Wednesday, August 23, 2017

First of All

Let's see if we can get 1 Timothy 2:1 down pat.

Does Paul exhort Timothy----

First of all make sure that you're at the right...
Church of God or Baptist Church, Christian Church, Catholic Diocese, etc, etc.

First of all make sure that you are preaching the right doctrine.

First of all make sure that your pastor has the proper credentials. After all God sure can't move if your pastor doesn't have an appropriate degree.

First of all make sure that your worship team turns up their instruments so loud that it rattles the windows and the ladies' glass necklaces and ear rings.

First of all make sure that the worship team sings the latest and greatest praise music and their singers imitate the hottest pop singers.

First of all make sure that you divide up into cell groups because that's the latest craze.

First of all make sure that everybody dresses up in suits and fancy dresses.

First of all make sure that everybody dresses down in shorts, baseball caps and flip flops.

First of all have church in the weirdest places like theaters, parks and storefronts.

I trust you know that Paul said none of those things to Timothy. However, to the vast majority of churches these things have the highest priority above the real 'first' thing. That is the reason we are seeing so much turmoil in our land as well as around the world. 

Churches are fighting and breaking up because their congregations, their pastors and their leaders insist on being the 'social event' of the area. People run from church to church trying to find out where they fit in. Or, they keep looking for 'THE CHURCH'.

Paul instructed Timothy in the CORRECT 'first thing'. He said that first of all, instruct the people to pray every way that you can for ALL MEN. Then he gets specific. Pray for the kings and all of those in authority. The reason this is the 'first thing' was so that we could lead a quiet and peaceable life on this earth. If that concept wasn't possible, the Holy Spirit would have never encouraged Paul to write it.

The fact that America is torn apart by different 'hate' groups is irrefutable evidence that the body of Christ is in a backslidden shape. It's not just the recent acts in Charlottesville. It's been going on and getting worse and worse.

Don't even think about blaming President Trump and the Republicans. He inherited a powder keg from Obama and the Democrats. (I hope I've made a whole lot of people mad.) BUT THEN, I can turn back around and say that the reason he inherited these problems is because those that say they believe in God really, really, really don't.

I'm going to go another step further and say something else disparaging to 95% of Christianity. In a sense, the 'so called' body of believers have broken the very first commandment. They have put another gods before the True and Living God. They put the god of complacency, the god of the social club, the god of 'everybody goes there', the god of 'ain't the music great there' and the god of 'I don't have to answer God's call on my life' before God.

The original group that received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts didn't try every trick in the book to try to fit in. They blatantly pointed the finger of the Holy Ghost and told the priests that they were the ones who crucified Jesus who God raised the dead. They didn't mince words. They didn't try to placate. 

As a matter of fact, the Jewish religious community complained about them that they were trying to turn Jerusalem upside down. But they weren't. They were actually turning the people right side up.

Why did they want to stir up trouble? First of all, they weren't. They were trying to point people to a relationship with Jesus Christ. They got the Holy Ghost gumption from spending so much time in prayer. That's why they appointed the first deacons in the church. To them it was absolutely important that they give themselves over to prayer. Prayer was the 'first' order of business and it was the driving force of the early church.

Apostle Paul with Barnabas and Silas didn't go from place to place because they were trying to get people to join a club. No, they would go into a place all prayed up. Then they would pray for the sick and cast out devils. 

You wanna start a church? That's the way you do it. Get charged up by being one-on-one with the Presence of God until you can feel His Unction commanding you to pray for the sick and cast out devils.

Here's the way that an elder should get up and make the Sunday morning announcements. "Ok, folks, don't forget that Monday and Thursday nights we'll be meeting in various rooms at the church for prayer. The sanctuary will be devoted to prayer for the lost. The prayer warriors that want to intercede for our president will be meeting in the choir room. Those that want to intercede for our military and our police officers will be meeting in rooms 101 and 205. And those of you that want to focus on revival for the church, just gather outside on the church grounds and feel free to walk around and pray."

