Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hunger and Thirst

Hunger and Thirst
April 27, 2015
Matthew 5:6  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

If you are hungry, your body communicates to you through various ways, and you find a way to satisfy that hunger.  You've learned over the years what it feels like to be hungry; you recognize the signals and respond accordingly.  It is no surprise that very few of us have gone a single day without recognizing hunger and finding a way to eat.  This same goes with water.  If your body is thirsty, you find a way to drink.  There is a drive deep within you for survival and when the need presents itself you figure out a way to meet that need.  As the need becomes greater, the intensity for the search increases along with it.  It is instinctual, the physical hunger and thirst in our human bodies, and it awakens our minds to motivate our actions to satisfy the need.

But what about our spiritual hunger and thirst?  Is it the same as our physical hunger and thirst for food and water?  I would suggest it is the exact same, but unlike the hunger pangs or a dry mouth, we do not as readily recognize the spiritual hunger and thirst inside of us.  If your mouth is dry and feels like cotton, your body knows it is time to refresh it with water.  But when your soul is dry, how do you know it is time to replenish?  How do you know what will actually replenish it?   Have you recognized the signs in your life to awaken the mind enough to take action?  Like hunger pangs, most of us have spiritual pangs present yet we fail to recognize it as such.  We notice a lacking within our soul but we aren't in tune with it enough to recognize it for what it is.  All we know is that we lack, as so we attempt to satisfy it with other things.  For each of us it is different, what we use to fill the spiritual void, but it never works correctly.  It never satisfies, leaving us on a continual search for spiritual satisfaction.

This constant search for spiritual satisfaction isn't relegated to the non Christian.  Even if you've known the Lord all your life, if you are not constantly feeding your soul with the Lord and His Word, then you are slowly starving your spiritual life.  You may have fed it a long time ago, but have relaxed, thinking you can feed it once or twice and it would be enough to last a while.  This is not so.  You have slowly parched your soul and deprived it of satisfaction, only you can't recognize it like cotton mouth.  If you feel your life is just not fulfilled right now, then there is a deep need you are not satisfying correctly.  You may be working diligently to fill the need, but your work has returned void.  You have become unsatisfied on a daily basis and have become so accustomed to living with the void, that you are almost resigned to living with a constant search.  The answer is right under your nose, much closer than you think.

The Bible says very clearly that you will be blessed if you hunger and thirst after His righteousness.  This means that if you are hungry and thirsty for a spiritual satisfaction, then it WILL be satiated.  You are hungry and thirsty, I know you are, but you have not recognized it as a hunger and thirst for His righteousness.  You have not recognized it as a hunger and thirst for a deeper relationship with the Heavenly Father.  You are thirsty for more of Him and you need to recognize it as such.  The Bible says that if you search for Him with all your heart, then you will find Him.  This is like searching for food.  If you are hungry enough, you will (and have always) find something to eat.  It is time to start nourishing your soul every single day.  Start drinking the living water and become alive!

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ps 63:1, Ps 107:9, Pr 21:21, Is 55:1, Jer 29:13, Jer 31:25, John 7:37

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pray Differently

Pray Differently
April 20, 2015
1 Thessalonians 5:17  "Pray without ceasing."

The Bible says we should pray without ceasing.  Effectively, that means pray all the time, about everything, anywhere, regardless of circumstance or situation.  It's pretty easy to interpret that instruction from the Bible.  It is a constant communion with the Lord about whatever is on your heart at the time.  If it is joy, then express it through a thankful prayer to Him.  If it is a heavy heart, then express it through an emotional cry to Him.  If it is an earnest request, then express it through fervency and sincerity.  Whatever the thought or idea, bring it to the Lord.  But what if you already do all of this on a constant basis?  I would suggest it is impossible to be perfect in your prayer thought-life.  I would suggest it is impossible to be as consistent as the Lord would desire.

I find myself getting bored with my prayers when I do them each and everyday, consequently easy to abandon.  I have the same heart and therefore the same prayer.  It becomes a prayer by memory, even though my heart originally formed the prayer.  It becomes liturgical and almost meaningless lip-service despite being a completely valid prayer.  This most recent week, I tried my prayers differently.  I wrote them down.  No, I didn't write down what my prayer requests were, I wrote down exactly how and what I prayed.  I kept a journal of my prayers as if they were heard by a third party in conversation style.  As the words came off my lips, I was a court reporter ready to read them back in testimony.  I finished my prayers, then did just that.  I didn't read them to the Lord, I read them back to myself.  I was ashamed to learn what my prayers said about myself.

They revealed to me the selfishness of my heart and the pettiness of my life.  I would be embarrassed if you were to read them aloud in public today.  They were full of wants, preferences, and laziness.  They revealed something about myself I thought could never be true, that my own world was more important to me than His world around me.  They revealed that the Lord's desires and heart took a backseat to my requests.  I wasn't seeking what the Lord wanted in each and every thing, I was seeking what I wanted in each and every thing.  In fact, as I evaluated them, the things I thought so important to utter in prayer had no eternal value.  The immediacy of my prayer requests were void of true worth.

