The Power Of A Grateful Heart

Here we are on the verge of another Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving is a great national holiday on which family and friends are brought together. But Thanksgiving didn't start as a national holiday back when the first settlers started the concept. Actually after that first brutal winter and growing season, it was a celebration of life and harvest. The first settlers (the ones who were still breathing) gathered to commemorate God's protection and sustenance. The gratefulness was genuine. I mean think about it. Many of your family and friends died throughout that first year. Through the difficulty, death, and destitution...a group had survived and now wanted to give God all the thanks. Making it through hard times and difficulty produces a truly grateful heart. That's what it's all about - gratefulness.

Understand that a grateful heart is very powerful. It is a force that motivates a person to endure the most difficult of circumstances. A grateful heart can recall God's past faithfulness and envision His future faithfulness. The result is a steadfastness in the present that has a supernatural essence. No one looks forward to tough times. But it's the tough times that toughen us up! Connie and I understand tough times and I'm sure you do too. Tough times come in different shapes and sizes for different people but the result (should we choose it) is the same...a grateful heart. I'll admit, tough times can also produce numerous opportunities to complain and maybe even murmur. But a truly grateful heart acknowledges God is fully in control. We don't always understand the circumstances...but we can understand that God does and has all the answers. Yes, we can thank Him in the hard times as well as the easy times. 


A grateful heart makes one sensitive to the needs of others. I don't mean this to sound bad, but there is always someone whose situation is worse than yours. What a great time to thank God for His faithfulness to us, and offer ourselves to Him as an instrument to help others. A grateful heart. It's very powerful. A grateful heart endures circumstances because its eyes are not on the circumstances, but on God. 


I'm reminded of how Judah was completely surrounded by its enemies in II Chronicles Chapter 20. Jehoshaphat was a Godly king and gathered the whole nation for prayer. If God doesn't intervene...the whole nation will be wiped out. In this prayer meeting Jehoshaphat leads the prayer and begins to thank God for all He has done and all He has promised for Israel. Then He says, "We are powerless against this great multitude, nor do we know what to do. Nevertheless...our eyes are on You." God moved in behalf of the nation of Judah and routed its enemies. It took three days for Judah's people to collect the spoils of the battle.


A grateful heart is powerful. I encourage you in these hard times...remember His faithfulness, thank Him for His future faithfulness, and thank Him for all you have today. Be thankful for the things that matter this Thanksgiving. It will change things. It's the power of a grateful heart.

Do You Believe There's A Hell?

This post is a little on the heavy side. It is not my intent to scare or even offend anyone. Sometimes the truth can be disturbing, but all the time, the truth will set one free. (See John 8:32)

Many folks don't believe in Hell. Why is that? Because many believe God wouldn't create a place like hell. Or at least God wouldn't send people there. You've heard it before: "If God is so loving, why would He send anyone to hell?" God doesn't send anyone to hell. It is a choice people make. "Then He (Jesus) will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." The "accursed" ones referred to as goats here, are those who choose to reject God and His Son, Jesus. (Matthew 25:41)

The above verse makes it clear that hell, the lake of fire, is prepared for the accursed ones, and for the devil and his angels. Hell is also prepared for the antichrist (the beast) and his false prophet. (See Revelation 19:20) Hell is also prepared for death and hades, and anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. (See Revelation 20:14-15) God gives us the choice: heaven or hell. Jesus or not. Choose Jesus, get heaven. Reject Jesus, get hell.

So what is hell? Hell is a place. The Bible says hell is very, very hot. It is called the lake of fire. This lake burns with fire and brimstone, a form a sulfur. Yes, hell is hot...and hell is forever. Many preachers preach about hell fire and brimstone in judgmental fashion. Only it is not really judgmental. It is the passion coming from one who understands the seriousness of hell. Again, hell is not only hot...hell is forever.

The Holy Spirit impressed something upon my heart a few weeks back revealing another aspect of hell not mentioned very often. Hell is a place totally devoid of the presence of God. The term "God forsaken" is taken to an unimaginable level. The first thing a person will do when they land in hell (besides yell "Ouch!") will be to cry out to God, "I was wrong! Help me Jesus!" But God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will not answer them. Why? Because God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will not be there...forever. Hell is hot, hell is forever, and hell is completely devoid of the presence of God.

There will be eternal remorse, eternal heartbreak, and eternal regret. Over and over the cry for help and repentance will go up, but to no avail. Why? God is not there. It this cruel? No! Why? Because Jesus stands ready at this very moment to answer the cry of whosoever will call to Him! Your opportunity is today, not when it is too late. "Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION" (2 Corinthians 6:2b) This is what the grace of God is all about. Today is the day of salvation. Today you can choose to turn your life over to Jesus and not land in the lake of fire...hell. This is good news!

Jesus made it possible for you and me to avoid hell which is also referred to as the second death. "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14) Jesus died a physical death and rose three days later making it possible for you and me to rise to Him in the resurrection. But He also died the "second death" making it possible for you and me to avoid the second death, the lake of fire. Jesus paid this price for you and me on the cross as He took upon Himself all the sin of the world. As He became your sin and my sin God could not look upon Him. Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" God had not forsaken Jesus. The sin upon Jesus brought a separation between He and God. Jesus experienced this separation from God in your place. To choose Jesus today means to avoid the second death, total separation from God in the lake of fire later. Then it will be too late.

Myriads of people will not turn their lives over to Jesus today because they don't want to change or lose the lifestyle they maintain. This is a lack of understanding of the concept of eternity. Your life on this earth is just a vapor compared to eternity. We must understand that the next life, whether in heaven or hell never ends. While those who have been there 10,000 years, singing praises in God's presence suddenly realize "We've only just begun", those who have been crying for mercy...unheard for 10,000 years will realize "we've only just begun". How tragic! My friend, hell is forever. The good news is heaven is forever!