And that's the type of church that I am praying God will raise up here in Savannah, Georgia. A no-nonsense, get down to business, devil chasing, body healing, deliverance demanding group of Holy Ghost filled believers that are smart enough to put first things first.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Let's Be A Reactionary Revolutionary Force for Jesus

Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and all the other news agencies have mixed reviews on what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Each individual news agency had their own view as to which hate group was to blame for it all. And, in my humble but extremely knowledgeable opinion, I believe they were all WRONG!

In John 10:10, Jesus reported on those events nearly 2000 years ago. And I quote from the NIV, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. The thief that Jesus mentioned is none other that satan, the arch enemy of God and all of those that would be Godly.

Satan got kicked out of Heaven because of his own pride and he has been taking his anger out on mankind ever since. Jesus, also, pointed out to the ungodly religious leaders of His day in John 8:44--NIV--You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. To borrow and old farming term, Jesus was shucking the corn right down to the cob, wasn't He?

It is plain to see that the driving force behind the Charlottesville disaster, as well as the rioting and terrorist activities around the globe can be tied to one thing. And that one thing is satanically inspired and inflamed hatred. Every one of those groups are fueled by their hatred for the other groups. That hatred boils over into killing and destroying. 

I don't see it any other way. There's no way to whitewash any of the groups that go around seeking to destroy human life and property. Absolutely none of the groups have any desire to build up mankind. Every one of them wants to destroy. According to Jesus, that is an attribute of satan.

Let's look for a minute at a scene in Jesus' life. Mark 5 tells of his encounter with a demon possessed man. Instead of running away and hiding, this man actually ran to Jesus. He yelled at Jesus not to torment him. We all know that Jesus never came to torment. He came to heal. So, what was up with that?

If you read further in that account, you will find that it was demons inside of the man that forced him to say those things. Those demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God and asked Him not to torment them.

How did the demons know that He was the Son of God? The answer is simple. Ever since Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit lived inside of Him. The Holy Spirit was the Creative Force of everything that there is. The Holy Spirit was the Creative Force that brought those fallen angels into being in the first place. Those demons were spirits just like the Presence of God inside of Jesus was Spirit. They recognized their Creator inside of Jesus. More than that, they recognized their conqueror and destroyer, also. 

This demon filled man was so mean that no man could bind him. If they bound him with chains, he would break the chains. He ran around naked in the tombs and yelled and screamed. Sounds like a lot of those hate groups, doesn't it.

I hope you understand what I just wrote. If not, let me say it again. Those demon spirit forces that were destroying that man's life and stole his freedom, love and sanity recognized the Creator God that lived inside of Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit. The disciples could not physically see the Holy Spirit. Jesus' mother couldn't see the Holy Spirit. The religious rulers of His day certainly couldn't see the Holy Spirit. Yet, the demonic forces of darkness not only recognized the Presence of the Almighty in Jesus, they, also, ran to Him and begged for mercy.

We Christians need to realize this. We need to realize that there was not a special Holy Spirit for Jesus and a separate and extremely weaker Holy Spirit for all of the others that would believe on the Name of the Lord. Romans 8:11 says that we are filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.

Our problem is that we depend on these news agencies to tell us what's going on and how we are powerless to deal with the situations. I used to and you probably still do sit for hours while they pour all of this anti-God information and there's nothing we can do garbage into our heads. That's why I give Fox News on the internet about a brief two minute scan. I prefer to get into the Presence of the Father and let Him fill me in on ALL THE BEHIND THE SCENES NEWS. 

According to Jesus, those things that steal, kill and destroy comes from the devil. AND, according to Jesus in Luke 10:19, He GAVE US POWER OVER ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY. What if we paid more attention to the power of the Holy Spirit within us than watching the power of the devil in action? What if we stayed in His Presence enough to get some of the Holy Spirit's news flashes? What if we exercised our spirit man in the power that God has placed inside of us?

