement is the focus of this morning’s message.  Joseph’s brothers sat at one table, the Egyptians that were invited sat at another table, and Joseph sat at a third table, by himself.  Scholars say that the Egyptians were very superstitious people who had no social dealings with foreigners.  They could not even use the knife of a Greek, because it ‘might have’ cut the flesh an animal they held sacred.  Our text says that for the Egyptians to eat with Hebrews was an abomination to them.  I understand what the scholars say, but to me this seems like a clear-cut case of prejudice and racism.

The Egyptians knew that Joseph was a Hebrew so he could not sit with them.  The brothers did not know that Joseph was a Hebrew so he could not sit with them.  Joseph was too Jewish to sit with the Egyptians, but too Egyptian to sit with the Jews.  So there he was, by himself.  He was the second in command of all of Egypt, he was responsible for the feeding of millions of people, he single-handedly saved Egypt, but he was still not good enough to sit with the people he saved; the people he led.  Joseph could not even sit with his servants.  That’s how ridiculous racism is.

On another note, however, Joseph never complained.  This is where joy and peace comes in.  Was he a man of faith?  Absolutely!  Did he operate in patience?  He sure did.  But he could have never maintained his faith and patience, had he not maintained his joy and peace.  He never got depressed over the fact that he had to eat alone.  He was never disenfranchised over his treatment.  He never murmured to God about the fact that he did not fit in.  Fit in or not, he was still blessed and he was still on a mission.  The blessing on his life overrode the racial prejudice and his peace enabled him to remain more focused on his purpose than any of the problems.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  Racism is an ugly reality that raises its head from time to time – even in the church.  But racism does not have to stop the believer.
2.  If you believe God and His blessing, it will cause you to rise above any challenge.
3.  God did not call you to comfort, He called you to purpose!  Sometimes His purpose in your life will cause you to operate in positions where you just don’t fit in.  You are not there to fit in.  You are there to make a difference and you are there to fulfill your purpose.
4.  The peace of God can give you the internal fortitude to face every uncomfortable situation with the serenity and strength that only comes from a relationship with God.
5.  The Joy of the Lord can be your strength (Neh 8:10) even when everything and everyone else is against you.
6.  Nothing can stop you when you have Joy and Peace (together) operating in your life.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I believe Your hand is upon my life.  You bless me to prosper everywhere I go.  You elevate me the positions you want me to occupy.  Those positions might mean that I am placed in uncomfortable situations.  I don’t allow the situations to dictate my character, my actions, or the internal condition of my heart.  I have joy and peace operating in my life and they enable me to remain stable in unstable environments.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

God’s Permanent Blessing will Outlast Temporary Challenges (back to the top)

(Gen 43:34 NIV)  When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s.  So they feasted and drank freely with him.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  I hope you have learned by now that none of us are exonerated from challenges in life.  Even the most faith-filled person will be tried by the circumstances of life.  The point of this series is to learn how to remain in faith, how to activate the power of patience in your life, and how to maintain joy and peace while you do it.  This morning we take a look at another character in the book of Joseph’s life: his brother Benjamin.  Benjamin had an eventful entrance into the world.  His mother (Rachel) died while giving birth to him.  Because of her pain, Rachel wanted to name him Ben-oni, which means, “Son of sorrow.”  However, His father wisely ignored his wife’s request and named him Ben-jamin, which means, “Son of my right hand.”  He entered the world through pain and suffering, but that would not be the end of his story.  His brother (Joseph) from his late mother was taken from him at an early age and he was thought to be dead.  After losing Joseph, Jacob held on dearly to Benjamin.  The two closest people to Benjamin were taken from him at an early age.  He lost his mother to birth complications and he lost his brother to the hands of his conniving older brothers, but the Bible does not mention any bitterness in his heart against anyone.  Nowhere does it say that he blamed God for losing his mother and brother, or that he was angry with his father for not protecting Joseph better, or that he even disliked his brothers for their dislike of him.  Nothing.  Nowhere.  Some would say that Benjamin received a raw deal in life, but you would never tell it by his actions.  Somehow he maintained joy and peace in his heart.

So there he was, the youngest of the entire clan.  The brothers were arranged in the order of their birth, so Benjamin was sitting at the end of the table.  He was in a foreign land.  A strange sultan was sitting alone in this extravagant feast and all the meals were prepared from the sultan’s table.  One-by-one the meals left from the head table and went to his brothers.  One-by-one Benjamin looked at the sumptuous plates.  Every plate, ten in all, seemed the same; they all had a hefty portion of delicious food.  This was a good break for the family.  After all, they were in the midst of a famine.  I am sure they were thankful that God was allowing them to enjoy a feast in the middle of a famine.  That is another message in and of itself, especially for those that are concerned about gas prices.  But anyway, let me get back to the story.  The time came for little Benjamin to receive his plate.  His plate was prepared by the same man, from the same table, but it did not have the same portion.  To Benjamin’s surprise his plate had five times as much as his brothers’ plates.  Oh oh!  Would they get mad?  Would they be jealous again?  No.  The tides had shifted in Benjamin’s life.  Not only was he receiving the favor of the strange sultan, but his brothers were also treating him well.  Instead of becoming jealous, they celebrated with him.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the tides can shift in your life at any moment.  Have you been experiencing challenges?  Benjamin had his share of challenges early off in life, but the blessing was on him.  The blessing was permanent and the challenges were temporary.  After the challenges subsided the blessing was still there and the blessing caused Benjamin to experience favor.  God’s blessing can enable you to overcome your past and to enjoy a feast in the midst of a famine!  But you must maintain joy and peace in your heart.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I believe Your blessing in on my life.  No matter what I face, I face it knowing that it will eventually subside.  My challenges are temporary, but Your blessing permanent.  Your blessing is able to take me from experiences of sorrow and pain to experiences of blessing and favor.  I maintain joy and peace in my heart and You help me to weather any storm.  I can even enjoy a feast in the midst of a famine.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Passing the Tests of Life (back to the top)

(Gen 44:33 CEV)  Sir, I am your slave. Please let me stay here in place of Benjamin and let him return home with his brothers.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  I will attempt to cover the entire 44th chapter in this message.  The brothers enjoyed their meal and Joseph sent them away with plenty of food.  It seemed like the brothers were leaving without Joseph revealing himself, but Joseph had a final test.  He wanted to know if they had truly changed.

Joseph ordered his brother’s sacks to be filled with as much food as they could carry, but he also told his servant to put his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack.  Joseph sent the brothers on their way and then sent his men after them.  Joseph’s men accused the brothers of stealing their master’s cup.  The brothers were so sure that it was a mistake that they said, “If you find that one of us has the cup, then kill him, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”  The servant replied, “Good!  I’ll do what you have said.  But only the one who has the cup will become my slave.  The rest of you can go free.”  All the sacks were searched and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.  The brothers were bitterly upset as they returned to the city.  When they arrived at Joseph’s house, Judah said, “Sir, what can we say?  How can we prove we are innocent?  God has shown that we are guilty.  And now all of us are your slaves, especially the one who had the cup.”  Joseph told them, “I would never punish all of you.  Only the one who was caught with the cup will become my slave.  The rest of you are free to go home to your father.”  Wow!  This was the exact same situation they were in 20 years earlier.  The 10 older brothers now had the opportunity to leave their younger brother as a slave.  What would they do?  Would they do to Benjamin what they had done to Joseph?  Would they leave their brother and disregard the pain it would cause their father?  Would they operate in selfishness or love?  The biggest question is: had they changed?

Judah spoke up for the brothers and explained how much grief losing Benjamin would cause their father.  Jacob had already said that if something happened to Benjamin that he might die of a broken heart.  Judah put his father and Benjamin before himself.  Finally, he said, “Sir, I am your slave.  Please let me stay here in place of Benjamin and let him return home with his brothers.  How can I face my father if Benjamin isn’t with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father in such sorrow.”  With that he passed the test.  We will see tomorrow that Joseph revealed himself to his brothers.  It had been 20 years and it was evident to Joseph that the brothers had changed.  These were no longer the angry, hateful, and jealous boys that had no regard for family.  They were now loving, caring, and compassionate men that had developed character.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we all face tests of our growth from time to time.  Think back five, 10, or 20 years.  Did you fail some life-tests back then?  Now think about how you would face those same tests today.  Would you pass them or would you still make the same mistakes? I hope you are able to confidently say that you have changed, that you have grown, that you have matured in God.  Giving your life to Christ does not mean that the tests and challenges will change, but it does mean that you should.  As you grow in Christ you learn to pass the tests you have failed in the past and you change for the better.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know You are a God of progression and not regression.  I progressively move forward in You.  Every day with You I learn more and am developed more.  I develop my character through the series of experiences that You enable me to go through.  I am not the same person I was several years ago.  I declare, by faith, that if I am presented with the same tests, I will produce better results.  I am growing in faith, patience, joy, peace, and love!  I am becoming more like You day-by-day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Comparing Jesus and Joseph (back to the top)

(Gen 45:4 MSG) Joseph spoke to his brothers: “I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?” But his brothers couldn’t say a word.  They were speechless—they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  We finally get to the point where Joseph is ready to reveal himself to his brothers.  If this were reality TV the commercial for today’s episode would say it was, “The Big Reveal!”  After Judah passionately pleaded the case their Benjamin and even offered to take his place as the prisoner and slave, Joseph was convinced that they brothers had changed and he could not it any longer.  He had played the role of a distant ruler for long enough.  After they showed their brokenness, he was ready to expose his.  Playing the role one last time, Joseph cried out, “Leave!  Clear out – everyone leave!”  And with that, all of Joseph’s servants left.  Joseph was all-alone with his brothers.  As he prepared to expose his identity his emotions got the best of him.  Joseph cried uncontrollably.  He cried so loud that the Egyptians couldn’t help but hear him.  Finally, through the tears, Joseph spoke to his brothers and said, “I am Joseph.  Is my father really still alive?”  But his brothers couldn’t say a word.  They were speechless – they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing.

So what does this mean to you today? I will pull out some golden nuggets from this event tomorrow, but for today, I feel led to point out a few parallels between Joseph and Jesus:
1.  Patience:  Joseph wanted dearly to expose himself to his brothers, but he patiently waited until they proved they had changed.  In the case of Jesus, He will not wait until we are changed, because we cannot truly change without Him; but He will wait until we repent.  Jesus loves us and He wants to expose Himself to us, but His complete exposure does not come until we are ready to repent of our sin and accept Him as Lord.  He is patiently waiting on every unbeliever to come to Him.  We must share His love with unbelievers so that they will repent and accept Him as Lord.
2.  Compassion:  In Jesus’ earthly ministry we see several examples of compassion in operation.  Jesus was moved to action because of the situations of others.  Jesus was well, but He did not allow his fortune cause Him to overlook the misfortune of others.  Likewise, Joseph operated in compassion.  He was living well.  He was the second in command of the only nation with food.  He looked at his brothers, who were being affected by the famine, and he operated in compassion towards them.  Joseph did not allow his plenty to cause him to overlook their lack.  Neither should we.  Remember, we are blessed TO BE a blessing.
3.  Forgiveness:  These brothers had done Joseph wrong.  Joseph was in position to repay the wrong back to his brothers.  He had the power to have them killed.  But instead of sentencing them for what they had done wrong, Joseph forgave his brothers and overlooked their sin.  Likewise, Jesus operates in forgiveness.  We come to Him as people who have done Him wrong.  We come to the foot of the cross as broken men and women who have sinned against Him time and time again.  We don’t deserve it, but He forgives us!  As the forgiven, we are now to forgive.
4.  Love:  Joseph operated in love.  He had their best interest in mind.  He was not focused on their wrongs; he was focused on their need.  Once they showed a changed heart, Joseph was willing to expose his love fully.  Likewise, Jesus loves you.  He loves you in spite of everything you have done to Him.  He has your best interest in mind.  He is not focused on your wrongs; He is focused on your need.  Once you show your repentance, He exposes His love fully!  And since He has loved you, you are to love others.  We love, because He first loved us (1st John 4:19).

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for forgiving me for all the wrong I have done to You and against You.  I come to You with a repentant heart and a broken spirit.  I thank You in advanced for operating in compassion, mercy, grace, and love towards me; for blessing me in spite of me.  Your capacity to love helps me expands my capacity to love others.  I love, because I am loved.  I forgive, because I have been forgiven.  I show mercy, because I have been shown mercy.  Day-by-day I am becoming more and more like You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Its Never Too Late for God (back to the top)

(Gen 45:4 MSG) Joseph spoke to his brothers: “I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?” But his brothers couldn’t say a word.  They were speechless—they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Joseph.  Yesterday we learned of Joseph’s “Big Reveal” and I highlighted some of Joseph’s parallels to Christ.  This morning let’s put ourselves in Joseph’s brother’s shoes.  Sure, they probably felt some level of fear.  The man that had been giving them a hard time for months, the man with the power, was the man they had done wrong.  It is safe to say that the initial shock of his reveal sent a surge of fear and angst through their bodies.  These were brothers that were often haunted by what they did to Joseph.  Want I want to highlight this morning is that Joseph’s reveal must have also brought them a sense of relief.

For over 20 years they walked around thinking that they were responsible for the death of one of their own brothers.  They lived with the guilt of knowing that they had caused their own father much pain and grief.  Every time their father brought up Joseph’s name they probably replayed the event – Joseph screaming from the pit for mercy and begging them not to sell him as a slave – in their minds.  They lived with emotional and psychological baggage.  The pains of the past would not let them enjoy their present.  They were constantly looking back.  But now, out of the blue, a man that sat in the position of power in Egypt had just revealed himself to be their long lost brother.  Wow!  Think about that.  Joseph, as it turns out, was not dead after all.  Joseph was still alive.  This changed everything! Joseph still being alive meant that they no longer had to live with the guilt of death over their heads.  What they had feared the most actually never happened.  Joseph would later reveal to them that this entire episode actually worked out for the good of the entire family.  This was one of those, “almost too hard to believe” moments.

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

1.  We can receive forgiveness from God:  If we do make a mistake, God has given us a way to deal with it.  John said, “If we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away” (1st John 1:9 CEV).  Forgiveness is always available.  This is something that the brothers obviously never asked God for.  They walked around with guilt and shame.  Don’t make the same mistake they did.  Receive forgiveness from God.
2.  God also wants us to forgive ourselves:  What’s the use of receiving forgiveness from God if you are going to constantly beat yourself up about it?  Several times in this story the brothers showed that they were still dealing with what they had done over 20 years prior.  One of the greatest lessons God ever taught me was how to forgive myself, after He had already forgiven me.  Forgiving yourself frees you to move forward in Him!
3.  Its never too late:  I oftentimes say that if you are still living, if there is blood still flowing through your veins and air flowing through your lungs, then it is evident that God is not through with you.  You still have hope. There is nothing impossible for God.  So think back to those things that you had given up hope on, think back to the broken dreams and aspirations, think back to the missed opportunities in your life, now believe God to put life back into those dead situations.  If God could restore Joseph to his family – who had given up hope that he was even alive – after 20 (+) years, then He can restore life to the things you had given up on.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know that it is never too late for You.  You can turn any hopeless situation around in just one moment.  I repent of the sin and the mistakes I made in my past.  I receive forgiveness from You and I also receive the power to forgive myself.  As a forgiven believer, I move forward with the anticipation, desire, dreams, and hope that I once had.  You revive that which was once alive in my life!  I have a renewed expectation, joy, and peace.  Forward ever, backward never!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Guilt-Free Living (back to the top)

(Gen 45:2 CEV)  But his sobbing was so violent that the Egyptians couldn’t help but hear him.  The news was soon reported to Pharaoh’s palace.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by beginning to wrap up the story of Joseph.  I pray you have learned a lot from Joseph, but I am ready to move on to other passages and other people in this series.  However, before I do, there are a few more messages I will share about Joseph.  I believe these messages are important; like the one for this morning about guilt and forgiveness.

We live in a society where grudges are commonplace.  Hospitals are full of patients whose physical illnesses are caused by hatred, resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness they choose to carry.  Many people just can’t seem to find it within themselves to forgive, even Christians, and even though the Bible is clear that God expects us to.  These grudges cause emotional baggage that eventually eats away at their peace.  This series is about walking in Joy and Peace and that is hard to do when you are holding on to bitterness and pain.  On the other side of the token we have a great number of people who have done others wrong.  The knowledge of their wrongdoings eats away at them.  Guilt, shame, and remorse overshadow them and as long as they allow the guilt to remain, they will never have true peace and they will never operate at their max potential.  Therein lies the danger – both on the side of the transgressor and the transgressed – to hold on to the wrongdoings of the past.