God is full of grace and mercy. Those who call upon Him in sincerity now, will find that grace and mercy. No one has to leave this life without Jesus. Today is the day of Salvation. Perhaps today is the day of your salvation. Jesus has left it up to you. Choose Him! If you are in the least bit concerned about your final destination, again which will be forever, check out the reality of knowing Jesus today. It begins with a simple prayer of repentance. And this wonderful relationship of grace and mercy lasts forever and ever!

Ordinary People

I want to encourage you today. God made you and He made today. Therefore He has something incredible for you today. Jesus said Himself, "The things that are impossible with people are possible with God." Expect the impossible to become possible today with God. Expect this every day!

God is supernatural. But He is supernatural through ordinary people like you and me. He hasn't changed through the centuries. He is just as powerful as He was through the early church. Simply expect Him to be supernatural through you today. Expect Him to touch someone through you today!

Positive + Or Negative -

It's always good to have a positive attitude. Even today, as you live your life and work your work, the best attitude is a positive one. However, a positive attitude that is not based on God's Word is nothing more than positive thinking. The problem here is that positive thinking alone has no root, and is easily influenced by circumstances, good or bad.

A positive attitude born of the Word of God is rooted in the Word of God. When adversity or discontentment comes, specific Scriptures come to mind we can stand on and even do battle with amidst the circumstances. Standing on God's Word produces a positive attitude because God's Word is positive.

You probably know this, but for most folks it is much easier to be negative than positive. It's always easier to relax and flow with the negative circumstances. It's harder to stand against the flow. But standing against the flow produces results that transcend the circumstances! Anyone can be negative! But it takes much more to be positive. And again, the results are worth it. I love this truly significant verse from Proverbs 18: 21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." We can speak death or we can speak life. Death propagates the negative circumstances. Life, on the other hand, changes the circumstances.

If you want to speak positive things, you must fill your heart with the Word of God which is positive. So if you want to speak the Word in the midst of your circumstances in order to NOT flow with the circumstances...you must fill your heart with the Word of God. Because, "The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." (See Matthew 12: 43)

Let me challenge you this very day! Determine now that TODAY you will speak positively based on the Word of God in your heart. Determine that you will not flow with the river of negativity that flows from the mouth of disgruntled coworkers. Determine NOW that you will take along with you a positive attitude, anchored in the Word, wherever you go...from here on out. Then watch your circumstances and your attitude change!


PureFlix FREE Trial

Approaching God's Throne In Corporate Worship

Have you ever wondered what corporate worship is all about? Why do we sing at church? Why do people play musical instruments during a church gathering? Some might say, "Well...it's because that's just what you do in church? You sing and play instruments." Others might say, "Well...that song service (I despise that term) is to fill some space before the preacher comes to preach." And here's the classic one, "It's to prepare our hearts to receive the Word of God." While that last one can be true, we must remember, Jesus prepared your heart to receive the Word of God the moment you received Him into your heart. And by feeding regularly on His Word (at any time), we actually prepare our hearts to worship Him more effectively!

You and I are actually created to worship God. I once heard someone say the center of heaven will not be the pulpit. Instead, it is the throne of God. I agree with that. Even today God is the center of all His creation, and He is worthy of our worship...now. I am a minister of the Word of God. I love to preach and teach the Word. It is my calling in life. But when I get to heaven, I probably won't be preaching and teaching the Word of God. I will be worshiping the King of Kings. As a matter of fact, I will be worshiping Him forever and ever and ever. Yes, you and I will still be learning because we can sit at His feet for 10 or 20 thousand years at a time! He is the Word, and so very worthy of our eternal worship!

A
scribe once asked Jesus, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus' response was, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One Lord; and you shall worship the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12: 29-30) According to Paul there is only one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. (See Ephesians 4) Paul tells us also in Romans 4 that even though we are many members, with different functions, we are ONE body, the body of Christ. Worshiping corporately brings the members together to worship God in one voice. Why? Because we are one body of Christ. If you've ever experienced the unity that comes during powerful, Spirit-led corporate worship, you know what a wonderful experience it is. Not only is it wonderful, it is very powerful because Jesus is intensely glorified.

I am not trying to be critical, but I think many churches are not realizing the "why" of our corporate worship. Understanding there is a protocol for worship or approaching God's throne is crucial. Here's a good example. If you wanted to visit the President of the United States you wouldn't just drive up to the White House, park near the front door, walk in, approach the Oval Office, open the door, and say, "Hey Mr. Prez! Got a couple of minutes?" No. If you are granted time with the POTUS, you go through a very scrutinized protocol to end up in his presence. Approaching God may be a bit different from approaching the POTUS, but there is a protocol we must understand.

The Psalmist said, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise." (Psalm 100: 4) Did you know that entering His presence in corporate worship begins with being thankful? We must be thankful that we can enter in. We must be grateful for who He is and what He has done for us. As we are thankful, we move into the courts of His presence. This is closer to Him. Through praise we declare who He is and the great works He has done. Our God is so extremely good that we could praise Him, non-stop, from now throughout eternity.

From a technical sense, it's easier to praise God with songs of praise. The psalms are full of them. Psalms 120 - 134 have been given the title "Songs of Ascent". It is believed by many scholars that these songs were sung by worshipers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the 3 yearly appointed festivals. Others think they were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem. Either way, both are beautiful types and shadows of ascending to the courts of God's presence with praise. It is not that we have to sing these same psalms, but it's the principle we must realize. Again, praise songs are songs that declare the great feats God has accomplished, or will accomplish. Praise songs are declarations of faith. They can be declared to others as well as to God Himself. I'll explain this later, but praise songs should typically be faster, up tempo songs.

