Deeper Day 199: Live like the apostles

Lately God has had me adding the book of Acts to my daily Bible readings, as I mentioned before. I’ve always loved the book of Acts, but this time around it’s becoming so much more than an account of all the signs and wonders that occurred. For many seasons, the signs and wonders portion of the book have been so wonderful to me that I soaked and soaked in them. I let the stories fuel my fire to see God’s kingdom advance across the earth. I realized that signs and wonders are meant to lead people to the gospel. They are largely a tool for drawing hearts to a loving Father, but in this current season, I see so much more when I read Acts.

The apostles were relentless in their pursuit of Christ and spreading the gospel. They went into areas and preached, many times under heavy persecution. Yet, they stayed in those areas until ALL had heard the good news.

It makes me wonder, just how relentless are we? Admittedly, not nearly as much as the apostles.

In our comfort Christianity, where we are only bold when we go on organized mission trips, we lay low the rest of the time. We feel there are so many churches around that our testimony is largely unnecessary. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, what I’ve realized is that people are searching and searching for someone or a group that is true to the Word, all the while being honest about who they are. They aren’t looking for pretention. They are looking for something real.

The apostles didn’t appear to act like they were better than others. They didn’t strictly live off of aid because they were missionaries. They humbled themselves over and over again. They worked and made their own income in some instances. Paul made tents. And isn’t it interesting how the sweat from his brow while working a job to support himself, actually healed people. I propose that you don’t have to be a minister or the like, for God to use you in magnificent and ground-breaking ways. In fact, I believe we need fewer preachers and more working evangelists.

Church, it isn’t the preacher’s job alone to spread the gospel. It’s yours and mine too. And preachers, your working-class believers are not less than you because they don’t have church jobs. We need both. Without one, there isn’t the other.

It’s time to wake up to the fact that we are to share the gospel everywhere and at all times. It’s time for us to live like the apostles.

Prayer Moment: Today I simply want to challenge you to re-read the book of Acts. Take time and really process the words and actions of the apostles. Really put yourself in their situations and imagine what it would look like, then realize that we all pay a cost to walk with Jesus. If it costs nothing, it’s worth nothing really. He paid for us with His life. What are we willing to sacrifice?

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured, and evil spirits left them. Acts 19:11-12

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 28:30-31

Deeper Day 198: Stand up and be counted

Recently, I have had this phrase run through my mind repeatedly. “Stand up and be counted.” As I pressed into this thought I then heard, “I’m in the Lord’s army.”

Friends, I believe this is where we are today…the obviousness of where all of our worldly conflict lies is unbelievable. We are no longer fighting one political party against another, or one denomination against another. We are literally fighting between Jesus and the anti-Christ spirit that’s roaming the earth.

I don’t say this as a fear mongering statement at all. In fact, I truly believe we are about to see the greatest outpouring of God’s glory and abundance upon the earth that we have ever seen. The great harvest is coming. But we are still responsible for holding our ground and taking more territory, in the Spirit.

In my lifetime, I have experienced more than one season where the believers were so certain that the end was near that they stopped living life. They stopped investing in the future and building on this earth. The result of this was that the enemy actually capitalized on this fear and inactivity and furthered his own agenda more quickly than he should have.

This is NOT the time to go into hiding and just relent to the end times. No! As I’ve stated before, God has always instructed me to keep sowing and living fully…until.

Guys, we are in the Lord’s army. What good is an army that hides? An army is supposed to be prepared to fight. In my opinion, we have made life far harder on ourselves than necessary because we checked out of society for so long. (“We” meaning: the collective group of believers.)

I believe that the church is supposed to be fully involved in every aspect of our society. That’s how we continue to bring morality and true conscience to our country and the world. Unfortunately, in many areas we have deemed them too worldly and have released the enemy to have free reign and as a result, souls that could have been won, have been lost.

And there you have it, that is the ultimate sadness of it all. We are called to make disciples of every nation, yet we have neglected our own. We travel to foreign countries and boldly enter all kinds of situations and industries, deeming it missions. Yet, when we are on our own soil, we can’t conceive of crossing over into such territories even if souls would be saved.

Why? This thought and revelation has infuriated and frustrated me for years. Our own country is struggling because we can’t humble ourselves and fight at home. The time is now. If not now, then when?

Prayer Moment: God, put a fire in my heart to stand firm for You and Your kingdom. Help me to walk in humility as I release Your gospel into America. Teach me how to share it. Give me boldness to share it. Help me to never relent in my pursuit of You and spreading the Good News. I adore You. In Jesus name, Amen.

