Genesis 1:3

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Men wouldn’t go to war without it – 

Decisions wouldn’t be finalized apart from it.

Joshua was a conquering leader who presided over millions and, unlike the rest, except Caleb, was able to enter into the promised land flowing with milk and honey.  What made him such a majestically anointed warrior with the discernment to direct himself and others into a marvelous journey?

The answer:

Lights and Perfections.

He would stand before Eleazar the priest who would inquire of the LORD for him by the judgment of the lights and perfections; at the high priest's word they would go out, and at his word they would come in (Exodus 27:21).  Joshua heard the heart of God before doing anything!  And thats what were to do!  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

The entrance of His Word brings light, and the leading of the Holy Spirit brings to perfection all you endeavor to put your hands to–oh, friendsbe people of Gods Word!  Seek first the kingdom in all things.  Your life wont unfold into some sob-story culminating in nebulous confusion.  Youll have an enviable-exciting, noteworthy, and desirable life.  Youll have a concrete certainty in all things as a result of His peace in your heart.  “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble (Psalm 119:165).  

The high priests of old would have the seer stones, one white one black. They would wear a jeweled-square patch over their hearts containing the Lights and Perfections. Tradition says they would glow to indicate the proper path to traverse when the problematic issues of life needed clarity.  We too make judgments based on the Urim and the Thummim or Lights and Perfections.  God writes His laws on our heart and on our mind as He caused the Lights and Perfections to glow with luminescence on the ephods breastplate of the high priest–anointing you with a burning heart of love that rejoices in the light of knowing the perfect direction to follow on the marvelous journey this side of heaven.

His glowing perfect peace will indicate His approval concerning the way you and I take.  In Colossians 3:15 Paul said, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”  The word for “Rule” is the original Greek word meaning to act as an umpire.  If you have God’s peace, which is an everlasting sign to our cognitive logical reasoning (Isaiah 55:12-13), then the umpire says it’s good!  If not, then as Joshua did, set out to discover the reason why through consultation and prayer with Jesus your High Priest.  God is in the business of bringing light to our uncertaintylet there be light!

Genesis 2:24

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

You leave and you cleave.  Period.

There’s nothing wrong with posting up in a house behind daddy’s domicile, but know for certain that if mommy and daddy are involved in every aspect of your marriage, you are asking for trouble and grief.  It isn’t their fault either.  Their heart is different from yours; they see things differently.  They are giving judgments based on their view of situations stemming from their own personal experiences, which are different from yours.  This isn’t psycho-babble either.  Scriptures say that each one has received a different measure of faith and each one is to walk according to how they are called; and not just how you and I are called.  God could indeed cause dissensions or opposing views between family to send everyone on different paths to do a greater work!  Though these theological tenets could be developed further, the bottom line is that it’s best to leave! That is, before God sets father against son and son against father; daughter against mother and so on (Luke 12:51-53).

Jesus expounded further upon this virtue by taking it a step further.  He said that even friends pale in comparison to the husband and wife relationship.  Single people wonder in opposition to this ideology, but it’s true.  He said, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?  But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days” (Luke 5:34-35).  Why isn’t the bridegroom there?  He is married.

Of course this is about Jesus and His soon departure from the disciples, but what is noteworthy is His illustration drawn from contemporary society’s marital pattern.  He is saying that it is already a given that when a man gets married, the friends won’t see him nearly as much because he is joined to his wife.  Now please don’t think that you can’t see friends anymore – That is heresy, but His underlining idea is that the bridegroom is caught up, ensconced, and raptured away in love.  Friends, family, and even the mother and father relationship takes a distant second place in comparison to the one that really matters most.  It’s a picture of your relationship with God.  Yes, your relationship with God even supersedes the relationship you have with your wife; with everyone.

Leaving all others and cleaving to your spouse is crucial.  You may have friends and make guest appearances to acquaintances, but God has chosen this pattern for a healthy and constructive marriage that blesses everyone – Even the outsiders.

Now, every battle axe and die hard obstinate individual who disagrees saying, “I don’t need to forsake all others, I can have deep relationships with the opposite sex, in fact some of my best friends are girls” or she says, “I am married, but some of my best friends are guys” – Usually end up unmarried.

Genesis 4:6-7 

So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

There’s only one rule in life.  Don’t sin.  -That’s all.  If you don't sin, then God will bless every aspect of your life.  Now, resisting the devil when he is relentlessly attacking is easier said than done.  I’m not talking about our common shortcomings, but our horrendous sins, our transgression.  So, here’s the formula.  If you do these things you will not sin; I mean it:

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

“Make no opportunity for the flesh to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 10:13).

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  There is no temptation that has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able and with temptation will provide a way of escape that you may bear up under it.  Therefore, flee from idolatry, I speak as to wise men; Judge for yourselves what I say” (1st Corinthians 10:12-14).

“Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation, the Spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).

“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

So there's a lot to do when you are going through temptation:  Resist-Make-Bear Up-Watch-Pray.  These verses are so real to me.  The only way you'll ever overcome sin is by doing these verses.  Our goal should be to live the rest of our lives holy and sin free.  We’ve spent enough of our past lifetime walking in darkness.  If you are experiencing a constant walk of: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control, then you are walking in the Spirit.  You will not fall.  Yet,  If you are striving, filled with hate, unloving, and disliking what you are doing, but you unhappily do it to get by, you can be sure you are in the flesh and you will soon fall. -Just love what you are doing and you will be in the Spirit; and you won’t give in to your fleshly ways.  God will keep you no matter how loud the temptation gets! For, "If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if you, by the Spirit, put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live (Romans 8:13).

Genesis 5:1

This is the book of the genealogy of Adam….

Genesis 5:3-29 gives an ancestry that we all will be bewildered and blessed by.  This is big.  Bible students and scholars tune in, take note, and be amazed at the grand design of this encrypted prophecy encoded in the words of the genealogy of Adam. 

Every one of these words in the genealogy of Adam are tantamount to one word:


Watch this:

Adam begot Seth, Seth begot Enosh, Enosh begot Cainan, Cainan begot Mahalalel, Mahalalel begot Jared, Jared begot Enoch, Enoch begot Methuselah, Methuselah begot Lamech, and Lamech begot Noah.

Whew.  Hang in there.  This is big:

Adam means “Man,” Seth means “Appointed,” Enosh means “Mortal,” Cainan means “Sorrow,” Mahalalel means “The Blessed God,” Jared means “Shall come down,” Enoch means “Teacher or Teaching,” Methuselah means “His death shall bring,” Lamech means “Despairing,” and Noah means “Comfort or Rest.”


Now put it all together and it says:

Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the blessed God shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort.

It’s the gospel tucked away in the book of Genesis!

This God-given genealogy is a supernatural design.  It is part of an integrated message system from heaven.  The Jews have a gospel message hidden in the Torah that is both remarkable and profound!  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets – He brings fulfillment to our fellowship topics – Jesus makes the drab conversation complete. He can bring life to a sleep inducing genealogy!  All of the scriptures and Bible prophecy point to one person who fulfills every law for us and imputes perfect righteousness into our record as if we have never sinned, subsequently bringing us confidence on the day of judgment.  He brings the despairing comfort and the relieving-gentle and tender assurance of the knowledge of having heavenly access in the day of darkness, weakness, and death.  We no longer have a fearful expectation of judgment and death because the Son of God came down here and did it all for us.  He paved the way for us, and isn’t asking us to do anything that He hasn’t previously accomplished already!  “The day of death is better than the day of birth” (See Ecclesiastes 7:1).  Jesus is the forerunner who has entered into the heavenly places, ripped the veil, and ever lives to make intercession for the saints.  Indeed, The blessed God shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing one comfort – Amen.

Genesis 6:11-13

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.  And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth."

Most people do not catch this tiny little addendum at the end of the reason for the flood.  The earth was flooded because of wickedness, corruption, AND violence; the violence of men’s hands.  Let us make it very clear – God hates violence.  Psalm 11:5 states, “The wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” 

This lesson has taken a while for me to learn.  I quickly think, “Lightning and fire, God, that’s what they need.  Raise me up LORD that I may conquer them.”

Yet scripture declares that the weapons of our warfare are not necessarily lightning bolts, or fists, or swords, or clubs, or martial arts of any sort.  “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2nd Corinthians 10:4-5). 

When trouble comes our weapon is prayer.  When someone is staring you down – pray.  Our fight isn’t against flesh and blood. 

Jesus didn’t fight; Paul didn’t fistfight; I can’t think of a New Testament example of a scrapping-saint.  I can, however, think of various verses that negate violence.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly realms.”

Please don’t confuse Old Testament war scriptures and judgments for criminals with everyday run-ins you have with people.  Oh, I know you can find a verse about beating someone up and you can probably justify it... I know.  But friend, think about how many times you genuinely need to fight.  People are hateful and oppressive and when it comes to this undesired end you may need to give them an earful like Jesus in Matthew 23, but remember when Jesus told his disciples that they weren’t right for praying destruction?  It was James and John His disciples who said to Jesus, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:54-56).

When a fight or an unhealthy stare starts with someone – pray, say, “God help me” or “Please give me victory over this wicked person” or “Please deliver me” or “God….”  He will swoop in and save the day and deliver you from your enemies.  He has never let me down.  Or, maybe you’ll catch a beat-down like Paul or Stephen or Jeremiah or Jesus Himself, for, that is scriptural too.

Be careful, you may think you’re strong, but there are fleshly demonic entities that are too strong for your flesh.  Recall the story of the demoniac who couldn’t be bound with chains. The demonic realm can break iron…keep it in the Spirit and you’ll win every time no matter the outcome!

Genesis 11:7

Come let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

Here God is speaking about going down to the tower of Babel and confusing their language so that they do not build to the heavens a monument that becomes an idol.  The big question is, “Who is God talking to?”  If you’ll notice with me, the “Us” is capitalized in this highlighted verse (See above).

This occurred earlier in Genesis, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

God is talking to the Son – Jesus Christ. 

The word “God” is the Hebrew word Elohim.  Elohim means three or more.  El, in Hebrew, means one.  Elah means two.  Elohim means three or more.

God is a trinity.  I don’t think any of us will be able to wrap our minds completely around this one, but God is not only a name, but a title.  The same way we refer to “Mr. President.”  The presidency is a title, position, or an office.  In God’s estimation, He saw fit to install three persons into this office – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

So where does the Holy Spirit fit into this trinity?  Right here, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” (2nd Corinthians 3:17).  And, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

There is only one God, and God is love.  And when you have love you have a trinity too.  For a love relationship you need a man and a woman – and a spirit of love.  Now, the triune nature of the God-head cannot be illustrated or equated perfectly in an analogy such as this because the Holy Spirit is a person, rather than a moral sentiment such as love (John 16:7-14).  I guess this is where my trite little analogy breaks down.  God is three persons in one.  He has to be.

Why? Because there is only one God.  “…That you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.  Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.  I, even I am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11). 

He is the only savior.  Then who is Jesus?  The answer – God.  The Son of God is referred to as the Everlasting Father by Isaiah the prophet, but I’m convinced with Matthew’s reference to Jesus as God when he says, “And they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).  Jesus is God with us, and there’s no way around it.  Anyone who says that He isn’t, just isn’t reading their Bible.

Genesis 18:23

And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”

I know it is common sense.  God will never judge the righteous with the wicked.  It is a recurring theme throughout the scriptures.  He will always give us time to get right, repent, and return to Him, that is, until we solidify our hearts in our final decision of either embracing or rejecting Him.  We will all end up reprobate or regenerated. After some time, and who knows when that is, God decides that He will no longer strive with us by the Holy Spirit who calls, woos, and beckons us all to live righteously, godly, and to deny unrighteousness.  God will never, however, judge the righteous with the wicked.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.  So it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:47-50).

There may be some today that think that when God judges the world in His wrath that we will all be condemned, both good and bad.  Which is, of course, absurd.  God will never judge the righteous with the wicked.  In Revelation, when God pours out His wrath on a Christ rejecting sinful nation, His wrath is known as the wrath of the Lamb.  But, “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).  God will rapture all of us out of here before judgment comes. 

Teachers need to learn this simple truth, at least I did.  So often I would reprimand my classes on the basis of a few squirrelly urchin children.  Upon closer examination, I noticed that the class had an appearance of being uncontrollable, yet it was actually a select handful of students who were behavioral issues.  When they were weeded out and dealt with, the class ran as it should. 

Genesis 18:25 declares, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You!  Shall not the judge of the earth do right?”

Genesis 22:12

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.”

God said for Abraham to sacrifice his only son.  Three days later, God seems to change His mind.  Now, He is saying to leave the child alone and to not lay a hand on him.  One minute God says to do one thing and now He says don’t do it.  Why?  It was just a test.  God knew what He would do all along.  There are major theological implications in this story that we can glean from and be blessed by.

I love this.  God can say to give something up and the next moment say, “That’s cool, just keep it. It was just a test.”  Abraham believed God when He said to sacrifice his son.  He also believed God when He said to not harm him.  God will test you the same the way. 

“Give her up, she’s not the one.”  Or, “No, he is not right for you.”

“Nope, this job isn’t for you.”

“Nah, get rid of that.  It’s no good.”

Only three days later (or three months later or thirty-three years later), we could have the very thing we wished for! 

God is good!  Keep following and listening closely! At any time, He can change it up and give you your heart’s desire!  You know He will!  “Delight yourself also in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).  And, if you don’t get it, it wasn’t good for you.  God won’t let you have a snake (Matthew 7:7-11).  He knows how to give good gifts to His children! The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it!  Our ideas for what is good can bite us – Not His!

What I love the most about this section of scripture are the prophetic implications.  As Abraham was about to slay Isaac, Isaac asked him about the sacrifice.  He said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  And Abraham said, “My Son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:7-8).

And He did….

On the very same hill known as Mount Moriah.  God offered up His only begotten Son – Jesus Christ – as the burnt offering.

Genesis 29:27

Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.

Fulfill her week?  What exactly does that mean?  Well, I am so very glad you asked.  The Jews have what is called Weeks of Years.  So a week is in reference to seven years.  We know because Jacob had to serve seven more years for Rachel.  The most pithy, poignant, and relevant reference to the weeks of years is found in Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy.  In my opinion and estimation it is one of the most exciting of all prophecies in all the Bible.

It seems kind of intense at first, but roll with me on this and it is a breeze:  “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (Daniel 9:25).

Seven weeks and sixty-two weeks is sixty-nine weeks or 483 years.

The command to rebuild and restore Jerusalem was issued by Artaxerxes on March 14th, 445 B.C.

So, from the command until Jesus comes there shall be 483 years which puts you at April 6th, A.D. 32. – the very day Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey being anointed king!

It’s the most accurate numerical prophecy in all the Bible.  It is so clear that Jesus wept over Jerusalem in wonder at their not knowing about His arrival, advent, and anointing as the awesome and mighty King riding in lowliness.  He said, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you, and close you in on every side and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:42-44).

They should have known!  This prophecy tells the very day Messiah would come on the Babylonian calendar that Daniel used!  Not knowing the word of God is not an excuse when it is right in front of us!  Prophecy is exciting!  Check out this verse:  “Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established, believe His prophets, and you will prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20).  Dig in deep into Daniel; explore Ezekiel; intensely introspect Isaiah, for, everything is major about the prophets, even the minor ones!

As mentioned above, only 69 weeks were explicated.  According to prophecy, we are awaiting a final week known as the 70th Week of Daniel or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble or the Tribulation Period, but we won’t be here for that.  We’ll be raptured up!

Genesis 39:12

She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

1st Corinthians 6:18 says to “Flee sexual immorality, all other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”  Don’t flirt with it.  Don’t be entertained by it.  See it for what it is and treat it like an unstoppable force and flee. 

Fleeing is usually seen negatively in the Bible – not here!

Not every situation is going to play out like this in our lives.  Satan is sneaky and comes in as an angel of light (2nd Corinthians 11:14).  The adulteress or adulterer comes subtle and seemingly righteous, perfect, and even godly (Proverbs 7:14).

I wonder at how many men do not have the knowledge of God.  They lack the very wisdom, knowledge and discretion that can save them from a pitfall that MOST people do not see as a threat.  The adulteress preys upon a man’s very life and all who were slain by her were strong men (Proverbs 7:26). The movers and shakers, the strong working man who gets those bills paid and brings home the bacon.  The man with a high credit score who is regarded as the grab-life-by-the-horns kind of individual. These men fall victim.  I've seen it. They are such a desperate travesty now.

None who go to her return.

Wounds and dishonor they will get.

They’ll never regain the paths of life.

Why?  Because they didn’t know…when they could have, but disregarded His words and pushed away the Holy Spirit.  They didn’t know that the adulteress has honey dripping from her lips and everything she says is flattering.  They succumb to a destroyed family because they foolishly thought, “I made a mistake years ago when I was married, my wife wasn't the one, this must be the one.”  And I say – idiot.

God’s word was there, “To deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words, who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant she made before God” (Proverbs 2:16-17).  And, most of all, the Holy Spirit was there to lead and guide you to victory and refuge over her. Like Joseph, though it costs you everything, get away from her. Let this passage be a most solemn warning!

Genesis 49:22-24

Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall.  The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him.  But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob….

God is an all consuming fire.  Fire burns and it consumes.  The road may not always be easy, yet ultimately you’ll be successful in the Spirit of God.  We will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!  Joseph suffered so much from people and family.  He just took it. He never became bitter at God for his harsh circumstances and God raised him up – it took a while though.

If there is a word of the LORD for someone out there, for us, it is simply this:  Don’t leave God’s side.  You may have to log in decades of following Him before you see your heart’s desire fulfilled.  Log in the years!  Commit to Him an entire life!  There is an unspeakable reward for taking the difficult and narrow road!  Only time will tell, but if you jump ship you’ll never know. 

Don’t leave God’s side no matter how strange or mentally deranged the spiritual affliction seems to be.

I always remember the verse that says, “My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand holds me up.  But those who seek my life to destroy it will go into the lower parts of the earth” (Psalm 63:8).  Though it doesn’t make sense sometimes – trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Like Joseph, hold your ground and they’ll be on the ground, bowed down, broken and in the lower parts of the earth.  Victory is coming!  It always does for us!  Read your Bible friends!

I can’t count the stories of people and friends I know who have left the LORD.  They are resentful and desolate for doing so too.  It didn’t happen immediately, but ultimately they’re a travesty for ditching the One who loved them because they thought the trial was weird or crazy.  I say just go with it – be crazy for Him.  You’ll find that you’re so sound, sane, and resolute in thought and that others are the lunatics for not staying close to the One who loved them – Yahweh!

“You let men ride over our heads; You put us through fire and water, but brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:12). At this point God has blessed every aspect of my life!  I look back and say, “Wow, God it was You working the whole time…I thought I was going in circles pointlessly!” But, even if He doesn’t bless me I’m following Him no matter the cost.  He has placed eternity in my heart and I know there is a hereafter for those who accept His Son’s death and sacrifice for our shortcomings.

Where you go I’ll go, where you die I’ll die.  I’m following You God no matter what my state of mind is– undying loyalty!

You know, Jesus is pleased when you continue with Him through thick and thin.  It shows fidelity, loyalty, and true commitment.  You always have the choice to depart, but you’ve chosen to remain with Him no matter the cost.  He told His disciples, “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials and as the Father has given Me a kingdom I give you the kingdom” (Luke 22:28).  Are you with Him in His work and purposes though you don’t see the benefit of the grief and hardships?  He is with you in yours.  He will be our guide even until death.  Oh, and by the way, the grief and trouble you may face is because of the fall of man.

Genesis 50:20

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day.

Joseph’s brothers cast him out, sold him into slavery, and abandoned him.  He was hated and rejected by them.  God was going to turn that unfortunate turn of events into a blessing.  He was going to twist their evil into something good.  He always does!

I can’t help of thinking of one of my favorite verses in Exodus.  Moses wrote, “The more they oppressed them, the more they grew” (Exodus 1:12).  And, another in 2nd Corinthians where Paul wrote, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8).

God turns it all around – always!

All the evil that is spun against you to destroy you is foiled when you stay close to the Lord.  Remember Haman’s gallows in the book of Esther?  That scenario happens in our lives on many scales without our awareness.  All things work together for good, but you must give the Lord time to work.  Let God be God!  It may take decades and scores of years, but God will come through and raise you up on high!

Moses was humbled for forty years in the wilderness before he was raised up to contend with Pharaoh. It took David ten years of wilderness-fugitive life before he became King.  Paul was fourteen years in the wilderness before God seemed to awake and make his ministry monumental.  He makes everything beautiful in His time.  Joseph was no exception to the rule…and neither are we.  Don’t leave God’s side.  Spend the scores and decades following Him because there is a reward for the righteous!

“If the righteous receive their reward in earth, how much more the wicked and sinful” (Proverbs 11:31).  We will be blessed in the here and now; and in heaven, in the then and there.

This morning I was listening to a NeedtoBreathe song.  It reminded me of me.  It said, “In the morning I’m leaving and I don’t know where I am going.”  I know what it’s like to get in the car and not know where to go because you are hated by those closest to you and have nothing.  It was just me, my wife, and one or two of my children wandering through the city – Rejected.  This again….

I’ve spent decades of going in circles and being hated by the world.  For long periods, life was usually a big struggle.  Then one day I looked and noticed that everything in my life was in order!  My house is established, my wife loves me, my kids are in order and following Jesus.  Even though we were following God with all our hearts it seemed like such a mess along the way!  Always!  But now, I am established and my word to the people of God is now one and the same:  Keep following Him – Log in the years!  You’ll be set up!  You will have your time!  How do I know?  It is how God works!  Here’s why:

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief cornerstone.  This was the LORD’S doing and it was marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22).

It truly is marvelous.  

Rejected, hated, and cast out people like you and me will be coronated and crowned.  We will have our time.  He makes everything beautiful in His time.

This verse is about Jesus – I know.  But, it is how God works in my life and in yours.  So do not marvel when the world hates you, but marvel at His unseen, upcoming, and unspeakable grace which is yet to be revealed!  They mean it for evil, but God means it for good!

Exodus 1:22

So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”

This reminds me of another story.  Herod the Great did something similar.  “…He sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 1:16).

I see spiritual warfare written all over these scenarios.

I hope you love this as much as I do.  Please trek with me on this one, for, it must be developed just a little:

In Revelation 12 we read, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.  Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.  And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.  His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.  She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And the Child was caught up to God and His throne” (Revelation 12:1-5).

On earth we see Jesus being stalked by king Herod.  Yet what is really going on?  Behind the scenes, in the heavenly places there is a cosmic battle between the dragon and the mystery woman with child; just as it was with Moses and Pharaoh, and just like it will be with you. 

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Where?  In the heavenly places.

When you are dealing with that hard person or that wretched boss or horrible manager or tough teacher or vicious circumstance, you can know for certain that there is a greater influence and power working behind the scenes.  So pray;  And pray more.  You have a weapon that transcends the clouds to reach heavenly places and destroy strongholds.

Pages do not permit me to speak of Daniel and his powerful prayer in Daniel chapter 10.  He prayed down an entity referred to as the Prince of Persia and opened a highway for an arch-angel to come down and bring him correspondence.

Pages do not permit me to recap how Job’s ordeal was manifested on earth, but took place in the heavenlies.

Pages do not permit me to retell Elisha’s story of being granted heavenly eyeballs to see all the angelic war hosts encamped about him and his fretting sidekick who wasn’t spiritual enough to know that the battle was taking place in heavenly places.

Our battle is truly spiritual. 

Our weapons are spiritual too. 

Exodus 2:12

So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 

Moses looked this way and that way, but his problem was that he didn’t look up!  God knew.  In God’s sight there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed.  What you have spoken in the dark shall be heard in the light!

Achan was a man who thought he could hide his sin.  He was told not to touch anything in the battle victory against Jericho.  He was commanded to leave the plunder, booty, and spoil alone.  He didn’t.  He found a gold wedge, some silver, and a Babylonian garment that he just had to have.  He took these articles for himself.  He went and hid them under his tent in the dirt. 

Soon enough, when Israel went to battle against a tiny city called Ai they were defeated.  Israel lost a battle that should have been a breeze to win.  Joshua cried out to the LORD and God said one thing – There’s sin in the camp! (Joshua chapters 7-8).

If we hide our sin we won’t prosper either.  

If we confess and forsake our sin we will prosper. 

It's that simple.

If we hide our sin, we won’t be victorious in the things we set our hands to.  And, the worst part is that our enemies will ride over us.  We will be aching like Achan.  Sorrow and anguish and grief will trouble our hearts and households.  I teach my family to always keep their houses holy. Home is a refuge and a holy place. There’s a verse that causes me to fear greatly and I truly believe it:  “Let death seize them; let them go down alive into hell, for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them” (Psalm 55:15).  Don’t let sin in your front door.  Keep it out of your house.  "The curse of the LORD is on the house the wicked" (Proverbs 3:33).

Joshua revealed Achan’s sin and destroyed him.  He destroyed his family too.  He vanquished the sin and came back and annihilated Ai.  He burned it with fire. Eradicate sin.  God knows what is in the darkness.  Achan’s sin troubled his household as mine will affect my wife and children too.  So will yours.

We can’t hide anything from God.  Ananias and Sapphira sought to lie to everyone by telling the first Christians that they sold their land and gave up all the money to the church.  They sought to appear more righteous.  God stopped their burly-lies and beating hearts – Literally! (See Acts chapter 5).  Want to break your own heart?  Lie to the Spirit of God who desires to rid you of sin.  Want your wife’s heart to break?  Keep your sin concealed from people and secretly embrace an idol.  Secret sin will bring mighty trouble into the home.  God knows what is clandestinely concealed in the confines of our character and quarters!  There is nothing hidden from His sight.  All things are naked and open to the eyes of Whom we must give an account!

Exodus 8:8-10

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Entreat the LORD that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD."  Moses said to Pharaoh, "The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?"  Then he said, "Tomorrow."  So he said, "May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God...."

When shall I have the pleasure of interceding for you?  Moses was a man of faith -strong faith.   As if the frogs weren’t enough of a miracle.  He went on record telling Pharaoh that at his intercession they would leave.  Pharaoh should have believed Moses when he told him the time they’d go (the frogs) because they went.  This is serious.  It takes tremendous faith to say the exact time God would work or to go on record in front of people in God’s name; there’s a chance of uncertainty, a chance God may not come through.  Yet, Moses knew his God.

What do you mean? -Just this: I was substitute teaching at A.B. Miller High School.  A student was in my class with a withered hand.  I thought, “What if I just walked up to him and spit on his hand and rubbed it in like Jesus did?  Would it be made whole?”  Then I panicked thinking, “Man what if this doesn’t work?  I’m gonna get fired for sure.”  Luckily for me this was all a thought and God, indeed, was not leading me to perform a miracle of healing.  It did show me, however, where my faith was at the time...and maybe still is.

Jesus knew the heart of God so much that He could spit in someone's eye knowing God would do a miracle!

Later Moses did the same kinda thing.  Pharaoh petitioned Moses to ask Yahweh to make the hail stop.  Moses told him the exact time he would seek God's mercies to cause the hail to halt.  The hail halted, the icy rocks ceased falling, and God honored Moses' request.  Have you ever gone on record?  Have you ever said, "Thus says the LORD" because you knew for sure it was the Holy Spirit speaking through you?  In my experience this type of thing happened when I least expected it - when I didn't even know I said it.  It was natural; supernaturally natural.

The funny thing about this whole situation, though, is that Moses asked Pharaoh, "When should I take away the frogs?" His answer was, "Tomorrow."  -Wait, why spend another night with the frogs?  Doesn't this seem absurd?  Yet we are just like Pharaoh.  When sin entangles us we say, "I'll repent...tomorrow."  No.  Repent now.  Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts.  Today is the day of salvation! You don't know if the Holy Spirit will give you the opportunity tomorrow. Eventually Pharaoh was never able to be saved because he rejected the gentle tender call of the Spirit.  God hardened Pharaoh's heart and he is the quintessential example of a complete loser, destined to hell;  He was reprobate.   He rejected the promptings of the Spirit one too many times.  Let that not be your story or mine....

Exodus 10:20

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but not without Pharaoh’s help.  God simply solidified his decision.  Pharaoh hardened his own heart against the LORD so many times that God said, “Fine, I will confirm your decision.”  God will honor your choice so much so that He will set you up on high in your decision.

As in Pharaoh’s case, you have free will.  You can choose to continually reject His agenda and proceed your own way.  Yet know for certain, you are going to get solidified in it – eventually.  God’s Spirit will not strive with man forever.  There comes a time when God says no more!  Have it your way!  At this point a man or woman becomes reprobate.  He has committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks a word against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).

In essence, he or she becomes a son or daughter of perdition.   How?  –By rejecting the Holy Spirit promptings to get right with God.  A person’s continual hardening of their heart speaks volumes against the Spirit.  It is blasphemy.  It is also downright disrespectful to the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is an age-old conversation.  Many a Christian has been caught up in an argument of Freewill vs. Predestination; in Calvinism vs. Armenianism; in Man’s Responsibility vs. God’s Sovereignty and I will tell you what – I could care less.   Both doctrines are in the Bible and arguing over them is a sign of immaturity and adolescence in Christ.

One thing is certain, Pharaoh hardened his heart and wouldn’t renounce his sin.  He wouldn’t let it go. And, if he would let it go, he would go back to it again.  The problem is that he went back to his sin just one too many times.  May we see and fear, and learn from his error.

Exodus 14:3

“For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ ”

The Israelites were cornered.  They were trapped between the Pi Hahiroth mountain range and the Red Sea.  Pharaoh’s army was coming up from the bottom.  It was a triangle of death with no escape.  There was no way.  And, of course, our wonderful savior the LORD God made a way.  He parted the sea with a strong east wind and made the waters a wall on both sides while the Israelites passed through on dry ground.  He drowned the entire army of Pharaoh.  There wasn’t one left (Exodus 14:28).

He always makes a way.  Any situation you may be facing today that seems hopeless can be remedied by the LORD.

Upon close examination, the wilderness exodus was very inconvenient for them.  If they were going to the land of Caanan they should have traveled north-east.  Instead, they traversed south-east to a little coastal area called Migdol.  They trapped themselves by the leading of the LORD.  Pharaoh believed he would wipe them out because they were seemingly bewildered by the land.  Like Israel, we may appear to be traveling aimlessly in our walk, yet I can assure you we are right where we are supposed to be.  It is the LORD leading us. It seems inconvenient and uncomfortable sometimes.  Hold your ground.  Every situation plays itself out.  You won't be ashamed!

Sometimes God will put us in an uncomfortable, borderline-tortuous situation to get the glory in the eyes of the world.  The key is to let God be God and let go.  Sometimes in life we are in a difficult spot with no control of our outcomes.  God knows.  In that time of helplessness we are to do as the Israelites were commanded, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13).

It is God who fights for you and you shall hold your peace – “Be still and know that I am God,” the LORD declares.

Though they cried about returning to Egypt and panicked about their situation, God fought for them and brought them out.  It would have been better to have had a tranquil, serene, and calm demeanor through it all – to just stand still.  We serve the living God, who makes a way when there is no way.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Nothing.

Exodus 15:26

If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and obey His voice then I will put none of these diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.

Wait a second.  What about Job?  He was godly and righteous.  There was none like him on the whole earth.  I thought the diseases of Egypt were only for the sinful-ungodly-worldly people because “Egypt” is a representation and type of the world?  

They are.  

Yet, they are also tests for the righteous.  So I wouldn’t question my spirituality too much if I’m afflicted with a disease.  If I’m living right with God, I can know for certain that God and Satan are having a showdown.  I’m the pawn (See Job 2).

“That’s not fair,” one says.  To that I would say, “Tough.”  God doesn’t exist for us.  We exist for Him; to bring Him glory.  All things were created by Him and for His good pleasure.  So, from time to time, God will turn up the heat in our lives by putting us in an uncomfortable situation or a hard circumstance.  He will send a disease or infirmity our way.  We, however, are lucky to know what is happening behind the scenes in the spiritual realm.  There is a cosmic heavenly showdown between God and the Satan.  The enemy is trying to do one thing: make you sin against God.  "But I'm unhappy about it," we say. "I don't want this affliction."  It is not a sin to be angry.  "Be angry...but don't sin" (Ephesians 4:26).  Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still (Psalm 4:4).  

Paul said, "Hey, I have a physical infirmity, but I don't burn with anger and bitterness over it" (See 2nd Corinthians 11:29-30).

God put Job in the ash heap with a terrible disease to show us how to maneuver our way through suffering.  We too can say, “I’m not going to charge God with wrongdoing or sin against Him.  I’m going to come out of this thing as gold.”  If you are suffering from some form of affliction, whether it is in your health or physiology, wealth or finances, family or friends Remember Job.   Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).  And, “He knows the way that I take: when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).  And most importantly, in all this, Job did not sin. Be strong through your affliction, whatever it may be!  One day in Heaven you’ll look back with a sense of accomplishment.  One day you’ll dance over this affliction right next to Job!

By the way, there aren't too many times you will have an opportunity to be a giant in the faith.  Are you heavily afflicted?  This is your chance.  

Oh, and Job caught his blessing on the earth too: family, riches, possessions, and his health.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and not on the waves.  You'll walk right through this and, like Job, you too will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  And, if it isn't too much to ask, "Would you give thanks for your affliction?"  For, we give thanks in all things (1st Thessalonians 5:18) and for all things (Ephesians 5:20).  And, in the Greek language, ALL means all and that's all ALL means!

Exodus 18:14

So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people?  Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, has come to visit Moses and rejoices in all that Yahweh has done for Israel.  You can almost feel the excitement pouring out of the text.  Moses reunites with his wife and children, and out of excitement and pure joy he recaps all that God did to Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  Jethro breaks out with praise saying, “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.”  Then he offered up burnt offerings and sacrifices to God, and had a bar-be-que with Aaron, Moses, and the elders.  It was a joyful occasion indeed – Until Jethro sees how Moses conducts his affairs and leads his people.  The festive mood departs when Jethro observes Moses’ governance.  Jethro tells him that what he does is not good (See Exodus 18).

Oh, what a lesson we can learn from this situation!

In any position over people, you’ve got to lovingly delegate duties or wear yourself out and ruin the work!

I’ve observed very successful men who lead people.  They have one thing in common:  They multiply themselves and let go.

It’s how you’ll grow in any work.  Those who hold fast to their companies, or knowledge, or gifts without letting others in or sharing freely what they’ve received  lose it – I promise!  Why?  Because it is Scriptural.  Solomon, the most successful rich and wise businessman, ruler, and leader, gave us a key concept saying, “There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: riches kept for their owner to his hurt.  But those riches perish through misfortune…” (Ecclesiastes 5:13-14).  There is one who withholds more than is right and he loses it all.  

Do you have skill? Teach others.  Do you have a corporation?  Dish out the duties.  Give it away!  We aren't here long!

If you want to be a successful C.E.O., business person, supervisor, leader, or a director over affairs involving people on any scale, you must delegate the work!  You must appoint different persons to different duties that you’ve already mastered.  It’s God’s way.  God has a hierarchy, order, ranks, messengers, ruling angels, ministers, etc.   The big question is – Does God need help?  No, of course not.  He can do it all Himself, but for our sakes, no doubt, God uses a hierarchy or a sort of pecking order rank.  Though you too feel like you can do it all, you’re going to burn out.  It’s Jethro’s advice – and Jehovah’s. 

By the way, mother and dad, all these principles work in the family unit too.  Everyone has their own function.  It just won’t work any other way.  A household is a well-oiled machine too.

 Exodus 24:9-11

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nabab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel.  And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.  But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay his hand.  So they saw God and they ate and drank.

These men saw the LORD and knew the LORD unlike the other people.  Yet still, none of them could enter into the promised land because of sin.  Moses because of his unrighteous anger (Deuteronomy 3:23).  Aaron because of the stumbling block he placed before the people (Exodus 32:4). Nadab and Abihu because of their "smoking in the temple," if you will (Leviticus 10).  Not even the nobles could enter into the promised land, except for Joshua and Caleb.  

This is most intriguing to me and sometimes frightening, especially Nadab and Abihu's account.  These men knew the LORD in a very unique way, but in Leviticus 10 the LORD sent fire down from heaven and burned them up.  Notice the headlining verse (Exodus 24:11 see above) states that everyone else did not receive the miraculous hand of the LORD laying upon them to allow them to see Him with His feet on the sapphire pavement.  Only a select few with Nadab and Abihu were that close to the LORD to know Him in a special and unique way. Yet, the LORD still cut 'em off and burned 'em up and said for no one to mourn for them (Leviticus 10).

I wonder how many of us feel close to the LORD; I wonder how many of us are at His footstool like Nadab and Abihu, and I wonder how many have chosen to go back to the sin life like Nadab and Abihu and do that which displeases Him.  In their case they brought profane fire into the temple; a strange smoke; a strange incense was in the temple. They "fired" God up and He killed them.  Don't go back to the smoke filled profane life friends; don't bring another passion into your heart except the one true God, and definitely don't bring anything into the temple that God disapproves of. It only fires God up and provokes Him.  If you (or I) choose to sin and commit evil like the wicked then none of our righteousness' will be remembered, but for the evil we have committed we will surely die (Ezekiel 18:24-26).  

It reminds me of what I read about Samson in the Jon Courson application commentary of the New Testament- "Samson thought he was an exception to the rule, he wasn't and neither are you."  I feel special (God makes me feel special).  I feel unique (God makes me feel unique).  But if I sin God will not be mocked, whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.  He can turn on you like an enemy and just as He rejoiced over you to do you good, He will rejoice over you to do you harm (Deuteronomy 28:63).  God help us who know Him in a close relationship not to feel like we are exceptions to the rule. Nobody gets away with sin, and you can be sure that your sin will find you out.  God can be "Yahweh Yireh," Yahweh the Provider or He can be, "Yaweh Makkeh," The One who Strikes; Who will He be in your life? Shall He sing over you with songs of love or rejoice over you to destroy you?  I opt for the former and I'm sure you do too.

Exodus 25:22

And there I will meet with you and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

The ark was a little box of acacia wood that was covered in gold.  It was forty-five inches long and twenty-seven inches high and wide.  On top of this little golden box was a lid called the mercy seat.  This covering was very unique in that it had two angelic hosts called cherubim molded into it.  Here’s where it gets interesting:  God commanded that each cherub would face one another while looking down at the mercy seat where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled.  That’s where God would meet with you.  That’s the place where fellowship with God is restored.  Where?  Where the blood was.  And guess what?  Nothing has changed!  We have fellowship with God because of the innocent blood of Christ atoned for us in the heavens.  We have met the heavenly demands of holiness, righteousness, purity, and perfection – that’s what the cherubim are for:

One cherub, known as the angel of justice, stares down at the ark and says, “All I see is sin, I want justice.”  The other cherub, known as the angel of righteousness, says, “All I see is unrighteousness.”  Yet, when the blood is shed and the blood is sprinkled, the angel of justice says, “All I see is innocent blood – I’m satisfied.”  The angel of righteousness says, “All I see is righteousness.”  Thus the angels of justice and righteousness are appeased, atoned, and satisfied.” 

The ark is really, in essence, a box of sin.  In it were the three items of iniquity:  The rod of Aaron that Moses used to smite the rock in unrighteousness, the manna that was rejected by the children of Israel, and the ten commandments which were continually broken by them.  The cherubim were continually staring down at the sin in the ark, that is until the blood covered the mercy seat.  Now, they perpetually stare at righteousness.

Our sin is atoned for, saints.  Christ shed His blood once and for all.  The angelic host, which do His bidding continually, will carry us into His presence.  One day when we are in our little ark, our box-coffin, we will know how serious the blood of atonement is.  The cherubim, who guard the throne according to Ezekiel 28, are happy with us because of the everlasting blood that atones for us forevermore!

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).  Once Christ shed His precious blood for us He atoned the heavenly mercy seat that demanded blood (Hebrews 9:12; 24) and fellowship with God was restored.  Now we have access to the Father.  Now our prayers don’t hit the ceiling anymore.  We have such a great High Priest who passed into the heavens with His own blood and He ever lives to make intercession for the saints.

Exodus 32:19

So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing.  So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.

Moses is having the ultimate mountain top experience.  Joshua is there with him.  God engraves the ten commandments with His own writing and gives them to Moses.  As they come down from the mountain, Joshua says, “Hey Moses, I hear the sound of war in the camp.”  Then Moses says, “This isn’t the sound of battle or war cries, this is the sound of wild partying.”  Then in anger, he smashes the two tablets at the base of the mountain and hurries over to Aaron.  He smashes the golden calf that they were dancing around and grinds it to powder and makes them drink it (Exodus 32:15-32).  In continued innocence, Joshua observes the whole thing while Moses immediately already knew about their pagan revelry, having come out of Egypt himself. 

It doesn’t matter how close you are to God.  It doesn’t matter how much of the law you have in your hands or heart.  It doesn’t even matter what kind of mountain top experience you just had – If you are going to join in a pagan party, you’re going throw all your laws, rules, and standards right out the window – At the base of the mountain, so to speak.  Why?  You’re wisdom will be despised.

They are in the flesh.  And unless you are there to make a scene and end it, you yourself must be in the flesh to engage in any of the scene.  It’s a flesh-fest, hence the golden cow.  Flesh is celebrated.  Carnality is worshiped.  They are all in tune to the voice of the flesh.  They aren’t in the Spirit.  Your civility, your Christianity, and your Christ-likeness will be despised.  Don’t speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words (See Proverbs 23:9).  And guess what, a drinking revelry is a fool’s platform! – It's an unrighteous rostrum.

You and I don’t belong there.  “We have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.  In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.  They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1st Peter 4:3-5).

But Mike, "Moses wasn't there to party and he still broke the tablets."  True.  It's because they weren't in a place to receive doctrine, but discipline...and that's exactly what Moses did.  Mom or dad, is your son partying?  It may be time to crack the whip and not necessarily time to crack open the word; There will be time for that when the time is appropriate.

Exodus 34:29

Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of Testimony were in his hand when he came down the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.

Spend time with God.  Pray and read through the scriptures.  As you read, talk over with the Lord what you’ve read.  Moses did, and he unwittingly had a face that shined with brilliance – And so will you.

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak…” (Acts 2:2-4).  There were one hundred and twenty people who were filled with the Holy Spirit’s burning fire.  A miraculous flame appeared to them and divided itself so that each person had a flame of fire burning over their head that resembled the shape of a tongue. 

