Word on Wednesday

Playing in the Sand

“ . . . But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:12
In case this is news to you, let me make something very clear: Satan knows he has been defeated. You should know it too.
In the great battle between good and evil, victory has already been declared in heaven. Satan and his demons have been cast down to the earth and rendered powerless by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:7-11).
You and I aren’t waiting to see who wins this thing, dear one. It’s been decided. Now we wait to see the victory God accomplished in heaven realized on this earth.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind you how Jesus taught us to pray.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
The enemy knows full well that one day his defeat will become abundantly evident here on earth as well. So in the meantime, he has set his fury on the one thing that can hinder his movement and power here. He comes with a vengeance against Christ’s bride, the church.
Why? Because of what Jesus declared in Matthew 16:18.
“ . . . and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Notice that Jesus didn’t say that hell would not prevail against Him. He clearly states that His church will secure the victory, a church built on this rock.
It seems appropriate to ask a significant question: Upon what rock will Christ build His prevailing church?
Let’s check the context of Jesus’ statement. He had just asked His […]

The Full Rights of Sons

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Galatians 4:1 ESV
A few weeks ago, our opening scripture took hold of me in my quiet time. I haven’t been able to let go of it. I don’t think Jesus wants me to.
You see, you and I are children of God—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)— entitled to the full riches of our inheritance upon maturity.
But we have refused to grow up. So we’re living as slaves instead of heirs.
Jesus wants to see us live out the riches of our inheritance. He lovingly demonstrated this to a woman suffering under a disabling spirit.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. Luke 13:10-13
Take a moment to picture the woman with me. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself (verse 11).
Perhaps the image hits a little close to home. Have you known oppression so heavy it seemed you couldn’t straighten under its weight? I have. And I experienced it as a believer.
I need you to notice something about this woman. She didn’t approach Jesus for her healing. He called her to Him.
I wonder, dear one. Had she so resolved herself to her situation that it didn’t even occur to […]

You’re Not Who You Think You Are

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
My heart hurts for the body of Christ. We’re going to church and doing our best to put on the joy of Jesus. But the vast majority of believers I encounter aren’t living out the victory God promises in His Word. We feel crushed under the weight of oppression, and sometimes our lives seem more marked by defeat than the lost we’re trying to save.
Something’s wrong with that picture, if you ask me. Very wrong.
You and I are supposed to be living, breathing, shining examples of what the power of God can do in a life. So what’s keeping us from the inheritance scripture claims is ours?
I can offer a guess. I think it’s the same thing that kept the Israelites from theirs.
So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19
Simple unbelief has sabotaged Christ’s church and kept us in a state of perpetual defeat.
Please don’t misunderstand me. It isn’t that we don’t believe in what Jesus did for us on the cross. The problem is we’ve misunderstood how to apply it to our lives right now. We rejoice over future promises, but we’ve allowed an unseen enemy to convince us that we can’t really expect to see the promises of God’s Word realized in this lifetime.
And that’s where we find ourselves caught, beloved. Stuck in limbo because we believe the wrong words. We’ve allowed the enemy’s whispers to override God’s Word, and […]

Releasing the River

Righteousness will go before Him and make His footsteps a way. Psalm 85:13 (ESV)
It’s that time again. January rolls around each year with an invitation to take stock of our lives. And the same question raises a hopeful challenge. What can I do differently this year that will make my life better?
We have great intentions . . . and usually less than great results.
Not this year. Not for me, anyway. This year I have high expectations, because I’m basing my resolutions on believing God, not on my own works. And faith—real, present, active, living faith—ushers us into the grace and power of God.
Through him [Jesus] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2
I could stand to witness a little glory, couldn’t you?
Last week we looked at God’s promise to pour out water on a thirsty land. My heart leapt to see so many people acknowledge their thirst! We desperately need God to release the river of life.
As we join together to pray for His outpouring, I challenge you to consider another important truth revealed in our opening scripture.
Righteousness will go before Him and make His footsteps a way. Psalm 85:13
It reminds me of Hebrews 12:14 (NIV).
Make every effort . . . to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Whether we desire to embrace it or not, righteousness marks the path of glory. If we want to see God pour out on our thirsty land, we’ve got to get on with the business of letting Him sanctify us.
Perhaps you’ll be a little more excited about it when I show you why. You, dear one, […]

A New Kind of Thirst

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Today marks the final day of 2014.
I wonder, dear one. Was your year what you had hoped it would be? As you look ahead to 2015, are you filled with hopeful expectation? Or do you dread another year approaching with the same disappointments and struggles that plagued you last year?
I’m feeling decidedly hopeful about what may come in 2015. Not because of any resolutions or plans that I’ve made, but because I know a God who keeps His Word.
“Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.” Isaiah 44:2-4
Here’s why I feel so hopeful, dear one. I’m thirsty.
A longing stirs deep within my soul for more of Jesus. I am not satisfied with where I’ve been; He hasn’t allowed me to be. I long to see Him reveal Himself more fully. My soul thirsts for His living water and cries for Him to pour it forth.
And that’s why I feel so hopeful. Because Isaiah 44:3 promises that God will pour water on the thirsty land. And I’m thirsty.
Are you thirsty, dear one?
I pray that you are. You see, God will not pour water on a land that doesn’t recognize its […]

