Daily Devotions – 2020 4th Quarter

NOV 1, 2020 – 1 Peter 2:25 – Living Stones

Hi Everyone

1 Peter 2:5 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

“Lively” in this verse means “living or alive”. So what gives us life? The breath of God gives us life! In Genesis 2:7, the Bible says “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” So God’s breath, or His Spirit is what makes us living or alive. All things begin with God and without God’s breath, we can’t live or move.

The fact that the Scriptures describes us believers as “lively stones”, let’s us know that there is more than one kind of stone. The words “Ye also” means that we are being referred to as something already mentioned, as in 1 Peter 2:3-4, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,” it speaks of Christ. So us being “lively stones”, our reference is Christ, so our appearance should reflect Him. If our appearance, faith, actions, beliefs, and love don’t reflect Christ who is our example, then are our stones really living?

1 Peter 2:5 also says, “are built up a spiritual house”. So our living stones come together to make a spiritual house, which is the church, the body of God. We can only build a house together as we are only a stone by ourselves. When we come together, we are a structure, strong, and immovable, built on the foundation of Christ.

The verse also states that we are a “holy priesthood”. The word “holy” means “set apart for sacred use”, so God has designated us to receive and share His Word as his priesthood. A priest is one, but a priesthood means a brotherhood, many people working together for the kingdom of God. This means we serve together, minister together, as our individual ministries are a part of a whole body that reaches souls for Christ.

Our job as the priesthood is to “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. “Sacrifices” here means “service”, so the service we are to be offering is spiritual. When we help, we help according to the Scriptures. When we love, we love according to the Scriptures, and when God puts it on our hearts to move then we have to be willing to move right when He requests it. If we move according to His Spirit, then it will be acceptable to God, which means “God will approve!” We have to give our will over to God and accept His will as a body, to reach souls for Christ. This is our mission and that is what makes us “Red Granite”! God bless and keep you all!

In Christ,

Marshall

 

NOV 2, 2020 – Romans 13:1 – Submission to governing authorities

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1 KJV

Hi Everyone!

I am putting together this devotional with a heavy heart. In the prison I am currently housed in, there was just an act of group disobedience last night (10-30-20) in response to policy changes within the prison due to an outbreak of positive Covid cases. The memo posted was very vague, and to be honest, we weren’t informed about a policy that was going to change right before our already limited day room time. Guys here became irate and refused to lock in, and stayed in the day room for 2 hours, until the actual day room shut down for the night. I WAS NOT, in any way involved in any of it, and I sat in my room and heard the nonsense play out. I prayed before I went to sleep, over the unit and over my state of mind and heart.

Today (10-31-20), to my knowledge, there were about 20 guys who were taken out of the unit by officers in tactical gear and put immediately on a bus out of the institution. They will undoubtedly be placed in segregation status, and could possibly be sent from this medium security to another medium security prison or even to a maximum security prison. I was told that security staff are looking to lift the lockdown, so things can go back to normal.

So, the topic of the day, given all that has gone on, is about submission to governing authorities, in Romans 13:1.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

The word “every” rings loud and clear here. That means no one is exempt, and because this letter by Paul is written to the church in Rome, it is really specific to believers. If we bear the image of Christ, and we are to follow His example, then He always submitted to government. Being “subject unto” means to “submit or place oneself under the authority of”, so this is a choice we have to make on our own. Even in Titus 3:1, the Bible says, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, and to be ready for every good work”. So not only do we have to submit to governing authorities, but we are to encourage others to do the same. “Put them in mind” means to explain or instruct others. The Bible will always confirm its truths in more than one Scripture, which brings more power to Matthew 18:16, which says, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established”. In 1 Peter 2:13, the Bible says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.” When God repeats Himself, it is extremely important that we take heed.

“For there is no power but of God:”

When we are subject unto higher powers, we understand that God has the power, so we obey them the same way we obey God. The only way the government is in power is because it is of God, something that God allowed to be instituted, like it or not.

“The powers that be are ordained by God”.

The word ordain means, “to arrange in an orderly manner; to appoint to a position or duty”. That means God intentionally put the people in authority where they are, and because He arranges authority in an orderly manner, it is supposed to be run in an orderly manner as well. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and sometimes authority can mismanage their positions or make mistakes. It doesn’t mean we don’t submit to the authority due to the flaws of its members. They are still ordained by God.

Our job as believers is to take the people out of their positions in our minds, and replace them with God, carrying ourselves as if we are serving God by submitting to their authority.  In essence, it is no different. We are supposed to see them and see God in our respect, in our obedience, and in our service to authority. It doesn’t have to be government. It could be your boss, your pastor, the clerk at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, but anyway it goes, if they are in authority, it is given by God.

God has brought me a mighty long way, from someone who once participated in acts of civil disobedience years ago to someone who now speaks against it and encourages others to do the same. Authority is God’s and ordained by God. It is our job to respect God by respecting His choice on who He puts in authority. As with anything, this situation within this prison will pass and some form of normalcy will come as a result. I am happy that God allowed this situation to serve as a teachable point in the people I have spoken to.

May you take courage to respect those God placed over you. God bless and keep you all!

In Christ,

Marshall

 

Nov 3, 2020 – 2 Timothy 3:16 – Scripture is inspired and profitable

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16 KJV

Hi Everybody!

During the course of my walk with the Lord, I have realized how powerful the Word of God truly is. We have heard the acronym for the Bible as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”, but the stronger I have grown in the Word, the more I realize that the Bible is much more than “basic instructions”. In John 1:1, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We all have embraced the fact that the Bible is the Word of God, but have we really identified that if we want to know more about God, then the Bible would be where we can study on His attributes, learn His purpose for mankind since the beginning, discover how deep His love runs for us, and receive teachings on how to live a godly life. Today we are going to look at 2 Timothy 3:16, for a closer look into the Scriptures’ function in a believer’s life.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

“All scripture”. It is always important to know the context of scripture and what and who it is pertaining to. Paul is writing Timothy to prepare him thoroughly for ministry. He is passing down truths like a father would a son, which is the same thing we ought to do for each other. So, the first thing I want to show is: Paul starts it out by saying “All scripture”, so you can’t leave any out. That means from Genesis to Revelation, God’s power rest in his Word, and there is definitely something to glean from all scripture, including the chapters that make us sleepy reading. 🙂

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God,”

To inspire means to “divinely breathe into”. So, the Scriptures we read God breathed into them. He filled His writers with His breath, or his Spirit, and they wrote out Scripture that God gave them the inspiration to write. How important is the breath of God? In Genesis, 2:7, the Bible says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. So, God’s breath is life, and when He breathes into something it becomes living. God’s Word is alive because He breathed into it! Also, in John 6:63, the Bible says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak, they are spirit, and they are life”. The word “spirit” in this passage means “breath”. So when we read the Word and plant it inside of our hearts, we should come alive too. 🙂

“and it is profitable”

God doesn’t do anything for nothing. When something is profitable, it means it is “helpful, serviceable, or advantageous”. God breathed into Scripture for it to help us and for it to operate beyond expectation. When someone profits, they make more than what was invested, so we will receive more than just Scripture. We will receive revelation of Scripture as well, that beauty mortar between the bricks!

“For doctrine”

This word means “instruction”. We learn how we are to walk as believers, love as believers, live faithfully, and how to resist in evil of the world. Instruction teaches us, and the Bible becomes the manual for our lives.

“For reproof”

This word means evidence. To “proof” something means to make sure it is correct, so to “re-proof”, means to check it again. How do we do that? The Word of God! The Bible is the place where everything is supposed to be weighed against, the point of reference when something doesn’t hit the ears or heart so well. It is the template of truth that we make the comparisons to. When the government wants to spot a counterfeit bill, they don’t do so by studying the fake bills. They study every millimeter of the real bill extensively, ingrain every contour, every detail, and every letter in their minds. When they see a fake, they will be able to show why it is a fake. That’s what the Word will allow us to do if we study it and allow God to reveal His truth to us.

“for correction”

This word means “to rectify”. The Word will not only reveal when something is wrong, but it will also reveal how to make it right. God’s Word perfects the imperfect and corrects what is wrong. It has happened to me a ton of times where the Word given became this tool for correction, revealing flaws in me I never realized.

“for instruction in righteousness:”

The Word instruction means “tutorage, training”. So the Word of God trains us in righteousness. When a person trains, they are instructed and then they put the instruction into practice. This shows that we are to use the Word of God in our lives and make every attempt to apply the Word to our lives. If the Bible tells us to pray, we have to pray. If it tells us to speak, we have to speak. If the Bible tells us to love, we have to love. We may get it wrong a million times, but we will get it right if we stay in training. How long is the training? A lifetime. There is always something to work at when we are trying to live a Godly life. As we are training, we receive doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, and we go back out there and try it again. The Word of God does all of this and makes all of this available to us today because the Word of God is still as alive as it was way back then when the world began.

ALL SCRIPTURE has this amazing power to transform a believer’s life. Study the Word today with a deeper impression of the Word’s impact on our lives! It is more than just a book!

God Bless and keep you all!

Marshall

 

Nov 4, 2020 – Acts 20:28 – Feed My Sheep

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 KJV

Hi Everyone!

We have a great responsibility as believers. Life and death are at stake, and I once heard a pastor say when we don’t share the Word with others, we are messing with their “forever”. Imagine a person drowning and all you had to do to help save them was either tell them about your Lord and Savior or show who your Lord and Savior is in your life. When we think about it, the responsibility may seem great but is it really? Christ said the greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Pretty reasonable judging by the fact that Christ was tortured, beaten, nailed to and strung up on a cross, where His death paid for the sins of the world. We just have to believe this and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and spread the word. Today, we will look at Acts 20:28, a closer look into our role as believers in the church.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

“Take heed” is another way of saying “be on guard”. Paul is speaking to the elders at Ephesus in this passage, but it also applies to us as well. We not only have to be on guard for ourselves but for other believers as well. The word “flock” is a group under a Shepherd. We can’t be passive Christians who safely “mind our own affairs” and don’t look out for each other. The flock weakens we sheep are lost.

We are made “overseers”, shepherds in our own right, which means we are responsible for each other. A shepherd is not only protective, but we are able to effectively lead people in the way they should go. Our job as little shepherds are to lead the sheep to shelter, which is described by Psalms 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” It is our jobs to help lead people to this place. God is a habitation, and we as believers are at home in Him. Why wouldn’t we invite people to the most amazing home we were once invited to ourselves? We don’t have to be pastors, bishops, or clergy to show people where we live, right?

“To feed the church of God”

We as shepherds have to lead a sheep to the food, because food is important to the sheep. The word “feed” here means “tend to as a shepherd”. The church is not a building but a body of people, where Christ is the head. There are people that shepherd us and people we shepherd, but all have to play our roles in our service to God. When God puts someone on our hearts to speak to, then it is our job to do that. When God gives us a poem to write, a word to speak, or a hug to give, or an ear to lend to someone in need, we are “feeding the church or God”.

“Which he hath purchased with his own blood”. Christ bought the church of God with his blood. His shed blood was the atoning sacrifice for us once and for all. In Hebrews 9:22, the Bible says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” If Christ’s blood couldn’t cleanse us from our sins, then His blood couldn’t remit, or pardon, us from our sins, and that means His blood couldn’t pay for the penalty of sin to be removed. Praise God that Christ blood has done it all! Now it is our job to share this precious gift with others, in any way God gives us the ability to do.

It is our job as believers to look after each other the same way Christ looks out for us. We are extending the same treatment we have received and following the example of Christ given to us in God’s word. We are our brother’s keepers, and we can’t pass the responsibility to someone else. Our love for God’s people should always triumph over the weight of the responsibility, right? Our time for shepherding is now.

May you all find comfort in our roles in the kingdom, no matter what it may be!

God Bless and Keep You!

Marshall

 

Nov 5, 2020 – 2 Corinthians 5:7 – Our focus in conflict and affliction

“For we walk by FAITH and not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV

Hi Everyone!

We all have encountered heavy conflict or suffered waves of affliction that seemed to have no end. We looked at mounting offensives by people and by circumstances, mounting expenses and not enough capital, and we have endured ordeals where the odds were completely stacked up against us. When life throws hardships at us, and the odds seem insurmountable, what are we looking at, the odds, the people, the bills, or are we looking at God and His faithfulness?

In 2 Kings 6, starting at verse 8, the King of Syria waged war with Israel, and two times was completely unsuccessful. Why was this? Because Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who warned the King of Israel of the approaching attack and they were able to protect themselves from it. The Word of God will serve as a warning system when the enemy is prone to attack, but we have to pay attention to the warnings given and heed the commands we are given. 

The King of Syria realizes that the reason Israel has thwarted their attacks twice is because the man of God has warned them. What does he do? Send spies into Israel to figure out where He dwells. Why? Because if you take the man of God out of Israel, you take the Word of God out of Israel, and without the Word, Israel has no protection or covering from the enemy’s attacks.

If the enemy understands the power of God is in His Word, then he mounts and offensive to take the Word out of our lives … then why don’t we have the same respect for the Word’s power in our lives.

Think about this too. The King of Syria sends spies to find the man of God’s location, so he could send an army to take him by force. Now, if it takes an army to attempt to remove the man of God from Israel, then it must take the same type of army to attempt to remove the Word of God from our lives, right? The Word of God is meant to remain in our lives, and be the source for instruction, direction, protection, peace, and love in our lives. We don’t always appreciate its power, sadly.

So this army comes, and it is no small affair! They are serious about taking Elisha from Israel. The enemy is not playing about, his desire is to take the Word of God from our lives. In verse 14, the Bible says, “Therefore he sent horses, chariots, and a great host: and they came by night and compassed the city about.”

Came by night? While we’re sleeping and while they couldn’t easily be seen. The enemy is trying to use the element of surprise against us, and his job to blindside us. Does the Word have power when our guard is down? Absolutely not! The Word has to dwell in us and dwell richly in us, for us to remain armed and ready, and then the enemy can’t still creep in unawares.

So the servant to the man of God rises early to tend to his business, In verse 15, the Bible says, “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?” 

Think about it, if the servant rose early and met an army, that should let us know that the enemy rises up earlier, ready to pounce. I like the servant, because he doesn’t panic too hard, even though he is scared. He turns to the man of God and asks him … what should they do. Fair enough question, right? Look at Elisha’s response.

In verse 16, the Bible says, “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 

When we are in the Word, we are able to see things clearly, including our prospects of success. We don’t see the mounting army over the power of our Awesome God, we don’t see a bad report over the promises of our Faithful God, and we don’t see a bill over Jevovah Jireh, which means “The Lord Will Provide”. Elisha addressed the servant with the truth, and shared that with him, that the enemy is outnumbered, not them. Sometimes, the truth is not going to seem accurate because our eyes see one thing and the truth debunks what we see clear as day. In that case, is your faith in the Word or what you see? In 2 Corinthians 5:7, the Bible says, ” For we walk by FAITH and not by sight.” Do we trust God with our sight?

Then Elisha doubles down, desiring that his servant see things the way he does. In verse 17, the Bible says, “And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

The prayer Elisha offers up gets answered, and the Lord opened the servants eyes, beholding the mountains full of horses and chariots of fire around about Elisha.

How many times when our sight betrays the Word of God, do we actually ask God to help us see things the way He does?

How honest are we in our prayer life about our faith? There were indeed more in the army of the Lord than in the army of the enemy, and they got the victory that day. 

We have the opportunity to get the same victory every time the enemy comes up against us. We have to allow the Word of God to lead us, we have to trust the Word over what it looks like, and we have to trust that God will never involve us in a fight where He isn’t right there fighting for us. We always have the numbers when God is involved. Victory is ours in Christ Jesus. 

May you take comfort in the FACT that God sends us into conflicts to win. God bless and keep you all!

In Christ,
Marshall

 

Nov 6, 2020 – Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my Shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 KJV

Hi Everyone,

Today, I want us to take a closer look into one of the most familiar passages in the Bible, the 23rd Psalm. Sometimes, the most powerful messages are in the things we know well, in the things we are most familiar with.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Pretty simple, huh? It really shows how simple God is versus how complicated we make Him out to be. “The Lord is…” Look at the word “is”. It is a term that is spoken to identify something or someone, but it is also spoken to identify something or someone in present tense! In Exodus 3:13-14, Moses is having a conversation with God, he had concerns about the questions Israel would ask him about God, one being His name.

In verse 14, God answers Moses by saying, “I AM THAT I AM:

and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Once again, present tense! Then, when Jesus was speaking with the Jews about His identity and His origin in John 8, in verse 58, Christ said,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”           Yet again, present tense!

These three words are so important, “The Lord is”, because our God isn’t the God of our past, of our Grandparents, of Israel only. He is our God today, Christ is our savior today, and the Holy Spirit is still moving hearts today the same way the Holy Spirit moved on the day of Pentecost! If our God is the God of right now, then we should have no doubt as to His presence in our lives today. The minute we begin to think that God isn’t the same God He was then, or He doesn’t move the same way He once did, then we disconnect ourselves from the knowledge of His presence and His power.

In Hebrews 11:6, the Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” You see? We must believe that “He IS”. Do we come to our God believing that He IS?

David did. He was identified as a man after God’s own heart, and so must we be as believer. He believed that “The Lord Is”, and the Lord always showed himself faithful and present in David’s life.

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”.

So, we identified that the Lord Is very much present. Now look at the verse again. “The Lord is my shepherd.” David identified the Lord as MY shepherd, meaning there is a clear relationship there. David didn’t rely on his father’s relationship with the Lord, or his brother’s relationship with the Lord, he sought his own relationship with the Lord, where he could know the Lord for himself. When David stated that the Lord is His shepherd, he admitted that he was a sheep, helpless, dumb, incapable of directing his own path, and unable to protect himself from the enemy. This was the King of Israel telling God that he was completely useless without the Lord leading him. Pretty humble, right?

When David identified the Lord as his shepherd, he is making the statement that he only wants the Lord to lead him. He is saying he belongs to the Lord. In John 10:14-15, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” When we make the Lord our Shepherd, we enter into a relationship where we discover that we were always His, He knows us and we know Him, and He laid His life down so we could have everlasting life! When we allow the Lord to Shepherd us, we give our will, our vulnerability, our knowledge, and render ourselves completely helpless for the Lord to direct us as He wills.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The last part of the verse is the easy part. 🙂 The word “want” in this passage means “lack”. That is important, especially for the people who incorrectly believe that God will give you everything you want. 🙂 “I shall not want (lack)”, means that I will have my needs supplied. In Philippians 4:19, the Bible says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Because the Lord is our Shepherd, He will make sure we are taken care of, having all we need. There is a difference between want and need, just a reminder. 🙂

God bless and keep you all!

In Christ,

Marshall

 

Nov 7, 2020 – Psalm 23:2 – He maketh me, He leadeth me.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:2 JKV

Hi Everyone!

Today we are still looking at the 23rd Psalms, journeying to verse two. There is a lot of good food in this verse.

Psalms 23:2 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”

A shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep to water, to food, and to shelter. The shepherd provides everything for the sheep, as God so freely does for us. Our God knows what’s best for us, even when we don’t. When this verse begins with, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”, it implies that God wants His sheep to rest, to enjoy the beauty of His creation, a fertile land teeming with growth and gentle grass. God wants us to rest in His provision. When we lie down, it means that there is no plan to have to get up, so it is a picture of a permanence that only God can give. The word pasture means “a home, a dwelling, an abode”. So, our loving God leads us to a place where He makes us totally at home.

Sounds familiar? When the Israelites left Egypt, they wandered through the wilderness, He made sure He didn’t lead them through the way of the land of the Philistines, because they weren’t prepared for war. He led them in a pillar of a cloud by day, and led them by a pillar of fire by night. He gave them manna from heaven, quail when they complained about the manna, and gave them water out of a rock twice! They were protected, but also were disciplined along the way. God led His sheep into the promised land, into a land flowing with milk and honey, into their green pastures that God made them lie down in. “Green pastures” is the appointed place He ordained for us to lie down and make roots.

The second half of the verse, “he leadeth me beside the still waters.” After he makes me lie down to experience a home of fertile land and growth, He then gives me peace. “Still waters” is a picture of peace, both for the water and for the person beholding the water. Still waters means there is no wind, no trouble, and it also means you can see your reflection in the water. If God is leading you besides the still waters, then you most certainly can see your reflection. A lot of times in our lives, we don’t have the peace to see ourselves clearly, but praise God that He gives us a permanent home and peace within our souls to understand that we are safe in Him.

A shepherd’s job is to make sure the sheep are secure. In Jeremiah 23:3-4, the Bible says, “And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries wither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.” See what God did for us? We must do the same for others, leading them to these green pastures and still waters in the Lord. We don’t have to fear or be dismayed because we are safe in His care. God loves us that deeply that He provides the place for our rest.

God bless and keep you all!

In Christ,

Marshall

 

Nov 8, 2020 – Psalm 23:3 – He restoreth my soul, He leadeth me.

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”  Psalm 23:3 KJV

Hi Everyone!!

Today we look at Psalms 23:3, a deeper look into one of the Bible’s most well-known passages. We talked about how God is our leader, guider, protector, sustainer, provider, and as long as He is our Shepherd, we won’t lack. We also talked about how God gives us a home in Him where the land is fertile for growth, and how He gives us His peace. This Shepherd does a lot more than we give Him credit for, doesn’t He?

In Psalms 23:3, the Bible says, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

“He restoreth my soul”. Think about that. In order for God to restore my soul, that means my soul is not in the intended design of the creator. Think about cars that get restored. A great restoration job is from the frame up, because we go all the way back to the beginning and rebuild according to way it was intended to be. Cars that are restored, usually have had parts attached or taken away, maybe with some things cobbled together just for the car to run, but all of which cheapens the vehicle and negatively affects its performance. Now take that vision about the car and think about how we attach things to ourselves, or take things away from ourselves that cheapens us and negatively affects our performance. Why is that? Because we are building outside of God’s intention for us, attaching things to our person that God didn’t authorize us to have. So what happens is, God breaks me down to the frame and rebuilds me with every piece that was intended to be there from the beginning. God wants to bring our true value back into our lives, and in order to do that, we have to allow Him to restore us.

To restore means to “turn back”. Kinda sounds like the definition of repent, which also means to turn back. Restoration is a process, and in this verse it is no different. God wants to be our shepherd, and when He becomes our shepherd, we will not lack anything we need, we will have a home in Him, and He will give us His peace. THEN, comes the restoration. God won’t allow anything to threaten our restoration. He stands behind His work!

“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

The second part of this verse takes us into what happens after restoration. When he leads me in the paths of righteousness, He is teaching me His Word, making His Word available for me to feed myself on. In Psalms 119:11, the Bible says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  Thy Word is the means for us to walk in the paths of righteousness, and only through the Word being hidden on our hearts will we have the standard that will help us stand against sin. Why does God allow us to learn and understand His Word? The words “for his name’s sake” is the same as “to bear His name”. Simply put, God restores us and teaches us His word so that we can bear His name, which means we represent Him in our lives and by our lives. Christians are supposed to bear the attributes of Christ, just as the Israelites were supposed to bear the attributes of God. No difference. The Word teaches us how to do that. In John 14:26, the Bible says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” We are never without God’s leading when He is our Shepherd, and the Holy Spirit makes God’s Word clear in our lives.

