Tuesday, October 27, 2009


October 26, 2009
Psalm 127:5 "Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of [children]. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies at the gate."

I have prayed many times that the Lord would bless me; most of the time I am praying for financial blessing. But for some reason, every time I pray to be blessed, my wife ends up pregnant. While children often times are the opposite of a financial blessing, I have found that the reward is not in actually having children; the reward is in what they can do with their lives. Even if you don't have children, this scripture applies to you, as we are ALL in a position to teach or mentor someone, spiritually. The whole point in having a child is not so they can love you, but so you can rear them in the ways of the Lord that they might be used for Him and His glory.

Consider an archer, as the Bible relates children (or spiritual children) to arrows. An arrow was very useful to an archer in battle. A skilled archer could draw back his bow and kill his opponent with one well-placed shot. But before the archer could draw back his bow, he had to fill his quiver with arrows. When this scripture was written, an archer could not buy his arrows at a local sporting goods store. No, an archer only used the arrows that he himself had made. If he made them, he could ensure they where straight and true, to fly correctly. He could make sure they had a sharpened point to pierce the armor of his opponent. He could make sure that the nock and feathers were properly fastened to ensure stability of the arrow. If the archer intended to hit his target, despite his good aim, his quiver better be full of quality arrows.

In this life, the only battle that we are fighting is a spiritual battle. Anyone you are in a position to teach or influence for Christ is considered a spiritual child to you, and it will be a blessing if your quiver is full of them. If your quiver is full of arrows (spiritual children), then you've ensured that your children are straight and following the ways of the Lord. You have ensured that they are sharpened with the knowledge of the Gospel and that they are stable in their foundation in Christ. And when you are sure the arrows are fully ready for use, you can draw back your bow and send them out.

It is important to remember that an arrow in the quiver is useless if it is never sent out. The arrow can only be of benefit to the archer in battle, to accomplish his goal, if he sends it out. The Bible says that one person can put 1,000 to flight and that two people can put 10,000 to flight. That is why it is a blessing to have a quiver full of arrows (spiritual children). The more arrows you have, the more you will accomplish in this spiritual battle called life. Your children are not yours; they are the Lords. He has entrusted them to your care, to ensure the arrows are ready for use in battle. Even if you don't have kids, fill your quiver full of spiritual children and then send them out; it will be a huge blessing to you.

1. Who are your children (physical and spiritual)?
2. How are you equipping them to be sent out?
3. Are you holding them in your quiver or are you sending them out?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Deut 32:30, 1 Sam 12:23, 1 Kings 8:36, Ps 34:11, Ps 132:12, Matt 18:6, 2 Tim 3:16, Heb 5:12, 2 John 1:9


by Tiffany L. Speck
August 18, 2009
...the following is an excerpt of a blog, written by my wife, Tiffany Speck. I wanted to share it with you.

Yes, I said perspective, as in my perspective on an event that happened to me recently. I’d like to share. A few weeks ago, a very, very sweet friend contacted me to tell me that she had something that she needed to tell me, but that she was afraid it would hurt my feelings. It was clear that she was uncomfortable with the subject matter, but I encouraged her to tell me, promising that there would be no hard feelings on my part, regardless of what was conveyed. She proceeded to tell me that she had been privy to a conversation (between several ladies that I know) in the recent past, chief topic of which was me. In short, here’s what was said to me: This particular group of women had discussed that they would not come to my home because: 1. My house was too small; 2. I lived in a “bad/less-than-desirable” neighborhood; 3. My children and I did not wear the “right” clothes. I thanked my friend for telling me, and assured her that none of what she had told me came as a surprise. My initial reaction to what had been said to me was—nothing—to not care. The whole “sticks and stones may break my bones . . .” technique.

As the day progressed, I rehashed what my friend had told me. My emotions began to shift. First I was sad, very, very sad. I felt like I was back in high school—being teased for having to ride the bus, or because I had to shovel manure on a fairly regular basis on my dad’s farm. And then I began to get depressed, desperate to leave Missouri, feeling trapped in a hostile place. I began to cry. A few hours later, my emotions shifted again, this time to anger and bitterness. And then the emotions shifted again. I was done. Done. No more, I couldn’t take any more. I wanted to leave Missouri, “Misery” as old friends had joked when we told them that we were leaving the beach to move out here six years ago.

I needed to get out of the house for a while, to clear my mind. I had an item to drop in the mail, so leaving the kids with my husband, I jumped into his car and headed out to the post office. I had intended to fume and fuss and feel sorry for myself during the drive to the post office, but my husband had left the radio turned on to our local Christian radio station. A woman was on the air, and she was talking about how she was “done” with life. I perked up. I had just said those exact words to myself a mere hour ago. She said she was “done” with all the troubles that seemed to keep coming her way. She wanted to leave them all behind, escape. She was “just done.” I began to feel real camaraderie with this unknown woman, she who was commiserating with me in my troubles, whether she knew it or not. And she shared that she was frustrated that she couldn’t respond to her hardships with a better attitude.

She began to elaborate about her troubles. She was “done” with having a head cold. What in the world? A simple head-cold? This woman was griping about a head cold? Good grief, if that’s all she had to complain about in life, I had her beat in life a hundred times over. A head cold, for crying out loud! My disgust level rose and my respect for this woman with her imagined hardships in life quickly went down the toilet. The woman continued on. She was “done” with her wheelchair not working right. Wheelchair? I choked on my tongue. And she was “done” with her pen jamming up and not working when she was trying to sign books with her pen between her teeth. I think I threw up in my mouth at that point. Suddenly, like a flash of light, I recognized this woman’s voice and her amazing story. Joni Erickson Tada. And for those of you who are not familiar with Joni’s story, you need to read it, http://www.joniearecksontadastory.com/.

I have never felt so ashamed in my entire life as I did at that moment of recognition. Nothing like a little perspective to put your head on straight. Wow, I didn’t have any problems suddenly. My “wheelchair” isn’t broken; in fact, I don’t have a wheelchair, and I’m blessed to not need one. And my pen works just fine when I sign my name holding the pen IN MY HAND.

I began to reminisce, to think back over my life, to get myself some more perspective on my current situation. I thought back to a time almost 10 years ago, when I had been blessed enough to be able to work for a Christian organization that flew me all over the world. I remembered back to a period of two weeks in 2000, immediately following the massive conflict that had taken place in Kosova, ripping apart the lives of the people of that country, when I had been privileged to work in a small village, providing medical care to the inhabitants of the village. I remember flying into Macedonia, then driving across the border through the military customs check-point, seeing literally hundreds of thousands of homeless, panic-stricken Kosovars, begging for asylum in a border refugee camp. We drove through the black, starless night, and I remember seeing beautiful homes, belonging to the Kosovar people, in flames. Fire shooting up so high that it surpassed the heights of the massive pine trees found all over the rolling hills. There wasn’t a fire engine or fire-fighter in sight.

I remember NATO tanks –German units—taking up residence in “our” village due to the fighting that was still going on. I remember lying on my mat on the floor at night, attempting to sleep, hearing nothing but constant fire-fighting behind the building we were housed in, as soon as the sun went down each night. I remember the smell of rotting bodies wafting through the air, and then attending a funeral for an Albanian military commander who had been killed during our time in Kosova. I can smell the stench of those rotting corpses still, as if it had just been yesterday. I remembered walking through the “Gypsy” part of the village, forced to hop over rivers of raw human-sewage that ran freely through the village. Perspective--No, I don’t live in a “bad” neighborhood.

I remembered traveling to southern India late in 1999. I remember caring for a little boy, about 7-years-old, who had a massive cleft lip and palate (due to poor nutrition during pregnancy). He was an outcast in his village. He would never hold a job, would never get married, and would never even go to school, all because of his obvious deformity. The BBC was with us, filming about the lives of some the children in these poverty-stricken villages. I fell in love with this little guy, his sweet, gentle spirit, his ready smile, despite his lack of upper lip and jaw. I knew nothing of this village where he lived, as my job kept me some miles from his home. All I knew of him was what I learned during his time with me pre- and post-operatively. The BBC film crew traveled out to this little guy’s village to find him, as he neglected to show up on the day he was scheduled for surgery, the surgery that would change his life.

