Archive for August, 2011

Be Alert To Your Enemy

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, August 31, 2011

 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.                – 1 Peter 5:8-9

 I have had many friends over the years who have been set free from drug addiction, but unfortunately, some of them have fallen back into the same behaviors which led them into that bondage. They were free, but they did not remain vigilant and alert to the enemy of their soul.

Jesus warned his followers to be alert to a number of potential dangers. He warned them to beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15); beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1); be alert to greed (Luke 12:15). He also spoke of the enemy coming in the night and sowing weeds among the wheat. All of this adds up to warning people not to succumb to a lackadaisical attitude.

The Apostle Paul warned us to be careful lest we be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies which project the traditions and principles of this world rather than the teachings of Christ (Colossians 2:8).

Not long ago I led a man in the sinners prayer and he was really touched by the Spirit of God. He was immediately changed, you could see it in his face. For about three weeks he was at every meeting and was very happy. Then he began to give more attention to the world around him than to his need to continue in his new-found relationship with Christ. Now he is not interested in going to meetings or being exposed to the Scripture.

This man was lulled into thinking that just because he had started his journey of faith that he didn’t need to go any further. I have known many people who have done the same thing. They start well, but they slowly drift back into the life they were earlier trying to escape.

Jesus and the other writers of the New Testament warn us again and again to be alert to the deceptive philosophies of the world and of the deception of our own heart. We must be vigilant and alert to the attempts of the enemy to destroy us.

 Prayer: Lord, Help me to be alert to the deception of my enemy.

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God Hs Given Us Creativity

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, August 30, 2011

 Hi is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created… For in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. – Colossians 1:15-16, 2:9-10

 Some have said that whatever the mind of man can conceive he can achieve. I am not so sure that is totally true, but I am convinced that God has given man a creative imagination so that he is not bound by instinct and inborn behavior as the animals are. Man was created in the very image of God and has abilities which rise far above the animal kingdom.

Genesis teaches us that man was created in the image of God, but man fell from grace in the Garden and lost his god-likeness. Then Jesus, Emmanuel was born. He certainly was God with us (meaning of Emmanuel). He was that and more.

Jesus is the very image of the invisible God. One of the purposes of Christ is to restore man to being the image of God through faith in him. The fullness of God in bodily form rests in Christ, but Christ has ascended to heaven; so where is the image of God now? Look at the verse above: “In Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.”

That’s right. God has given us fullness of the same Spirit which was in Christ. We are given the same creativity as Christ. We have been empowered to do the will of God on earth today. He has given us the Spirit of creativity.

Now, don’t get crazy with this and go out trying to hurl worlds into existence. That’s not what we’re talking about. But, God has given us the creativity to accomplish his will on earth. Where God’s will requires more than man can accomplish then he gives us creativity to get the job done.

Jesus told us that those who are believers will have divine power to heal, restore and yes, to raise the dead (Mark 16:17-18).

 Prayer: Lord grant me the grace to fulfill the Spirit of Christ on earth by releasing Holy Spirit creativity. In Jesus name, amen.

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Let Compassion Move You to Action

Daily God Walk for Monday, August 29, 2011

  Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” – Matthew 15:32

 I have found eight times when it was said that Jesus had compassion on someone or a group of people and every time his compassion compelled him to take action.

It seems to be a characteristic of the Greek word splagchnon (translated compassion) that it moves a person to action. Splagchmon literally means that ones bowels yearn for something. In the places where it is mentioned of Jesus he feels compelled to take positive action on the cause of his compassion. In one case he feeds the multitude, in another he heals a leper and another he heals a blind man.

The Apostle Paul calls believers to have the same compassion as Christ had. In Philippians 2 he writes, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (v1-2).

Again Paul writes to the church at Colossae, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). If we are clothed with compassion we are being moved to toward helping others at their point of need.

I would encourage you to begin to develop compassion for people of less means than yourself. You might ask how you can do that. Take the first step by just observing people around you. Look into their eyes and look closely at their faces. You will begin to see people as Jesus saw them.

The next step is to speak to that homeless person, or the person down the street. Give them a smile and share yourself with them. Then begin to make a list of people you know who have great need (if you don’t know any, look around there are plenty of them). Finally, pray that list until you begin to be moved with compassion as Christ was moved.

Then do something about their need.

 Prayer: Lord, give me compassion for people of great need.

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Taking Decisive Action

Daily God Walk for Sunday, August 28, 2011

 From the time of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. – Matthew 11:12

Old Testament prophets spoke of a time when the Messiah would rule the nations with a rod of iron. The Jews looked for a Messiah who would, with great force, establish kingdom rule. Jesus was responding to that concept in this passage.

John the Baptist was in prison and he had sent his disciples to determine if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Jesus sent them back to John with the message, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (v4-6).

