THE PRISON OF PAIN

Spiritual Blog - Prison of Pain

Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

There is coming a day when we will no longer suffer any pain but that time is yet future for most of us and there are millions of people who live every day of their lives in what is often a self-imposed prison of pain because they do not understand the simple keys to freedom found in God’s Word.  They have never learned to RELEASE THE PAIN and walk out of their prison of bondage and bitterness.  They live in excruciatingly painful bondage(s).  Their lives are racked with mental, physical, emotional and spiritual pain.  This bondage is or could be the root of numerous physical diseases, social disasters, relational dilemmas, emotional turmoil and spiritual barrenness faced daily.  There is a key to freedom which is readily identifiable yet incredibly challenging.  The truth, when identified and utilized, can move a life from the daily dungeon of despair into a joyous journey free from PAIN.  

It is from personal experience and decades of ministering to hurting people that provides the seed for this thought and has given birth to this devotional and resulted in a book.  Knowing what it is to live with emotional pain so horrendous that it is virtually impossible to sleep at night provides a foundation for this message.  This pain is the type that embodies such torment that some have considered suicide as the only means of escape from this self-imposed prison of horrifying pain experienced daily.  This pain is a constant companion every waking moment of life.  It alters sound judgment, results in a myriad of wrong or questionable decisions.  This pain is an unveiling of what many are facing, every day of their lives.  It is a depiction of a state so horrifying the individual would give everything they possess for one moment of freedom from this torment.

Have you ever experienced pain so severe you could not think?  The pain whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual of this nature becomes a prison.  The agony of imprisonment is the same although the reason, response or result may differ dramatically.  This pain occupies every thought and commands every fiber of one’s being to focus on it.  What we are describing is a pain of such magnitude and severity that medication can only mask or cover but cannot truly provide relief.  Of course, one might be able to take painkillers or antidepressants to numb the sensibility and render one effectively non-functional masking the pain to a degree but it is still there.  Masked and numbed for the moment but the agony and torment are still very real and very present.  Tragically the source and root of the pain have not been removed.  Most who have experienced this kind of pain would trade every possession for one hour of freedom from that torment.  Occasionally one will encounter life experiences only those who have undergone can truly identify with.  This is one of those experiences, only the initiated can truly fathom.  All others look on with amazement, sympathetic and even with empathy but without genuine understanding.  This creates a platform from which we render judgments regarding the mindset, character or actual state of the person experiencing the pain.  Thus, when one begins from a flawed premise because there is a lack of understanding or experience their judgment or conclusion is inaccurate.

I am not a medical doctor so I qualify my remarks to ensure you do not think I am trying to give a medical diagnosis or prescription.  However, I am a Christian and I know that the Bible tells us that Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever and He Does Not Change.  If He healed and set free in the past, He sets free today and will continue to do so in the future.  Some are suffering in such excruciating pain physically, emotionally, and spiritually they despair of life.  It is my desire and the desire of the Father to bring you to peace and according to Isaiah 53 and 1 Peter 2 Jesus bore the stripes for our healing in all areas of life, physically, emotionally, and physically.  There is a way out of the Prison of Pain and if you are there or know someone who is I hope what I have said and will say in future devotionals will help you find Release!  Jesus said, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.”  He also assured us that if we come to Him He would not reject us!  COME TO HIM!

God bless you richly is my prayer and desire!

Advertisements

IT IS NOT QUESTIONS BUT COMPLAINING THAT GOD DOES NOT LIKE…

Spiritual Blog - Complaining

Numbers 11:1-3 – “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out. 3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.”  NASU

 

Although it seems to be human nature to complain it is an activity the Bible reveals stirs up God’s anger.  Why?  There are several reasons but the most prominent is that it is disrespectful and turns the focus from God to self.  The last portion of that statement originated in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and the entire statement originated in Lucifer the fallen angel we know as Satan or the devil.  Complaints against God only serves to diminish our confidence in, respect for, and commitment to Him.

Our problem is that we have learned that by complaining we often get change and sometimes get what we desire.  Not with God, but with other human beings.  Children learn this early in life and when parents seek to please their children, giving them whatever it takes to make them happy they achieve neither.  The children are not pleased because the depraved human heart and mind always want more and happiness is never achieved by possessions or concessions.  It is momentary and fleeting.  We complain about politics, churches, the economy, the weather, our spouses, and a million other things only to find that when we get what we wanted it is often not what we want.