Quite frankly, we can praise anyone for doing good things. But only God can be worshiped in Spirit and truth. Only God can be given our total surrender. Only our Lord and King can be adored simply for who He is. This is the heart of worship.

At some point the praise should move out of His courts into the most holy place of His presence. Many corporate gatherings never get this far because they simply don't allow the time for this to happen. But this is why we exist....even here on this planet. We don't wait until we get to heaven to start worshiping our King. We must be taught, then encouraged to do so even from a babe in Christ! As we enter corporately into His most holy place, we find it is a place in which His Spirit is manifested in supernatural, life-changing ways.

I said before that praise songs should typically be faster songs, and from my experience we should begin with them. The reason for this is the faster celebratory songs tend to focus the attention of everyone on one thing...Jesus. A group gathering for corporate worship is made up of individuals from different walks of life. Believe me, not every mind is on Jesus when they arrive for worship. These songs gather the folks together as a call to worship. When the majority of the gathering has set their attention on Jesus, the Holy Spirit will lead us deeper into God's holy presence as we offer songs that enhance more intimate worship.

There has been a strong move among many Spirit-filled church gatherings to sing only intimate style ballads during praise and worship. The Holy Spirit has been faithful as always to inspire people to write powerfully anointed songs  born out of times of intimacy with Jesus. This is awesome. However, many worshipers who gather to worship have not been as intimate with God during the week. As they come in to worship, their focus is spread among the many activities and challenges of the day or week. They need the "call to worship", faster, praise songs to draw their attention to the King. To bypass this part of the process usually causes some to go through the motions of intimate worship instead of being truly led into God's presence through the protocol of approaching His throne. Never forget, lives are changed before His throne, in the presence of the King of Kings.

The Bible gives us our protocol for corporate worship, which applies to individual worship as well. However, we should never be legalistic about the protocol. Knowing the protocol simply gives us an understanding of approaching God's throne in worship. Anytime we gather for corporate worship, it should be with the mind that Holy Spirit has His way. He is here to lead and guide us into the truth. He is in our midst to glorify Jesus, our King. After all, that's what worship is all about...glorifying Him.

Holy Spirit Baptism

What I am about to share will sound a bit different; but I am convinced it is the truth. I want to share two crucial factors to God's ingenious plan to reach mankind with His love and salvation. The first one you have heard of. We call it the Gospel of Salvation, or  the Gospel of Jesus. Of course we know this factor as God so loving the world, that He gave His only Son, Jesus; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but instead have eternal life. (See John 3: 16). We have taken the words of Jesus in Matthew 28, and Mark 16 and labeled them the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul says the more we hear of this good news of God's salvation, the greater our faith to receive His work on the cross. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10: 17)

The second factor, and the one you may not have heard presented as I am about to, is Luke's account of the Great Commission. Yes, Luke provides us with the most complete account of what we call the Great Commission. "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24: 46-49) This second factor in God reaching humanity is the "clothing of man with power from on high"; also known as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit".

Let me put it another way. There were two parts to God's saving of mankind. One is the fact that Jesus LEFT His glory, became a human, took upon Himself the sins of all humanity, died, and  rose three days later destroying sin's dictatorship over mankind. The second is the fact that Jesus RETURNED to the Father, His name exalted above every name. By virtue of His RETURN to heaven, He sent forth the promise of the Father, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even though His disciples were very disappointed when Jesus began to speak of His departure to the Father, He was still driven to return to heaven to send forth the promise, the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew it was better that He go away. Driven by His love for us, He departed and poured forth "the promise" and made Him available to whoever would call upon Him.

Just as we receive Jesus into our hearts by faith, we also subsequently receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith. Jesus clearly told His disciples to preach the Gospel beginning at Jerusalem. But in Luke 24 He tells them to "...stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Please understand, God is a supernatural God. He does supernatural things through people like you and me. He does it through and by His Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is God's Spirit (and He is) then He too is extremely supernatural. Quite frankly, what the church needs more than anything today is that missing element of God's supernatural power in and upon her. There's nothing ordinary about God and His Holy Spirit. Thus, there is nothing ordinary about God's people, His church. His church is not an organization. It is not simply a gathering. His church is His blood-purchased, Spirit-empowered people in the earth. His church is the vessel through which Jesus lives and performs the same works He did when He was here 2000 years ago. That hasn't changed.

Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Listen to his account of Jesus' final words before returning to the Father. "...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1: 8) Jesus is not referring to salvation. He is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit enduing those who are Jesus' followers. He makes it clear that in order to be a witness to the remotest part of the earth we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. I personally believe that in order to effectively carry out the Great Commission, one must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2: 1-4 describes the event in which the promise of the Father was poured forth. The disciples had been hiding in fear of being arrested by the religious authorities (for being followers of Jesus). But after they were filled with the Holy Spirit they were compelled out into the streets praising and worshiping God! Others who were gathered from all over the world for the Feast of Pentecost heard them praising God in their own native tongue! This was supernatural! From that point on the disciples proclaimed Jesus with extreme, supernatural boldness. No more cowering for fear of being arrested. Instead signs, wonders, and miracles followed the disciples as they boldly witnessed about Jesus.

