God Will Provide

on 12/10/2011

If you've been reading this blog you know that almost two years ago my former employer said that he was closing the business and I should consider new jobs. That time was difficult for our family as my wife was pregnant with our first child and we weren't sure what to do. Since that time we have truly endeavored to follow God's leading in all of our actions, especially concerning business and finances. It hasn't always been easy, but we've seen God mightily move during this season.

I basically practice law out of my house. God has supernaturally provided clients and opportunities so that we have experienced no lack, no not for an instant. In fact, we have more money and have given more to the kingdom than in previous seasons. All the glory goes to God. But honestly I don't believe I will practice law as I do today forever. I'm not exactly sure what I will do, but I know God will provide, and that's the point I felt led to discuss today.

In prayer this morning I realized that God has truly blessed us during this time. But this morning's revelation was different. There are other things I would like to do, but I've always been worried about money. I would think about doing something or working somewhere, but would then be faced with thoughts like, "how can I make enough money doing that?" But today I realized that, although law is a profession where one can make a lot of money, I have seen God's hand bring the money we needed, not my hand.

If God can bring money to me as a lawyer, God can bring money to me doing anything! That seems like a simple sentence, but for me it represents a profound revelation. Consider your job right now, do you see it as exactly what God has for you long term? If not, has a fear of lack kept you from changing direction? Look, I would love to say that I never fear lack. I would love to say that I move forward boldly no matter what my circumstances look like. I truly believe that one day I will, but today this revelation blessed me, and I think it can bless you too.

Say it with me, using your profession, out loud right now. "If God has provided for me as a (salesman, driver, farmer, whatever), then God can surely provide for me doing whatever God wants me to do." Praise God!

Matthew 6:33 is an awesome verse to stand on for so many situations. "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." God wants you to do certain things for His Kingdom. Your job is to seek Him, His righteousness, and His will for your life. His job is to provide for you. Why do we try to take His job? I know I've done it, sweating the bills, wondering how I can make money, but God never told me to do that. In fact, He says specifically that we shouldn't do that. "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." (Matthew 6:31-32)

We have to let God be God! I can't be God. I can't be my provider. I don't care how much money you have, if you are your own provider then you are living in lack. You may not see it now, but one day you will. GOD IS MY PROVIDER! God is my financial advisor, my work psychologist, my motivational speaker, my lead generator, my insurance agent, my everything. Sure, He works through people in some of those capacities, but He is responsible for my finances, not me, not anyone else. Glory to God. He will never lose my money; He will never let me go broke.

"The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." (Psalms 34:10) "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25) HALLELUJAH!!!!

We have got to stop worrying about money. I used to listen to rap music and I can constantly hear Snoop Dogg saying, "with my mind on my money and my money on my mind." Well that's all wrong and I need to get over that. The truth is, and go ahead and get your throwing stones ready now, God has my money on His mind. Oh that felt good to say, especially because I know it's true. I don't have to ever worry about money again. God will order my steps (Psalm 37:23), bless me with riches (Proverbs 10:22), and let me eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19) IF AND ONLY IF I am willing to do His will and I'm obedient to it (again, Isaiah 1:19).

I know God's calling me to a new place. God has blessed me with clients and cases and I love them and often become quite close to them. God may have me continue doing this, or He may lead me to something totally different, but God will provide for and bless me no matter what I do, as long as I'm seeking Him and His righteousness first. I don't care if you are a lawyer or a shoe shiner, God can bless you without limit. Because you are not you're provider, you are not limited by what you can do. With God all things are possible, and with God as your provider your provision is limitless.

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Godly Business

on 12/07/2011

Recently I finished my largest case as a lawyer. It was essentially a $9 million breach of contract case and I represented the defendant. I'm a sole practitioner and I was up against an attorney at an established firm who has been a partner about as long as I've been alive. Early in the litigation an issue arose that would largely determine the case's proceedings. I spent about three full days preparing for the hearing.

I was tempted to fear. In fact, I probably suffered a mini-panic attack the weekend before my preparations started. On the way to the courthouse I was praying in tongues and asking God for favor and wisdom, and God communicated to me. It wasn't words that I heard, more of an impression really, but the best way I can describe it would be that God told me, "you must call down the supernatural." I realized right then that God would help me, but I had to invite Him into the situation by prayer and faith (and walking in love and staying out of strife with the opposition, of course.)

I endeavored to pray as the Holy Spirit led. The atmosphere at the hearing was overwhelmingly congenial. We certainly argued our sides, but we remained in peace. While there was nothing physically miraculous or naturally noteworthy, the judge made a ruling that ultimately meant we would prevail on the issue. We never went back to court, and within a few weeks settled for 30% of the plaintiff's original demand.

Recently I have meditated that situation and received revelation. In short, I must invite God into all of my professional dealings, in the same way I do my personal life and ministry efforts. But this can be difficult. Remember we must acknowledge God in all our ways and then He will direct all our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). I want to now discuss this issue in a way that hopefully applies to all of us.