Praise the Lord, they were able to find him and rushed him back to me to prep him for surgery. Imagine my delight when the BBC film crew presented me with a copy of their completed video. But imagine my shock when I saw for the first time where this little boy had lived, his home. His home was nothing more than a 10’x10’, maybe a 12’x12’ square room made out of crumbling cinder blocks. His family was large, quite large, and as I watched the video, I saw them sitting on the filthy dirt floor of their home, crowding aside to let the BBC film crew in to capture their poverty for all posterity. I saw this same little guy attempting to eat his one daily meal—rice—shoveling the food into his broken mouth with his filthy hands, the grains of rice falling mostly out of the holes in his face onto the floor, chickens wandering in and out of the house, snatching up the bounty. I still consider that video one of my most cherished possessions. Perspective -- No, my house isn’t “too small.”

Must I go on? I have memories of leaving all my clothing and shoes, but what I was wearing that day, with families in Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Gaza, Kenya, the Philippines, you name the country, because they had ONE SET OF CLOTHES. Perspective—the clothes that my kids and I wear, despite their lack of proper “taggage,” are perfect, and considering that we all own vastly more than one set of clothing each, we are overloaded with clothes.

I remember eating at a small sidewalk café in the mountains of a village in Bolivia, and watching an entire family walk silently and humbly amidst all of us sitting at the tables, a plastic bag in their hands. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. They were making me uncomfortable, with all their dirtiness, their ragged clothing, their obvious poverty. I had no spare change to give them; I wanted them to go away from me. And then I gained perspective, as I watched them rush to a table that had just seconds ago been vacated by a café patron. The family quickly scraped the refuse of the diner’s meal off the plate . . . and into their plastic bag. They were getting their supper. Feeding their many cold, hungry children. I couldn’t look them in the eye. Suffice it to say none of us were able to finish our meals; we all left our food nearly untouched for these starving people.Perspective can sure shed light on a situation.

Perspective. It sure can change things. And, ladies, you’re still welcome to come to my home, I’ll even make a pot of coffee, Rhode Island style, if you can stand it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Give Up, It's Hopeless

Give Up, It's Hopeless
October 19, 2009
Isaiah 57:15 "For this is what the high and lofty one says, "I live. . .with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.""

While the words, "give up, it's hopeless," sound depressing, they are actually an invitation for a miracle. Undoubtedly, you need a miracle. I know you do and God is acutely aware of it, too. Only thing is, if you're like me, you haven't given up yet, given up your human efforts, that is. If you are human, you've probably got your miracle ALL figured out, exactly how God can demonstrate His power and utilize you to orchestrate it. You've played the longed-for scenario out in your mind many times, just how neatly your situation will resolve itself when God does things the way you want Him to, or you're able to finally get it done yourself. I do this often, and, regrettably, have even questioned God for missing many opportunities for a miracle.

If you daydream about just how to make things happen, then you haven't given up yet; you're still trying to work it out on your own, figuring out your own solution. God would say to you and me today, "Stop It!" Stop trying to suggest to God how He might properly get it done. Here is a little secret I've found in the Bible: not one miracle was performed in the way a human being suggested it to God. Not one. God, when He performed His miracles, NEVER consulted a man or woman on how to properly get it done. The Bible is pretty good about setting precedent and there doesn't seem to be one for setting up your miracle, except for one thing. Give up. That's right, give up your human efforts, if you want to set yourself up for a miracle. You must come to the end of what man can do, if a miracle is going to happen.

Consider the following impossible situations:
Abraham's wife was ninety years old and barren when God enabled her to conceive a child. Joseph spent close to twenty years imprisoned and enslaved when God rose him to fame and riches. The Israelites faced certain death by Pharaoh's army before God parted the sea. The three Jewish men were bound and thrown into the fiery furnace before God exalted them, unharmed. Daniel was sentenced to death and spent a night in a den of lions before God cleared him of all false charges. Lazarus was dead and rigid in the grave for four days before God healed his original sickness and brought him back to life. When th ese men finally gave up and it seemed hopeless, putting the situation in God's hands, God was able to make the miracle happen.

When your situation seems entirely hopeless, God can finally step in and do His best work. Christian, you may be facing something so great in your life that it would take a miracle to turn it around. It is time to give up your human efforts to fix it and hand it over to God. And when you hand it over to God, you also have to let go. Your miracle might be delayed because you haven't let the situation go yet. You might still be hanging on to something that needs to be in God's hands. When you give up, you can stand before God with a contrite heart, in a position for Him to comfort you and start to do His best work.

There is a Proverb that reads, "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." While your hopeless situation may have you depressed, God wants to comfort you with His awesome power and might. He sees your lowly and contrite heart and wants you to give your circumstances entirely over to Him. Because, not only does He want to comfort your heart, He is able to make that miracle happen, His way.

1. How have you worked out your own miracle in your mind?
2. What are you still hanging on to that you might need to let go?
3. How can you be hopeless in your human efforts so God can comfort your heart and work your miracle?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Gen 17, Gen 41, Ex 14, Dan 3, Dan 6, Pr 13:12, John 11

Sinfully Aware

Sinfully Aware
October 12, 2009
Leviticus 4:14 "When they become aware of the sin they committed, the assembly must bring . . . a sin offering. . ."

Have you ever watched the look on a person's face when they got caught in the act? You know the look, when they get caught in a lie or with their hand in the cookie jar? It's the look of astonishment and surprise, with eyebrows raised, like when a child is being naughty and turns around to see the parent quietly observing the crime. The surprised look, of being caught in the act, isn't always an expression of regret, but often of regret for getting caught. Everyone knows what I'm talking about; you've, undoubtedly, been caught more times that you'd care to admit. I know I have.

With God, though, there are no "caught in the act" moments. He doesn't stand there, waiting to jump out and shout, "Ah ha!" God has been watching you the whole time, whether you know it or not. God knows what you are doing, WHEN and WHILE you are doing it. It is as if He was standing next to you when you committed the offense. He wants you to know that He is aware of your sin and wants you to come to a point of admitting it, being sinfully aware of your actions. He makes you aware for a reason, though, and it is not to surprise you.

Jesus was thirsty and saw a woman drawing water from a well. He asked her for a drink of water but she refused him. Jesus never got a drink that moment, and in fact, ended up offering her water. Except the water that Jesus offered her was Living Water, the Living Water of eternal salvation (John 4). The woman wanted the gift of Living Water and asked Jesus how to obtain it. Jesus, though, did not tell her how to obtain this Living Water (salvation); He first made her aware of her sin. He asked the woman to bring her husband to Him, where she admitted she did not have one. The discourse continued and Jesus made her aware of her sin of living with 5 different men. The point Jesus was trying to make was that her sin made her ineligible to receive the Living Water.

Despite her asking for it, Jesus basically told her she was not qualified to receive salvation because of her sinful life. He had to make her sinfully aware, FIRST, in order to convince her of the next steps to obtaining the Living Water. The next steps, as you know, Christian, are to confess your sins to Jesus and accept His forgiveness, BEFORE you can obtain Living Water (eternal salvation).

You can have the Living Water of Jesus Christ but not if you continue to sin, after being made aware of your sin. Your continued offenses can make you ineligible to receive the gift of eternal life, unless you confess them to Jesus and apply the sacrificial sin offering of Jesus' blood to your life. You may not have committed adultery or murder, but there are sins that each of us struggles with everyday. It might be bitterness or an unclean thought life. It might be an attitude of complaining or acts of selfishness. Today, God wants to make you aware of the sin in your life that you need to eliminate, in order to maintain your eligibility for salvation.

I'm not arguing that you have lost your salvation, I'm arguing that you might have unconfessed sin in your life and God wants to make you aware of it. This is not to surprise you or make you feel guilty; it is so you might stop sinning. As you read this, I know there are one or two things that instantly come to your mind, sins you've committed. This is the Holy Spirit bringing conviction to you, showing you where your offenses lie. It is His effort to make you sinfully aware, so you may confess and repent of your sins, applying the sin offering of Jesus' blood to your actions. Confess your sins and drink of the Living Water.

1. What sins came to mind as you read this?
2. Confess those sins right now and ask God to give you a repentant heart?
3. How can you ask God, on a daily basis, to show you those sins?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Lev 5:5, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13, Mark 1:5, John 4, Acts 19:18, 1 John 1:9

Noah's Ark Didn't Exist

Noah's Ark Didn't Exist
October 5, 2009
Matthew 17:20 "...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed...nothing will be impossible for you.

When I say the words, "Noah's Ark didn't exist," it instantly conjures up feelings inside of you. You begin to doubt if I know scripture, or if I even believe in God. You begin to question whether or not this writing has any Biblical backing or is scripturally sound. And rightly so. You should question my stance if I am telling you that Noah's Ark didn't exist. But think about it. Could a man really build such a large boat, big enough to carry two of every animal in the world? And seriously, do you really think that two of EVERY animal just walked up to Noah on their own volition and boarded themselves into a wooden crate, trusting their care into this man's hands? I have to say, it is the most preposterous story in the Bible. It has got to be one of the hardest stories to believe.

