"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
What Does Our Commitments Say About Us?
Revelation 3:15-16 (KJV)
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Matthew 7:16-17 (KJV)
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Isaiah 29:13 (KJV)
13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
Matthew 12:22-30 (KJV)
22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
It is highly anticipated in a certain time of the year In high school basketball when many of the top ranked college recruits make their verbal commitments to college teams across the country. Many times, they are only what the name implies, verbal commitments. They are nothing more and therefore often changed later in the school year when the athlete realizes that they do not wish to attend the school they have chosen.
However, once a commitment is made to a branch of the military in America, that commitment must be fulfilled. Once your name is signed on that dotted line, Uncle Sam now owns you until your commitment has ended which is usually around four years. Thank God that Jesus never requires us to run five miles with a backpack and gear. If that were the case, I don’t believe I would make it today! He does however, require some commitment from us beyond just verbal recognition.
With this in mind, here are a few questions regarding being a soldier (committed servant) for the Lord.
1.Are You In Or Out?
Growing up, like every young boy I would go outside a lot. I often stayed at my grandmother’s a lot during the summers. One year, I received a basketball goal for Christmas and I kept it at my grandparents house. They had a concrete driveway, so I would go there to practice when I could. During the summer it can get very hot in N.C., so I would go out and come back in quite a lot.
My grandma used to say, "boy you better shut my screen door! Either get in or get out!" She would follow it with, “boy, air conditioning isn’t free!”
I believe that many times, God views our complacency very similar to this.
God wants us all in, not half-way in and half-way out.
He doesn't want us lukewarm, He spews lukewarmness from His mouth.
Growing up, I was introduced to the gospel, but because of the uncertainty around me, my environment, my influence, and the unbiblical doctrine I was hearing, I was tip toeing in the church and doing my best to avoid being figured out.
As I grew older, and God’s mission for me changed, I had to answer my calling and either GET IN THE HOUSE OR GET OUT, I HAD TO COMMIT OR QUIT!
2. We Are At War!
Have you ever met a soldier who had no pride in his branch, unit, or even their uniform?
There are few soldiers you will ever meet who lack pride, because they have been trained to have confidence in themselves, their fellow soldiers, and especially their appearance. Any soldier who doesn’t value their fellow brethren or themselves, are a danger to their unit.
We are in a spiritual battlefield and the war involves the creator of heaven and earth versus a created being who wanted to surpass Him in power and glory. However, we know that there can only be one God, for He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! The Alpha and the Omega! The First and the Last!
The enemy hates that we are special in His eyes, even “created in his own image.” Because of how much God loves us and cares for us, the enemy despises us and wishes to have us bound with him in Hell for eternity. This is why he has made it his goal to bring every human being he possibly can down with him. Unfortunately, because of the fall of Adam and the fact we are born of flesh and into sin, he has a head start.
However, the story praise God does not end there! As God tells us in John 3:16 that, ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
So, we have a choice. We can choose to be a soldier in the Lord’s Army or we can choose by default to be a soldier of the enemy. Either way, we are taking shots and enemy fire! I choose to be on the winning side in God’s army!
3.Who Is Spying Behind Enemy Lines In Your Camp? (Matthew 7:16-17, 12:30; Isaiah 29:13)
Are you an enemy combatant spying behind enemy lines? Are you an undercover servant of the devil, claiming Christ but denying Him with your lack of fruit?
As we see in Matthew 7:16-17, every good tree (soldier) should bear some type of good fruit. Maybe all of our fruit won’t be the same and certainly won’t always be the same quality, but sow forth the best seed you can possibly sow and watch God bless your ministry bountifully with good fruit.
Great soldier often times get rewarded with awesome medals and honored for their bravery. At the time of the Judgment Seat, we will be rewarded for the fruit of labor and acts here on Earth
James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
The good news about spiritual enemy combatants is that God makes the visible and marks them with the fruit of their labor. Those who spread lies, gossip, and slander, only bring shame to the body of Christ and their fruit will eventually be revealed.
Good leadership knows how to spot an enemy combatant and will remove them from the regiment.
Do you have any enemy combatants in your camp? Is your home a training ground for enemy combatants? If so, turn your home over to the Lord today and change it to a training ground for soldiers of the Lord.
4.Truly Committed Soldiers Are Often Mocked! (Matthew 12:22-30)
When you make a commitment to serving God, really serving God, you will most certainly mocked . In this section of Scripture, the religious of that day said that Jesus was using demon power to do miracles.
