Home | MORNING MANNA - 2011 | MORNING MANNA FOR 2010 | Guest Book | Listen To Our Music | About Our Ministry | How Can We Serve You? | Meet The Staff | Morning Manna | Purchase Online | Testimonials | Our Favorite Links | Referrals | Contact Us | ONLINE CATALOG
Horizontal Divider 11





Matthew 19:26 (KJV) 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.


Well, today is the last day of this year and tomorrow we will be ushering in a New Year!  For many, this has been a year of trials and hardships.  Loss of jobs.  Home foreclosures.  Illness.  Loss of loved ones to death or divorce.  Emotional turmoil.  Certainly always news of nations fighting against nations.  Then there have been great natural disasters.  The list is endless but not as endless as the list of possibilities we can take with us into the New Year!  Some of us (like me) may have been a little lax in our faith this year and taken the financial advisor's report as the final report.  Or, maybe some have taken the doctor's report as the final report.  I know this, but I don't always bring it to mind quickly and, more importantly, put it into practice!  God's report is the final report!!  God's plans for us who believe are good.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  As we end this year, let's try to put the past behind us (including any negative thoughts about what might happen).  We are told to forget the past (successes and failures) and press on toward the future.  With God, our future is filled with endless possibilities.  If we were doing it on our own, life would be futile and so many things would be totally impossible.  But, as Jesus said, "...with God all things are possible."  There are some who struggle with fertility problems.  Remember Rachel!  (Genesis 30:22)  God did the impossible and opened her womb.  Both Matthew and Luke (Luke 18:27) record Jesus saying, "....with God all things are possible."  In Matthew 17:20, Jesus talked about having faith as small as a grain of mustard seed.  With this much faith in God, He said that nothing would be impossible for us!  Even in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is recorded as having said, "....with God all things are possible."  (Mark 10:27)  Do you really think that God wants us to get the picture that most everything is impossible for us to do in our own puny intelligence and strength?  I do.  And, I think He also wants us to really get the picture that when He works in and through us, nothing will be impossible.  (Luke 1:37)  All things will be possible!  Do you ever think you might have missed your opportunity in life to do what the Lord has asked of you?  Maybe you think you're too old!  Remember Abraham and Sarah!  Sarah was ninety years old and Abraham was one hundred years old when they finally received the promise God had given them!  (Genesis 18:14)  Why?  Because nothing is too hard for the Lord!  There is nothing that is impossible for Him to do in and for us!  God tells us that He is the God of all flesh (that's you and me).  Then He asks the rhetorical question, "Is anything too hard for me?"  (Jeremiah 32:27)  Naturally, He knows the answer to His own question and so should we!  Nothing, absolutely nothing, is too hard for God! He does His best work when things look too hard, impossible, and even hopeless for us!  There are promises throughout His Word for those who trust and believe in Him.  There are also promises (of the worst kind) for those who refuse to believe.  So, if you have not yet trusted Jesus as your own Savior and Lord of your life, receive Him now on this last day of the year and start out your New Year with His endless possibilities.  He has promised that, His Word will always accomplish what He sends it to do!  Believe it, receive it, and know that it will prosper where He sends it.  (Isaiah 55:11)  If you are reading this, He is sending it to you right now!  If you are reading this, He has brought you through one more year and that is something for which to be thankful.  Think back, though, and see how He has brought you through.  Could you have been a little less stressed if you had remembered during those difficult times that all things are possible with God?  In the coming year, do you think you could do better at remembering that it is a New Year filled with God's endless possibilities?  I know I have room for improvement!  So, why not start today and head into the New Year with a heart and mind full of the endless and glorious possibilities that God has for us?


Mark 9:23-24 (KJV)  23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Dear Father, So many times I am like the man that cried out to you in tears.  So many times, I have had to say, "Lord, I believe but help my unbelief."  I know that all things are possible with You.  I know that nothing is too hard for You.  I know that nothing is impossible for You.  Why do I sometimes doubt and magnify my problems instead of magnifying You?  Please forgive me and let me put this past year in the past with thanksgiving and go forward pressing on to know and act on the fact that, because You love me and live in me, all things are possible and nothing is impossible.  Thank you for the joy of going into the New Year with the thought of endless possibilities because You are the God of possibilities! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 1:6 (KJV)  6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:


Many years ago, when I joined a church in a new city to which we had moved, the pastor spoke Philippians 1:6 over me and it became one of my life's verses.  Philippians 1:6 was a verse that Paul was writing to the believers in Philippi because they were faithful in the ministry of the gospel.  Paul was confident that God had begun a good work in the Philippian believers and that He would keep that work alive and growing until the day of Jesus Christ.  Of course, I was excited to have this verse spoken over me by my new pastor!  However, I have to admit that there have been times since that day that I didn't feel so confident!  Have you ever had days like that?  Days when you just don't understand the circumstances in which you find yourself and then you find yourself questioning the Lord as to what it is He really wants you to do?   You may have been a believer for a long time and you know that God has worked in and through you; but somehow the enemy comes against you and your confidence gets a bit shaky.  I guess that's probably how Peter felt when the Lord told him to get out of the boat on that stormy night and walk on the water!   (Matthew 14:22-33)  At first, Peter was excited that Jesus had told him he could walk out there on the water.  Jesus certainly had faith that Peter could do it.  But, Peter had not really thought about the practicality of such an adventure.  He stepped out of the boat confidently but then he made a grave mistake.  He looked at the circumstances instead of keeping his eyes fixed on the only One who could give him the power to walk on top of those circumstances with confidence.  The waves were wild and the wind blew.  All of a sudden the problems seemed to overshadow Peter's confidence and faith.  Have you ever had that happen to you?  You started out strong but then doubts crept in, or things got boring, or there were attacks from the enemy, or maybe you even took your eyes off of Jesus and magnified your circumstances instead.  I have done all of those things at one time or another.  In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he spoke of his confidence that the good work that God had started in them would be completed in them.  I wonder if they always felt so confident!  Nevertheless, confidence is not a feeling.  It is a knowing.  It is believing.   It's an inward certainty.  A trust in God.  It's a yielding to the faith that God has in us because He is doing the work in us!  To be confident is to be, "fully persuaded."  We may not always feel like God is developing, perfecting and bringing to full completion, that work He started in us; but, we've got to be fully persuaded that He is because that's what He is telling us in the scriptures.  The writer of Hebrews uses another Greek word that is translated, "confidence."  Here he is saying that we must not throw away our confidence because it will yield a great reward.  But, in order to hang on to such confidence (or boldness) that we have in God, we need patience.  During those times when we don't feel so confident, we need to patiently wait on the Lord knowing that, after we have done the work He is doing in us, we will receive the promise!  (Isaiah 40:31)  So, if you are going through a time of feeling less than confident, look up and cheer up!  Don't fling that confidence away because it is in God and He cannot fail!  He will complete the work He started in you because He is God and He never fails to complete His projects and plans!  His plans for you, as a believer, are good!  Be patient!  Whatever God has started in you, He's going to perform it right up to the end and you are going to receive the reward and all the promises of God!       

Hebrews 10:35-36 (KJV)  35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.   36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, I have to admit that sometimes, when I look at the circumstances around me, I am tempted to lose confidence in Your promise that You will complete the good work that You started in me.  Of course, it is at those times that I am counting on my own understanding, looking at circumstances, and not putting my full trust in you.  Please forgive me for those lapses in confidence.  Help me to patiently watch, wait and obey You in all that I do.  Thank you that I can know that all things are possible with You.  Thank You that Jesus is my strength even in situations that seem impossible.  Thank You for the rewards and promises associated with remaining confident in You.  Thank You that Your Word does not return void.  It will accomplish what You have sent it to do and I can remain fully persuaded that because You are doing the work in and through me, it will surely be completed! 

Horizontal Divider 11





3 John 1:134 (KJV)   13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:


You know, we meet so many people on our life's journey.  Some stay in our lives for a long time and we see them face to face often.  Others stay in our lives for a long time and have great influence on us, but because of the mobility of society today, we rarely ever see them.  I spent over twenty years with a wonderful Christian lady serving in music ministry with her.  She showed up to play the piano, no matter how she felt.  She showed up when there was sickness in her family and even death in her family.  She served in many other areas too!  I wish I could say that I was half as faithful as that!  Yesterday, at about noon, the Lord called Helen home.  I have a feeling that she heard those words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," as Jesus took her in His arms and gave her His ultimate healing.  I know that her faithfulness, despite many hardships, had a great effect on me.  Not only did she use her musical gift for the Lord, but she encouraged me to use mine and would many times find places for me to sing to the Lord's people.  She made a lasting difference in my life!  I have not seen her for a very long time but, like John wrote about Demetrius and Gaius, I have heard from others of her testimony of faithfulness to the Lord.  I'm sure that, if I would have seen her, she would have had lots and lots to tell me and I would have had lots to say to her too!  We kept in touch at Christmas and other occasions but, of course, you really can't say all you want to say in one small card!  However, one day, I will see her face to face again and we will have eternity to play and sing for the Lord, rejoicing in all He did for us.  He will tell us everything, as we see Him face to face.  We will have all the time we need to speak to one another and to Him, face to face.  No need for, as John says, "pen and ink!"  John was planning a trip to see Gaius and others in the area and was anxious to speak to them face to face.  He wanted to personally greet all the believers, looking straight into their eyes.  But, you know, one day we will each take a Heavenly trip, if we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  This is the trip Helen took yesterday.  Then we will see Jesus, face to face!  We will greet mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and all of our other relatives and friends  that have gone before us.  We will greet them by name, face to face.  Best of all we will see Jesus.  Face to face!  As the old hymn says, "Face to face with Christ my Savior.  Face to face, what will it be?  When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ, who died for me!"  Helen played that hymn so many times in church services so others could sing the words and ponder on what it would be like to be face to face with Jesus and others who have gone before.  She is not wondering any more!  And, one day you and I will not wonder any more either.  We will see Him and each other face to face and have eternity to rejoice over His goodness and care for us!  (1 Corinthians 13:12)     


3 John 1:4 (KJV)  4 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You so much that one day I will see You face to face!  Lord, I do pray fervently that all my children, all of their children, and theirs and on forever, will receive You as their Lord and Savior so that we may all meet again one day face to face with each other and with You to be together forever.  I pray that everyone I meet in life will see something of You in me and will want You to be their Savior too!  Thank you for Helen's life and for the lives of all the others who have gone before me.  For all those who have helped me on, with their testimony and example, through the many trials of this life.  Thank You that You have plans for us throughout eternity that are more than we can ask or believe.  Thank you that we cannot even begin to imagine the things You have prepared for us!

Horizontal Divider 11





3 John 1:11 (KJV)  11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.


We've probably all encountered people who go about doing good.  But, unfortunately, we've all probably encountered those who don't do good.  Some people know all the right words and phrases and, yet their lives do not show the fruit of righteousness.  The Apostle, John, has given some examples of each of these types of people.  He is writing to Gaius, here, who is a wonderful example of hospitality and care.  Then he talks about Diotrephes who is a self-centered, egotistical person that will not even listen to anything John has to say.   Diotrephes seems to think of no one but himself.  (3 John 1:9)  Thankfully, John uses two good examples to one bad example because he goes on to speak of Demetrius, who has a great reputation concerning having the truth within himself and living it out.  (3 John 1:12)  As we read of the trials that John had and of those who blessed his life, by following closely the truths of Jesus, John lets us know that we should follow the good.  It's raw human nature to be like Diotrephes, wanting everything our own way and thinking that we know it all.  But, that is evil.  That is not the person who has been made new by being found in Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  In fact, John plainly tells us that anyone who constantly does evil does not know God.  In one version of the scripture, it says that those who do good prove that they are God's children and those who do evil prove that they do not know God!  I guess you could use that old phrase here, "The proof is in the pudding."  What do our lives look like?  Is the pudding sweet or is it spoiled?  Are we like Gaius and Demetrius?  Or, are we like Diotrephes?  As John says, "Beloved, follow not that which is evil."  Another version says not to let the bad example of Diotrephes influence us.  Even within our own selves, there is that, "old man," who sometimes tries to rise up and make a, "Diotrephes," out of us; but we must constantly renew our minds so that we are transformed to the image of Christ, who went about doing good!  (Romans 12:2, Acts 10:38)  This way we will prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God.  Both in our own minds and in dealing with those around us, we must follow the good, overcoming evil with good. Praise God, we can do this through Christ, who strengthens us!  (Philippians 4:13)    



Romans 12:21 (AMP)  21 Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You for John's examples of good and evil ways of being.  Please help me to follow the good!  Let me constantly be aware of the, "old man," that would try to rise up in me.  Sometimes I can be my own worst enemy!  Help me to overcome evil with good; the good that is in Your word that transforms me from the inside out, destroying the remnants of the old creature that I was.  Help me to overcome evil with good when I am tempted and tried by those around me who don't show the best fruits or have the best attitudes!  Please give me discernment in all situations and help me to follow the good!

Horizontal Divider 11





3 John 1:9-10 (KJV)   9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.


Have you ever met anyone who always had to be first?  How about those people in life who cut you off on the road just so they can be one car ahead of you?  Or, the ones who cut in front of a whole line of people at a check stand at the grocery store?  Why do people do that?  My guess would be pride and selfishness.  Maybe they think that what they have to do in life far surpasses the importance of the plans and purposes of anyone else.  Well, as John was writing to his dear friend, Gaius, he encouraged him because Gaius was hospitable and seemed to have a, "servant attitude."  On the contrary, later on in 3 John 9-10, John mentions someone by the name of Diotrephes.  His name actually means,  "nourished by Jupiter."  The Strong's Dictionary says that his name was a combination of  Zeus, the supreme Greek God, and nourishment.  It does seem that Diotrephes did have a superiority complex!  He always had to be the, "top dog."  It would appear that he had not heard, or at least not been able to practice the teaching of Jesus concerning the fact that the one who is greatest among us (believers) would be a servant.  (Matthew 23:11)   Diotrephes seemed to know nothing about servant-leadership.  He always had to put himself in the lead.  He did not recognize John's authority at all and he even refused to listen to John or take any suggestions from him.  Have you ever met someone like that?  They certainly do not make pleasant company and they are almost impossible to work with, always having to have the control in every situation.  While John is contrasting the behavior of Diotrephes with the hospitable, selfless attitude of Gaius, we can take a lesson from what he is saying.  Certainly, we can check our own hearts to see whether we have a,  "Gaius" attitude or a, "Diotrephes" attitude.  If we find any symptoms of the latter, we need to repent and begin exhibiting the attitude of a servant rather than one who has no respect for authority and puts down others.  Diotrephes was so bad and so much in contrast to the lifestyle of Gaius that, instead of taking in traveling teachers and laborers for the Lord, he would put them out of his, "church."  If anyone in his church offered to show hospitality to those traveling for the Lord, Diotrephes would try to stop them from doing it!  Even worse yet, he spread rumors about John.  Vicious rumors!  John was planning to visit that area and, while there, he was going to set things straight about the untruths that Diotrephes had been spreading.  But, in the meantime, the lesson for us might be to first check ourselves for a, "Diotrephes ' attitude.  Secondly, we surely want to use discernment when we place ourselves in a, "church," where the leadership wants total control and shows a less than hospitable attitude toward other laborers for the Lord.  There will come a day when we will all be set straight!  Not by John, but by Jesus, when the final judgment day comes.  That's why I'm saying, "Don't be a Diotrephes!" 


3 John 10  0 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, please keep me from having a, "Diotrephes," attitude.  Help me to have discernment about where I serve and about what sort of leadership I come under.  Please help all who say they are leaders in Your Church be servant-leaders, just as You said.  Today, there is such a, "me-first," attitude in the world which the enemy has tried to bring into Your Church.  Help us all to remember that, no matter what our role is in Your Kingdom and no matter what sign hangs over the door of the place in which we worship, we all belong to You and we are all parts of Your body which was made to work together without any one part taking the preeminence.  Thank You that You are the Head.  Let Your Kingdom come on earth without any division or selfish ambition among any of it's citizens!

Horizontal Divider 11





3 John 1:5 (KJV)  5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;


Do you have the gift of hospitality?  It seems that the Apostle, John's friend, did have that gift.  Gaius seemed to be very concerned with, and helpful to, the traveling teachers.  Many of these people were strangers to Gaius, yet he cared for them as they passed through and taught the ways of the Lord.  I imagine these travelers got very weary and were very appreciative of such care, and maybe they were even amazed that Gaius would take in and care for them even though they were perfect strangers!  Today, lots of believers take in missionaries or traveling evangelists and ministers.  I have a wonderful friend who has that gift.  She and her husband have housed whole families of missionaries, making them very comfortable and offering a respite for them as they come home on leave for refreshment.  Gaius must have had that gift because after these travelers left his home, they told about how Gaius lovingly cared for them. Although Gaius was caring for the physical needs of the travelers, he was essentially being faithful to God.  This created a testimony to the lovingkindness of God which flowed so freely through Gaius and many others in the churches heard about it!  (3 John 1:6)  It is encouraging and challenging to us when we hear about how others serve the Lord.  John encouraged Gaius to continue to provide for these traveling teachers in a way that pleased God.  Not only was Gaius helping God's people, he was also a blessing to God in his selfless actions!  We have also done this from time to time and we never fail to receive a blessing from getting to know those who travel around the world ministering the Word of God.  If you have never done that, and you have the means to do it, you might want to think about opening your home if the opportunity should arise.  John mentioned that these, "travelers for the Lord," would accept nothing from people who were not believers.  The Kingdom of God is not a good mix with the kingdoms of this world.  The motives of the world are not always pure and when a believer gets mixed up with receiving gifts from the little kingdoms of this world, there may be a temptation to water down or corrupt the true message of God.  That is one reason why we, as believers, should exercise the gift of hospitality to those traveling for the Lord.  That way, they will not be under any pressure or temptation to change the message that has come from God.  The message of God is always the pure truth.  When we open our homes and hearts to the needs of those preaching the truth of Christ, we become partners in the teaching of the truth.  Although our own motives should be those of love, because God is who He is, we, too, will receive a reward for the work being done by those who teach the pure Word!  (Matthew 10:41-42)  So, I encourage you, in the Name of the Lord, the next time God gives you the opportunity, do what you can to help those who labor in the ministry of the Word!     


3 John 1:8  (KJV)  8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You for the times You have given us the opportunity to help Your laborers as they travel.  Bless all those who leave the comforts of their own homes and travel to take Your Word to whom You direct them.  Help me to always be aware of their needs and share whatever I might have to help them on their way.  Keep them from the temptation of taking things from manipulative people of the world who want to tempt them to change Your message by trying to, "buy," these, Your laborers.  Keep Your message pure in their hearts and put it on the hearts of those who believe in You to do everything we can to meet their needs, even over and above their expectations, just as You do for us!  Bring out the, "Gaius," the gift of hospitality in me!  

Horizontal Divider 11





Luke 2:8-14 (NLT)   8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.

What were you doing last evening?  Working?  Partying?  Wrapping presents?  One night, long ago, shepherds (the lowliest of the low in society) were doing the same old, same old.  Guarding their sheep in the fields.  9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,  God is so very good!  There are many, "suddenly's" in the scripture where He steps in unexpectedly and shows Himself to be powerful and loving!  Angels are real and they do appear to men.  We might think one would have to be an acclaimed preacher or evangelist but God will send His angels to whom He will.  This time is was to lowly shepherds!  They were terror-stricken!  10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  Angels are majestically powerful and just the sight of them would strike fear in anyone but I really doubt that these shepherds thought themselves worthy of an angelic visit.  If anything, they may have thought that they might be punished.  After all, society looked down on them - why not God?  But the angel did not come to judge them.  He came to bring good news that would affect people forever.  He brought joy - not fear.  Not just to the shepherds, but to you and me too, no matter what our station is in life!  Just what was that good news?    11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  Oh my, the first to know that the Savior of the world was born were the shepherds who were just doing what they always did!  The ones who watched sheep for a living would find the Good Shepherd, the baby Lamb of God, lying in, of all things, a manger!  12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  As if that wasn't enough, there was another suddenly!  A great army of angels from Heaven surrounded the shepherds!  They heard the angelic music from Heaven as the host of angels praised God!  13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,  What were the angels singing about?  They were singing glory to God and they were singing of peace on earth.  Some translations of the scriptures do not add the end that the New Living Translation adds, "to those with whom God is pleased."  But, with whom is God pleased?  He is pleased with those who will let Him break into their lives with the Heavenly message that a Savior is born.  He is pleased with those who will receive His Son and, in so doing, receive eternal life!  These are the ones who will experience God's peace that passes all human understanding.  These are the ones who will be the real peacemakers in this world and receive an eternal reward for so doing!14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”   This morning, what are we doing?  Focusing on material presents when God desires to let us experience the presence of His Son?  Have we received the greatest Gift of all?  The gift of Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins?  It is true.  That night that the shepherds received the divine interruption of the angels announcing the birth of Christ, Christ was born and they obediently went, as the angels said, and found the Baby Jesus lying in a manger.  A lot has happened since then.  Jesus is no longer a baby.  He has lived for us as a man, dyed for us as a Savior, rose for us as a victorious Lord and is coming again as King of Kings!  Today, you and I have the option of concentrating on decorations and dinner.  We can concentrate on material gifts.  Or, we can receive and worship the greatest Gift ever given and sing with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest......."  What will be our choice?


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, thank You for sending Your only Son, Christ Jesus, for me!  Just as there was no room in the inn for Him the night He was born, so today, there is not much room for Him either in this world that He has made.  As the Christmas hymn says, my prayer is this:  "Oh come to my heart, Lord Jesus.  There is room in my heart for You."  Thank You that no earthly present compares with the present of Your presence!  "I love You Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You," singing, "Glory to God in the Highest."  Let there be peace on earth that comes from the Prince of Peace and let it begin with me!

Horizontal Divider 11





3 John 1:3 (KJV)  3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.


When was the last time you turned on the news and heard some, "good news?"  Very rarely do we hear something good when we check out the daily news.  Lots of what we hear is untruth or, "spun truth," instead of the real truth!  Well, the Apostle, John, got really excited and he rejoiced, even rejoiced greatly, when some of the brethren would come to him with the good news about John's friend, Gaius.  In just two verses (3 John 1:3-4), John used the word, "truth," three times!  This news over which John so greatly rejoiced was that Gaius had the truth in his heart and he walked in it!  As we have heard time and again, Jesus is the Truth!  (John 14:6)  Gaius had obviously received Jesus and was walking in the way Jesus walked!  Gaius was walking in the Way.  Jesus is not only the Truth, He is the Way!  Psalm 86:11 is a plea from the psalmist for the Lord to teach him His way and a declaration that the psalmist will walk in God's Truth.  There, even in the Old Testament we see a glimpse of Jesus, the Truth and the Way!  Walking in darkness is obviously just the opposite of what we, as believers are to do.  (1 John 1:6)  We can say we have fellowship with Jesus but that is only giving lip-service if we walk in darkness instead of walking in the truth.  What a blessing John had that he was able to rejoice in the fact that Gaius not only had the truth in him, but also walked it out in such a way that those around him spoke very highly of him when they reported to John.  Oftentimes, John considered those to whom he ministered his, "children."  Of course they were his spiritual children.  I know, from experience, that it is heart-breaking to have your biological children become rebellious and turn from walking in the truth; but, it is just as heart-breaking when your spiritual children become disobedient!  The greatest news a parent can receive is that their children are walking in the truth.  The Apostle, Paul also spoke about ministering in truth.  (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)  Saying we are walking in truth is totally different that actually walking in truth!  (Matthew 15:7-9)  It is hypocrisy and vanity to say we have the truth in us but walk in darkness.  Perhaps John and Paul encountered some of these people and, if they did, I imagine it was very frustrating and sad for them when they were doing their best to preach, teach, and walk in the truth.  But, in the case of Gaius, John's friend to whom he wrote 3 John, John had reason to greatly rejoice!  Do you have friends that constantly uplift you and nudge you on to higher levels of love and joy in Jesus?  This is cause for great rejoicing.  And, if you have biological and/or spiritual children to whom you have ministered, I know your joy is overflowing when you see them walking in the truth!  It was not easy for the early apostles and many times it's not easy for us either.  How wonderful when we get good reports that our, "children," are walking in the truth!  Perhaps you, like John, have no greater joy than to hear that your children walk in truth!  I know that is the case for me.  My greatest desire is that my children know and walk in The Truth!       


 1 John 1:4  4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You for truth.  Thank You that You are the Truth!  Thank You for children, both biological and spiritual.  Thank You for leading my children to know You more and more and to walk more and more in You who are the Way!  It is very true for me that, like John, I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth!  That is my prayer for them Lord.  That is my prayer for myself today and always too.  Please let me walk in the Truth  and in the Way so that I might be a living example for them to follow!  Thank you that this is possible because, with You, all things are possible!

Horizontal Divider 11





3 John 1:1 (KJV)  The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.


As we know, the Apostle, John, was a true man of God.  A true elder in the early church.  A man who cared deeply for the believers in Christ.  But, to tell the truth, sometimes great men and women of God have very few close friends.  Many may love and respect them but, due to the time it takes to carry out their calling from the Lord and sometimes because of the many people to whom they are called to minister, they have very little time for close friendships.  John loved and respected Gaius.  He was obviously one of John's closer friends and when John says that he loves Gaius, he uses a form of the word used for God's love for us.  The unconditional kind of love that wants only the best for the other even if it means a sacrifice on the part of the one giving the love.  The name, Gaius, is seen three other places in scripture and this may or may not have been the same Gaius to whom John has written 3 John.  (Acts 19:29; 20:4; Rom. 16:23; 1Cor. 1:14 I think that Gaius was a true blessing to John and that, of course, the relationship was mutual.  I have many acquaintances but few people with whom I am really close.  I pray for all of my acquaintances but, since I have a few that I know better than others and we have that special bond of friendship that only God can give, their names come up in prayer often.  I feel like I feel what they feel.  When they are blessed, I am excited.  When they grieve, I grieve too.  Today I attended the funeral the son of a very dear friend.  I confess that I came home drained.  My heart was with her heart.  To lose a child is probably the greatest sadness a mother can experience on earth.  And yet, the Lord was with my friend and, as I held her close at the end of the funeral, I felt His presence.  I know, as she does, that her son loved the Lord and that we will see him again one day where there is no more parting, no more sickness, no more temptation and sin, and no more tears!  As John wrote to his greatly loved friend, Gaius, he wished for him health and prosperity.  John, like Jesus, cared what happened to his friends, not just spiritually, but also for their earthly needs and their physical health!  I am so thankful to know that Jesus cared (and still cares) about all those things for us!  While we live in this body, we are a three-part being.  Body, soul, and spirit.  When these three are in unity, that is true prosperity and health.  John knew that if the soul (mind, will and emotions) of Gaius was well, his body would be in health too.  As believers, we know that our spirit is now whole but, as we walk this earth, we pick up the germs of sin and of physical illness which we must fight off by keeping our minds renewed with God's Word.  The blessings of friendship and health can be ours and, as we thank God for the friends He has given us, we, like John, can pray that they will prosper even as their soul prospers.  That's what I pray for each of you reading this today!  God is able and He is willing.  Praise Him for His gifts of friendship and health!  Praise Him for allowing us to agree with Him in prayer for these things to be manifested in the lives of our friends! 


3 John 1:2  (KJV)  2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You, Father, for friendship and for health!  Thank you that You are a Friend that sticks closer than a brother and that your desire for us is that we prosper and be in health even as our mind, will and emotions fall into line with Your Word.  Thank You that You have allowed us the precious gift of being able to pray for the friends You have given us and for their prosperity and health. 

Horizontal Divider 11






2 John 1:12 (KJV)  12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

Letters are wonderful and, now that we have e-mail, instant messaging, and text messaging, we have so many ways to communicate!  Sometimes, reading words, we miss the facial expressions, the tone of voice and the things that may be written, "between the lines."  That must have been how John felt when he wrote 2 John 1:12!  Whether he was writing to a home church or an individual woman, he had lots more to say.  He just didn't want to write it all down.  Perhaps he wanted to have that personal interaction that you can only have when you see someone, face to face.  I have a few friends and relatives that live on one coast of the USA and a few friends and relatives on the other coast.  I live right in the middle of the country.  I get lots of e-mails, texts, and some phone calls but there is nothing like just getting together for lunch or a cup of coffee or tea and looking each other in the eye as you converse!  Now, when I do get a phone call or actually get to visit my fiends, there is way too much to say for the time we have to spend together!  No wonder we are given eternity to talk about our adventures in this world!  Then, there is always the risk that someone will read between written lines something that is not there, leading to a misunderstanding and maybe even the loss of a friendship.  Confusion may ensue because some are able to communicate in writing better than others.  Sometimes we get in a hurry when we write and we may sound abrupt when it's just that we have things pressing in our lives and our intent is to let someone know we are thinking of them but the recipient of the note imagines that we are angry at them or just plain being rude!  Anyway, John had a lot he wanted to say but, for whatever reason (and there may be many more that I didn't think of), he didn't want to write it.  He wanted to see this, "elect lady," face to face and have a one on one conversation with her!  There have been many times I have wanted to do that with friends and family but have not had the occasion.  I wonder if John was a bit sad when he wrote this letter because he could not speak personally, but rather had to write.  Jesus has written us many letters in one big volume, The Bible!  Many people have read these letters.  Those who do not know Jesus have added or subtracted from His intent and some well-meaning believers have read between the lines and found themselves in error.  In any case, all of these words in the scriptures are not just words; the are a Person, The Word, Jesus!  One day we will see Him face to face and then we will have no trouble understanding or getting stuck because we read something that wasn't really there or failed to see something that was there!  "Face to face with Christ my Savior, face to face what will it be?  When with rapture I behold Him......."   Go ahead and sing that old hymn if you know it!  (1 Corinthians 13:12)  Right at the moment, there is conjecture about this, "elect lady,"  to whom John wrote.  And even more conjecture about the children of her sister, who was chosen by God.  The really important thing is that we grasp the concepts that John is putting forth in these verses.  Concepts of love.  The concept of being chosen by God (oh glorious thought).  The concept of the fullness of joy when we actually get to meet face to face with our brothers and sisters in Christ and when, at last, we will all meet face to face with Jesus!  The concept of children walking in the truth (which is every believing parent's desire and the great desire of our perfect Heavenly Parent.  Wow!  All of those concepts are quite enough (maybe more than enough) for me to wrap my mind around right now.  But, but, but....one day, when we see Jesus, we will understand it ALL!  As we used to sing, "We'll understand it better by and by."   In the meantime, let's never forget to greet the brothers and sisters that God has given us in Christ and remember that, if we have received Jesus, we are the elect!


2 John 1:13 (NLT)  13 Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I am so thankful for the men of old through whom you breathed Your inspired Word by Your Holy Spirit!  Thank You that it is the Living Word and that You give more and more revelation as we read, meditate and seek Your Spirit for understanding.  I admit I don't totally understand who these elect women were but I thank You that those of us in Jesus are elect!  Thank You for being the perfect Father whose desire it is that all of Your children walk in the truth.  Thank You for loving my children, both biological and spiritual, so much that You have heard my prayers that they, too, will walk in the truth, in Your Son, Jesus, who is the Truth!  I bless your name and look forward to seeing You face to face one day and understanding it ALL! 

Horizontal Divider 11





2 John 1:10-11 (NLT)
10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement.


Hospitality is a God-given gift and it should be demonstrated!  There is even a scripture that tells us that we should not forget, neglect, or refuse to show hospitality to strangers.  The Amplified Bible adds that these strangers should be in the brotherhood of Christ and that we should allow them into our home, sharing any comforts we might have in a friendly and gracious manner.  We are told to do our part generously and cordially.  This is because some people have found that they were really entertaining angels without really realizing it!   My husband and I have taken many different people into our home.  I will not say that they all looked like angels (or acted like angels), however God has truly blessed us and some of those that stayed with us were like angels!  When those that definitely proved themselves not to be of the angelic nature, we had to put them out.  The Apostle, John, is telling us here to be sure that we do not let anyone who is not truly following Christ into our meetings or homes (most of the local churches in John's time met in homes).  The Apostle, Paul, quite agrees with John in that we should watch out for, and stay away from, those who cause divisions and upset people's faith by teaching things contrary to  what was taught by the apostles then and written down in scripture for us.  (Romans 16:17)  There are those who are not really looking out for the interests of God's Kingdom but, instead, for their own interests and the building of their own little personal kingdoms.  (Romans 16:18)  Many of them sound very convincing but then, so did Satan in the Garden of Eden.  He's been sounding that way ever since!  Discernment on our part is essential so that we do not hesitate to operate in the gift of hospitality, without inviting people in who cause division and confusion by going against the teachings of scripture.  Paul says in Romans 16:19, that he is sure that his audience  is obedient in this way and encourages them to stay pure and innocent of doing any wrong.  That goes for us today too!  He goes on to say, in Romans 16:20, that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet!  There will be victory for those who keep on obeying Jesus!  God has not warned us for no reason that many deceivers have gone out into the world.  (2 John 1:7)   We can spot some of them a mile away, but others are more deceptive so it is left to us to stay in the Word of God so that we can spot counterfeit teaching!  Those of us who are believers want to be encouragers!  However, if someone comes into our inner circle and we see that they are not acknowledging Christ and all that He was, is, and will be, unless they repent, we need to refrain from encouraging them or allowing them to be a part of us.  John is clear in his writing that anyone who encourages those that teach false doctrine and don't acknowledge the fact that Jesus did come in the flesh becomes a partner in their evil work!  Very scary since the Lord also points out in scripture that light has no fellowship with the darkness!  (2 Corinthians 6:14)  Instead of being paranoid and always looking over our shoulder to see if someone is a false teacher, let's turn it around to something positive.  When people are learning to spot counterfeit money, they are not shown counterfeit money.  They are shown the real thing and taught to touch it, look at every detail in it, probably even smell it, etc.  When you and I constantly have our eyes on Jesus, spotting counterfeits will not be too difficult.  When we're constantly in the Word, reminding ourselves and others of the qualities and characteristics of Jesus and His teachings, we will have more and more discernment about things that don't quite match up because we will be well acquainted with the real Jesus.  We want to be found being partners with our Lord and not with any evil work! We can do that by sticking very close to Him and following His Word!  That way we will not be found being partners in crime with evil workers!


2 John 1:11 (KJV)  11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, I want to show hospitality to others.  I want to be in agreement with those with whom I worship.  Thank You that, although we all might not agree on things that are not necessities of faith, but more our own preferences, we can agree on Jesus and everything we know about Him from Your Word.  Help me to know Him well enough to know when someone comes around like the proverbial man offering an innocent child a piece of candy in order to draw the child away and cause harm.  Help me to discern a stranger to You from the one who truly loves you.  Keep me from entering into the evil work of those who do not preach Christ born, crucified, dead, buried, risen, and coming again!  Keep me in Your Word and, more importantly, help me to follow and carry out your Word!  Let me be an encourager to those who really know You and help me not to encourage or fellowship intimately with those who are preaching something contrary to who You are!

Horizontal Divider 11





2 John 1:7 (KJV)  7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.


If you just read the title of this morning's, "Manna," you might think I have lost my mind or my vocabulary!  Actually, I hope I have lost my mind and exchanged it for the mind of Christ!  (1 Corinthians 2:16)  So, why did I say, "Why for?"  Because I was kind of amazed myself when I read 2 John 1:7.  Before today, I did not realize that John has talked about love and truth repeatedly but he is now just getting around to saying why he has reminded us of these things perhaps more than we might have wanted to read.  He wanted us to get the principles of love and truth!  Why for?  "For many deceivers are entered into the world......"  These deceivers insist that Jesus has never come in the flesh.  These deceivers are antichrists!  They are liars according to 1 John 2:22-23 .  They can talk about God but, if they deny that Jesus is the Christ, they are liars and we know that all liars come from their real father, the devil.  (John 8:44)   They do not really have our Father in Heaven.  Only those who acknowledge and confess belief in the Son have the Heavenly Father!  Lots of people today are claiming to be prophets but 1 John 4:3 plainly says that, if they do not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, they are not from God.  Not only that, they have the spirit of the antichrist!  You and I, if we have received Christ as our Lord and Savior, know that He came to earth in a fleshly body, as a baby boy.  He is and was the Word and He always will be the Word!  (John 1:14)  We need to test those who say that they speak by the Spirit.  Some speak by, "spirits," but those spirits are evil.  God will help us discern whether someone speaks by His Spirit or another spirit!  How, and why for?  The Truth lives in us!  2 John 1:8  gives us another, "why for."  If we have been following Christ, we cannot become complaisant, thinking that we are secure.  We still have to watch out for the enemy who would just love to see us lose what we have worked hard to achieve for the Lord and for His Kingdom.  (1 Peter 5:8)  God wants us to receive our full reward, but we have to be diligent and not let the enemy steal anything from us!  Love and truth have a great deal to do with our reward (and we all love rewards).  Why for?  Here's a few scriptures for your study to encourage you to be diligent about not losing the rewards you have worked so hard to receive.  Matthew 10:42, Mark 10:29-30, 1 Corinthians 3:8, Hebrews 10:35-36, Hebrews 11:26.  Have a good time looking into these so you will be encouraged to use truth and love to build up more rewards and to keep those you already have.  Why for?  We will then have much to give back to Jesus when we see Him face to face!  Do we have God?  If so, we will abide in the doctrine of Christ which includes truth and love.  If we do abide in these things, we will have overcome the evil one.  (Romans 12:21)  So, some of the, "why for's," about hearing about love and truth over and over again is so we can discern evil spirits from the Holy Spirit, keep the rewards we have earned and earn even more for the sake of Christ and be sure that we acknowledge and abide in Christ so that both the Father and the Son abide in us! 


2 John 1:9 (KJV)   9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I admit that I sometimes wonder why You repeat things over and over again!  Thank You that today, You gave me a, "why for!"  Thank You for letting me see that Your truth and love flowing through me will overcome evil and the evil one!  Thank You that Your truth and love in me will help me not to lose the rewards You have so graciously given me and that Your truth and love will enable me to keep going, following in Your footsteps!  I'm beginning to, "get it," I think but I know that You have so much more to teach me in this area!  Right now, I just want to thank You for reaching right to where I am and assuring me that You, Father God, and You, my Savior Jesus, have me in Your hands and I have You in my heart! 

Horizontal Divider 11





2 John 1:4 (KJV)   4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.


If you are a believer, and you have children (whether biological, spiritual or both), you can relate to what the Apostle, John, is writing to the elect lady, whom he addresses in 2 John 1:1.  It is every believing mother's heart's desire that her children walk in the truth.  (3 John 1:4)  Whether John was writing to a specific woman and her children or a figurative way of addressing the church and it's members, Christian mother's worldwide can relate to this passage.  There is probably nothing any of us would not do to insure that our children are walking in the Truth (which is Jesus).  John 14:6.  And, our Father, God, has done all that He can to see that His children walk in the Truth too.  He has sacrificed His son for whoever will receive Him as Lord and Savior.  (John 3:16)  Have you accepted the Truth?  Jesus left us His very own Spirit so that we could know the truth and walk in it.  He has enabled us to walk and worship in Spirit and in Truth!  (John 4:24)  We could never do that on our own!  Without Spirit and Truth, we are pretty much doomed!  Praise God, He has given us the privilege to know, walk in, and worship in Spirit and Truth.  However, John does not cease to remind us again and again (this time in speaking to the, "elect lady and her children, that we should remember that we should love one another.  Whether speaking of our biological or spiritual families, we are called to love each other (which means seeking the best for one another).  (2 John 1:5)  John knows that he has focused many times on love but he does not apologize for doing it.  In fact, he says that he is not writing a new commandment but, instead, is repeating one that we have had from the beginning!  And yet, once again, John explains what love is.  Very simply it is obeying God's commandments (which are all centered on loving Him and loving one another).   (Mark 12:29-31)  When John reminds us to walk in the commandment of loving one another, he is talking about our general way of living.  He is talking about occupying our time in the giving and receiving of love.  He's speaking of whatever you and I have as the essence of our life.  Some of us still have to confess and allow God to rid us of some impurities such as, anger, bitterness, pride, lust, greed, etc.  If we are to walk in love, there can be no room in us for the things just mentioned.  We have heard about love from the very beginning of the scriptures.  Now it's time that we determine to walk in it.  That's the only way the world will know that we are disciples of Christ!  (John 13:35)  Can the world spot us as disciples of Christ by our love for one another? 


2 John 1:6 (KJV)   6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, You remind us of how we should love You by obeying Your commandments so many times.  You remind us of how we should love one another so many times.  You'd think we didn't get it!  And, maybe we don't!  Thank You for Your love toward us that allows us to love You in Spirit and in Truth.  Thank You that You are love!  Please let me look like, walk like, and worship in Spirit and in Truth and in Love!  Please let the very essence of my being be love that I have received from You and now give back to You and those in my home, as well as those who cross my path.  Thank You that, with You, all things are possible and that I will see all my children walking in the Truth because that is my heart's desire and it is Your heart's desire too!   

Horizontal Divider 11





2 John 1:1 (KJV)  1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;


Don't you love those verses that fall into the, "harder sayings of the Bible?"  This very short epistle written by John contains one of those sayings!  John, who calls himself an elder, writes to, "the elect lady and her children."  Some versions of scripture have named this lady, "Cyria."  However, most commentaries theorize that this is not to an individual, but perhaps a local church (and the church at large, since you and I are now reading it in scripture).  Some say that this, "elect lady," to whom John writes is married because her children are mentioned.  Some say that, if this was an individual, she might have been a widow who took in visiting evangelists and supported their ministries.  Others say that she might have hosted a local church in her home.  John also says that he, in addition to all those who have known the truth are writing to this "lady and her children."  Many years ago, in an evangelistic meeting, someone passed me a note with 2 John 1-3 on it.  It meant so much to me at the time because my children were having a difficult time of it; and so was I.  This note, sent at the unction of the Holy Spirit, gave me great encouragement!  Every "lady," (true mother) wants her children to be walking in truth and love.  In one commentary, it says the combination of, "in truth and love," found in 2 John 1:3 is found nowhere else in the Bible.  However, I think it is intimated in the way we are to speak to one another.  We are to speak the truth, but speak it in love.  (Ephesians 4:11-16)  John then gives us a reminder that the truth lives in us and He will be with us forever. (2 John 1:2)  Jesus has already declared to us that He is the Truth.  (John 14:6)  The truth, if He be in us, will be with us forever!  (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5)  However, there are certain conditions to this promise (which there often are with other promises from God).  He does His part when we do our part.  We need to be about our Father's business, teaching others about Him, bringing them to Jesus, and making disciples.  We also need to be content with what we have, fully trusting that if God is with us, as He has promised if we are content, we will always have our needs met somehow.  God is love.  (1 John 4:8)  It is the truth that we know that will set us free!  (John 8:32)  Since Jesus is the Truth and God is love, Truth and Love go together perfectly to help us freely walk and speak in love through this world.  So now, I pray that the grace of God will be with you, along with mercy and peace.  May you walk out your life freely in Truth and Love.  In Jesus and in Your Father.   And, may it be so for your children, both biological and spiritual! 


2 John 1:3 (KJV)  3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Oh, merciful and gracious Father, thank You so much for caring for all Your children!  Thank you for caring for our biological and spiritual children so much that you had John write this letter to the, "elect lady."  Thank You that I can consider myself to be an elect lady and trust you that I, and my children, will walk in truth and love.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy and especially for Your peace that floods my very being!  Please, never let me stray from the paths of truth and love! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 5:18 (KJV)  18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.


Because of Jesus, you and I can have understanding.  We can discern things about which others in the world will have no clue.  The Apostle, John, said that the early apostles absolutely knew that anyone who was born of God (had received Jesus as their Lord and Savior) would not deliberately and knowingly, consistently practice committing sin.  Today, because much of the Church has not practiced reading and obeying the Word of God, praying, and worshipping God all during the week, we may have become weak in discernment.  The early apostles knew what was what!  They also knew (and counted on the fact) that Jesus carefully watches over and protects the person who has received salvation by believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth that Jesus is Lord.  The divine presence of Jesus in us, when we have invited Him in, preserves us from evil.  It is the presence of Jesus in us that will not allow the devil to get a grip on us or touch us.  There is another thing that the early apostles knew.  They knew positively that they were of God.  We can know positively that we are of God too!  By believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.  (Romans 10:9)  We also need to remember that, even though we are of God, those who are living without God in the world, are under the power of Satan.  Not a good place to be at all.  So, because we are of God, we need to lift up those in the world who have been deceived by the devil.  We are here (as Jesus was) to set the captive free.  (Luke 4:18-19)  Of course, it is Jesus that sets people free but you and I (if we have received Him) have His Spirit within us and He has given us power to proclaim His freedom to those in bondage to the evil one.  The more we can take from the camp of the enemy, the better!  (1 John 5:19)  You and I know that Jesus has come!  He has given us understanding and insight in a progressive way so that we might recognize Him more often in our life and have a clearer understanding of who He is.  He is the Truth and we who are in Him are of the Truth.  Jesus is the true God and He is our eternal life!  The more understanding we have about the Lord, the more we will know that there is a great harvest in this world where the majority are trapped by the devil.  The more thankful we can be for Jesus and our eternal life.  The more we can pray for the lost to come into the Light.  (1 John 5:20)  No wonder the very last thing John tells us to do is to keep ourselves from idols!  When understanding really sets in, we will realize that no false god and no demon from Hell can supersede the power of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  One day every knee will bow to Jesus, all of the false gods and all of what is under the earth and above the earth.  As we pray for those who are lost, we need to check our own hearts for anything and everything that would occupy God's place in our heart.  For substitutions that might threaten to take first place in our lives.  Even for our own desire to sit on the God's throne in our heart.  When we really understand these things, we will be on our way to incredible growth and revelation from the Holy Spirit, with power to reach out to the lost and hurting in this world!  By the way, John calls us little children again when he speaks about keeping ourselves from idols.  Little children are easily swayed by anything that looks appealing.  Let's remember that we are and always will be God's little children no matter how wise we may think we are in this world! Let's determine to understand that we're not above temptation and deception and thank God every day for His grace and love, pouring it out on everyone we meet.


1 John 5:21 (NLT)   21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, thank You that I can know that I am in You!  Thank You for reminding me that, although You are the focus of my life, there are many lost in this world of wickedness.  Help me to remember that, even though I am in You, Your work in my understanding is a progressive work.  I admit that I don't understand every detail about Your Word, or Your love, or Your compassion, or anything else that comes from You.  Increase my understanding and discernment and continue to anoint me to set captives free from this world of evil and to bring healing to the brokenhearted.  I need You Lord so keep me from falling into the deception of false gods, even from trying to place myself on the throne of my heart when that is Your place.  Please take Your place there and help me to remember that there is only room for one.  I fall at Your feet and thank You for giving me understanding and knowledge that, because of Jesus, I belong to You. 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 5:14 (KJV)  14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:


This morning, I feel misunderstood by someone I love dearly.  I feel like I am being judged unjustly by another believer.  Notice that I said, "I feel."  What is happening here is that I feel persecuted for speaking the truth in love.  Persecuted for holding forth the righteousness of Jesus.  Those are my feelings.  If I strike back in anger or let past hurts or issues pile up on top of this particular trial, I will be playing into the hands of the enemy.  You see, I just did that a few nights ago and was surprised at what came out of my mouth!  However, I know that what is hidden in my heart will eventually come out of my mouth, no matter how deeply I have hidden it!  The Message puts Matthew 15:18 in pretty clear terms.  It says that whatever comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart!  That paraphrase doesn't add the rest of the story.  These are the things that defile people.  The things that come out of their mouths!  Now, to get back on the positive side, when we are pressed and hurt, neglected and abused, God will use it for good.  He will reveal what is really down in us.  God does not reveal that to condemn us.  He reveals it so we can turn it back over to Him so that He can heal us.  Maybe you have been in similar situations.  It hurts when God reveals something in you that you did not think was there, such as unforgiveness, pride, greed, anger and a host of other things through which the enemy tries to trap us.  Even Christians can turn against each other because of lack of humility.  Jesus did not want it to be that way.  He wants exactly the opposite because we are not fighting people, we are fighting against principalities and powers that sometimes deceive people and get them on the wrong track.  (John 17:22Ephesians 6:12)  Here's some more wonderfully encouraging news!  If we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we know that He hears us and that whatever we ask, we know that we have those things for which we have asked.  Of course, if we really do know Jesus, the things that we ask will be pleasing to Him and within His Word and will.  (1 John 5:16)  Because difficulties will arise, even between Christians, when we see someone sin, we can ask God to forgive them and He will give them forgiveness and life.  But, John also tells us that there is a sin that leads to death.  Although this is a very controversial subject among men and women of God, Jesus also mentions the, "unforgivable," sin.  (Mark 3:28-29)  Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost puts a person in danger of damnation.  But, even here, Jesus says, "in danger."  John says we do not need to pray for the "fatal" sin.  Perhaps that is because only the Holy Spirit can bring repentance when a person falls this far.  Needless to say, we all trip and fall many times during our sanctification process in this life.  Yet, God is willing to bend over and pick us up out of the mud, clean us up, and give us many more chances to, "get it right."  (Proverbs 24:16)    Most of our sin does not lead to death according to 1 John 5:17.  Praise God for that!  Because of Jesus, we can have confidence in God that our prayers will be answered!