In the New Testament, we read in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”   WHAT?  You mean a Christian can’t express his/her opinion?  Well, yes, we can but when it goes beyond simply identifying an issue to complaining it is destructive, damaging, and dangerous.  The Greek word translated “complainer” literally means, “one who is discontented with his/her lot in life.”  Galatians 5 informs us that it is detrimental to the peace, joy, and patience that comes from the Holy Spirit.  It also hurts our witness to the lost because they see us “discontented” not “joyous” and “at peace”.  How do you tell someone who is lost that in Christ there is Joy Unspeakable and Fullness of Glory if we are discontented and unhappy?  Not much testimony there!

Paul informed us that complaining is not a harmless sport or activity in the life of the believer, “And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.”  (1 Corinthians 10:10).  That sounds serious!  Remember the 10 spies that came back with a glowing report of Canaan but a negative report and complained they were like “grasshoppers in the eyes of the inhabitants”.   God does not mind us coming to Him with our frustrations uttered in our private prayer closet but He is very down on our spreading discord among brethren in complaints.  Philippians 4:6 instructs us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests (and complaints) to God.”  Peter instructed in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”

Let me give you a positive remedy for complaining.  Philippians 4:8-9 – “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  It is my desire and I’m sure yours to have the “mind of Christ” and we should pray that the LORD will enable us to have the same attitude and mindset as Jesus in all things and at all times.  Will there be times when we are unhappy with what is happening?  Are we human beings?  Will we disagree with Church leadership from time to time?  Are we human beings?  Will we question God and wonder what He is doing?  There will be times when He seems to have lost His mind and rather than addressing our prayers is going out of His way to do the opposite.

We can be like those in the wilderness who COMPLAIN and incur the anger of God because of our lack of trust and our utter disrespect toward Him or we can TRUST His integrity, faithfulness, covenants, and Word.  The choice is ours but we should always keep in mind that when we move into the area of COMPLAINING we are not simply complaining rather than looking to Him the author and finisher of our faith we are damaging our relationship with the divine.

May the Sweet Sweet Spirit of God enable you to see your complaints for what they are and enable you to Look to Him in All Things and at All Times.   God bless you richly and I pray you have a great day in Jesus!

THE BLESSINGS UPON THE NATION THAT HONORS GOD…

Spiritual Blog - Honor God

Leviticus 26:1-13 – “’You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God. 2′ You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 3′ If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 4 then I shall give you rains in their season so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 5′ Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. 6′ I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. 7’But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; 8 five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. 9’So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. 10′ You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. 11′ Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 12′ I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 13′ I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”  NASU

 

That is a lot of scripture for a short devotional but I hope you will take the time to read, reread, and meditate upon it reflecting on the nation.  There are some instructions, warning, and promises that some dismiss because they are referring to a form of worship often not seen in this modern culture.  I ask you to briefly walk through these passages and consider them considering today.

Consider the instructions, prohibitions, and warnings:  NO IDOLS!  Is that a problem today?  What is an idol?  It is anything that takes the place of God or is substituted as a god or is a person or thing that is greatly admired to the point of worship.  Some have made $$$ their idol.  Some idolize celebrities to the point that whatever those individuals do or say becomes their rule of faith and practice.  Some have made ethnicity an idol in that they hate everything that is not of their ethnicity and worship their skin color.  The Bible tells us that God will not share His glory with anyone or anything.  His promise throughout scripture is that if we Honor Him He will honor us.  He is our Creator!  Scientific evidence and calculations reveal that this could not be random chance.  If the planetary orbits were 1 degree off there would be chaos.  If the human body was not exactly as it is, we could not live and thrive.  I believe the Bible and believe that God is real and the Creator of All Things and if that is true, then He and He alone is worthy of worship for He and He alone determines our lives and our eternity.  To place anything before or above Him is an insult of the highest order.  We are also instructed to keep God’s Sabbaths and reverence His sanctuary.  Why?  Because God rested on the 7th day and the sanctuary is representative of His Person and Presence.

Then He declared that IF and that is the keyword.  “IF” we walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, not just with lip service but with the heart and walked out in our daily lives He (God) would do several things.  There would be rains in their season.  Rains were an absolute requirement for the crops and the crops determined life or death.  The land would then produce in abundance.  Notice in verse five, “…your threshing will last for you until the grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time.”  The condition would be unceasing prosperity and provision.  He said that if we walk in obedience we will be filled and live securely in our land.  If that is not something to be desired, I’m not sure what is.  The promise was peace and no one making us tremble.  He said he would eliminate the harmful beasts and not sword would go through the land.  There would be protection from within and without.  The continuation of that is seen in verse seven, “But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five our you will chase a thousand and a hundred will chase ten thousand…”  That is an incredible promise.

The Promise is that if we do this and return to Him He will make us fruitful and multiply us and confirm His Covenant with us and His Covenants are incredible.  He also promised to walk among us and we would be His people.  We would have such abundance that we’d have to eat the old to make room for the new it would be so plenteous.  We would not have a need to horde and make provisions for lean times because there would be no lean times.  WHY?  Because He is walking among us and in our obedience, His face is shining upon us and His blessings overtaking us.

