Category: Christians


December 20, 2012
Long Walk Part of Gift
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV).

Friend to Friend
An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift.

The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”

I just love that story. During this holiday season, I watch as people scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet. And yet, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts cannot be bought or sold. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

The magi also knew about the joy of giving. While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, they also gave another gift…a long walk. We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know that it was a distance that took months, perhaps years. Their long walk was part of the gift.

I wonder how far we are willing to go to worship Jesus…to bring our gifts to him. I wonder how far out of the way we will go to praise him. Do we only give to Him when it is convenient or easy? Or do we give what He wants most – a portion of ourselves, our very lives.

I think the little African boy had the right idea. The real gift wasn’t the shell; it was the sacrifice he had to make to give it.

Let’s Pray
Dear God, thank You for the gift You gave us through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will keep gift-giving in perspective this holiday season and give gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook.  Help me to see that a “long walk,” or a portion of myself, is the greatest gift of all.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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November 9, 2012
It’s Time to Do Something!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another – (1 John 4:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I could not tear my eyes away from the television screen as the 33 miners began to emerge from the depths of what could have been their mass grave. The men had been trapped for more than two months in the collapsed Chilean copper mines nearly half a mile underground. Everything I have read or heard about the tragedy is extraordinary.

The miners survived the early days by rationing food and working together as a team. Each man was assigned a job, one of which was to maintain peace and harmony until they were rescued. The selfless mining supervisor who insisted on being the last to leave his underground prison showed the world what it really means to put others first. I was amazed at the selflessness of the rescue worker who became the initial guinea pig for the rescue capsule and then chose to stay behind – alone – while the world celebrated above.

I wonder how long it will take us to forget. How long will we remember that the world came together to save a group of strangers? Will the powerful lessons of their rescue make any difference in the way we treat each other?

We all know what it is like to be trapped in a pit of some kind. It is probably not a collapsed mine, but pits are all basically the same.

Our world has collapsed under the weight of fear and pain.
No one seems to care. In fact, a lot of people have written us off as a lost cause.
People are too busy to recognize or understand our hopelessness.
Darkness prevails and rescue seems impossible.
We are wounded, sick and tired.
Civil war rages in our soul as we struggle to obey God instead of giving in to sin.

I truly believe that every day is filled with divine appointments – opportunities to rescue people who are trapped in some kind of pit. We miss the emptiness reflected in the eyes of the sales clerk or we simply choose to ignore the homeless man begging for money so he can buy food. After all, we are in a hurry and have more important things to do. The sales clerk would probably be embarrassed if I said anything and that homeless man would probably just use the money I gave him for drugs or alcohol.

The ringing phone is someone in need, but we don’t care enough to answer. Our neighbor does not know God, but her life is a mess and we really don’t want to get involved. Instead of taking action and doing what we know God wants us to do, we decide it is enough to pray for that neighbor and leave the messy part of God’s work to someone else.

I am so guilty of walking away from someone in need instead of running to their rescue. I am in pain, too, and my pain is more important than theirs. I may not actually say those words, but I don’t have to. My actions are blatant illustrations of my own egotism and self-absorption.

I do not want to be like the priest who nonchalantly strolled by the wounded and bleeding man lying on the road. I want to be like the Good Samaritan who stopped and saved the wounded man’s life. I want to be “God with skin on.”

A tired father came home from work, grabbed his newspaper, and settled into his favorite chair with a sigh of relief. All he wanted was a little peace and quiet. All that his young son wanted was his daddy. The little boy raced into the room and asked, “Dad, can I get you something to drink?” The man lowered his newspaper, smiled and replied, “No, thanks. I’m not thirsty. I just want to read the paper.” He then raised his newspaper and resumed reading. The little boy thought for a moment and then said a little louder, “Dad, can I get you something to eat?” The slightly exasperated father lowered his paper and said, “No, Son. I just want to read the paper!” As the father resumed his reading, the little boy tried again. “Dad, can I get you … “, but before the little boy could finish his question, the now irritated father lowered his paper and demanded, “What is it that you want, Son?” The little boy sighed and gazed into his father’s eyes as he explained, “I don’t want anything, Dad. I just love you so much that I have to do something about it.”

One day, just as rescue workers descended into that Chilean mine, Jesus Christ will descend into this broken world and rescue us from the pit of human frailty. Until then, let’s be His hands and feet. Let’s love Him so much that we just have to do something about it.

Let’s Pray
Father, I come to You today with a heart of praise for the way You meet every need in my life and for how You constantly rescue me from the darkness. I want Your heart, Lord. I want to be Your hands and feet to the people You place in my path. Give me eyes to see their need and the courage to do something about it. Please guard my heart against pride and selfishness. I want to please and honor You alone. In Jesus’s

 

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November 6, 2012
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
I [Jesus] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows),” (John 10:10 Amplified Bible).

Friend to Friend
C.S. Lewis says that most Christians lack “merriment.”  I like that word. “Merriment.” Just moving the words across my lips is fun. And I think Lewis is right. We lack merriment and we don’t expect it. Many Christians look like they’ve been weaned on a dill pickle. My goodness, if there is anyone who should exude merriment, it is a person who knows Jesus as Savior and Lord. We, above all people, have something to be merry about!

What God desires, not from you but for you, is life to the full (John 10:10). There’s nothing ho-hum about that. I read Jesus’ words in John 10:10 and I am famished for glory moments of life to the full. I want to see God, to experience His presence as I live and move and have my being in Him.

John wrote, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). He didn’t simply use the word given, but lavished. Webster defines lavish this way: “given or provided with great generosity and abundance, to bestow with large generosity, profusion, a downpour.” Ponder those words separately.

Lavished.
Provided with great generosity.
Abundance.
Bestow with large generosity.
Profusion.
Downpour.

Do these words reflect your expectations in your relationship with Jesus? C.S. Lewis said it well:

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 1949,1976,revised 1980), 26.)

The first statement in the Shorter Catechism of Westminster Confession of 1646  states that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Enjoy Him! To enjoy God is to glorify Him. Just as He takes delight in you, He longs for you to take delight in Him. You simply can’t separate the two.

Are you enjoying God? As you live and move and have your being in Him, is there a smile on your face and a skip in your step? Do you expect the rich adventurous faith-filled life that you read about in the Bible? Do you expect to experience God’s glory today? If not, perhaps you need to raise your expectations of what your relationship with Jesus can be.

Once we’ve tasted the sweetness of His fruit, to settle for anything less than the bountiful orchard of His blessings will always disappoint. Oh yes, there are heavy-laden branches filled with low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked. If only we would reach up high enough, raise our expectations, and pluck them from the tree.

Let’s Pray
Jesus, forgive me for acting like I’m doing You a favor for following You. I know that you came to give me life to the full. Help me to stop walking around like I have life to the half-full. Today, I’m going to laugh, to smile, to enjoy being in Your presence. I am going to keep my eyes open for moments of sudden glory as You make Your presence known to me!
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

October l5, 2012

I’d Be Happy If…
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers (and sisters). Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16, 17 NIV)

Friend to Friend
Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world. All their needs were cared for. They had perfect communion with God and each other. They were “naked and unashamed.” The only restriction placed on them was that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil located in the middle of the Garden. God warned them, “If you eat of it, you will surely die.”

As they basked in the light of God’s love, darkness slithered into the Garden with his plan to kill, steal and destroy the image bearers. And how did he do it? He did it with the most powerful weapon of all…lies.

“Now the serpent…” The great deceiver clothed himself as a serpent and slithered up to Eve with a game plan to destroy God’s prized possession. He didn’t come with a sword, or a gun, or even a knife for his attack. He simply wielded lies.

The serpent knew Adam and Eve would not buy into a radical flamboyant denial of God, so he slithered into the garden with a twist and a turn of the truth. He began by causing Eve to doubt… “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).