But you believe it anyway. If you are a Christian, there is no doubt in my mind that you believe this story to be true. You really believe that Noah floated in a big boat during an enormous flood, even though it had never rained before. You believe it happened, and so do I. This belief, of that strange event taking place, is called faith. We personally cannot prove it, so we must have faith in the validity of the Bible, believing that it actually happened, however preposterous it may sound to our logical minds. If you believe in the story of Noah and the Ark, then you have AMAZING faith.

Jesus, in Matthew 17:20, was saying that all we need, to be overcomers in this life, is to have faith like a mustard seed. In Matthew 17 and Luke 17, Jesus is recorded as telling us that it only takes a small amount of faith to do something huge, like moving a mountain and throwing it into the ocean. You, Christian, have enough faith to do just that. If you can have the faith to believe that Noah's Ark did exist, then you have enough faith to do amazing things in this lifetime.

The only problem is, you don't seem to use your faith. You are like a strong elephant that never lifts its trunk to carry a heavy load. An elephant was meant to use its amazing strength. And so too, you were meant to use your amazing faith to move mountains. You do have enough faith, Christian, to move that mountain. You just aren't using it. If you have enough faith to believe that Noah and his Ark did in fact exist, then you have enough faith to move this mountain you are facing right now. Tell that mountain to throw itself into the ocean; I dare you.

1. Do you have enough faith to believe that Noah's Ark did exist?
2. What mountain are you facing in your life?
3. Speak to that mountain right now--move it from your path and throw it into the ocean.

Add. Scriptures for Study: Gen 6-8, Matt 8:26, Matt 9:29, Matt 14:21, Luke 17:6, 2 Cor 10:15, Heb 11

God Likes Fences

God Likes Fences
September 27, 2009
Psalm 139:5 "You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me"

I had the privilege of helping build a large, eight-foot privacy fence for a church. The church wanted to create a larger, safer play area for their children. The purpose of the fence was very obvious: to keep the children safe from danger. The fence keeps predators out, while the boundary lines keep the children where the adults can monitor them, ensuring they don't wander too far or maybe fall into the busy street nearby. Only good things can come from this new fence for the children. What a blessing the fence will be to their lives.

God is the same way for us as Christians. Scripture says the Lord hems us in, sort of like a fence. The fence is not meant to trap or imprison, but to keep us safe from danger. The fence keeps predators out (Satan) and keeps us from wandering out of bounds (sin). God's fences can take on many forms, like a directive in the Bible, or a warning or recommendation, or an actual rule to live by. They are meant for our good, not harm.

For instance, God is very clear about sex before and within your marriage. This is a fence that He put in place to keep you safe. God is very clear about tithing; this is a fence that helps keep you safe. God is very clear about bridling your tongue or arguing your rights, or getting drunk; these are fences that help keep you safe. His fences are not meant to keep you from expressing your individuality or keep you from having fun; His fences are for your physical, spiritual, and emotional protection. Just ask someone who committed adultery or is an alcoholic. Just ask someone who tried to take revenge or stole tithes from the Lord. Just ask anyone with regret.

The Psalmist, King David, knew of God's fences. He knew God set up rules and lines that were not meant to be crossed. He wrote a great line in scripture, it says, "the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places." David wasn't talking about his physical property line of land or wealth or status. David was talking about the statutes with which he was to live his life by, the ordinances that could be followed, knowing the Lord intended for them to keep David's life safe, pleasant. The boundary lines David was referring to were in regard to God's instructions for his life, the fences that were meant to keep his life from harm. I dare you to read Psalm 16 with this understanding in mind.

The next time you'd like to step out of the boundary line, or climb that fence, consider David's words. God's boundary lines for your life have fallen in pleasant places; they are meant to keep you safe from predators and the dangers of this world.

1. What fences or boundary lines are you facing?
2. Is your reaction to climb the fence or submit to God's protection for your life?
3. How can you call your fences "pleasant places"?

Add. Scriptures for Study: 1 Kings 3:14, Ps 16:6, Ps 19:7, Ps 93:5,

Your "Ugly" Face

Your "Ugly" Face
September 21, 2009
James 1:20 " . . . anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

You've got an ugly face; we all do. It's that face we all make when we get angry. We've seen it on others a thousand times. It is funny to see a re-enactment of someone in their full anger, watching as they make a fool of themselves, seeing the look on their face. We laugh because they are displaying the immaturity that we secretly wish to unleash more times than we care to admit. Hopefully, there is an emotional epiphany that releases when you watch someone else in their folly, demonstrating their anger in a tirade that accomplishes nothing. Mostly, we stand back and fold our arms in a self-righteous manner, claiming that we would never act in that way. After all, we can hold it together, they have real problems. And that is the trap that Satan tries to cast before us, deceiving us into thinking that we have it all together and that our anger isn't a problem.

But every once in a while, you put your ugly face on and make a fool of yourself. Your family sees it far more often than we do, but it's there. It's that face you make when you're angry, your eyebrows tense, your lips purse, and your nostrils flare. It happens when a telemarketer calls during dinner. It happens when someone cuts you off in traffic. It happens when someone at work has something bad to say. It happens when your spouse or children pushes that right button. Suddenly, without any notice, your ugly face comes out. It's like a mask that takes the beauty from your face, covering it with a monster. At least that's what God sees when He looks at your heart while you are acting in your anger. You're allowed to feel anger inside, but acting on it is another story.

You may not feel you have an anger problem, but that is when it becomes a problem. You see, if you are not constantly on guard against managing your anger (and anger IS a feeling you will experience at least once this week), it will come out like an unexpected scare-crow, the uninvited poltergeist. Anger, at least acting in your anger, does not please God and is the antithesis of His righteousness. But, the good thing about anger is that you can feel it coming on; you know when it's about to hit, when it's about to blow. It starts as a grumbling in your belly and rolls around for a few moments in your gut. It begins to slowly erupt like a volcano before it overflows through your face, your ugly face. If you can recognize this feeling, you can nip it in the bud, your anger, that is.

If you don't nip it in the bud, it can only lead to bad things, this thinking of your anger not actually being a problem. In the Bible, anger is described several hundred times; most of the instances the sentences also contain the word "burn." Look it up. Anger burns. It starts out so small, a simple little instance of anger, like a spark, but when left unchecked, it can rage like a forest fire. God's anger, when it is unleashed in the Bible, doesn't simply burn, it burns to the point of consuming. Our anger will also do just that, it will consume us. This should make you think twice before putting on your ugly face.

The Bible gives an antidote to your ugly face, a solution to acting in your anger. The Bible says that peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. This is what God desires. He wants you to be a peacemaker; this will change the whole countenance of your face. It's time to stop putting on your ugly face and start sowing peace. The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, figure out a way to make their day better (and NOT by telling them they are #1). The next time your spouse pushes your buttons, figure out a way to make their life easier. The next time someone says something bad at work, figure out a way to bless them. After all, no one else wants to see your ugly face, especially God.

1. When are you most prone to putting on your ugly face?
2. How can you sow peace in those moments?
3. How can you sow peace in all the areas of your life?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Matt 5:9, Eph 4:31, James 3:18, 1Tim 2:8

Why God IS Testing You

Why God IS Testing You
September 14, 2009
James 1:3 "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

What are you struggling with right now? I bet there is something, the first thing that comes to mind. Right now, as you read these words, you have a struggle in your life, a difficulty, or a situation that you would like changed. You may not have created the situation, but you sure would like it to go away. Well, I got news for you; it CAN go away, but first you have to pass a test. It isn't a test in school, where you get a grade, never having to take the test again. No, it is more like a stretch, versus a test, a stretch that must occur often, AND you have to learn from it. If you learn from it, you will never struggle with it again.

Consider a bow and arrow. The bow consists of the actual bow and a string. That string must be tested before it can be used for hunting or a competition. You wouldn't put a brand new string on a bow and intend it for use on a hunt or in a game, without pulling it back a few times, maybe shooting a few practice arrows to break in the new string or to ensure its manufactured integrity. If it has never been tested, how can you expect to get full performance out of it in the time of need? What if there was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you had one shot, one time to pull the string back on that bow? What if you had never tested it's integrity? What if you pulled back on that bow and the string unraveled, rendering it useless, and your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity--gone?

Consider a first baseman in a Major League Baseball game. In the game of his lifetime, does he reach for a brand new glove that has never been worn? No, he reaches for the glove that has been tested and proven, time and time again.

