A favorite scripture of mine is the first part of Genesis 18:14 which says “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” In this portion of scripture, Abraham was visited by three men, one of whom tells Abraham that by this time next year, Sarah will have a son. Sarah heard this and the Bible says she laughed silently to herself because she was an old woman past the child bearing age not to mention her husband was old too. To this, one of the men, whom the Bible says was the Lord, asked Abraham why Sarah laughed because after all, is anything too hard for the Lord? Now, we know that Sarah laughed because she had already gone through “the change of life” as we call it. But did Sarah forget that, even in her child bearing years, she could not have children. As a young woman she was barren. But the next year she did indeed bear a son. So not only did God restore her body to it’s youth as far as reproduction goes, God also healed her from barrenness. So what was done in Sarah’s body was even more miraculous than even she realized. So the next time you find yourself facing an impossible situation, don’t ask it like a question but state it as a fact – “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”!
10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. 11 Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12 So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” 13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:10-14 (NLT)
Our church building is located in the country. And, although being out in the country has many benefits, it has a few disadvantages. Coming into the colder months of the year and with harvest going on, one of those disadvantages is mice! We do all we can to prevent these little creatures from taking refuge in our building, but occasionally they manage to find the tiniest of openings to get in. Sometimes you wonder how they can squeeze through such small openings. But they can and they do! And what a mess they will make. This is also the way of sin. You do all that you can to follow after God and His Word to close off access by the devil to any area of your life. But he will manage to enter even through the smallest of openings that you give him. And once he is in, look out! It’s surprising just how rapidly a quick glance or an idle word or an impure thought can advance if you give it an opening into your life. If an opening goes unchecked, there will soon be an invasion and once there’s an invasion, hopes of ridding yourself of these pests is extremely difficult. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true. Button up, batten down the hatches, plug up those holes! This may mean getting rid of some magazines, turning off that channel or youtube video, or stop listening to that music. Don’t give the enemy even the smallest of openings into your life because that is all it takes to be overrun with sin. Don’t allow a mouse in your house!
And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Galatians 5:9 (MSG)
7 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 8 Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. James 4:7-8 (MSG)
Matthew 28:11-15 (NLT) 11 As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. 12 A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. 13 They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ 14 If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” 15 So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today. We begin Food for Thought this week with scriptures that do not put religious leaders in a very good light because, here, they are spreading false testimony. The verses prior to these tell of how the men who were guarding Jesus’ tomb fell into a faint when the angel of the Lord rolled away the stone covering the tomb’s entrance and Jesus rose from the dead. Some of the guards went and reported it all to the chief priests who then consulted with the elders, concocted the story above and bribed those guards to tell it. The sin of lying is as old as mankind itself and will continue as long as Satan is around. Lying is a spiritual force because it is fathered by Satan. Giving false witness against someone is especially grievous. The sad thing about it is, it’s often one person’s word against another’s. And when there is no evidence to prove either side, we are forced to determine (discern) what the truth is. This, in ourselves, is impossible. But with the Holy Spirit, it is possible. As believers, we have been given the most wonderful, powerful gift – The Holy Spirit. When you are confronted with lies, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you. If you earnestly seek for the truth, He will reveal it to you. Those without the Holy Spirit are fooled and cannot discern. Pray for them too, that they not only find the truth, but they find the revealer of truth!
“You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (NLT)
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. Proverbs 12:22 (NLT)
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 (NLT)
14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT)
Have you ever wondered why God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah? The meaning of the name Abram is exalted or high father and Sarai means princess. Some sources say that Sarai comes from a Hebrew word meaning one who is contentious. Our name is our “label”. It is our identifier. It is how people distinguish us from others. If you think about it, when people speak your name, they are calling you something, they are calling you not just by your name, but by the meaning of your name. In other words, you could say it becomes your identity. God had made a covenant with Abram that he would be the father of many nations. So God wanted Abram to identify himself with that, to take on that role or to “own it” so to speak. So He changed Abram’s name to Abraham meaning father of many nations. When he said “I am Abraham” he was stating “I am the Father of Many Nations”. The same with Sarai. She now became Sarah, the mother of nations. God was establishing in them a new identity. Each time they or anyone else spoke out their names, they were calling those things that are not as though they were. And we know how that turned out! In similar fashion, we assume a new identity upon receiving Christ. We go from lowly sinners to being a chosen generation, a royal priesthood a holy nation, the people of God!- all because of our new identity through Christ. So take on your new identity and own it!