1 John 5:16 (KJV)  16 If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.


 PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, You see my life.  Only You know my heart.  Sometimes I feel like I am being wrongly judged and persecuted, even by those who know You.  Lord, please reveal Your reality in my perspective.  Remind me that there is now no condemnation in any of us who know You.  Help us to make life about You and not about ourselves or those who are not walking the way we think they should walk.  Whenever I slip and fall, thank You for picking me up, giving me a little bit more of Your wisdom and love.  Help me not to walk in feelings or in criticsm nor in judgment of others.  Let me keep my face turned in Your direction and pray fervently when I see and feel dissention.  Thank You for Your promise that I can ask anything in the Name of Jesus, and You will do it!  Lord, today, I pray for unity within Your body and unity and peace within Your many individual and unique children!  In the mighty Name of Jesus, I thank You that I have the confidence that this is done!  

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 5:9 (KJV) 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.


Usually, in a legal setting, there are witnesses that come to the stand and swear that they will tell the truth.  When they do this, we tend to believe that what they are saying is true.  Most of the time, we believe them and, if we are the jurors, we make our decisions based on what they have said.  So, if we believe these people that have sworn to tell the truth, then we surely must believe the testimony of God because His testimony is greater than any human testimony.  As humans, we can get it wrong or we can actually take a chance on lying even though we have sworn to tell the truth.  But, God is not like that.  He cannot lie and His perspective is never skewed.  (Numbers 23:19, Genesis 3:5)  God has testified about His Son.  If we truly believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God, we will absolutely know in our hearts that God's testimony is true.  Actually, any testimony coming from God is truth!  Those who don't believe God's testimony, or witness, concerning His Son are in a very dangerous place.  Nobody in their right mind would stand before Almighty God and call Him a liar.  But, essentially, those who do not believe His testimony about Jesus are doing that exact thing.  I'm not sure why anyone would think that they could do such a thing and not receive any punishment from the Lord.  In any case, I surely don't want to be found calling God a liar!  I would venture to guess that you don't either!  (1 John 1:10)  John tells us once again very clearly that God has testified that He has given us eternal life.  The only way we can receive it is through His Son.  (John 14:6, 1 John 5:11)   Do you know Jesus, then you know life and life more abundantly.  (John 10:10)  If you have no Son in your life, you really have no life at all!  If you have any doubt as to whether you really believe God's testimony about His Son, repent now and receive Jesus into your heart as your Lord.  Confess with your mouth that you believe. (Romans 10:9)  You can know life that is abundant now and look forward to eternal life.  This is the record and testimony of God given to us, but we must believe and receive!  


1 John 5:12  12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You Lord that your witness and testimony is true.  Thank You for Your perfect record-keeping, showing me that Jesus is truly Your Son.  Thank You for giving me abundant and eternal life!  There are many who call You a liar by not believing Your testimony.  Father, give me a heart for those who do not believe and help me to spread Your testimony to the world that many would turn from unbelief and believe Your witness.  Thank You that to know You is to know life!  I choose to believe Your testimony today and always. 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 5:6 (KJV)  6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth


I have always known that it is good to keep written records.  I don't always do what I know is good, but several times I have had to check my records when they didn't agree with a legal or financial matters.  How much more important that we know that there is a record of what we believe in Heaven!  There are three that bear record in Heaven.  They are the Father, the Word (which is Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  A record, according to the Greek word used in this verse, means:  a witness, a testimony, giving evidence, obtaining a good and honest report, according to Strong's Dictionary.  (1 John 5:7)  In 1 John 5:6, I see that the Spirit bears witness about Jesus coming by water and blood.  This word, "witness," is the same word used in 1 John 5:7, which is translated, "record."  So, we know that Jesus absolutely did come by water and blood to this earth!  This term, "by water and blood," is one of the harder sayings in the scriptures and many men and women of God have commented on what the exact meaning of it is.  I have my own ideas which I will not state here but here is one of the common ideas about exactly what this term, "by water and blood," means:   NLT Study Bible - 1 John 5:6   And Jesus Christ was revealed as God's Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross (literally This is he who came by water and blood): John's contemporary, the heretic Cerinthus, taught that "the Christ" descended as a spirit on the man Jesus when he was baptized but left him before he died. The truth is that Jesus' baptism and death confirmed his identity as the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus of Nazareth was and is truly the Christ, the Son of God, from the beginning and forever.  Whatever the exact meaning of this verse is, we know that Jesus shed His own blood for our redemption and that He is the living water.  (Ephesians 1:7, John 4:10)  The important thing here is that the Spirit bears witness of these two things because we find them clearly stated in scripture and we know that the Spirit is Truth because the Spirit is not a thing.  The Spirit is the very person of Jesus without a physical body.  God not only provides us with a record or witness by the Spirit, Himself, He provides us a witness or record in Heaven.  A record from three that are in agreement.  (1 John 5:7)  And then, if that's not enough, God provides us with a witness in the earth!  The Spirit and the water and the blood agree that Jesus, in fact, who was the Anointed One (Christ), came by water and blood.  There are so many applications we could make with water and blood, both physically and spiritually.  We could make applications from the Old and New Testaments and even from life today!  Do we not have a wonderful Father?  He does not leave us wondering about whether Jesus Christ came or about the important aspects of His coming.  Our Father leaves us with a witness in Heaven and earth of these things!  He also leaves us room for His ever-increasing revelation about the depth of the meaning of the coming of Christ!  We, among all people and religions, have evidence that we are believing Truth.  We may not understand it all yet, but we know that God will reveal His hidden things to us as we continue to seek Him more and more!  In the meantime, we can stand on the record and witness that God has provided with assurance that we have a Savior who stepped into our world in a physical body and lived a life without sin, died, ascended into Heaven, and now is ever interceding for us, knowing the feeling of everything we endure here on earth!  This is somehow all by water and blood!  And we have the record to prove it!  Have a happy day today knowing that you are covered by the Savior and He has left you evidence of that!


1 John 5:8 (KJV)  8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank you Lord that you have not left me without evidence and record that Jesus, Your Anointed One, came by water and blood.  Thank You for the many ways I can think about the applications of water and blood in the life, and death of Jesus.  Thank You that I don't have to understand everything fully to fully believe what You say because Your Spirit bears witness of all these things and Your Spirit is Truth!  Lead me every day into new and glorious revelation about the water and the blood and about my Savior and all that He endured so I could know the Truth and be set free!  Thank You for Your witness and record in Heaven and in earth.

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 5:1 (KJV)   1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.


It's amazing the lengths that God will go to in order to be sure that we have no excuses about not knowing about His love and His expectations of us!  John speaks over and over again about love!  Sometimes he repeats the very same things again!  First of all, it's important to know for sure that we are born of God.  So, if you're not sure, ask yourself if you believe that Jesus is the anointed One born of God.  As someone in my family used to say, "Better believe it!"  Secondly, if we say we love God, we will also love His Son!  Thirdly, we need to love the children of God.  When we love God, we will keep His commandments and that's how we know that we love all of God's children.  (1 John 5:2)  God wants us to know about obedience, victory, faith, and especially, love!  John assures us that keeping God's commandments is how we show that we love Him.  "Commandment," may seem like a very hard term.  But, really, all of God's commandments are based on His love for us and our love for one another.  They are not rules to restrict us but, rather, standards of love which are not burdensome.  (1 John 5:3)  They're not so heavy that we have to bend at the weight of them.  Really, they are freeing because they are based on love.  In fact, in Matthew 23:4, Jesus describes burdensome things that religion has placed on us.  God never intended us to become burdened down with rules, religious regulations and traditions of men.  Religion has made some of us think that God is mean and His commandments are devised so He can have reason to hit us over the head, or worse!  No!  Relationship with Jesus will change our perspective so that we will know that all of God's commandments come out of His love.  When we obey His commandments because we trust Him enough to love Him, we can, through Him, overcome the world.  I know this world is getting to be a pretty difficult place in which to live.  The tide is now going in the wrong direction.  To overcome, we, as believers, must swim up-stream, against the current, "current"!  To do that constantly is impossible but God gives us the strength through Christ (Philippians 4:13)  And, God gives us the victory through Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14)  Our faith in God and belief that His commands are given to us out of love constitutes our faith.  Faith works by love!  (Galatians 5:6)  So, our obedience, faith and love, bring Christ's victory in our lives.  (1 John 5:4)   Does anyone need to be reminded today that you are a victor and not a victim?  At the root of this reminder is God's love for you and your love for God and others.  The enemy would love to keep you entangled in a victim mentality but the truth is that love conquers all and, in Christ, you are victorious!  So, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Do you love Him by obeying his commands?  Then the victory is yours!  It comes by way of love! 


1 John 5:5 (KJV)  5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Oh Lord, your reminders of love are repeated over and over again.  Sometimes I think I don't need any more reminders; but, knowing about love is a lot different than thinking and acting consistently in love.  So, thanks for the reminders because, just when I think I've really got it, I find out there is more to learn!  Help me to exercise obedience to Your loving commands.  Help me to keep the faith.  Help me to know that I am truly a victor because Jesus brought the victory to me.  Thank you that all of this is true because You love me so much.  I want to spread that love to others.  Sometimes I miss the mark.  Thank you that Love forgives and offers second chances.  Thank you for Your many loving reminders about obedience, victory, faith and love

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:20-21 (KJV)  20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?


While my preference is that people communicate clearly, saying, "I love you," my mother was quite different.  It's not that she didn't say, "I love you," from time to time.  She did, but not as often as I say it and want to hear it said to me.  What she wanted was evidence, not mere verbal declaration.  Our Heavenly Father, no doubt, is touched when we tell Him we love Him.  I remember when my children were small, and it is still true today, my day would be lifted when they would say, "Mommy," (or today Mom), I love you."  Nothing makes me more happy than that except knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me.  He tells me all the time in His Word.  But, like my mother, He also tells us in His Word that we cannot just say, "Father, I love You!"  You see, He loves all of His children.  He wants us all to love one another.  As parents, when we see our children loving one another and caring for one another, are not our hearts warmed to the core?  So, our Father says to us (through John), "Don't just say you love Me, let me see the evidence of that love in how you love one another."  None of us have seen God totally with our eyes but, because Jesus dwells within us (if we have asked Him in).  Love dwells within us.  Love can't deny itself.  So, we can say that we belong to and know the Lord a thousand times over, but if we hate one another, the brutal truth is that we lie!  The evidence of whether we really love God is shown by our feelings and actions toward one another!  So, do we have evidence in our lives, in addition to what we say, that we love God?  John says that, if we can't even love a brother or a sister, whom we can see with our eyes, then how can we love God, whom we have not seen?  Since our brothers and sisters are all made in the image of God, and since He loves us all the same, how can we possibly say that we love God if we hate them?  Liars are from their father, the devil.  So, we are either on the side of the enemy or of God concerning our love for other.  (John 8:44)  Right here, we see another commandment from the Lord concerning love (which is at the core of all God's commandments).  The commandment is that we love one another.  We can't just give God mouth-service.  If we really love God, we're commanded to love one another.  Again, it's not a suggestion and it's not an option.  It's a commandment.  It's actually the evidence, or proof, that we love God when we love one another.  Oh my goodness, I have been searched and found wanting in this area!  Maybe you have too, if you are totally honest with yourself.  The good news is that God is not finished with us yet and, if we fervently desire to walk in love, we can allow God into our hearts and minds and let Him perfect His love in us!  Are we ready to surrender all of our hurts, disappointments, and frustrations from our brothers and sisters and let God lead us in His love toward them, thereby proving that we really do love Him? 


1 John 4:21 (KJV)  21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I am thinking of the old hymn, "Bind us together, Lord.  Bind us together with love."  Please do that today in all of Your children.  Lord, begin in me and with the children, grand-children, and great grand-children You have given me.  Let Your love flow through all those who know You and their families too.  Let Your love flow like a river through all Your children in every denomination, movement, and every home.  Let the world see such evidence of our love for You, by our love for one another, that they will not be able to deny Your existence and Your presence among us!  Let that be a sign to the world that they are invited to join Your family and remain safely in Your love for all eternity.

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:19 (KJV)  19 We love him, because he first loved us.


There's something about being loved first.  The Apostle, John, declares to us that we love God because He first loved us!  God loved us even when we very unlovely!  And, I believe that God loves us even more than we could possibly love Him.  As He perfects His love in us, and as we learn to be more like Him, we will love in a deeper way.  We will love both God and those around us more and more, as long as we are allowing God to perfect His love in us!  I remember when I first met my husband.  He is the only man in my life who pursued me first, telling me that he loved me.  I had been hurt in the past and I really didn't think I loved him, so I did not say so.  Yet, he continued to pursue and declare his love for me.  He sent me flowers and took me to fancy restaurants.  Yet, I still did not tell him I loved him.  It took me a long time to be able to say that.  All the while, I was learning what real love was (and is).  God was starting a process in me to perfect His love.  I'm a slow learner but after about thirty-four years, I am finally learning how to really love!  So, whatever it is that you are going through, know that God has not given up on you.  He's still working in your life to bring you to a greater knowledge of His love.  In His love is included, provision, healing, strength, comfort, deliverance, and anything else you might need for the situation at hand (and for everything else you will ever need in life)!  Another version of 1 John 4:19 says, "We love because He first loved us."  Not only do we learn to love God more and more as we realize that He first loved us.  We can risk loving others because God first loved us and He's not about to let go of us!  If others don't seem so lovable, we can hang in there and keep loving them, truly being an ambassador for Christ!  Because God first loved us, He will teach us how to love others.  (1 Thessalonians 4:9)  The love we hear about from the world is usually akin to something, "warm and fuzzy."  But, real love is most often a labor of love.  (1 Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 6:10)  God's kind of love never fails (though it may require great sacrifice)  (1 Corinthians 13:8)  Jesus said that the most important commandment was that we should love God and the second greatest was like it.  We're commanded to love one another!  (Matthew 22:37-39)  When we obey that commandment, we are becoming more and more conformed to look like our Father, "Love."  There are so many ways we differ with others in our opinions, likes, dislikes, looks, culture, etc.  However, if we focus is on love instead of man-made doctrines, fables and "endless genealogies," we will find ourselves able to succeed in obeying the second greatest commandment with more ease.  (1 Timothy 1:3-6)  What really counts is loving with Godly edification in faith (which works by love).  The purpose of focusing this way is that we will then love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith.  We must not turn to idle talk and the law (except the law of love).  If we want to teach others, we must understand what we teach, know that it comes from the truth of His Word, and realize that it should all be based on love!  God loved us first.  Now we can love others just as Jesus loved us!  God will always love us more than we love Him, so we need not worry about a lack as long as our hearts are bent toward the Father, who is the giver of all good gifts, most importantly love!  You probably love God, but always remember that He loved you first so you could love Him back.  Besides that, when we say, "I love you, Lord," we'll probably hear, whispered back to us,  "Yes, but I love you more!"


Jeremiah 31:3 (KJV)  3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You, Father, that You first loved me!  Thank you that You will teach me to love if I will watch and listen to You.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunities to do labors of love.  Lord, thank You that Your love for me is everlasting and that it is You who are always drawing me to Yourself with love.  Thank You that, as much as I love You, You will always love me more!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:17 (KJV)  17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.


What are you afraid of?  Anything?  What if it were possible to be fearless?  Well, I believe it is!  First of all, God's Word is true.  (Psalm 119:160)  God does not lie!  (Numbers 23:19)  God loves to give His children good gifts.  (James 1:17)  God wants to perfect His love in us.  (1 John 2:5)  When we keep His commandments, His love is perfected in us.  (John 15:10)  Let's just say that you have a child.  Perhaps that child is disobedient.  Do you cast that child away, declaring that he or she is no longer a member of the family?  If you are a good parent you will not do that.  They will always be your child but they may choose to go in a wrong direction.  Because you love that child, you will discipline him or her.  (Proverbs 19:18)  There may be a time of being uncomfortable for you and for the child during that discipline.  But, after the discipline, you will confirm your love to your child and there will be no more judgment from you for the past offense.  That's a mere human scenario.  We are not perfect yet.  We are in a process.  Just think how much more perfectly that works between us and our Heavenly Father.  When we walk as Jesus walked in this world, we are walking in obedience and our love continues to be perfected (or thoroughly finished and accomplished).  When the day of judgment comes, we will not have to fear.  God may have had to discipline us at times, but once we have repented and are back on track, we can continue in the perfecting process.  As long as we continue from there walking in love and obeying the commandments of Jesus (which are totally based on love), we have nothing to fear!  Do we fear certain situations in life?  Do we fear people that are different than we are?  We don't have to!  God loves us all the same, no matter what we look like or what we have done.  However, some of us refuse to believe that, thinking that we have to do something to earn His love.  If you are like me, you were raised in a performance-based atmosphere.  If you did everything right, you were considered, "good."  This sort of thing just fosters fear!  None of us are, "good," so we might as well just end that conversation right here!  (Psalm 53:3, Romans 3:23)  The verses I just mentioned could foster fear in us too, if that's the only words from scripture that we looked at!  But, the whole Word of God eliminates fear with love.  God so loved the world that He sent His Son for you and me so we could loose all fear of condemnation!  (John 3:16-17)  There's not a situation that we face in this life that is not already taken care of by God because of His love for us!  I am remembering the angelic visits to certain people in the scriptures.  Their first words were, "Do not fear."  You see, God has not given us a spirit of fear.  He's given us power.  He's given us a sound and disciplined mind.  Best of all, He's given us love!  (1 Timothy 1:7)  Aren't you glad that God does not just order us not to fear.  Instead, He gives us something to replace fear!  That something is His love!  Fear brings torment to our lives.  We will not risk reaching out to someone that's different because of fear.  We will enter challenging situations in life without hope and strength because of fear.  When we are still reacting in fear, God's love has not been accomplished in us!  But, when we allow God to fully take over our being, fear will have to  go.  God is love and God is already perfect and always was!  The more we surrender to Love, the less fear we are going to have!  It would be very hard to surrender to a slave-driver but  many of us do when we surrender to fear (which is of the devil).  When you think about it, surrendering to Love and letting Him fill you should not be hard!  Lets just go ahead and do that!  Love conquers fear! 


1 John 4:18 (KJV)  18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Heavenly Father, so many times I fear situations and people.  Please help me to realize that You love me so much that You have already provided for my every need and situation.  Thank You for Your love for everyone and I do pray that everyone would receive that love and stop walking in fear.  Lord, when we fear one another, we lash out and hurt each other.  Love is not that way!  Deliver me from all fear by filling me completely with Yourself.  With Your love.  Keep on perfecting Your love in me Lord, please.  I want to walk in perfect love and fear no more!  Thank you that this is entirely possible because of Your love for me!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:14 (KJV)  14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.


When you see something with your own eyes, you become an, "eyewitness."  Your testimony is regarded highly because you actually saw something!  The Apostle, John, want us to know that he and the other apostles are eyewitnesses.  He says that they have seen that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.  They were right there, walking, physically, with the Savior.  They touched Him, saw Him and His miracles with their own eyes and they experienced His love firsthand.  They probably experienced it in the look in His eyes and the pats on their back.  They may have also experienced it in a look of disappointment from Him when they just didn't get it.  They saw no condemnation in His eyes, I am sure.  Why?  Because Jesus did not come into the world to bring us condemnation, but to save us from condemnation!  (John 3:17, Romans 8:1)  Peter perhaps saw, firsthand, that look of disappointment in the wee hours of the morning on the day Jesus was crucified.  Peter had denied three times that he even knew Jesus! (Mark 14:66-72)  Peter also probably saw the look of forgiveness in the eyes of Jesus, firsthand when Jesus, in His resurrected body, had a breakfast of fish prepared for the apostles.  Jesus took Peter aside and gave Peter another chance to follow Him - three times!  (John 21:3-17)  Peter and the others who had been on a boat fishing all night and had caught nothing, saw and heard Jesus yell from the beach to cast their nets on the other side, and when they obeyed, the pulled in a great haul of fish!  They recognized Him as the Savior of the world.  Now, John is testifying to us as an eyewitness.  His testimony to us here is also a fulfillment of a prophecy of Jesus.  He said they would be a witness because they had been with Him from the beginning.  (John 15:27)  Now, because we have been allowed to be the jury in this, "trial," listening to eyewitnesses, we can surely find Jesus to truly be the Savior of the world.  (Luke 2:11)  We see today, with eyes of faith, what the apostles of old saw with their physical eyes.  We confess with our mouths that Jesus is the Son of God.  (Romans 10:9)  We believe in Jesus and God makes us at home with Him and He with us.  (1 John 4:15)  The apostles knew and believed the love that God had for them.  This is a major element in our faith!  Some of us may feel that God doesn't love us so much.  Maybe we have given Him pretty good reason not to love us!  Perhaps we have done some unlovely or downright awful things.  Not to worry!  Forgiveness is available from Jesus, just as it was for Peter!  The biggest reason we do not need to worry is that God is love.  No matter what we do or don't do, we cannot change God.  But, we can let Him change us!  We can gratefully and unconditionally receive His unconditional love for us.  We can honor Him and believe His Word by trusting in His unfailing love.  We can say and truly believe that God loves us with a never-ending love because He is love.  We can say and believe that we can't do anything to make Him love us any more or any less than He already does!  When we know just how much we are loved, we won't have any fear of anything!  (1 John 4:18)  And, because we know that we are loved by Love, Himself, we can overcome the world by our belief in His Son!  Like the apostles, we can know and believe the love that God has for us, inviting Love to live in us.  We can rest and abide in Love that will never change or fail!  Knowing and believing God's love for us is a wonderfully secure place to be.  Do we really know and believe that in the depths of our heart?  If we do, nothing can stop us from being agents for change in this dark world! 


1 John 4:16  16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Wow, Lord, thank You for telling me over and over again that You love me!  Thank You for Your looks of love toward me, Your pats on my back when I do things that please you.  But, thank You most of all that Your love for me does not change when I mess up and do things that are not too pleasing.  Thank You for Your loving forgiveness and for loving me enough to give me second chances.  Thank You that You are Love and that I cannot change that.  Thank You for allowing me to unconditionally receive Your unconditional love!  Help me never to turn my back on love but, instead to spread it around everywhere I go!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:13 (KJV)  13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.


When I was a young girl and even up to my earthly father's death, whenever I left, He would say. "Be careful."  It really irritated me!  I wasn't sure why I had to be so, "careful."  Later on, I realized it was his care for his daughter that drove him to constantly remind me and repeat those words, "Be careful."  Since then, I have learned that I can cast all of my cares upon Jesus because He cares for me.  (1 Peter 5:7)    I have also learned that I must use wisdom in everything I say and do and wherever I am.  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)   I have learned (at least in my head and, hopefully, in my heart) that I don't need to be afraid.    In fact, when I am so afraid that I am hearing those words, "Be careful," over in my head, I have to renew my mind with my Heavenly Father's Words.  (Romans 12:1)  I know my Dad loved me to bits and pieces but he did not really learn that we are not supposed to worry. (Matthew 6:34).   I wish he did, but He didn't.  In fact, he once told me that he wasn't happy unless he had something to worry about!  This is in direct opposition to what God says in His Word.  In some ways, my Dad was a baby Christian.  He believed in Jesus but he seemed to be unable to press in to His Word and cling to the creative power in it.  I believe that love covers a multitude of sins and my Dad was doing the best he knew how for me.  (1 Peter 4:8)     But, it's my choice now to look into my Heavenly Father's Word and begin to try to speak it in every situation.  That's how Jesus defeated the enemy (who is all about trying to keep us down by distracting us from the Word of God and from the fellowship of His Spirit). (Matthew 4:1-11) Well, the Apostle, John, is telling us once again that we can know for sure that we dwell in Christ and that Christ dwells in us.  We have been told this again and again throughout the New Testament.  It's a constant and repeated reminder!  Like my Dad, who really didn't want anything to happen to me, our Heavenly Father constantly reminds and repeats to us those things that will keep us safely dwelling in Him.  Today, we can know that this mutual abiding with Jesus is true!  One of the key words in 1 John 4:13 is the word, "hereby."  In saying,"hereby," John is referring to the passages just before this one which are all about loving one another.  Again, we are reminded that it's all about love!  This verse refers us back to love, abiding, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We can know that we abide in God because we love Him, we obey His commandments (which are all about love), and we abide in Him and He in us because the Holy Spirit bears witness with our Spirit to that and is the guarantee of our eternal abiding with the Lord! (1 John 2:3,1 John 5:6-10))    Have you ever thought of that?  Are you sure that you know that you dwell in Him?  The reminder we find here in 1 John 4:13, is to help us remember that we can, and must, know this!  If we have any doubts, the enemy will use that "crack in the door, " to gain a foothold and then, if we don't recognize him for who he is, he will have a stronghold.  We can listen to things people say and get it wrong, even as I lived my life hearing my Dad say, "Be careful."  Instead of walking around with God's peace, I was filled with anxiety because I always felt that I needed to be careful about something!  Even well-meaning people can speak words that are contrary to God's Word into our lives and the enemy will have a field day with them.  Let's determine to stay in God's Word, check out everything that is said to us through that Word, and continually renew our minds until we, by constant and repeated reminders know that we know that we know!


1 John 3:24 (KJV)  24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.



PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I admit that I am not fond of having someone remind me and repeat things over and over again to me.  But, Lord, I also know that I am one of the sheep in Your pasture.  You are the Great Shepherd, the loving Shepherd.  I know that sheep are dumb, Lord.  You have given me intelligence so that I can operate successfully while on this earth but help me to remember, that Your thoughts are so much higher than mine.  Help me to humble myself and realize that, just when I think I've, "got it," and don't need any more reminders, I've become proud before You!  Thank you that every one of Your thoughts and principles have deeper and deeper meanings and applications for my life.  Gentle Shepherd, help me never to tire of being close to you even if You do constantly remind me and repeat these things.  Thank you that it sinks deeper and deeper into my being each time I hear it again! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:11 (KJV)  11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.


Can I start out saying, "Beloved?"  Why am I asking this?  Because I want you to know that you are loved.  You are well loved and dearly loved with an unconditional love that wants the very best for you!  It is the same word that God used when He spoke of Jesus when He said He was well pleased with Him!  (Matthew 3:17)  It is the same word used by Paul when he is speaking of warning his, "beloved" ones to whom he has ministered.  (1 Corinthians 4:14)  God extravagantly and sacrificially loved us when He sent Jesus to live, die and be raised for us.  So, my well-loved brothers and sisters in Christ, we ought to love one another.  Does that mean that the other will always love us back?  Not really.  Does it mean that the other will always be lovely?  Not necessarily.  We all go through situations and seasons where we perhaps are not following God closely enough in love and not looking very lovely to others.  1 John 4:11 indicates, though, that if (and there's really no, "if," about it) God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  How did God, "so," love us?  He gave a piece of Himself!  (John 3:16)  It's so interesting that God showed us this kind of love when we were still His enemies! (Romans 5:8)  Is that the way we show our love to one another?  Will we love when another seems to be our enemy, considering that we are not really fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers?  (Ephesians 6:12)  If you and I were to admit it, we'd probably have to say that we're not always the most lovable creatures!  If you catch us at just the right moment, a weak moment, we might not look very worthy of love.  But, God so loved us, nevertheless!  That's how we ought to love one another.  Sometimes we have to make allowances for others by loving them despite their poor decisions and momentary spiritual lapses.  Loving one another is not a suggestion or even an option.  It's a commandment right from the mouth of Jesus!  (John 15:12)  Again, according to Jesus, it cannot be just any brand or style of love.  It must be the same love with which Jesus loved and still loves us!  If we only got a glimpse of that love, we could not help but love one another!  As we know, God does not parade Himself in front of us in the flesh!  Or, does He?  We have probably all met someone who really exudes the love of God.  When we're in their presence, we feel loved, we are encouraged and uplifted, and there is a peace in the atmosphere.  This is the love of God being perfectly expressed through another.  Though we can't see God in person, we can see God in one another when His love is perfected in us.  When we love one another, God makes His abode in us.  His love is then accomplished, consummated, and completed in us.  That's what the word, "perfected," means.  Isn't it awesome that God would choose the likes of us to show His love perfected?  Isn't it totally amazing that this is even a possibility?  But, God doesn't lie!  You and I can be a picture of His perfect love expressed by loving one another!  This is such a blessing and we can be such a blessing to others in this way!  I'm excited that a miracle can come from my life (and yours).  The perfect expression of the love of God can flow through us if we're willing to let it!  Let's be willing!


1 John 4:12 (KJV)  12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, this all sounds so good to me.  How is it that I can be an expression of Your perfect love?  Please help me to be willing to be willing to put petty things away and just love others without judging or criticizing.  Help me to love enough to say the truth in love.  Help me to totally hate sin but extravagantly love the one who may have fallen into a mud hole in life.  Jesus, make me an instrument and vessel that carries that precious commodity which is Your perfect love.  Help it to spill out on everyone I meet.  Thank You that this is possible because You first loved me! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:9-10 (KJV)   9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.


God could have just told us, His creation, that He loved us.  He could have just left us with the Holy Scriptures and asked us to believe.  But, He did not do that.  He loved us so much that He wanted to show Himself to us.  There is just one problem with that.  He is so righteous and holy, and humanity is so sinful, that no one can look upon Him and live!  (Exodus 33:20)  So, the love in God for us welled up in Him in such a way that He could do nothing but reach from Heaven to where we are with His Son.  That was definitely love in action.  Jesus came to earth and was born as, "one of us."  He gave up His heavenly rights to come and live as one of us on earth for approximately thirty-three years, enduring and overcoming anything and everything that you and I will ever feel or go through!  Then He died.  But, He rose again!  Again, that is love in action.  Excruciatingly sacrificial action.  But, victorious action!  Our God, who is love, showed us Himself in Jesus!  (John 14:7-11)  You and I can get to feeling pretty good about ourselves sometimes, can't we?  But, the bottom line is that we didn't love God.  He loved us.  Even now, we only love God as much as we obey Him! (Deuteronomy 30:16,  John 14:15)  God showed you and I how to love by His love in action.  While it's true that we cannot do good deeds to earn our way to Heaven, if we really love God, it will show in our actions.  God's love toward us showed in His sending Jesus so that we could see a real live person on earth with the face of God!  There is a beautiful song entitled, "Mary, Did You Know?'  Some of the words are spoken to Mary asking her if she knew that, "when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God."  You and I cannot see Jesus in the flesh today but we have the words that He left with us from eyewitnesses who actually saw God, in the person of His Son.  (John 3:11)  You and I read the accounts of these eyewitnesses and we believe and are blessed.  (John 20:29)  By faith, we can see God!  We see Him acting in love in the life of Jesus.  We see Him sending us a piece of Himself so that we can have the assurance of His love!  (John 1:18)  God so loved____________.... Write your name in the blank.  (John 3:16-17)  That's His love for you, in action!  Before God's drastic action, there was no way we could have eternal life and be reconciled to Him.  We did not love Him!  But, He loved us and made a way for our passage back to Him.  (1 John 5:11-13)  As the old hymn says, "Only Believe."  God's love for you and me provoked Him to sacrificial action because He wanted us back so badly that He was willing to give His own Son!  Because of the great love of the Father for disobedient and sinful children, Jesus gave His life.  Our sins are wiped out by His atoning sacrifice.  That's love in action!  How will our love for God show in our actions toward Him and toward others today?


1 John 4:10 (KJV)  10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Oh Lord, Your love for me is boundless and unfailing!  Thank You so very much for putting that love into action when you sent Jesus to die for my sin and then be raised again to live forever, always interceding for me!  Help me, Lord, to show my love for You and for others by my actions.  Many times, my actions don't look so loving!  For those times, I ask for Your forgiveness and for Your help to turn around and take a second look at Your love in action.  Then, please Lord, help me to follow in Your loving footsteps!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:7 (KJV)  7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.


Lately, the more I read scripture the more I see that the main theme of scripture is love.  It's about God, but then, who is God, but Love?  Yes, God is righteous and holy and we need to reverently fear Him enough to lovingly and willingly worship and serve Him.  (Ecclesiastes 12:13)  And yes, God does sometimes discipline His children.  But, God's discipline is also a sign of His love for us.  He has told us, as humans, that if we do not discipline our children, we hate them.  (Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 19:18)    That's quite the opposite of what most people are thinking in our day.  And, look at the mess we're in! Many have not shown love for their children by nurturing, as well as disciplining them.  This is not so with our perfect Heavenly Father.  It's all about God's character, His essence.  His very being.  It's all about love.  (Hebrews 12:6)  Our Father loves you and me enough to discipline us so that we will not be like a wild vine that produces no fruit.  If we trace everything about God and everything God does back to it's root, what we will find is......... Love!  That's why there's so much emphasis on love in the scriptures.  The scriptures are His-story!  He wants us to, "grow up," to be just like Him!  That's why John writes, in so many ways, "Love one another."  If you encounter a person who has no love within them, you know you have encountered someone who has not received Jesus as Savior.  Because the only way to really know God is to receive His Son, that person with no love knows not God.  Know Love - know God!  No love - no God!  This sort of love that John is urging us to develop is not just words or some mushy feeling.  It's a decision to look out for another and act.  It's a decision to always want what is best for one another and sacrifice, if necessary, to make sure that happens.  Do you know that God loves you, even if you are feeling the sting of discipline?  (Hebrews 12:11)  God's loving discipline is for our training in righteousness.  It's to make us better than before!  Look at the love of our Father.  He works individually with each of His children.  What a job!  He meets us where we are and through love (sometimes tough love), He helps make us the person He made us to be.  To meet our highest potential.  To be like Himself!  Why is there so much emphasis on love in the scripture?  Why are we repeating these things over and over again?  Because God is love!  Because we need to call on Love every moment of our lives!  Love listens, cares, comforts, strengthens, delivers, answers, provides, gives, helps....  I don't think we can really end the previous sentence.  Love is everythingLove is GodGod is love!  The more we love, the better we know God!  Do you love?  How can we show love as we go through this day?  How can we show God to a world in need of real love?  Let's make a decision to find ways and then do it!


1 John 4:8 (KJV)  8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Dear Father Love, I am so thankful for You.  So thankful that Your very essence is that of love.  Teach me to love You more and love others more!  I want to know You better and better.  Thank You, also, that You love me enough to reign me in and discipline me when I go astray.  Help me always to remember that Your love is perfectly balanced and that You will lovingly do whatever it takes to see that I grow up to be just like You!  You are perfect and holy, Lord.  I'm thankful that what makes You perfect and holy is the love that is at the depth of Your being. 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:4 (KJV)  4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.


What would you do if you were sure you could not fail?  What would you attempt to accomplish if you knew you could overcome any obstacle in your way?  Well, the truth is that, if you're a follower of Christ, you cannot fail!  The Victor lives within you.  You are more than a conqueror!  (Romans 8:37)  There is no obstacle that is too big for you to overcome!  You have the power, by faith, to move mountains!  The One who moves them lives within you!  (Mark 11:23)  All we have to do is continue to say a thing and continue to believe.  The Apostle, John, tells us (and he's speaking to those who truly follow Christ) that, even though there are antichrist spirits at work in this world, we have no part with them.  We are of God.  We are all little children of God!  We are overcomers!  Not by our intellect or our cleverness, or any other human trait.  We have overcome the spirits of antichrist because the One living in us is greater than those evil spirits that roam the world.  We overcome, not by our might or our power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Zechariah 4:6)  He that is in us is the Spirit of Jesus!  At the mention of the Name of Jesus, eventually everything in heaven, on earth, and under the earth is going to have to bow.  The victory is already declared by the Father.   (Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10)  The antichrist spirits come from the devil and they now have some power in the world.  They operate in the world and speak the things of the world.  Those in the world who are unaware listen to them and pay attention.  (1 John 4:5)  No wonder we should shine forth as light in such a dark place as this world!  (Matthew 5:16)  Some who are now listening to the spirits of antichrist in this world may be won by one who will step out and remember that the greater One lives within them.  If God has called that one trapped now by the darkness, who knows if we will be the one to shed enough light for them to come out of the dark tunnel in which they have become buried!  When we follow Christ, we are of God.  We are His little children.  Our Daddy is bigger than the devil, who is spreading lies and deceiving those in the world.  We know that our Daddy always hears us!  Although we may feel like the only one around us who is trying to live for our Heavenly Father, there are others!  We must not give in to the Elijah Complex!  (Romans 11:2-5)  Not only are we victorious because the Victor lives in us; the Victor has also left others here to encourage us and remind us to keep on going because we are surely going to walk in triumph with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, whose Spirit now dwells in us!  (2 Corinthians 2:14)  Just yesterday I met a very kind and helpful man in the bank.  But, he was more than that.  He didn't have to say it out loud.  It showed in how he spoke to me and tried very hard to help me with my banking business!  He was another believer!  He heard what I had to say and I heard what he had to say!  He was of God and we could listen to one another.  On the other hand, I have come across those who will not hear me or even try to hear me.  It's that the war is between the spirits of truth and error.  Not between people!  (1 Corinthians 10:3-4, Ephesians 6:12)  We can know, if we follow Jesus, that His Spirit lives in us.  That Spirit is greater than any evil spirit or spirit of error in this world.  We can know that some will hear us because they carry that same Spirit inside of them.  Most of all, we can know that, although sometimes the battles are rough and uncomfortable, we win.  It is all through Christ and because our Daddy loves us so much!  Go ahead, reach out and try what God tells you to try.  Speak to those mountains that get in the way and do not doubt.  You are an overcomer!  Greater is He that is in you than anything you will encounter in this world!  


1 John 4:6 (KJV)  6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You Father, that all through scripture, You remind me that I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony!  Thank You that You assure me that You always lead me to triumph through Christ!  Help me not to be afraid when the battle gets rough, when it seems no one relates to me, when I get tired, and when the mountains in life seem insurmountable.  Please, Lord, help me to keep on believing and declaring the victory that You have already won for me!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 4:1 (KJV)  1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.


My parents and grandparents used to use that phrase, "Don't believe everything you hear."  Many will tell you what you want to hear just to avoid conflict or to be downright deceitful.  Some people tell you things you don't want to hear.  For example, during the political campaigns here in America, the e-mail's were flying, each side telling, "things," about the other side.  No matter which side you were on, there were things were said in those e-mail's that were untrue.  And, it was on both sides.  Thank God that, if we are believers, we're on the side of The Truth!  However, there is someone who hates the truth.  He will twist it and turn it and use it deceptively to wage war on and try to win the children of God.  He is determined to handily destroy us!  He already has control over many men and women in this world and they promote his lies.  That's why the Apostle, John, tells us not to believe every spirit.  Although many would try to deny it, there are two different kinds of spirits in the world today.  The spirits of Truth and the spirits of the anti-Truth!  So, we will not believe everything we hear.  We must do what John says to do.  Test the spirits.  Now, hold on to your seat.  If you are not in total agreement with another who says he or she is a Christian, that is not a valid test.  It's true that many false prophets are in this world today.  Sometimes we tend to test them, using as a standard like what kind of music they like, whether they like pews or chairs in a church, and a number of other frivolous things that have to do with men's likes and opinions.  No. The scripture is clear on how to test the spirits!  Number one:  they confess that Jesus Christ was born in the flesh.  That He truly came to earth as a real baby and lived a life in the flesh for approximately thirty-three years.  Number two:  If a spirit does not confess (or declare and believe) that Jesus came to earth in an earthly body, this is a spirit of anti-Truth (or antichrist).  There are plenty of these, "antichrists," in this world.  So, let's go back to one of the main themes of John's writings.  We're supposed to love one another.  When we start fighting each other over the non-essentials, the real enemy has a heyday.  In fact we help him with his work!  Instead of destroying one another, let's determine to love one another and use the two-step test that scripture outlines in 1 John 4:2-3!  We know that the spirit of antichrist is already in our world.  It is a spirit of non-belief, lies, and deceit.  It ends in death.  Praise God, you and I are soldiers of the Spirit of Truth.  It is Christ that will hang on to us, strengthen us, help us to keep believing and confessing Him as much of the world tries to say that He never really came to earth at all!  It's true, we are in a war.  But, not against each other, no matter what sign hangs over the door of where we worship.  We need to join forces and stand for and with the King of the Kingdom of God.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  We need to expose the darkness of unbelief and be vessels from whom the Spirit of Truth can flow!  Don't believe everything you hear!  Believe and confess that Jesus came to earth as a real baby over two thousand years ago!  When you find people that do not believe and confess that, you know you have come up against the spirit of antichrist!  When that happens, don't believe a word that comes from that spirit and do not in any way unite with it.  Light has no place in darkness!  

1 John 4:3 (KJV)  3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, please help me not to fight against other believers about lesser things.  Let Your love flow through me into every part of Your Kingdom.  But, Lord, please do help me to do what you said and watch out for those who do not confess and believe that You truly came in the flesh.  Thank You for making the testing so simple for me!  Thank You that, going forward, I will be careful, by Your grace, not to believe everything I hear but that I will continue to believe You and confess that openly!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:24 (KJV)  24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.


I really like to be sure of things in life.  I like to know that I am secure.  I would think that most people are like that.  There's nothing more important than being sure that we know that we're abiding in Jesus and He in us!  How do we know that?  We know that we are abiding in Jesus and He in us when we keep His commandments.  (1 John 2:3)  How do we know if we are keeping His commandments?  (1 John 2:6)  We will find ourselves walking more and more like Jesus walked.  I have to confess, here, that I am not there yet!  I want to walk like Jesus but many times my flesh will rise up and I will walk like I want to walk! (Matthew 26:41)  John is very repetitive in his writings.  Since all the scriptures are breathed by God's Spirit through the writers, I guess God is really interested in you and I knowing that we know that we know these principles inside and out.  For instance, John mentions, "knowing," more than once.  In 1 John 5:2, John tells us how we can know that we love the children of God (which is the second greatest commandment).  Being sure of things in life, especially being sure that we love God, and love whom He loves, is really important.  John repeats it over and over again!  In 1 John 3:24, we are told that we can know that Jesus lives in us.  We know by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us.  He repeats that too!  It's repeated in 1 John 4:13.  It's repeated in other places in scripture too.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:22, that God has sealed us with His Spirit and put His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of what is to come.  Paul writes in Ephesians 1:14, that the Holy Spirit, in us, is a deposit.  He is Someone that guarantees our inheritance until the final redemption of those who belong to God.  I'm beginning to see a pattern of repetition here about knowing for a surety that Jesus lives in us.  I'm beginning to see that it is all explained over and over again many times throughout the New Testament.  It is by the Holy Spirit that God has placed in us that we know that Jesus lives in us.  It's a personal thing.  Yet, it is also a corporate thing because when we carry the Spirit of God, it bears witness with others who also carry His Spirit.  It's all a wonderfully mysterious thing; but a thing in which we can be secure and know!  Obviously because of the repetitiveness of this subject, we need to be reminded again and again.  If we didn't it would not be in the scripture so many times.  I know, for sure, that I need the reminders.  I have such a tendency to be that one dumb sheep that wanders off at times not realizing that I am walking straight toward a cliff!  Thank the Lord, there are reminders for me all through the scripture, and through men and women of God, who will encourage me and help me to remember that I belong to the Shepherd and His Spirit is in me!  In all of these reminders, I have hope and so do you!


Romans 5:5 (KJV)  5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Spirit.  Thank You for giving this imperfect vessel Your very own Spirit to help me know that I am Yours now, and forever.  Please, please, help me to obey Your commandments, not because I have to in order to avoid punishment; but, because I love You enough to want to please You.  I am not where I want to be but thank You that, by Your Spirit's guidance in my life, You will bring me to a place that is totally pleasing to You!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:23 (KJV)   23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.


I once sat through a sermon where the pastor took the whole time just reading scripture after scripture.  The congregation, at least most of them, were squirming around in their seats and most of the looked as if they couldn't believe that he would do that.  They seemed disinterested and bored!  They were hearing the pure Word but they were irritated (and some probably mad) that the preacher would just read scripture after scripture.  Of course, all the scripture was well organized and it flowed, proving that the Lord does speak through all scripture and all scripture really goes together to form His direction, will, and plan for us.  Reading through 1 John once again, and also reading through many other books of the Bible, scripture can almost be summarized in three words:  believing, obeying, and loving.  Everything hinges on love.  I heard the other day that the hinge to the door of salvation was on the door of a stable over two thousand years ago.  This hinge had to do with God's love for a people who had become quite unruly and unloving!  (John 3:16)  Faith only works by love.   (Galatians 5:6)  If it is impossible to please God without faith, and faith works by love, we can't please God unless we love!  (Hebrews 11:6)  Also, we know that. when asked about which was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, "love."  (Mark 12:28-31)  We also know that Jesus said that, if we love Him, we will obey His commandments."  (John 14:15)  Well, we cannot love God and love Jesus unless we first believe!  (John 20:29)  It all goes together quite well; belief, obedience, and love.  Love holds it all together too.  (1 Corinthians 13:13)  You really can't have one without the other!  Out of everything, love is one of the three things that will always remain!  No wonder it is a theme, along with obedience and faith, that is repeated again and again through scripture.  We hear the Lord teach on it and we see it (or the lack of it) in many of the characters we read about in His Word.  He's got the same theme going, just like that pastor that seemed to irritate many of the people by repeating scripture.  Although these things are repeated by God many times, we can't fail to get something new and practical out of it every time we read it again!  His Holy Spirit applies it to our hearts and lives - believe, obey, love.....  Do you get irritated when God repeats things over and over in scripture?  Do you put your Bible down once you have read it and think you've got it.  As they say, "You've got another thing coming!"  And so do I.  His word is always new and ever deeper and His Spirit directs us and builds us in belief, obedience, and love.  Go ahead, I double-dare you.  Read it again and again with the heart of one seeking to know your Savior better and to begin to look more and more like Him.  You won't be asking those questions, "What?  Are You saying it again?"  You'll begin to have a clearer picture of Jesus and you'll be saying, as an old hymn says, "Tell me over and over again!"  If God didn't think it was so important that we really, really, "get it," He wouldn't say it over and over again.  What a shame that would be!  God loves us so much that He is willing to say these things over and over again and give them ever-new meaning in every area of our lives!  Believe.  Obey.  Love.  Because God first loved us and His love will never fail!  He proves that by sending His Spirit into all those who believe and love Him enough to obey His commandments!  (1 John 3:24)


 Matthew 22:35-40 (KJV)  35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,  36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?   37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.   38 This is the first and great commandment.    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I'm so thankful that You know my needs so well.  You know that I need to be reminded all of the time about believing, obeying, and loving.  Thank You for loving me enough to do that for me, helping me to see all of the good You have for me when I begin to get these concepts on a deeper and deeper level.  Thank You for Your presence in my life.  The presence of a Love that will not fail and a Love that will help me to constantly be more and more like You! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:20 (KJV)  20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.