Most of us, if not all, are professionals. We work a job and receive a paycheck. We most likely work at our particular job because we have education or experience in that industry. As you encounter situations at that job you go to your education, experience, or general knowledge to help you manage. Perhaps it's a new client or a new product. Perhaps it's a supplier or customer problem. But do you go to God to help you work?

I encounter this almost every day. I have a virtually constant stream of new situations. Often, the first place I go is my knowledge of Florida law or legal procedure. Sadly, in business I often rely on what's in my head, what I can learn, or what I can perceive with my physical senses. But I see now that those sources aren't enough for a successful Christian business, one that's truly dedicated to God. I need God's direction, wisdom, intervention and power.

I know many of you live dedicated to God. You wake up and spend time with the Lord. You consider your ways and look for opportunities to witness. You even consult God in your personal and financial affairs. Let's just take witnessing as an example. Usually we will receive an unction from the Holy Spirit to witness to someone. We trust the Holy Spirit for the right words, and then hope God brings them to salvation. In fact (at least hopefully), your entire witnessing activity is bound up with your relationship with God. You didn't create the opportunity, you have no ability to develop it without God, and you certainly have no ability to create results apart from the Holy Spirit. Well what if you conducted your business the same way?

With every new client I must hear clearly whether God even wants me to represent them. While I must consider Florida law, procedure, and my general knowledge of the world, I must also consider Biblical principles. I must ask God for assistance and trust Him for direction. I must pray for divine revelation and empowerment to get the job done. And at all times I must expect His favor to be manifested. I must fully invite God into my business.

I want God to know that my entire working life belongs to Him. Whatever He tells me to do, that will I do. I simply can't do this on my own. I realize millions of people work without God every day. But that's not the type of business I will have. Even if I could succeed in my working life without God (something I sincerely doubt), I would never want to try. I've seen what God has done in my life, in my family, and in my heart. I know what He will do in my business. He will bless it and use it to bless others. That's just the way God is, and that's what I want.

So invite God into your business today. "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." (Colossians 3:17) As God has shown up and improved every area of your life that you've given Him, your working life will be no different. Seek Him, trust Him, and never be afraid to perfectly obey Him. Your business will become God's business, and that's when it will truly be fulfilling and exciting. That's when there will be no limits and guaranteed success.

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Touch Jesus Today

on 10/09/2011

Please read this story again, I'm sure you've read it many times, but read it again.

"And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace." (Luke 8:43-48)

There were many people in the crowd that day, and many people came into contact with Jesus physically, but only one woman actually touched him. Don't you see? Many people around the world are making contact with Jesus. They have heard the Gospel, they have been to church, maybe they have even watched a preacher on TV. But how many people have reached with faith and purposefully made contact with Jesus Christ?


When you, in faith, purposefully reach out and touch Jesus, you're going to receive from Him. He doesn't even need to think about it, it's just who He is. And He's the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is still among us. He's in His churches, He's on TV, He is the Bible, and He's in people all around us. But we, even those of us who are Christians, must continually reach out and touch Him.

The fact that millions of people around the world have such contact with Jesus and yet never receive from Him is one of the great tragedies of reality. It's not His fault; He doesn't even have to think to bless people. Blessing and power are always in Him, ready to come to you. It's up to us to touch Him with faith.

How many times have you touched Jesus the way the woman did? Do you just read God's Word, or do you mix your faith with every letter that it is your reality? Do you just hear your preacher, or do you receive the sermon as God's Word directly for your life? Do you just pretend to pay attention to your Christian friends who exhort you, or do you accept them as God's appointed messengers to bless you? What are you doing to touch Jesus? What are you doing to place a demand on all that He is and all that He has available for you? Touch Jesus today!

If you are just going through the motions of Christianity, you are nothing more than the others in the crowd who only made contact with Jesus. There were many people in His presence that day, but very few of them felt His power. How many people will be in His presence in church today that don't receive anything from Him? What a tragedy.

This story shows two kinds of people who come into God's presence. There are those who just show up and sit there, but there are those who will not be denied an intimate experience with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This woman, unclean because of her issue, fought through a crowd and risked certain punishment. She knew that only Jesus could heal her. The world had nothing to offer her. She was going to touch Jesus. She would not be denied.

This isn't just about how you go to church, this is about how you approach Jesus in every aspect of your existence. He is in you and you are in Him. You are united with Him, but you can still go through life without continually receiving from Him and His power. The choice is yours. You must have faith. You must approach Him with faith that He is ready, willing and able to bless you.

There is not one person in the Bible that Jesus denied. There is not one person that approached Jesus with faith who was turned away unfulfilled. This is such a powerful reality, every single person the Bible shows approaching Jesus with faith received exactly what they believed for. Even some people who were expecting nothing (like Peter in the fishing boat) still received. Some wanted healing, some wanted wisdom, and some even wanted wine. All touched Jesus with their faith, and according to their faith they all received.