If you were one of the one hundred and twenty, how many flames would you have seen in that room?

The answer – One hundred and nineteen!

Why?  Because God never lets you see your own fire!  No matter how hard you try, you cannot physically look at the top of your head – And praise God for that!

See, God knows our inclination to get swollen-headed.  So, He doesn’t allow us to really know how bright our light is shining.  God is an all consuming fire indeed.  So when we spend time in His presence, we come back down our mountain lit-up and glowing, but we don’t know it.  And good, yet everyone else knows it! 

“So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him” (Exodus 34:30).  This is where it gets big for you and me.  In the New Testament, Paul says that the glory Moses had was passing away.  That is, his glory would depart and he would spend time in God’s presence again and glow again.  We, however, have a much more glorious covenant!  The ministry of the Spirit!  Our glory does not pass away!  We go from glory to glory!  “Unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away” (2nd Corinthians 3:13). 

Walk in the Spirit and let it shine! – From glory to glory, never passing!

Exodus 40:38

For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

There’s an amazing truth here.  Earlier in Exodus, Moses said, “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people” (Exodus 13:22).  God always made it abundantly clear where the people should be.  He used the cloud and the pillar of fire to guide them, and He never took it away – He still works the same way.

Isaiah said that we would go forth with joy and be led forth with peace.  And, it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off – An everlasting sign! Peace and joy are our cloud and pillar!  We are to seek those things that make for perfect peace!  We always have a guiding way – It’s Peace!

Friends, notice with me again, “The LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night throughout ALL their journeys” and again, “He did NOT take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night….”  Now, I’m placing a great emphasis on these passages because I desire for us all to know that God doesn’t change – we are the tabernacle; the cloud will never leave it, nor the fire depart from it.  We always have a cloud of peace that we can follow!  We always have a burning love that compels us! It’s everlasting!  (See Isaiah 55:12-13). 

Moses was exceedingly famous in Egypt.  God used him to perform mighty signs and wonders.  So I can’t help but wonder, “What made him so awesome?”  And, I found my answer – I hope you are forever blessed from it too.  Ok, so are you ready?  Alright, Moses followed peace!  He didn’t make a move until God’s presence was with him (See Exodus 33:15).  Oh, how we need to have the same attitude!  That’s what makes a man or woman exceedingly big!  We need to say, “God, I’m not taking one step without Your presence.”

If I don’t have the love of Christ compelling me, or if I don’t have Your peace like a river flooding my heart – I just don’t want it!  When my way is dark, I can know for certain that if Your fire, passion, and burning love are in my innermost being, I’m on the right track.  So, let nothing take that away!  No job, person, object, goal, or anything is going to break down my pillar of cloud or my pillar of fire!  

Leviticus 1:4

Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.

The laying on of the hands symbolized the transferring of a man's sin onto the burnt offering.  God accepts substitutes.  God wiped everything you’ve ever done onto the Son.  Jesus is the unblemished lamb who takes away the sin of the world.  Old Testament sacrifices scream of Jesus as a sin offering.  I’m so thankful God accepts substitutes and stand-ins. God transferred our sin onto the Son and, then, beat, bruised, and massacred Him.  When we see the cross we see how bad we really were and what it really cost to fix our mistakes.  That should have been me up there; it should have been you too.  When you and I see the horrendous cross, we must take note:  Sin is devastatingly serious, and without the shedding of blood there is no sacrifice, no atonement,and no cancellation of my infractions.  It’s eternal separation.  It’s so serious that Jesus had to come down from His throne and suffer for me.  He was beaten, bruised, and bloodied to atone for me.  He was ripped to shreds with the flagellum.  He was mocked, beaten with rods, spit upon, and had His beard ripped out by the gobs – All because our sin was transferred to Him.  And, like the burnt offering in Aaron’s day, it was accepted on our behalf to make atonement for us.

Thanks be to God for his provision and appeasement of our sins.  Friends, our sin was transferred from our account into His.  We are at zero, now.  Do you know what Jesus said when He was on the cross when He cried out, “Tetelestai?”  He was saying, “It is finished!”  It’s an accounting term.  In ancient Palestine, if a debt was owed and paid in full, the receipt would say, “It is finished,” or more literally, “Paid in full!” – Tetelestai.  “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’  And bowing His head, He gave up the Spirit” (John 19:30).  We don’t owe God anything else for our shortcomings.  The singular work we must do for Him is believe it, and it shall, as the burnt offering was, be accepted on our behalf.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  Oh friends, memorize this verse and it will bless you forever and ever and ever!

Leviticus 5:17

If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity.

Abraham and his wife Sarah journeyed to Kadesh Barnea and Shur, and dwelt in Gerar.  Abimelech the King of Gerar saw Sarah and had her taken into his harem.  At night God came to Abimelech and said, “You’re a dead man, because you have taken another man’s wife.  You’re all going down.”  And Abimelech replied, “Lord, will you destroy all of us because of this?  In the integrity of my heart I have done this.  I didn’t know she was another man’s wife.  Abraham said she was his sister.”  And God said, “I know you did this in the integrity of your heart and I have kept you from sinning against Me.”  Abimelech then proceeded to restore Abraham’s wife.   He rebuked Sarah.  And Abraham prayed to God and He healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants, for the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah” (See Genesis 20).

Abimelech’s sin was unintentional and God kept him from judgment and disaster because he did it in the integrity of his heart.  God warned him first.  Oh how I am so guilty of this thinking where I perceive God critically staring down at me just waiting and watching for me to mess up and – Boom!  We need to snap out of it!  Oh, I don’t mean we should be careless, but see God as we see our children.  We don’t watch and wait for them to blow it.  No. We love and rejoice with them.

Now, unintentional sin is judged with blood just like every other sin, though God knows your heart.  If you genuinely didn’t know, but still committed sin – Atonement must be made.  That’s a recurring theme in chapters four and five of Leviticus – The unintentional, ignorant, or presumptuous sin must be judged.

But God is just.  We must always know that!  He isn’t some tyrant who is quick to zap a lightning bolt from heaven who scrutinizes your every move! – No way!  He is on your side!  He will keep you from disaster!  If you are doing something that will destroy you, He will warn you as He did Abimelech.  “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).

Jesus said, “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.  For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:47-48).  

Leviticus 8:8

Then he put the breastplate on him, and he put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastplate.

Men would consult the High Priest to attain guidance and direction for their problems.  If the High Priest was wearing the ephod he could give judgments by way of the Urim and the Thummim.   Urim, of course, meaning “Lights” and Thummim meaning “Perfections.”  The High Priest would direct them towards the proper path to navigate.  He would light up the way perfectly.  The High Priest was an oracle;  It was as if God Himself was speaking through him.  When we minister we are instructed to be an oracle, or mouthpiece, for God; if not, we are to stay quiet.  “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God, if anyone ministers, let him do it with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.  Amen” (1st Peter 4:11).

If I’m not anointed to speak, then I had better remain silent.  I do not want to be an annoying spirit and turn people away from the beauty of a word spoken in the Holy Spirit.  Which to me is the case with many tele-evangelists; It’s annoying to the outsiders listening in.  Even if I know the Bible back and forth, I’m only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol if I am not speaking in a spirit of love.  I’m just making a bunch of ineffective noise.   So we hold our peace until our hearts burn with lights and perfections – And then it’s time to speak forth:

And when I do…

When you do…

Men ought to regard us as ambassadors for Christ.

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  Hearts had better burn with excitement when we speak with the Spirit of the Living God flowing through us because it is Jesus who is speaking through us!  After His resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, two men were reminiscing about what it was like when Jesus spoke to them and said, “Did not our hearts burn within us as He opened the scriptures to us?”  We’ve got the lights and perfections, folks.  Our hearts burn with holy fire and we speak – we are unable to contain the word of the Lord or hold it back, then, we move in the prophetic realm.  As we fellowship we become a ring of fire; a fellowship of burning hearts with dynamic, explosive, and contagious spreading wild-fire.  The world takes note.  Jesus is exalted on high!  The Greek word for the power He grants to us in speaking the word is "Dunamis" power, which is where we get our word "Dynamite" or "Dynamic."  What a gift we have! – The explosive word of God that carries weight and packs a punch!

Leviticus 11:47

To distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.

In the Old Testament, which is commonly referred to as the Torah, Pentateuch, or Moses, there is a catalogue of foods which can and can’t be eaten, both bugs and animals; fish too.  Now, in the New Testament God has miraculously cleansed these unclean animals and no longer prohibits us from eating them.  You’re free to eat what you’d like.  There is nothing unclean, unless you consider it unclean or gross (Romans 14:14).

Peter was an interesting fellow.  He was the disciple who was much like me and you.  He had to be told things in threefold exhortations before it really sunk in.

The first instance was when he denied Jesus three times.  Recall the story when they said, “You’re His disciple,” on three separate occasions in the courtyard of Caiaphas (John 18:16-27).

Jesus reinstated him, due to his threefold denials, in a triune exhortation when He said, “Feed My lambs, feed My sheep, and tend My lambs” (See John 21).

In the same chapter Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him.

And, here in a heavenly vision of animals and birds and bugs, he was told three times to stop calling them unclean:  Peter went up to the housetop to pray at about noontime.  In his hunger he fell into a trance and saw a vision of animals coming down in what looked like a giant sheet or a movie theatre screen.  A voice cried out from heaven saying, “Rise, Peter.  Kill and eat!”  And, Peter replied, “Not so Lord, for I have never eaten anything unclean or common.”  And a voice came to him a second time saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call unclean or common.”  And the sheet was taken up and withdrawn.  This was done three times and Peter wondered about the meaning of the vision (See Acts 10:9-17).

He eventually figured it out.  If you feel the need to pork out then you can do it.  You and I may eat whatever pork chops, bacon bits, or any of those crazy animals, birds, fish, or bugs listed there in Leviticus chapter eleven; I don’t know who would want to though.  Every once in a while you may encounter an individual who believes they can’t eat something because of religious reasons.  Your attitude towards them should be the same as the Bible would have it – Whatever.  To each his own.  If you believe it is unclean then don’t eat it, or if you feel the freedom to eat everything – Right on!

To all the filet mignon or T-bone steak gluttons, there is one regulation.  We aren’t to eat any blood.  It’s a precept in the Old Testament and New Testament.  So, I know it is considered astute and classy to eat it very rare, but the blood isn’t good for you.  Why?  Because God said so.  So, there’s no real rule, just abstain from blood (Acts 15:20).  Make it kosher.  Drain it under water for long periods of time and cook it thoroughly  Bon appetit with a clean conscience!  For he who doubts while he eats is condemned while he eats.

Leviticus 13:45

Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!”

Sin is a type of leprosy, or leprosy is a type of sin rather.  In the scriptures, if a man or woman was unclean due to a disease, he was to dwell isolated and outside the camp.  He was to be cut off because he could infect and destroy you.  That’s why it is a type of sin.  We need to treat it the same way.  Sin is deadly, folks.  Rather than wincing at sin saying, “Boys will be boys,” or “They’re young they need to have fun.”  We need to know that if we raise our families with this mentality, then they’ll always think sin is fun – When sin is a lie covered in a seductive spirit.  It never delivered – You know that!  They’ll destroy themselves and others.  I’ve seen it before.  People who think sin is fun, but only to be committed once in a while are always mediocre-men.  The key is to be faithful until death.  Hate that which is evil and love good!  Sin is to be treated like leprosy; A nightmarish and deadly disease that will destroy them and others.

I cannot emphasize enough how serious it is to snap out a thinking whereby we see sin as this wonderful pleasurable experience that will fulfill our ultimate desires, but we just can’t because God said no.  In the words of my own pastor, “Sin isn’t bad because it is forbidden, it’s forbidden because it is bad.” – That’s wisdom.  When you and I come to a place where we utterly despise sin and all its allurements we are right where God would have us to be.  Why?  Because sin will hurt you.  So don’t sin, friends.  It always hurt you.  Once again – It never delivered.

Sin destroys!  Your ultimate wonderful enjoyable experiences are wrapped up in staying in His presence.  It gets better and better.  That’s why my repetitive, redundant, and resounding reiteration is one and the same – Follow God for decades straight and then you’ll see the salvation of the Lord.  Don’t jump ship after ten years of seeking the Lord because you don’t see anything happening – keep going!  You’ll eventually look around one day and see your heart’s ultimate desires transpire, come to fruition, and manifest themselves as a reality!  Wait on the LORD!  God has what we want, and it isn’t truly a sinful experience that we want.  Sin is leprosy; rotten, stinky, flesh-rotting leprosy, and malignant-contagious leprosy too.  See it like that!

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Leviticus 20:26

And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

The recurring theme in Leviticus is one and the same.  God is saying, “I’m going to drive out the other nations and people for their sins.  Don’t be like them.  It is because of their abominations and actions that I’m going to destroy them.  The land is vomiting them out, so be holy, distinct, and separate.  You’re mine – You’re different.  You're a holy people.

My wife and I recall listening to the testimony of a Christian worship band out in Louisiana.  They were touring there, and made a stop at a local singing theater of performers.  They were all unbelievers.  They weren't religious at all.  The lead vocalist of this Christian worship band said, “We just wanted to show them that we were just like them.  So we spent the whole night singing all their secular songs and went out with them on the town.  We are no different than they are.”  And, though I see the heart even in that for evangelism, I can’t help but think that they’re missing it.  There’s power in the name of Jesus. 

We are different.

We are to be salt and light.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1st Peter 2:9 KJV).  Be peculiar.  Worship the Lord.  Let your light so shine before men that they see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven, yes.  Preach the gospel and if necessary use words, yes – But are you pointing the anointing?  Luke tells us, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).  When we are anointed there’s plenty to do, rather than just performing our gift – Whatever it is – We’ve got to point to Jesus when we are anointed and draw others to Jesus.  That's the purpose of the anointing–not just to be like them.  Oh, how we must remember to point up when we are anointed and lifted up!

Leviticus is replete with various catalogs of various sins that we should steer clear of; sins according to the doings of the other people whom God is casting out (See Leviticus 18:3).  As for you: “You are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2).  We don’t do what they do.  We have come out from among them and we are separate.

What makes you think you’re so special?  I’m holy because Jesus ever-atones for me.

Why do you think you’re above everyone else?  I’m chosen above all peoples on the face of the earth.

So do you think the earth revolves around you?  No.  It revolves around Jesus – because I’m pointing the anointing.  And that’s the key phrase that makes us special!  The Father seeks the glory of the Son (John 8:50).  He will lift you up if you point to Jesus!

Leviticus 23:6

And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.

On the very night of Passover, the Jews would also have a feast called Unleavened Bread.  This is where they would clean out all the bread yeast in all their dwellings.   It was a yearly spring cleaning.  It was a time to flip up the couches and clean everything hidden on a microscopic and minute level.  It was a time to vacuum the corners and baseboards of the house.  There wasn’t to be anything with yeast in any of their dwellings or they’d be cut off from their people.  It’s not about bread yeast though – it’s about me and you.

Yeast, in the scriptures, is a type, symbol, and picture of sin.  Sin cannot be hidden or stored away in the recesses of our hearts.  It will work its way through, it’ll come back, and it will destroy.  “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump” (1st Corinthians 5:6).  So for us, it is a time to look at ourselves introspectively and see if there is anything we have in our lives that is sinful, no matter how microscopic or minute it may appear to be; to perform a spiritual spring cleaning.  No yeast should be hidden within us or it can ‘Spring’ up and defile us.  It will cut us off from true fellowship with others.

Which is why we should periodically pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).  And, if you dare pray such a prayer – Get ready!  He is going to try you!  So, logically we think “Well, I’m not praying that one!  I don’t want to go through trials right now!”  And the giant news flash to me was bitter-sweet because I didn’t know that God was going to do it anyways!  God is going to purify me, try me, and put me in situations that test my patience and rid me of my presumptuous sins anyway!  So I’m going through the fire whether I enjoy it or not, and so are you.  God wouldn’t have it any other way!  He can’t rest until your light goes forth as a fire that burns! 

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – Unless indeed you are disqualified.  But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified” (2nd Corinthians 13:5-6).  Take advantage of this sort of spiritual spring cleaning! – Pray for a searching – It’s time!  Jesus cleansed the temple time and again, and so should we.

Leviticus 24:2

Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.

God commanded that the children of Israel were to unceasingly bring olive oil so that the menorahs were perpetually filled and burning bright.  The priests were never to let the light of the temple go out – ever.  And now, we are the temple of the Living God and we are commanded to do the same.  We are always to be filled with the Holy Spirit.   

Oil is a type, symbol, and an illustration for the Holy Spirit.

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...” (Ephesians 5:18-20).  In the original language, the phrase “Be filled with the Spirit,” is written as “Be continually filled with the Spirit.”  Always be filled with the Spirit.  Keep moving from glory to greater glory!  It doesn’t have to stop!  Keep in step with the Spirit!  As a younger Christian I didn’t know that the wonderful spiritual experience of inexplicable joy didn’t have to stop!  Oh, I know drama and trouble come – But even then there is a deep seated joy that doesn’t stop burning bright!  The lamp stays lit – always!  The darkness never takes over!

Stay lit friends!  Don’t lose the fire!  Jesus is coming.  Without the Holy Spirit there is no assurance of going with Him.  Recall to mind the parable of the ten virgins.  Five were wise and filled their lamps with the anointing oil and five were foolish.  The foolish ones did not have the oil in their lamps for the great return of the bridegroom.  When the bridegroom came He didn’t take them with Him and they banged on the door saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us!” Then Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, I do not know you.  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (See Matthew 25:12-13).

In darkness there are no guarantees; nothing is certain! It would be the ultimate horror to miss out on Jesus' coming because we're in darkness.  He is our all consuming fire.  Our perpetual supply of anointing oil comes from taking every step in love!  Walk in the light as He is in the light!  When He comes you’ll be ready!  Oh, happy day!

Leviticus 25:39

And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave.

The King James Version renders this passage as, “You shall not compel him to serve as a bondservant.”  A bondservant is someone who serves at will, by choice, and not by compulsion.  They want to serve.  They choose to do it by their own free will.  They’ve chosen to serve out of love.

In ancient day Israel, a slave could only be tenured and made to serve for six years.  On the seventh year he or she was free to go as they pleased.  Their master was required to let them leave and grant them provisions without any questions or grief about them leaving.  But, if the slave decided that he didn’t want to leave because he loved his master, then the master would perform the public act of a bondservant’s induction.  He would take a long skinny nail and hammer it through the slave’s ear and leave him there until sundown (Deuteronomy 15:12-28).  The public would see this man nailed to the door of the house and knew that the slave was declaring to all, “I love my master and I want to serve him forever at my will.”  It was a scene indeed.

At church, the next time there is an altar call, I highly recommend going up there in front of all the people.  It’s a public declaration that warms the heart of the Father.  As you feel Him knocking at the door of your heart, open it to Him. Stand bold.  And in return, why don’t you run over to His door, nail yourself to it, and declare to everyone, “I love the Lord, I want to serve Him at will; at my will forever.”  Declare it publicly.  Jesus said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).

Nail yourself to the door of His heart – be a man or woman after His own heart.

Nail yourself to the doors of the church – be planted in the house of God and flourish.

Give your “Awl” to Him!

Lately I have noticed a recurring trend that interests me.  I’ve been running into a lot of people who have tattoos about God or the scriptures inked on them.  So I think, “Oh, cool, a fellow believer.”  Then they’ll say, “Oh, I got that when I was young.”  Or, “Yea, whatever, I got that a long time ago, anyways,” as he lights up a cigarette and says stuff I don’t ever want to repeat ever.  Or, I just recently saw one individual who had the Philippians 4:13 verse tattooed on him and it seemed to mean nothing at all, and it definitely didn’t line up with a righteous lifestyle, as none of them did.  They almost all, in every case, seemed ashamed of their religious tattoo.  I can’t help but wonder, “What happened?”  You were so bold to want to declare to the world your faith in Christ – You were pierced with a inking-nail and made a bloody declaration for the public to see.  But now you’re ashamed?  What’s up?  Follow through!  Be zealous until death!  Tattoo JESUS FREAK on my eyeballs and let it be known forever!  Amen!

Leviticus 27:31

If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it.

I can get better interest rates at the bank!  It’s a rip-off to take from God’s tithe, but not necessarily for you and me.  It robs Him.  As I was reading in Leviticus yesterday I found it very interesting that the same restitution a thief was to pay if he was caught and found out was – One-fifth!

God only wants ten percent, but if we dip our hands into His money He requires an extra one-fifth part or twenty percent (Same thing).  That’s not from the tithe but from what we are tithing – So if I have a hundred dollars and I use my ten dollars that was supposed to be for tithe, that’s ok.  But, I have to give Him back thirty dollars – Ouch.

“Well, that’s legalistic.  Tithing is Old Testament stuff only.”

Is it?

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees about their religious stuff and said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23). 

Tithing ought to be done.

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully shall 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.  And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2nd Corinthians 9:6-8).

“Well, you said it.  It’s not a necessity.  So, I’m going to keep my tithe-money to get that new bar-be-que pit or that little camera or whatever junk I need.” – It won’t be blessed!

“Well, I just can’t afford to tithe.” – You can’t afford not to!  You’ll forfeit a sterling quality of life that the world observes. They’ll call you blessed!  It would be better to pay your tithes even if it puts you on the streets.  You’ll be closer to where God wants you.  Oh, if there is a lesson I wish for my children to know it’s this:  Regardless of the cost, pay your tithes first. Honor the LORD with the firstfruits of your increase. You’ll be blessed.  God will preserve you and keep the devourer from your stuff.  You’ll always be self-less, rich, and the flood gates of heaven will pour out so much that you won’t have room enough to receive it!  Actually, I think that’s a lesson for all of us!  You just can’t out-give God! 

Numbers 2:1

Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.

Numbers introduces us to a beautiful portrait of the cross of Jesus Christ in the establishment of the camps.  Upon the inception of this text, the outside reader may feel that he is monotonously digging through tedious texts without significance.  Yet, the Bible is completely inspired from Genesis to Revelation – And Numbers chapters one and two actually culminates in a very exciting picture:

Every tribe had specific instructions as to where to camp.

Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin had to camp on the west side.  They totaled 108,100 people.

Judah, Isaachar, and Zebulun had to camp on the east side.  They totaled 186,400 people.

Reuben, Simeon, and Gad were on the south side.  They totaled 151,400 people.

Dan, Asher, and Naphtali were on the north side.  They totaled 157, 400 people.


Put it all together, or Bible students can draw it out – What fashion and form does it take?  A cross! 

The camps formulate the old rugged cross with the camp of Ephraim at the top and smoke arising from the camp of Levi – Where the heart of Jesus would have been!

These camps had to be set-up subsequently next to each other and squared off in military fashion for war purposes.  It wasn’t a free-for-all camping trip.  Every time they tore the camp down, they set it up again in the same fashion – In a clean, squared-off fashion.

Here’s where it gets even better:

When Balaam was hired by Balak the king of Moab to curse Israel, they stood on the mountain looking down at Israel.  As they were at the high place, Balaam cried out, “Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east.  ‘Come curse Jacob for me, and denounce Israel!’ How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?  And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced? …Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number one-fourth of Israel?  Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!”(Numbers 23:7-10).

Balaam was on the eastern mountains looking west upon the children of Israel.

He would have found himself at the foot of the cross! – A cross so big that he couldn’t number a quarter of the people who comprised the cross!

We are those people!

We’ve got the cross, folks!  There is no condemnation or curse that can be placed upon us in life or in death!  Let me die the death of the righteous and let my end be like his!  Oh, we have a glorious ending!  Thanks to Jesus hanging on that old rugged cross – The most beautiful picture ever portrayed! 

And Balak, who is a picture of Satan and desires to curse us eternally, strikes his hands together in anger and says, “What have you done to me?  I brought you out here to curse them, and look, you have blessed them bountifully!” (Numbers 23:11; Numbers 24:10). 

Praise God!  Hallelujah!  Let me die the death of the righteous!

So, as we began, though trudging though ostensibly tedious and monotonous Scripture can be a dry-drudgery at times, keep digging!  Every word of God from Genesis to Revelation is the full counsel of God, and man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God – Every Word.  And, though we feel as though we are camped out in a dry place in His Word – We are going to mine treasures we never saw before – Keep digging!

And, what I find is ‘mine!’

Numbers 5:14

If the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself –

Then he shall not ignore his jealous feelings and bring her before the Lord.  He shall bring her to the priest and tell him what he feels.  The priest shall then write curses in a book, scrape them off into water, and make her drink it.  If she is guilty, then her belly will swell and her thigh will rot.  If she wasn’t guilty, then she would be fine and no curse would affect her.  Then she and her husband would go on their merry way – But the man was not to ignore or discount his jealous feelings.  He was commanded to go before the priest and stand her before the Lord (See Numbers 5:11-21).

I love the law of the LORD.  It speaks of the realities of life.  It is somewhat common for a man to become jealous of his wife or girlfriend, or fiancé.  As a counselor, I am frequently faced with this dilemma.  Men usually feel as though they are wrong for feeling jealous feelings, but they shouldn’t always necessarily feel this way.  The Bible speaks of two jealousies:  A jealousy for no reason, and a legitimate God-given jealousy because His significant other has gone astray or soon will due to the path she (Or he in a woman’s case) is on.

One feeling is of the flesh and is wrong (Galatians 5:20).  Men or women who are dabbling and messing around in sin are prone to be jealous because they cannot discern anything.  They are insecure.

But there is a holy jealousy that must be brought up before the Lord in prayer in order to distinguish whether his or her jealousy is unfounded or legitimate – We shouldn’t ignore or discount God-given jealousies, but do as the Lord says – Bring it before God.

I have met those who have discounted or ignored God-given jealousy.  They say, “She is going out with her friends a lot more lately, and though I feel jealous feelings, I will trust her” – And I say don’t ignore those feelings in the name of ‘Trust.’  Do what God says and lift it up before Him.  You may feel jealous for no reason, but that is ok – As you walk in the Spirit jealousies will quickly disappear.

Or they say,

“She is going out with her boss every day to lunch and though I feel jealous feelings, I will trust her” – And I say don’t ignore those feelings in the name of ‘Trust.’  Do what God says and lift it up before Him.  You may feel jealous for a legitimate reason and you are going to end up divorced because you ignore those feelings and say, “I just want her to know that I trust her,” as she walks out the door dressed immodestly saying, “Oh, I’m just going out with the girls tonight” – This is a very common attitude and disposition men have towards their spouses, who, as a result, aren’t their spouses anymore.  So, embrace godly jealousies! 

I find it very interesting that this section in Numbers never faults or declares a man guilty for feeling jealous over his spouse.  Yet, he is condemned as guilty if he ignores his jealousy (Numbers 5:31), which, is what so many men do today in the name of ‘Trust.’

May we be the type of people who can differentiate and discern between jealousy that comes from being in the flesh and the holy jealousy that comes from God as a warning. 

 Numbers 11:17

Then I will come down and talk with you [Moses] there.  I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them….

Iron sharpens iron as one man’s countenance sharpens his friend’s countenance (Proverbs 27:17).  It’s a spiritual law in life. You will become who you hang with.  They’ll sharpen you to become like them.  My Calvary Chapel Pastor once said, “If you show me a man’s friends, I’ll show you the man!”  He was right.  Walk with wise men and you’ll be a wiser person or be a companion of fools and be destroyed.

These men had the privilege of knowing Moses personally.  God took of the spirit of Moses and put it on them.  I can’t help but think of the prophet Elisha who asked a double portion of the spirit of Elijah to become like him too (2 Kings 2:9).  The people saw it and said, “Look!  The Spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha!”  Your friends rub off.  You are going to become like your companions; whoever they are. 

David was a giant slayer and his people became giant slayers (2nd Samuel 21:15-22).

The disciples of Jesus, being perfectly trained by the Messiah, were like Him (Luke 6:40).

John the baptist moved in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:15).  

How I hope that we would have a beautifully enlightened Spirit that the world wants and glorifies God as a result thereof.

Conversely, the opposite is true.  Bad company corrupts good character.  When I happen to be around people I can’t stand, there’s probably a reason.  They are just not good for me.  I don’t want to be like them and, God would agree, I shouldn’t either.  They’re bad company.  I wonder how many of us tolerate fleshy-annoying evil characters on television?  You’re gonna be like them!  We aren’t supposed to accept or put up with an annoying spirit for one second (See 2nd Corinthians 11:4).  I’m not talking about an actor who is playing a villain role.  There are many villain roles that are played by wonderful actors.  I’m speaking about an annoying spirit, whether he is the hero or antagonist alike.  Don’t put up with people with evil spirits, don’t fellowship with them, and definitely don’t derive a friendship with an annoying person unless the Spirit of God is directing your heart to minister to them.

Are there wonderful Christians who are lifted up in your life?  Are they worthy to ask God of a portion of their spirit?  You can ask for it - evidently, as Moses and Elijah were, there are normal people with wonderful spirits worthy of asking God for a portion!  We know it is God's Spirit anyway, yet, it would be pretty wonderful if the spirit, charisma, and the illuminating glow of God-in-them was part of you!  Now, if there is any person I’d wish a double portion of His Spirit would be upon me, then, it would be none other than Jesus Christ – Whose Spirit is better than His?

Here’s something to consider:  If Elisha’s asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit was considered a hard thing, then what will asking for a double portion of the Spirit of the Christ be considered?  The logical answer is hard, but His yoke is easy and His burden light.

Numbers 14:8

If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’

The wilderness wandering is about to come to an end.  The children of Israel are on the brink of entering into the land.  As they come to the threshold of the promised land, the LORD commands them to send out spies to observe the land, to set up and finalize a strategy for a plan of attack against the inhabitants; against the Hittites, Amalekites, Canaanites,and Jebusites – The people of whom God was overthrowing and moving out of the land.  God was saying, in essence, “Go up, I will give you all their lands.” 

“I’m driving them out.  It's yours!”

“Take it!”

Now, when the spies return, they bring a fearfully disheartening report.  They say, “This is a land that devours its inhabitants and the people are like giants.  We can’t do it.”  Yet, Joshua and Caleb do not concur or agree, but say, “God is with us and their protection is gone.  We will eat them up like bread.  Do not fear them.”  And the people said to stone them with stones (Numbers 14:10).

Moreover, they said to elect a leader to lead them back to Egypt.

This is where God snaps and brings everything to remembrance that they have ever done in the wilderness; every sin they have committed.  God says, “Get back Moses, I am going to strike this whole congregation and disinherit them.”  And Moses says, “Oh, God, You’re famous among us.  The nations are going to talk if You do.  They are going to talk about how You could not bring us in.  For Your glory and fame, have mercy on them.”  So God says, “Fine, but the carcasses of every one twenty years old and above shall fall in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua.  According the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, I will cause you to spend a year here for each day.  I said ‘Go up,’ but you would not.  So now, you will know My rejection” (Numbers 14:34).

Then God plagued and killed the spies who made the heart of everyone fearful and the people mourned.  Then they said, “Wait Moses, we are wrong.  We’ve sinned.  We will go up to the place the LORD has promised to us, the land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’  Then Moses said, “Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies.  The LORD is not with you.  God told you that you have to spend forty years out here now.  Tomorrow, turn and move out into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea.  Watch out, the Amalekites and Canaanites are in the valley.  You will not succeed against them in battle.  You should have went when God said to go.  You missed your window of opportunity."


The people presumed to go up.  Then the Amalekites and Canaanites attacked them and drove them back as far as Horeb.  And Moses and the ark of the covenant of the LORD remained in the camp and did not go up.

There is a very important application in these beautiful verses.  You have to ‘strike when the iron is hot,’ or you’ll miss it.  We must move with the Spirit of the LORD; when He calls us to – In His timing.  The children of Israel later decided to enter into the promised land, but that ‘ship sailed.’  It was too late.  Friends, move when Holy Spirit moves – Don’t miss out on God’s best because of fear or sin or disbelief.  Be a giant slayer.  Be fearless.  Forget the circumstances and focus on the calling.  You’ll walk on the water if you keep your eyes off the waves and on Him – Every time.  Take the opportunities God gives you, for you may not have a second chance.  “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Numbers 21:8

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”

On the Israelite journey, they became discouraged along the Way of the Red Sea and cried out against God and against Moses saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die out here?”  So, the LORD sent aggressive fiery serpents to bite the people.  They began dying.  Then they came to Moses saying, “We have sinned,” and God provided an antidote as mysteriously simple as glancing at a bronze statue for their remedy and cure.  So, Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole, and those who were bitten by a fiery serpent, if he looked at it, he lived. 

And I can bet that even then, there were those that said, “I don’t believe it.  All I have to do is ‘look’ at the bronze serpent and I will live?”

Jesus is the serpent on the pole. 

“For God made Him Who knew no sin, to become sin for us, that in Him we would become the righteousness of God” (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  He became the embodiment of all our devilish sin on the cross and the message today is the same as it was then – Just believe.  God made it as mysteriously easy as simply believing the message of Christ on the cross to attain everlasting life.

We, as a culture, are immensely works-oriented and the message of simply ‘looking’ to Him and being saved doesn’t follow our rigorous patterns.  We want to spend two decades in Calcutta feeding children and planting world outreaches across the globe to enter into our heavenly reward, when all the while – It is by grace that we are saved, through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus sat with a group of aspiring people with good intentions; with people who were ready to work righteousness; with people who were ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for the kingdom of God.  And, they said, “What must we do that we may work the works of God?”  Then Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Who was sent” (John 6:29).  He did all the righteous works, He fulfilled the law, and God credits His life to our account – As if we lived His life.  We just have to accept it, and we will enter into eternal life by simply looking to our bronze serpent – To Jesus.  We've all been bit with sin.  Death is working in us.  Jesus is the cure.

Numbers 23:23

For there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel.  It now must be said of Jacob and Israel, “Oh what God has done!”

I know that magic and sorcery are still around.  For the most part, though, they aren’t very typical in everyday life.  Once in a while you may meet an eccentric person who claims they practice magic.  They wear lots of black and have a dark gothic-demeanor – whatever.  But I can’t help but wonder if that stuff really works.  Does magic or do curses or voodoo dolls have any credence or legitimate power? 

According to the scriptures, yes.  But it doesn’t work on us!  There is no demonic power, magic, or curse that can affect and defect our lives.  We are immune!

Balak the King of the Moabites hired a very unique fellow with the spirit of divine revelation.  His name was Balaam.  As Israel wandered through the desert to the promised land, they encamped near Moab.  The King of Moab was worried and hired out Balaam to curse them.  Now, Balaam was a right-on oracle.  Whatever he said came true.  So, as they were both on the high place of Baal, Balaam began to bless the children of God with mighty blessings!  Every word that came from his mouth was a wondrous blessing over and over again!  Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me?  I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have blessed them bountifully!”  And, I will never forget Balaam’s words, “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?  And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?” (Numbers 23:8).

You are the children of God.  There isn’t any curse or enchantment that can be placed upon you!

In fact, the opposite is true, we have power over unclean spirits and over all the power of the enemy!  In Luke chapter ten, the seventy came back rejoicing because they had power unclean spirits and demons.  Even the strongest entities can be broken through prayer and fasting.  The God of light dwells in our temples.  Darkness cannot co-exist in the same temple.  Demons cannot posses you and I, either:

They can oppress you.

They can depress you.

But, they cannot possess you.

So, let us not ever even entertain the idea that we can be affected by curses or witchcraft or superstitions of black cats and cracked lines with seven years of bad luck.  Every curse placed upon us will not alight – it’s alright!  Every once in a blue moon I'll run into an occultist weirdo who glorifies the fact that they practiced magic.  Quite frankly I'm not impressed.  I've read the book of Acts and there is power on my side, theirs seems like foolish-silly idle talk.

It probably will never happen, but the next time someone says you’ll have bad luck or gets all-omen on you – remember Balaam’s blessing.  There is no omen.  Amen!

Numbers 27:14

For in the Wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to hallow Me at the waters before their eyes.  (These are the waters of Meribah, at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.)

God declares to Moses that he will be unable to enter into the land, but he will be able to see it from the Pisgah Mountain top.  Now that he will be soon departing from the earth, he is to take Joshua and install him into the office as a shepherd leader over Israel.  Joshua will take Moses’ place.  God declares, “Moses, you aren’t going in because you rebelled against Me.”  And Moses said–nothing.

And there was no better response that Moses could declare.

When the Spirit of the Lord begins to convict us of something, or the Word of the Lord shines in our darkness, we would do best to agree with the Lord–then confess our shortcoming–then forsake it–

Not make excuses for it.

Not work around it.

Confess and forsake it–that’s how we will prosper (Proverbs 28:13).

When the prophet Nathan came to David and pointed out his overwhelming shortcomings, David responded with one saying that sums up what all our responses should be when the Word of the Lord has come to bring to light our darkness, he simply said, “I have sinned.”  He didn’t fight it, make excuses for it, but confessed and forsook it.  He just agreed.  He didn’t lighten the severity of it or explain it away.

As time progresses, I begin to hear more frequently from long time backslidden men who have accepted sin, begin to make excuses for it and explain all the reasons why what they are doing is acceptable.  Somewhere along the lines, they let something in.  And, now, they spend their lives justifying, reasoning, and continually explaining away their reasons why it is okay–how exhausting!  It’s best to just give up!  Accept it as wrong, repent, and move on.  Our minds may contrive notions that reinforce the faulty-acceptability of our shortcomings, and it may even seem cognitively logical, but I have noticed one underlying factor in each and every person’s life who justifies their sin, that is, they have a sob story and suffered a needless tragic circumstance as a result of their ‘acceptable’ sin.  The flesh wars against the things of God and warps thoughts that make sin plausible.  Don’t believe it or let it in.  Keep the standards of God throughout the decades and scores of years that comprise, constitute, and consist in the life that God gives you.  You will prosper when you confess and forsake your sin–it’s a promise.

Numbers 32:23

But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.

As the children of Israel were poised to enter into the promised land, the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh decided they did not want an inheritance with the rest of their brethren, but would rather stay east of the Jordan, due to the ideal geographical location for their abundant livestock.  Moses tells them, “Now why will you discourage your brethren and weaken their hearts?  They are about to enter into battle.  Shall your brethren go to war while you just sit here?”  But they said, “We will go to war with you and we will not return to our homes until every one of them has entered the land and received his inheritance.”  And Moses blessed them and said, “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the LORD for war, subdue the land, and drive out His enemies from before Him, then you shall be blameless.  If not, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Most of us asked Jesus to enter our hearts.  We repeated a prayer that stated something like, “Lord Jesus, please come into my heart.  Thank You for dying for me and thank You for loving me.  I confess You as Lord, and I will follow You from this day forward.”  We, like the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh said we would fight the Lord’s battles until we entered the promised land of heaven.  If God has blessed you on this side of heaven – Wonderful!  But follow through on your word and fight the Lord’s battles until we all depart to our heavenly estate!  Don’t get comfortable on this side of the Jordan – So to speak.  Don’t let anything cloud-out your confession until we enter the clouds!  And, by then, we will not be subjected to wrestling with the flesh or dealing with the heathen world anymore!

Moses gave Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh a clear stipulation: follow through on what you said and you’ll be blameless.  If you don’t, your sin will find you out.

What did they say?

They said they would fight the LORD’s battles until the end…

Just like we did.

The land east of the Jordan was eventually partially picked off by the Moabites.  Many scholars condemn these tribes for not entering into the promised land with the rest of the Israelites.  I usually 'camp' among them.  But, for what it is worth, Moses referred to the land chosen by them as the best land (Deuteronomy 33:21).  I enjoy God’s best here, and so do you – But this is not our home.  “Blessed is the man whose heart is set on pilgrimage” (Psalm 84:5).  We are all just passing through – So we follow through on our confession to fight the LORD’S battles until heaven!  We will enter in!

Numbers 36:6-7

This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, “Let them marry who they think is best, but they may marry only within the family of their father’s tribe.”  So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe….

The vast majority of Americans in our country have succumbed to a broken marriage.  They have either been the victim or the cause.  Whatever the circumstance, God is good.  He can piece together a broken life with such solidarity that we can begin to wonder if there was any consequence at all.  He can make it that good–please know that the following passage is not a condemnation, but an earnest exhortation for anyone who does not have the gift of celibacy.

A descendant of Joseph named Zelophehad died with no sons.  He only had daughters.  His name was going to disappear from his posterity when his daughters were married outside the tribe of Joseph.  So they were commanded to only marry within the tribe of Joseph in order to perpetuate the name of the deceased so that now it will always be Joseph's territory.

Now, let us look at the illustrative-type and spiritual application found therein:

It is absolutely imperative to marry based on the premise that he or she is a true Spirit filled believer who is in love with the Word of the Lord.  If they aren’t part of your heavenly Father’s tribe, then your inheritance is uncertain and in jeopardy of being lost.  How?  Many Christians find themselves pursuing a relationship with someone who doesn’t have the fruit of the Spirit or a love for the Word, and, over time, it just doesn’t work out. 

She leaves and takes the child with her–your inheritance just walked out the door.

The family breaks–you get up every day and work, only to fork-over your hard earned dollars to another household.

Someone else ends up with your spouse. 

They may even go out to dinner and a movie–on you!

So now you get up every day for the next eighteen years and hit the alarm clock, and sigh with grief.   Your inheritance is significantly diminished, you give your years to the cruel one, and yes, the cruel one is usually, in most cases, your ex.  You work for your hateful enemy now.  And I cannot begin to delve-in and cover every detail concerning the futuristic horror that surely comes from marrying a non-believer.  Every relationship must stay in the tribe–in the family of God the Father–our inheritance depends on it.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” (2nd Corinthians 6:14-15).  You may plow together for a while, but the unbeliever will eventually go towards the mud and ruin all the work you perform in your particular field. 

Deuteronomy 1:37

The LORD was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, “Even you shall not go in there.”

Here at the outset of Deuteronomy, Moses is retelling, recounting, and reminiscing over every nuance of their wilderness wanderings and their battles.  After thirty-eight years, God is beginning to give them consecutive victories.  Moses excitedly cries out saying, “O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?  I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.  But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me.  So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that!  Speak no more to Me of this matter.  Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan’ ” (Deuteronomy 3:23-26).

