Warrior Spirit

by Rick
Warrior Spirit

Renewing a Warrior Spirit

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to take a break from our current Proverbs series to deal with a topic that has been heavy in my spirit for a few weeks.  I am in the middle of a ‘faith fight’ in my personal life so I have been feeding my faith and starving my doubts.  For about a week now I have been listening to a series of teachings by Pastor Keith Moore (from Missouri) entitled “Developing a Fighting Spirit.”  And then yesterday I attended a church service where Pastor Sam Hamby (from Florida) preached a message entitled, “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  The Father really spoke to me in that message and my faith was certainly stirred.  The message blessed me so that I am led to share some of it with you.  So, I glean from my notes from Dr. Hamby’s message, along with sprinkling in some of Pastor Moore’s teachings, along with my own.  I trust this mini-series will be a blessing to you and me.  While we will skip around to different passages, the main passage is found in 2nd Samuel 23.  In this chapter we are introduced to David’s mighty men:

These are the names of David’s mighty men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.  Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite.  As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered [at Pas Dammim] for battle.  Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day.  The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.  Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite.  When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them.  But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory” (2nd Sam 23:8-12).

Of the three mighty men listed we will focus primarily on Shammah.

So what does this mean to you today? This message is simply an introduction to the passage and topic – tomorrow we will begin to dissect this passage – but I will give a few of the things I believe will come out of this series:

1.  Just like we serve a real God, we also have to deal with a real satan.  If Jesus had to deal with satan and his kingdom, what makes you think you are exonerated?

2.  There is a Godward part and a manward part of most things God desires to do in our lives.  The enemy does all he can to KEEP US from fulfilling the manward part.

3.  Fear is an incapacitating force that moves satan and disappoints God.  On the other hand, faith is an empowering force that moves God and stifles satan.

4.  God can turn wimps into warriors and cowards into champions!

5.  God can do more with you once you get started!

6.  For God to fully operate in your life, He is looking for you to co-operate with Him!

7.  Nothing is impossible to him that believes!

Closing Confession:  Father, on this Monday morning I thank You for stirring my Spirit and rekindling my faith.  I declare, in Jesus’ name, that I have a Warrior Spirit.  I know that I have a real enemy, but I also know that I have a real God, who has given me real power, and that will show up in my life in real ways!  I am not afraid of satan or his demons.  I am fully persuaded and overwhelmingly confident that my God will do what He has destined, designed, and desired to do in my life.  Father, You want to operate in, with, and through me; and I declare that I will co-operate with You every step of the way!  I enter this week with fearless confidence and immense courage!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Never Quit!

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  I am convinced that many believers today expect their lives to be a perpetual picnic after they are Born-Again.  However, if that is what they think, then their understanding of scripture might be a bit skewed.  While I believe in the power and grace of God and I fully expect to overcome every challenge, I also know that I cannot be an over-comer if I don’t have anything to come over.  God has placed too many militant terms in His Word for us to think that we are supposed to walk through life without opposition.  Once again, while I am fully convinced that IN CHRIST I will win every battle, I am not foolish enough to believe that I will never be involved in any.  We have a real enemy and he will not passively sit by as we seek to fulfill God’s assignment for our lives.

Let’s look at the life of Paul as an example.  Now, I know that this is an extreme example because Paul was assigned to minister the Gospel message to the Gentiles at a time when the political and religious climate dictated that Christians could be put to death for believing in Christ Jesus as Lord.  But nonetheless Paul was fully committed to his assignment and he had to deal with all sorts of opposition to fulfill it.  When looking back on what he had been through Paul said, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2nd Cor 11:23-27).  That does not sound like a perpetual picnic at all.  Don’t misunderstand me, I am not glorying suffering so that you can go out and look for it, but I am making it clear that you will have to face opposition if you are going to accomplish anything significant in the Kingdom of God.  The key is to never give up!

Paul held on to the end.  In his last letter he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2nd Tim 4:7).  He knew what his assignment was and he also knew that it had been completed.  Paul did not live much longer after writing this letter.  In this same letter he said the following to his spiritual son Timothy: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”  What was Paul doing?  He was helping Timothy get mentally and spiritually prepared for the challenges he would face on the road to fulfilling his own life’s assignment.  Paul was not alone in this mindset.  James said, “Take the old prophets as your mentors.  They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.  What a gift life is to those who stay the course!  You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end” (5:10,11).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you will face challenges, but you must NEVER quit!  The only way you can truly lose is if you quit.  If you refuse to cast away your confidence (Heb 10:35) then God will refuse to allow the enemy to overtake you.  Things may get ‘hairy’ from time to time, but renew your Warrior Spirit, keep believing, keep trusting, and keep moving forward by faith!  Before you know it you will find yourself the victor!

Closing Confession:  Father, I know that I have a part in what You desire to do in my life.  I declare, by faith, that I will fulfill that part.  I refuse to allow opposition or challenges to cause me to quit.  I am not a quitter, I am a fighter and I have a Warrior Spirit burning inside of me.  I am determined to die empty – to get out of me (before I die) all the things You have placed in me.  I know that the devil and his demons will not sit idly by as I seek to fulfill my life’s assignment, but when they come up against me, I believe that by Your grace I will come out on top.  I am not in this fight alone.  You are on me, in me, with me, and for me.  You are on my side and You are more than the entire world against me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Be Ready and Willing to Fight!

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Soon we will get to David’s mighty men, but before we do, I want to discuss David himself.  Many remember David as the mighty and blessed King of Israel.  However, a lot had to transpire in his life before he ever graced the throne.  David was raised as the 8th and youngest son of Jesse the Bethlehemite.  For whatever reason David was assigned the task of tending sheep, all alone.  As a young shepherd boy he had to fend off the wild animals that attempted to harm his sheep.  It is documented that he killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands.  While he was out there on the plains shepherding his sheep David learned to follow and rely on the great shepherd.  One day David was busy shepherding, along with God and his sheep, when one of his brothers came out to get him.  As they walked home I can imagine his brother telling him of the situation.  A great prophet had visited their home and he was there to anoint the next King of Israel.  The prophet had already examined all seven of David’s brothers, but none of them were God’s chosen.  David was the last and only hope, for the prophet was convinced that God had ordained one of Jesse’s boys to be the successor to Saul.  When they arrived home, sure enough, God’s favor shined on David and he was anointed right in front of the ones that had shunned him.  The Spirit of God came upon David from that day as the prophet anointed him as King.  However, a period of time would have to transpire between that day and the actual day that David would take over the throne.

So what do you think David did in the interim? If this were a modern movie or a TV series we would probably see David go off to royal training to learn the ins and outs of etiquette, protocol, politics, and leadership.  But this is not TV series, this is real life and David went right back to the fields to tend to his sheep.  David went right back to the position of faithfulness that had caught God’s attention in the first place.  Soon he would stand before a giant with nothing more than a slingshot and a stone… we all know how that story ends.  But many don’t realize that after David killed Goliath that his life went haywire.  The very man that he was supposed to follow as King turned on him, made several attempts on his life, and sent hit squads out to kill him.  Before David knew it he was on the run.  David spent years on the go and in that time span he endured many battles – physical, mental, psychological and social.  This was no walk in the park.  One time David made a decision to take all his men into a battle, leaving their wives and children alone in a camp and they were taken.  David’s men were so distraught that their turned on him.  So there he was… all alone, his family was captive or dead (he did not know which), his man had turned on him, he had long left his father and brothers, all he had left was his God – but that was enough.  David encouraged himself in the Lord!  He asked God, “Should I chase after this band of raiders?  Will I catch them?”  The LORD said, “Yes, go after them.  You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”  David took 600 of his men on this recovery mission.  However 200 of them got to a point where they were too tired to continue.  But David was undaunted and he continued on with the 400.  When David and his men caught up to the raiders they entered into a bloody battle that raged all night and then the entire next day.  When it was all said and done David’s army had killed every Amelikite there, except for 400 boys who ran off.  David and his men were pleased to see that none of their wives or children had been harmed.  They got all their stuff back, plus everything that belonged to the Amelikites (see 1st Sam 30).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that life is not always going to be a bed of roses – not even life in Christ.  Even if God has destined you for great things, it does not mean that you will be exonerated from challenges.  Just stay strong, rekindle your Warrior Spirit, and be determined to maximize your purpose and potential before you die!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for painting a vivid picture for me this morning with David.  I can indentify with him and the challenges he faced.  I too will remain faithful.  I will encourage myself if I have to.  I am willing and prepared to fight for my future.  I refuse to lose.  I refuse to quit.  I refuse to allow the enemy to run roughshod over my life.  If the enemy comes in and takes anything, then I will go out, by faith, and get my stuff back!  I am no wimp.  I have a Warrior Spirit and I walk in it boldly and confidently every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Maintaining the Proper Attitude

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Thus far we have mentioned Paul and David.  Both did great things for and by God, but neither did it without adversity.  Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and dragged from trial to trial.  David was hunted, attacked, and driven from cave to cave.  The key is that neither gave up and neither got bitter along the way.  Bitterness will erode your attitude and annihilate your hope.  Both men used every stumbling block as a stepping-stone, and because of it, they came out on top at the end.

Someone once asked J. C. Penny, “What would you say is the secret to your success?” He answered, “Adversity.  I’ve always faced adversity, but it has brought something out of me and made me a success.”  Now, that is not the answer most people would expect.  But Mr. Penny did not see adversity as a bad thing and his attitude helped him become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time.  Pastor Jerry Savelle, after quoting Mr. Penny in a sermon said, “If that’s what it takes to live a successful life then you and I have got what it takes, because we have an adversary who is persistent in his attempts to kill us, steal from us, and destroy us.  That doesn’t mean we have to lie down, roll over, play dead, and let him do with us what he will.  Satan seeks whomever he “may” devour, but you can tell him: You may NOT devour me!”  I like that.  I have been compared to Jerry Savelle in my preaching style.  Brother Jerry is bold and courageous.  He has had some mighty adventures of faith in his 40 years of ministry.  I have not been walking with the Lord that long, but I have had my fair share of faith battles and I have come out the other side with powerful testimonies.  I attempt to do all that I can to learn from men like Brother Jerry, King David and the Apostle Paul.  Soon others will be quoting me as I walk with God and continue share my story.

Getting back to David and Paul, I can’t stress enough the power behind their focus on God’s goodness while facing opposition.  Even after all David faced he was able to say: “The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid?  The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?  When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident… I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living” (Ps 27:1-3 & 13).  Faith is all about confidence.  David was definitely confident in God and his confidence enabled him to walk by faith and not by sight; to look past the problems and to focus on the promises God had made to him.  No matter what David faced and no matter how hard things got while he was on the run, he knew he was anointed to be King of Israel and that someway/somehow he was going to eventually grace the throne.  His God-given vision kept him going!  Paul was the same way.  Even after all he had been through he was able to say, “Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ” (2nd Cor 2:14).  Paul could have easily complained, but he CHOSE to see life through the lens of faith.  Paul’s perspective enabled him to say that God always causes us to triumph in Christ!  What a powerful statement!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you too must be convinced that God wants to do great things in your life.  God said, “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for” (Jer 29:11 GNB).  Do you believe that?  If you do, then it will help you maintain the proper attitude, even when facing adversity, oppression, and betrayal.  Warriors simply refuse to quit!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for rekindling the Warrior Spirit in me.  I am fully convinced that You have a bright future in store for me.  I focus on Your promises and that focus enables me to look past any problems I may face.  My attitude will determine my altitude in You and since my attitude is fixed and focused in faith, I am confident that I will experience Your best.  The more the enemy messes with me, the greater Your testimony becomes in my life.  If he knew better he would simply leave me alone.  But whether he attacks me or not, I am convinced that I will serve You all the days of my life and I will see Your goodness while I am in the land of the living!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Making Champions Out of Nobodies

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  I have already given you a little of David’s background.  For all intensive purposes David was a “nobody.”  He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He dad was no great leader.  He was an unknown until he shows up 1st Samuel 16.  But that’s one of the things that is amazing about God.  We serve a God who specializes in making Champions out of Nobodies! I like to say that He makes Holy Garments from flawed material.  This leads us to the discussion about Shammah.  Shammah was one of David’s three key mighty men.  Let’s take a look at his background.

The Bible does not tell us much about Shammah.  All we pretty much know about him is his name, his father’s name, and his hometown.  Now, since names were so important in Biblical times, we can look up the meanings of the names to see if we can learn anything about him.  The name Shammah means: wasted, desolate or good for nothing.  Well, that’s a pretty rough start.  How would you like to go through school with a name that means “good for nothing”?  Since that was a rough one, let’s look at his father’s name.  His father’s name is Agee.  Agee means fugitive or outlaw.  That did not help.  If anything it made the situation worse.  If all we do is glean from significance of the names, then Shammah was a wasted, desolate good for nothing who was the son of a fugitive outlaw.  Not a pretty picture.  But wait, what about their hometown.  They were from Harar.  While the Bible does not say much about Harar, Biblical historians tell us the following about Hararites: they were mountain dwellers who were a very insignificant group in history.  So basically Shammah was a nobody, who was the son of a nobody, who came from a group of nobodies.  How do you like that resume?  If God was not involved in this story then you would never think that Shammah would amount to anything.  But once God gets involved everything changes.

The awesome thing about God is that He does not have to consult your past when designing your future! Shammah was one of David’s three key mighty men.  He did not have a special pedigree, but God’s hand was on his life.  Give yourself over to God and He will use you for His glory!

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

1.  Don’t judge your future by your past! God specializes in making Champions out of Nobodies!

2.  You + God = Victory, every time! Once God gets involved in your life, then all bets are off.  There is no limit to what God can do; if He did it for others He can do it for you!

3.  In God it’s about availability, not ability! There are many people out there that may be more gifted, more talented, better connected, and with more money that you, but as long as you avail yourself to God the impossible can become possible in your life!

4.  It depends whose hands it’s in.  A basketball in my hands is only worth about $20.00, in Kobe Bryant’s hands it’s worth 5 championships.  A baseball bat in my hands is only worth about $50.00, but in Albert Pulhols’ hands it’s worth several batting titles.  Two fish and five loaves in the little boy’s hands was only worth about one lunch, but in Jesus’ hands it fed 5,000.  Shammah’s life in his hands was an uphill battle to get out of his past, but in God’s hands his life was able to make a difference.  Whose hands is your life in?  Once you fully commit your life to God, and put your future in His hands, then He can make a Champion out of you!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for making a difference in, with, and through me.  I refuse to judge my future by my past.  I will not disqualify myself from what You have already qualified me for.  Thank You for not looking at my qualifications and for seeing something in me worth investing in.  I declare, by faith, that I will be worth the investment.  I look forward ever, backward never.  I give myself fully over to You, I place my life in Your hands, and I truly believe that You will do awesome things with me.  Father, I thank You in advance for making a Champion out of me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Making Champions Out of Nobodies – Part II

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  I received a lot of feedback on the last message entitled, “Making Champions Out of Nobodies,” so I decided to continue to flow in that same vein.  We have already learned that Shammah, David, and Paul were relatively “Nobodies” when they came in contact with God.  If they were the only three examples in the Bible then their lives would still give us hope.  However, the Bible is chock-full (from cover to cover) of examples of seemingly insignificant people who God used in significant ways.  Our God is a master of accomplishing the extraordinary through the ordinary.  This gives us everlasting hope, because it lets us know that our background has nothing to do with whether or not we can become a champion in God!  Furthermore, our past mistakes have not disqualified us from our destiny.  God knew what we were going to do, well before we were ever born, and He still saw fit to destine us for His glory.

Paul thought about his unlikely story and the countless nobodies he had come across whom God had used mightily and he said: “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life.  I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families.  Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?  That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God.  Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.  That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God” (1st Cor 1:26-31 MSG).  Paul brings out two points: 1) that God is in the business of making champions out of nobodies, and 2) that once He does, we would be foolish if we took all the credit.  At the end of the day, we are who we are and where we are by the grace of God.  We ought to be extremely thankful for His goodness, kindness, grace and mercy!

If you are looking for more examples, then you don’t really need to look any further than Jesus’ disciples.  These guys were like the “Dirty Dozen” and by God’s grace they were able to change the course of history.  These 12 nobodies included a guy with ‘foot-in-mouth disease’ (Peter), two Mama’s boys (John and James) who squabbled over the top spot at Jesus’ side, a guy who will go down in history as a great doubter (Thomas), a tax-collector (Matthew) who more than likely stole from the people before coming to God, and a treasurer and traitor (Judas) who was stealing the money while Jesus was performing miracles.  Furthermore, when the mission was at the most critical point and their leader needed them the most, they all abandoned him and even denied ever knowing him.  Does that sound like any of them were qualified for anything significant?  But sure enough, this rag-tag group changed the world!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that it is time for you to rise up and become the Champion the Father has destined, designed and desired for you to be.  The world thinks Christians are a bunch of weaklings, misfits and castaways, because for the most part believers have been silent and sullen.  But no longer! We are seeing a body of believers today that are not afraid of allowing their Warrior Spirit to come alive!  We are seeing winners, not losers; victors, not victims; and champions, not cowards rise up all over the world.  Will you be one? Will you be like one of the 12 nobodies that changed the course of history or will you idly sit by as the kingdom of darkness runs roughshod over you and your family?  The choice is yours!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this Word.  The more I read this series the more this revelation gets down inside of me.  I am a Champion!  I am a winner!  I am a fighter!  I am a Warrior!  I refuse to disqualify myself from all that You have qualified me for.  I am who You say that I am.  I can do what You say that I can do.  I can become all that You say I can become.  And I declare that I will!  You chose me and I respond to the call.  I enter this day with fearless confidence.  I am completely determined to maximize my purpose and potential before I die.  The Warrior Spirit has come alive in me and I will not layback and allow the enemy to attack my family unchallenged.  I fight the good fight of faith – today and everyday!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Facing Opposition

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Some people make the mistake of thinking that those who face opposition must be outside of the will of God.  These are the people who believe life in God is supposed to be a perpetual picnic.  But God never promised us a walk in the park.  While I am fully convinced that with God on our side we will win every battle, I would be a fool (and you would too) to think that we are not going to be involved in any.  In this mini-series we are taking a close look at Shammah, one of David’s three key mighty men.  For this message, however, I want us to be introduced to all three.