So change your attitude today. Forever stop simply being in Jesus' presence physically. It's time that we press forward to make contact with Him in every way we can. It's time we approach Him with unyielding tenacity and touch Him with our faith, knowing that He doesn't change, that He will do what He's promised in His Word, and that He stands constantly ready and open to give to us of Himself.

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Change

on 9/12/2011

I've been thinking about the idea of change for months now. I've essentially stumbled upon (by God's grace) one of the greatest realities of Christianity. Like most revelations, this is obvious and old news to many people, but it's essentially new and exciting to me. So I want to share it with you.

For her birthday I got my wife a card that basically said I'm a lucky man to have my life. This is true, and while she's wonderful, I have to give God all the glory for my life. However, there are numerous things I would change. I would change where we live, for example. My point is that when I think about change, my first thought goes to things outside myself, and things that I could change through my own efforts.

But there is another type of change, one that I've discovered and find far more exciting, and that's the change that's occurring in me. I'm sure I've touched on this before, but today let's discuss it in greater detail.

Let's start with some verses that clearly say God expects us to change.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2)

"For whom he (God) did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)

God wants change and God wants a certain kind of change. God wants us to change according to a certain image, the image of Jesus Christ. Let's face it, that sounds a little crazy. A few months ago I passed a guy walking down the sidewalk obviously dressed and adorned to look like Jesus. But I don't believe that's what God's talking about when He tells us to change. We change on the inside. We change by renewing our minds to God's Word and by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.

But let's just talk about this on a very simple level, and hopefully you'll catch some of my excitement.

I've wanted to change certain aspects of myself for years. Some people don't care how they feel or how they act, but I do. I want to be pleasing to God. David said, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight o Lord." (Psalm 19:4) I don't just want to act right, but I want to feel right and think right. Philippians 2:13 says God will empower us both to do and to want to do those things that please Him. That's what I want.

Men, I hope you know what I'm talking about. We don't want to lose our temper. We don't want to look at women. We don't want to say ugly things. Therefore we begin fighting against our minds and our bodies. We seek to control them and deny them. We still want to say certain things or look at certain things, but we know we shouldn't so we work to avoid such behavior. But then when we inevitably fail we feel terrible.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, I believe God appreciates all our efforts to live according to His Word. But what if we could change? I mean what if we could completely and fundamentally change so that we didn't feel that way or want those things? What if it wasn't a struggle to act correctly or speak correctly? What if our natural (first, instinctive) response to anything was the one God approved and desired.

My friends, this is why I'm so excited, we can change. Or to put it more exactly, God can change us.

Let me first discuss the far-reaching implications of this reality. Maybe you don't like church, but that can change. You can come to love it. Maybe you regularly lose your temper, but that can change. You can come to be patient and peaceful. Maybe you still want sinful things or don't want certain Godly things, that can change too. Jesus said that His meat was to do His Father's will. What drove, sustained and excited Jesus was doing God's will. It can become that way for us too, if we allow God, by the Holy Spirit, to conform us to the image of Christ.

Now don't give into the devil's deception here, especially you young people. Don't picture yourself boring, wearing a white sheet and sandals. Don't picture yourself locked in church 12 hours a day while all your friends are having fun. The devil wants you to believe that being conformed to the image of Christ will ruin your life and end your good times. But he is a liar and the father of all lies. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am so glad to know that the greatest peace and joy available in this life comes when one is conformed to the image of Christ and following Him. There are no limits, no boundaries, and no natural rules that can stop the person walking in the power of God. There is no end to the wisdom and revelation that will bless you. There is no chill to the warmth of God's love that will invigorate you. In short, it is a new type of life that maybe you haven't felt, but it's there, available and wonderful.

I'm not saying I walk in this full measure. I'm just praising God that I see these truths. Now the trick, or the requirement, is that I be willing to lay down my life so that I can take up His kind of life. Glory to God. That can be difficult, but for the joy that was set before Jesus He endured the cross. We must do likewise, as this process of change conforms us to His image and radically changes us.

Spend time in prayer, especially praying in tongues. Spend time in God's Word. You've probably read it already, it's time to actually meditate and seek revelation. Draw closer to God and He will draw closer to you. Pray that God would change you and make you like Jesus, as His Word says He desires. God will never fail you. If you press in and let go then you will find this change, and you will never want to go back.

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

That's a powerful verse, but it won't just happen. If it did then the entire world would be different. Meditate that verse, study it, ask God to make it a reality in your life. It's time for change. And once you've changed on the inside, there are truly no limits to the changes God will help you make on the outside.

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Death To The Old Man

on 7/21/2011

My dad used to talk about listening to a particular Christian tape series so many times the tapes broke. He knew the material on those tapes would change his life. Sometimes you have to do that. I listen to a lot of preaching on CD. I'll get a new set, and my mind wants to get through them all for some feeling of accomplishment. But often I don't fully digest what's said. It's like when you walk out of church and can't remember the sermon. But you must listen to some sermons until you get it.