Satan knew exactly what God had said. He was simply trying to confuse Eve. Perhaps he was evaluating just how well she knew the truth. He found out.

“We may eat fruit from the tress in the garden,” Eve replied, “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die” (Genesis 3:3).

Bingo. She didn’t know the truth that well after all. God never mentioned not touching the fruit. That seems like a pretty good idea, but it was not what God said.

Second he denied God and lied about the consequences of disobedience. Satan said, “You will not surely die.” (3:4). He didn’t even try to disguise the deception. He told a flat-out lie.

And finally, he told her she could be like God: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). In other words, “God doesn’t know what He’s talking about. He’s holding out on you. You don’t need Him. You can be your own god.”

Eve rejected the truth and believed the lie. She believed that she could be like god…in control of her own life. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her.”

And as she sunk her teeth into the forbidden fruit of deception and the lie slid down her delicate throat, the temptation settled in her soul and fermented into shame and condemnation. Her husband, who chose the woman over God, also felt the sickening rot of sin settle in his very soul. Suddenly shame and fear entered the world, and Adam and Eve hid from God like wayward children.

All temptation is an attempt to get us to live our lives independent of God. Satan is not very creative, but he is very affective. And he has been lying to us ever since. Why? Because it works.

Every one of his lies springs from the idea that happiness is just a decision away. Satan wants you to believe God is holding out on you. You can be like God. You can be your own god.

Rather than being thankful for what we do have, he points out what we don’t have. Think about it. Eve had at her disposal every tree in the garden except one. Every one! That is a smorgasbord of goodness! But rather than being thankful, she bought the lie that the one thing she couldn’t have was the one thing that would make her happy. I would be happy if… Is any of this sounding familiar to you? It should. Satan uses the same tactics with us that he used with Eve. Ingratitude is the infection of Eden, and it is cured with praise.

Eve believed the enemy’s lie over God’s truth. His plan worked. But what the serpent did not know was that God’s amazing plan of forgiveness and grace was about to unfold. Satan did not win the battle for man’s soul in the garden. Jesus Christ won the war on Calvary’s Cross. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” and then breathed his last, He made a way for all mankind to regain all that Adam and Eve had lost.

It would probably surprise some to find the source of scriptural text that produced the inspiration for the above title. It was while immersed in a study of this related text it came upon me and overtook me. We are consistently pressing along a constant continuum of spiritual progression. This progression is toward spiritual maturity and ultimately leads to meeting God’s grand design for our lives. There are times we make great strides and there are times that we seem to regress, however, I find that our ability to move consistently along this progression is directly connected to two separate scriptural passages. I will introduce you to the first of the two on today and I will follow up with the next on tomorrow.

No matter where you are in your “walk” (and this term will be explained within this brief treatise), if you enter this study with an open mind, trusting the Holy Spirit, via His revelatory ministry, to illuminate God’s truth within, you will be empowered through knowledge and direction. You will find that the ground work for your success has been laid well before you were conceived. God has designed a plan specifically for your life that coincides with His divine plan for the entire universe. You may have been struggling to make headway in your incessant desire to be a better Christian, but find yourself always falling short. You have probably begun to accept the worldly view that your humanity bounds you to a life of sinful failure and “thank God for grace” has become your mantra. I want you to know that God has not called you to do anything that He has not given you the power to do.

You do not have to matriculate to any great theological seminary to apprehend the truths that will be presented here today. You simply have to be committed to become submitted to the Holy Spirit and the serious study of the text. I have said this on more than one occasion and I will venture to say it yet once again: The first and greatest responsibility of any believer is the constant, daily, intake, digestion, metabolism and inculcation of Bible Doctrine. Every other responsibility and calling is predicated on mastering the first. When you neglect the Word, you become spiritually emaciated and functionally impotent as a Christian Soldier.

I invite you to take this journey through the word of God and the mind of the Apostle Paul as we uncover this powerful truth that the enemy has successfully hidden from so many through a method I call “Delusional Fixation”. Satan has used the ignorance of believers as it pertains to the Word of God to infiltrate their thinking with false doctrines that are being disseminated from within and outside of the faith. Everywhere you turn there are messages “you are simply human” when the Word clearly states that you are more than a conqueror. It is time that the believer begins to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and shake the limitation of ignorance and fallacious doctrines.

So, let us move into the related text.

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:16-24 NASB)

Your ability to grasp the truth residing within the composition of the aforementioned words is tantamount to walking in complete victory as you travel this ethereal journey of Christian faith. God has not left you clueless in this journey. He has not called you to greatness and then left you on your own to figure it out. God has ingenuously left you a blueprint to greatness and mission fulfillment. God designed you to be responsive to intellectual stimuli; the infusion of knowledge into your psychological gateways. He then provided that stimuli through his infallible Word to literally lift you into greatness.

Before we can fully understand this particular passage, we must build the context to insure that we do not erroneously apply it.

Beginning with Galatians 5:1 Paul moves from an emphasis on theology towards a focus on ethics, basically taking the Galatian believers from doctrine (the teaching) to practice (the living out of what has been taught.). Up to this point Paul had devoted his Epistle to debunking the theoretical teachings of some teachers that had convinced a great deal of the Galatian Church that they had to follow the tenets of the Mosaic Law in order to be received by God, so Paul immediately engages the Galatians concerning the ease at which they were deceive to move away from what they had been taught concerning grace.

6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! … 1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1 NASB)

Paul is addressing the interpolation of legalism into the Gospel of Grace. Jewish teachers had convinced the Galatians that they needed to be circumcised in order to be accepted by God. Anytime legalism is introduced into the plan of grace as it functions within the dispensation of the Church, we encounter massive problems (this is not the focus of our study today, so I will refrain from addressing this at the present moment, but understand that legalism is an extremely destructive force). Paul understood this and immediately moved into the correct the problem.

Paul spent a considerable amount of time and effort explaining the polarity of the Masaic Law and Grace. He cleverly disseminates the doctrine of grace so that the ground work of the Christian walk has once again been laid. Without this ground work being properly laid out it is impossible to adequately advance in this spiritual walk. Paul had effectively ruled out the Law as a regulatory standard in the age of the Church; in other words, the law had no power to advance the Christian way of life. In essence, the law had no regulatory value; in this sense it was useless. This does not mean that we should discard the Old Testament, which would be extremely foolish. What the Law lacks in regulatory value in compensates for in revelatory value. The Old Testament reveals the essence of God, the function of God, the veracity of God, the loyalty of God, the power of God,. Etc.

As Paul moves from developing the theological perimeters of Christian functionality through Grace into the access of grace’s provision of power to live out the Christian life, he interjects a statement that is all in one; a summation of what has come before and a transition into what was to follow.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)”Before plunging into this third section of his letter, Paul interjects a verse that is at once a summary of all that has gone before and a transition to what follows. It is, in fact, the key verse of the entire Epistle. Because of the nature of the true gospel and of the work of Christ on his behalf, the believer is now to turn away from anything that smacks of legalism and instead rest in Christ’s triumphant work for him and live in the power of Christ’s Spirit. . . . The appeal is for an obstinate perseverance in freedom as the only proper response to an attempt to bring Christians once more under legalism.” (Boice, p. 486.)

You must understand that to lean on legalistic tenets and sacraments is to discount grace. It is to say that the magnanimous gift that Christ provided on Calvary was not sufficient that and that we must in some way, add something to it. Grace, by its very definition is a non-meritorious conduit through which God blesses us on the basis on Christ’s saving work at Calvary. The erroneously disseminated doctrines of grace being taught now simply focus on God’s ability to forgive and a cast off the debt of sin for the believer, and though that part of grace has massive implications in the Christian walk, it is only a fraction of the complete function of grace. Graces greatest functions are unity with Christ and all believers, right standing with God (justification), and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which supplies the power not to sin and to fulfill ones purpose).