Have you ever had your heart condemn you?  In other words, has your conscience ever been pricked because you feel that you have done something wrong or perhaps not done something that you should have done?  It could be that our thoughts are, "right on."  Or, it could be that we have tapped into a guilt trap laid out for us by the devil.  Whatever it is, we can look back on our actions, and if they are good, we do not need to feel any condemnation.  (1 John 3:19)  In fact, we know that if we are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation in us!  (Romans 8:1)  When Paul talks about being in Christ Jesus, here, he is not just talking about saying we are in Jesus.  He is talking about showing that we are in Christ by not walking in the flesh.  God sees everything we think and everything we do!  He knows our motives better than we do!  If we are feeling pricked in our conscience about a particular thing, God is greater than our heart.  He is greater than that, thing!  If we look back at our action (or it may be a lack of action) and it is not good, we know we need to repent quickly.  To turn around from what we have been doing wrong.  To stop going down the wrong road.  We need to quickly turn around and see the loving and forgiving face of Jesus beckoning us to follow Him and leave the wrong behind.  When are heart does not condemn us and our conscience is clear, we will have confidence in God.  That means we can come to Him in assurance.  We can trust Him to hear our hearts cries and answer our prayers.  (1 John 3:21)  Why does God answer our prayers anyway?  It is written out for us in several places in the scripture and John gives it to us again in 1 John 3:22.  Many people love to quote the first part of this verse because it's a wonderful promise!  "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him..."  But, we can't stop there!  Why will we receive from the Lord when we ask Him for something?  Well.... We need to remember to quote the whole verse.  God will answer us because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight.  Even though the first part of 1 John 3:22 is many times quoted, the rest is oftentimes left out.  God is certainly a loving Heavenly Father but, like any parent, He wants obedient children.  He wants us to grow up to look like Him.  That is not possible if we don't like what He likes and do what He says to do.  His commandments are not burdensome.  They may feel like they are at times, yet, when we look back, we can see that He only gives commands that are for the good of His children!  So, do we sometimes wonder if God is answering our prayers?  When we wonder, can we look closely at all of 1 John 3:22 with a clear conscience, knowing that we keep His commandments (which are all fulfilled in love) and that we are doing what is pleasing in His sight?  If so, we can know that, in due time, we will receive whatever we ask of Him.  That will be because our minds and hearts are set on Him and His desires (which are always good).  It will be because we have changed our desires and requests to be in line with His desires!  That's why prayers are answered!  


1 John 3:22 (KJV)  22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You, Father, for the blood of Jesus that cleanses from all sin and for the fact that He did not come to condemn the world but to save those who would receive Him.  Thank You for saving me and delivering me from condemnation.  Thank You for forgiving me when I turn to You in repentance.  Help me to turn quickly.  Thank You for Your answer to all of my prayers!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:17-18 (KJV)  17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?


I must confess that I have always thought of John as being the most loving of all the apostles.  Reading through some his writings again, I realize that he was loving, but not in a sloppy or sentimental way.  He was a man of loving action.  He is the one that stayed by the cross and then took Mary, the mother of Jesus, into his own home.  Quite a sacrifice to take care of another person's parent!  Some of us have difficulty in graciously and compassionately caring for our own parents when they begin to age!  John did not just talk about love.  He demonstrated it in his own life!  He did not just tell us where to get down to, "where the rubber meets the road."  He showed us how!  Most of us that are reading this have a home, electricity, a computer, etc., etc.  Many in this world have nothing.  We cannot save the whole world but we can use what we have to help a brother or sister in the Lord when we are given the opportunity.  Is there anyone around us who is not living as well as we are?  Do we have anything to contribute to their lives to make life easier for them?  There are actually probably many opportunities as we go about our business if we would just open our eyes.  Don't we get our minds on our own agendas sometimes and forget that God's agenda has to do with other people?  Does God's compassion dwell within us?  If it does not (and it will show in deed and in truth), John rightfully wonders if God's love can be in us!  It's not enough to just say, "I love you," although that is a great start.  Here's where, "the rubber meets the road."  Those words must be backed up and proven to be true by our actions!  (1 John 3:18)  I have missed many an opportunity to show compassion, although, in general, that is my desire.  Looking back on our lives we can look at our actions and be able to know that we belong to the Truth.  Jesus went about doing good.  (Acts 10:38)  Yes, Jesus taught and preached and cleansed the temple.  All of that was good in its own way.  But, He didn't stop there.  He healed those who were oppressed by the devil.  He fed hungry people.  It was His practice to use some of the money supplied for His ministry and His own needs to help the poor.  (John 13:29)  That's just the way Jesus was.  He went about doing good!  His actions proved His words were true and they proved that He belonged to His Father.  So, He was confident before His Father, just as we can be confident when we stand before God when we have walked our talk!  (1 John 3:19)  Finally, "in letters of crimson," as the song says, God wrote, "I love you," on a hill called Calvary.  It was then that Jesus stretched out His arms on an old rugged cross and said, "I love you this much."  Then He hung His head and died.....  He proved His love in His the giving of Himself.  By taking action.  We, who were poor in spirit, can now receive salvation and forgiveness!  What opportunities are in front of us today?  Opportunities to back up our talk with our walk and give something of what we have to those less fortunate?  Good deeds certainly will not win us a ticket to Heaven; but they will show that God is living in us now.  They will show that we belong to the Truth.  They will help us to be confident before God.  And, they just might help someone look up to Jesus when they see His  compassion flowing out of us toward them!  That's how to love with God's love!


James 2:15-16 (NLT)  15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, fill me with Your compassion and help me express it somehow everyday, as I see those in need.  I am so thankful for all that You have given me!  Help me to be like Your Son, Jesus, and go about doing good wherever, and whenever, You present me with the opportunity!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:14 (KJV)  14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.


Most of the time when we say that someone has, "passed," we are commonly speaking of the passing on of someone in death.  However, I'm so glad that the Kingdom of God is upside down, compared to this world's negative thinking about death!  Here in 1 John 3:14, John says that we know that we have passed from death to life because we love others!  When we don't love others, John says that we make our dwelling place in death!  Obviously, coffins and urns are not the only places that we find dead people.  There are lots of dead people walking.  And, the sad truth is that some of them walk in and out of our churches every Sunday!  Normally, when we think of someone passing, it brings on a sense of grief.  But, there is not grief in this passing that John is speaking of.  Only joy!  We are walking around in a world that is going to really pass away one day.  It is a dying world.  But we, my brothers and sisters in Christ, have already passed.  We have not passed from life to death, and we won't ever do that, because there is no more death for us.  Only passing from abundant life here to abundant and eternal life!  Just a walk through the graveyard of this world into the Paradise of being with Jesus and others who love unconditionally!  Of course, there is the flip side of this.  We cannot pass from death to life if we do not love people!  God is all about people.  Honestly, have you ever thought that this world would be a whole lot better without people in it?!?  After all, people are the ones who cause all of our disappointments and hurts, are they not?  God knows that but He still loves people anyway.  We should be very glad about that sort of unconditional love because we, too, are, "people."  Even if we haven't meant to, we've caused hurt and distress in the lives of others.  Maybe we have just decided to live our lives as if those people who have hurt us are no longer alive, having no love in our hearts for them at all.  That doesn't work in God's Kingdom!  He still loves them and, if they have done something really wrong, as long as they are alive, He's giving them a chance to repent!  That's pretty extravagant love!  Part of the flip side of 1 John 3:14 is 1 John 3:15 where John, the loving apostle, says quite directly that if we hate someone else (no matter what they have done to us), we are a murderer!  Oh my!  No unrepentant murderers will receive eternal life!  Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled?  If we do not love, that means we have not passed from death to life.  We're still dead people walking!  John also makes it clear that, after this world, there is no eternal life if we are not loving people.  When we receive Jesus, we've got to love Him enough to love whom He loves.  And, that's everybody!  Everyone will not receive that love, but everyone has the chance.  (John 3:16)  The loving apostle gets ever more direct as he goes on in 1 John 3:16.  He lets us know that we can only recognize God's love because He laid down His life for us!  Wow!  That's amazing and wonderful!  God did something spectacular so we could recognize His love for us.  Something agonizingly sacrificial!  Praise Him for His love toward us in this way!  Here's the kicker.....  the last part of 1 John 3:16 says that we ought to go and do the same!  That's what real love does.  It sacrifices for another, even for an unlovely one (which we were when Jesus died for us).  When we find ourselves living that way, we will know that we have passed from death to life!  No more death!  Only the journey from abundant life here to eternal life with Jesus!


John 15:12-13 (KJV)  12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I am far from where You want me to be in loving others.  Help me to have such a heart of gratitude for the way You have loved me that I cannot help but look on others with that same love!  I can't do this by myself.  I am so often critical and judgmental!  I need Your strength.  I need You to walk with me, always flowing through me, so that I might touch others with Your love and so that they might pass it along to others, just as You wish!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:11 (KJV)  11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.


The theme of much of the Apostle, John's, writing is that of love.  Once again he is telling us over again about the message of love.  He says that we have heard it from the beginning.  Some people today get tired when their pastors repeat things over and over again.  But, the apostles of old didn't tire of repeating things for their readers.  Peter did.  (2 Peter 1:12)  Jude did.  (Jude 1:5)  Paul did.  (Titus 3:1)  John does several times.  In a world that throws the word, "love," around very lightly, it is good for us to be reminded, as John does here in 1 John 3:11 that we should be filled with love for one another.  Then, John points out the end result of not loving one another when he compares Cain with Abel. (1 John 3:12)  Cain was the wicked one that killed his brother, Abel.  He killed Abel because he knew Abel was righteous.  Cain was very angry with his brother because God accepted Abel's sacrifice but did not accept Cain's.  (Genesis 4:3-5) Cain did not walk in obedience.  He did not walk in righteousness.  When Cain felt the pain of the rejection of God for not being obedient, instead of working it out with God, he took Cain off into the field alone and murdered him.  (Genesis 4:8)  Cain was jealous.  Cain was angry.  (Genesis 4:6-7)      Jealousy and bitter anger have no place in a child of God.  God doesn't leave us in the dark any more than He left Cain in the dark.  God wanted Cain to make the right decision voluntarily but Cain chose to let sin master him.  When sin is our master, we usually end up hurting other people instead of loving them.  It's interesting that Jesus said that, even if we are angry with a brother or a sister without a cause, such as Cain was with Abel, we have already committed murder.  We are not any better than Cain in that instance!    (Matthew 5:22)  Even if we do have cause to be angry with another, God has told us exactly how to deal with it.  There are a few things we must do with anger.  Matthew 5:23-24, indicates that God will not accept our offering, any more than He accepted Cain's offering, when we try to bring it to Him when we know that someone is angry with us.  God seems to value reconciliation much more than He values the offering we want to bring.  We are to leave the gift we wanted to offer at the altar and go and reconcile with that one with whom we have the difference and then come back and make our offering to God.  When we do try to reconcile, we need to tell the truth to the other person.  However, we the way we tell it will make all the difference.  It must be told in love!  (Ephesians 4:15)  Everything we say and do should stem from our love for God and then toward one another.  Jesus was all about gaining brothers and sisters, not eliminating them!  (Matthew 18:15-17)  He gives clear instructions that, if we have something against another, we should go to them first, alone.  That is the loving thing to do.  That is the first thing to do.  No prayer requests, no gossip, no playing the martyr.  I know, because I have done all of the wrong things at times!  Jesus said that, if that person will hear us, we will have gained a brother or sister.  That's what the Lord wants.  However, there will be times when the other party will not hear us.  We will come up against a stubborn heart.  In that case, we're supposed to take two or three witnesses and go to the offender again.  Jesus is so compassionate that He gives everyone the opportunity to make amends!  If that doesn't work, we are to go before the church.  Now, these are the loving things to do.  They came right from the mouth of Jesus!  If the party in the wrong will not hear the church, finally, he or she will be considered to be an unbeliever.  Now, that's a lot of love extended!  Lots of chances to get things right and gain brothers and sisters in the Lord!  John is reminding us that love should be at the center of everything we do.  Our God is so loving that He gives second, third and fourth chances, as evidenced by Jesus's way of making things right among us and eliminating anger (which leads to murder).  These loving ways of Jesus for dealing with a relational problem are not the world's, "dog eat dog ways."  Sadly, we may be looked down upon by the world when we show real love in our dealings with each other.  (1 John 3:13)  Why?  Because, just like Cain, they know down deep that their works are evil and that we, who follow Christ, are righteous, just as Abel was righteous.  Nevertheless, as Christ-followers, we are committed to remind one another and to live lives of love, even when it means sacrifice.  If we mind being reminded of this message we have heard from the beginning, and it is a source of irritation, we are probably not acting in love because love is not easily irritated! (1 Corinthians 13:5


1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)  1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, help me never to tire of being reminded of the message that I have heard from You from the beginning.  Help me to love You with all of my heart and reach out with Your love to those round about me.  Thank You for loving me when I was (and sometimes still am) unlovely.  Thank You for all the second, third, and fourth chances You have given me to make things right with You.  Thank You for the miracle of love that can change lives and bring healing to our brokenness!

Horizontal Divider 11






1 John 3:10 (KJV)  10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.


Unlike common opinion, the truth is that there are only two kinds of people in the world.  There are children of God and there are children of the devil.  It's not hard to discern between the two!  We can figure out who is of God by watching their lives.  We can figure out if we're children of God by taking a close look at our own lives!  Sometimes we may slip and need forgiveness and a helping hand up, but, in general, if we practice doing right, according to God's Word, following His ways, we can know that we are of God.  It will be manifested in our lives.  As we look around, we will relate to those who are also practicing righteousness.  I noticed the Word of God says, "practicing."  When I practice singing or playing the piano, sometimes I don't do it just right but the key is not to let those mistakes deter me from continuing to practice!  Thank God, I have an Advocate (and so do you if you have received Jesus), who will wipe those mistakes away and help me to go on practicing right living all of my life.  Practicing righteousness will prove that I'm a child of God; but there's another principle that must be in my life to give proof that I am His child.  I admit that many times I have fallen short of this principle but, as I get to know Jesus (who is Love personified), I grow in the area of loving others.  Sometimes others can seem downright mean and unlovely - even those who call themselves, "Christians."  Maybe they have just slipped and fallen.  Maybe they need a hand to help them up in the Name of Jesus.  Jesus showed us how to love.  Love is action and, at times, it is sacrifice.  It overlooks many wrongs and if it's real, it lasts forever! (1 Corinthians 13)   John writes that, if we do not love one another, we are not of God!  That's quite a powerful statement!  What if we did not treat that clerk in the store, who was less than efficient with love?  What if that one on the road, that we were so irritated with, was a brother or sister in the Lord?  What if we are angry with our spouse or our children and we don't act out of love?  How many times are we given the opportunity to act in love toward another and we miss it because we're so concerned about ourselves?  What do all of these things indicate?  Do they prove that we are of God or of the devil?  It is my earnest desire, as a mother that my children love one another and show it in their interaction with one another.  Our Father has that same desire for His children.  Not only does He want us to practice right living, He wants us to love one another!  Are we doing these things? 


Romans 6:16 (KJV)  16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?    John 13:35 (KJV)  35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, please help me to keep on practicing righteousness.  Thank You for picking me up when I slip and fall.  Thank You for helping me not to give up.  Help me to love others just as You love me! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:7  7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.


It's so easy to be led astray today.  All we have to do is "go with the flow," blend in, be politically correct.....  The trouble with that is that is will lead us into a life of deception.  We can't blend into society if we know Jesus.  He certainly did not blend in to the traditions and culture of His day!  By the way, today is still His day because He's the same yesterday, today, and forever!  (Hebrews 13:8)  It's still true today that, if anyone makes a practice of sinning, that person is of the devil (1 John 3:8)  How's that for a politically incorrect statement?  God said it, so it is true!  The devil has not changed either.  According to God, the devil has sinned from the beginning and I have yet to see him repent!  Have you?  No doubt, you have experienced him raise his ugly head against you in some way.  If you have not, you might want to check to be sure on who's side you are!  The devil would love to kill, steal, and destroy anything, and everything, in his sight but his favorite meal would be one of God's children.  He hates it when we practice righteousness!  When we're sure we're on the side of Jesus, we have nothing to fear because the greater One lives in us. (1 John 4:4)  God graciously sent His own Son to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)  The one whose sole purpose is to go about like a roaring lion trying to take the children of God down with him has been defeated!  But God.... The devil has no power over God's children unless we let him have it by inviting him into our lives in choosing to habitually sinful in the things we think, say, do, watch, listen to, and join in with.  When we truly know Jesus, we will weed out the sinful habits in our lives, by His grace.  We have the power to do that because His seed remains in us  Hopefully, everyone reading this today is born of God.  (1 John 3:9)   If you don't think you are, you can be born again right now, today!  The journey to a totally sinless life is not always easy.  It's not easy to swim upstream or go against the flow, but we can do it and Jesus will give us the strength.  (Philippians 4:13)  Although it may be difficult at times, as the old hymn says, "It will be worth it all when we see Jesus."  The wonderful thing is that, if we have followed Him, we'll look just like Him when we meet!


1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)  12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I need Your strength moment by moment.  Sometimes I get tired and lonely going against the current flow in our world.  Thank You for going against that flow for and with me so that sin can no more have dominion over me!  Keep me from being deceived and from deceiving.  Thank you for being that greater One that lives within me!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:4 (KJV)  4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.


As born-again believers, we are in a process of becoming like Jesus.  Jesus was obviously sinless.  Therefore, in this process, we are seeing that sin is not compatible with our new life.  When the Apostle, John, was writing to the believers of his day, there was a philosophy of dualism in the world.  False teachers believed that sin was insignificant.  Therefore, the need for obedience was not really a need at all.  So, because John loved those to whom he ministered and love has trickled down to us today, he gives a few reasons why we, because we are believers must not live lives of habitual sin.  We are to increasingly learn the truth as we dwell in Jesus and it is the truth that we know and obey that will set us free.  (John 8:31-32, 36)  When John says, "whosever commits sin," he is not saying that, unless we live a perfect life, we are lawless.  Instead, the word, "commits," has the idea of making sin a habit.  A pattern of life.  A life of continued sin is a life of darkness and lawlessness.  We, if we have believed, belong to Jesus.  He is the Light!  We are walking in Him from faith to faith and glory to glory.  Even from strength to strength!  (Romans 1:17,  2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 84:7)  If we say we don't have any sin, we are walking in darkness because that is not the truth in God's Word! (1 John 1:5-7)  As we walk through the process of being made to be like Jesus, we will more and more be made aware by His Spirit, of sinful things we might be saying or doing.  When that awareness comes, we have the opportunity, because the Light is in our lives, to repent and get back onto the right road.  The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin when we acknowledge our sin and repent.  (1 John 2:1)  So, we will not let the devil beat us up with condemnation when we realize we have sinned. (Romans 8:1)  If we are in Christ, there is no condemnation in us!  But, we need to pay close attention to the Holy Spirit when He convicts us of a sinful thing, repent of it, and begin to walk in newness of life in that area; all through the grace of God!  The Lord, through John, assures us that sin is lawlessness.  The two greatest laws for us who believe, are to love God and love one another.  Jesus, Love Himself, was sent to earth in the body of a human being, but totally without sin.   (Hebrews 4:15)  He came to take away our sins.  (1 John 3:5)    By faith, we have seen Him in the scriptures.  We are learning to see Him more clearly every day if we're abiding in Him.  As we see and follow Him, our old patterns of sin are falling away.  Let's not be found among those who do not seek to see and know Him through His Word and prayer!  Spending time looking at Him and getting to know Him will keep us from walking in lawlessness and finding ourselves falling into a pattern of sin.  Let's, by God's grace and our decisions, live lives of habitual righteousness.


1 John 3:6 (KJV)  6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I want to see You and know You so well that I will not want to walk in a pattern or habit of sin.  Draw me close to Yourself and Your love so that I may walk in it and spread it to others. 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 3:1-3 (KJV)  1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.


I well remember the refrain from that old song, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love."  It's too bad that apparently the writer of that song did not know that the world has been given more love than it can possibly receive!  As the Apostle, John, says, "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us.....!"  God has showered His incredible love on you and me (and anyone who will receive it).  My husband is a quality assurance engineer and I'm sure, after all the tests, checks, and audits, he would rate God's love to be of the highest quality!  God didn't just say to us, "I love you."  No!  Love is not just a noun, it's an action verb.  God did say, "I love you," but then He backed it up with His loving action.  He gave the best He had to save the worst of us and the best of us!  Have you received that love today?  I hope so because God says that He gave His Son so that whosoever (that would be you or me or anyone) can believe in and receive His Son and be saved.  (John 3:16)  Now that's a love that's proven with action!  God gave His Son so that we could become His children.  I have heard it said that God planted a seed (Jesus) because He wanted a family.  Right now, if we have believed in and received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are the children of God.  We are God's harvest.  We're in the family of God!  We're in the process of being perfected. We don't know exactly what we will look like when God is finished and we are thoroughly polished.  But, we do know that, because we have looked steadfastly at Gods great love, we will be made to look like Jesus!  (1 John 3:2)  When Jesus comes back we will see Him as He is and it will be like looking into a mirror!  We will be like Him!  Behold the Father's love!  It gives us hope in which we can rest.  It purifies us so that we will be pure, just like Jesus is pure!  It makes us God's children.  It's not that the world does not have, "love, sweet love."  It's that the world, at large, has not listened to John.  God, through John's writing, invites us to behold His great love toward us.  It's a love that is waiting to receive, "whosoever will."  Are you one of those, "whosoever's who will?  The world, in general, is not choosing to be a, "whosoever who will."  It doesn't acknowledge us as children of God because it doesn't acknowledge Jesus. (1 John 3:1)  Wouldn't you rather be acknowledged by God than acknowledged by the world?  I would!   Whether we are just getting a first look at God's love or whether we're taking another look at it after years of following Him, it is certainly something to behold!  Something to receive.  Something to cherish.  Something for which we can find so many reasons to give thanks!  Behold the  great love of the Father!  He's given it to us!


John 3:3 (KJV)    3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Father, it's difficult to find words of thanks for the great love you have given to me.  Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for sacrificing Your own perfect Son so that I could be made to be Your child.  Thank You for working on me until I look like Jesus.  Help me, everyday, to behold anew the great love You have given me and help me to be a vessel to spread that love in a way that others can behold it too!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:28 (KJV)  28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.


The Apostle, John, was oftentimes called the Apostle that Jesus loved.  John was, according to what we read, a very loving person.  That comes across in his writings to the believers of his own day, as well as to us.  You can really tell that he is lovingly protective of us believers.  He certainly doesn't want anyone to be led astray by false teachers who are under the devil's control (sometimes unknowingly).  John knew the secret of abiding in Jesus.  He knew, from experience, that abiding in Jesus is really the only way to truly live.  He uses the phrase, "little children," here again.  In my imagination, I see him as someone who is looking out for our best, the way a parent would do for a child.  John has no reason to doubt that Jesus will return because he heard it first-hand from Jesus, Himself!  Now, John is trying very diligently to see that we know the same thing and that we are living expectantly, knowing that Jesus may come at any time.  When Jesus does return, there will be no time to gather up confidence.  No more time to repent.  That's why it's so important that we abide in Him all the time!  That way, we will not be ashamed when He comes.  We will be confident.  In fact, if we're abiding in Him, He will find us bearing fruit when He comes back!  Because His Spirit has given us an anointing to know the truth, He will not find us caught up on wrong teachings.  He will find us living righteously.  Right-wisely, as they used to say.  First, we need to remember that Jesus is coming again!  Secondly, because we know that it could be at any time, we must abide, or have our dwelling place, in Him.  Lastly, we must look around us and be aware of what is going on.  We can know that whoever is living a righteous life also has been born of the Spirit.  This will enable us to have perfect confidence and boldness when Jesus appears!  We will have that, "Blessed Assurance," that the old hymn speaks of.  We won't have to shrink back or be ashamed.  We need to encourage one another to be conformed to the divine will of God, to operate in His will and purpose.  We need to keep on reminding each other that it's not about us but about God's ways of thinking and acting!  That way, Jesus will find us eagerly awaiting His coming, being full of confidence and assurance that we're going to be with Him forever!  


1 John 2:29 (KJV)  29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You that, because I am abiding in You, I can be confident when You return again.  Thank You that I will not have to shrink back in shame.  Thank You for showing me Your will and Your purpose in the scriptures and, thank You, Jesus, for being a model of God's thoughts and actions here on earth.  Help me to follow in Your footsteps and confidently walk with You right into eternity when You come again!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:26 (KJV)  26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.


Are there really those that would lead us astray?  I'm sure there are or the Apostle, John, would not have written 1 John 2:26!  You may have even met some of those people!  Most of the time they will not look like seducers.  They may even look like sheep, by all outward appearances, but inside they are wolves!  (Matthew 7:15)  Hungry and vicious wolves at that!  They are being used by the evil one to try to steal, kill or destroy us!  (John 10:10)  The word, "seduce, comes from a Greek word, part of the meaning of which is,  to cause to roam from safety, virtue and truth, according to Strong's Dictionary.  This word comes from a root word having to do with fraud!  We have seen a lot of fraud in our world lately but, the sad thing is, there are also seducers among us, no matter where we go to church!  It should not be, but it is.  The devil goes to church too!  In fact, he may like to go to church more than us "good Christians."  There, he can fit himself right in and look and talk the part, twisting the truth ever so slightly always seeking to trap one of God's children.  That's his goal.  He doesn't need to work too hard in the world because he already has them in his dark kingdom.  What he would love to do is get one of God's chosen ones to succumb to his deceitful teachings.  As we know from Adam and Eve's experience in the garden and from the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan knows the scripture back and forth.  So, that might give us a clue as to why we should know it too!  John knew that there would be seducers in the church when he wrote to the Christians of his day and nothing has changed in our day, except that, just maybe, the devil has had to get a little more slick in his ways.  What John was trying to tell us is that we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit, if we are believers.  This anointing, if we will listen to it, will allow us to discern truth from error so that we can spot a seductive teaching.  The Spirit of God and the Word of God that we know teaches us the truth. We don't have to be sucked in by the latest teaching that comes around the pike.  We just need to be in the Word!  Jesus is the Word.  Jesus is the Truth.  It's His Spirit that teaches us and, as John says, "that's no lie!"  (Numbers 23:19)  The essence of being taught by the anointing of the Holy Spirit is that we must abide in Him.  When we wander (which is one of the meanings of being seduced), we cause ourselves to be out from under God's umbrella of protection.  Let's purpose to remember that we have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit that abides in us.  Let's run everything we hear through the filter of His Word, which is the truth!  Let's continually abide in Him, receiving His protection, His virtue and His truth!  


1 John  2:27 (KJV)  27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, it is my heart's desire to remain in You, to abide in You.  Thank You for the anointing that comes from Your Holy Spirit so that I can discern between Your teachings and those of false teachers.  Keep me Lord, don't let me be seduced by the devil's minions.  Thank You that, as I abide in You, I have your protection, Your virtue, and Your truth! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:24 (KJV)  24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.


Have you ever noticed that when you are not in agreement with your spouse or your children, the atmosphere of your home changes?  It is much harder to make, "a house a home," if everyone is not in one accord!  In other words, it's harder to hold things together.  Sometimes it's even hard to remain in that house!  Jesus said that a house divided against itself will fall.  (Matthew 12:25)  Our Father does not want any strife or division in His house!  The way to keep that from coming about is to do what John tells us to do in 1 John 2:24.  We need to see that we are in the Word of God so that we know what to believe and how to order our lives.  When we find out what was told to us from the beginning in His Word, we have to remain in that Word.  John says that, if we do, we will remain in the Son and in the Father.  There's no better place to be!  The inference here is that, if we don't remain in what we have learned from the Word, The Word will not remain in us.  Jesus said in , John 14:23, that if anyone loves Him, they will obey His commandments.  As we do that, He said we would abide with He and the Father.  Jesus also told us that we must remain in Him and He in us if we are going to bear fruit.  No branch can bear any fruit if it is not connected to a vine!  (John 15:4-5)  Jesus is that Vine.  The prophet, Amos, asked this question:  "Can two walk together unless they be of one accord.." (Amos 3:3)  Are we of one accord with Jesus and with the Word that is written for our encouragement and guidance in the scriptures?  We cannot be one with Jesus and follow after other teachings (of which there are many in the world in which we live).  There are not many ways to eternal life as the devil would have us to believe.  There is only one way.  His Name is Jesus and we must follow after His Word and obey it.  We've got to remain in it so that we will receive the gift of eternal life.  There are lots of teachings we can welcome and follow.  But, 2 John 9-11 , warns us against following other teachings than the teaching of Christ.  One translation says, "if anyone runs ahead" and doesn't continue in the teachings of Christ and then follows that with dire consequences.  The Bible says we're not even to welcome these teachers into our midst.  If we do, we will be sharing in that person's wicked work!  Scary!  2 Corinthians 6:14  says that righteousness and wickedness have nothing in common.  So, let's remain in the Word (which is Jesus) following only the teaching we find there.  If we remain in that, John says we will receive eternal life.  And, that's a promise from God!  Every one of His promises are true!  (2 Corinthians 1:20


1 John 2:25 (KVJ)   25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I need Your strength and discernment to remain in Your teaching and no other.  Keep me close to You.  Cause me to be in agreement and obedience to Your commands.  Help me to remain in all You have taught me.  Thank You that, when I remain, I will receive Your promise of eternal life!  Thank You!  Thank You!  Thank You! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:22 (KJV)  22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.


I was disciplined by my parents many times in my life but I don't remember the details of lots of those times.  I do remember the details of one particular time when I was quite young.  I had taken the bark of a tree and thought it would be fun to tear it in little pieces and see how many of those pieces I could fit in the keyhole for the lock on our front door.  Of course, I didn't tell anyone that I did it.  But, one evening, after a family outing, my Dad tried to put the key in the keyhole and let us back inside the house.  Well, it was dark and he couldn't figure out why he couldn't get the key in the hole!  I can't remember how we finally got in the house but when the lights were turned on, my parents discovered the tree bark in the keyhole.  When they asked me about it, I lied.  I told them the little boy next door did it.  Well, I was thoroughly disciplined and, I learned from that discipline, that it's not a good idea to be found to be a liar!  The Apostle, John, is trying to get us to know the Truth (Jesus) well enough to receive Him and be found to be one with both He and the Father.  But, in this world, we are faced with liars that can make us swerve from our faith if we are not well grounded enough to spot a liar.  Being a loving and kind person, John spells it out for us.  Now we have no excuse for not being able to spot a liar.  It is obviously someone who denies that Jesus is the Son of God.  In so doing, that person is also denying the Father.  Hopefully, none of us are in that position this morning.  I would venture to say, though, that we all know people who do not acknowledge Jesus.  That's when we have to dig into our faith with our heels and be steadfast.  We can love the sinner, but we must hate and expose the sin!  (Ephesians 4:15)  As a child, I was punished pretty harshly.  Not for putting the bark in the keyhole, but for lying about who did it!  Our Father does not like liars.  In fact, He plans on punishing them and that punishment is more harsh than we would like to have happen to anyone.  (Revelation 21:8)   So, let's be sure that we are not found to be liars and, when we come across those who are, let's be sure we do not join in with them.  Rather, let us be a living example of the Truth!  (3 John 1:4 


1 John 2:23 (KJV)  23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I am so thankful that You do not leave me in the dark about knowing the difference between those who walk in the Truth and those who are liars.  Help me to love the sinner but hate the sin of not acknowledging Jesus.  And, Lord, help me to live my life walking in the Truth.  Please use me to help turn those walking in bondage to the father of lies (Satan) to the Truth, Your Son, Jesus Christ! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:20-21 (KJV)  20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.


Have you ever heard a singer sing a long with perfect pitch and excellent musicianship?  Maybe you were amazed at their seamless, "performance."  There's nothing wrong with that.  We should all strive to be the best we can at whatever we do!  When we hear things that are done with perfection, we react to the talent or the ability.  But, have you ever heard a singer sing a song that wasn't up to your idea of vocal perfection.  Maybe they didn't really even "look the part."  When the singer starts, you may even think to yourself, "This is going to be bad."  However, before the end of the song, you find yourself with tears in your eyes and your heart a bit softer!  Why does this happen?  Because ability is different than anointing.  We all need to foster our ability and work on perfecting what we do.  But, for us to be ministers instead of just performers, we need the anointing from the Holy One.  That's what John calls, "unction."  Whether we sing or do something else, our reliance should be on the anointing of the Lord and not on our own ability!  What a promise!  We, if we have received Jesus as our Savior, have an anointing upon us.  And, it's straight from Him!  It's an anointing to discern good from bad and also to overcome evil with good.  John says he didn't tell us this because we don't know the truth.  It's because we do know the Truth (who is Jesus), that John is reminding us that there is something that comes from knowing Him.  It's powerful!  It's amazing.  It's anointing!  It helps us stay balanced in a world that is filled with untruth!  It helps us discern things that otherwise might slip by us and cause us to slip and fall!  Strong's Dictionary says it is an endowment from the Holy Spirit.  The root of this word, "unction," means to smear or rub with oil - to anoint!  I remember that my mother used to have an ointment that she would put on my cuts and scrapes called, "Unguentine."  Wow!  It stopped the hurt and the infection.  The word, "unguent," is exactly what the word,

"anoint," means.  We have a Heavenly anointing that will protect us from the lies and deceptions of this world that would cause us hurt!  Oh my, isn't God the most wonderful God!  He soothes, protects, and calms His children, sharing His truth with us and anointing us to do the same with others!  He smears us all over with His anointing!  I could jump right out of my seat right now.  I hope you feel the same way.  Never forget, if you know Jesus, you have an anointing from Him.  Thank Him for it and go out and use it for Him in whatever your work on earth is!  Spread it on someone else too when you find the hurt and broken!  We have an anointing to know the truth and to pass it along!  The truth that we know will surely set us free.  (John 8:36) Jesus IS the Truth!  Go for it, children of God, you are anointed! 


1 John 2:21 (KVJ)  21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I am so amazed at your Word.  Different parts just jump out for me all the time!  Help me to be ever grateful that You have smeared me with the oil of Yourself.  Thank You for your soothing, Your teaching, Your protecting, Your providing, Your loving of this one who was unlovely!  Thank you for healing all my wounds with your anointing and for leaving that anointing on me so that I might spread it to others who are hurting and don't know where to turn.  Help me to always hold up the Truth through the power of Your anointing on me! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:18 (KJV)  18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.


There's a lot of talk today (and there has been for many years) about the antichrist.  While there will be one evil one that will come at the end of the age in the power of Satan, there are lots of little ones in the world today and they are all around us!  The word, "anti," can mean both, "in place of or instead of,"  and, "in opposition to."  If we just take a look around us today, taking a peak inside our schools, our offices, our reading materials, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the news we follow, and even our churches, we are bound to come across an antichrist, if not many of them!  It's not hard to find them nowadays.  Why?  Because we do live in the last time.  That's what John is saying here.  He's addressing us as little children again because he doesn't want to lose any of his spiritual children to the deceitfulness of any of the many antichrists.  Think about it.  How many people in the public eye and who have leadership positions of some kind, are in opposition to Christ?  Check out the list above.  If they are not in exact opposition to Christ, how many put themselves or some other guru in the place of Christ in their lives?  What will happen if we follow the philosophy and beliefs of these little antichrists?  We will become deceived too!  So, we have to know that we live in a time where we need to be wary and be totally grounded in the Word of God and in our faith.  There has been a, "falling away," described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.  If you don't believe that, look at the public schools today.  How many children do you find that have Godly teaching at home?  I find that many small children don't even know who Jesus is!  Some think it's okay to go to church on Easter, but only because they want to show off a new dress.  This is not the fault of the children.  This is because there has been a general falling away from the principles of the Word.  And, what about the violence in the schools?  When our children are told that they cannot pray in school, is that not in opposition to Christ and to His Word where were admonished to, "pray without ceasing"?  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  As one commentary mentioned, these words were written long ago by John.  After two thousand years, we might be falling asleep, not really believing Jesus will come again, ignoring the fact that these truly are the last times.  Maybe we've fallen into the trap of being politically correct and not objecting to people being against Christ or putting other things in the place of Christ.  What if we brought that up close and personal?  Have we ever put anyone or anything in the place of Christ in our lives?  Have we or do we ever do things that are opposed to Christ and His teachings?  If so, that would make us what?  Let us stay wide awake and be doing the will of Christ even though it might feel like we're swimming upstream!  He is coming back again and we don't want to be found among the ones who looked like they were a part of the Body but left.  There is more than one way to leave.  When the fire of the Lord in us begins to cool off, we leave ourselves wide open to the deceptions of the antichrists all around us and, if we're not extremely careful, we will become lukewarm.  Jesus said something about those people.  Although He doesn't call them antichrists, He might as well because He says that He will vomit them out of His mouth!  What a loving and patient Savior we have!  He gives us every opportunity to wake up, get up, and speak up for Him.  Yes, there is opposition, but then He had great opposition too.  Are we willing to be a force of holy Light against the darkness of the antichrists that surround us on every side?  Many of the people who have become deceived and are now deceivers had their beginnings in the church!  But, now their true colors are showing.  Let us who remain rise up in love and truth for the true Christ and all He has done for us and continues to do for us! 


1 John 2:19 (KJV)  19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I do believe that You will return to earth and that the signs of the times point to the fact that it may be soon.  Regardless of that, I want to be found safely and securely within Your Body, standing for Your Word and serving You.  I want to be a light in the dark world where so many antichrists are threatening to put out the Light.  Thank You that Your light will remain steadfast.  Please help me to remain steadfast in my faith also until You return for Your own.

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:15 (KJV)  15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.


As a child, I remember watching the Disney movies.  I especially loved the, "happily ever after," stories!  As I got older, I actually remember being mad at Disney for portraying things that were not true.  They were just fairy-tales.  There never would be a "prince charming," that could fix everything in my life.  That was not reality.  Still, something in me longed for a "happy ever after," life.  My mistake was that I looked for that story with a human being.  My expectations of others and of myself were very high.  Finally, I got a clue, thanks to the Holy Spirit!  I needed to look up instead of outward.  It was there I would find a, "Prince."  He would be charming and He could fix everything that was wrong with me and my life.  Not only that, I could (and now do) have my, "happy ever after," story!  I was in love with the world and the things of this world, even the fairy tales that told me I could find the perfect mate and have the perfect children, etc., etc.  I thought I was loving but I wasn't complete.  John said that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us.  That sounds critical at first, but it's really an encouragement because there is no love like the love of the Father and He wants you and me to have His love!  Everything in this world system has to do with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  (1 John 2:16)  These things can bring a moment of happiness but they don't last!  They don't constitute a, "happy ever after," story.  God so desires to give us good gifts - gifts that will last for more than a life-time.  A truly, "happy ever after," life with Him!  We just have to look higher than the things of this world.  This morning, look to your Father in Heaven and look for His love.  It is always reaching for you. And one day the, "Prince," will come back ushering us into a, "happy ever after," perfect eternity.  In the meantime, spread the Father's love to everyone you see!  You'll be amazed at the results!  This reminds me of a folk song, some of the lyrics, as follows:  " 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'Tis the gift to be free, 'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be, 'And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight."   We will be in that place now and forever when we receive the gift of the Father's love and share it; when we're set free by the Son to love others too.  Now, that's truly love that never ends!


1 John 2:17 (KJV)  17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I confess that I have not looked high enough in my desire for a, "happy ever after," story.  Help me to keep looking up to You, receiving Your love, and passing it along to others who also want a, "happy ever after story."  Thank you for the gift of Yourself; the gift of a never ending Love, a love so much higher and more marvelous than anything this world has to offer!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:13 (KJV)  13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.


Aren't you glad that God never leaves anyone out?  If we don't come to Him or if we don't know His Word, it's not because He has not done everything He can to get us to acknowledge Him and receive His Word!  He loved the world so much that He gave the most valuable thing He had, His Son, that anyone who would could have the opportunity to receive Him and be saved!  (John 3:16)  In 1 John 2:13, John is not leaving anyone out either.  The Lord writes to all of us here, no matter what our biological age or spiritual age is, a note of encouragement.  To the fathers, John says, because they have known Him that is from the beginning.  This could mean that they have always known God and it could mean that they have recognized the Father in Jesus, or both.  In any case, these are the very well-grounded believers.  John also writes to the young people (in the time of John's writing, some commentaries say that speaking in the masculine gender included both genders).  John writes to the younger people (these could be young in age or in spiritual age, or both).  Do you think John realizes that they are at their prime in strength, but also very vulnerable in the area of temptation?  I do.  These are the ones who overcome the wicked one by knowing the Word, rightly dividing it and speaking it, just as Jesus did, when He was accosted by the devil.   (Matthew 4:1-11)  Then John writes once again to little children.  He has already done this once in 1 John 2:1, but we all know how it is with little children.  They need more reassurance and they need to be taught over and over again so that the things of God will be cemented in their minds!  This time, he is writing to the children because they have come to know the Father.  What an adventure they have in front of them as they grow from children, to young men and women, to those seasoned, well-grounded elders!  We could ask ourselves where we might fit into these categories but maybe it would be better to realize that God knows where we are and just what we need in the way of encouragement at every stage of the game.  Sometimes we might find ourselves being children, other times in the throes of temptation and in spiritual warfare and, yet still other times, well-grounded and able to help a child or young person!  In the Person of the Word (Jesus) and the written Word, God has all the bases covered for us.  We just have to agree to show up for the game.  Whether, we're on first, second, or third base, He's ready to make sure we make it to Home base!  (Isaiah 64:4)   


 1 John 2:14 (KJV)   14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Oh Lord, thank You that You have provided for everything I need that pertains to life and Godliness in Your Word and by Your Spirit.  Thank you that, in this game of life, no matter where I am at the moment, You've got me covered and Your desire is that I grow in You.  Help me to do that and thank You for covering all the bases as I make my way Home to You!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:12 (KJV)  12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.


Perhaps John was very elderly when he wrote the letter of 1 John.  It was a circular letter that went around to all the churches and, obviously, it was for us today, since it is in the scriptures.  Certainly, John had a great deal of influence on the lives of many and he, most likely, had numerous spiritual children.  He addresses his, "children," in 1 John 2:1, 2:12, and 1 John 2:13.  In 1 John 2:12, he says he writes, "dear children," because we are forgiven of our sins for Jesus's Name's sake.  Knowing that we are forgiven of our sins is elemental in our faith.  It's the milk of the Word.  If we don't believe that Jesus is able and, indeed, did (and) does forgive our sins, we cannot grow in Him!  We will constantly be wondering if we are good enough.  We will live in the past, haunted by those mistakes we have made that we cannot change.  The fact is that nobody is good enough!  Everyone has sinned.  Nobody measures up to God's standard.  (Romans 3:23)  But, we can't stop there and let the enemy beat us up with accusations, trying to stunt our spiritual growth and leave us as babies or young children in Christ.  We've got to take hold of the fact that our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus and God chooses never to look at them again!  (Psalm 103:12)  We receive that gift of the forgiveness of all of our sin when we believe that the blood of Jesus was the supreme sacrifice once and for all.  (Hebrews 10:10)  We are now justified.  Some say, "just," as if we had never sinned!  If we don't know that our sins are forgiven, we may appear to be humble by saying that we are just, "an old sinner."  However, we are really disagreeing with God when we do that and casting a disparaging light on His Word which says that we are forgiven!  So, this morning let's enjoy the freedom of forgiveness, let's receive it just like little children gleefully receive a piece of candy.  Let's walk in that freedom and begin to experience spiritual growth as we go from the basic elements of our faith to learn more about, and become more like, the One Who forgave us of all of those sins!


Hebrews 5:13 (KJV)  13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You for the ABC's of faith, Father.  Thank You for forgiving my sins by the blood of Jesus.  Help me to remember that all my sins are forgiven.  Thank You for my spiritual childhood.  Help me now to grow up in You.  Thank You for your willingness to grow us up if we will just receive the basics of faith and continue walking with you, the Righteous One.  Help me to be skilled in Your righteousness! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:9 (KJV)  9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.


What do you do when someone hurts or offends you?  We have a choice.  We can let the hurt or offense go.  Or, we can hang on to it and build on it.  I happen to be a person that is not fond of the darkness.  My first job in the morning is to turn on every light in the house if there is no sunshine.  But, what about spiritual darkness?  If I choose to hold grudges and build on them (and I have done that in the past), I will find that I am not really walking my talk!  If I say that I walk in the light (the light of Jesus), I can't be weighed down with hurts, offenses, grudges, or a critical spirit.  If I do let these things take root in my heart, I can say that I am in the light over and over again; but my light will, at best, be very dim because all of those things foster hatred against another when they are kept and nurtured.  We can't say that we belong to the Lord and not love what He loves.  It's not even what He loves.  It's whom He loves!  He loves people!  He loved us all so much that He gave His Son to die so that He could have restored relationship with any of us who are willing.  We're in one accord with God when we love others and we abide in His light.  When you have light, you can see where you're going and you're not likely to stumble!  (1 John 2:10)  So, it's a good time to ask ourselves if we are harboring any hatred toward another.  If so, we need to let it go and let forgiveness free us to walk in the light.  Otherwise, we will find ourselves saying we are in the light but walking in complete darkness, blinded by hatred.  We are sure to stumble because we won't be able to see where we're going.  Personally, I love the light.  I don't like to stumble and get hurt.  And, I certainly don't want to be spiritually blind!  I doubt if you do either.  So, let's make a little check of our hearts this morning to be sure we don't hold any hatred for another!  If we say that we're in the Light, let's be sure that we are really in it! 


1 John 2:11  (KJV)  11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Open my eyes today Lord.  If I am holding any bitterness, unforgiveness, offense, grudge, or critical spirit in my heart, reveal it with Your light and rid me of it, filling that space with Your light.  Thank You for giving me Your light so that I can walk through this world without stumbling and falling!  Please give me Your love for those around me.

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:7 (KJV)  7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.


Can something be both old and new at the same time?  It doesn't sound too logical; but, in this case, it can be.  The Apostle, John, said that he was not going to write a new commandment, but an old commandment.  He lets us know that this old commandment is a word we have had from the beginning.  What commandment is this?  How can it be old and new at the same time? (John says, in 1 John 2:8, immediately after saying he is not going to write a new commandment, "again, a new commandment I write unto you.....")  The commandment is to love one another.  This is a commandment that we see very near the beginning of the Bible.  (Leviticus 19:18)  It is from the Lord because He is the Lord.  John, being Jewish, knew the scripture from the Old Testament, as did most of those he was writing to at the time.  This love we are to have for one another is implied in the last part of the ten commandments. (Exodus 20:12-17)     Those who had received Christ also knew this scripture because they had heard Jesus tell them that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord completely and the second was like it.  What was the second greatest commandment?  It was, to love one's neighbor as oneself.  (Mark 12:29-31)  In fact, we know that the ten commandments are fulfilled only by love.  So, this commandment that John writes is truly old.  But, it is also new!  It becomes new to me every day.  Maybe it is the same for you.  That's the way it was with the first believers.  These commandments were fulfilled in the life of Jesus, who is the Light.  The new believers back then, and even today, are experiencing the flooding of the true Light shining in their hearts.  The darkness is gone!  It's because of Love!  As the Light shines brighter and brighter in our hearts and lives, the darkness fades away.  With each moment of increasing light, we realize more and more just how much God loves us,  we love God more, and we love one another more!  As this old commandment becomes new, we are moved to service and we become more and more like the Light that is in us.  More like Jesus.  Out of our love flows acts of service, both to God and to others.  We begin to appreciate others more and love makes its way into action.  Jesus set the perfect example when He washed the feet of His disciples, even though He knew He was getting ready to go to the cross.   (John 13:1-17)  Is the new commandment to love one another becoming more real to you as your experience with Christ unfolds?  John said that this love, that was (and is) true in Christ, is also true in us because the darkness is gone and the true Light now shines.  Can people see it (Him) shining through us?  Even though this command is growing older everyday, it is also becoming newer everyday as we receive more and more revelation of God's love for us and His will for us to love one another!  


1 John 2:8 (KJV)  8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, Your love is unconditional, amazing, and revealing.  It has been there from the beginning; but it is new every day!  Thank You for loving me when I was unlovable and giving me Your love to pass on to others!  Thank You for letting me see others more and more in Your light and helping me to fulfill this old commandment in new ways every day! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:5-6 (KJV)   5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.