I've found the first set of such sermons for me. Years ago a friend gave me lessons 6 through 12 of Dr. Christian Harfouche's International Miracle Institute teaching on New Creation Realities. I listened to Lesson 6 several times, but only recently have I listened to the others. Essentially, these sermons describe our new life in Christ, how we must disassociate from the old, flesh-ruled person we used to be, and how we must embrace the grace, power and new reality available to us through our union with Christ.

After having these sermons all these years, the preaching of the Word of God in them is changing my life. Over the past few months, God has show me in my personal study time that being conformed to the image of Christ must become my primary goal. Now that I have that revelation, I am ready to digest everything contained in these sermons.

God gave us an imagination for many good reasons I'm sure. One reason is so we can see things in realms beyond the physical. For example, I can imagine an animal right now that I've never seen. I don't really know how that works, but I can. Similarly, I can imagine a version of me that I've never seen. I can see myself completely conformed to the image of Christ.

Now imagine that version of you. What would be different? Personally, I would be more patient. I would be kinder and gentler. I would be stronger to endure personal difficulties and irritations without letting them affect my Christian love walk. Then going to the next level, I would allow the love and compassion of Jesus Christ to operate through me. I would take more time with people and listen better. I would witness quicker. I would generally sacrifice myself to bless others as God would have me. I imagine that's how I would be if I were completely conformed to the image of Christ.

In fact, the other day something happened that should have bothered me. I can't even remember what it was now. But it didn't. I didn't care. Then someone tried to offend me, but I just laughed and immediately recognized it was the devil trying to get me into unforgiveness. Being conformed to the image of Christ is much more than simply becoming a nicer person. Your entire framework of self will radically change.

I saw all this before I re-engaged that sermon series. I was continually praying for the Holy Spirit to change me. But, I suppose, I was unsure of some specific actions I must take to further the change.

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Romans 6:4-6)

"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." (Colossians 3:9-10)

Three times Paul specifically discusses the "old man." In Romans Paul says that this old man is crucified with Christ, but in Ephesians and Colossians Paul says that we have to put him off. And this concept I began grasping only recently, after listening to those sermons several times.

The old man is the person I used to be before I began allowing God to change me. Let's call him the old Byron. The old Byron was only interested in pleasing himself. He didn't care about other people. He was prideful, rude and generally ugly. Sure, he could be nice and funny, but he only acted that way to serve his interests. He was also very disrespectful. Unfortunately, I knew him very well, and he thrived.

Fortunately, I have put on the new man to a large extent. I'm don't act perfectly as God would have me all the time. But I certainly do better than the old Byron. However, I know that I'm not done. This process of change isn't over. I'm the new Byron now, and I hate the traces of the old Byron that still appear. I have to put them off.

Now Paul clearly tells us that the old man was crucified. The old man is dead. The old Byron is dead. And I have put him off. But I must constantly reinforce that one-time act of putting him off by constantly remembering to keep off all his characteristics. He tries to come back. He tries to return to my mind and my actions. But he's dead. I have to remember he's dead and eradicate any trace of him.

He only exists in my mind. I remember him and how he was pleasing to the flesh. I remember his ways. Sometimes I'm with people who wish he still lived. I miss them, I remember what they liked about him, and I let him come back a little. Unfortunately, even though he's dead, I know him better than I know the new Byron. The old Byron actually existed and I feel his memory. But the new Byron that people will see, at least the more complete physical expression of him, only exists in my imagination, like a place I'm looking forward to visiting.

This is a transitional stage. I declare by faith that I have put on the new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness. I walk in newness of life. And I must cast down every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ, especially against the knowledge of Christ that is in me. I must remember that the old Byron is dead. He can't come back for anyone or for any reason. He's gone forever.

As for these aspects of my life that I don't like, I must recognize that they are all aspects of an old man who is dead. That is the key. Since that person is dead, I must disassociate from his ways. I must so embrace the new man, the God man, the Christ that is in me, that I forget the old man, and he fades away together with his deceitful lusts.

Remember, renovation of the mind is key. As you study Christ and God's Word you will get to know the new you, that you were always meant to be. But more than that, God will change you by His Spirit. You are not alone. God made the way for the death of your old man and your transformation into the new man.

Praise God, "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) This change that will take place in you is one of God's best and most amazing works. This is one way that God's manifold wisdom is shown by the church to all the spiritual beings (Ephesians 3:10). In Christ, we are spiritually washed perfectly clean. Then, in Christ, through Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, we are changed into beings that actually resemble God. The new man is created in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10).

So death to the old man. Life to the new man. In your mind and in your flesh, those statements must help define you. May God bless you and always bring you closer to Him, allowing you to see more of Him, so that you will be continually changed.

For more reading on the subject of putting off the old man and putting on the new man, read our earlier post Embrace Your New Reality.

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An Introduction to Spiritual Gifts

on 6/21/2011

You have probably all heard the term "Spiritual Gifts." Some Christians believe in spiritual gifts and try to walk in them daily. Other Christians believe the spiritual gifts have passed away and don't apply to Christianity today. There are also many variations on the above positions. This can be a very controversial topic.

