Have Faith Don't Worry

on 6/29/2010

Recently my wife and I have been going through a rather difficult situation. We lost our jobs and our former company is going under. We are short-selling our house. My wife is six months pregnant with our first child. We didn’t have company insurance so our medical bills are $1,000.00 per month. We need many things, and we sort of need them now.

Have you ever been in such a situation? I imagine you have. Now the issue becomes how we go through this time. I’m not saying I’m in the wilderness and I’m not saying that my own mistakes caused this situation. I’ve sought God and I firmly believe that this is a change of season. When the brook dried up God told Elijah to go to the widow. God always supplies everything we need, but sometimes the resource He uses changes. I’m here to encourage you if you are in a difficult time, and I want to discuss appropriate attitudes while in the trenches.

It’s been over three months now since we lost our jobs. I’ve spent many days fired up in faith, and I’ve spent many days frustrated. Some days the next place feels like it’s almost here. Some days I feel I have no idea what to do. I know you’ve been there, whatever you’re going through. Maybe you have a medical situation and healing just hasn’t appeared. Maybe you have a family situation that never seems to improve.

But God has taught me some awesome principles during this time. I can’t be down in the dumps, I can’t be discouraged, I can’t be downtrodden. No, I can’t see the next place now, but I know it’s coming. No, I don’t see the next job now, but I know God has it for me. I tell you that now is the time for patience, now is the time for faith, hope and love. Now is when God is watching and sees your faith. How will you respond?

Let’s be honest. We know that sitting around upset or angry will get us nowhere. We must first examine our faith. Remember that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Without faith you won’t receive anything from God (James 1:6-7). Faith is the key. If your faith is not intact, you cannot be assured you will move forward. If you do and your faith isn’t right, it’s only because of God’s mercy and grace. But I’m going to have those with my faith. When God looks at me I want Him to see ever-increasing, unshakeable faith.

So how is your faith? Don’t tell me your faith is good if you are angry or upset? Don’t tell me you’re walking by faith if you’re out of church and God’s presence.

Now is the time for boldness. Now is the time for unspeakable joy. This is where you show God that it doesn’t matter what goes on in the world, you trust Him. In the world you will have trouble, but Jesus overcame the world. And what victory overcomes the world, even our faith. Right now this world seems to be experiencing one crazy situation after another. But you can rise above all that. I know you want to be there now, have it now, do it now, but it just doesn’t work like that.

By faith and patience we inherit the promises. Cast not away your confidence which has a great recompense of reward. Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made none to God. Don’t use vain repetitions; your Father knows what you need before you even ask. Only seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything you need will be added unto you.

What an encouraging group of verses. Right now get fired up. Turn to someone, your dog if you must, and boldly say, my God supplies all my needs. I have everything I need. My God created me for good works and the Spirit reveals them to me. First John says I have an unction and I know all things. I know where to go and what to do. Glory to God.

I don’t care what happens in my life. When God looks down He’s going to see a bold, thankful, joyful, faithful, rejoicing Christian. Now sometimes our sins or harmful actions bring negatives on us. If you were a bad employee, maybe you should have been fired. If you smoke, you can’t yell at God if you get sick. But if that happens God will reveal your errors to you. Then you can repent and get back on track. Praise the Lord.

It’s gut check time. Every day it gets harder, longer, more annoying, more stressful. What are you going to do? I’m going to say it loud and proud; I have everything I need because God provides for me. I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread, and I’m in Christ and righteous and I won’t be the first, glory to God.

So where are you at right now? Are fear, doubt and unbelief beating you up? Are you out of the Word, out of church and out of God’s presence? Are you still going through the motions but losing your fire? Go back to God’s Word. Go back to God’s promises. Go back to your revelation knowledge that God’s Word is true and God never lies and that all His promises are yes and so be it to those in Christ.

Tell God you love Him, you trust Him and you give Him your life. Ask Him for wisdom, because He graciously gives it liberally. Your confidence and your expectation will determine your harvest. Decide that they will be where they need to be, standing on God’s Word and God’s faithfulness.