Are you like me?  I'm trying to go through some of my things, sort and delete, if necessary.  But, it's amazing how many things I have to go through!  Needless to say, I am blessed above measure with books, CD's, clothes, etc.  I have so many books that I nnow have them in stacks on the floor trying to decide which ones I want to keep and read again and which ones I want to give away or sell.  Among all of those books are many copies of the Bible in various paraphrases and translations and tons of Bible study books!  It's quite an impressive collection, if I do say so myself!  I don't intend to throw any of those Bibles away or get rid of them (unless the Lord prompts me to give one to a certain individual).  However, just because they make a great show on my bookshelf and I keep them there, it doesn't mean that I am keeping His Word!  All of those verses in the Bible need to be planted in my heart.  And, even that's not enough!  I can learn to spout off scriptures on any subject.  The trouble is that the enemy can do that too!  But, we know that he does not keep God's Word.  Far from it!  It's not good enough to know the Word, we must keep it, applying it to all situations, relationships, and circumstances in our lives.  When you really love someone, you desire to be like them.  You spend time with them and learn their ways.  Pretty soon you might even start to walk like they do, going places they like to go and doing what they like to do.  That's the way it is with our relationship with Jesus.  He is the Word.  He is the One who knocks on our heart's door and asks if we will open the door and let Him come in.  (Revelation 3:20)  If we have let Him in, we will most likely listen to His Word as He speaks.  Because we love Him (and who can resist Him when you really get to know Him), we keep His Word.  Not because we have to.  Because we want to.  We start wanting to walk with Him and walk like Him, don't we?  Even though it's a process and we may not be where we want to be yet, if we have started keeping His Word and walking like Him, we are on our way to being a demonstration of God's love perfected!  What an awesome privilege!  Among all the things that we keep, are we keeping His Word? And how is our walk?  Is Jesus pleased because we walk as He walks in our world today?  If we are doing these things, God's love will be completed in us, accomplished, finished, and fulfilled.  It will be consummated in our character.  That's how we know that we are in Him and that He abides in us.  And, that's how the world will know and see God's love perfected!  


1 John 2:6  6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You for Your love which is demonstrated in those who keep your Word and walk like you walked!  Help me to rid my heart of everything else and fill it with Your Word.  Make my feet to walk as You walked.  In everything I say, everything I do, and everywhere I go, make me a demonstration of our Father's love perfected to those in my life and those in the world around me.   

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:3 (KJV)  3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.


Since the time I was young, I have had a problem with love.  I have always felt lacking in love even though I feel very loving in my heart.  I used to relate so well to the song from, "Jesus Christ, Superstar," that was sung by the character playing Mary Magdalene.  Singing of Jesus, she sang, "I don't know how to love Him."  That's exactly the way I felt.  Maybe for at least a couple of reasons.  One reason was that somehow, during my upbringing, I got the idea that you had to be good enough to be loved.  Even though I practiced hard to be a, "good girl," I never felt good enough.  What I didn't quite get was that God loved me, not because I was good enough, but because Jesus was more than good enough!  If I didn't get enough "A's," in school, I felt less than worthy.  If I wasn't the best at everything I tried, I just knew that I was not lovable.  Much of my view about love was performance based.  Consequently, I developed a very critical spirit.  Of course, this affected all my relationships.  The worst part was that it affected my relationship with the Lord and with my own self!  Real love was definitely lacking!  Finally, after too many years, I began to get it.  Praise God, as long as we have breath, it is never to late to get a word and revelation from our loving Heavenly Father.  It's very simple.  We can know that we that we know Jesus if we keep His commandments.  Since Jesus and the Father are one, if we know Jesus, we know the Father.  And, He is love.  (1 John 4:8)  Rules and religion somehow played a large part in my younger days but, really, I knew there was more.  I had a longing for relationship instead of religion.  Real relationship from which love automatically would spring.  Jesus told us that, if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments.  (John 14:15)  That almost sounds like Jesus is into rules.  Yet, there is something deeper.  The very first commandment from God was that we should love Him with our whole being.  Jesus said that the second one was like it.  He wanted us to love our neighbor just as we love ourselves.  Next, Jesus made an astounding declaration.  Basically, it is that, if we do these two things, we will not break a single rule!  (Matthew 22:34-40)  Our Father wants us to be just like He is.  Filled with love.  He wants love to be the essence of our being.  We can't try hard enough to make that happen!  I know.  I tried.  We can only love because He loved us first.  (1 John 4:19)   Even when we were unlovely.   (Romans 5:6-8)  Do you know that you know that you know Jesus today?  Do you know that you love Him?  Do you know that His love for you is not based on your performance or your ability to follow and keep all the rules?  His love for you is based on what He did for you and me at the cross.  There He paid for all of our imperfections and released us from rules to bring us back into a relationship with the Father - with Love, Himself.  Now, we know we don't keep His commandments to obtain His love.  We will keep them because we know how much He loves us.  In so doing, out of a heart of love, we will find ourselves at rest in the Arms of Love, keeping His commandments, not for His love, but because of His love.  How do we know that we know Jesus?  We will find ourselves operating in His way.  What is His way?  It is the way of love.              


1 John 2:4 (KJV)  4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, help me today to cease striving for love and striving to be loved.  Help me to rest in the fact that You love me and, because You loved me enough to give Your only Son for me, I can trust You and love You in return.  Give me a fresh revelation of Your love for me so that I will love you so much that my thoughts and actions will be like Yours.  Help me to love others, not holding them to a set of rules and regulations, but demonstrating Your unconditional love. 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 2:1 (KJV)  1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:


Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you said or did something and then realized that you had totally missed the mark?  You sinned!  You didn't really plan to do it, but you slipped.  Of course, the accuser of the brethren, Satan, is right there to bring condemnation upon you if he possibly can.  (Revelation 12:10)  The purpose of the enemy is to get us to feel that we cannot be forgiven.  That we have fallen once too often.  Or, that we have fallen too far this time.  That God is finished with us.  That's just not true!  (Proverbs 24:16)  If we have been forgiven for the ultimate sin of not believing in Jesus, and received Him as Lord and Savior, there is no condemnation in us at all!  (Romans 8;1)  We are now walking after the Spirit.  We are not in our former pattern of walking according to our flesh.  We are in a process of being transformed to the image of Christ by having our minds renewed by His Word.  (Romans 12:2)  When the Apostle, John, wrote 1 John 2:1, he was most likely a very elderly man who had mentored many new believers.  That's probably why he is addressing 1 John 2:1 to his, "little children."  Everyone knows little children trip and fall on occasion.  Instead of pushing our face down in the mud, Jesus bends down to pick us up when we cry out to Him, in repentance.  He may convict us so that we will not be prone to sin again; but He will not condemn us.  On the contrary, He is our Advocate.  He is, in effect, our legal counselor before the courts of Heaven.  He is the only One qualified to take our case because He lived an earthly life free from sin.  But, not only is He qualified, He is willing and even desirous to obtain our acquittal (which He does quite handily).  When we become a believer, our desire is to keep from sinning.    Earlier in the Book of 1 John, John wrote that we must confess our sin, knowing that Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  But, because we live in this world, we will, at one time or another, slip in the mud.  One commentary says that the words, "if any man sin," actually mean, "when anyone sins."  There are all kinds of sins.  Some of them are so hidden that we don't even see them (until the Lord reveals them to us).  (Psalm 32:5)  If only we could see just how much the Father loves us in that He gave His perfect Son so that we would not have to bear the pain of our cuts and scrapes from falling into sin in this world!  Jesus is always interceding for us and He is the Personal sacrifice and atonement for all those times that we have missed the mark, not quite measuring up to God's standard.  (Hebrews 7:25)  You and I, if we are believers, have an Advocate.  This is the same Greek Word used to describe the Holy Spirit!  He's not only an Advocate to plead, and win, our case before the Father.  He is also our Comforter in all of our weakness!  So, the next time the enemy tries to keep you down because you have slipped, confess your sin to the Lord, know that Jesus is on your side, ask for forgiveness and keep on going, being comforted by the Spirit who will get you right back on the right track!  


 1 John 2:1  2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, thank You that you are my Advocate and my Comforter when I slip and fall.  Help me to turn completely from deliberate sin and cleanse me from hidden sin.  Thank you for convicting me so that I might turn to You and receive forgiveness.  Help me to remember that, because I am in You, there is no condemnation in me.

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 1:10 (KJV)  10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


When my children were young, they had a habit of calling me a, "goof."  It was something they heard on TV and it was the equivalent of being a dummy or, maybe a nerd.  Anyway, this greatly irritated my husband, who would say in his gruffest voice, "Don't call your mother a goof!"  That became a famous imitation by all the kids.  When my husband was not around, I could sometimes hear them from the other room saying (in the gruffest voice they could muster), "Don't call your mother a goof!"  Then there would be laughter.  I even laughed!  However, they stopped calling me a goof, even in fun.  John says in 1 John 1:10 that we are capable of calling our Father a liar!  Oh my!  What a disgrace to call the One who created the world, yet allows us to call Him, "Daddy," a liar.  (Romans 8:15)  We don't have to come right out and say, "Father, You're a liar."  We effectively call Him a liar by what we say about ourselves.  While God, our Abba Father, loves us with an everlasting love, He still knows (and we should know and admit) that we have sinned.  In our day in age, the word, "sin," is pretty much outdated and it's use is frowned upon by many, even in the church.  People don't like to admit that they have sinned.  Yet, Daddy says that we have all  sinned!  If we go around saying that we have not sinned, not only are we not telling the truth, we are calling our Daddy a liar.  If we say that we haven't sinned, His word is not in us!  There is no excuse for sin.  We can't wipe it away by ourselves by saying that we never did it!  But, the Word (His name is Jesus) can free us from sin.  (John 1:1)  Do you know people that say that they have not sinned?  If so, the Bible plainly states that the Word is not in them!  Remember the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector?   (Luke 18:10-14)  The Pharisee was pretty pleased with himself.  He simply overlooked his own sin and looked down upon the tax collector who was on his knees repenting, fully realizing and admitting that he was far from perfect.  The tax collector asked for forgiveness and he received it.  The Pharisee went back home deceived.  It's true, he looked good on the outside, but his words proved that he was calling his Daddy a liar.  Daddy doesn't appreciate being called a liar.  The Pharisee did not stand a chance in the world of forgiveness and blessing but the sinful tax collector was repentant and he was forgiven.  He was in total agreement with His Daddy about the fact that he had sinned!  What do our words say about our Daddy?  Do we, by saying that we have not sinned, call Daddy a liar?  I hope not!


Romans 3:23-24 (KJV)   23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, I would never want to call You a liar!  Help me to walk in agreement with you by admitting my sin, repenting and asking for Your gift of forgiveness.  Thank You that You justify me freely by Your grace through the gift of redemption by the blood of Jesus!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 1:8 (KJV)  8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.


We live in a world that is dominated by secular humanism.  Many have shoved God into the background, placed Him in a box of their own making, or totally denied His existence!  Everything is relative these days.  But, God has not changed His mind.  He's not of the, "If it feels good, do it." persuasion.  In His eyes, sin is sin!  His Word carefully lays out for us just what sin is.  He gave Moses the Ten Commandments to give to the people so that they could see just what sin looks like.  He wanted them to know that they could not possibly keep the commandments without Him.  Without His love.  He wanted them to put away their ideas and follow His.  Today, people pretty much do what they want to do and rationalize it because they feel that they are, "good," people.  You'd be surprised at how many people think they're really good people even though they live their daily lives in a pattern of breaking God's commandments.  As a little girl in the 1950's, I used to like to watch, "Dragnet," on TV.  The star, Jack Webb, played Sargent Joe Friday.  He had a famous saying when he interviewed women who wanted to go on and on about their perception of things.  "Just the facts, ma'am!"  The show would start out with the words, "The story you are about to hear is true.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent."  Well, really, there are no innocent people in the world!  And that's the truth.  There are no innocent people to protect, only sinners for whom Christ died. (Romans 3:23)  We need to look just at the facts.  We've all sinned.  The good news is that we can be made righteous when we receive the forgiveness of Jesus by the cleansing of His blood.  Then we will have a new name.  We'll be a part of God's family.  And, we will be innocent.  Saved by grace!   If we say we have not sinned, that's just not the truth!  We don't have to deceive ourselves because the fact is that Jesus has died and rose again to save those who will admit that they have sinned and not walk in self-deceit.  This story is true because God said it! Sin is still sin.  But, we can be forgiven and receive the righteousness of Christ! Those are,  "just the facts!"


  1 John 1:9  
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, I confess that I have sinned and come short of pleasing You.  Thank You for being a God of forgiveness and new beginnings.  Thank You for cleansing me from all unrighteousness and changing my name from sinner to saint by the blood of Jesus! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 1:6 (KJV)  6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:



I have a dear sister-in-the Lord, who is now at Home with the Savior who used to fellowship with me wherever I went!  We moved three times during her lifetime and, even though we were no longer members of the church where we met her, she kept in touch with cards of encouragement and love.  We were not close, close friends.  But, we did have fellowship with the Lord and with each other.  I thank God for the memory of her cards that would come in the mail when I was lonely after moving to a new place.  I thank God for her e-mails of fellowship.  With her life, she shed the Light of Jesus into the lives of others.  Her favorite song to quote was, "Stepping in the Light."  John wrote that if we say we have fellowship with Jesus, but walk in the darkness, we lie!  Those are pretty strong words.  What is fellowship?  It is partnership, participation with, and social interaction with another.  Since Jesus is the Light, we can't really have true fellowship with Him if we insist upon walking in the darkness!  (Amos 3:3)  When John talks about darkness, he is referring to the darkness of sin.  The same darkness that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:23  Here, Jesus was talking about our heart being where our treasure is.  Is our Treasure the Light of the world?  Or, are our hearts bound to the things of this world that take us captive?  I realize that I do not fellowship enough with Jesus or with others!  I often find myself, "busy," taking care of my blessings instead of being a blessing to the Lord and to others!  However, there is hope!  The Light that is in us, as believers, will continue to shine, directing us in paths of righteousness.  It will turn our hearts toward the Giver of the blessings instead of the blessings, themselves!  There is a song that goes like this:  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."  I notice it says that the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, not the people of this earth!  Do we have real fellowship with Jesus?  My Dad used to be upset because I always had to be on the move.  He would constantly say, "Just sit down with me."  I wonder if that is what our Father is saying to us.  That's fellowship at it's most intimate level.  And, what about the people around us?  Are we sensitive to their needs for love, attention and compassion?  Walking in the Light is both sitting with, and doing, for Jesus and others.  So, do we say we walk in the Light but still insist in walking in darkness?  Nothing beats walking in the Light where we have wonderful communication and partnership with Jesus and with others!  This would not be possible if Jesus had not shed His blood for our redemption.  That was a very high cost on His part so we could have fellowship in the Light!  As we continue to walk in His light, we are continually cleansed from our sins.  Let's graciously receive the opportunity!  May God find us all, "Stepping in the Light." 


1 John 1:7  7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, please help me today to walk my talk.  If I claim that You, the Light of the world, are in me, help me to walk in Your light and shed the light upon those around me.  Thank You for your willingness to pay the supreme cost so that I could have my sins forgiven and have true fellowship with You and with others!

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 1:5 (KJV)  5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.


I had read 1 John 1:5 several times.  If you have been a believer for any time at all, you probably have read it many times too.  We know these things in our heads, but it is much different when we experience such things in our everyday life!  It was dark and cold in that hospital room, several years ago.  I was alone.  But, not really.  I was shaking and my skin was cold as ice. Fear was beginning to overtake me.  I had been admitted to the hospital with double-pneumonia for which they could not find a cause.  IV's were dripping antibiotics, and anti-viral's into my veins in effort to bring a cure for whatever was causing the disease.  I could not get a breath.  Couldn't cough or talk.  As I got colder and colder and the room seemed to be getting darker and darker, I was sure this would be my end.  In the Bible, we read of many times when Jesus shows up, suddenly.  Well, this night, I had a, "suddenly," experience and 1 John 5:7  became fabulously real to me!  In the midst of the darkness, I was suddenly surrounded by a golden light.  It was warm and soothing.  I knew I was not alone.  I heard a voice in my heart saying, "You are my child and there is no darkness in you."  Instantly, I was comforted and my fears fled.  My body became toasty warm and I went to sleep till morning.  When I awoke, the doctor came into the room declaring that I had gotten better but he didn't know how.  I told him that I knew how!  When the doctors of earth could not do the job, the Great Physician visited me.  He brought His light with Him.  He also assured me that, because I am His child, His light is already in me.  Even though that room was pitch black, there was no darkness at all when Jesus manifested Himself as my Light!  You know, God is not a respecter of persons.  As the song says, "It is no secret what God can do.  What He's done for others, He'll do for you."  Right now there may be places that feel dark in your life but, if you're His child, there is no darkness in you either.  Because when God sees you He sees Jesus, who is the Light.  It matters not whether you're in a cold, dark hospital room or the darkness of grief.  It doesn't matter if there seems to be darkness in your financial situation or whether your children seem to be walking in darkness.  The Light has come!  His Name is Jesus.  You can call on Him and His light will flood your heart and your situation!  Yes, I will never forget that He is my Light!


Psalm 119:105 (KJV)  105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, thank You that Your light has invaded my heart and life.  Help me to remember that Jesus is the Word and that Your Word (Your Son) is a lamp for my feet and a light to my path in this life.  Thank You for the "suddenly's," in life when your light is so evident to me!  Thank You that Your Light will never, ever fade away or burn out! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 1:4 (KJV)  4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.


Just in case you think I am saying that I am happy with all of the circumstances in my life, let me make it clear that I am not always happy with my circumstances!  Do I have financial challenges?  Yes!  But, my joy comes in knowing that Jesus has promised to meet my every need if I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  (Matthew 6:33)  Do I get confused as to what to do next in life?  Sometimes.  And, that can be frustrating and cause unhappiness.  But, my joy is full!  That's because I know the primary thing to do.  Jesus said to go and make disciples all over the world and teach others to observe what He said.  So, my joy is full, knowing that I can do this at the market, from the computer, on a plane, or anywhere I find myself! (Matthew 28:20)  Do I have physical challenges and pain.  Yes, I have those things too!  Some days are harder than others.  But, my joy is full, knowing that Jesus is my Great Physician.  Sometimes I am disappointed and unhappy with doctors but my joy remains full because I'm under the care of the Great Physician and He has purchased my healing!  (1 Peter 2:24)  I might add that the worst sickness is sin-sickness and the greatest miracle of healing is when Jesus, by His blood, washes away the disease of sin!  Are there loved ones in my life who just don't seem to, "get it," when it comes to making Jesus the Lord of their lives?  Yes.  I have that situation too.  Do I grieve at times because I see them walking in the wrong direction?  Of course!  But, at the same time, my joy is full.  I know that it is not the will of God that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9).  Perhaps Jesus has delayed His coming again just so your loved one or my loved one would have time to repent and be ready!  John was excited when he wrote 1 John 1:3.  I can just feel it between the lines.  He was writing so you and I could know that he had really seen and touched the Jesus that you and I see and touch only by faith today.  John was full of joy because of his experience of being in the presence of Jesus..  When we're full of joy, don't we just want everyone else to be full of it too?  I think that's why John was writing here.  His desire was that our joy, like his, would be full!  He's not talking about all the muck we have to walk through on earth.  That can certainly make us unhappy, at times, with our circumstances.  But, underneath it all, Jesus is our joy.  He has given us His joy!  We know that God is a God of new beginnings and second chances.  Despite everyday problems and setbacks, my joy is full, is yours?


John 15:11 (AMP)   11 I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Thank You, Lord, for giving the Apostle, John, the opportunity to see You in person and touch You with his hands.  Thank You for John's willingness to spread the joy of his experience to me today so that, by faith, I can see You and touch You.  So that I, too, can be filled with the joy that You have given me.  Help me to receive it today, all day, in every circumstance! 

Horizontal Divider 11





1 John 1:1 (KJV)  1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;


There are lots of things we believe, just because someone else has told us about them.  For instance, many historical things have happened and we believe them through the words and stories of those who actually experienced them.  So it is with the Apostle, John.  He and the other disciples who walked with Jesus actually saw Him with their eyes!  They touched Him with their hands!  John is telling us about their experience so we might believe by faith.  There was one disciple who refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, even though the others had told him.  His name was Thomas.  Jesus was patient with Thomas.  He made a special appearance just so Thomas could see Him with his own eyes and touch Him with his own hands.  But that appearance has the implication of a rebuke for Thomas in it.  Could there be a slight nudging there for us too in some area of our life?  Jesus asks Thomas, "Do you believe now?  Do you trust now?  Do you have faith now?"  What could Thomas say?  He could do nothing but believe because he had seen Jesus with his eyes and touched Him with his hands!  (John 20:29)  Thomas probably should have listened to his fellow-disciples, but he may have been a very practical man with the mindset that, "seeing is believing?"  As with so much of the scripture, I find that Kingdom principles are just the opposite of man's ideas.  For us who believe, "believing is seeing", not the other way around.  We trust God, by faith, to manifest Himself in our lives through answered prayer.  We know He can do it.  (Hebrews 11:1)  Our faith is the evidence of things we believe.   Just in case you are that practical (sometimes called doubting) Thomas, don't be afraid to ask God to prove Himself to you.  (Malachi 3:10)   But, be prepared!  God already knows what you and I need before we even ask Him!  (Matthew 6:8)  The truth is that He is able to do a whole lot more than what we can even think to ask!  (Ephesians 3:20)  All through scripture, we see opportunities to obey God, have faith in Him, and trust Him before we actually see our prayers manifested. In this case, we can trust the testimony of John and the other disciples.  We, by faith, handle the Word of Life every day when we read His Word and commune with Him in prayer.  He is the Word.  (John 1:1)  He is from the beginning and forever will be.  He is now!  Do we believe now?  Do we trust Him now?  Do we have faith now?  If so, Jesus said that we are blessed!  Even though we have not seen Him with our physical eyes or touched Him with our physical hands, we have seen Him and touched Him by faith!  What is the result?  We are blessed!


John 20:29 (AMP)  29 Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, thank You that I can see You and touch You through Your Word every day and that I can keep Your Word in my heart so that I will not stray away from You.  Thank you for the blessing of faith and the testimony of those who have gone before us.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:23 (KJV)  23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen


This morning, as I write, I am thinking of all of you who will read this.  That's what the Apostle, Paul, was thinking about when he penned, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Philippians 4:23.  While he was writing to the Philippian believers, he was also writing to all who would read his letter to them in the scripture down through the ages!  I really doubt whether Paul knew his writing would have such an impact on the world!  So, we might want to think about our own actions, words, and writings.  We don't know what a lasting impact they will have!  In closing his letter, Paul wanted to leave the readers with something lasting and comforting.  He could not be with them because he was in prison.  But, he could pronounce upon them a blessing; and that's just what he did!  His blessing was that grace would be with all of them.  The grace he blessed them with was not just any old grace.  Certainly, it was not cheap grace.  It was the grace of the Lord Jesus.  Their Lord, Jesus.  Our Lord, Jesus.  The blessing of Paul was that God would place His divine influence in the hearts of all believers.  That God would grant favor to all believers.  That the hearts of believers would follow God's leading and that they would be thankful, reflecting on His goodness through life.  Surely, this grace that comes from God is not just any grace.  The very first definition in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for, "grace," is:  a:  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification  b:  a virtue coming from God  c:  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.  There are other usages for, "grace, but the first definition is about divine grace.  The grace of God comes to us through Jesus Christ.  (John 1:17)  You and I, as believers are justified by the grace of Christ Jesus.  (Romans 3:24)   We don't deserve it because we have all sinned.  (Romans 3:23)  Yet, the love of God for us, and His desire that our hearts might be opened to His divine influence, caused Him to give His only, and perfect, Son to die in our stead.  Now, by His Spirit, we have God's divine influence upon our hearts!  How amazing that God would give of His best, the best of Heaven, so that our hearts would be open to His influence!  That is what "Amazing Grace," is all about.  It's not just any grace.  It's God's amazing grace.  It's the grace that causes God to look past our faults and failures (sin), and see Jesus in us.  It's the grace that influences our hearts every day to help us to follow Jesus closer than the day before.  This grace is not just amazing.  It was costly for God.  He gave His all for us.  Can we do less than give back to Him?  Will we give our all because we have been blessed by the amazing grace of God?  Will we, like the Apostle, Paul, bless others by imparting the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, to them?  Grace has given us salvation but it is also something that works through us every day, in every situation; if we will let it.  It's God's divine influence upon our hearts, making us to look more and more like Jesus!  It's not just any grace.  It is the grace purchased for you and me by Jesus with His death, burial and resurrection.  It comes from His spilled blood.  It truly is a unique and amazing grace!  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all who read this and may it spill over to all those around you!  Amen!


1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (AMP)  4 I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,   5 [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Father, thank You for our Lord Jesus, for His life, death, and resurrection, to purchase the grace that I now enjoy.  Thank You, Jesus,  for Your saving and sustaining grace that comes through Your Holy Spirit to influence my heart and bring me God's favor!  Help me to speak the blessing of Your grace to those around me, just as God did, through Paul, to me. 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:21 (KJV)  21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.


"Onward Christian Soldiers!"  I remember singing that hymn as a child.  So, when I read, "salute," every saint..... in Philippians 4:21, the image that came to mind was that of one soldier saluting another as a show of respect.  I love surprises, especially when they come from the Lord.  When I looked up the word, "salute," in the Strong's Dictionary, I found that my image was completely wrong!  The word, "salute," has to do with union!  What it really denotes is, "to enfold in the arms.".  It can also mean to greet and to embrace.  And, it can be used to say, "good-bye."  So, my image of this term, as being rather militaristic, was not exactly right!  How awesome to see that it is a term that could carry with it the desire of the Lord that all of His people walk in unity!  (John 17:11)  That's exactly what Jesus prayed for before He left this earth!  The Apostle, Paul, tells the Philippian believers to salute every saint in Christ Jesus!  Then he tells the Philippian believers that all the saints salute them.  It's interesting that he does not designate specific churches or groups of followers of Christ (saints).  He says, all!  When he does become specific, he speaks of a household, rather than the name of a local church. (Philippians 4:22) Some of us have a problem with the word, "saint," thinking that it is a man-designated title.  But, it is not!  A saint is a believer and follower of Christ.  So, my friend, if you are a believer, you are a saint.  God says so!  I get very sad sometimes when I see the, "saints," gather into cliques (called denominations, or non-denominations, or movements).  I remember that Paul was kind of perturbed at this behavior too.  People back then began to name themselves after the man the followed, instead of remembering and declaring that they were all of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:12)  No matter what denomination we may attend, we are, first and foremost, followers of Christ!  He has people in all of the denominations, non-denominations, and movements all over the world.  They may not all look like us, come from the same culture, have the same language, or agree with us on every little point.  But, those who agree that Jesus is Lord, and follow His Word, are all saints, no matter what the sign over their meeting building says!  What do you ask someone about themselves when you are just beginning to know them?  Do you ask whether they are a Baptist, Methodist, Charismatic, etc.?  And, does their answer affect the way you see them?  Or, do you look for the Jesus in them?  No matter what church group we attend, Paul talks about saluting every saint and says that all saints salute us!  Why are there divisions among those of us who believe in Jesus?    Is it that we are not looking past the denominational (or non-denominational) sign on the door and lifting our heads to look at the Head of the Body, who is Jesus?  That includes everyone and all those who confess that He is Lord and believe in their hearts that He is raised from the dead, continuing to follow His Word ,as they go through life.  Are we there yet?  Can we look past insignificant differences among us and start enfolding one another in our arms so that the Body of Christ can operate effectively?  So that His Kingdom, which is inside every one of us, will come in this world?  (Luke 11:2) Jesus wanted us all to become one in Him.  We can do that when we keep our eyes on Him and not on our differences!


2 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV) 12 Greet one another with an holy kiss.   13 All the saints salute you.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, help me to recognize You in all believers, no matter what their denomination, race, gender, and culture might be.  Help me to be a part of allowing Your Kingdom to unite on earth by becoming one with and, "saluting," every believer and all believers, disregarding minor differences and focusing on You!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:19 (KJV)  19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.


Many of us know Philippians 4:19 and it is quoted quite a bit in Christian circles.  Even if you are not a Christian, someone may have tried to comfort you with the saying that God will supply all of your need.  However, sometimes I think we forget the context in which the Apostle, Paul, writes.  God is not our sugar-daddy.  Yes.  He loves to give good gifts to His children.   (Matthew 7:11)  Jesus compares our Heavenly Father with us, as parents.  If we are a truly loving parent, it will be our desire to give our children everything we possibly can.  But, the truth is that sometimes we cannot do that.  Not because we don't have the desire.  Not because we don't have the resources.  It's because our children have been disobedient!  We all know and appreciate God's grace.  That's when He gives us something we don't deserve.  The greatest gift of grace is the gift of salvation.  Jesus died for us while we were still disobedient.  We didn't deserve it.  God gave it anyway!  Now that we are under His grace, we can't do anything to earn more grace, but we do need to learn to become obedient children!  We need to become, not just saved, but disciples of Jesus.  A disciple is someone who has been taught by another and has learned to be disciplined. The Philippian believers were not overly rich.  For them to give to Paul was a sacrifice.  (Philippians 4:18)  Because their motives were pure and they reached out to Paul with an offering just as soon as they possibly could, God considered their sacrifice as well pleasing.  It was like sweet perfume to Him.  So, like any parent who is happy with their child's progress, God rewarded the Philippian believers with a promise.  How wonderful it is that all of God's promises are yes, and amen! (2 Corinthians 1:20)  But, let me go back to the context in which this promise was made.  Why did God make such a promise?  Because the Philippian believers operated in love.  Their motives were pure, so far as we know.  They had compassion for Paul.  Their desire was to generously supply his needs in prison.  These were the people that received the promise.  The promise that God would supply all of their needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.  They had sacrificially supplied Paul's needs and, because of their graciousness in wanting to do that, God promised that they would not lack either.  Giving makes a full circle.  It goes from the Philippians to the Lord, through Paul, and comes right back from the Lord to the Philippians!  God has not promised to meet all of our needs if we are not need-suppliers, ourselves.  But, He has promised to supply all of our needs in Christ Jesus when we, like the Philippian believers, look with compassion and love on the needs of another and reach out to meet them, joyfully.  Where are you in the circle of giving?  Philippians 4:19 is not just a haphazard promise from God.  It is a promise with a purpose.  When the conditions are met, the purpose will be fulfilled.  Everyone will have their needs met by God!  Yes!  God uses people!  How privileged we are to be included in His circle of giving!!


Luke 6:38 (KJV)  38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank You, Lord, for including me in Your circle of giving.  Please help me to look upon the needs of others and give as though I were putting it right into Your hand.  Thank You for Your promise to meet all of my needs when I follow You. 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:18 (KJV)   18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.


Maybe you're like me and you really enjoy sweet-smelling things.  Well, our God is fond of sweet-smelling things too!  Right in the beginning of His Word, it says that the Lord smelled a sweet fragrance when Noah made a burnt offering to Him after the ark landed on dry ground.  It was a new beginning for Noah and his family and Noah remembered God with a sacrifice.  (Genesis 8:21)  When God smelled the sweet savor, He determined to never again curse the ground because of the sins of man.  Soon after God made this decision, he put the rainbow in the sky as a token of the covenant He had made with Noah (and us).  (Genesis 9:13)  Yes, God does like the sweet fragrance of sacrifice!  God's pleasure in the sweet savor, or smell, of a sacrifice is mentioned again in Exodus 29:18.  God asks the priests to sacrifice to Him and He lets them know that He likes the sweet smell of it.  (As believers, we are priests. - Revelation 1:6, 5:10)  Again, it is mentioned in Leviticus 2:12 regarding the firstfruits offering that the Lord asks of the people.  Though this offering is not to be burnt, it is still for a sweet savor, or pleasant fragrance to God.  Again it is mentioned in Numbers 15:10.  When we get to the New Testament, we find Mary in John 12:3.  She took a pound of spikenard, which was a very costly sacrifice for her, and anointed the feet of Jesus.  When she did that, the whole house was filled with the  fragrance.  Jesus was the recipient of the costly ointment of spikenard but all those around got to smell the sweet odor too!  Jesus was just about to give Himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God for us and, in Ephesians 5:2, it says that Jesus and His sacrifice of Himself were a sweet smelling savor to God.  Just like the animal sacrifices of old!  Interestingly enough, we, as believers, are the sweet smell of Christ to those that are saved.  Those who know Christ think we smell really good!  Those who don't know Him, unfortunately, do not appreciate our perfume.  To them, we smell like death.  (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)  As we relinquish more and more of ourselves to the Lord, we smell better and better to Him and to those around us who will believe in Jesus.  We become a life-giving fragrance.  A perfume that is so costly and unique that it cannot be purchased with money!  Interestingly, the Apostle, Paul, congratulates and encourages the Philippian believers because their sacrifice for his needs is a sweet smelling sacrifice which is acceptable and well-pleasing to God.   Yes!  God does love the sweet smell of  a fragrant, joyful, voluntarily given, sacrifice!  What does your perfume smell like?  Does it have that heavenly, sweet smell of sacrifice to the Lord and for the good of others?  Do you think sacrifices like this come from walking in love, just as Jesus did?  Just as He was a fragrant sacrifice for us to God, so we can be a fragrant perfume of sacrifice back to God and for others!

Ephesians 5:2 (KJV)  2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, thank You for teaching me about sweet-smelling sacrifices and for sending Jesus to be a sweet-smelling sacrifice to You, just for me.  Help me to walk through life being sweet-smelling before You and those around me.  Let me constantly bring before You the sweet-smelling sacrifice of praise!  (Hebrews 13:15)

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:14 (KJV)  14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.


Don't you admire the Apostle, Paul, for his strength in learning to be content in every situation?  For knowing how to live in lack and humility and how to live when exalted and with abundance?  It seems like he has it altogether with his God, doesn't it?  That's right where I want to be and I'm sure you do too!  There is a, "nevertheless," to this story though.  Even though Paul had learned to be content, even when writing from prison, not knowing exactly how his needs were going to be met, he was still interested in the blessing that others might receive because they had helped him when they could.  Our relationship with the Lord should be just as secure as Paul's relationship with the Lord was.  But, it can't end there.  On this earth, we will all find ourselves in need in some area.  It could be emotional, spiritual, or financial.  We will have some need!  Yes, God does supply all of our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19) But, as I like to say, God uses people.  When people are willing to be used of God by giving to others they receive a blessing from God.  Paul knew that God would provide for him somehow, even if the Philippian believers did not contribute to his welfare in prison.  Yet, Paul said to them, "You did well to help me out when I needed it."  Paul was able to receive a blessing from the Philippian believers with joy and, without shame, because Paul knew that the same God who provided for his needs would provide for the needs of the believers that reached out to him with help.  I have a dear friend who always reminds me that I like to say, "God uses people."  I have been in  places where I needed help and she is always there to generously give of her love, her prayers, her time, and even extravagant gifts.  I have to admit that I find it hard to receive so much.  Yet, like Paul, I'm convinced that God is going to bless her many times over for what she has given to me in times of need (sometimes she has given to me, "just because").  While Paul did not need anyone but God to help him in his time of need, he knew that the Philippians would be greatly blessed because of their care and assistance.  He didn't want to deny them such a blessing.  He wanted them to have that blessing!  So, aside from the fact that Paul was secure in the Lord and His provision, Paul received the gifts from the Philippians and told them that they had done a good job!  I'm sure Paul was secure in the knowledge that his gracious acceptance of the gift would result in their great blessing from the Lord.  Whether or not we have the great faith of Paul concerning God's provision, are we willing to graciously receive gifts, as well as give them, so that we can all share in God's blessings?  Paul was very secure in the Lord.  Nevertheless, he honored the Philippians, and God, by receiving their gift so that they could be blessed!


Philippians 4:15-17 (NLT) v15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.   17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, help me to receive from others, as well as give to others for your sake, so that we all might be abundantly blessed by You.  Thank You for working through people!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:13 (KJV)   13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.


Have you ever felt inadequate?  Like you didn't quite measure up?  Or, have you ever felt weak and unsure about whether you could complete a task that lies in front of you?  I'm so glad that I don't have to count on my own strength to live out this life on earth, with all of its challenges!  When I am weak, that is the perfect time for my perfect Lord to show Himself strong! (2 Corinthians 12:10)  The Apostle, Paul, said that he took pleasure in the challenges of life because when he was weak, then he was strong.  That may sound like it makes no sense.  It doesn't make sense to the one who doesn't know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  But, to Paul, it made perfect sense.  When he was at his weakest, Jesus poured His own strength in.  When we're full of ourselves and our own strength, there is no room left for the strength of Jesus.  We may think we're strong but, in reality, we are weak and frail.  (Psalm 103:14)  Instead of exalting himself (he had all the credentials necessary to do so), Paul admitted his total weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  In fact, Paul was happy knowing that he was weak because, then, the power of Christ could rest upon him.  Are you weak in any way today?  If so, and if we admit our weaknesses to the Lord, the power of Christ will rest upon us.  We will be able to do that which He has called us to do when we, otherwise in our own strength, could not!  I know this because the Word tells me it is so.  I also know it from experience.  There's nothing greater than going into a project, knowing you can't possibly do it and then coming out on the other side, finished because Christ gave you the strength to get through!  The prophet, Joel, saw the time when the weak would say that they were strong.  (Joel 3:10)  We used to sing a popular worship song that said, "And now let the weak say, 'I am strong because of what the Lord has done for us.'"  That is exactly what Joel and Paul have said in the scriptures!  Jesus tells us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  I'm pretty weak so I'm excited that I'm a great candidate for God to show His strength.  God rarely calls those who consider themselves strong enough and with the best qualifications.  Instead he calls the weak and gives them strength and many times calls the unqualified and then qualifies them Himself!  Who else but God can take an ordinary, weak person and do, in and through them, out of the ordinary and mighty things?


 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 (KJV)   26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, when I feel weak, let me be like Paul and consider it a joy, knowing it is the perfect opportunity for You to show Yourself strong.  Thank you for bending down to give strength to the weak and weary.  I receive that strength right now and give You the glory! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:12 (KJV) 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.


It's interesting how life has its ups and downs.  One day we may be well off and the next day, things may look a lot different.  I heard of an acquaintance that was feeling great one day and ended up in the hospital the next day.  No warning!  The Apostle, Paul, knew how to be abased and how to abound.  Quite a difference there.  Paul must have learned, (through learning to be content in every situation - Philippians 4:11) to know how to be abased and how to abound!  Do we know how?  What does it mean to be abased?  According to the Strong's Dictionary it means to depress.  It is used to describe, figuratively, humiliation (in condition or heart).  Have you ever been depressed?  Some Christians would say that we, as believers, should never be depressed.  But the fact is that sometimes we are!  It's what we do with it when it happens that counts.  Paul knew how to be abased.  Do we know how?  In our world, the key seems to be to sell yourself or make yourself known.  In short, to exalt yourself.  However, Matthew 23:12 does not seem to give that advice.  Jesus said that whoever exalted himself (or herself) would be brought down but whoever humbled (abased) himself (or herself) would be exalted.  Do we know how to bring ourselves low or deal with the low times in life?  At the other end of the spectrum is abundance.  That is, to abound.  This can be in quality or quantity.  It can mean to superabound!  Believe it or not, it is just as hard to know how to deal with super abundance as it is to deal with abasement!  Both have their temptations.  Watching a man of God, like Paul, helps us to know that we can know both how to be abased and how to abound.  Paul said that everywhere and in all things he knew both how to be humbled and to operate in superabundance.  Do we know how to do this or do we complain when we're abased and get haughty or self-sufficient when we abound.  Bound up in one short verse is a lifetime of learning!  We serve a God who never changes.  (Malachi 3:6)  Like Paul, we will do well to learn and then know how to operate in any situation and condition, never letting the circumstance change our stance in and for the Lord.


James 1:9-10 (AMP)  9 Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God],   10 And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. 


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, help my faith in You to be strong so that I know how to be abased and to abound no matter where I am or in what situation I find myself.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:11 (KJV)   11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


No matter what our station in life, we all have wants, don't we?  If we can't think of anything we want, all we have to do is watch TV for a while, look through our junk mail, or read a magazine.  They will all tell us what we want!  Hopefully, we will not buy into all of those things.  I must admit that I have done that sometimes and found that I really did not want that thing at all.  It ends up somewhere in the back of a closet or at the Good Will!  I must also admit that I have never been in prison (thank God).  I do not know what it means to be locked up in a prison where personal needs are not met.  That's the way it was in Paul's day when he was in prison.  Prisoners had to have friends or family to bring them the necessities of life.  However, if I was in prison, unable to fend for myself in obtaining my wants (and in Paul's case,  his needs), I would not be a happy camper.  I would hope that I would speak as Paul spoke.  I hope I would not complain about my wants, but I'm still in a process and, to tell you the truth, I don't think I'm quite there yet!  How about you?  I have some learning to complete in the area of being content, no matter what.  God has blessed me abundantly and, even though sometimes I think I want something, I really do not need anything!  I have been in many different financial situations in life and many types of housing.  I know what it is to be on welfare and have the electric company come knocking on your door demanding payment or threatening to turn off the electricity.  I know what it is to have four children to feed and no food in the house.  Yet, I also know my God.  He has never failed me, even in those circumstances.  In fact, He has given me a wonderful husband who has provided, through God's grace for me, much more than I needed!  I've spent the years of my life riding the roller coaster up and down, but in it all, God was always the same!  Still, I often complained, both in the lean years and the prosperous years.  Paul was sitting in prison.  His fellow-believers in Philippi had wanted to help but found it impossible until this time.  But, even in a prison, Paul is assuring them that he has not been in want!  Why?  Because Paul had learned to be content in every situation!  I'm still learning!  Are you?  Why could Paul be content in every situation, no matter what the circumstances looked like?  Because he knew His God well.  He knew that God is always faithful.  (Psalm 119:90)  How can I learn to be content in all situations?  I can know that God is faithful!  Even when I am faithless, God does not change.  Because God does not change, I can change, knowing that my contentment is not in my circumstances but in His unfailing love and provision.  I'm still learning!  Are you?


2 Timothy 2:13 (AMP)  13 If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, please help me to learn to be content as I remember that Godliness, with contentment, is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)    Thank You that I can be content because You never will be, unfaithful to me. 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:10 (KJV)  10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.


I remember once driving down a road and seeing a person in the median with a sign asking for money, food, or some work.  I wanted to help out, but before I could get my window down and find some cash, the traffic started up again keeping me from doing what my heart told me to do.  It made me very sad.  Have you ever wanted to do something for someone but didn't have the opportunity or the resources?  That happens to me every day.  There are so many people in our world that are in circumstances that are much worse than our own!  The Apostle, Paul, was in prison and he had some needs.  But, as he wrote to the Philippian believers, he was now rejoicing because they had been able to help him. Did Paul hold it against the Philippians because, at first, they were unable to help him?  I don't believe so.  I think Paul, like God, saw the heart of the Philippian believers, but realized that they did not have the opportunity to help him.  I don't believe it changed his love for them at all.  Neither does it change God's love for us if we are unable to meet another's needs for one reason or another.  Today, there is a lot of talk about unresolved guilt.  The Philippians could have beat themselves over the head for not being able to help earlier.  But, perhaps they had the concept down in their hearts that they were not under condemnation because they were in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:1)  Even though they could not help at first, they were walking in Christ Jesus and their heart was right.  Instead of short-circuiting themselves with guilt, they waited for the time when they could do something and they did it.  This caused Paul to rejoice.  He also explained to them that he understood that they had wanted to help, but they previously could not.  Paul was trusting, not in others to give him a helping hand, but in the God of provision.  That enabled him to continue to pray for and love those in Philippi, no matter what.  God saw the heart of the believers in Philippi and, in His time, He provided the opportunity for them to help Paul.  Have you ever wanted to do something for someone but found that you could not?  God sees your heart.  Do not feel condemned.  Just wait for God's timing and, in the meantime, help where you can.  You will be able to give others reason to rejoice.  But, remember this.  God is rejoicing over you right now with singing.  Listen to His song and follow along.  You're sure to bless somebody!


Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)  17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.



PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I so often want to help others but find myself unable to do what I want to do for them.  Thank You for seeing my heart and helping me to do, today, whatever I can, knowing that You see my heart and you, like Paul, are rejoicing over me!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:9 (KJV)  9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.


Everyone is looking for peace these days, aren't they?  World peace.  Peace in schools.  Peace in the marketplace.  Peace in churches.  Peace in our families.  Peace within ourselves.  What if we could have the God of peace with us all the time?  Well, we can!  The Apostle, Paul, has told us to think about things that have to do with God.  (Philippians 4:8)  That's a good start because we become what we think about!  Now, Paul is telling us that there are some conditions for us to meet, but we can  experience the presence of the God of peace!  I read a Facebook post today that said something like, "If we can't find peace within ourselves, it is pointless to look for it elsewhere."  We can find peace within ourselves.  But, that peace does not come from ourselves.  It comes from the God of peace who is present inside of us!  As with many of God's precious promises, the promise of having the God of peace with us has some, "if's."  In this case, we're supposed to have learned, received, and heard God's Word from Paul.  We're also supposed to have taken a good look at Paul's life.  But, it doesn't stop there.  We're supposed to do what we have learned, received, heard and seen in and from Paul!  No wonder we need to be in the Word constantly!  Most of those things that we're supposed to do are not commonly done in the world we live in today.  That's also why we need each other.  To remind ourselves that we're "straight-running, overcomin' saved by grace," children of faith (as the song says).  We're not only all of that but, we need to live according to what we are.  What we've learned, received, heard and seen in Paul and other people of God.  In a world that is severely lacking in peace, do you want peace?  Of course you do!  And so do I!  We can have the presence of the God of peace if we will just do what we have been taught by His Word to do!  And, if we have the God of peace, others will experience peace when we're around and they will want it too.  Everybody wants peace!  The only true peace comes from having the God of peace present within us!


1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)   33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.



PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, I need peace.  I need You, the God of peace, to be present with me.  Help me to do what I have learned in Your Word.  As I do that, I thank you that You are with me, my God of peace! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)  8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


Can you think of anything commendable in your life?  Can you think of anyone in your life who is worthy of commendation?  That's what praise means.  As I began to write this little devotional concerning whether there is any praise to think about, I immediately thought, "no problem."  There is always room to praise God and we cannot exhaust all of the things for which we can praise God!  But, as I looked up the specific meaning of the word Paul has used for, "praise," here, I discovered something new!  This word is used, according to Vine's Dictionary, "of those on account of, and by reason of, whom as God's heritage, "praise" is to be ascribed to God in respect of His glory (the exhibition of His character and operations)."  This same word, translated, "praise," is used in Ephesians 1:12, regarding us, as believers.  We're supposed to be to the praise of His glory.  It's used again in Ephesians 1:14, this time to describe our inheritance in Christ which is to the praise of His glory.  It's also in Ephesians 1:6, where Paul describes the praise of God's grace which has made you and me accepted in the beloved.  In Philippians 1:11, it is used to describe how we're to be filled with the fruits of righteousness which will be to the praise of God.  It is used to commend the Jewish people who truly worship God in spirit so that their praise is of God and not of men.  (Romans 2:29.)  I love this next verse.  It is used in 1 Corinthians 4:5.  This verse is proof that, at the judgment day, if we have truly served Christ, no matter what others thought of us, we will have the praise of God!  Lastly, it is used to let us know that, if we live proper lives, we will receive the praise of those who rule over us.  (Romans 13:3; 1 Peter 2:14)  Once again, God has given me a new revelation.  Yes, I must praise God, first and foremost.  But, if anyone around me is worthy of praise because they serve God, I can honor them too.  Next to God, is there someone in your life of whom you can say, "They really live to the praise of God."?  In this word, I see the cross with praise to God going up and praise to those who serve Him going outward!  While there are lots of things that tempt us to negative thinking about others around us, there are also lots of people who love the Lord and are serving Him!  How many of them can you think of today?  Perhaps you just might want to encourage them by letting them know that you see them living for the praise of God!  If there is any praise (and there surely is), think about that!


 1 Corinthians 4:5 (KJV)   5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank you, Lord, for placing people all around me who live for Your praise and glory.  Help me today and everyday, to think of them and to encourage them.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.