We can do nothing or have anything that matters without the Lord being our Shepherd. May God comfort you in His love today.

God bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 9, 2020 – Psalm 23:4 – He restoreth my soul, He leadeth me.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 JKV

Hi Everyone!

Today we are taking a look a verse 4 in our study on Psalms 23. What do we do when we experience things in our lives that threaten our peace, our safety, and leave us uneasy about the path God is leading us through? How do we feel when we are afraid by the environment that seems to horrify us in every way? Just because we are believers, it doesn’t mean we are exempt from terrifying ordeals, experiencing fear, or being close to life or death situations. We are sheep and you better believe that the enemy will try to use our worst fears to separate us from our Shepherd. What should our state of mind be?

Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

For anyone who thinks that this won’t happen to them, look at the first four words of the verse. “Yea, though I walk”. Doesn’t say “if” does it? We all are going to face times like these, scary dark times that can make us unsure about moving forward. Knowing that we aren’t alone in this really helps. Let’s look at the first part of the verse. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”. The key to this verse is the word “through”. Walking through any place means that it is only temporary, that is a very short season in our lives. We will have time to see the sights and experience the fear, but we don’t have to remain in it. Knowing the terrors in our lives are temporary can completely change our impression and our circumstances. The verse also says, “the valley of the shadow of death”, so we’re not talking about a life or death situation here. We’re talking about the shadow of death, so it is the fear that comes from something around us, not to us. Sometimes, really seeing things clearly helps us to keep the right perspective. So, when we walk through this valley, we won’t fear evil. Why?

“For thou art with me”

Our Shepherd is always with us, protecting us, sustaining us, fighting off our enemies. The security of knowing God is right there with us should give us the confidence we need to not fear any evil. When Christ ended His commission in Matthew 18:20, he said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” So, God is with us and isn’t going anywhere. There is nothing to fear, and David professes this. Do we profess that God is with us when we are afraid? Do we trust in Him when life is pouring more rain than sunshine?

“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

A Shepherd has two tools he uses, the rod and the staff. Both are used to provide comfort to the sheep. The rod is a tool that is used for correction, and discipline. In Hebrews 12:6, the Bible says, “For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives”. We are going need discipline and it is not pleasant. In Hebrews 12:11, the Bible says “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto the them which are exercised thereby.” So discipline doesn’t feel good at first, but if we allow it to teach us, we can bear the fruit of righteousness, and please our Shepherd. The staff is used for direction, because as sheep, we have no clue where to go, but our Shepherd does. If I was going to a city I have never been before, and I had to get to a set destination there, I would lose my peace trying to find my own way. 🙂 If I ask for directions, I may still be anxious because I don’t know the person so I don’t know if they are leading me the right way. But in most cars now they have navigation systems available to lead you all the way to the door, but we still have to listen for the directions. The staff guides us in the direction we need to take, especially when we are headed in the wrong direction. So, in God’s correction or God’s direction, they provide comfort to us because we know that God truly cares about our well being and has our best interests at heart.

No matter where we go or how bleak the situation looks, we have an awesome God who is always there with us, ready to lead us into a beautiful life and relationship with him. Some parts of it aren’t pleasant but it all works together for our good! May you be encouraged in the God that will never leave your side. Never! 🙂

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 10, 2020 – Psalm 23:5 – God provides and anoints.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalm 23:5 KJV

Hi Everyone! 

Today, we are looking at verse 5 of Psalm 23. We have already established that God is our Shepherd, and as long as we are allowing Him to lead and guide us, we will have everything we need. We then discussed how God has given us a place of permanence, a home on fertile ground, sure to reap a harvest. He also shows us His peace, waters so still in which we can see our reflection. The passage also speaks on how God allows us to turn back to Him, restoring us, and shows us how to live a righteous life and bear His name. Now we unlock further truths in verse 5.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

The first part of the verse shows us that we are going to have enemies. Please don’t be fooled into thinking that everyone is going to like us or wish us well, because if we look at Christ, He always had adversaries. He walked the earth healing the sick, raising the death, causing the blind to see, freeing people from demonic possession, and He told the truth everywhere He went. He should’ve been the most liked person on the planet, but He was called a liar, they said He had a demon, and said he was a son of fornication, everything He wasn’t. In Mark 13:13, the Bible says, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” Christ said we were going to be hated of all men, so we can be secure in knowing that we will have some enemies. 🙂

So God breaks out a table in front of my enemies, and then tells me to sit down in front of them. Wouldn’t that bring a certain level of nervousness? Would that require some trust on our part, that God isn’t putting us in front of a firing squad, that He knows what He is doing. Trust that we are going to have enemies, and also trust that we are going to have to face them. We can’t run from our adversaries, especially Satan. In James 4:7, the Bible says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We have to resist the enemy, and because God leads us in the paths of righteousness, we know that we resist the enemy with the Word of God. Truth is how a lie is resisted, right? So God puts me on display in front on my enemies, and I have to trust that this is all for a reason. 

The second part of the verse holds the reason. “Thou anointest my head with oil.” When someone in anointed with oil, they are blessed and set apart for a spiritual purpose. We will identify someone as anointed, we are saying that they are filled and led by the Spirit of God. So in the presence of our haters, of the people that have bad intentions for us, God pours His Spirit upon us, blessing us in the faces of those who hate us. Imagine the sense of humor God has to have, setting up a table, sitting us at it, and saying, “Watch this! Watch this!” and pour His Spirit upon us, showing the haters that they are hating on someone who is blessed. God puts their hatred on display and establishes who we belong to in the process. 

The last part of the verse jabs at the haters a little more. “My cup runneth over”. God is going to bless us so much with His Spirit and in life that we are going to have more than what we need. He gives us an abundance to share it with someone else. God makes us a living testimony in front of everyone that said we are nothing, who threw our past in our faces, who plotted against us and mistreated us, and who never meant us any good. 

Our God is awesome and also allows us to triumph in the face of trial. May you trust in God to take a seat at the table He prepared for you in the presence of your enemies, because a blessing is in store.

God bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 11, 2020 – Psalm 23:6 – Goodness and mercy in the House of the Lord forever.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23:6 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Today, we are looking at Psalm 23:6, completing our study on the 23rd Psalm, one of the most famous passages of the Old Testament. There is incredible depth to Scripture and the purpose of devotionals is to bring our study of Scripture to life, to give us gleanings from the Word that can encourage and instruct us in our course of life today. The 23rd Psalm gives a believer assurances of how life will be under God’s shepherding, how we will be provided for, protected, restored, led in how to live a Godly life, how we realize God is with us when we are fearful, how he corrects and directs us, and how he blesses us in the presence of our enemies, our blessings overflowing. Now we will look at verse 6.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

Because of God’s goodness and mercy being poured heavily upon us causing our cup to overflow, goodness and mercy will follow us. In every environment we enter into, God’s spirit should fill the room, and when we leave an environment, it should be positively impacted by God’s present in our lives. This requires us to engage with people, talk with people, share the Word with people. Remember, God led us in the paths of righteousness to bear His name, to represent Him everywhere we go. So, goodness and mercy will definitely follow us because we are allowing our light to shine, and allowing God’s presence to reach us and the reach after His people. As we enter a space, what do people see in us? Do we personify the God we serve or do they see the world? What do they say about us when we leave a room? What impact do we make?

If goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of our lives, then we have to dwell in God’s house all the days of our lives. If we stay connected to God, we remain connected to the attributes that will exude goodness and mercy, and we will make positive impacts everywhere. In Psalm 27:4, the Bible says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” What are our desires? Is it to dwell in God’s house forever, to see His beauty, and seek after Him in His temple? Where is our focus? If we focus on our Shepherd and go where He leads us, we will bear His name everywhere we go, in word and in deed.

I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever!!! This is the life I chose. Hope this look into the 23rd Psalm opens your heart to something new in the Word.

God Bless,

Marshall

 

Nov 12, 2020 – Psalm 133:1 – Brethren to dwell together in unity!

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalms 133:1 KJV

Hi Everyone!

How important is unity among believers? When God created Adam, He saw him and felt it was not “good” that Adam be alone, and He created a helpmeet for Him. We are called the bride of Christ, and if He is the bridegroom, then God created us to be a type of helpmeet for Christ, right? Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church, right? So God’s intention was for us to never be alone, for us to always have unity in our lives in all relationships we have. We hear about “the power of one” but what happens when there two or more gathered in Christ’s name? He is in the midst. Today I want us to look at Psalms 133:1, which breaks down something so simple that society seems to be so out of tune with.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Look at the word “behold”. To behold means to ” fix your eyes upon” or “look intently”. When behold is being used, it is telling a person to pay very close attention because what is being said or what is being done is very important. This Psalm was said to have been written after David regained his throne from Absalom, to show Israel how beautiful unity is.

The “good” here is a creation word, going back to Genesis, where God saw what He spoke into existence appear and declared it good. When God declares something good, that is Him putting his stamp of approval on it. It has always been God’s intention for His children to live in unity, but mankind’s sin threw a wedge in God’s design for the word He created. When David beheld Israel on one accord, He saw what God’s intention for His people looked like, and David declared it good as well. He was a man after God’s on heart, remember?

Anything good spiritually, is also pleasant, or pleasing to our God. When we operate according to His intention for creation, and are being the people He desired for us to be, He is greatly pleased with us. Parents, think about a time you gave your kids directives and they went right to work on it, working together in perfect harmony, like a well-oiled machine. As a parent, you see this and you smile, pleased by what you see. That’s how God sees us when we are living out His purpose and intentions for our lives.

What is “good and pleasant” to God in this Scripture?

Brethren dwelling together in unity!

The word brethren means “brothers or people of common ancestry”. So the body of Christ are all brethren, but remember, Christ also welcomed Gentiles into the fold and we are brethren with His elect, Israel. When we are dwelling together in unity, it doesn’t mean we are all robots performing the same function. It does mean that we are all using our gifting and our talents to collectively build up the kingdom of God. The singer is working with the poet, the pastor is working with the people who feed the needy, the missionary is working with the prisoner. Unite is the basis of unity, and when we come together for one cause, Christ, and the building up of the kingdom of God, we are definitely pleasing God.

May we all work together to build up God’s kingdom. It pleases the Lord!!!

God bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 13, 2020 – 1 Corinthians 4:2 – A man be found faithful

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Our job as believers is extremely important. I didn’t say our job as pastors are important, but our job as believers is important. Whether you are a pastor, or in the last pew at church service, we have the same responsibility, to embody Christ and point people to the Way. The great commission applies to us all and in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus clearly says in the Bible, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” That’s the job, and in our own ways, according to the abilities God has given us, we are to live out this commission in our lives. Today, we are going to look at 1 Corinthians 4:2, which deals with stewardship.

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

The word “steward” means “general manager of affairs and accounts of the owner”. So when an owner leaves, he entrusts all that is in his house to a steward, who will manage his house in his absence. When someone entrusts everything they have to someone else, that implies a great deal of trust, and with trust, there are requirements. In the great commission above, we are instructed to teach them to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”, so we are only supposed to lead with the instructions of the owner. That means nothing is supposed to change between the time the owner leaves and he comes back, because the stewards are entrusted to manage the owner’s affairs and accounts the same way he has and would. In Jeremiah 23:4, the Bible says, “And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.” See what I mean? Because we have been entrusted with stewardship, the same way the Lord is our Shepherd, is the same way we have to be shepherds for others. We are to feed them love, the Word, direction, and every other thing the Holy Spirit puts on our hearts to give them. They won’t fear, be dismayed or lack anything because we are there for them.

A steward carries a great responsibility, and that requires us to have the mind of the owner. In Philippians 2:5, the Bible says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” We have had the privilege of studying the Word of God, breathing in the example of Christ as a guide to what we shall do when He ascended to the Father. In 1 John 4:17, the Bible says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” So we are to imitate Christ in our stewardship.

The second part of the verse, “that a man be found faithful” is the result of the work we have done as a steward. The word faithful means “trustworthy in the performance of duties”. If Christ came back today to give an account of our stewardship, what would He see? Would He come back to find us slack, with the sheep He’s entrusted to us scattered and led astray? Will He find our talents buried instead of practiced and multiplied? Or will He come back to find us rejoicing, ready to give a report on the work we were able to do and the lives that have been changed during our stewardship. In 1 Corinthians 3:13, the Bible says, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” The fire will try our work when Christ comes back, so what will remain? God has already trusted us when He made us stewards, but will we prove Him right in trusting us or make Him to be a liar? Trustworthiness is a requirement in stewardship, that we will manage the affairs and accounts of the Owner until He comes back the same way He did an if possible, better. Christ said in John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” We have the ability to do all Christ did on this earth and more, but the question is do we believe on Christ?

Can Christ entrust His work to us? Will we be trustworthy stewards?

May God bless and Keep you All!

Marshall

 

Nov 14, 2020 – Romans 12:2 – Renewing the mind

“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 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Our walk, in faith, is not always an easy one. We have a world around us with their own “rules” or the lack thereof, and one doesn’t have to go as far as cutting off the TV to see just how Godless this world is becoming. Division, strife, violence, immorality abounds right on the TV, planting seeds in the children we are trying to train up in the Word. As believers, it can be easy for us to lose focus, and embrace some of the values of this world instead the truth in the Word. Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”.

Every high thing. Every thought. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? We have to keep our diligence to live a Godly life, because if we don’t, then we will slowly allow the world to seep into our lives until a person can’t tell the difference between us and the world we are saved from. Today we are taking a look at Romans 12:2, a look into practicing Godliness.

“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.”

***Whenever we read this verse, it is important to look at the first word. “And” is a word of continuation, showing that the verse you are reading is a continuation of a previous verse. Verse one is about presenting ourselves as living sacrifices unto God, people ready to put the kingdom business first over their own business. It expresses that this living sacrifice unto God is our reasonable service, that God isn’t asking much from us at all. Verse 1 and 2 are a complete thought!***

In verse two, the word conform, means “to be fashioned alike”, so to “be not conformed to this world”, it means that we are not to fashion ourselves to look like the world. People have to see us and see the world, and then see the difference. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” We have to physically step out from the world around us and intentionally stand apart from the world around us. It doesn’t mean we be hermits, but people should once again see the difference between the way we operate and the way the world operates.

If you look through Scripture, separation was normal. Moses separated himself to hear from God, Abraham separated himself to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, Hannah separated herself to pray for a child, and Christ separated himself to pray many times. Separation allow us to give God our undivided attention, and when God sees we are available to Him, He receives us!

“But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”

The word transformed is really the same as metamorphosis, which means “a change in nature or form”. The body is the same, but the heart and mind are changed. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Bible says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a NEW creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new”. Think about a caterpillar that goes into a cocoon and comes out a butterfly. That butterfly will never be a caterpillar again, and that is how we are as believers. So, we are transformed by the “renewing” of our minds. In Psalm 119:11, the Bible says, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against thee”. In Colossians 3:10, the Bible says, ” And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”. Putting those verses together, we study the Word, meditate on it to put in our hearts, and that knowledge allows us be new creatures in Christ, bearing His image. Look at the word “renewing” in the verse. The “ing” means that it is a continual process, daily is the idea. We go to the Word and allow the seed to grow and bear fruit in our lives.

“That ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

The word prove here means, “establish truth by evidence”. That means we study the Word of truth daily, and our daily study will build into a ton of concrete evidence about the accuracy of the Scripture, and about God’s will for our lives. When a person knows something and has tons of evidence to back it up, it is extremely hard to shake them from their position, correct? So, our daily search of God’s word builds the knowledge we need about Him, His will, our identities in Him, and how the world works, all of which allows us to come out from among them and be ye separate.

When a person sees you, do they see world or Word? What SHOULD they see?

May God bless and keep you all!

Marshall

 

Nov 15, 2020 – Psalm 37:4 – Delight thyself also in the Lord

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalm 37:4 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Today, we tackle the desires we have as believers, and the things we ask God for in prayer pertaining to those desires. Some of us ask for things and don’t get them, and we wonder why. We read verses like Psalm 37:4, and say, “God, I am taking pleasure in you, but I am not getting the desires of my heart. Why not?” If a person tries to apply a promise, but interprets the promise incorrectly, the provisions of promise can’t be made available to them, because they have not fulfilled the conditions of the promise itself. It isn’t because we blatantly disregarded the conditions, but we didn’t understand.  It is important for us to understand the Scripture correctly, so we will break down Psalm 37:4, so we can all understand how to receive the desires of our heart.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Most people look at the word “delight” and automatically think that it means “to take pleasure in”, or “be pleased with”. Delight is a word that actually means “to be soft or pliable”. When something is soft or pliable, that means it is flexible enough to be formed. Hold that thought for a second …

“Delight thyself ALSO in the Lord”. The word “also” means that there is something else attached to this. In 37:1, the Bible says “Fret not thyself (blaze up in anger or jealousy) because of evildoers”. So that means, ‘don’t get mad when you see the worldly become wealthy, and you don’t have what they have’. In 37:3, the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord and do good…” So these are the additional directives given to go with 37:4, explaining the word “also” on verse 4. So God doesn’t want us to be affected by what the world has, and He wants us to trust in Him and do the things He ordained for us to do. Now we can go back to the thought I had you hold for a second …

Delighting ourselves in the Lord, means that we make ourselves available to be formed the way God wants to form us. That means, we give up our will to be what we want to be, and allow God to form us according to His design and intent. Remember in Genesis, where God said, “Let us make man in our own image, and in our own likeness”? Remember in Genesis 2:7 where the Bible says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground..” So letting God form us will naturally shape us according to His initial design for us, and our appearance will bear His image. in Romans 8:29, the Bible says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” So God has always had the intention to form us to the image of His Son, but are we allowing God to form us or are we still trying to be who we want to be?

“And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”

The word “And” connects the conditions to the promise. The word “shall” is not bound by our impression on time. It means “it is going to happen”, but we have to trust God on the timing. The word desire means “request or petition ” That means we can make our requests to God and under these conditions, we see He will answer our requests. We all know the “heart” as being the “seat of one’s inner nature”.

Let’s put this all together. Don’t look at what the world has as a guide or example for what we should have as believers. Trust in God and do what he ordained for us to do. Allow God to form us into whom and what He designed for us to be, and He shall then give us the request of our inner nature. If we allow God to form us into His image, then what we ask for will be resoundingly different than what we’d ask for under “normal” circumstances. We should ask for things that will further advance God’s plan for our lives and not to fulfill our own personal desires. Our desires will be selfless if we allow God to form us into His design.

When Solomon became King, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said in 1 Kings 3:5, “Ask, what shall I give thee”. Solomon asked for the wisdom he needed to be the king God wanted him to be. He knew he didn’t have what he needed to be king so he asked God to give him what he lacked. God gave him more wisdom than anyone in the world and because He didn’t ask for riches, God made him the richest man in the world. Think about it. This is a dream, and even in a dream, Solomon mind was on pleasing the Lord by doing what God ordained him to do. God appeared to Solomon, not the other way around. Solomon basically asked God to form him into the king He designed Him to be, not the king he wanted to be.

If we aren’t getting our heart’s desires, then maybe we should ask ourselves, “Have we made ourselves available to God to be formed according to His will and design?” If not, maybe we should start there, because James 4:3 says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” May we all follow the examples set before us and become a people formed by our Loving God.

God bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 16, 2020 – 1 Corinthians 9:22 – To the weak I became weak

“To the weak I became as weak, that I may gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Before Christ ascended to the Father, he said “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world “. Knowing Christ with be with us always, we have no reason to feel alone. What about the unbeliever who hasn’t received this word of truth into their heart? What covering do they have to ensure they don’t feel alone? Who becomes their bridge to the Kingdom of God? Unbelievers look at us like there is a world between them and us, and they have the hardest time with receiving the truth because there are few of us willing to step outside of the comfort of their salvation to help someone find their way into the kingdom. Unbelievers experience judgement before they experience understanding, and they receive a sermon about why they need to change before anyone gives them an understanding ear. If we are unwilling to exercise compassion as believers, then how can we ever show them a loving and forgiving God? They see us, and it should be a reflection of the God we represent.  Today, we are going to look at 1 Corinthians 9:22, the importance of understanding people their level.

“To the weak I became as weak, that I may gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

The word weak here means “strengthless, implying a lack of firmness of mind: weak-minded, i.e. doubting or hesitating in opinion or faith.” So Paul is saying to the church at Corinth in this passage, that when he saw the weak he became ‘as weak’. This doesn’t mean he gave up the strength or the faith he had, but it means he strove to understand what the weak experienced directly from the source. This is important, because we can’t look at a person’s situation and assume we know what is going on. We have to be willing to step into their fire and see what they face from their perspective. Let’s say a person is coming to your house but gets lost along the way. They call you and say, “I am lost”. The first things you ask them are where they are, what street are they on, or things that may help you understand where they are. Why do you ask them these questions? Because it is easier to direct them to your house when you know where they are right now. In a believer’s life, it is no different. We can only direct a person to “Our Home”, the Kingdom of God, if we know enough about where they are to then show them the way. Paul walked a mile in their shoes, so he could show them the way to the Kingdom, so that he could show the weak how to be strong. If we are unwilling to meet a person right where they are, then how will they ever come to know Christ the way we do.

“I am made all things to all men”

In Romans 15:1, the Bible says, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves”. God builds His strength into us, not for us to merely display our strength, but so we can use our strength to show others how to be strong. We bear their burdens so we can show them how to give their burdens to the Lord. Ministry is totally about God and nothing about us. Paul was made all things to all men, meaning he desired to be what all men needed him to be. That means our work as believers is never done because there is always someone we can work with and edify for the kingdom. “All men” means all men, believers or unbelievers. I highlighted unbelievers in my opening because if we put this in practice with unbelievers, then working with believers the same way becomes easier and easier. We have to make ourselves available to our brothers and sisters being willing to uplift and direct them in the Lord and in love for “All men”.

“That I might by all means save some”

Paul here isn’t trying to replace Christ as ‘The Savior’ in their lives, and neither should we. The word save here means “to preserve safe from danger, loss or destruction”. So we are doing our part to help people stick around long enough for them to receive salvation, and also regain their focus if they are believers, but have fallen away. All we do as believers is show people to The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

It should be our desire to meet people where they are so we can identify with their struggles, and help them see the road to all take for their salvation and restoration. Sounds familiar? Last time I checked, Jesus Christ came to this world, robed himself in flesh, and now intercedes on our behalf. In Hebrews 4:15-16, the Bible says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” He met us where we were with a plan for salvation, walking as we did, but not sinning.

Our journeys to the Lord don’t mean anything to people if we are unwilling to understand them at their level. It is through our compassion for others that the attributes of Christ project from us. May we all become as the weak so we can gain the weak for Christ.

God bless and Keep You All!

Marshall

 

Nov 17, 2020 – Psalm 18:30 – HIS WAY IS PERFECT

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” Psalm 18:30 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Do we really trust in God with the direction for our lives? We read the Bible, we say we trust in Him, but what happens when God allows us to go through a place where we have to rely solely on Him to make it through? Do we panic, or do we turn to Him, establish ourselves under His mighty hand and really look at God’s record to find security in His plan? When we trust in God, we allow Him to direct us where He purposed us to be, and we will see why His way is way more effective than our own. Today we will look at Psalms 18:30, a word about why we should trust in God.