Consider an elite runner, in the race of his lifetime. Does he trust that his muscles were warmed up and stretched yesterday or does he stretch them afresh, just before his big race? He stretches his muscles anew, warming them up, running a few practice jaunts, before each and every big race. He must ensure their integrity, to live up to the performance demanded of him.

Christian, God is testing you, but not to see if you are going to fail. He knows how you will respond each and every time; He knows how successful you will be and how you will handle it. He tests you to show YOU how you will respond. He wants you to be aware of your response to the situation, giving you the opportunity to be satisfied with the results or improve for the event of a lifetime. You never know when that event of a lifetime will occur, but if you aren't tested, how will you know how you will respond?

If you are struggling with the same thing, over and over again, chances are, you aren't fully tested, ready for use. If you struggle with your patience every day, then you aren't fully tested, you might fail when the time of importance comes. The daily tests of your patience are the opportunity to learn from your un-successes, and improve. If you aren't improving, then you aren't paying attention, and you aren't getting it. Let me say that again, if your patience isn't improving, then you ain't gettin' it. Likewise, with what you are struggling with right now, if you aren't learning from it, responding differently, responding better than last time, then you aren't fully tested in it. If you aren't fully tested, when the time of importance comes, you will fail. It is in these tests, that practice makes perfect. When you get it down, you won't struggle with it anymore, in fact, you won't even notice it. Start paying attention and start learning. It will make your whole life soooo much easier.

1. What are you struggling with?
2. How are you responding to that struggle?
3. Are you learning from it, to respond differently the next time?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Gen 22:1, Job 23:10, Psalm 66:10, Is 48:10, Rom 16:10, 1 Tim 3:10

More God Less You

More God Less You
September 8, 2009
John 3:30 "He must become greater; I must become less."

I had a good life. I say had, because a few years ago, I did have a good life. Before moving to Missouri, I lived in Virginia Beach (yes, the beach; our place was only a few blocks from the ocean). And I had a good job, my dream job. I worked for the largest private bank in the world and I managed rich people's money, directing their investments. I wore fine suits, drove an awesome car, rubbed elbows with millionaires everyday, and never had to buy my own lunch. I was given tickets to any sporting event I wanted and had access to society's elite. Doctors and lawyers would seek me out for my advice; even my professors, who directed my education, entrusted me with their money. My wife and I made a good living, and it was only going to get better. We even gave God a double tithe, because we were so blessed. I had many friends and was the "golden boy" in my family. I was part of a group that managed some pretty important people's money. When my wife got sick we had access to a "special constituency line" at a very prominent medical University, where the chief of neurosurgery called my wife on her cell phone (surgeons don't often make outbound calls, but because of my position, I got the exception). Yes, I had a good life.

Then, somehow, I lost it all. I don't believe I did anything wrong in God's eyes, but He saw fit to take all of that from me. I was laid off from my job, recall the effects of the September 11 attacks in New York on the financial markets. My wife got sick, and stayed sick for quite some time, and I had to provide for a growing family. I wasn't able to find a job back in my field, and our savings ran out. We moved to be near extended family, in case I needed a safety net, and we lost our home, forcing us to live with my parents. I lost everything in my life that made me who I was, still unable to find a job in my field--and all this before last year's economic crisis where many have experienced what I endured. I lost my friends and became an embarrassment to my family. I've stood in line next to crack addicts, waiting to receive government assistance, and had to take up other means of employment. No more fine suits for me, my work uniform became grubby clothes and a hard hat. There were no free lunches anymore, in fact, I've added water to the jug of milk, on many occasions, to feed my children cold cereal for dinner. My six years of locusts have left me more debt than I will ever be able to repay. Yes, I had a good life.

But during these hard times, when the Lord took everything from me, I picked up my pen and paper and began to write (well, type). Wrestling for the Biblical explanation for everything going on in my life, I began to write down all that God revealed to me through the scriptures. Then the Lord asked me to do something off-the-wall; He asked me to be vulnerable and share it with the world. And so, I began writing these devotionals, not out of my arrogance to tell people how to live their lives, but out of obedience and out of tears. Over these past two years, I have seen my free subscription devotional go from less than 20 people, to hundreds and hundreds around the world. I'm not a writer, and I have nothing to offer other than the words God gives me. This past 12 months alone, I've sent out over 24,000 messages of God's Word, getting back some pretty great e-mails from Christians in the Philippines, South Africa, Bahamas, etc.

Notice, though, that throughout my story, God did not ask anything of me, until there was nothing of me left. This is my case in point. The apostle John, the beloved of Jesus, wrote, "He must become greater, I must become less." God can't use you, if there is a lot of "You" getting in the way. He won't even try to use you, because He isn't interested in fighting with you, your plans, your ego, or your talent. Though some might argue that my ego would have gotten in the way, I believe I still would have done anything the Lord asked of me. But He didn't want anything from me, nothing that I had to offer; He wanted what I didn't have to offer. It's in the nothing-ness that empowers God's work in the world. If God took the most promising candidate to fulfill a task, the world would see the candidate and not God. But if God took a homeless drunk and used him to save lives, then people could see Lord.

Christian, God wants to use you to do mighty things, only problem is, if you are mighty, He can't and won't do anything. I'm humbled to say there is little to nothing left of Adam Speck, and it would take a miracle to restore my life, but it is in this nothing-ness that God can and IS working for His glory. More God, less me. More God, less you.

1. How much of you is there in this world?
2. How willing are you to have less of yourself?
3. How can you have less of yourself everyday?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Jer 8:9, Matt 5:5, 1 Cor 1:27

Only One Thing is Needed

Only One Thing is Needed
August 31, 2009
Luke 10:41-42 " . . . you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Two sisters had a special guest in their home; it was none other than Jesus the Christ. Jesus had come to their home for a visit, to spend time with them, to speak into their lives. One sister, Mary, sat patiently with Jesus, hanging on every word that came out of His mouth. The other sister, Martha, chose to go about her busy-work, doing anything and everything, except sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha was upset that Mary would not engage in the busy-work alongside her and even chastised her and Jesus for letting Mary shirk the busy-work. But Jesus rebuked Martha. Jesus spoke pointedly that the busy-work could wait, if it meant sitting and spending time with Him. The busy-work could even go undone if Jesus is being placed first, as that busy-work is far less important, especially compared to a relationship with Him.

Far too often in our lives, Christian, we get caught up in the things we must get done, even though they are not high on God’s priority list. In fact, most of the things we do are not any where near the top items on His list. If you were to prioritize your day, would prayer and a quiet time with God be the highest items on the list? If you were to prioritize your day, would speaking God’s Word into someone else’s life be on the list? If an item is of utmost importance to you, you would do that thing first or rearrange your day in every circumstance to ensure the priority item is completed. Problem is, Christian, God really isn’t high on your priority list, at least by the evidence of what you spend your time doing.

You rearrange your schedule so you can get the kids to dance or football practice but you don’t rearrange your day for God. You rearrange your day so you can get some time in front of the television or make it to the gym, but you don’t rearrange your day to speak God’s Word into someone’s life. You rearrange your day to make that lunch appointment or important meeting, but you don’t rearrange your day for God. You schedule and manage your day to get done the things you want to get done. When was the last time you scheduled and managed your day to get done the things God wanted to get done? When was the last time you even asked God what He wanted done today? When was the last time you asked God to write your “to-do” list for the day? When was the last time you asked God to prioritize your activities? I bet if you asked Him, He’d delete a bunch of items from your list of things to do today.

God knows what you truly have to do and what must be done. God knows the busy schedule that is demanded of you. But God also knows the activities that have zero importance or value to them. Far too often, those items of zero importance get placed before the things of God. God’s work is far more important than anything you have to do today, even the work you do to earn a living. God says that if you do His work first, then He will take care of the rest. Here is the direct quote found in Matthew chapter 6, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

It’s time to prioritize your day and accomplish only the things God wants you to do. Today is a good day to start. Go ahead and ask Him; you’ll be surprised at what you get accomplished. Only one thing is needed and He’ll tell you what that one thing is for today.

1. What is on your priority list today?
2. What is on God's priority list for you today?
3. How can you delete the items that have no value to God?

Add. Scriptures for Study: 1 Kings 22:5, 2 Chron 18:4, Matt 6:33

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy
August 24, 2009
Psalm 51:12 " Restore to me the joy of your salvation. . ."