The first of the three listed in 2nd Samuel 23 is actually the leader of the pack.  His name is Jashobeam and he was a Hacmonite.  The Bible tells us that he was the mightiest of David’s mighty men.  Jashobeam once used a spear to kill 800 enemy warriors in a single battle.  Our modern moviemakers have a pretty good imagination, but Jashobeam fought 800, with just a spear, and this was no movie, it was real life and it was surely real hard.  But he survived to fight another day.  He never backed down.  He never quit.  He never threw in the towel.  He knew it was life or death for him and he chose life.

The next on the list is Eleazar son of Dodo, a descendant of Ahoah.  Before I go any further, let me just ask this question?  How would you like to go through life as the son of a guy named “Dodo”?  OK, lest I digress, let me get back to the lesson.  Once Eleazar and David stood together alone against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled.  Think about that for a moment.  They were in the middle of a fierce battle, completely engaged in ferocious conflict, when all their men ran away in fear, leaving no one but David and Eleazar behind to fight.  For David to stay is understandable, because he was the leader, but for Eleazar to stay by his side says a great deal about his character.  Eleazar was loyal, committed, and courageous.  The Bible says that Eleazar killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword.  When it was all said and done he had fought so hard that his hand literally stuck to his sword.  Wow.  His hand was stuck in the fighting position.  And guess what?  The Bible does not say that he and David fought hard because they had sinned.  The Bible does not say that the Philistines came because the Israelites had messed up.  No, the Philistines came because they were enemies and we will always have enemies (natural and spiritual).  But what the Bible does say is that “The LORD gave him a great victory that day!”  Who did the fighting?  David and Eleazar.  To whom does the Bible attribute the victory?  To the Lord!  Why, because David and Eleazar were not fighting alone.  The Lord was with them and while He did not deliver them FROM the fight, He did deliver them IN it! That should be good news to you today!  The third and last mighty man is Shammah.  We will talk more about him tomorrow.

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

1.  Facing opposition is not an automatic indicator that you are outside of the will of God.

2.  Just like we have a real God who sends his servants help us in our journey, there is also a real devil who will send his servants to oppose us, in hopes of keeping us from arriving at God’s expected end for our lives.

3.  Whether facing natural or spiritual opposition, we must renew our Warrior Spirit so that we don’t back down and so that we never quit!

4.  God will fight WITH you, but He will not always do all the fighting FOR you.  There are times when He delivers you FROM the fight and then there are times when He delivers you IN it!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for rekindling the Warrior Spirit in me.  I know I will face opposition.  You said, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” and “In the world you will experience tribulation.”  But You also said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” and “Fight the good fight of faith!”  I declare, by faith, that I will.  I am determined to walk by faith and not by sight.  I will not allow what I see to change what I say.  I refuse to cower, shutter, or shirk.  I move forward ever, backward never.  No matter what I face in life I shall not quit!  I am fully determined to arrive at Your desired destination for my life, because I have a Warrior Spirit burning inside of me that keeps me going!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Facing Opposition – Part II

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday we were introduced to Jashobeam the Hacmonite and Eleazar son of Dodo.  They are the first two of David’s three mighty men listed in scripture.  The Bible then goes on to say: “Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory” (2nd Sam 23:11,12).  In the last message we focused on the “Opposition” Jashobeam and Eleazar faced.  In this message we will take a look at the opposition Shammah faced.  So let’s take a closer look at this text.  The text tells us that:

The enemy were Philistines:  To understand the awesomeness of what Shammah did we must understand the enemy he faced.  The Philistines were no rag-tag group, but rather a highly skilled and dedicated army.  Just like little boys in the Dominican Republic grow up playing baseball, with hopes and dreams of making it to the Major Leagues, little boys in Philistine grew up playing “war,” with hopes and dreams of becoming elite soldiers in their elite army.  History tells us that Philistine soldiers were normally quite tall (they only picked the best), clean-shaven, they wore breastplates, carried small shields and fought with straight swords and spears.  The most famous of these soldiers was one who stood over 9 feet tall.  This giant was killed by Shammah’s leader (David).  His name was Goliath.  I bring this out because I don’t want you to think that Shammah was up against a group of rookies.  These were highly skilled, highly trained, highly motivated and highly dangerous men.  What can we take-away from this?  1) There will be times in our Christian journey that we will have to fight (the difference is that today our fight is spiritual), 2) The enemy will come at you with the best that he has; don’t expect rookies or scrubs; and 3) As a believer you should never back down, never shirk, never shudder, and never ever quit!

They gathered together at Lehi:  These guys were not just coming together for a picnic.  The words “gathered together” in the original Hebrew have a military connotation.  Another translation says, “They mustered for battle.”  The Philistines assembled their army and they prepared – checking their soldiers, inventorying their equipment, assessing their readiness – for the upcoming fight.  The point is that they did not come without preparation.  This was no fly-by-night organization and this was no willy-nilly attack.  The Philistines carefully thought through what they were going to do and how the were going to do it. What can we take-away from this portion of the text?  1) We are up against a skillful enemy.  The kingdom of darkness has been tracking you all your life and they know your strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t expect anything less than total preparedness from your spiritual enemy.  2) Our enemy will plot and scheme.  While I don’t want to glorify the devil and his kingdom, I do want us to be aware of his craftiness.  The kingdom of darkness often comes prepared and most believers are often not, making themselves easy prey for the enemy.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we must recognize the fact that we are up against a formidable foe.  Paul taught us that if we are not aware of the enemy’s tactics that he will get an advantage over us (2nd Cor 2:11).  So be aware, be sober, be vigilant, and be ready!  Reignite your Warrior Spirit and enter every day ready to fight AND WIN!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your grace, mercy, and truth.  Your Word and Your Spirit help expose the enemy and his devilish ways.  By Your grace I am prepared for today and every day.  I enter this day dressed for success.  I have on the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith. I am dressed and ready to resist the enemy at all cost.  Furthermore, I also have the only offensive weapon in the Armor of God and that is the Sword of the Spirit.  I walk in the Word and I speak the Word daily. Your Word is the ruler by which I judge every decision.  By walking in the Word and the Spirit I am prepared for today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Facing Opposition – Part III

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday we started to take a closer look at Shammah from this passage:  “Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory” (2nd Sam 23:11,12).  We have already focused on the fact that “The enemies were Philistines” and that “They gathered together at Lehi.”  Let’s continue to walk through the text:

They came in “Attack Mode”:  Once again, the Philistines were highly skilled, highly trained, highly motivated and highly dangerous men.  They chose their battles wisely and on this occasion they came in “attack mode” against Israel.  In a few moments I will discuss the strategy behind the “when” of their attack, but for now let’s focus on the “how” and the “what.”  The Philistines were notorious for overpowering their enemies with overwhelming force.  A modern reference to their Modus Operandi would be what is considered the “Powell Doctrine;” named after General Colin Powell.  Under the Powell Doctrine the U.S. military would scrutinize their war plans against a series of questions similar to the following:  Do we have a clear attainable objective?  Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?  Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?  Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?  Is the action supported by the American people?  Do we have genuine broad international support?  Under the Powell Doctrine the U.S. military attempted to go in big (in number), strong (well equipped), and calculated (after proper analysis). The Philistines were like-minded in their tactics.  While they might not have spent a great deal of time building coalitions, they did always come to the fight prepared.  So when the text tells us that they “attacked” the Israelites, you can rest assured that they came big, strong, and calculated.  It’s no wonder why all but one (Shammah) of the Israeli Army fled.

They waited until the field was full of lentils:  Notice that the Philistines did not come when the Israelites were preparing the fields.  No, they did not come when the Israelites were planting the seeds.  They did not even come when at the first signs of a harvest.  The Philistines waited until it was fully HARVEST TIME – until the fields were full of lentils – before they came in pillage Israel.  The timing here is critical.  Remember, the Philistines were planners; they did not attack haphazardly.  The Philistines came to “take” only when the Israelites had something worth taking!  We will continue this tomorrow.

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

1.  Your enemy studies you and he will always come prepared, but that does not mean that you have to succumb to his attacks.  Shammah was left all alone, but he (+ God) fought back!

2.  The enemy comes in with a lot of bark, but with the blood of Jesus you have more BITE!

3.  You + God = a majority; every time!

4.  If you are being attacked, then it is evidence that you have something worth attacking.

5.  When the attack is the greatest, you must also realize that the harvest is the closest!

6.  If you allow the enemy to take your harvest, he will, but if you stand against him and fight the fight of faith, you can maintain your ground and enjoy the fruit of your labor!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for teaching me the importance of standing my ground in You.  I declare, by faith, that I will reap the fruit of my labor.  I sow and I also reap.  I don’t allow the enemy to come in and steal my harvest.  Harvest time shall come in my life and when it does, I will pull out the plow shears and bring the harvest in.  If the enemy attempts to attack me to take my harvest – my children, my marriage, my career, my finances, my health, or etc. – I declare, in Jesus’ name, that I will remain strong in You Father and in the Power of Your Might!  I will stand, resist, push back, and believe; and if I get tired I will stand some more!  I refuse buckle, bend, or break.  I stand in faith and I reap all that You desire for me to have!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Facing Opposition – Part IV

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday we learned that the greatest opposition precedes the greatest harvest.  All week we have been learning about our opposition and I have made it clear that we face a formidable foe.  However, today I want to bring out the fact that our enemy, while formidable, is limited.  To realize how limited satan is, let’s take a look at God’s incommunicable qualities.

God is Omnipresent:  This means that God is everywhere at the same time.  Our God literally fills the universe, in all its parts, and He is present everywhere at once.  Now, when I say He is present, I don’t mean in part.  He is fully present in every place at every moment.  This is a truly awesome reality.  That means God is with you right now as you read this email, He is also still residing where you just left, and He is at home waiting on you before you get there.

God is Omniscient:  This means that God knows everything; and I when I say everything that is exactly what I mean.  God knows our thoughts before we think them, our desires before we have them, our emotions before we feel them, and our passions before we develop them.  Furthermore, He perfectly and eternally knows all things which can be known: past, present, and future.  Simply put, our God knows the end from the beginning.  There is nothing that He does not know now, nor will there ever be anything that He does not know.

God is Omnipotent:  This means that God has all power; yes, literally ALL power.  There is nothing that God cannot do.  He has the ability to do anything and everything He chooses.  However, He is a God of integrity and He is completed committed to His Word, so there are some things that God chooses not to do – like sin Himself, ignore sin, lie, or fail to fulfill His Word.  But other than the things that we can rationally deduce that God will not do, we must be clear that there is nothing that He does not have the ability to do.  We serve a God of NO LIMITS!  Jehovah is not limited in any way and that my friend is awesome news!

So what does this mean to you today? The answer to this question may be unclear by this point.  You may be thinking, “Wait a minute Rick.  You said you were going to tell me about satan’s limitations and all you did was talk about God’s limitless ability.”  But wait.  There was a method to the madness.  I started off by telling you that I was going to share God’s incommunicable qualities.  The three ‘Omni’s of God’ I discussed are truly incommunicable; meaning that they belong to God and God alone.  This means that satan does NOT possess these qualities.  So satan is NOT omnipresent – he is not everywhere at the same time.  If satan is in France today, performing one of his devilish schemes, then he cannot be where you are (if you are not in France).  Satan is NOT omniscient – he does to know everything.  And guess what?  He cannot read your mind!  I assume that he wishes that he could, but he can’t so don’t help him know what you are thinking by foolishly babbling thoughts of fear, doubt and unbelief.  Keep those to yourself.  Lastly, satan is NOT omnipotent – he does not have all power.  He knows that he is powerless against God and he too has read the end of the book.  Satan knows good and well that he is doomed, and he knows that he really does not have that much power over us (especially believers), but he does have the power of suggestion.  Like he did with Eve in the garden, he can tempt you to go astray, but he cannot force you.  At the end of the day, you have the power to resist this limited enemy!  So remember, God is LIMITLESS, satan is not!

Closing Confession:  Father, thank You for revealing this to me this morning.  This is an awesome reminder of your LIMITLESS ability and also of satan’s LIMITS.  You alone are everywhere at the same time, with all knowledge, and all power.  You are my God and I worship You.  You are the only true God and You have incommunicable qualities that set You apart from everyone else.  I acknowledge You afresh as my Lord and I realize that satan must be horrified about me knowing about his limits.  I used to give satan more credit than he deserves.  While he is a formidable foe, I know he is limited and I will not allow my limited enemy to run roughshod over me.  I serve the God of NO LIMITS and I experience NO LIMIT LIVING today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Fight or Flight?

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  I trust you have been enjoying this series thus far.  I know that is been a tremendous blessing to me personally and to my family.  As we go back to our main passage we will focus in on the fact that the Israelite soldiers deserted Shammah as they abandoned the mission and fled as cowards.  The text says: “Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory” (2nd Sam 23:11,12).  Now, before I am too hard on the Israeli soldiers I must admit that their opposition was fierce.  I already told you how hard the Philistines trained and how intimidating their army could be.  But I also need to point out that these were soldiers, not civilians, and they should have been accustomed to combat.  These were also highly skilled and qualified warriors who had been through many hard-fought battles already and more importantly, their God had proven to be there for them time and time again.  Even if they did not have confidence in their own ability, they should have maintained their confidence in their God.  Why?  Because we serve a God who will never leave us nor forsake us; who will always be there for us in the time of trouble.

Not only did these Israelites know God to be a God of battle for themselves, but they also had a great history of battles where the Lord manifested His glory on behalf of the nation.  The Israelites were big on passing down history by word-of-mouth and I am sure these soldiers knew of the time when Moses stood on the top of a hill with his rod lifted up to God as Joshua led the Israeli army in gruesome combat against the Amalekites.  As long as the rod was lifted up to God – as a symbol of prayer, of getting God involved in the battle – Joshua and the rest of the army was winning.  But whenever Moses’ arms got tired and he let down the rod the Amalekites would get the advantage.  Ultimately, two helpers (Aaron and Hur) assisted Moses in holding up the rod and the Lord helped the Israelites secure a mighty battle that day.  When it was all said and done Moses built an altar and called it “Jehovah Nissi,” which means “The LORD is my Banner” or “The Lord who will fight for us” (see Exodus 17).  I am sure Shammah and the rest of the army said they knew God as Jehovah Nissi, but it is one thing to say it with you lips and quite something else to believe God to show up for you pressure is on, the battle is real, and the enemy is advancing!  Shammah chose to fight while the others chose to flee!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must be completely convinced now – before the fight – that God is your Jehovah Nissi.  When humans experience acute stress or danger our bodies release adrenaline, which is referred to as the “fight-or-flight hormone.”  When the pressure is on and adrenaline is flowing, it is too late to attempt to build your confidence in God.  Shammah was obviously convinced BEFORE the Philistines arrived; and because of it he was ready to fight when the adrenaline flooded his system.  The others, however, were obviously not as convinced and when the adrenaline hit they ran like cowards.  What will do you when the pressure is on and adrenaline floods your system?  Will you fight or flee? If you don’t establish your confidence in God NOW I assure you that you will flee!  But if you build your confidence in God BEFORE the fight you will be able to STAND and experience a Godly victory!

Closing Confession:  Father, I declare, by faith, that You are my Jehovah Nissi.  You have fought for me and with me in the past, and I am completely confident that You will do the same in the future.  Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but I trust in the name of the Lord my God.  My confidence is in You and Your ability.  With Your ability working with me I am able to do much more than I could have ever done alone.  Because I know that You are on me, in me, with me and for me, I will never back down.  I am ready to fight and with You I am ready to win!  Even when adrenaline floods my system and it causes me to have physiological inclinations to flee, I declare that my spirit man will rule over my soul and tell my body to stand, to withstand, and to fight!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Even When Others Leave You Behind

(2nd Sam 23:11,12)  Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday we discussed adrenaline and how once this ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone floods your system you normally do one or the other.  Shammah stood his ground to fight and everyone else (yes, the entire Israelite army) fled like cowards.  Not only did Shammah’s fellow soldiers fail the mission (nationally), but they also failed him (personally).  As soldiers they were supposed to be completely committed to the mission and to one another.  They left Shammah behind and quite frankly, they left him to die.  Humanly speaking, there was no way possible that Shammah should have survived that battle that day.  There are times when the odds are against you, but 1 vs. an entire army is as close to impossible as you can get.  But sure enough, they still left him behind.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been in a situation where others claimed their allegiance to you, only to leave you when you needed them the most? Have you ever been in a covenant with someone that swore to be with you through thick and thin, only to be dropped at the first sign of ‘thick’? The sad reality is that many of us – no, more like most of us – have experienced the sting of being stranded by someone who claimed to be there for us.  I am not sure how Shammah felt as he watched his combat-tested brethren flee all around him.  Maybe he was thinking?  “What are these guys doing?  They know that we are supposed to protect this field.”  If he was thinking that then he would only be focusing in on the fact that they deserted the mission.  However, he might have been thinking, “Hey, what are these guys doing?  Don’t they see me back here?  They know we are supposed to fight and I am here fighting.  They are never supposed to leave a comrade behind.”  If Shammah was thinking that way then his feelings would have been much more personal.  It is one thing to desert the mission, but quite something else to desert a person.  But no matter what they were thinking, the reality is that they left and they left him all alone.

In this series we have learned that we will all face challenges and that life in Christ is not promised to be a perpetual picnic.  So by now you should be aware of the fact that you will have to face your share of challenges in your walk with Christ.  The point of this lesson is to bring out the fact that there will be times when you have to face those challenges all alone.  Now, when I say “all alone” I mean: without the assistance of other humans.  As we see in the text, Shammah was not all alone because God was with Him; and we serve a God who will never leave us nor forsake us.  But from a human standpoint you can rest assured that they were be times – especially when the going gets rough – that you will have to face challenges without the assistance of others; even those who vowed to be there for you “no matter what!”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that while some folk may be fickle, phony, or even flat-out fake, God is always faithful.  Believe me, I don’t want to put a bad taste in your mouth towards others, because God wants us to have rewarding and fulfilling relationships, but ultimately you must maintain your trust in God!  Even when others leave, God is still there!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to develop a Warrior Spirit and this Spirit enables me to stay fixed and focused, even when others leave me and forsake me.  I know that You will always be there for me, so my confidence is in You!  Even when I am deserted and even betrayed by others, I will not allow my disappointment to cause me to lose focus from the task set before me.  When the pressure is on I remain ready to fight and I keep my ‘faith switch’ in the ON position.  I refuse to allow the decisions of others to derail me from my destiny.  I am still here, I am still ready to fight, I am still in position, I release myself to You Father to be used of You for Your glory!  Like Shammah, I won’t let anything keep me from Your best!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

God Has a Plan

(1 Sam 16:13 MSG)  Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of GOD entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life. Samuel left and went home to Ramah.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday we discussed how God is always there for us, even when others are not.  Shammah’s fellow soldiers left high-and-dry.  If it were not for Godly intervention Shammah would have surely been killed.  As I thought about this David came to mind.  Others too failed David on several occasions.  Now, it is one thing to be failed by fellow soldiers and quite something else to be failed by your own family.  To explain my point let’s take a look at David selection as Saul’s successor.