Moses is paying the price for his rare, remote, and single past sin.  God commanded Moses to speak to the rock and water the flock, the congregation of Israel.  Moses struck the rock and did not hallow God in their eyes.  So God said, “Hey Moses, step into My office.  Because of your disobedience at the waters of Meribah, you cannot enter into the promised land flowing with milk and honey.”  Friends, don’t let one singular disobedience rob you of future blessings.  Sin will not allow us access into the abundant life that God has planned for us–don’t ruin it! 

It only takes once –   

Even if it is uncharacteristic of you.

So often I hear, “Well, I only do this sinful thing once in a while?  I will be fine.”  But, all it takes is once.  Ask Moses.  Or better yet, ask David.  He was graciously granted continual victory after victory in his heroic stories, but once a singular night of fleshly indulgence transpires and takes place, he spends the rest of his life’s story paying the price.  From 2nd Samuel 11:1, on the evening he sinned, until the closure of his story in 1st Kings 2:10 where his life’s story ends–there is a somber and dolores tone that enters the text.  He isn’t famously fighting battles with endless victories anymore.  He is perpetually-barely hanging on for his victories now.  He is suffering the drama that he allowed to enter into his life’s story.  Why? Because of one sinful rendezvous in the flesh.  Once is all it takes for God to say to you what he said to Moses–‘Enough!’  Friends, don’t let one singular disobedience rob you of the futuristic abundant life that God has lovingly ‘mapped’ out just for you.  

Deuteronomy 6:11-12

Houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant – When you have eaten and are full – Then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

As I walk around my God-given unique rented-house with bull-nosed walls and curved ceilings, with silver closet handles and tiled floors, and with a hardwood bedroom floor, I am reminded about this verse.  I remember sitting in the VONS parking lot wondering how I could possibly have enough to pay rent and my electric bill at the same time.  I barely work and live on temp-pay.  But we tried anyway.  We rented an apartment for seven-seventy five and moved in with nothing except a giant pink toy tonka truck that we found on the side of the road.  We thought our two daughters could use it to sit on.  We slept on the floor with no beds and used our sweaters as pillows; you know, wrapping them up to elevate our heads.  And now, no, I am not rich, but I have a house full of stuff that I didn’t work for; The floodgates of heaven opened for me and I don’t have room enough for all God’s blessings.  I used to hear this verse about having all sorts of stuff that I didn’t work for and think, “That’s like impossible.”  But now I sit here in-clover, content, and in love.  I don't know how long this will last, but I'm going to ride it until it's done.  God does the same for all of us.  It's seems too good to be true and a wistful thought in the wind.  It's not.  Your heart's desire in the Holy Spirit is coming.

Be faithful in the tenth and God will prove Himself to you – Where else does the word say to test Him in this?  It’s rare.  God desires for you and I to test Him in this matter.  He will be true.  It’s one of the greatest keys of the abundant and prosperous life.  Give a tenth to the house of God of everything you get – Everything.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  These verses will become a reality:

“I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.  Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and Egypt.  Serve the LORD!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether it be the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:13-15).  I feel lifted up, so it's high time to beware.  And I think you would be wise to too.

Deuteronomy 12:1

These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.

I am so thankful for the Word of God in the Scriptures.  I am exceedingly joyful that God granted to us an instruction manual for living on the earth.  I would be confused without it.  My warped heart would pursue all sorts of deranged conversation and strange places–and disappointing endeavors.  God has given us a pragmatic paradigm for living, saying, “See that you do all things according to pattern” (Hebrews 8:5).  As I implement, incorporate, and imbed the ways of the Lord through the Scriptures into my heart and work them out in my lifestyle, I see the Word of the LORD in Deuteronomy spring to fruition in my life.  Moses said, “Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 12:28). 

“But the Word of God is too restrictive,” one says.

“We should all run free and do as we please.”

Yet, the purpose driven life that God has ordained requires us to stay on track as a caboose pulling train-carts would.  If we de-rail the steam engine train in hopes that it can traverse wherever the caboose navigator would like, it isn’t going to chug very far.

“But Michael, I like to smoke”–‘Choo Choo’–as he chain-link puffs like the little engine that could and can’t seem to get himself under control in every other arena of life.

“But I think we should all try everything and see what fits us best, and then we will all be happy”–‘Chuga Chug’–as she is drinking down the spirits and trying every pharmaceutical anti-depressive drug prescribed from various shrinks.

Without the manual, we are headed right off the God given guardrails into dangerous waters.  We are prone to follow the dictates of our own deceitful and desperately wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9).  Friends, stay on the track, refusing to backslide off.  Our heart must line up with the Word of Lord or we are wrong.  There is no way around it.  Keep the laws, statutes, precepts, commandments, and ways of the LORD.  You’ll arrive safely at your earthly destinations and your ultimate heavenly destiny with joy and rejoicing.  You won’t look back with some sob-derailed story like everyone else who does not consult Emmanuel’s manual or the Savior’s Scriptures.

Deuteronomy 18:15

The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.  Him you shall hear….

Moses is prophesying of the coming Jesus who will branch from Israel’s descending lineage.  He is the Messianic Prophet being raised up in a future posterity of Jews.  He is the Hope of Israel.  Fast forward fourteen-hundred years later to John the Baptizer’s day.  “The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’  And they asked him, ‘What then?  Are you Elijah?’  He said, ‘I am not.’  ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’  Then they said, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us?  What do you say about yourself?’  He said: ‘I am “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the LORD.’ ” ’ ” (John 1:19-23).

John’s immersion movement was awesome.  The baptism ministry of John was so majestically anointed that people wondered if he was the Christ; the Prophet of whom Moses spoke.  God gives gifts, anointing, glory, and honor to men for His purpose.  The Spirit of God raises up a man or woman from among their brethren or from the midst of individuals, and crowns them with glory and honor–He grants us a majestic, magnificent, and marvelous ministry with a mandate:  Point to the Prophet!  John was the greatest prophet born among women because he adamantly-altruistically declared, “I’m here for one purpose:  I’m here to clear the road for Jesus.  I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie His sandals.  He is better than me.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  When God raises us up on high–point to Jesus–there’s no greater ministry!  Point to what Jesus did on the cross!  Point to the gospel of everlasting life.

Point to how God wiped all of our sin onto Jesus, crucified Him, and now there's nothing left–we are perfect in His sight (Hebrews 10:14).  We have been made positionally perfect in the Son and can enter into heavenly perfection for eternity!  We are the righteousness of God (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  Heaven is perfect, and now our once tainted souls have been purified to perfection!  We have been made holy!  Now we can joyfully-storm those pearly gates!  Praise God!  Hallelujah!  It's all about Him!; not us!  

...And apart from false humility

If I’m riding on my righteous high-Clydesdale (you know the ones with the white furry-feet) and I am asked, “Are you the man Michael?”  My gracious response, godly retort, and genuine reply should be the truth, “I am a worm and no man.  A reproach of men and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6) and “I am nothing” (1st Corinthians 15:10).  Jesus is the Man. 

Deuteronomy 23:3

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

God bypasses sin.  He does not treat us according to what our sin truly deserves.  He does not enforce the fullest extent of His punishment for breaking His ordinances, laws, and commands.  God is truly good to us, and He has shown us how great His love is towards us by enforcing, to the fullest extent, the penalty of breaking His ordinances, laws, and commandments on Jesus Christ crucified. 

Ruth was a Moabitess, and she was king David’s great grandmother–which would make David only a fourth generation mottled-Israelite with Moabite blood.  According to Jewish law, David could not enter into the assembly, nor could his posterity for six more generations, but not only did they all enter the temple regularly, Solomon majestically constructed it.  Why?  Plain old grace–that’s why!

God is good.  He lets us off the hook of the law.

Thanks be to Jesus, for we are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).

None of us measures up to the standards that God has required of us.  When we look at the law we are to put our hands over our mouths and cry out for the mercy that endures forever.  “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19).  David was caught in adultery and the Law of Moses required that he should be stoned to death.  He wasn't.  Jesus let the woman caught in adultery go free.  Grace is the final word!  Jesus said, “Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11).  So, should I sin now that I am aware of this soft and merciful character trait of Jehovah God?  Certainly not!  There’s a life of sorrow, anguish, and grief attached to the soul who sins! 

Deuteronomy 24:18

But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.

How often I forget that I was in bondage to the elements of the world’s system.  I forget that I have been cleansed from past shortcomings, sins, and self righteously ride on my white high horse trampling down the malpractices and lifestyles of those who do not know Jesus and of those who do not grasp how to maneuver according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  As a Biblical requirement, we are to remember that we too were slaves to sin.

When I observe society today, and can’t believe that people are so caught up in foolishness

I begin to thank God that I am not like other men…

…And my prayers do not hit the ceiling (See Luke 18:11).


“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:3-6).

And we forget that.

You were lost and needed Jesus too.  Remember that you were called out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Now it’s their turn.  

Deuteronomy 30:11

For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, nor does he obey His voice.  They consider the things of God foolishness and too mysterious.  In Hosea, the LORD declares, “I have given him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12).  One commonality and underlying factor that skeptical, faithless, and natural men have is a very negative, cynical-complaining attitude.  There’s always something wrong.  It's no wonder that their belief system does not include any aspect of the unseen, supernatural, or sphere of faith.  There is a direct correlation between cynicism and a lack of faith in the unseen.

There’s a prevalent cliché in society that states, “Seeing is believing.”

But Jesus said,

“Believing is seeing.”

“Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).  The scientific mind, en-grained in the logical standards of reason, may have missed the faith aspect in this regard, and without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).  As we near the impending outset of Deuteronomy, Moses is redundantly reiterating and repetitiously declaring to those who are governed by God that they must obey the voice of the LORD–that they must follow the unseen still small voice in their heart as it lines up with the Word of the LORD.  

His recurring theme in Deuteronomy is:

Obey the voice of the LORD!

Be faith-filled and fantastically incredible, or faithlessly incredulous.

We’re either fantastically incredible men or women who move in the unseen realm, or faithlessly incredulous personas who pugnaciously persist in disbelief, disregarding anything supernatural, and adamantly hardening our hearts because, after all, if we can’t see it then we just can’t believe in a spiritual voice that guides us.  Jesus said there would be those who do not believe because they are not His sheep, but there would be a select few who would obey the physically unseen, physiological unheard, and metaphysical voice that speaks to their regenerated born again heart in the Spirit.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). 

Deuteronomy 32:11-12

As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the LORD alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him.

The practice of the Eagle, who makes its home at the top of the cliffs, is intriguing to me.  The mother eagle adorns her nest with plush and soft debris to make the eaglet comfortable.  She brings him partially digested prey for him to feast upon.  He has an extremely comfortable upbringing.

Until one day…

The mother eagle has a look in her eye that he has never seen before. 

She begins to remove the fuzzy plush debris from the nest and expose prodding-poking twigs to create a more uncomfortable dwelling for the eaglet–then she herself begins nudging and pushing him out of the nest.  She moves him right up to the threshold of the nest and then–


The baby eaglet is rapidly falling through the sky to his gruesome death on the rocks.

And as he is about to be crushed and dashed in his demise at the base of the cliff–mother eagle dives down and swoops under him–bearing him up on eagle's wings and saves him.  Hence the phrase, borne on eagle’s wings.

Now she repeats this seemingly cruel cycle.

Until one day baby eaglet gets it.  In mid-air, as he is falling and flapping his under-developed wings, he gets it–he begins to struggle and flap so often and so much so that he begins undulating his now-powerfully developed wings–and begins to soar.

She taught him to fly.

And that’s how God will lead you and me.  He will make things extremely uncomfortable at times.  He flings you and me out of our plushy places, making it dreadfully difficult and we desperately think, “Oh God, why are things looking so ‘rocky’?”  But if you’ll notice the section of the highlighted verse, “So the LORD led him, because there was no foreign god with him.” God will lead you as the eagles, and will save you every time–the trick is having no other gods but Him; having a fully devoted heart.  See, I need God to save me when I’m going down–and He will.  But if I harbor sin in my heart and won’t let go (but keep falling), and adamantly hold fast to my downfall, I am going to hit rock bottom.  As a child of God, we have the privilege of calling upon a Savior who swoops down and delivers us every time. 

“Well, I like to pour a few drinks on the rocks when things aren’t flying the way they should.” 

And, I say, “You’ll be on the rocks alright!”


“I just ignore the difficult times and sort of close my eyes to the consequences of sin in my life.”

And, I say, “It’s all going black for you alright!”

See, friends, we need a Savior who we can call upon in times of trouble.  He will lead us as the eagle does her young, and swoop down and save us on the condition that there is no foreign god among us, that is, as long as we have a heart wholly and completely devoted to Him; without harboring some sin, transgression, or iniquity.  And, we take His way as an escape–not our petty get-the-job-done mediocre escapes. 

Joshua 1:7

Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

The key to prosperity is as follows:

Do according to the law of the Lord.  Don’t turn from it.  Don’t compromise or allow your own reasoning to accept something contrary to Spirit of the Lord because the trial seems too awkward or tedious.  Go with Him.  Stay close behind Him no matter the circumstance and keep following through the years.  Prosperity will come, but God needs to establish quite a few things first.  The prosperous mighty-men in the Word of God had some gnarly, wild, and dangerous beginnings with the Lord.  And no, the money wasn’t rolling in.  But the adventure was awesome and that is part of it!  You will look back on your years so fulfilled and satisfied with the missions, journeys, and adventures God took you on, that you will look around and appreciate all the wealth, prosperity, and abundance your life is flooded with. 


All the while you were on the run,

You had your Bible with you like a mighty awesome one.  You had your double edged sword by your side wherever you went.  You meditated and mulled over it with a quiet-receiving-gentle ruminating soul and during those quiet times, He trained you for the battles you faced.  Now it’s over.  It may have taken decades, but now you are “Like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).  Why?  Because your delight is in the law of the LORD and you meditate on it day and night–whatever you touch prospers!  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart!

Joshua 6:20

So the people shouted when the priest blew the trumpet.  And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.  Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

Joshua and the armies of Israel have been walking around Jericho once a day for six days.  On the seventh day, they are walking around it seven times and now the trumpets are being sounded, and great shouts circumvent the city walls.  Then, they crumble and cascade into a rubble of destructionnow they can take the city.

Sometimes our walk with the Lord seems to aimlessly be wandering about in circles, but based on the authority and veracity of the written Word of the Lord, those walls are coming down.  Whatever it is that looms in your life or in mine, we must keep walking with Him.  It’s going down. 

“But, I’ve been praying for about a week now, and nothing is happening.”

Keep asking, it’s coming down.  In the Spirit of God, pray seven times harder.

“Yet, I feel like I’m going round and round with my temptations and keep falling.”

Keep seeking, you’ll get it together and cease falling; it’s this seemingly insurmountable wall that is coming down–not you.

“And, my walk seems aimless and somewhat pointless, like I’m going through the motions and nothing changes.”

Keep knocking, doors will open.  And the doors that do not open, God has shut and no man can open.  But guess what?  Maybe certain doors won’t open, but the wall that retains them will!  They’re coming down!  It’s all part of the wrestling-through-process.  “Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).  Soon and very soon, music, singing, and shouts of rejoicing are coming from the sphere of your dwelling; your circle…and it is all because of your circles.

Joshua 9:15

So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.

They had no business making a vow or an oath with these Gibeonitesto grant them safety and alliance.  The Gibeonites tricked them by craftily deceiving them with moldy victuals and flattering them, and declaring that they were from a far country–and weren’t part of Israel’s pagan nation-annihilation course. 

God wanted them destroyed.

But now that they struck an oath with them, God required Israel to honor it…

As He does with us, and our vows…

“I should have never married her,” he says.

You’re wrong.  You’re in this for good, and it will be good.  You will never again regain the paths of life if you leave her–snap out of it!

“I said, ‘I’d work here today,’ but I don’t want to now.  I didn’t sleep much last night.”

Man-up, son.  You said it.  Follow through.  Blessed is the man who keeps his oath, even if it hurts (Psalm 15:4).  You need a lot less sleep than you think.  Do not love sleep or you will become poor (Proverbs 20:13).

God expects us to keep our oaths and vows, even if we had no business making them.  How do I know?  Fast forward to David’s day.  There was a severe famine in the land.  David inquired of the LORD and God responded, saying, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house.  It’s because of what he did to the Gibeonites” (2nd Samuel 21:1). 

See, Saul decided to destroy the Gibeonites in his zeal for Israel.  Joshua previously, however, made a vow with the Gibeonites assuring them safety and alliance.  God expected Israel to honor that vow, and when they didn’t–they payed for it.  Is your soul famished today?  Do you feel empty and weak?  Was there a vow you dishonored?  It’s time to repent and ask God what you can do to atone.  David inquired as to what he could do to make things right, and he destroyed some of the descendants of Saul to make good on his covenant with the Gibeonites–the wrath of the LORD then subsided.

Joshua 10:12

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

The LORD routed the armies of the five kings of the Amorites and rained hailstones upon them so that more died from the hailstones than in the battle.  Joshua then cries out in the sight of Israel requesting God to make the sun and moon stand still, so they would have enough light to utterly annihilate their enemies.  It was a universally-transcendent galactic battle indeed.  “There has never been a day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14).

Until now…

Jesus said, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name” (John 16:24).

“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). 

God fights our battles.  Our Greater-Than-Joshua goes before us and wars against our enemies with complete cosmic victories.  We need universally transcendent and galactic help from above.  So I follow my Greater-Than-Joshua and watch God fight my battles for me.  See, Joshua learned this the hard way when He went to battle against Ai without the presence of God.  When they returned in defeat, Joshua cried to the LORD and He said, “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you” (Joshua 7:13).  As long as I am completely sold out for Him, and as long as I give Him my whole world without reservation–He takes control.  He makes my sun stand still and my moon immoveable to make me walk in the light and clarity I need to rejoice over my enemies, while He Himself fights for me and ‘reigns’ over every adversary who comes my way.

Joshua 14:10

And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.  As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.

One big giant lie that creeps into our minds as we get older is that we are too old.  We can even get a complex and become very self conscious about being too old while everyone else is younger and believe it isn’t fitting for us to do what we do and so forth–we’re wrong.  I believe a word of the LORD for someone today who has reached middle age (on up) is to snap out of this form of erroneous thinking.  Why?  Because when you are anointed and following the Lord, He makes your works and gifts transcend any age bracket.  When God works in and through you, it’s a supernatural experience–and everyone knows it.  You aren’t out of place in whatever age you are in, you are awesome.  It isn’t weird either, that’s Satan’s lie.

Be seasoned and anointed of the Lord

You’ll see a quality of life that consists of length of days, long life, and peace (Proverbs 3:2).  Your years will usually and most commonly be seventy or eighty if by strength (Psalm 90:10).  And, like Caleb here, you’ll be as anointed and strong in your older years as you were when you were younger to perform your gifts and calling.  Caleb was called to be a warrior and was anointed to perform that calling in his older years.  What has God called you and me to do?  I have a nagging sense, based on the Word of the LORD, that He will anoint us to perform those very same endeavors or tasks until we go home to be with Him forevermore.

Be seasoned and anointed of the Lord

No man shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life (Deuteronomy 11:25; Joshua 1:5).

The young may even tremble at the gray-grandeur of your heavenly anointing...

And I thought trembling was for old people!

Joshua 18:24

Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?”

Israel never took possession of all the land God had promised them.  Joshua said, “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory” (Joshua 1:4).  If you look at the land today, it is only a sliver of what it could have been.

I wonder how many promises we fail to receive?

I wonder how much territory we fail to enter into?

God wants to bless me more than I want to be blessed.

What has God said to do – to take – to divide (give up) – to conquer?  I believe that God pours out so much blessing in our lives that we won’t have room enough for it and we can become weary of taking it all in!  Don’t get lazy and lethargic in prosperity!  Keep taking ground!  Therefore, if you have an opportunity to do good, do good to all, especially for the household of faith (Galatians 6:10); Keep racking-in blessings, prosperity, and rich-fulfillment in abundance with the Spirit of love.

We aren’t here very long.  There’s no time to give the enemy even a square foothold in our lives.  Many of us squandered precious time and forfeited our blessings in a flood of dissipation.  We were in darkness until God called us into His marvelous light.  We have spent enough of our past lifetime in the flesh.  It was a waste of time, but God is good.  He says, “Follow Me, and I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten; the years you gave to the enemy.”  It’s time to live the Spirit filled life for the remaining-rest of our years and rejoice to the ‘fullest-extent’ in God’s best; to love without ‘borders’ and to ‘corner every angle’ of the abundant life God has for us.  It’s time to live life without the limits sin imposes on us!  

Joshua 24:15

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

I love that saying!

Being a keen observer of human nature and the outcome-end result of many homes, I have decided that me and my house will serve the LORD.  Our homes should be holy places where the God of Light dwells, that is, everything in our home is brought to light and made holy.  And should any form of darkness or wickedness enter the doors, it is spotted, exposed, and annihilated immediately. 

Keep your homes pure and holy.  Should you fall, God forbid…leave the wickedness and filth of the world outside of your doors.  Why?  Because the Psalmist declared, “Let death seize them; let them go down alive into hell, for wickedness is in their dwelling and among them” (Psalm 55:15). 

The home-front is holy ground.

Proceed with utmost caution.

Don’t come any closer.  Take off your sandals and leave the filth of the world behind–so to speak.  The God of burning light dwells here.  The place where you stand is holy ground (Exodus 3:5).

I believe this doctrine so much that I am crazy about it.  Keep the home holy!  Don’t have some hidden stash or secret wickedness in your home–the spirit in your home will change.  Hiding some secret in the home will cause every member to be pushed, provoked, and prodded towards a destructive course.  There was a man named Achan who tried to secretly hide things in his tent that God didn’t want for him and his household.  And as you know the story, it all came to light anyway and the entire family paid the price (Joshua 7:24); they were stoned, literally–there’s no such thing as secret stash! 

Judges 3:12

And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD.  So the LORD strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.

The recurring theme throughout the book of Judges is the perpetual tendency and absolute predictability of the Children of Israel returning to their evil–like clockwork.  They are ultimately blessed and raised up, and they surely fall; only to be oppressed and afflicted by their enemies.  It reminds me of what life was like without the Spirit.  Oh, I loved God–no doubt–so did you.  Yet, for some reason we never lived out the best life He planned out for us.  It was due to our recurring, returning, and resurfacing carnalitybut now we experience God's best.  


Because we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

We keep the unity of Spirit–without any breaks in continuity; from glory to glory (Ephesians 4:13).

We keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

And by the Spirit, put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13)

Friends, don’t envy those who do everything they want to do according to their own agenda.  They may seem free, but they are caught up in the clockworks of the Children of Israel.  They don’t experience total victory, have an excellent spirit like Daniel and Joseph, or have a deep seated joy as we do–and they are always uncertain about what is to come; even their relationships are insecure.  They’re oppressed and afflicted by fleshly personas .  They do everything their heart desires, yet fail to realize that our hearts must be circumcised, that is, we cannot fulfill every desire in our hearts–some ideas, plans, and notions must be forsaken and abandoned, or the LORD will raise up an enemy against us to afflict us and oppress us–for long periods of time too, according to the recurring theme of Judges.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, yet we…

Who walk in the Spirit...

Are pleasing to Him...and, 

“By this I know that the LORD is pleased with me, because my enemy does not rejoice over me” (Psalm 41:11).

Judges 7:7

Then the LORD said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand.  Let all the other people go, every man to his place.”

When he attacked Midian with three hundred men against one hundred and thirty five thousand, he was acting in a spirit filled reckless-abandon-faith and a suicidal acceptance of certain death, but he held fast to his after-dark torch and trumpet bluff and fooled the Midianites into believing there was a mighty army on the liminal-threshold.  In the chaos, the Midianites became so confused that they turned their swords on each other and Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh and pursued them–one hundred and twenty thousand Midianites fell slain.  But the story isn’t over, the Ephraimites are offended at Gideon’s impending victory and he must wrangle an argument with his brethren while he is in full-fledged pursuit of Midianites.  And as he pursues them, his army runs out of food and he requests provisions from the men of Succoth–and they deny him because they do not believe he will destroy the kings of Midian.  As he continues in hunger, subsiding the anger of Ephraim, and rejected by Succoth, he passes by Penuel and they answer him in the same cruel way as the men of Succoth…all while being in the midst of his own battle against Midian–can’t a guy catch a break?! Continuing with the Lord through perpetually persistent endless trials does have a reward.  Do not be weary in well doing, for at the proper time you will reap, if you faint not!  Notice how Gideon the man of valor returned:  Gideon destroyed Midian.  All Israel requested that he would be king over them–including Ephraim!  And, he tore the flesh of the men of Succoth with thorns of the wilderness and briers…and tore down the tower of Penuel!  Viewing the hardships of Gideon that seemed to beat on him as sets of continually crashing waves, we learn a monumental lesson of perseverance, patience, and persistence, and that lesson is to just keep on keepin’ on!  God eventually sent such golden prosperity Gideon’s way that the enumeration details of his retinue consisted of:  “One thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around the camels’ necks” (Judges 8:26).  He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!  Tell the righteous it shall be well with them, but not so for the wicked....

Judges 11:31

Then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.

…And when he came home…

…He indeed came home in peace…

…And his daughter walked out the door…

…And his heart dropped.

…And he tore his clothes in grief – But he kept his vow.

These are the words of Jephthah the Gileadite (see above).  If there ever was a man of his word, he was the one.  He kept his word even when it hurt. 

“He who swears to his own hurt and does not change” is the man or woman who abides and dwells with the LORD in a special way (Psalm 15:4).  If you made a vow, then commit to it – it is that simple.  Now when we speak, we must speak in the Holy Spirit, and plan as we are led.  If it stings or otherwise seems troublesome later – we need to use our stick-to-it-ive-ness and follow through.  We’ll go down in God’s hall of fame.  Jephthah did (See Hebrews 11:32).  He’s in the Hebrews hall of faith. 

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools.  It is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay.  Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands (See Ecclesiastes 5:4-6).   That’s the reason why we keep what we vow – So we don’t get all our work trashed and scrapped – We work too hard to have it all destroyed.

I see this in marriages all the time.  They commit to each other for a life and they don’t follow through.  Everything they’ve built together is thrown to the wind and lost.  They didn’t keep their vow and everything was destroyed as a result thereof.  You vowed to stay together until death.

“But Mike, I never really loved her I don’t think.” – If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that – That’s Satan’s lie.  Don’t believe it.  But even if for some reason it is true, which it isn’t, God expects you to keep vows that you have no business making!

Remember the Gibeonites.  God required all the nations to be destroyed.  And the Gibeonites came to Israel saying, “We are from a far country, look at our bread.   It is all moldy.  When we left it was fresh.  Swear you won’t kill our people too.”  So Israel vowed to not hurt them.  They were duped into thinking they were from afar.  Now, later, God brought a curse on Israel because Saul started killing Gibeonites.  At first God expected them to kill them, but since they vowed a vow they had no business making, He expected them to keep that vow or He would curse them with a famine.  What about you and me?  Have we been rash with our mouth?  God expects us to follow through, which is why we should rarely, if ever, make a vow.  It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

Judges 16:17

He told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb.  If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Delilah had the seven locks of his hair shaven.

And he became weak, but couldn't discern it and thought he was still powerful.

Then Samson said, " 'I shall go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!' But he did not know that the LORD departed from him" (Judges 16:20).

She began to torture him and the Phillistines put out his eyes.  His enemies set him up like a clown-trophy entertainer and rejoiced over him.

What wasted potential....

Samson is often referred to as being dense and dunder-headed for his continual blindness towards Delilah’s traps.  He was.  I suggest to you, though, that his risks were calculated.  He was a Nazirite who was supposed to abstain from wine, yet he would venture through the vine fields and dabble in Phillistine parties where the wine flowed – Nothing Happened.  He was commanded to abstain from touching dead bodies, yet he happily dug honey out of a lion’s carcass and hung out with spiritually dead people – Nothing happened.  Finally, he figured, “This Nazirite vow of dedication to the Lord may not be all it is intended to be.  Nothing happens when I break the requirements of a Nazirite, so what does it matter if I just continue on in this path, pattern, and paradigm?” 

And as you know, Samson received a very bad haircut – Probably the worst haircut in history.   And he tried to go out as if the presence of God was working through him and it wasn’t.  The Phillistines poked out his eyes and made him a grinder in the prison.  What a horrible blind-awakening.

And that is a curiosity and line that we should never cross.  Testing the Lord is wrong.  We never know when sin can shut its jaws on us.  If we figure, “Hey, I fell hard and everything is fine.  I’m still winning battles.  Nothing will happen if I continue on this path, pattern, and paradigm” – And we end up destroying everything God intended for us as anointed and mighty giants of fame.  If you have ever transgressed the line and nothing has happened, take a lesson from Samson – At some point sin will shut its jaws on you – Then, it will find you, blind you, and grind you.  He was made a spectacle, a by-word, and fool.  Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.  Samson dabbled where he shouldn’t have been dabbling.  It eventually got him.  He thought he was an exception to the rule.  He wasn't.  And neither are you.

Don't be too quick to judge Samson.  Christians always fall into this trap.  They go back to the ropes and bonds of sin, and when the Spirit comes upon them they repent and break the bonds.  They figure, "I will just do it again.  It doesn't get me.  I break the bonds every time."  Until one day a devastating tragedy occurs because sin took them farther than they ever wanted to go.

Judges 20:18

Then the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of God.  They said, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin?”  The LORD said, “Judah first!”

Certain Gibeonites raped and murdered a Levite’s concubine as he traveled through Gibeah.  So the Levite man called for help throughout all Israel and Israel came to his aid.  Israel called for the men of Benjamin, who lived among the Gibeonites, to deliver up those perverted men.  The Benjamites didn’t, but instead arrayed themselves for battle against Israel.  Through an unforeseen turn of events, Israel now found themselves going to battle against their brethren and they began to seek the LORD saying, “LORD, who should go up against Benjamin first?”  Then the LORD said, “Judah first!”  Then Judah went and was beaten.  Then they inquired of the LORD again saying, “Shall we go up against Benjamin?”  And the LORD said, “Go up!”  And the Benjamites killed eighteen thousand more Israelites!

What is happening!  These men keep seeking the Lord and God is telling them to ‘Go,’ and they keep getting annihilated!  God said to ‘Go,’ didn’t He?


There is a danger we must be cautious of, lest we repeat Israel’s folly.  We say, “Oh Lord, can I get Your heart in this matter?  Should I go do this?”  And, God says, “Yes!  Go do it!” 

So we walk away, knowing we heard from the Lord…and we did–He said, ‘Yes.’

The problematic issue is in the details.  He did indeed grant us approval, yet we were in such a hurry to complete the task that we didn’t receive more information from Him, and we were beaten back.  Friends, “Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence” (Ecclesiastes 8:3).  Why? Because He isn’t done.  There’s more information, and different angles on every matter that we ultimately need to know about!  By the third instance, Israel sought the Lord again.  This time with fasting, prayer, sacrifice, and most of all, convening in the presence of the LORD–and God gave them specific instructions concerning how to conquer Benjamin…and they set an ambush, burned their city with fire, and destroyed twenty-five thousand Benjamites.  They nearly annihilated the name of Benjamin from the earth!   If God says ‘Yes,’ continue to sit at His feet until you get the complete detailed instructions!

Ruth 1:21

I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty.  Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the almighty has afflicted me?

If you were already full,

Then why did you leave?

I suggest that Naomi fell into the same trap as many of us.  We say, “Oh, how wonderful it would be to live there” and “I think I will relocate to that city and take that job in that state.”  When, all the while, our dream life is right in front of us.  I do not dismiss the calling of the LORD.  He can call us to different places–no doubt.  Nine times out ten, though, your dream life is the one in front of you; you just have to work it.  You are already full.  The fool’s eyes are on the ends of the earth, and better is what the eye sees than the roaming desire of the mind (Proverbs 19:24; Ecclesiastes 6:9).  In this internet age where we can type the type of job we want and the city to live in and press enter–it’s so easy to relocate when you may not even be called to.  Naomi did.  She and her family moved to Moab.  Moab was a region known as a sinful place; as God’s wash pot (Psalm 60:8).  It wasn’t highly esteemed in God’s sight.  She was already satisfied to the brim in Bethlehem, Judah.  She lived in Bethlehem, literally meaning, “The house of bread.”  Noami decided to relocate with her family unit–then watched tragedy after tragedy dislocate her household–and finally she could no longer allocate who she was as a person, and she requested that people would no longer call her “Noami” or “Pleasant,” but that they would call her “Mara,” which means “Bitter.”

We should never discount the calling of God,


I believe that our heart’s desire is right in front of us– 

“Truly, the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance” (Psalm 16:6).

Ruth 2:21

Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me,‘You shall stay close by my young men until they have finished the harvest.’ ”

Ruth is a liar.  Boaz never said for her to do so.  In fact, he said the opposite.  Recall with me what Boaz said, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not?  Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women” (Ruth 2:8) and Naomi said, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field” (Ruth 2:22).

And Ruth did so.

See, Moab wasn’t a place that God favored or highly esteemed.  God said, “Moab is my washpot” (Psalm 60:8).  We see certain ungodly traits in Ruth–her old Moabite true colors are showing up.  But she did as she was told, and that makes all the difference.  She was busy working in Boaz’s field, who was her kinsmen-redeemer.  Boaz could perpetuate the name of her dead husband and raise up offspring for her according to the law of Moses–he could bring her back to life; in a manner of speaking.

And she listened to him,

And she served him alongside the other young women, without having eyes on the boys.

And in return, she met the one she was to be married to.

This is a powerful message for single people.  Serve God without the distraction of the young men or the young women.  Be focused on your kinsmen-redeemer, on Jesus.  Do His work.  Don't go glean in the field of another.  That’s how you’ll meet the one! 

Ruth 4:11

And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses.  The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

Boaz was famous in Bethlehem.  Boaz was a kinsmen-redeemer for Naomi's obscured name, therefore he married Ruth and kept Naomi's deceased husband's name alive.  He gave her grandchildren to continue her family line.  In Israel, if a man died and left his wife without any offspring, the brother of the deceased, or the nearest of kin, could take his wife and raise up offspring for him in order to perpetuate the name of the dead–in a sense, he would bring him back to life.

Jesus is the ultimate kinsmen-redeemer.

He gave us the words of everlasting and eternal life forevermore.  He brought us back from the dead.   

The name Boaz means “Strength.”  The elders, all the people, and anyone informed concerning this small Old Testament account entitled “Ruth,” knew it; they knew Boaz was a source or reliable strength in Yahweh.  When you lead someone to Jesus, you are acting as a kinsmen-redeemer.  You shared with them the words of eternal life and led them towards repentance in the Holy Spirit.  There’s no way around it–the child of God who preaches in the name of Jesus is noted as a “Strength” in the eyes of the people.  He’s a kinsmen-redeemer in his or her evangelistic efforts–and it’s all by sharing Christ crucified in simplistic-common conversational manners–in everyday acquaintance happenstances and interactions.  It’s making what He did so clear that the outside world solidly grasps that Jesus took the ‘hit’ for us all, and that God put everything you and I ever did wrong on Jesus–and crucified Him.


As you find new and creative ways to preach the gospel:

May all the people at your gate, and all the elders bear witness and take careful note–you are a man or woman of strength and stability as you declare the name of Jesus all your days.

May you prosper in Ephrathah…or wherever you are,

And be famous in Bethlehem, in your little ‘house packed with bread’ and your cupboards stuffed with the delights from above!  Amen!  May you prosper in Yahweh’s strength and be famous and full, complete, and overflowing in Spirit!  Amen and Amen!

1st Samuel 1:23

So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him.  Only let the LORD establish His Word.”

In other words:

Let the LORD’s Word be set up,


And be done in your life.

Elkanah’s message to his wife was to ‘Do what seems best to you.’  Do what you like as long as God’s Word is done in your life.  Jesus illustrated Himself as a certain nobleman who gave orders to his servants.  He said, “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13).  Later each servant would have to give an account of his life and with what he did with the resources God gave him.  The Word of the Lord is the same to us–stay busy–stay pre-occupied with the things that you love until Jesus comes back–‘do what seems best to you.’

…Only let God’s Word be done in your life.

There are 613 commandments in the Old Testament alone–you can just pick one and carry it out to fruition!  We constantly take in teachings.  We so often hear the Word spoken.  We daily read through the Bible on our quest to read the Bible over and over through our life until heaven–it’s high time to stop and pick one, and get up and do it.

Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). 

Now, that’s a good one to do.

1st Samuel 2:17

Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

According the Law of Moses, the fat of the offering was to be burnt-off, which represented our removal of fleshly and carnal ways in our journey with the All-Consuming-Fire (Hebrews 12:29).  The priests started to develop a detrimentally bad habit.  When the people would come to offer their sacrifice to the LORD (with full knowledge that the fat must be boiled, burnt, or removed before priestly consumption), they would stab it with a three-pronged flesh hook and take it by extortion–and men hated going to the tabernacle as a result thereof.

You and I have the power to make the things of God reprehensible or attractive by our lifestyles.  The carnal and fleshly man who says he loves God, but walks in darkness is repulsive and loathsome to the outside watching-world–and they want nothing to do with it. Why?  Because he is caught up in the flesh in more ways than one, just like themso what's the difference?

You and I must adorn the doctrine of the Lord with a holy life (Titus 2:10).

Our light should shine before men, so that when they see our good works, they are drawn to the Lord (Matthew 5:16).

When we speak the Word, wait until you are anointed to do so–so that God is glorified in your speech (1st Peter 4:11).


Our conversation with one another can either bless or destroy the hearers (2nd Timothy 2:14).

You have the solemn power to push, provoke, and prompt precious people towards salvation or to gravely-pull them away from it.  The righteous who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring or a polluted well–and no one wants to drink from those waters (Proverbs 25:26).  These particular priests made church, and things of God, an abhorrence.  The Word of the Lord today for the anointed ones is: Make Jesus’ name famous!  Point to Him!  Just saying His name changes the atmosphere.  We have to make Him the latest in-thing; the never diminishing current trend!  How?  By adorning the doctrine of which we speak with a holy life and good works–Now that’s always avant-garde, cutting-edge, and en-vogue. 

1st Samuel 5:4

And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD.  The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.

Dagon was the Philistine idol resembling a giant fish with hands.  The ark of God was a small acacia box covered with gold inside the Holiest of Holies; it was where the presence of God dwelt between the cherubim and above the mercy seat which was its pure hammered gold lid.  The Ark of God or the Ark of the Testimony or the Ark of the Covenant are all synonymous for one another. 

The ark of the LORD represents the presence of God.


This illustration represents what takes place in each and every one of our hearts at all times.  Either the presence of God dwells there, or an idol is set up.  Though idols usually represent some concrete statue in our thinking, that’s not the New Testament definition for it. 

So often we say, “That actor or musician is so gifted–I idolize them.”  In other words, when you idolize something–you worship it.  That’s actually a much closer definitive meaning of an idol.  See, an idol is something that consumes your thought life and robs you of restful peace; of the quiet serenity you have in your heart.  It can literally be anything.  The Word of the LORD today is:  When we set up an idol in our life, as we so often do, repent of it and let the Spirit of the LORD back in–the idol will come crashing down, along with all of its concrete weightiness pushing down on you with those heavy hands–and everything you knew to be fishy about it to begin with–will come to an end.

1st Samuel 8:7

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should reign over them.”

In certain cases, we don’t have the slightest clue about what is truly best for us in the long run schema of our lives.  God did not want to establish a king over Israel at this time, but the people had to have their way.  Their persistent request for a king grieved Samuel and the LORD said, “Just give them a king.”

Let them have it their way.

And if we adamantly persist in our requests and desires for something contrary to the perfect will of God–we will get it.

“And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:15).

“But let me tell you the behavior of the king you so unceasingly request of Me to put over you,” God would say.  “He will take your sons and daughters and put them in rigorous service, and he is going to take from everything you work so hard for…and you will cry out because of the king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (1st Samuel 8:11-22).

I wonder what I have requested to reign over my thoughts, my heart, my feelings, and my imaginations.  If it is anything contrary to the perfect will of God, I’m going to eventually pay for it.  My sons and daughters will eventually pay for it.  I’m going to find myself crying out because of the overwhelming service my heavy way presses down on me–all because I had to have it my way.  Friends, I’m convinced that we will receive anything we must obstinately have–God will give it to us–it’s coming back though, and it’s going to make us cry out. 

That job is not worth it.

She or he is not the right one.

That materialistic thing or idol, or whatever it may be–has a price tag–and God may relent and give it to you.

1st Samuel 10:16

So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said.

Saul was at home tending to his normal duties as many of our mundane and remedial tasks entail.  He was just doing the things we all do on a daily basis when the donkeys escaped the pen.  As anyone would, if their beloved Fido escaped the yard, he went searching for his donkeys.  Not a big deal–or so he thought.  Upon searching for the missing donkeys, he and his servant decide to go to Samuel the seer to find out the status of their rogue animals only to find out some of the most life changing and exciting news Saul has ever heard – “Saul, you’re going to be the first king of Israel.”

And he came to that place,

He came upon that news,

And established his kingly position,

All by doing the simple, routine, and every-day tasks we all should be doing.

So often we say, “I’m going to chase my dreams” and “I’m aiming for the stars.”  And though I believe we all have dreams and in the Lord those dreams will come true, the Bible says not to set your eyes on high things.  “But they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46).  My mind roves back and forth concerning every high and lofty position I can attain, apprehend, and acquireand what must be done to get it.  It’s exhausting just thinking about it.  Then, once again, I realize that it’s my mind and not my heart.  My heart’s desire is right in front of me.  It always has been.  “Better is what the eye sees than the roaming desire of the mind” (Ecclesiastes 6:9).  Friends, the fool’s eyes are on the ends of the earth.  Reality is a high road and, though it feels like you are chasing donkeys sometimes–you never know when your time will come:

And you’ll come to that place,

Upon that news,

And be established in your dream.

All by doing the simple, every-day, and mundane routine tasks we should all be doing.

1st Samuel 13:8-9

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel.  But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.  So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.”  And he offered the burnt offering.

As a child of God for the long haul, that is, a man or woman who wants to follow the Lord from their youth and for their entire lifetime, there’s a tough and grueling lesson that must inevitably be learned; it’s the toughest era of the Christian walk–it’s waiting.  The long years of feeling as though you are meandering and seeing nothing accomplished.  The endless seasons of waiting, seeking, and getting acquainted with the understanding that you are not part of this world. 