“Now then, My sons, listen to Me; blessed are those who keep My ways. Listen to My instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to Me, watching daily at My doors, waiting at My doorway. For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find Me harms himself; all who hate Me love death.” Proverbs 8:32-36

Deeper Day 197: Know Me

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Does He know you?

Have you invited Him to know you?

This is a crucial part of our walk with Jesus. Inviting Him into our hearts, and then inviting Him to know us completely. We should all make certain that we are open to being known. It’s something that I make a habit of intentionally talking to God about on a regular basis. I long to be known, just as I long to know Him.

Read this next portion of scripture.

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured, and the evil spirts left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, Whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. Acts 19:11-18

The whole point of healing and driving out demons is to direct hearts to Jesus. To make His name famous. It’s never to be about the person God is moving through, it’s always about the only One capable of doing such things.

Some say that only those who actually walked with Jesus, could perform miracles, etc. but may I remind you that Paul, once Saul, had an encounter with Christ after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. God still uses people. God still has encounters with us. Why would He have ever stopped?

The God of the universe is longing to know and be known by us all, that none may perish.

Prayer Moment: Today, I offer up a two-fold challenge. First, if you are willing, invite God to know you. Let Him have access to your whole heart. Don’t just know Him through scripture, meet Him. Develop a real relationship with Him. Partner with Him throughout your entire day, not just your quiet time. Second, freely and in love, share the gospel with those around you. Don’t be afraid to pray for healing or release. Be bold. Our time is now. If not now, when? The world needs the true gospel today. You are the light of the world, let your light shine brightly.

Deeper Day 196: Justified through faith

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believer. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One Who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Romans 3:19-26

I think today is a good day to remember where we all began. It’s also good to remember what we have to offer the world.

The truth is none of us is righteous apart from Christ. He did it all. The truth is we were all sinners and have been saved by grace. The truth is none of us can boast because Christ did it all, we just said, “Yes.”

May we all remember where we came from and offer others who have yet to find a way out, a little grace. Let us also remember to be bold in our faith, unashamed. Let us remember that we may be the only person who will share the gospel of Christ with that stranger who we strike up a conversation with at the post office, or at Wal Mart. When I see the eyes of fear all around me, I become acutely aware that so many need Jesus.

Why can I walk through all the craziness of the world without being crippled with fear? Because I know Jesus. When you look at all the causes in the world and the mayhem the panic causes, it’s obvious that people fear largely because they don’t know that this world isn’t our forever home. As believers we know where we are going but imagine if you didn’t. You may feel very different about today.

A little grace and a lot of prayer and discernment is what we need in order to navigate this time, or any time for that matter. The fears of this world melt away in the presence of the Savior. Let’s share Him with the world today.

Prayer Moment: Thank You Jesus for Your sacrifice. Thank You for loving us enough to make a way. I thank You for Your perfect love that casts out all of my fear. Thank You that I can come to You anytime and for any reason. You are a perfect Father. Help me to love others. Help me to radiate confident love of You. I adore You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Deeper Day 195: Until All Have Heard

I’ve always loved the life and dramatic conversion of Paul, formerly Saul. But today while reading scripture, God instructed me to go read from Acts. And as I flipped over to it, I immediately came to the parts about Paul and his ministry. My spirit inside began to stir as God said to me, “This is how you should be behaving.” And “Riots are not new these have been happening forever.” Let’s read a little…

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So, Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Acts 19:8-10

One thing that stuck out to me about this scripture today was, Paul moved to preach in a different location, but he preached until ALL had heard. You read that right, ALL. In total he spent two years in this effort.

Now, let’s skip forward a bit…

It’s far too much to type today, so I ask, just this once for you to flip over to Acts 19:23-41 in your own Bible please. Read this section and then meet me back here…

So, basically, those who profited off making fake gods became angry with Paul because he threatened their livelihood, sound familiar to our present day? Then they started a riot in the city. They took over a theater and continued their uproar. Paul wanted to go face them but was repeatedly advised against it.

I want to highlight this one verse…

The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. Acts 19:32

Does this also sound familiar to our present day?

Listen, there is nothing new under the sun. We’ve been here before, on the earth. The heart is deceptive, as scripture tells us and a heart without Christ, what good can be in it? The world needs to know Jesus. America needs to know Jesus. This is the time.