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him”

The word perfect here means “without blemish”. So not only is our God perfect, but His “course of life” is perfect as well. How can God’s course of life for us be perfect? Doesn’t He have to figure out unexpected variables in His plan for us? Absolutely not! In Isaiah 46:10, the Bible says, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from the ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” So God’s plan for us was declared from the beginning, so that means God knows every detail of His plan for us, and He knows exactly how His plan will end. If God created me and created the plan for my life, then there is no way His way is not perfect.

“The Word of the Lord is tried”

The word tried means “refined or tested”. So God’s word has already survived scrutiny, stood against people trying to poke holes into His Word, and has remained true. When something is refined, it goes into the fire, and the fine burns off any impurities, leaving the metal pure and without blemish. So not only did God’s Word go out, but just for good measure, He allowed His word to enter the fire. He knows His word is true, and the fire proved it!

“he is a buckler to all those that trust in him”

A buckler is a shield that goes over the arm, protecting a person from attack. A buckler is good against arrows, but it is also great in “up close” battle, that can be used to protect and in some cases used as a weapon. The buckler only works if it is used effectively, and if the person using it, trusts that it will work as intended. We have to trust God even if we are under attack, even if things don’t seem to be going our way. If we trust God to protect us, He will do just that, but we have to trust him. In Psalms 17:7, the Bible says, “Shew thy marvellous loving kindness, O thou savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them”. See? All it takes is for us to trust in God and he will deliver us from the enemy.

God doesn’t ask for much for what He provides, does he? David gave this song of victory in Psalm 18 after the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. What will be our Psalm of victory?

May God bless and Keep you All!

Marshall

 

Nov 18, 2020 – Isaiah 26:3 – Keep him in perfect peace

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee.” Isaiah 26:3 KJV

Hi Everyone!

How do we gain peace in such a world of turmoil? Look at the state of our world right now. A pandemic is sweeping through every country like a flood, many people are affected, and many have died as a result. The United States is a country of confusion, protests, riots, police shootings, and our leadership has no answers for how to effectively deal with these problems we face. Violence is everywhere, Godlessness abounds in every corner, and sadly, believers seem to be the minority everywhere we go. How can a person find peace in a world that is so corrupt? Well, the world was never designed to give us peace! Today, we are going to look at Isaiah 26:3 for a look at where our peace actually comes from.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee.”

The words “wilt keep” means “guard or protect”. The word “in” implies a habitation of sorts for us to dwell. So, to paint a picture, God places us in a house of perfect peace, and then protects that house to allow us to rest in the peace. What is this “perfect peace”? The Bible describes it as “peace, peace” as if to say, “not regular peace, but real peace.”

What is the difference? In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” So, we have peace that the world gives and the peace that God gives. The world’s peace is momentary, based on trivial, temporary things, like money, materialistic things, feelings, relationships, sex, drugs, and even music. It can make us feel better, but it doesn’t give us the peace that only God can give. God’s peace is not depending on outside factors, tax brackets, relationships or the lack thereof. His peace fills us, and he desires for us to dwell in His peace. That is why His word says he will KEEP us in perfect peace. The word “keep” is a word that implies a permanent state, so God wants us to remain in His peace.

“Whose mind is stayed on thee”

There are almost always conditions to a promise. Receiving a habitation in God’s perfect peace requires us to do something. That something seems simple, keeping our minds stayed on Him. If our minds are “stayed”, that means our minds are in a fixed position where God is all we see, so if we can’t physically see God as a Spirit, we have His word to fix our minds on. God freely gives us His peace under this condition, but within this condition He also leaves it completely up to us to keep the peace He gives. The minute we take our minds off of God’s word, and make the choice to receive the world’s peace, we essentially walk out of the house God placed us in and guarded for us to remain in. In Colossians 3:2, the Bible says, “Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth”. We have to keep looking to Christ, who is above, seated at the right hand of God. The word “set” means “fix upon”. So, if we are believers where God freely makes perfect peace available to us, yet we don’t have peace, then what does that mean? Our minds are stayed, or set, on the things of the earth. Do we focus on our problems or God’s word? So, our peace depends upon us fixing our minds on Him and His Word.

“Because he trusteth in thee”.

The word trust here is the key to the end of this verse. To trust means “to hie for refuge”. That is no spelling error, “hie” is actually a word, meaning “to hasten or hurry as a reflex”. So, to trust here means we hurry to our refuge by reflex. So, when we feel ourselves absent of peace, our reflex is running to our loving God for the peace we need, to retrain our minds on His, so we can be guarded in His perfect peace. If we don’t trust God for peace, then our minds won’t reflectively run to Him for refuge. We will try to figure it out for ourselves or seek comforts to temporary fix the problem. If we DO trust God, then our minds stay on Him and we remain in His peace.

It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to believers, or we won’t face hard times, but in the face of hard times God will guard us in His perfect peace. I know this firsthand because I am in perfect peace with life imprisonment without parole, and I seem to possess more peace that the people hired to confine me. One thing I am sure of, we can’t rely on the world’s peace because that can only take us so far. We can fail at receiving God’s perfect peace, but God never fails to extend it to us.

May today bring you abundant peace that only God can give. Let us fix our minds on Him today.

God Bless You All!

Marshall

 

Nov 19, 2020 – Isaiah 29:13 – But have removed their heart from me

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” Isaiah 29:13 KJV

Hi Everyone!

We live in a society that tends to pay a lot of “lip service” to the Lord, but are our hearts with the Lord? We say we are Christians, but does the world around us see that in motion? Have we become so religious that we follow after what man says before we follow after the Word? Pretty deep questions, ones we should always be willing to ask. I have one more question. Do people hear about our faith only to never see it? If we think that this goes unnoticed by God, we are sadly mistaken, and I would like us to take a look at Isaiah 29:13, because actions really do speak louder than words.

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

This is the people, who by their speech, sound like they are strong in the faith and have amazing relationships with God. They are the people that make God powerful, and exalt him verbally. They are the people who openly pray and praise God, giving the appearance of holiness and sanctification. I used to be this person, the church goer that could quote Scripture and participate heavily in service but didn’t have a relationship with my God. If these are the words of the Lord making this acknowledgement, then that shows he knows whether we are sincere or not, whether our praise is real! Yet, He still loves us and still has been drawing us to Him.

“But have removed their heart far from me,”

Think about this. It says “have REMOVED their heart”. Doesn’t this really express that we have made a choice to take our hearts out of our relationships, out of our praise, and out of our relationships with God? This is deliberate. So, God knows when our heart isn’t in it, and when we actually take our hearts out of it. Yet, He still loves us and keeps drawing us to Him.

“And their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men.”

The fear of God, that deep moral reverence, is something that comes naturally through a sincere relationship with God. We get to know God by studying His word and allowing Him to speak to our hearts, also allowing Him to direct our paths. When this fear is taught by man’s precepts, or commandments, instead of from a deep, fruitful relationship with God, then our fear towards God is going to be because of man and not because of who God is. An example of this would if my Auntie and Uncle, who raised me, made me go to church every Sunday. Sure I went to church every Sunday, and it may have looked like I was faithful on the surface, but in my heart, if given the chance, I would’ve gladly slept in and missed church. I went to church to follow orders. I really enjoyed church and I am glad I was forced to go, but I didn’t develop my own desire to attend service until I developed my own relationship with my Lord and Saviour. Man’s commands can only take you so far, sadly, a lot of believers never make it past this point.

If we received our fear from the commandments of men, and not from our relationship and knowledge of God, then the heart of our service is removed, leaving us with empty words of praise and honour that doesn’t bring us any closer to God. In 1 Corinthians 4:20, the Bible says, “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” The word power here means “miraculous force or power”. That shows there is going to be evidence of God’s power working in our lives. It is bigger than words. Our words have to carry power and that only happens when we turn our hearts to the Lord and allow Him to speak and work through us.

May we all give our God willing hearts of service, allowing us to speak words of truth, and live lives of power.

God Bless You All!

Marshall

 

Nov 20, 2020 – Romans 12:20 –  Feed  thine hungry enemy

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head”. Romans 12:20 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Who is our enemy? Ask people that and you will receive a number of different answers. My definition for an enemy is anyone who hinders the work of God in my life. No matter what our definition of an enemy may be, how we should handle our enemies is the same. Today, we will look at Romans 12:20, to understand how we are to treat our enemies.

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head”.

The word “therefore” is a word that continues a point and usually establishes a course of action for us to follow. To understand why the course of action is necessary, we have to understand the context. Verse 18 tells us to live peaceably with all men as much as it depends on us, and verse 19 says to not get revenge for ourselves; but allow God to avenge whatever wrong was done to us, because He will repay it. God desires us to leave wrath in His hands, to not pay someone’s evil with evil of our own.

“If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:”

One of the hardest things to do is be nice to someone who has mistreated us, even more difficult to feed them when they are hungry, or give them drink when they are thirsty. Even more difficult than that is sharing the Word of God with someone who has cursed us out, disrespected our faith and made sport of our God. How easy would it to be to teach someone the Word that spread rumors about us or spoken horribly about us to people we know. How Christ-like would we be if something like this happened? This part of the verse is bigger than just food and drink because Jesus says in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink”, and in John 6:35, the Bible says, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Not only are we supposed to feed our enemies physical food, but we are definitely expected to feed our enemies spiritual food as well! Doesn’t, Jesus say in Matthew 7:9: “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?”

“For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head”

Coals of fire on the head signifies guilt. It doesn’t mean that we purposely feed our enemies and give our enemies drink IN ORDER TO make them feel guilty for mistreating us. It is not our job to get the increase, but God gets the increase. This verse says that by feeding our enemies and giving our enemies drink shall bring guilt upon their heads. The action itself should bring the guilt, not our intentions for the actions. Everything we do as believers should have love as our intent, because our enemies will definitely know the difference. In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:” If we to be the children of God, then we have to love our enemies, be there for them when they need us, be ready to speak a word of truth to them when they need it, treating them like they never wronged us at all. It is not easy, but it is necessary.

As believers, we shouldn’t want God’s wrath to come upon people. We should make every opportunity to cover them in prayer so they can receive healing, salvation and a transformation in their lives. No one is incorrigible, and all can change under the right timing and in the right environment. One thing is for certain; if our enemies can’t find love and forgiveness from the very people they expect to show it to them, then how can we bring credibility to the cross? I have had two instances with this very subject in the last 24 hours, so I had to apply this to my life. It wasn’t easy but I thank God for this victory.

May God grant us the sight to look beyond our enemies’ faults to see who they could be in Christ. May our love be ever-present and overflowing towards them. They will know we are Christians by our love, right?

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 21 2020 – Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Believers find themselves in situations where they become afraid by what is going on around them. Fear is natural but it is not of God. In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Bible says, “For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” So, if God didn’t give us the spirit of fear, then it must come from the enemy. What do the sheep do when they are afraid? They scatter, leaving the security of the flock and the shepherd, making them highly vulnerable to attack. The enemy wants us afraid, so we will take our attention off God and place our attention on our fear. As believers, we have to keep the truth planted in our hearts and minds so when the enemy tries to scatter the flock, we will realize that there is nothing to fear. Our Shepherd is mightier than the enemy! Today we are going to look at Psalm 27:1, a verse where David encouraged himself in the Lord with the truth in the face of fear.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom should I be afraid?”

“The Lord is”. This statement is in present tense, meaning our God is alive and active in our lives right now. If we don’t believe that “the Lord is”, then we will feel like His word no longer applies to us today. In Hebrews 13:8, the Bible says “Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, and today, and forevermore “. So, the first thing we have to understand in the face of fear, is that our God is on the throne right now, ready to work on our behalf.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”

We established that God is the God of today. Now, is he OUR God? David uses “my” to express ownership that comes by relationship. If God isn’t ours, then we can’t have access to his light and salvation. The word light here means “luminary”, which means “someone who enlightens, or gives light to someone else”. In John 1:9, the Bible says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”, speaking of Jesus Christ. What does light do? Fills a room so we can see everything in it. If God is our light, then He shines the light and fills us with His light, so we can see everything around us clearly, and so people can see the God in us clearly. In darkness, we can’t see what is out there, so that is what causes fear.

The word “salvation” means “deliverance”. When we know that God is going to deliver us from the enemy, we are safe, and we don’t have to worry about attacks from the enemy. Knowing that The Lord is our Light and Salvation, we are secure; and we can really be still no matter what comes our way.  The word “fear” means “revere”. That means we don’t give anybody the same deep reverence that belongs only to God. There is nothing to fear when we can see clearly. In 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” Lions use the element of surprise, hiding in the brush, slowly creeping up until they are close enough to give chase or attack. The enemy tries to use “darkness” so we don’t see his offensive. If the “light” is on, then we see everything as it is, also seeing our Deliverer, ready to rescue us. With this visual, is there really anything to fear?

“The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom should I be afraid?”

We don’t have to rely on our own strength! God is more than willing to be all the strength we need to triumph over the enemy. In Isaiah 26:4, the Bible says, “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength”. So not only is the Lord strength, but He is everlasting strength! When we don’t have to worry about our own strength, then we certainly don’t have to worry about when we have weak moments. In Psalms 33:16, the Bible says, “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.” See? Our own strength means nothing, and we have every reason to fear, if we have left God out of the equation and chosen to handle the enemy on our own. When we rely of God’s strength there is no reason to be afraid, or experience dread. God is all powerful, and the enemy is nowhere near stronger than our God. When we are fearful we can have refuge in our God

Fear is inevitable, but always know that God didn’t give us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. In Him lies everything we need to defeat the enemy. Are we going to let fear reign or are we going to let the Lord’s strength to encourage us? The choice is ours.

May the Lord’s light, His salvation, and His strength make you courageous in the face of the enemy.

God Bless you All!

Marshall

 

Nov 22, 2020 – Isaiah 43:2 – I will be with thee

“When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Life can bring so much uncertainty. As believers, we have times where we go through situations that have the potential of consuming us. The disciples were on the boat with Christ and a storm came, they panicked, and woke Christ up out of His sleep, accusing Him of not caring whether they lived or died. In a state of panic we can lose our memories and our minds and forget about the Word God has given and the prayers we lifted up in faith, causing us to fold under the weight of fear. When we were kids, we felt the security of our parents (or caregivers) and we were able to move comfortably because we knew they were right there with us. Well, I have news for you! God is right there with us too, through everything we face, and through every ordeal we encounter. Today, I want us to look at Isaiah 43:2 and be assured that God is always here for us.

“When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

The word “passeth” means “to cross over”. When the Israelites crossed over the Red Sea on dry land, God was right there with them, and it was God that turned the sea into walls on both sides of them as they crossed over. When Peter asked Christ to give him permission to come out on the water Christ was walking on, Christ said in Matthew 14:27, “Come”. We know the story, how in Matthew 14:30 Peter started looking around, seeing the wind’s effect on the seas, he became afraid and began to sink. Training his eyes on Christ was the thing that kept Peter on top of the water. But it was Christ’s word, “Come”, that was the reason he was able to come out on the water at all. Christ was standing right there the whole time, but when Peter looked at the circumstances and not the Word, he sank. The first word of Isaiah 43:2 is “When”, which means that there won’t be an “if”. We WILL cross over some waters at some point in our lives, and what we are looking at will determine our state of mind and circumstance. If we are looking at God, we will maintain our peace as we cross over the water, but if we take our eyes off the Lord, we are going to be terrorized in our spirits and in our lives.

“and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee”.

When Joshua and the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River, they actually had to step into the water first before the waters were removed. In Joshua 3:15, the Bible says, “And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest).” So, the waters were very deep, but they had to trust in the Word that was given, and when they moved in faith, the waters opened up to them, allowing them to cross over on dry ground. The word “overflow” means, “drown or conquer”. God is right there the whole time, and His presence and His Word ensures that we will survive and succeed in Him.

“when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Remember when King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to be thrown into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter, because they wouldn’t worship the image of gold Nebuchadnezzar had made? In Daniel 3:22, it said the men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were killed by the flame because the fire was so hot. In Daniel 3:25, the Bible says, “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God”. So, the Son of God was in the fire with them! In verse 27, the Bible says, “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” See? God’s Word is the truth, and He always backs His Word up. They were thrown into a fire heated seven times hotter with all of their clothes, and instead of burning, they were walking with the Son of God in the fire! They didn’t look like what they’d been through.

We are not exempt from going through waters, rivers, or fires in our walks with the Lord, but one thing we can bank on is God will be there every step of the way. That reassurance should give us confidence to press through anything that comes our way. Our God is right there, ready to deliver us. What do we see when we are going through turbulence? God or the turbulence?

May we all find reassurance in that the Lord will never leave us, nor forsake us, no matter the circumstances.

God Bless you All,

Marshall

 

Nov 23, 2020 – Psalm 37:23 – The steps of a good man

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Who orders our steps? Who is the first person we speak with when we need direction in a certain area? Some people call their parents for the pathways they seek, others seek out their friends, and yet still, there are people that seek their spouse out. David was identified as a man after God’s own heart. Why? Because he always sought God for direction, for insight, and for purpose. He was also the writer of the 23rd Psalm, David recognized that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd, the One that leads him to where he needs to be. Now we take a glimpse into Psalm 37:23, also written by David.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

The word “good” here needs a stronger look. The first reference of the word good was given in Genesis, after God said, “Let there be light”. In verse 4, the Bible says, “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” God commanded light and there was light, and he called it good. Why? Because it was created exactly how God intended for it to be. So, the word good is a term associated with creation, meaning “someone or something that is operating according to God’s intention for them”.

The word “man” doesn’t just mean man. It means valiant man, or warrior. This automatically screams bravery, and the bravest people in the Bible were men and women of faith, who took God’s word, believed it, and raced after it. The good man receives his direction and the Word from the Lord and seeks Him first.

Let’s look at the word “ordered”. It means set up or established. So, the Lord sets up (or establishes) a good man’s steps, someone who is operating according to God’s intention for them since creation. If our steps are set up, that means that there is only one path we can take because they are already laid out for us. God does this to ensure that we will get to where He ordains for us to be, but it is our job to follow the path He’s laid for us. That requires us to keep inquiring of the Lord, as David did, to make sure that we are going in the right direction. God will not set up and establish our steps and then not protect and keep us along the way. He stands behind His people. What we have to do as believers is reach after God’s intention for us, not our own, and we have to seek out His plan over our own.

“and he delightest in his way.”

The word “delightest” is the key to the second part of this verse. That word means “to incline oneself towards, to bend”. So, the valiant man who operates according to God’s intention for their life, inclines himself towards God. If I am trying to hear what someone is saying, I turn towards them, or lean towards them so I can give them my undivided attention. The meaning of delight here has a deeper meaning than to merely be pleased with. God establishes the steps of the people that turn themselves towards God, and receive His Word and direction. When we incline ourselves to God, we are trying to live according to the way He intended for us to live from the beginning.

Putting all of this together, we have to seek after God to find out our purpose. Until He reveals our purpose, we have to seek after His Word, making ourselves available for God to lead us however He will. We live to do God’s will, to fulfill the purpose He has for us, but we have to understand that the steps to get us there are established by the Lord. The only way we can become who God ordained for us to be from the beginning is to incline ourselves towards His Way; and allow Him to lead us there.

May we all receive God’s leading and move accordingly.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 24, 2020 – Isaiah 62:12 – The Holy People

“And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, a city not forsaken”   Isaiah 62:12 KJV

Hi Everyone!

I have had the privilege of going from someone cast out, abandoned by family and friends, and definitely in wrong standing with God, to someone redeemed, cleansed, and restored. It is a real wilderness being away from the Lord and I drifted so far away from the path that I couldn’t recognize what I had become. I am still in awe at how God forgave me, how God knew I was going to fail miserably and still had His plan for my redemption in place before I was even born! When I think on where I have come from, the damage sustained, and how I was on a collision course with destruction, I would’ve thought it would’ve been impossible for me to be forgiven. With God, it was not only possible, but He did it, and I am a living witness to that. Today, we are going to look at Isaiah 62:12, for a word on redemption.

“And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, a city not forsaken.”

The first part I want us to look at is “And they shall call them”. What we do as believers and what happens to us is always being watched by others. People make declarations based on what they observe. When the Israelites made themselves a stench to God’s nostrils, He removed His presence from them, allowing them to be taken captive, their cities overtaken, and the people broken. When an outsider sees this and knows we serve the Most-High God, then the safest explanation would be that God has forsaken us, because the odds of all of this happening when we are in God’s good favor is slim. Now, we know about Job, and we also knowing about testing as well, so we know as believers that an outside view into our circumstances can be wrong. Always keep in mind that whatever we do and whatever happens to us as a result paints a picture of who God is towards His children. We want people to see our God correctly, right?

In this text, Israel is being redeemed by God, and it has changed their identity from “Forsaken” and their land called “Desolate”, to “holy”, “redeemed”, and “sought out”. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new.” When God changes us, we become knew and our identity changes. Who we were no longer matters, and God will also change people’s impressions of us as well.

“The holy people”

Look at the word “The”. When someone used uses the word “The” in front of a word that already describes someone or something, it is actually declaring that what is being described is the standard to follow. Israel isn’t just holy people. They are God’s stamp on holy people. The word “holy” means “something consecrated and set aside for sacred use only.” So, imagine going from casted out to someone who is consecrated and set aside for sacred use. A big change in our lives, right? Imagine when people see us because of God’s work in our lives and declare us the standard for holiness. Kinda humbling isn’t it?

“The redeemed of the Lord”

The word “redeem” means “to buy back from bondage”. Christ bought us back from the bondage of sin.  And did it in such a fashion that not only did people see we were redeemed, but saw that it was the Lord who redeemed us. People have to know that it was the Lord that bought us back, and they will know that by seeing our lives and hearing our testimonies. In Psalms 107:2, the Bible says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” We can’t stay silent with such a great victory in our lives. Once again, we are declared “The redeemed”, meaning God has made us the standard for redemption.

“And thou shalt be called, Sought out, a city not forsaken.”

The word “Sought out” means “frequented”. That means people will continue to appear to behold the work of the Lord in our lives. They won’t fear destruction, they won’t come expecting to be overtaken, but they will come and come often to be a part of God’s redemption story. They will look at our city and see that God’s presence has returned and if God hasn’t forsaken us, they won’t either. When God redeems us, it not only changes our identities, but it changes people’s impressions of our lives, our homes, our communities, and our family. We want to be a place that is frequented by people because we have the opportunity to share our redemption story which can help someone else to seek God for the same story for their own lives.

Only our God can transform both us and the perception of us. May we always stay mindful that people are watching to see God’s work in our lives. Will they see God’s redemptive power or will they see his disciplinarian power at work. What picture are we painting about God through our actions?

God bless and Keep you All!

Marshall

 

Nov 25, 2020 – 2 Corinthians 1:4 – The Holy People

“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”  2 Corinthians 1:4 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Believers are a powerful force, not in our individual abilities, but as a whole. One soldier can do some damage, but an army can conquer a whole country. Everything God blesses us with, we can then extend it to someone else in need, because God doesn’t bless us with just enough, He blesses us with more than enough! A weakness in any army is its vulnerability, and the enemy is prowling around looking for weak points in the kingdom. If God has blessed us with strength, He blessed us to encourage others with your strength. If God has blessed us with intelligence, He blessed us to help those who haven’t learned as well. God purposely allows some of us to go beyond, so we can pave the way for others to do the same. When a person is heartbroken, God has a person in the kingdom that has overcome heartbreak, and He will position the two together so the one that has overcome can teach the one who needs to overcome exactly how to. Today, we are taking a look at 2 Corinthians 1:4, for a view on comfort.