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Burn Hot and Never Burn Out

on 6/19/2010

Recently I read an article that said if Christians try to remain on an emotional high forever then they are destined to burn out. It basically said that we should expect and allow emotional lows (as if that’s what God intends) for to do otherwise would inevitably lead to downfall. So we should allow the downs to prevent getting down.

But I don’t believe that. I believe we can, by living in the Spirit and constantly focusing on God, permanently remain on a very high emotional level. I believe God never designed a single emotional roller coaster, that those are the devil’s rides. I believe God never desired for us to experience personal temperature changes. When Jesus said that He will vomit out the lukewarm, I believe He was saying we should be hot all the time. I can hear the David Crowder Band song You are My Joy, which begins, “And He set me on fire, and I am burning alive.”

God “maketh His angles spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire (Hebrews 1:7).” “John [the Baptist] answered, saying unto them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh . . .He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Luke 3:16).” “For our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).”

Our God is a fire, we are baptized with fire and we are made flames of fire. The representation of the Spirit being given to the disciples was tongues of fire sitting on them (Acts 2). God wants to put His fire within us and for us to burn hot forever. God doesn’t want us hot then cold then lukewarm then hot then cold , in some never ending never constant thermal change.

I remember that when I first began living for God a friend said I was “on fire for God.” It struck me funny because I didn’t think of it that way. I thought I was just doing what a normal Christian should do. I was studying and praying and trying to get my friends saved. We need to forget that idea that being on fire for God is some sort of temporary emotional Christian high. When you get saved and baptized with the Holy Ghost God sets you on fire. You should never burn out. Call it “on fire for God,” call it whatever you want. But your Christian life should be characterized by constant increase, constant burning, with no dips, dives or valleys.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

God lights us on fire and wants us to constantly shine before men. You might say, “Byron, that’s impossible, life happens.” But I don’t buy that excuse either. The Bible shows us how to be constantly stirred up for God. The Bible gives us wisdom and examples so that we can see how to live with a fire that never fizzles.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee (Isaiah 26:3).” “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Psalm 119:165).” “These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”

I believe this is a difficult teaching. Honestly, while I would characterize the last six years as a continual burning for God, there have certainly been days where I didn’t burn brightly. I have experienced emotional ups and downs, but no more. I’m over that. If I focus on God’s Word and God’s promises then I don’t ever need to be scared, troubled or discouraged. I’m going to focus on Him and His reality and His Will for my life.

What if you get in a car wreck? What if you lose your job? What if you have some other negative situation? First you must ask yourself the question I hear few Christians asking, “Was this my fault?” Frankly, it probably was, but that’s another essay. No matter what happens you can run to God and His promises and find help.

Hasn’t God promised you health and healing (1 Peter 2:24, Ex 23:25)? Hasn’t God promised you provision (Phil 4:19)? Hasn’t God promised you His plans and a good future (Jeremiah 29:11)? Focus on God’s Word and God’s promises. Trust them, for God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. What He says He does, what He speaks comes to pass.

Look at King David before He ever sat on the throne. When He and His men returned to Ziklag they found their homes burned and their families kidnapped (1 Samuel 30). Most of us would cry and crawl into bed. But King David encouraged himself in the Lord. Then David inquired of the Lord and God showed Him what to do. And “David recovered all.”

I don’t believe I am naturally able to stay stirred up and positive all the time. My eyes will look at the problems in front of me, my mind will worry and doubt, my heart will fail. But all of that is of the flesh and the devil. God has given me everything I need today. God promises me everything I will ever need. God has spiritually set me on fire, and God wants me to constantly burn hotly and brightly for him. There are no excuses for growing cold, not with the blood of Christ on us and God’s Spirit inside us.

You are going to have troubles in the world, but God will always provide you a way out, and God will always help you recover all. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Focus on God and His Word and you can have constant peace and joy so that your Godly flame forever burns brightly and gives light to everyone.

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Joel Osteen Ministries

on 6/06/2010

On Friday we went to A Night of Hope presented by Joel Osteen Ministries. It featured Joel and his wife Victoria (and some other members of the Osteen family) encouraging people to draw closer to God and have faith that God has good plans for our lives. The event also featured some great Christian music.