In our story Joseph was the transgressed and the brothers were the transgressors.  Joseph had already forgiven the brothers in his heart, but they were still holding on to the guilt of what they had done.  They thought Joseph was dead and his seeming death lingered over their heads.  On the other hand, Joseph found it in his heart to forgive.  He forgave them because he loved them and because of his relationship with God.  Our text says that when he revealed himself he cried so loudly and violently that the Egyptians that had been cleared out the room heard him.  Why did he cry so loud?  Because he wanted so badly to be reconnected with them.  This leads me to another parallel between Joseph and Jesus.  Jesus is the same way.  We have all done Him wrong in one way, shape, or form.  We are all transgressors against God.  Jesus has not only forgiven us, but He longs to have a relationship with us.  He wants us to get past our guilt and to step into His arms.  Imagine Jesus, like Joseph, weeping over you; wanting to reconnect with you, while you are out there walking in guilt and shame, thinking He wants nothing to do with you.  Get past your guilt today and walk into the arms of Jesus.

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

1.  If you can believe in the forgiveness of God, you can accept that forgiveness and allow it to change your life forever.
2.  Guilt-free living is possible.
3.  Guilt and shame will rob you of God’s best – His joy and His peace.
4.  The enemy comes to enslave you; God’s comes to empower you.
5.  To be an imitator of God, as the Word commands, you must forgive and help others to live free of their guilt.
6.  Whether you are the transgressor or the transgressed, seek to live free of emotional baggage and bondage, so you can enjoy the peace of God in every area of your life.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, Joseph learned how to forgive over the years.  By the time the situation presented itself he was able to earnestly forgive his brothers.  I declare that I am like Joseph and Jesus.  I am able to forgive.  Not only do I forgive, but I also receive forgiveness.  I do not allow guilt and shame to rob me of my peace nor my future.  I strive forward with guilt-free living and I experience the removal of every heaviness in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Looking at Life through the Lens of Faith (back to the top)

(Gen 45:8 NASB) Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing to wrap up the story of Joseph.  After Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and while they were still in shock, he said, “Come closer to me, I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt.  But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me…  God sent me here ahead of you to save lives.  There has been a famine in the land now for two years; the famine will continue for five more years – neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance… He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”  As we seek to operate in joy and peace in believing, what we are seeking to do is to mature in God.  Mature believers see things differently than babes.  Joseph was not speaking as a babe, he was speaking as someone who understood who God was in his life; someone who was able to see the hand of God moving, even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances.  As we mature in God our perspective changes, because we begin to look at life – and the challenges we face – through the lens of faith.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s simply seek to glean a few golden nuggets:
1.  What the devil means for evil, God can turn for our good:  It is obvious that as the years went by God revealed to Joseph what He was going to do through him and how he was being blessed to BE a blessing in Egypt.  Now, what Joseph initially experienced in his life was bad.  And this does not mean that God is out to do bad things to us.  The brothers clearly did it and they clearly had bad intentions when they did.  We learn this from Genesis chapter 50 where Joseph said, “Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it.  This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now” (Gen 50:20).  So this does not mean that God makes bad things happen to you, but it does mean that He take the bad things and turn them around for your good.  That’s why you must maintain joy and peace in believing.  If you become bitter with God you might miss your turn-around experience.
2.  Look beyond the pain and focus on the purpose:  Once you realize that God can still work purpose through your situation, then it enables you to look at your situation through the lens of faith; you get a new outlook, a new perspective.  After Joseph realized that he was in Egypt to save millions of lives, he concentrated on that.  Sure, his brothers had done him wrong.  Sure, they had bad intentions when they did it.  But Joseph had a greater purpose.  When you are purpose driven you have the ability to look past problems and those who cause them.  Focusing on the purpose, instead of the pain, helps you maintain joy and peace.
3.  Praise God at all times:  As believers we are to live with an attitude of thanksgiving.  We ought to acknowledge everything God does in our lives and that acknowledgement should give birth to praise from our lips.  Joseph praised God for what He was doing in his life.  Joseph knew that he was where he was because of God.  Joseph did think that he got to the position he was in because he worked hard, even though he did.  He did not say that he made it there because of his intellect, even though he was bright.  Joseph acknowledged the fact that it was God that had enabled him to get to where he was and we should do the same.  Paul said, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live” (1st Thes 5:16-18).

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I acknowledge Your hand working in my life.  I don’t blame You for the bad things that happen, because I know there is a devil; but I do look to You to give me revelation in every situation.  Your revelation helps give me the proper perspective and my outlook will determine my outcome.  I look beyond problems and those who cause them.  I give You the glory continually.  I maintain joy and peace in believing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Do Your Ways Please God? (back to the top)

(Prov 16:7 KJV)  When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by finally wrapping up the story of Joseph.  I love Joseph.  It should be obvious since I have been teaching about his life (just in this series) for about 9 weeks.  As much as I would like to continue on with Joseph (there is still much more), I have received the release from God to move on and tackle other passages in this series.  So this morning we close out the ‘Joseph chapter’ of this series by taking a look at something that Solomon said in Proverbs.  Solomon tells us that when a man’s ways please the Lord, He is able to make even his enemies to be at peace with him.  What is the insinuation?  It is that we have a part in what God does in our lives.  What if a man’s ways don’t please the Lord?  What then?  The insinuation is that God will not move upon the hearts of his enemies.  This is important to point out because we see that Joseph was a blessed man.  He was blessed in his father’s house.  He was blessed in Potiphar’s house, even as a slave.  He was blessed in the royal prison, even as a prisoner.  And then he was blessed to run the most powerful nation in the world at the time.  The Blessing was obviously flowing in his life.  Joseph was overwhelmingly blessed, but the point of this message is that we must all realize that Joseph had a part in God’s provision.  Joseph lived a life that was pleasing to God.

When Joseph was sold into slavery he could have whined and complained to God or gotten depressed, but he didn’t.  When God favored him with Potiphar and things started going well in Potiphar’s house, Joseph could have gotten the proverbial “big-head;” but he refused to walk in pride.  When Potiphar’s wife wanted to sleep with him he could have easily taken advantage of that opportunity and committed sin; but he restrained himself.  Joseph walked in integrity.  When Joseph was thrown into prison because of false accusations he could have easily given up hope, but he held on to it.  Joseph maintained a good attitude and a level of expectation.  When the warden made him the second in command of the entire prison Joseph had another opportunity to walk in pride; but he remained humble.  When God used Joseph to interpret the dreams of the baker and the butler and the butler forgot all about Joseph when he got back to Pharaoh, Joseph had another opportunity to allow frustration to set in, but once again, he kept the faith.  Joseph remained faithful to God and faithful to his duties in the prison. Because of his unwavering faith and patience, and his unyielding joy and peace, Joseph was able to remain faithful over every assignment.  His faithfulness led to his breakthrough and he became the second in command of all of Egypt.  Finally, as second in command of Egypt his brothers came and stood before him.  They did not recognize him, but he recognized them.  The same men that had thrown him into a pit and sold him as a slave were standing before him, but this time the tables were turned.  He had the power to have them all killed, but he chose to operate in compassion and forgiveness.  He focused more on God’s promise than his former pain.  Yes, Joseph’s ways pleased the Lord.  Do yours?

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God can fix your situation, but you first have to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  In many ways, your actions help determine God’s actions.  If you live a life of sin, disobedience, and unforgiveness, then you literally hinder God from moving in your life.  But if you live a life of faith, patience, love, joy and peace, then you release God to make even your enemies to be at peace with you.  Seek to please God daily!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, My singular focus is to please You.  I don’t focus on my circumstances or situations, I rather focus on You and Your goodness.  I know that if I dedicate myself to pleasing You, then You can move on the hearts of others, to cause me to experience Your Blessing in every area of my life.  I please You today and every day and You turn every negative situation around in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Resisting Discouragement (back to the top)

(2nd Cor 4:7-9 NIV)  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” with a new chapter in this series.  In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he taught them about many spiritual things.  He focused a great deal on the ministry of Holy Spirit and explained the difference between the Old and New Covenants.  In the third chapter he taught how the Old Covenant, written upon tablets of stone, brought death, because no one could fulfill the law.  But our New Covenant, written upon our hearts and empowered by God Himself in us (The Holy Spirit), brings life and liberty.  Paul said, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (3:12).  The hope he was talking about is the hope that is birthed by the Holy Spirit (God Himself) in us.  The Holy Spirit gives us a hope that survives the bumps and bruises that we encounter in our Christian walk.  Remember, this entire series is founded upon Romans 15:13 where Paul said, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  It is the Holy Spirit in us that gives us the ability to maintain our hope, our joy, and our peace while we walk with Him.

Now, let me be clear, this does not mean that we, as believers, will be exonerated from challenges.  As much a I know that God wants us to be blessed, I am not foolish enough to ignore the weight of scripture (and personal experience) that reminds me that we have an enemy and that he will do whatever he can to get us to give up on our faith.  No, we all face challenges, but if we can learn to hold on to our joy and peace we will be able to overcome the challenges and fulfill our destiny.

Paul opens the fourth chapter by saying, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”  In other words, since we have God Himself living in us (as Born-Again believers), we are able to resist discouragement and frustration.  Not that they won’t come, but that we don’t have to accept them.  It’s hard to be discouraged when you are walking in joy and peace.  Then Paul says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  The treasure here is the Holy Spirit living in us.  We carry His all-surpassing power around with us.  He can enable us to overcome things we could never overcome alone, and when we do we are to remember that the power came from Him and not from us.  It is His super, upon our natural, that enables us to walk in the supernatural.  And finally, we get to where Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  I will deal with that tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:
1.  The New Covenant that Jesus made a way for us to receive involves us receiving God’s Spirit.
2.  God’s Spirit in us should give us the boldness to face every challenge head-on.
3.  God’s Spirit in us enables us to overcome discouragement and frustration.
4.  God’s Spirit in us gives us access to God’s all-surpassing power; empowering us to withstand and to triumph over things that would have crushed us without Him.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for sending Your Son to die that I might live.  His shed blood paid the price for the original sin and gave me access to Your precious Holy Spirit.  I am a Born-Again believer.  Your Spirit lives in me.  I am not alone.  I am bold and confident, because I know that I am not limited to just my power.  I have access to Your all-surpassing power and Your power, in me, enables me to face every challenge and come out on top!  I enter this day with fearless confidence.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

No matter what – Keep On Going! (back to the top)

(2nd Cor 4:7-9 NIV)  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I explained how Paul focused on the reality and power of the Holy Spirit (God Himself), living in us.  I explained how the “Treasure in jars of clay” is a reference to the Holy Spirit and how He is literally inside of us.  The King James version says, “Treasure in earthen vessels.”  The Holy Spirit is the treasure, we are the earthen vessels, and as He empowers us to overcome every challenge we are able to ‘see’ His all-surpassing power.  The King James calls it “The excellency of His power.”  His excellency is exhibited through us, because of our own inadequacies.  When we face challenges that we know we are not able to handle in-and-of ourselves, and we still come out on top, it is then that we realize that it was His power operating through us and the reality of His presence becomes even the more real to us.

Now, let me be clear, Paul is speaking to believers.  Just as he is referring to believers when he says that we have God’s treasure (His Holy Spirit) living in “us,” he is also speaking to believers when he talks about the challenges that “we” face. Becoming a Christian does not mean that we will no longer face challenges, but it does mean that we don’t have to face them alone.

Paul highlights four negatives: hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.  These four are a reference to the “earthen vessels;” to us as humans and to our limitations.  But following each of these four negative is a spirit-enabled positive: not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed.  These four are a reference to “the excellency of His power.”  These four are a reminder of what we can do when we allow Him to work through us.  Even though we have external challenges, Paul is explaining that we can have internal peace.  We don’t have to allow our external circumstances to change our internal condition.  As Born-Again believers – by the power of the Holy Spirit – we can maintain our joy and our peace while we walk our Christian walk, regardless of the challenges that we face along the way.

Paul was not talking about something he read, he was teaching them (and us) about something he lived.  Remember, these we treacherous times for Christians.  It’s hard for us today to understand the persecution they faced back then under Rome.  Later on in this same letter Paul explained how he had been beaten with 39 lashes (like Jesus) five times, he was beaten with rods three times, he experienced three shipwrecks, he spent a night and a day in the open sea, he was constantly on the move from bandits, his own countrymen, and gentiles, he often went without sleep, he was often hungry and thirsty, cold and naked (see 2nd Cor 11:25-29); but even with all of this, Paul kept on going.  Paul had a tremendous assignment and he was determined to fulfill his assignment, in the earth, before he died.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you too have an assignment and you too will be attacked because of it.  I oftentimes say, “The greater the assignment, the greater the attack.”  Believe me, the devil knows when someone is full of purpose and determined to fulfill it and he will do anything and everything he can to keep you from your destiny.  The good news is that the only way you can lose is if you quit; he can’t stop you if you just keep on going!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I refuse to quit.  I am determined to keep on going.  I am committed to fulfilling my purpose and destiny, in the earth, before I die.  I declare, by faith, that I will die empty.  I will get out of me everything You put in me to share.  I will not allow external challenges to keep me from losing my internal peace.  I have joy and I have peace as I walk with you.  My joy and peace help me to keep on going!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

DO NOT LET! (back to the top)

(John 14:1 NIV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  In John chapter 13 Jesus knew that His time on the earth was drawing to a close.  In an attempt to teach His disciples a very valuable lesson about service and servant hood, Jesus washed their feet.  He wanted to drive home the fact that He did not come TO BE served, but rather TO serve and that they should develop the same mindset.  The lesson was good and I am sure that the image of Jesus washing their feet was emblazoned in the minds of the disciples.  However, what happened next was unexpected.  Jesus told the disciples there was a traitor within their ranks, saying, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”  His disciples were amazed and somewhat afraid all at the same time.  They stared at each other, at a loss to know which of them he meant.  They even checked within the recesses of their own souls.

While all of this was going on Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  This did not sound like a person that was planning on being around much longer.  Peter picked up on the language and asked, “Lord, where are you going?”  Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”  Now Peter, being the person that he was, asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.”  Then Jesus shocked them all by saying, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”  Wow!  Talk about a shock.  Peter was the most outspoken member of the group.  He was the one that seemed to have the most boldness.  He was never shy and always willing to stand up for Jesus and now Jesus Himself said that Peter would disown Him, not once, but three times.

This was a troubling time for the disciples.  The man they had been following and learning from for over three years was about to leave.  They did not know where He was going.  One of them was a traitor and they did not know which one.  They thought they knew of Peter’s boldness, but they had just learned that Peter was going to disown Jesus.  Man!  Everything seemed like it was going haywire in their lives.  I am sure their minds were flooded with all sorts of thoughts that could lead to fear, doubt, and unbelief.  It was at this moment, the very next verse, that Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”  Read that again.  Let it sink in.  Jesus knew their hearts.  He knew what was going on in their minds.  He knew that they needed to hear an answer to all the seeming problems that were flooding all through them and Jesus gave them the answer by simply telling them to NOT LET their hearts be troubled.  When our hearts are troubled we are full of fear, doubt, and unbelief, but Jesus taught them (and us) that they (and we) have a choice in what we allow to happen in our own hearts.  We have the power to permit fear and the power to resist it.  We have the power to allow worry and the power to dismiss it.  We have the power to embrace unbelief and the power to refuse to give in to it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that fear is a choice, just like faith is a choice.  Jesus did not say, “Let me lay hands on you to help get the fear out.”  Or, “Let me ask the Father to help with you it.”  No, He just said, “Do not let…”  That means that you can control it.  Even when it looks like everything is going haywire in your life, you don’t have to ALLOW worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief to rule in your heart.  You can CHOOSE to maintain joy and peace over fear and worry!  What will you choose today?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I choose to operate in faith and patience; and to maintain joy and peace while I do it.  I govern my own heart.  With the power of Your Spirit living in me, I am able to overcome the urges to worry, to doubt, and to allow fear to take over.  I have the stability that comes from Your peace and the excitement and expectation that is birthed by Your joy.  No matter what happens, I will NOT LET my heart be troubled!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Do You Trust God? (back to the top)

(John 14:1 NIV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I gave you the setting for our focus text and I explained how the disciples had many uncertainties on their minds, because Jesus was telling them that it was His time to go.  Life as they knew it was about to be over and the winds of change were blowing.  Now, most humans, by nature, resist change.  They would rather for things to remain the same for the sake of consistency and comfort.  The problem is that you cannot grow without change and you cannot change without changing! I tell that you my oldest son all the time and my point is that if you want to develop, grow, and mature in Christ, then you are going to have to change.  The three and a half years that the disciples spent with Jesus were a developmental period.  Jesus took the time to teach them by principle and example.  They were there when He fed a multitude with a little boy’s lunch.  They were there when He stopped a funeral precession and raised a grieving mother’s son from the dead.  They were there when He cast a legion of demons out of a man.  They were there when he welcomed the ostracized, healed the brokenhearted, touched the untouchable, and loved those that had been dismissed.  He taught them with His words and He taught them with His life.