In 1st Samuel 15 the Lord rejected Saul and sent Samuel the prophet to Jesse’s house (in Bethlehem) to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king.  Samuel had to make up a story about why he was going to Bethlehem, because Saul would surely have him killed if he knew what he was up to.  So Samuel said he was going to make a sacrifice and invited Jesse to come to the sacrifice with his sons.  Jesse arrived with his sons and Samuel thought his mission almost complete when he saw Eliab.  Eliab was Jesse’s eldest son and he was handsome, tall, and strong, but the Lord told Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  Let’s be thankful that divine selections are not beauty contests!  God is not as superficial as we are.  So then Jesse called Abinadab, his second oldest, and had him pass in front of Samuel.  But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”  And this went on with five other boys.  Seeing that the Lord had not chosen any of them, Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”  Reluctantly, Jesse admitted that he had one more son, but he was out tending the sheep.  In other words, “Yeah, I have one more, but you don’t want to see him.  He is out with the sheep.  If he comes in here he will still be smelling like sheep and goats.  He can’t be the one.”  But Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”  So here comes David, smelly and all, and sure enough, God confirmed that he was the one.  Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him right in front of his father and brothers.

What bothered me about this story was that it seemed like David did not have one friend in the camp.  While he was out tending the sheep and fighting off lions and bears, his brothers were with his Dad and he seemed to be the outsider.  When it came time for Jesse to line up his sons before the prophet the thought never passed his mind that David might be the one.  Even if his father failed to mention David, at least one of his brothers could have brought his name up.  At least one of them must have been his friend.  Someone could have said, “Daddy, I know David is not going to get picked, but shouldn’t he at least be in the line up?”  But no, David was omitted, overlooked, and maybe even overworked, but God saw what others failed to see!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we can find solace in the fact that God will be there for us, even when others fail to and when He manifests His glory in our lives He has a way of making sure that all those who ‘passed’ on us are around when we get promoted!  So have faith in God.  You may be denied, derailed and even dismissed by others, but you are still destined by God!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for having a plan for me that far exceeds the plans of others.  I may be overlooked and oppressed by others, but I am confident that I have been selected for greatness by You.  Yes, I may be denied and even dismissed by others, but I have been destined by You.  You have never, nor will You ever fail me.  I am thankful for all those You have placed in my life to be a blessing to me and for me to be a blessing to, but my trust in not in man.  I have faith and trust in You and I declare, by faith, that Your best will manifest in my life, whether others try to stop me or not.  Their poison can’t stop my purpose!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

God can Still Get the Glory!

(2nd Sam 23:11,12)  Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday I discussed how David’s father and brothers overlooked him when it was time to select the next king of Israel, but thankfully God did not.  Although David went on to face many challenging years before taking the throne from Saul, it all worked out for him in the end and God got the glory from his life.  So it was with Shammah.  We see that his fellow brethren left him behind to fight an entire army by himself, but he stood his ground, the Lord was with him, and when it was all said and done Shammah was the last man standing.  The last line of this passage says, “So the LORD brought about a great victory.”  That last sentence is power-packed.  We will talk more about it later.  For this morning I want to focus in on how the Lord often works in situations where it seems like all hope is gone; and at the end of the day He gets the glory!

This reminds me of one of my favorite characters in scripture: Joseph.  Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave by those closest to him, exiled from the family, and basically left to die.  All this happened because the Lord had given Joseph a dream and Joseph had the audacity to BELIEVE it!  Joseph’s brothers did what they did in an attempt to kill the dream.  But remember, “their” poison (no matter who “they” are) can’t stop God’s purpose in your life.  Sure, it took over 20 years and Joseph had to endure many challenging situations, but the dream finally came to pass.  Joseph was finally able to stand above his brothers and after crying and getting his emotions out, he revealed himself to them and 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 was behind it.  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.  So you see, it wasn’t you who sent me here but God.  He set me in place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt” (see Gen 45).

What a powerful perspective!  Joseph was able to look back and see the hand of God in his life, even through the situations that were most painful.  And in a true sign of maturity, he did not hold any grudges against his brothers, even though he clearly understood their devious motives.  Later on he said, “You tried to harm me,” so he was not confused or deceived about that, but Joseph went on to say, “but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing” (Gen 50:20).  Joseph could not easily gotten bitter, but he chose to get better and focus on God’s work in his life.  What was the result?  God got the glory from all that he did.  I am sure that if you could have interviewed Shammah after this even he would have said something similar.  Sure, the guys left him behind; sure, they were completely wrong in doing that; but when it was all said and done God got the glory!

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that you must maintain a positive perspective so that God can get the glory out of your life and so that you don’t hold allow destructive grudges to eat you alive from the inside out.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to maintain a positive attitude and perspective when others do me wrong.  I am completely convinced that their poison cannot stop Your purpose in my life.  Therefore, I declare, by faith, that I will get better and not bitter with every challenging situation I face.  Even when others clearly attempt to do me wrong, I will pray for them and move on.  Unforgiveness does not profit anyone and I will not allow destructive bitterness to eat away at me from the inside out.  In the end, I know You will get the glory from my life and living!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

NEVER QUIT!

(2nd Sam 23:11,12)  Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday I discussed the lives of David and Joseph, focusing in on the fact that although they faced major challenges, when it was all said and done the Lord was able to get maximum glory from their lives.  Most of us want to see God move mightily in our lives, but very few of us welcome the situations that require His intervention.  Sure, we are still speaking of Joseph’s amazing adventures thousands of years after they happened, and many of us “say” we would like to experience things like Joseph did, but very few of us really want to go through what he went through.  Remember, Joseph had to endure a pit and a prison before he made it to the palace.  David spent years on the run, surviving countless attempts on his life, before he was able to take over the throne as king.  It’s easy to say that we want to be like David and enjoy the pleasures of being a king, but the average believer does not want to do what David did to get there.  However, you will never know God as a healer if you are never sick, you will never know God as a deliverer if you are never in a bind, you will never know God as a provider if you never need anything, and You will never know God as an overcomer if you don’t have anything to come over.

Every person (and I mean every last one) in scripture that was used mightily of God endured their fair share of challenging situations.  In this series we have been looking at Shammah, one of David’s mighty men.  The text says that Shammah “Held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.”  Remember this was one man against an entire Army.  But he never gave up hope, he never lost heart, and he never quit!  Shammah kept trusting in God and he kept fighting, even after every one else had fled, and his perseverance paid off.

The Apostle James was looking back at the Old Testament and all the examples we have in it and said: “Take the old prophets as your mentors.  They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.  What a gift life is to those who stay the course!  You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end” (5:10,11).  The heroes of scripture were not people who did not face anything, but rather those who faced their challenges head on.  David, Joseph, Elijah, John, Peter, Paul and all the others in scripture that are worthy of emulation all had “STAYING POWER!”  What made these guys special?  Did they have superpowers?  No.  Could they leap tall buildings in a single bound?  No.  So what made them special?  The simple truth is that the only thing that separates these from the average believer is that they NEVER QUIT! That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.  They refused to quit and they are in God’s Hall of Faith.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must be determined to face whatever you have to face, with God, in faith, and with a determination to never quit.  If the enemy knocks you down seven times, then get up eight!  Never let the enemy give you a knockout blow.  I will close with the words of Paul: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Gal 6:9).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for giving me countless examples in scripture.  These are men that were just like me.  They were not perfect and they did not have anything that I do not have.  I can identify with them and the more I study their lives, the more I see myself with the ability to maintain my faith until the end.  I declare, by faith, that I have STAYING POWER.  My faith is being stirred up.  I refuse to quit.  I refuse to give up.  I refuse to lose heart.  I know that my breakthrough and my harvest will come, just as long as I don’t quit; and I won’t.  I am a believer and not a doubter, a winner and not a loser, and I enter this day with great expectations.  My trust is in You Daddy and I believe You will manifest Your glory in my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

God is Looking For Faith

(2nd Sam 23:11,12)  Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  In the last message from this series we took a look at Shammah’s NO QUIT mentality.  Personally, I love the Word of God and I have studied the lives of many of the heroes within its pages and what they all have in common is the ability to operate in faith, even when all human hope is gone.  The writer of Hebrews said, “It is impossible to please God without faith” (11:6).  The word impossible there is not a mistake.  You simply cannot please God without faith and since God desires for us to live lives pleasing to him, He is looking for faith in the earth.

If you look at the life of Jesus (who was God in the flesh) you will see the same thing.  Jesus was pleased by faith.  Jesus got up every morning, prayed, and headed out for the day’s journey.  Inevitably he would come in contact with someone who operated in faith, He would meet their need, and they say something to the effect of: “This was done according to your faith.”  One time Jesus encountered Roman man who possessed exceptional faith and He said, “Most certainly I tell you, I haven’t found so great a faith, not even in Israel” (Mat 8:10).  The words “I haven’t found” tell me that faith is what Jesus was looking for.  The reason why He responded to those coming to Him in faith every day is because He got up looking for faith every day.  The Father does the same thing.  He wants to work in the earth.  Jehovah wants to manifest His glory.  He wants to operate in our lives, but to do so He is looking for our cooperation.  Can God do anything?  Of course He can, but He has chosen to work through man and He has chosen to do His work in and through us with our cooperation – not in spite of us.  God is not going to force Himself on us, but when He finds someone who is willing to believe Him, even when all human hope is gone, then it gives Him an opportunity to ‘show up’ and ‘show out!’

This takes us back to Shammah.  It was not God’s will that the Philistines come in and take all that the Israelites had worked so hard to achieve.  This was an Israelite field of lentils and it was harvest time.  The field was full, the harvest was ready, and it was time for the Israelites to reap what they had sown, but as is often the case, it was also the time that the enemy came in the strongest.  Sure enough, the enemy came in full-force and God was not pleased.  He wanted to help the Israelites defend their ground, but He was looking for human cooperation.  However, soldiers were running everywhere.  Before you knew it, the only one left was Shammah.  But no need to worry, God can work through one man just as easily as He can work through thousands.  Notice that the text says that Shammah did the fighting, but it also says: “The LORD brought about a great victory.”  We will discuss that closing point more tomorrow.

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

1.  When you are looking for answers, God is looking for faith!

2.  Nothing is impossible to him that believes.

3.  If you supply the faith, God will supply the Victory!

Closing Confession:  Father, I declare, with my own lips and from my own heart, that I am a man/woman of faith.  I was saved by faith, I walk by faith, I pray by faith, I fight by faith, I live by faith, and I overcome by faith.  Like a house is wired for electricity, I am wired for faith.  I see every situation through the lens of faith.  I speak to every situation with the language of faith.  My heart’s desire is to please You and since I cannot please You without faith, I operate in faith every day and in every way.  As I do, You respond to my faith and You manifest Your glory in my life.  You work with and through me like You did with Shammah and when the enemy brings the attack, You brings the Victory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Is it You?  Is it God? Is it Both?

(2nd Sam 23:11,12)  Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar.  One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the LORD brought about a great victory.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  In the last message we focused in on the fact that God is looking for faith in the earth.  Paul wrote an entire letter about faith when he wrote to the church in Rome.  Just like God found faith in Shammah He is still looking for faith today.  He is looking (and waiting) for His mature children to operate in the faith that truly moves Him.  Just like fear moves satan, faith moves God.  The question is: do you have the faith to get God involved in your life today?

The Bible makes a distinction between children and sons of God.  The Greek word used in the New Testament for “child” or “children” means one thing and the one used for “son” or “sons” means something else.  The word used for son(s) connotes a level of maturity.  In Romans (the faith letter) Paul said, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14).  And this is exactly what God is looking for; for believers to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them, especially in situations where the average response and God expectation are diametrically opposed.  While it might have been socially accepted to flee in the face of the formidable Philistines, God was looking for someone to have the faith to stay, to resist, and to fight, so that He could manifest His glory.  He found that faith in Shammah.

Later in Romans 8 Paul said, “For all creation, gazing eagerly as if with outstretched neck, is waiting and longing to see the manifestation of the sons of God” (v.19).  So not only is God looking for faith, but the earth is as well.  All of creation is looking for the sons of God to rise up and work with God for His purposes to be manifested.  Shammah’s example is awesome.  The Bible says that Shammah did the resisting and the fighting, but the ultimate victory is attributed to God.  So what is Shammah or God?  It was BOTH! It was God and it was man – it was God working through and with man! It was not ALL Shammah and it was not ALL God.

This reminds me of something Paul said in his first letter to the church at Corinth.  He said, “By God’s grace I am what I am.”  But he knew that he could not stop there, because that sounds like he had no part in the matter.  Someone could read that and say, “Well, my life is all up to God.”  No, Paul went on to say, “I worked harder than all the others.”  This made it clear Paul had a part in the matter, but that does not sound good either.  Someone might think he was being arrogant.  So Paul continued and said, “Not I, of course, but God’s grace that was with me” (1st Cor 15:10).  This shows that Paul had part and God had a part.  Without God, we cannot.  Without us, God will not.  It is God + man making a difference in the world.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you can try to live your life on human ability alone, but why would you want to?  Without God’s ability working through you, you will never arrive at His desired destination for your life.  But if you partner with God, if you allow Him to work in and through you (by faith), then you can experience supernatural victories like Shammah and Paul.  Shammah and Paul were not special.  What God did for and through them He can do for and through you.  Just don’t make it all you and don’t think it will be all God, it is God + you making a difference in your environment.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for wanting to work in and through me.  I know You could have chosen to work without man, but You didn’t.  You have opted to work through man in the earth and I declare, by faith, that I will be that man (or woman).  I release myself to You, to be used of You for Your glory.  Since I have the faith I know that You can supply the victory.  I partner with You to bring about a difference in my sphere of influence.  I have a Warrior Spirit.  I am not afraid when the enemy comes in with his opposition.  Since You are on my side, I have no need to fear.  Fear has no power over me.  I am a faith-filled Warrior that is used of You to make a difference daily!  Lord, use me for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Holding On!

(Heb 10:35,36 AMP)  Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.  For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  In the last message we focused in on the fact that Shammah did the resisting and the fighting, but the ultimate victory was attributed to God.  The point I made was that it was not all Shammah and it was not all God – it was both.  I run across many people (believers and unbelievers) who either blame everything on God (not taking accountability for their actions) or put everything on themselves (as if God has nothing to do with their lives).  I believe the truth is in neither extreme.  God definitely wants to work in our lives, but He will not do it in spite of us.  For example, God clearly did NOT want Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit, but He also did not knock the fruit out of his hands.  As much as our heavenly Father loves us and as much as He goes to far-reaching efforts to speak to us and warn us (through His Spirit, His Word, others, circumstances, and etc.), if we stubbornly insist on doing the wrong thing, we will get the wrong results.

Many of us get to the point where we make mistakes simply because we lose heart and we fling away our confidence.  Even Abraham – who is considered the Father of Faith – lost his confidence and he made a critical mistake.  After waiting for years for his promised son and after many failed attempts at procreation with his wife Sarah, Abraham and Sarah decided to come up with a PLAN B.  It is understandable because while we are waiting on God for something to happen it seems like the pressure mounts daily.  With each passing day, if you are not careful, you can definitely lose your confidence and throw in the towel.  Abraham and Sarah did and the world is still dealing with the consequences of their decision.  The rift between Muslims and Jews started with Sarah and Hagar and it was a result of Abraham and Sarah’s PLAN B.

Believe me, I understand how difficult walking by faith and especially waiting on God can be.  I am waiting right now.  I am in a situation right now that I have no control over.  I am waiting on God to do something and as the days go by the pressure to cave in and quit mounts.  But I am extremely thankful for this “Warrior Spirit” series.  I have taught about faith for years and I seek to live by faith daily.  This series has rekindled a fire within my members I longed to feel.  You and I, like Shammah, must be fully committed.  It is obvious that Shammah was willing to die.  Shammah was committed, no matter the cost and in the end the Father worked with him to bring about a great victory.  Shammah did not give up, even though the odds were insurmountable and [humanly speaking] the outcome seemed bleak.  Shammah held his ground, which is exactly what I am going to do and what I ask you to do.  I guess you can call me the “No Quit Preacher,” because it seems like that message of never quitting, never throwing in the towel, and continuing to stand (no matter the opposition), is a message that comes through in many of my messages.  I will stop here for today and tomorrow we will take a closer look at this passage (Heb 10:35,36), where we will learn the importance of not flinging away our fearless confidence.

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

1.  If you lose your confidence you will drift into fear, doubt, and unbelief.

2.  If you get into fear, doubt, and unbelief you will not be able to stand very long.

3.  Once you can no longer stand, you will make fear-filled (not faith-filled) decisions.

4.  Fear-filled decisions will not produce results that are pleasing to God; therefore they will not be pleasing to you either.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for stirring up the faith that is within me.  I declare, by faith, that You lead, guide, and direct me daily.  I am confident that You will do what You said You will do in my life and I also have the faith to stick with “it” until the end.  I walk with You daily and as You lead me to situations that require Your intervention and my patience, I declare that I will wait on You; maintaining my confidence while I do.  I refuse to fling away my fearless confidence, because I know it brings with it a great reward!  I am holding on and I WILL NOT QUIT!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Holding On (Part II)

(Heb 10:35,36 AMP)  Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.  For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Yesterday I discussed the importance of “Holding On” to your confidence.  As believers we are clearly called to live by faith.  Living by faith is all about confidence.  Once you lose your confidence it is only a matter of time before you slip into fear, doubt, and unbelief.  With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this passage in Hebrews.  The writer of Hebrews gave us what many consider to be the standard definition of faith (11:1) and an entire chapter is dedicated to highlighting some of the heroes of the faith (chapter 11).  Some actually refer to Hebrews chapter 11 as the “Hall of Faith.”  The passage we are looking at this morning is actually part of the ‘lead up’ to chapter 11.