What caused the disciples to change from being afraid to be seen to boldly proclaiming Jesus? What was it that motivated them to serve and proclaim Jesus...even unto death? Certainly it was their love for Him. But it was also the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was the "empowering from heaven" with signs, wonders, and miracles following. The early church didn't move in power because they were the early church. No, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. He hasn't changed. He's the same today as He was then. He hasn't left us. He's here because Jesus left and returned to the Father. He's here because Jesus sent Him forth upon His return to the Father. "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (Acts 2: 38-39)

Who Am I REALLY?

Often we get it mixed up. We tend to believe we are not what God wants us to be based on our performance, in our walk with Him. We don't seem to measure up to what we assume God's standard for our existence is. Yes, God has a standard of performance for those who have committed to following after Him. It is the Word of God. But His Word tells us who and what we are, not based on performance, but on His infinite grace. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Corinthians 15: 10)

If we understand first who and what we are, and that who and what we are is determined by God (not us), then what we do for Him will be done for Him with our eyes on Him, not on ourselves. Grace is what made Paul who and what He was, in spite of His horrible past. Paul realized that even the labor he performed was not Him, but God's grace with Him. In other words, he couldn't do what he did without God's grace extended to him. Understanding this empowered Paul to keep His eyes on Jesus, even when his past was thrown up to him by the devil, people, and even himself. 

Grace is unmerited favor. Grace cannot be earned. Grace is imparted by a loving, forgiving God. Grace is powered by God's infinite love for you, me, and all of mankind. 

In order to fully understand Paul's statement in the above verse, we must understand his circumstances. "For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Corinthians 15: 9). Paul struggled with the fact that he once persecuted and ravaged the very church he now served. He was a pretty bad dude to the early church, dragging folks from their homes, putting some in jail, and more than likely, putting some to death. Paul stood by approving the stoning of Christianity's first martyr, Stephen. It would be impossible for him not to regret what he had done.

Paul knew what he had done. But listen carefully. Paul also knew what Jesus has done! You and I obviously know what we have done in our pasts. We know what we struggle with today. And like Paul, we must know and understand what Jesus has done for us. He took our sins upon Himself and died to them. The second our relationship with Him began, we died to all of our sins. He did it, not you and me. Also, the second we began our walk with Jesus, we began to live for Him. Because Jesus didn't just die to our sins and stay in the grave. No, three days later He rose out of the grave in supernatural, resurrection power. So now we live with Him, in victory over our past and present struggles! He did it. Grace. Because of grace, your past and your present will never ever determine who and what you are in God's eyes. His grace is more than enough, and by His grace you are what you are!

When people understand this, it gives them the power to overcome their struggles. Listen, you'll never be perfect in your own eyes. But it's not up to you to determine who and what you are. You'll never be perfect in other's eyes. It's not up to them either. By the grace of God, you are what you are. Nothing will ever change that, not even your past or present short-comings.

Perhaps you feel you've thwarted God's plan for your life because of your past. Perhaps you feel God is done with you because you struggle today with things from your past. Know that "...the gifts and calling of God irrevocable." (Romans 11: 29) How could this be? Because it's not by you, but by the grace of God that you are what your are. And because, "...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5: 17) This is grace. All God. Zero you and me.

And finally, if by God's grace, you are what you are, you need to start calling yourself what you really are: a man of God, a woman of God, a child of God, a new creation in Christ, etc. Thank God continuously for who and what He has made you to be. When the enemy comes to you and begins accusing you of who you were and what you did, remind him that by the grace of God, you ARE what you ARE. That's who you really are, and that's what really matters.

Even On Monday

It's a great day to live for Jesus. While most people moan and groan that today is Monday, why not treat today according to the fact that you are just as saved today as any day? The "day" doesn't determine your joy, the truth does. And the truth is, that if Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you are more than a conqueror through Him (even on Monday).

And another thing, the "day" doesn't determine whether God's Word is true and powerful or not. What God's Word says about you on Friday is the same even on Monday! "Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) Yes, today is Monday. And today God's Word says that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. (See Philippians 4:13.) The fact that the full workweek is ahead of you truthfully has NO effect on the power of God in you. The workweek ahead is actually a tank-load of opportunities for you to demonstrate the power of God as He loves others through you (beginning even on Monday).

Let me ask you, what will you do today because it is Monday? How about speaking to the mountain that seems to be holding you back (just because it's Monday). How about deliberately seeking out someone to bless in some way on this Monday. Maybe your co-worker is down today because it is Monday. How about an encouraging word for them today that will change their day (even on Monday).

We followers of Jesus Christ can be powerful instruments in His hand today if we simply realize how blessed we are today, even on Monday. Think about that. But don't think too long, because this Monday will forever be gone soon.


God IS In Control!

It's amazing to me that many Christians want to argue that God is not in control of the universe, which includes the planet we live on. It's also amazing to me that many Christians want to argue over just about anything! We each have our own views based on the knowledge we've accumulated, and anything different from our humanly, limited knowledge is just wrong. But the truth is, sometimes we are right and wrong! Let me explain.

On the one hand, God is not in control. And without having to do a whole "nother" teaching I'll explain. Basically, when Adam and Eve sold out to the devil (book of Genesis) they handed man's God-given authority to "be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the earth" over to the devil. Sin entered the world, and death entered through sin. Sin and death produced a fallen society that includes bad things that happen, even to good people: hatred, murder, sickness, pain, lust, greed, physical death, etc. And yes, there are many things we just cannot control. But God can.

In a very serious sense, the devil became the god of this world. But Jesus, the Son of God came 2000 years ago, and as a human (without sin), He offered Himself in our place to atone for our sins. Simply stated, Jesus took your sins and my sins upon Himself, and broke it's power over you and me. Our part is to sell out to Jesus, the One who took back the authority that was handed over to the devil 6000 years ago. And through a genuine, on-going relationship with Jesus we walk in authority over sin!

