Give What and It Will Be Given to You?

VERSE:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
— Luke 6:37-38

THOUGHT:
You don’t hear many preachers say “if you condemn someone, a good measure of condemnation, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap”. We are often quick to claim the blessings of God at the expense of ignoring the warnings. Most times when we hear “give and it will be given to you” it is in the context of receiving blessings in a good measure because of your generosity to others. Though that is true (that if we bless others we can expect blessings), it is not what the verse is saying. When reading verse 38 in the context of verse 37, you will find that it isn’t a promise of blessing, but rather a warning against judgment and condemnation.

APPLICATION:
Though the bible doesn’t forbid a Christian from every making judgments (it actually encourages us to make right judgments), we need to be very careful in regards to our judgment of others. Do not be quick claim a good measure of blessings for your generosity if you are not willing to receive a good measure of judgment for your condemnation of others.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times that I have been too quick to judge others. I confess that I have been more open to receive blessings in a good measure for my generosity, while ignoring the fact that I could receive condemnation with the same measure that I give it. By your grace, I will forgive and not condemn. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

Every Day with Jesus Is Not Sweeter Than the Next

VERSE:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…
— Psalm 19:7

THOUGHT:
Many of us have heard the saying “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the next”. However, if we were to be honest with ourselves we would confess that it is not true. It is not helpful to put unrealistic expectations on people (or yourself) when you know it not to be true. Some days with Jesus are sour. Some days are dry. Some days we can feel so depressed that we don’t even want to get out of bed. If every day with Jesus were sweeter than the next, there would be no need for “reviving” of the soul. God understands that not every day is better than the next, and He gives us the perfect answer – The law of the Lord.

APPLICATION:
When your soul is feeling dry, or weak, or depressed… open the word of God and pray that it would minister revival to your soul. The difficult part about this application is that on these lowest of days, the last thing we want to do is open the word of God. Your flesh and the enemy will try to convince you that reading the word is pointless and that nothing will change. In these dark times it is very helpful to recognize that those feelings are the voices of your flesh and/or the enemy trying to pull you away from the one thing you need.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, your law is perfect, reviving my soul. I thank you for providing me with the remedy to bring renewal to my spirit in times of spiritual drought. Help me remember this verse and application whenever those times come. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

The Serpent’s Jesus

VERSE:
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
— 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

THOUGHT:
Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for putting up with those who preached a different “Jesus” than the Jesus Paul preached. Paul tells them that he fears they may be deceived, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning. This deception was causing the Corinthian church to be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

In order to guard ourselves from falling under the same type of deception, we must then ask: how did the serpent deceive Eve? Genesis 3 gives the account in which the serpent twisted God’s words in such a way that it enabled Eve to break God’s command.

We have in America today many “serpents” preaching a different Jesus than the Jesus of the bible. A Jesus whose words sound much like the Jesus of the bible, yet twisted in such a way that enables us to break God’s commands. We hear of a Jesus who frees us to sin, rather than frees us from sin. When we take the words of Jesus and twist them to fit a life that we are comfortable with, we end up worshiping an idol created in our own minds and thus fall into the same deception that Eve was under in the garden. Any message about a Jesus who frees you to sin, or a spirit that doesn’t lead to holiness in Christ, or a gospel that doesn’t lead to repentance, is from a serpent and must not be accepted.

APPLICATION:
Understand that not everyone who claims the name of Jesus is worshiping the Jesus of the bible. Know that just because someone is quoting scripture, they may not be quoting it the way it was intended. Develop discernment by giving yourself to the discipline of studying God’s word, so that you will not be led astray when the serpents come to twist it.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, help me discern the distinction between your voice and the voice of a serpent who would pretend to be speaking on your behalf. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

Positive Response Grants Deeper Understanding

VERSE:
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
— 2 Corinthians 3:16

THOUGHT:
The other day, my wife and I were lamenting about our friends and family who just don’t understand the gospel. It doesn’t matter how clear or how sincere we are when presenting it, they either don’t understand it or they say they do but it is apparent that they don’t. It is as if they are hearing the words through filters, or trying to see the truth through layers of screens. When reading the word the next day, I came across 2 Corinthians 4:4, which says “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” It was a great reminder that these unbelievers are not dumb, they are blind.

Then I started thinking about those who do understand the gospel, but never seem to grow in their understanding. In other words, some of the filters have been removed so that they can comprehend the gospel, however there are still filters in the way preventing them from apprehending the gospel. As I was meditating about this question, my attention was drawn up to the previous chapter, and today’s verse was highlighted: “whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”. I then realized that every bit of understanding that I have been given was always given to me by God as I have responded positively to the Holy Spirit. Whether it’s conviction drawing me from sin, compassion drawing me towards people, or joy drawing me to worship, whenever I have responded positively to these affections God has granted me greater depths of understanding – he has taken away another veil.