In America, we have drifted far from this picture and if we return to God he will return to us.  I encourage you to look to Him and tear down any idols that have been erected in your lives.  Our nation can be restored.  Our lives can be restored.  Our world can be reached IF and that again is the key “IF” we follow the prescription of these verses.

God bless you, and God bless America!

 

DON’T DO IT FOR SHOW…

Spiritual Blog - Caution

Matthew 6:1 – “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”  NASU

             This is a powerful passage and when you continue reading you see some incredible things in the context.  But before I mention any of them let me state emphatically that “outward” religion or Christianity for the purpose of the “praise of men” or “to be noticed” is not pleasing to God.  It does not draw people to Christ because those on the outside of the Family of God often see through faux righteousness and piousness before many within the family.  Additionally, those on the outside are often very skeptical and cynical about our faith and relationship with God, therefore it is imperative that we conduct ourselves chastely and our character above reproach.

Jesus goes so far as to say that if we do what we do religiously for the purpose of being noticed and praised by men, the Father will reject our works.  I pray daily, “Lord, let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable and pleasing in your sight.”  I ask that He make me a man after His own heart and purge from me all unrighteousness.  I pray, as did David, “Create in me a clean heart, renew in me a right spirit, and please do not reject me or take your Holy Spirit from me and restore to me the joy of Your Salvation while upholding me with your Free Spirit.”  If that is the condition of my heart I will be able to teach transgressors the Ways of God and see those who are lost won into the family of God.  I want to be a vessel that God can use and need no recognition of man and continually ask that He help me develop an attitude that makes me impervious to the criticisms of men and immune from the Spirit of Rejection that drives many to seek the approval of men.  If we do what we do out of a “pure heart” others will be impacted positively for God and we will, through our lives, “Lift Jesus Up” and when that happens people will be drawn to Him like moths to a flame.

The next verse reveals a very practical application of our Lord’s words regarding our good works and our giving.  There is something incredibly powerful about anonymous giving for it strips the devil of any opportunity to lessen the impact for good.  It also robs the devil of any opportunity to impregnate our hearts with pride and the praise of men.  If you do what you do for show and the approval of people, that is your reward and your action focuses more on you than God and thereby limits the potential benefit outside the immediate results of your actions.

The same is true about prayer.  If we pray, as did the Pharisees, for public show, notice, and recognition we weaken the results.  I participate in a ministry where the major focus and theme is Prayer.  We encourage people to pray and in so doing find it necessary to talk about our personal prayer lives, but we do not do so to call attention to ourselves but to inspire others to utilize that weapon of spiritual warfare.  Some, pray lengthy prayers of repetition thinking that if they pray long and use flowering words somehow God will be impressed and respond.  As Jesus spoke about this, still connected to verse one, He gave us the pattern of prayer in verses 9-13 and the powerful statement in verses 14-15 about Forgiveness and being Forgiven.  The entire chapter, if read with verse one in mind, will be a catalyst to transform your thinking and actions in a most wonderful way.

He concluded His remarks in verses 25-34 and I urge everyone to read and reread the entire chapter time and again UNTIL it explodes within your spirit with recognition of His Purpose and Power.  We are who we are IN HIM and need to be nothing else for we are the Temple of God and He lives within us.  We are epistles (letters) know and read among men.  The only question is, “What are they reading when they read your life?” 

            May the Lord richly bless you as you enjoy this day in Him.

 

AT THE CROSS…

Spiritual Blog - Cross

1 Timothy 2:5-7 – “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”  NKJV

 

I have long loved Isaac Watt’s beautiful song, “At The Cross”.  What a beautiful and powerful truth of not only the beauty of what Christ did but the necessity.  In today’s world, too many churches are either no longer or limitedly preaching the Cross as a staple.  I had a preacher tell me that the Cross was too violent for civil society and not really necessary for man’s redemption.  He did not come out of a liberal theological persuasion but grew up in an old line fundamental church and trained in a very conservative theological seminary.  How he arrived at that conclusion I do not know but he is not alone.

The Bible is clear that “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).  Jesus sacrificial death on the Cross paid the price for mankind’s sin and effected a legal transaction that stripped the devil of his dominion over man.  The god of this world had been empowered over the race in the Garden at the Fall when Adam sinned.  Now the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, came to earth and satisfied divine justice in presenting a lamb without blemish sacrifice in His person.  He took our place on the Cross!  He died that we could live!

            The refrain is incredibly powerful: 

            “At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,

             And the burden of my heart rolled away,

             It was there by faith I received my sight,

             And now I am happy all the day!