The way we think is the way we're going to be.  If we think about good things, the chances are that our actions are going to be good.  If we think about bad things, those things will eventually invade our actions.  The Apostle, Paul, in Philippians 4:8, is trying to guide us into proper and positive thinking.  Not the positive thinking that many secular humanists teach.  Paul wants us to think on the things of the Lord, which are always positive because God loves His creation and everything He says is true.  Paul tells us that, if there is any virtue, to think about that.  There are so many things we can think about as we watch the nightly news or hear others complaining about the challenging times in which we live.  But, we, because we believe that God is in control, have many other things to think about!  What is virtue, as translated in Philippians 4:8?  According to the Strong's Talking Dictionary, it is something, "manly," as in the word, "valor."  Things that are virtuous are things of excellence and things that are praiseworthy.  The Apostle, Peter, encourages us by letting us know that God has given us everything that concerns life and Godliness.  God expects us to use those things to live a life of virtue.  God has called you and me to virtue.  To be excellent.  To be people of valor.  So, why not start thinking about things that are virtuous?  2 Peter 1:3  Peter also gives us a list of things to do in order to live a Godly life of faith.  To our faith, we are to add virtue.  This morning, I encourage you to think about things of virtue.  Things of excellence.  2 Peter 1:5   According to Peter, we are to add virtue to our faith and then knowledge to our virtue.  It's time to start thinking virtuous thoughts!  It's interesting to note that the translators of the King James Version of the Bible translated the Greek word, "dynamis," as, "virtue," in Mark 5:30.  This is the story of the woman with the issue of blood that pressed in through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus's garment; and she was healed.  Jesus knew that power had gone out of Him even though He did not see her touch his robe.  So, if we want to have the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit, we might want to begin to think virtuous thoughts.  What is foremost in your thoughts this morning?  Let's check to be sure every thought is an excellent thought.  All of the previous things that Paul has urged us to think about in Philippians 4:8 are virtuous thoughts.  It's time to develop virtuous thinking so that our lives will become lives of excellence for the King of Kings!  


 2 Peter 1:5 (KJV)  5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, help me to be a person of excellence for You by thinking about things of virtue!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.


Among everything that started flooding your mind this morning when you awoke, were there thoughts of good reports?  Perhaps you went to the doctor this week and are awaiting the results of testing.  Of course, you want a good report!  Is it time for report cards in school?  A good report is exactly what you're looking for!  And what about that performance review at work?  Everybody is looking for a good report in that area.  A good report could even mean a better paycheck!  There may be times when the doctor's report doesn't look so good to us or the grades aren't exactly what we thought we had, or the performance review is less than expected.  But, there are things that we can think about that are of good report.  As believers, we are never without a good report.  We have the good news (good report) of the gospel.  (Matthew 24:14)   The good report, in spite of all of our challenges and unmet expectations, is that Jesus lives! (John 21:14, Hebrews 7:25)  A good report is something reputable.  It is something of fame.  Something shining and clear.  As with all of the other things that Paul asks us to think upon in Philippians 4:8, it comes right back to God.  Luke 4:37 tells us that the fame of Jesus went all over the land.  The underpinnings of this word used to describe the fame that Jesus had are a part of the words, "good report."  Whether or not our circumstances are exactly favorable or worthy of being of good report, we always have good reports to think about.  Jesus came and loved us when we were still sinners.  (Romans 5:8)   That's a good report.  He died for us to save us from our sin.  (Romans 1:16)  Another good report.  He did not stay in the grave.  (Matthew 28:6)  Now there's a very good report.  And, an even better report is that He lives today and has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  (Matthew 28:20)  If we will follow Him, He has promised to be our Light.  (John 12:46)  If we will give generously, He has promised to meet all of our needs!  (Philippians 4:19)   If we will use His Word, we can send the devil running.  (Matthew 4:10) If we read His Word, we can renew our minds and be conformed to His image.  (Romans 12:2)  All of these things are things that are of good report.  All of these things will allow us to maneuver through this world of strange, and sometimes uncomfortable, circumstances knowing that the final good report is that, "we win."  Because God is for us.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  These things are good reports, if I have ever heard a good report!  Do you need some good reports to think upon?  Just start going through the above and all of the other promises in the Word!  I love a good report and we certainly have plenty of good reports to meditate upon when we open up the Word of God!


Proverbs 15:30 (KJV)  30 The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.



PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Thank you Lord for all the good reports in Your Word.  When I can't seem to find a good report in this world, thank you that I can find plenty of them in Your Word!  

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


What's on your mind this morning?  Whatever it is, I pray that it is a lovely thought!  There are so many self-help books on the shelves that tell us how to make changes in our lives for the better.  But, the Apostle, Paul, has really given us much to think about in Philippians 4:8 which, when thought about constantly, will change us completely!  And, for the better!  For instance, he says to think about things that are lovely.  As translated from the Greek language, that means things that are pro-friendly.  Acceptable.  Vine's Dictionary says that it means, "pleasing, agreeable, lovely."  For example, 2 Samuel 1:23 says that Jonathan and David were lovely and pleasant in their lives.  They were true friends.  Do you have a lovely friend like that.  I do and I am so thankful!  Also, Solomon's Song 5:16 declares, prophetically, that Jesus is altogether lovely.  When I think of the word, "lovely," I think of Psalm 84:1 that declares the loveliness of God's dwelling place and of Psalm 84:4 that tells of how blessed those are that dwell in God's lovely dwelling place, forever praising Him.  As with all the other things Paul urges us to think about in Philippians 4:8,  things that are lovely refer us back to the Lord.  It is truly a lovely thing to dwell in His presence.  We are His dwelling place if we have received Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 6:19)  Thinking about things that are lovely leads us to think thoughts of Jesus.  He is the One who, as the song says, is "altogether lovely."  Because He lives in us, our thoughts should be altogether lovely.  When our thoughts are altogether lovely, our speech will be that way because whatever is in our heart is going to eventually come out of our mouth!  So, today, as thoughts begin to enter our minds, let's check them out.  If they're not lovely, let's throw them out!  The Apostle, Peter, was in total agreement with Paul.  In 2 Peter 3:1, he said that both of his letters were written to stimulate us to wholesome thinking.  A lovely thought is a friendly, agreeable, pleasing, and wholesome thought.  It will never contain any evil!  What thought is on your mind this morning?  Is it lovely?


 1 Corinthians 14:20 (NIV)  20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, please help me to concentrate on thinking about things that are lovely today; things that point my mind to You. 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)  8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


Our brains are such fantastic creations.  It's true that we are wonderfully and marvelously made by the Lord.  Made in a very complex way! (Psalm 139:14)  Computers are quite complex but they are not, "living."  God gave us brains like computers, but He also gave us a heart and a spirit!  How awesome is that?  As they say about computers, "garbage in, garbage out."  In other words, if someone programs wrong things into a computer, the wrong thing will come out.  That's the way it is with us too, except that God has given us the discernment and ability to re-program our minds when the wrong thoughts try to take residence.  The Apostle, Paul, has written that we should program pure thoughts into our minds.  What are pure thoughts?  The word that Paul uses for, "pure," in Philippians 4:8, comes from a root word meaning, "holy."  So, whatever connotation the world might put on the word, "pure," we know what God really means when He says to think about things that are pure.  To have pure thoughts.  Our thoughts should be clean, innocent, modest, and perfect (mature).  How are your thoughts programmed this morning?  It's really easy to become distracted with impure thoughts.  All you have to do is turn on the TV, go to the movies, or listen to the talk going on around you in the office or in school.  While it is very difficult to separate our minds from these rampent impure thoughts, it is possible or God would not have told us to do it.  (Philippians 4:13)  When we think pure thoughts, we will be freeing ourselves from defilement and contamination.  I want to be free of these things.  Don't you?  Paul told young Timothy to keep himself pure.  (1 Timothy 5:22)  God would not automatically keep Timothy pure.  Timothy had to keep himself pure and so do we.  How do we do that?  By programming our minds to think pure thoughts!  To have thoughts that are free from unholy things.  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  How wonderfully complex God has made our brain!  Why would we want to contaminate or defile the main room in the temple of the Holy Spirit?  We don't have to do that.  By the grace and strength of Christ, we can program our minds to think, "pure," thoughts!


James 3:17 (KJV)  17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, with Your strength and, by Your grace, I choose to think pure thoughts that are free from the contamination and defilement that comes from the world.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


I have been having a lot of fun digging into Philippians 4:8 and finding out lots of things I did not know about what I am supposed to be thinking!  I hope and pray that I am getting a wholly renewed and revived mindset!  It's amazing to find that some words in Philippians 4:8 , that we take for granted that we know, have extensively deeper meanings!  Today, I am digging for treasure in the word, "just."  Are you thinking about things that are, "just," this morning?  Or, are you just thinking about the things you have to get done today or all the obstacles in your way?  What does it mean to think of things that are just?  The word that the Apostle, Paul, used in Philippians 4:8 for, "just," is really most often translated, "righteous."  Things that are just are things that are equitable or fair.  Sounds like the word we use a lot for legal affairs - justice.  It is that, but, as with all the other terms Paul has used, it is so much more!  It also implies innocence and holiness.  There we are, right back to God again!  What are you thinking about this morning?  Things that have to do with holiness?  With righteousness?  As they used to say, "rightwiseness"?  God is righteous (John 17:25)  The world, at large, does not know Him.  Do you suppose that is why most worldly just-ice systems seem to fall apart sooner or later?  As believers, we can know and be known by a just and righteous Heavenly Father.  Not only that, we are endowed with righteousness.  Not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ!  If we are, then, righteous people because of Christ, how fitting that Paul should remind us that we are to think of righteous things.  Of things that are just!  Even Jesus, when He walked the earth as a man, thought of the things of His Father.  Of things that were just (and still are).  Jesus said that His judgments were just because He didn't seek His own will but, instead, He sought the will of His Father.  (John 5:30)  In our daily lives, when we think of things that are just, we are thinking righteously, looking for the will of our Father instead of leaning on our own understanding and seeking to follow our own agenda.  I want to walk in the righteousness that Jesus died to give me, don't you?  (1 Corinthians 1:30)    We can stay on the straight and narrow much easier when we think about things that are just.  With these things on our mind, we will have no room for the unjust things that the devil and the world try to bring upon us!  Today, let's try thinking of things that are just (righteous)! 


Proverbs 3:33 (KJV)  33 The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.



PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, I purposely set my mind on Your will and Your ways because I know that You are just and righteous.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)  8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


What's on your mind this morning?  I hope it is not everything you saw last night on the news, describing the dishonesty of the financial and political leaders of our world.  Yes, and even sometimes those who claim to be, "church," leaders find themselves caught being dishonest!  It truly is hard to be honest all of the time!  But, the more we think about things that are honest, the more likely we will be to operate in genuine honesty.  What, exactly, does this word, "honest," in Philippians 4:8 mean?  It denotes that which is sacred.  "Hallowed," is a synonym.  It is actually the word, "venerable."  One commentator says it means, "nobly serious."  It is something that has stood the test of time and scrutiny.  So, perhaps Paul is just building on the word, "true," here.  We do the best in life when we think about the truth and when we meditate on things that are sacred, have stood the test of time, and been proven to be right.  That's a rarity in our world today but it's never too late to get back to basics!  Especially the basics of the Word of God.  When, as recorded in Acts 6:3, the apostles were looking for men to serve as deacons, they were looking for men of  honest report.  Men who had been proven to be wise and full of the Holy Spirit.  So, ,"honest," does not just mean something that is good and moral.  It has a deeper meaning of things that are sacred, revered and proven to be true.  The meaning of the Greek word translated, "honest," is also, "august," according to Vine's Dictionary.  No, not the month of August!  August means something that is dignified, stately, imposing, solid and staid.  That can certainly describe our God and His ways.  Now I have a much deeper understanding of what, "honest," means.  Now I know that Paul is telling me to think about things that are sacred, hallowed, proven to be true, dignified, solid, etc.  So, on Christ the solid Rock I stand. What's on your mind this morning?  Things that are honest?  Just that one word, with its depth of meaning can be enough to chew on all day long!  Since the things we think about most come out in our actions, we are sure to be a better witness for the Lord as we go about our daily activities if we think about the things of the Lord; things that are honest!


Proverbs 12:17 (NLT)   17 An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  Lord, may I think about things that are honest, proven, sacred, hallowed, and solid all day long and may my actions be a reflection of those thoughts.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:8 (KJV)   8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


Don't you love it when you leave someone for a while and they offer encouraging words for you to take along with you?  That's what the Apostle, Paul, did for the believers in Philippi.  He left them with a final thought, but that thought included five specific things to think about in order to stay encouraged and be focused on the Lord in a world that throws discouraging things at us every day.  Then he kind of lumps all of the good thoughts into two categories.  The first thing Paul mentions is that we should think about things that are true.  It's so much easier just to think about all the untruths we hear these days over the media and in advertising!  More than once, we have probably been deceived into buying a product that was less than what it was advertised to be.  And, we've probably listened to talk shows and news programs that put a spin on the truth.  It's interesting to note that the devil knows the truth, probably better than some of us do!  But, he just twists it a teeny-tiny bit to try to trip us up and get us into some wrong thinking!  No wonder we are urged by Paul to think only about things that are true!  And, when was the last time someone told you something about somebody else?  Did you believe it without checking out the facts?  That's why we're told not to let gossip come into our lives.  (Proverbs 17:4)  How easy it would be for us if we would just focus on The Truth!  (John 14:6)  Instead of asking ourselves, "What is truth?", we must ask, "Who is truth?"  Of course the answer is Jesus!  Today, many say that truth is relative.  Can I say, emphatically, that truth is not relative.  We cannot each have our own version of truth and find that our world is peaceful.  It is only when we think on The Truth, who is, The Word (who is Jesus), that we will find unity with one another and peace in the Lord.  Then, the question is, how will we know the truth that we should be thinking about?  The Truth has given us Himself, the Word!  It is right there written in our Bibles and more truth will be revealed by His Spirit as we read and choose to think about, or meditate, upon what is written!  What are you thinking about today?  Have you immersed yourself in some truth from the Word that you can think about?  Truth that will push out the lies of the world and the devil?  Truth that will dispel any darkness that threatens to encroach on you?  Thinking about what is true will make our days so much better!


2 Peter 1:12 (NLT)  12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.



PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  I will remind myself to think about the true things from the Word and not the lies from the world today; and everyday!   

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:7 (KJV) 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


I can remember a time when my husband and I were traveling.  Things were happening that we could not control.  Things that seemed not so good to us.  We found ourselves fretting and anxious about things we could that were out of our hands.  So, I got out the Bible and we read Philippians 4:7.  What a promise!  The peace of God will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  I don't know if this happens to you or not, but sometimes I know that Jesus is keeping my heart.  It's my anxious mind that I wonder about!  The peace of God is so amazing!  It defies our understanding.  When it comes upon us, we can navigate through the most troubled waters of life without flinching and throwing our hands up in frustration!  But, the beginning of Philippians 4:7 starts with an, "and," which prompted me to go back and read the previous verses to see if there was a condition to receiving such unbelievable peace.  The first thing I found was in Philippians 4:4.  I need to make the choice to rejoice and rejoice again, even if things look bad because I know that the Lord is good!  I need to be unselfish and patient, gentle and moderate in my dealings with others, letting the grace of Jesus show through. (Philippians 4:5)   Then I need to pray about everything and give all my anxieties to Jesus, knowing that He actually cares more about me than I care about myself! (Philippians 4:6)   All of these prayers need to be with a heart of thanksgiving because I know that He hears and that He will answer.  And then,  God will send His perfect peace to flood my heart and mind.  I will be able to walk on with a heart that is established in my Lord and a mind that is focused on His bidding!  God's promises are so wonderful!  Especially the promise that He will guard our hearts and minds with His own peace.  But, there are a few choices that we have to make, in cooperation with God, so that we can have that peace that passes all understanding.  May His peace be yours today as you rejoice in Him, live an unselfish life, pray about everything, give all your cares to Jesus, and walk through life with a heart of thanksgiving!


Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)   3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!


PRAYER FOCUS FOR THE DAY:  It will be my choice to rejoice always, be unselfish, pray about everything, give up fretting and live a life of thanksgiving because the Lord has promised me His peace. 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:6 (KJV)  6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.


Are you anxious today?  Why am I asking that when the King James Version of Philippians 4:6, says, "Be careful for nothing."?  I am asking because the word, "careful," sometimes brings to mind something other than what this verse means.  When it says, "Be careful for nothing," it means that nothing should make us anxious.  It is the same admonition we find in Matthew 6:28 when Jesus is asking us why we should be distracted about things like clothing.  He goes on to say that the lilies of the field do not toil for their clothing, yet they are beautifully arrayed.  The Apostle, Paul, is carrying forth this idea that came from Jesus by admonishing the Philippian believers (and us) not to be distracted by becoming worried and anxious over anything because we know that God hears, and answers, our prayers.  Just as He takes care of the lilies in the field, so much more will He take care of those things that can become a distraction to us in life.  So, if there is anything that is threatening to make you anxious and distracted this morning, run to the Lord in prayer.  Talk to Him about your concerns and thank Him ahead of time for the way He is going to provide, direct, protect, deliver, or whatever it is you might need.  We can be assured that God hears and answers (in His own time and will, and for our greatest good) every prayer that we utter with a heart of trust and thanksgiving!  Are you anxious this morning?  About anything?  Let not your heart be troubled!  We do believe in God and God never slumbers or sleeps.  (Psalm 121:4)    He is quite aware of each and every need we have this morning and quite willing, and able, to step in and help us to stay focused on what He wants us to do instead of being distracted by needless worry and care!  We don't need to be care-filled.  In fact, Paul says not to be full of care!  Are you anxious or filled with care this morning?  Turn it over to Jesus.  He is so willing to take it because He cares for you so much!


1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)   7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Lord, I give you all of my cares and my anxieties, thanking You that you care enough for me to take them, work them out, and make me carefree!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:5 (KJV) 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.


In answer to the title question, I have to admit that my moderation is not always known by all people!  I'm not talking about moderation as we might think of the word today.  I'm speaking about gentleness.  Consideration.  Patience.  Forbearing.  And, as the Vine's Dictionary puts it, "not insisting on the letter of the law."  I truly wish that I was completely perfected and mature in the area of these things so that everyone who looked at me would perceive and recognize my unselfishness.  I have much to work on in this area.  Are you known by those around you for your patience?  For your unselfishness?  For your not insisting on the letter of the law?  What about your gentleness?  Do you wonder why the Apostle, Paul, urged us to live so that everyone around us would see these qualities in us?  It seems to me like he did it because, as he goes on to say in Philippians 4:5, "...the Lord is coming soon."  These qualities exemplify the Lord Jesus.  If those around us see those qualities, it will be Jesus shining through.  He will be lifted up in our lives.  He said that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself. (John 12:32)  Of course, in the context of John 12:32, He meant being lifted up on the cross.  However, we can lift Him up in our own lives today by allowing Him to work through us in the areas of gentleness, consideration, patience, forbearance, and not insisting on the letter of the law.  The only way to do that is to let our fleshly desires die.  To let self shrink away and let Jesus be magnified in our lives.  He is coming soon and the very best thing we could do before He comes is lift Him up in our lives so that others are drawn to Him.  So that they will receive Him as Savior and His desire that all should come to repentance will be seen.  (2 Peter 3:9)  Jesus would have probably already been here by now if He was not so desirous of the repentance of all people.  You and I can help out by allowing ourselves to become less selfish and more considerate, patient, forbearing, and not judging strictly by the letter of the law.  We have all received grace and we can now all demonstrate the grace of Jesus to draw others to Him.  Am I known for my moderation?  Not as much as I would like to be?  How are you doing in that area.  Jesus is coming soon.  May He find us all maturing in all of these areas so that we can win others for His Kingdom!


Hebrews 10:37 (KJV) 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  Does my life show the evidence of gentleness and unselfishness that will draw people to want to know Jesus so that there will be many anxiously awaiting His soon return? 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:4 (KJV)  4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.


Since I am writing this devotional on a Monday, it may be a good time to ask if we have joy.  For many, it is the start of a new work or school week after, perhaps a couple of days of, "leisure."  A time to get back, "into the grind."  When we do get into that daily grind, it can prove to be very stressful.  We may actually feel like we being ground up.  What do the grounds look like?  Are they grinds of joy?  I don't mean fleeting shavings of happiness because the circumstances change to meet our expectations at the moment.  I mean heavy grounds of joy.  Joy that comes from our salvation in Christ.  Grounds of inner peace and delight that come from our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Grounds of the assurance that, if we love God, and are walking in our calling, everything will eventually turn out for good.  In the daily grind, are the grounds that fall from us faith that all of God's promises are, "yes and amen?"  Happy times are surely fleeting, but true joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit that comes from our abiding in Jesus and finding ourselves right "smack-dab," in the middle of His presence, no matter what might be going on around us!  Nothing can take away the joy that we have because Jesus because He, Himself, gave us His own joy!  (John 15:11)  The word, "rejoice," actually means, "cheerful."  It's easy to be cheerful when our earthly desires are being met.  But, how about being cheerful when a sudden illness takes you to the hospital?  How about being cheerful when a child goes astray?  What about being cheerful if your spouse leaves you or suddenly passes away?    That's not so easy, is it?  We can't do it by ourselves.  But, since God's Word tells us to rejoice in the Lord, always.  We need to remember that we are quipped with the joy that Jesus gave us.  That's why, today, even if it is a Monday and the daily grind is starting, once again, we can face the day (and every day) with calm delight.  We have the Source of joy living in us if we have received Jesus.  We have the power to surprise those around us, being a witness with our attitude, letting those grindings that fall from us be grindings of joy, no matter what!  I am rejoicing with you today because our rejoicing is in the Lord, not in our circumstances!  Let's rejoice and then do it again!  The world will want to know why!  We can tell them about Jesus.  And, the devil will have to flee!  Rejoicing doesn't necessarily mean we're happy with the circumstances.  It means we're safely abiding in the God who can change the circumstances or give us the grace to go through victoriously!



  Psalm 5:11 (NLT)   11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.


PRAYER FOCUS FOR TODAY:  I can, and will, rejoice always because my rejoicing is in my relationship with the Lord and not in my circumstances.

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:3 (KJV)3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.


In this stress-filled world we live in, there is always the chance for strife or arguments.  Things seem to pull at us from every direction until our nerves feel frayed and we are tempted to become irritable.  It was no different in the day that the Apostle, Paul, wrote to the believers in Philippi.  Euodias and Syntyche, fellow workers with Paul, had apparently gotten into some disagreement.  Paul urged them to be of one mind in the Lord.  However, Paul also encouraged the others in the church at Philippi to help them out.  Perhaps they felt overwhelmed with their work.  Any number of things could have made them short tempered with each other.  As we believers, we like to say, "I'm too blessed to be stressed."  That is the truth; but sometimes we forget the truth  when the pressures of life press in, don't we?  That's when we need another believer to help us out.  Have you ever been in a "mess," and needed another believer to come along side and help you out?  I have!  Paul realized that Euodias and Syntyche needed someone to lend them a hand.  They needed help to get back in one accord.  Paul mentions Clement, who seems to be an unknown person in history, but very important simply because he stood by and helped out.  The really important thing is that they were all people whose names are in the book of life!  We all need help at one time or another and we are all called to help one another!  None of us is perfect and we can all use a loving nudge when we get sidetracked.  We can all use a faith-filled Christian to come along and help us get back on track!


 2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NLT)  3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  How can I lend a hand to another believer and will I receive help if I need it?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:2 (KJV)
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord


We are all so wonderfully and marvelously made!  (Psalm 139:14)   God has made each of us as unique as a snowflake!  Each of us has a designated purpose and different works to do.  (Ephesians 2:10)  God has given each of us a different personality.  It seems that there might have been, what we could call, a "personality clash," between Euodias and Syntyche.  These two women worked with Paul in the ministry of the gospel.  The name, "Euodias," means, "a prosperous journey," according to The Bible Background Commentary.  And, Syntyche, means, "pleasant acquaintance."  However, it seems that there wasn't much of a prosperous journey going on and they may not have been too pleasant, as acquaintances.  Have you ever felt like you were in a situation like that?  The Apostle, Paul, really wanted these two women to stop arguing and to be of the same mind in the Lord.  He did not say that they had to change their personalities.  God made each of us the way we are for a reason.  However, as believers, no matter what our personality might be, we should be of the same mind regarding the Lord Jesus.  We have all seen incidences in churches today where people are not of the same mind in the things of the Lord and there are church splits and bad feelings between individuals.  Paul did not want that to happen in the church at Philippi.  He wrote about unity in Philippians 2:1-4.  Regardless of our individual personalities, we are all a part of one Kingdom.  All of us need to get in line with the King.  There is no way we can stay angry with one another when we are all focused on the King!  Jesus prayed that we would all be in unity.  (John 17:22)  Are there people in your life with whom you have difficulty getting along?  Perhaps if our concern was more on the things of the Lord, and less on our own preferences, we could eliminate many of the situations similar to the one that was going on in Philippi between Euodias and Syntyche.  It really is all about unity.  Do you remember that song, "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord......"  That's what Paul wanted for Euodias and Syntyche.  That's what Jesus wants for you and me, if we are believers.  As another song says, "It doesn't matter what's over the door."  But, it does matter Who is in your heart!  If Jesus is in our hearts, then it's got to be all about unity with one another!  When that happens, our journey will be prosperous and we will be pleasant acquaintances!


John 17:22 (NLT)  22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Is there anything in my life that creates disunity within the Body of Christ?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:1 (NLT)  1 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.


How are you standing this morning, my friend?  In the New Living Translation, Paul tells the Philippians to stay true to the Lord.  The original Greek words mean, "stand fast in the Lord."  To persevere.  To remain stationary.  To stay closely united to the Lord and His ways.  To stay true to the Lord.  Again, the Apostle, Paul, was looking out for his spiritual children, the Philippian believers.  But, he was looking out for you and me too.  He calls us all, "dearly beloved," twice in this same verse in the King James Version.  Philippians 4:1 (KJV)  1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.  We can see that Paul really does want the best for us and he knows that, despite the temptations that come from the world, the flesh and the devil, the best thing for us is to stay true to the Lord.  To remain steadfast in following Him.  To be immovable when it comes to our loyalty to Him.  Paul had been with the Philippian church but, when he wrote this letter, he was away in a prison in Rome.  Like any loving parent, Paul missed his, "children,"  in the Lord.  He would have loved to see them.  I happen to be traveling right now and I left some brothers and sisters in Christ in another part of the country.  I miss them.  But, I also have brothers and sisters in Christ in Maryland, and it's a joy to see them and I love them too.  Paul was a man, a human being just like us!  He missed the Philippian believers and he missed being there to see them grow in the Lord, as he carefully taught them.  He considered them his life's joy and crown. He was so blessed of the Lord that he really wanted all those who read his letters or heard him speak, to come under his covering.  As people believed the gospel message he preached, he considered them to be his joy and crown.  Who is teaching us and uplifting us in the Lord?  Can they consider us their joy and crown in life because we are standing fast in what we have been taught?  Most of all, is the Lord looking at us and seeing a heart truly turned toward Him.  Today, and everyday, are we persevering and remaining stationary in the Lord?  Are we, "standing fast?"


Galatians 5:1 (KJV)
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  In this world that seems to be quickly moving away from Jesus, am I standing fast in Him?

Horizontal Divider 11






Philippians 3:20 (KJV)    20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:


What are you looking for today?  A check in the mailbox?  A boyfriend or girlfriend?  A good grade on a test?  A promotion at work?  Every day we look for things in this life and, if they don't materialize, we can get discouraged.  But, we can never be discouraged when we look for the Savior, Jesus, who will come again and take us home to be with Him forever.  (John 14:3)   The word, "look," in this context, and in the original language, means to, "fully expect."  When we get up each morning, are we fully expecting that Jesus may come back, maybe on that very morning?  Does that change the way we live?  When the Apostle, Paul, says that our conversation is in Heaven, the word meaning here is that our citizenship (or our community), is in Heaven.  If we are truly following Jesus, we will oftentimes find that we do not, "fit in," in this world.  That's because our citizenship is really in another world.  In Heaven.  (Ephesians 2:6)  Although we do expect certain things on this earth, we don't have to be discouraged, or worse, if those expectations are not realized.  We have a Heavenly Father that knows just what we need and who has promised to give us His best, as we follow Christ.  It is tempting to expect the things the world says we, "deserve."  But, along with those things comes a battle with sin, our flesh, and the devil.  With all of the stress today, our bodies can break down and refuse to function as they should.  But, we have such a hope!  When Jesus returns, He will give us a new body.  No more will we live in a body that is tempted to sin.  No more will we live in a body that is slowly decaying.  We'll have a brand new body made for eternity.  We will never grow old or tired.  We will never be tainted with sin.  No more discouragement and stress!  We will have a body just like the body of our Lord and Savior!  Everything evil will be totally conquered by Jesus and we will finally be back home in the land of our true citizenship.  Being a perfectionist, and of course never achieving perfection, I can hardly imagine what it will be like to be perfected and live in perfection for eternity!  While we must live in this world and go through the motions to take care of ourselves and our families, we can also be fully expecting that all of these cares will finally drop away when Jesus comes back and makes everything new and eternal.  Today, shall we lift our expectations a bit higher and let those expectations give us the joy of the Lord, no matter what circumstances may come our way?  I'm looking for Him!


Philippians 3:21 (KJV)    21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  My citizenship is in Heaven and I'm fully expecting the King of Kings to come and rescue me from this world of sin any day now. 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:18 (KJV)
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:


A good parent will always want to keep their children safe from harm.  Not only from harm at the hands of others, but also, from harming themselves by making poor decisions.  The Apostle, Paul, had given the gospel message to the believers in Philippi.  He felt as though he was their spiritual father.  He wanted nothing but the best for his spiritual children.  That's exactly like our Father in Heaven.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  He has good plans for us and plans for a hope and a future, but the enemy would just love to get in and mess up those plans by getting us to follow a wrong example and end up in opposition to Christ.  The enemy is stealthy and he will try to lure us into following examples that will bring us harm, even lead us to destruction. (Philippians 3:18)  Paul urges us to follow his example and note those who do not follow it.  Those who do not follow Paul's example could be professing believers who are corrupting the gospel message with immoral lives and, or, false teaching.  There are several ways we can note these people who may profess to be believers, but walk a different way.  The Bible says that their appetites control them (their god is their stomach), they glory in their shame, and their minds are on earthly things.  (Philippians 3:19)   As I write this, I am wondering just how many times today I have thought more about my own desires and appetites than I have thought of the Lord.  I wonder how many times today I might have thought of something in my past that wasn't right but may have seemed good at the time.  And, how many times I have had my mind on earthly things, rather than the things of the Lord.  Now I can see why it's so important to follow a Godly example and to be a Godly example.  I can see at least three check-points for looking for Godly examples and for being a Godly example.  It doesn't matter how young or old we are.  We must look for and follow Godly examples and endeavor to be a good example in word, in behavior, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. 


1 Timothy 4:12 (KJV)  12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Am I following the little, "gods," of this world or am I following those who truly follow Christ?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:17 (NLT)
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.


There are lots of role models out there.  You can find them throughout the entertainment industry, in politics, in evey form of media, in the sports world, and even some so-called Christian TV programs.  Whose example do we follow?  Are we engrossed in the things of this world or is our focus on the eternal things of the Lord that will never get old, pass away, or fail us?  The Apostle, Paul, encouraged the Philippian believers to follow his example and the example of those that believed his message of the good news of the gospel of Christ.  Paul's message echos down through the ages.  As exciting as it might be to try to pattern our lives after someone on earth who has attained fame, fortune, or position, it is not wise.  Earthly fame, fortune and position will not last.  There will always be someone competing for your place.  Following Christ, by following Paul's example, will bring us right into the center of God's will for our lives!  You can't be in a more secure place than that!  We don't have to try to retain that position.  God retains it for us, freeing our time and energy to serve Him and love others.  When we submit ourseleves to the Lord, He will exalt us in due time.(1 Peter 5:6)  In His own time.  When He places us where He wants us, it will be good for us and it will be a place that no one can take from us.  So, whose example are we following and, maybe more importantly, can anyone say that they are following our Christ-like example?  Following worldly examples is a sure road to destruction.  Following those who follow Christ will lead to abundant life and eternal life.  Following Paul's example of following Christ will not always be easy.  It's like trying to swim upstream sometimes because the tide is ever flowing downward.  But, the Word of God never tells us to do something that He won't equip us and strengthen us to do!


1 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)   16 So I urge you to imitate me.



THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Am I following a Christ-like example; and, am I a Christ-like example for others?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:15 (KJV)  15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.



It's not a whole lot of fun being around people with whom you are not in agreement!  But, the truth is, we're not all always on the same page.  Even believers find themselves in disagreement. Of course, the goal is that we should grow together as we follow Jesus.  That's what the Apostle, Paul, wanted for believers.  He wanted them all to agree that salvation is a gift of grace, received through faith.  He wanted  all of us to realize that we need to let go of the past and press on to the future so that we might reach the mark and win the prize of the high calling of God.  I think he also wanted us to realize that we are not all going to be in the same place in our spiritual growth at the same time.  However, he does admonish those, who are spiritually mature, to be likeminded.  I would think that we could recognize those who are spiritually mature by their likemindedness, wouldn't you?.  Paul did realize that some would not be like minded though.  He was convinced that it would only be a matter of time before God would reveal these things to those who were, "otherwise minded."  I notice that Paul did not say that he would convince these, perhaps, slow learners.  He left that job to God.  I don't know about you, but I need to take a lesson from Paul and let God do the revealing instead of me trying to convince another who just doesn't seem to be quite,"there," yet.  If we are likeminded according to the things Paul has been describing in Ephesians, Chapter Three, we ought to thank God for it and walk according to what we have learned!  God will take care of the stragglers!  


Philippians 3:16 (KJV)  16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Can I be satisfied to walk in the revelation I have received and graciously wait for God to reveal His way to those who seem to be behind?

Horizontal Divider 11



Philippians 3:14 (KJV)  14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.




We all have goals in life, don't we?  From the time I can remember, my goal was to be a, "mommy."  That is the earliest goal I can remember.  I did achieve that four times over!  If you are in high school, perhaps your goal is to graduate and go to college.  If you are in college, maybe your goal is to graduate and get a good job.  If you have a job, you might have the goal of getting a better job.  If you are single, your goal just may be to find the right person and get married.  There are many goals we can set in life but none will give us total satisfaction.  There will always be another goal after that!  Some of us get discouraged and fail to meet our goals.  The circumstances of life may have thwarted the goals of others.  But, for the believer, there is one ultimate goal.  That is the goal toward which the Apostle, Paul, says he presses.  Toward the mark or goal, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  What is our chief goal in life?  Toward what mark are we most focused on reaching?  Hopefully, all our earthly goals will seem dim compared to pressing toward the mark of seeing our Savior face to face and living with Him forever in Heaven.  It's important to set earthly goals; but, it is essential to press forward to the eternal goal to which Christ has called all of us who love Him, all the while getting to know Him better. (Romans 8:28)


1 Corinthians 9:24 (KJV)  24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Are all of the goals in my life secondary to reaching the ultimate goal for the prize of seeing my Savior face to face?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:13 (KJV)  13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,



Have you ever felt pretty satisfied that you have finally understood and begun to walk in a portion of God's Word and then found that there was even more to learn in that area?  Don't we really desire to read something, get it, and feel good about the accomplishment so we can go on to something else?  Well, I have found that I cannot plumb the depths or scale the heights of God's Word.  I cannot scope the width of it either.  Just when I think I've got something, there's something more to get!  I'm learning that I really need to travel  lightly, not carrying the victories or defeats of the past with me into the future.  They really do become a drag!  The Apostle, Paul, implies that we can never really sit back with an, "I've made it," attitude.  No. We've got to let the past be the past and enter into the process of continuing always to "get it," that is, to get more of God's revelation of His Word and to live it more completely.  If Paul had to say that he had not arrived at his spiritual destination yet, I surely have to admit that too.  I've got to stop asking, "Am I there yet?'  You and I will be, "there," when we see Jesus, face to face.  Until then, we've got to forget the good and the bad from the past and continue to run the race without extra baggage!  We're on this journey together and we've got to encourage one another to reach out for what is ahead.  It's so exciting that Jesus is with us all the way, leading and teaching.  Let's let go of the past so our hands won't be too full to receive what Jesus has for us today and in the future!  Let's keep pressing on, because, we're not there yet!


 Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)   1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  What might I be carrying from the past, either good or bad, that will keep me from receiving what Jesus has for me in the future? 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:12 (KJV)  12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.


How would you feel if you were going about your business, even thinking that you were doing God's business, and suddenly you got knocked to the ground, heard a voice, saw a light, and was apprehended by Jesus, Himself?  That happened to the Apostle, Paul, who was named Saul before this personal encounter with Jesus.  (Acts 6:5-21)  Paul was literally, "apprehended," by Jesus!  During that apprehension, Paul ended up getting a name change and the revelation of his mission in life from the Lord.  He thought he was doing the right thing before, as he persecuted the church.  He thought he was keeping the law of God; and, he zealously tried to keep on doing that until he was apprehended by grace.  By, Jesus, the giver of grace.  We may not all have such a dramatic testimony.  But, we all do have a testimony if we have been saved by the grace of Jesus!  We have all been apprehended by the Lord.  We have experienced a turn-around point in our lives.  A turn toward Jesus.  As Paul said of himself, our perfection is not yet completely manifested, but we are on a quest to apprehend that for which we were apprehended of Jesus Christ.  In other words, as the New Living Translation says, we press on to possess the maturity in the Lord for which Jesus has possessed us.  Sometimes pressing is hard.  But, just as muscle builders, "press," to become stronger, we must press on.  We must fight the good fight of faith.  We must hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called us.  We have confessed the Lord before people and now the Lord has possessed us so that we can press on the possess maturity in Him and be a testimony of His keeping power.  Praise God, He has not left us alone to apprehend and press.  Jesus gives us the strength we need to do all that He has called us to do!  (Philippians 4:13)    He has apprehended us and will keep us so that we can apprehend eternal life!


1 Timothy 6:12 (NLT)
12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  I will remember that I have been apprehended by Jesus to apprehend maturity in Him and that He will give me the strength to press on until I apprehend it! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:10 (KJV)  10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death


I wonder if you are like I am.  I have read, and re-read, the Bible and I still gloss over the things that I don't quite really understand.  I wonder if it's time to begin to ask God for the whole counsel of His Word.  To really want to know what the hard sayings mean.  The Apostle, Paul speaks of the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus.  He doesn't just speak of them but he says that he wants to know Jesus and to know the fellowship of His sufferings!  If you ask me, that's a pretty scary thing to ask to know!  We all know that Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, took thirty-nine lashes for our healing, had a crown of thorns pressed upon his already beaten and spit-upon head, was nailed to a Roman cross, and had a spear thrust into His side.  And, that's just the physical part of His sufferings!  The Apostle, Paul, was called to suffer many things for Christ, which he willingly did.  Jesus did not say that we would be without trouble in this world.  In fact, He said there would be trouble!  He also promised that, if we suffered for the Kingdom of God, we would have a great reward in Heaven.  If you are going through a time of suffering, and it is because you have taken a stand for Jesus, know that you are in good company.  You will never have to suffer as much as Jesus suffered because He took it all for you so that you could be comforted with His comfort when you were presented with difficult situations.  He gives us strength to give up our carnal way of living and share in His sufferings, all the while having joy.  Our reward here on earth is that He will be with us, comforting us in our sufferings. Our reward in Heaven will be great if we let the sinful nature within us die in order to become conformed to the image of Jesus.


2 Corinthians 1:5 (NLT)  5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.



THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Am I willing to walk through suffering for Christ, with joy, remembering that I have His presence and comfort today, as well as a reward in Heaven?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:10 (KJV)
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;


Our world has gone power-mad, hasn't it?  Everyone is contending for the top position!  World leaders are doing it. Politicians are doing it.  Corporate leaders are doing it.  Spouses are doing it.  Sports figures are doing it.  Media people are doing it.  Movie stars are doing it. Everybody wants the power.  Sadly, there are churches in which people compete for the number one position, whatever that may be, in their congregation.  That is not as it should be!  After all, as believers, I wonder why we would compete for any power!  Why strive for something you already have?  Why compete for something that is already inside you?  The Apostle, Paul, could have demanded to have power as a believer.  He had all the qualifications, and then some, to rule over people and exert his power over them.  But, he did not do that.  He remained humble, focused totally on His Lord seeking to know Him better.  In fact, worldly power meant nothing to Paul.  He considered worldly power to be nothing in comparison to knowing Jesus.  Philippians 3:7-8 (KJV)  7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  He was readily willing to give up power because he knew that he could know more and more of the power that was already inside of him - namely, the power of the resurrection of Christ.


There are several things we might want to know about Jesus and, as we stay close to Him, reading and studying His Word, we will find out more about the power of His resurrection.  Perhaps we need to know more about that power in these days when power is such a sought after entity.  Without being arrogant, we need to realize that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!  God is interested in love and life.  As believers, we have power over death because of the resurrection power of Christ.  We have power over the enemy too.  Yes, Satan still rules and makes chaos in this world among people that are captivated by his enticing temptation of worldly power.  But we, as believers, carry the resurrection power.  It is not a power that should be flaunted, but rather a power to bring life to dead things and the power to love, even the unlovely!  Do we really understand just how powerful we are?  Ephesians 1:18-23 (KJV) 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.  


As obedient followers of Christ, you and I have the same power within us that God used to raise Jesus from the dead!  But, what are we doing with it?  And, do we stay close to Jesus constantly learning more about this miraculous power?  Jesus gave us a glimpse of it when he gave power to some of his disciples while He was on earth.  He sent them on ahead of Him and gave them the power they needed to cast away the enemy.  They were so excited about having such power!  Luke 10:17-20 (NLT)  17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”  18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”   There is a saying about worldly power.  "Power corrupts."  This is very true if power is not controlled and used with humility.  We have seen it happen too many times.  However, the power of God brings life when used as He directs us.  He never meant for you and me to go through this world without the same power that Jesus used to overcome the enemy and set people free when He walked the earth.  Jesus has not left us without power.  Luke 24:49 (KJV)  49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.  His power is not just for the clergy.  It is for every believer.  Mark 16:16-18 (KJV) 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.  We should not take this power lightly or use it recklessly but we should take it.  We should not rejoice in the fact that we have such power.  It is a miracle; but it is not the greatest miracle.  The greatest miracle is that God should love us enough to sacrifice His own son so that our names could be registered in Heaven!  In the meantime, God has given us His, "dynamite," power so that we can help take lots of people with us when we go to Heaven and so we can go about loving others, doing good and relieving the oppressed in the Name of Jesus.  It is never by our own power or strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit within us!  Now, that's power!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:9 (KJV)  9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:


When you get in a somewhat challenging discussion, why do you keep on with the conversation?  It's probably because you think you are right.  Right?  I mean, why would we keep trying to convince another in a conversation if we thought we were wrong?  When I first met my husband, if I caught him in a mistake, he would jokingly say, "That's the first time I've been wrong this year."  Of course it didn't matter to him whether it was January first or December thirty-first.  The implication was that he was always right.  That didn't leave a whole lot of times for me to be right!  The truth is that, neither of us is wholly right if we're counting on our own wit or intelligence.  You and I may, "look," right on the outside, but it really doesn't matter what others think of us.  It doesn't matter how good we look to everyone else!  What matters is what God sees when He takes a look, inside.  You can take the shell of a brand spanking new Mercedes and put it on the showroom floor.  People will look at it in awe and those who are wealthy enough may even want to buy it.  But, if there's no engine under the hood, what good is it?  Or, if that shiny shell has a lawn mower engine under the hood, how well will it run?  And, should the owner buy it without checking first, he or she is going to be very unhappy when they try to drive it!  It will look like a Mercedes on the outside with the emblem, and everything, but it won't be worth a red cent because the inside is either empty or wrong!


People today will claim to be right, no matter which side they are on!  It's hard to tell who is right anymore with the glut of information that is out there and with the possibility that much of it is deceptive or downright wrong!  There is one thing we can be sure of though.  Jesus is always right!  His Word is one hundred percent true.  He lived a righteous life here on earth as an example to us that, through His Spirit, we too could live a righteous life.  It's true we can fake it.  We can carry around a big Bible, wear a cross around our neck and talk the talk.  We can fool most people that way; but we can never fool God.  When you and I believe in, and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He gives us the greatest gift!  I just love to get gifts, don't you?  As they say, this gift I am talking about is one that keeps on giving!  It is the righteousness of Christ.  In earlier days, the word, righteous was spelled, "rightwiseness."  When we have the righteousness of Christ, we don't have to prove anything.  We don't have to be right all the time.  We can be humble and teachable because we are already made right with God, through Jesus!  I think that is one of the things that made the Apostle, Paul, joyful in all of his circumstances.  He knew that he had the gift of the righteousness of Christ!  At one point in his life, Paul would have had to strive to be right all the time, making sure he followed all the rules and regulations of the Pharisees, right down to the letter of the law.  One slip-up and he would have been judged to be unrighteous and, worse than that, he would have felt like he was unrighteous!  But, now, we have been given gifts, not just one gift, but several gifts.  1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (KJV) 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


Paul has demonstrated to us, in his letter to the Philippian church, that we don't need to be right all the time.  That is an honor that only God has and only God deserves.  Without His, "rightness," we would be a lost cause.  There's no way either you or I could be right and live right one hundred percent of the time.  Our Father knew that.  He knows who we are, and what we're made of, because He made us.  Psalm 103:14 (KJV) 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.  God is very well aware that we are but clay vessels.  That dust that He speaks of is moldable though.  He makes clay out of it and then puts it on His Potter's wheel.  Soon the vessel of His choosing takes form.  If our confidence is in ourselves, we will find that we are just an empty vessel walking around trying to be right in our own strength.  Nothing really good will flow from that vessel.  God knew that would happen too!  He already had planned to fill the vessels that He had made with His righteousness, through the sacrifice of His Son.  However, He will not force that righteousness into us.  He gives it to us as a gift and we can either receive it joyfully, as Paul did, or we can turn it down and walk through life empty.  We can even look pretty good on the outside but the inside will be void of anything of value and certainly void of the joy of the Lord!  Like Paul, will we vessels choose to receive the righteousness of Christ by faith?  Will we stop trying to be right all the time and prove that we can do life alone even though we know, down deep inside, that we cannot?  Will we receive God's wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption and give all the glory to Him?  Will we stop living by rules and regulations, always having to prove ourselves and just receive what our Father gives us?  Jesus was just dying to give us these gifts and that's exactly what He did.  He died so that we could stop trying to be right and just receive, "rightness," in Him!  Of course, as Paul received such a great gift of the righteousness of Christ, he could not help but give the glory to God!  When we think about it, we've just got to stop for a moment and give glory to God for the gift of the righteousness of Christ!  If we have received it, we are, and forever will be, righteous!  Who's always right?  Jesus is.  When He lives within us, we are given His righteousness! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:7-8 (KJV)  7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.


We live in a society in which, whether we say it or not,  lots of people are living the phrase, "He who dies with the most toys, wins."  In just typing this I had to laugh because I made a typing error and wrote, "He who dies with the most toys, sins."  Well, I guess that's as good a way as any to begin talking this morning.  Not about all that we have gained in this life in position and earthly goods; but, about what is really important to us in this life.  What we focus on in this life will affect our eternity.  What are we trying to gain in this life?  Jesus described what we would be wise in gaining.  Matthew 13:44-46 (KJV)  44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.  45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.  The Apostle, Paul, was a very religious man and one of importance among the Jewish rulers.  He had worldly stature and religious stature.  But, after he met Jesus he was like that man that found treasure in a field and went and sold everything he had so he could buy the field (and of course the treasure that was in it).  He was like the one that found just one pearl of great price and then went and sold everything so he could buy it.  What (really, "who")  Paul found was Jesus.  He found the King of the Kingdom.  After that, everything that had ever mattered to Paul, he willingly gave up for Jesus!