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence:  If you have subscribed to Today’s Word for a while you know that the definition I use for faith is: an expression of your confidence in God and in His Word.  I have also stated that fear can similarly be defined as: an expression of your confidence in satan and his word.  Our text teaches us that we should walk in “fearless confidence.”  Our confidence in God and in His Word should be so strong that we give no space to fear.  Fear is an incapacitating force that can cripple even the strongest person.  As believers we must resist fear at all costs.  To good news is that we don’t necessarily have to focus on resisting fear, just as long as we focus on remaining ‘in-faith.’  See, you cannot be in-fear and in-faith at the same time.  Just like fear cancels out your faith, faith cancels out your fear.  If we remain in-faith daily, then fear will have no power over us.  The more we learn to see every situation through the lens of faith and to train our minds to think “faith” and not “fear,” the more natural living by faith will become.  This should definitely be our goal, because we have learned that we cannot please God without faith (Heb 11:6).  This portion of the text tells us not to fling away our fearless confidence.  This tells us that we have the ability to remain in-faith and we also have the ability to loose our grip on it and to embrace fear, doubt and/or unbelief.  While we have a choice, the choice should be clear – we are to keep a close grip on our faith and never let it go, even in the face of strong opposition.  That is why we need the “Warrior Spirit;” to hold on to our faith with bulldog tenacity.

For it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward:  The Hebrew writer also taught us that God rewards those who “Diligently seek Him” (11:6).  In other words, the Father rewards those who are persistent.  God is not looking or short bursts of confidence (faith).  For example, when Peter walked on water he did so because he had complete confidence.  Jesus told him to “come” and he went.  However, Peter quickly shifted his attention from Jesus to wind and the waves, doubt crept in, he lost the grip of his faith, and he fell in the water.  What do you think Jesus’ response was?  You would think Jesus would say, “Wow Peter, that was awesome!  You walked on water.”  No, Jesus said, “You of little faith” (Mat 14:31).  The word “little” there is not a reference to type, but rather to duration.  Peter did an amazing thing, but he only did it for a short time.  The Father is looking for people who will maintain their faith for the long haul; for those who believe God and remain unshakable in their resolve to see the manifestation of His promises in their lives.  Make no mistake, it is rewarding to live a life of faith!  We will stop here for today.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for renewing a Warrior Spirit in me.  I declare openly, with my own lips, that I have fearless confidence in You and in Your Word.  I operate in that fearless confidence today and everyday.  I will not allow anything or anyone to cause me to fling my fearless confidence away.  Operating in fearless confidence carries a great and glorious compensation of reward in my life.  I benefit greatly form the consistency that comes from my unshakable resolve.  I live by faith daily.  I stay the course for the long haul.  I have STAYING POWER and my unwillingness to release the hold of my confidence keeps me from the perils of fear!  Fear has no power over me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Holding On (Part III)

(Heb 10:35,36 AMP)  Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.  For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  We have been looking at this passage for a few days now, with the overall emphasis on learning the importance of “Holding On.”  Far too many believers in the Body of Christ give up while they are waiting on God; in the space between “I believe, Amen” and “There it is.”  In Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia he said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (6:9).  The enemy is a master at peppering us with thoughts of fear, doubt, and unbelief.  He loves to put the pressure on us, especially while we are waiting on God.  He believes – and rightly so, because many believers have succumb to his pressure – that if he turns the heat up that we will grow weary and release the grip on our faith, extinguish the fire in our hope, and just give up.  That’s why Paul tells us not to grow weary.  There is a proper time for the harvest and if we don’t give up we will reach it.  That’s where the “Warrior Spirit” comes in.  We need a ‘bulldog tenacity’ when it comes to our faith, because things are not always going to be easy and they will not always come overnight.  But if we simply refuse to quit we will hang in there for the long haul.  This takes us back to our passage.  Let’s continue to walk through it:

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God:  This is very important.  The Greek word used for patience boils down to consistency.  You and I need ‘the force of consistency’ operating in our lives.  The writer of Hebrews does not say that this is simply a good idea.  No, he says that we “have need of steadfast patience and endurance.”  If the Bible says we need something, then we need it.  So why do we need it?  It writer continues: “So that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God.”  It should be clear by now that you need faith to live a life that is pleasing to God, but here we learn that we also need patience to fully accomplish the will of God in our lives.  Earlier in this letter the Hebrew writer said: “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (6:12).  I have taught several series’ about Faith and Patience and I call them “The Power Twins.”  We clearly need both.  We need the faith that believes that God will do what He said He will do and the patience (consistency) to remain steadfast, unmovable, and unshakable in our hope until He does.

And thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised:  Don’t you want to see the manifestation of the things that God has dealt with you about for your own life?  I believe we all do.  When we break through the bondage of religion (empty ritual and routine) and we get into a true and intimate relationship with the Father, through His Son Jesus the Christ, we are able to commune with Him daily by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is through this relationship that He speaks to us, revels Himself to us, and leads us in the way that we should go.  But even this blissful intimacy does not exonerate us from challenges.  Even when we are fully persuaded that God said He would do a certain thing for, in, and through us, the enemy will do all he can to get us to fling away our confidence (faith).  If the enemy is successful then we will not be.  If we fling away our confidence we will not experience God’s best and it will not be God’s fault.  Therefore we must remain patient, consistent, and incessantly confident if we are going to “receive and carry away” the promises of God!

Closing Confession:  Father, I declare, with my own lips, that I have a Warrior Spirit and that it enables me to operate in fearless confidence for the long haul.  Faith and patience are both at work in my life.  I refuse to quit, to lose heart, to grow weary, or to lose the hold I have on my faith.  I am with You Father from now until the day You call me home to glory.  Every day I live here in the earth will be a faith-filled day.  I stay the course and I remain steady, no matter what opposition the enemy brings my way.  My consistency enables me to receive and carry away Your promises.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Three Hebrew Boys

(Dan 3:15 CEV)  “Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don’t, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me.”

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  Before we close out this series I am going to take you through several Biblical stories where the Warrior Spirit was on display.  We start off in Daniel chapter three where we learn of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  These three young men were actually Israelite salves who had been promoted to leaders under the reign of king Nebuchadnezzar.  But Nebuchadnezzar, in an act of overzealous pride, ordered a gold statue to be built that was 90ft. tall and 9ft. wide.  The king commanded his governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, and other officials to come from everywhere in his kingdom for the dedication of the statue.  After all were present an official stood up and announced the fact that music would soon start playing.  Once the music started, everyone present was to bow down and worship the statue.  Anyone who refused to bow down would be immediately thrown into a flaming furnace.  This posed a major challenge for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  While they were experiencing success in Babylon, they knew that it was only because of the favor of the Lord was upon them.  As good Jews they knew good and well that worshipping an idol was strictly forbidden.  So they had a decision to make.  They could either please their God and displease the king or they could please the king and displease their God.  What a dilemma!  Especially when things were seemingly going well for them.  So what were they to do?  Violating Nebuchadnezzar’s command was punishable by death.

These three guys had a Warrior Spirit.  They would rather face the death penalty than to go against their God.  When the music played they refused to bow.  Sure enough, there were some Babylonians who were jealously watching the Hebrew boys, looking for an opportunity to accuse them.  These men approached the king and said, “Your Majesty, we hope you live forever!  You commanded everyone to bow down and worship the gold statue when the music played.  And you said that anyone who did not bow down and worship it would be thrown into a flaming furnace.  Sir, you have appointed three men to high positions in Babylon Province, but they have disobeyed you. Those Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship your gods and the statue you have set up.”  King Nebuchadnezzar was furious and confronted the three boys.  He said, “I hear that you refuse to worship my gods and the gold statue I have set up.  I am going to give you one more chance.  If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right.  But if you don’t, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace.  No god can save you from me.”  We will continue this story tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  You can expect your share of ‘haters’ when the Father blesses you with supernatural success – these guys were prosperous slaves!

2.  Even when given several chances, refuse to compromise your faith – they stood strong.

3.  The enemy’s poison can’t stop your purpose – they made it out on top in the end.

4.  Don’t allow anyone to dishonor your faith or your God – Nebuchadnezzar said that no god could save them from him, basically placing himself over their God.

5.  Face every attack head on – being a Christian does not mean that you need to be a wimp.  When you have the Warrior Spirit you can operate with Holy Boldness!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to develop a Warrior Spirit.  I operate in faith in every area of my life.  I seek to maximize every opportunity and I am not apologetic about the success you bless me to experience.  I know Godly success will attract ‘haters,’ but I am not concerned about their attacks.  My confidence is in You and in Your protection.  Even if they attack my faith, I will never back down.  I refuse to compromise what I believe in.  I am a child of the Most High God and I know that My God is able to handle every situation that comes my way this day and every day.  I In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The Three Hebrew Boys (Part II)

(Dan 3:15 CEV)  “Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don’t, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me.”

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing with the story of the Three Hebrew Boys.  Yesterday we saw how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were turned-in for refusing to bow before king Nebuchadnezzar’s statue.  The king took it as an immediate sign of disrespect and disregard, especially since he had shown these three slaves kindness and allowed them to be promoted to leadership positions in his kingdom.  Nebuchadnezzar said, “I hear that you refuse to worship my gods and the gold statue I have set up.  I am going to give you one more chance.  If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right.  But if you don’t, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace.  No god can save you from me.”  Do you hear the audacity in Nebuchadnezzar’s words?  Not only was he a king, but he also considered himself a god, claiming that no god could save them from him.  Well, maybe he was right.  No god (with a little “g”) could save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath, but their God (with a big “g), the only true God, Jehovah, could definitely save them and the boys knew it.

The boys had already exhibited tremendous courage by refusing to bow, but when Nebuchadnezzar said, “No god can save you from me,” I can only imagine how their Warrior Spirit was invigorated even more.  How dare this man put himself above Jehovah?  Satan tried that and we all know what happened to him.  So what was their response?  The boys boldly said: “Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves.  The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace.  But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”  Let’s take a closer look at this statement:

Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves:  They were not making any excuses for their beliefs, nor were they willing to make any concessions.  They held their ground and their total confidence was in God.

The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace:  These boys were convinced that God was able.  God’s ability was never in question in their minds or hearts. Nebuchadnezzar, even with all his power, was completely powerless if God decided to intervene and save the boys.  So while the threat of the flaming furnace was real, the boys were certain that God’s power was also real.

But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods:  I love this statement.  The boys’ position was not contingent upon God’s performance.  Did they believe God could and actually would deliver them?  Yes!  But even if God didn’t they were still not willing to violate His commands and worship an idol god.  We will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  Never make excuses for what you believe in or concessions for the unrighteous demands of unbelievers.

2.  Never question God’s ability.  There is nothing that God cannot do.  While you may not be sure if He WILL, you must be convinced that He CAN!

3.  Even if He doesn’t, you must never throw in the towel.  Faith says, “I believe God will do it.”  Trust says, “Even if He doesn’t, He is still my God and I will still worship Him!”  You are not always going to get what you want from God and things are not always going to go your way, but you must continue to trust God, no matter the circumstances.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to develop a Warrior Spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I will maintain my faith and trust in You for the rest of my life.  I am a believer and I am not ashamed about it.  I refuse to compromise my beliefs for others and I will not make concessions that violate Your expectation of me.  I take a stand for what I believe in and I have faith that You will protect me as I do.  I operate in faith in every area of my life and I truly believe that You will do certain things in, with, through and for me.  However, even if You don’t – even if things don’t work out the way I expect them to, I will never leave You!  I am committed to You for the long haul!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

The Three Hebrew Boys (Part III)

(Dan 3:19 CEV) Nebuchadnezzar’s face twisted with anger at the three men.  And he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing with the story of the Three Hebrew Boys.  Yesterday we saw how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded to Nebuchadnezzar’s ultimatum.  Instead of buckling under the pressure of the situation and the threat of the death penalty, they simply said: “Your Majesty, we don’t need to defend ourselves.  The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace.  But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”  You know this infuriated the king to no end.  Our text tells us that the king’s face literally twisted with anger towards the Hebrew boys.  The enemy hates it when we resist the fear of his attacks; especially when our resistance is rooted in the faith that we have in our God.

The next thing king Nebuchadnezzar did is what I want to focus in on this morning.  The king ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual.  Just so we are clear, the furnace would have killed any human on the first setting.  The fire was already raging.  But the king took the fire from level one to level eight for two reasons:

1.  Because he lost his cool:  King Nebuchadnezzar really liked these guys.  If he did not have a personal relationship with them I don’t believe he would have ever given them a second chance to bow before the statue.  I am convinced that he did not want to have the boys killed and he wanted to give them every opportunity to do the right thing (in his eyes) and bow.  However, when they defied him to his face he lost his temper and got reckless.  He turned the fire up so high that one of his soldiers was killed while attempting to put Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire.  The enemy has a short fuse and he hates it when we are not moved by his threats.  If you really want to get the enemy stirred up, just continue to operate in Joy and Peace, even if the face of his best attacks.  If he hits you with his best shot and you continue to face very day with a spring in your step, a song in your heart, and a smile on your face, he won’t know what to do!

2.  To put additional pressure on the boys:  One of the common tactics of the enemy is to turn up the pressure on us to see if we are going to succumb to it.  I really believe that if the boys had succumb to the fear of the fire, especially after it was cranked up to level eight, that the king would have never had them thrown in.  When you are standing in faith for something and you are waiting on God for it to come to pass, the enemy will do all he can to get you to relax the hold of your faith, even if it means cranking up the pressure.  Too many believers expect life to be a cake-walk and when things get hard they simply give up on their faith, they lower their expectations, and they say things like: “Well, I guess that was not God’s will for me.”  No, just because it is hard it does not automatically mean it is not God’s will.  There are many examples in scripture and in life where God did great things through men, but only because the men (and women) were willing to endure all sorts of opposition.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  Even if the enemy turns up the pressure on you, you must refuse to succumb and cave in!

2.  Facing challenges does not an automatic indication that you are outside of God’s will.

3.  To do great thing for God you will have to face strong opposition.

4.  If you remain in faith, fear will have no power over you.

5.  You drive the enemy crazy when you remain calm in the midst of a storm!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for developing a Warrior Spirit in me.  I know I face a real enemy who will come at me with real attacks, but I also serve a real God that can show up in my life in real ways!  My confidence is in You Father and I will remain confident, even when up against tremendous pressure to cave in.  I won’t allow my external to dictate my internal.  I will maintain Joy and Peace in believing, no matter what the enemy sends my way!  Like Jesus, I can sleep in the midst of a storm, because I refuse to allow fear to overcome me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

The Three Hebrew Boys (Part IV)

(Dan 3:25 NIV) He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing with the story of the Three Hebrew Boys.  Yesterday we saw how king Nebuchadnezzar turned up the pressure on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by ordering the fire to be cranked up 7X hotter.  The Hebrew Boys had done all the right things. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had honored their heavenly Father, they were promoted to leadership positions even though their nation was under captivity (they were supposed to be slaves), they refused to worship an idol god, they held their ground in the face of the king’s ultimatum, and they refused to crack under the pressure.  There is no question in my mind that these boys had a Warrior Spirit.  Their steel resolve was remarkable.  They had crossed the faith-line and were now totally dependant on God.  If God did not do it, it simply would not get done.  Have you ever been there?  I know I have.

Imagine them going up the ramp to the furnace.  The fire was blazing so strong that the flames consumed one of the men taking them there.  I can only imagine what was going through their minds.  If it were me I probably would be thinking things like: “OK God, I did my part, I am waiting on You to do yours.  You can step in any minute here… Hey God, right now would be a good time for You to show out.”  As I got closer and closer to the fire I would be looking and waiting and waiting and looking for God to do something, anything!  But it did not happen as we would think.  The Hebrew boys had done nothing wrong.  Actually, they had done everything right, and they were still in a bind (literally) and facing death.  So guess what happened?  Nebuchadnezzar’s men took the boys all the way to the mouth of the furnace and sure enough, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire while they were still bound.  Wow!  If it were us we would think, “Man!  God never showed up.  It never happened.  They spoke up in faith.  They took God public.  They held their ground.  They said all the right things.  But at the end of the day, they were still thrown into the fiery furnace.  What a sad commentary.”  But wait, the story is not over.  Yes, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace bound, but someway, somehow, they were not dead.  The fire must have burned up the ties that had them bound, but it was not consuming them.  Furthermore, instead of being all alone in the midst of the fire, there was someone there WITH them.  King Nebuchadnezzar saw it and he was amazed.  He said, “Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”  These guys were walking around in the midst of the fire and they had the blessed comfort of heavenly company.  I will talk more about this “Fourth Man” in the fire next week.  We will stop here for today.    They went in bound and

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  Sometimes you can do all the right things and you still wind up facing strong opposition.

2.  Sometimes God will deliver you FROM it, but there are also sometimes He delivers You IN it!

3.  God can use the very thing the enemy meant to destroy you for your good (e.g. the fire was meant to kill them, but it was used to loose them).

4.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen the way you expect it to happen, but never lose heart, God is still there!  If you are still breathing, then there is still hope!

Closing Confession:  Father, living by faith is often awesome and amazing; and it is always exciting.  I don’t know what You are going to do today, but I trust it will be good.  I will honor You daily with my thoughts, words, and actions and I truly believe that You will bless me to experience Your best.  I know I will face opposition and even strong challenges from time to time, but when my faith is tested it will be proven as strong, because I refuse to quit.  Even if things don’t happen the way I would like them to, I truly believe that they will work out for me in the end.  Even in the midst of the fire, I am still trusting You, because I know You love me so much that You are right in the fire WITH me!  I am never helpless, therefore I am never hopeless!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

The Three Hebrew Boys (Part V)

(Dan 3:25 NIV) He said, “Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing with the story of the Three Hebrew Boys.  In the last message we left off the story with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.  Yes, even though they honored God with their righteous efforts in an unrighteous land, even though they took their stand of faith and refused to worship an idol, even though they spoke the language of faith when confronted by the king Nebuchadnezzar’s threat, and even though they remained in faith when the king turned up the heat, at the end of the day they were still thrown in the fire.  No, God did not deliver them FROM the fire, but He did deliver them IN it.