Hank Williams wrote and sang, “I Saw The Light” and although his life testified of a life outside the light the lyrics indicate he understood something that too many miss.  In God there is light and without God, there is no light.  It is at the Cross that we truly begin to see and as Watt’s song declares, it was there that real sight came.

Once we receive spiritual sight and can look beyond the present into the eternal our heart’s burdens roll away and joy comes to the heart that has been freed from sin.  The Bible declares that there is no greater love than to die for a friend.  Jesus willingly went to the Cross for you and me.  He paid for our crimes or sins and opened the door to grace that is beyond human comprehension.  I’m not sure any of us can understand grace we experience it and as a result are transformed into a new creation.

How can I fail to preach the Cross for without the Old Rugged Cross I would still be lost in my sins and separated from God?  The preaching of the Cross to those who are perishing is foolishness but to those of us who have believed it is the power of God unto salvation.  (1 Corinthians 1:18)   If one thinks the Blood and Cross too vile for civil society what will they think of Hell?

            God bless you as you go through this day!

 

CLOUD OF WITNESSES…

Spiritual Blog - Witnesses

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  NKJV

 

I remember a cousin giving me advice before I departed for boot camp and he said, “I was fearful of not making it but the more I thought about it the more I realized that if so many others had successfully gotten through that ordeal I could too.”  That helped me more times than I can count in boot camp, Vietnam and life in general.  The very fact that a host of others has successfully traveled the path inspires me that I can too.

Paul used the truth powerfully.  He sought to inspire the hearts with the reality that others have walked the path before us.  Because they have we should be careful to divest ourselves of all hindrances, develop patience and confidence in God’s promises and determine to endure or finish the course.  We run, not without purpose but with our focus on the LORD Jesus who is that friend who will never leave or forsake us.  He is the one that has gone before us to prepare a place for us.  He has promised to return for us and allow us to join Him in that heavenly abode forever.

The confidence inspired by others successfully having achieved an objective is a powerful inspiration and reminder.  There are things we must do to enhance our journey and propel us toward victory.  Most of us have loved ones who have proceeded us having crossed over and their faith, lives, and commitment is an inspiration as is the desire to see them again.  In life’s difficulties we can and should be reminded of the myriad of others who have faced similar circumstances and successfully defeated the enemy.  As my cousin said, “If they can I can too!” 

I would be remiss if I failed to note that it is not in our strength we run this race but in His.  It is a biblical truth that we can DO ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens us.  We are MORE THAN conquerors through Him.  If God is for us who can be against us?   Therefore, knowing that He has led multitudes through the twists and turns of life and successfully led them to victory we can rest in confidence that He will lead us as well.

            May the Lord be with you as you go through this day!

BECAUSE HE LIVES I CAN…

Spiritual Blog - He Lives

1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  NKJV

 

Bill Gaither wrote an incredibly powerful song at the birth of their son called, “Because He Lives.”  Truly, because Jesus lives we can!  We can face the future without fear and in perfect peace because He has risen from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father and now makes intercession for us.  Because He lives I can…

  • Face Life…

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, therefore, the three days we need to concern ourselves with are “yesterday, today and tomorrow”.  Yesterday is history so fretting over it is futile.  It is history and what is written is written. Worrying about what might have been will not change what is or will be.  Tomorrow has not yet come and might not come therefore concerning ourselves with it is without redeeming value.  Our Lord confirmed that telling His followers to “take no thought of the ‘morrow…”  He was not counseling them to do no planning or preparation but to not be overwhelmed with what might be.  The day we should focus on is TODAY for as the Bible declares in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”   TODAY is the moment in life that we should devote our attention.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today determines tomorrow in our lives.  Because He lives we can face today and life.

  • Reject Worry…

Jesus instructed His followers in Matthew 6:25 – “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”  NKJV We can live in peace and confidence that God is at work on our behalf and in our best interest at all times.  Remember in Romans 8:28 we are told – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” NKJV Because He lives we can live worry free!

  • Face Death…

Death to the unbeliever is finality and painfully troubling.  Although few truly yearn for death the believer is so completely confident in the promise of eternity death holds no terror.  The difference in how we face death is Jesus Christ.  If we have received Him as our personal savior death has no sting.  If we have not then death brings fear to our hearts as a terrorist’s threat of destruction.  Because He lives I can face death without fear.

  • Face Eternity…

The Bible makes it clear that judgment is real.  Heaven is real.  Hell is real.  All will stand before God and give account.  The covering of the Blood of Jesus is essential and His presence at the Judgment Bar defending us before the Father is vital and affords incredible comfort as we face eternity.  Because He lives we can long for our eternal destiny rather than live in fear.

May the Lord be with you and may your heart leap for joy as you consider the power of the truth that He Lives!   Blessings!