3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. Genesis 17:3-6 (NKJV)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; Romans 4:16-17 (NKJV)
Last week we talked about Smith Wigglesworth who was a tremendous man of faith and operated in one of the greatest healing ministries of all time. Smith said that the only book he ever read was the Bible! Although he never actually authored any books, several books were written about him, some containing some of his favorite quotes. Being such a great man of God whose ministry was evidenced by many miracles, signs and wonders, it would be beneficial to know what he thought. Here are some of his notable quotes:
Be filled with the Spirit. Be crammed with the Spirit, so filled that there will be no room left for anything else. What is the advantage of such a life? We can only feel what reaches the central realm of consciousness. If we keep evil out of that inner realm, we destroy its virulence. So if we have our consciousness filled with the presence of the glory of the Lord, there will be no room even for the aggressive errors of destructive criticism, or for bitter disappointment. 1
God wants you so full of the Spirit that your whole life is praise. 1
You must every day make higher ground. You must deny yourself to make progress with God. You must refuse everything that is not pure and holy. God wants you pure in heart. He wants you to have an intense desire after holiness. 1
It is when we believe that something happens. 1
The Word of God has not to be prayed about; the Word of God is to be received and obeyed. 1
1 Frodsham, Stanley Howard, Smith Wigglesworth Apostle of Faith, Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, MO, 1948, pg. 125
Smith Wigglesworth was a great man of God and a man of tremendous faith. He had a relationship with God that was non-stop. He said that he seldom prayed for more than 30 minutes but he never let 30 minutes go by without praying. He was filled with the Word of God and was always ready to minister. Some thought of him as being harsh in his ministry. It’s been recalled that in a healing line he once punched a man in the stomach. He went on to say that he wasn’t punching the man, but punching the devil who is behind all sickness and disease. The man was healed. You’d better know that you are hearing from God in a circumstance like that. And Smith did hear from God. Jesus Himself said that His words were not His own but the Father’s. People probably get pretty tired of hearing how important God’s Word is. But there is just no getting around it. God’s Word is our final authority. If God said it, then that settles it. That’s the way Smith Wigglesworth lived. And of course, Jesus too, seeing that He is God’s Word made flesh. If you struggle in life, in any area at all, God’s Word holds your answer. It will make you free!
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. John 8:28 (NLT)
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. John 5:19 (NLT)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NIV)
30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:30-32 (NKJV)
Last week we looked at Joseph. This week let’s look at his father Jacob. The name Jacob means supplanter, or one who replaces or displaces. So from the beginning, his name gives us a clue as to what will happen between Jacob and his twin brother Esau, who was born first. Plus scripture also tells us that before they were born, God revealed His will by telling their mother Rebekah that the younger will serve the older (similar to Joseph and his brothers). So did Jacob get a bum rap by being known as the deceiver by stealing both Esau’s birthright and his blessing? Well, let’s look at the birthright. It doesn’t appear that it took much convincing for Jacob to persuade Esau to give him his birthright. Scripture tell us that Esau had no regard for his birthright to have traded it for a bowl of stew so it meant little to him. No amount of hunger should have caused Esau to regard his birthright so casually. And let’s look at the blessing. It would seem that the entire scheme was Rebekah’s. Jacob was doing exactly what his mother told him to, although he lied to his father when Isaac asked him several times who he was. It would seem that Rebekah was the deceiver. But Rebekah, just as Joseph did with his dream, did not forget what God had told her about her sons, that the older would serve the younger. So this gives some insight into her motivation. In Jacob’s adult life, the deceit we read of was perpetrated against Jacob, not by him. Was Jacob really a deceiver? That may be for you to decide, but God knows what it takes to carry out His purposes. And birth status isn’t the most important requirement to God, as we saw with Joseph and even with Isaac and then later with King David. God knew us all before the womb and His plans for us were set long before we breathed our first breath. He knows who is best for His purposes. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel which means: one who struggles with God and humans and overcomes. Jacob may have started out a deceiver, but he ended up an overcomer.