I truly believe that many people who are in an uproar right now, over one thing or another, truly have no idea what they are actually upset about. They are just caught up in the momentum of the crowd. This is dangerous and very deceptive. The church, that’s you, must stand firm.

Prayer Moment: God, give me the courage to preach Your gospel. Instruct my tongue, so I can clearly communicate Who You are and why people need You. I long to be used by You. Forgive me of my sins and lead me down paths of righteousness. I am Yours. Completely. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Deeper Day 194: It only takes a spark

I remember an old hymn we used to sing when I was young.

It only takes a spark to get the fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it, you spread His love to everyone you want to pass it on.

This song kept going through my head the other day as I felt God press it into my heart. This is the answer, this is our theme song.

Oh God, that You would pour out Your love over the earth, over America. Come Lord and pour out Your love over us. Let it cascade over our hearts and so saturate us that we are motivated from it. Let it be our source. Let it guide us and protect us. Let us be pure of heart and mind. Like the apostles couldn’t help but preach the good news, let us be overcome as well.

Pour out a fresh revelation of Your love over America, from sea to shining sea. Let our churches become consumed by it and let it pour out from the pulpits. No longer let us follow a love from the world. A love that holds an agenda. A love that desires to control and suppress. A love that demands. A love that calls true love, hate. No!

Let us follow Your way of love, Father. A love that is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth, always protects, always trust, always hopes and perseveres. One that does not fail. Come Lord and establish us in this love. Let us reach up toward You to determine the way of love.

You were clear when You stated that in the end, evil would be called good and good would be called evil. This is that time. Help us to maintain true love, even when it’s misunderstood. Let us walk out love, even when it’s intimidated and persecuted. Let us walk in love, undeterred.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going. Let our spark come from the heart of love and let it consume all the other fires that have been set in America. Your holy fire, Lord let it come.

Prayer Moment: God, teach us the way of true love. Not perverted love as the world teaches, but real genuine love. Lord, lead us. We have no hope apart from You. Come and free us with Your love. Hold us in Your loving hand and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For this kingdom is Yours. The power is Yours. Forever and ever. In Jesus name, Amen.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And not these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Deeper Day 193: Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.             Proverbs 6:16-19

When I read over this list today, I could literally see people doing each one of these things. I saw faces of famous people and politicians. I saw people in communities. It struck my heart in a deep way.

I have read this list many times over the years, I am well acquainted with it, but never has it felt as relevant as it does today. When I read the list, I thought of all the people rushing out to riot, scream, destroy and demand. I thought of all the politicians who have rushed to devise schemes to infringe upon our American rights and human rights. I thought of all of those who commit abortions and shootings in cities across the country. I thought of all the bickering, both inside and out of the church. The race baiting, the denominational fighting, all of it. I thought of all the fake stories that are plastered across our TV screens and cellphones every single day.

Believers, it is time to separate from this type of behavior. It’s time to hold our individual selves accountable to godly behavior. I may not be able to control my neighbor, but I can use self-control in my own life. I may not be able to stop the lying from the media and politicians, but I can make sure I hold myself to a higher standard.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “What difference does it make?”. Friend, my answer is this, it always matters. Truth always matters. Humble hearts and glances always matter. We do not fight against flesh and blood, therefore, when we operate from Biblical principles we are fighting. We win wars on our knees. We wage battle with praise. Never forget who and Whose you are. No matter how demanding the world becomes, don’t give way to something that is simply untrue.

Just because a statement or movement is large, doesn’t mean it is true. There have been so many lies spoken lately, and each time I felt like maybe I should stand with a statement, God would immediately put His hand in front of me and caution me to remember that what I was hearing wasn’t actually truth. We must listen and be willing to stand in a posture that is opposite of others. Stand with hands raised to heaven and hearts turned toward true justice, not fake justice bent on control and degradation. For such a time as this, we were all created.

Prayer Moment: God, these times can feel so confusing. Even people I have trusted in spiritual matters for years seem to be pulled into some sort of cloud of deceit. Help me to stand with You, even if I am the only one left standing. I know when You are for me, nobody can stand against me. You are my gauge. Keep my heart pure and my mind clear so I can make it through. I commit to You, once again. You are my Refuge and Strength, an ever-present help in trouble. I love You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Deeper Day 192: Wisdom

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.  Proverbs 3:11-26

In the age of information overload, I believe it is supremely important to constantly remind myself where true wisdom comes from. Information does not equal wisdom. Remaining informed does not equal any sort of understanding. Wisdom and understanding are best used in tandem. The verses above highlight these principles.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

Wow. God is amazing. When we understand just how great He is and how sovereign He is, why would we want to find wisdom or understanding from any other source? The scripture further describes wisdom as this…

Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.