Paul did not want the Galatians to get the idea that because they were no longer under the law they could cast off restraint and move into unbridled antinomianism. He wanted them to understand that grace actually brought with it more responsibility. You may ask how; grace inherently provides exceptionally more power in the Church age, and with more power comes more responsibility.

“Christian freedom is not license [sic] to sin for the simple but tremendous reason that the Christian is not the man who has become free to sin, but the man, who, by the grace of Gdo, has become free not to sin. (J. Dwight Pentecost, “The Purpose of the Law; Bibliotheca Sacra 128:511 (July – September 1971) 227-33.

Paul understands that he must now explain how the Galatians will be able to resist the natural inclination to sin (due to an inherent sin nature that resides in all humans since the fall of Adam with the exception of one; [through the virgin birth, Jesus was the only human born without a sin nature] all are inclined to sin.) Paul is about to introduce a truth that when fully apprehended brings full liberation from sin. As a matter of fact, this truth, when put into practice, immediately and automatically eliminates sin. It is only when the believer fails to live within this truth is he even able to sin.

Paul goes on to explain that there is a constant conflict taking place within the believer.

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Gal. 5:16:18 NASB)

He then begins to set out the disparity in what each warring force produces.

19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:19-24 NASB)

It is extremely important that we give this passage quite a bit more attention than we normally do and it is equally important to assign to it an enormous gravity. This passage is not simply assigning deeds and attributes to a particular source. It is providing the format for understanding the status of believers and none believers. It is most importantly, revealing the source through which the Christian lifestyle and walk is accomplished.

We are told first that the “flesh’ strives against the “Spirit” and the “Spirit” against the flesh. That inherent nature within all of us desires to pull us in ways that are contrary to the will of God. It is important to understand that as long as we live we will have to contend with the sin nature residing in us. The sin nature does not leave the believer at any stage of their walk; however, it can be brought into submission and controlled through complete acquiescence to the Holy Spirit. It has been said that this can be analogous to having two dogs that are constantly warring with each other for prominence and position; the one that will ultimately win is the one that you feed the most. Obviously the Holy Spirit is nothing like a dog, but the analogy comes in the fact that whatever you feed grows stronger and whatever you starve grows weaker.

Paul tells the Galatians that if they walk by the Spirit they shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Walking by or being led by the Spirit is living moment by moment in a place of submission to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Anytime that you are not walking in this state of submission you become subject to the yearnings of the flesh. In this case, “walking” is a metaphorical expression used in scripture to express spiritual progression. The modes of transportation in Bible days were definitely not as fast or as efficient as they are today, but walking was still the slowest way to get from one place to the next. As slow as the process of walking may have been, one knew that if he continued to put one foot in front of another he would cover the necessary ground and would eventually reach the desired destination. So, the Christian walk is the progression toward becoming what you were designed and created to be.

Since we have two warring factions within us, Paul wanted to give us an honest way to assess which side is winning. Each of these two warring entities within us produces certain byproducts. In understanding what these products are, we can know where we are in our walk and whether or not we are truly being submissive to the Holy Spirit.

First, Paul reveals the deeds of the flesh. They can be broken down into five basic categories:

Sexual Sins (verse 19) – Immorality, fornication (Greek “porneia”, all types of forbidden sexual relationships from a physical perspective). Impurity, uncleaness (Greek “akatharsia, all moral uncleanness in thought, word and deed). Sensuality, licentiousness, indecency, debauchery, lasciviousness (Greek “aselgeia” the open, shameless display of these sins)

Religious Sins (verse 20) – Idolatry (Greek “eidololatria”, worship of anything other than God and the practices and sacramental rituals involved). Sorcery, witchcraft (Greek “pharmakeia”, attempts to aid the powers of evil and the practices associated with that).

Social Sins – (verses 20-21) – Enmities, quarrels, hatred (Greek “echthrai”, hostilities). Strife, discord, variance (Greek eris, antagonism). Jealousy, envy, emulation (Greek zelos, self-centered animosity). Outburst of anger, fits of rage, wrath (Greek “thymoi”, temper eruptions). Disputes, strife, factions, selfishness, selfish ambition (Greek “eritheiai”, putting others to get ahead). Dissensions, divisions, seditions (Greek “dichostasiai, disputes over issues or personalities). Factions, heresies, party spirit (Greek “haireseis”, divisions over issues or personalities. Envyings, jealousies (Greek “phthonoi”, wrong desires to have another’s possessions). When you examine the force of these deeds and what they will ultimately produce you will come up with one word that sums it all up; chaos.

Intemperate Sins (verse 21) – Drunkenness, drinking bouts (Greek “methai, excessive use of intoxicants). Carousing, reveling, orgies (Greek “ komoi”, parties involving excessive eating and drinking).

Other Sins – Things like these listed (similar violations of God’s moral will).

“The common feature in this catalogue of vices seems to reside not in the precise ways in which these fifteen items manifest themselves but in the self-centeredness or egocentricity that underlies all of them.” (Thomas Constable, Commentaries of the Bible)

Not only do these deeds serve as indicators of a walk on the side of carnality, they also wreak immeasurable havoc on the life of the person perpetrating them.

Then Paul moves to the other side of this polarity transitioning through the use of the conjunction

δέ

de

deh

A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.: – also, and, but, moreover, now [often unexpressed in English].

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G1161

 

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:22-24 NASB)

 

 

Notice that the “flesh” produces “deeds” and the “Spirit” produces “fruit”, in the Greek

καρπός

karpos

kar-pos’

Probably from the base of G726; fruit (as plucked), literally or figuratively: – fruit.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G2590

 

“Fruit is singular signifying a unified Christ-like character; an aggregate affect of walking in the spirit. Let’s take a look at the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in those that are surrendered to His leadership. There are nine that fit into three basic categories.

 

Mental or God-ward Qualities (verse 22) – Love (Greek “agape”, self-sacrificing affection for others). Joy (Greek “chara”, deep-seated happiness regardless of circumstances). Peace (Greek “eirene”, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances).

Interpersonal or Other-ward Qualities (verse 22) –  Patience (Greek “makrothymia”, forbearance even under provocation). Kindness (Greek “chrestotes”, benevolence and graciousness). Goodness (Greek “agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others).

General or Self-ward Qualities (verses 22-23) – Faithfulness (Greek “pistis”, reliability, trustworthiness). Gentleness (Greek “praytes”, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others). Self-control (Greek “enkrateia”, ability to master oneself.

 

Paul has ingeniously provided the blueprint for effective and powerful Christian living. When we walk in submission to the Holy Spirit he not only guides us, but also reciprocates by allowing you to access His power to, not only walk the Christian way, but to fulfill your particular purpose. There are multitudinous individuals struggling through this ethereal journey of Christianity feeling as if there is no possible way to rise up and live the life that they should be living. Many have been taught secular world views such as “once an addict always an addict”, but we find that surrender to the Holy Spirit produces the power to master oneself. There is complete healing available for every illness.

Paul masterfully extracts the built in excuse of humanity from the equation and interjects “grace’s” greatest hidden secret; power. When Paul prayed for the removal of the thorn in his flesh God’s reply was simply, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Wait a minute; what does grace have to do with power? Everything, in its comprehensive definition, grace is all that God is able to do for every Christian based on the work of Christ at the cross. So grace appropriates justification at the moment of salvation. Grace facilitates the purifying and preparative act of sanctification, and grace allows for the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer providing so much in the way of power, revelation, and direction.

You have the power to walk triumphantly and live effectively as a victorious warrior. I urge you to surrender to the Holy Spirit; allow Him to empower and direct you. If you do so, no demon in hell, including the devil himself can stop you from completing the course and fulfilling your destiny.

 

God bless,

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

 

Recently I put together an exegesis on Romans 8:28. That analysis of Romans 8:28 brought lucidity to the subject of knowing for whom God works all things for the good. What I aim to do here briefly is give insight to the last word in this passage; purpose.