“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

The word “comfort” means to “call near to help”. God draws us to Him, because in His presence we will have everything we need. We normally look at someone who comforts as someone who runs towards the person who needs comfort, but God calls us to Him. Just maybe God wants us to remove ourselves from the areas where we have been heartbroken, where we have lost peace, or where we have grieved, and turn our faces to Him. In Psalm 121:1, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from which cometh my help”. Not only do we have to look to God, but we always have to come near to Him when He calls. The verse says “Who comforteth us in ALL of our tribulation”. Not “some” of our tribulation. Not “most” of our tribulation. ALL of our tribulation. God doesn’t do a half-job at anything. He does it all. The word “tribulation” means “pressures or affliction”.  So, God calls us near in order to help us in ANY time of affliction or pressure.

“that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble,”

God comforts us so we may be able to comfort others. God forgives us so we can forgive others. God gives us His grace when we fall short, so we can extend grace to others who fall short. We are to never forget what God has done for us, because we are to do the same thing for believers and nonbelievers alike. In the Great Commission, Christ said “teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” We have to extend what God gives us to others. In 1 Corinthians 12:26-27, the Bible says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” So, we have to have the understanding that when a believer suffers, it should hurt us enough for us to spring in action. Why? Because not only are we a part of the same body, but we also have had God spring into action when we ourselves suffered.

“By the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”

The word “comfort” here means “consolation”. The word that comes from consolation is “console”, means to “counsel to make someone feel less sad, hurt, and disappointed”. So, God calls us near to Him to console us, and when we are strengthened, we have to comfort others. We don’t comfort people with what we believe to be comfort. We are to comfort others with the same comfort we received from God. God hears our cries and our cares, and He gives us the perspective we need to have in order for us to turn our minds on Him instead of our circumstances. Our way of comfort should be listening, and then pointing a person to the Lord, either through the Word or through prayer. God doesn’t give us something we can’t do, and He delivers us so we can not only understand what deliverance feels like, but we can extend that to others. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Christ told Peter to strengthen his brothers after he himself was converted. Somebody has to endure and overcome in order to strengthen our brothers and sisters, and sometimes, that somebody is us! We don’t have to use anything but what God gives us to help our brothers and sisters in need, and that should lighten the load in our minds about what we have to do.

In verse one, the Bible says “the God of all comfort”. ALL comfort! May we hear the Lord’s call when we are afflicted and cast our cares to Him, because He is truly the God of all comfort. May we also comfort others with the comfort we have received by God.

God Bless and keep you all!

Marshall

 

Nov 26, 2020 – John 15:16 – Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you ”  John 15:16 KJV

Hi Everyone!

God chose us. I want to repeat that because it is very important to grasp. God chose us. If we say that we were the ones that have chosen our loving God, then we are saying that we have the power within our choice to alter God’s plan for our lives. Our God has the hairs on our head numbered, and has our days counted on earth, then certainly He picked who were going to make the choice for Him. God chose us for His purpose, and as we bear His image in our lives, we will have access to the Kingdom of God that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Today we are going to look at John 15:16, a look into this wonderful choice God has made!

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you “

The word “chosen” means “selected”. We tend to wrongly believe that we chose Christ as our Lord and Savior, no different than the disciples may have thought they chose the Lord. Think about the word select. We are picking something particular out of a crowd of options based on what appeals to us. God picked us out of a crowd of people based on what appealed to Him, and that was His purpose. We had nothing to do with the choice God made, but He did ready us to accept the call when it was given. In John 6:44, the Bible says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” We are drawn to the Lord, and then we “make the choice”, but the choice was something God had full control over. Another example of this is the calling of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5, which says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” So did Jeremiah make the choice or was the choice already made for him? God selects us for His purpose before we are born.

“And ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain”

The Word “ordained” means “to place one in a position of privilege or ministry”. So God selected us, to place us in a position of ministry, so we can bear fruit. All believers are in ministry, whether we see it that way or not. Here’s why. In Matthew 28:19, the Bible says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations(teach=make disciples), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Ghost “. The “fruit” is won souls for Christ! So if we invite someone to church or to stream a pastor’s message, and they receive the Lord as their Savior as a result, then we have bore fruit. If we share a Word of truth online, post a faith-based poem, or tell someone in passing about Christ, we are in ministry. We may never see the fruits bore, but it is not our jobs to see the fruit. We are the planters or waterers, but God gets the increase. So God selects us to uses whatever He has given us to win souls for Christ. God doesn’t want us bearing fruit that dies off. The word “remain” means “stay or endure forever”. Look at the word “should”. That word implies that if we move the way He ordains for us to move, then our efforts will bear fruit. Should is a word that expresses a condition, where if we do this, that should come as a result.

“that whatsoever ye ask of the Father in my name, He may give to you”

The “whatsoever” is not a free for all, giving us license to ask God for anything that comes to our mind. We have to ask for things that are consistent with God’s will and the performing of His purpose. Solomon asked for wisdom to perform his purpose and God gave it to him. Elisha prayed and asked God to open his servant’s eyes so he could see that they weren’t alone. Christ prayed for Lazarus to be raised from the dead. Ananias prayed and laid hands on Saul for him to receive his sight. Are our hearts in line with ministry when we are asking for something of God? Have we delighted ourselves in the Lord, making ourselves pliable, able to be formed by him? The”whatsoever ” is in context with the verse, that God selected us to ministry, that we can bear fruit in doing it. Asking God for “whatsoever” should line up with what He is calling us to do, because that makes our prayer say, “God, equip me to perform your purpose.” Why wouldn’t He answer that prayer? “In my name.” Is the seal of faith to our prayer. In Hebrews 12:2, the Bible says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith, so why shouldn’t our prayers finish with His name?

God wants to give us whatsoever we ask for, when our minds and hearts are centered towards God and performing His purpose our lives. The question is, what are we asking for?

May God bless and keep you all!

Marshall

 

Nov 27 – 2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to show thyself approved unto God

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Studying the Scriptures is essential in any believer’s growth. Study takes a deeper look into Scripture, and allows us to receive a lot more than we would if we just read the Scripture. By studying, we will begin to see the uniformity of the Word of God which will give us a more-sure record of its truth. Studying produces more security in what we learn and that will help us gain the confidence we need to share what we learn with others. Not only is what we learn for our spiritual development, but it is for others’ growth as well. Today, we will take a look into 2 Timothy 2:15, one of my favorite verses.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The word study means “to make an effort, to be earnest”. That separates the reader from the person that studies, even though they both have the intention to learn something from what they read. The attitude is different, and the person that studies wants to learn what they read inside and out. They study with intention to learn the information thoroughly.

“to show thyself approved unto God”

Everything begins with our personal relationship with God. When we study, we are studying for God’s approval, to connect with Him in a deeper way. Before we can attempt to share what we learn with anyone, it must first be approved by God. The word “approved” means “to be tried, and found genuine”. It is not wise if we study and we don’t ask God to give us the knowledge He desires us to have about what we are studying, and if we don’t check with God to make sure what we learned was correct. There is a great responsibility that comes with sharing the Word and having God’s approved. The Scripture says “thyself approved”, so we can’t rely solely upon someone else’s study, or someone else’s message. We have to break it down for ourselves.

“a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”

In Romans 10:11, the Bible says, “For the scripture saith, ‘Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed'”. We are workmen, and that means we have to know our work! 🙂  If we try to share a Word with someone that hasn’t been approved by God, a word that we don’t understand because we haven’t studied, we can easily be put to shame by a question. If we are put to shame, then our witness is hindered, and we could actually lead someone astray in the process. That would be tragic for not only the hearer but for the person that shared the word. In James 3:1, the Bible says, “My brethren be not many masters (instructors/teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” When we share a word with someone, we are held responsible if we mislead someone, so we have to be sure to share the truth only as God gives us. If we go off script, not only will we be put to shame, but we can also lead someone astray.

What keeps us from being ashamed? “Rightly dividing the word of truth”!

The words “rightly dividing” means to “dissect correctly”. When you dissect something, you cut it open and study the parts inside, to gain a better understanding of how what you dissected works. So, we study the Scripture, cut into it, study its inner workings, all to receive the word of truth. The truth is what it is! It doesn’t need our help to be truth. Our jobs as believers is to study to uncover that truth so we can then share that truth with others. When there is a question, we’ll be able to go to Scripture to show them more truth, because every word is established by two or more witnesses. In John 8:32, the Bible says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth we know has made us free, and it will do the same for someone else, if they will hear the word of truth come out of our mouths. When we rightly divide the word of truth, we position ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to use us to speak that truth. When this is done, we won’t be put to shame.

It all begins with how we approach the Word of God. Do we pour into Scripture, making an earnest effort at dissecting the Word of God, or do we glance over Scripture for something that may catch our eye? A person that studies the Word goes after it, and studies with the intention of receiving the truth. We must do the same.

May God uplift your hearts and ready your minds to receive His truth!

God bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 28 – Zechariah 10:6 – Restoration

“And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I bring them again to place them: for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord their God, and will hear them.”  Zechariah 10:6 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Since the fall of man in Genesis, God has never stopped trying to bring us back to Him. He created man in His own image and in His own likeness so man could commune and fellowship with God. God’s punishment at times was severe, but His forgiveness far greater than anything we have deserved. God will never stop drawing us to Him, no matter how far we have gone and no matter what we have done, and He will go as far as to use the consequences of our sin to make us see our need for Him. Today, we are going to look at Zechariah 10:6, for a word on restoration.

“And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I bring them again to place them: for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord their God, and will hear them.”

Notice the difference between Judah and Israel, how God is strengthening Judah, but saving Israel. We have to go back to Solomon’s time to find out why. Because of Solomon’s turning away from God, the punishment was that God would rend the kingdom away from him and give it to his servant. God did give one tribe to Solomon’s son for the sake of David. That tribe was Judah, God’s remnant. Well, the house of Israel consisted of 10 tribes, because God took ten tribes away, and the tribe of Benjamin floated between Judah and Israel. Both kingdoms had kings at times that did evil in the sight of the Lord, but Israel had a consistent history of turning away from God to serve idols, while Judah always turned back. It is utterly disappointing reading about king after king doing evil in the sight of the Lord. So God had to strengthen Judah because they were walking closer to God over their history. The word “strengthen” means “to make strong in order to prevail”. Judah had to be preserved because Judah was the line to Christ, so they needed strength to prevail over the sin that could wipe them out as a people. The house of Joseph was Israel, the ten tribes plus part of a wandering tribe of Benjamin, needed saving.

“and I will bring them again to place them.”

In Jeremiah 33:7, the Bible says. “And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.” God’s intention for His people was to lead them into the promised land, where they would be one people under God, led by Him. That intention has been the same since the beginning, in the garden, and it still is the same today. The Northern 10 tribes were captured by the Assyrians, and Judah was captured by the Babylonians. God set them free so they could return to the land He promised them. God placing them back in their land is for a reason, so they could them serve God with their entire hearts. There is purpose behind everything God does, including captivity.

“for I have mercy upon them”

The word “mercy” here means “a deep, kindly sympathy and sorrow felt for another who has been struck with affliction or misfortune, accompanied with a desire to relieve the suffering”. That is a great definition for mercy. This shows us that our captivity really grieves God and He truly is compassionate to us. God saw what the captivity was doing, heard the cries of His people and had a set time already planned to release them from their bondage. He extends the same mercy to us!

“and they shall be as though I had not cast them off:”

That means all of Israel is going to be restored back to the power, wealth, and influence they had before the captivity began! The word “restore” means to “bring back to a former or normal condition by means of rebuilding, repairing, etc”. They aren’t going to look like they were enslaved, so the work of restoration by God had to be extensive! I think about the prodigal son, who when he returned home, his father saw him from far off, ran to him, clothed him, put a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet, killed a fatted calf and threw a party! That is OUR God and He has never stopped desire us to dwell with Him.

“for I am the Lord their God and I will hear them”

God said, “for I am the Lord their God”. “I am”, not “was”. Not past tense, but present tense. God was always our God! When God is Lord, that means He is in control in our lives and He orders our steps. In Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” God wants to hear us but sometimes, our sin can allow God to turn the volume down of our voice. Praise God that He has selective hearing and the volume goes right back up when we are trying to “come home”.

I know firsthand what bondage feels like, but praise God I know what freedom feels like in Him. May God restore your hearts and minds in Him!

God bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 29, 2020 – 2 Peter 1:3 – All things that pertain unto life and godliness

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”  2 Peter 1:3 KJV

Hi Everyone!

The scariest thing in my walk with the Lord is not being prepared for the things God has for me. I imagine volunteering for a task and falling flat on my face because I didn’t know what I needed to know, or I didn’t have the fortitude to see it through. Anxiety usually comes, and I then begin to question myself, and also God, about whether or not He chose the right guy for this task. I am sure we have all had moments like this as believers, but how do we respond? Do we go back into the Word and clarify who we are, and that God prepares us in advance for what he calls us to be, or do we allow fear to prevent us from taking that step? If we understood God’s provision, we would have no reason to question ourselves or God about how well He has prepared us to perform His purpose in this land. Today we look at 2 Peter 1:3, for a view on preparation.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

The words “divine power” means “godlike miraculous power”. The word power, dunamis, is where we get dynamite from. So this is the source of our strength and ability, meaning our power source is God himself. This is a good start, right? This means that we don’t have to operate according to our own power. In Zechariah 4:6, the Bible says, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.” So if we are trying to move in any type of power but the Holy Spirit’s, we are destined for failure.

“Hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,”

The power God has, He gives. Before Christ died, he said this in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever”. So Christ prayed for us to be given another Comforter (for us, A Comforter, the disciples had two, Christ and the Comforter!), so we can experience God’s presence at all time. Christ also said in John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.” So before Christ died, He was already equipping us to receive this power. 1 Peter 1:12 shows it has already been done. Look at “all things”. That word “all”, meaning everything, so we won’t be lacking anything. The word “life” means “In the sense of existence, life, in an absolute sense and without end”. This is more than just living. This goes beyond life to eternal life, as this life is without end. The word “godliness” means “holiness or piety”. Bringing them together, God’s miraculous power gives us everything we need to live a godly life, one without end.

“Through the knowledge of him”

The word here means, “discernment, or coming to the full knowledge of”. So God, by His miraculous power, gives us everything we need to live a godly life, but how does this power come? “Through the knowledge of him”. If we don’t know our God, if we don’t know our Savior, if we aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit, then how can we ever expect to activate His power? I tell people all the time that everything in our walk takes us right back to the Word of God, so if  I tear through the Scriptures, I don’t gain the knowledge I need, and if I am not praying for understanding to what I am studying, then I will operate on my head knowledge instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me all things. In John 6:63, the Bible says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” See? We are nothing without the Spirit, and if the words Christ speak are both spirit and life, then we can’t move in God’s miraculous power without the Word of God.

“That hath called us to glory and virtue”.

Remember in Romans 8:30, when the Bible said, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” God predestinated us before He called us, so He positioned us to receive His call. He justified us by making us right before him, and making his choice right before man. So, he backed the one He called. Then he glorified the one he backed. The word “glory” means “honor” and “glorify” means “to bring honor to”. So God called us to a position of honor. The word virtue means “divine power or excellence”. So God gives us a position of honor and the ability to bear fruit in that position. We can never rise to a position of excellence unless we manage what we have extremely well.

We are thoroughly equipped to handle everything God has called us to do. May we move in the knowledge of God’s word and the confidence experienced by His power!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Nov 30, 2020 – Philippians 2:7 – A servant, and was made in the likeness of men

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”  Philippians 2:7 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Christ is our perfect example of how to live on earth and also how to serve God on earth as well. Service requires selflessness, and also requires us to strip ourselves of labels and titles that can make our service about us. Jesus had every right to toot his own horn but didn’t, and he even silenced demons that spoke of His Deity. Christ came to serve and to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. We as believers are called to present ourselves as “living sacrifices” according to Romans 12:1. He gave us the example and gave us the ability to serve God and others. Today we are going to look at Philippians 2:7, and come to understand why, in life and in ministry, we must decrease and God has to increase.

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”.

Christ is God robed in flesh, so that means He had all power while he lived here on earth. “But made himself of no reputation”, indicates that Christ had full power over His identity and role. To make himself of no reputation means to “empty himself out”. Christ set aside all the privileges He had in the kingdom of God, like a face to face relationship with God, sovereignty, and made himself subject to the Spirit’s direction. In John 10:18, Jesus says, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Christ freely emptied himself out and came to earth in service of God and us. He wasn’t forced by God. He is God and he made the choice to come down, knowing death on the cross would be the end result. When a person has the ability to do everything else but chooses to serve us, doesn’t that make what Christ did mean much more?

“Took upon him the form of a servant”

Once again, he freely took upon himself the form of a servant. No one made Christ do it, and no one put servitude upon him. When a person, who should be king, chooses to be a servant, it brings more attention to service. We had a human example of that with Moses, and in Hebrews 11:24-26, the Bible says, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Moses was royalty and he gave that up to answer God’s call, and he was a deliverer, instituting Israel’s first passover. The word “form” means “nature”, also meaning, “bearing all the characteristics of”. So Christ emptied himself out of all the privileges He had spiritually, giving up direct, face to face access to God to be a slave voluntarily. Even Christ had power over the slavery and chose to be a slave. Slavery wasn’t forced upon Him, He took it upon Himself! That is like Him knocking on the door to the prison I am housed in right now, and screaming, “Let me in! I came to freely become a prisoner, taking the nature of a prisoner, so I can heal them and die to set them free!” That is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ right there! In Matthew 23:11, the Bible says, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant”.

“And was made in the likeness of men”

Remember in Genesis 1:26, when the Bible said, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl in the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”  Christ allowed himself be birthed, but exercising God’s intention for mankind when He created Him that He would have dominion over everything in the earth. Christ not only came to serve, but He also came to show us how we should operate in the earth according to God’s intended plan for creation. God desires for mankind to step into their rightful place on earth, but never losing sight of the fact that even when we have dominion, we are to constantly empty that out to serve. Christ came to pay the ultimate sacrifice, a death of the cross to ensure that we can not only do the same things He did, but according to His own words in John 14:12, ” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; also greater works than these he do; because I go unto my Father.” When Christ was made in the likeness of men, He showed us what that really meant, and the type of power we have to operate in.

Service means less us of us, more of God, and as we serve God and man, may we empty out all we are to serve our fellow brothers and sisters with a pure heart. Christ was the perfect example of service and self-denial. May we be the same!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 1, 2020 – Hebrews 4:15 – Jesus Our High Priest

“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 KJV

Hi Everyone!

I remember not speaking to people in my family when I was afflicted. I felt they haven’t walked a mile in my shoes, so they couldn’t understand my struggle. Ironically, I have had a number of family members that have battled the same hurdles I have growing up, but they never shared their testimonies, so I didn’t trust that they would understand. How many of us have this same belief about God? How many of us feel like God is “too holy” to ever understand what life is like for us here on earth, thus hindering our prayer life and our abilities to communicate effectively with Him in the process? In 1 Peter 5:7, the Bible says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you”, so God is inviting us to share everything that concerns us, but we have to trust that God understands where we are coming from. God sent Jesus to the world, and He experienced life as we see it, so in Christ we have intercession, someone who can accurately translate ours cares to God. Today, we are going to look at Hebrews 4:15, and see that God truly understands exactly what is on our minds and hearts.

“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Our high priest is Christ. In Hebrews 3:1, the Bible says, “Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” The high priest was the only person that can pass through the three areas of the temple (outer court, Holy Place, and Holy of Holies) to make the atoning sacrifice. Christ is also the High Priest, because he passed through the 3 heavens (atmospheric, stellar heaven, and God’s abode) after making the perfect, atoning, sacrifice once and for all.

“Which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;”

This means that we have a great High Priest in Jesus Christ that can sympathize and have compassion for our infirmities. The word “infirmities” here means “feebleness or frailty”. This part of the verse doesn’t suggest that Christ was feeble or frail, but he allowed himself to experience the feelings associated with feebleness and frailty, so He could understand how we feel when we are weak. Jesus walked on this earth to not only give His life for us all, but also to identify better with His church. If a person has been where we have been and triumphed, then they can show us how to make it through successfully. Christ triumphed on earth and felt what we feel. In Hebrews 2:18, the Bible says, “For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” The word succour means “to aid or relieve”. He went through it to help us with our walk.

“but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”

The word tempted means “tested or scrutinized”. It says “in all points”, so that means that Christ touched areas of testing that we haven’t encountered. We have only gone through small pockets of testing, and it can feel unbearable at times, but Christ covered it all for us. He went further, because He encountered all points of testing, but didn’t sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. “Christ not only didn’t sin, but he KNEW NO sin.” Our high priest went through everything we could possibly encounter without knowing sin and without sinning. Great are the people that blaze the trail before us. Great is our God.

So when we pray, let us understand that we have a High Priest that has traveled from where we stand to the holiest places in heaven, and He did it to help us triumph over this world we live in and the sin that easily entangles us. When we open our mouths to cast all of our cares unto God let us understand that we are talking to someone who truly understands what a day is like in our shoes. May we all trust in the God that is all and has been through all we could ever encounter.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 2, 2020 – Hebrews 4:16 – The we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV

Hi Everyone!

In our look into Hebrews 4:15, we came to an understanding that Christ, our Great High Priest, came to earth, setting aside His Godly privilege in order to experience life from our lens before giving Himself as a perfect atoning sacrifice. Because He had endured all points of testing, and without sin, He has successfully triumphed over the life that seems to weigh us down at times. I am no different than anyone, and sometimes, my journey gets tremendously difficult, and the weight extremely heavy. Knowing Christ has been through this life, let’s me know that He truly understands what I feel and see in my own life. That should make me willing to bring all of my cares to Him. This requires faith, and sometimes, I fall short of this, because the weight can make me feel like there is No way Christ could understand what I am going through. Crazy, right? Today we are going to look at Hebrews 4:16, a course of action we should take as believers, knowing God understands everything we are going through and can truly relate and have compassion for us.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

“Let Us Therefore”. Two things to look at here. The writer is not trying to separate himself from the body of believers. Using the word “us” suggests that the writer of Hebrews has to take his own advice as well. It is refreshing to have a pastor or a teacher who is transparent about their walk, and it adds a lot of credibility to what they teach. The word “therefore” is a connective word concluding a point previously made. So if verse 15 teaches us that we have a High Priest in Jesus Christ who can fully sympathize with everything we go through, and where Christ has touched all points of testing without sinning, then verse 16 will make perfect sense.

“Come boldly unto the throne of grace”

The word “come” means “to come to God, draw near to Him in prayer, sacrifice, worship, devotion of heart and life”. This expresses the attitude we should come to God with. And my eyes are welling up with tears as I ponder, do I come to God with this attitude? So we’re not coming to God like someone who casually walks up to their parents, but we are coming to Him deliberately to experience that closeness, to truly abide in Him. “Boldly” means “with confidence”. God wants us to come to Him with confidence, knowing we have access to God directly and trusting in our place in His kingdom, that we have a right to be there. If we don’t have faith in our place, then how can we have faith in our prayers?