Here's the icing on the cake. What if we reacted to things the way that Jesus did? When this demon possessed guy came running up to Him, Jesus never flinched. As a matter of fact, if you read the whole story, the ONLY reason Jesus went across that lake in the first place was to cast out those demons. As soon as the job was accomplished, He got back in the boat and headed toward the other side.

Jesus did not hide from the problem at hand. He knew He had a greater power within Him that any problem that He would ever face. And that included the cross eventually. He never backed down from someone dying. He never backed down from someone with leprosy. He never backed down on a lack of food for the 5,000 and then for the 4,000. He never backed down on being arrested and crucified because He knew it was the only way to get to the resurrection.

Jesus told us we would have tribulations. He also told us to cheer up because He overcame those tribulations for us. His death on the cross and resurrection bought the power for us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) over anything we face.

SO! I say that we become a reactionary revolutionary force for Jesus. Let's pay more attention to who the Word of God and the Holy Spirit says we are than what any news agency or backslidden preachers tell us we aren't. Let's spend more time in His Presence and get better acquainted with this Creative Force so we can appropriately deal with these situations.

Jesus gave us authority over all the satanic powers that are pushing every single one of these hate groups around this world. Seeing the destruction and killing going on around us is actually the devil telling us how weak and cowardly we are. No where in the Word of God does it tell us that we have to bow down to the devil. 

Here's our marching orders. 1 John 3:8--KJV--For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Jesus did not come to build big and powerless churches. He did not come to establish a super denomination. He came (Luke 19:10) to seek and to save that which was lost. 

Tank up. Find the enemy and destroy him through the power of prayer. Begin and don't stop binding the powers of hell that control our neighborhoods, cities and countries with hatred and violence. And the FORCE will be with you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I Don't Have To See It To Know That I Have It

Hebrews 11:1--KJV--Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We've already talked about faith and our happy anticipation of good. Now let's delve into faith being the evidence of things not seen.

Let me remind you that Romans 4:17 bluntly tells us that God calls those things that be not (future blessings) as though they were. Remember, His promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:5 was--"I have made you the father of many nations." God talked about something many, many, many, many years in the future as if it was already accomplished. And to God, it really was. According to Isaiah 55:11, any Word that God uttered was a creative Word. 

There is a time element in every Promise of God. If it didn't manifest exactly the moment it was spoken, then God obviously had a particular time for it to manifest. King David wrote about it in Psalms 31:15--My times are in Thy hand. His son, Solomon wrote about it in Ecclesiastes 3:1--To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. 

Isn't it strange that Solomon used the word 'purpose' in that verse? No it's not. Because Isaiah 55:11 God specifically says that there is a purpose for every Promise He made. And God's purpose for His promise comes with a time element.

Jesus, Himself, was cognizant of God's time table. There were some things that Jesus KNEW when, where and why they were going to happen. However, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, one of the lines Jesus taught them was "Thy kingdom come,Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in Heaven." In other words, Jesus taught them that there were some things that God was going to do that He didn't intend on telling ANYBODY about. Jesus was saying, "Do what You need to do when you need to do it and I'll be Ok."

God IS sovereign. He always has been and He always will be. There are some things that He doesn't need our cooperation or foreknowledge to get accomplished. And we have to be Ok with that. That's why it's called faith.

The point is, even if we don't know the exact time and place, we can still believe, rejoice in and expect God to do exactly as He promised in His Word. Little hitty-bumps in our life don't mean that God is NOT going to keep His Word. Now, He might have a different way of doing it or a particular time to do it but the bottom line is.....God IS going to keep His Word.

You don't have to see it to know that you have it. There was no reason in the world for Abraham to actually believe that he and Sarah would have a child EXCEPT for the fact that God said so. It certainly didn't look like it would ever happen. Their bodies certainly were proof that God's Word was coming to pass. However, Abraham learned to believe God no matter what it looked like.