What are you and I holding onto today that will keep us from finding the treasure of Jesus.  What are we holding on to that will keep us from seeing that one pearl of great price - Jesus?  Most of us would admit to wanting to be a disciple of Jesus.  But, have we counted the cost?  Luke 14:33-35 (KJV)  So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.  Now those are pretty strong words from our Lord Jesus!  Not friendly at all to the seeker-friendly church.  Jesus didn't water down the truth.  He was not in any way deceptive about the cost of becoming His disciple.  He told it like it was, but in great love.  He knew that the best thing that could happen to, and for, us would be that we become His disciple. Luke 14:34-35 (KJV) 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  First of all, we can't hang around with Jesus very long before we either turn away, failing to trust Him or become closer and closer to Him.  The closer we get, the more we will act like Him.  Like Jesus, we will be salt that will spice up this world with the truth.  As salt, we will be a preserving agent.  But, if we have lost our saltiness, notice that Jesus continues to tell the truth like it is.  He says we will be fit only to be cast away into a pretty stinky pile!  We need to get to the place that Paul found in his life.  He was willing to cast anything, that God asked him to cast, into the garbage heap so that he would not end up in the garbage himself. 



Philippians 3:8 (KJV) 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  Even before he met Jesus, Paul had a great desire to serve God.  He did a lot of what he had been taught to do to serve God, though many times he was misguided.  Could it be that we fall into that trap also?  Do we amass little kingdoms here on earth (personal and/or denominational), not realizing that the Kingdom of God should be the Kingdom of choice?  What if Jesus asked us to give away everything to follow Him?  He did ask that of one rich, young ruler.  Mark 10:21 (NLT)  21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”   I notice that the very first thing Jesus did, before he spoke to this man, who wanted to know how to find salvation, was to look at the man very lovingly.  That's the way Jesus looks at you and me today too.  His great love for us wants the best for us and, if there is anything in our life that will keep us from the best (which is obviously, Him), He will ask us to give it up.  That's exactly what Paul did.  He didn't give thought to any of the things that he could have boasted about or used to help himself live in greater comfort in this world.  What he really desired, and put the greatest worth in, was knowing Jesus.  This was absolutely the most excellent thing Paul could think of.  To know Jesus surpassed every other desire that Paul had.  He had truly lost much in the way of earthly position, things, and comfort.  But, he was glad to have given these things up because, in comparison to knowing Jesus, he considered these things to be refuse.  All that Paul had in this world, he considered dregs to be thrown to the dogs compared with winning (gaining) Christ.  That sounds like an awful lot to give up, doesn't it?  However, if we look at this passage in light of the fact that we can never give up anything but that God will give us more and better, we might want to rethink some things.  Even if we were to give up everything in order to know Jesus better, we would not lose.  This is what Jesus said:  Mark 10:28-30 (KJV)  28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,  30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.  I notice that Peter, great man of God that he was, wondered about having given up so much in order to walk closely to Jesus and get to know Him better.  Jesus clarified that for Peter.  I also notice that, when the rich, young ruler went away from Jesus; he was sad.  He, at least at that point, just could not trust that being close to Jesus could be better than his position and earthly prosperity.  But, Paul is another story.  All through the book of Philippians, we find Paul rejoicing and telling us to rejoice and rejoice again!  Peter doubted the benefits of giving all to Jesus at first.  The rich young ruler went away sad after his conversation with Jesus because he could not find it within himself to give everything up.  In great contrast, Paul had joy, even in the worst of circumstances.  He had joy because he counted everything else in this world as nothing compared to Jesus.  What have you and I counted as loss just so we could get to know Jesus in a more intimate way?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:4-6 (KJV) 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:


Don't we live in a very boastful society?  I was once at a dinner gathering and the man sitting next to me pulled out his wallet to show me how many cards he had, proving that he was a member of this and that country club and other places where people of position and influence gather.  He was boasting about it, thinking I would be impressed.  I'm sorry to say that I was not impressed and I'm sure my attitude of indifference showed through.  Today, people boast about how big their house is.  They brag about how much they paid for their car.  People push their children to the brink of being crazed with competition in sports, music, and the arts so they can boast about them.  Some choose to try to be impressive in front of others with their position.  The bank account might be the boast of others.  Then, there are those that become the self-made martyr by boasting about all they have had to suffer in life.  Maybe the worst is that some, even in the church, boast about how spiritual they are.  Church members sometimes vie for position within a church so that they can boast about that!  Many have confidence in the flesh - literally.  There are those on the stage, in the movies, and in sports that boast about their perfect bodies.  What is it in your life that would tempt you to boast?  Moreover, what it is, that we have, that we trust in? 


The Apostle, Paul, in his letter to the Philippian believers tells us to beware of those who boast in the fact that they are really busy about doing things for God.  Or, perhaps they boast about being much better than the peons in the church because they have been duped into thinking that ritualistic, religiously busy living is spiritual living.  There are a whole lot of things that we do, or that we have, that can cause us to boast.  The Apostle, Paul, had many things about which he could boast.  He goes on in Philippians 3:5-6 to let us know some of those things in which he could have boasted.  Philippians 3:5-6  5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  Even before Paul had his experience with Jesus, he had much in which he could boast.  He was the epitome of religious position and zeal.  He did everything just the way the scriptures indicated.  He came from the right place, being from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was a wonderful Pharisee, following the law strictly.  He was, "an Hebrew of the Hebrews!"  Even when he persecuted the early church, he did so with all his might because he thought he was doing God a favor!  The righteousness that can be found in the law made him blameless, so he thought.  The trouble with that is that his whole paradigm changed when he met the Lord Jesus.  After that, Paul realized that he could never be righteous enough by his position, religious activity or zeal.  He found that his righteousness was a gift given by the only One who could, and did, live a righteous life in our place!  Romans 3:21-24 (AMP)  21 But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the Law, although actually it is attested by the Law and the Prophets, 22 Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives. 24 [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,  Yes, this same Paul, who once had his eyes blinded to the truth wrote Romans 3:21-24!  


Paul could have topped us all with things to boast or brag about but, after meeting Jesus, Paul knew that, even though we might have position and fortune in which we could put our trust, it is useless to trust in anything but the Lord Jesus and the righteousness He gives us as His gift.  There are so many things that you and I could think of to boast about, or in which (or in whom) we could put our trust.  But, none of these things or people will be with us forever.  None of our, "religious busyness," will count for anything if we have not first come to an intimate relationship with Jesus.  Only Jesus will be with us forever!  He told us so, if we will be content with what we have. Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT)  5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  6 So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”  Notice in Hebrews 13:5-6, the writer tells us not to love money (don't put your confidence in it).  As we are all experiencing, worldwide, money is not something in which we can put a lot of trust!  But God has said, we can trust in Him when we seek His Kingdom and righteousness, first!   Matthew 6:33-34 (KJV) 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Some of us have more stuff, position, talents, etc. than others.  But, we all have things in our lives in which we are tempted to trust instead of putting our full confidence in God.  In what or in whom do you have confidence today?  Your job?  Your doctor?  Your medication?  Your health? Your psychiatrist?  Your personal trainer?  Your parents?  Your spouse?  Your children?  Your property?  Your retirement account?  Your bank account?  Your car or cars?  Your government?  Your preacher?  Your church?  Your perfect Sunday School attendance?  Your community volunteer work?  It doesn't matter.  We could just keep naming things that people tend to put their trust in, and even brag about.  Paul had a lot of these things but, in the end, he found that his confidence and trust could be placed in only One!  Remember the little song that went something like this?  "I can do anything you can do better.  I can do anything better than you."   Cute, but not too scriptural.  If we're in competition with one another, constantly bragging about what we have or what we have done, our focus will be misplaced.  It will certainly not be on the Lord and His Kingdom!  It will continue to be on, "I."  On ourselves.  Paul was able to see that he made the choice to take his focus off of himself.  He was very human just like the rest of us but, through his close relationship with Jesus, he became a man of joy in the midst of suffering.  He received the righteousness of Jesus and, consequently, wanted others to receive it too.  He no longer took joy and trusted in his position and personal achievements.  He turned his focus to the concerns of the Lord and placed his confidence in the Lord to help him in every situation.  He turned his heart to the spiritual welfare and lives of those to whom he ministered.  He decided not to boast in anything but Christ.  With all the stuff there is out there in the world to boast about, have we, like Paul, made the choice to, while thanking God for all the gifts we have, at the same time, purposely deciding never to boast in them.  Have we decided like Paul that our only boast will be in what Jesus has done for us and can do for others?  What are you boasting about? 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:3 (NKJV)
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,


Don't we get entangled with the political parties of today?  In fact, belonging to an opposing political party can part the best of friends.  It should not be so, but it is.  These factions are carried over into the church today, but it really wasn't any different in the days of the Apostle, Paul.  There were a certain group of Jewish people who had come to believe in Christ.  They believed, but they were still hung up in the law.  They insisted on the Jewish rite of circumcision for themselves and also for the Gentile believers.  This sort of split the believers.  Those who were insistent upon trying to fulfill the law by the ritual of circumcision were called the, "circumcision party."  Although Peter was one of the greatest men of God ever, he got tangled up in this mess at one point.  Now many of the Jewish people had heard that the Gentiles received God's word.  Acts 11:1  1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.  When Peter was in Jerusalem at one time, he had to contend with those of, "the circumcision party."  Acts 11:2 (KJV) 2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.  These people that gave Peter a hard time were from the, "old school."  Even though they were willing to believe in Jesus, they still thought that they had to fulfill the law and, even if it could be so that a Gentile could be saved, it would take more than grace.  The Gentiles, too, would have to perform the ritualistic rite of circumcision.  Isn't it hard to accept change when we've always done something a certain way?  We, as they say, "get set in our ways," which can be detrimental in seeing and following The Way.  The Apostle, Paul, is saying, here in Philippians 3:3 that believers are the circumcision.  How can that be?


First of all, Paul was not referring to the physical rite of circumcision.  Paul was a well-learned Jew.  He knew the scriptures.  He probably knew this one too:   Deuteronomy 30:6 (KJV)  6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.  Long before Jesus set His feet on earth as a man, Moses had told the people that God would circumcise their hearts and the hearts of their children so that they could love God with all their hearts.  So that they could really live. Now, Paul knew that this saying of Moses was fulfilled in Jesus.  No more would people have to be ritualistic and keep men's traditions.  Jesus had come and fulfilled the whole law.  No one else had really been able to do it.  All their religious activity could never save them.  These works fell away when Jesus gave, anyone who would receive it, the gift of salvation.  Those who believe in Jesus have their hearts circumcised by God Himself!  Now, worship is seen from the inside out.  Not from the trappings, traditions, and rituals that people do to look well in front of other people.  Some even deceive themselves by thinking they look good to God!  So, now, all who believe, are the, "circumcision."  


What makes the difference between one circumcised in the flesh and one who has had his or her heart circumcised by God?  For one thing, we worship God in Spirit.  Through the Holy Spirit, who has come to dwell in our hearts.  Jesus, in speaking to a Samaritan woman, who would never have been thought eligible for salvation for several reasons, told her this:  John 4:21-24 (KJV) 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.  22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

There it is!  True worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  That's the way it has to be because God is a Spirit.  When our spirit connects with His Spirit, worship takes place.  It doesn't matter if we are a Jew or a Gentile.  It doesn't matter whether one has undergone physical circumcision or has not.  It doesn't matter if we're a man or a woman!  It doesn't matter whether we speak English or some other language.  It doesn't matter what color our hair is or if it's long or short.  It doesn't matter what our clothes look like.  Nothing matters except the magnification of God in spirit and in truth!  Now, that can play out today as we let denominational walls fall and really seek God's Kingdom and not be too enamored with our own little kingdoms.  That's the truth!  People who find the freedom to worship God in spirit and in truth, in spite of all of their baggage from the past, are set free!  John 8:36 (NLT)  36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.  Let me ask you, can anyone who is spiritually bound up, or chained up, really rejoice?  I don't think so.  But, those of the true circumcision, those who have believed in Jesus and received His gift of freedom can do nothing but rejoice!  Joy is one of the main themes in Paul's letter to the Philippians, and to us!  We don't need to place our confidence in the flesh anymore!  Jesus has done everything that is needed; and, He has given us everything we need to live a life that is pleasing to our Father!  We, as believers, have confidence!  But, that confidence doesn't come from anything we can do.  It comes from Jesus!  We have been set free to become the true circumcision, which has nothing to do with the fleshly ritual and everything to do with God's work in our hearts!  We worship God in the Spirit.  We rejoice over what God has done in and for us, through Jesus.  We have no confidence in the flesh.  Our total confidence is in the finished work of Jesus and that confidence will never leave us!  So, what else can we do but rejoice!  Where is your confidence?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:2 (KJV)  2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.


If you are a parent, there are some things that you really try to instill in your young children.  For instance, "beware of strangers!"  You do this because you don't want to see them taken advantage of in any way, led astray, hurt, or worse.  I had so put this fear of strangers in my oldest child's heart that, as she was walking home from school one day, she reacted just as I had told her to do, if she was accosted by a stranger.  She started screaming and yelling.  She was not far from home and I looked out to find that the man on the corner had said, "hello," to her.  Well, that did it.  She reacted just as instructed.  I felt badly for the poor man out doing his yard work but I was happy that she had listened to me about how to react.  (Maybe I didn't explain it well enough!)  The Apostle, Paul, cared about the believers in the Philippian congregation so much that he just had to tell them to, "beware."  To beware is to take a mental note of something and to take heed of a thing.  Jesus used this word in Mark 8:15, (KJV)  15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.  It was also used it in Acts 13:40.  Paul used it here in Philippians 3:2 and then again in Colossians 2:8.


Perhaps Paul was a little bit like I was when I explained the necessity to beware of strangers to my little daughter.  Three times in Philippians 3:2, Paul used this word, "Beware."  When a parent tells a child something more than once, we can be pretty sure that it's something of importance.  Paul tells the Philippians (and us) three times to, "beware." Take note of and take heed of, certain people.  The first thing Paul says is to beware of dogs.  Now, I told my daughter to beware of dogs also but I meant stray dogs.  Paul actually meant people who had gone astray!  He was speaking of Jewish believers who were called Judaizers.  They were the religious ones who had done everything to keep the letter of the law.  Now that Jesus had given salvation to anyone who would believe (Jews and Gentiles alike), the Judaizers were upset about the grace given to those who would, by faith, believe.  The religious Jews were more interested in what they did than what God saw on the inside.  Their pride got in the way and perhaps some jealousy because they just assumed that the new Gentile believers would have to follow every aspect of the law, as the religious Jews had done all of their lives.  They didn't get it, so, if a new Gentile believer was accosted by one of these, "dogs," they would probably come away hurt and confused, thinking they could, "do something," to obtain salvation.   The religious people could not get it through their heads that salvation was a gift of grace, received simply by faith in Jesus.  They insisted on the fact that you had to, "do something," to please God.  Since they felt that they had to, "do something," they wanted to place their own inaccurate judgment on new Gentile believers.


There are two other, "bewares," in this verse.  Paul says to beware of evil workers.  The original meaning of these two words in this passage, "evil workers," literally means, "worthless toilers," or "worthless teachers."  If a new believer came into close contact with one of these misdirected Jewish believers, they would come away with a worthless teaching.  God didn't, and doesn't, expect us to do something in order to make Him love us.  He loves all of us!  He loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us so that we could receive the gift of salvation simply by faith in the, "done deal."  We can't, "do," any more to seal the deal.  Jesus did it all!  The third, "beware," coming from Paul is this: "beware of concision."  What in the world is concision?  I had to look it up!  It is, "to cut."  It has to do with cutting something off and with mutilation.  Paul is contemptuously referring to the circumcision that the Judaizers were insisting had to be done by the new Gentle believers in Christ.  What Paul was doing was setting the stage for the next few lines in his letter to the Philippian believers, and to us.  As they might say in the south, he was "fixin'," to show another truth of God.  To show that salvation has to do with what has already been done by God and that we cannot add a thing to it! He was concerned for his spiritual children in Philippi and he was concerned for all who would come after him, including you and me.  He didn't want us to think of salvation as anything we could, "do."  But, some, because of pride of what they have done, jealously because others aren't required to do all of that, and ignorance of the saving grace of God, tried to mold new believers into what they wanted them to be.  God is so very good.  He doesn't want us to be what others want us to be.  He wants us to be what He wants us to be and what He created us to be.  He sees us from the inside out and that's where He begins His work of salvation in us.  We might not yet be all that God created us to be and most others are not yet there either.  We can't fix others from the outside in by insisting on some religious ritual like the Judaizers insisted on circumcision.  We must open our own hearts before the Lord and allow Him free reign to work and make us into His image.  Instead of trying to change other believers ourselves, we must pray for them and leave the rest to God.  Trying to mold someone else is usurping the job of God.  I can't imagine that He takes that lightly!  Beware of people who try to mold you and, even more importantly, beware of trying to mold someone else into your version of who they should be.  Beware, because that is God's job; and we're all somewhere in the process of His work on us from the inside out!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 3:1 (KJV)
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.


If you are a parent and, because you were once a child, you have probably heard the following phrase or said it at one time or another.  "How many times to I have to tell you?"  Well, some of us, like me, are very slow learners!  Or, we may have a bit deficient in the area of  attention.  We might hear it but let it go in one ear and out the other!  Most of us can use reminders from time to time (some need more than others).  The Apostle, Paul, has written several hard things to the Philippian believers.  Among the things that Paul has written about are humility, self-sacrifice, unity, etc.  Paul did write the letter to the Philippian church to encourage them by letting them know that he had received their help from the hand of Epaphroditus and by letting them know that God had spared their brother-in-the Lord from an illness that was death-defying.  However, Paul could not help himself from still trying to keep his flock in Philippi safe.  And that concern reaches right down to you and me in our own lives!  So, in the midst of encouragement, as Paul does often, he includes words of reminders, instructions, and general information for the safety of the believer.  Many find Paul's sayings a bit hard to take, today.  There were those, in Paul's day, that had the same problem.  Paul says it like it is and lets the chips fall where they may.  But, in all of it, his love for those he has taught, and for us, shows through.  It's not as though he were just preaching to hear himself preach.  It's not as though he insisted on being the only one who was right.  It was a careful and intentional God-given concern for those who followed him that made him tell the truth!  Ephesians 4:15 (AMP) 15 Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  I don't know about you, but, I know that I don't have a hard time telling the truth about God's Word.  It's just that, many times, I do not enfold the truth in love!  How are you doing in that area?


Telling the truth, but telling it in and with great love for another, will always bring joy to the teller and the receiver of God's truth!  Without love, it is as, Paul also says, just an extremely irritating and  ugly noise!  That kind of noise is not going to further God's Kingdom.  It will only serve to drive people from God's Kingdom eliciting remarks such as, "He (or she) is just a Bible-thumper"!  Love makes the difference!  Sincerely wanting the best for others is what will draw them toward Christ instead of pushing them away.  1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)  1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  In the family of God, just like in our earthly families, there are all sorts of spiritual ages.  Spiritual ages don't always correspond to biological ages.  Babies require an extreme amount of love and caring!  Babies can't digest meat.  Spiritual babies can't always digest the meat of the Word of God.  1 Peter 2:2 (KJV) 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:   We know that when a baby cries for it's bottle, it isn't asking for a steak dinner.  It wouldn't know what to do with a steak dinner, nor could it digest the thing!  Babies are only supposed to remain babies for a short season.    Paul was aware that he had spiritual children, but his desire for them was that they grow up in the Lord.  He knew he would not be on earth forever to watch out over them and he wanted them to grow in wisdom and be able to fend for themselves when he was gone.  Isn't that what parents want for their children?  A parent with wisdom will try to teach their children the ways of the Lord, and the way to get along on earth, so that their child will be able to take care of themselves and then teach others.  As our children get older, they will ask for meat because they need the meat to keep them alive and growing and they slowly become able to digest a good piece of steak.  In the meantime, we might just have to remind them of the same things over and over again so that they don't lose sight of the goal!  So that they are prepared.  So that they can go forth in life with joy, knowing who they are in Christ and being able to listen and obey Him, without us.


Even though, Paul says, "finally," these are not his final words in the letter to the Philippians.  He's about to give us all some more warnings but he interjects something important here which really will be the final outcome of obedience and accepting reminders in and from the Lord.  Rejoice!  Over and over again, Paul reminds us to have joy and to re-joice.  To have joy and have joy again!  Paul wants us to keep our joy in the Lord in all situations!  Do you wonder why?  I think I know why.  The enemy would love to steal our joy.  Then he would also have our strength.  Even in the Old Testament, Nehemiah and Ezra reminded the people of the Lord that they were to rejoice.  Because the joy of the Lord was their strength.  (Nehemiah 8:10)    Paul carries the theme of joy in, and of, the Lord throughout his hard writings.  He also demonstrated it in his own life, giving up his own desires and needs because of his great love for the Lord and the people whom the Lord had given him to shepherd.  Paul is a strict spiritual father, but one that loved deeply and was even willing to sacrifice his own life for the lives of his spiritual children.  Since he knew he would not be on earth forever, he wanted them to grow up.  The writer of the Book of Hebrews puts it this way (which is in total agreement with Paul's desires).  Hebrews 5:11-14 (NLT)  11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.  12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.  13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.  14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.  Growing up spiritually will find us more and more able to let the joy Jesus has given us bubble up and flow, even in the most trying circumstances.  Just like Paul.  His joy was not in his circumstances.  It was in seeing the spiritual needs of people met and in glorifying His Lord.  The circumstances took a back seat as he constantly gave us examples of what brought him joy and demonstrated this strange, God-like joy, despite his sufferings.  Today, let us take joy in the Lord.  That joy will keep us going strong.  Then let us rejoice in the Lord, rejoicing just because He is who He is; and, He has brought us this far!  Paul never would stop reminding people to be joyful and to rejoice.  No matter what.  Then, he demonstrated by doing it himself.  In all of our circumstances, good and bad, does God finally find us rejoicing?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 2:25 (KJV)  25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.


Epaphroditus was a messenger sent from the Philippian church to minister to Paul while he was in prison in Rome.  The name, Epaphroditus, means, "lovely," "handsome," "charming."  I'm sure that he was all of those things to Paul.  Being a messenger sent from the church at Philippi, to do a specific mission, some have called him called an, "apostle."  However, to Paul, he was a representative of the collective congregation at Philippi, bringing aid to Paul in this, his first Roman imprisonment. We have seen how God has sent several people into Paul's life at specific times and for specific purposes.  They are basically simple and unknown people who just have a heart for God, a heart for people, and a heart for Paul.  I wonder if you can think back in your life and remember specific people that God sent into your life for specific needs you had at a specific time.  I can.  I'm thankful for each and every one of them.  Some people come into our lives for a season and then we might never see them again; or else see them many years later.  But, God has allowed paths of certain people to cross with other people for His own purposes and because of His great love and care for us.  Epaphroditus was important to Paul and Paul was important to Epaphroditus because God was important to both of them!  It is said that Paul tells us about Epaphroditus in three ways, perhaps in ascending scale.  He was Paul's brother in the Lord, a position of common sympathy.  He was Paul's fellow-worker, a position of common work.  He was also Paul's fellow-soldier, indicating common danger, toil, and suffering.  (from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are all fellow-workers in Christ (some of us closer than others), and we are all fellow-soldiers.   2 Timothy 2:3-4 (AMP) 3 Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.  Some of us fight in close physical proximity to one another but we all fight together, the good fight of faith.  Time and distance mean nothing to God when it comes to fighting and working together.  Time and distance are not important either, between brothers and sisters in the Lord for the Lord is in the midst of all of us believers!  Everybody is active in some way and everybody matters!


Epaphroditus not only helped Paul and met many of his needs, but he was a minister to his Philippians brothers and sisters, was well.  The word, "wants," in Philippians 2:25 really means necessities.  I have read that, in Paul's day, the state did not provide for the needs of prisoners.  They were really on their own and they needed family or friends to bring them food and the other necessities of life.  This is what Epaphroditus was doing for Paul on behalf of all of the other believers in the church at Philippi.  They were not all able to take the trip to be with Paul in Rome, so Epaphroditus was sent.  There is some belief that Epaphroditus may have been a man of means and, thus, able to help meet some of Paul's needs with his own personal finances.  However, the thing that Paul is emphasizing about Epaphroditus is that he was devoted to laboring for the cause of Christ, by helping Paul.  Some believe that Epaphroditus became ill on the journey to Rome but that he pressed in so that he would not fail to carry out his mission for the Lord.  In whatever way it happened, Epaphroditus did become very ill.  Like most of us, when we are ill, he longed to be back home in Philippi.  He longed for his friends and perhaps family there. He knew that they had gotten word that he was deathly ill; but, he also that they did not know that God had stepped in and spared his life.  So, he felt badly that they felt badly!   Philippians 2:26 (KJV)  26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. Information, back then, traveled very slowly, not like our lightning-speed internet and other means of communication.  Probably a courier had passed through Rome, picked up the news of Epaphroditus's illness, and delivered it in his journeys when he went through Philippi.  There was no modern medicine in those days either.  When one would contract a severe illness, one might expect to die.  The believers at Philippi probably knew about Epaphroditus's illness from a courier message but they did not yet know that he had miraculously recovered!  That is one of the reasons Paul wrote them the letter which Epaphroditus probably carried back to them himself when Paul sent him back to Philippi.


Epaphroditus, although mentioned only twice in the scriptures made a big difference in Paul's life and in the life of his church at Philippi!  In the process, he got very sick, even to the point of death.  As we like to say, "But God.........."  Philippians 2:17 (KJV)  27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  In some way, God miraculously stepped into the situation with mercy!  He not only saw to it that Epaphroditus was brought back from the brink of death, He spared Paul much sorrow.  If you have, or have had, a special spiritual sister or brother that has helped you in any way, you know what sorrow you can feel if they become sick and, especially, if they pass away.  Paul already had lots of sorrow and suffering in his life but he is not focusing on that in this case, except to say that God spared him sorrow upon sorrow by bringing recovery to Epaphroditus.  But, Epaphroditus's friends and family in Philippi did not yet know that they had also been spared sorrow.  Most of them would have expected that Epaphroditus had died so, when he appeared carrying Paul's letter to them (which explained Epaphroditus's own situation), Paul knew that they would be overjoyed!  Philippians 2:18 (KJV)  28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.  Paul loved both the Philippian believers and Epaphroditus.  Paul was more concerned about their joy than even his own!  He would have less sorrow about his own situation if he knew that they were rejoicing upon the return to them of a healed, Epaphroditus!  How unselfish is that?  What an example to us!  Epaphroditus, for the love of the Lord, pressed on in his mission so fervently that his own health deteriorated to the point of death.  But God stepped in, bringing glory to Himself in Epaphroditus's healing.  Paul, perhaps even being willing to be found without his necessities being met, joyfully sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi so that he could be cared for by his friends and family after his near-death experience.  Everybody mattered to Paul.  Epaphroditus mattered to his fellow-believers in Philippi and they mattered to him!  So, Paul not only sent Epaphroditus back home but he sent instructions to the Philippian believers that they were to receive Epaphroditus with gladness, in the Lord.  To give him honor because he did not regard his life more than he regarded serving the Lord and helping Paul to continue serving.  Philippians 2:29-30 (KJV)   29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.  Epaphroditus was simply a messenger, "one sent," (which is another way to describe an apostle).  However, Epaphroditus was a humble man, willing to serve to the death so that the Apostle, Paul, might have his needs met and continue getting the gospel message out from the prison.  Many call themselves, "apostles," today but some don't look much like the humble Epaphroditus.  If Paul had not spoken of him, none of us would know of him today but God doesn't miss a thing!  Epaphroditus has his reward now in Heaven, without ever, "tooting his own horn."  He just did want he was sent to do because Paul mattered.  Because his fellow Philippian believers mattered.  And, because his focus was on His Lord.  Even though Epaphroditus does not have a whole lot of worldly fame, he matters a lot in the whole scheme of God.  You and I matter too.  God was willing to let us see a little example of relationships that matter between Paul, Epaphroditus, and the believers at Philippi.  Even these small areas of scripture speak much more than just the few words contained in them.  They help us to see that everybody matters to the Lord.  If everybody matters to the Lord, and if everyone can make a difference, then what are we doing today that will make a difference to the Lord and in other's lives.  It matters!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 2:22 (KJV)  22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.


Timothy was a young man but he was the Apostle, Paul's, right hand man.  Paul, writing from prison, seems to have felt that many had let him down when it came to the advancement of the gospel message.  Philippians 2:20 (KJV)  20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  It seems that no one felt compelled, like Paul did, to care for the state of the believers in Philippi.  No one except for Timothy.  And, Timothy did not let Paul down.  Timothy was a young man who, with Paul, was likeminded.  Paul was very zealous about caring for those to whom he had ministered the gospel but, being in prison, it was hard for him to really know how those in the Philippian church were doing.  At the time of the writing of his letter to the Philippian believers, Paul was in Rome, in prison, and Timothy was also in Rome.  Timothy had also gone with him on   missionary journeys.  It was during Paul's second journey that the Philippian church was born and Timothy was there to witness the birth.  Timothy probably knew Paul better than anyone on earth.  He had traveled with Paul and, basically, was mentored by Paul even though he had a mother and grandmother who were strong in the faith.  2 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)  5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.  Timothy was like a son to Paul and Paul was like a father to Timothy when it came to spreading the gospel message.  


Although Timothy had proven himself loyal to Paul and served him well just like a son would serve a father, the believers in Philippi were also Paul's spiritual children.  In my imagination, I can see Timothy as the caring big brother.  No other person seemed to care for the Philippian believers so much that they would be willing to follow orders to go and see how they were doing.  Like any loving parent would want to know how their children are doing, Paul really wanted to know how the Philippian believers were doing.  He planned to send Timothy to check out the situation.  But, I love the fact that Paul trusted the Lord regarding Timothy's trip to Philippi.  One paraphrase (The Living Bible) says, "If the Lord is willing, I will send Timothy to see you soon."  Paul really, really wanted to know about these believers in Philippi but Paul also trusted the Lord that the timing would be just right when he sent Timothy to them.  It is good for all of us to discern the Lord's timing when we do anything.  To do less would be relying on self instead of God.  Proverbs 27:1 (AMP)  1 DO NOT boast of [yourself and] tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring forth.  Paul was really wanting to be cheered up and know that his, "children," in Philippi were doing well.  Who wouldn't want some cheer while sitting in a prison?  But, Paul was willing to trust the Lord with the timing of his own desires.  He was also careful to trust God with young Timothy's life.  Paul was a man of joy and rejoicing.  He put God first, Timothy second and his own desires last.  Jesus, Others, Yourself equals JOY!  You and I can learn much today from Paul's teaching.  But, he didn't just preach and teach.  He set an example!  Trusting God's timing and setting an example will prove to help us in making an effort to spread the gospel message.


Paul could have been depressed and discouraged.  Here he was, imprisoned in Rome, with only one other who seemed to care about helping new believers to become established in the faith.  Philippians 2:21 (KJV) 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.  How many people do you know today that seem to be engrossed in their own plans and their own agenda, seemingly never even considering the things of Christ?  If we were honest with ourselves, how many of us would fall into this category to one extent or another?  Today our world is all about self.  There is even a whole magazine with that title!  You and I are living in a self-centered world and it is so easy to go along with the crowd.  It seems that it was not much different in the time of Paul and Timothy!  Paul had the desire to go to Philippi himself but, of course, he had been detained in a Roman jail.  We all need someone to help us out from time to time.  The circumstances of life sometimes hem us in and we can't get out to do what we desire to do for the Lord.  But, we can do something!  God is so good to send us friends who will help us and work closely with us to get the gospel out, help disciple others, and bring us encouragement and cheer!  Timothy was all of that for Paul.  Can you imagine what our Bible would look like if it had not been for Timothy?  Young as he was, and apparently sometimes intimidated by others because of his age, Timothy made a great big difference in the life of Paul.  And in your life and mine.  He was willing to serve and he cared for the welfare of other believers!  Are we like Paul and Timothy?  Is our first concern to get the gospel of Jesus to others and help them grow in the knowledge of the Lord?  Do we trust in God's timing for our every move?  Do we encourage and uplift others who are having a hard time?  Paul and Timothy were likeminded in all of these areas, while many others seemed to be more imprisoned than Paul by their own desires and plans!  Timothy was as a son is to a father for Paul.  You and I have the opportunity to have many Godly relationships with other believers.  Some are like sons to a father.  Some are like daughters to a mother and vice-versa.  We are all sisters and brothers in the Lord and we can all learn from the God-centered relationship that Timothy and Paul had with each other.  Timothy encouraged Paul by doing what Paul was unable to do at the time and Paul encouraged Timothy with his words of affirmation, even saying that Timothy was like a son to him.  Even though in prison, Paul accepted his circumstances with joy.  Even though he could not get out to do what he wanted to do, he took joy in the gift of Timothy in his life.  The reason he wanted so desperately to know that the Philippians were growing and thriving in their faith was because that was his joy!  What brings us joy today?  Is it things and position?  These things will pass away.  Or, is our joy in our Lord and our earthly relationships that will last for eternity? 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 2:16 (KJV)
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.


As I was reminded today, our destination should not be our total focus.  We should have joy in the journey!  But, what if the journey includes being wrongly placed in prison?  That's what happened to Paul.  He was put in prison simply because he preached the gospel of Jesus!  Most of his writings were from a prison, yet he is the one who says that we should live as lights shining in a dark world, holding forth the Word of life.  Demonstrating and preaching and teaching the gospel!  Paul's journey in life was not the most pleasant.  After becoming an apostle of Christ, his life seemed to get worse, rather than better.  That is, if you look at his circumstances only.  But, unlike many of us, Paul did not look at his circumstances as being greater than the joy of his mission.  When Paul had an encounter with Jesus, his whole life was changed.  His perspective was changed.  The things that were important to him were no longer important.  What was of utmost importance to him was that he would succeed in presenting the gospel of Christ to all with whom he might come in contact.  The Lord answered that desire.  Many times, Paul was chained to a Roman guard.  Yet, he did not hesitate to share the love and salvation of Christ with that guard and anyone else that might pass by.  He didn't seem to consider that he could be immediately persecuted, if not executed, for doing such a bold thing!  The love of Christ so filled Paul that he rejoiced at every possibility and opportunity for sharing that love with others, especially those to whom he had ministered while on his missionary journeys.  In his letter to the Philippian believers, he speaks much of joy.  In Philippians 2:16, he indicates that he wants to have joy when he finally sees Jesus.  He wants to hear from Jesus those treasured and hoped for words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  But, Paul knew that it was not just for his own work that he would receive a reward.  It would be also from the work and faithfulness of those to whom he had ministered, if they continued in the faith.


The letter to the Philippians is not just to the Philippians.  It is passed along to us by the inspiration of God.  It is a part of the holy scriptures that every generation after Paul has read and studied.  You and I can be a part of Paul's reward, just as those we help along in the faith can be a part of our reward.  Paul wanted the Philippian believers to hold forth the Word of life.  That is the Word of the Lord.  He was looking forward to rejoicing in the day of Christ because many had carried the torch and lit up their dark world with the Word.  Not many of us have sat chained in prison.  Hopefully, we will not have to endure such tribulation.  However, all of us have been, at one time or another, chained in the prisons of our own making.  Some of us, chained in prisons in which others have tried to lock us in.  However, in these prisons of life, the Word of Life is the key to our release.  Paul was not released from the prisoner's chains or the bars of the prison but he was released from the prison of a bad attitude and a skewed perspective.  He had learned to be content in every situation.  Each new trial had helped him to further his learning to be content.  I wonder if we, when we go through trials and temptations, consider them to be opportunities rather than obstacles in life.  That's what Paul seems to have done.  He had joy in his journey, even though his journey included things like imprisonment, shipwreck, beatings, stonings, and even a thorn in his side from the enemy!  Nothing stopped him from proclaiming, or holding forth the Word of Life!  What are the things that threaten us to stop holding forth the Word of Life?  For me, I have to confess that sometimes circumstances affect my attitude rather than my attitude affecting my circumstances.  When that happens, I probably miss an opportunity to show the love and power of Jesus.  Instead of holding forth the Word, I just may start to complain.  Instead of rejoicing because I have opportunity in a trial to show that God is with me, I murmur and become displeasing to God and to those around me.  Not Paul!  Mentor that Paul was, he wanted us all to have his attitude of rejoicing, even in troubles!


None of us want to have toiled in this life, only to find that our work was useless!  Paul was no different.  The Philippian believers were a part of his toil.  He wanted to see them succeed in the faith and bring others to the faith.  Paul was willing to be sacrificed, to be executed, if it meant that it would bring glory to God and help others to keep the faith.  Philippians 2:17 (NLT)  17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. How about that!  Paul was willing to rejoice even if he lost his life in service to God and others.  He was even willing to pour out his life as an offering to God.  He encouraged the Philippians (and us) that our service is an offering to God.  He wanted us to share his joy in service and in sacrifice.  Philippians 2:18 (NLT)   18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.  So, are we rejoicing today that we have the opportunity to share the Word of Life with a dying world?  Are we rejoicing that we can serve God and others, even in tough circumstances?  I heard a very good sermon from my pastor this morning.  He was basically encouraging us in the congregation that we could make a difference for the Lord in the lives of others.  Like Paul, he was encouraging the congregation to hold forth the Word of Life.  Will I be a part of my pastor's reward on the day of Christ?  Will I bring joy to him and to others who have taught me and helped me to know and receive the Word of Life?  Will you?  And will others go on, in generations to come, holding forth the Word of Life because we have encouraged them, rejoiced with them, and taken joy in them while teaching and serving them?  There is joy in the journey and those who are willing to complete the journey in faith will rejoice even more at the day of Christ.  There will be times in the journey when God delivers us from prisons and other times when he gives us the grace to have a good perspective and a good attitude in the prison.  Either way, we can rejoice and bring joy to those who have helped and taught us.  But, most of all, we can return to Jesus the joy that He has so graciously given to us when we see Him face to face.  We can hear the sweet words of affirmation, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  May we discover joy in the journey, constantly holding forth the Word of Life, so that we will rejoice when we get to our destination!

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 2:14 (KJV)
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:


How many times have you complained in the last twenty-four hours?  I hope the answer is that you have not complained one time in the last twenty-four hours.  But, sadly, I must confess that many times I do complain!  As I read Philippians 2:14, I see that Paul tells us to do most things without murmurings and disputings.  Then, as I look closely, I see that he doesn't say, most things.  He says all things! Of course, being curious as to the meanings of the key words in this verse, I began to look them up.  Murmurings can mean several things.  Strong's Dictionary describes it as grumbling and grudging.  Oh my!  Looking further into the Vine's Dictionary, I found out that murmuring is muttering.  I will not deny that I have gone away from certain situations and conversations muttering (even though it may have been under my breath).  I would like to think I'm the only one that has done that but, alas, I fear that many of us have found ourselves in that position at one time or another.  Here's an example of some murmuring.  John 7:12 (KJV) 12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.  Instead of being forthright and open, the people, in this example, murmured among themselves about Jesus.  They complained among themselves, some with one idea about Jesus and some with another idea about Jesus.  Some said He was a good man but others said that He was a deceiver.  Interestingly, neither was exactly right and they were divided.  That's what happens in the Body of Christ when we get into our own opinions about Jesus (or anything else for that matter) and we begin to murmur among ourselves.  No wonder Paul said we should do all things without murmurings!  Among the early believers, the Greeks and the Hebrews murmured over the treatment of their widows!  Acts 6:1 (KJV)  1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.  If we have a mind to murmur or complain, we don't have to look very far to find something to murmur about, do we?  The Apostle, Peter, used this same word here:  1 Peter 4:9 (KJV)  9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  Have you ever extended hospitality and then started complaining when you found out there was lots of work to do beforehand and cleaning up afterward?  Honestly, have you ever asked yourself, "Why did I extend that invitation or agree to do that thing?"  If we have ever done this, it just may be that we need to work on doing things without grudging.  Obviously, if the Bible tells us to extend hospitality to one another without grudging, it is most likely that we might be tempted to do things grudgingly at times!


As I looked at the word, "disputings," in both the Strong's and Vine's Dictionary's, I was impressed with the implication of doubt within this word.  Anything that includes doubt is sinful and not of faith.  Jesus said the following:  Matthew 21:21 (KJV) 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.  In essence, our faith cannot include doubt.  If we reason in our minds (which is one of the meanings implied in the word, "disputings"), we will rarely have faith.  This is evident in the fact that, many times, we don't see the mountains in our life move.  Our prayers sometimes feel like they are hitting the ceiling.  Several times, within the scriptures, Jesus asked people, "Why did you doubt."  The Apostle, Paul, gives us the principle showing that whatever is not of faith (hence mixed with doubt) is sin.  Romans 14:23 (KJV)  23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.  This same word, translated, "disputings," is translated, "doubting," in the following verse.  1 Timothy 2:8 (KJV)  8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.  When we pray, it's got to be without doubting or disputings!  This word, "disputings," also has to do with imaginations.  Sometimes our imaginations get the best of us and we can talk ourselves right out of faith.  James has said that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.  And, when these disputings are spread within the church and within our daily activities, we will find that we are not doing all things properly!  There will be disunity and factions will arise.  It should not be so in the church and in our lives!


Why Does Paul tell us to do all things without murmuring and disputings?  He doesn't hesitate to explain it to us in the very next verse.  Philippians 2:15 (KJV)  15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  God is so good to help us understand why He says what He does!  God wants you and me to be blameless and harmless!  Blameless in the sense that no one will be able to, honestly, find fault in us.  He wants to establish our hearts in love so that we are without blame before Him.  1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 (NLT) 12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.  We're to be harmless in the sense that we are, "unmixed," "innocent," and "simple."  Just like Jesus!  Without rebuke.  Unblameable.  This is because, as we all know, very well, that we live in a crooked and distorted time.  We live in a perverse and morally corrupt time.  Many nations have turned away from God, just as He said they would.  The times are dark.  It is a time when light is sorely needed.  So, God wants us to gleam like bright stars against the black backdrop of the depravity of which we are in the midst.  I remember that Jesus did not ask the Father to take us out of the world.  John 17:15-16 (KJV)  15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  So, here we are, you and I, in the midst of the darkness.  Believers in Christ, needing to walk in love and be united so that there are no murmurings or disputings within or among us.  As the unity comes, and as we begin to more and more do all things without murmurings and disputings, our light will shine so much brighter and God will be glorified and pleased.  I admit, that, for me, that's a big order.  But, may the Lord work, as He does so well, in and among and through each of us so that His light will allow us to shine as stars for Him! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 2:12 (KJV)
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.


There are many things in our lives that we have to work out.  Can we work it out so that all of our bills are paid on time?  Can we work out a relationship that is less than optimum?  Can we work out the problems on our homework?  How about the challenging situations in our employment?  Many things in life must be worked out but none is so important as our salvation!  This might be confusing to us because we may have been taught that we cannot work to achieve salvation.  That is exactly right.  Salvation is a gift we receive from the Lord when we turn from our sin and receive Jesus as our Savior. Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)   8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.  10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  It is the  same Apostle, Paul, that tells us to work out our salvation that told us in, Ephesians 2:8, that our salvation is a gift.  Some have thought that Paul contradicted himself in his writings but, since all scripture is inspired by God, (1 Timothy 3:16), I'm sure this is not a contradiction on Paul's part.  For one thing, the word used in Philippians 2:12, "work out," can also be translated with the word, "wrought," which is something that has already been done.  In the Strong's Dictionary, the words we see as, "work out," in Philippians 2:12 means, "to work fully."  In other words our salvation is something that we accomplish, finish and fashion by performing it throughout our life.  We've all met those who say that they have received salvation but their fruit doesn't bear witness of that.  At one given time or another, we, ourselves, may be judged to look like we have not received salvation because we have momentarily slipped back into our carnal nature.  However, salvation is a gift of God and it cannot be worked for but it can be worked out by letting Jesus, who now lives in us, show forth in our daily living!  I am looking at Philippians 2:13 (KJV) 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Now I see that it helps explain Philippians 2:12.  As we partner with God and let Him work through us, He will do just that to bring about His will in our lives and in His bigger plan.  He will perform His good pleasure in and through us.  What an awesome God we have.  He tells us to work out our salvation but then He also tells us that He will be working in us to help us obey!  


Unless we abide in the vine (which is Jesus) we will not be able to do anything!   John 15:4-5 (KJV)  4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 
Even reading this verse in the old King James Version, the Lord makes it crystal clear.  Without Him, we can do nothing!  Nothing!  But, when we allow Him to work in us, there is rest and peace.  He allows us to progressively build that confidence in Him that tells us we can do anything if we will receive His strength.  Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  
Now, practically, in our everyday lives, does it look like we can do everything?  It doesn't in my life!  But, with each passing day, I ask Jesus to help me receive more of His faith.  More faith to see that what He says is true.  I constantly have to remind myself that faith is the evidence of things that are not seen here in the temporal world.  However, the things we see with our faith are more real than these things we look at with our physical eyes!  All of this that we see will pass away one day but what we know by faith will last eternally.  Salvation is one of those things.  So, we perform and accomplish and finish the gift God has given us by our faith!  It was received by faith and it has to be worked out by faith.  God has already seen the finished product that we only see, at this moment, by faith.  Yes, we have a responsibility to work out our salvation but all the while God is working in and through us to make sure we have the victory!


Okay, now I'm convinced that, if I receive the gift of salvation by faith and work it out by faith, as God works from the inside out in me, I will come out on top.  I know that God is the author and finisher of my faith and that gives me more hope.  He not only authored my faith.  He has already finished it!  Again, I don't always feel like it and I certainly don't see the sparkling finished product with my own eyes.  Nevertheless it is there!  If you have believed the same is true for you!  So what is all the fear and trembling about that Paul speaks of in conjunction with working out our faith?  The Greek word translated, "fear," in the King James Version is phobos.  It is much like our word, phobia.  When we were children, if we grew up in a fairly functional family, we knew that our daddy loved us.  We also knew that we were supposed to do what he told us to do.  When we didn't do that, we knew we were in trouble.  It wasn't that our Daddy didn't love us any more.  It wasn't that he was about to throw us out of our home on our ear.  But, we were going to bear some consequences for our misbehavior.  I don't think anyone could say that, when they were a child, and they knew their daddy was displeased with them, they felt no fear.  Our Heavenly Father is worthy of our reverential fear.  Yes, He loves us; but Jesus also said that, if we loved Him, we would obey His commandments.   John 14:15 (KJV) 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.  Just as when we were a child and knew that there would be discipline for being disobedient, so we know that our Heavenly Father is the perfect Father and, when His children disobey, they should have a healthy fear of the discipline that will come if the Father sees fit.  Trembling means just what it sounds like.  Or we could say that we might quake with fear.  I don't know about you but all my earthly dad had to do was point his finger toward me when he felt that I was out of line and I started quaking!  Real love, the kind our Father has for us does not mean that He will let us go our own way without any discipline.  In Proverbs we find that a parent who does not discipline their child actually does not love them.  Proverbs 13:24 (NLT)  24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.  Notice that the good parent will not abuse their child or break their spirit by discouraging them.  No.  The good parent will discipline in accordance with the offense, fairly and justly.  In love.  So, as we, by faith, accomplish, through faith, the gift that our Father has given us of salvation, we ought to be in total awe of Him.  It's true, we can hide under His wings and He will never turn us away when we call to Him in trouble, even trouble of our own making.  But, there may be some pretty strict discipline going on if we have willfully gone our own way, disregarding our Father's instructions!  If you ask me that's pretty scary.  No discipline is pleasant when it happens, but as the scripture says, it is beneficial for our training in the working out of our salvation!  Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  I hope that I have a healthy fear of my Heavenly Father as well as a fervent love for Him.  This same God, who could mash us into the ground and destroy us if we disobey, chooses to discipline us.  The same God who could demand instant perfection from us, works with us as we grow in faith and in the knowledge and working out of the gift of salvation He gave us.  And, this is the same God who will pour out His wrath on those who completely reject Him.  Aren't you glad He's in your side if you have received Jesus!  Aren't you glad that He, who has the power to destroy the world and all that is in it, is the author and finisher of your faith and your salvation!  What a gift!  What a God!  Let's work it out with Him! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 2:3 (KJV)  3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.