You also probably know that at Exploits for God we take the Word of God at face value. I've recently been studying spiritual gifts and I offer here a very basic teaching that I believe will bless you. I don't see anything in God's Word to suggest they have passed away. I believe God has spiritual gifts for all of us, and I believe walking in our spiritual gifts is a key to living the life God has for us.

The New Testament Greek word for these spiritual gifts, used in the Bible, is "charisma." By studying that Word we see that one such gift is our salvation. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift (charisma) of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I don't know how you feel, but I'm positive that's the best gift I will ever receive.

But God doesn't stop there. Salvation is not the culmination of your human existence, it's the beginning of the human existence you were supposed to have. Now you can live in fellowship with God. Now you are God's child. Now you have the Holy Spirit within you. Your true life began at salvation, and your Heavenly Father has many other gifts.

1 Corinthians 12 gives us the clearest list of other spiritual gift or "gifts of the Spirit." Such gifts include the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says that "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." I believe that means God has such spiritual gifts for every man, not just for people in the traditional ministry. God wants the Holy Spirit in you to be manifested outside of you, and these gifts are a major way that can happen.

All of us should be walking in spiritual gifts. The question is which ones. Let's first remember that these are "spiritual" gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:4 says that there are different gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:11 then says something really helpful, "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will." First let's notice again that every person should be walking in their certain spiritual gifts. The word "worketh" is also interesting in the Greek, as it is "energeo." This verse says that the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts as He wills and then He energizes those gifts. Glory to God.

I believe the key to operating in spiritual gifts rests with our relationship to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us these gifts and the Holy Spirit will energize them in our lives. God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can know what God gives us and wants us to do (1 Corinthians 2). A close relationship with the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to successful Christian living.

As you spend time in God's Word, spend time in Worship, spend time praying in tongues, and generally spend time in God's presence, your relationship with the Holy Spirit will improve. You will sense His presence and discern His leadings. Remember James 4:8 says that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you these gifts from God. They are given you for your "profit." I believe the Greek words translated "profit withal" really indicate that these manifestations of the Spirit are for the common good. They aren't just for your profit, and they aren't just for others. These gifts are given so that everyone can benefit by them. You will "profit with all." Isn't that just like God?

But I have some more good news. "The gifts (charisma) and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29) God will never regret the gifts He's given you or the calling He's placed on your life. It doesn't matter what you are doing right now, God won't change His mind about your gifts or your calling. When I was first committing my life to Christ that verse really blessed me, because any man would have given up on me long ago. But God doesn't repent of His plans for us just because we make mistakes. God has great gifts that He wants you to walk in, for your benefit and the benefit of all mankind. God has a calling on your life. No matter what you're doing now, it's true.

The question is whether you will walk in those gifts and that calling. For the first 23 years of my life I sure didn't. I'll never know what opportunities I missed because I lived in sin. But that doesn't matter now. I'm in God's grace and doing my part to see God's will revealed in my life. The same can be true for you. Just because God never changes his mind about your gifts doesn't mean you will ever see them. You probably won't lay hands on people and see any miracles if you are living in sin. You may say some strange things while intoxicated, but it won't be inspired prophetic speech.

God gives the gifts. But you have the responsibility to draw close to the Holy Spirit to draw them from Him and begin walking in them. We must remember that Paul told Timothy not to neglect his gifts (1 Timothy 4:14). Paul was reminding Timothy that He can't be careless about these spiritual gifts, but He must be purposeful and active about them. Then again in 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul tells Timothy to stir up the gifts which are in Him. Those words translated "stir up" indicate "fanning the flame" or reigniting the fire. We have a roll to play with our spiritual gifts. We can't neglect them. We must stir them up. We must draw close to the Holy Spirit, pray, and then act boldly when we believe the Holy Spirit is leading us to operate in one of those gifts.

I'll admit, I don't have a very clear picture of what gifts God has given me. I have an idea, but I can't say I know for sure. Maybe you also feel that way. There's nothing wrong with that. Your Loving Father, by His Spirit, has given you these gifts, and He will help you walk in them. God doesn't want them hidden from you. But you must be spiritually mature enough to use them. Just like I wouldn't let my baby girl drive my car, God won't let me operate in His powerful gifts if I'm still a spiritual baby.

So praise God for His spiritual gifts, and pray that you would walk in those given you. Stir up the gifts, never neglect them. Earnestly desire the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). Trust God and begin walking in your gifts so that you and everyone around you can be blessed.

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See Jesus in Your Life

on 4/28/2011

Recently I've been studying the teachings of Jesus, and I've been so struck again by His amazing clarity. I was just telling a friend yesterday that one of the greatest revelations I've received is that the Bible means what it says. I don't know how I got that revelation, honestly, but I've always know that to be true. It has also helped that God has put me under teachers who preach absolute trust in God's Word.