Now, the danger in the waiting-trials is becoming so fed-up that you take the reigns of your submitted life and start to do things your way because it seems as though God just isn’t coming through.  And, I must honestly say, that the waiting years are the intervals of time that separate the men from the boys.  God is going to come through.  He always does.  And though those years will be some of the toughest and most painful years of your life, you’ll come out of them with so many lessons-learned that you’ll give your testimony and your witness will be sweet fruit for the next man or woman who desires to live a godly life.

Don’t grab the ‘reins.’  Stay in the Holy Spirit and keep following through thick and thin–through seemingly pointlessness and grief.  It would have all made sense if Saul would have just held on that much longer.  Saul was not a Levite.  He had no business assuming a position that wasn’t his.  There’s only one King and Priest–and that’s Jesus.  If you are in an endless grief-stricken waiting season, please don’t pull a Saul.  He quit waiting on God and took a job that he wasn’t supposed to, and it wasn’t too long before materialism, bad company, and disobedience set in too (1st Samuel 15:9).  Wait on the LORD!  Wait!

1st Samuel 17:49

Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.

David must have spent his childhood and teenage years getting good at his sling.  What else was there to do but watch sheep all day and throw rocks at trees?  Or play with a harp and write songs?  I wonder if David made little targets on the trees or hit squirrels or boulders and became an accurate shot?  Regardless of the origin or provenance of his skill, he was awesome.  He used the things he loved to do naturally, and those very same gifts eventually took down the Philistine giant and moved him into the king’s house–and while using his musical psalmist-harpist talent, also received while tending sheep–he was sent on the run. 

The gifts and abilities you’ve been endowed with eventually and inevitably change your life!

They’ll take down giants.

They’ll be the catalyst to move you on to different places.

Our life is a journey with God working all things together for the good.  We shouldn’t despise the small days where it seems like nothing larger than life is happening, so we go for a walk and toss a rock or two at a tree because there is nothing else to do.  There’s more happening in those days than we could ever imagine!  One day we will see all the things God has taught us, no matter how small or trivial, make perfect sense.  God is up to something–always.  He is the God of the universe!  His eternal, everlasting, and expanding purpose continues forevermore, so walk closely with Him and rejoice in every gift, ability, and endowment that He has granted you.  He is training your hands for war and your fingers for battle.  And one day, you are going take down the Philistine–which looks vastly different in every one of our lives…though it is a giant to everyone else who is observing what God is doing through you!

1st Samuel 19:10

Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence; and he drove the spear into the wall.  So David escaped that night.

David actually escaped Saul’s presence twice.  Now why would David the giant slayer and victorious battle scarred warrior need to flee from Saul?  He could have taken him.  David didn’t look to his own strength, but to the Spirit of God for victory.  He had a mighty sense of discernment.  He knew which battles to fight and which battles to leave alone.  God delivered Saul into David’s hand on two occasions, but David didn’t touch him.

I’ve been so blessed by these passages throughout the years.  It's not cowardly to leave a violent situation.  It’s okay to back down and leave a troublesome situation, and sometimes it’s okay to walk right into one to stand your ground!

It’s not about being macho and not backing down.

It’s about knowing when to do battle or when to digress and just leave the situation altogether.  When Absalom the son David was conspiring to steal the throne away, David said, “Let’s get out of here or Absalom is going to kill us all” (2nd Samuel 15:14).  David didn’t have to flee.  David and his mighty men were seasoned warriors.  Yet, David knew the proper course of action–he had a keen sense of discerning prowess. 

In this day and age where violence is the rule of the day, it’s imperative to request that the Lord grant you a mighty sense of discernment–to have a keen sense of fight or flight.  Jesus exemplified this gift.  He would walk freely in Jerusalem and his disciples would say, “You’re going to Jerusalem, but they want to kill you right now!”  But that didn’t matter because He knew where He was supposed to be and that God would preserve Him…


John also said, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him” (John 7:1).  I believe that a sign of great maturity is knowing when to stand your ground or to just evade, escape, and ditch the troublesome situation altogether.

1st Samuel 22:2

And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontent gathered to him.  So he became captain over them.  And there were about four hundred men with him.

Very often in ministry, the people that are extremely reachable and receptive are those who are considered rejects according to society; the people who are distressed, discontent, and in debt.  They are the people who are humbled because of circumstances and not highly esteemed according to the classy-astute standards of the popular persons of the world.  So often in our sphere or circles, we desire to rub shoulders and mingle with people who have it all together–with the rich and successful.  The harvest usually isn't there.  It's not that individuals of notoriety are unreachable, but more often than not, the poor and humbled, or the sick and lame, or the lost and sinful are people we can easily reach and relate to.  Jesus sat with sinners and tax collectors; the lame and the lost sat in His company.  At some point, we will observe our surroundings and see that those who we can indeed minister to and raise up in Christ are the a bunch of rag-tag motley looking individuals who have the potential to become people after God’s own heart–they are the future Davidic-giant slayers.  So, I believe our exhortation today is to be willing to humble yourself and deal with those who actually receive you–whoever they are, whether it be the rich, popular, and famous persons or those who are lost and lame, those who are distressed, discontent, and in debt.  Maybe like many of us you have come to the realization that there are outcast-rejects all around youI believe it is high time to awaken to a most simplistic resolve:  I’m going to work with what I have!

“Be of the same mind toward one another.  Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.  Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Romans 12:16).

1st Samuel 25:17

Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household.  For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.

There was a rich man who lived in Carmel, his name was Nabal.  He was throwing a giant feast on the day he was shearing his sheep.  David was a fugitive in the wilderness with his rag-tag band of men and he sent ten of them to Nabal to ask for whatever came to his hand to give–whatever was on his heart.  Then Nabal answered them and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse?  There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from their masters.  Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?”


You should.

“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers” (3rd John 1:5).

Nabal was in essence saying that David was a fugitive criminal running from Saul and an unknown stranger, so why give?  We aren’t very far off from falling into the foolish error of Nabal.  We ask, “Why should I give to strangers who have a criminal record?  They’ll just misuse my resources.”  When in reality, it is not a matter of their background status, it’s a matter of whether or not the Spirit is leading me to give to them.  What has God put on my heart?  Maybe it is nothing.  Maybe it is a generous chunk of my own resources. 

Nabal means fool.  His own wife and servant referred to him as a scoundrel.  Why?  Because Jesus said, “In as much as you have it done it unto the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.”  The ‘least of these’ are all around us.  When we give to them out of the leading and love of the Spirit, we have done it unto the ‘Greatest of these.’

1st Samuel 30:6

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and daughters.  But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

The New Testament declares, “Do not marvel when the world hates you” (1st John 3:13).  We will all have the unexpected days of calamity that befall us.  We know that the whole world is under the sway of the wicked one, the devil (1st John 5:19).  On those calamitous days where the enemy sways the world against us, I have discovered a most helpful truth–they pass, and not to get hung up on what’s happening.  Don’t expect every person to continually treat you in such a manner forever, it’s just a momentary, short-lived sway that in many cases dissipates quickly.  Their devilishly deranged behavior towards you passes.  David didn’t take it to heart and start arguing with everyone.  He digressed and retreated from the crowd–then comforted himself in the LORD.  He reminded himself of the very promises of God–and came back as their hero–not their haranguer.  The crowd is always wavering and unstable–even when they love you, everything can change in a moment!  Throughout Davidic accounts, the people loved him or not.  What kept him stable?  It was probably the social characteristic he practiced as king, and the very same ideology he taught his son Solomon, that is: “Do not take to heart every word people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you, for you yourself know that you have cursed others” (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22).  We need to be thick skinned and keep loving.  Many of those rude and deranged people will come back to you very apologetic and downcast because the Most High God defends us–and like king David, He always brings us back!  There’s an evil I’ve noticed.  Others will treat you badly on the day of your calamity just because they can.  As a rule of thumb, when you perceive others in the day of their calamity and distress for no apparent reason–up the kindness factor and treat them abnormally gracious! 

2nd Samuel 1:17

Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son….

Why would David cry for his arch-enemy Saul?  Why would David put a man to death for killing his arch-nemesis?  David knew that Saul was the anointed instrument in God’s hands to keep him utterly and totally dependent on Him.  I do not believe that it is a coincidence that when David was raised up, and at rest in his house, and he was moseying around the place when he should have been at war with his enemies, for it was the time when kings went to war, that he fell–he devastatingly backslid.  

See, our enemies keep us utterly and totally dependent on Him.  One wrong move and they’ll rejoice over us, so we seek Him with a passion and desperation that only comes when we are only a step away from being subdued, oppressed, and treated cruelly.  And though God will eventually raise us up to rest and relax in our palaces, so to speak, He places us into an interval of time whereby we are vigilantly on our toes as we wrestle through, network with, and have no choice but to deal with our enemies–and our enemies will be the members of our own household–but take heart in two wonderful promises: One, He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  And two, when we go through these seemingly endless seasons of following close by Him in reliance, He is training us for the manner in which we should behave always–even when we are at rest, relaxation, and solace in our little kingdoms.  Which, in turn, is part and privy to the second promise: He is no respecter of persons, if Yahweh raised-up king David, He will do the same for us.  I have observed men and women who have never experienced any hardships or trials in the Lord.  They were given everything they wanted.  They enjoyed a life that rained jellybeans and skittles on their heads the whole time–and they usually wrecked it shamefully, disgracefully, and reproachfully.

2nd Samuel 5:6

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.”

I cherish the next verse….

It says, “Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).

Why? Because I find myself dealing with blind and lame Jebusites all too frequently.

Every once in a while, I find myself disputing or reasoning with a hard and stubborn person who usually says, “Oh, no sir, we have a policy and that can’t be done.”  Everything they say is no-no-no. “It can’t be done.”  Whether it is with some form of business for something or for an outrageous illegitimate credit imposition they are seeking to impose, or all kinds of things really–I find myself interacting and arguing with a stubborn person who says, “No, it can’t be done.”  And, regardless of what they tell me, I think about this verse.  And in the back of my mind and in my heart I know that I’m going to keep pursuing this thing–whatever it is–until I have my way.  When king David and his men sought to take Jerusalem, they said, “You shall not come in here….”


David took it anyway.

And in many cases, as we deal with unhelpful people who dislike their jobs and who are oh so very negative–we should too!  They just don’t see–they’re ‘blind.’  They are in a place where they can be a blessing for others–but they're ‘lame.’  Friends, don’t let the blind and the lame repel you.  It’s time to take it anyway!  So, hang up and deal with someone else or speak to someone else who will favor your righteous causeor just do it anyway–whatever it is.  We know when God is calling us to do something and we certainly aren’t going to take ‘no you can’t’ for an answer.  If you are indeed following His way–just keep pushing until you have your way! Ha!

2nd Samuel 6:9

David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?”

Sometimes, not all the time, I have a gravely-serious and terrified outlook on how the Lord can lead me.  This is the passage that God uses to bring my heart to the realization that God can make the journey meticulous, arduously-exhausting, and messy.  See, the ark of God represents the Spirit of God.  David decided that it would be a good idea to bring the ark of God up from Baale Judah into the City of David, in Jerusalem.  So, they figured they would put it on a new cart and drive it with oxen pulling it–it was very efficient.  As the oxen stumbled, Uzzah, who was driving the cart, put out his hand to the ark to keep it stable and…


God struck and killed him right there,

And God was angry at their erroneous-efficacy.

David came to the very sobering realization that if you and I are going to walk with God in His Spirit, we must do things His way and not according our own cleverly contrived ideas about how to get things moving–no matter how brilliant they may be.  We walk through life according to His patterns and His ways.  God specifically required the ark to be transported with poles through welded golden rings (Exodus 25:12-15).  Through careful behind-the-scenes inquiry of the Scriptures, David gets it right this time.  He hears about how God blesses the household of Obed-Edom the Gittite and wants God’s favor and blessing for himself–as do you.  So he does things God’s way according to what is found in the Law of Moses and begins to walk with the Spirit of God in a tedious, bloody, and exhausting journey; and sacrifices oxen every six paces!  It was a bloody trail indeed!  From time to time our walk with God will be arduous and exhausting, but keep walking!  Soon you’ll be dancing with all your might and with glorious shouts of rejoicing and worship!  The presence of God is worth every endurance effort and exhausting expenditure of energy it takes to follow close behind Him.

2nd Samuel 12:30

Then he took their king’s crown from his head.  Its weight was a talent of gold, with precious stones.  And it was set on David’s head.  Also he brought out the spoil of the city in great abundance.

David just finished carrying-out some of the most grotesque prohibited sin a man could ever commit–and he is still winning wars.  He took the city of Rabbah, fought against it, and won the battle without even being there for the entirety of the war, for, Joab did all the work.  The people placed an illustrious-magnificent crown on his head that seemed to droop and tip-over because of the weight in gold.  Yes, things are going quite swimmingly in David’s life.  He is a magnet for riches and honor!

The Word of the Lord to many wishy-washy so called Christians who turn the grace of God into lewdness and perpetually waver back into sin–and seem to rejoice in evil without any change from their undulating patterns, practices, and paradigms–usually get this Word as an eye opening realization:

Just because a lightning bolt didn’t strike you when you decided to indulge in sin,


Just because you are still taking ground, making money, and winning wars –

Don’t take that as a sign that God has accepted what you’ve done. 

It’s in our nature to think so, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).  Oh friends, there’s grace, but why make things so hard?  Sin stinks.  Hate what it does–and what it will inevitably and eventually bring.  ‘David-got-what-was-coming.’  You and I will too.  He sowed to the flesh and in the days to come reaped destruction, and ultimately changed his future by allowing the Author and Finisher of his faith to author-in severe and chastening circumstances.  Twas was tough-goings for the rest of his days.  The sword never departed from his house, he lost children, and adversity was raised up against him from his own house–how uncomfortable.  Not to mention, he lost his wives, put his kingdom in jeopardy, his enemies blasphemed, and Israel became prone to forsake him.  David was caught up in one single duration of indulgence and he brought about a lifetime of calamity.  Sin always takes you farther than you ever wanted to gojust onceone season of indulgence will change our futuristic circumstances.  And, I always look to David as an example of this doctrine.  Our every ambition should be to live the rest of our lives until the death without transgressing against the Lord.

2nd Samuel 15:13

Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”

Absalom was the people’s choice.  He was ‘ab-normaly’ handsome and without any blemish from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.  He had a spirit of excitement, and the gift of fame and charisma.  He had debonair-winsome qualities that drew people in favor of him–like the devil.

A very important key to life, in order to never be misled, is to look beyond the excitement and razzle-dazzle of whatever it may be and ask, “Does this person or venue or program line up with the heart of God?”  And very often, as we look past the charisma and flashing lights–it’s seven-part good and three-part bad.  That’s how Satan operates, or else we would see him for who he is.

When voting for a political campaign’s representative, it’s imperative that we always, without a doubt, remember Absalom.  Though he was the ideal candidate, what was really going on?

He lit the barley fields on fire (2nd Samuel 14:31) – God used the edges of every harvestable field as His welfare program.

He murdered his own brother (2nd Samuel 13:28) – God forbade murder.

His relational life was immoral (2nd Samuel 16:22)  God requires monogamous-espousal in leadership (Deuteronomy 17:17).

He used slander and unlawful measures to attain the crown (2nd Samuel 15:1) – The Word of the Lord requires us to speak evil of no one and to honor your father and to honor the king….

Absalom was hyping and rallying everyone around himself, but upon second glance, his practices were unlawful in the sight of God.  Oh, some of these politicians are exciting potential leaders, but notice their agenda closely:  Do they impute murderous measures through pro-abortion laws?  Are they a detriment to the welfare system when God instituted welfare measures in the Law of Moses?  Are they exciting and charismatic, while tearing every other contemporary peer and opponent down in the process?  Are they promoting the alternative lifestyle agenda?  Does what they do line up with the Word of the Lord?  Turn off the television, silence the hype, and take careful time to study the person to discover every attribute of their clandestine agenda and vote according to your faith in the Almighty God of heaven and earth.

2nd Samuel 16:13

And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust.

David is suffering persecution by some crazy misled man named Shimei.  Anyone who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution from misled people.  But there’s always a behind the scenes story for heartless persecutors and oppressive-cruel people that we do not perceive.  When Saul persecuted the saints, God told Ananias that Saul would have to suffer many things – as will your persecutors and mine.  It’s because we don’t always see God’s vengeance upon them that we feel that God has passed over them and justice is remiss.

And, we are oh so wrong!

Here’s the full story on Shimei and the Shimei’s in our life’s story:

As David passed into the land of Bahurim there was a man named Shimei of the house of Saul.  He threw rocks and cursed him in the name of the LORD.  Shimei called David an evil man and a rogue.  You’ll be called evil.  You’ll be called a rogue, or a lazy-bum – same thing.  We’ll be told that we are in some hardcore sin because trouble is befalling us, but it may be a time to hold your peace and pray.  So, David’s nephew requested to take Shimei’s head off saying, “Why should this dead dog curse the king?”  And David said, “Right now even my family is against me, how much more this Benjamite.  Let him curse.  Maybe God will see all my trouble and repay me with good.”  And David held his peace.  He let God do the avenging, though he had his mighty men with him.  He could have Shimei-shook him off the map with a word.  He didn’t.  He held his peace until the time was right – just like we should.  If we let things play out, God has a distinct way of raising us up over our enemies – The problem for us is the time frame.  I want lightning bolts now!  I want retribution, recompense, revenge, and for God to repay now!  And though God does indeed work in such a fashion – He gives them a space and time to get right and repent.

Now, fast forward.  David’s army has destroyed Absalom in battle and David is walking back to Jerusalem.  Once again on the hillside is that familiar face – Shimei.  He’s back and crying out for David to have mercy. He asked that David would pardon him and David swore he wouldn’t put him to death apart from Abishai’s second prompting.  

And everyone went on their way with no actions taken.  But justice will come and it did.  It doesn’t matter who swears what!  It doesn’t matter how sorry he was – You reap what you sow!  Which, is why we do not want to be violent, vicious, and curse with vector!  It’s coming back – Notice:

Solomon the Son of David heard of all the ill-actions and improprieties of Shimei towards David.  So Solomon, wishing to avenge his daddy as you would, called for Shimei.  He said, “You know how you cursed my father with a malicious curse on the way to Bahurim.  I’m putting you on house-arrest.  If you travel anywhere you will surely die.  Build a house and stay at home.  You tortured my dad when he went out of Jerusalem to travel – You’re going to be tortured if you travel anywhere.”

Shimei’s slaves escaped. 

Shimei traveled across the Brook Kidron to get them.

Solomon commanded Beniah the son of Jehoiada and he struck him down – It was a traveling-foul indeed. 

David didn’t see his justice because he was dead.  And as you travel through life you may not either, but justice is coming.  Humble yourself and pray!

   2nd Samuel 20:1

There happened to be there a son of Belial, Sheba the son of Bichri who said, "What share have we in David, what inheritance in the son of Jesse?  Every man to your tents 'O' Israel."  And all Israel forsook him.

Someone once said, "One minute they love you, the next minute they are stringing you up."  Meaning, of course, that they are lynching you and kicking the bucket out from under you.  This worldly saying is so so true.  On Palm Sunday they hailed Him as the Messiah and they crucified Him that very same week!  All forsook Him (Mark 14:27) and none took pity (Psalms 69:20).  Here, all Israel is gathering to make David king and the very same day they all forsook him.

The other day my wife and I were at a meeting at the Salvation Army.  Someone raised their hand and were summoned to speak.  She said something along the lines of, "The Scolari family is so good, they are the ideal family.  They don't gossip and are so good. etc."  She praised us and she cried and my wife cried too.  I didn't (fine, I did), anyways.  I went away feeling quite the man.  Then I reflected on how Herod gave an oration and was praised.  He didn't give the glory to God and was struck.  He was eaten by worms.  Then I began to get "eaten up" thinking, "Man I know what a sinner I am.  I know what goes on in my head."  All the glory goes to God because without Him I'm wretched. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I say this optimistically -The praise of men is cheap, these people can turn at enmity towards me in a second!; Just ask Jesus or David or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.   

In Daniel Chapter 2 we see Nebuchadnezzar move Daniel to the top with his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. These three acted as rulers in the land under Nebuchadnezzar.  By Chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar is throwing them in a furnace.  By the end of the chapter he is acknowledging them as servants of the most High God; favoring them once again. The praise of men waivers, it is fickle, and isn't it so true that we shouldn't believe our own press? People love you and they hate, but the love of God never changes....

2nd Samuel 24:10

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people.  So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

God took away the iniquity of David by offering him a very unique three-fold chastisement opportunity.  David had the choice concerning what punitive measure he would face.  He would either run from his enemies for three months, or Israel would experience a harsh famine for seven years, or there would be three days of plague in the land.  And David said, “I have had enough dealings with cruel enemies, let me fall into the LORD’S hands; His mercy endures forever.” 

David numbered the people in his pride.  His heart smote him because he already knew that he shouldn’t rely on the great strength of the armies of Israel and on his numerous warriors as an offensive fortitude against his enemies.  We stay dependent on the Lord regardless of our numbers, vast or meager.  Deep down, the world without a heart for the Lord thinks differently.  They say 

“Who needs God, I’ll be just fine, I’ve got plenty in the bank?”–You never were good at simple addition?! (See Luke 12:20).

“We don’t need the Lord in our relationship, she’s the ‘one’ for me and I’m the ‘one’ for her”–DoubleTrouble!  (See 1st John 4:8).

“I’m young and I want to have ‘fun,’ I don’t need to follow the Lord, I have many years left”–That’s dangerous math! (See Proverbs 10:27).

And, their problems will multiply....

When our numbers are up, its crucial that we realize God is in control and we must continually and perpetually rely on Him.  It is easy to put confidence in those other things, yet they can’t deliver us in the evil and calamitous time.  If God ever offers you a choice concerning chastisement consequences, choose to fall into the LORD’S hands.  His mercy endures forever.  It’s crucial to note that God diminished and decreased David’s numbers when he began to trust in them–an easy way to ruin the very thing we trust in, are prideful about, and rely upon–is to become haughty and prideful in it; whether it is riches, skill, wisdom, or beauty.

1st Kings 1:5

Then Adonijah the Son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.

Adonijah was very clever, much akin to his cunning brother Absalom.  Adonijah used comparable-clandestine tactics to apprehend the throne and, in certain respects, repeats Absalom’s story of self exaltation which ultimately led to his demise, then his downfall, and finally, his destruction.  He didn’t follow in-tandem with David’s plan for the forthcoming successor–and his brilliant ideas and cleverly contrived notions amounted to nullity and non-existence–though they seemed to be proving successful for a duration of time.

I do not wish that my plans would result in, amount to, and end in nothing.  There’s just too much work involved for God to destroy the work of my hands.  Adonijah decisively chose the wrong occupation (as an unauthorized successor of the king apart from David’s approbation) and he also sought the wrong relationship (with Abishag the Shunammite).  Aspirations, occupations, and relationships apart from God’s perfect will may seem perfect to us, but God knows their final outcomes–He sees the trouble attached to very ideas that we affirm to be ideal apart from the approval of His presence, and He wants better for us.  He wants peace to reign and Solomon non-coincidentally means peace.


Here’s a better idea,

Let the Son reign as King on the throne of your heart; The Prince of Peace.

And, though your quixotic ideas are brilliant, in His light we see light; including what’s around the bend.  Let us pursue those things which make for peace...” (Romans 14:19).

1st Kings 3:14-15

“So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”  Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream….

Since dreams are Biblical and occur throughout both Old and New Testament manuscripts, we should never neglect or ignore them because God uses dreams as a means to communicate to us.  Solomon heard from the LORD on more than one occasion regarding walking in His ways and keeping His laws–but Solomon didn’t listen and forfeited his majestically established kingdom. 

There are some things that God does not waver over, change His mind about, or alter–they are His views about walking in His Word and His ways.  “So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (1st Kings 11:9).

Sometimes individuals seeking to justify their corrupt way say, “The Bible only says it a couple of times, so the issue must not be as big as we think.”

Yet, how many times does God need to say it? 

Once is enough for me–at least it should be.  Through His loving patience with me, He repeats Himself. 

What has He communicated to your heart personally on more than one occasion?  Has the Holy Spirit been grieved over an activity or something you have?  If we have repented over it and changed our minds about it previously, there’s a reason.  Stay sensitive and in tune to the Spirit–if it wasn’t right then, it may not be right now–saints, just recognize that two visitations from the LORD concerning any matter should be more than enough for us to clearly comprehend and be warned!  Don’t let anything wreck everything you have majestically established!

1st Kings 5:7

So it was, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly and said, “Blessed be the LORD this day, for He has given David a wise son over this great people!”

Hiram is overjoyed that God granted David a wise son over Israel.  In elation, Hiram praises God.  To bring magnificence out of mayhem, is an absolutely praiseworthy measure of grace that God grants his people–I mean, it seems that nothing good would come out the adulterous-murderous relationship between David and Bathsheba.  But that is our God, He brings precious out of the vile.  Though judgment follows every sin, He transforms our sinful wreckage into something good–if we follow Him back out the holes we dig–or else, chaos gets deeper and punishment gets worse (Leviticus 26:18). 

Every man and every woman will never be held responsible for the unduly actions of others (Ezekiel 18:2).  Furthermore, many people today come from illegitimate relationships of fornication.  Yet, God promises that though the parents were in sin, the child is not; and the child has every opportunity to live God’s best life.  The child can still be a wise and discerning person–and be a blessing to everyone.

Solomon wrote three thousand proverbs and one thousand and five songs (1st Kings 4:32).

Jesus’ legal lineage descended from the posterity of an illegitimate person–and just saying it sounds sacrilegious (Matthew 1:3). 

Jesus was from the descending line of Judah–and Judah had some shady dealings.  Judah’s sons, Perez and Zerah, were children of harlotry, yet they are found in the lineage of the Messiah.  God can bring perfection out of situations that we deem hopeless!  Though David acquired Bathsheba by iniquitous-intrigue, the child, as Hiram said it, was given to David from God.  Why?  Because David repented and began following again.  God will make the best of every situation we are in as long as we are following Him, even the questionable situations that we make for ourselves!  No matter where you are–and what you’ve done to get there–it’s high time to follow close behind Him!  God will bring good out of it!

1st Kings 9:1-2

And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, that the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as He appeared to him at Gibeon.

When did Solomon hear from God?  When he began to do His work.  I find it very interesting that God made Himself real to Solomon even when he simply began to inquire and pray concerning the work which was to come (1st kings 3:6).  Now, here at the outset of his finalizations and the completion of the LORD’S work, God appears to him again.  If we want God to appear to us both time and again, then we must make His work our priority, even before our work. 

See, Solomon made the house of the LORD a priority and when he finalized the very facets of the completion of the house of the LORD, then he built his own house.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto thee (Matthew 6:33).  God’s kingdom came first.

I can recollect another king who didn’t have apparitions or encounters with the LORD, though he wanted them–it was king Saul.  His whole focus was to build his own kingdom and keep it.  He didn’t perform the Word of the LORD and he nearly went insane trying to have an encounter with the LORD (1st Samuel 28:15).  And he isn’t unlike many today who say, “I just don’t hear from or feel God at all.  I don’t see God in all this.”  There’s a simple solution:  Get started on doing something for the Lord.  Start praying about some kind of ministry you can serve Him with–and carry it out to completion.  God will appear to you over and over, and time and again!  Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you!

1st Kings 11:31

And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you.’ ”

Jeroboam was a man who had a swell beginning and a tragic idolatrous ending.  The prophet Ahijah the Shilonite came to Jeroboam saying, “Solomon is royally blowing it. His heart is not loyal to Jehovah. See this brand new shirt that I have?  Tear it in ten pieces and keep them for yourself.  God is going to take ten of the tribes of Israel from Solomon and they’ll be yours.  You are going to be the king.”  Then Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam and he fled to Egypt until Solomon died. 

Now Jeroboam has returned.   All Israel has gathered to make Rehoboam king.

Jeroboam sees everything transpiring contrary to what God said would happen – But he is still there. 

Things look bleak, but the Word of the LORD is going to happen in Jeroboam’s life and in my life, and in yours.  It doesn’t matter if the turn of events is contrary to us and all the circumstances say otherwise, the Word that God has spoken to our hearts will inevitably come to fruition, be reliable, and outstand all the odds which point against us. 

We keep our eyes off of the waves and on Jesus, and what He said to us.  We will walk on the waters. We won't sink.

And as you know, the congregation of Israel stood before Rehoboam to request that the heavy burdens of Solomon would be lightened and relieved.  In cruelty, Rehoboam rejected their petition and they rejected him from being king over them – And crowned Jeroboam king over Israel in his stead.

1st Kings 15:25

Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years.

And it was a trifling, short-lived brief two years because he was murdered in a conspiracy.  Nadab was laying siege of Gibbethon of the Philistines.  He was smack-dab in the middle of his plans to take territory from the Philistines when, out of nowhere, Baasha the son of Ahijah kills him.  Without any forewarning or notice–death seized him unexpectedly; Nadab just didn’t see it coming.  Nadab was not a chain breaker.  He continued-in and upheld Jeroboam’s idolatry. 

In the Scriptures, there is an inconsistent paradigm of evil kings who have extremely long terms in the office of kingship, while their successive children have abnormally insignificant short-lived reigns because of their evil.

And though there is no formula,

And though we may be reading between the lines…

It’s almost as if God is saying, “That’s enough!”

“I’ve been extremely patient with your daddy’s reign and he never changed his heart.  If you think you are going to continue in his perverse patterns, you’ve got another thing coming!”  And their reign is cut short.  Sin is a stench in the nostrils of God and, at some point, He becomes weary of relenting from disaster–as you would be weary of a rotting stench of decaying flesh that fills the air without any ventilation–at some point you’ll say, “No–no more.” Though God will never judge a man or woman for their parent’s shortcomings, the child who desires to rebelliously persist and resolutely continue in the sins of their fathers will be judged swiftly.  It’s imperative that we are chain breakers!  Reign long-term in righteousness!  Bless your children with an extra measure of grace from above so that, no matter where they are in their walk, God would say, “Nevertheless, for your father’s sake I will bless you and I will not take the kingdom from you” (1st Kings 11:12).

1st Kings 18:40

And Elijah said, "Seize the prophets of Baal!  Do not let one of them escape!"  So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and executed them there.

Baal is the god of the intellect and Ashtoreth is the goddess of sensuality.  

There’s power in name of Jesus.  There’s no other name given among men by which we must be saved.  It’s such a beautiful and powerful name that causes offenses unlike any other.  If the name of Buddha or Krishna or Muhammad are mentioned, it is a passing term accepted and inducted in the name of ecumenical tolerance and inclusivity.  Jesus is a stumbling block to the Jews and an offense to Greeks; today, junkies (Ashtoreth followers) and worldly geeks (Baal followers). His name sends people into an uproar for either joy and rejoicing or pugnacious defiance.  “Co-exist” is the new politically correct term that contemporary society is trying to shove down our throats, but is that what we should do?  Can light and darkness co-exist?  Let’s look at a little story from the top of Mount Carmel:

King Ahab went to meet Elijah the Prophet after much duress and weariness of drought caused by the word of Elijah from the LORD.  “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” said Ahab.  Elijah said, “I’m not the one causing trouble, but you are.  You’ve forsaken the LORD.  You’ve gotten all ‘co-exist’ on me.  Let’s have a showdown.  You bring all your Baal and Ashtoreth worshipers to the top of Carmel.  We will set up two altars of wood and bulls, and the God who sends fire down from heaven and burns them up is the real God.”

“Ok, let’s do this,” said Ahab.

“Set up two altars.  Cut up the bulls.  Set them on the wood.  Call on your god,” said Elijah.  So eight-hundred and fifty men began to call and scream from morning until evening, but there was no answer.  Their god was quiet.  “Maybe he is sleeping, or on a journey, or busy, or maybe you should go wake him up!” said Elijah. “Louder!”  And with desperate cries and blood gushing out of them to get Baal’s attention by self emaciation, there was no voice.  There was no answer.  Then Elijah said, “Come near to me.”  And he took twelve stones and made an altar and drenched it in water.  He said, “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”  Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench (See 1st Kings 18).  Everyone proclaimed Yahweh as God and Elijah ordered the execution of the false religions.

And as you know, that’s why our God is offensive.  He sends down fire.  He calls for holiness.  He calls sin what it is – unlike the Baal rationale.  Baal is the god of the intellect.  He says, “What is truth?  There are many truths and we have to discover and know them all.  We follow our own wisdom.  We make our own decisions according to our own understanding, so get a lot of information!” – That’s Baal.  Ashtoreth is the goddess of sensuality and fertility.  It was multi-breasted statue and an epicurean-like deity that taught that sensual pleasure is the chief goal in life.  Ashtoreth says, “Hey, as long as you are happy.”  Now, Jehovah says, “You shall have no other gods besides Me.”  And Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  He never said, “Let’s all hold hands and sing Kum-Bah-Yah.” Why?  The alternative lifestyle tortured righteous Lot. That’s why Elijah cut off the other religions.  Our God is an all consuming fire.  Fire burns and consumes.  Which is why people “Baal” out on Him and set up moral standards according to their own philosophies.  And, they turn to “Ash”-es.

1st Kings 20:12

And it happened when Ben-Hadad heard this message, as he and the kings were drinking at the command post, that he said to his servants, “Get ready.”  And they got ready to attack the city.

Ben-Hadad is drinking himself drunk.  The kings with him are drinking themselves drunk too. They are hyping themselves up, as drunken people do, and are making plans that will inevitably come to nothing.  The king of Israel is going to destroy them in battle.

Here’s the scene:

Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, has mustered together thirty-two kings to attack king Ahab, the king of Israel.  King Ahab has just sent a message to Ben-Hadad saying that he can have all his wives, gold, and silver.  King Ahab is buckling under the pressure of this heathen man.

So, after Ahab acquiesces to his request, Ben-Hadad sends another delegation saying, “Let me also send my people to search your house and take whatever they want.”  Ahab sends a message back to him saying, “I can give you my wives, my gold, and my silver, but I cannot let you dig through my house.”  So, Ben-Hadad declares war on Israel and proudly says, “I’m gonna wipe you out so bad that I will even destroy the dust under your feet.”  Now, Ahab sends delegates to the king of Syria and, as they are a way off, the king of Syria is drinking himself drunk.  In his inebriated state he declares war on their peace delegates and war on their battle delegates, whoever they are.  It doesn’t matter.  “I’m powerful, rich, and drunk.  You can’t stop us” (See 1st Kings 20).  

He is very excited, passionate, and self-confident.  He is a man who knows how to handle his alcohol. I say that tongue in cheek.

He is tipsy, buzzed, and head-changed.  The Bible declares, “Associate not with those given to change, for who knows what calamity those two can bring” (Proverbs 24:21-22).  If they are changed as a result of drinking, or any substance for that matter, don’t mingle, mix, join, and be yoked together with them.  Why?  Because there is a mysterious, unknowable calamity that follows people who are “head-changed” that cannot be named.  You do not know the form the calamity or trouble will take.  Be careful with them.

This king was under the influence, yet he still had the wits to communicate and make war strategies. 

Please don’t think for a minute, “Well, these people know how to handle their alcohol.  They’re ok.”  Nope – no one can take on the world and do what should be done with a changed mind from alcohol or drugs.  Substance brings a cloud into the mind and soul which block God's whisperings.  Their thoughts become deranged and changed.  Even if they are strong enough to drink and still function in society, they are Ben-Hadads.  A clandestine and creeping calamity certainly comes soon behind them.

Don’t make plans with so-called classy sipping wine toters.  Don’t join with them if you are called to a higher standard.  I don’t care how astute they are, if they are under even a gentle influence, their thoughts are deranged and warped.

Remember when Moses and Joshua came down into the camp and Joshua said, “It is the sound of war that I hear?”  And Moses said, “It isn’t the sound of war, but singing and dancing” (See Exodus 32).  Groups of partying people know how to hype up the scene with the likeness of victorious war chants, but will not succeed.  Israel was destroyed in their partying too.  Why do you think the Bible condemns going to wild parties in the Book of Peter and Galatians?  Because you may pick up a plan or a person or a spouse and try to take on the challenges of this life and lose like all these other examples.

1st Kings 22:8

So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”  And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!”

The king of Israel is Ahab and, as you probably already know, he is a very wicked king.  The king of Judah is visiting him.  Ahab told Jehoshaphat that there is a piece of property up in Syria that belongs to Israel.  Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to go to war with him and get it back.  So, Jehoshaphat agrees on the condition that they seek the word of the LORD.

So Ahab and Jehoshaphat get all arrayed in their royal apparel and bring out four hundred prophets to get the heart of God on the matter.  All four hundred prophets said the same thing, as most of them do, “Go up… and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the king’s hand” (1 Kings 22:12).  One of them had the audacity to make horns of iron for himself and said to Ahab that he’d gore all the Syrians with these. So, they all hyped each other up and spoke happy warm-fuzzy sentiments of joy.   It must have a been very flashy and entertaining gathering indeed.  I would have left that church service feeling like a million bucks.  The problem was that it was all a lie. 

Ahab was going to have a gruesome death where dogs were going to lick up his blood that poured from  his chariot while the harlots bathed – a very interesting and eerie picture if you can imagine it.

Now Jehoshaphat the king of Judah was right with God.  He had discernment.  He spotted these false prophets from a mile away.  After all four hundred prophets were done doing their happy-harangue, Jehoshaphat knew that they were all blowing hot air.  He knew in his heart that something didn’t ring true in his ears, so he asked, “Is there still not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of him?” (1 Kings 22:7).

Jehoshaphat did not credulously believe whatever was told to him, and neither should we.  Genuine prophets can speak about positive and prosperous tidings, but a false prophet always gives a warm-fuzzy message because he wants to win your heart, not God’s.  You can know them by their fruits:

Here are four quick traits of a heretical non-inspired prophet:

There are several of them – 400 prophets;  Yet there was only one real prophet out of them all – Micaiah.

Their message is always about prosperity, healing, money, and getting material wealth.  It appeals to the flesh. 

They are flashy, showy-glowing glitzy and hype up the hoopla.  They are into the razzle-dazzle of it all.  They are dancing and designing battle horns of victory without exposing the sin of the laity.

Finally, you can, Like Jehoshaphat, spot them a mile away.  If the Holy Spirit within you cannot accept their message in perfect gentle peace, as the tender wisdom from above comes down – They’re false.  Jesus warned us to beware of false prophets who are inwardly ravenous wolves.  In our day and age we can find ourselves surrounded and bombarded by false messages of hope.  We need solid Bible teaching.  The truth is in the word and the word of God only; chapter by chapter and verse by verse.  In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, everyone prophesied peace until the King of Babylon came and leveled the city.

2nd Kings 1:16

Then he said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word?  Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’ ”

Every single successive king in the first and second books of the Kings is evil.  Calamity and curses have struck each and every one of them, and Ahaziah is no different.  He has fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and was critically injured.  Immediately, he sends messengers to inquire of the Baal Zebub (being the god of the intellect, intelligence, and scientific sense), to find out medically if he will recover from his injury.

Accidents happen.

Illness and injury befall each and every one.

Our default mode of operation is to always go directly to prayer and petition the Lord.

Medical science comes second.

“So Michael,” one says.  “What if someone is bleeding to death?  Should I just leave the situation and go and pray?”  And I say, “Of course not–dunderhead.”  Get them to a hospital immediately, but our immediate response is to pray and pray without ceasing–and get moving if necessary.  If illness or disease or cancer appears–we pray and pray without ceasing–then go to our God-given doctors which may be necessary.  Don’t make Asa's or Ahaziah’s mistake.  It was Ahaziah and Asa who sought doctors and medical science before the Lord (2nd Chronicles 16:12).  And God said, “Since you don’t look to Me as the Divine Healer and as the source of all betterment, but seek the physicians and all your wise ideas for healing yourself–you aren’t going to recover.”  When things happen, and when injuries or illness befalls us, as they do, seek Jehovah-Rapha, which is translated “The-God-Who-Heals,” as a first instinct, instead of a second or third possibility for a hope of healing.  Jesus healed everyone who came to Him–everyone (Luke 6:19), and He did it in His time (John 11:3-6).

2nd Kings 3:14

And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah I would not look at you, nor see you.”

Jehoshaphat is surrounded by some very questionable characters, Jehoram and the king of Edom with their armies.  The hearts of these three kings are swayed because there isn’t any water for their armies and now they are on the brink of war with Moab.  So Jehoshaphat, as he always does (1st Kings 22:5), asks for the heart of the Lord in the matter.  He inquires of the Word of the Lord.  Then Elisha declares this most fascinating statement, “I wouldn’t even look at you guys, but Jehoshaphat is here…so here’s how God will ‘pour’ out blessing on you.  God will fill every ditch you dig with water.”  And, the Moabites believed that the water was blood from Judah, Israel, and Edom turning swords against each other.  The Moabites moved into the camp to take the remaining spoil and, of course they were wrong.  Israel attacked the Moabites and destroyed them, ruined their lands with stones, and cut down their trees–then the king of Moab sacrificed his son who would have reigned in his place in hopes that he would win the war, and Israel went home in peace.

The Word of the Lord would have never come unless Jehoshaphat was present.  A righteous and godly person who craves the heart of the Lord in ever matter ultimately changes the circumstances for everyone!  When Mary broke the oil of spikenard and washed the feet of Jesus with it–fragrance filled the whole house and changed the atmosphere for everyone else in the house (John 12:3).

Be the climate-changer.

Be the reason God blesses everyone else.

Let your contagious fragrant-faith and your love of the Word–and your desire to know the heart of the Lord in every matter–be the reason God ‘pours’ out such blessing for everyone that they don’t have room enough for it!

2nd Kings 6:12

And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words you speak in your bedroom.”

The king of Syria is greatly troubled because his military strategies keep going awry.  He wonders if there is a confidant or a spy in his midst, and the king’s servants blame the miraculous insight of the prophet of God.

Elisha had a unique gift of knowing ensuing-futuristic matters.  We have the same graciously distributed gift of intuitive-perception from Yahweh!  Jesus said, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you what is to come” (John 16:13).  Jesus perceived the hidden hearts of men because He was endowed with the Spirit–the very same Spirit He has given to us as a gift. 

I just don't trust this situation,” we say.  There's a good reason you don't!  Go with your forbidding Spiritual instincts!

My heart isn't with them, I feel they'll turn on me, we say.  Go with the foreboding warning! (1st Chronicles 12:17).