It certainly didn't look like the children of Israel could conquer the city of Jericho with it's massive double walls built around it. But God had a plan. The Hebrews followed God's plan and acted like conquerors and God did what He said He was going to do.

It certainly didn't look like it was ever going to flood. However, Noah knew God well enough to know that he had better get his kids in high gear and build an Ark.

What if your spouse, your friends or you boss don't believe God's Word for you? God doesn't pay any attention to what somebody else believes when it comes to answering prayer for you. All He wants to know is, do you believe it. As long as you believe it, then He'll bring it to pass. 

You have every right to believe it and expect it to come to pass. Faith in God is your title deed to the answered prayer. As long as you have faith in God's Word, you OWN the promise of God. Your blessing doesn't belong to anybody else.  What somebody else thinks about you doesn't carry any weight with God. God is looking at YOUR faith to bring His Word to pass. AND, there is no one of the face of this earth that can stop God from doing it, either.

Oh, God is God over your spouse. Your spouse exists because of the mercy of the Lord just like we all do. If God can change Saul of Tarsus' mind and change Saul's way of thinking and acting, then your spouse is a piece of cake. Go ahead and shout about that. Tell your spouse I said you could.

God doesn't need your job to supply your needs. Philippians 4:13 says that God will supply your needs according to HIS riches in glory and not you boss's whim. By the way, He controls you boss, too.

Time and 'it doesn't look like' are the two biggest killers of our faith or our happy anticipation of good. Just because He hasn't done it yet doesn't mean He's not going to. Just because it doesn't look like there is any way under the sun it could ever happen doesn't mean that God won't cross every barrier just to keep His Word like He said He would. Just like Jesus did, we have to be willing to say, "Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done." Give God's Word the space to organize and manifest itself in any way God determines that it should.

Do you want to solidify your faith? Then, let your faith be the evidence of what you don't see at the moment. Acknowledge to God that He has the right to fulfill His promise any way that He sees fit. Then begin declaring God's Promises as if they were already manifested.

For example: My needs ARE met according to God's riches in glory. It IS good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over that men give to me. God HAS opened the windows of Heaven and poured me out a blessing that I don't have room enough to receive. My children ARE saved and serving God as hard as they can. I DO have power over the devil and no weapon formed against me can prosper.

The more you confess your confidence in God's Word, the more His Promises will become real. You have already confessed your lack and doubted God's Word until you're in the mess you're in right now. You have thought so much about what you don't have and how you can't do it until the stronghold of doubt and fear have taken over you mind. 

Paul said if you change the way you think, you can change the outcome of your life. Romans 12:2. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Control your thoughts and don't allow your heart to be troubled. Rejoice in the Lord, meditate in the answer and spend some private time with God. The more you are in His Presence, the more your heart will be assured that His Word will come to pass.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Happy Anticipation of Good

Hebrews 11:1--KJV--Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I want to zero in on one word for this blog. That word is 'hope'.

A lot of times we use the word 'hope' when we want to say I sure wish this or that would happen. Or, maybe it will. Or, it sure would be good of this would really, really happen.

Webster's Dictionary gives this definition--to desire with the expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. Another definition is--the happy anticipation of good. I like the last one better. It's shorter and makes more sense for simple folks like me.

What it is NOT is the old nursery rhyme. Star light, star bright. First star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might that I might have my wish tonight.

So let's correct our thinking to let it line up with what the Word of God is really saying here. Let's see how Hebrews 11:1 sounds with one of those definitions in it. "Faith is the substance of those things that I have a happy anticipation of good for." The word 'might' is not in there. The words 'I wish' are not in there. The idea is that faith in God's Promises brings about an excitement for a prayer that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt will be answered. We don't know when. We just know that is will be.