I am not a morning person; in fact, I want to be left alone in the morning. I get irritated with certain individuals who can wake up early and be quite chipper. I had an employee once, Shad, who would always come to work, well, happy. I never let it irritate me, but underneath I was resentful that I couldn't be so happy and excited to just be alive. I was glad that he came to work in a great mood, excited and ready to work. Shad was an exemplary employee, one I wish I could duplicate. And he would come to work and say peculiar things like, "What a beautiful day the Lord has made," even though it was cold and rainy outside. I couldn't be irritated at that, despite not having an appreciation for the cold and rain. I learned from Shad's attitude and delightful sayings, that he was a Christian. He had a strange accent, though, one I'd never heard before. He was certainly not from around my neck of the woods, anyway, so I asked him where he was from and how he came to be a Christian.

Shad told me a story about his growing up with a harsh, Muslim father. He told me that he grew up in Jerusalem, but that He was Egyptian. The Jews didn't want anything to do with him, the Palestinians didn't want anything to do with him, and his father certainly didn't care, just as long as he was Muslim. Shad recounted how he was growing up to be a harsh person, just like his father. He knew of the man named Jesus, but thought Muhammad was the prophet everyone should be following. Shad said that one day, Jesus appeared to him in a dream, almost as if it was in real life, and Jesus asked Shad to follow Him and become a Christian. Shad instantly new that Jesus was real and immediately became a Christian. Shad's family disowned him because of his newfound Christianity. Shad felt the Lord leading him to America where h e could be free to worship Jesus Christ without persecution. And so, long story short, Shad gave his life to the Lord and moved to the United States. Shad said that ever since then, he has simply been happy to be alive and thrilled that Jesus came into his life.

We, as Christians, often forget the real encounter we each had with Jesus, being thrilled to have Jesus in our lives. We almost take it for granted, the fact that we have been saved from an eternity in Hell, and we live out our lives like every other human being, unhappy and just going through the motions. We forget the joy of our salvation. King David knew this when he wrote Psalm 51. David had taken his relationship with God for granted, and lived like every other human being. He came to the realization of why he needed a Savior. He wanted that joy back, that feeling of satisfaction of just having a relationship with the Lord, realizing that if he had God, he had everything he needed.

Today, Christian, it is time to remember the joy of your salvation, the satisfaction of simply having a relationship with the Lord, knowing it is all you need. Who knows, it might even make you a happy person again? I'm hoping it will help me become a morning person.

1. How have you lost the joy of your salvation?
2. What was your encounter with Jesus that changed your life?
3. How can you recount your encounter with Jesus and be sustained by simply having a relationship with Him even if you have nothing else?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Is 12:3, 1 Thess 5:16, 1 Peter 1:8, 1 Peter 2:9, 3 John 1:4

God's Approval

God's Approval
August 17, 2009
Galatians 1:10 "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Scripture is clear that it is more important to God that you are interested in pleasing Him and not interested in pleasing any man. In fact, God does not care about any approval you might have from others, as having their approval is quite often diametrically opposed to having the approval of God. Naturally, if you have the approval of God, you might have approval from some, but it will never be the other way around. Scripture says you cannot serve two masters; therefore it is critical that you serve God alone, and let everything else happen as it may. It is of the utmost importance that you strive to have God's approval.

You may think this is easier said than done, but there is actually a simple method that can be applied in order to have God's approval. Consider living a life of integrity, as God created everything to have integrity. Integrity is defined as doing the right thing, at all times, even when no one else is looking. The key to having approval with God is living an integral life, or living a life of integrity, integrity to God's Word. It's that easy. All you have to do, no matter what the situation, no matter what the subject matter, is apply God's Word to all your thoughts, motives, and actions. More simply put, do what is right in God's eyes, in every circumstance, no matter what people may think and no matter what the consequences. This is akin to the phrase, "what would Jesus do?" In doing this you will naturally have God's approval.

The most perfect example of this is Jesus Christ. He set out to do His father's business; at the beginning of Christ's ministry, the Heavens opened up and God's voice thundered in the sky saying, "You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Jesus gained God's approval, because He lived a life of integrity according to God's Word. Sure, there were many men who did not approve of Christ, but it was far more important to Jesus that He had God's approval in any and every circumstance, even if it meant death on the cross.

If you carry this over into your own life, there are some amazing benefits to having the approval of God as opposed to the approval of man. Consider the fact that you cannot have God's favor unless you have God's approval. And you cannot have God's blessing, without His favor. Simply stated, if you want the blessing of God, you must first show yourself approved. This means, in all things, God's blessing cannot be poured out in your life, unless you are living a life of Christian integrity.

And the best benefit of God's favor is receiving the desires of your heart. God says that if you delight yourself in Him (live your life so that you have God's approval) He will give you the desires of your heart. I suggest doing the right thing in the Lord's eyes; He knows what desires in your life still need fulfilled.

1. Who's approval have you been seeking?
2. How can you live a life approved by God?
3. How can you continually live a life of Christian integrity?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Ps 37:4, Mk 1:11, Luke 16:13, John 6:27, 2 Cor 10:18, 1 Thess 2:4, 2 Tim 2:15

The Deceit in Truth

The Deceit in Truth
August 10, 2009
John 8:32 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The Bible uses the word truth for two different meanings. In general, truth (we will use a lower case "t") means the opposite of a lie; it means whatever is correct, or whatever is right as judged by God and not man. More specifically, Truth (we will use an upper case "T"), means the acknowledgement of Jesus' work on the cross and its ability to wipe away sins, allowing entrance into Heaven, and being free from the wages of sin, which are death (death, meaning eternal separation from God in Hell). The above verse can be stated with using either understanding for the meaning of truth. Both understandings, or interpretations, of that scripture are correct, as "free" will always mean free from the consequences of sin.

So far, there is no deceit. It is clear and obvious what Jesus was talking about when He was referring to truth and freedom. But what about the things that we believe to be true? Well, you can truly believe the world is flat, but you would be completely wrong. You can truly believe that your good works will have value and merit in attaining eternity in Heaven, but you would be completely wrong. Atheists believe themselves to be true, but are completely wrong. You cannot determine what is true by what you believe to be right and correct. Only God's belief of what He judges to be right and correct is true. This carries over into your own personal life, Christian. You may believe that you are right and correct regarding any and every given situation, but that truth is determined by you and not God. Godly truth is when you stand before God, being stripped away from all that cloaks your motives, heart, and incentives, knowing what God believes to be true about you and any and every given situation.

When you stand before God in anything, being stripped away of your pride, and your heart is exposed, it is alarming at the human deception of truth. I may think I am not a gossip, but if I stand before the Lord, being stripped away of my pride and motivation, He might determine that I am a gossip, therefore I don't know the truth and that belief of the situation will now condemn me. Wow, what we believe as Christians, about ourselves, can actually condemn us, if we are wrong. This is huge, Christian, for your ability to walk in blamelessness before God. It does not matter what you believe to be true, God doesn't care. What matters is God's truth and knowledge and understanding of everything, as only He is able to see through the physical actions and judge down to the bone of the matter, the heart of each and everyone of us.

Having the correct understanding of truth in your life is critical to having and walking in blamelessness before God. It is critical, then to know what God's truth is about you and every situation. This is where the Holy Spirit comes into play. Scripture says that God will give us the Spirit to "guide [us] into all truth." If you submit yourself to the Lord, laying down your pride and emotions, the Holy Spirit will be sure to lead you to what is true about everything. He wants you to have clarity and truth; He does not want you to be deceived. You can know the truth about everything and that truth is so very, very freeing.

1. How do you lie to yourself about situations?
2. How can you open those situations up so the Holy Spirit can guide you into truth?
3. How can you make sure, in everything, the Holy Spirit is guiding you?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Ps 15:2, John 16:13, Rom 3:7, 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Peter 4:13,1 John 3:20-21, Rev 14:5

Everlasting Arms

Everlasting Arms
August 3, 2009
Deut 33:27 "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

My youngest daughter is 10 months old and she has learned the safety of her father's arms. She, being the youngest of four, must constantly seek her father's arms to escape the rough play of the other three children. When she is sad and needing comforting, she seeks out her mother, but when she needs protecting, she seeks out the arms of her father. When she is scared, afraid, or in need of safety, she has figured out that if she extends her arms upward at me and glances up with hopeful eyes, I will pick her up and rescue her every time. My daughter has learned that the safest place in the world for her is in her father's arms. She knows that I will protect her, risking my life, to keep her safe.

