Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 7)

Brothers & Sisters, here is the last of the series of posts concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Again, add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 7.

Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Strengthen or Solidify Your Biblical Convictions”. Today, we close this series with the topic: “Sow Toward Your Harvest.” Remember, these will not appear in any order of priority.

Let me immediately say that this does not pertain merely to sowing financially. It includes sowing or giving financially but is not limited to that as this is not the only type of harvest we can receive. When I speak of harvest, I am speaking of the the results we are blessed to receive by the grace and mercy of God for the investment of our time, talent and treasure.

In my mind, this particular post really speaks to the totality of this entire series of posts. Although we may not know when this present pandemic will come to an end, we do know that there will be life to be lived on the other side of it. Therefore, we sow now in anticipation for the types of harvest we desire to see.

Sowing and reaping is kingdom principle that is timeless and changeless. No matter the circumstance, we are told to sow or to be or to do ultimately that which we desire to see or to receive in return. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). He also said in the context of kingdom instructions for our relationships with one another, specifically speaking to our judging based on a righteous standard, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

I am also reminded of Gal. 6:7-10, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. ” Here is another instructive relative to this vital kingdom principle! The point is that we concern ourselves with the sowing and leave the reaping to Almighty God.

I believe the greatest act of sowing is when we obey God. It has been said that obedience is God’s plan to bless our lives. In other words, when I sow obedience, God has obligated Himself to bless me as a result of it. Keep in mind, He chooses and dictates the blessing and the timing. But He has and will bless us. One definition for “faith” is obedience to the revealed will of God. Heb. 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I believe without faith or outside of my obedience to the revealed will of God it is impossible for us to be pleasing to Him.

Here’s my last scriptural reference. Really, it is another attempt to encourage you to handle what you can handle, which is the sowing and to leave the harvest to the Father. “And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29) Notice in the scriptures, the farmer handles what he can handle (sowing) and leaves the harvest to God. But when the harvest is ready, so is he! We should never expect a harvest from where we have not first sown seed. We know it will produce in kind to what we sowed, it will come later than what we sowed and produce more than we sowed. Although, I cannot dictate my harvest, if I sow obedience to what God’s Word require, I know my harvest will include His blessing!

So, how will you sow toward your harvest during this pandemic? I encourage you in this. Go to the Father in prayer, receive His instructions, obey His Word and then watch Him do what only He is able to do! My prayer is that this and all seven of these posts have been encouraging and helpful! Sow to your harvest during this pandemic and trust God with the rest! #Thrive!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 5)

Family, I hope you have been encouraged, inspired and informed as I have shared with you 4 of 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Again, add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 5. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Speak (His Word, to One Another and in tongues)”

Here is the fifth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. Remember, these will not appear in any order of priority.

Separate unto God – Separating unto the Lord has at least two key aspects to it. One, is in recognition of our positional separation unto Him. What we are by position, we must then do our part by the Spirit’s help to exhibit practically. The second has to do with our turning ourselves aside to invest much needed time with Him. Let’s look at the first of these.

Our positional separation to the Lord is seen in Him deeming us holy. Eph. 1:4 (NKJV) says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” The Amplified Paraphrase Bible reads: “Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.” (Amplified Bible – Lockman) This verse teaches us that we were chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy or consecrated and set apart for Him and before Him. We are not chosen because we are holy. No. We are chosen to become holy as He deems us so. Thank You Lord! He has made us holy as He is holy and also has called us to holy living. This is what the Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:15, 16 – “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” We recognize that we are His chosen and separated for His good pleasure. All that we are, have and do should be indicative of our being separated to the Almighty God!

The second aspect of our separating unto God has to do with our turning aside or pulling aside similar to the example of Jesus Christ. See Matt. 14:13; Mark 6:30-32; Luke 4:1, 2; 5:16; 6:13; 22:39-44. Jesus was prone to steal away for private times with the Father in prayer and communion. I believe He leaves this on record as a model for us to follow. This would include but is not limited to our times of daily prayer and devotion. But these times would be more strategic and intense times of seeking God which would include prayer and fasting and studying and meditating the Scriptures. We desperately need quantitative time where we shut in with the Lord and shut out all else in order to be wholeheartedly and without distraction devoted to God!

Each of these is about our devotion to the Lord. One aspect has to do with our practice (living a holy lifestyle) based on position (the Lord has called us holy). And the second has to do with our determination to practice a lifestyle of drawing near to Him (James 4:7-10). So, I encourage you to Separate Yourself Unto the Lord during this time and even as He leads after this pandemic and expect to thrive spiritually! #Thrive!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 4)

Hello Family!

We are making our way through this brief teaching concerning 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! I encourage you to include exhortations in your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 4. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Search the Scriptures

Here is the fourth way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. These will not appear in any order of priority.