Yes, we do receive answers by faith and not by feelings. However, real faith will produce happy thoughts and relaxed and happy feelings down inside of us. Faith never allows our hearts to be troubled. (John 14:1) It stirs our heart to be happy.

For example, we go to buy a car. We don't know which one we'll get right at the moment but we are definitely going to get one. This is where we begin to 'hope.'

Here's our thought process. We start thinking about how great it will be not to hear that horrid rattling sound every time we hit a bump. We think of how great it will be to be able to roll up the windows without having to pull it half way back up. We think of the prestige we'll have of driving a single colored car.

What was your thought process before you went out on that first date? How about when you decided to pop the question? How about planning for the wedding? What about the anticipation of that first child?

Your thoughts about these things--that are yet to come to pass--were always good and they were happy thoughts. They were the happy anticipation of the good and not the sad anticipation of the bad.

When we pray, we ought to have the same thought pattern in mind. Did God promise us? Does He ever back down on His Word? Does He love to give His children good gifts? Did Jesus say that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly? All the answers to these questions are, 'yes'.

We have every reason in the world to walk around with the happy anticipation of our prayers being answered. Instead, we almost have this kind of hit and miss attitude toward prayer. Maybe He will and maybe He won't.

Picture yourself in the middle of that answered prayer. Why not? That's what you do when you say that you're going to Heaven. With joy and gladness you talk about seeing Jesus and all your relatives. You talk about the streets of gold, walls of jasper and gates of pearl. You talk about the thousands of years of joy you're going to have.

How about the rapture? You don't know how we're going to lift up off of this earth, but you get happy about it. You don't know where we'll float off to, but you sing and shout about it.

Same God. Same promises. If you can get happy about one of His promises, why can't you get happy and anticipate all of the other promises? When you first got saved, you re-trained your thinking to include going to Heaven and going in the rapture.

The Apostle Paul said that we are transformed by changing the way we think. We've used that process over and over all throughout our lives to change our circumstances. You never dated someone until you had some happy thoughts about it for a while. You never married someone until you had some happy thoughts about it for a while. You never bought a car until you had some happy thoughts about it for a while. All of the good things that you started doing, you started doing them because you had a bunch of happy thoughts about it for a while. Then you couldn't pull yourself away from the decision.

I have to challenge myself about my faith life. When I catch myself getting the mully-grubs I start reminding myself of several things. I remind myself of what God's Word says about a certain thing. I remind myself that God's Word is God's will for me. I remind myself that I've already prayed and I believe that I receive what I have asked for in His Name. Then I start picturing myself as already having what God said I could have.

Last scripture for this blog. Mark 11:24--KJV--Therefore, I say unto you, Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. You have Jesus' description of answered prayer. Believe that you have received it already. Get the happy anticipation of good about it. In the last phrase, Jesus says that you SHALL (future tense) have them. 

This Fight is Fixed

In 1978, Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali on points and became the heavyweight boxing champion. Of course, Muhammad Ali had a rematch and regained the championship. That made him the only boxer to win the championship three times. A lot of people said that Muhammad Ali lost the fight on purpose. I don't know.

There have been many boxing matches that people say were fixed, and maybe they were. There was the infamous Chicago Black Sox baseball scandal of the 1919 World Series. There have been many times in professional football, basketball and hockey that it looked like the 'fix' was in. And I hope that we all know that Roller Derby and Professional Wrestling are definitely fixed. They are more of an entertainment medium than a real sports commodity.

But, can we same the same thing about God? Can't we say that the fight was fixed before it ever began? Let's take a look at the facts and make a decision.

Every born again Christian should say along with Isaiah 55:11 that whatever God says comes to pass. And, every Word of God comes to pass NO MATTER who is against it. And, we could say that anyone who is against God's Word coming to pass is in jeopardy of incurring God's wrath.