G4286                                                                                                     

πρόθεσις

prothesis

proth’-es-is

From G4388; a setting forth, that is, (figuratively) proposal (intention); specifically the show bread (in the Temple) as exposed before God: – purpose, shew [-bread].

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

 

The Greek word “prothesis” translated purpose in English connotes something being set forth and placed in view (with the underlying meaning being that it has been set forth with the understanding  and clarity of the reason for which it was set forth). Simply put, purpose means something that has been set forth with clear understanding of its reason. Clear understanding does not constitute easy access, but clarity in the sense of understanding what has been revealed.

Purpose and its underlying elements have been pondered through the ages. The Great Greek philosophers of ancient times have grappled with purpose and the significance of human life and their modern counterparts have faced the same enigmatic issues that plagued them centuries ago. Freud, Nietzsche, and Foucault have no better settled the quandaries of life than did the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Secular paradigms and cosmic speculations have infiltrated the faith of Christianity and have brought about paradigmatic shifts in the thinking of believers. When I survey the Christian landscape I find that the cosmic thinking of secular worldviews such as Nihilism, Secular Humanism, Religious Pluralism, Relativism, etc. have infiltrated the thought processes of the Christian believer. This helps to explain how so many things that were socially unacceptable just a few decades ago is now common place. When these worldviews impress their tenets of moral ambiguity and their nebulous approach to purpose and destiny, they undermine the power of God and they open the door to antinomianism and even legalism.

Understanding purpose carries with it a wealth of benefits in the sense of perseverance through the trials of this life. Purpose steadies us when we begin to waver under the pernicious attacks of the enemy. Purpose sets the resolve necessary to penetrate the darkness of doubt. Purpose makes visible the plan that is unique to each individual’s life. Purpose says that I am here for a reason, and in knowing this purpose I can comprehend the challenges that accompany this life in the sense that they will work toward the fulfilling of that purpose. My purpose explains my pain.

There is an inherent desire for significance within each of us. There is a yearning to belong; there is a yearning to matter; there is a yearning to have something for which you can base your life; purpose is the substance that satisfies this yearning. Purpose identifies and validates your direction. There are many secular systems that have created paradigms that suggest there is no true meaning to life and that our existence is simply the result chance mutation. There are those that speculate because of the size of our planet in relation to the rest of the universe that we have no true significance. It is easy for the finite perspicacity of man to erroneously hypothesize concerning such issues because without knowledge of God there is no true revelation. Without God things just don’t make sense. Until we unite with our purpose as set forth by God, we will wonder aimless, and strive ineffectively throughout our lives.

To really understand the power in purpose we must understand the following verse of scripture in the Romans 8 passage:

“For those whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (rom. 8:29-30)

“For those whom he foreknew”, introduces the doctrine of foreknowledge which can be defined as the subcategory of God’s omniscience in which he personally knew each believer in eternity past and thereby knew that they would repent and receive The Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. With this knowledge in mind, he set forth an individual plan for the life of each of these believers. Within this plan lies the purpose and destiny of each believer. The setting out of this plan by God is known as predestination (To predetermine or foreordain; to appoint or ordain beforehand by an unchangeable purpose).  In other words, by divine decree, a purpose has been placed upon your life and the emptiness that is within many of you will never be satiated until you began to walk in that purpose. When you begin to walk in your purpose a peace will settle upon you. When you engage your purpose you will find exceptional power to live in that purpose. When you put on the jacket of purpose you will defend yourself from storms of doubt that have filled your life.

 

Purpose girds your thoughts when the enemy attempts to infiltrate your mind. Purpose provides the focus that propels you into your destiny with a passion that is undeterred by trials. Purpose is the inexorable force that speaks to doubt and reminds you that God is behind the scenes holding the plan together.  Purpose reminds you that your destiny has been decreed and that only your dedication to remaining on the path is required. Purpose exposes you to the unlimited assets that God has placed at your disposal. Purpose provides the answer to the question: After salvation, then what?

 

We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). The Greek word [ κατεργάζομαι , katergazomai] which is rendered “work out” means “to continually work to bring something to fulfillment or completion. This is sometimes misapplied to teach salvation by works which would call for us to disregard scriptures such as Romans 3:21-24 and Ephesians 2:8-9). What Paul is teaching is that there is more to salvation than eternal life. Salvation comes with purpose or after salvation we would be immediately taken away to live in eternity. We have been left behind in this hostile world because we have a purpose in it. Salvation is not earned by works, but it is confirmed by them.

 

I urge each of you to search out your purpose and take hold of it; walk in it. Stand in your purpose. Do not relinquish the vision that has been placed inside of you for the vision is inundated with purpose. Do not forsake the constant study of the Word of God, for the Word is saturated with purpose. Do not forgo prayer, for prayer settles you in purpose. Do not forsake the assembly as some do because fellowship exposes the interconnectivity of individual purpose with the universal purpose of the body of Christ.

 

Welcome to your purpose; welcome to your destiny!

 

 

Best regards,

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

Founder & President

Rick Wallace Ministries

100 Men of Purpose

Life Solutions 21

The Invisible Father

Abiding In Abundance

By Bishop Rick Wallace

 

It does not require much effort to find yourself digesting massive doses of rhetoric and propaganda concerning the current economic situation.  Every self proclaimed expert is weighing in on the matter; and as always there is more criticism than contributions towards a valid solution.  The thing that grabs me the most is the level of fear.  In fact, an enormous portion of the current economic situation is driven by fear.  Consumers fear making the most nominal and inconsequential of purchases; bankers fear lending money due to the risk of default; retailers fear making the necessary investments to procure adequate marketing and advertising.  There is so much fear permeating throughout the corridors of society that we are feeding and nurturing the very thing we fear – economic instability.

 

In the fury of all of the extrapolated theories floating around in the air, in the midst of the paralyzing fear gripping our nation, is hidden the most disparaging of revelations, the defeated Christian.  The fear level among the saved is equal to or greater than the unbeliever.  Those who are called to walk by faith have become sight-walkers; glued to the T.V. set and gaining on every financial report.  I am in no way suggesting that anyone at any time engage in unwise spending nor do I propose total ignorance to the economic climate that encapsulates you.  However, I passionately desire to impress upon the heart of every believer that engages this piece to walk each day in the confidence of your identity in Christ and to stand implacably on the promises of God.  The promises of God are 100% recession proof.  Come with me as we take a journey through the infallible Word of God and come face to face with the great and precious promises of our great provider.  Walk with me as I show you how to abide in the abundance of God and share with you its multitudinous benefits.

 

There is no mistaking the signs of economic recession and the presages of a pending structural collapse of the economy.  Yet, these prognostications should not be the guiding forces in the lives of believers.  Yes, we are to be prudent in our thoughts and actions irrespective to social or economic climates, however, there is a distinct difference between prudence and paranoia.  External circumstances should never be the point of reference of the Christian solider.  We are to be guided by the Word of God.  We must ask ourselves: What does the Word say about this?  God’s Word is lucidly clear when it concerns the financial state of His chosen.

 

Though I will be addressing financial prosperity and stability in primary, it is of immense importance to understand that Biblical prosperity and abundance extends beyond the realm of monetary wealth.  Biblical prosperity encompasses emotional, physical, relational, spiritual, and financial advancement and stability.  There is to be balance in the progression of the believer.  Remember we are the reflection of God’s love and thereby the window through which the world sees our savior.  If we are only focused on prosperity in wealth, we do not represent our savior well.  We are told over and over in scripture that God will perfect us.  The verb “perfect” in the Bible connotes completion, fulfillment, and attainment of a desired goal.  Completion implies a person be established in every aspect. So, we cannot become so enamored with one aspect of our lives that we neglect others.