So for those who live their lives surrendered to Jesus, YES...God IS in control. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Here are some reasons God is in control of those who are His. Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22:13) Jesus says He is the "first and the last". And according to His own words He is "the beginning and the end". If Jesus is the beginning and the end it means that He started things, and will be the One who ends things. If He has the authority to start things and end things, His authority extends from first to last, beginning to end. Believe me, Jesus is in authority right now because He has crushed the power of satan through the cross, and His resurrection!

Here is another reason God is in control. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) Jesus has always been sinless. Even after He took our sins upon Himself, died, and came up out of the grave, He remained sinless. The authority with which He broke sin's power over you and me is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. Again, for those who choose to live life for Him walk in His authority today. Why? Because He is in authority. Yes, sin is still in the world, but through His authority, you have authority over sin. Paul even said "For sin shall not be master over you..." (See Romans 6:14)

And let me give you yet another reason God IS in control. "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:14) Believe me, God is in control of those who are sons and daughters of God because they are led by the Spirit of God. It doesn't matter what the world is doing, or how bad it seems to be getting, those who are led by God represent the authority of God in the earth. Nations are changed by such people. Are you being led by the Spirit of God? If so, you are a son/daughter of God, and He leads your life. He IS in control.

The main drive for this post is the fact that no matter how bad things get in the world (and they are pretty bad now), God is in control of those who put their trust in Him. Perilous times are here, as prophesied by the Apostle Paul. But Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If your trust is in Him, your trust is also in the One who started things, upholds all things by the word of His power (see Hebrews 1:3), and will culminate all things at the end of the age!

Finally, get your eyes off of all the "stuff" going on in the world, and on Jesus, and His Word. Turn off the news, and put on the worship music. Get off social media and get in the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit and build yourself up on your most holy faith (Jude 1:20) That's what will cause you to NOT be moved by what you see and hear going on the world today. Instead you will celebrate the peace of God that passes all comprehension because God IS in control.

PureFlix FREE Trial

Are We Effectively Training Our Children In The Way They Should Go?

I'm not trying to be negative, but let me share what's on my heart. This is not intended to be a "doom & gloom" message. I truly feel however, this is a timely and serious message that everyone (especially with young children) should pay attention to.

The truth is, we live in very troubled times. I have walked with Jesus long enough to begin to know God's Word, and to see it coming to pass in these last days. I have lived long enough to see how our society has deteriorated slowly over the decades. We live in a time in which the spirit of the anti-Christ has become rampant all over the world. And...it is getting stronger. It is easy, or maybe more convenient to brush off the reality of the last days we live in by saying "Things have always been bad." Yes, as long as sin has been in the world, things have been bad. But things are getting worse. Not just the stuff that is happening, but the stuff that is happening, aimed at God and His people. As we go through time, it will get harder and harder to live a moral, scriptural life as the world pushes harder and harder against those who live to testify of it's deeds, that they are evil. And never forget, the world is not stronger than God. But the world is stronger than those whose lives are not anchored into the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

I have 13 grandchildren, and one soon to arrive. I am a blessed Papa! But one of my greatest concerns is the world they will grow up and live in one day very soon. If you are concerned about the world, and the direction it is heading, let me ask you: What are you doing to prepare your children? And what are you preparing your children to do? Please forgive me if I sound a bit controversial. But are they more familiar with the latest Disney movie, TV show, gaming app, or video game than the Holy Scriptures? The Bible, the Word of God is the blue-print for life. Are you teaching them the Bible through family devotions? Do you pray with them regularly? I have to ask you these questions.

Listen to this: "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) The "way he should go" is with God, through a real relationship with Jesus. When they are grown, and on their own, they will not depart from Jesus. When they grow up, they will have grown up in the Lord Jesus, and they won't be swayed from Him. It's that simple. They will continue to serve Him because their parents trained them from a very early age. Many  parents think the Bible is too complicated for very young children. But what amazes me is their ability to operate computers, tablets, and smart phones! God made young children to be very impressionable for a reason...to be trained in the nurture and admonition of Him! (See Ephesians 6:4)

The world "train" in Proverbs 22:6 means to "dedicate, initiate, and discipline" them to know and walk with God. It's great that they are going to church. But parents, are YOU training your children to live wholly for Jesus through a life totally surrendered to Him? Most parents consider it "over the top" to prepare their child to be a radical servant of Jesus. But, in these times, that's what will cause them to live for Him now, and NOT drift away from Him when they go out own their own. If many of the world's religions (who serve no risen God) train their children early on to serve and even die for their god, how much more should we Christians train our young to radically serve Jesus. Jesus should not simply be a part of their lives (and ours). No...He should BE their lives.

Parents, let me ask you another question. How do you stand with Jesus? Is He your life? Or is He a part of your life? "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3) If He IS your life, then with the help of the Holy Spirit and God's Word, He can BE your children's lives too!

The good news is that Jesus stands ready to help you, through the incredible presence of the Holy Spirit. We can train our young people to radically serve Jesus, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse world. We must first understand that we are in the world...BUT not of the world. Only then can we convey this to our children. We must understand (as parents) that we are dead to sin, but alive to God...in Jesus. If we get that, we should convey this to our children. In order for your child to live for Jesus, they must die to sin. Of course, this happens when they receive Jesus into their life. From the beginning they must understand that Jesus died to sin for us, and now He lives to God. So with our lives hidden in Him, we are dead to sin and just like Him, we are alive to God. That's what makes us all His!

There's a verses in James that says "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4) Some very strong statements are made here, but they are true. My point is that if I (as a parent) am friends with the world, making me hostile toward God, that makes me responsible for doing the same for my children. I don't want to raise my children in such a way that they become hostile toward God, and an enemy to Him one day. No one in their right mind would desire to do this. However, NOT bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is doing the same thing. Something to pray about.