When leading someone to Jesus, they pray a prayer asking Jesus to dwell and reign in their heart, and they confess Him as Lord.  Besides the standard sinner’s prayer, the Scripture says to ask for the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts and be filled with it.  The Holy Spirit is a gift–it’s there for the asking.  “If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13).  When they walk away from such a spiritual encounter, as they have no doubt had one in their renouncing of sin and asking Jesus into their heart, they have now acquisitioned a unique insight into what’s ahead–and a Helper–and a Spirit filled conscience that will guide them into all truth and prompt them towards righteousness.  Beloved, the Spirit tells us what’s coming down the pike, and how to maneuver every situation while having Elisha’s miraculous insight into the unknown, unspoken, and unseen–let nothing cloud-out such a wonderful gift of perspicacity!

2nd Kings 9:12-13

And they said, “A lie! Tell us now”…and they blew the trumpets, saying, “Jehu is king.”

When Elisha told one of the sons of the prophets to take Jehu to an inner room and install him into the office of the kingship, Elisha wanted him to anoint Jehu secretly.  It was a holy conspiracy of treason ordained of the LORD.  As oil is dripping down the beard of Jehu, the prophet flees quickly–he knows he can be put to death for installing Jehu into the office of kingship when a concomitant king is ruling in tandem.  When Jehu’s commanders surrounded him, they asked, “Why did this madman come to you?”  Then Jehu replied, “Oh, you know those type of men [like us] and their babble.”  And they said, “You are a liar!  Tell us now.”  Then Jehu told them about how the prophet anointed him king over Israel, and they all laid their outer coats under his feet and cried out, “Jehu is king!” 

And Jehu became the king....

As long as Jehu wasn’t disclosing the truth, he wasn’t being installed into the kingship. 

When he spoke the truth–he ascended to the throne.

Oh, how this has been a lesson for me to learn through the years!  As long as I’m not speaking my heart and using subtle deceptions to please others, I will never ascend into the authority, positions, and the places God wants for me.  It’s true!  Don’t dilly-dawdle through the years being a man pleaser.  Speak the truth in every matter, and watch how you are rebarbatively-rejected by people in various situations–right into the places and positions God planned for you to rejoice in and reign over from the beginning.  You’ll be hated by some, yet lovingly favored by others.  As a result, you will be forced into the places you can be Christianly candid, optimistically open, and free to be the person God created you to be!  And, it’s true at your job, on the home-front, in your relationships, and every area of life.  You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free–and that’s true of both the written Word and our graceful truthfulness of speech.  

2nd Kings 13:5

Then the LORD gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Syrians; and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as before.

History repeats itself.  If you have ever ventured through the book of Judges, you have observed this recurring sequence of events before.  The enemy oppresses Israel in the face of their sinful behavior and they cry out for relief from on High.  Then, like clockwork, God raises up a deliverer and they are set free from their cruel suppression–but the difference here is that the deliverer usually has a name.  In 2nd Kings we see Jehovah raise up an ambiguous no-name deliverer who sets them free, but he was awesome nonetheless.  No doubt, in heaven we’ll see a vast multitude comprised of mighty and gallantly-heroic men and women who conquered territory for the Lord–and we never knew their names or their amazing stories.

You may see yourself as nothing in God’s kingdom.  You’re in good company if you do.  It was Paul who genuinely said, “I am the least and I am nothing” (1st Corinthians 15:9; 2nd Corinthians 12:11) and king David reiterated the sentiment when he said, “I am a lightly esteemed man and I’m a dead dog; I’m a flea...” (1st Samuel 18:3; 1st Samuel 24:14).

Were they nobodies? Absolutely not….

The best attitude you can have is to see yourself as nothing and keep taking ground for the kingdom (Galatians 6:3).

God has lavishly granted to you a name–whether you know it or not–you’re big in His sight, and it’s probably better that you are not completely cognizant of how noteworthy or excellent you are in the sight of others in your sphere of influence–you might get haughty and big-headed.  You might become arrogant.  Yahweh has made you immeasurably more-majestic than you think! Yet, it’s more expedient to keep your eyes off of your own supposed grandeur and see yourself as nothing.  Why?  Because you’ll actually remain lifted up on high!  You’ll stay there!

2nd Kings 17:18

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.

The king of Assyria carried all Israel away captive.  A common practice of conquering nations was to disperse the inhabitants of the nation and substitute people of other ethnicities to populate the land and proliferate–and take over for good.  Now, Shalmaneser has created a new populace in Israel consisting of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim.  Upon their arrival, they do not fear the LORD.  They expect to continue living in the very sins that displaced Israel in the first place.  Consequently, God sends lions to begin mauling and killing them, and the people cried out to Shalmaneser saying, “The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals” and Shalmaneser said, “Take one of the priests whom you brought from there.  Let him teach you the ways of the LORD.”  So they took a priest, and he taught them how to fear the LORD; and “They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods–according to the rituals of the nations who were taken away” (2nd Kings 17:33).  They had one foot in the world and one in the things of God.

Watch the next verse:

“To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the LORD, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the LORD had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel” (2nd Kings 17:34).

In (v) 33 they fear the LORD, but continue on in their worldly ways–they live both ways.

In (v) 34 they do not fear the LORD, their worldly ways took over.

And that’s how it always is.

“Oh, I want the LORD, but I don’t want to be a fanatic,” they say.  And they fall into the exact same subtle two-step pattern as those who once feared the LORD, yet held onto something that permeated, proliferated and eventually prevailed in their heart–and now they don’t. Be sold out for the Lord!  Cut off questionable behaviors or activities lest you too become lukewarm and be spewed out of the mouth of the Lion of Judah (Revelation 3:15).  Stay on fire!  There is no in-between!  Watch the deadly two step cyclonic-cycle!

2nd Kings 20:13

And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures–the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory–all that was found among his treasures.  There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.

2nd Chronicles sheds further light on this text. “However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart” (2nd Chronicles 32:31).

An angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrians and the sundial moved backwards ten degrees on the sundial of Ahaz (or forty-five minutes).

That was the compound wonder!

As we read the Scriptures from cover to cover, we receive further insight into the refining strategies God uses to show us what is genuinely in our hearts.  God can depart from you, not to forsake you, but to step back and watch what you will do in situations where every step you take is up to youwithout a significant push in the right direction.  God tested Hezekiah this way, and he failed big time.  He was caught-up in pompous riches and haughty pride, and destruction was looming until he humbled himself. 

If God ever withdraws or steps back from you to see what is in your heart,

And you do not seem to feel the leading and guiding of the Spirit,

Continue following the written Word and what you've experienced in the Spirit thus far

If He purposefully remains distant from us to see what we will do in any given circumstance, our best bet is to continue on in the things we have discovered by walking in the Spirit.  We say, “Well, I don’t feel the Spirit leading me in this situation, so what shall I do?”  The answer is undoubtedly–whatever you have been doing thus far; whatever He has already shown you for righteous living.  You know what is acceptable.  “He has shown you O man what is good, and what does the LORD require of you?”  Walk in holiness, without which no one will see the Lord!  He who seems afar off will soon perfect, establish, and return your soul to its rest.

2nd Kings 22:20

“Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.”  So they brought back word to the king.

I love the Lord.  He speaks peace to His people.  His thoughts towards us are thoughts of peace.  He desires to give us a future and a hope.  The Psalmist wrote, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, only let them not return to folly” (Psalm 85:8).  King Josiah is no different.  His future would have been one of peace.  His departure from earth could have been serene, tranquil, and quiet.  That’s what God desired for Him.  But was it?

No.  It was quite the opposite.

See, friends, God’s conditions of peace depend on our compliance.

Let’s see what really happened:

First off we must note that Josiah was awesome.  There wasn’t a king like him before or after him, which includes David too (2nd Kings 23:25).  That’s a pretty high standard!  God spoke about his future peace, but as we know it was contingent and conducive upon his obedience, as is ours.  Now, as we skip over to 2nd Chronicles we read the details of his end.  The King of Assyria was making war against the region of Carchemish and Pharaoh Necho came to his aid.  Josiah decided to go against Pharaoh in battle.  Pharaoh said, “Hey, Josiah, I’ve got no business with you.  I’m not here to fight with you.  God has called me here to make war with the house of Carchemish.  Refrain from meddling with me, lest I destroy you.  So – back off!”  Josiah didn’t.  He started fighting a battle that wasn’t his.  Pharaoh Necho’s archers shot King Josiah and he said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am severely wounded.” And they took him out of his chariot and threw him in another one; the emergency exit chariot.  They rushed him to Jerusalem and he died.  Everyone cried for him.

He meddled where he shouldn’t have.  It wasn’t his fight.

And he broke everyone’s heart. 

And so will I.  You will too.  If we don’t heed God’s conditions of peace – it hurts our future and everyone else’s too.  Our children, wives, our family – whomever is linked to us.  Watch it!  Make sure it is your battle!  I understand the sentiment of – “Dude, I got your back.”  But learn from Josiah.  Should he have defended Carchemish?  Absolutely not.  He was involved in the affair of another.  And, “He who meddles in an affair that is not his own is like a man who picks up a dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:17). 

What happens when you pick up a dog by the ears?  You get bit!

Josiah didn’t heed the very words of warning from the mouth of the LORD (2nd Chronicles 35:22).  He could have had the wonderful closure that God desired for him.

Jeremiah the prophet lamented for him and the scriptures declare, “And to this day all the singing men and the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations” (2nd Chronicles 35:25). Don’t break everyone’s heart!  Let us finish dynamically.  Our futuristic bliss and everyone else’s depends on it!  There’s a lot riding on you and you alone!  Rejoice the soul of others!

1st Chronicles 4:10

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!”  So God granted him what he requested.

Tucked away in nine grueling chapters of genealogy, we find relief in the prayer of Jabez!  It’s an exciting model prayer for us.  In fact, it’s always worthy of reciting–even now:

Oh, that You would richly bless me forevermore….

Please enlarge my territory….

Oh God, please let it be Your hand that performs my works….

Please don’t let me sin anymore, I’ve had enough grief, sorrow, heartache, and pain!

Jabez means he makes sorrowful or he causes pain.  I have had enough drama and grief from sin.  I have discovered a direct link between evil days of sorrow and corresponding sin.  I do not desire to make myself or others sorrowful or cause pain–so I’m following Jesus.  I’m arming myself with a mind that is ready to put my face down on the floor to suffer for resisting sin for forty days if needs be.  Though I do not have some long drawn out sob-story of years spent in wasteful living, I have still been like a Jabez for too long!  Even the smallest rendezvous-bout in sin is still too long!  I’m keeping myself in the love of Godunder the spout where the blessings come out (Jude 1:21). I’m following Him because I love His presence, and I know His blessings, territorial enlargements, and His forerunning conquering hands come as a byproduct–which entail the very constituents of Jabez’ prayer.  Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time–houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions–and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).

Now in this time.

Now in this time–I love it!

1st Chronicles 10:13-14

So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance.  But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

1st Samuel gives us a more detailed account.

“And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets” (1st Samuel 28:6).

So why does the Chronicles account say otherwise?

It surely seems that Saul did indeed seek LORD.  Yet, it’s because Saul didn’t genuinely seek Him with a repentant heart or with a pure heart or with his whole heart–so no, Saul didn’t seek Him.  You shall seek the Lord and find Him when you seek Him with your whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13).  He will draw near to you when you draw near to Him–after we purify our hearts (James 4:8). 

When both accounts are juxtaposed, we deduce that Saul half-heartedly sought God–which is not seeking Him at all.  Saul did not keep the Word of the LORD and consulted a medium.  If I believe for a moment that I can flippantly bring sin into His presence and He is going to hear and help me in my time of need–I’ve got another thing coming.  I’m in for a rude awakening.  Why?  Because drawing near to Him to receive help in times of trouble is a privilege reserved for His dedicated children–children after His own heart.  So there’s no contradiction.  Sin separates us from God.   Yet, if in purity of heart, we draw near to the Lord, He will reveal Himself.  “With the pure You will show yourself pure” (Psalm 18:26).  We get the rights and benefits of seeing what God is all about!  One hundred percent pure God in all of His fullness!  When we seek Him He says, “Here I am.”  If we forsake Him, He will forsake us.  Friends, in the day of trouble, call upon Him.  It’s your privilege and others do not have it (Ecclesiastes 4:1).  If you're wrestling with anything in your heart that God has made obviously clear that it should not be in your life...then let it go.  There are heavenly privileges awaiting!  The kingdom is about to be turned over to those after His own heart!

1st Chronicles 12:32

Of the sons of Isaachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command.

I was joking with my wife when I told her that sometimes at night I hear the alley cats screeching and screaming, but I have a hard time telling if it is the cats or if it is her calling me.   Once again I was joking, of course.  It really is funny, to me at least, because my wife is the most soft-spoken gentle sweet woman in the universe.

But for some reason many wonderful Christian brothers and sisters get caught in a rut (in the decision making process) and they cannot discern the voice of God.  Why is that?

It’s simple – the cares of this world choke the Word in their lives making it unfruitful.  Jesus said, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).  There’s just too much clutter in our lives; too many unnecessary obligations calling for my precious time.

Living with a light touch on this world is so freeing.  I love the peaceful freedom I have by removing, repenting of, and even, at times, lovingly-destroying the clutter in my physical surroundings and my spiritual life.  The Psalmist in 84:5 said, “Blessed is he whose heart is set on pilgrimage,” that is, a heart that lives for heaven and knows that he or she is just passing through.

Keeping a light touch on the material world keeps us spiritually, mentally, and keenly sharp!  This is a blessing that can be entitled, “The Blessing of Isaachar.”  The men of Isaachar, the Bible says, had understanding of the times, they knew what Israel ought to do, and their brethren were at their command (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Those who are acutely in tune to the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit are most definitely in-the-know.  Those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil are in-the-know (Hebrews 5:14).  And, those who can hear Him speak without a word saying, “This is the way, walk in it when you turn to the right hand or to the left,” are in-the-know.  So if you aren’t already, get in-the-know!

How do I become keenly aware of the LORD'S promptings and the Spirit of God nudging, leading, and directing me?  Be a man or woman of the Word.  Here’s why – In 1st Samuel chapter 9, Saul’s donkeys escaped the pen and he, along with another servant, went looking for them.  Saul was distressed.  He didn’t know the direction he should go until he met the prophet Samuel who said for them to turn aside, relax, slow down - let’s eat!  And as they began to chew on the meat of the Word (so to speak) everything became clear.  Saul, your donkeys are found, and I’ve got a new path for you to follow – You’re the new king of Israel! 

Friends, let’s not miss our “kingly-path” because we are so caught up wasting our time with donkeys, the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches!

1st Chronicles 19:1-2

It happened after this that Nahash the king of the people of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his place.  Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me."

Nahash means, “The Serpent.”  He was king Saul’s enemy, but he was king David’s friend.  How can this arch-enemy of the Jews befriend one Hebrew and seek to vanquish another?  Previously, the men of Israel and Saul defeated Nahash.  Nahash was a violent terrorizing villain indeed.  He threatened to pluck out the eyeballs of the men of Jabesh Gilead and Saul went to battle against him (1st Samuel 11).  Though Saul won the battle, he never completely defeated Nahash because the scripture declares that he was David’s friend after Saul’s death; which means he was a perpetual adversary to Saul his whole life. 

There was a spirit of enmity towards Saul, but not David.  Why?  Because when a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7).  There will be a spirit of enmity towards others, but not you!  Loving favor rests upon you! That is, assuming you are right on with Jesus.

David was able to take refuge from Saul and entrust his parents to the king of Moab – Saul’s enemy.

David could find solace amongst and commit his men to the king of the Philistines – Saul’s adversary and foe, who defeated him in battle.

Nahash was a serpent to Saul, but a friend to David; as there will be serpents to everyone else, but a peaceful alliance, for a season, with you, if you do those things that please the LORD.

It is an enigma.  When you are right with the Lord you can have rest from your enemies.  It is such a mystery that the princes of the Philistines said, “Isn’t this David of whom they sang, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?' ”  They were thinking, “How is it that we are all united in battle?”  And the king of the Philistines, who would otherwise be an arch-enemy to David, said, “I know that you are as good as the angel of God in my sight” (See 1 Samuel 29).  What loving favor! 

For a temporary duration, a season, and a span of time – you may have peace with an enemy to accomplish God’s purposes.  Having seasons of rest makes domicile living much easier because, after all, “A man’s enemies shall be the members of his own household” (Matthew  10:38).  Let us do the things that please Him! Find out what pleases Him and loving favor awaits from those who would usually set themselves up as an adversarial opponent against you!

1st Chronicles 22:13

Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the LORD charged Moses concerning Israel.  Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.

These words echo Joshua’s.  “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).

These are keys to prosperity:

Fulfill the statutes and judgments.

Do according to all the law.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

The unified theme to being blessed and prosperous in all things is doing what's written.  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).  And as a tree, we may take on many years of weathering before we bear fruit!  David’s prosperity came after much trouble and grief (1st Chronicles 22:14).

2nd Chronicles 3:1

Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

Mount Moriah is also known as Mount Calvary, which is translated, “The Place of the Skull.”  ‘Tis appropriately titled, for, that is the sacrificial location God has used time and again.  We caught the first scenario when Abraham offered up Isaac there.  Oh you know the story:  God told Abraham to go and “Offer up your son, your only son, as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.  Without wasting time, Abraham saddled his donkey, split the wood for the sacrifice, took two helpers, and arose and went to Mount Moriah.  After three painful days of thought and journey for Abraham, Isaac said, “My father, I see the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  Then Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”  And as Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son, the Angel of the LORD said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  Then, as Abraham looked, he saw a ram caught in the thicket and went and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.  And Abraham called the name of the place, “The-LORD-Will-Provide” for in the mount of the LORD it shall be provided (Genesis 22:1-14).

And He did.

2000 years later, God provided His Son, His only Son, as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Luke 23:33);

Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Then the Angel of the Lord said, “Because you didn't withhold anything, but were willing to give Me everything, blessing I will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you.”  God blesses the yielding heart that is willing to give Him everything without reservation.

2nd Chronicles 7:1

When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

The picturesque imagery of fire cascading from heaven is vivid and exciting.  Could it be that I am so saturated in superhero-filmic presentations that I simply gloss over a passage as aforementioned?  Friends, we have a dynamic superhero’s privilege.  Rather than imaginatively creating, configuring, and conjuring up Hollywood sci-fi scenes as bypassing entertainment, we should do it–we should pray waterfalls of fire down. 

Igniting passion into our optimally conducive-dry and daily happenstances that beckon to burn.

And against looming trouble.

Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, fell through the lattice of his upper room.  He became critically injured and sent messengers to take Elijah for prophesying of his impending death a result of his accident.  As Elijah was sitting on top of a hill, a captain with a troop of fifty men looked up and said, “Man of God, the king has said, ‘come down.’ ”  Then Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.”  And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.  And it happened again to another troop.  Until finally, they realized that a man of prayer is dangerous and pleaded for mercy (2nd Kings 1:1-18).

God has given us an exciting gift.  If we perceived with our spiritual eyes into the unseen realm, I believe we wouldn’t stop kneeling.  We wouldn’t cease supplicating and making requests.  Prayer is a priority. It’s an unceasing way of life.  Friends, make superhero-prayer your default mode of operation because, as we note Solomon’s model prayer, glory is sure to come.  

2nd Chronicles 9:22

So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.

David charged his son Solomon to build the house of the LORD with fame and magnificence.  He prepared talents of gold, silver, bronze, timber, stone, and iron without measure.  He drew up the schematics and plans, and he fought every war and endured much trouble in preparation. David charged Solomon to do the work and set him on his throne (1st Chronicles 22:1-19).  He didn’t solely leave Solomon to his own devices or plans or dreams, though Solomon was his own person.  David knew something so profound that we have found it embedded and inscribed in Scripture forever; he knew that children are to be sent off in the direction that God has placed on your heart.  They are to unfold their own lives in the way they should go, that is, in the way we train them to go.  David said they are “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior” (Psalm 127:4). 

We fire them off in the direction God has placed on our hearts as we cry out and receive vision; a vision for each child.

Without a vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

I hesitate to generalize and say, “Just go to school or work,” though those are right and wise.  Get more specific.  Take the painstaking measure of preparing, planning, and earnestly praying for a vision or a plan or a detailed-drawn out direction for your precious children’s occupation.  David didn’t generalize. No way.  Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.  It is up to us to observe their likes and gifts and talents and fire them off in that direction with a specific target.  Solomon successfully surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom…something we all desire for our children.

2nd Chronicles 13:14

And when Judah looked around, to their surprise the battle line was at the front and rear; and they cried out to LORD, and the priests sounded the trumpets.

In the Old King James version of the Bible, the name of Solomon’s grandson was “Abijam” (2nd Chronicles 13:1).  The newer translations call him “Abijah.”  It’s the same person.  He is the king of Judah.

Abijam, Solomon’s grandson, is warring with Jeroboam.  He is seeking to restore Israel to its previous leadership.  Only Judah and Benjamin have remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty.  As a reasonable man, he calls out to Jeroboam with peace delegations and seeks to unify the tribes.  He cries out to Jeroboam saying, “Look, God gave the kingdom to David and his descendants forever, but now you are withstanding the kingdom of the LORD.  You outnumber us two to one.  You have forsaken the LORD and worship Baal, but Yahweh is with us.  Don’t fight with us because you will not prosper.”  But Jeroboam caused the battle line to go in front of Abijam and behind.  And to their surprise, they were in a serious jam (See 2nd Chronicles 13).

Jeroboam lined up eight-hundred thousand men in an ambush with valiant men in front of them and behind them.

It was a double jam–an A-bi-jam, if you will.

And, Abijam did what we should always do by default in our jams – Call on the LORD.  Our first instinct must be to pray and call upon the LORD, for He will hear us and deliver us in our time of trouble.  And, it happened that God struck Jeroboam, and Abijam took his cities and killed five-hundred thousand valiant men.  Jeroboam never recovered from his defeat.  Call upon God.  He will empower you and He will deliver you – Use your Resource.  Cry out to the LORD.  

2nd Chronicles 16:9

For eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of him whose heart is loyal to Him.

The eyes of the LORD search, scrutinize, and scan the world looking for a man who is completely sold out to Him; for a man or a woman whose heart is completely willing to yield to Him everything at all times.  The LORD looks at the heart.  More and more, I’ve come to the conclusion that God may not even necessarily call you to painstakingly give up something that is dear to your heart, but He wants to know that your heart is loyal.  He just wants to know that at any given moment you will readily respond to His request.

Solomon recapped a conversation between God and David.  God said, “David, I know that you have rest on all sides and now you desire to build a temple for Me–but you can’t.  Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart” (2nd Chronicles 6:8-9). 

“I do not want you to follow through on sacrificing Isaac, Abraham.  But because you’ve done this thing, multiplying I will multiply you and blessing I will bless you” (Genesis 22:16).

What thing?

These highly regarded men never proceeded to carry out their plans, yet their heart was always ready to.

And it’s because of that, that they incurred the favor and blessing of God.  It’s all about the heart.  Jesus said, “He who looks at a woman to lust for her in his heart has already committed adultery with her.”  He is an adulterer without even having physically done anything!  A thief, in God’s estimation, is not one who steals…but given the opportunity–he would.

2nd Chronicles 20:20

Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.

You believe in God.

Good.  You will be established. 

But go and dive deep into the sections of Scripture from Isaiah to Malachi known as the prophets and you will prosper.

When the people of Moab, Ammon, and others came to battle against Jehoshaphat, he feared and set himself to seek the LORD.  He proclaimed a fast and all Judah gathered together to ask for the LORD’S help.  Jehoshaphat didn’t self confidently scoff in pride and hype-up Israel for a showdown against these nations.  They fasted and prayed (2nd Chronicles 20:3-4).  They listened to the prophetic word of the LORD (2nd Chronicles 20:15-17).  They worshiped the LORD (2nd Chronicles 20:18-19).  They gathered and consulted; they fellowshipped (2nd Chronicles 20:21).  And they worshiped again, and began to sing and to praise; then the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.  They destroyed each other.  No one escaped.  The would-be worrisome problem ostensibly took care of itself.

We know God was behind it.

And we stand behind our four pillars: the word, worship, witnessing, and with-ness or fellowship.

Upon receiving news of disaster, trouble, or life’s precariously uncertain curves, there are four pillars of defense that should already be in process at all times in our lives. 

That’s why we seek the LORD through prayer, the word, worship, and brotherly consultation more readily referred to as fellowship.  These are the four pillars of our faith.  The LORD is our rock.  He’s our defense and shield, and a stronghold in times of trouble.  Even when times are good, we strengthen our four pillars; our walls of defense.  When trouble comes, it flees before us seven ways!  The problem consumes, crushes, and takes care of itself.

2nd Chronicles 25:19

“Indeed you say that you have defeated the Edomites, and your heart is lifted up to boast.  Stay at home now; why should you meddle with trouble, that you should fall–you and Judah with you?”

Amaziah has thoroughly defeated his enemies the Edomites and he is cloud-skipping excited.  He is feeling impenetrably unconquerable.  So he calls out Joash the king of Israel and says, “Come, let us face one another in battle.”  Then, with a calm-collective demeanor, Joash says from experience, “Look, your heart is lifted up because you have defeated the Edomites.  Stay at home and glory in that.  Why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall?”  Then Amaziah figures, “Hey, I’m on fire right now.  I’m not going to stop.”  So he faces Joash in battle and definitively loses.  Amaziah is taken hostage.  Every man flees to his tent and he relinquishes his fortified stronghold in Jerusalem.  Joash breaks down the wall from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate.  He took the gold and silver articles found in the House of God and the king’s house (2nd Kings 14:1-15).

Now, fast forward to Uzziah’s downfallwho ‘coincidentally’ is Amaziah’s son.  And tragically, apart from re-telling, revamping, or reiterating his reignhe fell the same way.  “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction…” (2nd Chronicles 26:16).

When I’m cloud skipping with joy because everything is going according to plan; when I’m taking ground and my day is pouring success over me at every corner–it may be time to slow down and go home and glory in that–to humble myself and prayerfully calculate my next moves with methodological pre-determined purpose in the Spirit of God, and not necessarily in the spirit of excitement and hype. 

  2nd Chronicles 28:3

He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.

Billy Graham said, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).  Ahaz did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD.  He was a young, twenty-year old cutting-edge king who implemented supposed ‘new ways of thinking’ and disregarded the ways of the LORD as archaic and out of date:

He made molded images for the god of the intellect–the glass screen blaring images with the audible-voice of the spirit of the world; keeping him privy to the sway of the wicked one.  Does it sound familiar or is it too ambiguous?

He burned incense on the high places–ungodly and unacceptable smoke filling the air in the name of recreation and medicine; and legalization.

He burned his son in the Valley of the son of Hinnoam–dissolving the miraculous conception away in a chemical saline under the guise of disregarding its humanity using the euphemistic terms of a fetus or tissue.

Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of his enemies.  They were defeated and carried away captive, and Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son and those closest to him.  Ahaz was delivered over to his worst fears because He instituted, imputed, and incorporated sin as lawful and common–calling it acceptable.  And to avoid our worst fears we should fear to transgress any line God deems as unacceptable.  “The fear of the wicked shall come upon him, but the desire of the righteous shall be granted” (Proverbs 10:34).  I have never met a man wrapped up in idolatry, smoking the ‘incense’ he says, “God gave us,” who had an excellent and effective use-ability factor for the Master.  They always have some sob-story or they soon will.  They Ahaz’ a sob-story indeed.

2nd Chronicles 30:8

"Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the LORD and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever and serve the LORD your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you." 

Times are changing in this country that I love.  People have become very stiff necked.  They stare you down and do not budge, flinch or even turn their gaze away. They are so in the flesh; they are so filled with pride.  I know there is a time to continue to stare right on through (Ezekiel 3:9), but there is a time to humble yourselves too.  Reading through 2nd Chronicles the other day I was reminded how king Hezekiah mentioned NOT to be a stiff necked people. We need to be gentle (it's the fruit of the spirit) and turn our "necks" away in peace if God calls us to.  For, he who remains stiff necked after many rebukes shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).  Let's be different and be willing to concede if the spirit directs us to out of true humility.  Let's be meek as our blessed Lord Jesus taught us, knowing that we shall indeed inherit the earth.  I'm willing to get the whole earth if that means I could simply overlook a mean look, bypass a rude glance, and to my own glory (Proverbs 19:11) overlook a matter!  In return I will be a "blessed" me and receive an inheritance of the whole earth! (Matthew 5:5).  

God does not want us to be oppressed.  Sadly today, many Christians believe that they need to concede to everyone with their tail between their legs and head down. That is so far from what God wants from us.  Now, God may at times cause us to bear humility as such, but there are many instances when God would have you stand up for yourself too.  I hope we would truly discern which battles to fight and which ones to overlook in humility.

Ezra 2:63

And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.

In Ezra’s day, there were Levites seeking the priesthood, but there wasn’t any record of them being descendants of Aaron.  There wasn’t a written documented registry or ancestral verification of their lineage, so they were denied service until the High Priest consulted the Urim and Thummim, or literally the “Lights and Perfections.”

And that’s the way it always is. 

When the written word is obscure to us, though we have sought His heart through the word of the Lord–the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and uncertainty.  If the light of the word is blurry to us, we have the Spirit who lead us into the perfect paths.

God illuminates the roads we traverse with the light of His word and directs us into His perfect ways by the Spirit.  He headlights the unknown bends which are ahead of us.  The entrance of His word brings light and the guiding of the Holy Spirit leads us into His wonderfully perfect ways.  He precedes our paths, and brilliantly brings those clouded things that concern us to perfection and completion.  Our nebulous fog burns away. 

The light shines through.

Answers come.

See, those who love the Lord and seek to perform His will, as these aspiring Levites did, are much like us.  We yearn to carry out His perfect will, and we seem to have a written word or two or three in our head directing us towards one path, and we have another word or two leading us in another way–and that is when the gift of the Holy Spirit kicks in and helps us in our obscurity and uncertainty.  He brings it all to light.  Friends, muse and hover over the word daily–but take the leading of the Spirit every single time forever.  You'll have lights and perfection.


You will know if they are genuine Levi genes or notso to speak.

Ezra 4:8

Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes in this fashion:

Thus we have the written words of enmity originating from the sole intention of subverting, impeding, and abruptly halting the work of the LORD; it’s a malicious correspondence from the adversaries of Judah that caused the work of the LORD to cease for a duration of time.  Zerubabbel, Ezra, and Nehemiah all faced recurring threats and knit-pickings from their enemies upon construction of the temple.  The work of the LORD in my life and in yours will always experience the same satanically-charged potshots and adversarial grievances hurling our way.  The networking correspondences between Rehum and Shimshai, and their company, caused King Artaxerxes to write a letter to the Jews which commanded them to abruptly discontinue God’s work. 

What kind of looming letters and negative news have you and I received? 


Due dates and balances, bad-news and termination, and necessary corresponsive-criterion that can’t be met. 

I believe the word of the Lord today is: “Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you” (Psalm 55:22).  Then do it again.  Pray–cast–repeat.  Wait for His orders.  Wait for Him to work.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be known to the Lord and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).  Upon receiving letters of bad news, the Scripture says that “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD” (2nd Kings 19:14).  Whatever looming letters have found their way into your home, it’s best to spread them out before the LORD and leave them there in His sight–on His ‘to do’ list!

Ezra 7:10

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

At this point Ezra finally enters his own book.  Ezra was a skilled scribe who wisely made use of his time in Babylon.  Tradition teaches that Ezra could recite the entire Law of Moses by memory.  There wasnt a temple in Babylon, but Ezra prepared, studied, and labored in the word of the LORD so that he could do–and someday teach these statutes in Israel. 

When God puts your ministry on hiatus,

We would be admonished to be enlightened by and enthralled in Ezra’s exhaustive endeavor of endless preparation.

“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).  Though the imagery may be facetious, in every facet of life we are prancing preachers and pastorswe’re mobile ministers.  We all have a ministry apart from church.  So, like Ezra, we give ourselves entirely to these things so that our progress may be evident to all (1st Timothy 4:15) and the things of God are persuasively effective.  We are not ashamed because we have labored in the word of God (1st Timothy 5:17). 

The good hand of God was upon Ezra’s ministry because he knew that grace and peace were multiplied unto any person intelligently imbued with the knowledge of Him (2nd Peter 1:2) and King Artaxerxes granted him all his requests because…

Ezra had an Apollos-like ambition and he was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24),

With a Berean Bible-buff mentality, that diligently searched through the word (Acts 17:11).


A skilled scribe expertise and enlightenment acknowledged by the King...Himself (Ezra 7:11).

Ezra 10:11

Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.

The tenth chapter of Ezra is a sordid account of men who disobediently married pagan women.  Though it may seem train-wrecked obviousby nature pagan women are unfaithful and ungodly, and these men started to figure that out as time progressed.  Unfortunately, some had already had children from them.  Ezra the priest, who knew the Law of Moses with regards to divorce and separation, commanded them to put away their pagan wives due to their infidelity.  They were immoral.  They had the right to let them go.  This was never a biblical clause that released a man or woman from a marriage just because they were unbelievers or pagans, or because they whimsically decided they didn’t want to be married anymore.  It’s only because they were unclean, immoral, and cheating women.  Jesus said, “Anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery.  And, anyone who marries her, who is divorced, commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32). 


Today this passage has caused a perpetual consternation for many–but there is hope.

Jesus said, “He who marries her who is divorced….”  The Greek word for divorced is Aphorizo.  Aphorizo refers to one who is divorced because they were the guilty party; because they were the adulterer or the adulteress.  There is another Greek word for separation (Apollyo), but that is not employed here.  So a faithful man or woman who is divorced can happily re-marry with a clean conscience, even though they hold the title of being divorced.  Now, that doesn’t grant much hope if you’re the guilty party.  The My only escape clause in this matter is that now you are a whole new creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17).  You’re dead to the law (Romans 7:6).  You are not the same person because your old man is dead.  Oh, how I would encourage you to pore over Romans chapter six and seven.  I can assure you, you won't be the same....

Nehemiah 2:2

Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick?  This is nothing but sorrow of heart.”  So I became dreadfully afraid….

According to the law of the Medes and Persians, one could be executed for being downcast in the presence of the king.  King Artaxerxes said to his cup-bearer, “Why are you sad Nehemiah?”  Nehemiah said, “The city, the wall, and the province of my fathers is burned to the ground.”  Then the king said, “What do you request?”  So Nehemiah prayed immediately while being interrogated by the king, and shot a missile prayer up to heaven–and received an answer just as fast.  In sharp wisdom and quick discernment, Nehemiah asked to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem.  Then Artaxerxes granted him his request, blessed him abundantly with timber for a new house, and gave him full authority to carry out the LORD’S work, the LORD’S wall, and ultimately the LORD’S will.

God told Jeremiah to not allow his face to be dismayed before them, lest God Himself dismay his face.  God said to Cain, “Why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:6).  There’s a reason why we have a sad, downcast-crushed countenance and frowned-fallen face from time to time.  We aren’t just blue for no reason.  The Bible says, “By a sad countenance the heart is made better.”  It’s because it is prayer time.  It’s time to present supplicative requests to our King.  It’s time to disconnect from the busyness of life and social interactions–our visage is in no condition to be out in public trying to rejoice when you and I should be in our secret place praying.  And what God sees you do in secret, He will reward you openly.

Nehemiah 4:1

But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Nehemiah’s story is always a reminder for men and women trying to do the work of the Lord among a stiff-necked people.  So often we are performing our daily errands or remedial tasks in the cities we love, and there they are.  Stiff-necked and unhappy men who stare you down in pride as if it is a staring contest, and they desire to argue and fight for no apparent reason.  They want to oppress without a cause.  It’s weird.  And Nehemiah’s words always come to my mind when I come across an unreasonable and wicked person.  He said, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.  Why should I leave it and go down to you?”  Who are you anyway?  I’m busy.  I am rejoicing in the great things God has called me to do.  Why should I stop and deal with a man like you who is not part of my story or plans (Nehemiah 6:3). 

He’s a Sanballat–an angry man watching us rejoice in completing the work (Nehemiah 4:7).

They’re Tobiahs–goofy men without understanding making foolish jokes about us while displaying their own ignorance (Nehemiah 4:3).

They’re Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites– ‘behaving’ as children of the flesh and enemies of the spiritual man (Galatians 4:29).

Solomon said, “Do not strive with a man without a cause, if he has done you no harm” (Proverbs 3:3).  Continue walking  in the ways of your heart.  Though it sounds cliché, do not waste your time with a stiff-necked man (They’re stiff-necked because they keep on staring without turning their neck), because they’ve done you no wrong, except pick at your pride.  They’re burning thorns under your pot (Ecclesiastes 7:6), so don't get caught-up with them.

Nehemiah 8:8

So they read distinctly from the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

The Scripture declares that each and every man must distinctly become all things to all men; to meet each recipient of the gospel message directly conveyed to them on their level–not their terms or timing, but their level.  The Spirit speaks according to His terms and His timing, which is why so many cringe and harden their hearts at a heart penetrating-convicting ‘untimely’ message that makes them uncomfortable–but for those who enthusiastically embrace and exterminate their sinful behavior through confession, forgiveness, and repentanceare regenerated in Jesus Christ.  The word of God is alive and active, penetrating and piercing, slitting and shearing sharp…

That’s why we make the message make sense.

Sweetness of lips increases learning–we make it sweet (Proverbs 16:21).

Jesus gave us a message that is majestically powerful and eternally life changing.  If the schematic of salvation makes perfect sense to me, I’m obligated to redirect it in a simplistic palpable fashion; in such a way that others can quickly grasp a message in a fast paced media-entertained society with a short attention span.  Phrases such as, 

“He died in your place as a substitute,”  

“God wiped your sin on Jesus and crucified Him, now you’re free.”


“There’s eternal life in Christ.

Simply exposing one to the word of the Lord may not appear to immediately take root, but it will eventually, as other ministering Christians water the seed you planted and do their part.  Our message will sprout on good ground, regardless of how insignificant we may feel we are.  Even the slightest actions performed with a heart of love have eternal ramifications.  Friends, study brief ways to slip the gospel out into a hurting world.  One liners and pithy sayings exemplifying gospel truth and salvation.  There isn’t a stronger or significant-saving message on earth.

Nehemiah 13:6

But during all this, I was not in Jerusalem….

Upon the inception of the mandate order to complete the temple from Artaxerxes, Nehemiah was given twelve years to finish its construction and return to Shushan in Babylon.  In the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes’ reign, Nehemiah departed. 

Nehemiah the governor left Jerusalem unsupervised, 

And corruption set into the house of God. 

The priests abandoned the work of ministry and scurried off to their fields of secular work.  Eliashib the priest opened a large store-room where the grain offerings, oil, tithes, incense, and various ministry resources were stored–and let Tobiah move in–Tobiah the archenemy of Nehemiah. 

When Nehemiah returned, he was very grieved and threw all of Tobiah’s household goods out of the room.  Nehemiah commanded them to cleanse the rooms and to bring the Levites and all of the articles of the house of God back in so that real-effective ministry could once again commence.  When we fail to supervise our homes, or fall short of being the high priest of the domicile, Tobiah moves in.  When we are green eyed bent on succeeding in our fields and being the working provider of the house, beware.  There’s nothing wrong with diligent-hard work.  Neglecting what really matters is the problem.  If you spend the major duration of your day away from the residence, and once-ascending ministry takes a distant second because you just aren’t there…your children are left unsupervised and I assure you–the enemy moves in.  A child left to himself causes folly and shame.  And Your spouse is lonesomely-vulnerable in the same manner as Eve was when she was alone–the serpent creeps in.

Just be there. 

Quantity time is quality time. 

Supervise.  Cleanse the rooms.  Set the house in order.  Your godly-governance is mandated.

Esther 1:12

But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.

The book of Esther is unique and profound by what is not said. 

God is not mentioned once in the entire text. 

Yet, God is written all over it.

And maybe God isn’t mentioned by your husband very much, but regardless of his lack of godly integrity–he is to be obeyed as the king of the household.  You are married to him.  He is the head of the body.  That’s his role (1st Corinthians 11:3).  And, I say this ever so reverently–it’s not yours. 

“But he’s a drinker,” she says. 

So was Ahasuerus. 

But he doesn't follow the Lord.

He is your husband, and unless you want to lose your noble place, position, and power, you must come under his authority.  “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1st Peter 3:1-2).

“But he wants me to do something drastically evil,” she says.  “Do I have to do that?”

Of course not–use common sense.

Abraham feared and buckled under the notion that the servants of Abimelech would kill him on account of his beautiful wife.  So he said to Sarah, “Tell them you are my sister.”  So she did, and Abimelech almost took her, but the LORD intervened and struck the household of Abimelech.  So Abimelech sent Abraham and Sarah away.  She was kept safe and pure in the matter and received riches and animals and male and female servants.  She just went along with her man’s inadequacies and God blessed her richly (Genesis 20:1-18).

Esther 3:8

Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws.  Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain.”

Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, refused to bow before Haman the Agagite.  Therefore, Haman issued a decree to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate the Jews both young and old in a day; and to plunder their possessions.  The entire nation of Jews was deeply distressed.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture, the Agagite should ring some warnings bells.

He never should have been born (1st Samuel 15).

According to the word of the Lord to Saul, Saul was to utterly and completely annihilate the Amalekites–along with their King–Agag.  Agag should not have been alive.  During the time that Saul took him captive, Agag sired a son.  Saul’s sin distressed and destroyed more than he could have ever imagined–so will our sin.  Though we will never be fully aware of the widespread ramifications of our sin, God gave us a glimpse in Esther.  Trouble came six-hundred years later.  Disobedience deeply distresses everyone.  It’s absolutely imperative that we annihilate the flesh from our lives and leave nothing behind because the flesh comes back.    No questions about it, we put the flesh to death or it will insidiously spread and do us in–and others.  It’s interesting to note that the very person who stood over Saul and killed him off was an Amalekite (2nd Samuel 1:8).  The very people he was commanded to completely vanquish from Israel.  His sin came back and finished him off, as our allowances for the flesh will surely come back.  Don’t accept anything.

Esther 5:2

So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand.  Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.

Esther’s whole purpose for her life may have amounted to this brief social encounter.  We should never discount our brief social encounters with any one, especially the time we spend with the King of kings.  Your short prayers that are mentally spoken in passing and busyness are awesome.  They yield salvation for yourself and your people.  Don’t feel guilty.  Don’t feel like you should be doing more because you will.  In His time, you will.

