Word on Wednesday

Whose Side Are You On?

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Joshua 5:13 ESV
We all want God on our side. In fact, we often claim He is without ever bothering to ask Him. We assume we have the power of His Name behind us, fighting for what we believe.
But the real question, dear one, isn’t whether God stands on our side. It’s whether we stand on His.
Joshua discovered that when he faced the commander of God’s army outside Jericho. The question left his lips in hopeful anticipation. “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” His response brought Joshua to his knees.
And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” Joshua 5:14
Essentially the angel told him, “I’m not for you or your enemy. I fight for the Lord.” In that moment Joshua humbly asked the only question he could ask, the one each of us should be asking.
“What does my lord say to his servant?”
You and I want to be on God’s side, beloved. When we are, we have the full power of His might behind us. Joshua’s trust in God’s words collapsed the walls of an impenetrable city, giving the people of Israel their first victory in their Promised Land. Our trust in God’s words will secure our victories as well.
But look at what happens when we […]

Proven and True

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV
Our human nature seeks the quick fix. We want the path of least resistance, the easy way out. So we’ve convinced ourselves that walking an aisle or praying a magic prayer ensures our salvation.
But what if there’s more? What if 1 Corinthians 4:2 actually means what it says?
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (NIV)
Beloved, what if professing faith in Jesus Christ is more than just a simple, one-time commitment? What if what matters most isn’t how we begin but how we finish?
Consider Paul’s words to Timothy, found in our opening scripture.
If we endure, we will also reign with him.
Jesus also declared on two separate occasions while describing the difficulties that will come in the world,
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22, 24:13
The writer of Hebrews agreed.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36
Do you notice the consistent theme popping up in these verses, beloved? You and I need to endure. It doesn’t matter how sincere we thought we were when we started. Even Judas appeared sincere to the other disciples. What matters is how we finish the race.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Paul didn’t write those words for his own benefit, dear one. The Holy Spirit […]

A Distinct Salvation

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 ESV
The world keeps changing.
And society continues to redefine itself right along with it. Yet in the midst of our continually evolving world, one thing remains constant.
“I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3:6
As much as you and I may feel inclined to redefine God to suit who we want Him to be, He doesn’t change. And scripture is clear. Though everything else may fade away, His Word will endure. Eventually, it will prove itself true, and no one will be able to deny it.
So you and I have a choice to make, dear one. Will we draw near to God, stand on His Word, and reap the blessings of the faithful? Or will we allow society to redefine our beliefs and suffer the consequences?
That’s right. Turning our backs on God’s Word will bring consequences. Always. They may not be immediate, but they always come. That’s why Jesus told the deceiver,
“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Did you catch that, dear one? Jesus said every word. If you and I want to really live, we need to trust what God says.
You see, whether or not it’s presently popular to believe it, God’s Word remains true. Infallible. Flawless. And not just the convenient parts or the scriptures that suit our agendas. It’s all true.
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. Psalm 119:160, emphasis mine
Partial truth deceives, dear one. We need the whole of it. And that’s what has brought us so much trouble. We’ve tried to […]

A Perfect Promise

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
I realize I may have already lost you with our opening scripture. Perfect is a far too potent word. We’re comfortable using it to describe our Savior and what awaits us in heaven, but we certainly don’t want to apply it to us in the here and now.
And yet, the words before us emerged from Jesus’ lips during His Sermon on the Mount.
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48, emphasis mine
Yep. Jesus said it. Right after He instructed us to love our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. … For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:43-46, emphasis mine
According to Jesus, anyone can love those who love in return. Sons and daughters of God, however, will also love their enemies. And not just love them, but advocate for them through prayer. Then He sums up His teaching with a charge to be perfect, in the same way that our heavenly Father is perfect.
That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think? Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant perfect. After all, perfection is impossible, an unattainable goal.
Perhaps this is a good time to ponder another of Jesus’ statements.
“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23
Beloved, what we find impossible, Jesus makes possible.