God, our Heavenly Father, is the exact same way for us as Christians. In Deuteronomy, Jacob was bestowing blessings on his children before his death, and to his son Asher, he said, "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Jacob new the best place to be was safely in the arms of God. The descendants of Asher, after the exile from Egypt and entrance into the Promised Land, settled into the region known as Galilee. It is interesting that Galilee had the best climate, water, soil, crops and blessing of all the Promised Land. It is also interesting that Galilee is where Jesus spent His ministry, as the first Christians came out of Galilee, the descendents of Asher.

God wants to protect you and keep you safe from harm. He wants you to extend your arms upward and glance at Him with hopeful eyes, knowing that He will extend His Everlasting Arms to keep you safe. God wants to protect you; the safest place for you to be is in His arms. He will protect you, risking His life to keep you safe. He risked His son's life on the cross to keep you safe in this life and the next. Today, God wants you to run to His arms in order to find safety. There is nothing childish about seeking safety in the arms of God, as His Everlasting Arms contain much more than just safety. Read the verses before and after Jacob's blessing to Asher:
"Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil...There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty...He will drive out your enemy before you...So Israel will live in safety alone; Jacob's spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine where the heavens drop dew."

Christian, God wants you to run to His Everlasting Arms for safety. And in that safety, He will drive out your enemies before you. And as an added bonus, for finding safety in the Everlasting Arms, your spring will be secure in a land of grain and new wine where heavens drop dew. I don't know about you, but I sure need the safety of God's Everlasting Arms and anything else that might go with it.

1. In what area of your life do you need safety?
2. Are you running to the Everlasting Arms or are you trying it alone?
3. How can you stay protected by the Everlasting Arms?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Deut 7:19, Deut 33:20-28, Ps 5:11, Is 66, Jer 27:5

God and a Fish Sandwich

God and a Fish Sandwich
July 27, 2009
14:17 "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish . . ."

There is nothing really miraculous about a fish sandwich, that is, unless the Lord needs to be involved. Recall the feeding of the 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. There were 5,000 people sitting on a hillside, listening to the Word of God, and they needed to eat. Taking into account the assets they had on hand, all that was volunteered to be spread among so many were five loaves of bread and two fish. If given some bread and a fish, the logical thing to do would be to make a fish sandwich. That's what I would do. You and I would make a fish sandwich (however appealing it may or may not sound). But for some reason, God doesn't look at the logical solutions to the problems of life. God does not make His decisions by following the logic of ANY human, especially me, it seem s, or you.

God delights in making miracles, not fish sandwiches. He delights in making miracles when He can get the credit, as everything in the world is supposed to point to Him, allowing worship and honor to be given to God and not the situation. If someone else could take credit for a situation, then it wouldn't be a miracle, it would be a commonplace event. No, miracles require God and His action. Miracles do not require human intervention and, in fact, are hindered when man tries to add his own help or advice. If 5,000 people needed to eat, you and I would try to make a fish sandwich; God would multiply the impossible, making it a miracle. When miracles happen, they happen outside the realm of natural thinking, especially natural concepts of what should and could occur. Your imagination cannot even begin to fathom the miracles that God could perform in any specific situation.

While we all know that God can perform miracles however He deems appropriate, it doesn't stop us from pretending to advise Him on how best to make them occur. We, in our natural thinking, see our limited resources and begin to imagine how God can make fish sandwiches, because that's what we would do. Stop that, Christian. Your situation may require a miracle, but pretending to know how to make that miracle happen is akin to worshipping the miracle itself and not the Maker of the miracle. God wants you to need Him and His ability to perform miracles in your life, but God does not want you to need Him only because of His ability to perform miracles for you. It is time to stop worshipping the idea of your miracle for your situation and start worshipping God; otherwise He has no reason to perform a miracle.

There is no doubt that everyone reading this needs a miracle in their lives, something that can only be done by the Supreme Deity, the Lord God Almighty, the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth. But the miracle you are looking for will probably not happen how you imagine. In fact, I can almost guarantee that if you're imagining it, it won't happen that way, as God delights in making miracles, not in making your dreams come true. When you come to the end of your thinking and imagination, you come to the beginning of what God can do. Stop dreaming of fish sandwiches and start dreaming God. Stop worshiping fish sandwiches and start worshipping God. Your miracle is sitting in His hands right now and He knows how best to deliver that and make it happen. Simply be willing to give the Lord all your assets on hand and allow Him to do what He does best, make miracles. After all, God's best abilities do not stop at sandwiches.

1. What miracle do you need in your life?
2. How are you advising God to best meet that miracle?
3. How can you start worshipping God and stop worshipping your miracle?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Ps 77:14, Ps 106:36, Is 44:17, Matt 13:58, Mk 6:41, Lk 9:14, Gal 3:5, Heb 2:4

The Truth About Your Waist

The Truth About Your Waist
July 20, 2009
Ephesians 16:4 "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..."

In keeping with instruction on putting on the full Armor of God, it is necessary to understand each piece, or element, of armor. While the Bible talks figuratively about putting on armor, it speaks clearly that each piece is vital and necessary, with none being less important than another. In elaborating on this piece of armor, the discussion will not be the honesty of how big your waist is, but rather what is wrapped around it, namely, Truth. It is critical to have the Truth about you, an important piece of armor when combating the enemy.

In armor, a belt was important as it strapped a sword to the warriors' side, keeping it handy for use. The belt also offered a good deal of protection as well. In today's terms, a belt would not be considered something that offered protection, as modern belts are narrow and only hold up a pair of pants. But when the Bible mentioned the Belt of Truth that a warrior should wear, it was talking about an element of physical armor. The belt worn as armor during the writing of this specific scripture was a type of leather skirt; it had thick leather lats or leather strips that hung down from around the waist, offering the ability to move quickly and easily, but providing a barrier against a weapon. It was a simple way of protecting, well, the sensitive parts of a man, as well as hindering daggers or swords from cutting the major artery that runs through those nether regions of a human being.

Remember, the enemies, this armor was intended to keep at bay, are Satan and his demons. They attack a person, not in the physical, but in the spiritual realm. Satan's major attack method is through lies and deceit. He will do all he can to fill your head with lies and deceit, convincing you of everything but the Truth. In the Bible, the Truth is often synonymous with the Word of God or even the message of The Gospel. Satan wants to convolute your image of the Truth in order to keep you from having a right relationship with God, from serving Him with all your potential, and ultimately from entering Heaven. It is important, then, that you gird yourself with the Truth surrounding you in order to protect the vulnerable areas of your life from the deceitful attack of the enemy as well as be able to quickly arm yourself with your sword. The only way to protect against the attack of a lie, is with the Truth.

I will make this incredibly easy for you. If you have a clear understanding of the Truth, Satan cannot deceive you. For simplicity sake, devour the following elements of Truth, so that you may be on guard from the deceitful attacks of Satan. All of these Truths are absolutes in the Bible. Believe and say these words aloud, daily, and you'll have them handy when deceit enters in. You will certainly be able to withstand the attack of Satan with these simple Truths.

I am loved by God and my sins are forgiven. Jesus has set me free and delivered me into a life of fullness and grace. God has a purpose for my life, and all things in my life will work out for God's good. Satan is defeated and he cannot keep me from God's presence. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world and no weapon formed up against me will prevail, as I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength. AND, I will refute any lie that accuses me otherwise.

1. What lies has Satan convinced you are true?
2. How can you combat the enemy with the truth?
3. How can you keep this important piece of armor around you?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Is 54:17, Rom 8:28, 2 Cor 10:4, Phil 4:13, 1 John 4:4

Breastplate of Sin

Breastplate of Sin
July 13, 2009
Ephesians 6:13-14 " Therefore put on the full armor of God. . . Stand firm then. . . with the breastplate of righteousness in place . . . "

As Christians we are told to put on the full armor of God so that we may be able to combat the enemy and his schemes against us in this life. Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a spiritual battle over your life and you will be attacked every day by Satan and his legion of demons. That is why we are to wear God's armor. This armor is meant to protect us and hinder Satan's successful attack on us. But the metaphorical pieces of the armor in Scripture are not always clear or easy to understand. The Breastplate of Righteousness is a key component to the armor of God, but there are very few clear explanations of what that means, as the Bible does not explain it.

The breastplate was originally a piece of armor that protected the chest. A warrior would use it to protect himself from a sword or arrow piercing into the chest. It was first made of leather and later made of different metals. The goal of the breastplate was to protect the major or vital organs, the most important organ being the heart. The Bible's analogy of the Breastplate of Righteousness was also intending to protect the heart, or the source of life. Righteousness is intended to protect our heart, the vital organ for life. To better understand the Bible's analogy, consider the opposite, a Breastplate of Sin. A Breastplate of Sin might be black and covered with wretched filth. You wouldn't, as a Christian, clothe yourself in sin, hoping it would protect you and keep you safe. In fact, just the opposite. As a Christian, the only thing that sin leads to is certain death, yes physical death, but more importantly, spiritual death and separation from God.