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
What’s your favorite part of the Christmas story? Is it Mary’s response to a visiting angel? Or perhaps the terrified shepherds tending their flock who found themselves surrounded by the glory of the Lord? I love the image of Magi from the east bowing and presenting costly gifts to a toddler King. If you let them, the details surrounding the birth of Jesus inspire awe and wonder.
I’d like to spend some time with you today treasuring one of those details found in our opening Scripture, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Have you considered the significance of that phrase?
Perhaps you were not aware that the birth of God’s Son—the Word—came on the heels of four hundred years of silence from God.
That may seem of little consequence to you. Maybe you’ve lived your whole life expecting God’s silence because that’s all you’ve known. But the overwhelming truth revealed in Scripture is that God speaks to His created. He talked with Adam and Eve in the garden after He gave them life, and our first glimpse of Him after they sinned reveals a striking picture of God’s heart.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
Do you see it, dear one? Even after they sinned, God came […]

Waiting on Dueling Angels

But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. Psalm 38:15 ESV
God answers prayer. I love the certainty of that promise.
But our opening scripture also reveals another truth: We often have to wait for that answer.
The waiting frustrates most of us. In this world of instant gratification, often God’s movement seems a bit slow. But what if it isn’t God that’s keeping you from your answer?
Today we will glimpse two prayers from a gatekeeper, a man whose prayers released God’s deliverance on this earth. You’ve probably heard of him. His name is Daniel.
Our friend Daniel is most famous for having survived a den of lions, but that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. Today we’ll see how he served the people of God as a watchman, discerning God’s Word and releasing His will through prayer.
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:2
Daniel lived in Babylon, the result of Israel being carried off into captivity because sin had removed God’s covering of protection. Jeremiah had warned them in advance of their exile, declaring they would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.
Daniel realized those 70 years were coming to a close and it was time for God to deliver His people once more. So, he put on his party hat and waited to see God move.
Well, not exactly. He did precisely what Elijah did last week when God had revealed His will. He prayed.
Then I turned my face […]

God Chooses to Need You

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
God never moves without partnering with people. Yep, that’s what I said.
The enemy would have us believe that God will just do what He wants to do anyway so you and I don’t have to pay attention. We can just do what we want.
But that isn’t what scripture demonstrates. I challenge you to find an occurrence in God’s Word where He intervened to bring deliverance without involving people—either by acts of faith or through prayer.
Even the birth of Jesus involved human cooperation. A betrothed virgin heard the word of the Lord proclaimed through the angel Gabriel and became an earthly conduit of God’s power as her heart came into agreement with God.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
God doesn’t move without involving people. He can, but He chooses not to. Instead, He waits for willing vessels who will cooperate with Him to release His power.
A few weeks ago, we discovered why that is. God gave dominion of the earth to man, and He never goes back on His Word.
What does that mean for you and me, dear one?
We will see God move as we listen at His gates, discern what He is speaking, and agree with Him through prayer and obedient faith. When we do that, we become gatekeepers (John 10:3), releasing the will and power of God to intervene on this earth.
That’s the authority God gave to man before the fall, and that Christ bought back for the church through […]

Living the Difference

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18 ESV
My world looks and feels a little different these days.
My family and I just returned from a week in Jeremie, Haiti where we served alongside Haiti Bible Mission over our boys’ Thanksgiving break.

I have never witnessed such a glaring contrast in my surroundings. Nestled amid God’s glorious display of some of the best He has given us— amazing turquoise seas, lush jungle landscapes and rolling green mountains—bare feet walked dusty roads littered with trash, and half dressed children played in the streets, hungry for both food and attention.
My heart broke for them.
But then again, I had prayed before I ever boarded that plane to cross the sea that God would pierce my heart and open my eyes to see the people of Haiti like He sees them.
I had asked for it, and still it caught me by surprise.
The first time we stepped out of the truck and began walking down the street along the poverty stricken waterfront, a wave of emotion swept over me with such force, I had to ask God to strengthen me to keep on walking without tears.
Oh, how He loves them! My heart swelled with compassion. His compassion.
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5
God sees those people the same way He sees you and me. He […]

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV
A smile lurks at the corners of my eyes when I ponder our opening scripture.
As a child I memorized Psalm 100 in song, an upbeat chorus proclaiming the truths of the verses and then breaking into a refrain. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, Jesus…Praise God… Thank you, Jesus…”
I still can’t read the words without inserting them into the tune. I guess there’s something to be said about the power of a melody. After almost 40 years, I can still remember the whole Psalm.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Granted, Psalm 100 only has five verses. But when I learned them, I was only six.
Still, just knowing the words won’t do anything for me if I don’t understand them and live by them. So what does Psalm 100 really teach us?
Let’s take a few moments to read it together, pondering its truths. After all, it bears the subtitle A Psalm for Giving Thanks and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It may help us shift our gratitude in the right direction.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Oh, how I love the Word of God! My soul yearns for truth and my heart swells when […]