Speak (His Word, to One Another and in tongues) – It is vitally important that now and always, we speak His Word, we speak (in edifying ways) to one another and that we speak or pray in tongues. The power of the Word of God is among many ways unleashed when we speak it aloud and hear ourselves speaking His Word (Rom. 10:14-17). It is important as we journey through life that we say what He has said and what He is saying. It behooves us to speak or confess or better yet, to same thing as He does. Our desire should be to have a uniform testimony with Him and His Word. The Lord Jesus Christ is our example in this (Matt. 4:1-10).

We should also speak to one another. Scripture teaches us in Eph. 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification (building up), that it may impart grace to the hearer.” It also tells us in Eph. 5:19, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” So, not only should we speak to one another, we need to be mindful and godly in our speech as well as edifying, encouraging and spiritually inspiring!

Lastly, we should speak or pray in tongues. Jude 20 does not use this phrase, to speak in tongues. But it does command us to build ourselves “up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:28) There are similarities between Romans 8:28 and other verses that specifically articulate our speaking in tongues. See Acts. 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:10, 11; 14:2, 15; Eph. 6:18). The point of all of this is that we will thrive spiritually if we speak His Word, speak to one another and speak or pray in tongues! #Thrive!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic! (Part 2)

Family, as promised, over the next 7 days, I will share with you 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Please add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). This is Part 2. Yesterday, we encouraged you to “Surrender to His Will.” Love you much!

Here is the second way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. These will not appear in any order of priority.

Seek His Face and His Hands – John Piper writes, “Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before his face is to be in his presence.” But why are we to seek God’s face? The answer lies in the translation of the word “face.” As we seek His face as His presence, we are more inclined to press into His presence now or no matter the occasion. This is a heart desire for His children, to behold His face! This speaks of times of intense seeking and intimacy not being satisfied with the ordinary and the routine. But pursuing Him with all that we are and not settling for anything less than seeing Him! This is the time He will evidence Himself and make Himself known! Seek His face beloved of the Lord! How do we do this? Praise, worship, prayer that asks but which also waits and listens and searching the scriptures, seeking to see Him! (See Psa. 27:8; Psa 24:6; Psa 105:4; Isa 45:19; Isa 55:6,7; Hos 5:15)

Where as His face represents His presence, His hands represent His power. His hands typify His actions and His authority. God’s hands upon our lives will cause us to thrive and to succeed! His hands upon us ensures that we have His power, ability and authority at work in and for our lives. His hands also are indicative of His protection, His provision and that which fulfills His purposes. (See Isa. 41:10; Ps 16:8; Ps 18:35; Ps 89:21; Isa 42:6; Isa 49:4) So, in order for us His children to thrive during a pandemic, we desperately need both! I implore you to seek both the face and the hands of our God in order that we may thrive together during this pandemic! #Thrive!

Thriving Spiritually During a Pandemic!

Family, over the next 7 days, I will share with you 7 Ways to Thrive Spiritually During A Pandemic! Please add these to your daily and family devotions! We will not merely survive corona, but His Church will thrive (Mt. 16:18). Love you much!

Here is the first way we thrive spiritually during a pandemic. These will not appear in any order of priority.

Surrender to the Lord’s Will – Whether He has caused it or is allowing it, Surrender to His Will! Many things God has reserved only for Himself to know (Dt. 29:29). We may never fully know or understand all that the Lord is achieving for His purposes and glory in this. But we do know that ultimately it will be for His glory and our good! So, we say Father, Your will be done!

(Matt. 6:10; Mat 7:21; Mat 12:50; Mat 26:42; Psa 40:8; Mar 3:35; Jhn 4:34; Jhn 6:40; Jhn 7:17; Act 13:22; Act 21:14; Act 22:14; Rom 12:2; Eph 6:6; Col 1:9; 1Th 4:3; 1Th 5:18; Heb 10:7,36; Heb 13:21; 1Pe 2:15; 1Pe 4:2) #Thrive!

7 Foundational Experiences for all Believers

Grace and peace!

In the next several installations of On Target Equipping, we will explore and examine Hebrews 6:1-3 and the seven foundational or elementary experiences (doctrines) for all believers. They can also be known as the Doctrines of the Christ (2 John 9, 10). These doctrines are several of the foundational and fundamental truths of our faith. They extend from justification to ultimate perfection. Doctrine defined is “teaching, instruction, or to teach the substance.” It is vital to us because what we believe and what we are, as well as what we practice and where we ultimately end up are determined by doctrine. Doctrine is not merely to be known. It is also meant to be experienced. For it is through the experience that true transformation takes place. In other words, cognitive knowledge alone will not change us. Experiential knowledge of the Word of God is what transforms the believer. Our subjective experiences with His objective truth and the work of the Holy Spirit is what will ultimately conform us into the image of His Son.

