Archive | August 2015

The Most Important Voice in the World

Everyone who is anyone is in a dither over the arrival of President Obama in Anchorage today. So many people wanted to hear him speak that they had to sell tickets; those puppies sold like hotcakes and were gone before most people even knew there were tickets to be had. Even if you had gotten a ticket he would not have known – or cared – whether you were there or not; there are only a select few that the President knows or cares about on a personal editorials_pictures_creationlevel. Although the voice of a national leader is important and influential, carrying a certain amount of power, there is One Greater than the president of the United States here whose voice is the most important voice in the world.  This Greater One whose voice carries the ultimate power spoke the universe into existence, opens blind eyes, raises the dead, and holds our very lives in His hand. Better yet, you never have to buy a ticket or stand in endless lines to talk to Him or hear Him speak – you just need to open your ears and heart and listen. And the best of all? That Greater One, the Great I AM, the self-existent eternal  one knows each of us individually, and not only knows but cares deeply for us. Click on the arrow to listen to Sunday’s message from Pastor Marlan and become better acquainted with the most important voice in the world.

 

The bulletin is posted on the Publications page for easy access all week long.

God’s Word, Our Weapon

In a day and age when Christians and their faith are increasingly coming under attack what’s a believer to do? Today’s devotional by Lonnie Crowe of Generals International states that “defeat is not an option” and provides solid advice on fighting back God’s way.

“In our spiritual warfare, we frequently employ many defensive tactics which can be successful in holding our enemy at bay—while he seeks other opportunities to ensnare us. Having a solid defense may be good, but moving on the offensive is better.

In light of current political situations and natural disasters, there has never been a better time for the Church to shift into an offensive position. Strong offensive warfare will give us a strategic advantage by putting the forces of hell on the defensive.

When we have donned the whole armor of God, we are prepared to take up our sword and to march forward, Two Edged Swordreclaiming territory that the enemy stole from us by whispering fear and doubt into our souls. It is time to be proactive in our spiritual warfare.

The question is, how can we accomplish this? Consider the following scripture:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV, emphasis added)

Our offensive weapon—our sword—is the Word. The Word of God takes on another dimension of power when we speak it forth. Genesis 1 teaches us that God spoke creation into existence. In John 1, we learn that Jesus is the Logos, the Word, and that through Him, all things were made. Jesus created through the spoken word and also overcame the temptations of the enemy by speaking the Word of God. He was proactive. He squelched the thrust of the enemy with the sword of the Word (see Rev. 1:16).

We also see the power of the spoken word of God in Ezekiel 37:3-4:

And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!’”

We need to keep our swords sharpened; that is, we must know the Word. It is not enough to merely memorize Bible verses; we must also understand the context and the meaning of the words if we want to be accurate in what we are talking about. Confusing theology can happen when we do not know the definitions and context of the written Word. Prophecy is misunderstood and misapplied when we have so little knowledge of scripture that we cannot discern whether or not the message lines up with the Word.

We also must protect our swords from the corruption of the world. In the natural, a sword must be oiled to protect it from rust and corrosion. Our spiritual oil is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In spiritual warfare, we must speak out under that anointing. We can trust Jesus’ promise that we do not have to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit will give us the exact words we need at the exact time we need them (see Luke 12:11-12).

Being effective in the spiritual war waging around us also requires faith. Paul reminds us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). As we become students of His word, we strengthen our faith (the shield that protects us) and sharpen our swords (the weapon that puts the enemy in his place).

Protected by the armor of God, armed with His Word, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can battle from an offensive position that leads to victory. That victory may not always manifest as we have envisioned; however, we can be sure of one thing—defeat is not an option.  ”

(c) 2015 Lonnie Crowe Generals International Used with Permission http://www.generals.org/articles/single/the-best-defense-is-a-good-offense/

Spiritual Heart Attack

Today’s devotional, reposted from a devotional by Christine Caine, provides a fresh take on keep ourselves spiritually healthy.

Spiritual Heart Attacks

Unhealthy habits can often account for the breakdown of our physical bodies. For example, the more common causes of a physical heart attack are stress, a high-fat diet, lack of exercise, smoking and high blood pressure. By eliminating the potentially harmful behavior patterns that lead to blockages in our arteries, we can prevent a heart attack from ever happening. The best cure is prevention.

The same is true in our spiritual lives. We cannot ignore those things that cause a blockage in our spiritual heart muscle. Lack of spiritual health can cause us to leave our first love, which will eventually lead to a spiritual heart attack. Once we suffer such a heart attack, we find that our hearts no longer beat passionately for God or his purposes. Instead, we substitute formalism for faith and empty ritual for the life of the Spirit. In essence, by just going through the religious motions, we plug ourselves into an artificial life-support system. We mistakenly think we are alive, but in reality we are only existing.

If we disconnected the wires from our empty rituals, there would actually be a spiritual flat line with no evidence of the life of God flowing in and through us. We were never created to settle for mere religion. Jesus did not die so that we could have a religious belief system––but rather a life-giving relationship with our Father.