Later on in this same chapter Jesus told the disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” (v.12).  Did you get that?  Jesus told His disciples (and us for that matter) that the believers – that includes the disciples, you, and I – would do even greater works than what He did in the earth.  But for the disciples to believe, accept, and apply that truth they were going to have to embrace change.  They were going to have to accept the fact that the time was coming for them to step out of the shadows and into the light.  They were going to have to become leaders and that they did.  This rag-tag bunch of unknowns changed the world after Jesus departed.  They literally rewrote History and we are still talking about Jesus today, because of the boldness, courage, and leadership of 11 men and those they impacted.

This takes me back to our focus text.  Yesterday I focused on the first portion of the text where Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  This morning my focus is on the latter part of the text, “Trust in God; trust also in me.”  It is obvious that the disciples heeded Jesus’ instruction.  They trusted God; even when they did not know what was going to happen, and their trust enabled them to fulfill their personal assignments, to accomplish the things that God wanted them to accomplish, and in-so-doing they impacted their generation and those to come.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that trust is necessary in your Christian walk.  The disciples could not have done what they did if they were fearful and worried.  They were able to operate in joy and peace, because of their unshakable trust in God.  They trusted God, even when against staunch opposition.  They preached the gospel, even at the penalty of death.  This is the kind of trust that we need.  If we truly trust God then we will be able to resist worry, fear, and doubt.  You cannot trust and worry at the same time.  Trust is a key ingredient in walking by faith and trust helps you maintain joy and peace while you do it.  Do you trust God today? I mean, really trust Him?  Do you trust Him to be bigger than what you are facing this morning?  If so, then you will be able to maintain your joy and peace as you face the giants in your life.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I trust You.  I trust You with all my heart.  I trust You so much that I am ready and willing to change.  I embrace change and I don’t fight against it.  I make whatever changes you want me to make and I make them swiftly and accurately.  I am committed to becoming the person You desire for me to be and I am determined to die empty.  It will not be said of me that my best life was still in me.  I enter this day by faith, I trust You, and I have joy and peace in my heart.  I am ready for my best life now!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Having Peace to stay focused on Purpose (back to the top)

(John 14:27 NASB) “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  For the last couple of days we looked at John 14:1 where Jesus told His disciples not to LET their hearts be troubled and to rather TRUST God.  The focus of those two messages  were: trust and peace.  God has impressed upon my heart that this is very much needed RIGHT NOW in the Body of Christ.  I received several troubling emails yesterday and I know of many people close to me that are facing difficult challenges right now.  The last thing you want to do, as a believer, when you are facing a challenge, is to lose your peace.  That’s why I believe this series is God-ordained for such a time as this.  If we are able to maintain our joy and peace while we are believing God to bring to pass what we are praying for, then I believe that the proper internal condition of our heart will position us to receive our breakthrough.  It is when we lose heart, when we give up, when we throw in the towel, that the enemy is happy.

In John chapter 14 Jesus was preparing the disciples for a difficult time ahead.  He was going to leave them and it was going to cause a great deal of consternation in their lives.  Jesus did not want them to experience challenges for no reason, but their was purpose wrapped up in His departure.  He needed to leave so that they could receive the Holy Spirit and so that they could fulfill their own personal purposes.  The pain and difficulty of Jesus’ departure was nothing compared to the blessing they would receive because of it and the ability for them to take their lives to the next level.

When it was clear that Jesus had to go He said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.  That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (v.16,17).  He went on to say, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (v.26).  With these two statements Jesus was telling them that they had no need to worry.  The Holy Spirit (God Himself), that was IN Jesus and thereby WITH them, would later be literally IN them (and us now).  Jesus was seeking to calm their fears with the promise of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was to be the difference maker in their lives and He should be the difference maker in ours.  Finally, we get to our focus text where Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  You cannot go the next level of your life without embracing change, even if it means facing the challenges that come along with it.  If Jesus did not leave, the Holy Spirit could not come.
2.  The good news is that you don’t have to face the challenges alone.  The Holy Spirit can lead you through all the changes and comfort you through challenging times.
3.  There is a peace available to you that far surpasses anything the world has to offer!
4.  Once again, you don’t have to LET your heart be troubled.  You can rule over your emotions; you don’t have to all them to rule over you.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I want to get to every level and every stage of my life.  I want to maximize my potential in the earth.  I want to fulfill my purpose before I die.  To do so I know that I must embrace change when required and I must maintain joy and peace in my heart.  I know that the internal condition of my heart will be determine what posture I have to receive what You want to do in my life.  So I welcome the changes that will take me to the next level and I declare that I will overcome the challenges that come along with it.  I have joy and peace, I rule over my emotions, and I am focused on my purpose.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Hope that Does not Disappoint (back to the top)

(Rom 5:5 ISV) Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  My Pastor preached a message yesterday from Romans 5:1-5 entitled, “Hope that maketh not ashamed,” or “Hope that does not disappoint.”  As God ministered to me, through Him, He impressed upon my heart to share from this passage with you.

I have already shared with you part of the enormous challenges Paul faced in his life.  If anyone was qualified to teach on an everlasting hope it was Paul.  As a matter of fact, this series was birthed from a scripture in this letter (15:13) where Paul referred to God as, “The God of Hope!”  In the first chapter Paul lets us know how he wanted dearly to visit the church in Rome, but he had been unable to.  So, since he could not go, he sent this letter to teach them (Jews and Gentiles alike) about salvation, faith, redemption, justification, and righteousness in Christ.

In the fourth chapter Paul taught them (and us) about the unwavering faith of Abraham – a man that stood on a promise of God for 25 years.  Paul tells us that Abraham hoped against hope; meaning that he maintained his Godly hope, even when all human hope was gone.  Humanly speaking, Abraham and Sarah should have given up their hope to have a child.  Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 when God told them that they were still going to have the baby.  Sarah had been barren all her life and Abraham’s body was also – by this point in their lives – humanly dead.  But they maintained their hope, they continued to believe God, they had joy and peace in believing, and they believed in a God that could turn hopeless situations around.  And do you know what happened?  They had that baby, even when all human hope had dissipated.

This is the backdrop for this fifth chapter.  Paul opens the chapter by writing, “Therefore,” this is a connection back to chapter four and the faith of Abraham.  He goes on to say, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”  This is the peace that Abraham had while he was waiting on God, this is the peace that Paul had while he faced numerous challenges, and this is the peace that I am teaching about in this series; a peace that passes all human understanding.  Paul continues, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  This is not human hope.  This is not limited hope.  This is a hope that is birthed by God Himself in us. Paul continues, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Those are verses 3 and 4 and I will have to deal with them tomorrow.  For now I will just highlight the fact that they are the last two verses before our main text where Paul talks about a hope that does not disappoint.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we are living in a time where raising gas prices, an unstable economy, a failing dollar, and an ongoing war, are causing people to give up hope.  More and more, people are falling into the realm of the hopeless.  However, for those of us who are believers, we should never be hopeless, because with God we are never helpless.  There is a hope available to us that never disappoints.  There is a hope that comes from God that never fails.  Hold on to God’s hope today.  With his hope in your heart you will be able to maintain joy and peace, no matter what happens in your life!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, my hope is not based upon the economy, the dollar, or anything else in the world.  My hope is based upon my relationship with You and this is a hope that never fails and never disappoints.  I, like Abraham, build up the ability to hope against hope.  You are my God of Hope and because of my relationship with You I am able to maintain joy and peace, no matter what comes my way.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part II) (back to the top)

(Rom 5:5 ISV) Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I laid the foundation for a few messages in this series about a “Hope that does not disappoint.”  I talked about Romans chapter 4 and led up to our focus text.  This morning we focus in on verses three and four of the fifth chapter, where Paul said, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in this passage:

  1. Rejoice:  The Greek word used here means: to glory in, to make your boast in, to have joy about.  This word was used by Paul some 35 times in his writings.  Paul knew something about maintaining his joy while he faced challenges.
  2. Sufferings:  The Greek word used here is also translated: trouble, affliction, tribulation, and distress.  It literally means: to endure pressure.
  3. Perseverance:  The Greek word used here is most commonly translated as “patience.”  This word is a key word in this series (on Faith and Patience) and it means: the force of consistency.
  4. Character:  The Greek word here is also translated as “experience.”  This word means: a proving; having been approved; possessing a tried character.
  5. Hope:  The Greek word here is almost always translated as hope and it means: having a confident expectation of good; expecting a good outcome.

If I put all this together I could say, “We should tap into the power of God’s eternal joy in our lives when we face trouble and pressure, because we know that the pressure will help us develop the force of consistency.  Our consistency through the various pressure-filled experiences will help develop our character.  Our character – a character that has been proven through the pressures of life – will help develop a confident expectation of God’s goodness in every situation.”  Now, in the fifth verse I would say, “This confident expectation in God – and birthed in us by God Himself – will never disappoint us.”

Paul is an awesome example of someone who was able to maintain joy and peace while he believed God.  If we maintain joy and peace we will be able to hold fast to our confident expectation of God’s goodness (His hope) in our lives.  I wish I could say that once we become believers all the challenges stop, but I would be lying.  The truth is that in many ways our conversion experience is just the beginning of a life of full of powerful experiences with God.  Some experiences are sweatless, others are tried by the pressures of life, but together they combine to help develop us into the persons we are today.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should face every pressure-filled situation as an opportunity to further develop perseverance (the force of consistency), character (experience), and hope (confident expectation of God’s goodness) in your life.  Do be like those that say, “Don’t get your hopes up,” just because they have been disappointed in the past.  The hope that comes from God never disappoints.  Maintain that hope, His hope, and face every day with a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and a spring in your step!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I agree with Edward Mote’s hymn where he said, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.  On Christ the solid Rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”  My hope comes from You and it is focused towards You.  My hope, Your hope in me, will not disappoint me.  I get my hopes up!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part III) (back to the top)

(Rom 8:18,24,25)  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with our teaching on a hope that does not disappoint.  Yesterday we broke down Romans 5:3,4 and we learned about the developmental process that we go through when we learn to overcome the pressure-filled situations of life.  In this same letter to the church at Rome, some three chapters later, Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Now let me know clear.  At the time of this writing it was not popular to be a Christian.  The Roman leadership did not take it lightly that people where acknowledging another king; even if He is the King of Kings.  Christians were burned at the stake, stoned to death, and eaten alive (by lions and tigers) in coliseums, while spectators cheered.  To say that Christians back then had to face difficult times is a gross understatement.  But yet, through it all, they maintained their hope and in many cases they even had joy and peace while they did it.

Today most believers don’t face any persecution for their beliefs, but Paul’s statement still holds true in our lives.  Even the small (in comparison) challenges that we face are nothing to be compared with the glory that God has locked up inside of us – some to be revealed later on in our lives and some to be revealed in the life to come.  In either case, there is more to us than meets the eye.  It is the hope that it birthed from inside of us that empowers us to face every day head-on.  It is the joy and peace that we receive from the inside out, from the Holy Spirit Himself, that enables us to maintain a positive outlook through challenging times.

Paul goes on to say that we are saved in this hope.  This hope is what enables us to get out of the situations that, without it, would have crushed us.  Paul further explains that this hope cannot be seen, neither can the things that we are hoping for.  If they could be seen, then why would we need to hope?  If I can see something in my hand, then I don’t need hope for it, neither to I need faith to attain it.  I need hope and faith for the things that I am believing God for, but have not yet seen.  In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth he said, “We walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7 KJV).  The Message Bible translation of that same verse says, “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”  I think that says it all.  There are things that are birthed from inside of us, things that cause us to expand our capacity to believe God, things that cause us to trust God for the unseen.  We have seen them in our heart and by faith we expect to see them in our hands!  Getting back to our text Paul says, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  We need faith and patience (together) to see the promises of God manifested in our lives (Heb 6:12); and we need joy and peace (together) to maintain a positive attitude and outlook while we wait on God.

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:
1.  Your state is not your fate.
2.  There is a hope that is birthed inside of you, by God, that is designed to keep you going.
3.  You will need patience (the force of consistency), so that you don’t give up along the way.
4.   You will need joy and peace to maintain the proper attitude while you wait on God.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, the challenges I face today are nothing compared with the glory You will reveal in and through me.  You birth a hope inside of me that fuels my faith and starves my doubts.  The force of consistency is working in my life.  I have unshakable joy and peace that help me to maintain a positive attitude and outlook.  I walk by faith and not by sight.  It’s what I trust You for, but don’t yet see, that keeps me going!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part IV) (back to the top)

(Eph 2:12 NASB) Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with our teaching on a hope that does not disappoint.  Yesterday I shared with you about the joy and peace that we receive from the inside out, from the Holy Spirit Himself, that enables us to maintain a positive outlook through challenging times.  It is what we trust in, but don’t yet see, that keeps us going.

This morning we look at another of Paul’s writings, his letter to the church at Ephesus.  This letter is steeped in rich teaching and in the second chapter Paul contrasts the persons that we used to be with the ones that we should be today in Christ Jesus.  Paul explains that we were all “Dead in our trespasses and sins.”  Every human is born with the inheritance of the first Adam and that is an inheritance of iniquity, sin, and death.   Paul tells us that we all, “Formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”  There is a devil and we were all under his influence prior to coming to Christ.  Paul calls those that have yet to receive Christ the sons of disobedience.  This inference here is that those of us who have accepted Christ should “obey” His commandments (His Word).  Paul says, “We too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath.”  Once again, contrasting the way that we should live now.  As believers we are not to succumb to the lusts of the flesh, nor should we continue to walk in our former nature, a nature that welcomed wrath.  Paul goes on saying, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  Glory to God!  As Born-Again believers, we are no longer dead in our sins, but we have been made alive, we have been saved by grace, and we have been made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  This is not something that WILL happen, this is something that HAS happened.  Hallelujah!

As Paul continues to compare and contrast our former and current lives we get to the 12th verse, our focus text, where Paul said, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”  What I want to focus in on here is that Paul said that there was a time (past tense) where we had “No hope!”  If it is true that before we came to Christ we did not have hope (at least not the hope that comes from God), then it must also be true that in Christ we have an everlasting hope.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that there should never be a time where you say that you have no hope.  There should never be a situation that seems too big for God.  There should never be an occasion in your life where you feel hopeless.  No matter what it looks like, no matter how big the challenge, no matter how hard the obstacle, no matter how strong the giant, in Christ you have hope.  You have a hope that is everlasting.  You are no longer a person without hope: you are a person that is fueled by hope; a hope that does not disappoint!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for sending Jesus to provide a way for me to be Born-Again.  I have been made alive with Jesus.  I am no longer a child of disobedience and I am no longer a person without hope.  I have a hope that flows in me that is everlasting.  No matter what things looks like and no matter how hard the challenge I will never be hopeless.  I have a hope, Your hope, that does not disappoint and that is why I am able to maintain joy and peace every day.  I am not moved by what I see.  I rest in my hope in You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Hope that Does not Disappoint (Part V) (back to the top)

(1st Thes 5:16-18 NIV)  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by wrapping up our teaching on a hope that does not disappoint.  All week long I have done a mini-series within this series about hope.  As I got up this morning and I laid in the bed thinking about the unknown my family is about to face I simply thanked God for His goodness and His grace.  My family and I will be transitioning to the West Coast (Washington) in a few weeks.  I have never lived any further west than Texas.  I honestly did not want to go, nor did I think I was going to go, but over the process of a few months the Lord gave me a peace about it and my family and I are looking forward to it.  Now that the move is just weeks away we are flat-out excited about it.  This morning I sat for a few minutes and thought about how that could be.  How is it that a family that was concerned about going, that did not want to go, and that attempted to get out of going is now excited about what God will have for us when we get there?  The only answer is that we have a relationship with God and we know that His hope does not disappoint.