APPLICATION:
Turn to the Lord. God is constantly speaking to you and wanting you to respond. Be sensitive to these leadings, and respond positively. Do this for the days/weeks/months/years to come, and I guaranty that you will find yourself going through stages of greater understanding wherein veils have been removed.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, help me become more conscious of your voice and leading. I thank you that your word and your spirit have enabled me to respond positively to your direction. I pray for greater levels of understanding to be granted to me as I turn to you. I thank you that understanding of your truth is the fuel ignited by your spirit which engulfs my soul and results with the heat of worship! In the Name of Jesus I pray, AMEN!

The purpose of God’s goodness, and our response

VERSE:
[God] has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
— Micah 6:8

THOUGHT:
God, in this verse, is talking to Israel. He set them apart from all nations of the world and brought them into a land flowing with milk and honey. He showed them His goodness. Much like Israel, we in America have been extremely blessed by God. We are the world’s most prosperous nation, and probably the only country who’s poor are fat. We have seen God’s goodness; therefore we need to ask the question “why?” In Micah 6:8 God tells us what was expected out of Israel for the goodness that was shown to them – to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

After we answer the question of “why does God show His goodness to us”, we should ask the question “how do we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God?” Acting “justly” not only has a negative application of “not acting unjustly”, but it also has a positive application to act in a way that is honorable and truthful showing impartiality to others. Showing mercy not only has the negative application of “not getting judgment deserved” but it also has a positive application of showing loving kindness to the needy. God tells us not only to “show mercy” but to “love mercy”. This gives us the picture that our acts of mercy should not be dry, joyless duties, but rather fulfilling, pleasurable privileges. Walking “humbly with your God” is simply walking with God while having a right perspective of who you are in alignment with Him.

In other words, the only way that we can naturally act justly and love mercy (not just “do mercy”) is by understanding God’s goodness to us in showing no partiality in his acts of loving kindness to us who are needy, in spite of our depravity, and praising Him for His goodness. When we understand God’s goodness in this way, the natural overflow would be to show the same justice and mercy to others.

APPLICATION:
Don’t exploit the goodness of God for selfish gain. Meditate on God’s goodness and ask Him to give you a right perspective of His relationship with you. Show the world God’s goodness through acts of justice, by loving mercy and by demonstrating the humility that comes through walking with Jesus.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me what is good. Forgive me for the times that I have consumed your goodness for myself with no care for others. Remind me continually of the purpose of your goodness to me. Help me get a right perspective of my relationship with you so that showing the world the same goodness you have shown me would be the natural overflow of my heart rather than joyless duty. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

Be Careful Of Unbelieving Company

VERSE:
“Announce now to the people, ‘anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
— Judges 7:3

THOUGHT:
In Judges 7:2, God told Gideon that the battle he was about to enter would be a testimony of God’s power on behalf of God’s people by showing God’s strength through man’s weakness; therefore Gideon was NOT to go to battle with a large army. In the next verse, God told Gideon that he had to thin the herd, leaving only a select few to go with him into battle.

Gideon was told that the first people to leave were those who “tremble with fear”. In other words, the doubters – those who didn’t believe God could do it. Not only would their numbers take away from God’s glory, they would have also been a source of doubt infecting the people with unbelief, thus hindering the work that needed to be done.

APPLICATION:
The church has been given its marching orders: “Go into the enemy’s camp and make disciples of all nations”. However, we need to be careful of who we bring along on our mission. Stay away from fearful, doubting naysayers who will plant seeds of unbelief.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, help me accomplish the mission you have given me. Put people in my life that can help me accomplish the mission and strengthen my faith, and reveal to me the people who I should separate from that would hinder me from accomplishing it. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

God’s Glory Revealed in Man’s Weakness

VERSE:
The Lord said to Gideon, “you have too many people for me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: ‘I did it myself’”
— Judges 7:2 (HCSB)

THOUGHT:
God’s power is seen in man’s weakness. God didn’t want Israel to take over Midian just for the sake of taking over Midian. He wanted to display His power, and He couldn’t do that with all of Gideon’s men because Israel might be tempted to say “I did it myself”. He wanted them to be in a desperate situation so that when they experienced victory, all the glory would be given to God.

Sometimes I stop and ask myself, “How much of what we do in the church could be done if God lifted His hand?” Sad to say, I think that much of what we do could carry on as normal. We put far too much confidence in natural things that many of our church growth strategies look no different than most business growth strategies. If we can have enough money, the right people, the right publicity, the right speaker and the right music, we can fill a building! And we wonder why we don’t see our culture turning to Jesus – because they don’t see the power of God!