I am self-centered.  In and of myself, that is my human nature.  My natural self.  That is the natural way of man.  We can see it evidenced in all that is going on in the world today.  Many have taken their eyes off of God and are, as they used to say, "going for the gusto."  Going for anything that will please and prosper themselves.  Many have obtained employment by proudly declaring their outstanding talents and abilities but then failed, and brought others down with them, because they trusted in themselves.  They were too proud to acknowledge that they were nothing without God.  Humility used to be considered a virtue but, sadly, in our day, it is many times considered a weakness.  Arrogance and pride have become the, "virtues," of the day.  Yes, I, in my natural state am self-centered.  And, you are too.  We're born that way.  We cry when we want food and we get it.  We cry when we need to be cleaned up and changed and we get it.  It really is all about us when we're born and we're cute and cuddly enough to get the attention.  But, somewhere along the way, we grow.  Unless we find the Lord Jesus Christ and become a new creature, we will grow to be totally self-centered, prideful and arrogant. 


In the scriptures we find the way to be more like Jesus.  We can learn to be humble, just as He was when He walked this earth.  The Apostle, Paul, urges us in Philippians, Chapter 2, to make his joy complete.  He is writing from prison to those to whom he has ministered in Philippi.  He wants them to be encouraged because they are united with Christ.  To find comfort from the love of Christ.  To have communion with the Holy Spirit.  To live a life of tenderness and compassion.  Now, if I was Paul, I might be saying, "Make my joy complete by helping me to get out of this prison."  But, Paul, by example, shows us that, no matter what our circumstances are in this life, God wants our attitudes to be as described above.  So, Paul writes, to the Philippians and, down through the ages, to us,  Philippians 2:2 (KJV)
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  
Here is a man, sitting in prison only because he preached the name of Christ, letting us know that he would be full of joy if we, as believers, were likeminded.  If we, as believers, would have the same love.  And, if  we, as believers, would be of one accord and one mind.  To be one in spirit and in purpose.  As we can see from the various denominations and movements of the age we live in, this is not yet totally evident in the Body of Christ.  Do you ever wonder, like I do, why that is?


Could it be that we have fallen into the trap of the world and placed more emphasis on ourselves and our local groups than we do on the Lord Himself?  Could it be that we have overlooked the fact that we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition?  Nothing we do should be through strife or conceit.  Rather, to be like Jesus, we need to walk in humility thinking of others as superior to ourselves.  In this world, that's a novel thought!  Have you ever heard this saying, "You've got to look out for number one"?  Of course, the, "number one," is ourselves!  Kingdom life in God's Kingdom is right-side up.  It is the world that is upside-down.  Look at how Paul tells us to think, while at the same time being a living example of it himself as he writes from prison.   Philippians 2:4 (KJV) 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Wow!  How many times have you seen that happen lately?  It really does happen, but that's not what you normally see on the nightly news.  More often than not, the news gives us features about killing and destroying others instead of looking to their needs.  Why?  Because we are all, self-centered in the natural.  It is only when we are super-naturally born again and made new that we can do what is needed to become humble.  What is needed?  Just this:  Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV)  5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:   6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 
Having the mind of Christ requires that we first accept him and then that we be transformed from the inside out by His word.  We put the Word in by reading, studying and meditating on it;  and He uses His Word to do the transforming!  (
Romans 12:2)  That is the only way we will keep from being conformed to this world where, "self," reigns.  That is the only way we will be able to walk in humility.  It may not seem very appealing to the natural mind that is saturated with the glitz of this world's pride and self-centeredness.  But, it's the only way.  And, in case you are thinking that it's a weak state of being, we must think again.  Humility before God (and, thus before men) brings great and lasting reward.  1 Peter 5:6 (AMP)  6 Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, 7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.  Pride and arrogance may get a person some instant gratification in position or possessions in this world but they will not last.  If we humble ourselves as Christ did, we will have lasting reward just like He did, both now and in eternity.  So, where did humility go?  I think it's time to go find it and put it to good use again, don't you?

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 4:4 (NLT) 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Joy is a part of what comes with our salvation.  Jesus is our joy-giver.  Do you have peace with God through Jesus?  Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?  Are you enjoying the blessing that flows from that relationship?  Psalm 5:11-12 (KJV)
11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.  12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.  Wow! Just in 
Psalm 5:11, we are told to rejoice if we have put our trust in God, to shout for joy because God defends us, and to be joyful in the Lord because we love His name!  Joy is a very short word with a very vast meaning!  If we trust in God, we should rejoice. Literally, that means we should brighten up, cheer up, be filled with glee, make merry and be glad.  Secondly, in Psalm 5:11, we should shout for joy because God does defend us!  The word for, "joy," used here, according to the Vine's Dictionary means to, "sing, shout, or cry out."  The original Hebrew word for this particular word for, "joy," was used for the first time in Leviticus 9:24.  This was when fire came from Heaven and consumed the burnt offering after the consecration of Aaron and his sons, as priests.  When the fire fell, the people shouted and fell to their faces.  Thirdly, if we love the Lord's name, we should be joyful in Him.  The Hebrew word used for, "joyful," here means to jump for joy!  It means to exult, rejoice, and triumph.  Wow!  That's a lot to say about joy and rejoicing in just one verse!  We are able to do all of those things if we have received the salvation that comes from Jesus.  Here's a comforting thought from Isaiah: 35:10 (KJV) 10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  You and I, as believers, have this promise.  We might as well start right now singing songs of everlasting joy!  The Hebrew word for, "joy," here indicates a blithesome glee.  It is a festive joy.  It's an expression of gladness, mirth and pleasure.  That's the joy that we, as the ransomed of the Lord should have today!  We can show these kinds of expressions of joy because we trust the Lord.  He has defended us and will continue to do so.  We love the name above all names and, with that love, comes joy!  We are the ransomed or redeemed of the Lord!  Any and all of those things should make us jump up and down for joy, be cheerful, shout for joy, exult, rejoice, triumph - and that's just the beginning!


In the Word of God, Jeremiah found joy and rejoicing!  Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV)  16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.  When did Jeremiah find the Word of the Lord?  When he was in a valley of life.  Down and depressed.  Yet, He chose to eat the Words.  They became joy and rejoicing to his heart partly because, in them, he was reminded that he was a child of God!  When you and I seem the farthest away from joy, God calls us to come and eat His Word.  The Hebrew word used here for joy, means: "cheerfulness; specifically welcome :- gladness, joy, mirth, rejoicing." - Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.  Our Father is a welcoming Father.  He still speaks today through His Word.  He spreads out a table before us in the presence of our enemies and invites us to eat and receive joy.  To eat of His spiritual food.  The very manna from Heaven.  See what Jesus said!  John 6:48-51 (NLT) 48 Yes, I am the bread of life!   49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”  What joy is ours when we realize that the Bread of Life lives within us, if we have received Him.  The manna that fell from Heaven to sustain the Israelites on their journey to the promised land would spoil in just one day.  The Word of God never spoils and never changes.  Jesus said that anyone who would eat this bread would live forever.  It is when we are feasting on His Word that the enemy cannot get close.  He can only stand a good distance away, not able to devour us!  If you ask me, that is joy!  That is worth singing, shouting and jumping about!  Jeremiah was seeing into the future when everyone in the world would be invited to the feast of the Bread of Life.  Everyone would be invited to eat and find life.  Everyone would find joy and rejoicing in their hearts.  That is, everyone who would be willing to eat!


Joy is not automatic.  It comes to us when we maintain an intimate relationship with the Lord.  It grows as the Holy Spirit gives us more and more of the knowledge of God being near to us.  It is God's very presence that brings the greatest joy.  You and I can have that presence through the power of the Holy Spirit.  John 14:15-21 (NLT)  15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”  
The Holy Spirit will remind us of all that Jesus has taught us. (
John 14:26)  He will remind us that Jesus wanted us to be filled to overflowing with joy.    John 15:9-11 (NLT)
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.  10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!  When the events and trials of live threaten to leave us depressed, devastated, and discouraged, may the Holy Spirit remind us that we have the joy of the Lord.  It is our strength. (
Nehemiah 8:10)  We are loved by our Big Brother, Jesus, as we obey His commandments!  We remain in our Father's love.  As Jesus prayed for His disciples and all believers down through the ages, He spoke of joy.  John 17:13 (KJV)
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  There could be no more perfect joy than the joy of Jesus.  Wonder of wonders!  He wanted His joy to be fulfilled in us.  And, even to overflow from us.  What kind of joy did Jesus have?  He had a cheerful, calm delight and gladness that included exceeding joy!  That's exactly what He asked the Father to fulfill in us!  Do we have any takers this morning for the joy of the Lord?

Horizontal Divider 11





Psalm 91:4 (KJV)
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.


The everyday experiences of life can leave you torn and the cold winds that blow can make you want to cover yourself with a nice warm feather blanket and stay there till the gales subside.  Aren't you glad that God, Himself, covers us with his feathers and keeps us under His wings?  Sometimes we start to depend on other people for things but, really, the only safe place is under His wings!  Psalm 118:8-9 (NLT)  8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.  The Psalmist knew that he had to stay under the wings of the Lord to be safe from all that was happening around him.  He knew that refuge could not be found in people.  Not any people.  Even the best of people.  People are all flawed and they, like us, have their weaknesses.  It is not until we find that our only refuge can be under the wings of the Lord, where we will be covered by His feathers.  Feathers that will sooth our frazzled minds, ragged emotions, and worst fears.  Certainly in times of great tragedy, we know that we can find refuge in the Lord.  There are those who determine to seek refuge and strength in other things.  We don't want to be them!  Psalm 52:7 (AMP)  7 See, this is the man who made not God his strength (his stronghold and high tower) but trusted in and confidently relied on the abundance of his riches, seeking refuge and security for himself through his wickedness.  This sort of person is only going to find trouble everywhere he or she looks.  Strength and refuge can only be found in the Lord.  Those who search for it in anything but God will find themselves in a big pickle.  Psalm 52:5 (AMP) 5 God will likewise break you down and destroy you forever; He will lay hold of you and pluck you out of your tent and uproot you from the land of the living. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!  Well, all I can say is that I wouldn't want to be that one!  


Now, the only way that we will not end up like that person that seeks refuge in things or persons instead of God, is if we keep our focus off of the things and people in this world and keep our main focus on God.  He so desires to guide our footsteps in safe places and to even give them strength in places that are difficult. 2 Samuel 22:34 (AMP)  34 He makes my feet like the hinds’ [firm and able]; He sets me secure and confident upon the heights.  Yes, our God wants us to take our refuge in Him and He wants to give us hinds' feet with which to travel over the stony and many time treacherous paths of life.  But, we have to let Him give us agile feet and we have to allow Him to be our refuge, to be our strength and security.  We have to be willing to let him cover us with His wings and hold us under his warm feathers, where our body, soul, and spirit can receive comfort and revival.  I have to confess that the reason this Morning Manna is not as timely as most is because I had a minor meltdown yesterday.  Things kept crowding in on my time.  Things that seemed useless to me.  Things that seemed that they were being more complicated than they should.  I am a person who likes to get an idea and run with it until I see that I have done all I can do.  Hopefully, my mindset is always to want the Lord to do all He can do through me in a writing and studying time.  However, yesterday was not that!  Interruptions at every turn.  I was angry, to say the least.  And, I forgot to let the Lord put a guard over my mouth!  Psalm 141:3 (AMP)  3 Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.  As a result, everyone knew I was angry!  Have you ever done that?  I hope not; but, I have been around enough people in the world to find that many are angry and they don't hesitate to let you know it!  By the end of the day, I had made such a mess of the day that I felt as though I could not go on.  I knew I was in no shape to write or even gather up my mind.  I had let the enemy get a foothold.  But, by God's grace, it will not become a stronghold!  The only thing I wanted to do was feel some feathers around me so I went to bed early and got under my fake feather comforter and just kept calling, "Jesus," "Jesus," "Jesus."  No other words would come except small sobs of knowing I had blown it and asking for forgiveness and blessing on the people who had heard and been hit by the words of  my tirade.


A whole day had seemingly been wasted (at least in my mind).  If I had been in a right frame of mind, I could have had the opportunity to show grace and understanding to those who did not do what they said they were going to.  I could have overlooked the communication that was so lacking.  Instead, I fell into the trap and I allowed it to make  my day fell apart.  That's, obviously, not what I should have done.  I should have allowed God to keep a guard over my lips, showed grace and mercy, been willing to suffer discomfort for His Name's sake.  I should have determined to be a peacekeeper because I have received so much peace from my Lord Jesus.  Now, I have no excuse because I know that God is my shield and buckler.  I have seen the Lord manifest Himself as a shield and buckler in my life.  A buckler is like a shield but it surrounds the person completely.  I have no excuse for not knowing, and yet, I failed miserably in my own sight, in the sight of others and, most grievously, in the sight of God!  Here is the good news.  We must not let times of being, as the song says, "beat down, back down, found myself on the ground," keep us beat down with our back down on the ground.  As humiliating as it is, we cannot give up when troubles come and we don't pass the test.  Last night, I said, "I can't write anymore.  I don't have a testimony.  I can't even pass the tests!"  But, that was the devil speaking.  God says, "You blew it, you're right."  But, God also says, "Get up."  And, He reaches the helping hand of forgiveness and love to help me get back on my feet again.  He reminds me that I'm His child.  He brings to my remembrance that I'm blessed, chosen, adopted, forgiven, favored, redeemed and sealed.  Not one circumstance of life can change that!  If you are in a place this morning where you know that you have blown it in some way, and you feel that you really are not of much use any more, remember that God is your Father.  When His children fall down and get dirty or scrape their knees and find themselves in a billow of tears feeling like a total failure, He comes running when they call His Name - that mighty name of Jesus.  He picks them up, binds up their wounds, forgives them, fixes their broken feet, tells them He loves them with an everlasting love and sends them on their way again.  I am not saying that we will not limp for a while the wound from the fall is healing.  I'm only saying that we cannot let the devil have his way in our lives when we serve a God who loves us unconditionally.  A God who shelters us under His wings.  A God who is a shield and buckler.  A God who totally surrounds us with His protection and care.  A, "never-give-up," God who tells his children and helps them to be, "never-give-up," children!  May you be blessed this morning knowing that God has given you all you need to live a godly and loving life,  But, if (and when) you fail, you can also know that God has already forgiven you and He will help you up so you can continue to live for Him.   Proverbs 24:16 (KJV) 16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.  As a child of God, what is your secret weapon when you fall?  Repent and get up!  As the song says, "Walk on, walk on (and I changed the words to 'with Jesus' in your heart) and you'll never walk alone!"  After God has picked you up and set you on course again, there is another old song that means so much.  It just says, "Leaning on Jesus."  The closer we stay to Him and the more strength we will receive from Him, the less chance we will have of falling again!  Above all, remember, you're covered by Almighty God!

Horizontal Divider 11





Romans 12:11-12 (KJV)  11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;   12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;


As I glanced at one of my many daily scripture calendars that I have placed around the house, I was struck by Romans 12:11-12.  So, I began to dig more into the verse.  Are you tardy, insolent, and irksome in business?  That's what the word, "slothful," means.  What surprised me, when checking out word meanings is that the word, "business," is not exactly what I thought it was!  It is a Greek word that actually means, "speed."  Among other things, it implies haste, earnestness, and diligence.  One translation says, "Never be lazy in your work."  This may be a watered down version of all that it would mean to be tardy, insolent, and irksome in your diligence or your earnestness!  Rather than being any of the things just discussed, we should be fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.  Are you fervent in spirit as you serve the Lord?  I, for one, cannot say that my spirit is boiling hot in serving the Lord.  I don't always have zeal, especially if I'm already walking through some trials or physical challenges.  Another translation says, "...but serve the Lord enthusiastically."  Enthusiasm is a great trait and I have to admit that I'm not always the most enthusiastic person.  But fervency seems to be an even stronger word.  It means, "boiling hot."  Going through the list of words in this verse, I come to the word, "serving."  This word in Greek actually means to be in bondage to another.  Everyone is in bondage to either the devil or the Lord.  By far, the Lord is the best Master.  The devil pays some wages but those wages are death.  The Lord gives gifts that we could not earn or buy!  All of His gifts are life-giving.  So, I find that I have some things to work on in life.  How many times have you been tardy to work, school, or church?  Or even a recreational event?  That should not be in the life of a believer.  Our life transactions should be done with earnestness and diligence.  Actually, since this word means, "speed," or, "haste," we might have to look at whether we dilly-dally about our business in life!  And, for sure, we should never be found being irksome or insolent!


In Romans 12:12, the Apostle, Paul, tells us that we should rejoice in hope.  One translation says, "Be glad for all God is planning for you."  What rejoicing here in Romans 12:12 means is to be calmly happy or well-off.  Cheerful!  When we hope for something, we usually anticipate it with pleasure, are confident in it, and expectant.  So, do we find ourselves calmly happy or well-off this morning, anticipating something from the Lord with pleasure?  Expecting His presence to fill our lives?  Knowing His voice when we hear His direction?  Is our confidence such that we can remain calmly happy even before we see that highly expected thing that we are hoping for?  Yes!  We should be glad for all that God is planning for us but, as I have studied the words, it's much deeper than that!  Next we come to something that is very hard for me and, I daresay, that I might not be alone in struggling with this one.  Are we patient in tribulation?  When trouble comes, does our patience fly out the window or do we dig in our heels of patience until the trials are over?  What, exactly, is tribulation? It could be an affliction, some anguish, some trouble, some persecution, or a burden.  To be patient means, to endure.  Much spiritual strength is gained when we endure a trouble, leaning on Jesus (or when we endure any of the other things listed)  and come out on the other side with sweet victory!  This little section ends with the instruction to continue in prayer.  Another version says, "always be prayerful."  Isn't that the key to everything?  This word for prayer, in Romans 12:12 means to worship and pray earnestly.


Looking at that same word for prayer, I see the source of being able to be enthusiastically (even fervently) patient (being able to endure the hard stuff) because my hope is in God.  It is going to be possible if I take all of my care in prayer to the Lord and leave it there!  Some other passages where this same word for prayer is used are as follows.  Matthew 21:22 (KJV)
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.  Jesus said that!  That is something to give us hope and make us enthusiastic, even make us willing to be patient!  Jesus, not only told us to pray, He gave us His own example. 
Luke 6:12 (KJV) 12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. While I will say that I have stayed up praying all night a few times when I was in extreme agony over a situation, it is not my usual pattern.  Jesus, our loving Savior, had the need to be in constant prayer with His Father.  How much more do we have the need?  I'm not saying that we should stay up night after night in prayer until we wear ourselves down.  Just that we are invited by the Lord to come to Him all the time, anytime, without the fear of being turned away.  What we really believe when we pray, we will receive.  This is not because we are so good or we have some prayer formula.  It is simply that our faith pleases God and He rewards us for believing that He is who He says He is!  Of course, we must pray in God's will.  A child of God, who knows the Word of God and has a close love relationship with the Father, will have the same desires his Father has.  As that person prays, our Father releases His power and things happen!  Praise God, He is willing for us to come before His throne any hour of the night or day to find mercy and grace in a time of need! Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Some of us tend to think that others might pray better than we can; but that isn't true.  God uses this same word for prayer in James 5:17 (KJV).   17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.  James tells us that Elijah was just an ordinary person, just like you and me; but, he prayed earnestly and he saw the hand of God move!  We can do the same!  The more we do it, the more enthusiastic we will become.  Our patience will increase as we wait on God's timing.  We will constantly be expectantly waiting for our hope to come true.  We will see God move.  Our confidence will rise and that will start us praying all over again with enthusiasm, patience and hope! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Philippians 1:3 (KJV)  3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,


I have a very dear friend that often sends me gifts for no reason at all!  What a surprise to find a package at the front door or something in the mailbox that was unexpected!  In order to do that, she has to think about me and think about me enough to put that thought to an action.  What a blessing to have people in our lives that think about us and, when led by the Spirit of God, minister to us either with material or spiritual things!  One of the gifts I received from my friend was a flowered box that looks like a treasure chest (pretty feminine for a treasure chest, but a treasure chest, just the same).  The box contained girly things like bath products and things with which you might pamper yourself.  After the box was empty, I decided to make it a real treasure chest.  You see, inside the box now resides tiny slips of paper with the names of our family, friends, acquaintances, and even people we do not know whose prayer requests have somehow found their way into our hands.  In this day of financial uncertainty and the evil one trying to divide families and marriages, my husband and I found that we were pretty much focused on our own needs.  Now, a treasure box sits on the kitchen table and just before we eat, in a time of prayer, we ask God to guide our hands to the slips of paper that contain the names of the people most in need of prayer at that moment.  It's amazing how seeing a given name will draw our attention off of ourselves and onto one who may be having a whole lot more problems than we have!  We have been blessed to know that some of these people have confirmed the fact that they needed prayer at the time!  We also lift the whole box of requests to the Lord.  Those names inside the box have become a treasure to us (mind you, some names are in there a lot more than once due to the fact that, either they have expressed a need for prayer or the Holy Spirit has reminded us of them more often).  


This reminds me of the Apostle, Paul, who wrote many letters from prison to those people that had come across his path in life.  People for whom the Lord had given him great love and affection.  In his letter to the people at Philippi, he first blessed them with grace and peace from the Lord.  The second thing he did was to tell them that he thanked God every time he remembered them.  Not only did he thank God for them, he always prayed with joy!  Remember, now, Paul was in prison.  Yet, he prayed with thankfulness and joy for those people whom God had placed in his life.  The church members at Philippi had apparently been great partners in helping Paul to spread the gospel.  What is our pattern of prayer?  Is it first to thank God for Jesus?  That would be a."J."  Is it secondly to thank God for others in our lives?  That would be an, "O."  Thirdly, do we thank God for making us His child and blessing us, personally, individually, and intimately?  That would be a, "Y," (which stands for "yourself").  What does that spell?  Joy!  If our focus is primarily on God and receiving His message of love, He will freely give us that love and guide us.  Where will He guide us?  To others!  What will happen when we are a blessing to others?  Our joy will be complete.  That's the way it was with Paul.  Even though he was the one sitting in the confinement of prison, he did not envy those who were free.  He loved them, thought of them, and thanked God for them.  When was the last time you sat down and made a list of all the people that you can think of that God has brought into your life ? (You need to include those who blessed you, as well as those who seemed to bring hurt and pain into your life).  If we prayed for everyone that has ever come into our lives, we would find ourselves more than meeting the command to be constantly in prayer!  1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (KJV)  17 Pray without ceasing.  18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.


I was just reminded that, in the Old Testament, the Prophet, Samuel, felt it would be a sin if he did not pray for those around him and those in whose lives he had influence!  1 Samuel 12:23-24 (KJV)  23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:  24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.  Paul, of course, knew the scriptures and, thus, he knew what a treasure people really are.  Every person is a unique creation, fashioned by God, and given a certain work to do.  Paul encouraged those on the outside that, indeed, God had begun a good work in them.  Philippians 1:6 (KJV)  6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:   Paul was confident of that.  He was also confident that the same God who began the work in those people Paul loved, would bring it to completion!  Paul could see the seeds of his own work sprouting among the people of Philippi.  In his quiet times, Paul must not have reflected and moaned about his own circumstances.  The Word of God tells us that, instead of focusing on his own discomfort, Paul prayed with joy.  Why could Paul have joy, in spite of his circumstances?  Because his focus was on getting the gospel of Jesus out first, secondly, on his love and prayers for others and lastly on himself (if you are placing yourself in this pattern for finding true joy, the word would be, "yourself," instead of, "himself.").  Paul knew, as we can know, that it is God who does all the work in and through us.  God is the author and finisher of our faith.  He is the giver of our joy.  He is the one who never gives up on his work in us.  He is the one who unceasingly thinks of us.  He is the one who wills to work in and through us His own good pleasure.  Philippians 2:13 (KJV) 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  You might not have a "treasure box," filled with the names of those God has brought into, and through, you life like I do, but you do have the Holy Spirit if you are believer.  He will help you to find joy by bringing to remembrance those people who have stepped in and out of your life, as well as those who are still in your life.  As we remember people, even if we find ourselves in some dire straits, will we find the joy that Paul found when he gave thanks at every remembrance?  I don't know about you, but if I started giving thanks for everyone God has ever brought into my life, I would be leading a life of constant thanksgiving.  Of course, the obvious thing that follows thanksgiving is joy!  I wish you joy on this journey of life!  And, I thank God for you! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Luke 4:1-13 (KJV)  And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,  2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.


What do you do when you find yourself in a wilderness season?  Jesus showed us exactly what to do! We can also see, from Jesus's experience, that the enemy will try to come after us in the wilderness because he knows that God is present and speaking to us there!  Jesus fasted when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness.  It was after a great mountain-top experience for Jesus.  He had just submitted to being baptized by John the Baptist and He had heard His Father speak clearly, letting Him and those around Him, know that He was His Father's beloved Son; and, that His Father was truly pleased with Him.  Now the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness where we know that He fasted for forty days!  You can imagine how hungry He was after that!  The fact that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness gives me a clue as to why we go through some wilderness experiences in our lives.  Seasons of testing and squeezing and discomfort.  These things may feel bad but God knows just how to mold us into the vessel He made us to be.  Sometimes it takes the heat of trials and troubles to strengthen and purify us.  God knows that this world is a world full of trouble.  He wants His children to be strong and ready for battle at all times.  So, sometimes we, like Jesus, find ourselves in a wilderness experience where we will be strengthened and find growth.  It might be immediately after a wonderful experience with God where you see Him do a mighty work in, and or, through you that you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a wilderness!  That's what we see in the life of Jesus.


Now Jesus is weak and hungry in the wilderness after forty days of fasting and, most likely, if we look at the character of Jesus, He was also communing with His Father.  Enter the evil one!  Luke 4:3 (KJV) 3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.  Satan is always looking for a very vulnerable time in our lives to enter in to do his dirty work.  Luke 4:4 (KJV) 4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.  That's how important it is that we have the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in our possession at all times.  While it is true, it's good to have a Bible around, there's not always time to grab a Bible to look up a verse to fight the devil.  He shows up quickly, just like a master terrorist.  So, the Word must be hidden in our heart.  Jesus did not have a Bible or the Old Testament scrolls in the wilderness.  He was fully the Word.  He also wants you and me to be fully filled with Him so that the Word is a part of our normal response to anything from the devil.  Jesus was hungry.  The enemy tried to use a physical discomfort to get Him to turn a stone into a piece of bread for Himself.  He could have done it if He had succumbed to His physical discomfort.  He would have done it if He wasn't fully aware of who He was. But, He didn't do it.  He resisted temptation by knowing who He was; and knowing that who He was, was enough.  He was the Bread of Life.  He didn't need to go around turning stones into bread to prove anything.  If you're a child of God, you don't have to prove anything either.  You are who you are.  You know who you are.  You're blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, favored and sealed with the Holy Spirit.  The enemy will try to get you to doubt all of these things but, like Jesus, we've got to remember who we are! 


The first temptation didn't work on Jesus and neither did the next two.  If the devil can't get us one way, especially when we're in a wilderness season, he'll try something else!  Luke 4:5 (KJV)  5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.  7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.    Next, the devil tried to tempt Jesus by offering Him power over all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  Again,  if Jesus didn't know the whole Word, he might have given in.  Power is very tempting to us humans.  The devil will try to tempt us with his power but his power is only for a moment of time.  We have the eternal power of Jesus living in us.  Well, Jesus remembered who He was and He knew what belonged to Him already.  Satan tried to offer Jesus something that Jesus knew was already His.  Jesus knew the end of the Book.  He knew that He was the winner and that He already was King of Kings over all the kingdoms of the world, forever.  He also knew better than to worship a false god.  Luke 4:8 (KJV) 8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.  It could be that some of us have been tempted in that way.  Satan will offer us something that we already have been promised by God but it has not yet been manifested in our lives.  He would love to tempt us to sell our soul and our birthright for some instant gratification!  Yet, Jesus had the right answer.  Once again, He pulled out the Sword of the Spirit and gave the devil another stab.  We do have a very formidable enemy but the Word of God, used properly, will bring him to his knees every time until He will finally be subdued under our feet!  But, before his defeat, he will pull everything from his arsenal out to try to use it against us.  He will get more and more subtle with his poisonous attacks.  Luke 4:9 (KJV)  9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:  10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.  A third time, the enemy regains strength and tries to bring Jesus down.  We will experience multiple attacks at times too but, if we are carrying that Sword of the Spirit, we always have in the back of our mind, the end of the Book.  If we're the chosen of God, we win!  This time the devil tries to use the Word, itself, twisting it up, to try to trip up the Word (Jesus).  You just can't trip up the Word with the Word!  It's true.  The devil knows the Word of God.  But, he always twists it and, if we don't know it well by having a very close personal relationship with Jesus, saying what He says, we could be tripped up by this one.  Jesus, of course, was not tripped up and He didn't stub his toe on one of those stones the devil was throwing in His pathway!  Luke 4:12 (KJV)  12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  The devil could not get Jesus to use the power of the Holy Spirit in a wrong way, at a wrong time!  Jesus knew who He was and He couldn't be tempted.  He knew the whole word of God and knew how and when to use it!  The enemy was foiled again by a lonely, hungry, weak man out in the wilderness.  His Name was Jesus.  He went through a wilderness experience Himself partly to show us how to go through in victory.  No matter how physically weak He might have been at the time, He knew who He was.  He knew the whole Word of God.  He used it as a weapon.  He won the victory!  So can we!  "Yeah," you say!  Yes, but we can't sit back on our laurels and get a swelled head every time we have a victory.  Luke 4:13 (KJV)  13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.  We need to keep on renewing our minds with the Word of God and hiding it away in our hearts so we'll be ready for the next season of confrontation with the enemy.  Satan doesn't give up easily.  He always goes away looking defeated but, in his heart, he's saying, "I'll be back."  And, he will come back when we least expect it.  But, if we are immersed in the Word and the Word (Jesus) is filling us, we know that God has got our back.  What are two things we can do when we're in the wilderness.  We can remember who we are - God's chosen child.  And, we must remember to always have our Sword at hand and use it skillfully!  By God's grace, we win!  Jesus showed us the way in, and through, the wilderness!

Horizontal Divider 11





Jeremiah 2:1-2 (KJV)
1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.


As I read what the Lord is saying to the people of Jerusalem, His chosen people, through the prophet, Jeremiah, I am amazed at His longing for their close relationship with Him.  God was obviously grieved because He remembered a time when Jerusalem was eager to please Him.  Do you remember a time in your life when you were full of zeal for the Lord?  So full, that you might just walk up to a stranger on the street and tell them of the love of Jesus?  God compares Israel to a young bride that would love and follow her husband anywhere he went.  God remembers when Israel loved Him and followed Him, even through the barren wilderness.


Somehow, Jerusalem had lost her first love.  We, too, are warned about that in the last chapter of the Bible.  Jesus is talking to the church in Ephesus.  These believers (which are present in every age), worked hard and patiently endured difficult circumstances.  They did not tolerate sinful people.  They checked out their preachers and teachers to be sure they were who they said they were.  They even exposed some as liars.  Jesus commended them because they had patiently suffered for Him without quitting.  But, Jesus added a, "But........"  Revelation 2:4-5 (NLT)  4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Right here, the Greek language actually says, "You have lost your first love."  5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.  This was not a small charge against the people.  Look at all the good they did!  Is it possible to do lots of good things and look very good, as far as deeds go, and still be displeasing to God?  According to this, it is!  The penalty for not repenting in this area would be disastrous!  However, Jesus did not leave them clueless as to what was displeasing and grievous to Him.  He laid it all out on the table, the good with the bad.  In this case, it seems that one bad outweighed most of the good they did!  That one bad was that they didn't love Him the way they did at first.  This is borne out in scripture in the "love chapter" of our Bible (1 Corinthians 13).


How easy it is to forget that natural and spiritual intelligence are nothing without love.  Paul says that, even if we could speak every language in the world, including in the tongues of angels, that would not be good enough!  We certainly could make a lot of noise.  But, that's all it would be.  Noise in the ears of God.  We might even be able to utter prophetic words and even words of knowledge about what God's plans are for the future.  Most people would be in awe of such a one.  But, God would not be in awe.  All of our prophetic utterances and words of knowledge are worthless in the eyes of God, if we do not have love!  Today, we are in the wave of a great, "faith," movement.  There is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it is good.  Jesus often upbraided His disciples for their lack of faith.  He may have a few words to say to us too about our faith.  But even faith cannot work without love.  Galatians 5:6 (KJV) 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.  According to scripture, we could even give away everything we have to feed the poor and allow our body to be burned.  But, without love, none of this has any worth in the eyes of God!  What a waste that would be! (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)  Is the Word of the Lord speaking to us today about our first love?  A love that would motivate us to follow God through the wilderness, trusting Him to take us to the Promised Land?  Have we lost that first love?  Even in a marriage, the first love is so accommodating and passionate.  Somehow, with familiarity and the passing of time, there can sometimes be a forgetting of that first love.  That's the way it is many times with our love for God.  In His mercy, He may just take us back into a wilderness season where we realize once again that He is all we have and all we need.  Where our love for Him can be rekindled to be like that of our first love for Him, and even stronger!  The word, "wilderness," we found earlier, is an open field or a desert and it can also mean, "speech."  The wilderness is a great place for us to commune with God, listening to Him speak.  It is not always comfortable.  It is a place of isolation.  But, might it just be a mercy from God to remind us of our first love for Him and the love He gave us for others?  If you find yourself in a wilderness situation today, you might want to thank God for it and use the season to go back to that very first, vibrant love you had for Him.  It can be a time of repentance and revival.    I imagine that, when we think of it in this way, we will soon find ourselves in the midst of a "land of plenty," season!  God will be pleased and so will we!   It just could be that our wilderness experiences are a mercy from a loving Father and an opportunity for preparation to enter the Promised Land!    


Horizontal Divider 11





Genesis 16:13 (NLT) 13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?


In yesterday's, Morning Manna, we saw Hagar in the wilderness.  Before we leave that story, we need to see the revelation that Hagar got in her very uncomfortable position!  Many times, God cannot reveal something to us about Himself unless He can get us to a place where we are totally dependent upon Him.  I don't know if Hagar knew who God was before her wilderness experience but I do know that, when she came out of that experience, she knew that He had met her there!  Hagar gave God a name.  It was a name that you and I count on every day, if we are believers.  She named Him, "a God of seeing."   Just today, I was in some traffic.  A car in the lane beside me decided to come into my lane.  I don't know if the driver saw me or was just being aggressive.  Anyway, I actually saw that car hit the front driver's side of my car but nothing happened!  All I could do was to say, "Thank You, Lord," when I saw that somehow that car was in front of me and there had been no accident!  Truly, I know that God sees me in every situation and circumstance.  Hagar realized that in her dire need also.  Hagar saw the Lord in the wilderness and she knew that He saw her!  The Lord spoke to her.  Yet, she lived!!  She, not only lived, she was given knowledge by the Lord, Himself, of His future purposes!  From this encounter, I can know that God is willing to speak to the oppressed, to those in the wilderness and to anyone of any race, nationality, or gender.  Hagar was an Egyptian but God met her where she was.  No matter who, or where, you are, God will meet you there.  He sees you there and He cares about what concerns you!


The well near where the angel of the Lord had found Hagar in deep despair also had an interesting name. Genesis 16:14  (KJV) 14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.  The name, "Beerlahairoi," means, "well of a living One, or my seer."  Oh my, this brings so much to my mind.  Jesus is the Living Water.  Hagar had found a place in the wilderness close to the Living Water.  The Lord met her there, just as Jesus met the Samaritan woman by a well.  Both of these women were considered, "outsiders," by the Jewish people but God will many times operate outside the box we try to put Him in.  Both of these women were accepted in His sight.  To Hagar, God revealed Himself as the, "the God who sees."  To the Samaritan woman, Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah.  She was the first to hear Him say that!  Do you ever feel like an outsider?  You're not outside the view of the Lord!  Right where you are, right now He sees you.  You may think, "I don't look too good right now."  Don't worry!  No the Lord sees you.  He looks right past your situation and circumstances and sees the real you.  He loves you just the way you are, mess and all.  He would like to have a conversation with you right there too, just like He did with Hagar and the Samaritan woman.  He has a revelation for you.  Part of that revelation is that He wants to take the mess you might find yourself in now, and turn it into a message!  No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him or her.  John 6:44 (AMP) 4 No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.  I imagine that Hagar and the Samaritan woman felt a tugging in their conversations with the Lord.  Both of them could have ignored Him and walked away, but obviously the Father was drawing them and they received something from the Lord.  He would use each of them to accomplish His future plans.  Where did they learn about this?  In the wilderness!  


There is a common saying today, "Been there, done that."  Some add on the tag line, "Don't want to do it again!"  Well, Hagar went back to her mistress, Sarai, just as the Lord told her to do.  She gave birth to Ishmael, who was Abram's son, just as God had told her she would.  Sarai had been barren for her whole life and deeply wanted a son.  God said she would have one but it didn't happen in her timing.  So, Sarai devised a way to have that son.  She gave her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, to Abram to try to get the child she wanted.  How many of us know that you have to wait on God's promises?  You have to sometimes wait, and wait, and wait and...........  How many have ever waited and then, when a promise didn't materialize, decided to help God out a little bit?  After all, God is busy and there is that famous, (though thoroughly unscriptural) saying is, "God helps those who help themselves."  Well, very soon, another domestic dispute came up over Hagar and Ishmael.  God had already made good on His promise to Sarai (whose name was changed to Sarah).  She had given birth to Isaac, the child of promise.  Now Sarah was very jealous of Hagar and Ishmael and she told Abram (whose name was changed to Abraham) to throw them out of the house!  Poor Abraham.  Ishmael was his son and I'm sure Abraham loved Ishmael.  However, Abraham did, indeed, send Hagar and Ishmael away and Hagar found herself and her child once again in the wilderness!  Like Hagar, you may have been there a few times yourself.  But, as we saw yesterday, God many times sees, meets with and speaks in the wilderness. Genesis 21:14-21 (NLT) 14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.  15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush.  16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.
17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.  18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”   
Now, the word, Beersheba," means, "well of an oath."  Hagar and Ishmael ran out of water.  Hagar was sure that Ishmael would die of thirst.  Already, she had had a lapse of faith.  Has that ever happened to you?  It has to me!  She didn't believe what God had said the first time she found herself in the wilderness so, merciful as He is, God repeated it for her!  The angel of God comforted Hagar from Heaven by letting her know that God had heard Ishmael crying.  Then, wonder of wonders, God gave Hagar an eye-opening experience!  What some would call today, a break-through! 
Genesis 21:19 (NLT)  19 Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.  Right there in the desert wilderness, but Hagar had not seen it because she was focused on the fact that her child was going to die.  She was dejected, depressed and downcast, and for very good reason.  But, God saw her, spoke to her, confirmed His promise to her, opened her eyes to His provision for her and for her child!  That's what God will do for you and me too, even when we find ourselves in yet another wilderness experience.  Ishmael lived and God did as He promised for Hagar and for Ishmael.  Genesis 21:20-21 NLT)  20 And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, 21 and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt. During Hagar's first wilderness experience, God saw her and spoke to her.  During her second wilderness experience, God opened her eyes so she could see what He saw.  She saw the well in the first wilderness experience.  In the second experience, she could not see a well, but God revealed one to her.  When it looks like you might be coming upon yet another wilderness experience, don't dig in your heels and make God drag you there, kicking and screaming.  Remember, though it does not always feel good in the wilderness, that is where God really speaks to us, provides for us, opens our eyes to things we have not seen before and assures us that He always sees us and is ready to come to where we are!  We just couldn't serve a greater God than that!

Horizontal Divider 11





Genesis 16:7 (KJV)  7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.


We hear a lot about, "wilderness experiences," today and perhaps you feel that you are in a, "wilderness season."  If you are not, you probably have been there and you may be able to help someone who is there today.  If you have not been in a, "wilderness season," there is a good chance that one day you will go through it.  So, just what is wilderness?  The Hebrew word for, "wilderness," comes from the Hebrew word, "dabar," which actually means, "to speak."  It is used here in the sense of driving and of pasture such as an open field where cattle are driven.  By implication it is a desert.  However, the root word from which the Hebrew is translated, "wilderness," is the word, "dawbar," which means, "to speak."  Does that change your idea about wilderness?  It certainly does mine!  We find that the maidservant of Sari, Abram's wife, ran away from her mistress after being mistreated.  She ended up in the wilderness because of a domestic dispute.  How many of us can relate to that?  Are some of your, "wilderness experiences," due to disputes in the home?  Without going into the other aspects of this domestic dispute, let's go right to the fact that, as Hagar sat alone in the wilderness, the angel of the Lord found her!  Perhaps Hagar was wrong in running away from her mistress, even though she was mistreated.  Even if it was Hagar's own mistake and disobedience, the angel of the Lord found her!  He was watching everything that went on and He pursued her.  He came to right where she was!  If you are in a wilderness experience this morning, you can know that the Lord does not play favorites.  Acts 10:34 (KJV)  34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  No matter how many mistakes you may have made in life, God is still interested in you.  He can't stop loving you because He is love.  He is always pursuing each of His creation but many times we don't see it until we find ourselves in the wilderness!  So, before you get to depressed and discouraged, the wilderness has great possibilities!  That's the very place where God is often busily at work to change our lives and bring us to the potential that He has placed in us.


I discovered today that the Hebrew word which we see translated as, "fountain," actually means, "eye."  Like the eye of a landscape.  However, it also has to do with affliction and being pleased or displeased.  The angel of the Lord, which many modern scholars say is really an appearance of Jesus, Himself, was watching a lowly handmaiden who had been mistreated.  Isn't that like God to be watching out for those who are oppressed?  He found Hagar.  She did not find Him!  He looked for Hagar.  She had not looked for Him, that we know of.  He found her afflicted and displeased by a fountain of water.  It's interesting that the Lord found Hagar twice in the wilderness.  There is no guarantee that we will not have more than one, or even many, wilderness experiences in our lives.  But, remember the possibilities that come from being in the wilderness!  We are right in a place of isolation where God can speak clearly without the din of the world distracting us.  The first time Hagar was found in the wilderness, it was by a fountain of water.  Somehow, she had found a place for herself where she could drink from the fountain.  Isn't this reminiscent of the Samaritan woman at the well and her encounter with Jesus?  She was living in a self-made wilderness but, by a well of water, she found the Living Water!  The Samaritan woman was also alone probably because her lose way of living made her the subject of gossip and ridicule by the other women in the town.  So, she went to the well in the heat of the day when no one else would be there.  No one but Jesus, that is!  And, Jesus was more than enough!


The Lord found Hagar by a fountain of water, on the road to Shur.  Hagar was depressed, alone and discouraged.  She may have even been angry!  The word, "Shur," comes from a Hebrew root word, meaning, "wall."  Surely, Hagar had come up against a wall.  She was pregnant with Abram's child and Abram's wife was really mistreating her.  Sarai was now jealous of this very woman she had given to her husband!  Hagar was not in control of many of her circumstances.  She was dependent on the good care and mercy of her mistress, but this time, Sarai, the mistress had failed!  Even those who have God's promises fail once in a while!  God is watching over all of it and He will find the oppressed and minister to that one.  Maybe you are that one today.  Look up! The Lord is waiting for you to recognize Him!  In this case, the Lord told Hagar to return and be subservient to her mistress.  In the wilderness, Hagar received a Word from the Lord.  Genesis 16:8-9 (KJV) 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.  9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.  It wasn't an easy Word.  Hagar was told by the Lord to go back and submit to Sarai.  This would not be easy.  Many times God will give us a hard Word because we are essential pieces in His plan for good.  Hagar got a hard word.  But, she also got a promise.  There in the wilderness, the Lord promised her that her son, her seed, would multiply. Genesis 16:10-12 (KVJ) 10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.  11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.  12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.  The Lord promised Hagar that her son would become the start of a multitude of people.  The Lord even gave her a name for her son.  It would be Ishmael.  Ishmael is a combination of two Hebrew words, "hear," and, "God."  God heard Hagar's distress in the wilderness.  He gave her a Word and a promise!  Hagar, although she was not a Jew, but an Egyptian, was found by the Lord in the wilderness in her distress.  No matter what we have done or where we have come from, God so loved the world that He sent His Son!  For you and for me.  All we have to do is recognize Him!  We have to receive His Words and obey them.  Then, we have to cling to His promises!  There is so much to say about wilderness experiences.  One thing is that not many come out of these seasons unchanged.  If we get mad at God or ignore him while we are in the wilderness, we will come out defeated and bitter.  If we recognize that God has found us in the wilderness and wants to meet us there and speak to us there, we will surely come out better.  Is anybody in the wilderness today?  Will you ignore or be mad at God and come out more bitter than when you went in; or will you recognize God, obey Him and cling to His promises and come out much better?  Which one will it be?

Horizontal Divider 11





Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)  1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.


Some seasons in life are pleasant while others are downright unpleasant and then there are seasons of everything in between.  No matter what season in which we find ourselves this morning, we can be sure of one thing.  The seasons in life change, many times daily, but the God of the seasons does not change!   Malachi 3:6 (AMP) 6 For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.  What assurance the believer in Christ has!  Even though the seasons in our lives may change, God never changes!  Because of that, we cannot be consumed, although many times it feels that we will be consumed!  When we feel like we are being consumed, even that is good.  God is purifying us and burning off some impurities so we can shine brighter for Him.  Some things that threaten to consume us are illness, unfulfilling relationships, wars, natural disasters, death of a loved one, and many more.  But, each of these things will probably come to each one of us in our lifetime.  It will only be for a season.  And, although that season may be one of enormous grief, God will be there.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us if we are satisfied with Him and what He has given us.  Hebrews 13:5 (KJV)  5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  God does not place any conditions on His presence with us except that we be content with what we have (which includes, and is most importantlyHim).  It has been said that when you find out that you having nothing but God, then God is enough.  God is always enough, whether we're in seasons of joy or sorrow.  He's enough if we're in a season of plenty or a season of want.  The Apostle, Paul, had learned to be content in every season. (Philippians 4:11-13)    


The writer of Ecclesiastes has listed the seasons that may come to each of our lives.  The times of our lives.  Sounds almost like a soap opera title, doesn't it?  But, it's not a made-up story of high drama.  It is real life and real life contains times of challenge, as well as times of ease.  It contains, "seasons."  The following is the list written by the author, who is generally considered to be Solomon, the son of King David.  Solomon was a wise man.  He had asked God for wisdom and God freely gave it to him.  (1 Kings 3:5-9 1 Kings 4:29)     This is what he has concluded.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  (KJV)  2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.  3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.  4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.  6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.  7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.  8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.  Which one of these seasons are you in today?  


God is and always has been at work in this world, throughout every season.  He invites us to share in His work in the place and season in which we find ourselves.  His plans are for good for those who believe.  (Romans 8:28)  We need to look around and see where God is at work around us and join Him.  Although His plans for us are for good, His plans will not change to accommodate us.  We need to submit to Him in every season and resist the devil, with whom the battle rages.  James 4:7-8 (KJV) 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  The devil is always looking for an opportune season to try to win a battle.  It's usually in, or after, a season of difficulty.  But, it can also be after a season of great victory!  Luke 4:13 (KJV) 13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.  Jesus experienced this and we can expect to experience it too.  The devil knows about seasons and he is always watching for an opportune season to catch us unaware!  No matter what any of the seasons listed above brings to our lives, we need to be single-mindedly focused on what God is doing and join with Him in His endeavors.  The Apostle, Paul, could have lived a fairly carefree life.  He could have continued to make tents and act religious.  He would have been readily accepted by the establishment.  However, he had an encounter with God.  Once we have had a personal encounter with God, we can do nothing else but what Paul tells us to do.  Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)  1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Seasons in life will come and go.  As they say, "This too shall pass."  But, we must not let God pass by and fail to join Him in this journey through the seasons.  He will be that One that sticks closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24 (KJV)  24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  No matter what season you find yourself in today, you and I can know that this particular season will pass; but God's faithfulness will never pass away.  Perhaps you are in a season of difficulty.  A trial of some sort. A season of testing.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV)  13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  God is faithful to His own.  He is with you in that testing. He will not allow you (or me) to stay in a season of testing longer than is necessary to prove and develop our faith and trust in Him!  Many times, it is in the testing seasons that we get to know God more fully.  That is His desire.  He desires that we know Him personally.  He wants an intimate relationship with us.  He wants us to know who He is and what He can do in every season.  God has a good purpose for, and in, every season.  God truly is the God of all seasons! 