When king Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, fully expecting to see the boys dead and consumed by the fire, he was surprised to see them alive.  Not only that, but they were no longer bound and were freely walking around in the fire; and they had company.  There was a fourth man in the fire with them.  The translation I chose says that the fourth man looked like “A son of the gods.”  The traditional King James Versions says, “The fourth is like the Son of God.”  The King James Version is one of just a few translations that liken he fourth man to the Son of God.  Because of this “Son of God” reference, many have claimed that the fourth man in the fire was Jesus Himself.  However, there is no evidence that would lead us to believe that king Nebuchadnezzar knew anything about Jesus or his physical appearance.  Furthermore, three verses later the king made it clear who he thought it was, he said: “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!  They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”  It is obvious that king Nebuchadnezzar believed the fourth man in the fire was an angel and not Jesus, but this does not diminish the miracle in any way.  The bottom line is that the angel was there because God Himself sent him to intervene on behalf of His servants who were in trouble.  The angel ensured that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were unbound and unharmed in the midst of the fire.  The fire was raging, but it did not harm them.  And it is interesting to me that they did not immediately come out of the fire.  They walked around in it (unbound and unharmed), as if to say, “You hit us with your best shot and we are still here… by the grace of God!”

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  Being a child of God does not automatically exonerate you from storms (or fires in this case).

2.  Even if you are facing a storm, God can make a way when there seems to be no way!

3.  It’s not over until God says it’s over.  God can send an angel, or even show up Himself, and turn any hopeless situation around.

4.  God can bless you so mightily, right in the middle of the storm, that you actually enjoy yourself while the storm is raging all around you.  You can be so at peace that you are not even in a hurry to get out of the situation.

5.  If the enemy knew any better he would leave you alone.  The more he messes with you, the greater your testimony and the more God gets the glory from your life.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for showing up and showing-out in my life.  Time and time again You have been there for me when I needed You the most.  You have been the fourth man in my fire and I sincerely thank You for it and I will never cease to praise Your name.  You have done so much for me that I am behind in my worship.  And I thank You for continually wanting to do more in, with, through, and for me.  I call upon You in the day of trouble and You answer me, deliver me, and manifest Your glory in my life.  No matter what the enemy brings my way, there is nothing He can do that You cannot undo or bless me even while I am enduring it.  I am fully persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able me from Your love, which is in Christ Jesus, my Lord!  I declare this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The Three Hebrew Boys (Part VI)

(Dan 3:29 & 30 NIV)  “Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing with the story of the Three Hebrew Boys.  In the last message Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were still walking around in the fire with the Fourth Man.  After the king was convinced that the Hebrew boys were not dead he approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!  Come here!”  Wow.  Did you catch that?  This story started off with king Nebuchadnezzar building a statue that he expected everyone to worship.  Furthermore, it is obvious from the story that he considered himself a god.  He wanted his citizens to worship him and his idol, but since these boys had the courage and confidence in their God (the true God) to refuse and make a stand, the same man who was ordering worship was now acknowledging the true deity.  For Nebuchadnezzar to say that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is the Most High God (a.k.a. El Elyon) is no small thing.

After Nebuchadnezzar made his acknowledgement of El Elyon Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire and the Bible says that the “High officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them.  Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched.  They didn’t even smell of smoke!”  These boys had been through the fire (literally) and they came out completely unscathed.  They stood up for what they believed in and while they did have to endure an unpleasurable experience – I would not wish what they had to endure on anyone; being thrown alive into a fiery furnace is no walk in the park – the Father was able to use the experience for His glory.  Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that God did this.  I am completely convinced that the enemy (who only comes to steal, kill and destroy) was behind this attack against God’s righteous people, but at the end of the day, the Father was able to use the situation the enemy devised and flip it around for His glory.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego provided the faith and God provided the supernatural protection in response to their confidence in Him.

Nebuchadnezzar went on to say: “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego…

I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”  This was a heathen ruler, but he was now acknowledging the only true God.  Lastly, the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

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

1.  There is a devil and his purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.

2.  Our God can take the enemy’s schemes and turn them around for His glory.

3.  Sometimes bad things do happen to good people.

4.  Hold on ‘till the end of your story.  If you don’t like where you are today, then just keep on living.  Your story is not over.  Call on God and trust Him, He can show in the midst of your fire and turn even the most hopeless situation around.

5.  The same people seeking to destroy you might wind up having to promote you!

Closing Confession:  Father, I refuse to blame You for the bad things that happen in my life.  Just like You are my real God, I know there is a real devil and real demons who devise real schemes against me.  But I am not afraid of what man can do to me.  My trust and confidence is in You!  I know You can show up in the midst of my fiery situation and turn it around for Your glory.  I declare, by faith, that even when I face difficult challenges, that You will some way and somehow get the glory out of them.  When it is all said and done, You will be glorified, I will be edified, and the devil will horrified!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Are You Convinced that He Loves You?

(Rom 8:35 NLT)  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  In this series we have discussed Shammah, David, Paul and the three Hebrew Boys.  We have learned a great deal from each and I have been careful to highlight characteristics they possessed that we should emulate.  What has been noticeably absent as we have studied their lives is the practice of questioning and complaining.  At no point did we see Shammah throw up his hands and say, “God why have you allowed these Philistines to attack us?”  Or David say, “Wait a minute God, you anointed me to be the next king of Israel, so why have I been on the run for years?”  Or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego say, “God, why did you allow those accusations to be filed against us?  We were living just fine before that happened.”  And then we have Paul.  If anyone ever had what some would consider a “right” to complain you could definitely make the argument that it was Paul.  Paul was subjected to the practice of 39 lashes with a cat of 9 tails (what Jesus endured) on five different occasions, three times he was beaten with rods, three times he was shipwrecked, one time he spent and entire night and day adrift in the open sea, and once he was even stoned.  Not to mention the fact that he spent a good portion of his time in prison.  So what did he do while he was enduring all of this?  Did he whine and complain?  Did he point the finger at God?  Did he blame God for all that he faced?  No, he traveled, worked, preached, taught, mentored, ministered, and in the process somehow found the time to write half the New Testament.  And if you read his writings you would be amazed to see that he said some of the most positive things while enduring some of the most negative circumstances.

Did Paul have a Warrior Spirit?  Absolutely!  And I believe it was because he was convinced of God’s unfailing love towards him.  Make no mistake, the fact that you are facing a challenge does not mean that God does not love you anymore or that He has abandoned you.  In our text Paul asks a question; he says, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?”  Think about that for a moment.  He then goes on to ask, “Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”  When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego where threatened with death did it mean that God no longer loved them?  Did it mean that they had done something wrong and were somehow being punished for it?  Did it mean that God had turned His back on them and forsaken them?  Of course not!  Paul considers all of this and goes on to say: “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.   And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  We will talk more about this tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God loves you and you would do well in settling the issue of His love in your heart.  Over the last few days I have talked to people who were facing illness, injury, false accusations, and marital challenges.  When faced with challenges many question God and say, “Father, where are you in all of this?”  But if the enemy can get you to question God’s love, he can get you to doubt.  You need a Warrior Spirit that says, “I am convinced that God loves me and that He will see me through this!

Closing Confession:  Father, You are amazing and I love You with all my heart.  Especially because You love me, even in spite of me.  You looked past my faults, flaws, and failures and You still love me.  Thank You for attempting to make a holy garment from me, flawed material.  I am convinced You love me and I will not allow challenging circumstances to cause me to question Your love.  You will never leave nor forsake me – I am convinced of that – and since You are with me, I know You will see me through any challenge!  Let’s face today together Father.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

Finding Good in the Bad

(Rom 8:28 NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  Yesterday we looked at the remarkably challenging things Paul faced in his lifetime.  What Paul endured could have easily broken the average person’s spirit.  If he lived today and he faced all the things he faced, the common trend would be to recommend Paul to a therapist.  However, Paul did not rely on a therapist, but rather on the greatest counselor – the Holy Spirit Himself.  But even with the insight, wisdom, guidance, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it is no question that Paul required a Warrior Spirit to handle all the adversity he endured and especially to remain upbeat and positive along the way.  Not only did Paul allow God to encourage him as he lived his life, but he was a conduit of encouragement everywhere he went.  In spite of the difficulties he faced Paul was determined to be a blessing to others and he was.  Paul is the epitome of not allowing your ‘external’ to dictate your ‘internal;’ and of not allowing the enemy to steal your joy.

In Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome he gives us some insight to what kept him going.  Yesterday we looked at the passage where he said: “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (8:37).  The traditional King James Version reads: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  The phrase “more than conquerors” is often quoted, but many believers don’t understand the context.  Both the King James and New Living translations use the words “all these things.”  The obvious question is: what are the things Paul is referring to?  The answer is found back in the 35th verse, where Paul said: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?  Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”  The “all these things” are: trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger, and threats of death.  One translation says “IN” all these things, and the other translation says “DESPITE” all these things, but the message is basically the same.  As believers we may face challenges, but we can rest assured that God will equip, enable, and empower us to not only endure them, but to overcome them, by faith!

Paul set the stage for this conversation – about the challenges we may face as believers and the reality that even in spite of the challenges that we can have overwhelming victory in Christ – with the following statement: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (v.28).  Now, don’t misunderstand this to mean that God does all the bad things; we have an enemy that is more than proficient all coming up against us.  No, while God may not literally cause the challenges to happen, He can definitely cause them to work together for our good.  In other words, He can use what the enemy meant as bad things, and get good out of them.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God can find good, even in the worst situations, and help you to bring that good to the forefront of your focus so that you can have internal peace, a positive outlook, and great expectations for the future.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to develop a Warrior Spirit that is resilient, persistent, and unwaveringly positive.  I know that You can see to it that all things – even challenging things – work together for my good and I trust that You will.  Even when facing difficult situations and even when I am not sure what good can come out of it, I will look to You and I will be led of Your Spirit to find the good in the bad.  I will not allow my external to dictate my internal.  I live my life from the inside out and my inside is full of Joy and Peace, because it is filled by Your Spirit.  I have a positive outlook and great expectations for the future!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

An Attitude of Thanksgiving

(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 we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  Yesterday we looked at the fact that Paul taught us to focus in on the overwhelming victory we have in Christ, even in spite of trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger, and threats of death.  Make no mistake, this is not an easy thing, but it is a necessary thing.  Sure, it’s awesome to be able to avoid a challenge altogether.  When the Father delivers us from something, resulting in smooth sailing, it is definitely a time to sing praises to Him.  But what about those times that He doesn’t and we wind up enduring the challenge?  We have already seen how Paul faced considerable opposition to his life’s assignment.  So what did he do?  Did he cry “Woe is me!”?  Or did he take his stumbling blocks and turn them into stepping-stones?  We all know by know what he did, but this morning I want to share with you one of the reasons I believe he was able to do it.  I am convinced that one of Paul’s secrets to maintaining the right attitude was: THANKSGIVING!

It’s hard to be mad while you are praising God.  It’s hard to be upset while you are allowing thanksgiving to flow from your lips.  When you look at the writings of Paul you see a man who was always encouraging others and he often encouraging them to be thankful.  His relationship with the Father enabled him to maintain Joy and Peace (Rom 15:13), even while in prison for preaching, while recovering from the physical abuse he endured for the gospel, and while on long missionary journeys in which he encountered all sorts of dangers.  Maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving is an essential part of developing a Warrior Spirit.  When you are faced with challenges the enemy will attempt to flood your mind with thoughts like: “You see, God does not love you anymore;” “God could have protected you from this, but He didn’t.  Why should you continue to worship Him?  He is not there for you anymore;” or “Is it really worth it?  Why don’t you just give up and die?  Take your own life, God is not pleased with you anymore and you are not doing anything production with your life… end it!”  While the enemy cannot make us do anything, he can sure suggest many things.  And if we listen to his suggestions too long it is easy to get bitter.  This is where thanksgiving comes in!

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 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 give Him praise!

Closing Confession:  Father, I may not always like my circumstances.  I may not even be able to thank You FOR my them, 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!  Instead of becoming bitter, I get better, because I learn to keep thanksgiving on my lips no matter what I face!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Focusing on God’s Assignment

(2 Cor 4:1 NIV) Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  I believe Paul’s perseverance was powered by the understanding he had of the importance of his assignment.  Paul was charged with leading the promulgation of the Gospel message to the Gentiles (non-Jews).  This was no easy assignment, especially since the Romans (who were in charge at the time) saw the Gospel message – and the results it produced in the lives of people – as a threat to their empire.  The Romans persecuted anyone who claimed to be a believer and much more those who took an active role in preaching and spreading the Gospel.  But Paul was unrelenting in his efforts.  No matter the opposition, he was a man on a mission and he encouraged others to do the same.  He opened his second letter to the church in Corinth with these words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.”  This salutation set the stage for the letter.  It was clear in Paul’s mind that if the Gospel was going to be preached, it would require people who were willing to endure the sure-suffering that would come along with it.

In the third chapter Paul compares and contrasts the Gospel message with that of The Law (New Testament vs. Old Testament).  He says, “If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God… Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold… wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  Yes, the Holy Spirit we (as New Testament believers) receive when we are Born-Again enables us to be bold, even in the face of strong opposition.  It is the freedom and liberty of the Holy Spirit, working from the inside out, that empowers and encourages us to march on, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

I shared all this to help get us to our scripture for this morning.  The opening verse of the fourth chapter says, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”  The New Living Translation reads: “Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.”  The Contemporary English Version reads: “God has been kind enough to trust us with this work.  That’s why we never give up.” I will stop here for today and pick it up from here tomorrow.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should look past your own personal challenges and see the bigger picture.  When you focus on the bigger picture you realize that God needs you to be light and salt in the midst of a dark, dying, and decaying world.  The Father’s assignment for your life and His expectations of you are too important for you to selfishly focus on your personal comfort, to the point where His assignment is neglected.  The Father has anointed you with His Spirit, covered you with His blood, and called you to make a difference in your sphere of influence.  You can’t afford to take a ‘day off’ from His assignment.  Every day is important.  So enter this day with focus, fervor, fire, and faith!

Closing Confession:  Father, it is only because of Your loving mercy that I have this ministry/this assignment.  I declare, by faith, that I will honor my assignment today and every day.  I acknowledge the fact that my life is not my own.  I have been bought with a price and that price was the Blood of Jesus.  Jesus paid too much for me to simply live my life to please my selfish desires.  My life is bigger than the pursuit of ‘things.’  I will live my life in the pursuit of purpose, so that You can get the glory from it.  And while I am seeking to please You and minister to others, I shall not quit.  No matter what the enemy brings my way, I will not lose heart, because my assignment is too important!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

We Do Not Lose Heart

(2 Cor 4:1 NIV) Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  As we read Paul’s writings we are encouraged, uplifted, edified, and instructed.  But when we realize that he wrote a great deal of his letters while enduring significant challenge, and some while incarcerated, it adds more depth to the significance of his endless enthusiasm.  If anyone had a Warrior Spirit it was Paul; and he, if anyone, needed a Warrior Spirit to do what he did.  It’s remarkable what you can accomplish in life if you resolve to never quit and to resist every temptation to get bitter when things don’t go your way.  If you study the lives of those that God used mightily you will find that they were able to accomplish what they did, not because of the absence of opposition, but because of their determination to continue-on through the opposition, trusting God every step of the way.  The enemy knows that he can’t really stop us, but he make every attempt to discourage us so that we stop ourselves by quitting.  Paul refused to quit and he urges us to do the same.

Yesterday we discussed Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth and we led up to the fourth chapter.  The opening verse of the fourth chapter says, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”  In an attempt to make sure we understand what Paul is saying I will share this same verse from a couple of other translations.  The New Living Translation reads: “Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.”  The Contemporary English Version reads: “God has been kind enough to trust us with this work.  That’s why we never give up.”  Let’s highlight a few things from this verse:

Through God’s mercy:  While Paul arguably accomplished more than any other apostle and more than any other believer during the first century of Christianity, he made every effort to remain humble.  Paul understood that he was where he was, and we are where we are, by the grace and mercy of God.  Paul had committed his fair share of mistakes and he persecuted the church with fervor and fire before his conversion experience.  He was ever thankful for the mercy of God and so should we.  Don’t allow pride to cause you to cross over into arrogance.

We have this ministry:  I like the fact that he said “we” and not “I.”  Like Paul, we too have a ministry and that ministry is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.  Now, you may not ever stand behind a pulpit, but rest assured that your life is preaching every day.  What type of message if your life sending?  Are you shining as light or are you allowing the challenges of life to keep your flame dim?  You have way too much to accomplish, before you die, to allow days to go by without being productive.  You have an assignment, get to it!

We do not lose heart:  When you think about the mercy of God (how you should have been consumed by now) and the assignment God has for your life (with all that He expects from you), you just CAN’T give up.  The Greek word used here for “lost heart” means: to turn out a coward; to lose one’s courage; then to be fainthearted, to faint, or to despond in view of trial, difficulty, etc.  Paul was not disheartened, discouraged, or deterred by the difficulties he faced and neither must you.  The consciousness of being entrusted with such a ministry animated him and the mercy and grace of God sustained him.  The same can and should be said of you!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your grace.  You have given me much more than I deserve.  I also thank You for Your mercy.  You have withheld from me much of the punishment that I do deserve.  It is only by Your grace and mercy that I am still alive and still available to be used of You.  You looked past my failures and flaws and You still gave me an assignment in life.  I take this assignment seriously and I am determined to accomplish it before I die.  I have a ministry and I will get busy performing it.  I am too focused on performing Your will to quit.  I do not lose heart, turn coward, faint, or shrink in the face of opposition.  I know You are on my side and You are more than the entire world against me.  Together we move forward today – BY FAITH!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

(2 Cor 4:7 NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  I trust you have been blessed by learning from Paul.  Paul, to me, epitomized the “Warrior Spirit.”  He endured seemingly insurmountable challenges and not only did he NOT lose heart, but he also urged us to do the same.  We have already learned that Paul opened the fourth chapter of his second letter to the church at Corinth with the words: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”  In that same chapter he goes on to share with us our focus text.  Early on in my Christian journey I memorized this verse from the traditional King James Version, which reads: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  To be honest, I memorized the words, but I really did not understand the message.  But now, after many years of study and after learning more about Paul’s tumultuous journey, I better understand his writings.  Furthermore, I have also leveraged more modern translations like the New Living (quoted above) and the Contemporary English Version, which reads: “We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us.”  Reading scripture from different translations and looking up the meanings of the words in the original Hebrew and Greek have helped a great deal.  I then couple that with my own Christian experience and my life becomes a confirming witness to the scriptures I seek to live by.