Yes, things are getting worse. However, for those who belong to Jesus, the most powerful, glorious times lie ahead. Those who are a part of the body of Christ in the earth will shine brighter than ever before, in the midst of the darkest of times. Please remember, no amount of darkness will ever overpower the light of those filled with Jesus. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Our responsibility is to discern the times, and respond accordingly. Preparing our children for living a life for Jesus will never be more important and crucial than right now. Jesus is there for you. He stands with you. Stand with Him!

PureFlix FREE Trial

Where Is The Love? (Part 2)


I just can’t seem to get away from John 13:34-35. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." According to Jesus, showing love for each other is what reveals to the world that we follow Him. With that said, just the opposite of that (not showing love to one another) reveals to the world that we follow a god who is not genuine. If, instead of loving each other, we are divided, critical, and judgmental who wants to follow any god who produces that?

When Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you”, who was He talking to? He was talking to His disciples (now you and me). His first priority was not that they love the rest of the world, but after God, they love first each other! Jesus knew people would be drawn to Him through those He loved, by their loving each other. Here’s a great example from the Word. Acts 13:32, “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” It goes on to say there was not a needy person among them. People sold their property and laid the proceeds at the Apostles feet. Folks opened their homes for meals, fellowship, and church!

Most people think that the early church was so successful because they met in homes, shared meals, and fellowshipped from house to house. There is always a push from some group or organization to go back to the methods of the early church to regain the power and influence the early church had. If we do it like they did, we will have the same power and influence they had. But that is not so. The early church folks did it that way because they loved each other and demonstrated that love unconditionally. There were no multi-purpose buildings, campuses, or church buildings. There were only small synagogues and homes to meet in. Out of supernatural, Holy Spirit, love they were motivated to open their homes, meet house to house, and share all things with one another. Can you imagine the effect this had on people? Many were drawn in by their love. Jesus said, “Love each other the way I have loved you.”

Jesus loved you and me by becoming one of us. He loved us by giving up His Kingly privileges and becoming God’s bond servant on the earth. He took upon Himself our sins, sicknesses, and pains. But He also demonstrated to His disciples His love for us for three and a half years! Then, He gave Himself completely for us. For you and me to love like Jesus is to minister the way He did! To minister the way He did is to minister in power and with influence that changes people forever. (1 Peter 4:8-11), “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If we can restore that kind of love to God's church in the earth today, imagine the power and influence we would have in the lives of those yet to know Jesus. Yes, it would definitely stir up some stuff! But O the joy of the souls saved and the glory of God revealed....through you and me His church! Join with me (and thousands of others) who are praying for revival in our land. O how we need it!

Graveyard Shift? No, Not Me!

Having been in the ministry for a number of years now, and having worked in retail quite a bit, I've learned a lot about people. Most people live in cycles. You know, we do certain things at certain times of the day, week, month, year, etc. In all fairness, much of these cycles are developed around the rising and setting of the sun. Who can escape that, right?

But as I have learned to apply the Word of God in my life over the years, I've discovered that many of the cycles we naturally slip in to can be broken. Yes sir, they can! For instance, are you naturally "chipper" in the mornings? Or, are you a member of the "walking dead" till noon? Most people who are like Count Dracula (opening their eyes in a nano-twinkle early on), usually shut down just after a hearty dinner. On the other hand, the not-so-morning person seems to hit their stride about the time of the 11 O'clock (PM) news.

When I was in the military we held training exercises often. There were times I would have to work a schedule I deeply abhorred. Graveyard shift (12am - 8am)! I was so accustomed to my regular day shift routine it was hard for me to break out of it. About 5 am every morning (on graveyard) I was ready melt into a sleep-induced coma. Simply driving home from work was the greatest challenge of my graveyard days! But...I did it. I still hated it...but I did it! My point is there are times when we simply do what we have to do in order to accomplish a mission.

It's the same way with serving God. The truth is (just like the military) when you signed on with God, you signed on to be available to Him 24 X 7. We don't serve, obey, and trust Him only when it feels good to do so. We also don't do the above only when we want to, or only when it is comfortable for us. There are times we must obey God's Word, even when we don't want to! Jonah is a good example. God commanded him to go to Nineveh and preach the Gospel. God's plan would have an entire, evil city repenting at the preaching of Jonah! But Jonah didn't want to do it so he fled and ended up in the belly of a big fish! He eventually obeyed God and preached to Nineveh. There was a big revival.

There were several reasons why Jonah didn't want to obey God (see the book of Jonah in the Bible). But my point here is that even when God commanded Him, he didn't want to. It's no different for you and me. God's Word is His blueprint for our lives. Yet there are times when we don't want to abide by His Word. Sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we fear the rejection of our peers. Sometimes we simply want to go with our flesh instead. But ALWAYS it makes us effective for Jesus when we obey God's Word. I can imagine Jonah felt pretty good when he finally obeyed God, preached the Gospel, and the city of Nineveh repented at his preaching! I certainly would.

Always remember, we must conform our flesh to God's will as we renew our minds with His Word. It is always the flesh, because of an un-renewed mind that will many times resist the Word of God. In the military I hated the exercises. I hated graveyard shift! It made me very uncomfortable. Yes, I had no choice but to participate, but I still didn't want to do it. However, the result was that we were prepared for what a potential enemy might throw at us.