The exercise demonstrated how I could change my thoughts about circumstances as I brought them to prayer.  It allowed me, and will allow you, to pray about the same thing, but in a manner worthy of a spiritual outcome.  Instead of praying that the Lord would pay the bill you are worrying about, ask Him to teach you how to trust in Him and work the situation out in a manner that would bring Him glory.  Instead of praying that the Lord would give your children good friends, ask the Lord to fill them with the knowledge and power of Him and that the Holy Spirit would flow through them as they shine the light of Him to their peers.  All prayer requests are valid, yet some will reflect the Father's heart better than others.  Evaluate your constant prayers and rework them to align with the Father's heart.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 6:5-15, Matt 6:33, James 4:3

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Blood and Testimony

Blood and Testimony
April 13, 2015
Revelation 12:11  "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony . . . "
Having just come away from celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, the blood of the Christ is fresh on our minds.  He shed His blood so we all might be saved.  His blood gives us power over death, knowing there is no hold on our lives into the grave.  We may have eternal life and enjoy the peace in our hearts being confident of this fact someday.  This doesn't make our lives easier, however, on earth.  We will still face trials, tribulations, difficulties, and suffering.  The blood of Jesus washes away our sins and gives us eternal life, but it does not negate the physical effects of this earth on our lives.  We will still have conflict, pain, and sickness.  We will still face temptation and attacks from the enemy.  The Bible says there is a second item needed, to make it on this earth.  It is the power of our testimony.
In Revelation the Bible discusses what happened in the beginning, before Adam and Eve.  It then discusses what happens in the middle (now) and what will happen in the end.  It speaks of all three time-periods as if they have already occurred.  Since the Lord knows the beginning from the end, we will submit to this line of thinking.  The Bible says that they only way people made it through life on earth (that middle time-period being now) was by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony.  Apparently there is power in the Word of our Testimony.  It is a weapon of combact to be used in order to make it through this life.  Seldom do we think of it as a weapon.  We think of prayer as a weapon or we think of the Word of God as a weapon, but rarely does someone begin to speak their testimony as a weapon against the attacks of the evil one and this world.
A testimony is defined as a public declaration of a firsthand actual experience.  A testimony is a story, your story, of the Lord's work in your life!  Before you claim a life of boredom and deny any work of the Lord in your life, remember you have experienced much in this time called life.  You cannot possibly be where you are if the Lord did not bring you here.  This gives you an opportunity to tell the story of how you got here.  If "here" is not where you'd like to be, consider you are here, in the middle of the making of your testimony.  You WILL have a story to tell, if you don't already, and it is a powerful story of the Lord's work.
As you come through the difficulties of life, begin to write down what the Lord did for you.  Maybe He saved you from a life of addiction or healed your close family member of sickness.  Maybe He forgave you for poor choices in life or brought you through unexplainable difficulties.  Whatever the story, you have a story to tell, a testimony of the Lord and His active participation in your life.  This is your opportunity to tell it and retell to anyone and everyone who will listen.  I challenge you to have two versions of your story ready at all times, a two-minute version for those times in the check-out line at the store and a twenty minute version for those times sitting over coffee with someone. 
Your testimony, whether you believe it or not, has power to counteract the work of the evil one.  If you doubt this, I challenge you to read the words the angel spoke in Revelation, declaring the only way people made it through was by the Word of their Testimony.  It has more power than you realize and if you begin to verbalize it today, you will see how it can change things.
Nothing defeats satan more than the power of your testimony.  Nothing glorifies the Lord more than the power of your testimony.
Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ex 25:16, Ps 19:7, Is 8:20, Matt 10:18, Lk 21:13, 2 Tim 1:8-9, Rev 12

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Same Power

Same Power
April 6, 2015
Roman 8:11  "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you."

The power of the Resurrection was so amazing that many were in disbelief.  It took a while for the reality of the situation to set in for most of the disciples.  They were warned of the impending Resurrection yet still completely shocked when it happened.  They witnessed their close friend and teacher die, then buried in the grave.  They weren't expecting the Resurrection, at least to an immediate degree.  Sure, they were aware of prophecy regarding the Savior but didn't quite understand how it would play out.  They were truly amazed at the miracle of the Resurrection, amazed and in awe of what really happened in just a few days.  They were first hand witnesses to this power, the great power of the Resurrection, a power never before seen.

Fast forward fifty days from the Resurrection and you have the day of Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon the people, upon the disciples.  Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit and after Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came down in a manifest way.  The power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, descended upon the Christ followers, filling them with His power.  This was the SAME power that raised Christ from the dead.  As we celebrate the power of the Resurrection, we should never stop at the picture of the empty cross or the picture of the empty tomb.  There must be a picture in our lives of that power now living in us.  If that power is not living in you, one could question the power of the Resurrection in your life.

When you become a Christian, you are an heir of Christ to a future Resurrection, as well as a recipient of His manifest power.  It is up to you, though, how much of that manifest power you want displayed in your life.  The power of the Holy Spirit will not force Himself upon you.  The Resurrection power available to you is dependent upon you.  Empty yourself of you and let Him fill you with His power.  When you see the empty cross and the empty tomb, don't stop there, envision yourself emptied THEN filled with the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

If we took a poll, I guarantee the results would declare each and everyone of us could use the power of the Resurrection in our lives, not just to save us from sins, but for complete powerful living.  I'm tired of living life without power and there is no one to blame but myself.  There is power available to each and every one of us, if only we would tap into it, allowing it to be manifest in our lives.  Imagine what would have happened if Jesus didn't allow the manifest power of the Holy Spirit to raise Him from the dead, if Jesus didn't receive that power.  There would be no Resurrection.  This is also true in your life.  If you dis-allow the same power of the Holy Spirit in your life, you will live in like manner, without power.  Invite the same power to live in you, the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

After the symbol of the empty cross, and the empty tomb, what is the symbol of the same Resurrection power in your own life?

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Mark 16:19, Eph 1:3, Eph 1:15-23, Eph 2:6, Phil 3:10, Acts 2:24