God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. King Abimelech thought he could just take Sarah for his own wife. Abraham didn't stand up for the truth but God surely did. He got into Abimelech's dream and read him the riot act. God had also closed up the wombs of Abimelech's wives and his female slaves. Look, when God says something, He means business. The fight was fixed.

God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Pharaoh refused to believe God and did everything in the world to aggravate God's people. However, God kept His word to Abraham. The children of Egypt came out of 400 years of bondage with more wealth than you can imagine just like God said they would. Pharaoh and his mighty army were destroyed by God's mighty hand. The fight was fixed.

The king of Syria had the prophet Elisha surrounded one day. Elisha's servant got upset. Elisha told him that there were more FOR him than there was against him. He prayed that his servant's eyes would be open and his servant saw the hills come alive with chariots of fire that were ready to ride in Elisha's defense. The fight was fixed.

As I have previously mentioned, the inhabitants of Nazareth thought they would throw Jesus off of a cliff. Jesus knew He was supposed to die on a cross so he calmly walked through the midst of them. The fight was fixed.

Herod thought he would behead Peter. People prayed. An angel brought Peter out. A little while later on, Herod fell over dead in front of everybody. His insides had been eaten up with worms. The fight was fixed.

Paul was stoned at Lystra and beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. Paul refused to allow his heart to be troubled. God had a master plan for him and he was going to follow it. The fight was fixed.

Paul tells us in Romans 4:17 that God calls those things that be not as if they had already existed. What He has promised us in His Word has already been set before us in the future. We need to get our hearts to rejoice and live each day expecting to see God's Hand come alive.

Here lately, we see disturbing news more and more. Riots, killings, hatred, wars and rumors of war blast out of our news room almost on an hourly basis. However, there is no gang, no army, no dictator, no world power or any person that can stop God from doing what pleases Him. The fight is fixed.

My needs are met according to God's riches in glory. By the stripes of Jesus Christ we are healed. God promised to save my household if I would believe Him. I don't need to be troubled about these things. The fight is fixed.

When attacks and disappointments come I need to praise Him. No matter if I am sick or healed. I need to praise Him. No matter who doesn't believe me. I need to praise Him. No matter if it doesn't look like it. I need to praise Him. Why? Because the fight is fixed. When God promised something, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is well able to bring His Word to pass without my help. Praise God, the fight is fixed and the child of God has been declared the winner no matter what it looks like. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thank God For Your Enemies

Why should we thank God for our enemies?  If you've been attacked or are under attack right now, then it's probably because God allowed the devil to do it. In Job the first chapter, God called out to the devil and asked him if he had watching His servant Job. Then God carried on a little bit about how good Job was.

The devil made a correct statement when he whined that God had put a hedge around Job. Now pay attention to this. At first, the devil suggested that God put His hand against Job and everything he had. The devil assured God that Job would curse Him to His face.

Before we examine what happened next, let's take a look at this piece of information from the Apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 10:13--KJV--There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God looked at satan's request, looked at His servant Job's character and told the devil to have at it. God's faith was in Job. He knew Job inside and out. He knows you inside and out. He knows your strong points and your weak points. He knows what makes you happy and what gets your goat. So when junk starts coming your way, you should rejoice and not feel like everyone's picking on you. God is actually bragging on you. 

Look at another scripture. In Egypt, after Jacob died, Joseph's eleven brothers were absolutely positive that Joseph was going to take out some kind of revenge on them after the despicable way they had treated him years and years ago. However, take a look at Joseph's response in Genesis 50:20--KJV--But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 

Here's the Authorized Henry Version (AHV). You thought you were going to be really smart and do something against me because Daddy showed me more attention than he did you. I couldn't help what Daddy did. I couldn't tell him NOT to love me. I couldn't tell him NOT to give me that coat of many colors. But, one thing I learned from Daddy by being around him so much was how to trust God no matter what. Why did Great-Grandpa Abraham have to wait so long to have a child? I don't know. God had a plan. Why did Grandpa Isaac have to stay put in the middle of a famine? I don't know. God had a plan. Why did Daddy have to run away from home? I don't know. But God had a plan. Why did y'all have to sell me as a slave? I don't know. But I remember Daddy saying that God told Great-Grandpa Abraham that we would be in Egypt for 400 years for our own well-being and I just figured this was the way God had of doing it. You meant to hurt me and get rid of me, but God meant to keep the family together and protect us.

