Morning bread

Proverbs 20:13 Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.

When I first got saved 24 years ago, nobody had to tell me to get up early to pray and seek the Lord. The Spirit of God had taken up residence in me and I was excited to wake up early to spend time with Jesus.

Over the last few years as situations and schedules have changed, I had fallen into the habit of moving my quiet time to the evening and began sleeping in a bit more, even to the point of jumping out of bed with barely enough time to get ready for work. I thank God that He won’t leave us in these spiritually unhealthy habits that lead to poverty of soul without prompting us to move in the right direction. I’ve been disciplining myself back into the habit of waking up early and I have honestly found it to be sooooo beneficial. I can’t believe that I had ever stopped doing this. Mornings with Jesus make the rest of the day so much sweeter. He satisfies me with the bread of life.

What about you? Do you have a consistent morning time with the Lord or do you struggle in this area?

Pour your rain

Ecclesiastes 11:3a If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth

So many things in creation demonstrate the wisdom of God. The clouds, heavy with rain, release their wet contents on the earth below, providing what is needed for man, animals and plants. The clouds play an important part in the well being of creation. Their emptying is the blessing of us all. When they refuse to release their rain, the earth suffers. Plants die. Crops fail. Wild animals suffer thirst.

Believer, you are a spiritual cloud. Droplets of revelation and blessing are accumulating in your life as you walk with God, making you heavy with the glory of God. If you refuse to release your holy contents, the world suffers.

If you are full, it’s time to empty out. Pour your rain everywhere you go and let God use it for the refreshing of those around you.

Fill ‘er up

A few days ago I stopped at a gas station to fill up my gas tank. As I was standing there I realized that underneath the ground that I was standing on were underground storage tanks filled with a highly flammable and explosive substance. There may have been tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline right underneath my feet. I can honestly say that in all the years I have been putting gas in my car I’ve never really thought about that.

The gasoline is there but unseen; underneath the surface and only accessible by means of a delivery system – the gas pump. The benefits of the gasoline are merely potential until I pull it up into my car by means of the pump.

Faith is the delivery system of God. All His promises, His provision, His Presence are accessed by faith. All these things (and more) are right at our fingertips in the unseen world, but if we do not access them by mean of the delivery system of faith, we will sputter through life on fumes.

Don’t live on empty for another moment. Take hold of what God has provided and by faith let it become your reality.

It’s all fun and games until God shows up

Daniel 5:3-6 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.

Belshazzar the king was having a great feast with 1,000 in attendance. The wine was flowing freely and everyone was feeling merry. But wine has the habit of moving you from merry to foolish in a nanosecond and that’s what happened to Belshazzar. He called for the golden vessels from the temple to be brought and they continued their party, drinking their wine from God’s holy vessels. They were laughing and talking, having a good ole time…and then God showed up.

God showed up and the arrogance of the king vanished like a morning mist. All the lightness and frivolity disappeared in a moment, replaced with the sobering reality that something unexpectedly fearful was happening. That very night Babylon was overtaken by the Medes and Persians, and King Belshazzar was put to death.

King Belshazzar had no idea when he woke up that morning that it would be his last day. He continued in his blasphemous wickedness without a care, believing that he had many more days before him. But there were no more. He lived the last moments of his life mocking the God that he would soon stand before in judgment.

It’s a sobering story. It’s the same story that countless numbers of people are currently living this very day – careless of their spiritual state, not knowing that they have an unavoidable appointment with God.

If that describes you, then please stop everything you’re doing and get right with God. If you don’t know how to get right with God, leave me a comment with your email address and I’ll contact you.

The greatest tragedy of all time is that anyone would die in their sin and go to hell, when no one has to.

The two kings

Proverbs 20:8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters all evil with his eyes.

Evil scatters before this king because it is afraid of him. He has the power to punish and destroy. His gaze is fierce and frightening. You dare not approach or speak to him. He has no mercy for you. His name is religion.

But there is a King who sits upon a throne of grace. The fiery love in His eyes compels me to flee from the evil in my heart and to draw near to Him. I have a King that I can approach and speak to. He loves me with an unfailing love. His name is Jesus.

Who can resist such a King as this?

Plow without ceasing

Proverbs 20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.

Just a few weeks ago we experienced a winter storm that brought our temperature to unseasonable lows. Here in the Deep South we aren’t accustomed to or prepared for that type of weather with its ice, sleet and snow. Basically my whole state shut down for a few days and everybody stayed inside trying to keep warm.

So I have a fresh understand of why someone wouldn’t want to plow in winter. It’s a very uncomfortable time to be outside. But there are benefits to winter plowing. It’s very helpful for the elimination of weeds, disease organisms and insects. So if the farmer will push through the discomfort of the weather, he will see the removal of the things that are impairing the fruitfulness and health of his crop.