Righteousness is being sinless. A Breastplate of Righteousness would be pure white, spotless, sinless, and free from blame or guilt or the law of sin that leads to death. Righteousness leads to life eternal with God and is the only thing that allows you to stand in the same room as God. God desires a righteous life from us, but knowing that we are full of sin, He provided a way for our breastplate to be white, rather than black. Through the forgiveness of sins, your breastplate is now white, only you are expected to make efforts to maintain that righteousness, or sinless life. The Breastplate of Righteousness is your new sinless life, covering or protecting your pure heart, free from the law of sin and death. Righteousness protects your heart and keeps it alive, literally forever.

When you are wearing your Breastplate of Righteousness, Satan cannot attack your heart, separating it from God. If your breastplate is made out of righteousness, you are protected from blame, guilt, and all the other arrows the enemy might throw at you. You will be able to withstand the attacks of the enemy. Conversely, if you are wearing your breastplate of sin, you are open to all the attacks of Satan, all the blame and guilt he can muster against you, which will kill you, ultimately leading to the death of your heart and eternal separation from God.

And just as a warrior must put on armor every day, so must you put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, as the attack continues. If you fail to make sure your breastplate is white, or made of righteousness, you will look down one day and realize you are wearing a black one, a Breastplate of Sin, and then it might be too late. Satan's arrow will be able to pierce your heart and forever separate you from God.

1. What color is your current breastplate, black or white?
2. How can you make sure your breastplate is pure white?
3. How can you put on the Breastplate of Righteousness every day?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Is 59:17, Ez 18:26, Matt 5:20, Rom 6:16, Eph 6:13-15, 1 Tim 6:11, 1 Peter 2:24

Knock, Knock. Who's There

Knock, Knock. Who's There?
July 6, 2009
Rev 3:20 "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."

I was out of town this past weekend and staying in the same city where the richest man in the world lives. Having studied and read about him since I was a teenager, I decided to see where he resides. Upon arriving at his unassuming residence, my boldness overcame me and I approached the front door of his house. Not seeing any "No Trespassing" signs, I went ahead with a knock, knock, despite not having a scripted idea of what I might say. A burly bodyguard quickly came running from the side of the house and questioned my presence on the property. After realizing that my credentials didn't warrant a visit, the guard kindly asked me to leave, as the Richest Man did not accept visitors, even though he was home.

It's funny how the richest man in the world doesn't want to meet me, but the Richest Man in the universe desires my attention everyday. God is not like the man with the bodyguard, keeping visitors at bay. God stands at my door, knock, knocking. In fact, scriptures says that He stands outside knocking, saying, "Here I am!" He doesn't just wait to see if I'll answer the door when He visits, He stands there calling to me. Scripture uses an exclamation point on the sentence, indicating that God is - more like - yelling for me. Even though the original translation of the Bible didn't contain much punctuation, if any, the words do translate like a loud calling out.

This is not a one-time deal, either. The original verbiage in Scripture indicates that it is an ongoing activity for God. God stands at your door, every day of your life, wanting to spend time with you, yelling for you. Even though you may have opened the door for Him once, He wants you to open the door for Him EVERY day of your life. God wants to spend time with you. He desires to come in to your life everyday and fill it with His presence. But He will not force it upon you; He is a gentleman. He waits for your response. He waits for you to hear his voice and open the door. You must invite Him in.

The problem is, we are so busy with life and are so guarded against being vulnerable, that we can't hear God calling for us, knocking on our door. Life seems less complicated if we don't pay attention to the knocking on our door, as we have so many more 'important' things to do than see who is standing out there begging to spend time with us. We engulf ourselves in our own importance and miss out on a great opportunity to spend time with someone who actually cares. Christian, God is standing at your door, begging to spend time with you, only you didn't answer the door today.

1. What does God's knocking sound like?
2. How can you attune your heart to hear Him knocking?
3. What can you do to spend time with Him every day?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Ps 53:2, Song of Solomon 5:2, Jer 29:13, Matt 7:8, Acts 17:27

God Can't Do It

God Can't Do It
June 29, 2009
Malachi 3:6 "I the LORD do not change. . ."

There is no typo in the title of this devotional. Despite God being All Knowing and All Powerful, He has limits. Consider the question: can God make a rock so big that even He couldn't pick it up? The answer is, no. God cannot do anything that contradicts Himself or His character. There are limits to what God can do and those limits are set up by God, Himself. Specifically, God gives each of us a free will and He is a gentleman with that. God will not intervene in our lives if it means contradicting the free will He has given to each and every one of us. If we resist Him, God will not force Himself upon us.

I was having a conversation with someone recently regarding a pending divorce between two Christians. The man said that the divorce was going through despite the prayers to save the marriage. He suggested that it must not be God's plan to save the marriage. But that is certainly not the case. God's plan and His will are never divorce, but God cannot save a marriage unless both parties are submitted to Him. If one of the parties in the marriage is resisting God, or not submitting to Him, then God cannot and will not save the marriage. Yes, God can make Himself known to both parties, but if one of them resists God's work in their lives and their marriage, then the marriage will continue as the parties involved continue to make it happen. He will not force them to stay marri ed and work it out.

This is true with everything in your life, Christian. God cannot violate the free will that He has given you. God will not intervene if you do not let Him. God wants to make Himself known to you and make Himself available to you, but He will not force His will on anyone. He would rather let you make your own decision and fail miserably in life, than force you to do things His way. Consider the story of the Prodigal Son. The father allowed the son to make his own decisions and mistakes, even if it meant the son had to sit with the swine in their filth. When the Prodigal Son came to the end of himself and his own ways, he realized that returning to the father was ideal. God will let you wallow in the consequences of your own decisions until you realize that God's way is actually ideal. He will no t force it upon you and He certainly won't chase you down in order to cram it down your throat.

Aside from God being a gentleman and not forcing His will upon you, there are some major bonuses to the limits of God. Consider the other things that God can't do:
God can't stop loving you.
God can't be quick in His anger.
God can't leave you or forsake you.
God can't stop pouring His grace upon your life.
God can't remember you sin, if you've accepted His forgiveness.
God can't condemn you at the judgement throne if you've applied the blood of Jesus Christ to your life.

1. In what areas of your life are you resisting God?
2. How can you submit those areas over to Him?
3. How can you stop from doing things your way?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Deut 4:31, Psalm 103:8, Neh 9:31, Luke 15:11-31, Heb 4:16, Heb 13:8, Jas 1:17, Jas 4:6

The Part of a Fool

The Part of a Fool
June 22, 2009
James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

No matter how smart you might be, your intelligence cannot compare to that of God's. God is far more wise than you and me. In fact, if you consider brain capacity and understanding, God's would be comparable to the size of the sun, while man's would be comparable to the size of the head of a pin (hence the term pinhead). Yes, we are pinheads, yet we try to figure things out on our own, using our own understanding and wisdom. God thinks this is foolish; it is actually insane. In the Bible, the word "man" is often synonymous with the word "fool" or "foolish." Yes, that's right; you and I play the part of the fool. Don't be offended by this; the smartest and wisest man in the world is still a fool compared to God and His wisdom.

It is okay that we are foolish, as God wants us to be dependent upon Him for all leading and direction and understanding. God does not want us or require us to figure things out on our own. Take that burden off your shoulders; you are not supposed to figure it all out. In fact, you can't figure it out. God's ways are higher than our ways and God's understanding is much higher than our understanding. And He wants to give that understanding to you, abundantly. Aside from God's love and grace, the thing He is most generous in giving to us is His wisdom. That's right, God does not want to keep all His wisdom to Himself, He wants to make His wisdom and guidance clear to you. Since you and I cannot really understand anything, God has designed all the right solutions and He wants to make all those known and available. God wants to give you His wisdom for all the things you are trying to figure out on your own.

God has set up His wisdom as a free gift to all who ask of it, regardless of age, gender, social status, or level of sin. There is a 'no-fault' provision in God's book when it comes to doling out His wisdom. You don't have to pay for a guru; you can get advice free from God. His gift of wisdom is a promise. But when you get direction from God, you might not think it correct, as often it is counter intuitive to what man would suggest as prudent. You see, since God's ways are higher and man's wisdom is foolishness to God, His solutions actually might appear to be, well, silly. The trick is learning to quiet your own ideas in an effort to truly tune in to the voice of God's wisdom in every situation and then be able to act upon it. It is not easy, as the voices in your head are SO loud. It takes a lifetime of practice to get it down, as it is a still, small voice inside of you that slowly becomes stronger the more you listen to it.

