Many of us recently watched as Amy Coney Barrett went through the Senate confirmation hearings to fill the vacant position on the U.S. Supreme Court left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Each member of the Judiciary Committee was able to ask her questions to determine how well qualified they felt she was to fill the position. In watching this, I noticed something very interesting. There were many times when a Senator would make statements or give opinions about her and not ask a question or give her opportunity to respond. But that was not what I found interesting. What I found interesting was the fact that she remained silent. Most people, upon hearing things being said about them, whether they are true or not, would demand their opportunity to respond. But she did not. And it wasn’t until the next Senator would ask if she had anything she would like to say regarding the previous Senator’s statements that she would respond. In watching this, a scripture quickly came to mind – James 1:19-20 – So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God (NKJV). This scripture speaks about three things: listening, responding and getting angry. We see this displayed all too often especially on TV. In fact, many times that is the goal – to get people angry. Let’s look at this verse from the Message Bible as it really paints a picture for us: 19 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. 20 God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. We create a trap for ourselves when we speak before we truly listen. In listening, there’s more to hear than just what the person is saying. But, what is the Holy Spirit saying? Jesus also remained silent in front of His accusers and it left them baffled. Have you ever gotten that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach after you spoke out or hit that send button and wished you could unsend? If we are confident that we have done what is right in God’s eyes and conducted ourselves in a righteous manner, we do not have to defend ourselves because God will!
11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. 12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12 (NKJV)
2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 (NKJV)
61 But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Mark 14:61 (NKJV)
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:23 (NKJV)
There are many people from the Bible who had faith – Abraham, Moses, David, Noah, Enoch to name a few. But there are a few whose faith made an impression on Jesus and we don’t even know their names. One of these people was the Roman centurion whose servant was dying. In fact, Jesus called this man’s faith great. What was it about his faith that impressed Jesus so much? The centurion told Jesus that it wasn’t necessary for Him to come to his servant. All Jesus needed to do was speak it out and his servant would be healed. The centurion knew that Jesus’ words carried authority. He went on to explain his knowledge of authority. He was a man under authority so he knew what it meant to be submitted. He also was in authority and when he spoke a command, his soldiers obeyed. The centurion knew how submission and authority worked. He knew that the words that Jesus spoke caused things to happen! Scripture doesn’t tell us how the centurion knew about Jesus, whether he saw Jesus in action or possibly just heard of Him. But we know that his working knowledge of submission and authority was enough for Jesus to say “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Jesus had authority and that authority was actuated through His words. When He spoke, the object of His words had to submit so whatever He spoke came to pass. And the exciting part is Jesus gave that authority to us!
5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, 6 “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” 7 Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 9 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour. Matthew 8:5-13 (NLT)
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. Luke 10:19 (NLT)
I recently took a trip to Wisconsin Dells with my sister. We enjoyed a relaxing boat ride on the Wisconsin River to view the beautiful rock formations that had formed the sides of the river. In the span of the river that we toured there was very little shoreline. There were long stretches of river where it was nothing but rocks and cliffs on both sides which made it impossible to get out of the water should someone find themselves capsized. And this is exactly what happened to a canoe that our boat happened upon. Toward the end of our tour, the captain went off course towards the edge of the river where they spotted a man, a woman and a dog struggling in the cold water to stay afloat after their canoe capsized. They were clinging to the rocky edges and tree limbs that extended into the water, and needless to say, being October, they were very cold. Unfortunately our boat was situated too high in the water and after many attempts they could not get the people out of the water so they radioed for help. As we were watching their attempts to get these people and their dog onto our boat, I was wondering why our boat did not have a ladder. It would have made the rescue quick and easy. And frankly it seems it should be a required piece of equipment since there’s always the possibility that a passenger could fall into the water. It makes me think how simple God made it for people to find salvation but He just needs people to share the message. There are people struggling in their lives to keep their heads above water not knowing that God had provided the way out through Jesus Christ. They just need someone to extend the message of salvation so they can grab hold of it and be rescued from certain death. As a Christian, the great commission requires us to share and extend the good news to others who are in need of rescue. We are not their salvation, but we are the ladder to it. (p.s. – all were taken out of the water to safety, even the canoe).