Now does this mean that we always get what we want?  No!  But what it does mean is that we can always look back and see how it worked out for our good.  We are excited because know that God would not allow our lives to be interrupted here, with all that we are doing for His kingdom in this area, if there were not a need for our ministry where we are going.  Our relationship with God and what we know about Him is what enables us to maintain joy and peace daily.  I am convinced that God is not out to get me.  On the contrary, I believe He is out to bless me.  God, through Jeremiah, said, “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD.  They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope” (Jer 29:11 GW).  I have shared before that if God was out to get you, you would have been ‘got’ along time ago.  No, God is a good God and He has good plans for us.  Jeremiah told us that God has a future for us that is filled with hope, His hope, the hope that does not disappoint.

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica he taught them about living a life that pleases God.  In his closing remarks (our focus text) he said, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  How do we live a life that is pleasing to God?  By maintaining our joy, by keeping an active prayer life, and by giving thanks to God IN all circumstances.  Now, notice that he said “IN” all circumstances and not “FOR” all circumstances.  Not everything that happens is good and we will not like everything that we face, but we should have the confidence in God, because of our relationship with Him, to know that at the-end-of-the-day we will still come out on top.  It is because we know that God can get good out of any situation that we are able to give Him thanks IN it, although we don’t always give Him thanks FOR it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as you walk with God you will not always get what you expect and you may not always get what you want, but you can have confidence in Him enough to know that when it is all said and done, you will not be disappointed.  You don’t always understand things when you are going through them, but as you look back you are able to see how God worked in it.  So my message to you is not to wait until it is over to be excited!  Get excited now! Expect the situation to work out for your good and look forward to God’s plans – plans that are filled with Hope – to be manifested in your life.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I may not always like my circumstances.  I may not even be able to thank You FOR my circumstances, but I declare that I will thank You IN them.  I know that when it is all said and done, the situations I face will work out for my good, so instead of waiting until I see it to say it, I praise You now!  I am excited NOW!  I am expectant NOW!  I am joyful NOW!  I have peace NOW!  And I refuse to change my expectation.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Having Joy and Peace while you Live your Life’s Journey (back to the top)

(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.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Several times in this series I have shared with you about being driven from the inside out; often quoting the Message Bible translation of 2nd Corinthians 5:7 where Paul said, “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”  This series is about having joy and peace in your heart while you are “believing God.”  The connotation is that you are “believing God” for something; meaning that you are waiting on the manifestation of what you believe He will do in your life.  To have this belief you must a relationship with Him (obviously), but you must also believe that you are receiving progressive revelation, or vision, from God, for your life.  It is this vision, this inner clarity, that you receive from God that you strive towards.  To arrive at God’s desired destination, His expected end (Jer 29:11), you will need faith and patience (Heb 6:12), and if you want to enjoy the ride, you will need joy and peace.  The point being that without joy and peace you might get there, but you might not have enjoyed the journey.  God not only wants us to get to where He wants us to go, but He also wants us to enjoy the process.

Our text this morning is scripture that is commonly used when teaching on vision.  Let’s break it down even further:

  • The word translated “vision” can also be translated as revelation.
  • The word translated “perish” means: to loosely stumble.
  • The word translated “keepeth” means: to guard, protect, and take heed to.
  • The word translated “law” means: the instruction, direction, and teachings of God.
  • The word translated “blessed” literally means: empowered to prosper.
  • Read in this light, our texts tells us that, “Those who do not hear from God and fail to 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).

The bottom line is that those who do not receive revelation or insight from God do not have a guiding force; a rule by which to judge decisions; a measuring stick for their lives.  The result is that they loosely stumble through life, attempting this and that, going here and there.  The Bible says that they “cast off restraint;” meaning that they have nothing to focus them or to keep them confined to a determined path.  Can you be effective this way?  I guess so, but it would be a lot harder than the person who knows where they are going.  Yoggi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, then you might wind up somewhere else.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that part of having joy and peace in “believing God” is actually having something to “believe God” for.  Where do you believe that you are going in life?  Where do you believe God is leading you this year?  What is it that you can do this month that will take you incrementally closer to His expected end for your life?  Are you loosely stumbling through life or do you have an internal compass, a leading and guiding from God, that helps you stay on His course?  These key questions to answer as you seek to live your life with the joy and peace God wants you to have.  My prayer for you is that you receive His revelation and that you receive it with the clarity that you need to help shape your actions.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am ready to be a visionary.  You have thoughts and plans for my life and I declare, by faith, that You reveal those plans to me.  You pull back the veil for me, allowing me to see where You want me to go.  As I go, I declare that I will operate in faith and patience to get there and I will have joy and peace along the way.  Not only will I make it to Your desired destination for my life, but I will also enjoy the ride.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Stand! (back to the top)

(Eph 6:13 KJV)  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Many consider Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus to be his strongest.  It is power-packed with eternal truth and instruction in righteousness.  In this letter Paul teaches us about the reality of who we were before we came to know God, who we have become since receiving Christ, the focus that we should now have, the reality of the Holy Spirit, and so much more.  There are only six chapters, but they are chock-full of revelation.

After sharing so much in so little words Paul transitions to the close of the letter.  He says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”  Paul lets us know about God’s strength and how it is made available to us.  If we want to be strong in this world, the greatest strength we can walk in is God’s strength.  The greatest power we can possess is His power.  Paul is telling us that we can literally walk in the earth as humans, but with supernatural power.  It is God’s super, upon our natural.  Paul then says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”  People of his time were accustomed to seeing Roman soldiers donned with their military gear; their armor.  Here Paul tells us about a set of armor that is not only made available to us, but he recommends that we wear it, and that we wear it daily.  Paul explains that if we wear this armor we will literally be able to “stand firm” against the schemes of the devil.  This is a much-needed reminder that we have an enemy (satan) and that we are in the middle of an all-out war that will not end until he is judged and cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).

If it were not clear enough by this point, Paul further explains by saying, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  The point here is that this is a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual power.  Human weapons are useless in this war.  This is a war that is fought in the realm of the spirit and that is why we must be spiritually minded believers.  If we are able to spiritually discern things, we will oftentimes see that many of the natural challenges we face have spiritual roots.

We finally get to our focus text where Paul reiterates our need for the entire armor of God saying, “That ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  When it is all said and done, we are called to Stand!  After having done everything we can do and after having tapped into every Godly power made available to us, we are to Stand!  I like the way the Message Bible translates this passage.  It says, “Be prepared.  You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.  Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.”

So what does this mean to you today? At this point you may be unsure and you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with joy and peace in believing?”  But it actually has a lot to do with it.  Having joy and peace in believing God is about Standing.  It is about not giving up.  it is about not throwing in the towel in the space between “Amen” and “There it is.”  It is about staying on your feet (spiritually).  Tomorrow we will learn more about the armor of God, but for today the message is to Stand!  Having done all, Stand!  No matter what, Stand!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know that we have an enemy and he would love for me to quit, to give up on my faith, and to throw in the towel of my belief.  But I am not moved by what I see.  I refuse to allow what I see to change what I say.  I am a person of faith and patience.  I maintain joy and peace while I believe You and I able to stand.  I stand firm and I strand strong.  I am empowered by Your might and I refuse to quit!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

The Armor of God (back to the top)

(Eph 6:14-17 NIV) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I shared with you Paul’s instructions with us about standing firm in the midst of a war that has been raging for thousands of years.  Think about that for a moment.  Since the time that you were born this war has been raging.  Since the time that you were Born-Again you became an enemy of the kingdom of darkness.  Our enemy has tracked you all the days of your life.  He will do everything that he can to exploit your weaknesses, in an attempt to get you to give up on your faith.  The good news is that he cannot MAKE you do anything.  He can set the table, but you have to CHOOSE to either do right or wrong in the sight of God.  This is why we must be ‘protected’ every day.  Let’s take a brief look at the armor:

Belt of Truth:  Paul’s readers were familiar with the Roman soldier’s armor.  Their armor was held together by their belt.  Everything connected to the belt; therefore the belt was the central piece of the armor.  Likewise, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  No one can gain access to God by any other means.  Jesus is our way, He is our truth, and everything that we do in God in founded upon our relationship with Jesus.
Breastplate of Righteousness:  In context the word ‘righteousness’ means: the condition of being right before God.  We have been made right before God by the Blood of Jesus and our acceptance of Jesus as Lord.  The breastplate goes over the heart.  The way we put it on is by reminding ourselves that we have been made righteous and by accepting our righteousness in God.  We are not righteous in-and-of ourselves, we accept the righteousness of God by faith.
Shoes of Peace:  The reference to a person’s shoes back then was a reference to their walk; their manner of living.  Our walk in God should be characterized by peace.  When we walk with and in peace we are able to face challenges with a stable heart and a clear mind.
Shield of Faith:  Faith is the tool that we use to “extinguish” all the attacks of the enemy.  Without faith his attacks can damage us, but with faith we are able to put out the fire of his attacks.  Does This mean that the attacks won’t come?  No!  What it means is that we will be equipped to handle them; and we do it with the shield of faith.  When we walk by faith we are protected!
Helmet of Salvation:  In many ways our battle is in our minds.  The helmet of salvation is protects our mind from the constant barrage of negative and destructive thoughts.  When we are sure of our salvation and we refuse to waiver in it, then we are able to Stand!
Sword of the Spirit – The Word:  Of the six pieces of armor this is the only offensive one.  Our only offensive weapon against the enemy is the Word of God.  This is why I close out every message with a confession.  I want you to align your lips with God’s Word.  This is how you get on the offensive.  Speak the Word over your life daily; the Sword of the Spirit is your offense.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I put on Your entire armor this morning, so that I am able to stand against the schemes of the devil; having done all I will stand firm!  I have on the belt of truth.  This is the reality of my relationship with You, through Your Son Jesus, and it is this relationship that holds everything else together in my life.  I put on the breastplate of righteousness.  I have been made righteous by the Blood of Jesus and the reality of this righteousness protects my heart.  I have on the shoes of peace and I carry myself in a strong, stable, and secure way.  I use the shield of faith to protect me from the constant attacks of the enemy.  The helmet of salvation protects my mind.  I am secure in my relationship with You.  And finally, I use the Sword of the Spirit, Your Word Lord, as my offensive weapon against the enemy.  I speak the Word over my life and my family daily.  I am ready for today.  Your armor helps me to maintain joy and peace as I walk with You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Unshakable Confidence (back to the top)

(Psalm 125:1 AMP) Those who trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  If you have been following this series at all you know that the goal of this series has been to help you develop an unshakable confidence in God.  If the enemy can get you to give up on your faith, to doubt God, and to quit before you see what you are believing God for, then he will have succeeded in interrupting God’s best for your life.  Does God want you to operate in faith?  Absolutely!  Does he want you to pray, in faith, believing that He will do what you asked Him for?  Of Course!  But just don’t think that it will always happen overnight.  Sometimes there is a long space between your prayer (your “Amen”) and the manifestation of it (your “There it is”).  It is in this space that you must remain strong, remain in faith, and remain confident that God will do what He said He would in your life.

We learn from the psalmist this morning about standing on the promises of God.  We learned from Paul a few days ago that after we have done all that we can do, we still need to STAND FIRM!  The psalmist teaches us that, “Those who trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion.”  First of all, I need to ask: is the psalmist talking about you?  Are you one of the peoples he is referencing?  Are you a person that trusts in, leans on, and confidently hopes in the Lord?  Is this your manner of living?  Are you a believer or a doubter?  Do you walk by faith or fear?  Are you moved by God or the enemy?  Do you trust or do you worry?  These are important questions and no one can answer them but you.  If you are a believer and you operate in trust and confidence, then the second part of the text applies to you.  You are like Mount Zion, a literal mountain.  The psalmist further explains that this mountain cannot be moved and it will abide and stand forever.  This mountain is unshakable, unmovable, and impenetrable.  Isn’t this the life that you want to live?  Don’t you want to live a strong, stable, and secure life in Christ?

The key to unlocking the strength and stability the psalmist talks about here is the word “trust.”  If you sincerely trust God then you will be able to resist worry, fear, doubt, and unbelief.  It is the trust factor that helps us to live with unshakable faith and unmovable resolve.  This is where Joy and Peace in believing come in.  It is hard to doubt when you have the overwhelming excitement that comes from God’s joy and when your soul is at rest because of His peace.  When you have both joy and peace working in your life you are able to trust God effortlessly.  It is when you lose your joy and peace that you are in danger of losing your confidence.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  God wants you to live a strong, stable, and secure life.
2.  To live this life you must develop an unshakable confidence in Him.
3.  Joy and peace will help fuel your unshakable confidence; enabling you to resist fear, doubt, and unbelief.
4.  If you have joy without worry, and peace without fear, you will easily be able to trust God.
5.  Once you are able to sincerely trust God you will be like a mountain that cannot be moved!
6.  Once you are standing firm, like a mountain, you are on your way to receiving God’s best!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I live a strong, stable, and secure life in You.  I develop an unshakable confidence in You and this unshakable confidence is fueled by my joy and peace.  I am able to resist fear, doubt, and unbelief.  I have joy without worry and peace without fear.  Therefore I am able to trust You in every area of my life.  I trust You with my whole heart and I am like a mountain that cannot be moved.  I stand firm and I receive Your best in my life today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Internal Stability in the midst of External Challenges (back to the top)

(Hab 3:17,18 NIV) Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  The Prophet Habakkuk had seen a lot in his lifetime.  He lived in a time of constant war.  He saw the hand-of-God move for the nation of Israel time and time again.  They faced enemies that should have overtaken them, but God blessed them to come out victorious.  But this does not mean that they had not seen their fair share of challenges as well.  In the 3rd chapter of his book Habakkuk pens a prayer.  He talks about the many things God had done for their nation and the many challenges they had been through.

As Habakkuk closes out the prayer he says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  What was he saying?  He was saying that he had been through too much with the Lord to allow temporary external challenges to change the internal condition of his heart. When he looked back over his life and the life of his nation he determined that he had seen God ‘show up’ too many times for them, for him to be moved by temporary challenges.  He was basically saying that no matter what things looked like (externally), he was determined to keep his joy (internally).  Come hell or high water, Habakkuk was resolute, his joy was not contingent upon his circumstances.

There is a song that says, “This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me. This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me.  Oh, Oh, Oh, this joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me.  And since the world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away!  Can’t take it away!”  This was the type of joy that Habakkuk had.  In this series we have also learned that this was the type of joy that Caleb, Joseph, Paul, Jesus, and others had.  This is the type of joy that we should have.  It is the joy that is made available to us by God.  It is the joy that is birthed inside of us by the Holy Spirit.  It is the joy that bubbles over inside of us, no matter what may be happening outside of us.  It is the joy that enables us to smile in the midst of challenges, to laugh in the midst of sorrow, and to remain unstable in the midst of unstable and ever-changing times.  Do you have this joy?  If you are a believer I am here to tell you that you do.  Now, you may not tap into it as much as you should, but you surely have it available to you.  Why not tap into it this morning?  Why not begin to learn about the stabilizing power of joy and peace in your life.  When joy and peace are both working for you, external situations can change, but you won’t.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that to live a stable and secure life you should build up an internal determination to operate in joy and peace.  Don’t think that there will ever come a time where you won’t have to face changing and challenging times.  But the good news is that in God we can develop the ability to remain constant in the midst of change.  We can develop patience (the force of consistency) and our patience will help us maintain our joy and peace.  Joy and peace help us face whatever comes our way with a smile on our face and a spring in our step.  So get ready and be ready for today and whatever it may bring!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare that I am like Habakkuk.  I am determined to maintain my joy, no matter what things may look like.  I am not moved by what I see.  I am only moved by You and Your Word.  You are my stabilizing force.  You enable me to remain secure in the midst of uncertain times.  My hope, my confidence, and my faith are in You.  I trust in You with all my heart.  I am not concerned about what this day may have in store for me.  I am excited about it, because I know that whatever it is, I am ready for it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

The Liberating Power of Worship (back to the top)

(John 4:23-24 MSG) It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  For the next few days I want to share with you about the importance of worship and how worship helps us to walk in joy and peace.  Yesterday I was in our church service and as is often the case, I got ‘caught up’ in worship.  Before I knew it I was on the floor, with my face to the ground, worshipping God.  Our praise-and-worship ministry led us through many songs, but the one I remember this morning is one that was written and recorded by our church choir.  Part of the song says, “I know no man has ever seen You God.  But I can feel your presence close to me.  I’m not worried ‘bout money or material things.  I’m just satisfied with the joy You bring.  Every time I feel as though I can’t cope.  Your healing power, it gives me hope.  That’s why I’m here to surrender my all.  And hear your voice when You call.”  Then the refrain says, “Just to see Your face, Oh Lord, is what I long for.  Just to see Your face, Oh Lord, is what I long for.”  By this point in the song I am normally in the presence of God.  Then come the words, “I ‘ya, dore ‘ya, pre-cious Je-sus.  In Your, pre-sence, is what I, I long for.  I ‘ya, dore ‘ya, pre-cious Je-sus.  In Your, pre-sence, is what I, I long for.”  And they keep singing that over and over as we all enjoy the presence of God.