Many today frown upon or devalue the imperative nature of doctrine to the Church and the churches. Christ was a Man of doctrine! His doctrine was consider astonishing (Matt. 7:28). It was classified as “new” doctrine (Matt. 22:33; Mark 12:38; Mark 1:27). Jesus utilized parables to deliver His doctrine (Mark 4:2). Christ, as the Pattern Son, taught His Father’s doctrine (John 7:16, 17). But sound doctrine and continuing in it is one of the many pillars of an apostolic community. Act 2:42 states that the early church were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, this which they had heard and seen in Christ and now were passing on to the saints. We too are to continue in sound doctrine. Thus the encouragement of this series of posts. To quote Paul writing to Timothy: “But you have followed my teaching. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you,.” (2 Tim. 3:10a & b, 14a) Sound doctrine is a MUST! We know that as we are living in the Last Days, men will not endure SOUND doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1, 2; 2 Tim. 4:3). We are admonished in Scripture to strongly advocate, insist upon and defend sound doctrine (Titus 1:13; 2 Tim. 1:13).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). The ultimate destiny of every born again believer is to be conformed into the image of the Christ. Paul would also say in Colossians 1:28, 29 “We proclaim him (Christ), warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.” We can see through these two verses alone the Father’s heart and desire for us as His sons is for us to mature and become just like His Son Jesus Christ! Our sonship is acquired and advanced through the full, accurate and thorough knowledge of Christ as Son and as God as Father. It is an accurate revelation of the Person of the Son and that of the Father that establishes not only our true identity but the measure for who we are to be and to become.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the subject of maturity is raised as the writer to the Hebrews confronts the Christians there concerning their immaturity. In Hebrews 5, the writer is addressing the High Priesthood. He contrasts this priesthood with the Priesthood of Christ and establishes the origin of this Priesthood being “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:5, 10). In Heb. 5:11, the writer expresses his desire to say many things about this Priesthood, some of which is hard to explain, especially in light of the Hebrews spiritual inability to hear well what he has to say. Kenneth Wuest translates this portion of this verse in this manner: “because you have become those who are in a settled state of sluggishness, es, of stupidity, in your apprehension of the same.” Wow! Thank God, he did not stop there!

This brings us to verse 12 where it says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Again, I like the Wuest translation here: In fact, when at this time you are under moral obligation to be teachers by reason of the extent of time [you have been under instruction], again you are in need of someone to teach you what are the rudimentary things of the very beginning of the oracles of God, and have become and still are such as have need of milk, not of solid food.” Verses 13 and 14 push the point even further: “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” This further presses the call to maturity which is being exhorted here. What we can see is how these first principles, these elementary doctrines or better yet, experiences are necessary for a proper foundation required for growth and maturity.

As we move to Hebrews 6:1-3, the encouragement here is that the saints leave “…the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” Listed here are seven foundational experiences for all believers which we will take a closer and broad look into in the next several posts. Allow me to list these for us and we will return and discuss them further in our next installment.

  1. Repentance from dead works
  2. Faith toward God
  3. Doctrine of baptisms
  4. Laying on of hands
  5. Resurrection of the dead
  6. Eternal judgment
  7. Perfection

Keep in mind, that all of these take their rise out of an accurate revelation of the Person of the Father and His Fatherhood and the Son and His Sonship. Our aim as always is to help the saints hit His target! Knowing and experiencing these seven foundational experiences are vital as it pertains to that aim.

Blessings!

To Fast or Not to Fast (Part 2)

Happy New Year!

One of the things the New Year has most recently brought with it is a number of churches and Christians engaging in some sort of fast. In my last post, I talked about fasting but more specifically proper fasting according to Isaiah 58:1-4. We pointed out how the Bible warns against fasting for the wrong reasons. Fasting is to be about God and His agenda. Otherwise, it is merely not eating!

In this post, we want to look at Isaiah 58:5-14. In these verses, the Lord clarifies what proper fasting is. He calls it the fast He has chosen. Specifically, He says as He speaks to Israel, that oppression of the poor was not allowed (v. 6, 7), observance of the Sabbath was required along with sincere and joyful worship (vs. 13, 14). He directs them to engage in acts that undo political, economic and social injustice (vs. 6-8). He also instructs the reader to not engage in false accusations designed to strike fear in people or being guilt of being a troublemaker (vs. 9). As a result of fasting His way, the Father promises light (revelation), healing and total restoration (vs. 10-12)! In other words, if we do what He says His way, we can get what He says we can have!

The important thing as I continue to note is that when we fast, we do so for His purposes and His glory! We will reap the benefits as He promised but our fasting must be properly motivated. Jesus Christ points this out to us in Matthew 6:16-18. In these verses, Jesus teaches that those who promote their fasting have their reward from the people who they are seeking to impress. But it is those who fast in secret who the Lord promises to reward openly.

So, when you fast, do it by the Book – the Bible – and heed the instructions of our Lord and Savior!

Stay On Target!