All of us have been through some extremely hurtful times. Some of us carry wounds and scars that seem like they will never heal and maybe they never will. However, we have a choice to make. Is this going to crush us and hinder us? Or, are we going to allow God to use this hurtful experience to make us into what He envisions us to be? 

Here's what the writer of Hebrews teaches us in chapter 12, verse 2--KJV--Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus went through a whole boat load of crapola, too. However, He did not let it get Him down. He kept His eyes on the joy of the resurrection and chose NOT to focus on the things He went through. He chose not to think about how people treated Him and hated Him. Rather, He chose to keep His thought pattern set on what God's Word promised Him.

Whenever His brothers ridiculed Him in front of everybody, He thought, "Yeah, but one day I'll open a blood-gate that all who want to can come into fellowship with My Father." When the townspeople wanted to kill Him, He thought the same thing. When the chief priests and scribes argued with Him, He walked away with joy in His heart and a smile on His lips because His Father would ultimately prove Him right. He WAS the Son of God. He WOULD rise again. So, let them say and do whatever they want. The Truth, God's Word was what was going to come to pass and not what anyone else thought to the contrary.

So, when you come under attack by your spouse, would-be friends or co-workers you need to lift up a praise of thanksgiving to God.  God, via the devil and these aforementioned cohorts of his, have provided you with an absolute assurance that God definitely has something good planned for you. Your attackers and detractors are positive proof that God is working on your behalf. Remember, just like Job, God's done some bragging on you to the devil. And, just like Job, Joseph and Jesus Christ, you will be blessed greater than you can imagine as you stand firm on the Word of God.

Change Your Reaction and Change Your Direction

I can remember sitting down at night and watching four hours of Fox News on TV. Every commentator reported the same bad news of the day. Each one had a different spin on the horrible news of the day. It was like looking a pile of dog doo-doo from different angles. Nobody changed the outcome. Nobody found anything good anywhere. Guess what? I stopped watching Fox News on TV.

But to soothe my....whatever, I started reading Fox News on the internet. Meticulously I would click on each headline to read a story. I got tired of that for the same reason. They and all the other news sources pride themselves on presenting their own version of the awful side of life.Now, I'll click it on, read the headlines and determine that there is nothing I really want to read. Then I click on Tim Tebow, Gators Football or SEC news. Man do I feel better.

The fact is bad news happens every day. You don't have to be a bad guy to have bad things happen to you. The people that have hurt me the most are people that I originally placed a lot of love and hope in. Somewhere down the line, that wonderful relationship turned into Fox News. Something bad was on every channel.

The plain fact is, bad stuff happens to good people. As long as you're alive on this planet earth it's always going to happen that way. There's no way around it.

Jesus said the same thing in John 16:33--KJV--These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Take a look at what the Apostle Paul said--KJV--1 Thessalonians 5:18--In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

And, --KJV--Philippians 4:4--Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

These three scriptures are talking about all the bad news you see on Fox, CNN and all the other news networks. They are talking about all the bad stuff that has happened to you so far, the bad things you know are about to happen and the bad things that you don't see coming. Jesus said it and Paul reiterates it. Bad stuff is going to happen to good people whether they want it or not and whether they deserve it or not. Then what's up with the happy and cheerful?

Here's a few more to think about. Jesus said to cheer up when things look bad because He has already overcome the world. Your problems past, present and future have already been taken care of by the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul said in Romans 8:28--KJV-And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God. Bad stuff ain't good when it happens but Jesus has overcome that bad through His blood and promised to work that bad into something good.