 

Yet, we must come to an understanding that financial prosperity is a part of the inheritance of the saints (belivers). There are those that teach that financial prosperity as promised in the Bible is only promised to the Jews of the Old Testament and are not a part of the new covenant. I will not spend a great deal of time addressing this directly, but we must understand that wealth in its rawest form is represented in natural created things. God created these things in abundance for all to have access to. For those that follow me, you know that it is my stance that lack is not of God; and just enough to get by is lack. We serve a God of abundance, and His magnanimous benevolence is expressed in every area of the believer’s life. Just as in other areas of a believer’s life; his financial lack comes from a lack of knowledge and appropriate action. Simply put lacking in knowledge in any particular aspect of your life produces poor decisions and fallible actions that produce lack in that area.

 

Now that we have this understood let us press forward.  What does God promise concerning finances?  Let us begin with the apprehension of the fact that money, as with all other blessings, carries with it an immense responsibility. Financial prosperity is a trust.

 

“Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed Me!  But you say, In what way have we robbed you?  In tithes and offerings.”(Mal. 3:8)

 

“In tithes and offerings”; there are two forms of giving, one obligatory and one voluntary.  There is a distinction between the two and failure to distinguish between the two can lead to indecision.  The fact that Malachi distinguishes between the two in verse 8 supports the fact that tithing and offering (free will giving) are two separate functions.

 

The word tithe means a tenth.  Since God commanded Israel to bring tithes (Lev. 27:30-34), it is compulsory in its proper context.  In the Old Testament, tithes were levied on the nation of Israel as a whole.  Every man was to give a tenth of what they owned or earned through labor.  There were several tithes: a tax for the maintenance of the Levites, the priestly tribe as inheritance in return for their work as priests (Num.18: 21,24); a tax for the national feasts and sacrifices (Deut. 14:22-27); and a tax every third year used for the poor and destitute of the land. (Deut. 14:28,29)  As we can see, not only was tithing obligatory, it had a specific purpose.  In the Old Testament, offerings extended beyond the mandated tithes.  It is what was given of one’s own free will.

 

There are some who believe that although tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament, it remains a valid function of Christian living, and there are those who believe that tithing was a bona fide function only in the Old Testament Israel.  Tithing as a legal obligation was given to the Jews of the Old Testament and them only. This means that a legal obligation for tithing no longer exists. Remember, we are no longer under the law, but grace. It does not, however, make tithing an invalid function within the church. The principles behind tithing are still true. The laws of diving reciprocity are still active. As you will soon see, not being under the law does not excuse the believer from giving, but actually requires us to give more. The Christian functioning under grace has a greater responsibility to give than the Jew functioning under the law.

 

Whether you believe in Church age tithing or not, we are still called to give.  The issue is motive and obedience. Tithing existed before the law was given to Moses, therefore it is a bona-fide function in spiritual service. Whether it is compulsory for the Church is a subject to be visited later. With this in mind, let us take a look at what Paul had to say concerning giving:

 

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity (compulsion); for god loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6,7)

 

The first principle made visible here is the law of divine reciprocity.  In the manner you give is the manner you receive.  This is the simplest and most ingenuous of scriptural truths.  The sowing of seeds is an analogical principle revealed throughout scripture, and is without question, aptly applied to financial giving.  The second principle unveiled here is the attitude and motive through which one gives.  One is not to give begrudgingly or out of compulsion.  Mental attitude is the issue here.  The point here is God’s graciousness towards you should motivate you to be gracious in your giving.

 

We must always be cognizant of the fact that God is our source of sufficiency, abundance, and stability.  All things that are beneficial to our existence originate in Him.  We are blessed to be a blessing to others.

 

“….I will bless you….and you shall be a blessing.”(Gen 12:2)

 

It is God who gives the increase so that others may experience His graciousness through you.  To this point, you may be questioning the significance of seed sowing in the form of voluntary giving.  Please understand that the financial breakthrough you are seeking is inextricably bound to your ability and willingness to give.

 

Let us revisit Malachi and see what God has to say concerning being robbed:

 

“You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this, Says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”(Mal. 3:9,10)

 

We find that we have been brought under a curse due to our failure to give.  The curse here is the consequential result of the dereliction of a triune principle; a principle formed through the compilation of three basic Biblical precepts: Obedience, responsibility, and divine reciprocity.  At the core character of every successful and prosperous Christian is an obedient spirit.  A willingness to surrender their personal volition to the awesome will of God.  They have an erudite understanding that obedience is not only an essential part of Christian living; it is a banner that reveals the genuineness of their faith.

 

As Christians, we understand that our blessings come with great responsibility (Luke 12:48).  We, as Christians, must understand that as blessings come from God they are not to be managed through the vacuum of greed, but the liberal faucet of generosity and Christian love.

 

“…I will bless you…and you shall be a blessing.”(Gen. 12:2)

“…So I will save you, and you shall be a blessing.”(Zech. 8:13)

 

Being blessed carries the responsibility of being a blessing.

 

The law of divine reciprocity tells us that giving precedes receiving, that seeds must be sown in order to reap a harvest.  This law is 100% perpetual, meaning it is always functional.  Irrespective to the financial climate, despite personal circumstances, we are to give.  The concept of giving yourself out of a financial bind is as valid as any other Biblical principle; however, sewing seeds requires faith.  Trust God to perform that which He has promised. Stop making excuses of why the Church age believer is not privileged to the blessing of the Old Testament and start trusting God to honor his Word.

 

When we fail to obey, to properly execute our responsibility, or to sow productive seeds, we become counterproductive in our endeavors.  The curse of counter productivity is an inexorable force that devastates the life it invades.  When we withhold in hopes of sustaining, the very opposite happens; we lose ground.

 

“Trying God”

 

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”(Mal. 3:10)

 

God invites his people to try Him that it may prove and validate His trustworthiness.  What God has promised in His Word, he will perform. (Isa. 55:11)  God uses money as a type of trust; it requires stewardship.  What we do with what we’ve been given has a bearing on how we are blessed in the future.  When we withhold giving, whether tithes or offerings, we not only rob God and the church, we rob ourselves of positional, sequential and corollary blessings.  God blesses us that we may bless others; He gives to us that we may give.  He calls for a renewed commitment to our giving in tithes and offerings.  Regardless to what side of the fence we sit on concerning New Testament tithing, it is important to remember that tithing was a genuine and valid function long before the law was given.  In Gen. 14:20, Abram gives Melchizedek a tithe (tenth), making tithing a bona-fide function long before the law was given. We simply should not take a legalistic approach to it. It is not the law that makes tithing effective, it the heart that understands its principles.

 

After a renewed commitment toward giving, God reveals that there will be food (resources for kingdom work) in His house.  Giving in the church equips the church to function, both internally and externally.  Not only in the inward functions, such as utilities, maintenance, salaries, etc., but it also allows the church to be an outreach into the community and beyond.

 

Then God says that those that give will place themselves in position to receive an overflow of blessings (that there will not be room enough to receive).  The Hebrew “day” pronounced (dye) translated have “room enough” carries the meaning sufficient, enough; a large enough quantity; plenty; immeasurable.  This word occurs approximately forty times in the Old Testament.  It describes an abundance that is inexpressible and beyond sufficient.  God is simplistically stating that we can in no way out give Him.  Growing up in church, we would sing a song, “You can’t beat God-giving”.  One of the lines said, “The more you give, the more He gives to you.”  I compel you to give yourself out of lack and into abundance.

 

I will digress momentarily.  Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wonder why so many nonbelievers seem to prosper even though they are seemingly diametrically opposed to the divine will of God?”  The answer is lucidly revealed in scripture.  These people have grasped an experiential knowledge of the law of divine reciprocity (the general principle of giving).  Biblical principles can be divided into two categories: general principles and exclusive principles.  A general principle that is delineated from Biblical doctrine applies to both, nonbelievers and believers alike.  The book of Proverbs is replete with such principles.  On the other hand, an exclusive principle is a principle that only applies to God’s chosen; it is covenantal.  Therefore, the question you should be pondering is: ”If unbelievers can prosper by adherence to a Biblical principle, how much more will God bless those who are His own when they are obedient to his will?” God designed the universe to bring back to you what you put out, both negatively and positively.