Previously I hadn't thought much of his ministry. It's not that I disliked him or thought he wasn't a genuinely anointed man of God, but I just felt it wasn't really for me. I'd like to discuss that and show you why His ministry is actually great for me, and why it would be great for you too.

When you see Mr. Osteen on television you see this smiley Texan talking about how God loves you and only has wonderful things planned for you. Some find this encouraging, others find it nauseating. I've heard many criticisms of him and his ministry. I believe the most potentially valid criticisms concern his not discussing sin and the importance of holiness.

Now I haven’t heard many of his sermons. I really don't know what all he preaches about and I doubt most of his detractors do either. But he certainly seems to focus on all the good God wants to do for you. He does focus on your part in terms of faith and hope, but he doesn't talk much about the need to truly lay aside the sins that beset.

I completely agree with him that God has wonderful plans for all our lives. The revelation of God as my father convinces me of this. But although God has great plans for us all, many people won't see them. If you continue in sin you won't see much or any of God's plans for your life. If you are out of the Word or out of Christian fellowship, you can forget it.

I also felt his message somewhat juvenile. I thought to myself, "God has a wonderful plan for me. Great. I've heard that before. Tell that to the unsaved." I felt like I needed something more, something deeper, some great revelation.

But I realize now that his message is not juvenile. The Word he preaches is not all "milk." And in fact, if truly committed Christians would hear him and apply his Biblical teachings, it could truly take them to the next level and help them experience all God has for them.

I actually believe that although his ministry largely appeals to the unsaved and immature, his message is mostly for the mature. His words would do the most for the devout and the learned. And if you've written him off for the above reasons, I encourage you to think again. The devil wants you to think it's beneath you, but it's actually perfect for you. Let me explain further.

What are the three eternal things? Faith, hope and love, right? Well we generally know faith and love, but I believe many lack hope. The actual meaning of "hope" is "confident expectation." If I'm saying that I hope Jesus returns, that means I confidently expect His return. But we have made "hope" something else. We have introduced the element of chance into "hope." When someone uses "hope" we basically translate it as "want."

You see, Joel Osteen's ministry (at least it seems to me), is about stirring up your faith and hope that God loves you and will take care of you. And I believe this ministry is sorely needed in the Body of Christ. We know the Word, we have faith in the Word, but we have not confidently expected all God's promises to manifest in our lives.

I don't know about you, but my mind has been trained to say "What if" and then give me some negative possibility. What if the car breaks down? What if I can't pay the bill? Christian, I tell you right now that we must stop that. Rather, we need to confidently expect all of God's promises to manifest in our lives. God meets all our needs. God rebukes the devourer for our sakes. God makes all grace abound towards us. Believe in and expect these realities for your life.

It's time we eschew all thoughts of negative possibilities and replace them with expectation of Godly-good-certain-outcomes. "God is going to help me pay my bills this month." "My car is going to last another 100,000 miles." Whatever situation you are facing, find God's relevant promises, and begin expecting them to come to pass.

I believe there is a law of expectation. Job said that which he feared came upon him. If you fear or worry over negative possibilities, you are drawing them to you. And you are not demonstrating faith in God's Word to provide for and protect you. Conversely, if you are constantly expecting God's goodness and grace and favor, you are going to experience them in every area of your life.

Now I know Joel Osteen's ministry is much more than just hope and expectation, but I believe that is a crucial Word for the Body. I know we hear that from other Godly men and women, but you hear it from him loudly and constantly. I believe God is using him to usher in a new level of faith and hope in the Global Body of Christ. I need this ministry. I can't have negative thoughts if I'm going where God wants. I need to be filled with trust in and confident expectation of God's goodness for my life.

"This is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope (1 Corinthians 9:10)."

Whatever you do, confidently expect God's blessing and results. God has a good plan for your life. If you will seek God's will for your life and begin expecting God's blessings to come upon you, then it's going to happen. I'm not saying you need to hear every sermon Pastor Osteen preaches, but I encourage you all to hear him regularly, to ensure your hope level stays high, and to ensure you are constantly drawing God's positive possibilities to you. I also encourage you to attend A Night of Hope if you can.