23 And the LORD told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” Genesis 25:23 (NLT)
34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:34 (NKJV)
16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. Hebrews 12:16 (NLT)
5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)
Have you ever questioned why some things happen? You are walking out your journey with God day by day, putting Him first, obeying His Word, minding your own business and then – BAM! Something so completely contrary to God’s promises happens and you wonder WHY! If this hasn’t happened to you yet, you’ve probably only been serving God for about 5 minutes. First, we must remember, God does warn us that trials and sorrows will come, so it should not surprise us. In fact, He tells us there will be MANY trials coming our way. But when you face a trial, there is a person from the Bible that we can look to that brings much encouragement. And that person is Joseph, the 11th son of the patriarch Jacob. With many of the stalwart men and women of the Bible, there is usually some area of weakness or sin where we see their humanity such as with David or Samson or Peter. But with Joseph, we read of no transgressions in his life, unless you count being dad’s favorite a sin, as some siblings might. But what happened to Joseph certainly was undeserved (being thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers and sold into slavery, being falsely accused of crimes and imprisoned). But through all of this, we find nowhere in the Bible where he ever blamed God or really even complained. How could that be considering all that came against him? It was because of a dream. Because of a dream, Joseph knew there was a higher plan behind everything. In the pit, he never forgot the dream. In prison, he never let go of the dream. The dream was his impetus, his life preserver, it kept him afloat when the sea raged around him. And through slavery and imprisonment, the favor of God was so strong over his life that it was evident to everyone around him. Through all his trials, Joseph prospered. The dream took him through the pit, the chains, the deceit and the dungeon and elevated him to the palace! When God reveals His will for your life, you should expect resistance, especially from the world. But remember, God is true to His promise and Jesus has already overcome the world!
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)
5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. Genesis 45:5 (NLT)
19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:19-20 (NLT)
In last week’s Food for Thought, we saw two people who either did not understand God’s expectations for His church, or, they didn’t fear God enough to be concerned with consequences of their behavior. And in fearing God, it’s not being afraid of Him, but reverencing Him with the utmost awe and respect. Many in the church today might say they love God, but in their speech and behavior, it becomes obvious they do not fear Him. Or another way to put it is, Jesus is their savior but not their Lord. In John 14:15, Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” ESV. Making Jesus Lord of your life means doing things His way, not yours. It means checking the scriptures for what Jesus said about a matter and doing that no matter how you feel about it. It means praying about a matter and waiting on God until you receive an answer and a peace. And, many times, doing what God wants is not always what is apparent or logical. Fearing God is having a respect that He means what He says. And we must be willing to face the consequences if we set off on our own course. After Sapphira’s dead body was dragged out and buried next to her husbands, the Bible says “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things ” Acts 5:11 (NKJV). According to the concordance, this was literal fear as in terror, as one could image after witnessing such things. But one would think that this also led to a flurry of self-examination of motives and a knowing that God was serious about the condition of one’s heart. In the beginning of your walk with God, it is possible to love Him without fearing Him because you haven’t yet learned of His immense greatness and faithfulness to His Word. But as you learn of and even experience His greatness and faithfulness, your love for Him and your fear of Him abounds. It is this fear of the Lord that keeps you on the right course.
6 Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil. Proverbs 16:6 (NLT)
23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. John 14:23 (NLT)
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is an interesting one. Many people hear their story and gasp at the thought that they died just for lying. In the story, Ananias and Sapphria were among a group of people that the scripture says were of one heart and one soul. The scripture also says that great grace was upon the people. All that anyone owned belonged to everyone and no one lacked anything. The things they owed were sold and the proceeds were brought to the apostles and distributed as anyone had need. Ananias and Sapphira sold a plot of land but held back some of the proceeds for themselves. This, in itself, wasn’t the problem. The issue was that when asked if they were giving the entire amount, they lied and said it was. Upon lying about it, they were struck dead. Many people are so focused on the horror of their deaths for lying that the bigger picture is often missed. Ananias and Sapphira were part of the church. They were representatives of the Lord Jesus and His followers. God takes His church seriously. Pretense, hypocrisy and deceit are not to be tolerated in His church. When they lied, they evidently didn’t realize the standard to which God holds His church. God will purge His church of anything that is not holy and pure. He is waiting for a church without spot or wrinkle. He gives us plenty of opportunity and even instructs us to examine our lives to see where we measure up on the holy and pure scale. It’s good to remember, they didn’t lie to Peter, they lied to God.
4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” Acts 5:4 (NLT)
28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 1 Corinthians 11:28-31 (NLT)