The picture Paul paints for us is one of a container (a jar) which holds a precious commodity.  We are the container and the Holy Spirit Himself is the precious prize.  But the picture is not as simple as a jar and its contents.  In this case the jar does not just contain the precious prize, it is actually empowered by it.  We don’t just house the Holy Spirit, but He literally equips, enables, empowers, and employs us to do the Father’s work in the earth.  The reason Paul could unreservedly say that “We do not lose heart” is because he knew that we are not just living off of our own power.  Human ability alone is very limited.  I am convinced that Paul could not have endured all that he did on his own.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit Paul would have ‘thrown in the towel’ well before he accomplished all he did.  But since Paul had God’s power flowing in and through him, he was able to supernaturally persevere and perform.  Paul plainly states, in our verse today, that the power is from God, not from us.

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

1.  The Holy Spirit gives you His presence:  You don’t have to face your challenges alone.  He will never leave you, nor forsake you.

2.  The Holy Spirit gives you His power:  God’s ability, on your ability, enables you to do what you could not do based upon your ability alone.

3.  The Holy Spirit gives you His peace:  The peace of God is a peace that passes all human understanding.  Paul experienced this peace and so can we.  This peace enables us to remain calm in the midst of any storm.  If you have a Warrior Spirit, you will need this peace to keep you when it seems like everything is going haywire in your life.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for filling me with Your precious Holy Spirit.  Your Spirit, in me, guarantees me Your presence.  I know I am never alone so I don’t have any need to fear.  NO FEAR HERE!  You Spirit gives me access to Your power.  Your super, on my natural, enables me to operate in the supernatural.   I know that the true power comes from You and not me.  I rely on Your power daily.  I do what You have blessed me to do, and I then BELIEVE for the rest.  And lastly, Your Spirit gives me Your peace.  Your peace cannot be figured out.  Even when it seems like I should be at my wit’s end, I keep going, I hold on, I persevere, I continue, because Your peace gives me the serenity to endure any challenge and to remain focused every step of the way!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Pressed on Every Side!

(2 Cor 4:8,9 NLT) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  The passage we are walking through in 2nd Corinthians chapter four is very powerful, especially as it relates to remaining strong while facing challenges.  Yesterday we learned Paul’s secret to persevering through adversity.  He told us that the “great power” actually comes from God and not from ourselves.  Paul was referring to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.  As Born-Again believers, we would do well in tapping into and relying on this power.  After making such a statement, after identifying God is the true power source, Paul goes on to tell us why we need that power.  He says: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

Make no mistake, this was not an easy time to be a Christian.  First century believers were jailed, beaten, tortured and even killed.  Under Emperor Nero coliseums were packed with onlookers as believers (followers of Jesus the Christ) were thrown into the arena with lions and tigers to be eaten alive.  So to say that things were hard for them (especially when all they were asked to do is DENY Christ) would be an understatement.  For believers back then to hold on to their faith, to refuse to back down, to continue to preach and share the Gospel at the threat of death, and to have a smile on their face while they did it is truly amazing.  These were people with a Warrior Spirit.  I am sure they had thoughts of giving up, we all do, but they never allowed themselves to give in to those thoughts.  They relied on God’s power, they tapped into it continually, and they were therefore able to endure and overcome things that would have consumed the average believer today.  I run into people today that say, “Rick, I am being persecuted at work.  My boss won’t let me play Christian music in the workplace.”  That is not persecution… not by a long shot!  In many ways we have become ‘wimpy’ Christians who whine and complain about any and everything.  I believe the Father has me teaching on this because He wants us to get back to the point where we are not shaken by the storms of life.  The Father is looking for believers who will not turn coward when things get tough.  On the other hand, the enemy loves it when we quit at the first sign of trouble.  Once we do that the devil knows that all he needs to do is send a little trouble our way and we will give up on our faith.  We need to get back to the attitude of Paul.  When he said, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed,” he was basically saying, “Look, we have trouble coming at us from the North, South, East, West, Northeast, Southwest… etc.; but we refuse to give up!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must be strong.  But the Father is not looking for you to JUST be strong in your own power, because that can only take you so far.  No, He wants you to be strong in the power of His might!  If you tap into the endless power of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to face challenges – even when they come from every side – without quitting!  The only way you can lose is if you quit! If you refuse to quit, eventually you will come through every challenge on top.  Develop a Warrior Spirit and PRESS ON with God!

Closing Confession:  Father, I use the first century believers as an example and my faith is stirred this morning.  They endured much more than I am facing and they were able to press on, because of Your power.  Just like You did it for them, You will do it for me.  I tap into Your power this morning and I declare that I am made strong in the power of Your might.  With You on me, in me, with me, and for me, I am able to face every challenge with a smile on my face and an unrelenting determination, because I know I will come out on top.  I refuse to quit, cave in, or turn coward.  I am a believer and not a doubter, and I operate in faith and fear, therefore I shall win and not lose!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Never Driven to Despair

(2 Cor 4:8,9 NLT) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  This is a very powerful passage.  As I read these two verses over and over this morning I was reminded of the fact that I preached my first ‘official’ sermon (known as my “trial sermon”) from it.  I talked about the Timex watch company and their slogan, “They can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.”  In many ways that is what this series is all about.  As believers we are not looking for trouble.  We love God and when we honor Him we can fully expect to experience His best.  However, even when we are walking upright, sometimes trouble comes looking for us.  On those occasions, we must have the resiliency to persevere through every challenge and to overcome every obstacle.  As long as we refuse to quit, the Father can see to it that the enemy’s attacks backfire and work out for our good.

In the last message we looked at the words: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.”  The Greek word translated “crushed” is also translated: distressed, suffocated and beat down.  In essence Paul was saying that even if trouble comes at us from every possible side, we don’t ever get to our wit’s end.  We are never at the point where we can’t take it anymore.  Actually, in Paul’s previous letter to the church in Corinth he explained to them that the Father will not allow us to face something that we can’t handle (1st Cor 10:13).  So if that is true (and it is), then the mere fact that we are facing something is evidence that we can handle it; that the Father trusts us with it.  Glory to God for that!

Paul goes on to say, “We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.”  Do you know what the word perplexed means?  It’s kind of like watching a cartoon when you see a question mark pop up over the head of the cartoon character.  When you are perplexed you basically don’t understand what is going on.  Now, if we develop the intimacy that we should with the Holy Spirit and if we commune with Him daily He will let us know what is going on.  But the reality is that most believers don’t ALWAYS hear from God.  I know I don’t.  There are times when many of us simply don’t understand what is going on.  But even when we don’t know what and we don’t understand the why, Paul says that we can still resist despair.  Webster’s dictionary says that despair means: to lose all hope or confidence.  Wow!  That is exactly what the devil wants us to do and exactly what the Father wants us not to do.

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

1.  As a believer you must be able to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.  Even when you are knocked down, you must get right back up again.  You may be knocked down, but if you persevere you will never be knocked-out!

2.  There will be times when you don’t understand it all.  You are not sovereign or omniscient so there will be times when you simply don’t understand.  But even in those times you must continue to trust God so that you don’t lose your hope or confidence!

3.  You can handle it! The mere fact that you are facing the challenge is evidence that you can handle it, because the Father would not have allowed you to face it otherwise.  So be encouraged, the Father trusts you with it!  Now make Him proud by refusing to give up!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for developing my spirit to be a Warrior Spirit.  My resiliency is being developed daily.  Even when I am knocked down, I refuse to be knocked out.  I get right back up again and I continue going, I press on, I persevere.  Even if I take a lickin’, I keep on tickin’, because You are on me, in me, with me, and for me.  You are more than the entire world against me.  And Father, even when I don’t know what is going on or why what is happening is happening, I resist every temptation to lose my hope and confidence.  I trust You even when I don’t understand.  I will never get to the point of despair.  I am continually encouraged by Your Word and Your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Get Back Up Again!

(2 Cor 4:8,9 NLT)  We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  Since I have started this series I have talked to many believers who are facing significant challenges.  I guess that could be said all the time, but it seems like the challenges have been highlighted lately.  Since I am teaching on this I have been able to share many of the life-lessons from this series and it has truly been a blessing.  Moreover, in each and every situation the person was able to look back and realize that they had grown because of the experience.  Now, I am an advocate for challenges?  No way.  I am convinced that the Father does not need to put us ‘through the fire’ to teach us something.  He is more than able to teach us through apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11); through the Holy Spirit and through His Word.  However, the enemy is the one that constantly seeks to attack us and God then takes those attacks and turns them around for His good.

Paul’s life is a vivid example of a person who came up against tremendous opposition, only to persevere through it so that God’s purpose could be accomplished.  We have been walking through this passage for a few days and this morning we get to the last phrase where Paul said, “We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”  Was Paul knocked down?  Many times.  Was it always a pleasant process?  Absolutely not!  Did he sit there and blame God?  No!  Did he sit around and wallow in pity?  No.  So what did Paul do?  Every time the enemy knocked him down, he got up, dusted himself off, and kept on going.  Other translations of this phrase read: “We are knocked down.  But we are not knocked out” and “When we are knocked down, we get up again.”  I am convinced that the enemy is frustrated when we refuse to quit.  The devil tries his best to get us to the point where we throw in the towel.  The sad reality is that many believers crumble under the pressure and they do give up.  However, for those of us (you included) who are determined to keep going, there is a blessing waiting for us on the other side of the storm.  You can believe that!

Solomon said, “No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces” (Prov 24:16).  Solomon’s father David said, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.  If he stumbles, he’s not down for long; GOD has a grip on his hand” (Psalm 37:23,24).  Notice that Paul, David and Solomon all give us a picture of Godly people stumbling, but getting right back up again.  The enemy’s attacks may be partially successful, but the only way they can be fully successful is if we allow them to.  Just as long as we are determined to get back up again, the enemy will never truly triumph over us.  The prophet Isaiah said to the Israelites: “No weapon that is used against you will succeed” (Is 54:17).  Notice that he did not say that the weapon would not be formed and he didn’t even say that it would not be employed.  However, he did say that it would not succeed!

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that you must be determined to get up after every ‘knock down’ experience in life.  The only way you can truly lose is if you allow yourself to stay down.

Closing Confession:  Father, the more I read this series the more my faith is stirred and the more my resiliency is built up.  I am fired up for today.  I am convinced that no weapon formed against me will truly succeed.  It may be formed and it might even be used against me, but it will not succeed because I won’t allow it to.  Even when the enemy knocks me down, I refuse to stay down.  I will get up, dust myself off, and continue on in my pursuit of Your Purpose.  I am determined to die empty.  I will arrive at Your desired destination for my life, before I die, and I won’t allow anyone or anything to keep me from getting there!  Thank You Father for walking WITH me every step of my journey.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Enjoying Every Day!

(2 Cor 4:10-12 MSG)  What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives!  Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us.  While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  I have already told you about some of the extreme challenges first century believers faced for Christ’s sake.  To say that they had it hard would be an understatement.  They needed a “Warrior Spirit” to endure what they endured and to accomplished what they accomplished.  Paul tells us here that they were treated just like Jesus was.  Paul and his contemporaries were tortured, mocked, and murdered.  And why?  Not because they themselves were murderers; no, not because they were criminals; not because they were doing anything wrong per se, the only charge against them was the fact that they believed in Jesus as their Lord and they refused to denounce Him.

Another thing we must remember was that this was a grass-roots effort.  In many ways the first century church was a group of rag-tag believers, but their bulldog tenacity and their unrelenting faith enabled them to literally change the world.  How?  Because of Jesus.  Paul said, “What Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives!”  The reality of Jesus’ inner presence is what kept them going.  The same can be said today.  As believers we receive our true power from the inside and so we are able to live our lives from the inside out.  No matter what it going on externally, Christ in us (literally) gives us the hope of glory (Col 1:27).

So we are clear that these believers had it bad.  So you would think that whining and complaining would be understandable.  However, that was not Paul’s attitude at all.  Paul said, “Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us.”  Instead of saying, “Hey, we could be killed for preaching Jesus, so it is understandable if we lay low.”  Paul’s attitude was, “Hey, we know we could be killed for preaching Jesus, so it makes the fact that we are willing to do it even more impressive.  People will know that we are truly serious about God, because we are willing to suffer if that’s what it takes.”  What an amazing attitude.  Paul saw the positive in every negative.  Paul was actually excited when a challenge presented itself, because he saw it as another opportunity for God to get the glory.  Paul went on to say, “While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!

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

1.  If Jesus faced challenges then so will you:  While God did not send His son to die so that we could live miserable lives, He also never promised that life in Christ was going to be without opposition.  But in spite of any and all challenges, life in Christ is wonderful.  I am convinced I am going to heaven, but I am also enjoying the ride.  I hope you are as well.

2.  Keep the proper attitude:  When you face a challenge you can either enter into it with a defeatist mentality, which will make it all the more difficult to endure, or you can enter into it with an overcomer mentality that is excited about finding out how God will be glorified through it all.  If you maintain the overcomer mentality, not only will God get the glory, but you will enjoy the process.  Yes, you can actually have fun while facing challenging situations!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for the overwhelming reality of my redemption.  I know You live in me and Your presence gives me a supernatural peace that cannot be disturbed.  I am secure in my salvation, I know I am going to heaven, and I am determined to enjoy the ride. I know that life in You is not supposed to be a perpetual picnic.  So I know I will face my share of challenges, but I face them with the reality that You are with me every step of the way.  Since You are on my side I am able to face every challenge with the excitement of knowing that You will be glorified through it.  I am an overcomer, I overcome every challenge BY FAITH, and I have a great time doing it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Telling Your Story

(Rom 8:28 NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit.”  I have been using Paul as an example for many days now, but today I want to use a modern day example of someone who has a Warrior Spirit and who epitomizes Paul’s teachings.  I am currently in Florida attending a military conference.  The young lady who opened the conference, by singing the national anthem and by giving her testimony, immediately reminded me of this series when she shared her story.  Her name is Theresa Sareo and she is a fellow New Yorker who was an up and coming singer/songwriter when an impaired driver changed her life forever by driving his vehicle into her.  She woke up a month later in the hospital and was given the devastating news that one of her legs had to be amputated. Theresa did not remember the accident, so all she new was that she was standing on the street corner one minute and the next thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital, only to be told she had lost her leg.  She admittedly struggled with the situation.  She had many questions and she thought her career (and quite possibly her life) was over.  But her faith in God saw her through.  Her relationship with the Father enabled her to realize that her life was not over and that it was about to head down a different direction.

Fast forward to today and Theresa is a staple on the NYC singer/songwriter circuit, she has performed throughout Europe (including Germany, Spain, England and Italy), she is a frequent visitor/performer at Walter Reed Army Hospital and other military installations, she was personally invited by the Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe to visit with troops recovering from Iraq and Afghanistan at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near Ramstein AFB in Germany, and she is an in-demand public speaker who has appeared with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on health care issues.  Those are just a few of the doors the Father has opened for her.  Theresa could have easily given up.  I can only imagine what it is like to lose a leg.  But instead of getting bitter Theresa chose to get better.  She persevered, she continued on, she kept on living.  Now, she admits that her life is not always easy.  There are days when the reality of her loss is still hard to deal with, but she seeks inner strength from God, and by faith she continues on. Theresa has a sense of purpose and she is seeking to maximize her purpose and potential while she is in the land of the living.

While with us Theresa sang “Anyway” by Martina McBride.  I was truly moved by her performance.  In many ways I can tell that she sees this as her ministry.  She sang from her heart.  One of the verses in the song says: “God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good, and when I pray, it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should, but I do it anyway, I do it anyway!”  While she was singing that song I thought of Paul when he said, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  God does not do the bad things, but He can sure use them for His glory!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice.  When “life happens” and you get hit with a blow that was unexpected and maybe even devastating, you can either choose to get bitter or better.  If you decide to persevere, then God can take the bad and use it for good, for His glory and it will become part of your story!

Closing Confession:  Father, I too have a story to tell and in many ways it is still being written.  I declare, by faith, that my story will be a story of faith, toughness, perseverance, and purpose.  No matter what comes my way, I refuse to quit.  You can take the bad and turn it around for my good and I believe that You will.  I press on by faith and I am determined to maximize my purpose and potential before I die.  I won’t allow anyone or anything to keep me from arriving at Your desired destination for my life.  Moreover, I am also determined to enjoy the ride.  I will tell my story everywhere I go and I will tell it with a smile on my face!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Spirit of Faith

(2 Cor 4:13,14 NIV) It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by getting back to Paul.  In the last verse we dealt with from this passage Paul was telling the believers in Corinth that death was a definite possibility for them.  But he also told them that their life in Christ (an eternal life) was also certainty.  Paul then goes on to quote the psalmist who spoke in accordance with what he believed.  “With that same sprit of faith,” Paul says, the spirit of faith that speaks what it believes, he also spoke what he believed and he urged the believers in Corinth to do the same.  While the threat of death for preaching the gospel was a distinct possibility, the belief in Jesus’ resurrection and someday their own resurrection, enabled the believers to overcome the fear of death and to continue to share the gospel with the lost.  What was Paul’s point?  I believe his point was that we most often speak what we truly believe.

Have you ever visited someone in the hospital?  It only takes a few minutes to realize what they believe the outcome of their sickness will be.  How can you find out so quickly?  By simply listening to what they say.  Their words tell us what their expectation is.  Their words expose the content of their heart.  What’s in you abundantly will come out of your eventually.  I draw this point from something Jesus said in Matthew 12.  He said, “A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good.  If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (verses 33-35).  Another translation says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Your words are very important, for many reasons, but one of the greatest reasons why your words are so important is because they are an indicator of the condition of your inner man.  Just like the quality or character of a fruit is an indication of the quality or character of the tree, your words tell us (outwardly) where you truly stand (inwardly).

If we read the 13th verse from the BBE (the Bible in Basic English) we will see Paul’s point clearly.  The BBE reads: “But having the same spirit of faith, as it is said in the Writings, The words of my mouth came from the faith in my heart; in the same way, our words are the outcome of our faith.”  I could not possibly say it any better than that!