And He commands us to love perfectly—not just our friends, but our […]

Blessing the Overcomer

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
Hmmm. God allows trials in our lives to test how genuine our faith is.
Perhaps you don’t find that thought particularly comforting. After all, who really looks forward to going through trials? And let’s be honest. Testing our faith doesn’t seem like a very kind thing for God to do.
But here’s something to consider, beloved. What if God allows those trials as a direct result of His merciful love toward us? After all, our opening scripture reveals that various trials will grieve us if necessary. The wording suggests that if we didn’t need them, we wouldn’t have them.
Think it through with me, dear one. God already knows whether or not our faith is genuine, so He doesn’t test our faith for His benefit. That leaves only one possibility. He allows trials so that we can see how genuine our faith is.
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words to Peter on the night of His arrest.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you […]

Passing the Test

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Scripture calls us to examine ourselves. For what purpose? To make sure our faith is genuine.
I don’t know about you, but I find that thought pretty sobering. After all, faith saves us and ushers us into the kingdom of God. If our faith isn’t genuine, dear one, we can’t claim the promises that come through it.
Heaviness grips my heart for the body of Christ. Half-truths and deceptions have woven their way into our theology. If we allow them to remain, beloved, I fear it will cost us dearly.
Take a moment to ponder Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus said the way that leads to life is hard, and few actually find it.
Yet the message often heard from our pulpits suggests something else. “It’s easy to come to Jesus. You just have to pray a simple prayer inviting Him into your heart, and it’s done.”
I wonder, dear one. Why would Jesus tell us it’s hard if it’s so easy?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that anything other than faith in Jesus Christ ushers us into eternal life with the Father. I’m suggesting that you and I ought to be certain we know what that means.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the […]

Salty Streams

Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 2 Chronicles 13:5 NIV
I recently enjoyed a sweet time with Jesus in this very spot. Beautiful, isn’t it? I always somehow feel especially close to Him by the sea.
And this particular morning, a gentle but steady breeze blew the hair from my face while the sun cast its warmth upon it. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and lift my face toward heaven.
Blessings of praise soared from my lips to God’s ears, followed by fervent intercession. You may not have realized it at the time, but you were there with me. Unseen faces filled my thoughts with urgent need.
God means to awaken His church, dear one. And you and I are the church.
Something occurred to me as I sat there with Jesus inviting Him to merge my heart with His. You see, while I cried out to Him for you and His kingdom purpose, tears fell. Many tears.
Eventually I tasted them. And a new thought emerged about what’s found in them.
Salt.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13
Jesus declared that you and I are salt, dear one. And He cared a great deal about whether we reveal and display our saltiness. In fact without saltiness, He said we have no use except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
Are you feeling trampled, beloved? Perhaps it’s symptomatic of an absence of salt.
I wonder. Have you and […]

Love in Action

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 
It’s time we awaken, dear ones.
Prosperity has lulled the western church into a false sense of security. We visit our beautiful buildings on Sundays to hear a message from the pulpit and to thank God for His provision. Then we return to our homes where we work diligently to build our own kingdoms.
And all around us evil surfaces. People are beheaded. Women are sold. Children bear children. It doesn’t touch us personally, so we pause in indignation at the news and then return to what matters in our own lives.
Meanwhile, Jesus’ call rings forth, carried on the breath of His Spirit.
“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Where is the prevailing church of Jesus Christ?
I fear she has been sleeping. And if she continues to sleep, evil will soon find its way to our own doors.
Jesus calls us to wake, beloved.
“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:1-2
Will you wake with me before it’s too late, dear one? Will you rise in love that acts?
Today I share Ann Voskamp’s words from a recent post after visiting Iraq. As you read them, I ask you to open your heart and seek God’s face. It’s time we feel what He feels and start doing what He would do.
Blessings, dear one.

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