As I sat there, on the floor, in the front of the church, in front every body, it donned on me that at that point I had perfect joy and peace in believing God.  I had been in that state many times, but the Lord brought it to my attention so that I can share it with you and to teach you about the liberating power of worship and praise.  As I praised God (early in the worship service) I called out to His name as we sang about His goodness and the things He has done for us.  When we praise God He comes into our presence.  The psalmist told us that God is Holy and that He literally “Inhabits the praises of His people” (Ps 22:3).  Our Minister of Music (Marlon Stokes) once taught how when we praise God He comes to where we are, but when we worship God He takes us to where He is.  In other words, when we praise God He comes into our presence, but when we worship Him, He brings us into His presence.  Our text tells us that God is literally looking for people who will worship Him out of their spirit.

When you worship God out of your spirit, when He takes you into His presence, and at that point nothing else matters.  At that point you don’t have a care in the world.  All your cares and all your concerns dissipate in His presence.  In His presence you have perfect joy and perfect peace. Of course we don’t live in that state 24 hrs. a day, but my point is that if you have a regular routine that includes praise and worship it will help you to live in joy and peace, because you will have ample opportunity to cast your care upon Him through prayer, praise, and worship.

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that God is on the lookout for those who will sincerely worship Him out of their spirit.  Are you one of those people?  Are you one of the ones He is looking for?  If so, you can tap into the liberating power of prayer, praise, and worship and you can enjoy His joy and peace while you do it.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare that I am a worshipper.  I worship You out of my very being (my spirit), and I do it in adoration.  I lose myself in worship and praise.  I cast all my care upon You.  When I am in worship and praise I am free; free of all worry, care, and concern.  It is then that I am free to clearly hear from You.  You give me direction and guidance as I bask in Your freedom.  I love You and I love to worship You.  As I worship You I tap into Your joy and Your peace, which enable me to believe You with fearless confidence.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha) (back to the top)

(Luke 10:41,42 MSG)  The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I dealt with the liberating power of worship.  This leads me to a tale of two sisters.  I have been wanted to teach about these sisters, in this series, for quite some time and I thank God that He has released me to do it now.  God always knows the right time and their lives definitely show the difference between joy and peace (through worship) and frustration and aggravation (through the lack of it).

In Luke chapter 10 Jesus is teaching, mentoring, sending out people to minister, and continuing to travel.  The Bible tells us that their travels took them into “a village.”  We learn later that it was Bethany.  It was there that a woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her house and made Him feel quite at home.  Martha had a sister named Mary.  Mary had obviously heard of Jesus and the power that flowed from His lips so she sat at His feet and listened attentively; hanging on every word He said.  But Martha was nowhere in sight.  She busy in the kitchen getting things prepared for Jesus and the disciples.  So there they were: one sister was sitting in a position of worship and the other sister was standing in a position of work.  Although they are both necessary, we must be able to discern the proper timing of each.  I often tell my son, “Son, the right thing at the wrong time becomes the wrong thing.”  What Martha was doing would be the right thing, if Jesus was not in teaching mode.  While Jesus was pouring out she was missing out.  She was so busy working that she missed her opportunity to worship and to receive from Jesus directly.  She had Jesus in her house, but she was not with Him.  She was so busy doing something FOR Him, that she failed to receive FROM Him!

The longer this went on the more frustrated Martha became.  Finally, she could not take it any more.  Martha stepped in, interrupted Jesus, and asked, “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me?  Tell her to lend me a hand.”  Wow!  Can you hear the frustration in her words?  She was so frustrated that she literally interrupted Jesus, while He was in teaching mode, to ask Jesus to tell her sister to get in the kitchen where she could do some work.  She was upset that Mary chose to worship while she was busy working.  So what do you think Jesus said?  Do you think He said, “Mary, your sister is right.  You better leave my feet so you can go get those plates ready”?  Of course not.  Jesus said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it.”  Mary had chosen the essential thing.  The King James Version calls it, “The needful thing!”  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  Work and worship are both necessary, but you must discern the proper timing for each.
2.  A life of constant work without a proper diet of worship will strip you of your joy and peace, leaving you with nothing but frustration and aggravation.
3.  Don’t invite Jesus into your house and then neglect what He is saying.
4.  Never get so busy doing something FOR God that you fail to hear FROM God!
5.  Worship is the “Needful thing” because it puts you in a position to hear from God and it helps you to maintain your joy and peace.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am a worker, but I am also a worshipper.  I don’t neglect worship for work, nor work for worship.  I know that both are necessary and I am able to discern the proper timing for each.  I am diligent in my work, but I also know that proper worship will help me to work more affectively.  I worship You daily.  I worship You, I hear from You, and I led of You, I walk with You, and I have joy and peace while I do it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part II (back to the top)

(Luke 10:41,42 MSG)  The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Yesterday I introduced you to two sisters that we should take the time to learn from, and indeed we will.  When we met them they were at home with Jesus.  One sister (Martha) was busy in the kitchen while the other sister (Mary) was sitting at Jesus’ feet, in a position of worship.

This series has been going on for over four months now and I trust that you understand (by now) the importance of maintaining Joy and Peace in your life.  When we look at these two sisters we see that one seemed to be in perfect peace and the other was far from it.  Martha was frustrated and aggravated, while Mary was spending time with Jesus, without a care in the world.  Therein lies the power of worship.  A few days ago I shared with you that when you worship God, “All your cares and all your concerns dissipate in His presence.”  It is clear to see, then, how a regular diet of worship and praise help to promote an environment of joy and peace in our lives.

Before we move on to another incident in the lives of these two sisters I want to bring a few more things from this text.  The latter portion of our focus text, taken from the Message Bible, says, “One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”  I told you yesterday that the King James Version calls what Mary was doing the “Needful thing.”  I want to show you this portion from a couple of other translations:

  1. International Stand Version:  “But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her.”
  2. New American Standard Bible: “But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

So now you have seen it from four different translations.  What Mary was doing is called: essential, needful, the only thing we need, and the only thing that is necessary.  And this came from the lips of Jesus.  This was Jesus’ assessment of Mary’s actions.  If Jesus called it essential, needful, and necessary, then it is obvious that we should want it.  We should want to spend time in His presence, because that is where we get what we need, so that we are able to successfully and peacefully spend time in the presence of others.  It is so necessary that Jesus refused to dismiss Mary to the kitchen.  Although her sister was upset with her, Jesus was not so He CHOSE to have Mary remain where she was.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:
1.  Worship is necessary:  When Jesus calls something necessary, then it clearly is.  Spending time at the feet of Jesus is not an option.  As a matter of fact, the time you spend with Him in the morning will prepare you for the time you spend with others throughout the day.
2.  Pleasing God is more important than pleasing man:  Martha was clearly upset.  If Mary wanted to please Martha she could have left Jesus and went into the kitchen.  But Jesus was pleased with what she was doing.  So she had a choice to make: please God or please man.  She made the right choice.  As much as God wants us to live in harmony with others, He never wants us to do it at the expense of our relationship with Him.  Never compromise your beliefs.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I understand and I routinely participate in the essential, needful, and necessary thing in my life.  I will spend time with You in the morning, so that You can help prepare me for my time with others.  I love You with all my heart and I seek to please You.  I am a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser.  I will attempt to walk in harmony with all men, but not at the expense of my relationship with You.  I thank You for spending time with me and for helping me to develop an everlasting joy and an unshakable peace.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part III (back to the top)

(John 11:1-3 NIV)  Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  For the past couple of days we have been learning from these two sisters.  It is beneficial to learn from others.  My wife often tells the kids, “If I tell you the stove is hot and I got burned, then you should not need to burn yourself to know the stove is hot.”  We can learn from what they did right and we can also learn from what they did wrong.

Mary and Martha had built up a relationship with Jesus and He with them.  So much so that by John chapter 11 they could sincerely say that they loved Jesus and Jesus loved them.  Jesus’ love for them extended to their entire family.  They had a brother named Lazarus and we learn that Jesus loved him as well.  The love factor is important to bring out, because you go above and beyond for the ones that you love.  Jesus had lots of relationships, but by this point these two sisters were confident that He loved them and they loved Him.  Their relationship with Jesus was so strong that when calamity hit their home, they confidently called for Him.  When their brother Lazarus got sick they did not hesitate to make a demand on their relationship with Jesus.  When they sent word to Jesus they fully expected that He would do something about it.  After all, they were no strangers, they were “Loved ones.”

I like the verbiage they used in their message to Jesus.  The sisters said, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”  In other words they were saying, “Jesus, come one now, we are no strangers and Lazarus is not just someone you saw on the street.  We have a relationship with you and You have a relationship with us.  We know you heal lots of people that You don’t even know, so surely You are going to heal Lazarus.”  They had sent for Jesus and they were completely confident that He was going to show up in their lives.  They had no doubt at that point, but we will see later how time can eat away at your confidence and why you need joy and peace while you are believing God.  I will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:
1.  A sincere relationship births confidence:  When you get to know someone and you build a sincere relationship with them, you learn their strengths and weaknesses.  You know what they can do and what they can’t and if you establish a true bond, then you trust that they will do everything within their power to help you, if they can.  The sisters knew what Jesus could do and unlike some strangers that came to Him unsure, they had complete confidence, because of their relationship with Him.  It is the same with you.  How is your relationship with God?  If it is shaky, then your faith (confidence) in Him will also be shaky, but if you have a solid relationship with Him, then your faith (confidence) should be solid.
2.  Friends count on each other:  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were friends of Jesus.  Because they were friends they knew that they could count on Him.  Are you a friend of God?  I know that I am.  If you are then you should be able to count on Him and He should be able to count on you.  Now, you may be thinking, what does God need to count on me for?  Well, He needs you to represent Him in the earth.  You have a major part in His plan.  I know you are counting on Him, but can He also count on you?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am no stranger to You.  I come boldly before the throne of Your grace, through the name of Your Son Jesus, with complete confidence that You hear me and that You will move in my life.  I am an heir and a joint-heir with Jesus.  I am Your child and I am a Kingdom citizen.  I know who I am.  I know who You are.  I know that I can count on You and I declare, by faith, that You can count on me today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part IV (back to the top)

(John 11:4-6 NIV)  When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we learned that their brother Lazarus was sick and they confidently sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”  Their words indicated their relationship with Jesus and their fearless confidence that He was going to do something about their brother’s situation.  Remember, we are talking about a man that could speak healing and His mere Words could travel the distance between He and Lazarus to bring forth the manifestation of God’s power.  Once he found out about the situation, they were SURE He was going to do something about it.

You know how we are when we FIRST pray for something, we have fearless confidence at that moment, but what happens if it does not happen immediately?  The reality is that MOST of the time there is a space between our prayer and the manifestation, between our “Amen” and our “There it is,” between the confession and the completion.  That’s what this series is about.  It is about standing strong in the space between the promise and the performance, because what we do in that space is critical.  That is why we must maintain joy and peace while we are believing God.  Keeping the excitement of joy and the stability of peace will help us remain ‘in-faith’ until we see the manifestation of God’s best.

So there they were: the two sisters had sent word to Jesus and they were completely confident – for a while.  I can see them going up to their brother as he lay sick and saying, “Don’t worry Lazarus, we have sent word to Jesus.  You know Jesus loves you.  Once Jesus finds out about you He will be on His way.  You know how He has healed so many people; of course He will heal you.  So relax baby, you breakthrough is coming.”  The problem is that they did not know that Jesus decided to STAY where He was for two more days.  Although He knew what He was doing, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus didn’t.  Mary and Martha had a picture of what they wanted God to do.  They knew what they wanted and how they wanted it.  But what happens when God blesses us, but He does not do it they way we expected? Will we give up hope along the way?  Will you stop believing when the time expires on our image of what God is supposed to do?  Will you throw in the towel if He does not work fast enough for you?  Now, Jesus had said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” But they did not know that.  All they knew was that Jesus had received the message, Lazarus was still sick, he was getting worse, and Jesus had not shown up yet.  Have you ever been there?  We will pick it up from here on Monday.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:
1.  God’s ways are above our ways:  He knows what He is doing and He knows how He is doing it, but oftentimes we already have an image of what we want and if God doesn’t show up in accordance with that vision, we give up hope.
2.  God loves us and He wants the best for us:  Jesus did not want to intentionally hurt this family.  He loved them and He wanted to bless them, but He did what He did for a reason.  This is where trust comes in.  While you are waiting on Him you must trust His character and His love.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for moving in my life, I thank You for honoring my prayers, and I thank You for giving me revelation of what You will do.  Now, even in those times where I do not know what You are doing and I am not sure of how You will do it, I declare that I operate by faith and trust.  I trust You, even when I cannot trace You.  I trust You, Your character, Your nature, and Your love.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part V (back to the top)

(John 11:4-6 NIV)  When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  We closed out last week by looking at how Jesus reacted to the news of Lazarus’ sickness.  These were people – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – that Jesus loved.  So this was not an issue of sin or separation from God.  These were people who were in good standing with Jesus, who loved Him, and whom were loved by Him.  They had no reason to question whether or not He was going to do something about the sickness.  They had complete confidence in Jesus, His ability, and His willingness to heal their brother.  However, what Jesus said when He received the message is not something that the average person would expect.  Remember, we are talking about a man (Jesus) who could have spoken healing from wherever He was.  He did not even need to physically travel back to Bethany to deliver Lazarus from this sickness.  One Word from Jesus and Lazarus could have been up and running again.  But instead of speaking deliverance, He said, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Jesus’ statement seems a bit awkward.  He had already caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.  Jesus had already fed a crowd with a little boy’s lunch.  He had already raised two people from the dead and performed countless other miracles, but He knew that this one, this miracle, this manifestation of the glory of God, would be the biggest one yet.  This would be the one that would cause the buzz about Jesus to reach a fever-pitch.  This would be the one that would drive the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the High Priest to want Jesus’ head.  This would be the one that would drive the kingdom of darkness crazy.