Esther knew the laws of the Medes and the Persians.  She knew she could perish by entering the king’s presence apart from being personally summoned.  She was fully aware that her life was in jeopardy, but by faith she felt a compulsory guiding to roll the dice (Esther 4:16).

Sometimes you have to take risky chances.

Though we should not live reckless as our standard mode of operation (Jeremiah 23:32),

There’s a faith factor involved.

Every once in a great while, I have found myself in a precarious situation that could destroy everything.  I begin to think rationally, and I say to myself, “Wait, the Scripture tells me in Jeremiah not to live reckless.  I can destroy myself and my people, my family.”  Then I remember this refreshing verse that compels me to go forward with a reckless-abandon attitude and I ultimately find myself rejoicing in an uncertain holy-gamble that has nothing to do with Las Vegas.   God prevailed.  I came out on top.  God hasn’t let me down yet.  Esther found the gold.  She touched the top–the scepter’s top.  

Esther 8:8

“…Whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.”

In other words, “Esther, it’s too late.  What’s done has been done and there’s no way to change it.  Haman’s evil is still in play, but you can fight against it.  Here’s my signet ring.  You go and write a new decree that allows the Jews to fight back on the day Haman’s law goes into effect.” 

Sometimes we, ourselves, or others have committed atrocious evil; and though we have been forgiven–it’s still in play.  Samuel told the congregation, “Look, you have done all this evil.  This is where you are now.  Don’t lose heart.  Keep following the LORD!” (1st Samuel 12:20).  Samson found himself in a dark and laboriously-heavy situation too.  He made the best of it and God used him in a more powerful way than he was ever used in his whole life! (Judges 16:30).  Maybe you’ve dug yourself into a deep ditch and though you have put to death the old man, things are a grind.  She won’t come back or that door is closed or you have to deal with the circumstances the ‘old you’ created–when you were acting like a big ham.

Haman cast the lot, which is referred to as Pur, and it fell against the Jews on the thirteenth day of Adar.

But a new decree was written after Haman’s death:

Fight back.  Fight hard.  The king is with you (Esther 8:11).

So the Jews killed seventy-five thousand enemies, and the day of death and destruction was turned into Purim–an everlasting holiday of gladness and feasting.  Saints, every grieving hardship will turn into something good or acceptable or Pur-fect!  Keep following the King wherever you are–no matter what you’ve done.


What evil has been committed against you.

Job 1:8

Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

Dr. Raul Ries taught us that the Hebrew word for “considered” is a military term which means to study a city and overthrow it by an attack.  The bottom line is – Satan studies you.

The devil is seeking a way into your life to completely annihilate you.  He is intensely watching you to find out what your Achilles’ heel is. He is that thief that only comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life and that more abundantly.

There’s a powerful verse that really sums up the character traits of the Enemy as a schemer - “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).  A device, by definition, is a trick, scheme, ploy, plot, or plan; So, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (see Ephesians 6:11-18).

If you are old enough, you may remember Wile E. Coyote.  He was a Looney Tunes cartoon character who spent all of his time creating “wiles” to catch the roadrunner.  He’d do things like drop an anvil from a bridge in hopes to smash the roadrunner who would just buzz by him or he would paint a giant rock with black paint to make it look like a cave opening.  The roadrunner would run right through it, while Wile E. Coyote would smash his face on it!  The name “Wile” is appropriate for him, as he continually devised schemes against this joyful little roadrunner.

You are the roadrunner my friend!  Satan is seeking to steal your joy!  Satan is a trickster who continually devises wiles, tricks, ploys, plots, schemes, and plans.  He turns people against you and tempts your flesh.   So, we are commanded to “Be sober, be watchful; because your adversary the devil roams around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Sin stinks.  It's gonna multiply your troubles.  Don't give into the devil's seduction.  Please don't sin.  Be faithful 'til death!

Job 6:8

Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

What dost thou long for Job?

“Death,” Job would say.  “I desire to die with the same passion an explorer has as he searches for hidden treasure” (Job 3:21).

Many of us are under the impression that if we pray for death, it will automatically come.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Recounting the stories of Elijah the mighty prophet and Jonah the reluctant prophet, we perceive two men who were drastically different from one another.  The one could be noted as precisely right-on in his righteousness and calling, and the other was uniquely questionable–yet, they both prayerfully requested a premature death…

And it never came.

In fact, Elijah still hasn’t died! (2nd Kings 2:11).

Job is no exception.  Job is suffering the devastatingly horrific loss of his health and wealth, and his family and finances.  Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar have all affectionately appeared to comfort Job and to bear the grief of Job’s diseased desolation.  They came to mourn with himand they had a good start.   The Scripture says, “When they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.   So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:12-13).  But when they spoke, Job called them “Miserable comforters” (Job 16:2). What a lesson for us!  When someone is gravely grieving or solemnly suffering, or just wants to die because of whatever, it may be best to keep our mouths closed–to just remain silent and sigh with them.  Job’s friends were doing pretty good, until they opened their mouths.

Job 11:5

But oh, that God would speak, and open His lips against you….

These are the words of a very passionate misled, misspoken, and mistaken man.  Job’s friends are fully underway in their ill-corrective speeches towards Job.  Their rebukes are intense, their comments are critical, and their scathing implications probably leave Job feeling lonely and on the defensive attack.  Zophar the Naamathite foolishly brings God into the conversation against Job.  Here in this section of Scripture, he wishes that God would rebuke Job, but as we know the full story, God's wrath is kindled against Zophar and his two friends for being devastatingly wrong about Job (Job 41:8).  When it comes down to it–during our cosmic trials–it’s just you and God in this world.  No one will fully and completely understand your unfortunate condition except your loving Creator.  Oh, you are loved by friends and family, and when the evil time passes they will favor you again as if nothing ever occurred.  The problem is that people are so frail and so very prone to thinking the worst about someone during Satan’s attacks and spiritual warfare.  We all are capable of having outlooks similar to Zophar, Bildad, and Eliphaz when we forget that the same trials befall the righteous and the wicked (Matthew 7:24-27).

Now there’s a very serious and solemn warning for people who believe the worst about righteous afflictions that we would be wise to take heed to.  When God rebuked Zophar, He said, “My wrath is kindled against you and your two friends because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.  Ask for forgiveness and offer up your offerings, and Job will pray for you lest I deal with you according to your folly” (See Job 42:8).

We place ourselves in the very hands of the person we are misled concerning, misspeaking about, and mistaken,

And who knows if they will choose to pray favorably toward us?

It's best to avoid assumptions and just be a loving friend.

When others are suffering something–anything–do not think the worst about them or that it is God judging them or they are guilty of practicing some wretched sin.  At least try to remain neutral.  When we fall into Zophar’s folly, we actually put ourselves in their hands if we're wrong about them.  I wonder if they will petition the Lord favorably on our behalfnot everyone has Job's prayer ethics in this day and age.

Job 13:15

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.

Job wasn’t a mercenary.  He didn’t serve God for the benefits of prosperity.  He loved the LORD no matter what.  Our relationship with God isn’t about what we can get from Him. 

Reading through Jeremiah, we see a unique parallel between people who serve God for presents, and not His presence.  Jeremiah’s message was rejected.  The remaining remnant of Judah told him, “Since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and famine” (Jeremiah 44:18).   In their rebellion against the LORD, they mistakenly thought that since there was plenty of food and they were well-off, that they must be okay. They were still faring sumptuously and prospering.  When they stopped serving idols, their lives were a calamitous giant mess.  So they figured, “Why stop sinning?  Stuff was going real good for me when I was living contrary to the things of the Lord.”

That’s not love.  

Our love for Him is proven by following Him in adversity too.

Habakkuk said, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

That isn't what contemporary-millennials are saying.  Their mindset is, But when I stop sinning, life becomes arduously-tough and bad things seem to happen to me.  I will just keep on this perverse path.” – Though this is a prevalent attitude in society, it is devastatingly wrong and yields such strong repercussions that Jehovah says, “I will watch over them for adversity and not for good…” (Jeremiah 44:18).  When such an attitude and disposition creeps into depraved humanistic thinking, it’s true – God will rejoice over a man or woman for destruction, so yes, they are right about trouble coming as a result of departing from evil (See Isaiah 59:15).  What they need is to endure the chastening of the Lord!  It doesn’t matter what trouble or pain or loss comes – We are following the Lord.  Through thick and thin, God will reward those who diligently seek Him.  

Job 19:26

And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.

Outwardly we are wasting away, but inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  We have this treasure in earthen vessels.  When our vessel is finally broken and gravely irreparable, the spirit shall return to God who gave it.  Which is why our mandatory message is to be born again, to be born of the Spirit.  Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  When sin enters our lives, we immediately become spiritually deadwhich is a drastically desolate place to be due to our vulnerability. We become lonesomely separated from God.  Dying in sin is the ultimate horror.  But thanks be to God that we have passed from death to life.  My little children, I write these things to you that you may know that you are saved.  As long as you are with Him, He is with you (2nd Chronicles 15:2).  Regardless of the myriad of thoughts, cascade of uncertain feelings, and eternal salvation-insecurity that the archenemy sporadically, insidiously-sapiently, and satanically puts into our mindGod raised Jesus from the dead and we confess Jesus as Lordwe will be saved.  God loves you.  God loves me.  He's not going to let us die.  If we quietly look around to reflect on the passing certainty of humanity we can deductively reason that everyone is dying, has died, and there is a festering problem crying out for redemption in the nostrils of God.  God fixed it.  He solved the grave problem.  You are going to burst out of it.  All who are in their graves shall hear His voice and awaken!  

We have age-abiding life evermore; both eternal and everlasting!  

We are the tomb taunters and grave mockersgiggling at grave markers.

Oh death, where is your sting?  Oh Hades, where is your victory? 

He graciously solves every problematic issue we face through life, including raising us up over our enemies.  But there is no way around it, we must all face one final enemy.  The last enemy to be defeated is death.  Just as God has carried us through every dramatic dilemma, adversarial advent, physical problem, financial fiasco, and trying temptationHe will ultimately guide us to battle the dreaded one final issue we will all face.  We cannot avoid it.  The Scripture has confined all under sin and we have to penitently put in our seventy or eighty years of groping and calling on the Lord.  It's a heavenly prerequisite required and mandated from fallen flesh.  We would have succumbed to the allurement of the flesh and the transgressing sin of curiosity, just as our predecessors Adam and Eve.  In Adam all die, but in Jesus Christ all shall be made alive.  Through one man sin entered the world, but even so through One Man all shall be made alive.  Jesus said, Most assuredly, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).  After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.  I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.  What we are all truly craving is heaven, whether we know it or not.  Apart from what anyone says, the terror of death frightens every stout-hearted man or woman.  Though the process is annoying, it's not going to hurt you because you are dead.  It's going to hurt everyone else.  The thought of death is worse than the event.  My pastor Chuck Smith used to say, One day you'll hear a report that Chuck Smith died.  Don't you believe it.  I moved out of this old worn out tent to my mansion.  Jesus victoriously rose again and if the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, He will give life to your mortal bodies!  This message, I'm absolutely sure, will make sense and hit us with an impact on our departing days.

But for now,

Instead of having a back-of-the-mind fear or apprehension upon passing a cemeterystart mocking.  Recite it aloud, Oh death where is your sting?  Oh grave where is your victory?”  Bereave when necessary and belittle by necessity!

The day of death is better than the day of birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

Job 23:10 

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

In the midst of complaints, confuting conversation with miserable counselors, and listless groaning, Job cries out saying, “Even today my complaint is bitter.  I can’t find Him!  If I could present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments then I would know the words which He would answer me.  But I can’t find Him.  I go forward and He is not there; backwards and I cannot perceive Him.  I know He is working on the left hand and on the right, but I don’t see it” (See Job 23:1-9).  Then Job goes on to declare:  I’m not going to fail.  I’m being tested and I’m going to come out of this thing as gold.  Job’s soul was suffering a deep-seated bitterness (Job 27:2),

But even deeper still, Job knows:

“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1st John 1:5).

Whatever bitter trial we are in the midst of–God has done us no wrong!  He does nothing wrong!  In Him is no darkness!

We cannot perceive the work of God from beginning to end, but if we could I’m sure we would have it no other way!  His thoughts towards us are greater than the sands of the seashore, which means He has already thought of every possible path for my life and has drawn out the best one!  He always has our best interest in mind.  Bitterness can poison us or position us; we can come out of these horrors that we sometimes face with a virtuous integrity of rotten wood or gold.  We can become bitter or better; so beware “Lest any root of bitterness spring up causing trouble, and many are defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

Job 32:1

So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.

This doctrine probably won’t make a daily promise box! 

I don't intend to sound cynical, but when reading through Job's plight the reader can truly attain a feel for what Job faces.  What should I expect when I’m down on my face at my lowest?  You and I can expect a harangue from “friends.”  Friends who believe you are suffering such things because of your sin.  Friends who truly believe you are deep down an evil person for the things you are going through.  Though, they’ll never say it.  I know it’s harsh and somewhat cynical.  I don’t intend to be, but I get my doctrine from Job…and from Paul…and from Jesus…and from David. 

Are you ready?  Here goes:

Paul was believed to be the worst of criminals for, “Though he escaped the sea, yet justice does not permit him to live,” they said in Acts 28.  He must be an evil dude, there’s a snake hanging from his wrist.  He was already at his lowest – sea level – and his Kum-Bah-Yah campfire friends gave him a horrible you're-an-evil-criminal vibe.  Like Job, the same was true.

It was said of Jesus, “He is evil and has a demon” (John 8:48).  He was at His lowest when the Psalmist prophesied that the Messiah looked for comforters, but none took pity as He hung on the cross! Who was at the cross watching Him?  His friends and family.  He was of course sinless, perfect and holy too.

Of David they said, “An evil disease clings to him and God has forsaken him,” when he was just fine (Psalm 41:8 and Psalm 71:11).  Loved one and friend stood aloof from his plague.

Isn’t that how Satan works?  He comes to you at your lowest, darkest- weakest moment.  So often when I’m in the middle of doing a busy work or something that I need to be empowered for, Satan comes.   I think, “Man, oh no, not now.  I don’t want to go through temptation right now.  It isn’t a good time.”  But, of course, that is when the enemy attacks.  It’s all about Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.  Who is he you say?  He was a powerful man who slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day.  He bested the devil during a dark dreary day.  A lion attacked him on a cold and gray day, as Satan attacks us.  It was Satan behind this untimely animalistic-attack; Remember – demons possess animals; Recall the deviled-ham incident (Mark 5:12).

We can beat the devil during our darkest moments too.  Hang on.  Keep your eyes on Him.  Keep them off the waves and on the Son.  In my journey I’ve been abased and have abounded, but I know we are just travelers on our way to heaven.  We know that we are appointed to these afflictions.  So, get ready, gird up the loins of your mind and endure hardship like a soldier!

They were all standing around the campfire (as friends do) when they said it of Paul.  Jesus’ disciples forsook Him and David’s friends spoke of stoning him when he just lost his wife, kids, and everything he owned.  The bottom line is that Satan will kick you when you are down by those you love.  Keep loving anyway.  You’ll win it all back and end up back on top too!  God will put you in control.  Of Paul they said he was a god; David recovered everything; and Jesus is famous, exalted, and glorified forever.  Amen!

Job 39:26

Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread its wings toward the south?

I was sitting on my couch when I looked out the window overhanging the baseball field adjacent to where I live and saw a giant hawk diving down to snatch up a gopher on the ground.  As he gracefully and slowly dove down feet first, I watched closely as I saw that he had it in his clutches.  This giant three or four foot robust hawk (as big as my five year old son Jonah-Luke) then flew off up into the sky.  The unsuspecting gopher was doing what it does…and then – Bam!

I couldn’t help but think of the rapture. 

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Every time I watch these Osprey hawk predations at Lake Gregory, I always think of the rapture.  The rapture of the church will happen so suddenly that our hearts will not even have time to comprehend it before we are caught up into paradise for the marriage supper of the Lamb.  It is going to happen in a moment; in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52).

What is a twinkling of an eye?  It is the time that it takes light traveling at 186,000 miles per second to enter the eyeball lens and refract off the retina causing your pupil to twinkle by way of the cornea – That’s about one billionth of a second.  Some scholars disagree saying that it is about 11/100ths of a second…but whatever – that’s fast! 

Carnal Christians say, “I’m not living right, but I’ll repent at the last minute.”  My response would be, “You won’t have a minute.”  You’ll have a twinkling of an eye.  Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say it is 11/100ths of a second.  At that rate, you wouldn’t even have the time to formulate the words on your tongue- “I repent, forgive me.”  You probably wouldn’t even have time to develop the concept of repentance in your cognitive logical reasoning before we are snatched away.

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:38-42).

Those who wait until the eleventh hour to seek God often die at 10:30.

Job 41:10

No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.  Who then is able to stand against Me?

When God created the heavens and the earth, they were created good and perfect.  When man sinned he introduced death into the world and the whole creation fell.  Everything that was created ‘good’ was now drastically mutated into a tragic silhouette of what it once was–including me and you. 

Animals became skittish, and can be dreadful and vicious,

Plants wither, and can be deleteriously toxic and poisonous,

And the earth’s geographical biomes reformed themselves into unforgiving and merciless terrains.

People are at enmity with one another–

Reading through Genesis once again this morning, I was reminded how God is good and His works are perfect.  When He created sea creatures and land animals, they were created ‘good.’  He said, “Be fruitful and multiply!”  Yet, after the fall, God gave new edicts concerning the beasts saying, “You are going to have to let your enemies kill them off little by little, lest they multiply” (Exodus 23:29).  What an opposite command concerning nature!  Things changed!  Sin happened!  We are on Plan-B now!

Gang, our lives are microcosms of what happens on a grand scale!  God has an exciting perfect will and it is a foreordained plan of good works that we should walk in them.  But when we let transgression and sin into our lives, things change.  God reforms the foreordained plan for a ‘new’ perfect plan and it may consist of a ‘world’ of difference.  Plan-A is always the best life!  Stick with that one!

When we hear of tornadoes and hurricanes leveling entire communities and tragically leaving destruction in their wake, they say, “It was an act of God.”  That’s not accurate at all!  God made the heavens and earth perfect.  Man made the earth what it is today, and if we were in the Garden of Eden we would have succumbed to the serpent in like fashion–introducing the same devastating destruction.  Even so, I doubt the newscaster will inform the media saying, “It was an act of man!”  

Psalm 1:3

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Our walk with the Lord needs several consecutive years before we see the vast majority of the promises fulfilled resulting in the fruit we desire.  We want an abundant-rich life that consistently yields delectable spiritual fruit; excellence in all we do, with an awesome spirit behind it.  The righteous man or woman’s walk with the Lord is best illustrated when equated to a deciduous fruit bearing tree.  Years of waiting and tending to our Christian walk with seemingly endless desert winter seasons, can prompt us towards an attitude of weariness. 

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

After years of toiling and pursuing after Him, and after countless seasons of diligently seeking Him, our reward will come.  We will be righteously recompensed on Mother Earth.  God has a way of swirling every happenstance and experience into a mass producing fruit bearing life that is truly enviable to all.  You’ll be blessed at every corner.  Your love for Him must be tested with barren and desolately dry seasons.   Keep following the Lord.  Whatever the circumstance – Seek the Living God.  We will be established on high.  “He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

One more time,

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

I never tire of hearing it – All the time.

I have spent enough time wandering through dry desert seasons in my life – Sin will only prolong such wanderings.  That is enough.  I’m sure you agree.  It’s time to fight like a warrior through prayer and self denial in the Holy Spirit – And stop adding more dry barren seasons to my life’s story.  The fruit snatcher only comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  When we stay close to Him through these dry winter seasons, spring is sure to come, along with the crown of life, which is an ever so exciting and brilliantly rejoicing blessed life of holiness that draws and attracts others into the kingdom of God, so they, in turn, are blessed with an abundantly rich life that bears fruit and multiplies thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and one hundred times itself (Matthew 13:8).

Psalm 5:5

The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all the workers of iniquity.


They aren’t dynamically anointed or inspired.  The work they perform is done in the flesh and appears adequate, yet their works will not stand the test of time.  There is a day when we will be judged at the Bema seat of Christ to pass all of our works through fire.  If our motives were correct and we were led of the Holy Spirit to perform the work, our work will remain and we will be subsequently rewarded (1st Corinthians 3:13).

According to Haggai, there are two types of working class: 

Haggai went to the priest and said, “If a man wraps and folds a chunk of meat in the hem of his garment, will the things that the garment touches become unclean?”  And the priest said, “No, they will not become unclean.”  Then again Haggai said, “If one touches a dead body, will whatever he touches become unclean?”  Then the priest said, “Yes, whatever he touches will become unclean.”  Then God stepped in and said, “So is the work of this people.  Whatever they put their hands to do is unclean and unacceptable in My sight.”  Then the LORD said, “Zerubbabel is like a signet ring.  Every work he does and everything he touches leaves a signet stamp trademark that says, ‘This is an anointed work, blessed of the Lord.’ ”  Friends, we are in the Spirit, not the flesh–the flesh is hidden.  We’re clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  Our works are dynamically blessed and leave a signature trademark which makes the work winsome and attractive, exciting and perfectly acceptable!  So let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands for us!  If you can remember this, oh I hope you can, – you leave a divine-designer signature trademark on every good work you perform in the Spirit!  And your works, your fruit, will remain…. 

There are those who perform acceptable Spirit-led works because they have renounced and removed the flesh from their livesthey've covered the flesh in Jesusand there are those who defile everything by what they touch (Haggai 2:11-14). 

Psalm 7:11

God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

I recall listening in on a conversation between two people.  One gentleman said, “I feel so bad because I got angry.”  The next guy who was standing there at this park in San Bernardino said, “What happened?”  He said, “Well, I feel bad because I caught my girlfriend cheating on me with her boss, and we already have a child together.  I shouldn’t get angry.”  Then these two strangers kept on talking, but I recall one saying, “Dude, you have every right to be angry about that.” 

And he was absolutely right.

There’s stuff we all should genuinely be angry about.  In fact, the Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin.  Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still…Selah” (Psalm 4:4).  Selah means that this is something to think about; it's a meditation or a pause.  The Psalmist is saying,"Wait up, hold on; this is worthy of reflection."

God is angry at injustice every single day.  There’s such a thing as righteous anger.  The God we serve is angry with the wicked every single day.  In the original Hebrew, the phrase, “With the wicked” isn’t there; that was added later.  The verse actually reads, “God is a just judge, and God is angry every day” (Psalm 7:11) – And very well He should be – And so should we.  We are commanded to be angry and hate sin, but don’t sin in our indignation.  So what does that look like? 

Sometimes it means to retreat and meditate, and calm down on your bed, couch, car or wherever.

Sometimes it means to crack the whip and start flipping tables over (John 2:15).

But whatever you do – Do not sin.  That’s when you lose your authority.  That’s when it becomes unrighteousness.  That’s the bad anger.  “He who sows iniquity shall reap sorrow and the rod of his anger will fail” (Proverbs 22:8).  In other words, no one is buying it.  No one cares if a wicked loser is angry.  We won’t pay any regard to a sinful man who is angry.  His anger, wrath, and judgment is disregarded because he is a fool who sows iniquity.  It’s harsh, but true nonetheless.  Why?  Because they don’t have authority!

When did Moses lose the spiritual fruit – When he struck the rock when he wasn’t supposed to.  It wasn’t a time for anger, but to gently speak to the rock.  He used his rod to strike it.  The rod of authority was special in the eyes of the people because it had the almond blossom that signified God’s approval as Aaron the High Priest in charge.  Everyone else’s didn’t have the blossom on it, except Aaron’s rod.  It was the blossoming-fruit that ended the dissension between the people and Moses.  The blossom was to be stored up in the Testimony as a reminder to the people concerning who exactly was in charge!  It was Moses and Aaron as High Priests over the Levitical Priesthood.  When was the blossom lost?  During a bout of unrighteous anger.  Don’t lose yours.  Do as the occasion calls for:  Whether it is to be still or to rebuke with all authority, the key is to stay in the Spirit and, like Jesus, to crack the whip, but be gentle on the doves (John 2:16).  He still had His reason, understanding, and composure.  Be angry, but don’t sin. Anger is not a sin.  It's what you do with it!

Psalm 14:1

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, and have done abominable works, there is none who does good.

As a younger Christian I would seek to memorize seven points to counter atheists.  I had ideas and thoughts that would confirm scientific reasons as to why God really exists.  As I have become older, I have discovered something very important, that is, rather than refuting a skeptic with cleverly contrived ideologies, I can simply speak the simple Word of God and accomplish the same ends, but, with effectivity.  The Word of God is a double edged sword that penetrates the very heart of anyone, even the most learned astute-atheist, agnostic, evolutionist or whoever they are!

You don’t need to know about Sir Isaac Newton’s 2nd Law of Thermodynamics or Gravitational Relativity or the absurdity of the Evolutionary Theory due to interstellar matter pre-existing the Big Bang, though they are fun to know.  All you and I need to say is the one most powerful, the one most conscience branding, the one most heart penetrating scripture- “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

Genesis 1:1 does what so called Higher Thinking in the realms of academia cannot – cut to the heart! 

By the way, for the record, Isaac Newton’s 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that everything goes from order to disorder.  So, how can a world be formed from disorder to order; it just can’t.  It breaks a foundational law of science.  Hence, the higher thinkers ought to rethink the Big Bang theory.

By the way, for the record, Gravitational Relativity is my favorite.  The skeptic says, “I don’t believe it if I can’t see it.”  Well, you don’t see gravity.  Take a plunge off the Empire State Building and scream, “I don’t believe it if I can’t see it,” and watch what happens in the end.  Jesus offered the same veracious idea saying, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes.  So is everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

Finally, for the record, If interstellar matter pre-existed the Big Bang, then where did the interstellar matter come from?  It’s simple, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:1 for “created” is the word “bara,” which means to create something from nothing!  There is another Hebrew word to create from pre-existing materials - but that isn’t in Genesis 1:1.  

Psalm 27:13

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

As true children of God, desperately following after the Spirit, this passage sparks burgeoning comfort to my heart.  In the days of trial and endlessly running through desolate times filled with enmity and trouble, based the authority of the Scriptures–God will reward us on the earth (Proverbs 11:31).  The goodness we’ve heard so much about in Deuteronomy is coming (Deuteronomy 6:11).

God never promised smooth sailing, but He promised we’d get there.

Though storms rage, when Jesus says we are going to the other side–we are going to the other side (Luke 8:22). 

How dire-diurnally important ‘tis to diligently scan back and forth, and read straight through large sections of holy writ on a not just a daily, but a life-basis to re-collectively solidify our absolute expectations–so we do not lose heart.  We shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  The righteous shall receive their reward on the earth.  Our heart’s desire will overtake and overwhelm us as we delight in the Lord.  Peter began to say, “See, we have left all and followed You!”  Then Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time–houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions–and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30).  Notice how Jesus said, “Now in this time.”  I just wish He didn’t have to say anything about persecutions!

Psalm 32:1-2

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit is no deceit.

There is a major difference between sin, transgression, and iniquity – Though, all wrongdoing is sin.  The word sin comes from the Grecian archer’s term “Hamartia.”  It means “To miss the mark.”  When a bulls-eye was set up with a black and white target symbol encircling it, the archer would aim to hit the mark dead-center.  When he would miss the target altogether, he would hamartia, or, sin.  Sin literally means to miss the mark or to fall short of.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Secondly, is the term “Transgression.”  Trans means to cross or travel over.  Transgression, succinctly put, is to cross the line.  God has clear standards, boundaries, and laws that He sets for us.  When we know them and we willingly cross them – We’ve transgressed.  We knew it was wrong and did it anyway.  Sin is different from transgression.  When we sinned we were aiming to do good and fell short, while the transgressor knows it is wrong, and with an outstretched arm and full-fledged knowledge, goes for it anyway.  It’s the difference between Adam and Eve’s sin.  Adam knew it was wrong and wasn’t deceived at all.  He went for it and knew exactly what he was doing.  Eve was different.  She was deceived by the enemy and fell short.

Finally we have the term “Iniquity.”   This term has always been a bewilderment for many.  The definitive phrase or meaning for iniquity is – A good thing in a bad way.

The devil was created perfect in all his ways until the day iniquity was found in him.  By the abundance of his trading he was filled with violence.  He corrupted his wisdom for the sake of his splendor.  He walked in the midst of the fiery stones (See Ezekiel 28).  In other words, he was doing everything right until God called him to do something else, and he wouldn’t let go.  Stop trading – it’ll make you violent.  But Satan said, “No.  I want more.  I want to look more beautiful and I want to be lifted up higher.  I want to be more rich and powerful.”  It’s something that was genuinely good for a time, but now it twisted into something bad – That’s iniquity.

God says to me and you, “Hey, that’s enough, kick back now.” 

And what do we say? “But, God, I’m on fire.  I don’t want to stop.”

And He says, “No.  Stop now.  It was good for a time, but there’s a move of the Spirit you’re going to miss.” 

Iniquity looks different in all our lives.  The bottom line is that it’s good gone wrong!  It’s the error of the devil.  Iniquity can creep in very subtle.  It’s not letting go when you should.  Usually, it’s to keep up appearances.  Is anything interfering with your walk with God – Something that brought life at one time?  Be willing to ditch it at any time.  Stay in the Holy Spirit and you’ll avoid all extremes!  Don’t miss the climate change!

Psalm 37:37

Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace.

As a middle-aged person I’ve noticed something.  I’ve seen a vicious trend that seems to be the overwhelming norm with people who seek the LORD for long periods of time and those who have not.  Over the years I’ll run into an old friend or observe new acquaintances and without fail I’ve seen the recompense of the wicked and the reward of the righteous.  There really is a great reward for following the LORD, and the years will prove it!  Those who have diligently sought the LORD are blessed and those who have forsaken Him have had a deep unnecessary tragedy. 

See, twenty years ago when I was a younger believer, I was following God when many others wanted to live for their own agenda and do their own plan without God in any of their thoughts.  I see them now and they are either divorced, bitter, have mouths full of cussing, or they are just plain old unhappy about how life has thrown them some bitter circumstances.  I don’t write this to condemn anyone because I know that if you have fallen, God can bring you beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.  He doesn’t condemn you; your own backslidings do that.  However, you must follow the LORD now, for, He is able to restore the years the locust has eaten and that which the enemy has taken!

Life throws you and I some bad blows; You can get bitter over it or better.  If you have been walking close to the LORD, then you are gonna be content with your heart’s desire fulfilled and the years will prove the difference between you and them.  We all suffer some harsh circumstances that are even too painful to reminisce over.  Whether you are righteous or not…you are going to get dealt some hardcore experiences and harsh evils.  And that’s the Word of the LORD for us all:

“Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Though it burns, follow close after our All-Consuming-Fire and enter by the narrow gate! Don’t ever feel singled out, the same rain, floods, and winds beat on us all!

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me.  Selah

The word “Selah” means meditation or pause.  In other words, pause for this one.  This is big.  It’s the best news you’ll ever hear.  God has beaten the grave.  It cannot hold you.  Death lost its power over us when Jesus set us free from the power of sin – eternal separation from Him and death in hell.

Death is pictured as a bee without its stinger.  The bee clings to your finger and jabs its abdomen at you over and over, but you just watch it knowing it is helpless, harmless, and hopes to sting you in vain – Though the thought of having a bee on you is uncomfortable even though it has been de-stingered; Death is the same way.  We are all uncomfortable with the idea.  Yet, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1st Corinthians 15:54-57).

Gang, we are going to heaven.  Death cannot stop us.  I know it sounds like a sentiment or some courageous saying, but it is what Jesus came to do.  He came that we would have eternal life.  It was His sole purpose.  What He did will become very real to us on our final day.  And the scriptures declare these things that we may KNOW we have eternal life (See 1st John 5:13).  Rest in it.  Be sure of it.

As I have become older, I have noticed the most staunch pugnacious preacher declare his assurance and confidence about dying, only to hear news about how he cried out minutes before death about how he didn’t want to die.  I think we can all be like that.  I know I can, but it doesn’t change a thing, Jesus beat death.  He de-fanged its grip.  We have confidence in the day of death – though no one wants to die (because ultimately we all want life – life abundantly – and quality of life), death comes at an inopportune time – Always.  Why?  Because we were made to live eternally.  God put eternity into our hearts, but thanks be to God, though we have to put up with our seventy-eighty years of labor, heartache, and pain – We do not have to fear in the day of death: 

Jesus destroyed him who had the power of death,

That is the devil,

And was able to…

“Release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15).

We are free.

Never fear death. 

It’s bondage. 

We have eternal life through the blood Jesus shed for us.  The price has been paid.  We will enter in – Know it – Have full assurance of it – Rest in it.  And never stop believing it.  Thank You Jesus for what You did for us!

Psalm 51:5

Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight….

With a backslidden brotherly camaraderie, devouring each word David spoke as if it were my own–It’s borderline fifty-one fifty as to how many times Psalm fifty-one has ministered to my broken sinful heart as I'm seeking repentance and confessing my transgression.  With a crushed mourning, contrite meditation, and quiet musing over the relational profundity of David’s shortcoming–I notice this section and wonder:

How can he say, “Against You and You only have I sinned?”

What about Uriah?  Or Bathsheba?

Or the nation? 

David offended multitudes of people, time and again.  The Lord plagued and cut down seventy thousand men because of David (2nd Samuel 24:15).

When we sin against the Lord, it’s against Him and Him only that we have sinned.  He is our first responsibility; others aptly come later.  Though a vast many ‘inspirational’ programs and heartfelt platitudes would ignite a desire to immediately right wrongs against offended individuals who were affected as innocent by standers or inadvertent by products of our ill escapades, the truth is–it’s against God only that we’ve sinned and when we actually respond in repentance and readily seek to be thoroughly washed of our shortcomings, He is our main priority.  

God first.

Then people.

As time progresses, we will make amiable-amends and rebuild burnt bridges that we’ve torched with hands lifted high when we succumbed to our own pre-conceived desires in the flesh–we have to.  Jesus said, “If you come before the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, go and make amends between you and him” (Matthew 5:23).  He also said that If you offend one of these little ones who believes in Me, it would be better for you to tie a millstone around your neck and throw yourself in the sea (Luke 17:2).

Psalm 63:3

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. 

The presence of God is so illogically desperately desirable–that we would follow it right into the most grievous of circumstantial hardships.  The presence of God is in the dark cloud (1st Kings 8:12), and the presence of God is better than life.  It’s what caused David to run, Daniel to ‘den,’ and Jeremiah to ‘dungeon.’  As we spend every waking moment in His lovingkindness and grace, praise never ceases to rise from our hearts, our lips, and our inner most being as a casual normalcy.  The word “Worship,” is the original Greek word, “Proskuneo.”  It means to turn towards and kiss. 

When we’re unduly distressed we worship the Lord by default. David said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 43:5).  When Saul was distressed, David would play music with his hand and the distressing spirit from the LORD would depart (1st Samuel 16:14-23).  When we are so consumed with a heavenly attitude of worship, God says, “Look, I’m enthroned and enthralled in their praises, so I’m going to take care of their problems, ambush their adversaries, and many of their pressing issues will consume themselves.  They are caught up and consumed in worshiping Me in the beauties of holiness, I’ll catch up and consume their superfluous problems in lovingkindness” (2nd Chronicles 20:22).  Elisha received direct revelation when the minstrel musically mused (2nd Kings 3:15).  He received answersanswers that crush hard pressing issues.  The presence of God is what caused Stephen to ‘stone,’ Moses to meander, and Christ to ‘crucify.  “The Lord is the Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth.  And the Lord is seeking such” (John 4:23-24).

Psalm  73:3  

For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

The Psalmist reminds himself that thinking that the rich and prosperous who have forsaken the Lord are steadily established and aren’t in trouble like other men is erroneous, completely false thinking.  It’s something I, every-so-often, must remind myself.  It would be better to inch my way through life with meager portions and allotments than to leave the presence of the Lord for monetary gain.  I’d rather live under a bridge knowing I’m right with the Lord.  The Psalmist consecutively felt plagued, constantly troubled, and consistently chastened by the Lord, yet the wicked seemed to bulge with abundance.  “They have more than a heart could wish and pride serves as their necklace.  They wear it proudly.  I’m over here struggling to follow the Lord and chasing after Him with unceasing tears, troublesome groping, and internal chaos.  I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocence for nothing,” he says.  “Until, I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (See Psalm 73).  “They are brought to desolation in a moment!  They are utterly consumed with terrors!  Therefore I was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind because I was beginning to think that they were blessed.  I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.  Indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.  But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.”  We can always joyfully declare the wonderful works of the Lord!  They cannot.  Oh, how I must snap out of foolish-ignorant-beastly thinking....

Psalm 86:17

Show me a sign for good that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

The Psalmist requests that God would do something in his life so grand, that all his enemies would see it and be ashamed–and prove to those around him that the Lord is with him and every time his enemies consider him, they wouldn’t forget it.  The word for sign could better be rendered as token, for we know that “A wicked and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah, for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, even so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:29-40).  Jesus said, “The sign I’ll give you is that I’ll be dead for three days and I will rise again.”  It’s the sign that we freely give to this wicked and adulterous generation–it’s the message that there’s eternal life in Christ.  The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us and He will give life to our mortal bodies.  The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Helper and the Comforter (John 14:26). 

God gave us the sign the Psalmist requested. 

We have the Spirit of God.  We’re anointed. 

And those who hate us see it and are ashamed.  They trust in the strength of their own hand to guide them.  They have no comforter or helper.  When we rejoice in the Holy Spirit and catch His breath to carry out good works, there is great glory (Proverbs 28:12).  It’s a sign that cannot be denied.

Psalm 94:15

But judgment will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

If I may ask, “Return from where?”

Good judgment shall return from being regarded as irrelevant and despised due to the negligent-sinful behavior of men.  See, when wickedness is continually celebrated, the righteous will eventually begin to wonder what the point is to having good judgment – to being wise (Psalm 73).  Yet, when the wicked are broken – judgment returns; and you can easily differentiate between the righteous and ungodly paths.

Some days are like this: The Evil One sways the world and chaos is all around you.  People are in the flesh.  They despise and oppress you.  You are afflicted and your heart is bowed low.  All these uncomfortable circumstances transpire in the evil day.  But you, having done all to stand in the evil day, are still holding on to your integrity.

Does that about sum it up for you in your evil day?

Something happens the next day though.  Your righteousness burns bright and the world is broken for their actions on the previous day.  You continue to be that steady pillar, that light.  You're still shining and none of these things moved you.  Now, you were beginning to wonder if the wicked will ever be broken.  They are.  And, now, your best judgment has returned.  When judgment returns to you - you can easily differentiate between the righteous and ungodly paths.

Never doubt your faith though the wicked seem to triumph.

Check out what Malachi declared concerning this, “You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.’  Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels.  And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”  Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:14-18).

On the Fourth of July the sky is lit with bright showy dazzling fireworks that fill the night with temporary bliss – very temporary.  When the show is said and done, all that is left is the night sky with its ever so faithful shining stars which possess a constant beauty. They were always glowing; even when the 4th of July skyrockets seemed to overpower them.  In the same way, when the hour of darkness is over…your godly way of living is once again hailed as the proper form of living – In other words, “judgment returns.”  Everyone once again discerns between the righteous and the ungodly.  And you, tempted-tried-battle scarred up you…yes, you.  Your best judgment is back and everyone who is upright will follow your way (Psalm 94:15).  Which is, of course, the LORD’S way….

Psalm 99:8

You answered them, O LORD our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, though You took vengeance on their deeds.

God will forgive you of every single sin.  He will purify you from all unrighteousness.  If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  As far as the east is from west, He has removed our transgressions from us – we’ve been forgiven!

So many good Christian people today believe that since they have been forgiven they won’t suffer any kind of penalty; that they won’t have to endure any form of repercussion or retribution if they go out and sin.

God is not mocked, whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  He who sows to the flesh will of the flesh will reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7).  There’s no way around it.  We can’t sow our wild oats on Saturday night and pray for a crop failure on Sunday morning –It’s coming! 

What is coming?  “Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good” (Romans 2:8-9).  Oh you’re forgiven!  You still gotta be chastened (don’t despise it), but you’re free on Judgment day.  Your fellowship with God is restored.  You can live in the Spirit again.

Now, though you are forgiven, you’ve “authored” into your life’s story extra painful and sorrowful circumstances; difficult and hard experiences; borderline torturous hardships.  By “authored” I mean simply this: God, who is the Author and finisher of our faith, will now pen-in chastening circumstances into your life’s story. 

King David knew this Spiritual principle.  When I read about his life through 1st Samuel and 2nd Samuel, I can’t help but marvel in amazement.  I wonder at how God gave David victory over his enemies everywhere he put his feet. He’s one of my heroes in the faith.  But, whenever I come up to 2nd Samuel chapter 11…I cringe.  I read about his sin with Bathsheba and for some reason David’s story is never the same.  From 2nd Samuel 11:1 through the closure of the book - the mood changes, a dolorous tone enters into the text, and David spends the rest of his “life’s story” going through the drama he brought upon himself.

Haven’t we had enough drama in our life’s story? 

If I rob a bank and get arrested, I can know for certain that God will forgive me for my thievery.  In that jail cell I can pray, “Oh, God forgive me.  I’m sorry.”  And God will cleanse me and restore the fullness of my joy!  I can run around my jail cell and do jumping-jacks saying, “Oh the joy of being forgiven!”  But guess what – I’m still doing 20 years in prison.

Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 

You broke the Heart of God; so did I.  The LORD declares, “I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they’ve committed in all their abominations” (Ezekiel 6:9).  We may not have committed adultery, but spiritual adultery.

Luckily for us, God doesn’t treat us according to what we deserve (Psalm 103:10). 

Psalm 101:4

A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.

The spiritual individual eventually undergoes seasons of being cascaded by thoughts from the enemy; thoughts of condemnation.  Thoughts that tell him or her that everything they are doing is wrong.  When, all the while, they are smack-dab in the direct center of the will of God.  David knew this about his own heart.  Though we may even dislike our own demeanor or disposition, and our own perverse thoughts and behaviors that have rubbed off on us from other people with unclean spiritstheir contagious behaviors won’t stick–they’ll depart (Matthew 12:43).  And though we periodically believe that every action we perform is tainted with ill-motives and bad intentions, and a mediocre and unacceptable spirit–there is an even deeper guiding, goading, and prompting.  It’s the still-small voice from above and the Holy Spirit beckoning us further on.  There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1). 