He was a threat to their lifestyle. They could not understand Him and refused to hear Him, so they slandered His name and dismissed His teachings.
They mocked Him, calling Jesus an entertainer of high level demons. They knew that to perform the miracles that He did, there must be great power behind Him, but because of their spiritual blindness they could not see the true power behind Him, the power of God himself.
When you truly commit yourself to the army of the Lord, you are placing a target of the enemy on your back.
Please know that you have served the enemy up until this point and He knows your ever weakness. Don’t think that he won’t use those weaknesses against you. Family may turn against you and mock you. Friends and other loved ones may turn their backs on you. Sometimes they may not even realize what they are doing and some will. You may even have to go through some persecution, but remember that God is right there with you every step of the way. Even though you may not always feel Christ, He is there walking along side of you in the midst of the trials brought against you.
Jesus knows what it is like to be placed on trial and judged for an act that you didn’t commit. This is how He was sacrificed, for sins and actions He did not take.
These religious bigots were more committed to their false religion, their idol worship, their “law”, that they were blinded and could not see that the Maker of the Law stand directly before them, teaching them, and offering them a better way which had already fulfilled the law in the first place!
Don’t be committed to a false system of religion, a false hope, and false savior. Commit yourself to Christ today and never have to look back. He stands ready and waiting with open arms!
Ephesians 6:18King James Version (KJV)
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Hebrews 4:14King James Version (KJV)
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Proverbs 15:29King James Version (KJV)
29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Psalm 102:17 (KJV)
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
Psalm 17:6 (KJV)
6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.
1 Chronicles 16:11King James Version (KJV)
11 Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.
BUT GOD ALSO SAYS:
Deuteronomy 6:16 (KJV)
16 Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
Matthew 4:7-10 (KJV)
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Luke 11:29 (KJV)
29 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
Most of us Monday-Saturday spend our time trying to keep up with the world. We all seem to be busy in today’s world. Even my retired grandparents seem to be busier now that they ever were while working.
It is in this business that we often lose track of God. He is long forgotten until next Sunday when we realize we need to pick Him up again. We grab our Bibles which sat Idly on our coffee tables (most of us never get it out of our cars) and we head over to attend service.
-Have you ever paid attention to how children pick things up about us, habits that we have that we ourselves don’t even notice?
-When a child picks up on a weakness or habit, they will use that to their advantage and train themselves to always when rejected, seek out that weakness until they get what they seek.
My kids know that they can win my wife over with kindness and sweetness, me not as much. Sadness works better for me.
We have trained them with that over time when we finally give in on situation after situation.
Children figure out really fast what types of behaviors gets them attention. After being a father, working in youth ministry, and being a juvenile justice officer, it is often easy to tell which children had good parents who paid them mind and who didn’t. I can tell you that most of those kids locked up did not because they figured out that bad behavior got them recognized by their peers and caused adults to surround them on all sides. They began to associate their negative behavior with the attention they got when they committed it. Now, instead of their parents doing their jobs, they are locked up with us and we are expected to give them the best care and treatment as if they were doing a good job and critique us.
Get HIM on the phone, hurry up, call 911 Jesus because I don’t think I can take another minute.
* You know when calling a dispatcher in an emergency, that person on the phone does not know you personally.
When Rescue Finally Arrives And You Are In The Midst of Your Trouble, How Do They Treat You?
That EMS is Like The Holy Ghost: He Is Your Guide, Protector, Provides Conviction, And Prays For Us……………911 Jesus
Finally They Get You Loaded Up In The Ambulance and On The Way To The Hospital For Professional Medical Help And Healing.
Isn’t That Just Like God, To Allow The Enemy To Knock Us Off Our Feet, Just Enough So He Can Bring Us Back To Him. And When We Embrace His Loving Arms, He Sets Us Back On Path For His Will.
1 John 5:14-15King James Version (KJV)
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
911 JESUS… ONCE AGAIN HE HAS SAVED A LIFE!
Don’t Wait Until Jesus Has To Bring You Back To Life Again Before You Heed This Warning, This Time Stay Close and Draw Near To Him…..Don’t Make Him A 911 Jesus!
The Great Setup
You know that feeling you get just when you believe God is going to do something great in your life and then the most undesirable thing happens? I know that feeling really well….. REALLY WELL.