What an important lesson for us to learn.

Don’t you find that you go through seasons when you would rather be comfortable than laboring in kingdom things? Maybe your prayer life gets neglected at times. We have to admit that there are seasons of life when these things are more difficult, but that could be the exact time that the soil of our heart is being turned over and made ready for exceptional fruitfulness.

We will harvest tomorrow what we planted yesterday. A season of spiritual complacency affects future seasons. A bountiful spring isn’t likely if there has been no plowing in the winter.

Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back.

Weighed in the scales of popular opinion

Luke 20:4-7 “The baptism of John–was it from heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ “But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it was from.

Jesus asked this question of the Pharisees. It seemed simple enough – what did they believe about the ministry of John the baptism. Was it’s origin heavenly or human? But rather than answer, they reasoned. Either way they answered had consequences that they considered unacceptable. So they answered by not answering…”we don’t know”.

Their mission was accomplished. Conflict was avoided and they didn’t get on “the wrong side of history” by saying something deemed unacceptable by some group or other.

When I read this I was reminded of the Christian minister who apologized recently for a sermon he preached 17 years ago defending Biblical truths concerning marriage and homosexuality. Somebody found that sermon somewhere on the internet and challenged him over its content. I would imagine he had a few moments of weighing the possible responses and considering the issues that would be created with the various groups affected. Instead of standing firmly for the truth of God, he apologized.

For now these things are happening mostly to those who are well known public figures. But don’t think it won’t eventually trickle down to us little people. Should that day come, we must have our face set like flint to stand for Jesus, with reasonings and consideration of popular opinion not even on the table as options.

God doesn’t need us to apologize for His Word or make it more palatable for people. He meant what He said and He wants us to declare it. Some people aren’t going to like it, and that’s okay. And if they don’t like you for declaring it, that also is okay.

Denying the truth is not okay.

Circumcised by the Spirit

Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ

When Abraham entered into covenant with God, circumcision was given as the sign of the covenant. The shedding of blood, the cutting away of the flesh. For thousands of years the Jews have continued this tradition of marking themselves in their flesh as sons of the covenant.

But when Christ came, I (though a female) was circumcised with Christ. I was marked as a son of the new covenant by the tearing of the flesh and the shedding of the blood of Jesus.

My own flesh is circumcised by the work of the Holy Spirit, who takes the sword of God’s Word, and as a skillful surgeon, cuts away the flesh and all of its dead works.

At times I have though it good to provide some help to this process. It never ends well, as I find myself amputating indiscriminately, and bleeding out in horrible pain. I’m am not skilled in such a holy work. My job is to stay still and let Him operate.

Invited but not welcomed

Luke 7:36-38 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.

Jesus had already begun to incur the wrath of the Pharisees. Simon, who was a Pharisee, invited Jesus to a meal at his house. We aren’t told what his motive was, and perhaps it isn’t fair to assume that he had hostile motives, but in a time when hospitality was important, it seemed overwhelmingly unimportant to Simon on this day.

Jesus didn’t say anything about the omission, but sat down at the meal He had been invited to. He could have called Simon out for his lack of hospitality, but He didn’t. Not until Simon began (in his thoughts) calling out the hospitality of another.

This sinful woman, an uninvited and unwanted guest, humbled herself that He might be honored. Her tears, her hair, her kisses, her perfume…all at His feet. For her to do this for Him she had to go low…something nobody else in the room had been willing to do.

Simon may have invited Jesus, but this woman welcomed Him.

I sat and wept as I thought of Jesus being dishonored by Simon. And then I realized that I am Simon.

So knowledgeable. So religious. Sitting at the table with Jesus as though an equal. Just one realized that the only appropriate posture was face down.

There are far too many Simon’s among us…inviting Jesus in with no concern to make Him feel welcome.

Who I am

Daniel 6:12-13 And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Can you sense the disdain in their words – “that Daniel”. At this point Daniel had been in a position of governmental authority for somewhere around 50 years. Yet they’ve identified him not by his accomplishments, but as one of the captives from Judah. It’s true that’s where Daniel came from. But God had worked in this man’s life mightily, and he wasn’t a teenage boy from a foreign land anymore. He was a man greatly gifted and used by God to help govern the affairs of the most powerful kingdom in the world. But the enemy who was trying to destroy him was also happy to humiliate him in the process.

We’ve all got a few skeletons in the closet from our old life. Before I became a new creation I was an old wretch. But those old things don’t define me. That might be where I came from but it’s not who I am. Only one thing defines me – Christ, Who is my life.

We can’t control what people think about us or what they say about us. But if we are walking with Jesus the testimony of that life will speak louder than anyone’s words.