When I read Jesus' teachings I constantly see how simple He makes it. Sometimes I think most Christians specialize in making the Bible confusing. It's not confusing, it's clear. It's only hard to understand if you start thinking it means something other than what it specifically says. So don't do that. Open your Bible today with the unwavering belief that it means what it says, that the very throne of God is behind the truth of its Words, and that you're going to live in line with its actual text. Now that we've got that settled, let's turn to some very clear Scriptures and see the results they will produce if we apply them to our lives.

"If you love me, keep my commandments . . . He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him . . . If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:15,21,23)

Let's be honest, can it get any clearer than that? Jesus says that if you love Him you will keep His commandments. If you ask God whether I love Jesus, He looks at one thing alone, the extent to which I keep Jesus' commandments. It's just that simple. If I'm not keeping Jesus' commandments then God could easily say that I don't love Jesus. And how could I argue? My beloved friends, the extent of your obedience to the commandments of Jesus, in your heart as well as in your flesh, shows the measure of your love for Him. AND, for those who do love Jesus, who do keep His commandments, such a wonderful reality awaits - God will love them, and Jesus will love them, and Jesus will manifest Himself to them. WOW!

The word "manifest" in the original Greek means to exhibit, to disclose, to appear, to show. The origin of that word is a compound that basically means "to lighten, or shine light on, one's position." Isn't that awesome? When you demonstrate your love to Jesus by obeying His commandments, Jesus is going to shine light on His position in your life. He is going to reveal Himself to you.

Are you constantly asking where is God in your situation? Are you constantly waiting for God to make Himself real to you? Well this is how it's done. This didn't take any difficult theological study or intense debate. Here it is, plain and simple, how to see God in your life. Did you see that movie Kingdom of Heaven? At one point the main character is in Israel and wants God to show up. Well it doesn't matter if you're in Jerusalem or Jersey, this is how you get God to appear in your life.

If you love Jesus you will keep His words, and God and Jesus will come to you and make their abode with you. "Abode" means dwelling place. Can it get any simpler? I know God and Jesus are with us in our hearts if we are saved. I know that Jesus will never leave us even when we stumble. But don't get so deep that you miss the reality of these teachings. Obey the commandments of Jesus and He and God will come to you and abide with you. Yes, they are in my heart. BUT I NEED THEM IN EVERY ASPECT OF MY EARTHLY LIFE! Don't you?

We are going after the closest possible relationship with all Three Parts of the Trinity. If Jesus says this is how to see Him manifest Himself, then that's good enough for me. If Jesus says this is how to get Him and God to make their abode with me, then that's good enough for me.

Now people could start making it difficult. So what are the commandments of Jesus? Are they the Ten Commandments? Is it the Whole Bible? Is it simply to love your neighbor? Well people could make arguments for all those, but I'm not getting into that. I'm keeping it simple. In my Bible every Word of Jesus is in red. So I'm going to start there. Yes, I do believe they are all founded upon the two commandments of loving God correctly and loving others as Jesus loves you. But I believe all of Jesus' other commandments in red are further explanation and direction for those. I'm going through all the red, and I'm going to study and apply them to my life. You can't keep the commandments if you don't have them first. Yes, Jesus also speaks through prophets (like Paul) and His Spirit. We'll get to those too. But we must start somewhere, and the red seems good to me.

So receive this Word today and keep it simple when you read the Bible. You don't need to get too deep with it to realize its amazing realities. Just take it easy. Believe the Bible and do what it says. Get Jesus' commandments into your heart and mind, then obey them. Jesus will manifest Himself in your life and God and Jesus will dwell with you.

And don't forget, "with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke 6:38) If you receive Jesus' teachings and apply them, the more you do so the more you will see Jesus' promised results. So don't just put small measure to this, incorporate it into the very foundation and composition of your life. You will never again wonder where Jesus is. You will never find yourself asking where is God. They will be with you, and you will clearly see them in your life.

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God's External Plans For You

on 3/12/2011

I hope you read our post called "God's Internal Plan For You." I would call the information in that post one of the greatest revelations I've ever received. It's not that others don't understand we must be conformed to the image of Christ. But I hadn't realized that, in my quest for my destiny, this transformation into His image is the absolute starting point.

God has plans for us all, both internal and external. Wonderfully, we all have the same internal plan. God wants us all to be conformed to the image of Christ in our inner man. Mind, heart, spirit, and soul, we must all become like Christ. Renovating your mind according to God's Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your heart are the two keys to participating in this transformation. But now we must talk about God's external plans for us, what God wants us to have and what God wants us to do.

I would like first to remind you that your dedication to God's internal plan for you is the seed you must sow if you ever want to harvest God's external plans for you. If you aren't conformed to the image of Christ then God can't totally trust you with everything He wants to give you. If God gave you a lot of money you wouldn't use it for His glory, for example. Moreover, if you aren't conformed to the image of Christ then you won't go where God wants to send you. Will you go to impoverished areas to pass out food and preach the Gospel? Probably not until you have fully embraced the life and ministry of Christ at the core of your being. So with that in mind let's turn to God's Word about His external plans for you.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

I want to first show you this verse so you can know that God certainly does have specific works planned for your life. The Bible says here that God has created us for good works. It then says that God has "before ordained" those works. Another way to say "before ordained" is "prepared beforehand." God has created you for good works and prepared them for you. Isn't that awesome?

