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5:25 AM   [25 Mar 2018 | Sunday]

Why are You Limiting God?

   Have you ever looked at the vastness of creation and considered the enormity of it all?  Perhaps it’s a mountain range with all its majesty, or the vastness of the universe, filled with countless galaxies and the billions of stars in each one. What about the intricacies found in a single leaf of a plant?  The idea that every snowflake is unique, and how many are in a single snowfall?  There are countless facts and figures about creation that would totally blow our minds if we tried to take in all in.  What’s the point to these questions?  It would be easy to think creation is greater than our Creator; but, it’s God’s creation.  Creation is never greater than the Creator.  In fact, the Bible tells us that the heavens cannot contain Him, much less the earth.  1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!  His greatness is unsearchable!  Hebrews 1:10 And, You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands (see also Psalms 102:25).

   With all this in mind, why do we limit Him in our lives?  Come on, be honest, do you limit Him?  “God can do anything!”  Yes, He can; except one thing: lie (see Hebrews 6:18)!  His very nature (love, holiness, righteousness, goodness, justice, et. al.) prevents Him from lying.  Some say, “He can do anything, but will He do anything for me?”  Apart from His perfect will for our lives, which definitely impacts what He does for us, what else interferes with His working in our lives?  Perhaps better stated, who interferes?  The devil is not the answer here.  Some of you give him far too much credit and power in your life.  That’s a different lesson; but suffice to say, it is easy to shift personal responsibility onto him.  If you want God to truly work in your life, you need to be honest about where you are in the faith and your relationship with Him.

   One of the ways people limit God is over-focusing on the mountain before them.  In some cases, it’s a manmade mountain; not God’s creation.  You may have created a mess by some bad decision or succumbing to temptation, but you are still His creation.  That means your creation is not greater than The Creator!   Aside from trying to punish yourself for the mess you made, why would you not expect Him to help you?  He did say, “Ask!”  It is in the Bible.  Do you honestly believe whatever you face, regardless of origin, is too big for God?  Has His arm become too short to reach or deliver you?  Do you believe because you cannot figure things out, He can’t?  Jesus said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

   Maybe it really comes down to, “Will He?”  After all, it is written, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him” (Psalms 8:4)?  Yet, Scripture says, “Who is like the Lord our God, Who is enthroned on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?  He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people.  He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.  Praise the Lord!” (Psalms 113:5-9).  “Would this great God of the universe really get involved in my life –little ol’ me?”  Absolutely!  Has it occurred to you that while all things were created to glorify Him, He uses creation to reveal His love for you?  Psalm 108:4 For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the skies.  Before mankind walked the earth, God put everything in place on it to sustain us; otherwise, we could not have survived if we were the first to be created (naturally speaking).  Consider the words of Jesus.

   “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25-33).

   God knew what you would face before you were born.  Since He loves you and is redemptive by nature, He made provision for it.  When Jesus healed the leaper in Luke five, Jesus revealed the desire to see you well.  Luke 5:12-13 While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him.  Jesus went about doing good at the pleasure of our Father.  Hmm.  It pleases Father to bless people.  It pleases Him to bless you!  Jesus paid the ultimate price for your blessings.  That makes you worthy to receive them.  It would be unjust to refuse His help, especially since He has freely offered it to you.

   Change your focus, and you will see different results.  Ask for wisdom, and He will give it to you (see James 1:5-7).  Have faith in God and say unto the mountain, “Be thou removed” (see Mark 11:22-23)!  See what happens.  God is good and He is good all the time!

www.perfectfaith.org

Faith Actually is an amazing book for those who have suffered tragic loss, or knows someone who has.  All proceeds for this book go help Ben and Jenna Jury (the authors) cover the cost of an adoption of a little boy from Vietnam.

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8:49 AM   [18 Mar 2018 | Sunday]

Your Enjoyment

 1 Timothy 6:17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

While God has given us all things to enjoy, perhaps it would be a good idea to define “all things,” and how we enjoy them.  It is one thing to enjoy what God has given you; it’s quite another to walk in lust.  1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

What does it mean to enjoy?  In one sense, it means to take delight or pleasure in an activity, occasion or person.  It also means to possess or benefit from something or someone.  It implies the cleaving or adherence of the mind or affection to an object.  Of course, to enjoy oneself is to have a pleasant time.

True enjoyment as God intended requires integrity of heart.  Turning the grace of God into an insatiable desire for pleasure is a perversion of enjoyment.  It leads to the denying of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Jude 1:4).  In some circles of the Christian community, it is often said, “God wants us to be happy.”  It’s actually a twist on grace in the sense people use that statement to fulfill desires that don’t necessarily make God happy.  Grace is not God’s blanket stamp of approval to do what we want.  It is not okay to embrace what is contrary to His nature.  Otherwise, why would Jesus say, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24)?

Godly freedom is not autonomy to do what you want; it is the liberty to worship Him in Spirit and truth.  This is grace: God’s unmerited favor bestowed upon us, which enables us to do the things of God that we are incapable of doing on our own.

Do you want to be happy?  Conform to His desires and you will find more bliss than you ever thought possible.  The idea is not to get as close to sin as possible, and still be alright.  That is not faith, nor is it obedience.  With obedience comes joy.

