His Worth Demands Our Praise

God is good. God is magnificent. He hears and answers our prayer. God became flesh and lived among mankind in order to sacrifice Himself (as one of us) for our sins. How incredible is that! Add to that His beauty, His radiating glory, His greatness, and His awesomeness! Yes, He is good. He is the source of good. He is also infinitely big. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is too difficult for Him to accomplish. He deserves ALL of your praise and ALL of my praise. He deserves MORE praise and worship than you and I are capable of giving Him. He is good and He is truly worthy.

I will spend eternity declaring the goodness of our God. He is good! God is so good...there is truthfully never a time in which we cannot give Him praise. He is just too good for you and me to live even short periods of time in which we don't give Him praise.

If you are like me, through any given day your moods change. Yes, we all know this and experience this. My feelings can change due to my physiological state (at any given moment). For instance, I tend to be happier when I am not hungry. I get somewhat happier if I can at least anticipate a good meal in the near future. (Knowing that I truly will not starve to death.) Circumstances also tend to contribute to my feelings. If all is going well, and I'm having a Zippity Doo Dah moment, I feel good. But if life begins to challenge me through circumstances, physical feelings, or people, I tend to NOT feel as good, thus affecting my mood.

Quite honestly, the better I feel, the easier it is for me to praise and worship God. When life is good, praise and worship is easy. When life is fair it is very easy to give God all the credit. But it gets a little more difficult when life is not as easy. Some days can be more challenging than others. Some seasons are more challenging than others.

When we are challenged and life is more difficult we must always ask ourselves this question (just to keep our focus). "Has God changed?" No! He is still the Creator and Ruler of our universe. He is still (and will always be) worthy of ALL praise, worship, and glory! The writer of Hebrews says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." He never changes! He is always the same. No matter how I feel, He is still worthy of ALL the praise!

The book of Acts, Chapter 16 tells of an incredible experience with praise and worship. Paul and Silas had been thrown into the inner prison for preaching about Jesus. The inner prison was the deepest, darkest, filthiest part of the prison. It was where the waste from all the cells above flowed to. It was a very, very challenging situation to say the least. In the middle of these circumstances the Bible says, "...about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." Paul and Silas were singing praise to God in the worst of circumstances! How could they possibly do this? They were praising God according to His worth, not their circumstances. God never changed. His value never lessened due to their being in the filthiest of dungeons. He was still MOST worthy to receive ALL their praise and worship!

As they focused on God, He began to change their circumstances; and the circumstances of every other prisoner in the place! Everyone's cell doors were opened and everyone's chains fell off! What an encouraging example of giving God what is due Him no matter what our circumstances are.

God will be God in your life and mine when we give Him credit for who He is. It is when we focus on our circumstances alone that we tie the hands of our incredible God.

No matter what your circumstances are...good or bad, our God is incredible and ALWAYS worthy of ALL of our praise and worship. So praise Him, worship Him for who and what He is, not for how you feel, or what you are experiencing. God will move mightily in your life. Remember, when we praise Him for what and who He is, what and who He is will manifest in your life!

Unity Is Your Choice!

There is incredible power in unity. When 2 or more folks can agree on any issue, they can press through any opposition to their oneness on that particular issue. And when enough people agree on a particular issue, it becomes a mind-set, even a strong-hold. This can be positive (Godly), or negative (evil).

Many sports teams are loaded with great talent. But they don't become potential champions until the majority buys-in to the belief they can actually win any game or match. This has everything to do with good coaching. I remember several years ago a new coach came to my favorite college football team. He kept saying in his arrival speech, we all have to buy-in to the truth that we can and will win most of our games. His greatest task was convincing a team that had two years of mostly losses that they can win any game. It took just a little bit of time, but at the end of his very first year they played again in a bowl game. In this case unity brought success.

Another good example of unity is found in Genesis 11. This is an example of unity working in a negative way. After the flood had destroyed the earth, people began to multiply again. They multiplied and moved east to the land of Shinar. Since they all spoke the same language they planned to build for themselves a city (Babel) whose tower would reach into heaven. God said something interesting about the people of Babel. "The LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them." (Genesis 11: 6) Because of their unity, God referred to them as "one people".

God came down and confused their language in order to stop this attempt. The reason of course, was so different nations would be formed, causing humanity to spread out over all the earth. The heart of God's plan to abate their oneness was confusion. Confusion is just one way to destroy unity. In this case, it is obvious that Babel's plan was not God's plan. So in view of the bigger picture, God had to intervene.

But notice that God said, "...nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them." He said that people in unity can perform the impossible, even in a negative sense. So we see in this example from Genesis 11 that unity is a powerful force!

The most powerful of any type of unity exists among those who follow after Christ. This type of unity invokes the supernatural. Mountains move! Roadways are made. Plans of the enemy are thwarted. The impossible becomes possible, because the natural becomes supernatural. Jesus said of unity, "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Matthew 18: 19-20) Unity among believers involves Jesus, the King Himself!

Many believers don't understand the power of unity. Why is this? Because Jesus is not the very center of their lives. Here is another way to put it: They are self-centered. Their personal agenda (even in serving God) transcends God's agenda. Unity cannot be found in self-centeredness. Self-centeredness is a killer of unity. "It's my way or the highway!" Anything that destroys unity is divisive.