If we fail to care for our spiritual hearts and neglect their health, we will never possess the spiritual strength we need to love God completely. By guarding our hearts, we ensure that the enemy has no access to them and is therefore unable to steal the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

I believe that as Christians we all possess a sincere desire to love God with all our hearts, yet we often unknowingly allow little things to build up inside of us. Slowly, these small subtle obstructions form very large blockages, which over a period of time clog our spiritual arteries and harden our hearts by depriving them of access to their life source. We must do whatever it takes to ensure that these have no place in our lives as followers of Jesus.

Point to Ponder

Are you guarding your heart from a spiritual heart attack? Are you engaging in healthy spiritual habits and avoiding those things that cause spiritual blockages? You don’t have to be a victim. You can take care of your heart, keep it healthy and strong, and use it to love God and others more.”

(c) 2015 Christine Caine Used with permission http://www.christinecaine.com/

Forgiveness

C.S. Lewis once said “Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive” Have there ever been times that you just have not wanted to forgive someone for something that they did to hurt you? If you’re forgiveness-healing-health-Jesusfinding yourself struggling in your Christian walk, victory can be attained through the act of forgiveness. Click on the arrow below to listen to Sunday’s message from Pastor Marlan and find out more about this essential part of our walk of faith.

 

The bulletin is posted on the Publications page

Not a Free Pass

Today’s devotional is reposted from John Bevere’s blog. It is a positive reminder about what grace really is and is not.

““The Old Testament is filled with dos and don’ts, but the New Testament is all about grace.”

Have you heard that assertion before? I have. It’s even taught in conferences and churches that the grace of God frees us from commandments, and many firmly believe it. Yet look at what Jesus said:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me…I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 14:21 NKJV

When people teach that grace negates the need to follow God’s commandments, they think they’re freeing others from legalism and guilt. But in reality, they’re steering people away from what brings us into the presence of God. That’s heartbreaking!

Jesus said only those who keep His commandments are the ones He will manifest Himself to. They will be the ones who see Him, enter His presence, and come to know Him intimately. A lot of us seem to have missed a critical truth: The privilege of intimacy with God is not promised to all believers. It’s extended only to those who pursue obedience to His Word.

To experience God’s manifest presence is no small thing. The word manifest is defined as “to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly.” The Complete Word Study Dictionary is even more specific in stating that it means “to let oneself be intimately known and understood.”

To manifest means to bring from the unseen into the seen realm, from the unheard into the heard, and from the unknown into the known. It’s when God makes Himself known to our minds and senses. He gives intimate understanding, knowledge, and insight into Himself and His ways. Isn’t that what we long for?

I’ve often experienced the presence of the Lord in services, during prayer, while reading the Word of God, or while just going about my day. I can understand why Moses left everything for this magnificent presence. There’s nothing on earth that compares.

There have also been seasons in my life when God’s presence has been aloof. Sometimes this was due to my not keeping His words. Other times I was in the heat of trials. The latter is unavoidable, but the former is preventable. I never want my choices to be what keeps me from experiencing God!

It’s a fact: Jesus gives us commandments. He commissions us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV, emphasis added). He doesn’t say “all things I’ve suggested to you.” He says “commanded.”

Peter makes crystal clear God’s command that we walk in holiness, for he writes of those who “reject the command they were given to live a holy life” (2 Peter 2:21 NLT). We are indeed given commandments in the New Testament, and they specifically fall under the label of “the command…to live a holy life.”

In these days, many take lightly God’s words that call for godly conduct. Without realizing it, we can reach the place of viewing His commands as mere suggestions. Yet there is a way that is infinitely better. We can embrace God’s commands, for His grace empowers us to fulfill them. We can honor Him and live rightly before Him—and in so doing, enjoy the intimate experience of His manifest presence. Which way will you choose?”

(c)2015 John Bevere Used with Permissison http://goodorgod.com/gods-grace-isnt-a-free-pass-and-thats-good-news/

Using God’s Word in Prayer

Today’s devotional, reposted from Generals International’s webpage, reminds us of the power behind using God’s Word in prayer.

“God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long.” (Eph. 6:17-18, MSG)

As believers, we are engaged in a spiritual battle—whether we want to be or not—which makes it critical that we put on the whole armor of God. The enemy wants to stop the fulfillment of God’s promises. Passivity on our part does not bring peace; essentially it means we’ve surrendered without a fight.