 

In Malachi chapter 3, God does not only promise an overflow to those who are loyal in there giving.  He promises to defend those blessings from the assault of the enemy:

 

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field, says the lord of hosts;”(Mal. 3:11)

 

This guarantees that Satan himself cannot stop the blessing process.  There is nothing like abiding under divine protection; living your life knowing that, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”(Isa. 54:17)  A mature believer will never allow himself to be deterred from his responsibility to give.  Allow me to pose a question.  If a Jew living under the law was required to give one-tenth, how much more should the Christian living under grace give? Grace provides so much more in the way of blessings, requiring so much more in return.

 

Let me be clear; one of the most important and powerful forces of life is the principle of giving.

 

“There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.  The generous soul will be made rich.  And he who waters will also be watered himself.”(Prov. 11:24,25)

 

The aforementioned truths are undeniable and are invaluable in the life of the believer.  We can never become so imbued by social opinion that we lose focus as to our direction, purpose, and destiny as Christians.  We are to never allow fear to render us dysfunctional.  Fear is the antitheses of faith and has no place in the life of the believer.  For we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)

 

The Cheerful Giver

 

“But this I say:  He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully so let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:6,7)

 

Here, we once again see giving as being analogous to seed sowing.  We gain the stance that the measure at which we give is the very measure in which we receive.  Yet, Paul does not stop with the principle of giving; he protracts the message to the sphere of attitude.  “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”(2 Cor 9:7).  We can see that God is not only interested in your giving, but the state of heart and mind at the time of giving.  Your motivation behind giving is just as important as the act of giving itself.  We are not to give grudgingly or reluctantly, but freely and openly.  We are not to give of necessity, which in essence, means under constraint, against one’s will, or as an act of compulsion.  We are to give out of love as a response to God’s immeasurable love towards us.  Yes, giving is an act of obedience, but our obedience should always be a responsive action in view of God’s awesome love and generosity towards us.

 

God searches our hearts as we give to determine our motives.  We are to be a reflection of His love and bountiful generosity.  For God gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim: 6:17).

 

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance toward every good work.  As it is written: ”He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.  Now may He who supplies seed to the sewer, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness. (2 Cor 9:8-10)

 

There are three particular details we do well to take notice of here: First we must never lose sight of the fact that it is God who causes all grace to abound toward you.  In a society that places so much significance and perceptive consequence on being independent, it is a facile accomplishment to become convinced that we are autonomous and self-sufficient.  The fact is, irregardless to how active or proactive you are in your life and its circumstances, it is God who provides, protects, and sustains.

 

Secondly, the abundance of God’s grace comes with specificity of purpose; God blesses you with abundance (more than what is required), so that we may be a blessing to others. (Gen. 12:2)

 

Third, not only is it God who provides for your basic needs, but supplies for you in immense abundance so that you may bless others.  When you sow seed, you reap a harvest in direct correspondence to the type and amount of seed you’ve sown.  There must be an investment in order to receive a return.  Again, this giving cannot be contingent upon the economic climate, your mood and emotions, or any other potentiality; any time fear, stinginess, or spite causes you to withhold what is appropriate, and in truth, belongs to God, the harvest is emaciated and ravaged.  Liberality is the foundational force behind both, spiritual and material prosperity.  When the heart is guided by a liberal spirit, it opens the doors for God’s awesome and munificent blessings to flow through the arteries of your life.

 

When you are an incessant giver, you not only sow new seed, but also perpetually water the seed that you’ve sown previously.  The dynamic force in play insures that the harvest will yield bountifully as long as you continue to give.  Keep in mind that your attitude towards giving is the key; your attitude should always reflect God’s love and generosity toward you.

 

 

Opening Up The Gates

 

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”(Heb. 2:10,11)

 

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God…. Beloved, now we are children of God.”(1 John 3:1)

 

“…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself…”(Eph. 1:5)

 

These scriptures, among others, establish the doctrinal truth that, upon salvation, we are grafted into the Royal Family of God.  We become heirs with Christ.  If this is so, it stands to reason that God will supply our every need by His riches in glory.  Wait a minute, that’s not human reason, that’s sound scriptural principle!  Beyond money and wealth, God has blessings in escrow for the believer.  This means before you were conceived, before creation, God designed blessings specifically for your life and predicated on your purpose.  There are so many of us strolling through each phase of life failing to take hold of God’s blessings.

 

“He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”(Rom. 8:32)

 

Here, the Apostle Paul uses “A Fortiori” logic to establish the fact that God will take care of His own.  A Fortiori is a Latin phrase that carries the meaning “from or with stronger reason.”  A fortiori logic has two parts: the greater and the less.  Paul uses a fortiori with surgical precision in Romans Chapter 5, but we can also bear witness to His ingenious use of “a fortiori” logic in Romans 8:32.  I know that we have drifted of course, but bear with me for a moment.  As usual, I will get you there.

 

A fortiori logic is comprised of two comparative clauses which are also conditional.  A conditional clause has two parts: if this, then that.  The second clause is dependent upon the first clause; the “if” portion or premise is known in grammar as the protasis, and the “then” portion or conclusion is called the apodosis.  In essence, Paul takes something known to establish something unknown in a manner that the thing that was once unknown becomes lucidly clear.

 

An example of an “a fortiori” would be: If Usain Bolt can run 100 meters in 9.58 seconds, it follows “a fortiori” that he can run it in 10 seconds.  With 9.58 seconds being the greater task and 10 seconds being the less.

 

In Rom. 8:32, Paul uses the fact that God did not spare Jesus, but offered Him as a sacrifice for all, the greater, then He will surely, in conjunction with this sacrifice, freely give us all things, the less.  In fact, every time you gaze back at Calvary, every time you meditate on the cross, each time you fathom the awesome power of the blood, you should become confident that the same God that introduced grace will also provide more grace. (James 4:6)

 

The question is inevitable; how do we open up the floodgates to these escrow blessings?

 

“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)

 

Though financial encumbrances may tempt you to give in, God’s Word calls for you to give outward.  Do not be confused or deceived by the enemy, the key to your breakthrough is giving.  If your back is against the wall financially, if you can see no way out, foreclosures and tax liens loom large, I dare you to try God, I dare you to test Him, I dare you to trust Him.  Give yourself into a blessing frenzy.  I’m not just speaking of sowing monetary seeds.  Sow yourself into your ministry; sow yourself into being a better parent, give of yourselves in every imaginable way.  We are to give even when we, ourselves, are in need. (2 Cor. 1-5)

 

The law of divine reciprocity is a universal principle that teaches us that as we give outward, we receive in direct correspondence to what we give.  If you sow seeds the ground yields a harvest.  If you deposit money into the bank it accrues interest.  There is a reciprocal affect.  There is a reciprocal relationship that exists between God and his chosen.  As we give, he gives to us.  The thing is we want something from God, but we refuse to give.  When we do this, we not only rob God, but we rob ourselves of exponential increase.  Whether you are investing time taken, commitment, money or obedience, abundance begins with investment.

 

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2)

 

In this scriptural passage, the Apostle John prays for temporal prosperity and physical health for Gaius; not only that, he prays that this prosperity will be commensurate with his spiritual status.  The term “temporal prosperity” does not connote transitory prosperity, but is stated in reference to eternal prosperity, which extends into eternity “Just as your soul prospers”, references Gaius spiritual prosperity and maturity.  The word “euodoo” in the Greek; translated “prosper” meaning to help on the road, to succeed in reaching, or to reach a desired or profitable result.  So for the believer prosperity is not transitory.  It is a continuum through which we progress in correspondence to our spiritual growth.  As we grow up in Christ, God is free to expand our blessings.