But where does this leave Mary, Martha, and Lazarus?  Sure, Jesus saw the end from the beginning, but they didn’t. Jesus knew what He was going to do and how God would get the glory for it, but they didn’t.  Jesus knew that the sickness would not END in death, but it sure looked like it to the two sisters.  And to make matters worse, Jesus chose to stay where He was for two more days. And it’s not because He was busy.  It’s not because He was ministering to people.  It’s not because He was in the middle of some big assignment for God.  No, Jesus just simply CHOSE to stay where He was for two more days.  He chose to delay the blessing.  He chose to postpone the performance.  He chose to defer the deliverance.  Why?  Because He had a purpose behind what He was doing; there was a method to the seeming madness.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:
1.  God knows what He is doing:  The sisters had done their part, which was to make the petition.  For us today that would be prayer.  They did what they needed to do.  They had placed their confidence in Jesus, but it was now on God.  God had a plan; it just did not line up theirs.
2.  We must trust God, even when we cannot trace Him:  Even when we are like the two sisters, when our plan does not match God’s plan, or when our timing does not line up with His, we must still trust Him.  We must trust that God knows what He is doing, even when we don’t.  Our trust must be rooted in our belief that God loves us and He wants the best for us.  So even when you don’t understand His actions, trust Him and believe that it will work out for your good.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, You taught me through Isaiah that Your ways are above my ways and Your thoughts are above my thoughts.  Your Spirit lives inside of me and I believe He can reveal to me what You are doing, but even if He doesn’t and even if I don’t know the purpose behind what You allow within the arena of my life, I declare that I will still trust You.  I will maintain my joy and peace while I walk with You, because I know You love me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part VI (back to the top)

(John 11:12-15 NIV)  His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.  So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  We know that after Jesus received Word of Lazarus’ condition, He decided to remain where He was for two more days.  It is clear from Jesus’ verbiage to that point that He was determined to do something about Lazarus’ situation, but His clock and the two sister’s clock where not on the same time.  When Jesus sensed that the time was right, He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”  He was ready to ‘show up’ in their situation.  But then the disciples were not ready.  They reminded Jesus that the last time He was in Judea the Jewish leadership attempted to have Him stoned to death.  They were afraid that Jesus was going to walk into a death trap.  They were speaking out of fear; Jesus was speaking out of faith.  Jesus addressed their concerns and assured them that they were going back.  He then said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  This was now the second statement that Jesus had made about Lazarus’ situation.  In the first one He declared, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  These two statements are important to remember, because the story is about to take a turn for the worse.  Things for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus got a lot worse before they got better.  But remember, delay does not mean denial.

The disciples really had no clue of what Jesus was planning to do.  They said, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  They were thinking that Lazarus needed the rest so that he could feel better, but Lazarus had already died.  So Jesus clarified the situation by saying, “Lazarus is dead.”  Just like that.  Jesus did not cut any corners.  He told them plainly that Lazarus was no longer alive.  Now, by this point they should have been thinking, “No, there has to be something wrong.  Jesus already said that this situation would not end in death and that He was going to wake up Lazarus.”  If they knew anything about Jesus, they knew that He was no liar.  He always said what He meant and He meant what He said.  I am sure lots of thoughts were flooding through their minds when Jesus said, “And for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”  What?  Jesus was glad that He was not there.  Why?  How?  What was going on?  Jesus loved these people, He chose to remain where He was, and while He was waiting around seemingly doing nothing, Lazarus had died.  This makes no sense today and it made no sense back then.  I am sure the disciples had lots of questions and to add fuel to the fire, Jesus said that He was glad about it, because the situation was going to help them believe.  Another translation says that it would help them “grow their faith.”  Let’s stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that your situation is not over until God says it’s over.  Humanly speaking the situation seems like it was about as over as it could be.  Lazarus had stopped breathing, His sisters were in mourning, the preparations for the funeral were in motion, and all hope seemed lost, but hold on, Jesus was on the way. He might not have shown up when they expected Him to, but He was determined to show up in their situation and this happens countless times in our lives.  So don’t give up unless God tells you to let it go. Why?  Because one Word from God can turn any hopeless situation around!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for Your Word.  Your Word helps build my faith in my own situation.  I declare that I will not give up, I will not lose heart, I will not throw in the towel of my faith, I will not relax the hold of my expectation, unless You tell me to.  My situation is  not over until You say it’s over.  So unless You tell me something different, I believe You will show up and show out in my situation.  I trust in You.  I have faith in You and Your Word.  I am a believer and not a doubter.  And I maintain joy and peace while I wait!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part VII (back to the top)

(John 11:12-15 NIV)  His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.  So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we saw how Jesus plainly told His disciples that Lazarus was dead.  There were many questions.  The family had questions: wondering why Jesus had not shown up.  The disciples had questions: wondering why He decided to stay where He was for two more days.  But Jesus said, “For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Did they not believe already?  Yes, but what Jesus was saying was that their belief would be stretched by this situation.  I did a series back in 2006, my longest ever (it lasted all year), entitled “Expanding Your Capacity to Believe God.”  In that series I taught how our belief system is the foundation for our faith.  If we don’t believe something, then we will never come to God in-faith for it.  Our experiences with God enable us to expand our capacity to believe God in ways that we were not able to before.  The more we walk with God, the more we experience, and the more we expand our capacity to believe, the more we take our artificial limits off of our limitless God.

Jesus was glad that Lazarus was dead.  Not because of the pain it caused the family, not because of the hurt that is caused their friends, but because of the powerful impact He was going to be able to make for God in it.  He had already said that the situation would not end in death and He was fully confident that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  He was confident that the situation was not over, no matter what it looked like.  And He knew that when news of this got out it was going to shake the kingdom of darkness and glorify the Kingdom of God.  He knew that the disciples, the family, and everyone involved would be able to expand their capacity to believe God after they saw what was done for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.

I like the way the God’s Word translation translated verse 15.  It says, “But I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith.”  I already said that our belief system is the foundation for our faith.  So we can see how when we expand our capacity to believe God we can “Grow in faith.”  Jesus once said, “As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes” (Mark 9:23).  Don’t just pass over those words.  Read them again.  Remember, this was Jesus speaking and He literally said that there are no impossibilities for person who believes.  None!  Not one. Jesus’ point was that we are only limited by our capacity to believe.  If we can believe God can do it, if we can come to God in-faith for it, then we release Him to do it.  However, when we don’t believe God can or will do it, when we believe the situation is dead, when we believe the situation is over, then we lose our faith and we will not see God’s best; and it won’t be God’s fault.  Jesus believed and He wanted so badly for His disciples to believe.  I am convinced that He wants us to believe as well.  If we can believe, we can receive.

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:
1.  It’s never too late for God.
2.  You limit God’s ability to move in your life by your capacity to believe Him.
3.  If you can believe God can and have faith that He will, you release Him to do it in your life.
4.  There are no impossibilities in God.  There  is nothing that He cannot do.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know, I trust, I believe, I am convinced that there are no impossibilities in You.  I take my limits off of You.  I know You are a limitless God and I no longer limit You with weak faith.  I am a believer and not a doubter.  I walk in faith and not fear.  I walk in blessing and not cursing.  No matter what it looks like, I believe You can do it and have joy and peace while I walk it out.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part VIII (back to the top)

(John 11:17-20 NIV)  On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by getting back to the story of Mary and Martha.  After remaining where He was for two days Jesus finally decided to head out to Bethany to see Mary and Martha and to do something about Lazarus dead situation.  Remember, no matter what this situation looked like, Jesus had already made two declarations.  He had said: “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it,” and “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  Now, we know that Jesus was no liar.  So no matter how dead the situation seemed it was not too dead for God.

When Jesus arrived on the scene Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  Think about that for a moment.  Here you have a person that could have spoken healing over Lazarus’ body from where He was, but He CHOSE not to and He CHOSE to remain where He was for two more days.  They then took their time getting there and when they arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Now, the average believer can maintain their hope while the situation looks hopeful, but when happens when your situation shifts from the hopeful category to the hopeless category?  Most people stop believing when their situation seems hopeless.  Most believers throw in the towel of their faith when their breakthrough does not come when they wanted it.  Some say things like, “Well, I guess God did not want me to have it.”  But what if He did?  What if He was not through?  What if He was stilling working?  What if He had a plan, but His timing did not line up with your timing?  What if you give up on God BEFORE He had given up on the situation?

Some of you are thinking, “But Rick, it was four days.  The body was already decomposing.”  I know that, you know that, the sisters knew that, and Jesus knew it too; but what is TOO HARD for God?  Is there anything that God cannot do?  Can your situation ever get TOO dead for God to resurrect it?  Can your dream die to the point that God can’t bring it to life?

Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Many family and friends had come to comfort the sisters in the loss of their brother.  Many tears had been shed.  Many soul searching questions had been asked.  I am sure questions were still flowing through their heads when Jesus showed up.  Even while Martha went out to meet Him I am sure she was thinking, “Why are you here now?  Why had you not come earlier?  You have healed so many people, why did you not heal my brother?  I thought you loved us.  I thought you cared.”  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that there are no impossibilities in God.  There is absolutely nothing too hard for God.  There is nothing that God can’t do.  There is no situation that exceeds His ability.  There is no problem that can outrun the length of His arms.  We will see that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and if He can take a person that had been dead for four days and raise Him to life, then I am sure He can turn your seemingly hopeless situation around.  Mary and Martha had stopped believing when Lazarus stopped breathing.  Don’t make the same mistake they did.  Hold on to your faith, no matter what the situation looks like, and don’t give up!  If you have joy and peace you will be able to KEEP ON BELIEVING!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know You are the God of No Limits.  There is nothing too hard for You.  My petition is a small thing to You.  It might seem big to me, but I know that it is not big to You.  So I release Your hand to move in my life, on my behalf, and I declare that this seemingly hopeless situation will turn around by Your power.  I will not relax the hold of my faith because I am able to maintain joy and peace while I wait on You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part IX (back to the top)

(John 21-23 NIV)  “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we learned that when the sisters received word that Jesus was coming Martha went out to meet him.  I want you to see HOW these two sisters interacted with Jesus.  They both met Jesus at different times, so we get to see how each one responded to and interacted with Jesus.  Although WHAT they said to Jesus was very similar, HOW that said it was very different and they received different results.

Martha left behind a house full of people that were mourning, I am sure some were still in tears.  She came out with her heart hurt.  As soon as she saw Jesus she said, “Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died.”  She was open, she was real, and she expressed her pain and disappoint.  She had sent Word for Jesus while Lazarus was still alive, but for reasons unbeknownst to her, He had decided to show up after He had been dead for four days.  Her pain and frustration is understandable.  Death is never easy to deal with; especially when you believe that it should not happened, when the timing was not right.  Her heart, her soul, her entire body was probably panging in pain.  I can just imagine her telling Lazarus, while he was on his sick bed, “Don’t worry.  We have sent word to Jesus.  Jesus is on the way.  Jesus will fix it.  You will get better.  Just hold on.”  But then, He didn’t come.  Lazarus had not gotten better.  As a matter of fact, he had gotten worse. He died, and her hope died with him.

I believe we can all identify with her pain when she said, “Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died.”  But she also said, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  Wait a minute.  That sounds like faith.  That sounds like hope.  That sounds like belief.  It sounds like Martha was ready for Jesus to do something about her brother’s situation, even though he had been dead for four days, but was she really?  Was she really ready or was she just speaking religious jargon?  Was she just saying what sounded good?

From the text we can see that Jesus was ready.  Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again!”  He was bringing hope into seemingly dead situation.  The God of Hope was now on the scene.  Beyond the hurt, beyond the pain, beyond the past, HOPE was standing before her.  Her lips had spoken like she was ready for the hope, but was her heart ready?  Was she really ready for Jesus to do something about her dead brother?

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:
1.  It is OK to be real with God.  God is never upset when we express our true feelings to Him.  Martha had to release the frustration she felt inside and that was OK with Jesus.
2.  Religious jargon gets us nowhere.  Martha said the right thing, but we will see that she really did not believe what she said.  I run across people all the time that know how to sound “churchy,” but they don’t have any power behind their façade.
3.  God can blow your mind.  We serve a God that can do exceedingly and abundantly above anything we can imagine (Eph 3:20).  When Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again, she was not ready for it.  Are you?  Can you stand for God to do MORE than expect?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for allowing me to be real with You.  I express my whole heart to You.  I vent when I need to vent and I express to You what my true heart feels.  I am convinced that You love me and it is Your love that keeps me coming to You.  I will say what I mean and mean what I say.  I don’t speak empty words to You.  My heart is open to receive from You and if You want to BLOW MY MIND by doing way more that I expect or even imagine, then that is OK too.  I release You to move in my life, by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part X (back to the top)

(John 23-26NIV)  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we saw how Martha’s frustration came out as she told Jesus, “Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died.”  And you and I can identify with her.  Her pain is obvious and it is understandable.  But what Jesus said should have caused her faith to leap.  When Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again,” she should have started praising God.  But she was past any possibility of hope for Lazarus at this point.  Since he had been dead for four days her belief system was closed to any possibility of a resurrection.  Maybe if it had been four hours she might have thought that Jesus could still do something about it.  But four days?  Four long days?

This is where the series I taught on expanding your capacity to believe God comes in.  Often God is looking to bless us, but we fail to even fathom the possibility of what He wants to do.  When we expand our capacity to believe God we take our artificial limits off of our limitless God.  Jesus plainly told her that her brother was going to rise again, but she missed it altogether.  She said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  In other words she was saying, “Oh, I believe he will be part of the end time resurrection.”  But Jesus was not talking about some distant thing, He was ready to MOVE right then and there in their lives.  The problem was that she was closed to the possibility of it.  She had lost her joy and lost her peace in believing God.  She was no longer believing God for Lazarus.  To her, Lazarus was part of the past.

Jesus gave her another try.  He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  That was a powerful statement.  That should have shocked her faith back into action.  That should have awakened her belief.  That should have resurrected her hope.  And I like the way that Jesus offered the statement to her.  After He said it He asked, “Do you believe this?”  In other words Jesus was saying, “If you can believe this, if you can believe that I can do anything, if you can believe that I have resurrection power, if you can believe that I can bring the dead back to life, then I can turn your dead and seemingly hopeless situation around.”  But we will see tomorrow that she was not ready for it.  What Jesus said went right over her head.

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:
1.  Once you lose your joy and peace, it is just a matter of time before you stop believing God in your situation.
2.  Once you stop believing God your faith will stop.
3.  Once you relax the hold of your faith and you let go of your joy and peace, then you will soon stop believing that “it” is even possible.
4.  Once your belief system is closed to the possibility of something in your life, you are no longer open to God in it.  Even if God speaks to you about it, it will be hard for you to receive.
5.  So never believe something is over unless God tells you it is.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know that You are the God of no limits.  There is nothing too hard for You.  So no matter what things humanly look like, I will maintain my joy and peace in believing, I will continue to believe that You can and You will move in my life, unless You tell me different.  My belief system is open for You to move in my life.  I refuse to close the door to possibilities.  I am open, I am ready, and I am receptive to whatever You want to do in my life today and any day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XI (back to the top)

(John 25-28 NIV)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”  And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we saw how Jesus basically told Martha that He was ready and able to do something about her brother’s situation, but it went right over her head.  Although she was saying religious sounding words, they were not backed by belief or faith.  What Lazarus needed was a resurrection.  Jesus told Martha that He was the resurrection and the life.  He was ‘resurrection’ in the flesh.  What she needed for her brother was standing right before her.  Jesus even asked her, “Do you believe this?”  In other words, “Do you believe me?”  But look at how she replied.  She said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”  But that’s not what He said!  It is obvious that Jesus and Martha were not on the same wavelength.

So after seeing that He was getting nowhere with her, Jesus asked to speak to Mary.  After all, Mary was a worshipper.  Even if Mary did not come to Him with faith-filled words, at least she might come to Him in worship.  Jesus was ready, willing, and able to resurrect Lazarus, He was just looking for a trigger on the part of the sisters.  One sister had come and failed.  Even after repeated attempts by Jesus to explain to her who He really was and what He was capable of doing, she had missed Him altogether.  One sister down, one more to go.  Mary was coming and she would have her chance with Jesus.  As I show you what she did I want you to observe the differences in the two.  We will see that Mary said things very similar to her sister, but it was HOW she said them that made the difference.  It was her posture, her position, her worship.  She came to Jesus in a different way and she received completely different results.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been somewhere where God is moving mightily, where people are getting healed, where you can visibly see others getting their breakthrough, but then some seemingly receive nothing?  The writer of Hebrews tells us that two people (or two sets of people) can hear the same message, but the message heard will only impact those that receive it and mix it with faith (Heb 4:2).  That’s how you can be at the same place, at the same time, hear the same Word, by the same person, and still miss what God wanted to do in your life, even though others received their blessing.  In that case the problem is not on the part of the transmitter, but rather the receiver.

That’s why this series has burned in my heart for so long and that is why I believe it is so important.  When you maintain joy and peace while you are believing God, while you are waiting on Him to move in your situation, then you are ready, receptive, and postured to be responsive to what He says and does. It is when you lose your joy and peace and you allow frustration to creep in that God speaks and you miss Him altogether.