In every situation in life, Christian, God wants you to consult Him and get your guidance from Him. He has the right answers, but it takes wisdom to realize you don't have any wisdom. In fact, the wisest person in the world is the one who recognizes that he doesn't have any wisdom at all apart from God. And before you ask for wisdom, be sure to set aside your own preconceived ideas and notions. That's the key. Get rid of your own thoughts and ideas before God can fill your mind with His. If you are still considering your own ideas, you will not be able to hear God's.

1. What situation in life are you lacking wisdom?
2. How can you clear your own ideas in order to hear God's ideas?
3. How can you set up a precedent to always consult God first?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Prov 12:15, Prov 16:25, Is 55:9, 1 Cor 1:19, 1 Cor 1:28

Opposition to the Wall

Opposition to the Wall
June 15, 2009
Nehemiah 4:11 "Also our enemies said, "Before [the Israelites] know it or see us, we will be right there among them and kill them and put an end to their work.""

The Prophet, Nehemiah, had a great task before him. He was intent on rebuilding the fortress wall around Jerusalem. It had been burned down and destroyed years before by an invading king and the wall was in ruins. God tasked Nehemiah with leading all of God's people in an joint effort to rebuild this great wall. But there was a huge opposition to the rebuilding. Many neighboring people, inspired by Satan, did not want to see the city of Jerusalem rebuilt and greatly opposed it, both verbally and physically. Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem were harassed on all sides in an effort to stop the progress. This opposition was a direct effort on behalf of Satan to destroy the hope of the Israelites and keep them from succeeding. Satan knew the rebuilding of Jerusalem was a directive from God and Satan used all tactics to hinder it from happening.

This same attack happens to you and me whenever we are following God and God's design for our lives. Satan knows that your life, directed by God, has a purpose and Satan wants to stop it. Anytime you begin to serve the Lord or take on a task directly requested of God, you will encounter a great attack on all sides by the opposition. This opposition will be verbal, physical, financial, emotional, and psychological. Satan will use whomever and whatever he can to attack your efforts to accomplish God's will. Satan will deplete your hope for the future in an effort to get you to quit. He knows what you are doing is directly from the Lord and will stop at nothing to hinder it.

Nehemiah was attune to what Satan was doing, though. He was acutely aware of the fact that the opposition was simply an obstacle to success. Nehemiah had a great perspective on the struggles that Satan brought upon him. He saw it coming and made all sorts of efforts to work around that opposition, that barrier to success. Nehemiah was intent on succeeding and was intent on following the directives of the Lord no matter what Satan might throw at him. The words of this great prophet sum up his perspective on such a harsh opposition. Nehemiah said, "The God of Heaven will give us success." Nehemiah knew that the task set before him was from God and Nehemiah knew that nothing could withstand or come against God. He knew that what God had ordained would come to pass no matter what opposition was in force.

Christian, you serve the same God that Nehemiah served so many years ago. This same God will give you success. If God has tasked you with something, or given you a dream of what should come, then no amount of attacks or opposition will stop you from succeeding. Satan will come at you from all sides, he may hinder your process, discourage you, and slow you down, but he CANNOT stop you. If God has put it in motion, nothing can stop it. It will come to pass. Only don't give up. Don't be discouraged by the attacks of the enemy, the opposition to that task set before you by God. Recognize the efforts of Satan and overcome those obstacles. Recognize that your plans will succeed if they are from God.

1. What plans has the Lord given you?
2. How have you given in to the opposition of God's plan for you?
3. How can you overcome those obstacles to success?

Add. Scriptures for Study: 2 Chron 32:7, Psalm 135:5, Pro 16:3, Neh 2:20, Neh 1-6, 1 John 4:4

The Greatest Compassion

The Greatest Compassion
June 8, 2009
2 Corinthians 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort."

The mark of a great friend is not just loyalty, but the ability to truly understand you and what you may be experiencing. A good friend can see what you are going through and truly empathize with your situation. We all have a friend or two who understands how we feel. But God wants to be that friend for you, too. God understands more than you think. He knows what you are going through and He wants to be by your side while you experience the situations of life.

This may be hard to imagine; God, the Father up in Heaven, can understand and relate to what you are experiencing. But it is true. He knows the joy you feel inside when you experience something wonderful. He knows this from experience, every time a sinner repents. He knows the anger you feel inside when a loved one betrays you. He knows this from experience, every time someone turns away from serving Him. He knows the hurt inside every time you suffer a great loss. He knows this from experience, the deepest, most painful experience someone could have, as He watched His only Son die on the cross.

God's ability to understand your pain inside is very real. When God allowed Jesus to be crucified on the cross, He didn't only suffer the physical loss of His Son. Both God and Jesus knew that Jesus would be resurrected on the third day. The point was not in the death, but in laying down His life. God volunteered His own Son to be tortured and experience death in order that you and I might have eternal life.

Think about it. A father volunteering His son for torture. It would not happen. I would venture to say there probably isn't a father or mother alive who could sign his/her son up to be tortured. The pain would be too great to watch. The torment would be too much for a parent to take as a son hung there on a cross, experiencing the most excruciating pain. I would never allow that to happen to my son. The pain would be too great for me. But that is what God did. God allowed and watched his only Son go through the most horrendous physical pain; He refused to stop it.

God knows more emotional pain and has experienced more loss than you and I will ever see in a thousand lifetimes. That is why He is a God who truly can understand what you are going through right now. And from this experience, God's own understanding, He is able to empathize with your situation and truly have the most Heavenly compassion for your situation. God cares for you, and while you were still a sinner, He allowed is only son to die for your sins.

The next time you think God doesn't understand what you are going through, think again. God wants you to take your cares to Him so He might have compassion on the situation you are experiencing. Whatever you are going through, He has experienced it. He is truly the best friend and will be able to offer the greatest compassion for you.

1. What situation in your life is no one able to understand?
2. How have you allowed God to understand your situation?
3. How have you allowed God to minister His compassion for your situation?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Psalm 55:22, Psalm 103:13, John 15:13, 1 Peter 5:7

The Power of Satan

The Power of Satan
June 1, 2009
Luke 4:6 "And [Satan] said to [Jesus], "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.""

Many Christians do not recognize that Satan does have real power. Denying that Satan has real power is akin to putting your head in the sand like an ostrich. You may not recognize his power or want to think about it, but it does exist. Even if you don't believe Satan has power doesn't mean you aren't being fooled. In fact, Satan does have power, more so if you fail to recognize it.

Satan was tempting Jesus and offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Satan's words indicated that he has power and authority in this earthly realm. Jesus did not call him a liar when Satan made the declarations, as Jesus knew his words were true. No, Jesus had to resist Satan. Satan has the power to grant fame, fortune, health, and much more. This is not an effort to give more power and authority to Satan, but an effort to make you aware of its power and existence in this life. If you don't believe me, read the tenth chapter of Daniel, where you find an arch angel delayed three weeks because he was busy battling the power of Satan.

This is not to scare you and say that the devil has absolute power over your life, but it is an effort to make you soberly aware of its presence and Satan's efforts to attack you. Satan is after one thing, to steal you away from serving God. If Satan cannot tempt you into serving him, he will tempt you into serving other idols (yourself, status, fame, money, etc). And Satan will take every opportunity he can to attack you in every vulnerable place you have (health, finances, marriage, peace, etc.). Believe me, Satan is good at his job.

There is a flip side, though, to the power of Satan. Satan is defeated. The wording in the phrase is past tense. He is already defeated. Satan knows that, in the end, he is toast. Because of this, he will do all he can to cause as much pain as possible. In the mean time, you must do what Jesus did. Resist him. Resist the devil and he must flee. In order to resist him, you must first acknowlege that his power is at work trying to destroy you.

But just a few chapters after Satan declares his power and authority to Jesus, Jesus declares the power and authority we have over Satan. Jesus said, "I have given you authority to . . . overcome all the power of the enemy." This is a powerful statement, Christian. Just as Satan has the power to attack you, you have the power to overcome him. Be aware of Satan's attack, be constantly aware. When you become aware, resist him and his attack. Invoke the power of Jesus' name and stop Satan in his tracks.

1. Are you aware, daily, of Satan working against you?
2. What steps do you take to resist him on a daily basis?
3. Are you exercising your authority over Satan?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Daniel 10, Matt 4:9, Luke 10:19, Acts 26:17-18, James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8