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God Can Afford It

on 6/05/2010

I would like to discuss certain aspects of Biblical economics. I know that many people view the Bible’s statements on money differently. So we’re going to use some common sense (Gasp!) and hopefully help you reexamine some of your opinions on the spending of money.

First of all let’s discuss preachers and money. Recently I heard about someone being disgusted because a preacher drives a Lexus. Never mind that he pastors a huge church and it’s the cheapest Lexus, apparently the combination of preacher and Lexus just doesn’t work.

Which should we attack first, the preacher or the Lexus? Let’s start with the Lexus. Are we to say that a Lexus in and of itself is a bad thing? I don’t think anyone makes such a claim. Is the engine too much or the electronics too nice? Perhaps the leather is too comfortable? Maybe all those are true, but you never hear that side of it. In general, no one has a problem with people making Lexus automobiles.

So who should drive them? Who should be rich, or who should have nice things? What about bankers, they handle the world’s money? What about lawyers, they settle our disputes and regulate our lives? Doctors, the ones who help us feel good?

What about the preachers? What about the man or woman who can help your bank account, all your disputes, and your body? What about the man who provides for you spirit, soul and flesh? Your pastor literally serves you the bread of life, from a platform with little prestige, after having endured the undoubted criticism and ostracism from family and friends. Does that guy, who fills possibly the most important role in your life, deserve a nice car? What about nice clothes, or a nice house, or a nice vacation? Many say “No.” And that is despicable.

I believe if anyone should have the best of what this world has to offer, it’s the man or woman of God. If I want anyone to enjoy the good of the land, it’s the one who preaches and loves and serves. Those who labor in Word and Doctrine are worthy of double honor, both spiritual and natural honor. But much of the world has a problem with this.

Now let’s briefly analyze why. You see, few people with such a problem are ready to make a Biblical defense of their position. They would say something like, “Jesus was poor.” Then when you counter with a verse they haven’t heard like, “For your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich”. (2 Cor 8:9), they say something unintelligible or unsupportable like, “It doesn’t really mean that.” Well, what does it mean?

Really, I believe, they have a problem with preachers and nice things, or preachers with money, because of “opportunity costs.” They believe that particular money should have gone to the church, or to the orphans, or widows, or some other cause. They believe by buying themselves something nice, the Pastors have turned down an opportunity to do something (that this detractor finds) more worthy. So not only do they heighten the importance of opportunity costs they mostly don’t pay any personal attention to, they believe the preachers must deny themselves any luxury and always put the opportunity costs above themselves.

But here is the revelation I would like to share with you tonight –with God there need be no opportunity costs, you can have it all. Why do you have a problem with the preacher’s Lexus? Because you think there is only enough money to have either the Lexus or something else. But what if you knew there was enough money to do everything, to have it all, to provide well for the preacher and for all God’s other endeavors. If you really believed there was plenty of money, then you probably wouldn’t have a problem.

Well, who told you there wasn’t enough money? I never see in the Bible where someone wanted to do two good things but had to choose. I never see someone wanting to provide for two worthy causes, being told by God to do so, and not having enough. Can you show me that verse? No.

In fact, I believe God has more than enough money to provide for you, me, the preacher and all of His Kingdom and interests around the world. How do I know, because the Bible tells me so!

“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:8).” “I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof.” (Psalms 50:9-12)

Don’t you see that, all the world’s money belongs to God? God has more than enough money to do everything He wants to do? Glory to God. He doesn’t even need our money, that’s not why we give to Him anyway.

You never need to think about opportunity costs again. I pronounce you free of that bondage in Jesus’ Name. Did God tell you to buy a certain house and you feel guilty? Did God say you could get a nice car or go on a nice trip? Who cares what people think? You never need to worry about the other options again. What you need to consider is the Word of the Lord.

If you check with God about your spending decisions, especially your big ones, then you never need to worry that you should be doing something else with your money. God will provide for you to have the world’s good and also do His good. God will provide for the Church to do His Work and for the Pastor to drive the Lexus.

“Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” I don’t think so. When you are with God you can do it all and have it all. There will never be any shortage of funds or Divinely directed activity that you can’t afford to do. No, you won’t be able to afford all your flesh desires, God doesn’t promise to cover those. But if you seek Him and His Kingdom, God will provide for both you and His Kingdom. Remember, “God will provide Himself a Lamb.”