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15 (NLT)
We are one month away from what might be the most crucial election in the history of the United States. The two political parties could not be farther apart in their platforms, policies and beliefs. It would certainly be our hope that both parties want what’s best for America but have two different theories on how to accomplish it. But when platforms are so diametrically opposed to one another, how does one know what is the best? Each American has the responsibility and privilege to cast their vote for the person they believe best matches their own personal values, beliefs and standards. So how does one set standards and form beliefs? For unbelievers that could vary greatly. But for believers in Jesus Christ, our standard should be the Word of God. And since God never changes, neither does His Word and neither should our standards. But is every single issue discussed in scripture? It might be difficult to find a passage in the Bible to tell you how to kick start an economy after a pandemic. But the Bible does have much to say about how God gives wisdom to those who seek Him. God shows the correct path to those who acknowledge Him. Is your candidate willing to acknowledge God? If ever we needed people in leadership whose top advisor is God, it is now!
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 (NLT)
6 For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 (NLT)
6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)
18 Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) 6 “I am the LORD, and I do not change. Malachi 3:6 (NLT)
There is a word that you may have heard a lot lately used by those who would like to see change in America. That word is “re-imagine”. The definition of the word imagine is: to form a mental image or concept of; suppose or assume. So to re-imagine something would be to rethink it or form a different image or concept other than your original thought. This word sounds so good and innocent doesn’t it? Because change can be good. But changes are not always for the better. Satan did his best in the garden to get Eve to “re-imagine” what it would be like if she knew what God knew. Scripture calls Satan cunning. He had to sweet talk Eve to get her to see things differently and he was quite successful because we read – “6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” We must be on guard in the day we are living as Satan roams around looking for those he may devour. And he is sly. He will use seducing words and phrases to get you to consider things you know are contrary to God’s Word and God’s will. God’s hand was upon those who established this government and its Constitution. America’s founding was ordained by God and flourishes as long as we serve Him. Be on guard to those who would have you re-imagine a different way where God has no place. Let us be like Moses and say we will not go on without God’s presence! It’s what sets us apart from the rest of the world!
1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. Genesis 3:1-6 (NLT)
15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” Exodus 33:15-16 (NLT)
If you’ve spent much time outside in the yard lately you have realized that this must be the year of the cricket. They seem to be everywhere. I have a watering can that I keep just off my porch area that I use to water my plants. There was a good amount of water left in the can and I noticed a cricket on top of the water struggling to stay afloat. So I grabbed a leaf and tried to coax the cricket onto the leaf to lift it out of the can and it kept jumping off back into the water. This happened over and over again until I was finally able to move fast enough to get him on to dry ground. I think it had become worn out and could no longer resist my attempts at salvation. But I was determined to set this little guy free. People are sometimes no different. You may know and have even been praying for loved ones who have resisted God’s offer of salvation for years and years. They have been dodging God every chance they get not realizing that, if they stay where they are, the outcome will not be good. But God is a persistent One, and He will never stop pursuing those who are floundering. He will keep pursuing and it may even come to the point where that one is just too worn out to resist any longer and then BAM…they’re saved and set free! Aren’t you glad we serve a God who will never give up on us?!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. Psalm 139:7-8 (NLT)
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6 (NLT)
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:3-7 (NLT) 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 (NLT)
This week marked the 19th anniversary of 911. If you were alive on September 11, 2001, you will remember the horror that was perpetrated against America. It was an act of pure evil and hatred. It is difficult for most people to even contemplate harboring such hatred toward other human beings. But unfortunately when people are indoctrinated by ideologies that preach hatred towards and even death to those unlike themselves or who don’t believe like they do, the festering leads to eruption. Are we currently witnessing a similar scenario beginning to play out in our cities and streets right now? Although for now it may be on a much smaller scale, the underlying sentiment of hatred is festering and emerging. The one significant difference between then and now is this – 911 was perpetrated by those outside our country. This new insurrection of destruction is coming from our own citizens. And this makes it even more incomprehensible. There are people from countries all over the world longing to come to our shores for the simple reason that America offers freedom! – freedom to pursue happiness. This is something they have never known and will never know if they remain where they are. And those in our nation who are stirring up this hatred for the American way want to turn this nation into what others are so desperately fleeing from. There is only one solution. GOD! Jehovah! El Shaddai! Yahwey Shalom! There is a tremendous call to intercession upon the church today to pray for America. Church leaders and church goers all over the country are answering this call to pray. We must remember that the Word of God in II Chronicles 7:14 begins with this: “IF My people”! Will you answer this call?