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

1.  What you believe the most is what will come out of your mouth.  Your words tell on you.

2.  The Spirit of Faith speaks faith-filled words.  This is only possible because you have built up your faith to the point where you truly believe God’s best will be manifested in your situation.

3.  When you truly believe you are not afraid to take God public, declaring what you believe He WILL do well before He actually does it!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this series.  My faith is being built up and stirred to the point where I truly believe Your best will be manifested in my life.  Even when I face challenges, I face them with the reality of Your Word alive in my heart.  I stand on Your Word and Your promises to the point where they freely flow from my lips.  If others hang out with me for any period of time, even while I am in the midst of my challenge, all they will hear from me are faith-filled words.  I don’t speak words of fear, doubt and unbelief because that is NOT what I believe.  I believe You and my belief will be evident in my speech.  I take You public and I declare openly what I believe You will do in my life, well before You actually do it!  I will say it, even at the risk of looking foolish, because I say what I believe!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Living Your Life from the Inside-Out

(2 Cor 4:15,16 NLT)  All of this is for your benefit.  And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  In our last message we left off where Paul was encouraging the believers in Corinth to persevere through the danger of the death penalty and to continue to openly share the gospel message with boldness.  Paul said: “But having the same spirit of faith, as it is said in the Writings, The words of my mouth came from the faith in my heart; in the same way, our words are the outcome of our faith.”  The only way the believers back then – and believers today for that matter – were able to resist the pressure to cave in and turn coward was because of their faith.  The faith in their hearts fueled the words of their mouths.

Was this a trying time to be a believer?  Absolutely.  Was the threat of death real?  You bet.  But when Paul considered it all, he saw how God was being glorified, how people were being reached, and how lives were being changed.  That’s why he went on to say: “All of this is for your benefit.  And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.”  Paul knew that God was using every negative scheme of the enemy and turning it around for His glory.  It seems like the more the enemy attacked the church, the more it grew.  The more the threats of death (and actual executions) came, the more emboldened believers were to preach and share the gospel.  This led Paul to say, “That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.”  The word “quit” was not in Paul’s vocabulary.  He was resolute in his mission and he was leading a band of believers in a spiritual revolution that changed the course of history.  Their physical bodies were dying daily, because of natural deterioration and especially the pressures they were under, but their ‘inner man’ (their spirit) was being renewed day-by-day.  The same can and should be said of you.

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

1.  Hindsight is always 20/20:  When you are facing a challenge it is often hard to see the purpose in it, but looking back we can often see how God was glorified through it all.  Paul had the foresight to see God’s glory even while he was facing what he faced, but we don’t all have that perspective.  However, the point is that even if you don’t you can still be assured that when it is all said and done that God will be glorified.  That’s why you can never give up!

2.  Live your life from the inside out:  You may be growing older outwardly, but inwardly you can be renewed, refreshed, restored, revived and regenerated daily!  Life is much better when lived from the inside out.  When you focus on your inner man as your source of strength, you are able to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and with His power you can persevere!

Closing Confession:  Father, I trust You completely.  I truly believe that everything will work out for my good.  When I am going through a tough challenge, even if I don’t fully understand how it is going to work out and why I am facing what I am facing, I believe You will be glorified through it all, therefore I refuse to quit!  I will never throw in the towel.  I will never give up.  I will never lose heart.  I will never turn coward.  While my outward man is deteriorating, my inner man is renewed, refreshed, restored, revived and regenerated daily!  That’s why I choose to live my life from the inside-out!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Eternal Focus

(2 Cor 4:17, 18 NLT)  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to discuss Paul: his life and his teachings.  We have been walking through 2nd Corinthians chapter four for a couple of weeks now.  This is a power-packed passage.  Today we finally arrive at the culmination of the chapter and these last two verses might take me another week to go through all by themselves.  With that in mind, let’s break this passage down into pieces.  For this morning we will simply look at the first sentence where Paul said, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.”  Other translations read: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment.”  We know by now that Paul faced many arduous challenges, but in his estimation these challenges were both temporary and light.

Albert Barnes, the American theologian, said the following about this sentence: “This verse, with the following, is designed to show further the sources of consolation and support which Paul and his fellow-laborers had in their many trials.  The passage abounds with intensive and emphatic expressions, and manifests that the mind of the writer was laboring to convey ideas which language, even after all the energy of expression which he could command, would very imperfectly communicate.  The trials which Paul endured, to many persons would have seemed to be anything else but light. They consisted of want, and danger, and contempt, and stoning, and toil, and weariness, and the scorn of the world, and constant exposure to death by land or by sea (see 2 Cor 4:7-10 and 2 Cor 11:23-27).  Yet these trials, though continued through many years, and constituting, as it were, his very life, he speaks of as the lightest conceivable thing when compared with that eternal glory which awaited him.  He strives to get an expression as emphatic as possible, to show that in his estimation they were not worthy to be named in comparison with the eternal weight of glory.  It is not sufficient to say that the affliction was “light” or was a mere trifle; but he says that it was to endure but for a moment.  Though trials had followed him ever since he began to make known the Redeemer, and though he had the firmest expectation that they would follow him to the end of life and everywhere (see Acts 20:23), yet all this was a momentary trifle compared with the eternal glory before him.  The word rendered “light” (elaphron) means that which is easy to bear, and is usually applied to a burden (see Mat 11:30 and 2 Cor 1:17).”

Barnes definitely said a mouthful.  What Paul faced is almost inconceivable, but he faced it with an eternal focus that enabled him to endure, persevere, and eventually overcome.  Paul was able to look past every problem and to focus on the promise of eternal life.  His eternal focus gave him earthly strength.

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

1.  Life in Christ is not without challenges.

2.  Whatever challenges you do face, you can face with the grace and power of God.  While Christ gives us a burden, His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mat 11:30).

3.  To overcome you must maintain an eternal focus.  Your perspective will determine the level of your perseverance.  Look past every problem and focus on God’s promises!

Closing Confession:  Father, I look at the lives of David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, Jesus and others and I realize the great price they paid for fulfilling their earthly assignment.  In spite of challenges, they were fixed and focused in their determination to die empty; and they did.  They had an eternal focus and so do I.  I look past every problem and I focus on Your promises.  I am convinced that whatever I face in this present time will be both temporary and light; nothing that can be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in and through me.  I am a child of the Most High God and I will live like it every day.  Nothing the enemy brings my way will stop me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Pleasure in the Pain

(2 Cor 4:17, 18 NLT)  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to walk through this passage.  Yesterday we learned that our challenges, in Paul’s estimation, are both temporary and light.  No matter how big they seem to us as we are facing them, in hindsight, they are but a small thing in the overall story of our lives.  Moreover, they are nothing to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:17,18).  With that in mind, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday:

Yet they produce for us:  Have you ever thought of your troubles as actually working for you?  I preached a message one time entitled, “The Pleasure in the Pain.”  While none of us truly enjoy facing difficult situations – at least not those of us who are sane (smile) – the truth is that we would not be the persons we are today without them.  If you would be honest with yourself you would admit that you have grown significantly from the many challenges you have faced in life.  The issue of Christian maturity is not one of whether or not we will face challenges, because we all do; it is one of how you face them.  The more you mature the more you are able to learn from every challenge you face; allowing the challenge to produce for you, not just take away from you.

That vastly outweighs them:  This is a reference to the glory that is actually being worked in and for us as we face certain challenges and more importantly, as we mature in Christ.  The traditional King James Version reads, “A far more exceeding.”  In the original Greek language the words used are: kath’ huperbole eis huperbole.  Albert Barnes said the following of this phrase: “There is not to be found any where a more energetic expression than this.  The word huperbole (where we get our word “hyperbole”) means properly a throwing, casting, or throwing beyond.  In the New Testament it means excess, excellence, eminence (see 2Cor 4:7 “The excellency of the power”).  The phrase kath’ huperbole means: exceedingly or supereminently. This expression would have been by itself intensive in a high degree.  But this was not sufficient to express Paul’s sense of the glory which was laid up for Christians.  It was not enough for him to use the ordinary highest expression for the superlative to denote the value of the object in his eye.  He therefore coins an expression, and adds eis huperbole. It is not merely eminent; but it is eminent unto eminence; excess unto excess; a hyperbole unto hyperbole – one hyperbole heaped upon another; and the expression means that it is “exceeding exceedingly” glorious; glorious in the highest possible degree.  All hyperboles fail of expressing that eternal glory which remains for the just.  It is infinite and boundless.  You may pass from one degree to another; from one sublime height to another; but still an infinity remains beyond.  Nothing can describe the uppermost height of that glory; nothing can express its infinitude.”

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

1.  You can find purpose and promise in anything.  Yes, even in challenging situations.  So no matter what you are facing, seek to allow it to produce for you.

2.  There is nothing (literally nothing) that can be compared with that glory that shall be revealed in us.  No earthly superlatives can truly express the bliss we will enjoy as we commune with the Father for eternity.  Remember that the next time you are feeling low.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to see the big picture this morning.  I am not overwhelmed by anything I face, because in the big scheme of things they are both temporary and light.  You have brought me through many challenges and You will continue to do so.  Instead of allowing the challenges to get me down, I will allow them to work for me as I mature into the person You have called, destined, designed and desired for me to be.  Whenever I am feeling low, I think of the glory which shall be revealed in me and I am restored, revived, and rejuvenated, so that I can be ready to face my day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Looking Forward to Heaven While Remaining Focused in the Earth

(Rom 8:17,18) And if children, heirs also: heirs of God, and Christ’s joint heirs; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to walk through the fourth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.  Yesterday we focused in on the fact that our present challenges are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  The actual verbiage we were looking at was: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”  This reminds me of something Paul said in his letter to the church in Rome.  After explaining that the Holy Spirit Himself – who lives “in” every Born-Again believer – bears witness with our Spirit that we are the actual children of God, Paul said, “And if children, heirs also: heirs of God, and Christ’s joint heirs; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us.”

The concept of being an heir of God, and yes, even a joint-heir with Jesus Himself, was a hard one for me to wrap my head around initially.  But once I did it truly helped me to see myself the way I believe the Father wants me to see myself.  When you realize who Christ died to make you and who you actually became when His blood was applied to your life (sin and all), you begin to see life through a different lens.  However, life in Christ, here in the earth, is not supposed to be a perpetual picnic either.  Paul explains that while we will definitely be glorified with Jesus, while we are here we will also suffer with Him.  If we are going to take one we unfortunately also have to take the other.  But once again, the two are not worthy to be compared to one another.  The glory which shall be revealed in us makes whatever challenges we face here in the earth pale in comparison.

Listen, I understand that some have ascribed to the Doctrine of Escapism, which lends itself to the idea that our life in heaven is going to be exceedingly wonderful, while our life here in the earth is going to be exceedingly challenging.  Hence, the emphasis on escaping the rigors of this world for the bliss of the next.  Don’t misunderstand this series to be a series of doom and gloom.  While I have taken my time highlighting the fact that we, as believers, will face challenges in this present age, if you have been a reader of Today’s Word for any length of time you will know that I also truly believe (in accordance with the scriptures) that the Father not only wants us to make it to heaven, but He wants us to also enjoy the ride.  When you have a Warrior Spirit and you build up a resiliency to persevere through whatever challenges may come your way, then that is exactly what will happen.  While Paul endured many challenges, no one can convince me that he did not enjoy his time in the earth.  His personal disposition was evident as he encouraged believers time and time again; and his writings continue to encourage us thousands of years later.

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

1.  Heaven is going to be exceeding magnificent.  No doubt about it, what is waiting for us on the ‘other side’ is far greater than anything we could ever experience here.

2.  Don’t be so focused on heaven that you fail to maximize your earthly assignment.  And the Father does not just want you to maximize your time in the earth either; He wants you to enjoy yourself as you do it.  That’s what the Warrior Spirit enables you to do.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for outlining the magnificence of heaven in Your Word.  I know that my eternity with You will be far greater than anything I could ever imagine.  My imagination falls short of grasping the awesomeness I will experience in Your direct presence.  I am truly looking forward to it.  However, I know You have things for me to do now, down here in the earth, so I will get busy doing them.  I am determined to maximize my purpose and potential and I will not allow anyone or anything to stop me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

What Are You Looking At?

(2 Cor 4:17, 18 NLT)  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to walk through the fourth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.  Paul has already explained that, in his estimation, the troubles he faced were both temporary and light.  However, when we think of some of the harrowing things he endured for the cause of Christ many modern-day believers would be hard-pressed to call them “light.”  While the “light” comment is one of opinion the “temporary” comment is more factual matter.  The two are related and I will explain how.  Twice in this passage Paul uses the words “will last forever” in referring to our impending eternal glory.  Paul juxtaposes the awesomeness of the glory – I have already explained how the Greek language he used literally reads eminent unto eminence; excess unto excess; hyperbole unto hyperbole – against whatever level of pain we experience as we face challenges on the road to God’s expected end for our lives.  His aim is to make the suffering pale in comparison with the glory.  Further, not only does he juxtapose the level of difficulty with the glory, but he also does the same for the duration of the matter.  So while we do face challenges down here, whatever we do face for minutes, hours, days, months or even years, is nothing to be compared with the eternity we will spend with the Father.  After laying this out, Paul says:

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now:  Paul had a choice and so do we.  In many ways your attitude will determine your altitude; your perspective will have a direct impact on your progression (or lack thereof).  Paul could have easily focused his time, energy and effort on mulling over all the negative things that he faced on the road to his destiny.  However, he simply chose not focus his energies there.  Like Abraham, Paul staggered not, because he considered not (See Romans 4:17-21).  If you spend your time considering the wrong things, you will become the wrong person.  Why focus on something that is only temporary?  This too shall pass.

Rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen:  Paul chose to focus his attention on the things that you cannot see with your natural eyes.  This gave Paul Godly vision.  Vision is more insight than sight.  Paul kept his Godly vision before him and it became the wind beneath his wings.  Even while he was facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, Paul was able to persevere, overcome, and triumph, because he had the ability to see beyond where his eyes could look.  Do you?  Do you have a Godly vision?  If so, is that vision the “aim point” of your life?  If it is you too will be able to overcome every challenge and hindrance on the road to your destiny.

Now, getting back to my previous point.  Paul was able to call the challenges he faced “light” because he was not focusing on them.  He was so focused on the eternal that whatever temporary challenges he faced were “light” in his eyes.  Had Paul put more attention on his troubles he probably would not have accomplished all that he did for the Kingdom of God.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice.  You can either focus your attention on the negative and temporary challenges you are facing, or you can focus it on the God-given vision the Father has placed in you that will culminate with an eternal glory.  Make no mistake, whatever you chose to give your attention to WILL affect your quality-of-life!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I now better understand the importance of my thought life.  I take control of every thought and bring them into the obedience of Christ.  I focus on the eternal and not the temporary.  You impart into me vision, insight, revelation and understanding and I allow that vision to be the aim-point of my life.  I know where I am going and I will not allow anything to stop me.  With You in me and with me, I cannot lose.  My perspective, from this day forward, will fuel my progression and I will never be the same!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

What’s ‘Really’ Important?

(2 Cor 4:17, 18 NLT)  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to walk through the fourth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.  This is a powerful passage and the message Paul relays to us here is one that is truly needed if we are going to develop and operate in a Warrior Spirit.  Paul was no superman, so I am sure he had his times of frustration; we all do.  I can imagine Paul, during one of his times of incarceration, thinking, “How did I get myself into this mess?”  Or maybe while he was recovering from one of his physical punishments (lashings, beating, stonings, etc.) he thought, “Is this really worthy it?”  Now this is merely speculation on my part, but it is not something that is hard to imagine.  Being a strong believer and even one with a Warrior Spirit does not mean that you will never have thoughts of fear, doubt, or unbelief; what is means is that you are strong enough to resist them and to focus on things that really matter.

As we close out this passage and this chapter, let’s look at the last sentence:

For the things we see now will soon be gone:  As I rode to work yesterday this series truly ministered to me.  I was stuck in DC traffic, an accident made the HOV lane a parking lot, and a terrible storm did not make matters any better.  My Blackberry was going off as several of my coworkers let everyone know that they were going to be late.  Even trains were running late (I don’t know why).  As I sat on the highway I could see the frustration on the faces of people in other cars.  Many were visibly upset.  I was riding with someone and since I was not driving I took the opportunity to listen to worship music and to take a nap.  As I dozed off I thought of how temporary the situation was.  Sure, the traffic was terrible and the weather was miserable, but at the end of the day all it cost us was about an hour.  An hour, that’s it, BIG DEAL!  Along those same lines I recently closed on our new home in Virginia.  The Father has blessed us with a wonderful home.  We were supposed to close on July 1st, but because of complications with the seller we were not able to close until early August.  Now, while we were waiting and my family was in a hotel it seemed like a terrible situation.  Some in my family even questioned if we had done something wrong to deserve this.  But guess what?  At the end of the day all it cost us was a month; one measly month and we got the house we wanted.  BIG DEAL!  It was just temporary.  And that’s how it is with many things down here in the earth.  We make minor things MAJOR, but most of them are just temporary.  BIG DEAL!  This too shall pass.

But the things we cannot see will last forever:  As I sat in traffic yesterday I thought, “You know, Jesus is still on the throne, the Father is still sitting on the circle of the earth, and He still has all things in and under control.  Why should I get upset over something that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things?”  Sure, the traffic situation was the “hot topic” yesterday morning at work, but by the afternoon no one even remembered it.  We were too busy moving on to other things.  We live on an ever-changing planet and our situations are always evolving.  If we get too focused on the temporary we will never have any semblance of normalcy.  The only true constant is God.  If you develop a Warrior Spirit you will be able to remain fixed and focused while everything and everyone else is scurrying around as a slave to every whim.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for being the only constant we have in an ever changing world.  I look past the shakiness of a world that is always in flux and I look to Your constant nature for stability and strength.  I don’t get overly concerned about things that will not matter in a couple of days.  I focus on the eternal, not the temporary, and my focus empowers me to shine as light in the midst of darkness, as calmness in the midst of chaos, and as hope in he midst of despair!  I know what is really important and I focus my efforts therein – today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

What Does My Yesterday Mean About My Tomorrow?