And we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit (Romans 8:9).

We should not ever condemn ourselves in the things we approve.

Psychiatric babble and trite platitudes would state, “You’re completely forgiven, don’t feel guilty.”  Yet, to feel guilt and remorse–and even a little sense of condemnation is perfectly Biblical (Ezekiel 36:31).  It’s natural to loathe yourself over previous shortcomings and to be ashamed (Romans 6:21).  You’re being cleansed of former sins that the world still engages in.  As time progresses on earth, you’re being formed, fashioned, and free hand sculpted by the Heavenly Potter who is pressing perfect patterns, designs of dignity and curvatures of Christ-like integrity into our character–we’re being formed into His image in the here and now.

Psalm 101:5

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.

I have spent a lot of time in communal living.  I’ve spent many years in apartment complexes and so forth.  Without failing, God seems to set me up around really dark lives that make it easy to slander or complain about a neighbor!  And, though I would probably be justified in lettin’ em have a piece of my mind, I remember one thing – I am to dwell at peace with my neighbors, if at all possible, as much as depends on me (Romans 12:18). 

Neighbors have a special blessing even if they are losers.  You have to keep loving them or your own life will become very discontent.

What I mean is that their way of living may make you uncomfortable for a moment, but if you make a scene or freak out then you are going to make it even harder for your own self in the days to come.  If you can let it go then let it go…if you can.  Just pray, you’ll be blessed you overlooked the matter (Proverbs 19:11).

Strategically, God has you there!  You are to be the “Children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Remember friends, those who are well have no need of a physician!  You’ll be able to minister when the time is right.

You are the diamond in the black velvet backdrop.  The black backdrop accentuates the diamond’s shine, luster, brilliance, and sparkle.  I know they may be living in darkness, but consider the following:

“He who despises his neighbor sins...” (Proverbs 14:21).

“Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor” (Zechariah 8:17).  It is probably Satan anyway – not them!  We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood.  You may be fighting the wrong battle!

Consider what Isaiah said, “Woe to those who join house to house; they add field to field, till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 5:8)!

Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house lest he despise you (Proverbs 25:17)!  Live a quiet, peaceable, and blessed life of minding your own business (1st Thessalonians 4:11).

Once, I had a gentlemen come to my house and say, “Hi, I don’t know if you heard what’s happening with me and my lady, but I was wondering if you could give me some advice?”  I didn’t really know who he was.  But evidently, he was watching God reign in my family through the years and must have resolved that Christians know how to live.  Your neighbors are watching closely so live for Jesus loud and clear!

Psalm 119:9

How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.

Throughout Scripture, the Word of God is equated and likened unto having the cleansing power of water–drinking water for the soul and a cleansing agent for the spirit of man. 

“And everyone who thirsts come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1).

“I am the vine and you are the branches, he who abides in Me bears much fruit.   Apart from Me, you can do nothing.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

“He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6).

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

When our friends or our acquaintances or loved ones are muddied by the filth of the world, our first line of action is to bring out the water-hose of the word and wash them clean.  The word of God is a living and active agent and cleanses the ways of sinfully soiled saints and iniquitous individuals.  Rather than simply giving advice or opinions for what is in the best interest of others–hose them off; gracefully blast them down, and cascade a torrent of rightly divided Scripture as it appertains to their situation or issue at hand.  Jesus presents repulsive people to Himself as a holy and beautiful people by washing them with the word–we can too.

Psalm 136:1

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.

God is good.  Oh, how we need to know that!  The world system tells us otherwise.  The world says, “God is restraining,” but the Scripture declares, “Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10).

I want good things – so do you.

The world system says, “Don’t get married, it’ll hold you down.”  Yet, God declares that it is a good thing, saying, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).

The world says, “Ah, children are burdensome and expensive.”  But God declares that it is a good thing: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD.  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s YOUTH.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5).  Notice the word youth, so, in other words – start young!  The world is adamantly opposed to this ideology (even suggesting murder at conception as with Molech worship so that you can make more money in your future because you just can't afford it right abort).  - Which is a Satanic lie from the pit of Hell; Children are such a blessing.  Have a bunch while you are young!!!!!!

The world says, “Stay single; it’s better.”   But God declares, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18).

The world is twisted and confused but, truly, God is indeed good.

I see men who have lived by the world’s standards – men who have lived for money.  They seem real happy for several years.  Then one day something happens…they seem desperate.  Sure, they drive next to me in a Mercedes Benz, but they seem to be desperately searching for what God told them to seek in the first place and it just isn’t there.    

Seek God now and with time, as you plant righteous seeds year after year, you'll raise up a harvest of love.  You’ll be surrounded by so much goodness your heart will rejoice, overflow, and burst with joy!  All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you because you obey the voice of the LORD your God!  (See Deuteronomy 28).

The money-seeking world places little emphasis on family but their lives are getting ugly – quick (James 1:10-11).  Oh! that men would taste and see that the LORD is good!  “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him; to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:25-26).

Proverbs 1:33

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.

The confident peace of the Lord can allow us to leave our houses open at night without fear of evil.   Though some may deem it unwise to do so, I believe the spiritual and discerning person knows when trouble is coming or when we have the green light to rest securely without fear of evil.  The prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished (Proverbs 22:3).  We foresee trouble on the horizon before the natural man and simpleton does, and we take necessary precautions.  God prepares us a table in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5), and promises to perfect and establish us in the very presence of the devil (2nd Thessalonians 3:3).  The mature man and the wise woman arrive at the place where they no longer fear bad tidings or discouraging news–even death itself.  We do not fretfully fear the problematic mountains that lie before us, because after all, they ‘lie’ before us–it’s a lie to us.  We declare from the tops of our mountains that the promised life that God has mapped out for us is ours for the taking–and we live it.  We perceive all things working together for our good.  We have discovered that looming giants that others have diagnosed as insurmountable are our bread and butter–we eat ‘em up like sourdough (Numbers 14:9).  Every bitter and dark circumstance culminates in sweet light, and does so until heaven; we travel from glory to greater glory.  Multiple steps taken in tandem with the Holy Spirit enlightens us to every good and perfect gift from heaven–and a joyful life of concrete certainty and safety; security, and lack of fear.

Proverbs 6:32

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul.

If you commit adultery, here’s what you can look forward to.  God is deadly serious about adultery.  This installment is vicious, so friends, be warned or be rebuked in love:

The person who cheats breaks his own heart.  They bring hell itself into their own soul.  Endless turmoil floods their mind because they cannot look at their precious spouse in the eyes with innocence anymore, or, if they harden their heart they can lie to their significant other and bear the burden of lying to them their whole lives.  When she says, “Have you always been true?”  You’ll have to justify your tormented mind and say, “Yes.”  Which is a lie and you know it.  Others will lose all their respect for you as a person of integrity.  And, you’ll lose the glow and shine in the performance of your gifts.  You’ll leave your family and yourself to your lonesome – Which sounds like torture to me.  

Stay away from the flattering lips of the adulterer or adulteress.  Though the conversation seems to drip life, charisma, and honey, her (or his) steps lay hold of hell.

The person who commits adultery destroys himself or herself.  They may hurt their family for a lifetime, but they destroy themselves.  Those who commit adultery will never regain the paths of life (Proverbs 2:19).  Though many of these judgments seem condemning, critical, and hopeless for the guilty party, just stay tuned.  The full counsel of God will ultimately declare hope, even for an adulterer.  Yet, it’s going to be a rough road.  According to the word of the LORD, here’s what an adulterer or an adulteress can expect in their lifetime.

Spiritual death (Proverbs 1:18).

Never attaining the best paths in life (Proverbs 1:19).

Ending up with a cutting-bitter person who is unstable (Proverbs 5:4-6).

No honor from others (Proverbs 5:9).

Years of cruelty (Proverbs 5:9).

Trading an endless feast for a crust of bread (Proverbs 6:26).

Wounds and dishonor (Proverbs 6:33).


Their reproach will never be wiped away (Proverbs 6:33).

If you’re the person who is at fault for committing adultery you probably feel pretty hopeless, but look at king David.  After he fell into adultery he went through the rest of his days in grief.  But he was still the king.  God still accomplished His purposes with David, though it was rough on him.  Jonah went the wrong way too.  It was rough.  They both continued following God.  God still used them.  Jonah could have gone to Nineveh comfortably if he had not gone the wrong way.  But he still went.  He took the tortuous, fishy, and uncomfortable road.  He made it.  You’ll make it too.  You’re on the plan-b path, but it will ultimately yield the fruit of a plan-a path on earth and in heaven.   Don’t stop following the LORD, He is able to redeem our life from the messes we make and make it seem like it is even better than it was before! His mercy endures forever!  I'm thankful I don't speak from personal experience on this one, but I can relay the what the word of the LORD says about an adulterer or adulteress unbiased.  It's gruesome.  

Proverbs 11:29

He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise in heart.

The man who has a burning-righteous anger for a perfectly good reason can end in folly.  He can take that holy righteous anger and do the wrong thing and trouble his household.  He can walk around and break things in his house because he is angry and trouble his own house – sounds childish, but it’s common.  He can end up like Moses with great regret over his anger and not be able to enjoy the house, the house of Israel in the promised land of milk and honey that is.

Don’t walk around and take out your anger and break stuff.  I know it is common sense, but still….  Apparently goofy women can fall into this folly too.  “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

“Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).  Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.  And, before the sun goes down, let it go or Satan is going to enter into your domain and make a serious mess.

You may have a genuine bona-fide reason to be angry.  It’s all about what you do with it!  Remember, the Bible says to be angry!  Be angry and sin not!  So, being angry is perfectly acceptable!  Many people wonder at that!  It's what you do with that righteous anger that matters.  Don’t let it turn into something you’ll regret – Like Moses who was begging to get the blessing back (Deuteronomy 3:23).  What blessing?  He couldn’t enter into the blessed life flowing with milk and honey!  Moses said, “Please God, let me cross I pray,” but God was angry and said, “Enough!”  Now God was angry because of his childish fit and outburst of wrath when he struck the rock – He was supposed to speak to the rock! (Numbers 20:8).

Is your spouse as cold as stone or your boss a blockhead or are your kids being hard headed – Speak to the rock!

Please, don’t miss out on good things because you can’t control your anger like some spoiled brat kid.  It was predictable because I was staring out my window at this old man who was slamming the door to his car as he ran from his wife.  Then I turned to my wife and said, “Baby, look at this dummy, I bet he comes back in ten minutes and starts drinking.”  Sure enough, he comes back with a brown paper bag and begins to get drunk.  Wisdom isn’t always found on the gray-headed.  Master that childish anger if you haven’t.

See, Moses was right to be angry at the children of Israel for their obstinacy, but he took care of the situation in the flesh.  The Psalmist said these people were complaining and it went ill with Moses on account of them.  Moses, however, took his righteous anger and used it improperly.  He destroyed an Old testament picture of Christ who was struck, for, that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Your best bet is to cease from anger and forsake wrath. It’s mine too.  Why?  Because they only cause harm.  The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God – it never has and never will.  Could God use His wrath to fix things and set things straight through a man?  Yes, but you had better be sure it is God using you to flip those temple tables and not your own unrighteous anger.

Proverbs 15:4

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

You want to walk in the Spirit, not break it.  A filthy mouth breaks the Spirit.  Swearing, cussing, profanity, bad words, and improper innuendos are bad for one major reason: they split and shatter the continuity of the bond of peace and throw you into a hazy-confusion.  Unless of course, you are a man of the flesh, which I trust you are not; in that case you don’t care if you cuss because you can’t discern a thing!

Here is the passage we all must walk away with for a happy life: “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:10).  Do you want to love life?  Do you want good days?  Keep your tongue and do not cuss.  It is that simple.

If you’d like to forfeit good days then let your mouth speak evil.  If you want to go to sleep at night and say, “Boy, that was a bad day,” then simply let your mouth speak evil and you won’t love life. 

You don’t cuss because you have bad days – You have bad days because you cuss.

But Michael, “I have a filthy bucket-mouth, I don’t even realize that those words come out of my mouth.”  You are in good company!  Isaiah the prophet said something similar as only Isaiah could say it.  He said, “Woe is me for, I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  Then one of the Seraphim flew to me, having a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged” (Isaiah 6:5-7).

Notice how Isaiah prayed about his unclean mouth.  He talked to the LORD and God sent a fiery coal to burn his mouth and purge his problem.  God will do the same for us.  The LORD will put you in a fiery trial where the situation is ideal to use vulgarity.  When you pass, however, you’ll be useful to the Master.  Your lips must be circumcised.

Before the anointed tongue, comes the afflicting tongs; Before circumlocution, comes coal-persecution!

Proverbs 16:27

An ungodly man digs up evil and it is on his lips like a burning fire.

As a Christian, you may have or you will eventually notice a form of deranged fellowship that springs from good intentions that I believe you have full control of to sway towards wholesome life-giving speech once again.  From time to time, upon delving deep into conversational topics about the Lord with a believer, the conversation goes from Scripture verses to sinful vices.  A good-intentioned believer will ask me, “So Michael, have you ever done anything bad in your life?”  And I immediately, through experience, know exactly where the conversation will end up.  It takes of that encouraging unity in fellowship and twists the topics–and communication will take a turn south and go sour. 

But I have control of the conversation;

So do you –

We do not glorify, remind, reminisce, recap, or re-hash experiences in the flesh 

Fleshly activities and actions destroyed-then and they still have the power to destroy-now.  How?  Perversity in the tongue breaks the Spirit (Proverbs 15:4).  There’s one purposefully ambiguous response to that question, “Hey, we were all in darkness until He called us into His marvelous light.”  And, we leave it at that. See, the flesh profits nothing.  Sinful experiences benefited and enriched you in no way whatsoeverperiod (John 6:63).  So, when a warped believer, or as a zealous young believer without knowledge, as I have been, begins to interrogate and dig up evil…it’s going to burn away the fellowship that could have been blessed of the Lord, as brethren dwelling together in unity always is.  Don’t reminisce over a darkened past–it’s pointless.  Evil didn’t profit you in any way, shape, or form then…and it certainly will not at this point and time. 

The flesh profits nothing–nothing.  What a waste of time.  Praise God that He is able to restore to us those years we were wasting precious time in darkness!  He is so good!  Hallelujah!

Proverbs 17:22

A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.

Sometimes when people are sick or need healing, music does them good.  It makes their heart merry.  Or, maybe a visitation from a cheerful friend or a jovial family member does the trick. There are various factors that make the heart merry which are conducive towards healing.  We know, of course, that food makes people happy too.  Happiness is the remedy!

This installment is really about a medicinal subject that everyone should know about.  Why?  Because in my Christian walk and in yours you will encounter people who say, “I’m such a devout Christian, I don’t take any kind of medicine, or pills, or pain relievers.”  I know because I used to be one for a spell.  I changed my thinking when I read my Bible.  There is such thing as good medicine.

If you are in serious pain you should relieve it! God wants you to!  Good medicine is perfectly acceptable.  Discontentment is not His way.  In fact, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1st Timothy 6:6).  Some staunch Christians who place a high value on asceticism and self denial need to hear this!

This doesn’t mean we should accept mind altering drugs or alcohol at all.  The Bible does speak of good medicine.

I hate alcohol.  I utterly despise drinking, drugs, and smoking.  I think it is so mediocre.  Luke 1:15 speaks of the requirements to be great in the sight of the Lord.  Luke specifically tells us that NOT drinking wine is a pre-req. for being great in God’s sight.  But I know that there are miserable, mediocre, and bitter people, who, quite frankly, need to anesthetize their bitter heart. Let them. I know this is a hard doctrine and if you don’t want to accept I don’t blame you.  I have my reservations too.  But, look closely at this verse, “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart.  Let him drink…” (Proverbs 31:6-7).

Let miserable-bitter people drink.  It says to “Give” strong drink to them.  I don’t think I’ll ever have that in me.  I do see so many sad cases and I think, “You know what? Just let them.  They are so miserable.”

But as for us, NO WAY – NEVER.  We are not to drink lest we forget the law and pervert justice (Proverbs 30:4-5).  We aren’t even to look at alcohol.  If someone is on their death bed then maybe.

“Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly;  At last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper.  Your eyes will see strange things and your heart will utter perverse things” (Proverbs 23:31-33).

Now I do believe and have seen over and over again people who give excuses for taking pharmaceutical pain killers.  They’ll smoke pot everyday as much as possible and they say, “Oh, I need it because of my back,” when I see them skateboarding at the local skate park everyday too.  There’s never a reason for taking pain killers or strong medicines when you aren’t really in pain.  In fact, that is a gauge to see whether or not you’ve made the drugs an idol or not.

I have discovered that there are serious and legitimate reasons for taking prescriptions prescribed for pain and healing which are not to be exploited or excused when they aren’t necessary.  Strong medicine is best in the hospital rooms, not partying in inner-rooms.  Why?  Because as a Christian you shouldn’t ever be at a drinking, drunken, or drug party (Proverbs 23:20/Galatians 5:21).  You aren’t allowed to look at it anyway, so why engage in a revelry?  Are you going to fellowship there?

I’m not being legalistic; I hope this doesn’t hurt anyone.  It is just wisdom.  I’ve seen the moral fabric of sipping-saints wear, tear, and ultimately be torn asunder.

Proverbs 22:13

The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”

The lazy man has all kinds of excuses.  I love this one the most because there is so much we can learn about the lazy man.  We can learn what not to do.  First of all, notice his excuse.  “There’s a lion outside and I shall be slain…,” he says.

Guess what?  There’s always a lion outside.  Whether it be in the Sahara or the L.A. Zoo, there’s always a lion outside.  “So why is that important?” you say.  It is very important because he gave a truthful reason.  I will say it again and I hope I don’t sound redundant, but this hit me hard.  His answer is true – it is not legitimate – but true.  It is a flat-out excuse. 

And once we get good at making excuses we will be good at nothing else.

We have to be working.  It is our lot as mankind.  It is part of the curse.  There are some men who have no desire to work and they get into a lot of trouble and bring grief into their lives.  The Bible says, “If he does not work, he does not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  Sounds harsh doesn’t it?  It isn’t.  The reason it isn’t is because I have seen the reason fleshed out and devastatingly obvious in front of me:

There was a rather large church that had some good intentions in Southern California.  They decided to feed the homeless every day at any time they wanted.  That was their rule.  So, they set up their venue behind a two-story library that was quite magnificent if I may say so.  So, the vagrants would daily walk over for free food, then walk over to the library, get high on drugs, and repeat.  They could receive provision at any time they wanted.  That was the rule.  Masses of them never left the area and began to bring detrimental demonic activity to the area.  Soon enough I noticed a very grievous epidemic of oppressive transients who had no desire to work.  Why work?  I can play on the internet and eat all I want.  If they were hungry, they’d work. 

"He who labors, labors for himself because his hungry mouth drives him on" (Proverbs 16:26).

I’m not saying to not feed the homeless and needy.  There are genuine cases out there, especially families.  Many though, have chosen to live the proverbial life of laziness that Proverbs condemns.  The cure for laziness is to simply put goals, aspirations, and dreams (according to your talents) in your heart and, then, in the Holy Spirit – Go and make it happen!

“You also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside and you may lack nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Proverbs 24:21-22

My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those given to change; for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin those two can bring.

As a preface to this installment I’d like to mention that it is an intense word study, and ask for your diligent patience as you mine-through therein.  If this word study interests you, the prequel to this particular installment is found in the 1st Kings 20:12 section of this book.  God Bless you!

The Hebrew word for “Change” is Shanah.  It means to be disguised, to pervert, alter, duplicity, or to be given to that which changes you.  People who “Change,” according to Solomon, are perverse people in a deranged or altered state because they gave themselves to something that altered their behavior.

What is something that people can give themselves that alters their behavior?  The answer – drugs or alcohol.  It makes them change.  In other words, Solomon is saying, “Don’t associate with people who are under the influence, for you do not know the calamity they can bring.”  They’ve changed.  It is that simple.

“Oh, it’s nothing.  We’ve got a little head change,” they say.  No – do not associate with them.  They will bring calamity – and who knows what form it will come as!

When king David was feigning his behavior before king Abimelech, the Bible says, “David changed his behavior and began scratching the walls; he let spittle run down his beard.  Abimelech  said, ‘Have I need of madmen, that you bring this fellow into my court?  Away with him! ’ ” (See 1 Samuel 21:15).  David began to act like a mentally deranged bum.  He knew what being given to change looked like. His behavior would have been readily understood by Solomon as intoxicated or drug induced bum-like behavior.  And guess what word was used for David changing his behavior?  Shanah!  Or, change!

Every time Solomon used the word “Change,” he used it in reference to being high or intoxicated.   Or, he used it in reference to a person going back to his old ways and returning to folly.  That folly most likely dealt with a substance the fool went back to.  Those verses are in Proverbs 26:1 and Proverbs 31:5.

Proverbs 26:1- “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.”  The word “Return” is Shanah or change!

And again,

In Proverbs 31:5- “It is not for kings to drink wine…lest they drink and forget what the law decrees and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.”  The word “Pervert” is Shanah or change!  They pervert their sound judgment.  It changes.  They see things differently.

Friends, I know I overstated my case, but God wants you to know that mingling, associating with, or being unequally yoked with people who are buzzed, head-changed, or under the influence in any way are time bombs of calamity to you.  And, you don’t know how or in what form the calamity will come by being associated with them.   

Proverbs 31:6-7

Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart.  Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his misery no more.

If they are bitter and miserable people, let them drink.  But not you Solomon, and every man or woman who aspires to the highest calling of God must adhere to the same rule–to the same way of kingly living.  The Bible says to not even look at wine (Proverbs 23:31) and goes on to say not to mix with winebibbers and gluttonous eaters of meat (Proverbs 23:20).  People who are bitter of heart and miserable drink (Proverbs 31:6).  Drinking causes one to forget the law and pervert justice.  But the most intelligent wise kings rule by this precept:

‘Tis not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink lest they forget (Proverbs 31:7). 

Every ounce of alcohol kills ten thousand dendrites in the brain.

And though that probably won’t convince very many, I believe the word of the Lord to John the Baptist is an over the top case for a stellar life, and gives to us the heart of God on wine and strong drink.  “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.  He will also be filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).  I do not want a mediocre life in God’s sight.  All eternity rests on my way of living now.  Why would I want to spend eternity as just an ‘okay’ person in God’s estimation?  That’s mediocre.  Those who desire to be great in the sight of the Lord do not drink wine.  I am not biased or legalistic–it’s just what the Bible says about wine.

Ecclesiastes 2:15

So I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, it also happens to me, and why was I then more wise?”  Then I said in my heart, “This also is vanity.”

Death happens to everyone.  Death is the great equalizer.  Solomon is despairing over his wisdom, knowledge, skill, work, and the mighty edifices his wise hand created.  What’s the point?  I’m gonna die.

It doesn’t matter how famous you are.  Life is a vapor.  You are going to be the same as everyone else very soon. 

I went through a bizarre phase of being fascinated with cemeteries and mausoleums.  I wanted to see all the famous celebrity graves and the solemn end of these Hollywood stars.  They often live so wildly flippant against the ways of God because they are on top of the world with money and fame, and yet now they are dead.  These people who were larger than life and so inaccessible are now right in front of me.

I cannot help but think of the rich man and Lazarus.  You know the story.  The rich man lived in-clover while Lazarus suffered his way through life.  They both died.  Then some of the scariest words you’ll ever hear were written, “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented” (Luke 16:23-25).

These giants, whose treasures are in this world, are going to have a rude awakening.  It sure doesn’t seem like death is going to happen any time soon – it will. Life is a vapor.  Watch the headlines.  Keep an eye out for celebrity death articles and you’ll be astonished how God is gently, slowly, and surely picking everyone off one by one.  We are all being swept away with the sweep of death that is ever-swaying back and forth over humanity.  Which, in turn, makes me very comfortable because of one thing – death is natural.  Everyone else has gone through it already!  We're next! God must have made a remedy for it!  He isn’t going to let us all go!  Thanks to Jesus, death has no sting!  Death is simply a doorway!  For us, Jesus put the fun in funeral.  We do not sorrow as those who have no hope!

“To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).  To die is what?  GAIN!

“And indeed there are the last who will be first, and there are the first who will be last” (Luke 13:30).

When you have some free time, please read through Psalms chapter seventy-three again.  Do it for the sole purpose of reminding yourself that though the wicked prosper…they are brought to desolation in a moment.  God sets them in slippery places.  And do it for one more purpose, if I may add.  Do it to remind yourself that thinking that they have it so good is “brute beast” animal thinking (Psalm 73:22).  I know because my beliefs about how much they succeed and thrive are brutish and beastly once in a while.  We are on solid ground.

Ecclesiastes 4:4

Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor.  This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

God has given everyone gifts.  He doesn’t take them back or give a talent-measure based on how good you are.  In other words, you can be a complete loser and have immeasurable talent.  And, in the same way, you can be mister righteous-perfect and have the same talent.

Why?  Because “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” or, as another translation renders it, “The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29 NKJV; KJV).  What does that mean?  It means that if God gave you a gift, skill, ability, or an endowment of any sort – it is going to work and work out beautifully! You can't reverse, revoke, or repent of it.

If you are godly or a grief to the godly, you have a gift that is always enviable.  It doesn’t matter who you are. We all bring something unique to the table. Discover your gifts and God given abilities, and they will outshine the majority.  It's true. That's why we are to esteem others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). They have something we do not, and that includes everyone:

That’s why there are so many musicians, athletes, actors, and world famous talents who are totally lost; who can’t keep themselves under control, but they know their God given innate talents.  They aren’t very inspired because they aren’t walking in the Holy Spirit, but their magisterial abilities still cause awe-inspiring wonder.  Why?  Because the gift glows and not necessarily the fool using the gift. 

Which is why we must adorn the God given gifts with a holy lifestyle. 

Decades ago there was a brilliant construction landscaping engineer whom I recall sitting around a table under the influence of alcohol saying, “I think I’ll build an Island hotel in the middle of the ocean in Dubai.  I’ll build it from scratch.”  And friends, when I say scratch I mean it literally.  He brought sand on ship liners and poured it into the ocean to resemble a giant palm tree and made a palm island hotel on top of it!  This non-virtuous fellow knew his gift.  I don’t know how inspired he was.  If you ask me, I believe he was acting on the spirits and not the Spirit.  As the years progress I’m so convinced of this profound wonder that I hold steadfastly to this one truth:  God gives every man gifts no matter who you are and no matter how good you are.  The key to discovering happiness in life is to find what you do majestically and do it for a living.  You have to work anyway.  Rejoice in your labors! It is the gift of God!  Don’t watch the clock, watch God anoint you through the abilities He has given to you and wish the clock had more hours in the day!  That’s how I feel when God lights me up for a great work.  The hours just slip away so fast that I can’t keep up with the joy in my heart! Oh, how I hope you know what I'm saying!

And, "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10). Everyone has different gifts and everyone has something you don’t have.  They may not have discovered it yet.  I found mine already…hey, wake up.  Hmmn, I think I found mine.  God bless you!

Ecclesiastes 7:11

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider:  Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

If we falter in times of trouble, how small is our strength (Proverbs 24:10).  We are appointed both adversity and prosperity.  The sufferings of Christ will abound in us, but our comforts and consolations will abound the same (2nd Corinthians 1:3).  Life will often be cozy and cushy according to the word.  And, life will abound with the sufferings of Christ according to the word.  It’s what makes us deep.  There’s an unspoken inner-satisfaction and contentment coming from persevering through adversity and afflictions. 

There’s a confident satisfaction joyfully springing from the inner person that only comes from ascetic disciplines and prayer in solitude–though that’s not number one on any of our lists. 

What about fasting and sleeplessness often?  That’s definitely not part of our schedule, yet thank God He invades our schematics and incorporates the ideals of Jesus Christ in us. 

We know when it’s time to humble ourselves–it’s just time–we aren’t right to be carrying on in the public eye.  Those are the intervals of time that God sanctifies and sets apart, and deems necessary and absolutely needful to build up our character–and we know when the bomb drops and the time is appropriate to taste floor.  I don’t pencil-in trials into my schematics–they’ll be here on their own–as fish are caught in a cruel net and snare us in evil times, falling unexpectedly upon the sons of men (Ecclesiastes 9:12).  So joyfully prosper.  Rejoice always.  Accept good from God–and adversity (Job 2:10).  By the way, sin brings unneeded, unwanted, and unraveling adversity. 

Ecclesiastes 11:9

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.

Today, I was meditating on how free we are in Jesus.  Solomon said to ‘walk in the ways of your heart.’  In other words, just do what you want to do.  God wants us to rejoice in all we do and to be busy being preoccupied with the joy of our heart (Mark 16:15).  Rejoice.  Have loads of fun.  Just know that God is going to bring you into judgment for whatever you’ve done whether good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  Christianity does not consist of a bunch of rules that prohibit us from having fun.  They consist of rules that will keep us free–to enjoy the abundant rich life that God intended.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  What fruit did you have in those things you are now ashamed of?  For the end of those things is death!”  Sin is bondage and slavery. 

Sin is referred to as chains that hold us fast (Proverbs 5:22).

It’s noted as being as restrictive as a captain who refuses to let a soldier leave the front lines of battle in wartime (Ecclesiastes 8:8).  No one goes home during the heat of battle.

Elkanah was a godly man married to a woman named Hannah who was about have a child named Samuel.  She previously said she would offer him up to the LORD to serve Him all the days of his life.  As she was weaning him, her concerned husband wanted to make sure she honored her commitment to the Lord and said, “Do what seems best to you, as long as the Word of the LORD is established” (1st Samuel 1:23).  I believe the Word of the Lord for us today is the same: Do what you want!  Walk in the ways of your heart, but know that for whatever you do, God is going to bring you into judgment.  

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

Solomon goes on to speak about what we can look forward to in old age.  He says things are difficult because the eyes go dim and you can’t see the sun, light, moon, and stars the same way.  He says the legs that keep the body postured begin to tremble and shake.  He goes on to say that you don’t care about things that are happening outside anymore, so, you no longer look out your window and your door is shut.  Desire fails for various activities you were passionate about.  You’re afraid of heights.  Your hair is grey like a blossomed almond tree.  Your body begins to break down and you go on to eternity.

Our ultimate endings sound like a bleak mid-winter story.  Does it have to be this way?

I suggest that it doesn’t have to be this way!

Check this out, “Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died.  His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished” (Deuteronomy 34:7). 


“And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now here I am this day, eighty-five years old.  As yet I am as strong this day as the day Moses sent me;  just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and coming in.  Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day that the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified.  It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said” (Joshua 14:10-12).

I choose this promise.  I want to be like Caleb; a man who was eighty-five years old and vigorous.  He was an Anakim giant slayer and mountain mover in his elderly years.

Solomon had an idolatrous-bad ending.  He did evil at the end of his years.  Moses and Caleb didn’t.  Those who seek the LORD will be fresh and flourishing in their old age.  They will still bear fruit.  The children of God will have power above nature; age-defying power….

Song of Solomon 2:15

Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.

Without any detailed explanations, I feel that I must sum-up this entire installment as follows:  Men, if you neglect your marriage vineyard, the foxes will come.

How do you catch a fox in your marriage vineyard?  Just be there.  Don’t neglect your vineyard!

There’s an overwhelming trend that is very concerning and detrimental to the family unit.  I’ve noticed a devastatingly high number of men who have lost their wives to divorce due to unfaithfulness.  I know that the pendulum swings both ways, but I have been counseling a vast majority of men whose wives have succumbed to infidelity rather than the men.  Their precious brides have given way to foxes that have spoiled their tender and delicate marriage or a snake that ruined their paradise in the garden.

Each case has the same common denominator – There's too much time spent away from one another.  Either the husband is working so much that he barely spends a couple of hours at home, and when he does he’s so worn out that he isn’t giving her a quality-him or she’s gone doing whatever it is she does.  I know we all have to work, but I refuse to believe that there aren’t measures we can take to spend more time with our wives and children.  

The major problem and crux of the matter is neglect of our wives for either money or something else that has stolen our heart – It’s neglect plain and simple!  Neglect the marriage vineyard and the foxes will come.  If you’re always around, you’ll nab the foxes, the little foxes, every time.

“Hey Michael, she should be faithful and true no matter what.”  True, she should.  But, it doesn’t matter if you have the ultimate-perfect woman.  If you’re always leaving her to her lonesome, you’re opening a doorway for Satan to get in her head.  If you aren’t there, she may just act on it too.  Remember Eve, the ultimate-glorified woman who was sinless in paradise – When did she succumb to the enemy?  When she was alone!  Secondly, where was Adam?  Working in the garden!  So, it doesn’t matter if you have the ultimate-glorified relationship.  If you’re leaving your wife alone and spending all your time caught up in your work or hobbies, or worse yet, your sinful nature – You’re asking for major life changing trouble! 

1st Timothy 2:14 states, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”  When was she deceived? – When she was alone.  I’m not saying women are helpless and credulous, in fact many women probably have a depth and fortitude that men don’t in some respects.  But, in my reading of the scriptures, I do not believe our wives should be abandoned for our work or hobbies.  In Hosea, God specifically says, “I will not punish your brides when they commit adultery, because the men are caught up in their sin” (See Hosea 4:15).  Neglect your wife for whatever reason, and God may not even punish her when she lets a fox in your vineyard!  Neglect is risky business, and I’d hate for the enemy to deceive her due to a lack of spousal presence, nurture, affection, and all the good that comes when the family is united.

Now, there’s a way to keep your wife secured and shielded from the enemy when you’re away.  Guys, please hear me on this.  Be men of the word.  Fill your wives to-the-full of the words of the LORD.  When you are away, the scriptures will be a safeguard to her.  They will slow the enemy down.  They’ll be a shield to her in your absence.   Remember Eve again.  She didn’t just give in, but she slowed the enemy down by reciting the words of the LORD by telling him that, “We may freely eat from all the trees of the garden, but the tree which is in the midst of the garden we may not eat, nor shall we touch it…”(Genesis 3:2-3).  Though she fell, at least she fought back with the word.  So guys, give your spouse a fighting chance and put the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, in her hands, heart, and home!  If we neglect our marriage vineyard the foxes will come.  Keep her as a fruitful vine in the very heart of your home – all yours, never to be shared with others…with foxes – Catch ‘em!

Song of Solomon 3:6

Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the merchant’s fragrant powders? 

“Behold it is Solomon’s couch, with sixty valiant men around it, of the valiant of Israel.  They all hold swords, being expert in war.  Every man has his sword on his thigh because of fear in the night” (Song of Solomon 3:7-8).  Solomon made himself a palanquin with pillars of silver, a golden frame, a purple seat, and an interior paved with love by the daughters of Jerusalem.  Solomon’s elevated and portable seat was carried by his expert warrior servants.  When they entered in, it was an awe-inspiring event indeed. 

Living near the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, we often see plumes of smoke in close proximity.  Giant pillars of smoke-clouds cover the sky, and we often wonder what the cause is: Is a house on fire, is the mountain burning, is everyone ok?  It’s an exciting and concerning ambiance that is not to be ignored, especially if you’re close.

When we lift up the King of kings,

If we are mighty in the Scriptures,

And when we hate evil because of fear of what the darkness brings–not in terror, but with a holy and healthy fear of the pain sin causes,

Then we have the privilege of being part of a blessed-procession when we arrive anywhere in Jesus' name!  As we lift up the Lord, we are part and privy to an outlandish-bombastic heavenly scene that fragrantly ‘burns’ when the sword of the Spirit is drawn, and the perishing world is ‘drawn’ in–it’s an awe inspiring event indeed.   Friends, lift up Jesus!  Be an authority in the Scriptures!  Be someone the world can go to for answers because you are an expert in the word of the Lord!  Be terrified to open the doors of sin because of the devastation it brings–and you’ll be part of an exciting and eternal entourage!

Song of Solomon 5:2

I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved!  He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, my perfect one; for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”

When the beloved came knocking, the Shulamite didn’t open the door.  By the time she actually awoke it was too late.  The beloved had gone his way and she missed their moments of fellowship.  Instead of starting the day with a burning heart, she spiritually waned with a yearning start.  Though she eventually found him, she went through the day stricken and wounded–discontented and distressed. 

Awakening to new mercies each day and being introduced to a brand new and clean slate, we receive new purpose; and a renewed resolve that is strengthened to attack a new day with a fresh anointing from the Holy One.  The awakening and eye-opening minutes of the day have to be some of the most special and sweetest moments of the day.  That’s when God is knocking on the door of our heart and meets with us–it’s in the cool of the day that God met with Adam (Genesis 3:8).  The Lord shows up, drenched with direction and with an utterly and critically purposeful anointing–covered with the dew for me and you; ineffable–too heavenly precious for words.  Your God remained close all night thinking about and watching you–rejoicing in delivering your morning news.  Now you’re awake.  Don’t let lethargy, laziness, and lack of mysterious wonder for a new day cause what happened to the Shulamite happen to you! 

God comes knocking early in the morning…

Awakening us early, morning by morning, to attain to the ear of the anointed and learned (Isaiah 50:4).

Song of Solomon 8:4

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.

When God says something on three occasions– listen close.  This very phrase is the recurring theme strewn throughout the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4).  Oh, how imperative a principle Solomon reiterates for every single parent and every ‘single’ person.  There’s a prevalent notion among parents who allow and encourage their children to date a person of their fancy because it seems innocent enough.  When he asks for the car to take her out to the mountain top or unsupervised pier walk or scenic view, the parent readily and excitedly encourages the child with a go-get-‘em-tiger sentiment.  I believe the discerning parent would do best to recall to mind the three instances where Solomon said,

“Do not stir up or arouse or awaken love until the proper time.”

When is the proper time in God’s view?

In marriage–not the scenic view of ambience and mountain top emotions. 

Two dabbling people becoming close with innocent intentions are stirring up and arousing love before the proper time.  It all begins with a go-get-em-tiger sentiment.  If the final end of the relationship is marriage, and it’s previously prayed over and approved by God Himself, then the proper steps should be taken for a marriage union.  “It is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1st Corinthians 7:9).  There’s no such thing as a recreational kiss for non married people without intentions of marrying because they are breaking a cardinal rule; a threefold redundant and repetitious rule.  “The marriage bed is to be kept pure, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).  Hugs and kisses stir up and awaken love–there’s no other way around it. 

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool….”

God is wonderfully gracious and mysteriously reasonable.  Instead of only being cut and dry, and black and white, I’ve discovered that we follow a reasonable God who gives us detailed and meticulous insights into every little aspect of our lives and the things in our lives.  As a younger Christian, aspiring to walk in the Spirit of surrender and sold out reckless abandon, I believed that when God said to relinquish my hold on something…that was it!  It was time to give it up and destroy it, or change my mind about it and turn from itto repent.  Now, however, I’ve become so fond of the arresting Spirit of the Lord who desires to give me the full story concerning the various courses and objects and people in my life, that I know that His interventions are reasonable.  If you ‘believe’ that God wants you to give up something that you innately know is good, don’t be quick to reluctantly feel that you must immediately do so.  It sounds sacrilegious.  I know.  Wait.  Pray.  Seek the divine details and make absolutely sure that God indeed is asking you to release your hold on it.  We serve a logical and reasonable God who desires to give you the desires of your heart.  If you want it and love it, and it is a good and perfect gift which comes down from the Father of Lights (James 1:17), then don’t be deceived, it is a gift from above–and the blessing of the LORD makes one rich; He adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22).  The devil can be trying to rob you with thoughts of deception, which is why James declares to us to not be deceived because good and perfect gifts come from Him.  Rejoice in His provision and for the abundance of all things!

The phrase Though they be red, is actually only one Hebrew word.

It's the word Adam.

And as you know the story, our gracious and loving God was searching for our chief ancestral sinner to cover him with the gift of forgiveness and to beautifully clothe him.  You can bet that if God made Adam's clothes, they were beautiful habiliments.  God provides indescribable gifts to His children, even His wayward lost ones–we just have to be reasonable.  

Isaiah 8:20

To the law and to the testimony!  If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 

If someone tries to give you counsel apart from the word of God it isn’t worth much.  It’s uninspired counsel.  Try to act on their words and you’ll find yourself in the flesh.  There are so-called wise people who try to give advice apart from the scriptures and I always think of this verse, “They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves to depravity” (See 2nd Peter 2:19).  People think they are wise because they have a lot of money or they are rich according to the standards of the world, so they have to be wise, don’t they?  If they don’t take you and me to the scriptures for sound wisdom, they’re giving us darkened counsel.  There is no light in them.

“No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth.  They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.  They hatch the vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; he who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a serpent breaks out” (Isaiah 59:4-5).  Trying to act out their directions will cause us to die spiritually, and ditching their counsel, after having accepted it, will cause you to have a snake-ish outburst from strife.   That’s why ungodly counsel is so bad!  Trying to depart from the evil imbedded in their words puts you and me in a real bad place!  So, take heed what you hear!

That which is flesh begets flesh.  That which is Spirit begets Spirit.  All Scripture is inspired!  So, to the testimony! – To the law!  The fruit of the scriptures will always produce righteousness, life, and peace.  Some verses are tough to hear.  They seem oh so very harsh because they expose and condemn sin.  But never forget that God’s word does good – always. 

So friends, be wary of those who do not take you to the scriptures for counsel.  If they don’t say – To the testimony! – To the law!  Then you can be sure that “The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made for themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:8).  Aside from the word of the Lord, what wisdom can one have for maneuvering life?  The word of the LORD is proven.  It’s sure.  “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Isaiah 14:13-14

For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

Lucifer had ‘I’ problems that no optometrist could cure.  Whenever we un-prayerfully grab the reigns of our lives–we fall into the same condemnation of the devil.  It’s when we say, “Spirit led or not, I’m going to take my life by the horns and make my plans succeed.”  And though there is nothing amiss with planning or ambitions, each endeavor must be sanctioned and approved by the Most High.

You are not your own,

For you were bought at a price;

Therefore glorify God in your body and in your Spirit which are God’s (1st Corinthians 6:19-20).