When we walk in wisdom, we walk in peace…no matter what. We are blessed when we hold onto wisdom. These truths are so very powerful.

When you need to know what is true, ask Him. When you can’t understand something, press into His heart. He is the only reliable source. He is the only One Who is not influenced by anything or anyone. His thoughts are so far beyond ours that nothing can sway them in one direction or another.

Now is the time to fall back into full reverence of Who our God truly is.

Prayer Moment: God, You alone know the beginning and the end. Help me to trust You. Help me to get my news from You alone. Hold my heart close so that it is not lead astray. You are my God. You are the One I can count on. Speak wisdom and understanding to my heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Deeper Day 191: Proverbs 4:18-19

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. Proverbs 4:18-19

When we chose what path to take in life, we should ask these questions…Does my path feel full of light? Is it clear and does it have the feeling of fullness and hope? Or does it seem heavy? Is the path covered in fear, anger, bitterness and resentment?

These may seem like overly obvious and basic questions but honestly, we must make ourselves think these things through regularly. Before embarking on a new part of your journey through life, ask yourself what is motivating your steps.

We are all motivated by something. It’s so important to know what it is.

This is a great time to pause and reflect. Look at the last 5 years of your life and ask yourself, “How did I get where I am today?” Have I been walking out purpose or wounding? Ouch, that question can hurt, but it is so necessary.

Today, I encourage you to take a really honest assessment of what motivates your steps.

If you realize that negative things have predominantly guided you, then I encourage you to take a minute and repent to God and ask Him to reset your leading. Ask Him to heal the broken parts of your heart so you can begin again. It’s not too late.

If you realize that you have been moving in the tempo of the Holy Spirit, then I encourage you to thank God for leading you and commit to continue walking out trust with Him. It’s good when we realize we’ve been on the righteous path, but we must never become complacent lest we fall away from it.

Prayer Moment: God, wrap me is such thick light that I am unable to fall into the path that leads to destruction. Guide my every step and help me to continue to partner with Hope. You are Hope. Help me to not be drawn into the hopelessness of the world. Fill me with joy. God, my joy has been low lately. Refill my heart with the joy of my salvation. Help me to always be aware of my heart and help me to tend to it so that I can walk the way I know You desire me to walk. Full of joy. Bursting with hope. A beacon of light to this dark world. I am Yours. In Jesus name, Amen.

O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in- behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Psalm 139:1-5

 

Deeper Day 190: Just Keep Swimming

Over the last few days, I have heard Dory from “Finding Nemo” singing those words above, “Just keep swimming.” Remember how she helped lead Nemo back toward his father by singing this tune. As simple and silly as it is, I think maybe this is what you need to hear today.

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”

With all the media hype trying to stir up one fire after another, I know life can begin to feel so heavy. With some prophetic voices speaking out things that offer no hope, it can seem like continuing to walk out regular life is futile. That’s exactly how the enemy wants you to feel. He is best served when the body of Christ is left hunkering in their closets, refusing to engage with daily life because the end is near. That is not what God desires from us though.

When I have gone to God and asked Him, “What now? How do you want me to be living?” His answer has remained the same, “Keep living and doing, until.”

I refuse to stop living and planning for the future. Living paralyzed by fear and apprehension is not God’s best for me. In fact, during this covid time I have begun to look further into the future than ever before. Now I have been setting my sights on the much more distant future than I was. This is walking in line with God’s plan for my life. He desires for me to continue taking ground, until.

It is certain, one day our Savior will return for us, but nobody knows when that day will be. So, until it comes, we should “just keep swimming”. I don’t want Him to come back and find me hiding, I want Him to find me living!

Lean into whatever it is God is doing in your life and keep moving forward with it. Sure, you may feel scared or even hopeless sometimes, but never let those feelings hang on. Keep looking to Him and His comfort and He will lead you through everything.

Prayer Moment: God, when I am afraid, then I trust in You. Help me to never yield my life to fear. Lead me further and further into Your heart and into service for You, and help me to not be afraid or paralyzed by what I see happening in the world. Help me to not waste time worrying about things that I cannot change or affect. Help me. Give me courage. I adore You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One Who sustains me. Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in Your faithfulness destroy them. I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good. For He has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.               Psalm 54:4-7

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, Whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?  Psalm 56:3-4