It's more comfortable for you to sleep in instead of rising early to pray. It's more comfortable for me to cradle the TV remote tenderly for hours when I could be dedicating that time to my God. It's not always comfortable for us to uphold Godly living standards in the midst of our work place. But we must! We must live by standards that are not of this world. Some people will not understand why. Some will reject us. But like the city of Nineveh, there will be those who observe us, listen to us, and embrace the message of Jesus. It starts with a firm commitment to obey Him instead of ourselves. It starts today. How about you?

Where Is The Light?

What I'm about to say will probably offend some Christians. This is not up for debate. There is too much of that on social media. This is my heart, and I know is the heart of Jesus. That's what this Blog is all about!

It's past time for we believers (Christians, followers of Christ) to awaken and come to the realization of who and what we are! Sure, we're "blessed and highly favored". And yes, we are "King's kids". Of course, we are a "royal priesthood", a "holy nation", and "God's own possession". We are very quick to let each other know these things, because that's what the Bible says about us. But there is something else the Word of God says about us. And if it's the Word...it is true. We are the "Light of the world"!

Jesus proclaimed, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14) We are the light of the world. So where is the light? One of the closely related meanings of this word from the original language simply means "to make manifest". As followers of Jesus, we are on this earth to make manifest the life and love Jesus offers to all mankind. Jesus died for the whole world, no one excluded. And we the church exist to make this incredible news (and much more) known to those who have yet to receive His love and life. The church is commissioned by Jesus to be the light of the world.

Here's where it gets a little sticky. I've noticed over the years a nasty trend among Christians. As the world pushes harder and harder against the things of God, Christians tend to push back more and more. This is not of God. Here's what I mean. A company, business establishment, or corporation makes it known they support an ungodly agenda. So Christians push back. "We will boycott you." "We will hit you where it hurts...in your pocket book." They don't talk like Christians so we reject them. They don't act like Christians so we cut them off. But they're not Christians, and nowhere in God's Word does He say the world will act just like believers. And just so it's clear I'm not talking about establishments or businesses that are illegal or any who outwardly promote sin. I'm talking about every-day establishments we frequent, and then choose to punish them because their agenda (which is born of the world anyway) opposes God's Word. Where is the light?

There are many establishments and businesses I believe Jesus would see as an opportunity to make contact with young millennials. How do they feel when they (steeped in the world's agenda) hear Christians saying "boycott, boycott"? How would you feel if anyone threatened to tinker with your livelihood? I think we born again, Spirit-filled Christians ought to deliberately frequent such places in order to make contact with someone who may never enter the church.

Jesus help us to wake up! We quickly cry boycott, but at home we watch movies we know Jesus would NOT approve of. Movies that drop the "F" bomb in practically every breath. Movies that take the name of our holy God in vain and spew out vulgarity and immorality as if God Himself accepts it. It shouldn't be so! Where is the light? You are the light of the world.

Quite frankly we the church don't need to change anything until we do one thing...repent. It's time. It's time for the light (that Jesus says we are) to shine again. It's pretty dark out there and the light of the church has dimmed. We need to repent of what we have done in secret so the light of Jesus will be made manifest through us publicly to a very dark and hurting world.

I'm convinced of one thing. We live in the most opportune time ever for the church of Jesus. We have the commission. We are the light. What will you do? God sees all, and He knows all. Nothing can be hidden from Him. I ask you again, where is the light?

The Reward Of Pressing

The reward of pressing. There's an interesting title. I'm not talking about pressing your pants, or pressing your nose against a glass window! The pressing I'm talking about involves your relationship with Jesus. This kind of pressing involves "pressing forward, or onward". It also involves "pressing in" to the Spirit's presence. "Pressing in" to His presence is the one I want to talk about.

To "press" means: To move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position. As far as direction goes, our only concern should be moving toward or into God's presence. And as far as position goes...closer to Him.

Pressing in doesn't happen without effort. It takes force. There are times in which we won't move deeper into His presence unless we "press in" to His presence. And some of these times must be designated (by you and me) for such purpose...pressing in. In times when you feel dry in your walk, even stagnated, press in deeper to the presence of God. The reward is that His incredible presence changes you and me! The world will cause you to acquiesce in your walk, and become apathetic toward Him. If that is you today, press in...to His presence. That's where the fire is!

But pressing in also will not happen without our pressing deeper into our relationship with Him. James (from the Bible) tells us to "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." This is a powerful promise to us. However, this promise comes with conditions. If we're truly serious about pressing in (drawing near to Him), we must be serious about the conditions James lays before us. He continues, "Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." (James 4: 8 - 10)

All of the above are vital keys to pressing deeper into the things of God in your personal walk with Jesus. It begins with submitting ourselves to God, and resisting the devil. (James 4:7) But then we must stop sinning! That's how we cleanse OUR hands. We must also purify OUR hearts. We do that by determining we will be single-minded toward Jesus, and serving only Him! James also said that friendship with the world is hostility toward our God. (Verse 4) And for many of us, we must be miserable, and weep over the current status of our relationship with Jesus. This is pressing in. It's also called repenting! How does all of the above happen? By humbling ourselves in the presence of the Lord. The lifting up is His job...and He will!

Pressing in to the presence of God is a heart thing. When we press in, we are truly seeking God. We are dissatisfied with the status of our relationship with Jesus. So we do something about it. We press to go deeper. It's one thing to conform to a regimen of daily prayer. It is quite another to press in. Pressing in occurs when the heart cries out to God. It is when we yearn for God's presence from deep within, with a determination that we won't stop until we break through into His presence. ""As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God." (Psalm 42:1) Let me tell you my friend...this will change your life! Circumstances are not as impacting when your life is changed from being in His presence!