It’s hardly a coincidence that the weapons of God’s Word and prayer are listed concurrently in Ephesians 6. While the Word itself is powerful and prayer is absolutely essential, combining the two is even more powerful still. As we abide in Him (the Living Word) and His words abide in us, we can more confidently pray His will, enabling us to become a force to be reckoned with!1

The Key Role of the Holy Spirit

“… The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)

The Greek for “word” in Ephesians 6:17 (and John 6:63) is not logos, which is associated with God’s written, revealed will, or the Bible, as we might expect. Instead, the Greek isrhema, which is associated with God’s spoken will—or a prophetic word. Yet both passages refer to the life-giving force inherent in God’s will as revealed through scripture.

bible prayerThe key lies in understanding how the Holy Spirit reminds us of the written words of God as we need them. Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in His name will “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

In a similar way, believers today can trust the Holy Spirit to bring to mind individual scriptures pertinent to the circumstance they find themselves in. Therefore, the reference to the Word (or words) in these two instances is not alluding so much to a prophetic word, or even the entire Bible—but specific scripture passages highlighted by the Holy Spirit to enable the believer to experience victory in their situation.

Familiarity with scripture is a prerequisite in this process. We must regularly read, meditate on, and even memorize scripture in order to pray the Word effectively.

Storing up the Word

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11)

The above verse is one of many I memorized at a young age. Several of my Sunday school teachers and summer camp leaders encouraged scripture memorization, and I rose to the challenge. Even today, much of the scripture the Holy Spirit brings to my mind is in the old King James—although I have not used that version for decades!

If you’re like me, it’s much harder to memorize scripture as an adult, but I did recently memorize Psalm 91, after trying several years ago without success.

But when my youngest son joined the Army as an infantryman, I struggled with anxiety. In bringing my concerns before the Lord, I again felt prompted to memorize this chapter. Freshly determined, I asked the Lord to help me hide His word in my heart according to His will (using Ps. 119:11)—and He did!

Although it took some time, I can now recite the entire chapter at will. I pray this psalm at night before falling asleep, when I have down time like waiting for an appointment, or whenever I feel anxious for my kids. In fact, this chapter has become so familiar to me that my day feels incomplete without reciting it.

And that’s not all. Not only does the Holy Spirit quicken scripture to me for personal prayer—but also for intercession, writing assignments, and for ministering to others. Even when people ask for a prophetic word, it’s common to get a scripture verse for them as I seek the Lord. These scriptures become even more powerful in prayer because the Lord has revealed His will through them! (See 1 John 5:14-15.)

Putting Precepts Into Practice

– It’s not enough just to have knowledge of the Word. Even Satan knew and used scripture—interestingly, he twisted Psalm 91! (Matt. 4:6) What Satan didn’t have was an intimate relationship with the author—the Living Word. To accurately discern and pray the Word, we must abide in Him (John 15:7).

– Challenge yourself to spend more time reading, meditating on, or memorizing His Word. The Israelites were exhorted to “Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul… write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 11:18-20) Smartphone Bible apps make it easy to carry the Word with you anywhere, or you can always go old school by writing out verses on notecards to aid in meditation/memorization. Ask the Lord to help you more thoroughly absorb His Word!

– The context when Jesus said His words were spirit and life was that many of His disciples were about to turn away. When Jesus then asked the twelve if they wanted to go away also, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” When we store His words in our heart and soul, we will be able to stand firm when things get tough. Those who can’t handle the pressure will turn away. (See John 6:60-69.)

– Praying the Word of God back to Him increases our faith. For example, when praying for healing, I might pray, “Lord, thank You for being the God who heals me.” Or in intercession, I might ask the Lord to grant someone a new heart and spirit, and exchange their heart of stone for a heart of flesh. And when praying for someone’s salvation, I ask the Father to draw them. (See Ex. 15:26; Ezek. 36:26; John 6:44.)

As you absorb the Word, ask the Holy Spirit to quicken it to you, and see how He might direct you to pray!

For additional study:

  1. See Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 5:17; John 1:14, 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15.

 

 

(c) 2015 Diane Lake Generals International Used with Permission http://www.generals.org/articles/single/utilizing-the-weapon-of-gods-word-in-prayer/

Mistake to Masterpiece

If you’ve ever had an “oops” moment in your life when you were convinced that you’d messed things up permanently this devotional reposted from Max Lucado will bring you hope today.

 

From Mistake to Masterpiece

“Over a hundred years ago, a group of fishermen were relaxing in the dining room of a Scottish seaside inn, trading fish stories. One of the men gestured widely, depicting the size of a fish that got away. His arm struck the serving maid’s tea tray, sending the teapot flying into the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown splotch.

The innkeeper surveyed the damage and sighed, “The whole wall will have to be repainted.”

“Perhaps not,” offered a stranger. “Let me work with it.”

Having nothing to lose, the proprietor consented. The man pulled pencils, brushes, some jars of linseed oil, and pigment out of an art box. He sketched lines around the stains and dabbed shades and colors throughout the splashes of tea. In time, an image began to emerge: a stag with a great rack of antlers. The man inscribed his signature at the bottom, paid for his meal, and left. His name: Sir Edwin Landseer, famous painter of wildlife.

In his hands, a mistake became a masterpiece. God’s hands do the same, over and over. He draws together the disjointed blotches in our life and renders them an expression of his love. We become pictures, “examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us” (Eph. 2:7 NLT).

Receive God’s work. Drink deeply from his well of grace.”

(c) 2015 Max Lucado Used with Permission maxlucado.com