These were all signs that would accompany the Messiah and Jesus not only wanted to comfort John that his work was done, the Messiah, or the Christ had come, but he wanted to inform the people of the same truth. He was the expected Messiah.

Then he addresses the idea of the Messiah establishing a kingdom by forcefully conquering his enemies. However, the violence, or forcefulness he referred to was the battle which raged in the spirit realm. Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing,” or as the KJV reads, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence.”

God was establishing his kingdom on earth through Jesus the Christ and there was in fact war raging in the heavenlies. The forces of God for good and the forces of Satan for evil. Then Jesus concludes that forceful men enter this battle and move forward with the kingdom of God. That requires decisive action.

The kingdom of heaven is still forcefully advancing and forceful, decisive, men and women are still joining this battle. God is looking for people of character who will fully commit to this war of the spirit and move forward with his kingdom. All he asks of us is to take decisive action and join the fray. Are you up to it?

 Prayer: God, grant me the strength of will to take decisive action.

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Be Kind and Compassionate

Daily God Walk for Saturday, August 27, 2011

 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:30-32

 The Greek word translated compassionate is an interesting word. It is  eusplagchnos and means compassionate or tenderhearted. It comes from two Greek words; “eu” meaning “good” and “splagchnon” which means “spleen” or “intestine.” Literally eusplagchnos means good, or healthy intestines.

The poetic, or metaphoric, application is to have good feelings and intentions toward another, or others. In other words to be compassionate or tenderhearted.

When we view this command, and it is a command (“Be kind and compassionate”), in the context of the paragraph in which it was written we can more clearly see Paul’s intention in writing it. He begins in verse 29 with, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,” and he contrasts that with, “but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” He is talking about how we think, speak and act toward others.

In this context he tells us that our attitude toward others affects our relationship with the Holy Spirit. He makes it clear that if we have un- reconciled anger toward others we are grieving the Holy Spirit.

Have you noticed how difficult it is to enter into a worshipful spirit when your inner person, your intestines as it were, is disturbed by emotions of anger or anxiety? To effectively be in good relationship with God we must be eusplagchnos, tenderhearted, compassionate to others.

Paul is specifically applying this principle to times when others have offended us and what our attitude should be toward them. He calls us to be forgiving to others just as Christ has forgiven us.  That is a hard saying, but it is true: we must forgive others and be tenderhearted toward them or we will not have a freedom to worship in the Spirit and to minister with Holy Spirit anointing. 

 Prayer: God, grant me the grace to be tenderhearted toward those who have been offensive toward me. In Jesus name, amen.

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Divine Truth is Spiritually Discerned

Daily God Walk for Friday, August 26, 2011

 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

 I have been intrigued by the way secular media treats religious faith; particularly when they are referring to Christians. They seem to think Christians, and other religious people, live two lives in separate compartments. There is the religious life where people  practice their faith in designated places and at specific times. Then there is the rest of their life that is unaffected by their faith.

The reason they approach religion that way is because man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. Spiritual things are foolishness to them and they cannot understand them. Why is that? Because spiritual truth can only be revealed by the Spirit of God.

Some have compared discernment to wisdom and there are some similarities, but discernment is deeper than wisdom. A person who is sensitive to the Holy Spirit will discern motives of others and will be led by God to avoid the pitfalls set before them by the enemy of their soul.

Wisdom seems to be the ability to properly respond to the truth we have discerned. What I mean by that is when we have discerned something in the Holy Spirit about a person or a situation and we feel compelled to respond to it. Wisdom comes to play in the way we respond to what we have been through spiritual discernment.

In the verses which come before the verse for our devotion today Paul tells the Corinthians, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” We are taught spiritual truth by spiritual words. That is what distinguishes those who stand outside and try to explain faith from those who are inside experiencing faith.

 Prayer: Lord, first I ask that you will give me discernment and then give me divine wisdom is applying spiritual truth. Amen.

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Come to Jesus All Who Are Weary

Daily God Walk for Thursday, August 25, 2011

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

 When I read these words of Christ I am reminded of a poem by Emma Lazarus in 1883. She wrote “New Colossus” about the Statue of Liberty which stands on Liberty Island over looking New York Harbor. In part the poem reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

For many years immigrants entering the United States were processed in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty at nearby Ellis Island. There, in the distance, they could see that world renowned symbol of liberty offering them hope for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Jesus was offering that, and so much more. He was not only offering opportunity, but he was offering rest and comfort as well. He knows the stresses of life we face and he knows that for most of us life brings burdens too heavy to be born alone. That is why he says, “Take my yoke upon you.” The idea of taking his yoke is not that a burden would be placed upon us but it is so that when we are put into the yoke with him he pulls the load so we can rest.

After inviting us to put our burdens upon him he says, “and learn from me.” What are we to learn from him? We are to learn that he is gentle and humble. That is significant for many of us because so often when we have reached out for help from others we have been met with harsh words and judgment. But Jesus calls, “Come to me, I am gentle and humble. I will help bear your load.”