It’s the trouble that arises in the midnight hours, the flat tire the day after getting new ones, the spilled coffee on the new shirt you bought yesterday. It’s also the long-term undesirable events in your life such as the spouse becoming disabled after being completely healthy, the loss of a loved one, or the car accident that changes everyone’s life. It can’t be by accident right? No. I call this a setup, the Great Setup.
Sometimes when we believe bad things are happening and there can be no other answer than the enemy is trying to take us down, God can make situations result in our blessings.
Romans 8:28 tells us that, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Paul was a man who understood this concept of being set up well. He was truly “set up” at every corner he turned. There was not a place that Paul went where he did not run into some type of resistance. However, “we must endure and practice persistence to overcome all resistance!”
I don’t think you may have heard that, so let me say it again, “practice persistence to overcome all resistance!”
Paul knew a few things about persistence. You see, Saul (later known as Paul after God changed his name) knew about persistence long before he was even converted. Paul showed great persistence while chasing after the Christians while he was still a Jew seeking to destroy Christians.
Acts 8:3 says, “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”
This took great commitment and time to run down Christians who were already used to being secretive about their movement. They already knew that their lives were at risk, therefore they moved in secrecy. He even went long distances to find them which is why he was on the road heading towards Damascus when he was converted. God had to literally blind him just to get him to stop. He was a workaholic, a machine, a working maniac. Which was great for the cause of the gospel. He was such a hard worker, that he thought of marriage as so much of a time burden that he said it would be better and easier to not marry than to marry and work for the Lord.
Out of all the situations God led Paul to however, there was one that sticks out to me the most. That is the story of Paul and the viper.
Acts 28 King James Version (KJV)
28 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:
10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
Paul, after being ship wrecked at Melita stayed behind to minister to the people of that island. However, as he gathered wood to build a fire for warmth against the rain, a viper comes out of the woodpile and bites him on the hand. Due to the beliefs and customs of those residing on that island, the snake bite gave him the credibility to minister to those people.
Right now, someone under the sound of my voice has either recently, is about to, or is currently going through a similar situation as Paul here in Acts 28. I want to encourage you that you must remain confident in your faith. Know that God has your back and remember Romans 8:28. I have had to remind myself many times of such Scripture and God’s promises.
Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
We are reminded of this also in Hebrews 13:5 by Paul himself to, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Paul had just been bit on the hand by as the Word states, “viper.” This would have certainly been a venomous snake as most vipers are. The residents of the island believed that he was cursed because of this event, but isn’t it amazing how God can turn our situations from worse to the most well. He can turn bank accounts from negative, to positive numbers with commas, He can take broken lives and mold them like clay on the potter’s wheel because that’s just who Jesus is. He is the Lord God, He is the King of Kings, He is the Alpha and the Omega. He turned his birth in the humbleness of no room in the inn, to a triumphant return of a King coming to claim his treasure! Certainly He can take your situation and turn it around.
He did it for Moses, He did it for David, He did it for Paul, He has done it for me, and He can certainly do it for you!
So the next time you see someone and it looks like they just rolled out of hell itself, tell them to, “shake it off!” We must shake off the vipers, hold ups, and hang ups that come our way.
Those things that try to stop us, slow us down, and make us unfruitful are nothing more than imaginary vipers, set in place to keep you from accomplishing God’s purpose for your life.
All you were trying to do is collect some provision so you could carry on again tomorrow. You might be trying to work, so you can earn some money to eat, but because you witnessed to a few people along the way, a viper was set in your path to trip up your finances, your family, your job, your relationships, and we have to “shake it off!”
In due time, God is going to take that viper bite and use the enemies own venom against him to get the respect of the very individuals who are shouting you must be cursed because you’re a Christian and your life isn’t perfect.
Your island might not be Melita, it might just be the Merita bread factory, but its still the island God has put you on and the island you are destined to be a witness to.
Don’t overlook small or humble beginnings because Jesus didn’t start in the Mega-church, he started with just the priests as a boy. There were amused by his knowledge at such a young age, but it was obvious He was entertainment to them. Jesus was looked at as a joke in His hometown, but a hero in others. You must serve to the best of your ability wherever God has placed you and sometimes that means you may be shipwrecked along the way in your journey to the place you thought you were going.
You may have intended on being a missionary in New Delhi and instead get shipwrecked in Istanbul. Either way, you are doing the Lord’s work, so make the best of it. Either way, God has placed you right where He wants you in exactly the right moment He wants, so do your best to sow seeds wherever you go. Shake off the vipers along the way my friend, keep a positive attitude, and watch the Lord do miracles through you that you would have never imagined in your lifetime!