 

 

Well, Bishop, Jesus commanded the rich young ruler to sell all he had and follow him; doesn’t this mean we are not to acquire wealth.  No, this passage is not a condemnation of a massing wealth, but of being possessed or controlled by our possessions, we are never to become so engrossed in the blessing that we lose sight of the blesser.  We are to never allow the gift to supersede the giver.

 

But Bishop, Paul said that money is the root of all evil.  No, what Paul said was, “…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…”(1 Tim 6:10).  The problem here isn’t money, but the way we perceive it and to whom we consider to be its source.  When money replaces God, we are out of line.  When we are not good stewards with our money, we are out of line.  We are not to put our trust in wealth, but we are not to despise it either.

 

Many of you are thinking that I’ve spent all this time teaching on the importance of giving, but I’ve failed to address the financial turbulence of today’s economy.  Oh, but I have!  Your breakthrough is inextricably bound to your willingness to give.  God’s promises of prosperity are multitudinous.  He has promised to bless the fruit of our body, to make us the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, the lender and not the borrower. Yes, these are covenantal promises made directly to the nation of Israel; however, they apply to the church age believer in principal.  And what does he ask of you in return for these blessings?  Give!  Give your time; give your money; give the sacrifice of obedience.

 

My friends, God is still God, even in the time of recession.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  You are His children; you bear His name.  He wants nothing more than to bless you.  A child of God should not be stressing about the mortgage payment.  A child of The Most High should not be encumbered by the fear of losing their job.  A child of the King is never moved by external circumstances, for he knows that God is able.  Let the experts weigh in, let the naysayers scurry in fear; let the Wall Street dons press and pull, but as for you, trust God; try God.  Know that as you give, it will return in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.  You are standing at the threshold of your breakthrough.  I invite you to walk into the sanctuary of abundant living.  God has a blessing of abundance with your name on it!

 

May God bless and keep you!

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

 

 

Faith Grows Amid Storms

“He hath acquainted himself with my beaten path. When he hath searched me out, I shall come out shining” (Job 23:10, free translation).

Faith grows amid storms”–just four words, but oh, how full of import to the soul who has been in the storms!

Faith is that God-given faculty which, when exercised, brings the unseen into plain view, and by which the impossible things are made possible. It deals with supernaturals.

But it “grows amid storms”; that is, where there are disturbances in the spiritual atmosphere. Storms are caused by the conflicts of elements; and the storms of the spiritual world are conflicts with hostile elements.

In such an atmosphere faith finds its most productive soil; in such an element it comes more quickly to full fruition.

The staunchest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest, but out in the open where the winds from every quarter beat upon it, and bend and twist it until it becomes a giant in stature this is the tree which the mechanic wants his tools made of, and the wagon-maker seeks.

So in the spiritual world, when you see a giant, remember the road you must travel to come up to his side is not along the sunny lane where wild flowers ever bloom; but a steep, rocky, narrow pathway where the blasts of hell will almost blow you off your feet; where the sharp rocks cut the flesh, where the projecting thorns scratch the brow, and the venomous beasts hiss on every side.

It is a pathway of sorrow and joy, of suffering and healing balm, of tears and smiles, of trials and victories, of conflicts and triumphs, of hardships and perils and buffetings, of persecutions and misunderstandings, of troubles and distress; through all of which we are made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

“Amid storms.” Right in the midst where it is fiercest. You may shrink back from the ordeal of a fierce storm of trial…but go in! God is there to meet you in the center of all your trials, and to whisper His secrets which will make you come forth with a shining face and an indomitable faith that all the demons of hell shall never afterwards cause to waver. –E. A. Kilbourne

*************

What an awesome revelation. The Apostles Paul said that tribulation produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character produces hope. Paul said that hope produced through this sequence does not disappoint (Rom. 5:3-5 paraphrased). This type of hope is the product of pure faith. The type of faith is the fruit of a seed that that can only be cultivated within the fertile soil of trials and sufferings. Faith is not faith until it has been tested and proven pure.

6[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations,

7So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. (1 pet. 1:6-7 AMP)

The furnace may be turned up seven times hotter than normal, but understand that you are not in the furnace alone. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego about the fourth man that joined them in fiery furnace (Daniel chapter 3). When you allow your faith to be developed in the heat of life’s trials you will see your naysayers and enemies speak just as King Nebuchadnezzar, who had to humble himself before the God of his servants. Nebuchadnezzer came to personally witness the reason for such resolute faith in those three young boys. This faith produced results so powerful that King Nebuchadnezzer said: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who believed in, trusted in, and relied on Him! And they set aside the king’s command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God …there is no other God who can deliver in this way!” (Dan. 3:28-29 AMP)

Trust God in all that you are going through right now is is worthy, willing, and able to perform His promises. Give God Some glory! ~Bishop Rick Wallace

Fill Your Space

 

I have one thing to say to you: Fill your space. Let me explain. Last year was, by far, the worst year of my life. Not because of anybody else but because of me. This is why: I was not truly successful at anything in particular. I had some decent moments, but nothing great and nothing lasting. For a person that was used to succeeding at everything they attempted this was a struggle. In the month of December the frustration I had been fighting for the entire year was beginning to weigh me down. So, I decided to follow my own advice and take an introspective look at myself.

What I found was that I had not been filling my space. What I mean by filling my space is bringing more to any situation than I took from it. A person that adequately fills their space brings value to every situation they enter into; no matter how large or small the situation. I had always been successful at anything that I set my mind to do, but somewhere I lost sight of why. I just kept waiting for success. I kept doing what I have told people not to do for years, wait on fortune to find me.

Even when I was not completely in the will of God I always filled my space. If I walked in a room I filled my space because I brought a value to that room greater that what I was taking away from it. I could help those in the room elevate themselves emotionally, financially, in self-esteem and so much more. Even when someone paid me for a service, I always gave them more than cash value. They called it a great deal; I called it filling my space. It was a principle at work. I decided in December that it was time to fill my space and that will be my goal from this point forward.

So, I encourage you to fill your space. In fact, do all you can to more than fill your space. This is what I will be striving for in 2012. Filling your space will bring you success. When put out more than you get, when your presence brings about a blessing and worth to anything, that is filling your space. When the lives you come in contact with are better for it, you are filling your space. Greatness comes by filling your space.

I want you to really think about that.

God bless you ~ Bishop Rick Wallace

 

Foundation Scriptures: Hebrews 3,4:1-8; Isa. 26:3,4

Key Verses Is. 26:3

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.” (Isa. 26:3)

 

I have read and believe that a true state of happiness is the most difficult state for a Christian to achieve.  In order to apprehend the veracity in this statement, one must be willing to be honest with themselves; next they must have the ability to detach themselves from the euphoric world in which they have become engrossed.  Allow me to paraphrase: Wake up and smell the coffee! Please understand that I am not saying that it is impossible, I am simply pointing to all that comes against us to rob us of our contentment and joy. We will find out shortly that in Christ all things are possible.

 

Through experiential progression, I have come to the conclusion that no matter how determinedly and agonizingly we strive to escape the pain, heartache and despair that life so opportunistically places at our feet, we will inevitably endure asperity and anguish.  Christians don’t like hearing that.  We want to be told that post salvation life will be a metaphorical cakewalk.  The truth is, we have been promised that there will be a great deal of trials and tribulation.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33)

 

The Greek word used for tribulation here is “thlipsis” which means: pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress.  This word carries the connotation of taking something that is free and unfettered and compressing it with the objective of producing something better.  The same word is used of crushing grapes and olives in a press.  “Thlipsis” is, in essence, spiritual bench pressing, making a stronger and more formidable Christian soldier.  So, our struggles are quite a necessary part of our spiritual progression.

 

This does not mean that inevitable trials and distresses will be easy but they should not produce fear, anxiety, or bitterness.  At the same time Jesus promised tribulation, he also promised peace.  How is this so?

 

“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:32)

 

At the time of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, the disciples would all in some way forsake Him and flee to the safety of their homes.  Though they would leave Him, He would not be alone, because the father would be with Him.  We have the same promise.