God loves to do more with less so that He gets all the glory and no one can say “I did it myself”. The question we are left with is: are we willing to be put in desperate situations that only God could accomplish so that He gets all the glory? Or, are we to comfortable with the fact that we can always fall back on our own efforts?

APPLICATION:
Don’t be impressed with much of the glitz and glam that can be seen in the American Church. Put no stock in the flesh. When the mission seems impossible, when the chosen seem unlikely and when the road looks too steep, trust in God and praise Him because He will get all the glory when His purposes are fulfilled.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, I confess that much of the time I find comfort in my own ability, rather than finding rest in you in spite of my inability. Help me rely more on you in every aspect of my life. Free me from the sin of trusting in natural strength over seeking your glory through natural weaknesses. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

Kingdom Mission Requires Generational Training

VERSE:
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the Lord, “Who will be the first to fight for us against the Canaanites?”
— Judges 1:1

THOUGHT:
Why in the world were the Israelites so clueless as to what to do once Joshua died? Joshua 24:31 tells us that Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua. In the book of Judges, we find that not too long after Joshua died the Israelites found themselves in rebellion. Joshua was taught and mentored by Moses, who trained him in the ways of God and prepared him for the mission in front of him. Joshua led the people of God into the Promised Land and conquered every city on the way. However, in the midst of all of the victories, Joshua left no successor. He was so focused on the mission at hand that he didn’t take the time to disciple someone who would take the baton after he died. There was no one raised up to wear Joshua’s mantel. They were left enquiring of the Lord “who will be the first to fight for us against the Canaanites?”

APPLICATION:
Do not get so caught up with God’s call on YOUR life that you forget God’s call for all generations. Do not neglect the generation that will follow you. God’s call on your life is always going to be to advance His kingdom to the ends of the earth, and the next generation needs to be raised up to know how to do that. Train up your children to make disciples of their children who will do the same thing. Pray that God would help you keep a generational mentality.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, teach me how to advance your kingdom to the ends of the earth, and help me instill those principles into the next generation. I pray that the next generation will not forget the principle of generational training, and that they will teach their children what we taught them. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

God’s Not Limited To Your Understanding

VERSE:
For God is not a God if disorder but of peace.
— 1 Corinthians 14:33

THOUGHT:
God won’t say one thing and do another because He is a God of order, not confusion and disorder. However, some people have taken this verse to mean that God will never act in a way that they can’t understand. Most times when this verse is used, it’s used to cast judgment on a Christian who is responding to God in an unusual way that we are not used to. Granted, there is a lot of flesh and emotion and other things that can go on in the church, but just because some people respond to God in the flesh doesn’t mean that God will always, or has always acted in ways that we will understand. Just follow the life of Jesus. Why did he really have to spit in the blind guy’s eye to make him see? Why did He tell people to eat His flesh? Because God is not limited to doing things according to our understanding.

APPLICATION:
Use discernment in the body, but don’t cast judgment on people for responding to God or acting a certain way that you don’t understand. Test all things by the word of God, and open your mind to the possibility that maybe God is in some things that you may have not thought He was.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times that I have casted judgment on my brothers and sisters for acting in ways that I did not understand. Help me use discernment, while at the same time not wrongly judge something as being void of your spirit. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!

Prophesying in the Church

VERSE:
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
— 1 Corinthians 14:29

THOUGHT:
This verse gives us a picture, not only of the order of ministering prophesies in the church, but also the seriousness of ministering prophesies. There are two ways that we can err when it comes to the gift of prophesy being used in a church setting:
1. Prohibit prophesy altogether because we don’t understand it
2. Be careless with prophesy because we think we understand it
Prophesy is a wonderful gift from God to the church meant for strengthening, encouraging and comforting one another. However, just because someone says that they are a prophet doesn’t mean that they are one. And even if someone is a prophet, it doesn’t mean that they prophesy correctly all the time. Discernment and careful weighing needs to take place whenever this gift is used in operation.

APPLICATION:
Do not prohibit prophesies. If you do, you will miss out on a blessing from God. When hearing or receiving prophesies, weigh carefully what you hear and hold it up to the light of scripture. Gladly receive a word of encouragement, but test all things by the word of God.

PRAYER:
Heavenly Father, help me be able to gladly receive words of prophesy while at the same time exercise a discerning spirit, weighing carefully what is said. Teach me how to eat the meat and spit out the bones without casting judgment on people. Also, help me to be able to operate in this gift with fear and trembling for the edification of your church. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!