Have the burdens of your life gotten heavy? Are you struggling beneath a load so big you don’t feel like you can make it? Turn it over to Jesus. He is calling today, “Come to me all you who are tired, poor, homeless, and weary and I will give you rest.” Can you feel his gentle hand upon you as he fastens you into his yoke?

 Prayer: Thank you for the rest, and hope that is in your yoke.

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He Who Has Ears – Let Him Hear

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 He who has ears, let him hear. “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”  – Matthew 11:15-17

 Jesus made an interesting comparison between the people of his day and children wanting to play, but they wanted to play their way. It’s almost like the proverbial child who brings the ball into the game and says, “Let me play according to my rules or I will take my ball and go home.”

The Message gives a pretty clear picture of what Jesus was trying to say. “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riff-raff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating” (Matthew 11:16-19 The Message).

Jesus prefaced this analogy with, “He who has ears, let him hear.” What was it he wanted them to hear? He had just shown the disciples of John the Baptist proof that he was the one John had been telling them would come. He concluded that portion of his teaching with, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. ” (v12-13).

He seems to be trying to tell them that it is past time to be playing around. Don’t be children waiting for the next game to play; It is time to be people of force and power! Grab hold of the kingdom as it grows by and be prepared for the ride of your life.

I am convinced this is his message today. Listen to his words; hear what he is saying and become men and women filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and with the force of committed conviction.

 Prayer: Lord, give me the force of conviction to believe your words.

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Fear God Rather Than Man

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, August 23, 2011

 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.                              – Matthew 10:28

 Fear can be a life controlling condition. Some people are afflicted with fear of heights and are terrified when they are in a multistoried building. Some people are afraid to go out in public and spend years behind locked doors and shuttered windows. Fear of the unknown and unseen can freeze us into inactivity.

When Jesus tells us to fear God he is not talking about that kind of fear. He is talking about having the same kind of fear of as we do of law enforcement officers. If we break the law we are afraid that we are going to get caught and have to suffer the consequences, but if we do not break the law we aren’t fearful of arrest. Even though we may not break the law we  consciously respect the authority of law enforcement. That is what Jesus means when he talks about fearing God.

On the other hand Jesus is telling us that we should not fear man. He has been teaching his disciples about the rejection they would encounter by those who would not receive their message. He has warned them that they would be imprisoned and beaten because of their message, but they must not allow their fear of the consequences affect their commitment to preaching the message of the kingdom.

 We can make a personal application of this passage to our own like as a believer. We cannot allow our concern for the way others perceive us to affect the way live as believers, unless, of course, our concern is that our life will be less than a reflection of the grace of God. I’m not talking about that fear here.

We may become involved in the office gossip because we don’t people to think we are stuck up. Or we may partake in off color conversations because we don’t others to think we are prudish. The list is long of ways in which we might show fear of man over fear of God and we would do well to examine what motivates us to do the things we do.

Our fear of God should be a healthy respect for the authority he posses as the Lord Almighty. And that healthy respect should keep our behaviors in check so that we don’t have to fear him as the enforcer.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to trust you love and fear your judgment.

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Be Shrewd As Snakes and Innocent as Doves

Daily God Walk Monday, August 22, 2011

 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men. – Matthew 10:16-17

 In this chapter of Matthew Jesus is sending his disciples out to minister throughout Judea. He is telling them to go from town to town healing, freeing people from their demons and preaching the kingdom of heaven is near.

He tells them to stay where they are welcomed, but if they are rejected they are to move on to the next place. Jesus tells them that if a house or a town rejects them that it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Then he begins to warn them of the dangers of they will face as they go preaching the message of the kingdom. He gives them fair warning that they are being sent as sheep among the wolves. They can expect to be turned over to the temple soldiers and be flogged in their synagogues (v17).

It is in this context that Jesus tells his disciples to be shrewd like snakes, but to be innocent like doves. What did he mean by being as shrewd as a snake? A characteristic of snakes is that you seldom know they are there until they strike. Snakes do not snarl and bark like a dog, or roar like a lion but the first sign that they are near is often when their fangs sink into your flesh.

It isn’t the attack of the snake Jesus is calling them to duplicate but it is the stealth of the snake. He is telling his disciples to be very wise in how they teach about the kingdom so that their preaching will have its greatest impact.

That admonition about snakes is countered by the instruction to maintain innocence even in the face of severe trial. Jesus was telling them to expect to be persecuted and questioned. He also told them that Holy Spirit would be with them and would speak through them, but it was required that they trust him in an innocent sort of way.

This passage calls us to examine the wisdom with which we speak about the kingdom and to examine whether we maintain the innocent nature of Holy Spirit when we present the gospel.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace of wisdom coupled with innocence.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

Messages of inspiration for the journey of faith

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