 

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ “ (Heb. 13:5)

“For He Himself is our peace.” (Eph. 2:14)

 

Therefore, our peace is not in the absence of trials, but in the perpetual presence of our Lord and Savior.  As believers, we tend to paint illusions of grandeur; we have all the right responses to the struggles and vicissitudes we face.  Painting over the realities of this harsh world, we give the appearance that life is all peaches and cream; when in fact, the pressures against those who believe in Christ are a thousand times greater than those of the unbeliever.

 

At first glance, the aforementioned statements present a gloomy and dark picture and may be somewhat discouraging to those who are new in the faith; However, I believe that it is of vital importance that all Christians face the facts.

 

Fact One: We reside as aliens in a world that is under the rule and Lordship of Satan.  We are considered aliens because although we reside here, our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil. 3:20)

 

Fact Two: The world by its very nature is hostile toward Christians.  Christ declared that since the world hated him, it would hate us also.

 

Fact Three: We are dead centered in the midst of a spiritual warfare, the angelic conflict.  We are both, participants and spoils of this war.  There are spiritual forces that are constantly moving against us.

 

In summary, the Christian is constantly facing tremendous, powerful, insidious pressures, and often, the greater your capacity for service, the greater the believer can be used by God, the greater the pressure on every side — the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 

In the beginning, I stated my belief that a true state of happiness is the most difficult state for the Christian to achieve.  I did not say it was unattainable, for it is very much within the grasp of every believer.  Then why is it so difficult to achieve? It is difficult because believers have taken on the worldly view of ephemeral elation, happiness of the moment.  The celerity at which happiness enters and exits the lives of believers is astounding.  To most, happiness is circumstantial, depending on situational occurrences.  This produces instability and ineffectiveness.  God, through His infallible Word, has promised perpetual joy.  This joy is irrespective in nature; it is not dependent upon external circumstances; it does not dwarf in the face of adversity and it burgeons in response to the development of our relationship with Christ.  This joy is closely related to the peace God has promised.  They are always found in close proximity to each other.  Our joy and peace are produced through constant abiding in Jesus Christ.  So allow me to reiterate this truth: Joy and peace are not produced through the circumvention of life’s storms, but are perpetually present despite them.

 

When your mind is fixed on Jesus; when your heart is settled in love, there is no storm, no disappointment; no heartache that can rob you of your joy and peace, even in the midst of the storm.  We are forever coalesced to the Prince of Peace.  “For He Himself is our peace.(Eph 2:14)  The Greek “eirene” (eye-ray-nay) carries the meaning of state of rest, quietness, calmness, an absence of strife, and tranquility.  It also carries a connotation of “being united with” as well as “to bring an end to hostility”.  So in essence, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7) is the culmination of “being united with Christ” whereas he “brings an end to hostility”, thereby creating a “state of rest” in which there is “an absence of strife” and a sense of “calmness” and “tranquility”.

 

 

This union with Christ is birthed through the channel of faith.  God wants to provide a place of rest, but it has to be obtained through the promises of His Word, received by faith.  Let us take a look at Hebrew 4:1,2:

 

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it, For indeed the Gospel was preached to us a well as to them; but the Word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

 

 

The first thing we notice here is the conjunctive adverb “therefore”.  This word indicates that there is a preceding clause as well as a subsequent clause.  The subsequent clause is easily identified as it immediately follows the conjunctive adverb, but where is the preceding clause?  The answer is: In the previous chapter.  The original text of the Bible was not separated into chapters or numbered in verse.  This was done later as a means of reference.  So we will have to look beyond the confines of these numbered boundaries.  The preceding clause that completes this statement is found in Chapter 3, verse 19, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

 

In Chapter 3, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that the first generation of recently freed Israelites failed to reach the peace, tranquility, and abundance of the promise land.  The writer quotes a passage from Ps. 95:7-11 that reinforces the cause of this failure to reach the promised place of rest.

 

In Chapter 4 he jumps from the past to the present and exhorts or admonishes the readers not to fall short of the promised rest.

 

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as them; the Word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with “faith” in those who heard it.” (Heb. 4:2)

 

Here lies the very thing that separates those who are able to attain true peace and happiness and those who are not —faith!  They received the promise just as we have, but it did not profit them.  They had the promise, but did not stand on it.  We have thousands upon thousands of promises in the Bible.  It has been estimated that there are in excess of 33,000 promises and of these, over 7,000 promises that God will have a direct and positive impact on those who will trust and believe in Him.

 

The problem with the Israelites in the wilderness was the spiritual ineptitude, the inability to see past their circumstances and trust God to perform that which he had promised.  They received the promise, but it was not encapsulated by faith.  Faith not only empowers, but it protects the promise.  Faith guards against anxiety, doubt, despair, impatience, and fear.

 

We have to face the fact that as Christians, we are going to be tested; we are going to endure trials and tribulations; we will be battered by the storms of the suffering and compounded by the vicissitudes of life; however; God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.  God is saying, “You believed enough to trust Me with salvation, trust Me to provide you with that peace that transcends all understanding.  Trust Me to provide you with that happiness that is inexpressible.  Trust Me to anoint you with the power to fulfill your destiny.”  He is standing before you telling you that His grace is sufficient for you.

 

God has bequeathed us His infallible Word, we only need to take hold of the promises that are before us.

 

When we are able to grasp the understanding that the absence of trials and storms in our lives is not indicative of the potential for joy, peace, and fullness, but rather, our joy, peace and happiness is afforded and sustained despite the presence of life’s trials, we are then able to enter that rest.  We will be able to “count it all joy”.  We will be able to enter into our divine purpose with an unbridled pertinacity, overcoming every trial by faith.

 

As the burdens of this tedious life press us down and drain us of our strength, we can rest in the calm assurance that God’s grace is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in weakness.  We will be able to withstand the nefarious attacks of Satan while resting under the shadow of the almighty.

 

The Israelites in the wilderness could not enter the rest of the Promised Land because they did not receive the promises of God with faith.  So then faith is a prerequisite for peace, and we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17)

 

It is time to uncover the secrets of God’s Word.  It is time to uncover the secret that says: “If I delight myself in the Lord, he will give me the desires of my heart.”

It is time to uncover the secret that says: “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread.”

It is time to uncover that secret that says: “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think.”

That secret that says: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

That secret that says: If I “wait on the Lord and be of good coverage, He will strengthen my heart.”

I’m talking about joy inducing secrets.

The secret that says: “He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”

That secret that says: “When my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take care of me.”

That secret that says: “No weapon formed against me, shall prosper.”

I’m talking about shackle loosing secrets.

The secret that says: “My defense is of God who saves the upright in heart.”

The secret that says: “Fear not for I am with you.”

The secret that says: “At my first defense, no one stood with me, but God stood with me, and strengthened me.”

The secret that says: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds.”

I invite you to do as I do.  When darkness falls on my life, I call out the name of the Lord.  I can call Him any time of the day.  I will call Him in my moments of weakness.  I will call Him and tell Him about my troubles.  When I call Him, I can say, “Father, I stretch my hands to thee, no other help I know, if thou withdraw thine self from me, where else shall I go.”  I can say, “Precious Lord take my hand lead me on and let me stand.”  I can say, “Guide me over Great Jehovah, a pilgrim through this barren land.  I am weak but thou art mighty hold me with though powerful hand.”  I can say as the Psalmist, “Restore in me the joy of your salvation.

 

I can call Him down in the midst of the storm.  When I call Him, I say, “Lord, I need healing” or can simply speak those two worded prayers: hold me; keep me; protect me; bless me; shelter me; guide me.  No matter what happens I know when I call Him, He answers.  I invite you to join me in this place of rest.

 

May God bless, keep, and prosper you, even as your soul prospers!

 

Sincerely,

Bishop Rick Wallace

 

 

 

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