“The throne of grace”. A throne is designed for royalty to sit, correct? Why does grace have a throne? In John 1:14, the Bible says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Christ is royalty. The “Prince of Peace”, “The Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords”, right? Whatever you are full of, you are, and Christ is definitely on the throne waiting for us to draw near to him. The word grace has been defined as “favor or good will”, but, let me add something else to it. Grace is “the bridge between where we are right now, and where God desires for us to be.” A grace period is designed for people to have extra time to meet their obligations while still sitting in “right standing”. Well, imagine going to our landlord needing more time to pay only to discover He paid the debt! Grace allows us to come to God broken, confused, scared, angry, and separated because of sin, and be received by God as if we have everything together. When we understand grace, we should have no more problems with running to the throne of grace. We don’t have to clean ourselves up to go there. Grace is unmerited favor.

“That we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”

The word “mercy” means “divine compassion”. We draw near to the throne of grace with confidence that God will answer our request. We don’t go to the throne of God expecting to leave empty handed. We go so God can look upon us with divine compassion and move on our behalf. We are not seeking God so He can feel sorry for us, but we seek Him for what we need. We go to the throne of grace to find grace, right? In Matthew 7:9, “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” If we come to the throne of grace to obtain divine compassion, then we will “find grace to help in time of need.” Remember, grace is the bridge between where we are now and where God desires us to be. So if we need help in some area, like courage, and we come with confidence to the throne of grace, expecting to walk away with what we need, we will then receive the courage we were lacking before because God’s grace gave us what we lacked.

May we always know that God is waiting for us to come to Him. He truly understands and wants to help us! Let us come boldly!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 3, 2020 – Isaiah 49:15 – Yet I will not forget thee

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee.” Isaiah 49:15 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Sometimes, life can get cloudy and we can’t understand what is happening to us. We then look to God and wonder, is He paying attention to what is happening to us, will He send the help we need to make it through? Even David had the same feelings of God being too distant for his cries. All throughout the Psalms David painted a clear picture of what his walk looked like. In Psalm 22:1, the Bible says, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” Even David felt the weight of not feeling God’s presence when he was afflicted. He counted himself as forsaken, even though he knew better. We know that God is here for us every step of the way, but sometimes we can feel so alone and out of alignment with God. Our friends and family may turn their backs at our lowest points. The Lord knows I have experienced this firsthand, but there has not been a moment where God wasn’t right there, whether I felt His presence or not. Today, we are going to confirm that truth by looking at Isaiah 49:15.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee.”

The word forget isn’t a moment of absentmindedness, where God smacks His head in disbelief that He overlooked something important. A rhetorical question is being asked. The word “forget” means “to be oblivious of from lack of attention”. How can our God be Omnipresent and Omniscient but have something happen right under His nose? I love how Isaiah compares God’s attention to us the same way a mother is to her suckling child. Now, I’m not a mother obviously, but I have seen enough mothers to see how attentive they are to their children, how they pay attention to every minute detail, even the ones others overlook. In the very next verse, Isaiah 49:16, the Bible says, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually for me”. For people with tattoos, have you ever forgotten the tattoos you have? Well our God etched our names on the palms of His hands. That means our God will not forget us.

“that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?”

In a previous devotional, I gave so perspective into “compassion”, saying something in the sense of “picturing a deep, kindly sympathy and sorrow felt for another who has been struck with affliction or misfortune, accompanied with a desire to relieve the suffering.” I want to add this to it. God shows compassion on us, not because we deserve it but because His love is so amazing for us that He willingly bestows it upon us. The word “son” is not just and offspring but a son is “the builder of the family name”. We as believers are sons, using our gifting and calling to build up the family name, which draws people closer to Christ. So if we are working for the Lord, then we are receiving our sustenance from the Lord and He is definitely watching over us because we are bringing glory to His name. Why would God be oblivious to us, knowing we are His children and we are building up His name?

“Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget”

God clearly implies that the people we expect to remember us may not remember us, but He will never forget us. That is why we shouldn’t put our trust solely in man. In Jeremiah 17:5, the Bible says, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusted in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord”. That word trust means we instinctively run towards man first when we are tested, giving man more credence than God. Man isn’t God and man definitely doesn’t fully know or understand the plan of God, nor does man dwell within us, so when the time of testing comes, man tends to break off from us. In Isaiah 44:21, “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.” Not only does God ensure that He won’t forget about us, but He tells us to remember! It is not that God forgets about us, but it is because we don’t remember His word when affliction comes. When a baby cries in their crib, they are essentially screaming, “Momma, where ARE you? I need you!” They feel their Momma is not there, but they can’t see that Momma heard their cries and is making her way to us. That’s how it is with God, and He wants us confident that He is right here with us and for us, no matter who turns their backs on us. God is saying, “I am not them! I am God!”

May we all find the encouragement of knowing our loving God is always here for us. It is our job to remember…

God Bless You All!

Marshall

 

Dec 4, 2020 – 2 Corinthians 8:12 – For if there be first a willing mind

“For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 KJV

Hi Everyone!

The body of Christ works effectively when we all work together to build up the Kingdom of God. God has created us with unique gifting and callings, and we all are blessed with these to be a blessing to someone else in need. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, the Bible says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” We all have different gifts and abilities, but we have the same Spirit inside of us and the same God working our gifting together. Everyone has to do their part to build the Kingdom up, because we need each other. We want to be the stewards that are entrusted with talents that produce an increase before our Master comes back, instead of the one that buries our talent out of fear, selfishness, or resentment. Today we are looking at 2 Corinthians 8:12, about having the right attitude for service.

“For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”

The word “willing” means “having a predisposition”. To have a willing mind, it means we already have our minds made up to do whatever we are going to do for the Kingdom before the situation presents itself. So, this isn’t an “on the fly, approach it as it comes” attitude, but it is one where we are prepared to give of ourselves at any point in time. This verse says, “For if there first be a willing mind”, so a willing mind comes first. In Acts 3, there is a story about a lame man being healed, and he was at the gate called Beautiful, asking for alms. Here comes Peter and John, and he asked them for alms. Peter tells him to look at them, and when he did, Peter said in verse 6, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Peter didn’t have what the man wanted, but he had what he needed, and Peter told him essentially, “I will gladly give you what I have”. The man was looking for a handout but Peter healed him and gave him freedom in Christ. What did the man do with his blessing? He walked into the temple with Peter and John leaping and praising God. That is what our gifting is designed for, to not only bring joy to someone, but to bring Jesus Christ to them as well. Our gifts are supposed to usher a person to the Lord. A willing mind is necessary because if our attitudes aren’t already set to give, then when the opportunity comes, our attitudes can turn people away. Ever receive something from someone who you knew didn’t want to give it to you? Made you feel worse than you did before you received the gift, didn’t it? I know this firsthand.

“It is accepted”

The word “accepted” means “well received”. A willing mind makes the gift well received. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, the Bible says, “Every man according as he purposed in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” God loves someone who freely gives with an attitude that they are happy to give. I have no doubt that Peter desired so richly for the same man to walk, and was happy to use this wonderful occurrence to point the way to Christ. God is looking for His children to have the right attitude about giving, a heart that is filled with love, and eyes that search out people to be a blessing to.

“According to what a man hath and not according to what a man hath not”

God is never going to ask us to produce something that we don’t have. He is not going to ask us to preach a sermon He didn’t equip us to preach, and He is not going to ask us to give alms when we don’t have any money to give. God provides us with the means to give, so He will never expect us give what we don’t have or overextend ourselves. In Mark 6:38, Jesus speaks, “He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, “Five, and two fishes”. See? Christ asked them what they had. In John’s account of this miracle in Chapter 6, verse 9, it says, “There is lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” A kid had his meal, and was willing to give it to Christ, to do what He wanted to with it. The child’s willing mind was well-received, and his generosity was blessed to feed five thousand. Christ didn’t ask the disciples to search for what they didn’t have, and in fact, He didn’t seem concerned about what they didn’t have at all. He was more concerned with what their search produced. God will bless what we have to be a blessing to others but we have to be willing

to give with a heart of love, generosity, and cheerfulness.

May we always have a willingness in our minds and hearts to give freely to those in need, according to what we have. May God make what we have abundant.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 5, 2020 – Galatians 6:9 – Let us not be weary in well doing

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not ” Galatians 6:9 KJV

Hi Everybody!

Life can be hard at times. I experience it often, frequently confronted with having potential I want to realize in a place that tries to imprison potential. I think about what I am accomplishing in my life, and all of it is a blessing that has come directly from God. Then I have raw moments where I am confronted with my inadequacies, my inabilities, and with the restrictions I have been confined to. Sometimes, the pressure can be overwhelming, being in a medium security prison, listening to brothers talk of their upcoming releases, or hearing these same guys get mad at someone and make their release dates a weapon. It is hard to see the blessing in staying the course when you are emotionally afflicted by what you are unable to do or experience. As believers, this is a prime place the enemy wants us in because we become vulnerable to attack when we operate according to what we feel instead of what we know. It is our job to not allow weak moments to keep us from experiencing the fruit of our labors. A storm doesn’t mean the tree stops growing, correct? Today, we are going to take a look at Galatians 6:9, for a view on perseverance.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not “

“And let us”. I love how Paul includes himself into this lesson. No one is exempt from experiencing the weight of life’s circumstances. Even Christ was afflicted in Luke 22:44, when the Bible says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnest: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Christ, in this same chapter, asked God to “remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” We aren’t exempt from hard times and we are definitely going to look for a way out! Even Paul said of his thorn in his side in 2 Corinthians 12:8, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” So Christ and Paul know how it feels to not want to move forward. So heed Paul when he says, “And let us” because it is spoken from someone who has encountered some or all degrees of what we are experiencing.

“Not be weary in well doing”.

The word “weary” means “to lose one’s courage and become slothful”. This means we get so tired that we stop trying. Too many times, doing the right thing can appear to be a thankless job, and sometimes we do not see the fruit as quickly as we would like to. That shouldn’t halt our progress, nor should it make us give up. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, the Bible says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” This is our response to being overwhelmed by what life throws at us. We root ourselves in the truth, and we carry out the work the Lord requires of us. Nothing we do under God’s direction or provision will be in vain, no matter how it looks. Well doing” means “virtuous course of action or conduct”. So when we are overwhelmed, we put our hands to the plow and work harder at it, knowing it will bear fruit.

“For in due season”

There is an appointed time for our harvest, a time God ordains for it to occur “on its own”. That means that we can worker harder, go farther, and be smarter, but it will still happen according to that appointed time. “Due season” means “occuring in its own time determined by God”. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, the Bible says, ” To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” That could be frustrating, because we want to ask, “When God? When?”, but God’s timing is perfect and I have experienced this knowledge a lot of times in hindsight. 🙂 God is just looking for His people to trust His timing.

“We shall reap, if we faint not”

“Shall” is a term that expresses something that will definitely happen. God is telling us that we WILL reap the harvest from our labors, that our laboring isn’t in vain, and answered prayers will be produced in our lives. The word “if” expresses a condition that activates a promise. The word “faint” doesn’t necessarily mean “tired”, but it means, “to relax”. This really speaks to the person that grows tired and then takes their foot off of the gas. In James 5:8, the Bible says, ” Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” So we have to work as if the harvest is coming in any minute, having that kind of attitude. I will admit that being overwhelmed doesn’t make me want to keep my foot on the gas. It makes me want to slow under its difficulty, but the promise is coming and the thought of that promise being fulfilled gives me the courage to see this work through. What should we do when we get weary? In Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When we are weary, we can find rest in Christ.

May we all find Christ to be an amazing resting place when afflicted.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 6, 2020 – Isaiah 54:17 – No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper            

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” Isaiah 54:17 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Spiritual warfare is inevitable in a believer’s life. People are going to contend with the truth, they may ridicule us because of our faith, and sadly, in some countries, they could lose their lives for their faith. When opposition comes against us, it can be brutal and overwhelming, but God promises us victory over the enemy’s advances. Sometimes, reassurance by God’s word is all we need to power through whatever is coming our way. Today we are going to look at Isaiah 54:17, a view into both our protection in the end times (during and after the millennial kingdom), but what do we have access to right now?

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord”

The word “formed” means “to mould into a form as a potter”. So the enemy is going to actually fashion weapons against us! When the enemy makes a weapon that attacks us, they seriously desire to cripple us, and the weapons they have at their disposal do work. Please be on your guard because these aren’t physical weapons the majority of the time. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, the Bible says, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” So if our weaponry is not carnal, it has to be spiritual. So the enemy will fashion weapons that will be used against us, like a bad circumstance, a death, poverty, or even incarceration. The intent of the enemy is to cause destruction that will separate us from our place and fellowship with God. This verse says that the enemy’s weaponry won’t succeed.

“And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shall condemn”

People are going to speak badly about us, some will spread rumors, cast judgements and try to convince others to not believe us. The word “judgement” here means “verdict”. When a person renders a verdict, they declare you guilty or innocent, wrong or right, saved or sinner. The beauty about this is it is only their opinion and not what God says. When Peter had the vision in Acts 10, a sheet came down from heaven. A voice told him, “Rise Peter; kill, and eat”. Peter said in verse 14, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” In verse 15, the Bible says, “And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” When people’s voices rise up in judgement against us, their judgements will always be condemned. To “condemn” means “to make guilty” or “render useless, headed for destruction”. That is a view on what happens when we are victimized by the judgements of others.

“This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord”

The word “heritage” means “something inherited”. Inheritances come as the result of someone dying and leaving us something behind. In John 14, Christ promises that He would pray to the Father, and God will give us another Comforter. That Comforter is the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:15-17, the Bible says, ” For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba father”. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” We inherited a place in the kingdom of God as sons. So our heritage lies in Christ, and His death gave us the right to have protection from the enemy both now and in the end times. As servants of the Lord, we have access to this, so let us not lose sight of that.

“And their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”

This is basically saying, ‘If you need someone to vouch for My servants, then everything they are comes from Me.’ God stands by His people and He puts his stamp on us. In Isaiah 45:25, “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” When God declares us righteous, He justifies us, which means He backs His choice, making us right in public opinion as well. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Bible says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Because of Christ sacrifice, we have been made, and declared, the righteousness of God in Christ. We have our inheritance because of Christ, we are saved because of Christ. So our access and our protection comes with God’s backing.

When God says we will triumph over every weapon and rise above every tongue launched against us, His Word secures our victory. May we see the power in everything God has provided to achieve victory over the enemy.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 7, 2020 Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 KJV

Hi Everyone!

What is the source of faith? Deep question isn’t it? Has anyone ever asked you that question because, we know the scripture in Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”, and that defines faith, but where does our faith come from? Is belief the source of our faith, because we can’t have faith unless we believe, right? So many questions about faith but we tend to find ourselves confused when we have to examine where our faith comes from. Today we are going to look at Romans 10:17, a view into the source of our faith.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The word “faith” means “persuasion or credence of religious truth”. The word “hearing” means “reception by instruction or training”. So we’re instructed or trained in something, and that something becomes the thing that we are persuaded of that is credible and true. But what is that something?

“And hearing by the word of God”

So our “reception by instruction or training”, causing us to be “persuaded of its credence and truth” is the word of God! The Bible! The devotional is over then right? Not so fast! The word “word” means “utterance of teaching, precept, or doctrine”. So it is not just the Bible, but every utterance of teaching, precept, or doctrine” we receive from God. It is not exclusive to the Bible. In Matthew 4:4, the Jesus said, “But he answered and said, Man shall not live on bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The word “word” here carries the exact same meaning as “word” in Romans 10:17. Simply put, God didn’t stop talking to us when He wrote the Bible, and He still communicates with us today. God may put on our heart to go after a particular job, or to pursue a relationship with someone particular, or God may put on our hearts to share a word of truth, comfort, or confirmation. Christ said we live by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Faith is essential to a believer’s survival!!! We even receive the Holt Spirit by faith, because in Galatians 3:2, the Bible asks, “This only would I learn of you, Receive ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

In Galatians 3:6, the Bible says, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”. There was no Bible then, no law, or anything so God spoke to His people what he desired of them. Abraham received a word from God in Genesis 12:1, saying, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:” God also gave Abraham promises for him carrying the word out in verses 2 and 3. In verse 4, the Bible says, “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed our of Haran”. Abram received the word and carried the word out as given. He believed the word of God was true, and he carried it out, but had he not received the word from God, he would still be in Haran.

If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, then our faith comes by the word of God. So if we haven’t received a word from Scripture, by the Holy Spirit, or by a representative bearing His word, then our “faith” isn’t faith at all, because the Word of God is not involved. Christ became frustrated with the disciples in Mark 4, because he said, “Let us pass over unto the other side,” and along the way they panicked during a storm and questioned whether he cared whether they lived or died. If they believed the word, no matter what the storm looked like, they wouldn’t have panicked. They would’ve trusted the word given by Christ, “Let us pass over unto the other side”. The word alone said they were going to make it to the other side! If Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and Jesus is the Word of God that became flesh, then our faith is attached to the Word. The Word is given, and we believe it to be truth, and carry out the Word, and that counts us as faithful. Doesn’t that sound like obedience? God tells us to do something, and we do it, believing in the word to be truth and fruitful. Sounds like faith and obedience can go hand in hand.

May we be bold and courageous to move as the Word directs us. Absent the Word there is no faith.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 8, 2020 – 2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV

Hi Everyone!

As a believer, I have always been a firm believer in personal accountability. This requires a brutal self-examination where I didn’t always like the results, and it frequently lead me right back to the drawing board to start anew. I am the first to say that I was a real mess, and there was a ton to clean up from my life of lawlessness. Knowing where I have been, coupled with my desire to never go back to that life or mind again, causes me to be more vigilant about the state of my faith at all times. It intensifies because God has blessed me to teach and counsel people along my way, so I have to always be sure to I represent the faith in the right manner. In Matthew 18:6, the Bible says, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Ouch! In James 3:1, the Bible says, My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” I will say it again. Ouch!!! Whether I teach or not, this is really a clear view of the importance of our faith, because lives are really at stake. There is an immense responsibility that believers carry, both themselves and others, and that requires us to always be willing to hold ourselves accountable. Today we will look at 2 Corinthians 13:5, a word on accountability.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The word “examine” means “to test or scrutinize”. This can be to both make sure we are getting it right; or seeing where we may be getting it wrong. When we test something, it is similar to refinement, where we toss ourselves into the fire in order to reveal what manner of believer we are. We are to look within and take an honest look at our thoughts, beliefs, and actions to see if they are in line with the Word of God’s instruction on how we are supposed to think, believe, and act. The Word of God is what everything in our life is measured by and it is also the fire that refines us. In Romans 7:7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The Word is the standard by which we as believers live our lives. Even when I don’t have the Bible on hand, we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts. In John 14:17, the Bible says, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him nor, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” So the Holy Spirit is the Word in our hearts that serves to keep us in line with what God expects.

To “prove” means “to establish by evidence”. So our actions, the tangible stuff, shows whether we be in the faith. In my opinion, because faith and obedience go hand in hand, when we examine ourselves to establish by evidence that we are “in the faith”, it means that we are obeying what the Word of God says we should be doing. In Matthew 7:16, the Bible says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?” The Bible says for us to prove our own selves. That means, we check ourselves before someone else has the opportunity to, that we care enough about our walk with the Lord that we make sure that we are walking worthy of our faith.

“Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

This is saying, “Don’t you know that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates?” The word “reprobates” mean “unapproved, rejected”. The word “know” is so key here because it shows that we made ourselves fused with what we know. What we know becomes who we are! In John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” We have to know that Christ is in us, and to know ourselves means we are fully aware that Christ dwells in us. We have no identity without Christ and self-examination spiritually would be impossible without the Word and without Christ dwelling inside of us. Unbelievers are among the rejected, so this verse is screaming for us to claim our place as believers not just in word, but in deed and to not live our lives as if we are rejects and unapproved.

May we always examine ourselves and hold ourselves accountable to the faith we profess. We have to know ourselves inside and out.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 9, 2020 – Galatians 1:12 – But by the revelation of Jesus Christ

“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:12, KJV

Hi Everyone!

Where does our spiritual truth come from? Does it come from Pastor’s messages in church service or online given  Covid across the world? Does it come from word of mouth? I have been asked where I got my biblical knowledge from, judging by the fact that I haven’t been to a seminary, I don’t take Bible correspondence courses, and we haven’t had a Pastor come inside of prison since March. I tell them I study my Word daily and God reveals His truths to me. It’s really that simple, but this is the way it really should be for all of us as believers. Schools, courses, church services, and sermons are methods to receive the Word but the Holy Spirit reveals His truths to us in His own time and season. This requires us to empty ourselves out daily of what we think we know and become empty vessels willing to be taught of God the things He desires for us to learn. Today we are going to look at Galatians 1:12, a brief exploration into the revelation of Christ.

“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The word “receive” here means “to associate oneself with”. There is a difference between someone who accepts information given, and someone who associates themselves with the information given. When we associate ourselves with knowledge, we tend to believe the information given is true and it appeals to us in some degree. The word “man” here is spoken in reference to human nature, i.e. a human being, with the idea of human infirmity and imperfection, especially when spoken in contrast to God and divine things. So, Paul didn’t “associate himself with” head knowledge given by man based on their limited knowledge of God and divine things. In 2 Timothy 3:5, the Bible says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” There are tons of practices and doctrines with a little bit of “God” in them but a lot of man’s knowledge in them. We tend to call it Philosophy, and many are led astray into thinking this is the path to God and Spirituality. The Scripture above says having a “form of godliness”. It is either Godly or not, right? But here is something to look at from 2 Timothy 3:5. The word “deny” means to “declare something untrue”. So, the very knowledge they associate themselves with, with just a little God sprinkled in, they take all the knowledge but declare its power (God) untrue? Why receive the knowledge at all? The Bible says for us to turn away from such a person.

“Neither was I taught it”

The word “taught” means “to teach or instruct”. Paul wasn’t taught like the other disciples were. He didn’t walk with Christ for three years, like the disciples who were receiving all of His teaching, and having the Holy Spirit allow them to remember everything they were taught like in John 14:26. He was taught directly by the Holy Spirit. Paul was a Pharisee, and he taught the law extensively. Just my opinion here, but if Paul had the background and knew the background, then wouldn’t it be a little easier for God to “flip a switch” and point to all of the truths of Christ, in the law and from the prophets? The disciples were Jews, but nothing suggested that they had anywhere near the Jewish knowledge and background that Paul had. Paul was among the leadership, so his level of teaching was extensive. Paul makes no reference to what he was taught here, counting what he was taught as a Jew ‘as nothing’ because what he was taught as a Jew didn’t lead him any closer to Christ. In Isaiah 50:4, the Bible says, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, the wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” This confirms Paul’s words.

“but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”

The word “revelation” means, “disclosure, manifestation”. In Luke12:12, the Bible says, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” Do we give the Holy Ghost the floor to teach us the way God intends for us to learn? That is part of the Holy Ghost’s purpose to teach us everything God intends for us to know. Paul had to abandon everything he thought he knew to take hold of Christ. In Philippians 3:8, the Bible says, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”. When Paul gained Christ, He counted everything he thought he knew as dung. In Ephesians 1:9, the Bible says, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:” so this shows that we have access to this same revelation as believers. In James, the Bible says if we lack wisdom, let us ask for wisdom. Paul was taught this way. Why can’t we?