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that maintaining your joy and peace will keep you in a position and posture to hear and receive from God.  Allowing frustration to set in will hinder your ability to receive and you can easily miss what He wants for you.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I resist fear, doubt, worry, unbelief, and frustration.  I will not allow an internal uneasiness to keep me from Your best.  I declare that I maintain my joy and peace while I believe You, while I walk with You, and while I expect from You.  My joy and peace enable me to be in a position and posture to hear, believe, receive, and walk in Your best.  Speak Lord, your servant is listening!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XII (back to the top)

(John 11:32 NIV)  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we saw how Jesus did not get anywhere with Martha and how He asked to speak to Mary.  I told you that I believe Jesus was looking for a trigger from one of the two sisters to move on their behalf.  He was ready, willing, and able to resurrect Lazarus, but He was looking for something; some act on the part of the sisters that would move Him to action.

When Mary got word that Jesus was asking for her she quickly and abruptly got up.  She was in the middle of mourning with all those that came by to mourn with them and when the others saw how quickly Mary got up they followed her to see what was going on.  The Bible says that some thought she was going to the tomb to mourn there, but she was actually going out to meet Jesus.  See, Jesus had not made it into town yet.  He was still waiting just out of town, in the same place where He met Martha.  He had sent word for Mary to come to Him, so He remained where He was until she showed up.  I am convinced that God is similarly waiting on some of us.

So there He was, God in the flesh, waiting on the second sister and hoping that she would trigger Him to move in their lives.  Martha had come, held a long conversation with Jesus, but had done nothing but frustrate Him.  He attempted several times to get her to understand that He was ready to resurrect Lazarus, but she just didn’t get it.  Mary had her shot now.  When she got to the place where Jesus was she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  That’s it, that’s all she said.  If you look through this entire story you will see that these are the only words that Mary uttered.  As a matter of fact, these are the SAME 12 words that her sister had spoken when she first saw Jesus.  But somehow they were different.  When Martha said these 12 words nothing happened.  When Martha said them it caused Jesus to enter a lengthy discussion with her, trying to get her to see what He was really up to, but she never really got it.  But Mary was different.  All she had to say was 12 words.

Although WHAT she said was exactly the same, HOW she said it was completely different.  Mary had spoken these 12 words from her knees.  Mary was in a position of worship.  The mourners that followed her were there.  They were expecting Mary to fuss as Jesus like Martha had, but Mary did not fuss.  Her words were words of surrender.  She fell down at His feet, the place of surrender and worship, and expressed her pain.  She cried as she laid there at His feet and next week we will see that the reaction of Jesus was completely different to that of Martha’s.  She released everything she had, everything she was feeling, all the pain she was carrying, and all the hurt that was haunting her, as she laid at His feet in worship.  Jesus could not help but be moved by that.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that worship is powerful and it is necessary in your walk with God.  You were created to worship Him and He expects you to worship, to praise, and to maintain your relationship with Him, no matter what happens.  I have shared with you before that you may not be able to praise God FOR everything, but it is definitely God’s will that You praise Him IN everything (1st Thes 5:18).  Mary worshipped and it caused God to move in her life.  Does it look like you have tried everything else?  Then why not try worship?

Confession for this day:  Lord God, Jesus said in Your Word that You are looking for true worshippers.  I declare, by faith, that I am one of them.  I worship You with a pure heart.  I worship You at all times.  I come to You as my King, my Ruler, my Daddy, and my God.  I acknowledge no other gods and I call upon no other name.  You alone are Lord in my life.  You alone sit on the throne and I will worship You all of my days!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XIII (back to the top)

(John 11:33-35 NIV)  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  Jesus wept.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  In our last message we saw how Jesus finally had His encounter with Mary and when He did she said exactly what her sister had initially said, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Her sister had spoken these same 12 words to Jesus, but they did not move Him to action.  Although WHAT she said was the same, HOW she said it was completely different.  Mary spoke these words from her knees; from a position of worship; a position of surrender.  She laid at His feet, crying, worshipping, releasing her pain, and Jesus had to do something about it.  Although Martha had not gotten anywhere with Jesus, while she was on her feet, her sister did; not because of her words, butbecause of her heart.  Mary touched Jesus from her knees.

The Bible says that when Jesus saw her weeping and He looked around and saw all those that had come with her weeping as well, He was deeply moved.  Jesus was often compelled with compassion and this was certainly one of those times.  He looked past her words of frustration and saw a pure heart; a heart of worship, a heart surrendered to God.  It was as if He was so moved that He decided right then and there that He had to do something about Lazarus’ situation.  Instead of going through a lengthy discussion, like He had with her sister (a discussion that had gotten nowhere), He asked, “Where have you laid him?”  Just like that!  Jesus was ready to move to action.  Her heart had touched His and He was ready to do something about her pain.  He just wanted to know where they had laid the body.  If they could take Him to where the body was, then He was ready to do something about it.

But wait, before I get too far with what He did when He got the body, verse 35 says, “Jesus wept.”  That’s it, just two words. Verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, but one of the most powerful.  Jesus was moved to tears, because of the tears of Mary and the others.  He literally wept.  He cried.  He sobbed.  He identified with their pain.  He connected with their hurt.  He was moved by their situation.  Why?  Because He loved them.  See, part of the reason why Jesus came down from heaven to live like we live, walk like we walk, get tempted like we get tempted, feel like we feel, and hurt like we hurt, is so that He can identify with our pain.  The writer of Hebrews said, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.  Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned” (4:15).  Jesus is our High Priest.  He is in heaven as our advocate with the Father and He can identify with us.  He knows what it is like to feel pain, discomfort, and disappointment.  He lived down here so that He can connect with our situations from up there.  Jesus wept.  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  We don’t serve a distant God that cannot identify with our situation.
2.  HOW you say something is sometimes more important than WHAT you say.
3.  We serve a God that searches our heart.  So even if your words are right, if your heart is corrupt, God will not move.  But then if our heart is pure, God might overlook flawed words.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I ask You to search me afresh.  Search my heart and my motives.  I know You listen to my words and words are very powerful in my life, but I also know that You will not be moved by empty words spoken from a corrupt vessel.  So as I seek to speak the right words I ask You to identify with my pure heart.  I want to please You and I ask You to identify with me, my frustrations, my pain, and my situation.  Connect with me, Lord, in ways that only You can and as You do, I ask You to move on my behalf!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XIV (back to the top)

(John 11:33-35 NIV)  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.  “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  Jesus wept.

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we saw how Jesus reacted to Mary.  It was much different than His reaction to Martha.  Instead of going into a discussion about the resurrection and the life, He was ready to spring into action.  He was moved to action by her position of surrender and worship.

This morning I want to focus in on the words, “Where have you laid him?”  With this question Jesus was asking, “Where is the dead situation?”  Or, “Are you willing to take me to the cause of your pain?”  Remember, the sting of death was still fresh.  It had only been four days.  Four days was long enough for the pain to still be strong, but too long for their hope to still be alive.  See, they stopped believing when Lazarus stopped breathing.  Jesus was asking, “Are you willing to take me to where you stopped believing?”  Or, “Are you willing to open up the possibility of life in your seemingly dead situation?”  I know it had been four days.  I know rigor mortis had already begun to set in.  I know the body was already in the tomb.  I know Mary, Martha, and the family friends had already accepted the fact that Lazarus was gone.  I know the door of possibility was already closed in their minds and in their hearts, but now Jesus was wanted them to OPEN it all up again.  “Where have you laid him?”  Can you take me there?  Can you bear to OPEN the door that your heart has already closed?  Remember, there is nothing impossible in God!

This series is about not giving up.  It is about believing God, about maintaining your faith, about allowing patience (the force of consistency) to have her perfect work while you are waiting on God to move in your situation, and about tapping into the excitement that comes from joy and the settling stability that comes from peace while you wait on God.  Mary and Martha had lost their joy and peace.  I don’t blame them.  The situation looked beyond repair.  Not only was Lazarus dead, but he had been dead for four days by the time that Jesus showed up.  But Jesus was ready to do something about Lazarus, even when the situation looked impossible.  There are many things that are impossible with man, but nothing is impossible with God(Mat 19:26).  If they were willing to allow Him access to the dead situation, then He was willing to turn it around for them.  Jesus would not (then) and He will not (now) force Himself on us, but He was ready if they were ready.  He was willing if they were willing.  He was wanting if they allowed Him access to it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the same is possible for you.  Sure, you may have given up hope a long time ago.  It might not be four days for you, it might be four years or even forty years; but that does not matter in God.  If you sense God leading you to open up the door of possibility – a door that you may have closed a long time ago – then it is time to open it back up.  Allow God access to the place where you stopped believing.  Is it painful to even bring it up?  Yes.  Is it something you may not even want to think about anymore?  Sure.  But if this series has caused you to resurrect some dead dreams, hopes, and desires, then it is time for you to spend some time with God about them.  Remember, it is never too late and nothing is ever too hard for God!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I realize that I have given up on several things while I was waiting on You.  I have relaxed the hold of my faith.  I did not have the proper patience and I lost joy and peace while I was believing You.  As You lead me, I will resurrect the dead dreams, hopes, and desires that You still want to bring to pass in my life.  I get past the pain of my past and I grant You access to the burial ground of dead possibilities in my heart.  Nothing is impossible in You and by Your grace I start believing Again!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XV (back to the top)

(John 11:38-40 NIV)  Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.  “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday we saw how Jesus was so moved by Mary’s position of worship and the condition of her heart that He was ready to act.  He asked, “Where have you laid him?”  And He busted into tears.  Mary’s heart touched Jesus’ heart and He was ready to move on her behalf.  The gravesite was a cave with a large stone in front of it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  I taught yesterday how God will not force Himself upon us.  Jesus was there, He was ready, He was willing, and He was able, but He was not going to move the stone.  He was not going to open up the door.  He was not going to peel back the pain.  This was something that they had to do.  They had to grant Him access to the situation.  Once they allowed Him access, He would do the rest.

I trust by now that you have seen the difference in the two sisters.  Martha had a long conversation with Jesus, but she basically got nowhere with Him.  All she did was frustrate Him and what He wanted to do for them.  Mary only said 12 words; the same 12 words that Martha initially said, but since she said them in a different way – from a position of surrender and worship – Jesus was moved to action.  If that were not enough, this morning we see Martha jump in and almost mess up what Mary had already started.  Mary had touched Jesus and He was ready to move on their behalf.  They had already walked to the gravesite.  The stage was already set for the miracle.  Mary did not have to say anything else; her heart had already spoken volumes.  Mary was ready, Jesus was ready, and Lazarus (although dead) was ready.  Everything seemed to be going well.  The only thing left was the removing of the stone.  But here comes Martha saying, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  Martha was so blinded by her situation that she had no clue what was about to happen.  If she had realized that Jesus was about to raise her brother from the dead, then the odor would have been a small thing.  But sometimes our situation stinks so bad to us that we fail to see what God wants to do in our lives.  Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  We will deal with that statement tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that joy and peace are critical while we walk with God.  Martha lost her joy and peace, so she gave up on the faith that she had for her brother.  The door of possibility was closed in her mind and in her heart.  Even when Jesus was physically present and obviously willing to move on her behalf, she could not see it, receive it, or believe it.  She had been blinded by the pain of the situation and she did not want to peel back the possibility of Jesus doing something ‘now,’ because it would reopen the wounds.  Learn from her life.  Learn that there are no impossibilities in God and learn to never fully close the door of possibilities, unless God tells you to.  Learn to maintain joy and peace, no matter what the situation looks like, because without them you might get blinded by the pain.  You might hurt so bad that you fail to receive from God, even when He is ready to move on your behalf.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am a believer, not a doubter, and I don’t take that lightly.  I believe You and I keep the door of possibility open in my life.  Not everything that happens is good, but by Your grace, I will maintain joy and peace in my life, while I walk this walk of faith.  Joy and peace will keep me from getting bitter and from being blinded by pain.  I am learning to remain stable internally, even in the midst of ever changing external circumstances.  I am at peace, because I know that You are with me wherever I go and for whatever I face.  I am never alone and in Your presence I have the fullness of joy.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XVI (back to the top)

(John 11:38-40 NIV)  Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.  “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by continuing with the story of Mary and Martha.  Yesterday I further highlighted the differences in the two sisters.  We saw that even after Mary had touched Jesus and even after He had traveled to the gravesite ready to resurrect Lazarus, Martha stepped in and mentioned that the body was stinking.  She was obviously not helping, but it was because she was definitely not believing.  This led Jesus to say, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

Martha’s problem was that she had stopped believing.  Now, I am convinced that she was believing while Lazarus was still alive.  She was confident that Jesus would show up and heal Lazarus, while he was still breathing.  She had faith in Jesus, faith in His power to heal, and faith that her brother would get better.  But once Lazarus died, her belief died.  Once she stopped believing, she released the hold of her faith.  Once she gave up her faith, she lost her hope.  Once she lost her hope, her mind and her heart closed the door to the situation.  As far as she was concerned that situation was now in the realm of ‘past-tense.’  It was something in her past and it had no possibility of crossing back over into her present.  As far as the case of Lazarus was concerned she was no longer a believer.  She might have believed God for other things, but not for this.  This was, “case-closed,” “end of story,” “game over.”

Jesus came.  He was ready, willing and able to bring Lazarus back to life, but Martha was no longer believing.  Jesus said, “…if you believed,” but that was the problem.  Martha was no longer believing.  See, belief is a powerful thing.  Belief is not faith, but without belief you will never get to faith.  Belief opens the door of possibility for you.  Faith exercises confidence in God for it.  Belief says, “It can happen.”  Faith says, “It will.”

We are called “Believers” for a reason.  Jesus said, “As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes” (Mark 9:23).  There are no impossibilities in God, but there are all sorts of impossibilities for people who don’t believe.  For example, if a Christian is sick and God wants to heal them, but they don’t believe in healing, then healing becomes an impossibility for them.  Healing is not impossible, it just becomes impossible for them.  Why?  Because they have closed the door to it through unbelief.  That’s what Martha had done and that’s what many do everyday.  Please don’t make the same mistake.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God wants you to be a believer.  He was you to believe in Him, His power, and His limitless ability. He is the God of no-limits, but we put limits on Him when we fail to believe.  Don’t be like Martha.  Don’t put artificial limits on our limitless God.  No matter what your situation looks like, don’t stop believing.  Continue to believe, continue to operate in faith, and continue to trust God.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I am a believer, not a doubter.  I refuse to give up on my belief.  I will not allow my situation to cross over into the realm of the past-tense in my mind or my heart.  I will not allow unbelief to stifle my belief and faith.  Belief is choice.  Faith is a choice.  Doubt is a choice.  And unbelief is a choice.  I choose to believe.  I choose to operate in faith.  And I choose to continue to believe until I see Your glory manifested in my life.  I maintain joy and peace while I believe You.  My joy and my peace help me to continue to believe, even when situations seem hopeless.  I believe in You, the God of NO LIMITS!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

A Tale of Two Sisters (Mary and Martha), Part XVII (back to the top)

(John 11:41-44 NIV)  So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”  When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This morning continue our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing,” by wrapping up the story of the Mary and Martha.  I trust by now you see the differences in the two sisters, how they interacted with Jesus, and the different ways Jesus responded to them.  Today we see the conclusion to the matter.

They took away the stone and then Jesus was ready.  They had done their part and He was ready to do His.  He had already prayed.  He already knew what was going to happen, but He spoke out loud with the Father, for the benefit of those standing there.  He was already a believer.  He already believed that Lazarus was coming back from the dead.  He already trusted God.  But He wanted this act of God’s power to be a witness to them.  He knew that this miracle would cause them to expand their capacity to believe.  He knew that this would stretch them and their faith.  He said, “Lazarus, come out!”  That was it.  He spoke just three words, but these were three words spoken in faith.  Three words declared in complete confidence in the power of God.  And just like that, the spirit of Lazarus rushed back into his four-day-old dead body.