Horizontal Divider 11






Psalm 84:1 (KJV)  1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!


The Psalmist, in Psalm 84, starts of by declaring how loved or well-beloved, are the dwelling places of the Lord of the mighty army.  That word, "tabernacles," can mean many different places, including a shepherd's hut.  How interesting that the Lord says that He is our Shepherd.  (Psalm 23:1) and that Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd.  (John 10:11)  The Lord of the mighty army, the Lord of hosts, actually came down as a lamb and was revealed first to the lowly shepherds!  Perhaps you are like the Psalmist this morning.  Your heart is crying out to God.  You have a need to be in the presence of the Lord because you know that is the only place you can find the refuge and the answers you need for this life.  Psalm 84:2 (KJV)
2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Sometimes living on this earth can just make you downcast and all of your mind, will, and emotions long to be in God's front yard!  You know you will be safe there in His presence.  These feelings readily consumed the Psalmist and there may be days like that for us too.  There are those days when our whole being literally cries out for our God.  We know He is living and we want to be near Him!  It's interesting to note that there will be wildlife in God's yard. 
Psalm 84:3 (KJV)  3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.  Why not!  In letting us know how valuable we are to Him, God explains that He even sees the smallest sparrow that falls from its nest!  Matthew 10:29-31 (NKJV)  29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.  How wonderful to know how valuable we are to the Lord of hosts and also to know that He cares greatly for every creature in His creation!  He allows swallows and sparrows to nest in His yard!


No wonder the Psalmist was looking toward God's dwelling place and longed to dwell there himself!  People who dwell there are happy and prosperous (the meaning of, "blessed").  They never cease to praise God.  They are always clearly shining as they make a show and boast in the Lord.  To some on the outside, they might look foolish, even seem to rave.  They are always celebrating God!  Psalm 84:4 (KJV)   Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.  As the Psalmist says, "That's something to think about for a while."  The Psalmist could see this place from afar and he realized that people who have let God be their strength and set their hearts on the road toward Home are truly happy and prosperous (not as this world defines these things, but at peace with God and leaning on Him for this journey through life).  Psalm 84:5 (KJV) 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.  As the old song says, these people are, "Walking on the King's highway."  Sometimes the way gets rough when we, as believers, have to walk through the, "Valley of Baca."  (This means "valley of weeping.")   Psalm 84:6 (KJV) 6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.  But, even in these deep valleys, the Shepherd goes with us, His sheep!   Psalm 23:4 (KJV)  4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  If you happen to be going through any kind of loss today, and you have been steadily walking on the King's highway toward Home, but suddenly find yourself in a valley; look up!  The mighty Lord of hosts, the Good Shepherd, the God of all comfort, is by your side.  When you realize that you are in His presence and He in yours, those valleys will become a place of refreshing springs!  The Living Water is there in our valleys!  We go on from strength to strength as the Shepherd feeds us, lets us refresh ourselves in His springs and then guides us further until at last we shall reach Home!    Psalm 84:7 (KJV)  7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.  As we walk the journey of life, we have the Holy Spirit with us but when we get Home, we will see God, face to face!  1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)  12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.


The Psalmist is on the journey of life just like we are.  How many times have you cried out, "God, please listen!  Please, hear my prayer!"?  Psalm 84:8 (KJV)  8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.  After we pray, we stop and think about it, hopefully, we believe that God has heard and we go on to praise Him and declare our intent to trust Him.  We proclaim Him as our shield!  We declare that it is better to live one day in His yard than a thousand anywhere else!  We let God know that we would rather accept a lowly position near Him than live in the wealthy places wickedness!  Psalm 84:9-11 (KJV) 9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.  10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  As we find ourselves refreshed by the Shepherd, even in the valley, and then led out again to get back on the high way, we realize that our God is good.  He will never withhold anything from us, if we are walking in His footsteps, because He loves to give good gifts to His children!  Matthew 7:11 (KJV)  11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?  Wherever you are on that road toward Home, this morning, you can know, if you have believed in Jesus, that the Lord of hosts is with you. The Good Shepherd is with you.  Your shield is with you.  The Son is shining on you.  The Lamb of God is with you.  You are enveloped in God's very presence!  This is a time to praise (even if you look foolish to others who don't understand).  This is a time to rejoice in the God of our salvation who has every intent to lead us Home safely.  Philippians 1:6 (KJV) 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:  Of all people, we, as believers, are most blessed because we trust in the Lord God, Almighty!  Psalm 84:12 (KJV)
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. God did not say that there would not be battles along the way but He did promise never to leave us or forsake us.  On our journey through Psalm 84 and through life, we can trust in the Lord of hosts, the Captain of our faith!  He, alone, is trustworthy.  He, alone, will fight these battles of life for us and lead us safely into His courts in the end.  Can you just imagine what God's front yard looks like?  It's worth the journey! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Do you know what an impala is?  I knew it was a car, but I didn't know it was an animal.  Here is what an impala is:  "The impala is one of the many species of antelope that is found inhabiting the African wilderness. The impala is a medium-sized antelope that is primarily found in the savannas and thicker bush-land in the more southern parts of the African continent." - a-zanimals.com  The interesting thing about the impala is that it can jump ten feet into the air from a standing position and it can leap thirty or more feet through the air!  Wow!  Wouldn't you love to be able to do that?  In our sermon this morning, preached by Lyle Benson, I heard another interesting fact about the impala.  When in captivity, in a zoo, they can be kept in their habitat place by only a three-foot wall!  How can a three-foot wall keep an animal that can jump ten feet in the air and take a flying leap of thirty feet from doing just that, and setting themselves free?  Are you ready for the answer?  I was not ready for it and I have been thinking about it ever since I heard it.  I even looked it up on the Internet to see if it was really true!  Here is the answer:  they stay behind the three-foot wall because they will not leap anywhere unless they can see where their feet will land!  Oh my!  How interesting is it that an animal with such strength and ability can be held captive by just a little wall!  And, are some believers just like the impalas that are captive in our zoo's?  The impala will not move by anything but sight!  Do we, as believers, have to have all of our, "ducks in a row," before we will take a flying leap of faith, should the Lord ask us to do so?  Or are we bound by the, "three-foot wall?"


Impalas seem to live by sight and not by faith.  They have built-in capabilities that they squelch because they want to see, "for sure," where they are going to land!  We, as believers, are told to live by faith and not by sight!  2 Corinthians 5:7 (AMP) 7 For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.  While researching the Internet, I found an article written by Daniel Kim (dksounds.wordpress.com).  In the article, Mr. Kim wrote the following.  I thought it was so well put that I want to share it with you. "How many of us are like the African impala?  We have incredible ability and talents that have been given to us.  We have hopes and dreams that have been formed in us since we were young.  Some of us will never be liberated because we remain trapped behind a wall because we are afraid, reluctant, or too comfortable to jump.  All we have to do is jump.  Let's not forget who we are.  We are liberated impalas."  Of course, we know that God has placed within us certain gifts and talents and has prepared good works for us to do!


Are we really liberated, like the impala could be, if it jumped and took a flying leap over that little three-foot wall?  Or, are we held captive by a wall put up by Satan; a wall that makes us doubt that we can move by faith instead of having to see exactly what's on the other side of the wall?  The whole eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews tells us of men and women who, despite the fact that they couldn't see what was up ahead, took that flying leap.  Now they are listed in what is called, "the hall of faith," in the Bible.  Would you or I end up in that chapter if more were to be added?  Abel brought God a sacrifice that pleased Him, by faith.  Enoch had a testimony of faith that pleased God.  Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)  6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  Noah built an arc by faith, having been told to do so by God but not possibly understanding it because he had never seen rain!  Abraham was asked by God to leave his extended family and go someplace.  God did not say where He would lead.  He just told Abraham to, "Go."  Abraham went, by faith.  In case you think women are absent from this, "hall of faith," Sara, by faith, conceived and delivered a child when she was ninety years old because she believed God.  All of these, the Bible says forgot their past and pressed on toward a "better country," considering themselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  These people and the many more you will find if you read Hebrews, Chapter 11, were people that did not let a small thing like a three-foot wall hinder their faith.  Even though Jesus had not yet come to earth, they believed God to be faithful and they were all looking for a heavenly country.  To have taken such giant leaps of faith, they must have somehow believed, like the Apostle, Paul, Philippians 4:13 (KJV)  13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Paul also said the  following:   Philippians 3:7-8 (KJV) 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Neither those of faith in the Old Testament, nor Paul and the many men and women of God in the New Testament, let a three-foot wall (or any obstacle at all)  get in their way of following the Lord with leaps of faith.  They didn't know where their feet would land, exactly, but they did know that God is faithful to those who will operate by faith.  Are there any three-foot walls in your life this morning that block your view of freedom in the Lord?  You just may want to jump up in the air and take a giant leap to the other side!  Is there anything at all that can stand in the way of the faith God has given you?  Certainly nothing as small as the three-foot walls that the devil tries to put in front of us!  You and I have the assurance that we, indeed, do have hind's feet that are fully able to take those leaps of faith!  2 Samuel 22:33-34 (KJV)  33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.  34 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.  Go ahead, the road has been tested before us.  We can leap over a wall!  2 Samuel 22:30 (KJV) 30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.  David did it, at God's command and by His strength, and so can we!

Horizontal Divider 11






Isaiah 58:2 (NLT)
2 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.


I am reading a book called, "Extraordinary," by John Bevere.  In this book, the author talks about people having, "actual" imagines of themselves and, "perceived," images.  The actual image is who we really are and the perceived image is who we want people to think we are.  Unfortunately, we, as believers, sometimes are operating in our perceived image.  We act the way we want people to perceive us.  Such were the religious leaders of Jesus's day.  They were pretending to be religious but their hearts were cold as stone.  They looked the part on the outside and said the right words, but, like the title of the old song, sung by The Platters, they were, "The Great Pretender."  Have you ever met anyone like that?  They are like chameleons.  They fit into the situation and can change as their environment changes.  If we are true believers, we will be the very same at home and in our private lives as we are in church services, small group meetings, etc.  A pretender is anything but transparent. Sometimes you never see who they really are!  And, it seems like pretenders often deceive themselves.  I don't really think the Pharisees believed the perception of Jesus (which was clear and true) about their lives!


 Great pretenders act like they want to be near to God, but, when distractions, discomforts, and temptations come, they fall away.  Isaiah, the prophet, was sent by God to point out the truth to the Israelites.  God is so loving and so interested in us that He wants us to know the truth.  The truth may not always feel good.  In fact, the truth may hurt.  Learning the truth may require us to make some changes.  Those changes should be moving us more in God's direction, sincerely in His direction.  In Isaiah 58:2, God is observing His chosen people.  He notices that they act pious.  He does not say they are pious. In more harsh terms, He is saying that they are hypocrites.  There is a very big difference in acting a certain way and in being that way.  Before any of us feel far above being like the Israelites, we need to allow God to search our hearts.  Psalm 139:23-24 (TLB) 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. 24 Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. We also need to examine our own selves to be sure we are rooted and grounded in the faith.  2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) 5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. We need to remember that our hearts are deceitful and they constantly need to be searched and examined.  Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  The Israelites looked good on the outside.  They did the right things, but with the wrong motives.  They went to the Temple every day.  They seemed to be delighted to learn all about God.  As it turns out, this was only a ritual on their part.  Again, they were acting a certain way, in order to fit into their perceived image, but their hearts were far from that way. Jesus noticed that same thing when He walked the earth.  (Matthew 15:8)  Needless to say, that is still a problem today.  We hear about it all the time.  People say they don't want to be involved with the church because of all the hypocrites.  Sometimes we, who are in the church, are offended by that statement.  But, perhaps we might want to get that heart check-up and find out if there could be any truth to the allegation.  For the most part, we probably look pretty good on the outside, especially when in church.  But, what does the inside look like.  Do we perceive ourselves as being something different than we really are?  Jesus exposed the inside of the religious leaders of His day and it didn't look good.  Matthew 23:27 (AMP) 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything impure.


The Israelites acted like a nation that would never abandon the laws of God.  But, on the inside they were abandoning them.  If God did not spare judgment on His chosen people who acted like a Godly nation but were really not, will He spare judgment on the nations that do this today?  You see, God is more interested in who we really are.  We can fool people.  We can hide the real intent of our hearts from people but we can never hide it from God.  He searches everything out and He's looking for the real thing.  Jeremiah 17:10 (AMP) 10 I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. He's searching for a people that are searching for Him.  Not just for what He can do for them, but for who He is.  The Israelites of that day wanted something from God but their want was more than their worship.  God saw right through it.  God sees right through us too.  They pretended they wanted to be near Him when what they really wanted was what He could do for them.  How do we stand in that area?  It was not a problem that existed only at that time.  It has always existed.  Today is a good day to let God search us.  To examine ourselves.  To be sure we are not just piously pretending.  God will tell us the truth if we will truthfully seek it.  He desperately wants us to know the truth so that we can have the opportunity to repent, if necessary.  And, so we can be set free!  (John 8:32)  God is such a good Father that He will not hold back the truth from us.  The great "I AM" is looking for people who are real "beings."  He doesn't need pretenders.  He's looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.  (John 4:24)  Which are we?  Hopefully, we're not, "The Great Pretender"!

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:24 (KJV)
24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.


Many years ago, Elvis Presley sang a song called, "Are You Sincere."  The words and music were by Wayne Walker.  The lyrics are as follows:  Are you sincere when you say I love you?  Are you sincere when you say you love me too?  Oh and are you really mine every day, all the time?  I've gotta know which way to go.  Will our love grow, are you sincere?  At the very end of the song, the words repeat, "Will our love grow, are you sincere?"  Our relationship with our Father and with the Lord Jesus, if we are believers is a love relationship.  It's an intimate relationship.  I wonder if God is asking each of His children the same questions that Elvis sang out over the radio and TV so long ago.  It's an age-old question we probably all ask of those with whom we are in relationship on this earth.  We all want to know that our love is safe with another because their love back to us is sincere.  All the more, how God must greatly desire that we be sincere in our love for Him!  How He must want to reveal more of Himself to us so that our relationship with Him will grow!  But, just how sincere is our love for God?  Is it sincere enough to make us want to spend quality time with Him, not only asking for what we want, but listening to His Words of love and direction to us?  Is it sincere enough to make us want to renew our minds each day with His Word, throwing out the filth and vain intelligence of this world in favor of His supernatural ways and wisdom?  Is our love sincere enough to follow His commandments?  God has longed for this sincere love for Him to come from us from the very beginning.   Deuteronomy 30:16 (AMP)  16 [If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which] I command you today, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you go to possess.  Is our love for Him sincere enough to warrant the blessing of being able to have life, multiplication in our lives and blessing in the land God has given us to possess?  


This morning, we are reading the last part of a blessing pronounced on believers from Paul.  The last words of the Book of Ephesians.  Paul has already blessed us with peace and love with faith from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now Paul blesses us with grace.  But there is a condition.  This grace is a blessing only for those who love the Lord with sincerity.  Here is Ephesians 6:24 from the Amplified Bible:  Grace (God's undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and incorruptible [love].  Amen (so be it).  The reason it is written in such a way in the Amplified Bible is because the Greek word for, "sincerity," seems to be a very strong word.  It's not the sentimental, and sometimes sappy, sincerity that Elvis may have been singing about.  This sincere love that we are supposed to have for God, in order to receive the blessing of grace that Paul is giving, is an undying love.  It is an incorruptible love.  The word, "sincerity," here means exactly that.  "Incorruptible."  "Unending existence." "Genuineness."  The usage notes for this word, "sincerity," are tied to the resurrection body, according to Vine's Dictionary.  This new body that we will receive, if we have given our hearts and lives to Jesus, is going to last forever and there will be nothing corrupt about it!  That's the kind of love God is desiring from you and me.  Look at 1 Corinthians 15:50.  (KJV)  50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.  In other words, insincerity cannot inherit sincerity.  The kind of love Paul is talking about, with which we should love the Lord, is the same kind of love with which God loved His own Son!  The same kind of love He had when He sent His own Son to die for our sins.  The same kind of love He asks us to show to each other.  It cannot be perceived like the world speaks of love.  It cannot be wishy-washy, fickle, or depend on circumstances or the actions of either God or others.  It is a love that is strong and sacrificial, without any taintedness from the world, and totally voluntary.  All of that being said, we are in line for Paul's blessing of peace only if we have that kind of love!  But, again, we cannot get it by ourselves or try hard enough to develop it.  It is a gift of God.  We are not incorruptible or truly loving in our natural state.  We can be made that way only if we seek God with all of our heart and ask to be filled with His love and sincerity.  We cannot possibly give anything to God or others, including sincere love, unless we have first received it from God!


Now, Paul pronounces the blessing of grace over those who, unconditionally, sacrificially, unendingly, and without corruption, love the Lord Jesus Christ.  If you and I have received all of that from God, we can turn around and give it back to Him in a way that is pleasing to Him.  It will be strong and undying because that's what God is! So, what is this grace that Paul is pronouncing over such as love Jesus in this way?  It is a state of favor with God.  It is a gift that brings along with it, joy, pleasure, thanksgiving, and a heart that is quick to give.  It is what makes us acceptable in the sight of God.  2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT)  9 For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.  It is, as we have often heard, "unmerited," or, "undeserved," favor from God!  For me, personally, the following definition, which is from the Strong's Dictionary, along with the other definitions mentioned above, sticks in my mind and heart.  It is this:  "...the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in life; including gratitude...."  I am so well aware of my own inadequacy of loving God and loving others.  I sometimes shudder at the fact that I still have the struggle between my natural self and my spiritual self.  However, I am so encouraged when I read that God's grace includes his divine influence on my heart!  It includes the fact that He will help me reflect on life with His perspective, instead of my own!  He is at work in my heart and in the heart of everyone who is seeking Him with sincerity.  Although much Biblical directive seems hard, none of it can be done in my own strength (or in yours).  The bottom line is that we must be humble enough, as my sister told me yesterday, like little children, to come to our Father.  To receive His unending, undying, incorruptible, sacrificial, totally unselfish love.  Then, and only then, can we fully receive this gift of grace with which Paul ends his blessing.  Then, and only then, can we really reflect the love of God to others.  I've always been a very poor receiver.  I would much rather be the giver.  Some of this is pride.  I cannot give God anything on my own.  He has to have given it to me and I have to have received it.  I cannot give my family, or my friends and family in Christ anything unless I have received it of God first.  Anything that I try to give, on my own, will be corruptible and will eventually die.  However, you and I can receive God's undying love for us today and then turn around and give it back to Him, totally receiving this grace (favor, and His divine influence on our hearts).  Only after that, can we really love others.  Are you ready to be a receiver today?  Are you ready to empty your heart of any ideas about love that the world has taught you and to be totally filled with God's love that will never end?  Is your heart only open to God so that you can receive all of His grace (His divine influence in your heart)?  These are the questions I am asking of myself.  Maybe you want to ask those same questions of yourself, just between you and the Lord!  Is God asking, "Are you sincere?"

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:23 (NKJV)
23 Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


As I was preparing to write this morning's, Morning Manna, I looked up some of the word meanings in Ephesians 6:23.  Immediately, I forgot that Paul was pronouncing a blessing on the readers.  And, immediately, I felt that love is just too hard to do.  I found that the word, "love," used here is the Greek word, "agape."  Instantly, I thought of it as being something hard to do and I was discouraged, knowing that I couldn't do it!  In effect, I found that I really can't do it at all; and neither can you, apart from God.  I had heard in the past that this word signifies unconditional love.  That, it does.  But it is even more than that!  Paul is blessing us with God, Himself!  Why do I think that?  Because God is love.  1 John 4:8 (KJV)  8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  According to C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, agape describes what he believed was the highest level of love known to humanity - a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other. (Wikipedia)  This sort of love is totally impossible apart from God.  It is the same kind of love that Jesus showed when He went to the cross to pay for our sins.  It is described by other Christian writers as unconditional and voluntary.  Have you ever just determined to love someone because you knew you were supposed to do it?  It was determination but it wasn't really voluntary.  You were just following the rules for the sake of the rules.  That's not what agape love is at all!  Agape love is what Paul is blessing us with here, I think.  Paul is saying, "Be blessed with the presence of God in your hearts.  The presence of God includes who God is.  He is love.  God doesn't make Himself love us.  He can do nothing else but love us because that's who He is!  When we truly and fully allow Him to live within us, through Jesus, love will automatically pour from us back to the God of love and outward to the others (every one of whom God loves)!


The love of God and the God of love is available to anyone who will choose Him; but we do have to choose.  The word, "agape," is a noun which refers to God's love for mankind but it is also used as a verb in the New Testament in a very negative way.  Those who do not choose the love of God are said to love something else more than God.  2 Timothy 4:10 (NLT)
10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.  Demas was apparently drawn away from his commitment to the ministry of the gospel by loving the world.  Some loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.   
John 12:43 (AMP)
43 For they loved the approval and the praise and the glory that come from men [instead of and] more than the glory that comes from God. [They valued their credit with men more than their credit with God.]  Many loved darkness more than the Light of the world. 
John 3:19 (AMP)  19 The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.  Today, do we fit into any of the categories just mentioned?  All of these have a misplaced love.  Instead of returning the agape love back to God and pouring it out on others, Demas loved the things of this life.  Some loved the praise of people.  Many loved the darkness.  How awful to give yourself sacrificially to something other than the God of love!  All these other things bring death but God gives eternal life!


So, Paul is blessing us with the God of love and the love of God, along with faith.  None of us can manufacture love and none of us can manufacture faith.  Both are gifts from God and both represent His character.  He is love and He is faithful!  Deuteronomy 7:9 (NLT)  9 Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.  I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying so hard to love and stopped trying so hard to have faith and just looked up to God and received the love with faith that Paul is blessing us with in Ephesians 6:23.  God has given each of us a measure of faith.  Have we received that gift?   Romans 12:3 (KJV)  3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  Do we ever think more highly of ourselves than we should because we are so loving or because we have so much faith?  Without God giving us love and faith, we would have none of either.  We have to humble ourselves before the Lord and graciously receive these blessings of love with faith that He offers.  They are sufficient for us and we cannot add to them by our own effort.  Not only must we humble ourselves before the Lord and receive these wonderful gifts, we must then be a vessel through which they can flow out so the world will see the love of Christ.  Tertullian, a second century writer, wrote the following:  "What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our loving kindness. 'Only look,' they say, 'look how they love one another' "  Have we fully received the blessing given by Paul in Ephesians 6:23 so that we are marked in the eyes of our enemy, the devil, by our loving kindness?  When the enemy looks at you and me and the way we interact with one another, does he say, "Look how they love one another!"  Does the enemy also see that we have faith with that love and does he recognize that he cannot take it away because it is a gift from God and nothing we have done on our own?  Does he see that peace that passes even his understanding? (Philippians 4:7)    If so, I believe that, through God and the receiving of Paul's blessing, we have defeated the devil!  The blessing of peace will guard our hearts and minds.  Love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is a great blessing!  Let's fully receive it all with thankfulness and joy.  And then -  pass it along! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:23 (NLT) - 23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness.


After encouraging, uplifting, edifying, and instructing the believers in Ephesus (and you and I), Paul leaves us all with a blessing.  It's not only a blessing that we can receive with joy and thanksgiving; it is also a blessing we can impart on others as we go through life.  If we have read his whole letter to the Ephesian believers, and taken it all to heart, we know who we are in Christ, we know of His desire for unity among all believers without regard to race, gender, or any other divider.  We also have thorough instructions for our respective roles in life here on earth.  We have all learned to live in the light that Jesus has given us.  After knowing or learning all that, and presumably putting it into practice, we are in line for a blessing and we are prepared to be a blessing and to impart blessing!


The first thing that Paul blesses us with is peace.  He says, "peace be with you."  That's a hefty blessing!  First of all, He is really blessing us with the presence of  Jesus.  Jesus is our Prince of Peace.   Isaiah 9:6 (AMP) 6 For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.  Paul is also expressing the same thing Jesus told us.  John 14:27 (AMP) 27 Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]  What is this peace that Paul and Jesus are talking about?  The original Greek word is a verb meaning, "to join."  It means peace in both the literal and figurative sense.  By implication, it means, "prosperity."  It is to be joined together as one.  It is quietness.  It is rest, along with being set at one again.  Right after letting the disciples know of this peace that Jesus was leaving us, He told them that He would come back again.  When the Prince of Peace returns, what is His, will be joined together with Him.  His Kingdom will be set at one again.  There will be true rest and quietness!  Are we ready for Jesus to return again and set everything at one with Him?  Until then, we can have that quietness and rest inside of us.  We can be at one with ourselves, others, and, most importantly, with God because we are joined together with Jesus in a personal, loving and intimate relationship.  If you do not have that relationship, you can have it now by asking Jesus to come into your heart, by agreeing with Him that you have sinned, and by receiving His forgiveness.  That begins a new walk with you and Jesus!  As you continue to walk closely by praying, reading His Word, allowing yourself to be filled with His Spirit, and constantly renewing your mind with the Word of God, that relationship will grow and develop.  Peace!


In every book of the New Testament, we find this word, except in 1 John.  In Acts, it is translated "at one again."  This word for, "peace," is used in many ways, describing good relationships between people and nations.  It is used to describe friendly relationships.  According to Vine's Dictionary, it describes freedom from molestation.  Also, quietness in the churches and order in the state.  Maybe, most importantly, it describes the peace, as believers, that we have in Jesus.   Acts 10:34-36 (NLT)
34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.  35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 36 This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.  Everyone in the world can have the peace with which Paul blesses you and me! 
Ephesians 2:17-18 (NLT)  17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.  18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.  Even though we have only touched the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to Paul's blessing of peace to believers, it gives us much to think about, much to receive, and much to pass along to others.  It means that we can have a sense of rest and contentment on the inside, even when things on the outside around us lack peace.  The peace that Paul has blessed us with is only because of, and through Jesus.  Romans 5:1 (NLT)  1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Peace is a Person.  His Name is Jesus.  We cannot obtain it without a relationship with the Prince of Peace who has done everything for us on the cross.  We can't obtain it by ourselves but, once we have received it from Jesus, we can pass it along by our behavior and our blessings of peace to others!  May the gift of Peace be in, upon, and around all who have read this today and have given their lives to Jesus!

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:21-22 (NLT)
21 To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work.


As the Apostle, Paul, finishes this letter to the Ephesians, he does so with encouragement and blessing.  With very positive words.  All of this is coming from prison where Paul is being held captive simply because he will not be quiet about Jesus!  Isn't it wonderful that Paul had someone who would carry his message of encouragement and instruction to the Ephesians?  Paul had lived in Ephesus for three years.  The people there loved him and were, understandably, saddened and discouraged about his being in prison.  God gave Paul a beloved brother and faithful helper in doing the Lord's work.  I am learning that, no matter what our calling, we cannot do it alone.  We need faithful friends and friends of faith.  We need help and we need to be helpers of others who minister the Word of God, whether it be pastors, teachers, worship leaders, and even individuals who are trying to walk the walk of faith.  Tychicus did what Paul could not do.  It seemed a simple task, but without Tychicus, Paul's message from the Lord would have stayed imprisoned, along with Paul!


Do you have a Tychicus in your life?  One who will encourage you and help you get through life when difficulties arise?  Are you a Tychicus to someone else, helping them to get their ministry and calling from the Lord accomplished?  The devil will constantly try to stop the message of the Lord from getting out.  He will try to make us discouraged about the things going on in another's life that look damaging and hopeless.  That's what the devil tried to do to the Ephesian believers.  But, Paul, wanted them to get the message that all was well.  He wanted them to be able to throw off the discouragement the enemy was trying to place on them and take on encouragement.  He wanted them to remember who they were.  As I return to the very first chapter of Ephesians, I remember that Paul started out with the encouragement of just who we are, as believers.  We're blessed, We're blessed. We're chosen.  We're adopted by God.  We're forgiven.  We have God's favor.  We're redeemed.  We're sealed by the Holy Spirit for eternity!  Now, at the end of this very same letter, Tychicus, Paul's faithful helper and friend, obediently carries Paul's letter back to the Ephesians for their encouragement and edification.  Tychicus was not only carrying the Book of Ephesians to the Ephesian people.  He was carrying it out of the prison, where the devil wanted it to stay, so it could be released to all those who would be Christ-followers down through the ages.  Tychicus did something for you!  He did something for me too!  Do you think he knew the impact that his simple act of help would have on the whole world and for eternity?  I think probably not.  I think he was just doing the next thing the Lord told him to do and trying to help out his beloved friend, Paul.  In small acts of obedience, friendship, and help, we don't know either how far reaching our actions will be.  However, when someone reaches out to help, edify, encourage and bless us, we know it and feel it immediately, as coming from the Lord, Himself!


So, Paul's love for those to whom he ministered in Ephesus prompted him to send them encouragement.  I doubt if Paul knew, either, that his letter to the Ephesians would bring us encouragement too!  Sometimes, you and I find ourselves in the, "prisons," of life.  In circumstances we cannot control.  Those around us may get discouraged because they see us struggling or even suffering.  Will we be like Paul and assure them that, "all is well?"  Can we, like Paul, learn to be content in any situation?  Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  Are we content, satisfied, and even joyful, when we are in a situation where our faith is tested?  Are we willing to preach the gospel even to the things that try to hold us captive?  That's the way Paul was.  He did not think only of himself and his difficulty.  He thought of those who loved and cared for him.  He wanted them to remain encouraged and he found a way to do it!  Tychicus would be his helper.  Now, the Ephesian people could rejoice in that Paul sent them his personal update.  Tychicus apparently, not only took the letter we know as the Book of Ephesians.  He told the people, personally, about every detail of Paul's life there in prison.  How comforting that must have been to them.  When it was all over, through the hard, practical details of life Paul wrote to them, he blessed them!  He encouraged them.  Ephesians 6:22 (NLT)  22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.  Do we give others updates on our own lives for the purposes of encouragement?  Do we let it be known, even in challenging times, that, as the hymn says, "It is well with my soul"?  Do we report on the good things that God is doing in our situation instead of always complaining about the discomfort?  Both Paul, a mighty man of God, and Tychicus, a faithful helper, were willing to go out of their way in trying times to bring salvation, hope, and encouragement!  Is that the way we are?  Wouldn't we be so much less blessed if either Paul or Tychicus would not have gone the extra mile to update us and encourage us?  Be encouraged today, in whatever circumstances you face.  God is there with you, if you have invited Him.  Even when things seem at their worst, He is doing something wonderful in and through you, if you will let Him.  Something that will glorify him and bring encouragement to others.  Do you have an update this morning that you can share with another about the goodness and keeping power of our Lord?  We never know just how many hearts will be uplifted by our encouraging updates!

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:19-20 (NLT)  19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.  20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.


If you or I were an ambassador for our country of residence, we would usually be highly honored when we went into another country.  The Apostle, Paul, was preaching for the Kingdom of God and, as such, he was God's ambassador to the whole world, as is evidenced by the fact that much of the New Testament is filled with his writings.  Paul was a mighty man of God but he was also human.  He, like us, struggled with the fact that his old nature would always fight with the new nature God had given him.  Many times, Paul found himself in prison just because he continued to talk about Jesus and His unifying and saving power.  It must have been hard for Paul to continue preaching and teaching about Jesus when others were persecuting him so badly.  Paul was an ambassador for Christ but he was not honored.  Instead, he was put into prison and guarded closely.  Paul, being the writer of much of the New Testament, was probably a spiritual giant compared to some of the people to whom he ministered.  Yet, Paul's humility told him that he needed to be transparent in front of, and with, those to whom he ministered, even asking for their prayers that God would strengthen Him to continue speaking boldly and clearly, even when his circumstances would make most of us cringe and wither away!  It is good that we ask others to pray.  It is good when many of God's children link their shields of faith together and advance as an impenetrable wall into the territory of the enemy, taking back prisoners of the kingdom of darkness.


It is very good for pastors, teachers and other Christian leaders to admit to their congregations that they need prayer.  Whether we are a very visible leader or not, people are watching all of us.  They are listening to us.  Those who do not know our Savior make their decisions about Him, many times, based on what they see us doing or hear us saying!  All of us, no matter how spiritual we may be, still live in an earthly body with a fleshly nature that wars with the spiritual nature given to us by God.  For a man of God, like Paul was, to admit that he needed prayer just to continue to speak boldly about Jesus, took humility.  He was just admitting that he was human like the rest of us.  He was willing to ask those, who were probably much less spiritual than he was, for prayer and, furthermore, he was willing to believe that God would answer their prayers on his behalf!  I notice that Paul did not send out a prayer request for his deliverance from prison and chains.  He only sent out the request that he would be strengthened right in the middle of his imprisonment and troubling circumstances.  Strengthened to be bold in His declaration of the gospel of Jesus!  We hear of, and get a lot of, prayer requests today and I have to admit that mine are, many times, for God to change my circumstances instead of changing me in the middle of my circumstances!  Paul gave us a great example of what a prayer request should look like.  Yes, God is glorified when we are delivered from uncomfortable circumstances; but He is also glorified if we are open to having our own hearts changed in the middle of the circumstances!  The prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was that of offering up a petition, but then being willing for His Father's will to supersede His own will.  Matthew 26:38-39 (KJV) 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.  I'm thinking that my prayer requests should maybe be changing a bit.  To be more like Paul's request and the request of Jesus.  To be willing to do our Father's will instead of always wanting my own will.


Rather than being delivered from circumstances, would it not be better to ask for deliverance from self-will and those sins of the heart that are not so visibly noticeable, such as pride, greed, lust, and the like?  Paul's concern was not for his own sake, but for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  He played out the roll of an ambassador very well, seeking the welfare of His King!  You and I, as believers, are also ambassadors for Christ everywhere we go.    In this age, being an ambassador for Christ will not bring us honor in many places.  It may even bring persecution. How are we doing?   I know, for sure, that I could do a much better job.  Paul was sold out for the Lord and, being so, he loved what the Lord loves.  People.  He wanted others to be encouraged to speak boldly like he spoke. Philippians 1:12-14 (NLT)  12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.  13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.  I have to confess that I do not always speak boldly for the Lord and His Kingdom.  I think it is amazing that the Apostle, Paul, would be willing to sit in chains in a prison, asking others on the outside for prayer.  I think it is amazing that he did not ask for vengeance on those who held him captive without good reason.  It's amazing that Paul spoke of Jesus to the guards and those around him!  He actually had their souls in mind more than his own freedom or comfort!  The Lord is speaking to those of us who are believers in this age, through Paul.  We are ambassadors of Christ.  What should be our message?  2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NLT)  20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.  What should be our main prayer request?  Maybe, like Paul, it should be that we declare boldly, and without fear, this very message! 

Horizontal Divider 11






Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;


Wow!  The Apostle, Paul did say, "always."  And, he said, "all," three times in one verse!  I guess he really means it.  Moreover, I guess God really means it, since it is a piece of His Holy Word.  I think I could work on this verse for the rest of my life and still know that I might fall short!  The, "all," and the,"always," concerns prayer.  In order to be safe from the attacks of Satan and help others be safe also, Paul finishes off his discourse on the spiritual armor that we are to wear with the admonishment to pray at all times, in every occasion.  That means that the lifestyle of a believer must be a lifestyle of prayer.  For instance, when you are tempted by what another person says to you, do you immediately revert to inward prayer instead of an outward show of defensiveness or anger?  When you hear a siren, is your mind triggered to pray for whoever is in a dangerous or difficult situation?  When someone's name crosses your mind during the day, do you just wonder what that person is doing or where they are instead of instantly taking their name before the throne of God?  You might not know what they need, but He does!  My husband and I just started a, "treasure box."  It is to remind us to pray for others, as well as for our own needs.  When I think of a person or a specific need, I write it on a tiny strip of paper and put it in the box.  When we pray together at dinner time, we each take one of the slips out and concentrate on prayer for that person or need, as well as taking the whole box before God.  It is fun and God even speaks through that.  We have often picked a name or situation that was already on our hearts!  During the day, when I pass by the, "treasure box," I take a prayer slip out and pause to pray for that person or need for a moment, then place the paper on the outside of the box so that, at the end of the day, I can see the names again.  Sometimes I find that a prayer has been answered!


In our busy lives today, we might say that we don't have time to pray always but, the truth is, we don't have a time not to pray!  Just as we are left in a vulnerable position when we don't use the armor God has given us, we are wide open to the evil one and his tricks if we are not in constant prayer.  We might even miss a time when God says to us, "Turn here," or "Do this or that."  Without constant prayer, we could end up on the wrong road doing very much different things than what God has called us to do!  And, who knows who might be needing our prayers when they are at a weak moment?  So, Paul says to pray always.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV) 17 Pray without ceasing.  We might think, "I can't do that.  I don't have anything else to say," or, "I can't think of anything about which to pray."  Well, Paul tells us the following immediately after telling us to pray without ceasing:   1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  For sure, we can always find something for which to be thankful and maintain an open conversation with the Lord, as we thank Him for everything.  "Did you say for everything?"  I did.  Even in our trials we can thank God because He is using those very things to grow us up in Him!  James 1:2-4 (NLT)  2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  I don't know about you, but there is rarely a time in my life when I don't need God's wisdom!  There's another way to pray!  Not after the fact, but instantly during a challenging situation!  James 1:5-8 (NLT) 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.  Well now, that's enough to keep me praying all the time!  What about you?


But, that's not all that Paul is saying in this one little verse in Ephesians 6:18.  Besides the word, "always," Paul uses the word, "all," three times!  The first time, Paul says, "with all prayer and supplication."  Besides prayer, the word, "prayer," has to do with worship and earnestness.  Supplication is our requests and petitions.  Considering that we are to pray always, our worship and requests could take up every waking moment!  But, that's not all.  We are to pray with all prayer and supplication, in the Spirit.  In other words, we should be so filled with the Spirit of God that we are conscious of the fact that He is in every action and conversation we have here on earth!  His Spirit will work through us to pray the right thing for the right person, the right situation, and with and for right wisdom.  While we are praying, Paul says that we should be watching with all perseverance.  We should be awake and alert.  1 Peter 5:8 (NRSV)  8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.  For our own good, our good God has told us to watch and pray with perseverance. He is not willing that we should be caught in any of the devil's snares!  But, we have to be willing to watch and pray.  Again, not just for ourselves, our families and for our friends; but, also for those people whose names pass through our minds from time to time for no apparent reason.  If we are a believer, those names are placed in our minds by the Holy Spirit for a reason.  He is urging us to stand in prayer for them.  So, first we are to worship and bring all things in our lives to the Lord.  Secondly, we are to pray for these things with all perseverance.  Finally, we find the third, "all."  We are to pray for all the saints!  Whew!  No wonder we will find ourselves praying constantly and without ceasing if we are following scriptural admonition!  What is a saint?  It is simply one who has made Jesus their Savior and Lord.  A set apart follower of He, who is holy. Philippians 4:21 (NLT)  21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings.  The word, "holy," in Philippians 4:21 is actually translated, "saint," in the King James Version.  So, that's a lot of saints to be praying for my friend, saint!  Paul said, "all."  As we go about our daily business, our spirits can be in constant prayer.  In constant conversation with the Lord.  There's no doubt about it.  We will have to discipline our hearts and minds to do this.  It will take perseverance!  But, we can do everything God asks us to do in the strength of Christ!  Just in case you think that I think that I have, "made it," in this area, think again!  I have not made it yet, but each time I read the Word of God and let it read my heart, I am one step closer and so are you!  So, I hope you are encouraged with me to make progress!  Are you up for persevering in the three, "all's," always?  

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:17 (NLT)
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


Of the several pieces of spiritual armor that God has provided, only one is a weapon of attack.  If we don't remember that our enemy is not another person, we might use such a Sword in a destructive manner and end up using it on someone for whom God did not mean it to be used!  With all of the armor that God has given us, we need to remember that the sword of the Spirit is to be used to protect ourselves and fight against principalities and powers of darkness and spiritual rulers in high places.  Not on other people!  The Lord loves us.  What we sometimes fail to remember is that He loves everyone!  God can't help loving everyone.  That's just who He is!  1 John 4:8 (NLT)  8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  That being said, we must remember that God did not send His Word (who is Jesus) to condemn the world, but to save it!  John 3:17 (KJV) 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  All of the effective weapons that God gives us, as His children, are to be used for good and not evil.  They are for our protection from the evil one. The sword of the Spirit, is not only for our protection, but to help us protect other people;  not to cut them down by using it inappropriately.


All of that being said, I am reminded that this sword that we have is the sword of the Spirit.  God's Spirit has to direct us to use His Word in a strategic way, the goal being to keep our own hearts and minds free from sin, as well as to answer any unbelief and doubt or misinterpretation that comes at us from the outside.  Now, if we are using this weapon of attack wisely, and someone speaks error or unbelief, they might feel the sting of it's double edge cutting, ever so closely,  the error from the Truth.  But, we are not to try to make that cut in our own strength!  Zechariah 4:6 (KJV) 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.  Nothing that we, as believers, do on this earth should be by our own might or power.  Everything should be done in, and through, the power of the Holy Spirit.  Especially the wielding of this sword that God has given us as a weapon of attack!  As Matthew Henry has said, "To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough......."   As with everything God does for His children, this sword is more than enough!  We must not use it indiscriminately, and never on people, who are the objects of God's love.  It is to be used only at the Spirit's discretion and command to fight against spiritual darkness.  When used in this way, it will be way more than enough to keep us protected and help us change the world by fighting the enemy off of those who have been deceived and captured by him!


There are two Greek words used for "Word," in the New Testament.  One is, "logos," and the other is, "rhema."  We have to get the whole, "logos," of God into our hearts.  Psalm 119:11 (KJV) 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.  Once the whole, "logos," is in our hearts, then the Holy Spirit can work in and through us to give us a, "rhema," Word.  A timely and specific Word.  A Word for use in a practical, every day situation within which we find ourselves.  That is our Sword of the Spirit!  The Spirit uses the Word we have already placed within our hearts and helps us attack those worldly and sinful thoughts that come to our mind from the enemy.  He uses the Word we already have put in our hearts to help us discern truth from distortion and let others know and be free too.  Jesus used this, "rhema," Word when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  Each time Jesus was tempted, He said to the devil, "It is written...........", addressing each temptation with the proper reply from the written word of God, which Jesus had within Himself.  We will all have wilderness experiences.  Jesus was weak when He was tempted in the wilderness.  He had fasted for forty days.  He was hungry and He was tired.  He may even have been weakened by some sort of extreme exposure to the weather.  But, but..............He taught us how to use the Word of God as a Sword to resist the temptations of the devil, even when we are in our weakest state!  Jesus was all man when He walked this earth.  He gave up His rights to use His power, as God, when He was born as a baby in a manger.  He lived and died by the power of the same Holy Spirit that you He has given to you and me.  He used the same armor that He has told us to use, including the Sword of the Spirit.  When a Roman soldier went into battle, only when he was in direct, hand-to-hand confrontation with the enemy, would he pull out his, "short sword," for use.  This particular weapon was a Roman military invention that served them very well in battle.  The name of the Roman sword was a "gladius."  The length was twenty to twenty-four inches.  It was more like a dagger with two edges.  It had a double function.  It could be thrust into the enemy and then it could cut from within.  That's what God's Word does in our own hearts and in the hearts of others.  It cuts away error from truth.  Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  It reaches to such things as motives, separating the sin from the sanctified.  When used by the Holy Spirit, it will bring conviction; but Satan also knows the Word and he will many times try to use it to bring condemnation by twisting it every so slightly.  He has his fiery darts; but you and I?  We have the Sword of the Spirit!  If we have hidden the whole Word of God in our hearts, the Holy Spirit will bring it up out of our own spirit at just the right time and we will be victorious, as God has promised, in every battle over evil from within and from without!  Satan wants to shred with his weapons of attack.  On the other hand, God wants to use that double edged Sword of the Spirit to do some spiritual surgery and restore those taken captive and wounded by the enemy!  The work of the Holy Spirit is always effective in bringing to us and helping us to use a, "rhema," Word to fight the enemy when he gets, "up close and personal," with us!  Isaiah 55:11 (KJV)  11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  Jesus showed us this was true in His temptation in the wilderness.  And, until Jesus comes back again, He has given us this doubly-effective Sword to use with wisdom and great skill.  Soon, He will return.  What will He be carrying in His mouth?  Revelation 1:16 (KJV) 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  He will be carrying His own Word in His own mouth!  His Word will make the final division between good and evil in this world!  Let's equip ourselves with the whole Word of God so that the Holy Spirit can bring the Sword of the Spirit into play when we get stuck in a battle with the evil one and we are in closer confrontation than we would rather be! Let's ask our Father to help us be like Jesus and use our Sword only on the enemy!  Let's allow that same Sword to set us free and use it to help set others free too! 

Horizontal Divider 11





Ephesians 6:17 (KJV)
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:


If you are a believer, God has offered you a helmet.  It's not just any helmet.  It is the helmet of salvation.  As the Apostle, Paul, is describing these pieces of armor, we have to remember that he is talking to the church.  He is not talking to the people of the world (or of the darkness).  I'm so glad that God has given me a helmet of salvation!  And, He's given you one too, if you have received Jesus as your salvation-giver!  I read a note on the pieces of armor in the Roman era.  It said that, while we need to pick up all of the other pieces of armor, it is indicated (from the use of armor in those days), that someone will hand us our helmet and sword.  Can you just see Jesus handing you your helmet of salvation?  Can you see Him giving it to you for the protection of your head - your mind?  Why do we have to protect our minds?  Because we have an enemy who does battle in and for our minds!  He tempts us with discouragement and doubt.  We can get discouraged and doubt everything from our salvation, itself, to whether God loves us and wants to meet our every need.  Circumstances can make us doubt.  Perhaps you have given large and over the top tithes and offerings but you haven't yet seen the windows of Heaven open onto your lives.  Maybe you have prayed for years for your spouse or your children but have not seen them come to Christ.  They may even be, seemingly, getting farther away from Him.  Your health may be the issue.  You know that the Word of God says that you were healed by the stripes of Jesus but you haven't seen your healing manifested even though you have prayed and done everything you know to do in the natural realm.  Maybe you prayed that you would get a promotion and then someone else got it; someone who you feel was less qualified than yourself.  You may have even lost your job and find yourself in circumstances that are beyond your control.  The enemy would love to get your mind off track and even give you a good whack in the head so that you will forget to use all of the weapons God has given you. 


In the early days of war, the Roman soldier would always have his helmet at hand.  Sometimes he had an armor-bearer to hand it to him if he needed it.  It's good to have friends who will remind us, when we get discouraged and tempted to doubt, that we have a helmet of salvation.  There may even be times when a friend needs to help us put it on or adjust it properly again.  Jesus is the Head of the church.  The Head of each one of us, individually and corporately.  He wears the ultimate helmet of salvation as we see in Isaiah 59:17.  He shows us how to wear that helmet with dignity, character, and honor.  Isaiah 59:17 (NLT)  17 He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.  Where is all the information in life processed?  In our head.  Our minds are like a hard drive of a computer and most of us know that, when a hard drive crashes, you have no more access to your information.  We need to program those hard-drives with the Word of God.  Like any good software program, there will be updates to increase the effectiveness of the program.  That's what we have to do on a daily and even a, moment by moment basis.  We have to renew our minds with the Word and let the Lord give us fresh revelation and encouragement so that we will not fall prey to the enemy who wants to hack into our mind and introduce the viruses of fear, doubt and discouragement, distraction and deception!  Romans 12:2 (KJV)  2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.    Why do we need to renew our minds and, thus, our thoughts?  Because we know, from the Old Testament, that God says we will be whatever our thoughts are!  All of our thoughts are processed in our head, our mind!  If the enemy can wield a good blow to our head, his victory will almost be certain.  At the very least, we will become disoriented and unable to fight the good fight and, at worst, destroyed.  The old time military helmets were a total protection for the head.  Only the eyes, nose, and mouth were exposed.  The metal helmets were so heavy that they had to be lined with something soft.  Because it was so heavy and hot, the soldier only wore it when he was facing danger.  But, my friends, God has given you and me a spiritual helmet and we have to wear it at all times to protect our minds from the onslaught of the enemy.  In early Roman times there were arrows; but there were also broadswords th