May we all open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit’s teaching.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 10, 2020 – 1 Timothy 4:14 – Neglect not the gift that is in thee

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” 1 Timothy 4:14 KJV

Hi Everyone!

A seed has all the characteristics of the tree in it. There is nothing that has to be added to the seed because God ordained a tree to spring forth from it. The same thing works for God and His creation of us. He created us with everything we need already within us, including the gifts and calling He purposed for us. Before the world was created, who we are was already spoken into existence, but it is our jobs to accept who we are in Christ, and also the gifts He has skillfully planted within us. Too many believers do not have faith in the gifts God has given them, and when we don’t carry faith on what God has gifted us with, neglect and abuse is secondary. As believers, our gifts are some the tools that we have to bring knowledge to people about our God and also we bring glory to God by exercising our gifts. Today, we will look at 1 Timothy 4:14, Paul’s advice to Timothy about using his gifts.

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”

The word “neglect” means “to be careless” with. When we receive a gift, we show our appreciation for the gift and the giver by taking good care of the gift we are given. It also means we use the gift as it is intended. If we needed a car and someone gifts us a car, and we enter it into a demolition derby, then the giver is going to feel disrespected because we have effectively neglected the gift. The same way if the car remains in the driveway collecting dirt. God is the same way with the gifts He bestowed upon us, desiring for us to use our gifts as He intended for us to use them. The word “gift” means “spiritual endowment, specifically gifts and abilities imparted to Christians and Christian teachers by the Holy Spirit.” When God saw fit to create us with the gifts and callings we have, that made us one of a kind, and if God created us with these spiritual endowments then He expects us to use them. The gifts aren’t outside of us. They are within us and are a part of our identity. To neglect our gifts would be to neglect ourselves.

“Which was given thee by prophecy”

This word “prophecy” goes deeper than “a prophet predicting the future while acting under divine influence”. It refers to the prophetic revelations or directions of the Holy Spirit by which people were designated as officers and teachers in the church. So God gave us the gifts we have and gave us a word of prophecy concerning our lives. We don’t realize that when God set an appointed time for us to receive our gift and execute our gift, it was a word of prophecy spoken into the world concerning us. In James 1:17, the Bible says, ” Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” We have to realize that our gifts come from spiritual places from a God that was very intentional about the gifts He has given us and the execution of those gifts. I doubted my gifting in my mind at first because I didn’t see the possibility of it, as I was only looking at it from my perspective. Now, it makes perfect sense and my gifting fits me like a glove. This funny thing about it is it always did.

“With the laying on of the hands by the presbytery”

The laying on of the hands were done to signify the affirmation, support, and identification with someone and his ministry. Laying on of the hands were used by Christ when He healed as well. Laying on of the hands were also used ultimately leading to a person being filled with the Holy Spirit. Touching signifies agreement, and this type of agreement is saying, “God we identify Timothy as being Your chosen vessel to teach and preach the Word of God wherever You send him. Fill him with Your spirit so he can carry out Your purpose for him.” In Acts 6:6-7, the Bible says, “And these were brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith”. It invokes the movement of the Holy Spirit before a person is sent away with the Spirit’s power. This should not be taken lightly because in 1 Timothy 5:22, the Bible says, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” This means laying hands on someone without a thorough investigation and preparation period to be certain of a man’s spirit and qualifications. The presbytery is a council of elders over the church.

Timothy had a gift and Paul admonished him to handle his gift with care, because it is God given and backed by the church leadership. May we all see our gifts with the level of importance necessarily to serve God wholly with them.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 11, 2020 – Galatians 5:1 – Christ hath made us free

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 KJV

Hi Everybody!

When Christ died on the cross, He did much more than save us from the penalty of death for our sins. He also released us from the bondage of the Mosaic Law and its customs that kept a serious yoke on the necks of the people that believe, holding them to laws that they were incapable of keeping fully. Imagine a life where nothing you have ever done was good enough, and there was nothing and no one to reconcile that. The atoning sacrifices they made merely rolled the sins ahead another year, so that didn’t set them free either. I have been under spiritual bondage, trying to “do good”, and trying to be my own righteousness, and I am under physical bondage at the moment, where year after year, the good I’ve done hasn’t set me free. Our Lord and Savior came to set us free, but it is our job as believers to maintain our freedom by not going back to what enslaved us to begin with. Today, we are looking at Galatians 5:1, breaking down the beautiful aspect of freedom.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

The words “stand fast” mean “to be stationary or to be rooted”. That means we are to secure our feet in the foundation of our faith in the Word of God. When we make roots, that means we make a home there or make ourselves at home there. God requires us to be rooted in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. What is liberty here? The word “liberty” means “freedom from the yoke of the Mosaic Law.” A yoke is a tool for oxen to be bonded together so they can be controlled to move by the direction of the controller. When the Israelites were under the law, they were under bondage to keeping a law that was impossible for them to keep.  In Romans 7:7, the Bible says, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The law had a purpose, to expose or make the people aware of the sin in their lives and also expose their need for salvation that the law can’t give. The Bible tells us to root ourselves in this freedom.

“Wherewith Christ hath made us free,”

The law was never designed to set us free. God designed this system along with its customs to serve God’s desired relationship with His children. In John 8:32, the Bible says, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” We have to know the purpose of the law and understand that it was never designed to give us freedom, but to emphasise our bondage, to help us learn that the truth can set us free. We need a Deliverer to set us free. The same way the Israelites had Moses, who was called to deliver the Israelites from their physical captivity, is the same way Christ was called to deliver us from our spiritual captivity. In John 8:36, the Bible says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” So, Christ is the one person that can set us free. The word “free” means “freedom from the power of condemnation by the Mosaic Law”. In Romans 8:1, the Bible says, “There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” When we were in our sins, we were under bondage to sin, but when we became servants of Christ, the condemnation and bondage was lifted. He finishes that work on the cross, fulfilling the law, and freeing us from the bondage of the law. Christ set us free!

“And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”

The word “entangled” means to be “held by”. Imagine with me a cord that is tangled up into a ball. Good luck right? Now imagine we are the cord and we tangled our own selves into a ball, but AFTER someone had already taken the time to loose us from our bondage. They would think we had to be the craziest people on the planet, correct? These are like the people who are freed by Jesus Christ but then try to “earn their salvation” by trying to pick back up the law, which they should not do. In Romans 6:18, the Bible says, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” We went from slaves, to servants, from servants to friends, from friends to children, and from children to heirs. In Romans 6:4, the Bible says, “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 the newness of life.”

So when we are freed, we have to understand that we are not under law anymore and the bondage of it, but are under freedom of salvation and grace. If we are new In Christ, then we have to walk as if we are new In Christ, and live new lives, and operate with a new mind. Galatians 5:1 tells us to not be entangled AGAIN with the yoke of bondage. Some people are in bondage and have no clue. Let me paint a picture of this type on bondage. We were drowning and Christ pulls us out of the water, AND instead of walking in His second chance, we jump back in the water, for more drowning!

May we choose freedom in Christ today!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 12, 2020 – Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship

“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 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Perspective shapes reality. What we fix our eyes upon tends to shape our reality, and so many of us have found ourselves in positions that our perspective has birthed for us. Forget how we view ourselves for a second and let us ask ourselves, how does God view us? He is our Creator and He not only created us, but He created us with purpose – for us to be exactly who He authored us to be. If we are children of God, that automatically makes us royalty, a part of the Kingdom of God, made uniquely and specifically for His purpose. It doesn’t mean we won’t have hard days or an “identity” crisis here and there. But, recognizing who we are brings us right back to the default settings of God’s creation and brings us back to who we really are, and how our loving God thinks of us. Today we are going to look at Ephesians 2:10, a perspective of God’s perspective of us.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

“His workmanship”. This means that we belong to the Lord. The word “workmanship” means “product that is made”. Let me expand this meaning. We are not only God’s product, but we are also the evidence of His skillful creation of us. A person’s workmanship speaks for the person who created it, so God created us to represent Him accurately. In Psalms 100:3, “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and nor we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” God is our Creator and if we operate according to the intentions of our Creator, then we will embody Christ, and that will be evident to all. We will be God’s crowning achievement. If we don’t look at ourselves in this fashion, it will be exceptionally hard for us to ever become who God intends for us to be.

“Created in Christ Jesus unto good works”

The word “create” means “to fabricate or form in spiritual sense”. Let’s look at what being “created in Christ” produces. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new “. Being created in Christ makes us new creatures in Christ. That means we are brought back to the intended design for us from the beginning, which positions us for good works. This isn’t saying that good works will save us or keep our salvation, but good works are evidence of the Holy Spirit having reign in our lives. Good works means “good deeds or works of virtue”, virtue meaning moral excellence. So, we are created in Christ Jesus to be new creatures and to function as new creatures in Christ. We have to walk in this and believe in what we have been gifted with! In Ephesians 4:24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We have to put on the new man and leave the old man. Also, in Colossians 3:10, the Bible says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Renewed in knowledge. So, walking in the knowledge about who we are and whose we are is us putting on the new man. The knowledge we are renewed in is after the image of him that created us. “After” means “according to”. So, we were created in Christ according to our original specifications, because in the beginning, God said, Let us create man in our own image and in our own likeness, and then commanded that we have dominion. God is giving His people the chance to be who He created us to be.

“Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

The word “ordained” here means “to fit up in advance”. Think about this. God not only created us, but He created us for the good works that He called for us to do, and He specifically designed us to be ready to perform these good works at the time He appointed for them to be done. So, anything God has called us to do, He has already given us the victory in. By putting on this new man daily, we will see that all seasons are really appointed times, and nothing is “by chance” when it comes to God’s creation. Do we remember that we are God’s crowning achievement when hard times come? Do we remember that God has already prepared us to live for Him, and He will provide everything we need for His purpose. In Romans 8:29, the Bible says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are living out the finished plan of our loving God, and His design was for us to bear His image in this world.

What do we believe God thinks of us? Perspective creates the reality by which we live. If we don’t see ourselves as God’s creation, created in love and purpose, then maybe we have to adjust our perspective. May we all take a serious look into who we really are!

May God Bless You All!

Marshall

 

Dec 13, 2020 – Philippians 4:6 – let your request be made known unto God

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6 KJV

Hi Everyone!

As believers we are sometimes faced with seasons of difficulty. Difficulty can cause every type of feeling conceivable to surface, some healthy and some dangerous to believers. Worry is something what causes a believer to look away from God and look to the circumstances around them. Worry is us trying to figure out the circumstances on our own, instead of entrusting the circumstances to God’s perfect plan. We tend to speak out our worries instead of bringing our worries before God. Worry signifies a lack of trust, and a lack of trust means a lack of faith in God’s word, His protection, and His provision. Today, we are going to look at Philippians 4:6, to see what we should do with our worry when it surfaces.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

The word “nothing” means “not one thing”. “Being careful” is the same as “being anxious” and anxiety is a deep worry. So God is telling us to not worry about one thing. If God is telling us to not worry about one thing, then doesn’t that mean that He has ALL things covered for us? In Psalm 55:22, the Bible says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved”.  That word “sustain” means “to maintain, nourish, and provide for”. So if we give our burdens to the Lord, He will take good care of us. That means, there is no reason to worry, right? Do we trust God with our burdens? Do we trust what His word says? In 1 Peter 5:7, the Bible says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” Do we believe that the Lord cares about us and is concerned with our cares? God wants ALL of our cares, so that means we can’t hold anything back for ourselves.

“But in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”

Every thing. God wants it all or it serves no real purpose. What person goes to the doctor for chronic migraines, but doesn’t disclose the swollen knees and broken hand they have too? We go to the doctor and tell doc everything that is wrong, so we don’t have to keep coming back. Do we believe God will handle it all? In Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” We have a God that will fix the whole issue, not part of it, but we have to come to Him in prayer with everything. Worry indicates a lack of trust in God’s power, wisdom, and authority, so prayer is us acknowledging God’s power to change this thing around for us. The word “supplication” means “to make known one’s particular need or desire”. Be specific. God said “every thing by prayer and supplication”, so we have to bring everything to Him. Prayer is our communication with God, and supplications are things we ask for in prayer. In 1 Timothy 5:5, the Bible says, “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.” The widow was in a bleak situation, but she trusted in God and brought all of her concerns to Him day and night. Our God loves us so much! In Isaiah 41:10, the Bible says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” God is ready to come through and deliver us. Thanksgiving is also required. People tend to say “thank you” to someone when that someone does something nice for them after they do it! So God is requiring us to bring our worries to Him and whatever else we have going on and do it with thanksgiving. Doesn’t that reveal faith that the prayers and supplications we offered up are already done?  So that means we thank God in advance.

“Let your requests be made known unto God”

The word “requests” means “supplications or prayers for particular benefits”. Once again, be specific. Don’t just ask God to help. Let us ask God for help with exactly what is causing the worry in the first place.” “Be made known” means “to reveal or declare”. In Matthew 7:7-8, in the Bible, Jesus says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” We don’t pray to God and not expect Him to answer our prayers. He is telling us to come to Him because He truly hears us and desires to answer our prayers. A parent doesn’t feel good with their kids being panic-stricken about things they know they can handle. The first thing a parent will say is “Why didn’t you say anything? I can handle this for you.” That is a picture or our loving God, and His desires to make sure His children are okay at all times.

May we come to know our God as the answer to our every prayer uttered according to His word and will.

God Bless You All!

Marshall

 

Dec 14, 2020 – Ephesians 3:20 – Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20 KJV

Hi Everyone!

What can our God do? Do we box Him into our perception of His ability? Do we hinder His power from doing what He desires to do because of our unbelief? Are we the type of Church that believes that the effectual working of the Holy Spirit that occurred in Acts no longer happens now? God is the same God and His power is the same as it always has been, so when are we going to be a people of God that not only believes in His power, but moves faithfully in it? Today we are going to dive in Ephesians 3:20, confirmation into God’s ability and power.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

The word “now” is a connecting word, and when a sentence begins with “now” it’s summing up a point previously made. In Ephesians 3:14-18, Paul prays for the Ephesians, that they would be strengthened with might by His Spirit, that Christ will dwell in their hearts by faith, that they will be rooted and grounded in love, that they may know the vastness and completeness of His love, which goes beyond anything we could know, and that we may be filled with the fullness of God. Great stuff to pray over, right? These verses form a type of condition that makes way for verse 20 to happen.

The words “exceeding abundantly” means “a superabundance, beyond measure”. First, we have to understand that our God can do things that we can never comprehend. In 1 Corinthians 2:9, “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.” We can’t begin to figure out how far God’s reach is, how can we measure His ability by anything we have seen or our ears have heard. Why do we then put God in some small box in our even smaller minds, and play ourselves out of a chance to really experience everything He desires to share of Himself with us?

So our God operates on a level that is immeasurable, but the verse goes even further, saying “above all that we ask or think.” God is so powerful, He can give us things that are beyond our scope of desire! When God asked Solomon what he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom to perform well his position as king. What did God do? Gave him so much wisdom that he was the wisest man in the land. People came from all over the world to hear Solomon’s wisdom. Then God gave him riches, and so much that there would be no one like him in the world. So God gave him something he didn’t ask for and it was beyond anything he could’ve comprehended! In 2 Corinthians 9:8, the Bible says, “And God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things; may abound to every good work”. All grace. All sufficiency. All things. Why? So we may abound to EVERY good work. Our God is not part-time, nor is He halfway with us. When He moves, it is in the fullness of His power.

“According to the power that worketh in us”

The word “power” means “miraculous power or force”. The word “worketh” means “is active”. So let’s break that down. The word accordingly is the conduit for God’s power to move. The power that worketh in us. IN US! This is so important because we wonder why we don’t experience God’s power, but the whole time we need to be asking ourselves, are we cutting off the flow of God’s power and abilities by NOT allowing His power to work in us? A circuit breaker box can have a circuit breaker in there that can run a 100 amp appliance. If it is not tied into the source, it won’t run. What we have is ability with no power, potential. God is trying to get us past mere potential into the effectual working of His power, by allowing His power to work freely within us unrestricted. In Ephesians 3:7, the Bible says, “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” We are only able to perform our callings by God’s power working in us. Without His power, we are empty vessels. In Ephesians 1:19, the Bible says, “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” The key word is “believe”. If we don’t believe that His power works, that His power works in us, then we will never experience the fullness of His power nor will we experience everything God wants to do in our lives. It is like cutting off the light switch, and then wondering why we are in the dark?

May we trust is our loving God to allow Him to work His power in us. May we be strengthened with might by His Spirit, may Christ dwell in our hearts by faith, may we be rooted and grounded in love, may we experience the vastness and completeness of Christ’s love for us, and may we be filled with the fullness of God, so His power can cause us to experience things we have never experienced before!

God Bless and Keep you All!

Marshall

 

Dec 15, 2020 – 1 Thessalonians 3:12 – And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 KJV

Hi Everyone!

As believers, we are expected to grow in all aspects of our faith walks. Stagnancy is unfruitful for the kingdom or anything for that matter, because whatever doesn’t grow generally atrophies and dies. I studied French Immersion in school and got to a point where I could speak it rather fluently. When I stopped going to school, I stopped growing in my knowledge of French, and decades later, other than understanding a couple words and phrases here and there, the whole language is pretty much absent from my mind. If I told someone I used to speak French, or speak it currently, there would be no fruit to prove it. In our faith walks, we don’t want to be the type of believers where the Word stops growing in us, and the fruit isn’t visible, so our faith atrophies and dies. When we tell people we are Christians, what is their response? Understanding? Skepticism? Utter disbelief? If we don’t grow Spiritually, then our reach doesn’t grow either, which means less and less people come to know Christ through us. Today, we are going to briefly look at 1 Thessalonians 3:12 for a word on growth and increase.

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:”

The word “increase” means “to make, do, or be more; to super abound”. Let’s look at God’s command to man after creating man. In Genesis 1:28, the Bible says, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Being “fruitful and multiplying” means that God created man to be in a perpetual state of growth, and not just growth, but dominion as well. Before God gave them the command in Genesis 1:28, it says “And God blesses them”. So if God calls for increase, then He has already blessed us to do it! The question becomes at that point, “Will we?” instead of “Can we?” When Christ fed the 5,000 He blessed the provision before distributing it to the disciples. When God blesses something it will increase, but will we stop its growth?

What happens when the Lord blesses us to grow but we don’t bear fruit? In Matthew 21:19, the Bible says, “And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.” What is God going to find in us when He is hungry for fruit? Is He going to find leaves on our trees, which means there should be fruit on the trees as well, or is He going to be disappointed that we appear to bear fruit only to discover that nothing is there? In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, starting at verse 14, the master gave talents to his servants with the full expectation that they would increase what he gave them. When he returned and he saw increase, he said in verse 21, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Good and faithful servant. “Good” is a creation term, meaning someone or something is operating according to the Creator’s intended design. “Faithful” is no different than “obedient”, and it means that a person is operating perfectly according to the direction (Word) and/or example of the Master. Remember Romans 10:17, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”? Faith is always execution of the Word.

In John 15:5, the Bible says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” This is the key because the only way we can bear fruit, make increase, or abound is if we abide in Christ and allow Christ to abound in us. We can’t bear fruit without God’s blessing or His presence, so if we try to be “lone wolves”, operating in our own power, our own knowledge, our own love, and our own authority, then we won’t be able to do anything.

“In love one towards another, all towards all men, even as we do towards you”.

In John 13:34-35, the Bible says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Love is the evidence of God’s presence, because God is love, but it is also the evidence that we are the disciples of Christ, a disciple means a “learner or pupil”. It isn’t designed for believers to just love believers. It is designed for believers to love unbelievers, people that persecute us, people that hate us. We follow Christ’s example, so therefore we lead in love. “They will know we are Christians by our love,” right?

May love produce a harvest of increase, pleasing to our Father.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 16, 2020 – 1 Corinthians 1:27 – God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” 1 Corinthians 1:27 KJV

Hi Everyone!

How are we qualified to serve the kingdom of God? I know personally, I can name at least 7 billion people more qualified than me, and given my past poor decisions, that should’ve shoved me all the way under the list of “prospects”. In the Word, it seems like God specializes in working with castaways. He called Moses after he committed murder and fled to a different land. Moses questioned his calling, even tried to thrust Aaron to the forefront because he felt Aaron was smarter and a better speaker. David was out tending to the sheep when Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king. David’s own father didn’t consider him for such a powerful honor until he had no other choice and there were no sons left. Jeremiah told God he was a child and couldn’t speak for the Lord. Peter always had faith and impulse issues. Thomas always doubted. Paul persecuted the church. On the surface, we wouldn’t think that either one of these guys (including me!) would be chosen by God for His purpose to be fulfilled, but He not only chose us, but He stands behind His choice. Today we are going to look at 1 Corinthians 1:27, to understand a little bit more as to why God chooses the people He does for His purpose.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”

The word “chosen” means “selected”. God didn’t have to choose us and He definitely has options, so His choice should bring humility. The word “foolish” means “stupid or heedless”. The fool is the person who can be given wisdom, but will completely disregard it. In Proverbs 15:5, the Bible says, “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.” Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself”. Proverbs 17:25 says, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.” So in painting this small picture, we have an idea of the type of person God selects. In 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” God classifies preaching as foolishness, yet it still saves those that believe! Does this mean God is speaking against the very thing He uses to spread the word throughout the world? Absolutely not. In 1 Corinthians 1:25, the Bible says, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” God’s idea of foolishness and ours are on two different scales!

The word “confound” means “to disgrace, or put to shame”.  So God takes the stupid and heedless things (and people) and will use them to put the wise to shame. In Matthew 11:25, the Bible says, “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Christ thanked God for revealing Himself to people who weren’t wise.

“and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty”

The word weak means “without strength”. In Romans 5:6, the Bible says,

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” God ensured that our salvation was made available when we didn’t have strength to even try to earn it on our own. Even in Zechariah 4:6, the Bible says, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.” Our power means absolutely nothing when it comes to the Spirit of God. God doesn’t look for strong people. He looks for people He can fill with His strength. In Proverbs 21:31, the Bible says, “A horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” We can do our best to prepare in a battle, have the best materials, weaponry, and skill, but God determines whether or not we make it home. In Psalms 20:7, the Bible says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

The mighty trust in their own strength. The weak are made mighty when they trust in God’s strength. In 1 Samuel 17:45, the Bible says, “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” David knew the name of the Lord was more powerful than Goliath’s size, experience and strength.

In 1 Corinthians 1:29, the Bible says, “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” God chose people that were going to rely on His wisdom and His strength, people that were going to give Him the glory for the victory. He has made the same choice today. May we find wisdom and strength in Him.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 17, 2020 – Jeremiah 9:24 – I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness

“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:24 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Who do we give glory to when we accomplish something amazing? Do we pat ourselves on the back? Do we give another person credit for the outcome? Do we credit variables working in our favor, attributing our success to fate? Or do we give the God the glory? I have been the foolish person who has given everyone and everything credit but God who made everything happen, and I have been completed humbled when God removed His favor just enough for things to fall apart without Him, causing me to realize that our God is the force that holds our success together. Today, I make sure, more than ever, to give God the glory for everything my path has encountered, for every accomplishment, for every success. Today, we are looking at Jeremiah 9:24, for where the glory truly needs to go.