(Joshua 4:4-7 NIV) So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

This week we will bring this series (Renewing a Warrior Spirit) to and end and get back to teaching from the book of Proverbs.  I trust that this series has been as much a blessing to you as it has been to me.  I have been encouraged, inspired and uplifted as we have studied the resiliency of many Biblical characters.  Their ability to persevere has served as fuel for my own ability to do the same and I pray it has had a similar effect on you.

I am leaving Rocky Mount, North Carolina this morning.  I was here preaching at the fourth anniversary of a church in Rocky Mount that I have been connected with since its inception.  The anniversary message the Father gave me to preach was entitled, “What Does My Yesterday Mean About My Tomorrow?”  I preached from Joshua chapters three and four.  I have shared a portion of the text with you here this morning and I feel led to share just a few of the thoughts from the message.

For us to truly operate with a Warrior Spirit, that will withstand every attack of the enemy, we must develop the ability to look back in order to properly look forward.  The answer to the question – What Does My Yesterday Mean About My Tomorrow? – would be “Nothing” if our lives were nothing but a series of disconnected events.  However, our past is part of our story.  Our past victories and failures are part of our makeup and we need to understand the lessons of our past if we are going to be prepared to face the challenges of our future.  Joshua understood this and since he was charged with leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, he took full advantage of this principal as God performed a miracle for them.

The Father caused the waters of the River Jordan to stop so that the Israelite could walk across on dry ground.  When the miracle was over Joshua had one member from each tribe – so that everyone was included – grab a stone from the middle of the river.  The 12 stones were used to create an altar that would serve as a memorial of what God did for them for generations to come.  We too would do well in establishing altars in our lives.  Now, I don’t mean physical altars, but I do mean ‘altars of remembrance.’  When we establish an altar we show God how appreciative we are of what He did and we ensure that we will not quickly forget it.  The altar also served as a source of encouragement.  See, the land of Promise (Canaan) was still inhabited.  If the Israelites were going to take the land they were going to have to fight seven different nations for it (the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites).  Joshua’s point was that while they were fighting these nations they could always look back and remember the miracle the Father performed on their way into the Promised Land.  Their past miracle would fuel their future successes.  I can’t share all the points of my message, but let me just share a few closing thoughts.  When you build an altar it serves as a place of worship (where you appreciate what God did), a venue for evangelism (where you openly brag on God), a tool for legacy (your children need to know the true source of your strength) and a source of personal encouragement (where you can ‘Brace Yourself,’ ‘Trace Yourself,’ and ‘Pace Yourself’).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for all my past experiences – successes and failures.  My past is part of my story.  My yesterday has prepared me for my tomorrow.  When You do mighty things in my life I will not take them lightly.  I will establish altars of remembrance that will help me share the experience with others, share the lessons with my children, and serve as a source of personal encouragement when I am feeling low.  You are a God of progression and not regression.  I know that what lies before me is greater than what is behind me so when I look back I get excited about looking forward.  I have great expectations!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

What’s ‘Really’ Important?

(2 Cor 4:17, 18 NLT)  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

This morning we continue our mini-series entitled “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” by continuing to walk through the fourth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.  This is a powerful passage and the message Paul relays to us here is one that is truly needed if we are going to develop and operate in a Warrior Spirit.  Paul was no superman, so I am sure he had his times of frustration; we all do.  I can imagine Paul, during one of his times of incarceration, thinking, “How did I get myself into this mess?”  Or maybe while he was recovering from one of his physical punishments (lashings, beating, stonings, etc.) he thought, “Is this really worthy it?”  Now this is merely speculation on my part, but it is not something that is hard to imagine.  Being a strong believer and even one with a Warrior Spirit does not mean that you will never have thoughts of fear, doubt, or unbelief; what is means is that you are strong enough to resist them and to focus on things that really matter.

As we close out this passage and this chapter, let’s look at the last sentence:

For the things we see now will soon be gone:  As I rode to work yesterday this series truly ministered to me.  I was stuck in DC traffic, an accident made the HOV lane a parking lot, and a terrible storm did not make matters any better.  My Blackberry was going off as several of my coworkers let everyone know that they were going to be late.  Even trains were running late (I don’t know why).  As I sat on the highway I could see the frustration on the faces of people in other cars.  Many were visibly upset.  I was riding with someone and since I was not driving I took the opportunity to listen to worship music and to take a nap.  As I dozed off I thought of how temporary the situation was.  Sure, the traffic was terrible and the weather was miserable, but at the end of the day all it cost us was about an hour.  An hour, that’s it, BIG DEAL!  Along those same lines I recently closed on our new home in Virginia.  The Father has blessed us with a wonderful home.  We were supposed to close on July 1st, but because of complications with the seller we were not able to close until early August.  Now, while we were waiting and my family was in a hotel it seemed like a terrible situation.  Some in my family even questioned if we had done something wrong to deserve this.  But guess what?  At the end of the day all it cost us was a month; one measly month and we got the house we wanted.  BIG DEAL!  It was just temporary.  And that’s how it is with many things down here in the earth.  We make minor things MAJOR, but most of them are just temporary.  BIG DEAL!  This too shall pass.

But the things we cannot see will last forever:  As I sat in traffic yesterday I thought, “You know, Jesus is still on the throne, the Father is still sitting on the circle of the earth, and He still has all things in and under control.  Why should I get upset over something that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things?”  Sure, the traffic situation was the “hot topic” yesterday morning at work, but by the afternoon no one even remembered it.  We were too busy moving on to other things.  We live on an ever-changing planet and our situations are always evolving.  If we get too focused on the temporary we will never have any semblance of normalcy.  The only true constant is God.  If you develop a Warrior Spirit you will be able to remain fixed and focused while everything and everyone else is scurrying around as a slave to every whim.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for being the only constant we have in an ever changing world.  I look past the shakiness of a world that is always in flux and I look to Your constant nature for stability and strength.  I don’t get overly concerned about things that will not matter in a couple of days.  I focus on the eternal, not the temporary, and my focus empowers me to shine as light in the midst of darkness, as calmness in the midst of chaos, and as hope in he midst of despair!  I know what is really important and I focus my efforts therein – today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

A Strong Spirit

(Prov 17:22 and 18:14 NLT) A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength… The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?

This morning we continue to wind down the “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” series.  As we prepare to close this series out and transition back to the book of Proverbs I thought it fitting to tie in a few Proverbs that have to do with a “Warrior Spirit.”  I have been using the term “Warrior Spirit,” but I could have just as easily used “Strong Spirit” in its stead.  When it comes down to it, many believers – and many humans for that matter – don’t understand that we are actually spirits.  Like God, we are tripartite beings.  God is Father, Son, and Spirit.  We are spirit, soul, and body.  Our spirit is who we actually are.  Our soul is comprised of our mind (the way we think), emotions (the way we feel), and will (the way we choose).  And then our body is basically our earth suit; the housing we live in while we are in the earth.  Our body will eventually fail, but we (our Spirit and soul) will live on forever – in one place or another (we know what those two places are).

Our inner man, our Spirit, is who we ‘really’ are and when our spirit is weak our soul will be weak (we will think, feel, and choose poorly) and our body will be weak (physically sapped). Solomon compares a cheerful heart (or inner man) to a broken spirit.  The cheerful heart is like medicine.  When your spirit is strong, enlightened, and inspired, your entire man (spirit, soul, and body) is alert, awake, responsive, and ready.  However, when your spirit is weak or broken it saps your strength through and through.  Solomon went on to say, “The human spirit can endure a sick body;” meaning that when your outer man is weak and sick, it is uncomfortable but not unbearable.  However, when your spirit is crushed, weak and despondent Solomon asks, “Who can bear it?”  I am no clinical psychologist, but in my personal opinion I believe many have fallen into the pits of depression because of a crushed spirit.

In the 12th chapter of Proverbs Solomon said, “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (12:25).  Once again, this is a reference to your inner man.  In the 15th chapter gives the other side of the story and says, “A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face” (15:13).

So you may be thinking, “Ok Rick, so what can I do about it?  How do I maintain a strong spirit?”  My answer is twofold.  First, tap into the power of the Holy Spirit.  When you were Born-Again the Holy Spirit Himself came to live inside of you and He connects with your spirit to make you a child of God.  The Holy Spirit is an inexhaustible reservoir of hope from which we can draw whenever we feel like we are at the end of our rope.  Secondly, read and feed from the Word of God.  God’s Word feeds our spirit, making it strong and resilient.  The more Word you have down inside of you, the more equipped you will be to battle the negative thoughts of the enemy and to resist every urge to fall into depression.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you want to build up a strong spirit so that you can live the life the Father desires for you to live.  Your heavenly Father wants you to have and enjoy His life, the God-type of life; and not just when you make it to heaven, but right now while you are in the earth.  You can’t do that if your spirit is weak, crushed, despondent and in despair.  Allow the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to build you up from the inside out and your entire man will be strong – spirit, soul, and body!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  This series has taught me the importance of having and maintaining a strong spirit.  Your precious Holy Spirit lives in me and He bears witness with my spirit that I am Your child.  I tap into His boundless reservoir of hope.  I am never hopeless, because in Christ I am never helpless.  The Holy Spirit is with me every step of my journey.  I also feed on a daily regimen of the Word of God.  Your Word helps build up my spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I have a strong spirit and I am able to resist every negative thought, impulse, and attack from the enemy.  Depression will never overtake me, because I am strong from the inside out and my strong spirit has a positive impact on my soul and my body.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Guard Your Heart (Spirit) Above All Else!

(Prov 4:20-23 NLT)  My child, pay attention to what I say.  Listen carefully to my words.  Don’t lose sight of them.  Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.  Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

This morning we continue to wind down the “Renewing a Warrior Spirit” series.  Yesterday we learned that your spirit is who you really are, that it is hard to recover from a crushed/wounded spirit, and that one of the ways to maintain a strong spirit is to feed on a steady diet of the Word of God.  Today we seek to learn more from Solomon.

These four verses are so power-packed that if I attempted to teach them all I would have to prolong the series.  So in an attempt to keep it short and sweet, I will summarize what I believe Solomon is saying and how it pertains to maintaining a Strong/Warrior Spirit.

1.  Give attention to the Word:  Solomon wants us to take his words (God’s Words) seriously.  He knows that humans have a tendency to listen without truly listening and to read without truly reading.  Solomon urges us to peak up our senses and our attention when we are in the Word of God.  He wants us to be in strict listening/receiving mode.  Too many believers approach the Word of God with a laissez faire attitude, which results in wasted opportunities to truly learn and receive from God, through His Word.

2.  Allow the to penetrate deep into your heart:  What you repeatedly allow through your eye and ear gates will get down into your heart (spirit).  It’s not good enough to wear God’s Word ON your heart like a charm on a necklace.  God wants you to take His Word and put it IN your heart where it can reside as a rule.  So it can become the ruler by which you judge every decision.

3.  The Word will produce results in your life:  God wants you to be spiritually attuned and attentive, mentally astute and alert, psychologically stable and sound, emotionally under control, and physically fit and strong.  This is the type of life that God’s Words can unlock for those that find them, apply them, and ascribe to them for life!

4.  Guard your heart (spirit) above all else:  Solomon urges us to protect our inner man; to put up a wall of defense against the errors of undisciplined conduct.  It is utterly dangerous to allow your mind to stray or remain idle, to allow your emotions to fluctuate unchecked, to allow your will to choose what you know is wrong, or to allow your spirit to wander without direction.  All these things happen in your heart (your inner man).  It is in your inner man that decisions are made at forks in the road, chances are taken at divine opportunities, and ‘the-faith-line’ is crossed at life-changing moments.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that, in general, all the actions of life flow from the heart, not the blood-pump, but the inner man.  So if you want to become the person that God desires for you to be, if you want to arrive at the final destination He envisions for your life, if you want to enjoy Godly success in life, then you will have to develop the discipline required to keep/guard/protect your inner man.  It’s in your inner man that the course of your life is determined.  It’s in your inner man that you either thrive or starve in God.  It’s in your inner man that you either overcome or succumb to the temptations of the enemy and the flesh.  You may fool others by being a big, strong, and physically fit imposing specimen, but God looks past the outward appearance and He judges the heart (1st Sam 16:7)  How do you look on the inside?  How fit is your inner man?  How do you look to God?

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for teaching me the importance of both physical and inner fitness!  I keep my heart – my inner man – with all diligence, because I know that that’s where true discipline is needed.  I keep my mind sharp and alert.  I read and study to keep it crisp and ready.  I ruler over my emotions and keep them in check.  I train my will to line up with Yours.  And I submit my spirit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  My inner man is fit, firm, and focused.  I will arrive at the final destination You have planned for me!  I am confident of this because my heart is right before You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The Conclusion (Part I)

Today and tomorrow we will bring this series to a close.  We have only been involved in it for a couple of months now, but it seems like we have covered a lot of ground and I pray you have developed a Strong/Warrior Spirit along the way.  The reality is that we need a strong spirit because we do face a real enemy who comes at us in real ways.  The good news is, however, that we also have a real God who will work in, with, and through us in real ways, if we have the faith to cooperate with Him.

What I will do over the next couple of days is highlight a few of the lessons we have learned and I trust this recap will help to ‘seal’ the message of this series in your heart.

1.  Never quit: James said, “Take the old prophets as your mentors.  They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God.  What a gift life is to those who stay the course!  You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end” (5:10,11).  Paul said, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Gal 6:9).  This has been the reoccurring theme of this series, so I listed it first.  Simply put: Warriors simply refuse to quit!

2.  Don’t cast away your confidence:  The writer of Hebrews said, “Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.  For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised” (10:35,36).  Once you lose your confidence it is only a matter of time before you drift into fear, doubt, and unbelief.  Once you get into fear, doubt, and unbelief you will not be able to stand very long.  Once you can no longer stand, you will make fear-filled (and not faith-filled) decisions.  Fear-filled decisions will not produce results that are pleasing to God; therefore they will not be pleasing to you either.

3.  Keep the faith ‘till the end: In Paul’s last letter he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2nd Tim 4:7).  Paul could not claimed to finish his course if he did not know what it was.  Paul found, followed, and finished the course the Father had designed for his life.  You must be determined to do the same.  Paul’s course was not an easy one and while I seriously doubt yours will be as hard as his, yours will involve your fair share of challenges.  But no matter what you face on the road to your destiny, don’t allow anything to keep you from arriving there.  Keep the faith – which means that you must remain ‘in-faith’ along the way – and finish your course!

4.  Be strong in God’s grace:  In Paul’s last letter he also said the following to his spiritual son Timothy: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2nd Tim 2:3).  Like Timothy, you will have to endure hardship as a good solider of Christ Jesus, but you don’t have to endure it with your power alone.  Summon God’s grace and rely on it.  God’s ability on your ability will enable you to do what you could never accomplish alone!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for helping me to develop a strong/warrior spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I will never quit.  No matter what I face on the road to Your expected end for my life, I will face it head-on, in faith, and with complete confidence.  I trust in You with my whole heart and I am not afraid.  Fear has no power over me.  I feed my faith and starve my doubts daily and my steady diet of Your Word enables me to have STAYING POWER.  I am in this thing to the end and I am determined to enjoy the ride.  I am strong in Your Grace.  Your grace enables me to do what I could never do all alone.  You are on me, in me, with me, and for me!  Glory!  I am excited about my future!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

The Conclusion (Part II)

That’s it! This is the final message from this series and as we did yesterday I will seek to highlight a few of the lessons we have learned along the way. 

1.  Remember, God is looking for Faith:  When Jesus encountered a Roman man who possessed exceptional faith and He said, “Most certainly I tell you, I haven’t found so great a faith, not even in Israel” (Mat 8:10).  The words “I haven’t found” tell me that faith is what Jesus was looking for.  So when you are looking for answers, remember God is looking for faith!  In His estimation, there is nothing is impossible to him that believes.  If you supply the faith, God will get involved in your situation.

2.  God wants your Cooperation:  Paul said, “By God’s grace I am what I am.”  But he knew that he could not stop there, because that sounds like he had no part in the matter.  Someone could read that and say, “Well, my life is all up to God.”  No, Paul went on to say, “I worked harder than all the others.”  This made it clear Paul had a part in the matter, but that does not sound good either.  Someone might think he was being arrogant.  So Paul continued and said, “Not I, of course, but God’s grace that was with me” (1st Cor 15:10).  This shows that Paul had part and God had a part.  God will not force Himself on you.  For God to fully operate in your life, He is looking for your cooperation.  Without God, we cannot.  Without us, God will not.  It is God + man making a difference in the world.

3.  God also expects you to Trust Him:  Never question God’s ability.  There is nothing that God cannot do.  While you may not be sure if He WILL, you must be convinced that He CAN!  But even if He doesn’t, you must never throw in the towel.  Faith says, “I believe God will do it.”  But trust says, “Even if He doesn’t, He is still my God and I will still worship Him!”  You are not always going to get what you want from God and things are not always going to go your way, but you must continue to trust God, no matter the circumstances.

4.  Maintain an attitude of Thanksgiving:  In Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica he was teaching them how to live a life that is pleasing to God.  In his closing remarks Paul said: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes 5:16-18).  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.  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.

5.  Never lose heart:  Paul said, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:1).  When you think about the mercy of God (how you should have been consumed by now) and the assignment God has for your life (with all that He expects from you), you just CAN’T give up.  The Greek word used here for “lost heart” means: to turn out a coward; to lose one’s courage; then to be fainthearted, to faint, or to despond in view of trial, difficulty, etc.  Paul was not disheartened, discouraged, or deterred by the difficulties he faced and neither must you.  The consciousness of being entrusted with such a ministry animated him and the mercy and grace of God sustained him.  The same can and should be said of you!

Closing Confession:  Father, I know You are looking for faith and I will supply it.  I live by faith, I see every situation through the lens of faith, and I speak the language of faith daily.  I cooperate with all You desire to do in my life.  My faith believes that You WILL do all that I am believing You for.  However, even if things don’t turn out the way that I expect them to, I will never throw in the towel and walk away from You.  You saved me from hell, You changed me from the inside out, and I will worship You forever.  I trust You wholeheartedly.  My faith and trust help me to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving daily and since I keep praise on my lips, trust in my heart, and faith as my foundation, I never lose heart!  I am a believer and not a doubter and I operate in faith and not fear, because I have a Warrior Spirit!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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