Jesus Himself said, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand." (Matthew 12: 25) Any mature Christian who has laid aside their personal agenda in lieu of God's understands this. The problem is that so many don't understand this. The ways of the world have formed their personal agendas. By being conformed to this world (instead of being transformed, see Romans 12: 1-2), believers are becoming vehemently divided by their personal political views. Never before in my life (which is a few years long) have I seen such division in our nation over politics! And even worse politics has divided the body of Christ!

Listen, listen, listen! There is a way to restore unity to the body of Christ and thus see the kingdom of God rapidly spread over all the face of the earth. The same will obliterate the enemy's existence to divide and destroy. This method will also restore unity to your family, and save your marriage. The Apostle Paul couldn't have said it better. "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 1: 2) Jesus is the solution to division and disunity. No one or nothing else! If you believe that Jesus Christ was crucified to destroy our sins, and I believe that Jesus Christ was crucified to destroy our sins, that is enough! We are brother and sisters, purchased by the same blood of the Lamb. When all is said and done, at the end of the age, all that will matter is...did you believe that Jesus Christ was crucified for your sins and my sins? Our religious differences won't matter. Our political differences won't matter. Our theological divisions won't matter. There is enough power in the above fact to change the world, heal our land, heal your family and see your loved ones saved! Yes it is!

There is infinite, life-changing power within the unity among those who believe in and follow after Jesus. As I mentioned early on, confusion will bring about disunity. But it works the same way on the enemy. When believers agree to walk in unity, it brings confusion to the enemy. Get in agreement with the salvation your brother and your sister walks in. Watch the enemy divide and fall as a result of it. Commit with me to make the basis of our agreement the cross of Jesus Christ! Nothing else first. Not religion, not sports, not theology, not History, and certainly not politics. Let's be determined, like Paul. The other things of this world won't matter when we stand in the presence of King Jesus.

For more info on how you can help us reach Honduras February 18 - 25 visit www.harvcel.com. All donations are secure through PayPal. Thanks!
Steve Hutto

There Is No Shadow In His Presence

I was awakened by God's Spirit this morning rather early.  This is no uncommon thing with me.  Many things can keep you awake at night or wake you up in the middle of the night.  It can be a barking dog, too much pizza, or stress and worry over current events.  But you just know it when it's the Holy Spirit.  Today...it was the Holy Spirit.

I've walked with God long enough to know that when this happens to me, it's time to get up and pray. So I did.  These times are so extremely special to me.  So special because He is calling me to come to Him instead of me calling on Him to come to me.  There is nothing wrong with either scenario.  It's just more special to me to know He desires my presence enough to gently awaken me to come and be with Him.

I always employ the vehicle of anointed praise and worship to enter His gates and His courts.  This morning was no different.  The communion was sweet as I basked in His presence.  At one point during our fellowship He spoke something very significant to me.  He said "There is no shadow in My presence."  You see, the shadows of this life bring confusion, discouragement, and fear.  Shadows represent what we don't fully know, understand, or see.  It is in the shadows we can be overcome with these negative emotions.  But in His presence, there are no shadows! As a matter of fact, David wrote, "...In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11) Oh that we would spend more time in His presence!

He is the light of the world. His life is the light of men. His light is the only light that dispels the shadow of death. He is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. His light overpowers the darkness, because He Himself has overpowered all darkness!

It still amazes me how time in His presence gives me strength and changes my entire perspective.  God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.  Exposure to His very essence changes us.  I emerged from my encounter this morning with new perspective and new strength (even though I lost some sleep).

Even though He called me this morning, I feel He demonstrated to me (once again) the significance of an encounter with His presence.  Whether we initiate the approach to Him or He beckons us to come (like this morning) the key is the benefit of being with Him.  Try it.  I am convinced you will like it.

New Year, Fresh Start!

As we near the close of 2018 I am getting more and more excited! But then, this always happens to me every year as we embark on a brand new year.

2018 was a fantastic year. God was faithful to do even more that we anticipated! Our expectations entering the year were extremely exceeded by His goodness. So every year, near year's end, I start anticipating the new year! God has prepared great exploits for you and me as we pursue Him by faith!

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you know that He has only the best for you. You also know that if you trust Him (and His word) consistently, you can successfully navigate what lies ahead with great anticipation. I have no doubt that 2019 is full of adventure for those who are excited to be used by Him!

You can anticipate with excitement the new year because God always leads you forward with time. As time passes, you move forward with God. Of course, you and I must be diligently following Him, planting the seed of His Word into ourselves. As the seed of the Word grows, it eventually produces fruit in our lives and brings God glory.

Each new year presents new opportunities and new adventures in serving the King of all creation! Take some time and dwell on the idea of a new year just ahead. Think about how awesome our God is, and how He has called you serve Him. Also dwell on the truth that in serving Him, He has great things for you. Perhaps the year 2019 will bring forth the fruit of some of the things you have been believing Him for! One thing we can count on is that with a fresh, new year comes fresh, new vision. We are created to apply certain time marks and milestones to launch into the newer, fresher, bigger, and sometimes better things Jesus has for us. There is none better than the beginning of a new year!

So, my friend, as 2019 approaches, go ahead now and begin to thank Him for what the year holds. Embrace the new year with great expectations of our great God. Begin right now, to anticipate fresh direction from the One who desires to use you mightily in extending His kingdom to our world. Doesn't this excite you? I pray so!

Merry Christmas, and a most prosperous, successful New Year as you diligently seek Him for the fresh and the new in 2019!