I've learned (especially from experience) over the years that a short time in the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit does more for me than months of counseling. Don't misunderstand me. We need Godly counseling. But what we need more is time in the life-changing presence of God's Holy Spirit. That's what we are created for. You cannot hang out with Him long without being drastically changed! And because we live in a world that pulls us in multiple different directions, and demands ALL of our time...pressing in must be made our priority.

The "reward of pressing" is that it brings us closer to Jesus. And the closer to Jesus we become, the more like Him we become.

It's Thursday Y'all!

It's Thursday morning...not Monday and not Friday.  Thursday.  Nobody ever says much about Thursday.  On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most incredible) Thursday is number 4. Why doesn't Thursday get more credit?   You hear people talk a lot about Wednesday.  You know...middle of the week, hump day, and half-way to the weekend.  And almost everyone talks about how terrible Monday is.  But what about Thursday?  I love Thursday.  Thursday is actually the 5th day of the week.  Thursday is the 3rd day from end of the week. Thursday is actually further away from Monday than Saturday (Depending on which Monday you're considering).  Seems to me like it's a pretty good day!

What happens on Thursday?  Thanksgiving happens on Thursday.  That's a big one.  The Lions get beat every year on a Thursday.  (Thanksgiving).  Thursday is the eve of the biggest shopping day of the year.  Not bad.  Thursday is always the eve of Friday.  Can't take that one away.  Personally I think Thursday is a great day.  Help me out.  Help me give Thursday at least a little of the credit that it deserves.  What do you think? 

Put On Love

The Miracle Of Being Changed

It is amazing to me how things change over time. Many of the things we cannot change on the spot seem to change over time with no effort at all. For instance, when I was a child, I used to be skinny. Let me go back and emphasize 3 words...."used to be". My Granddaddy Hutto would say to me often, "If you don't eat more, you're going to dry up and blow away." Even as a child, I didn't really believe I would dry up and blow away. However I did get Granddaddy's point. My older sister Kathie called me "Bean Pole". The thing was, I didn't like to eat, because I just didn't like food. The only foods I really liked were sweets. As a matter of fact, candy was real food to me.

Something happened to me over time. As the years went by, my taste changed. Therefore my waste size changed proportionally. By the time I graduated from High School, I could eat about anything...and a whole bunch of it. You might even say I loved food. The timing was phenomenal because I married the world's greatest cook.

Once married to Connie I was introduced to a whole new world of cooking. I bolted into this new world of foods, and the scales confirmed it. I went from eating to live...to...living to eat. They say you have this little switch in you that should turn off when you're full. When I was a young child, it never turned on. When I was a teenager it would never turn off! As a young adult I would literally eat until I physically could not hold any more. Did I mention the bathroom scales confirmed it? Somewhere, along the line, I changed. It didn't happen overnight, however.

As a follower of Jesus Christ my life has changed drastically and dramatically. But it didn't all happen overnight. Some of those changes took place over time. And some of those changes are currently works in progress. I like what Paul said in Philippians 1: 6. "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect (complete, finish) it until the day of Christ Jesus." This is an incredible verse! Know why? Because it says even though I follow after Jesus I am not perfect. However, even though I am not perfect, Jesus is in the process of perfecting or completing me! He does much of it through time as I follow after Him. He works in you and me by the presence of His Spirit; and He will continue to do so until either we go to be with Him, or He comes back for us all.

I can look back at the first days of my walk with Jesus, way back in 1978. I am well aware of those changes He immediately effected the instant I surrendered my life to Him. And I can also see the ways He has changed me over time, one day at a time, through the presence of His Spirit who indwells me.

As a follower of Christ we must daily do our part in becoming like Him. We have His Word as our blueprint for life. We should faithfully study, learn and apply the Word in our daily walk with Him. We must daily avail ourselves to Him in prayer, praise, and worship. This produces the miracle of His working in you and me 24 X 7. The bottom line is that He is changing you and me as time goes on.

Don't be discouraged at the struggles you have yet to master. Keep them before God and allow Him to work in you as He works on you. Don't run from Him. Run to Him. Grace is a powerful thing. Even though we see our own short-comings, God's grace (according to the Bible) is always sufficient for our every struggle and need. It's grace that causes the power of God to manifest in our weaknesses. Jesus said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Grace not only dealt with our sins, but the same grace, lavished on you and me, covers all our weaknesses. He accepts us, as we are, so He can change us into who and what He's created us to be.

A Real Body Builder

I've never been one to build up my body by pumping iron. More power to those who do. No pun intended. I am surely not one who trains to compete in events like the triathlon, decathlon, or marathon. Sure, I try to exercise and eat right. The more seasoned I become, the more aware of maintaining my health I've become. That "seasoned" part afore mentioned means "older". I'm just not a serious athlete as some are.
 
I'm pretty sure standing next to an avid body builder I would look pretty wimpy. I can live with that - because in the ream of the Spirit I'm pretty cut. Yes, you heard me right. I'm pretty cut. You see, I've been pumping spiritual iron for years. This dude has been working out in the Spirit. Years of pumping the iron of God's Word, and building myself up on His Spirit has resulted in making me a freak...a Jesus freak. Yes, I'm an avid follower of Christ. You know, a Christian. And since the real battle is in the spiritual realm, I have chosen to train and get cut spiritually! I'm not bragging. Jesus is the One who made it possible. My strength is His strength. My power is the power of His Spirit. Without Him I am nothing. But with Him...ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
 
I'm curious about you. Are you built up in Him? Are you so "cut" that you are actually "freakish" in Him? Just give it all over to Him. Then follow avidly after Him. Feed on His Word daily; continuously. Train in the Spirit through prayer, praise, and worship of Him. Be faithful to walk in Him. The Bible says you will run and not get weary. That's pretty cool.