13 Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven! Psalm 148:13 (NLT)
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. Genesis 17:1 (NLT)
24 And Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the LORD is peace”). Judges 6:24 (NLT)
14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
Many of you have probably seen the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was the first in a series of movies about the fictional Indiana Jones who was an archeologist who risked life and limb in search of lost historical artifacts. At the beginning of the movie, Indiana enters a cave to retrieve a golden idol. But his task is made extremely difficult due to hidden traps and deadly hazards all along the way, any of which is designed to kill him. He is left to his own wits and experience to dodge these traps, retrieve the idol and make it out alive.
In reading Psalm 91, we are reminded that sometimes life is full of these traps and hazards. But the wonderful thing is God has provided us a divine protection against them all. And it is not fictional! It is very real. The one condition, however, is this – we must dwell in the secret place of the Most High. Not just drop in occasionally for a quick visit, but make it our home. Below is the Message Bible version of Psalm 91. If this doesn’t bring peace to your life, nothing will! Enjoy!
Psalm 91:1-16 (MSG)
1 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, 2 Say this: “GOD, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” 3 That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. 4 His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.
5 Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, 6 Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. 7 Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. 8 You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. 9 Yes, because GOD’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, 10 Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. 11 He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. 12 If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. 13 You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. 14 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. 15 Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. 16 I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
There’s a phrase that’s often heard and it’s “I couldn’t help myself”. Many times it’s said in jest to explain away something that was done that shouldn’t have been. It really has to do with lack of self discipline or self control. But is it true? Can a person really not help themselves from doing something? Self control is a very individual thing. A donut or a muffin is no temptation for me. But peanut butter cups are a whole other thing. It’s that way with everyone. We all have our weaknesses. But if the motive or the motivation is great enough, most temptations can be resisted. Trying to fit into that new outfit might keep those peanut butter cups at bay. Or it might take something more serious like controlling Type II diabetes. So instead of saying “I couldn’t help myself”, it is probably more accurate to say “I wouldn’t help myself”. When something is important enough to you, you will do it no matter what. So, that being said, how important is your relationship with God to you? In order for you to develop your relationship with God it requires time – time in prayer, time in the Word and even time to just be quiet. And in this hectic whirlwind of a life most of us live, we have to make time. You’ve all heard another phrase and probably even said it a time or two and that is “I will if I have time”. This usually means if it is high enough on one’s priority list, it will get done. It is beneficial to occasionally revisit our life’s priority list to see what’s on it. Is God high up on that list? Do we need to reorder anything and move things around to give God a higher position? Does He have a position? Where is God ranked on your priority list?
Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
1 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT)
25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Just turning on the news these days is enough to strike fear into anyone. All we see and hear is bad news. But as the children of God, scripture instructs us not to fear (see references below). So does this mean that fear is a choice? Do we have the option to be afraid or not be afraid? A sudden sense of fear can come upon you as a warning of an unsafe situation. In this instance it would be more of a discernment than a fear which many have probably experienced. But the spirit of fear brings torment and it can come in many forms. Have you ever watched the TV show called Hoarders? These are people who cannot throw anything away and are prisoners to a spirit of fear. Their houses have filled up to the ceiling, in some instances, with what we would consider junk. But to the hoarder, these possessions have developed meaning and value. Family members and workers are brought in to help them clean out their homes. And during the cleanup process, the hoarders many times are cut to the core with anxiety and fear over parting with these possessions. In almost every episode, this anxiety is brought on by some trauma they’ve experienced in their past which more than likely opened the door to the spirit of fear. You can actually see their anguish in parting with these items. There is a torment that comes with the spirit of fear as it takes root in a person’s life. So is it as easy as deciding not to fear? If you back that decision up with the Word of God it is! Fill your mind with these thoughts: “Surely He shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler; Under His wings I shall take refuge; I shall not be afraid of the terror by night nor the arrow that flies by day… it shall not come near me; no evil shall befall me; nor any plague come near my dwelling!; His angels shall bear me up; I shall tread upon the lion and the cobra; and with long life He will satisfy me; In God will I trust, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?!” Guard your heart and your mind by filtering the things you allow yourself to think about! Reject any worrisome, anxious thoughts that try to overtake your mind and think on things that are lovely and of a good report! Read Psalm 91:1-16 to build yourself up. Guarding your heart and your mind is up to you and it will determine the course of your life!
Do not fear or be afraid: Gen 15:1; Gen 26:24; Ex 14:13; Deut 1:21; Deut 20:1; Josh 1:9; 2 Chron 20:15, 17; Isaiah 41:10; Matt 14:27; Matt 28:10; Mark 5:36; Luke 12:4; Luke 12:32; John 6:20; Rev 1:17
18 There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4:18 (MSG)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 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. Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)