Take the children of Israel who were in Egyptian bondage for 400 years. Yeah, that's bad. And it hurt. And they didn't have much to live for being slaves and treated like the scum of the earth. However, God had spoken to Abraham 400 years previously, told him of their slavery AND told him about their great deliverance.

Now we know the end of the story. We can shout because God delivered them with a mighty hand just like He said He would. AND, He brought them out of bondage richer than they ever dreamed they could be. Why? Because God said so, that's why. When God says something, He does it. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God's Word would not return to Him void but that it would accomplish whatever it was that He wanted to accomplish.

Yes, Abraham had to wait 25 years for God to redeem His promise, but he got it. Yes, the Hebrew children had to go through a bunch of embarrassing, disgusting labor and toil. BUT God rewarded them for it. That was His intention all the time. 

Yes, Paul and Silas were embarrassed and hurt when they were beaten and thrown into the Philippian jail. All they did was preach the gospel, heal the sick and cast out devils. You would have thought that the townspeople would have been grateful to have the crippled walk, the blind to see and criminals straighten up and steal and kill no more. 

But, Paul didn't see the jail as a stopping or a forever point. He had studied the Word of God all of his life. He knew that God was the God of "IT ONLY LOOKS LIKE". He knew that it only looked like God's people would be slaves and would never inherit a land like He promised. It only looked like the walls of Jericho were too thick to conquer.  It only looked like Goliath and the Philistines would win the day. It only looked like the fiery furnace was going to take the lives of the three Hebrew children. And on, and on, and on. It only LOOKED LIKE things were bad right then.

Paul had given God control over every aspect of his life. As he trusted God, Paul saw the beatings and the jail as a God-opportunity to declare His powerful hand. You know the story. Paul and Silas prayed, sang and rejoiced in the darkest part of that jail. That's what man did to try to stop Paul, Silas and the hand of God. God found a rejoicing praiser in the middle of that jail. That's when God decided to step in and honor His rejoicing servant.

Paul and Silas believed that all things were going to WORK together for their good. Instead of moaning and begrudging these circumstances that they never imagined would come their way, they began to praise God for whatever God was working out for them. They had no idea that there would be an earthquake. They had no idea if someone was going to bail them out. They kept their faith line and their praise line open for whatever God had up His sleeve.

Back to what Jesus said in John 14:1. He told everybody, "Don't allow your heart to be troubled." Ok, if I'm not supposed to allow my heart to be troubled then I can presume that I am supposed to do something about getting my heart to be happy and rejoice. 

The things we go THROUGH sometimes aren't anything we can praise Him about. BUT, we can praise Him for working something good out of all that we are going through. God knows that taking us THROUGH some rough times will strengthen our character and will ultimately bring us into a greater awareness of His grace, His mercy and His awesome power.

So, we can say that without a doubt, the ugly junk that we are going through is a plan of God for our lives, Jeremiah 29:11. Through all of this doo-doo God had planned something GOOD for us and not something bad. The object is to praise and rejoice in Him in the very middle of rough and ungodly circumstances.

Here's what I have learned to do instead of moaning and groaning about my situation. I have learned, like the Apostle Paul showed us, to be grateful FOR the circumstance. Be grateful for that hateful spouse, friend or boss. Why? Because God is using their abuse to take you to your promotion. He's taking you somewhere good while he's gonna deal with them later. Learn to allow your heart to rejoice instead of being troubled. In everything that happens to you give thanks because it is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus. 

There's a master plan for you that God is working out for you right now whether it looks like it or not. Kick your heart into praising mode and watch what He's going to do for you. Don't be discouraged. Your rugged trail will be much shorter and more enjoyable when you praise Him through it all.

First of All

Let's see if we can get 1 Timothy 2:1 down pat. Does Paul exhort Timothy---- First of all make sure that you're at the right... ...