Lazarus struggled his way out of the cave, covered from head to toe in strips of linen.  I am sure he looked like a mummy from an old movie.  He was alive, but he was still wrapped up in grave clothes.  He was alive, but he was still covered in ‘dead stuff.’  So Jesus said to the others who were there, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”  I like the way the King James Version puts it: “Loose him, and let him go.”  Lazarus was alive, but bound.  He had life, but he did not have freedom.  And what I like about it was that he could not get free all by himself.  Jesus sent others to help him get free from the ‘dead-stuff’ that was keeping him bound.  That’s how it is with us when we get Born-Again.  Are we alive in Christ?  Yes!  Do we have eternal life in Him?  Absolutely.  But we come out of the cave of our old life wrapped up in ‘dead stuff.’ As much as we try, we cannot free ourselves of all the dead stuff that keeps bound.  We need the help of others, co-laborers in God, to walk in the freedom God desires for us to have.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  Determine within yourself to be the “One” that gets results from God.  That means that you will come to Him in with a pure heart and strong faith.
2.  Continue to believe, no matter how dead the situation seems.  We serve a God that can give life to dead situations!
3.  Don’t allow frustration to blind you from possibilities.  Once you lose your joy and peace, frustration will set in.  Once frustration sets in, you are no longer in faith.
4.  Know that you can’t do it by yourself.  It’s time-out for lone rangers in Christ.  Lazarus could not get free by himself and Jesus did not expect him to.  Jesus literally sent people to help him and He will do the same with you.  There is strength in numbers, so allow others to help you in your Christian journey.  There are people who want to help, receive their help and grow in Christ!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I thank You for giving me real examples in scripture that I can identify with.  I can connect with the pain of Mary and Martha.  I can relate to their frustration and I can learn from what they did (both good and bad).  I will maintain my joy and peace as I walk with You and I thank You for surrounding me with great brothers and sisters in Christ.  I don’t have to walk this walk by myself and I am glad about it.  You send people to help me and I will receive their help.  We grow together in this walk with You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Unmovable (back to the top)

(1st Cor 15:58 GW) So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation of your faith.  Always excel in the work you do for the Lord.  You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless.

This morning start to wind down our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  This series has been a blessing to me and I trust you have been blessed by it as well.  I will share a few final messages about faith and patience, joy and peace.

In 1st Corinthians chapter 15 Paul teaches about one of the greatest realities for the believer – the Resurrection!  He talks about how Jesus was raised from the dead and how we will be as well.  It is because of the resurrection that we don’t have anything to fear.  In my series on fear (Overcoming the Fear Factor) I taught how the fear of death is the mother of all fears and if you are able to overcome the fear of dying, then you are on you way to conquering fear altogether.  In this chapter Paul explains how Jesus took the sting out of death through the resurrection.  For believers death is not the end of the story.  Death is turned into victory.  Death is the door through which our mortal puts on immortality and our time is clothed in eternity.

So this is the backdrop to our text.  After teaching about the reality of the resurrection – both Jesus’ and ours – Paul says, “So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation of your faith… The King James Version says, “Be ye steadfast, unmovable…” I like those words.  They say it all.  We can be steadfast and unmovable, because we know that the bigger issues, the weightier matters, are already taken care of.  Our eternal destination is set in Christ, so that frees us to trust God for the smaller things.  If God has already taken care of what is going to happen when we die, then what we face today seems to pale in comparison.  Then I like how Paul goes on to say, “Always excel in the work you do for the Lord.  You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless.”  It was like Paul was saying, “Since what is going to happen when you die is already settled, then you can be strong in faith in what you face today.  Don’t let anyone shake your faith.  Believe, have faith, and determine that you will not be moved!  Knowing that what you do for God will work out in the end.”  No matter how difficult our challenges seem and no matter how hard the opposition comes, God, through Paul, tells us that our hard work in Him will not be pointless; it will not be in vain.  Holding on to our faith is never a bad idea.  Refusing to throw in the towel while we wait on God is never futile.  Remaining steadfast in our belief is never pointless.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  God has already settled the weightier matters for us: eternal life, the resurrection, and life after death.
2.  Whatever we are facing today is nothing in comparison to eternal life.
3.  If God has already settled the weightier matters, then we can rest assured that He can help us overcome whatever obstacles and challenges come our way.
4.  The enemy can’t make us do anything, all he can do is suggest.  Paul tells us not to allow anyone to move us from of our faith.  The choice to move is ours to make.  We can either move or remain unmovable.  God wants us to remain unmovable so we can see His best!
5.  Living by faith is never pointless.  We will see the manifestation of what we are believing Him for, if we refuse to quit!  That’s why we need faith and patience, joy and peace!

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I know that remaining in faith is a choice.  I thank You for giving me the right and the power to choose, to make decisions that affect my own life.   I choose to walk and live by faith.  I also thank You for taking the sting out of death and for robbing the grave of its victory.  Death has no power over me.  I am not afraid of death and I am not in bondage to fear.  I am free to operate in faith, to hold on to what I believe, and to be unmovable!  I hold on because I know that my faith is not pointless!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Sowing the Seed of Peace (back to the top)

(James 3:18 ISV)  And a harvest of righteousness is grown from the seed of peace planted by peacemakers.

This morning we continue to wind down our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  The book of James is a short book, but it is power-packed with truth.  In the third chapter James teaches about the power of the tongue.  We took a good look at the power of the tongue in our series entitled, “The Message in Your Mouth.”  After dealing with the tongue James teaches about wisdom.  Actually, he addresses two types of wisdom: wisdom that comes from God and wisdom that comes from the world.

James tells us that the wisdom that comes from the world pays no attention to things like harboring envy, selfish ambition, disorder, and evil.  Worldly wisdom seeks success at all costs, without taking account of the evil done to others.  James says that those who operate this way, those who trample over others, those who stab others in the back to move up, those who have no regard for anyone but themselves, are operating in wisdom that is earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil.  However, James also says that, “Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  Those that operate in Godly wisdom care about others, they are considerate, they are careful to treat others the way they want to be treated, and they walk in the love of God.

This is where we get to our text and James says, “And a harvest of righteousness is grown from the seed of peace planted by peacemakers.”  I oftentimes say, “Everything in the Kingdom of God is a seed.”  My point is that everything in God’s system works by sowing and reaping; and I mean everything.  If you sow love, you will be loved.  If you sow hate, you will reap hatred.  If you sow discord, you will find that you life will be in disarray.  If you sow compassion, others will be compassionate towards you.  And the list can go on and on.

In this series we have been dealing with faith and patience, with a special emphasis on joy and peace.  I meet people all the time who are seeking peace.  Peace seems to elude them.  But James teaches us something very important about peace here in this scripture.  He teaches us that if we want to reap the right harvest we need to sow the right seed.  James tells us that peacemakers – those who are inclined to seek peace and not strife out of every situation – are literally sowing a seed of peace in the lives of others.  He tells us that they will reap a harvest of righteousness from the seed of peace.  Believe me, this is the harvest that you want.  But to reap it, you must sow the right seed.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  The Kingdom of God operates by a system of sowing and reaping.
2.  Everything in the Kingdom of God is a seed.
3.  If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, then it is time to check the seed you are sowing.
4.  How you treat others is important.
5.  You don’t have to trample over anyone to make it up the corporate ladder.
6.  If you sow the seed of peace you will reap the harvest of righteousness.
7.  If you reap the harvest of righteousness it will affect every area of your life and you will enjoy the life that God wants you to have.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare, by faith, that I am a peacemaker.  As a peacemaker, Jesus said that I am a son of God.  I walk in peace with others.  I seek to make peace in every situation.  I sow the right seed and I reap the right harvest.  You open doors for me that no man can close.  You close doors that no man can open.  I don’t need to trample over anyone, because I know that promotion comes from You.  I sow the seed of peace and I reap the harvest of righteousness that spills over to every area of my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Living Your Life as a Sower! (back to the top)

(Gal 6:7-9 MSG) Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God! — harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.  So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.  At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.

This morning we continue to wind down our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  This message flows in the same vein from yesterday’s where I told you that, “Everything in the Kingdom of God is a seed.”  Paul, like James yesterday, talks about those that who plant selfishness and those who plant as a result of being led of God.  One group reaps a harvest of weeds, while the other reaps a true harvest – eternal life.

The latter portion of our text (verse 9) is where we focus in on for today.  Paul said, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.”  The King James says, “Let us not be weary in well doing.”  Paul knew what we all know, and that is that although the Bible promises a harvest, harvest time does not come right away.  It would be foolish for a farmer to plant corn today and expect a harvest of corn tomorrow.  He knows that it is going to take time.  He knows that there is a ‘space’ between planting and reaping, between sowing and receiving, between work and reward. This reminds me of a passage in Mark 4 where Jesus taught a parable about this.  Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground.  Days go by and whether the man is up or sleeping, it does not matter, the seed is still working.  The seed produces and guess what, Jesus said that man does not even need to understand the process.  The man that sowed the seed does not need to have a degree in agriculture to reap a harvest.  The bottom line is that he will reap what he put into the ground.  However, there is a process.  Jesus explained how the soil produces grain: first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  And then said Jesus, “As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (see Mark 4:26-29).

The problem with all of this is that it takes time and the person doing the sowing is never really sure how long it will take before he can enjoy the harvest.  That’s why Paul told us not to get weary.  That’s where Joy and Peace come in.  Maintaining our joy and peace while we are waiting on the harvest is a surefire way to keep a good attitude.  Paul went on to say, “At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.”  That is dangerous statement, because it tells us that if we quit, if we give up, if we throw in the towel of our faith, we might actually miss out on our harvest.  That’s why it is so very important for us to maintain the proper attitude while we wait on God!

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1.  God has set it up for us to reap whatever we sow in life.
2.  There is an undefined time between sowing time and harvest time.
3.  You don’t have to try to figure out how God is going to do it, just know that harvest time will come.  Even the person that doesn’t understand agriculture can reap a harvest.
4.  Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated, because then you might quit before harvest time.
5.  There is a due season for you to receive what’s due to you, just hold on!
6.  If you seek to sow the right seed every day, then you find yourself always reaping a harvest.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I declare that I live my life as a sower.  I sow seed daily into the lives of others.  I know that I will never be completely sure how long it will take between sowing time and harvest time, so instead of sitting around and waiting on one harvest, I will seek to sow seed daily.  That way I will always reap a harvest, because I am always sowing.  I am too busy sowing to get weary in well doing.  I will reap because I won’t quit!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

What to do while you wait on God (back to the top)

(Romans 15:13 NASB) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we continue to wind down our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  I am just about to close out this series and I pray that you have been blessed by it over the last few months.  I am sure that ‘Joy and Peace in Believing’ will be part of my vocabulary for many years to come.  This scripture (Romans 15:13) has really changed the way that I look at space between hearing from God and seeing the manifestation of it.  No matter how long it takes for something to develop or materialize for me in the future, I am sure that I will remember to maintain joy and peace while I wait on God.  It’s the expectant excitement of joy and the settling power of peace that will keep me stable and strong for many years to come.  Tomorrow we will close this series out for good, but for this morning I want to share with you four things to keep a close eye on while you wait on God.  I am convinced that what you do while you wait can affect how long you wait.  They are:

1. Your Mouth – what you are saying.  Now, if you remember the series entitled, “The Message in Your Mouth,” then this is self-explanatory.  If you carefully examine your life you will realize that your tongue plays a major role.  In many ways, you have what you say.  The reason why this is critical to understand while you wait on God is because I run into people all the time that PRAY one thing in the morning, but then SAY something else all day long.  They PRAY words of faith, but the SAY words of doubt.  What they SAY all day long cancels out what they PRAYED in the morning.  You can’t pray one thing and then say another.  Your words of prayer must be confirmed by words of faith.
2.  Your Mind – what you are thinking.  Basically, you are who you think that you are.  The question, “Who do you think you are?”  Is a very important one.  In our series entitled, “Mastering Your Mind,” we looked at how important your thoughts are.  If you think defeat it will be very difficult for you to receive victory.  If you think something is not going to happen, then you might miss it, even if it is staring you in the face.  You must learn to control your thoughts to line up with your expectation and resist every thought of failure, fear, doubt, and unbelief.
3. Your Methods – what you are doing.  The reason why thinking and speaking are so important is because what we think and what we say ultimately determine what we do.  Our actions are outward indicators of what we believe internally.  Meaning that what you REALLY believe and what you DO normally line up.  You can fool anyone for a short time with empty words, but at the end of the day, your actions will tell me what you expect in your heart.  In other words, your audio must match your video.  If you really believe something is going to happen; if you are convinced that God is going to do something for you, then you will ACT like it NOW!  Acting like it is going to happen, even before it has happened, is called faith!
4. Your Motives – what you are harboring in your heart.  If you harbor unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, and the like in your heart, while you SAY that you are believing God to do something in your life, then you definitely have a conflict.  Faith works by love (Gal 5:6).  When you fail to walk in love and hold on to things that God wants you to let go of, then you hinder yourself (and God) from moving forward.  These things become BLESSING BLOCKERS and you must learn to let go of them if you expect God’s best to manifest in your life.

Confession for this day:  Lord God, I take control of my mouth.  My words will line up with Your Word.  What I speak lines up with what I believe and what I am expecting.  My words of prayer are followed by words of faith.  I also take control of every thought.  I cast down mental images that did not come from You.  I bring every thought into subjection and alignment with You and what I expect from You.  My thoughts and my words help dictate my decisions and my decisions will determine my actions.  My video will match my audio. I act like I am a believer.  I will do things, in advance, with full confidence that You will do what You said You would do in my life.  And finally, I don’t harbor bitterness or unforgiveness in my heart.  I don’t hold on to any blessing blockers.  I walk in love and I experience Your best!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Closing Prayer (back to the top)

(Romans 15:13 NASB) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we close out our series entitled, “Faith and Patience Volume II – Joy and Peace In Believing.”  Over the last 21 weeks we have looked at this topic and sought to learn by both precept and example.  We have gleaned many golden nuggets from both the Old and New Testaments and have sought to learn from the lives of Abraham, Caleb, Joseph, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus, and others.  But like all things, this season has come to an end.  Next week we will start a new series that I am very excited about.  I have wanted to teach through the book of Proverbs for years and the Lord has given me release to do it.  So starting Monday we will seek to Unlock the Power of Proverbs – The Wisdom of God.

I trust that you have been blessed by this second installment of teaching about faith and patience and my prayer is that joy and peace become a vibrant part of your life and vocabulary.  With that in mind, I feel led to close out this series with a prayer for you:

Closing Prayer:  Father God, first of all I thank You for the person reading this prayer.  You have connected me with them and them with me.  You have anointed me to teach Your Word via the Internet and You have opened a door for this person to be one of the people that You bless through me.  I pray that You continue to use me to be a vehicle, a channel, a vessel through which You instruct, edify, and encourage this person.  I pray that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened through Your Word, so that they would know the hope of their calling, and the exceeding greatness of what You have for them in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.  I pray that as they daily read Your Word, these messages, and other anointed resources, that You speak to them clearly, that they would know and understand their purpose and their destiny.  I also pray that You provide opportunities for them to develop discipline.  I declare, by faith, that they have the discipline to make the proper decisions, that will take them incrementally closer to Your expected end for their lives.  I pray that they walk in discipline daily, so that they will ultimately arrive at Your desired destination at the end of their journey here in the earth.  My desire is that they die empty; that they fulfill every assignment and complete every task.  To accomplish that, to live a life that is pleasing to You, to be the person that You have destined, designed, and desired for them to be, I know they will need both faith and patience.  Without faith it is impossible to please You.  I know they need faith, but they also need patience.  Without patience they will give up too early and they will quit in the space between the promise and the performance.  So I ask that You send people their way and set up circumstances in their lives so that they would develop the patience they need to arrive at Destination Blessing!  With faith and patience – both working in their lives – I am confident that they will get there.  And then Lord, I know that You don’t just want them to make it heaven, but You also want them to enjoy the ride.  You don’t just want them to arrive at Destination Blessing, but you want them to have been blessed and have been a blessing along the way.  That’s why they need Joy and Peace.  Even now, even while they are reading this prayer, I ask You to flood their bodies with the overwhelming excitement of Your Joy and the settling force of Your peace.  Help them to physically feel Your presence as they sit in front of their computer and Lord, manifest Your glory in their lives today.  With faith and patience, along with joy and peace, I trust that they will develop into the person that You want them to be.  And finally, I pray for their soul.  I pray that they submit their mind, emotions, and will to You.  I know You will not force them to do anything, so I pray that they train their mind (their thinker), their emotions (their feeler), and their will (their chooser) to line up with Your Word.  As they submit, they WILL see Your best manifested in their lives.  I pray this prayer by faith.  In the name of Your matchless Son and my Savior, in Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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