John 15:10-12 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.  This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

So then, what is okay for me to enjoy and what is not?  To be clear, it is not a one size fits all category.  It boils down to submission.  Galatians 5:15 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  By submitting to Holy Spirit, you will know rather quickly.  This does, however, go back to what was previously stated: true enjoyment requires integrity.  You have to be honest enough to be willing to hear what He says to you.  Allow Holy Spirit to convict and lead you into repentance when necessary; otherwise, your conscience becomes seared and less moldable in the Potter’s hands.

Ironically, the more we try to make ourselves happy, the less happy we will be.  On the other hand, the more we conform to our Father’s will and desires for us, the more content and joyful we will be.  Selfishness never made anyone happy!  Consider this: happiness is based on outer stimuli; whereas, joy is an inner glee that doesn’t rely on outside circumstances.  The more one seeks happiness, the less he will seek God, and that means possessing less joy.

Finally, it is quite acceptable to be happy and enjoy things; otherwise, nothing in life would be enjoyable.  Think about it.  Do you enjoy good tasting food?  God could have made all food bitter to the taste.  Who created spice and things that are sweet to the taste?  Do you enjoy music?  Where do you think music comes from?  Do you realize that He sings over us (see Zephaniah 3:17)?  God created all things good.  It is a question of how we use those things that determines the difference.  Let the Lord lead you, and you will find enjoyment beyond your wildest expectations.  Do you take joy in a loved one enjoying things?  Where do you think you get that from?

www.perfectfaith.org

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6:40 AM   [11 Mar 2018 | Sunday]

Cursing and the Fig Tree

    It is not a good idea to create a doctrine or teaching based on a single verse of Scripture or event, much less develop a practice based on it.  Generally speaking, at a minimum, there should be at least three different scriptures in true context to validate any said doctrine.  Furthermore, as to practice or habit, it would be a great idea to see if there’s an actual biblical example.  Of course, care must be taken not to put God in a box, so to speak.  That being said, let’s address an issue that’s been around for some time: should believers curse certain people or things?  Some have taken the position we have the authority to curse based on an event in which a fig tree withered shortly after Jesus spoke to it.  Was that really the point, or was there something else going on?

   Take your time and read Matthew 11:12-22 along with Mark’s account given here.  They each give some different aspects of the same event.  Here are some questions to consider as you read them.  One: what is the significance of the fig tree?  Two: Is there any correlation between it and the temple in Jerusalem?  Three: what was the subject(s) Jesus taught after Peter called it a curse?  Four: is there a record of any disciples speaking to a fig tree?  Five: this is important, what did Jesus teach about cursing?

   Mark 11:11-26 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.  On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.  Then they *came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple. . . And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den” . . . When evening came, they would go out of the city.

   As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter *said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”

   The first place in the Bible we find a fig tree is in Genesis when Adam and Eve fell. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings (Genesis 3:6).  The fig leaves were used to cover their nakedness, but it didn’t change their condition.  This points to man-made coverings, otherwise known as religion.  It’s a false covering that produces no good fruit.  It gives a false sense of righteousness and security.  It’s a form of self-deception in which those who try to hide under it, find themselves blind and naked before God, especially when exposure comes.

  Revelation 3:15-17 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

   In one of His parables, Jesus a uses a fig tree to point to its lack of fruit.  In this case, the fruit was repentance (see Luke 13:1-9).  What does not produce fruit is cut down and burned.  Getting back to the fig tree which Jesus spoke to: notice that our passage of Scripture sandwiches it in between His visits to the temple in Jerusalem.  The Temple was of course the center of Jewish life, which was to be a house of prayer for all the nations.  As religion with all its traditions and doctrines of man came through its doors, it was turned into a “Robbers’ den” (“Den of thieves KJV).  Even Pharisees and Sadducees did not exist in Old Testament Scripture.  They didn’t come on the scene until about the second century B.C.  These were the religious leaders of the time, who were against Jesus.  After He and His disciples left, Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be destroyed (see Matthew 24:1-28; Mark 13:1-23; Luke 21:5-24).  In a sense, when Jesus spoke to the fig tree, He metaphorically declared the end of the old order of religion.  Interestingly, He also used the fig tree as a symbol of a change of seasons or times in relation to His return (Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:22-32; Luke 21:29-33).

   When Peter said, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered,” what did Jesus talk about?  Did He talk about cursing?  No, He talked about faith, prayer and forgiveness.  So, what did Jesus have to say about cursing?  Luke 6:27-28 But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (see also Matthew 5:44).  Nowhere do we see in the Bible that we are to curse at all.  Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (see also James 3:1-12 1 Peter 3:9).  We don’t see any exception clauses (i.e. but you can curse sickness and disease, the devil and demons, etc.).   That’s not to say we bless the devil or demons (we cast them out).  You will not find anywhere in Scripture where Jesus or any of the disciples cursed sickness or demons.  Jesus rebuked sickness, but that’s not the same as cursing.  Besides, why would someone curse something that’s already cursed?  The devil and demons brought the curse on themselves.  Look for the example!  Perhaps think of it this way, cursing is a weapon of darkness.  We’re children of Light; therefore, we don’t employ weapons of darkness.  Sons and daughters of God bless, which in turn dispels weapons of darkness.  When you walk into a dark room, do you curse and yell at the darkness?  No, you turn on the light.  Darkness is the absence of light.  Think about it.  That means we speak healing which is blessing.  When healing comes, sickness goes.  Essentially, we pray against things of darkness by praying for people and situations.

   Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

www.perfectfaith.org

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