Now I’m not saying there is no place for sacrificial giving. That’s not what I’m talking about. There are times when God might say give that $1,000.00 to My Kingdom rather than yourself, but in that case spending on yourself wasn’t God’s will. I’m telling you God will show you and enable you to provide well for both yourself and for His Kingdom.

“If you are willing and obedient you will eat the good of the land.” And if anyone deserves to drive the Lexus, it’s the preacher. God can afford it.

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More Than Brethren

on 6/02/2010

Recently I considered how many Christians refer to other Christians as "Brother John" or "Brother So-and-so." We often refer to a fellow Christian as a brother or sister "in the Lord." But let me show you that we are actually much closer than that, and how the real nature of our relationship should change how we deal with each other.

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (1 Corinthians 12:27).” "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another (Romans 12:5)." "For we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25)."

You see the Word of God actually says that we are members of the same body, and in fact that we are members one of another. WHAT? I am a member of you and you are a member of me? Is that real or possible or some mistranslation? Check out what Jesus prayed - "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are (John 17:11)."

Jesus prayed that God would make us all one together, and the Epistles confirm that this prayer was answered. We are actually members of the same body, and we are all one with each other. WOW! That will make you look a little closer at that funny-looking guy you joked about at church last week.

Now, remembering that we are members of the same body (the Body of Christ) and that we are members one of another, let's consider the sibling relationship. If you have a sibling, think about him or her for a minute. I actually have 3 half-brothers, 2 half-sisters, one step-brother, and one-step sister. Considering I was an only child until age 12, I gratefully praise God for all my siblings.

But let's say something terrible happened to my oldest brother (who is 16). I would be devastated. I love him dearly. If he got hurt or got into serious trouble or had some other problem I would feel really bad for him. I would do anything I could for him, physical or spiritual. But at the end of the day, his problem is not my problem. If his life gets ruined, it will only affect my life in part. I can still have a happy, fulfilling existence. No matter how close you are to your sibling, their problem will never be your problem.

Now consider those "spiritual siblings" you have at church. Our church friends have problems all the time, don't they? But their problems are not yours. You may try to help them, you may pray for them, but in the end it really doesn't affect your life. And as that is the real case, you will do only so much for them.

Now consider again your real relationship with these people. Imagine that "Sister Susie" and you are actually two fingers on the same hand. You each have jobs and desires. But what if Sister Susie gets hurt? That will seriously mess your life up. Not only will you not be able to fulfill your calling, but the rest of the hand, and the entire arm, and maybe the entire body, won't fulfill its mission in life because one finger got injured. You see where I'm going with this.

But remember, the Bible says that Susie is both in the same body as you and that Susie is a part of you, and you a part of her. What if a part of you gets hurt? You know how it is. Most humans can't function properly with even the slightest injury or discomfort. Even the toughest among us won’t function at full capacity. I think that’s a picture of spiritual reality we missed.

If one of our Christian brethren is incapacitated for the slightest reason, the entire Body of Christ functions at less than 100%. Consider that reality. You simply can't make up for their loss, not fully, no way.

My point is that now we must regard our fellow Christians as fellow laborers, fellow body parts, and even parts of us. Won't that radically alter our feelings towards, and treatment of, our Christian brethren? Glory to God. How much easier is it to love yourself than another? Think about it, you automatically love yourself. Every single Christian you encounter, treat them with the same love you have for yourself. I'm not talking about some sinful self-love; I'm talking about the care and concern you have for your own life and body.

YOU NEED THEM. WE NEED EACH OTHER. I know that we always say it doesn't matter what happens to others, as long as I'm doing my job before God. But we need to focus, especially in these latter days, on the global body of Christ and the entire ministry of His Body. We all need to be functioning perfectly to fulfill His complete ministry on the earth.

Pray for each other, comfort each other, love each other, hold each other. Whatever you can do to help get the other parts of The Body, really the other parts of yourself, back on track, do it. We need to get on the same page and get prepared to work the works of God together.

When we finally recognize and appreciate our true relationship to one another then we will treat each other appropriately and help the entire Body of Christ better fulfill its mission on Earth.

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