But remember, just because God created you for certain good works, and has even prepared them for you, doesn't mean you are ready to walk in them. Do you walk in love? Do you preach the Gospel when you have the opportunity? Do you know God's Word? If you answered "no" to those questions then you aren't ready to walk in the works of God. These aren't just any "works." These are "good works." If God created us in Christ for these works, then these works probably have something to do with the life and ministry of Christ. So you need to be conformed to His image to actually do these good works.

Now that we all understand that God does have specific works planned for our lives, we must ask the huge question, "What are they?" If you internally working on being conformed to the image of Christ, fellowshipping with God, studying His Word and developing a relationship with the Holy Spirit, then it's time to get working outside of yourself. God has good works for you. Now it's time to learn what they are.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:9-14)

What a marvelous passage! God wants us to know (1) what He has prepared for those that love Him and (2) which things are freely given to us from Him. Remember that God "prepared" the good works for us. So this says we can know what God wants us to do and what God wants us to have. There, in my opinion, is the completion to our three-part destiny. We can know the type of person God wants us to be, what God wants us to do, and what God wants us to have.

God wants us all to be like Christ. But God wants us individually to do and have some different things. This passage gives us the key to obtaining this extremely important knowledge. We can't learn about these things through our eyes or ears, or even by thinking long and hard about them. God's Holy Spirit must reveal them to us. This passage says that at least one reason God gave us His Holy Spirit is so that we can know His will for our lives. The Holy Spirit changes us into the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit reveals our specific good works. The Holy Spirit will also reveal what God wants us to have (like a spouse or a job or anything else).

So now the key is developing our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We must learn to receive from Him. He will reveal things to us and we will discern things spiritually. Praise God! You develop this relationship by spending time in God's Word, by praying in the spirit, by singing in the spirit, and by consulting and obeying the Holy Spirit always. God communicates to us by His Spirit in a variety of ways. You should read our post "God's Communication Methods." Study those verses and begin hearing God clearly all the time.

God is so wonderful. He plans wonderful lives for us. He knows that when we are conformed to the image of Christ we will have true inner joy and peace. He also knows that when we do the works we were created for we will experience complete satisfaction and fulfillment. Finally, He gives us good gifts so we can be comfortable in this life.

Your relationship with the Holy Spirit is the key to living out your destiny. He will reveal God's will to you. Through Him you will discern all good things. Pray and meditate on these passages. If you apply their truth to your life you will begin truly living the life Christ died for you to have.

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God's Communication Methods

on 2/13/2011

I recently studied the ways God communicates to His people.  I believe God mainly communicates to us through the Holy Spirit, and I made a list of the various ways God does so.  Here is that list.  This isn't meant to be a full and complete list.  We know God can be very creative and we shouldn't ever try to limit Him.  Study this list and the associated Scriptures.  I pray that you hear Him when He speaks.  There is nothing like receiving a Word from God, nothing.

• The Spirit of God will simply speak to you. You will hear it inside you. It won’t be the voice in your head. God’s Spirit is in your belly (John 7:38). You will hear it coming from below.
o He will tell you whatever He hears from God or Jesus. (John 16:13)
o He will speak to you about Jesus. (John 15:26)
o He will teach you all things. (John 14:26)
o He will tell you what to do or what’s going on. (Acts 8:29, Acts 10:19)
o A Word of Wisdom or Word of Knowledge from God (1 Corinthians 12:8) could come this way.

• The Holy Spirit may speak through your voice or through the voice of another. (Matthew 10:20, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12, 1 John 4:2, Romans 8:26, Acts 1:16, Acts 11:28) This includes prophecy, speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues. (1 Corinthians 12, 14)

• God’s Spirit will remind you of things and bring things to your remembrance, especially the teachings of Jesus and God’s Word in general. (John 14:26)

• The Holy Spirit will show you various things.  He might show you things by using words or He may use images.  You will see them in your mind or before your eyes. Or maybe you will just instantly see them in your heart.
o He will show you the things of God and Jesus. (John 16:14)
o He will show you things to come. (John 16:13) (Ex: Luke 2:26, Acts 11:28)
o A Word of Wisdom or Word of Knowledge from God (1 Corinthians 12:8) could come this way too.

• Because God has poured out the Holy Spirit onto you, you may have dreams or visions from God. (Acts 2:17).

• The Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit. (Romans 8:16)

This one is actually very important and will become an everyday part of your life. God’s Spirit, which is inside you, will give you a feeling, a leaning, of peace if something is correct for your life. You must begin checking with your spirit (which you will be able to do more and more as you pray and study God’s Word). Your spirit communicates perfectly with God’s Spirit. If you don’t feel peace, don’t go. Don’t ever feel pressured, I don’t care what happens. If you don’t feel peace, you must not continue. I can’t overstate the importance of that principle.