“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

The word “glorieth” means “to shine a light upon, to boast, or to celebrate”. The Bible says in Psalms 44:8, “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.” In 1 Corinthians 1:31, the Bible says, “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” In 2 Corinthians 10:17, the Bible says, “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Why should we glory in the Lord? Why should He get the credit for our successes and our accomplishments? In Colossians 1:16-17, the Bible says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” That’s why. God created the world and everything in it, in both the spiritual realm and the earthly realm, and because of Him everything is set together (consists). That means nothing belongs to us, including our success because God set everything in motion that we experience today. Because He authored our lives, all boasting, all celebrating, and all light needs to shine back on the Lord.

“That he understandeth and knoweth me”

The word “understandeth” means “to be circumspect, to exercise wisdom, insight and comprehension”. That means we can comprehend God on all angles. In order to be able to do that, we have to seek our God out, to learn of Him on all levels, and make ourselves available to receive His truth. In James 1:5, the Bible says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The word “knoweth” carries the same meaning, whether a married couple are engaging in sexual relations or someone is comprehending information. In Genesis 4:1, the Bible says, “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.” The word “know” expresses a union from two separate things, so as two people become one flesh, the same happens when we know information. We become “one” with who and what we know, and that allows us to share what we know with others with clarity. Knowing requires intimacy, and intimacy requires a level of depth that is pure and sincere. God wants us to understand and know Him like that.

“That I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness, in the earth”.

We need to know that God is Lord. Once we understand God and know our Lord, then it becomes easier to grasp His capabilities. In John 3:16, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Lovingkindness is going to always have an action behind it. God always has shown His love for us by what He has done. Let us really take a serious inventory over our lives and see clearly how deeply God loves us. This verse says He “exercises”, so that is something He keeps in practice. “Judgement” means “a verdict or legal decision rendered” but it also means “justice”. So God sets everything right and makes sure everything, good or evil, is repaid. “Righteousness” means “blameless, moral conduct”. There is no case someone can make against the Lord. He practices lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth as an example for us to follow and exercise ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 2:14, the Bible says, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

“For in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

The word “delight” means “to incline oneself towards, or to bend”. This means God pays close attention to people who desire to know and understand Him. May we glory in the privilege of knowing our Lord God, and experiencing His beautiful attributes, because He is watching!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 18, 2020 – Philippians 4:11 – Therewith to be content

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV

Hi Everyone!

How do we feel when we don’t have the things we feel we need? Do we panic and begin to question our God and His provision. At the height of our struggles, do we consider going drastic, taking matters in our own hands? Do we trust God as provider when we see more bills than assets? Our successes and our struggles are not by accident, but play vital roles in our development as believers. I have experienced harvests of plenty, and I have stared at empty fields, wondering where I went wrong, but one thing remained the same, our God was right there through it all. Everything has its season, and in Ecclesiastes 3:6, the Bible says, “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away”. There is a time for everything under the sun, all ordered and ordained by God. Today we are going to look at Philippians 4:11, a small lesson on contentment.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

The word “want” means “to fall short, or lack”. When Paul says, “Not that I speak in respect of want”, he means he doesn’t speak from a position of falling short or lacking. This means that he doesn’t “want” for anything. It is obvious that Paul has been through periods of what he perceived to be “lack” and is speaking from experience. Sometimes, telling people what we have gone through can encourage someone else who is going through the same thing. Christ came and overcame the world and the enemy in order to show us how to ourselves. In Revelations 2:17, the Bible says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” There are definite rewards when we overcome something that has been holding us back, but we can’t keep it to ourselves. In Luke 22:32, the Christ told Peter, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” WHEN thou art converted, not IF. Christ knew Peter would overcome, and gave him the command to “strengthen thy brethren”. We have to help people overcome the same way we have.

“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am”

The word “learn” here doesn’t just mean we receive something that can be applied when recalled. “Learn” means “to understand from experience with the intention to do habitually.” So the idea is not to waste the things God teaches us. In Matthew 7:24, Jesus says, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” God didn’t create us to merely receive information, store it up, and not apply it to our lives. Paul is sharing with the church what he learned, the epiphany he received that led to this state of mind he now has and the course of action he now takes. “Whatsoever state I am”. That means he has gone through a lot, enough for him to be circumspect. Credibility comes when we ourselves have encountered the very things we teach, and in Hebrews 4:15, the Bible speaks of Christ by saying, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Experience makes for a credible testimony.

“Therewith to be content”

The word “content” means “self-sufficent or satisfied within self”. This does not mean that we don’t need God. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” We have to remain attached to the vine, receiving our sustenance from God. Wait a minute! We are the branches of the vine, so as long as we abide in the vine, we will not only have everything we need, but we can still bear fruit. Our perceived lack may feel heavy, but as long as we abide in the vine, we won’t ever be without what we need. In Hebrews 13:5, the Bible says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We are not to desire what the next person has, but are to be satisfied with what God has provided. The promise of God never leaving nor forsaking us ensures that He will take very good care of us. In 1 Timothy 6:6, Paul writes to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain”. So if we abide in the vine and learn to be satisfied with what God has provided, whether a little or a lot, it will become great gain for us. Is it safe to say Paul just shared what he learned about contentment with Timothy? When we learn to be content, we will focus more on God and less on our circumstances.

May we always rest in the provision of God and find contentment in it!

God Bless You All!

Marshall

 

Dec 19, 2020 – Matthew 9:36 – He was moved with compassion

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36 KJV

Hi Everyone!

When we look at people in the world, what are our thoughts concerning them? Do we turn our noses up to them? Do their actions anger us, or make us uneasy? Do we cast judgements openly or secretly? How should our thoughts, are feelings be? I have been on “the wrong side of the tracks”, so I have encountered looks of distaste, looks of judgement, but few looks of compassion. It made it harder for me to desire change, believing I wouldn’t find people who genuinely cared for me when I did reach out for help. Our response to someone we encounter in the world can be the catalyst to either their salvation or continued decline, but few of us think that one interaction has that big of an implication or impact. It really does. What a person receives from us can also shape the way they view the Church, and also the way they view Christ. When we show people that we truly care about them, and care about the state of their faith, people will be more receptive to what we will have to say. If they see contempt of judgement in us, they will reject our testimony. Today we are looking at Matthew 9:36, the beauty of compassion.

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”

The phrase “moved with compassion” means “to have the bowels yearn for, to have sympathy, pity”. Strangely, when I looked up the word “moved” by itself, it carried the same meaning as compassion. So Christ saw this crowd of people, and his bowel yearned for them. That means the deepest parts of him was saddened about their condition and also for their salvation. In Luke 19:41, the Bible says, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.” Christ went to Jerusalem and got close enough to the “problem”, then “beheld” it. To “behold” means to “fix one’s eyes or attention upon”. This is important for us because how can we assess what the problem is and where we can help if we never get close enough? What if we went to the doctor with a stomach ache, but the doctor wouldn’t get close enough to see the problem nor gauge the treatment plan. Would we trust their diagnosis? Hopefully not. What if we were sharing the Word of God with the homeless but we wouldn’t get close enough to them because they were too dirty or smelly for our liking? How effective would our ministry be? Our example, Christ not only got close, but He touched our infirmities, taking them upon Himself. What is our excuse? Having compassion means that the deepest parts of us yearn for the salvation and restoration of others so much, that their condition is the thing that makes us draw near to them, not away from them.

“Because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”

Christ engaged himself in ministry, teaching, preaching, and healing every sickness and disease. Think about this with me. You are by yourself, doing all of this, in a synagogue of all places, and you see a ton of people in need of physical and spiritual healing. You’re happy to do it, but eventually you may ask, “Where is everybody? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?”. People’s primary mode of transportation was walking, so people traveled from all over to where they HEARD Jesus was. No doubt, people fainted along the way, “fainted” meaning “became tired or weary”. What good were the synagogues if the people weren’t being healed spiritually and physically? In Ezekiel 34:5-6, “And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.” This is what happens to the flock without shepherds. The sheep are scattered and they become vulnerable to attack from the enemy. “Scattered abroad” means they are far from home. Some die, some are marred and damaged permanently, and they walk in fear. They seek safety in every high place, waiting on a shepherd to find them, but none come after them. A lot of these people are almost stripped of all hope and Christ is their last chance to be healed.

I am painting this type of picture because we have sheep out there without shepherds, who have traveled far and wide seeking a shepherd, but none have come after them. A shepherd is “one who generally cares for and provides for the welfare of the flock”. A shepherd also means “pastor”. In Luke 9:11, the Bible says, “And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he RECEIVED them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.” What type of reception does the world get when they encounter us? Compassion? Judgement? Love? Contempt?

What type of reception would you want to get if you traveled far and wide, and are weary to the Lord?

God Bless You!

Marshall

 

Dec 20, 2020 – Colossians 3:22 – obey in all things … in singleness of heart, fearing God

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; Colossians 3:22 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Who are we when no one is watching? Is what we reflect behind closed doors consistent with what the world sees? What about with God? Is our faith, obedience, and conduct the same as it would be if He was standing right there watching us? I have to check myself on this one, realizing that I still have some work to do. God doesn’t want false submission and He definitely doesn’t want false representation either. In Psalms 51:17, the Bible says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” God desires sincerity from His children, and he also desires sincerity out of our service to Him. Today, we are looking at Colossians 3:22, a view on honest service.

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

The word “servant” is used to describe someone who will willingly commit himself to serve a master he loves and respects. But it can also mean a person subjected to involuntary, permanent service as a slave. In Titus 2:9, the Bible says, “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;” No matter the type of bondage, voluntary or involuntary, God requires the same attitude towards our service. It doesn’t matter if our masters are nice or brutal, God commands our obedience to them. In 1 Peter 2:18, the Bible says, “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” So the master’s treatment has nothing to do with my service, and it isn’t true obedience to pick and choose whose directives I follow based on how they treat me. Being in prison, I experience many different officers, some great, some horrible, but my submission is to their authority, and not to the person. In Romans 13:1 the Bible says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God.” When we understand that their authority is ordained by God, we have to see them as people acting according to God’s command as well. If we don’t see it like this, obedience will be hard.

“Obey in all things your masters according to the flesh”

The word “obey” means “heed or conform to a command”. To conform is to allow ourselves to embody the command. In 1 Samuel 15:22, the Bible says, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Obedience IS the sacrifice, and obedience pleases God. The verse says we are to obey “in all things”. Pretty self-explanatory. That means we don’t try to find a way out, but a way through. The word “master” means “person supreme in authority”. So our job is to conform to the commands of the person(s) who is in supreme authority over us on earth.

” not with eye service, as men pleasers”

The phrase “eye service” means that we only work well when the master is watching. It looks good in church, but when we are in our communities, is our service the same? Do we obey our boss the same way we obey Pastor? In 1 Timothy 6:1, the Bible says, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” When we count our masters worthy of honor, then we will represent them well when they aren’t around, because we will understand they are ordained by God, and obeying them is the same as obeying God. Think not? In Romans 13:2, the Bible says, “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Our masters operate in the power of God so our obedience is therefore no different. “Men pleasers are people that aim to impress men without any regard for God. Our obedience has to have God in mind first, at all times.

“But in singleness of heart, fearing God”

The word “singleness” means “sincerity without self-seeking”. Our hearts are the center of our beings, so our desire to obey has to come from the deepest places in our being. We don’t obey looking for a reward, but we will be rewarded for our obedience. God sees it as if He stands right next to us. In Luke 19, it gives the story of a certain nobleman and his servants, and in verse 13, the Bible says, “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” The master gave his servants a command. In verse 14, the citizen spoke against him and his reign over them, saying they don’t want him reigning over them. Reading further along, most servants obeyed, despite the absence of the master and rebellion of one of their company, those who obeyed  reaped a harvest of authority!!!!

May we serve our masters with a sincere heart today!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 21, 2020 – Jeremiah 15:19 – If thou return, then will I bring thee again

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.” Jeremiah 15:19 KJV

Hi Everyone!

God is someone we can turn to with every problem we have. The beauty about our God is He is loving, and is receptive to everything we bring to Him. There is a real comfort knowing our God is listening, and we aren’t too small for Him to hear, or too insignificant for Him to respond to. I have seen the surprise on people’s faces when I tell them they can talk to God about literally anything. What happens when the representatives of God, the ministers of His word, have a full blown panic attack? How does God handle that? Today, we are going to look at Jeremiah 15:19, a message on redirection.

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.”

“Therefore thus saith the Lord”. Is the word we receive from the Lord? This question is so vital, because a person can give great advice, but if it’s not from the Lord, it might as well be a pathway to destruction. In 1 Chronicles 17:2, the Bible says, “Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee.” David wanted to built a house for God to dwell in. Nathan was a prophet, responsible for conveying God’s word to the people, He ordained for it to go. We would think his advice would be sound, right? In 1 Chronicles 17:3-4, the Bible says, “And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in:” Nathan thought that if it was in David’s heart, it must have come from God. Making sure the word we receive comes from the Lord is important, because we can be misled and do the kingdom of God a disservice by moving in a way God never directed. What happens when the man of God is in a state of panic, looking at the treatment he is receiving and the evil of the people, and taking the role of a victim? That means his faith is wavering, and He is not looking at God. His eyes are fixed on his circumstances and his feelings about his circumstances. Even after God assured Jeremiah in Jeremiah 15:11 by saying, “The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction,” Jeremiah had more complaints. He couldn’t hear God’s word so how could he spread it?

“If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me”

The word “return” is the same as “repent”, meaning “to turn back”. God is telling Jeremiah in essence, “You have gone far enough away from me. Now, let’s get it back together. You are my voice, and my promises are the same. Focus on Me, and not on them. Jeremiah’s fear, and his pain causes him to take him mind off the Lord, and even when he inquired of the Lord, his heart wasn’t right before the Lord. In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Bible says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Jeremiah’s heart wasn’t right before the Lord because God didn’t give him the spirit he walked in. If Jeremiah repented, God could restore him back to the promises and commands of Jeremiah 1:10, which said, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Because Jeremiah didn’t have the right heart or attitude before the Lord, he couldn’t operate in the authority God has given him. When we stand before the Lord, it signifies right standing, confidence, and readiness to carry the word given. Jeremiah had to repent and be brought back to his foundation in order to stand before Him.

“And if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth. Let them return unto thee; but return not unto them.”

This is a refinement term, where the dross is extracted from the metal, making the metal pure. Jeremiah had to go in the fire, and get all the impurities he has taken on burned from him. In Ezekiel 44:23, the Bible says, “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” There is always something teachable in refinement. Let sinners change their behavior but we must never compromise our good behavior in the Lord to reach them. Just because the world acts crazy, doesn’t mean we have to. In Zechariah 3:7, the Bible says, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” Our focus should remain on the Lord and the Word He has given us, and the promise will come.

May we be able to stand before the Lord with great assurance that His will is perfect for our lives.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 22, 2020 – Psalm 62:10 – set not your heart upon them

“Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” Psalm 62:10 KJV

Hi Everyone!

When I was a kid, our poverty was so extreme, and our need was so great, that I was willing to do anything to make money. This is my testimony, I ran drugs for drug dealers, robbed people, sold drugs, stole, and broke quite a few laws to make money. When I made money, it became my god and it was the only thing that mattered. As long as I had a pocketful of money or a crime in mind to make more money, I was quite fine with my life. I saw what I was doing to be survival, so it justified the wrong I was doing. Fast forward to a life sentence and over 17 years later, and I am nothing like I used to be. No longer the criminal I used to be, I don’t pursue any illegal means to make money, and I may struggle here and there, but I have a heart and mind of peace and contentment. A few years ago, I had thousands of dollars on my prison account, but I made a terrible mistake. While I gave God the glory for having the provision I had, I began to trust in the riches God provided more than in God Himself. Idolatry is sin, and I didn’t know how deep I was falling until it all went away. In Proverbs 30:8, the Bible says, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me”. I didn’t realize how vain I had become, nor did I realize I was putting my trust in riches instead of God. My eyes are teary as I reflect on how I became no better than the criminal I used to be because instead of robbing people, I was robbing my God. Praise God I understand that now, because when the harvest comes back, I won’t ever lose my sight again. Today, I want to look at Psalms 62:10, a word on money.

“Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”

The word “trust” means “to hie for refuge”, meaning we run towards it instinctively for refuge. The word “oppression” here surprised me because it actually means “unjust gain”. I now reflect back when I was so entrenched into the street life, racing after unjust gain, and it really IS oppression! I see brothers in here under the same oppression, salivating to return to freedom to chase after ill gotten riches again. In Isaiah 30:12-13,  the Bible says, “Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.” When we trust in riches, unjust gain, or our weird perversions concerning them, we are proving that we despise the Word of God. There are no gray areas, and I learned that if I trust God’s word, then there is no room for me to place my faith elsewhere. Our walls will come tumbling down and then the enemy has an open field to do as he wills when we place our trust in unjust gains or riches.

“And become not vain in robbery”

The word “vain” means “to be led astray”. The word “robbery” means “plunder taken away by force”. I will personally tell you that I have dealt with this first hand, led astray by unjust gains, by plunder taken by force. I remember days where we took pictures with our “bounty”, actually proud of what we “made”. It becomes a drug, and the rush is addicting, and the enemy enjoyed it when I was trapped in my filth. In Proverbs 11:28, the Bible says, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.” I experienced that fall and it hurt when I crashed and burned, but I am glad that I fell because I trust in the Lord with every fiber of my being now, and I truly realize where I went terribly wrong. I had to reprogram my thinking. In Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it”. God offers true riches, true blessings, true wealth in His kingdom and there is nothing to be sorry about, no guilt, or no punishment behind what the Lord provides. All of the money in the world means nothing without God.

“If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”

The word “riches” means “strength by financial influence”. Whether unjust gains or completely legitimate gains, we are not to place our trust in them. The word “set” implies that a person fixes themselves in position in their mind or heart, giving their undivided attention to it. Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” No gray areas. Either we love God or despise God. Either we love money or despise money. In Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” God desires people that will seek true riches in Him, that is uncorruptible, that can’t be taken or discounted.

May we seek a life of honesty, one where we trust in our God as the perfect Father and provider.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 23, 2020 – 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – For our gospel came not unto you in word only

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5 KJV

Hi Everyone!

How does our ministry reach people? How does the word of life reap a harvest in the lives God entrusts to us? There has to be fruit that is borne from our interactions with people, and also a correct representation of God, who we operate in the name of. Our conduct among people is just as important as the Word of God we share, because if there is no evidence of the Spirit in our ministry, then it gives people no reason to believe our word as truth. In our society, we are bombarded by “ministers” teaching “feel good doctrine” that is laced with lies, and sadly, the Church as a whole is losing credibility. People are teaching with gimmicks instead of the Holy Ghost’s power and truth, and it is leading people astray in record numbers. We have to be a Church that trusts in the power of the Holy Spirit to reach the hearts and minds of people, understanding that the representatives are nothing without the Person we represent. Today, we are going to look at 1 Thessalonians 1:5, a word on effective ministry.

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”

The word “gospel” means “good message”. This entails God’s plan for salvation, for doctrine, declaration, commands, and promises. The good message isn’t going to always feel good, as some churches incorrectly project. In Acts 2:37 “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The word of God is not going to always feel good, and if the heart is pricked then that amounts to both pain and guilt. What did this pain and guilt do? It caused them to ask the apostles, “What shall we do?” The word should always give a person a desire to search inwardly and make necessary changes to their lives. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, the Bible says, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” One of the major points of the gospel is to prick the heart, causing repentance to salvation. We can’t limit God’s reach by assuming we know how He pricks hearts. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 says that the gospel didn’t come to them “in word only”. Preaching and teaching are both valuable to the kingdom of God, but 1 Corinthians 4:20, the Bible says, “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power”. The “kingdom of God” is what people see in our lives, not just in the words we utter. Talk cheapens the Word if our actions don’t line up with the Word, and also, if people don’t see the power of God at work in our lives.

“But also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance”

The word “power” means “miraculous force”. Power means nothing if it isn’t in use. Does electricity bear fruit without an appliance plugged in AND turned on? We won’t know if the appliance works until we plug it in correct? Ask any electrician who goes to make a repair what is the first thing they check, and 99% of the will say, “the power source”, whether it’s plugged in or powered up. In Mark 16:20, the Bible says, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”  No matter where we go, the Lord has to work with, in, and through us, because if that is not the case, then we will be nothing more than flashy appliances that look amazing but have no power source. In Acts 1:8, the Bible says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We receive this power and we move is this power, becoming living witnesses of this power at work. In Acts 10:38, the Bible says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” When God gave us the Holy Spirit and power, we now have the power to perform the ministries that God gifted us with. “Assurance” means “entire confidence”. This assurance isn’t in our words or skill, but in God’s Holy Spirit dwelling and working in us.

“As ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake”.

Our actions will always produce a record that displays who we are in Christ and who we are in life. This is one of the ways the Word of God is accepted as truth or discredited as a lie in the lives of people we encounter. Paul expresses that they “know” what manner of men they were, so their actions had to embody their ministry. In Matthew 7:20, the Bible says, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”. If a person is of the faith or of the world, our fruit will bear record of it.

We have a responsibility to not only share the Word but move in the Holy Spirit’s power as well. May our goal be to bear good fruit!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 24, 2020 – Jeremiah 24:5 – Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them

“Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.” Jeremiah 24:5 KJV

Hi Everyone!

How can the most devastating set of circumstances be for our good? I have experienced a ton of hardships all all throughout my life, and while I was going through it, I couldn’t see how any of it was going to work for my good. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through! Fortunately for me, God knew me before I was formed in Momma’s womb, and His plan for my life ensured that I would not only make it through, but that everything I went through would be for my good. In hindsight, I am in awe behind how God has every detail figured out. Nothing catches our God by surprise! God’s chosen people were about to endure some hardships, and He didn’t want them caught by surprise. Imagine our God saying, “You are about to be enslaved, but it will be for your good”. Huh? My response? “Don’t…let….them….take….me…God!” I have been locked up for over 17 years now, but over 16 years ago, I was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. I had no clue how I was going to do a day of this sentence, but 16 years later, I can definitely confirm that God has worked this whole situation out for my good. Today, we are going to look at Jeremiah 24:5, a word of God’s perfect plan.

“Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.”

God knew beforehand to separate the good figs from the bad figs. The good figs were the remnant of Judah, the exiles in Babylon, the ones that would have to be enslaved for 70 years. The bad figs were the ones that God was punishing, so they had to be left behind. In Jeremiah 29:18-19, the Bible says, “And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:  Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the Lord”. This is reserved for the bad figs, for the people left behind, and to me, a “little slavery” is manageable compared to this. We sometimes believe that our suffering is unbearable, but there is always someone doing way worse, who would gladly trade positions with us without batting an eye. The bad figs are being punished because they didn’t heed the word of the Lord that continuously went before them through many people God sent to them.

“So will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah”

To “acknowledge” means “to recognize with care”. God just doesn’t pay attention to us. Our God is the proud Father who checks on His children with the utmost love and affection. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Bible says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” God’s intention for His children is always to lead us into His purpose for our lives. Even when that leading can feel unpleasant, God has peace and not evil in mind. The people “carried away captive” were “exiles”, and an exile is someone who is banished from their own land while purposed to live in a specific location. For Judah, their exile was to the land of the Chaldeans, which was Babylon. Their “slavery” couldn’t really be seen as slavery, even though they were captives. They were treated like colonists, held leadership positions, and in Jeremiah 29:5-6, the Bible says, “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.” God exiled His children, and told them to make themselves at home there until  He called them back from their captivity. So Judah is going to continue to grow without interruption in the midst of captivity.

“Whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.”

Think about this. God causes Judah to be exiled, and says it’s for their good. Jeremiah 29 gives context for what happens after Judah was exiled. The remaining people in Jerusalem would be punished, and in Jeremiah 29:17, the Bible says, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.” The invaders were coming regardless, and they obviously meant evil for the people in Jerusalem. What if Judah wasn’t exiled and these invaders came? Judah would’ve been destroyed and so would the line to Christ! Exile versus death and scattering?

May we trust in our God who makes all things work for our good.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 25 – Isaiah 9:6 – Christmas Devotional  – and the government shall be upon his shoulder

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 KJV

Christmas Devotional

Hi Everyone!

This is the season where we praise God, because our Savior came into the world to save us from our sins. Christ was born to restore us into our rightful places in the kingdom of God. God could’ve chosen a million different ways to send this miracle, but He chose a virgin named Mary and impregnated her with the Holy Spirit, so the baby she would bring to this world would be the perfect, atoning sacrifice for the world. We tend to focus on the gifts, the food, the family gatherings, but this is the season to focus our attention on The Gift, and that is Jesus Christ. When Santa Claus has more credence than Jesus, when beautifully wrapped gifts have outweighed the thankfulness of this miraculous birth, then we as a people are deeply flawed because we have effectively taken Jesus Christ out of His own birthday party! Today, we are going to briefly look at the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, written over 650 years before Christ was born.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

This was no ordinary child. The word “son” means “a child that is the builder of the family name”. Christ came to establish the name of God in the earth. In Isaiah 7:14, the Bible says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us”. God used the virgin birth as a sign, and declared his name to be Immanuel, to confirm that God is truly with us. This prophecy also establishes the Deity of Christ, for those who may question whether Jesus Christ is God. In John 1:1, the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In John 1:14, the Bible says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” This is Christ, and it says that Christ was God, and became flesh and dwelt among us. Names give a person their identity, and the many names of Christ verifies His identity.

“And the government shall be upon His shoulder:”

If the government is upon His shoulders, it means that He is holding the government up, that He is the foundation for the government. In 1 Corinthians 3:11, the Bible says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Christ is our foundation, and He is who our governments should be built upon. Look at the state of our world governments right now. They are becoming more and more godless because they have removed Christ and built on a different foundation altogether. In Ephesians 2:20-22, the Bible says, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Christ’s birth came to make us one building, one Church, where He is the foundation and the cornerstone, the most important stone in the building process. All government is supposed to govern according to the Word and it should reflect Christ. The word “government” means “empire”.

“And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”

The phrase “shall be called” means “to declare or proclaim”. “Wonderful” here actually means “a miracle”!!!! The word “Counselor” means “a person who advises”. Didn’t Christ say in Luke 12:12, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say”? Counselors advocate for us as they teach us how to live and what we should say. “The Mighty God”. For any one who thinks Jesus Christ isn’t God, why would He be called The Mighty God unless He actually was? In Matthew 28:18, the Bible says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” God is the only person who has “all power”. “The everlasting Father”. The word “everlasting” means “enduring in perpetuity”. It doesn’t end. “The Prince of Peace”. The word “Prince” means “immediate authority”. In Ephesians 2:14, the Bible says, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” Christ just doesn’t have peace, Christ is our peace!

Before Christ was born, He was given names, a purpose, and His birth established the kingdom of God on earth. May we all look at Christmas as more than just a holiday. Our salvation came to earth through the birth of Christ, and there would be no such thing as Christmas without Christ. May you and your family take great comfort in the power of Christ’s birth, and may we all find thankfulness in our hearts to be partakers of this divine nature we now possess.

Merry Christmas!

Marshall

 

Dec 26, 2020 – Matthew 16:24 – If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Do we really understand the requirement of being a follower of Christ, of being a part of the kingdom of God? Do we truly understand that Christ, as our perfect example, exercised the very commands He has given us, one of which is self-denial. Imagine with me Jesus Christ, who is God robed in flesh, forsaking His diety to come down and take the form of man, to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It is bad enough that He had to step away from heaven to dwell among men, but He had to also die to save the same people who strung Him on the cross. We have the hardest time “sacrificing” up an hour a day to studying His word, taking a few seconds to encourage someone in need, or forgiving someone who wronged us, but leave it up to us, and we’d say we are definitely “living sacrifices”. Today we are going to look at Matthew 16:24, a word on self-denial, a key step in following Christ.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

First, I want to make it clear that these are the words of Christ, spoken to HIS disciples. The word “disciples” means “learner or pupil”. Much deeper than someone who merely follows someone and tries to mimic what they do. We follow Christ to learn what He teaches us. There is a big difference between people that are along for the ride and people that truly desire to become new. A person who desires to become new makes themselves available to learn how.

“If any man will come after me”

“If” is a conditional word, and it doesn’t express certainty. Christ knows that there will be people that will make the choice to not follow Him.  In 2 Corinthians 4:3, the Bible says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”. To be lost implies a person has no idea where they are. Sadly, this state of mind, heart and spirit is one that is “by choice”, because they fail to believe the Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ doesn’t discriminate here, because He says, “if ANY MAN will come after me”. That means the invitation is extended to us all to follow after Him. When we come after someone, we desire to be in their position.

“Let him deny himself”

How many of us like to admit that we are wrong? To “deny” means “to disown, to declare untrue, to disregard all personal interests and enjoyments.” So the person that “denies himself” makes the declaration in word and deed that everything he was is wrong, and He allows God to burn down the “building” he erected on his own efforts to be rebuilt by Him. In Philippians 3:8, the Bible says, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”. Paul was the Pharisee of Pharisees, part of the religious leadership, taught under the strictest sect,  but He abandoned everything he was, to put on this new man he became in Christ. He called what he gained without Christ “dung”. Ouch! In Hebrews 11:24-25, the Bible says, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” Moses walked away from everything to follow after God. Self-denial is key because it means we have “emptied our cups out” in order for Christ to fill them with whatever He intends to be in us.

“And take up his cross, and follow me”

To “take up your cross” means “to undergo suffering, trial, punishment; to expose oneself to reproach or death”. This doesn’t sound pleasant does it? We as believers can have the wrong perception of our experience or walk in Christ, like everything is going to be great all of the time. In 2 Timothy 3:12, the Bible says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”. So we will have times where it does not good feel good to be a believer. In Matthew 10:38, Jesus says, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” This is another part of self-denial, being willing to endure anything for the sake of Christ, who endured everything for the sake of us. The cross was so important because it was the place that Christ took the sins of mankind upon Himself, laid down His life, only to take it back up again. In our own way, as followers of Christ, we are to be led by His example. In Romans 6:6, the Bible says, “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.” The cross is essential for our transformation because it allows us to have victory over sin! To “follow” means “to be a disciple of anyone as to faith and practice.”

Christ denied himself, endured suffering on the cross He bore, and followed after God. May we have the courage to do the same.

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 27, 2020 – Luke 4:18 – Jesus said: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me …

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Luke 4:18 KJV

Hi Everyone!

God has anointed all of us for a specific purpose, and to fulfill a specific calling. There is always a purpose behind our calling, and the anointing readies us to partake in it. I know when I received my calling, I was the most sensational “track star” I knew! I believed my calling was spot on, but I ran because I wanted to “live” a little before I accepted my call. I didn’t realize that the Gospel was meant for people just like me, and preached to people just like me, so who understands people like me better than people like me? 🙂 The Gospel has an intended purpose, people are meant to receive the Gospel, and things the Gospel has to do. If we are unwilling to share the Gospel, “the stones will cry out”, but why should it have to come to that? It is the least we can do, to share the Gospel with others, but it’s the last thing we are willing to do, knowing this is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Today, we will look at Luke 4:18, the reason for the Gospel.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”

The first thing we should look at is Christ saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. Because of this, He has the leading and the power to perform anything God has for Him to do. Too many times, we as believers are led by our own understanding of our purpose and calling instead of being led by the Holy Spirit and trusting in His plan. In Proverbs 3:5-6, the Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” We have to trust in God and God alone, and allow Him to direct our paths. There are many people in positions that the Lord didn’t call them to be in, and while they may still win souls, they are out of alignment Spiritually.

“Because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor”

The word “anointed” means “to consecrate to an office or religious service.” That means we don’t have to be “Pastor”, “Apostle”, or “Evangelist” to spread the Word of God. In 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, the Bible says, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Whether Apostle or member, we have the same obligation to share what the Spirit gives, when the Spirit gives it, because in Romans 12:6, the Bible says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;”. Whatever measure of faith God has given us is the place we should speak from, and whatever gift He has given should be the position we speak from. The word “preach” means “to announce publicly.” The gospel is the “good news”, which is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and the reward of eternal life to all who believe on His name. The word “poor” means “beggars”. We aren’t talking about financially poor here, but beggars of the Gospel. In James 2:15-16, the Bible says, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” If Christ was talking about financially poor, wouldn’t He have told us to “feed the poor”?

“He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted”

The word “heal” means “to cure of moral diseases: to heal or save from the consequences of sin”. The word “brokenhearted” means “complete crushing or shattering of the inner being”. A broken heart is a horrible spiritual position to be in, because if the heart is shattered, what can dwell in there? In Proverbs 18:14, the Bible says, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” If the heart is shattered, then there is nothing there to sustain our infirmities.

“To preach deliverance to the captives”

The word “preach” here means “to herald as the town crier, to teach”. The word “deliverance” means “freedom, pardon from service or captivity”. The word “captives” means “a prisoner, or a prisoner of war.” In Ephesians 6:12, it clearly states our fight is spiritual, so our captivity has to be spiritual as well. Christ promises freedom!

“And recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised”

When Paul receives His sight again, it was as scales fell from his eyes. The enemy wants to keep us blind so we don’t see the kingdom of God and desire it for ourselves! The Gospel is the power to break chains of those who are crushed!

May we spread the Gospel and unlock the power of God in people’s lives. Salvation is on the line!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 28, 2020 – Isaiah 50:4 – The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4 KJV

Hi Everyone!

God truly equips us to speak on His behalf. I know that firsthand, because what, in my very finite knowledge, would ever qualify me to share the word of God? When Moses was given His call by God, he said in Exodus 4:10, “And Moses said unto the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Moses was looking at his own inability instead of the God that was enabling him to speak on His behalf. How many of us discount the power God has given us, or the assignment He has entrusted to us? In Luke 18:27, the Bible says, “And He said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” How can we know this and then question His selection when we are the ones chosen? Today, we are going to look at Isaiah 50:4, a word that establishes that God equips us for service.

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”

The first thing I want us to look at is really the most important part of the whole verse. “The Lord God hath given me”. Our gifting and the means of performing of that gifting is all given by God. None of it comes from us. Even the people we share the Word with are “given” to us, because it is the Lord who puts it upon our hearts to speak to them in the first place. We are the vessels God uses to perform His purpose. So If God gives us the Word, the means to carry out the Word, and the people to speak to about the Word, then what are we actually bringing to the table? In John 15:5, the end of the verse says, “for without me ye can do nothing”. So the first thing we have to grasp is we are not operating in our own power, knowledge, or ability, but God’s. Should make grasping the assignment a tad easier. 🙂

“tongue of the learned”

The word “tongue” means “speech”. The word “learned” means “instructed, one taught, an expert”. Having a “tongue of the learned” is the gift of inspirational and instructive speech and an ear that listens like those being taught. After Moses tried to tell God that he wasn’t qualified, God’s response in Exodus 4:11 should have ended the conversation. The Bible says in Exodus 4:11-12, “And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” God made our mouths, so therefore He controls what goes into our mouths and what comes out of our mouths. God told Moses that He makes man dumb or deaf. He then told Moses that He would be with his mouth, meaning He will empower Him to speak the words God commands. Moses still doesn’t trust, and basically asks God to chose someone else instead of him. Sounds familiar? 🙂 God went straight to Moses’ heart and told him He knows Aaron speaks well, but Moses was still His choice. God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called!

“That I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary”

To “know” means “to become one with”. That means the knowledge becomes a part of who we are, and we operate according to it. The phrase “speak a word in season” means simply, “to give the words to help”. In Isaiah 57:19, the Bible says, “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.” God gives us the ability and knowledge, and then points us to the people that need the word He has given. Calling peace to those far off will make them come near, and when they come near, they can be healed! So the word God gives us is to help people draw near to God so He can heal them. In Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. God’s Word is designed to give rest to the weary, to the ones travelling the whole world on their own power, to the broken, the ones that have fallen away, the one that lived the street life and nearly destroyed himself in the process.

“he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned”

Morning by morning means it doesn’t end. God opens our eyes every morning to receive His Word, to allow His Word to reveal its truths to us, and allow us to receive His Word with clarity and understanding. In Psalms 143:8, the Bible says, “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for on thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” The morning is important because it is the first part of the day, so we want the Lord to awaken us every morning and open our minds to receive His teaching. God gives us His Word and the power to use the Word for His glory.

I praise God for giving me the tongue of the learned, so I can help someone exactly how someone helped me!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 29, 2020 – 1 Timothy 1:5 – Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:” 1 Timothy 1:5 KJV

Hi Everyone!

Our faith has fruit, the evidence of what our faith is made of. Our walks also have fruit, the evidence of what we are made of. The evidence is the external things we freely see, but what really lies beneath the surface? Does our service stem from the love that is in our heart? Are our hearts right towards the people we serve? In Matthew 7:11, the Bible says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” So evil people can do nice things too, and sometimes, evil people do nicer things for people than believers. This shouldn’t be. We have to take an inventory of our heart’s contents, our attitudes about service, our dispositions towards people, and use love as the template to see if our hearts line up with the type of hearts that God requires us to have in service. Today, we will look at 1 Timothy 1:5, and understand why we have to have the right heart for service.

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”

The word “end” means “the ultimate purpose”. The word “commandment” is defined as “a mandate”, where we get the word “mandatory”. It doesn’t suggest that God merely desires us to do it, but He orders us to do it. Anything that is mandated is of extreme importance, so we should follow God’s commands as if they were as important as eating,  drinking, and breathing. So the ultimate purpose of God’s mandate is charity out of a pure heart. The word “charity” is “agape” which is “Godly love, the love that He gives us, and the love we are to give each other.” In 1 John 4:7, the Bible says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” It then says in 1 John 4:11-12, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” So what God has extended to us, we must receive and then extend it to others. Love is the only way we can show people who God is, because it is the only way God is manifested in any encounter we have. A “pure heart” is both selfless and sincere, completely inhabited by God. In 1 John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” So by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we will have the pure heart of love God commands us to have. Christ said the greatest commandments were to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When everything we are comes from the love God has planted within our hearts, then the fruit produced will greatly reflect that same love. In Romans 13:8, the Bible says, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” If I owe someone, I must pay someone, and if love is the thing owed then I must pay it in perpetuity. We don’t have to worry about the law when we love because the law expresses fault and consequence for the fault. Christ fulfilled the law on the cross, and the law was fulfilled by love. In John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Christ paid the ultimate cost and there is no greater love than sacrifice!

“And of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned”

The word “good” is a creation word, expressing God intentions from the beginning. The word “conscience” means “moral consciousness to distinguish right from wrong”. If a person has a good conscience, then they have obviously chosen right over wrong. If our hearts are pure with God’s love, then it will affect our decision making, and we will choose to do right by God and people. In Romans 12:9-10, the Bible says, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Our love should survive any level of scrutiny, and no hypocrisy should be found. That means our love has to be shown, not spoken! “In honour preferring one another”, means we show appreciation for others by putting them first. Sacrifice. God created us with a conscience, and the more Spirit-led we are, the more convicted we become when we are out of alignment. Love is always the standard. “Faith unfeigned” is sincere faith, that is in word and deed. Faith is the exercise of God’s word in obedience to His commands. Love has to be the foundation to our faith as well, because it is much easier to obey people we love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the Bible says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).”

Without God we can do nothing, and without love, we are nothing.

May we serve others with a pure heart of love!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 30, 2020 – 1 Corinthians 14:26 – Let all things be done unto edifying

“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 KJV

Hi Everyone!

God loves orderly worship. When His children come together to use their gifting to edify the body of Christ, it becomes a sweet smelling fragrance to God’s nostrils. In Psalms 133:1, the Bible says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” That means operating as one together, unified in the same goal and purpose, and that should be the edification of the body of Christ. Merely gathering together isn’t good enough, because gangs gather together too, and how much good do they actually do? In order for a body of people to operate in unity, that means everyone has to check their egos and motives at the door, lining them up with love and service. No matter what our gifting is, we should all have the same purpose in mind. Today, we are going to briefly look at 1 Corinthians 14:26, a word on orderly worship.

“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”

Paul begins this verse with a question, a call for accountability. Beginning a question with “How is it” means the person is about to scrutinize something that is going on, in order to try to make sense of what is happening. That is not a good thing. In this case, the church in Corinth had an issue of chaos within the body, where it seemed like everyone was getting up to speak, doing their own thing, and instead of the body being built up, there was disorder in the service. Imagine new converts experiencing this chaotic church service. No doubt it probably lasted forever, and ultimately ran people away from the faith. There are many gifted people in the church, but order is necessary. In Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” If we don’t put others first, then there is always going to be someone in the body that is going to seek their own glory, and that’s when Christ is removed from service.

The word “brethren” means “one who is connected with another in any kind of intimacy or fellowship”. The word screams unity, consideration, and selflessness. In Philippians 2:2, the Bible says, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” We have to understand that we are brethren, so we should desire a church service where the body of Christ is built and people can see the Spirit at work.

“When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath a interpretation.”

“Every one of you”. Ouch! I can only imagine what that looked like, to have hundreds and even thousands of people all getting up with something to share. A “psalm” is “a song, chant, or a Psalm from the Old Testament”. ” “Doctrine” means, “things taught, instruction, precepts”. “A tongue” in the singular is not speaking towards the God-given gift of tongues, but to “the false gibberish of the counterfeit pagan ecstatic speech.” This definitely shows that people were self-led and not Spirit-led. In 1 Corinthians 14:4, the Bible says, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” The church isn’t edified if man is seeking his own edification, or “a pat on the back”. The word “revelation” means “something that was unknown and concealed, especially the divine mysteries, purposes, doctrines etc.” The word “interpretation” means “translation”. Sadly, some of these “gifts” are of a man’s own power and ability, and some are Spirit-filled. Imagine when the gifts were contrary to each other! How could anyone decipher what spirit was at work amid so much confusion? Where was the leadership, the shepherds, that were ensuring that everything was done correctly and orderly? So the sheep were undoubtedly being led astray, and there was great vulnerability in the church.

“Let all things be done unto edifying”

All things. In order for all things to be done to build the kingdom of God, there has to be no self-seeking within the body. In 1 Corinthians 14:12, the Bible says, “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” Paul recognized that a believer’s excitement would cause them to desire spiritual gifts so they can contribute to the church, but Paul expresses that edifying the church should be the goal. Part of edifying the church is ensuring that the shepherds can lead the sheep. Without headship, there will be chaos, and if there is headship but still chaos, then there is no submission. In 1 Corinthians 14:33, the Bible says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” So if there is chaos and disorder, then it is highly unlikely that the Holy Spirit is leading that church.

May the edifying of the church be our goal!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

Dec 31, 2020 – Psalm 34:7 – The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them

“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7 KJV

Hi Everybody!

My loving Helpmeet Jessica and her son Cameron were involved in a car crash on December 27th while coming back from Church. Everyone involved only suffered minor injuries, all able to essentially walk away from a major crash with a few bumps and bruises. Cameron’s truck was totaled, and from what I was told, based on how the cars looked, there should have been grave injury to some, or all of them. Car crash – meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! When we are under the covering of the Most High God, we are protected, and that protection allowed them all to sustain minor injuries that probably confounded the first responders. God’s protection doesn’t mean that nothing will ever happen to a believer, but God’s protection definitely means that He will deliver us from all hurt, harm and danger, both seen and unseen. I thank the Lord for protecting Jessica, Cameron and the other people involved. The Word means even more when we experience it, and God’s protection is unmatched. Today, we will look at Psalm 34:7, a word on God’s protection.

“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

The word “angel” means “messenger specifically of God, responsible for aiding, protecting, and fighting for those who trust in the Lord.” These messengers can be angels, but sometimes God manifests Himself in angelic form to carry out the message to His people. In the verse, the word “angel” is singular, so it suggests that it very well could be a manifestation of God himself, or one the pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. In Genesis 16:7, the Bible says, “And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.” Look at Hagar’s response in Genesis 16:13, that says, “And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” She attributes this appearance to God Himself, and said that God saw her there. Whether an angel or God Himself, they appear with the same power and authority, because they bear the name and purpose of God. Knowing who and where our protection comes from is essential to our faith in the protection we have. Knowing it comes directly from God should put us at ease.

“encampeth around them that fear him”

The word “encampeth” means “to pitch a tent or incline towards”. Either one of these will absolutely work to keep us protected. If God’s presence pitches a tent for us, then that suggests that He will build a structure around us to keep us protected for outside danger. If God inclines towards us, then His presence is there to defend. Ever been scared as a kid and our parents or relatives saw this and started coming in our direction? The fear washes over because we aren’t alone, and we have confidence that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. In Daniel 6:22, Daniel reports to the King Darius after spending a night in the lion’s den: “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” You see this? Daniel said, “MY GOD sent HIS angel”. Ownership. God just isn’t God. He is OUR GOD! God will protect His children. Now, look in Daniel 6:16, that says, “Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” King Darius was not a believer, but He completely had confidence that Daniel’s God would deliver him. Why? Because Daniel served God continually! There is a condition in Psalm 34:7, as it almost always is when a promise comes from God. The condition? “Them that fear him.” The word “fear” means “a deep, moral, reverence for God.” This isn’t just word play. Our lives have to bear witness that we fear the Lord, just like Daniel. Imagine a non-believer having an understanding and a belief in God’s deliverance more than a believer does. That shouldn’t be.

“And deliver them”

The word “deliver” means “to remove from danger or harm”. This doesn’t mean that nothing will ever happen to a believer who fears the Lord, but this Word says God will deliver them. In Psalm 34:19, the Bible says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Many! Don’t be fooled into thinking that because we love the Lord, we are exempt from trouble. This verse says that many afflictions will come, God is already ready to deliver us from every one of them! We have a ton of representatives in the Bible who have been delivered. Abraham, Lot, Moses, Joseph, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel, David, Rahab, Peter, Paul, Silas, and the list goes on! The same provision there were under, we are under. The same promises they were under, we are under, and Jessica, Cameron, and the people in the other vehicle are delivered because of it!

God Bless!

Marshall

 

 

 

These Daily Devotions are a Red Thread Poets daily offering initiated and written by Marshall Jones as a devotional study of God's Word as a 'verse of the day'. Marshall's Bio and a sample of his poems can be seen on this website, also a link to his published book of poems, A Raven's Meal. The Daily Devotional is dated as seen each day on the Red Thread Poets Facebook page.