• The Holy Spirit will convict (not condemn) you of sinful behavior. (John 16:8)

• The Holy Spirit will reveal, give us revelation of, many things in this Christian life. God will do this through words, dreams, visions, prophecies, or any other method He uses.
o The Holy Spirit will reveal God’s will. (Ephesians 3:5)
o The Holy Spirit will reveal everything God has prepared for us. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
o The Holy Spirit will reveal everything God gives us. (1 Corinthians 2:12)
o The Holy Spirit will reveal the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
o The Holy Spirit will reveal what God wants you to do (1 Corinthians 2:10 and Ephesians 2:10)

You must always remember that God's voice will never disagree with God's written Word.  God will never tell you to sin or violate a Biblical principle, like Love. 

Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  (Matthew 11:15)  We all have physical ears, so Jesus must have been talking about spiritual ears.  Spend time with God and His written Word.  Pray that God would give you spiritual ears and develop them. 
 
I pray that we all hear God more clearly each day, for therein is the key to living God's will for our lives.

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Embrace Your New Reality

on 1/19/2011

I've been really excited lately about all God's showing me in His Word.  There are so many verses that we read over without truly realizing the power or reality they contain.  For example, God says that we are delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:3).  Have you ever taken the time to really consider that? God is saying that the devil, all his demons, and every sin and evil thing have absolutely no power over our lives.  Praise God!  There are so many more such verses, verses we need to meditate and receive by faith so that we can live out God's best for our lives.

We can't go through everything I've been studying lately in this one post, but I encourage you to read this one and the next few.  They are going to be awesome (as they all are, of course).  Today I want to consider those verses about our status as new creations in Christ Jesus.  We, in fact, are new beings.  God has made us in the image of Jesus Christ and we now have a new nature and life inside us.  These realities are far more interesting and powerful than we have given them credit for, and they must be incorporated into our mental framework and lives at large.

First we must realize that we are a new creation.  "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)  If you are in Christ, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are a new "creature" or "creation." God has literally made you anew.  You may not feel any different on the outside, but your body is just the shell for your spirit, the real you.  And that real you has been completely born again as a new creation.  You are a new type of being, delivered from every trace of sin and death.  You are God's child, with His life and His love inside you.  You are different, and you can live according to God's ways now.  You must recognize and appreciate this reality.  Say it with me, "I am in Christ, I am a new creation, I am going to live my new life."

As new creations we must live a new type of life.  If a snake became a lion its life would radically change.  Well something similar happened to you.  You were in the devil's family, a sinner and a slave to sin and subject to every effect of evil and death in the world.  But now you are God's child.  You are righteous before Him having been perfected forever by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14).  You have His life and love inside you and you can live a victorious life founded upon His Word and walking in His will.

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)  In Christ we all take part in His resurrection.  We must realize that we are new creations with a new type of life, and we must live it.

We must embrace this new life.  I know that sounds difficult, but the Bible shows us how.  "Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)  We must, with a definite act of our will, by faith, put off all the traces of the old creature that we used to be.  We declare that we are free from sin in Jesus' Name. We declare that we are free from the power of darkness.  We declare that we are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).

Then we get renewed in the spirit of our mind.  The word "renew" is the same word for "renovate." You know how to renovate something; take out the old and bring in the new.  It's time to remove the lusts and angers and problems of the past.  It's time to let God's Word and Spirit fill your mind with God's love, joy, peace, patience, and so on.  Let God's thoughts become your thoughts.  Let the knowledge of God and Jesus inform the new life that you now live, as the new man that you have put on. 

Living this new life begins by renewing (renovating) your mind with God's Word.  You receive God's Word, then you live by it.  Now you are beginning to live the new life.  As you develop your relationship with God's Spirit which is in you, you will begin to walk in the Spirit (minding the things of God's Spirit and pursuing them).  Now you are further developing in this new life.  You are growing up and spiritually maturing.

We must also remember that these aren't one-time confessions or one-time decisions.  While we are changed in an instant, we live in a fallen world.  We must keep reinforcing these commitments and ways of life.  We must continually renovate our minds with God's Word.  We must continually confess that the old man has been put off and that we walk in the Spirit and in newness of life.  We must incorporate this reality into our entire mental framework.  We must recognize that we are new creations and we must live like it. 

So say it with me, "I am a new creation, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.  I am dead to sin.  I am crucified with Christ.  My mind is renewed by God's Word.  I have put off the old man.  I have put on the new man.  I walk in the Spirit, in righteousness and true holiness.  I am conformed to the image of Christ." 

This should become your continual confession and consideration for your life.  You can't act like you used to.  It's time to rise up and live the new life God has given you.  It's time to arise and shine, for your Light has come.  These considerations must inform your entire existence.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

So consider this carefully today, and thank God that He didn't leave us as the fallen snakes we were.  He has created us anew.  His Word renews our minds and His Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ.  When you reckon yourself dead to sin and the old ways, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ, as a new creature, you will begin living a new life, the life God has for us all.  So make the decision today that the old man is gone, and that now you walk in newness of life.  Never forget that decision, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you walk it out forever.

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