Satan transgressed his boundaries, though he was already the seal of perfection.  He was the beautiful and glitzy-wealthy angelic cherub of heaven.  God lavishly illuminated Lucifer.  God has set luminously-perfect boundaries for each one of us.  He has carved out lines, allotments, and pleasant places for us during our fleeting pilgrimage on the earth (Psalm 16:6).  He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  The devil wanted more.  He traded contentment for covetousness.  He said, “I will ascend into…, I will exalt my throne…, I will also sit on the mount…, I will ascend above…, I will be like the Most High.”  It’s absolutely normal for cherubim to have many eyes, but not like these (Ezekiel 10:12).  Beware when you incessantly begin to speak about yourself in the first person.  Beware of assuming a role that is not yours.  Godliness with contentment is great gain. 

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

In certain respects, we’re commanded to ignore the consequences of the possibility of ship wrecking results by staying caught up in God’s love; in the Spirit.  With regards to this fascinating facet of the Christian walk–love is blind.  Our eyes are on Jesus, and seeking the face of God–at all times.  As a result, we are immovably stayed and kept in perfect peace when our minds are captured, raptured up in heaven’s agenda.  “Set your mind on things in heaven and not on things of earth, for you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2).  Waves, or wondering if God will  come through in redemption; billows, or beckoning bills; the deep, or darkness with undulating uncertainty ultimately keeps us utterly dependent on Him as we traverse the liquid concrete water walk.  Frequent walks on the edge of a knife are mandated lest we neglect God and become enveloped with the cares of this world. 

We’re prone.

Maybe, it’s just me.

Throughout our busyness, those few moments of the day that we actually digress and seek the Lord are so refreshing, restorative, and rejuvenating;  Which is why we have daily devotions every morning and evening as a perpetual sacrifice for the duration of our time on earth.  It’s how we keep our life altered, lest we forget God because we’re prone.

Everything depends on it.

“Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and set out foreign seedlings; in the day you will make your plant grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; but the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow” (Isaiah 17:10-11).  Without devotion, our pivotal and life changing days meant for rejoicing and joy will inevitably change for the worse–but we’re devoted!  Our minds are stayed on Him.  God is invited in all we set our hands to do and consumes our thoughts.

Isaiah 38:1

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death.  And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ ”

When it rains it pours.  Isaiah’s account is not in chronological order.  Previously Isaiah spoke of the Assyrians being destroyed (Chapter 37), and now, Hezekiah’s sickness and impending death (Chapter 38).  Now, Hezekiah was actually sick during the time he was being besieged by the Assyrians.  Notice with me, “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.  I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city” ’ (Isaiah 38:5-6). 

Hezekiah’s health is failing and he’s being attacked by his enemies – all at once.  Trials come in waves and, at times, subsequent tsunamis. 

If you’ve ever been surfing you know what it is like to be dragged under the wave across the sand.  You finally arise from the violent foam to take the fastest breath that you can because another wave is about one split second from crashing on you to do the same thing.  This can happen over and over – and over.  Your walk with God can be much like a ride through life being pummeled with one thing after the next for a season or two or three.  So, if things are flowing swimmingly – enjoy the ride.  But most of all, go with the flow with what the LORD is doing.  Why?  Because Hezekiah didn’t, and though he received an answer to prayer and was granted his request of an extended life, it may not have been the best path.

If you and I absolutely positively and obstinately must have our way – we’ll get it.  The Psalmist wrote, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:15).  Hezekiah was granted fifteen extra years to live, but in that time he fathered a son, whose name was Manasseh, who became the most evil king in all of Judah’s history.  It was because of him that God would not relent from uprooting and destroying the nation.  Manasseh stumbled the whole nation into gross idolatry.  According to tradition, he even murdered the prophet Isaiah by sawing him in half.  Manasseh was eventually led away with a hook in his mouth and displaced by the Assyrians.  Though Manasseh finally repented of his sins, I wonder if that’s why God had originally planned to take Hezekiah home early.

Go with the flow of what God is doing, gang.  You may not always like it, but there’s a bigger picture.  “Oh, but I gotta have it Mike, and like you said, ‘God will give it to me.’ ” – He just might, but if it isn’t His perfect will it’s going to send leanness of soul, bitterness of spirit, and anguish of heart for you and others. 

When Hezekiah received his request he emphatically said that the rest of his years would be bitterness of soul (Isaiah 38:15) – Wait, Hezekiah, I thought you wanted this?  

Isaiah 38:22

And Hezekiah had said, "What is the sign that I shall go to the house of the LORD?"

What is the sign that I will go to the house of the LORD?  C’mon Hezekiah.  That’s like asking, “What is the sign that I will go to church next week?”  Do you really need a sign for that? 

What is the sign that I will go to taco bell next week?  Will you make some stars fall?

What is the sign that I should wear my blue pin striped shirt on Tuesday?  Will you make a striped cat with blue eyes cross my path?   

I love Isaiah’s response to Hezekiah, or lack thereof.  Isaiah's account, in the subsequent verses, doesn’t even give him an answer to such a question.  If you and I start testing God, like Hezekiah, we shouldn’t expect an answer either.

God isn’t into signs.  Jesus said, “A wicked and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it” (Matthew 16:4).  Gideon’s fleece is a prime example-  He said, “Please don’t be angry but let me test, I pray (Judges 6:36-40).”  He knew it wasn’t God’s principle way to elucidate His paths, or Himself through signs.  We use the colloquialism in society to “Put out a fleece,” but usually don’t remember that Gideon pleaded that God wouldn’t be angry by his testing Him like this with a sign.

Elijah eventually learned God wasn’t into showing Himself through the signs and wonders, but in a still small voice. Elijah was looking for God in wonders of nature, but He wasn’t in the earthquake.  He wasn’t in the tornado.  He wasn’t in the fire.  In a gentle tender loving impression on Elijah’s heart was God’s voice heard (1 Kings 19:11-12).  Oh, how we shouldn’t get caught up in signs but in a still small voice; in an impression, in a conviction.

I love God’s word.  It doesn’t stop here.  There is one sign that God said He will always give us: His peace.  If you have God’s peace in your heart then you can know for certain that God favors your way!  You can know that God is happy about the path you’re on by one single sign forever-that sign is peace.  God promised that His peace will be a sign to you forever.  In the Old Testament, Isaiah the prophet said, “For you shall go out with peace and be led forth with joy.  The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you.  All of the trees of the field shall clap their hands…and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off forever” (Isaiah 55:12-13).

Now, God does indeed perform signs and wonders.  Yet signs and wonders don’t spark true belief and faith in a person’s life.  Why? Because for forty years they saw God’s signs and wonders in the wilderness.  Yet they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.  They witnessed serious miracles too; splitting seas, the earth swallowing people whole, plagues, and daily rations of angelic food.  But, 1500 years after Moses was long dead Jesus told a parable about a dead man in hell asking to send someone back from the dead to warn his brothers and sisters not to come to hell. Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets (in other words, they have the scriptures) and if they don’t believe them, neither will they believe if someone comes back from the dead.”  Wow.  If someone doesn’t believe The Word there is no other persuasion toward salvation, not even zombies ripping out of the cemetery. 

It’s all about faith; the evidence of things unseen.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him.  We don’t follow after signs and wonders.   We follow after the things which make for perfect peace.  For, peace is the everlasting sign forever.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  God's peace rules.  Peace is the baseball umpire in your life saying, “It’s good,” or “It’s gonna foul you up and you’re gonna strike out.”  Peace is the umpire that has the final say in your life (Colossians 2:15).  And, according to Isaiah it is forever!  Aren’t you glad God made it so easy? -Simply following His peace!  -Simply following His rest!

Believers don’t follow after signs and wonders.  Signs and wonders follow after the believer.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

With my supernatural and great discernment I decided that it was too hot here in Southern California and since there was a hidden creek down the street called the Santa Ana River, my children and I could hike around the stream.  Unbeknownst to me, as I took a step in this unsightly and muddied stream–I immediately sank about half of my body into immovable and hard quicksand–and horror filled my heart–not for me, but for my daughter who happened to be right behind me.  I, as a fully matured adult, could barely get out of this smelly and putrefying mud pit, let alone my daughter Sarai.  So with my supernatural and great discernment I called out for my children to stop and managed to pull myself out.

As we travel from glory to glory, we speedily move from the next plan to the next idea in the accomplishment of God’s will.  His work on the earth is short (Romans 9:28).  We must make the most out the short time we have–fast (Ephesians 5:16).  More and more, I am astonished at the brevity of life.  I must spiritually maneuver, prayerfully move, and make the most of every step the Spirit swiftly takes.  The way of the righteous is like a highway.  The way of the wicked is like trudging through a hedge of thorns or a muddied pit.  So we run the race with perseverance and cast off every weight and sin that so easily entangles because His yoke is easy and His burden is light–we can speedily take ground for the kingdom without dragging around a muddied conscience.

Alexander the Great and Bill Gates fall into the move like an eagle work ethicthey didn't stop.

They had a get it done now and fall asleep on your computer mentality–something the Lord can cause us to do.

Isaiah 53:10

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.  When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 

Why would it ever please the LORD to bruise His own child?  Here’s why:

I have four children, let’s say one of them had a magical ability to never die and I knew that at some time in the future, that one of them was going to get hit by a car when I asked him to go and get a gallon of milk for us.  Which child would I always send to the store?  The one that had the magical ability to never die.  Now, I would not enjoy it to see my son smashed and bruised in the sidewalk gutter.  It would break my heart to see him suffering and crying out in pain.  But, it would also please me exceedingly because I know that the grave can’t keep him.  So, ultimately, it would please me to send the child who could die and resurrect himself because I know that I would see him again! I love all my children.  I want them all with me – always.

That’s the heart of the Father too.  He knew that Jesus had a special promise that was given for Him and Him alone.

Here’s the promise:  “For You will not leave My soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). 

See, God knew Jesus had the ability to escape from hell – You and I cannot.

So, in wisdom and righteousness He allowed the Son to take the fall for us all.  He did it in love.  This isn’t some masochistic master we worship.  He isn’t on some suffering trip.  Sin must be judged.  And, thanks be to God who provided a substitute as an atonement, appeasement, and an at-one-meant with Him.  Now, we can all spend eternity together!  It’s out of pure love that He sent the Son to be grieved and bruised as an offering, He wants us all to be with Him for all eternity.

Jesus has an all-access pass in the heavenly kingdom – even hell.  Jesus said, “I am He who lives and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and Death” (Revelation 1:18).  He has a key to lock and unlock hell.  We don’t.  Hell would be eternity for us.  Not Him.  Hell cannot hold Him.  So, when we read that it pleased the LORD to bruise Him, it should make logical and loving sense!

Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

God puts each and every one of us in a place of testing, a place where we attain to our fifteen minutes of fame–and He watches us to see how we will behave.  Will our heads blow up as we mistakenly believe we are something special, or will we cast off the praises and fleeting glory of men and remain in our appropriate place?  As a nothing in our own estimation.  An anointed man or woman keeps believing that they are nothing–not because of self confidence issues, but that is the mindset we should always keep–a humble disposition that exalts others as better than himself.  Our light, our anointing should shine before men in such a way that when they see our good works they glorify the Father in heaven.

Today I was once again pondering the stellar life of David.  David was much like me and you.  I always wonder at how God can use the righteous men who stumble throughout the Scripture, and turn their mistakes into a blessing and an example for us.  David followed the heartbreak path away from his kingdom as Absalom sought his throne.  It was a judgment because of his sin.  An angry man met him along the road and cursed him, and the Scripture says David walked along one side of the road while Shimei walked along the other side of the road and cursed him.  David ignored him and followed a path that ultimately led to victory.  I am thankful for this story.  I deal with a lot of angry men along my paths and now, because of David's example, I know how to circumstantially behave in these various instances.  David was still shining.  Even in his punishment; his darkness was as noonday (Isaiah 58:10).  

When Nehemiah was doing the work of the LORD, he said, Why should I leave the work of God to deal with you.  Im busy.  And, like David, just went on his way disdaining and ignoring the provocations of evil men (Nehemiah 6:3).  He repelled the beckons of bad men and kept on letting his light shine before men in his good work so that men and women could come into the temple and praise the Father in heaven. He finished the work with a sword in one hand, and a hammer in the otheran interesting picture indeed.

Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.

In the womb, according to God, Jeremiah was a powerful prophet, already set apart for his purpose.  A child in the womb is already ordained for his purpose as a teacher, mechanic, the next doctor who can cure cancer, or a musical legend set to compose the next greatest and moving masterpiece, or an inventor who comes up with the next avant-garde and innovative design that furthers the human race, or the next military mastermind who advances national security for the nation as we know it – or the next whatever, but we’ll never know because she aborted it.  We’ve weakened the nation.   I wonder how many millions of gifted masterminds we have deleted?  God judged the nations that worshiped Molech in the valley of Hinnoam.  Will He pardon us for our practices?

In ancient times, the pagan nations erected a bronze statue with arms that protruded forward.  It had an empty belly to place wood and fire into in order to conduct heat sizzling and searing through the whole body until the arms would glow red.  At this time a woman, with the approval of her suitor, would place the baby on the arms of the statue and fry it to death.  During the process they would beat drums to mask the cries of the child that would echo throughout the valley of Hinnoam, also referred to as Tophet – It was satanic indeed.

Anyone who hears this would think, “How archaic! How cruel!  I’m glad things are different now.”

Are they?

See, they would sacrifice their first child to destiny.  In other words, “I just can’t have this child now, it interferes with my dreams.  It isn’t part of the plan right now.  I can’t afford it.” – And they fry it in saline solution and refer to their unborn child as a fetus to lighten the conviction and truth as the drums would.  The world lightens everything by referring to sin in gentle harmless ways.  Those are the drums of Tophet.

“Oh, it’s not a baby, it’s a fetus.” – Boom! Boom! Boom!  Gettin' in your head.

“It’s just tissue.  Don’t worry.” – Boom!  Boom!  Boom! – Screamin' in your ear.

“Oh, it’s just not practical right now.” – Boom!  Boom!  Boom! – It's the music of indoctrination!

And what does it do?  Drowns out the reality of murder.

That precious human being has a whole life ahead of him or her!  It’s satanic murder!  It was a child in the womb from the very point of conception!  David said, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).  We are already pre-ordained with purpose to walk in the good works God has for us since the foundation of the world.  We are even sinners at conception!  Last time I read through Psalm 128 I found a passage that says you’ll be happy if you have a lot of children when you are young!  That hasn’t changed.  That is the opposite of what the world teaches!  Yet, it is the world’s way of thinking that is loud, drum-rolling, and head splitting-archaic.  Any woman or man who murders his or her unborn child will live in torment and horror when it finally sets in – They’ve murdered a best friend and one of the most wonderful indescribable gifts that God has to offer in this life.  Why Mommy?!  No Daddy!  Don’t let the platitudes of medical science drown-out your convictions.  Put up your sound proof walls against their nonsensical beats.

Jeremiah 5:3

O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth?  You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they refused to receive correction.  They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return.

When a serious affliction or a calamitous event or a tragedy transpires in our lives, it is a good idea to stop and pray; to  Humble ourselves and ask, “Lord, why did this happen?  Are You trying to get my attention about something?  Is there some sin in my life?  Is the course of my life going in the proper direction?  Do You want me to change the course I’m on or get something straight in my heart?”  God uses the rod of correction to open our eyes.

In Leviticus we read concerning how God’s measures wake us up out of spiritual lethargy.  He uses a consecutive and consistent chastening curse by striking, afflicting, and consuming severe disobedience with a seven-times-worse pattern.  And if anyone remains ossified or hardened in their perverse lifestyle and continues on their way without changing the course, He strikes the obstinate soul with seven times more potency in their punishments (See Leviticus 26).

Oh, may we be the sort of saints who receive the gentle Word – And not the gory whipping.  Oh, that we would be those who do not learn the hard way; who receive a whisper and not a woe.

“Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.  Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him.  Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:9-11).

Jeremiah 8:9

The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken.  Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD; so what wisdom do they have?

I was working as a substitute teacher at Citrus Elementary School for a one day job.  In the morning I was waiting in the teacher’s lounge for my key and attendance sheet for the classroom.  A very wise and experienced teacher walked in and we began speaking about how school has become different and that the children are a mess.  That’s why I have homeschooled my children with great success.  In the last eighteen years of substitute teaching I’ve seen that they fight against authority, discipline doesn’t matter, and they do not care about the consequences that you and I were scared of. We both agreed.  Though there are many factors involved, I mentioned that the breakdown of the family unit is part of the problem.  Parents are divorcing and they are part and privy to the underlying cause.  I said, “Faithless people are the problem.  They should have kept their vows.  Now, look at their children.  They’re in broken homes without the love and discipline from their real parents.” And with a very serious and humble look he said to me, “You know I divorced my wife of seventeen years.  And…I wonder every single day where I went wrong.  I think about what I could have done different.  And not a day goes by….”  And, the conversation became very quiet.  I felt horrible, like I had shoved my criticizing finger in his chest.  And I realized one thing that I’ll never forget – People condemn themselves and they don't need my help.  Their own sin always haunts them.  I don’t need to point the finger at them.  They do it themselves.  It’s my job to speak the truth with grace because:

“ ‘Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you.  Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God and the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the LORD God of Hosts” (Jeremiah 2:19).

Jesus was full of truth and grace.  He exposed sin, as we should, but He never left it at that.  He was loving, graceful, and imparted the excitement about how God’s mercy endures forever so that lives could be healed and restored.  He didn’t condemn – They do that themselves.  He exposed sin for the purpose of getting people right with God.  He did it with love.  Friends, speak the truth with grace.  You’ll actually keep your audience.  You’ll be effective.

Jeremiah 11:14

So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out because of their trouble.

“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life – for those who commit sin not leading to death.  There is sin leading to death.  I do not say that he should pray about that” (1st John 5:16). 

There is a point in time when a city or a person or a nation becomes so depraved that God will no longer hear their prayers.  There’s a time when the Spirit of God stops striving with them and drawing them to repentance because they’ve rejected Him over and over again.  He knows their heart.  He knows that they are just playing games with Him.  

I believe we are in this time, if not rapidly approaching this time – at least some of us are.  In such a short interval of time, I look at how fast the nation has instituted, imputed, and implemented laws that are contrary to His heart and mind.  As I read through Jeremiah, I see that none of these ideologies ever entered into His heart.  And if God doesn’t judge us – then He owes every other nation He destroyed an apology.  Why?  Because we have instituted, imputed, and implemented every act and law which they’ve committed to their destruction and devastation.  God wiped them off the map.  And, we know God is just and fair. 

I look out my front door and see every evil thing.  Right now, this very moment, there are cities in which disease-infecting prostitutes rove up and down the streets all day and night, drugs are legalized and celebrated by everyone (especially the working class), schools allow children to fellowship concerning satanic principles every day and because of law, cannot stop their unruly behavior, abortion and homosexuality are tolerated and accepted as a right and an alternative, adultery isn’t illegal, violence and immorality rule television waves, pornography is accessible by children on the internet and quietly rules the internet waves, and scoffing-snarky people are en-vogue because of the mores (customs) in society which tell us that’s how we should be – And God has made one thing very clear about a nation, or person, or city that has become depraved to the point of no return – Let him who is wicked, be wicked still; not even prayer will work.  The Lord just won’t hear it.

You just can’t minister to them.  You can’t pray for them.  They just don’t want it!  They agape-love their evil.  They are obstinate till death.  They are hardened in their sin.


“ ‘He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.  And behold I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End, the First and the Last.’  Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates of the city.  But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:11-15).  My city is not right.  Yours probably isn’t either.  Maybe you too are weary of seeing all the filth around you.  But there’s coming a day when we will enter into the heavenly city.  All that causes an offense won’t be there – They’ll get fenced off into outer darkness.  He is coming quickly – So don’t ride the fence!  Be hot or cold for Him! Don’t be lukewarm!  Those who are lukewarm He will spew out of His mouth with the rest of the city’s filth!  Keep fencing off the devil with the word of God!  Be righteous still!  Oh Jesus, come soon!  Hosanna….

Jeremiah 12:5

If you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?

In other words, God is saying, “Hey, I sent a trial your way and it wasn’t very hard – But you didn’t pass it.  What will you do when I send the real tests your way?”  If you cave-in during the weak battles, you are surely to buckle and fall when serious spiritual warfare and temptations come your way.

God knows where each one of us are in our walk with Him.  He knows just how much we can take before we give-in and crash.  Through experience I’ve discovered that God trains each one of us to become warriors for Him.  As a young Christian I would childishly think, “Boy, I’ve resisted temptation for ten minutes now.  This sure is tough, but I know that the Bible says, ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you,’ so I hope this ends in a couple more minutes” – And God met me there.  He lifted the trial and I went my way rejoicing.  Then I found temptations and testings can last more than a few minutes.  Our battles against sin and resisting temptations and seductions can last for days or four weeks or, as Jesus was tempted, for forty-days.  The trials become more and more intense as we become seasoned and mature in our walk with the Lord.  Jeremiah is saying, “This is the easy stuff, just wait until the floods of ungodliness try your mind and flesh – That’s when the real war takes place.”  Be strong.  Don’t be childish in your thinking.  Don’t falter in times of trouble.  Have a heart that is willing to forego your own plans so that you can do some serious forty-day-battles with the enemy.  It won’t last forever.

And, it won’t last longer than the temptations of Jesus.  Gear up for the big forty-day trial.  Don’t buckle.  Don’t cave in!

Jeremiah 13:17

But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’S flock has been taken captive.

Jeremiah loved the people he ministered to.  He wept bitterly for them, yet they rejected him.  He didn’t have one single convert.  He is known as the “Weeping Prophet.”  Now, there’s a prevalent saying in society, especially in religious circles.  It goes something like, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Take that doctrine.

Crumple it up into a little ball.

And throw it in the wastebasket.

Jeremiah loved his people and they rejected him. 

Now look at Jonah in contrast.

Instead of the Weeping Prophet we have the “Reluctant Prophet.”  He borderline hated the people he ministered to.  He wanted to see them destroyed.  He wanted God to judge and rain fire and brimstone on them so much so that he cozied up under a vine-tree to get front row seats and watch God destroy them.  And when He didn’t, he complained about it!  Ha ha.  I love Jonah!  But guess what?  They all repented and sought the LORD!  He borderline hated his audience because he knew how evil the Ninevites were, yet they all responded in repentance...and reprisal, retribution, and recompense were remiss.

Now, if you will notice with me:

I used the phrase, “Borderline hated the people,” because I’m convinced of one thing:  If you love your audience, which I hope you do…or if you dislike the prideful people you are ministering to – If you are called to minister to them, you are always walking in love towards them. 

“But God, they hate me and I think, quite frankly, I want to see them destroyed” – God would say, "Go, My way is love.  I didn’t ask for your opinion or feelings about them.  If you don’t you’ll have a whale of a tail of trouble."

Now whether you are a Jeremiah or Jonah in the matter, it doesn’t completely matter.  Be an Ezekiel.  It’s Ezekiel who would say, “God, whether they respond or reject me it doesn’t matter.  I did what You asked me to.  My hands are clean.

And you will be walking in love – the most excellent way!

Jeremiah not only cared for the people of Judah, but had compassion enough to weep bitterly for them.  He loved the people he ministered to.  It’s a lesson for me.  Every time I read through Jeremiah, I have a whole new outlook on life.  I get a whole new attitude, that is, I don’t expect anyone to come around when I preach.  I expect to be rejected by everyone, yet must still obey God’s call to minister, though this attitude usually goes away until the next time I read Jeremiah. It’s our job as Christians to minister the Word of the Lord – come what may.  Whether they reject us or repent is conducive and contingent upon their response to the work of the Spirit.  It’s God’s business.  Our hands are clean.  And God knows I love my audience  tough crowd or not!  

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

We are told to follow our hearts, and we should.  The problem is that the things in our heart may be wrong, which is why we are told to circumcise our hearts.  In other words, not everything in your heart is right.  For the most part, we do follow our hearts and it is right, yet some endeavors and aspirations must be cut off.

Solomon was awesome.  He had a heart for everything.  If you started talking about bugs and science he would go crazy about it and talk about it all night.  If you started speaking about paper-clips he would probably be interested in that.  Why?  He had a heart for everything and it was as large as the sands of the seashore, but that was his downfall because his heart clung to the wrong women in love.  He should have circumcised or cut off those heart’s desires.  We need to limit our hearts to the things which are acceptable to God.  We bring our heart’s desires to the Lord in prayer.  We filter them through the word of God and the Holy Spirit.  We may have a heart for it, but it could be deceitful and desperately wicked.  The Holy Spirit helps us in those gray areas.

Apart from God’s word…

Aside from prayer…

Aloof from the guiding of the Holy Spirit…

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).

The key to following a pure heart that is approved and acceptable to God is to delight thyself in Him.  Delight thyself in the LORD and He shall give you the desires of your heart, because you are in alignment with His heart (See Psalm 37:4).  If we are not delighting in the Lord, our hearts can lead us into all kinds of strange places.  When we are close to Him, He puts those desires in our heart!  We can surely follow our heart without concern of being caught up in a deceitful and desperately wicked way.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Jeremiah spoke of the days in which our hearts would be changed because the word of God would be written on our hearts and our minds, and according to Hebrews those days are now (Hebrews 10:16).  The Spirit of the Living God dwells in our heart! 

Jeremiah 22:21

I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, “I will not hear.”  This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey My voice.

Jacob was left alone when a Man wrestled with him all night and did not prevail.  The Man was God.  This is intriguing to me because God said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”  Then Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.”  Usually when wrestling with God in prayer, we give up first – Not Jacob.  He was going to catch the blessing even if he had to go days wrestling with God through something.  That’s what we ought to do, that is, keep agonizing through a matter until the blessing comes.  God did indeed answer his request.  He blessed Jacob (See Genesis 32:24-32).

“So, God made him famous and rich?”  Nay.

“He gave him health, vitality, and unattainable wisdom?”  Nope.

“So what’s this great blessing that God gave him?”

He crippled him.

Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life.  He was utterly broken and dependent on the Lord – And that was the blessing.  How is that for an answer to your prayers?  You pray and ask God to bless you and He breaks your hip.  See, we do not see brokenness as a blessing, but God is concerned about our eternal-spiritual state more than our present comforts.  When things are good, many of us just don’t seek and depend on Him like we would if we were desperate for Him.  So, He rolls a trial our way to bring us back.  Or, He rolls a health-situation or problem our way to test and try our faithfulness to Him.  He sends financial drama our way to keep us close.  Though it doesn’t seem likely to most of us, if we are given everything with ease, we could soon go astray; That is the case with the best and worst of them throughout scriptures.  For example, I think about Rehoboam the son of David who was established in his kingdom, and as soon as he was set up, forsook the LORD after a couple of years of following Him.  David, his grandfather, was set up and prospering in his palace when he took a nose-dive off the balcony.  He pointed his nose in the wrong direction and fell.  When he was out fighting the LORD’S battles, he was desperate for the LORD.  He was just a step away from disaster, like many of us.  He was on the edge of a knife and on the verge of losing it all, but he was exciting and producing some awesome stories.  So if you are fortunate enough to be prosperous, stay close to Him, but beware lest you forget the LORD your God.  The sin of Sodom was pride, fullness of food, and an abundance of idleness (See Ezekiel 16:49); They were prosperous and stopped obeying the voice of the LORD. 

When we were broken we made some serious prayers and cries for help.  Now, in our prosperity it is high time to wrestle through situations with the same endurance and tenacity, and let not the distractions of our prosperity cloud-out His voice as they did in Jeremiah’s day.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,” says the LORD, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Who was this promise given to?

A rebellious, stubborn and sinful people.

Which, makes it an awesome, beautiful, and treasured scripture for you and me who are seeking the Lord.  Though these men and women have messed up their lives and are being judged as a result thereof, Jeremiah always tapers his doom and gloom message with nuances of hope and redemption – He is saying that there is a way out of all the mess you’ve gotten yourselves into – There’s hope. 

When discussing broken marriages, or destroyed lives through bad decisions for whatever reasons, some of the most profound and pithy-encouraging verses spring out from Jeremiah; such as a life that has been marred and ruined by our own doing – It can still be refashioned as a piece of marred and mangled clay (See Jeremiah 18:6) – That’s good news for us.  And, in Jeremiah there’s an awesome exhortation to call upon the LORD for answers and to discover the great and mighty wonders He has in store for us; stuff we haven't even fathomed or dreamed of (See Jeremiah 33:3).  And, the wonderful promise that makes posters and promise boxes throughout the world, as it should, comes from Jeremiah, “ ‘For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,’ says the LORD, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ ”  And, finally, the clincher:  “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying, ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’ ” (Jeremiah 31:3).  And He has, through Jesus Christ, by using terms such as everlasting, eternal, and ever-existing life from eternity to eternity and from the ages to the ages forevermore to speak about the love He has for us in what He has done on the cross by satisfying the judgment meant to separate us from what eye has not seen and ear has not heard in the heavenly shangri-la – That’s everlasting love. 

In the original language, the language puts a shade of beauty into the imagery used to paint the picture of “everlasting love.”  It’s from "ionion to ionion," that is, from the ages to the ages and all eternity.  The word “Everlasting” is ionion and it literally means, “Vanishing Point!”  It is a term used for the existence of Jesus who is indeed everlasting love (Micah 5:2).

Jeremiah 29:28

For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, “This captivity is long; build houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit.”

Jesus said to “Occupy until I come.”  We have to be busy doing something while we are here for our seventy or eighty years.  Stay preoccupied with the joy of your heart, but know that for whatever you do, God will judge you for your works – So keep evil far from you.  Jeremiah said, “Look, you are going to be here for seventy years.  Seek the peace of the city you are in because in its peace you will have peace.  Build houses, plant gardens, and eat the fruit.”

Since we are here for seventy or eighty years, we build ourselves up in our most holy faith, we sow spiritual seed in His gardens, and we have to bear the fruits of the Spirit or else our time is going to be harsh, sorrowful, and bitter.  We all have to put in our seventy years in a fallen world, they can either be filled with sorrow and anguish and grief or we can be blessed and have a smoother ride for our seventy or eighty years – Though no one’s ride is easy.  I’m choosing to sow spiritual seeds and build myself up in the most holy faith, I know you are too.  I’m going to take Jeremiah’s advice and choose not to rebel against the King, but embrace my time here because I know God is bringing me back.  I’m going to heaven.  We’re going to heaven.  So, we must occupy until He comes and make the best of it.

When mankind fell in the garden, we forfeited our glorified lives and allowed death and decay into the world.  We gave up our eternal and everlasting existence for a mere and meager mortality of seventy or eighty years.  When we ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we shortened our being to seventy, or eighty years, if by strength (See Psalm 90:10).  And yes, we would have done the same thing as Adam; we would have all been duped like Eve was deceived and brought death to all men, but thanks be to God, for in Adam all die, yet in the Last Adam all will be made alive. 

Judah had to spend seventy years in captivity.  They didn’t have a choice anymore.  They sinned, and were bearing their judgment.  We sinned too.  We have to put in our time – Our seventy or eighty.  The good news is that Jesus is coming back or, if we aren’t caught up in the rapture, we are headed off to heaven!  One way or the other – We are out of here!  We are leaving Babylon and the spirit will return to God Who gave it.  “For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word towards you, and cause you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).  We are off to our heavenly city, the New Jerusalem.

 Jeremiah 31:9

 For I am a Father to Israel and Ephraim is My firstborn.

God refers to Ephraim as His firstborn.  Was Ephraim a firstborn son?  No, Manasseh was. Ephraim was number two.  God refers to David being His firstborn in Psalm 89:27 saying, “I have chosen David My firstborn.”  Was David a firstborn?  No, he was son number eight….  

“Firstborn” does not mean firstborn in the Bible.  It means “first in rank” or “chief.”  It’s the Greek word Prototokos which has caused a lot of confusion for many.

There are those today who will come to your door saying, “Jesus is the firstborn of all creation.”  -They’ll say Jesus is a created being because He’s the firstborn of all creation.  To that I’d simply say, "Jesus always was, He’s the I Am.  Before Abraham was I Am" (John 8:58).  It was Micah who hit the nail on the head when he said, “But from you, oh Bethlehem are not the least of the rulers of Judah.  For from you shall come forth a Ruler whose goings forth are from of old, even from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).  Jesus was not created, He always was.  Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting.  And John knocked it out the park also when he said, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  In the beginning the Word was already there!  How long had He already been there? -From everlasting!

Firstborn does not mean firstborn…it means chief, ruler, first in rank, pre-eminence, etc.  When looking at the term firstborn in this light I have no problem referring to My Jesus as a firstborn.  He is the firstborn of all creation pre-existing even His own humanistic embodiment.  

Jeremiah 33:3

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

We have not, because we ask not.  Jeremiah is exhorting and encouraging a people, who haven’t lived up to the standards of God, to call upon Him and discover the great and mighty things He has in store for them.  The same wonderful exhortation and encouragement is meant for us too.  My problem is that I forget that God is so much bigger than my thinking and I get tunnel vision.  I get religious.  I forget this verse and, when I hear it, I am refreshed and reminded that I have a mighty God who wants to lead me on some wild adventures.  Boredom is a lie.  It is a momentary passing thought in the wind.  Our walk with Him has always been exciting and dynamic – Just look back. 

I just have to call upon Yahweh and ask Him to show me great and mighty things that I know not.  You do too.  We sometimes go through the motions.  We put God in a box – We forget that there is a lot more in store for those who love Him.  Call to Him.  Ask.  Grab the abundant life that God has in store by the horns and ride it like a champion. 

Be Spirit filled.


Apart from the leading of the Spirit, every man who grabbed life by the horns – Got chucked. 

Somewhere along the lines he beefed it up. 

God knows a better way, and He will lead us down that path if we let Him.  His plans are plans to give us a future and a hope (See Jeremiah 29:11) and they are better than anything we’ve formulated because His thinking is eternally beyond ours.  “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You” (Psalm 139:17-18). 

So, that indicates to me something big:  That He has pondered every possible way my life can turn out and chose the best path for me!  His ways are not our ways, nor are our paths His paths, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).  He picked out the best possible path and will lead me down it by the Holy Spirit; I just have to forego my ideas and perceptions as to what my life should look like and follow His pre-calculated greater-than-the-sands-of-the-seashore plan for my life.  We relax our clenched hands and rest in His will, not ours.  “Anyone who wishes to keep his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (See Luke 9:24).

Jeremiah 39:7

Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes in Riblah; the king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah.

And after he killed his sons, he put out his eyes – How is that for the last image you see?  To watch your sons die and then go blind!  What a horror.  It didn’t have to be this way for Zedekiah.  He had the opportunity to keep himself, his children, and his wives safe by simply surrendering to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon.  Zedekiah didn’t want to obey the Word of The LORD and it affected every other person around him, including his family.

Dad, if you want to see your family safe and blessed – Keep yourself right with God.  Your family will rejoice as a by-product of your faith.

Mom, if you wish for your children to dwell securely and prosperously in the land – You be obedient to the Word of the LORD.

“If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon…you and your house shall live” (Jeremiah 38:17).  I wonder if this is a word for someone today – Surrender to the King and, you and your household shall be saved, they'll be secure and dwell safely.  Is there someone or something you are fighting with?  Like Zedekiah, maybe you should give up or you'll be blinded by the darkness? Is there an issue you are wrestling with that God has told you has a bitter ending – Give it up – Surrender to the King of Kings.  You’ll be saved. Your family will thank you for it.

It’s one of the most profound-tried-and-true doctrines.  You can bank on this one:  Keep yourself and everything else falls right into place!  When Paul was in jail and singing praises at midnight, the entire prison shook with an earthquake and the doors swung open.  Yet, none of the prisoners escaped because they were so enthralled and enamored with the glory of the LORD enthroned in the praises of Paul and Silas, that they just sat there.  The guard believed that every prisoner ran away and was about to commit suicide because in ancient Rome there was a law that stated: “Your life for their life, if any escape.”  And as the jailer was about to stab himself, Paul cried out, “Do yourself no harm.”  Then the jailer said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved.”  Then, one of the most profound doctrines ever recorded came out of this earthquaked-broken jail cell: Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

We’ll never know until heaven just how much we influence and affect one another.  Keep yourself and everyone else is blessed forever and ever – You and yours will be saved.

Jeremiah 41:9

Now the pit into which Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain, because of Gedaliah, was the same one Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel.  Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain.

When we dig holes in the flesh we, or someone, is surely going to fall into them.  Flesh begets flesh.  See, Asa was in the flesh when he dug that hole.  He wasn’t trusting the LORD.  God had given him a mighty victory over a million-man army of Ethiopians led by Zerah – But now he is living in fear.  Asa is petrified scared of Baasha the king Israel.  He fears that he must flee from him and hide in a ditch somewhere, thus this pit of refuge from Baasha was cowardly created and sadly constructed.  He didn’t need it.  He just annihilated a million-man army being drastically outnumbered against his three-hundred thousand men (See 2nd Chronicles 14:9).  God gave him a mighty victory.

We can all fall into this trap.  We have a mighty victory where God came through for us. 

Then, we begin to wonder, “Will God do it again?”  When another menacing trouble arises – We panic.

We begin to dig holes here and make plans there that were never of the LORD.

One attribute of God’s character is faithfulness.  God comes through for us and does it over and over again.  He takes us from glory to greater glory – As long as we trust Him.  He won't stop!  David was a man who knew this.  Samuel declares, “So David went on and became great, and the LORD God of Hosts was with him” (2nd Samuel 5:10).  There’s a Hebrew phrase that I love.  It says, “And David kept on going and growing...,” which is the true and better rendering of “David went on and became great and the LORD God of Hosts was with him.”  He kept on trusting the LORD.  He didn’t dig his own holes in cowardice and fear  And won giant victory after giant victory.

Ishmael, this murderous man, began to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar’s rule and conveniently used Asa’s pit to cast innocent men into.  Asa actually aided Ishmael's cause.  Asa dug his own hole as a refuge from the enemy, and Ishmael (A type of the flesh in Scripture) used it  While David used the hole (Or the stronghold) that God gave him, and delivered his enemy into his hand!

And God did it again.    

“God, You paid the bills this month.  Thank you.  But I’m almost out of funds for this next one.  The bills are stacking up again.  Are You coming through?”  And God will provide, as He always has kept us afloat.  Yet, if He doesn’t, then let the ship sink.  He will do a new thing – And it will be awesome!  

Jeremiah 52:6

By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.

Houses are burning, children are starving to death and dashed to pieces, the famine is critical, the plague and the sword have destroyed everyone else. 

And where is Jeremiah in all this?

Notice with me:

“Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, “Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you” (Jeremiah 39:11-12).

Now Nebuzaradan and Jeremiah are talking.   Nebuzaradan says, “It happened just like you said it would.  You people sinned against the LORD and all this doom was pronounced against you.  But look, this day I free you from the chains that are on you.  You do not have to come to Babylon with me.  You can stay here if you like, or go anywhere in Israel you want; unless you want to come to Bablyon and I will look after you?” (See Jeremiah 40:1-5).

“…So the captain of the guard gave him rations and a gift and let him go” (Jeremiah 40:5).


Jeremiah is blessed in all this! 

Children are begging for bread and dying in their mother’s bosom, while Jeremiah is receiving gifts and food – And the opportunity to move into beach-front property in Israel! 

As an outside observer, I get the feeling that the Babylonians both love and favor Jeremiah.  They want to hang out with him at Starbucks-Babylon and just chat.  You can feel Nebuzaradan’s loving favor glowing off the pages of Scripture.

God takes care of His own; from the Old Testament judgments  When He pronounced disaster and destruction on Egypt, and tenderly loving and protecting Israel through it all – To the New Testament, where judgment circumvents all of us who are believers and falls on the Son in our stead.  Now, in that day when doom and death falls, we will be kept safe.  We’ve passed from death to life!  When the disaster and destruction comes, we, like Jeremiah, are going to be blessed in all this – Thank you Jesus!

Lamentations 2:9

Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars.  Her king and her princes are among the nations; the Law is no more, and her prophets find no vision from the LORD.

When the prophet doesn’t receive a vision from the LORD,

Or when you and I don’t hear from Him…

It should definitely be a concern.

And though God is not a chatterbox, it’s nothing to be dismissed or taken casually.

When I do not hear from the Lord, and when I do not have a dream or a vision, I become concerned.  I know His overall heart based on the written Word of God, but when I am not receiving a specific answer or vision or impression, it could be a direct result of sin or God’s displeasure with something in my life–as it was for them in Jeremiah’s day–though I do not believe we should always think like this.  God can be quiet with me and I do not quickly resort to thinking that I have done something wrong or that I have committed some sin–nor should you–it’s unhealthy.  Our entire walk with Him is by faith.

God is good.

And He is good to us even when we are off,

And He will show Himself wonderful to us when we remove the flesh –

When Abraham was meddling with Hagar, who was the epitome of the flesh (Galatians 4:23), God didn’t give him a word for thirteen years (Genesis 16:16-17:1).  Yet, though God was quiet with him, He once again comes to him with a reminder of the covenant that he will be blessed forever.  And as a reminder, He will give him circumcision–a sign that if he would remove the flesh from himself and his family, God would bless him forever.  Friends, walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Remove fleshly and carnal ways from your life and you will clearly hear from Him.  A silence from above is always a prayer worthy matter!  But what matter isn’t!

Lamentations 3:25

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.”

  There’s no way around it.  We gotta go through it!  Yes, I’m talking about the fire!  I’m talking about trials, trouble, tests, and tough times of tribulation-Whew!  This is probably no revelation to the seasoned saint, but it is only in the fire like unto Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego that we see the fourth person, the Son of God clearly.  And the Nebuchadnezzars in our life marvel, wonder, and decree that Yahweh is God (Daniel 3).  Peter mentioned, “Our faith is of greater worth than gold though it is refined in the fire” (1st Peter 1:7).  He spoke about these difficult tests we go through as “fiery” trials that burn!  Oh, and they do!

  Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it, because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and only few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  I think, however, there is something that we often forget, and, that is that our light affliction is but for a moment. 'Sure doesn’t seem like it, but it will pass; it always does and the outcome is: you’ll be stronger, shinier, and your soul will once again return to its rest! So, “let us not be weary in well doing, for at the proper time we shall reap if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).  Usually "well doing" entails simply waiting...sitting at His feet and waiting.  Wait upon the LORD!  Wait, I say!

Lamentations 3:38

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well being proceed? 

Everything we want; everything we expect; every little thing we are hoping for, comes from Him.  So why do we search our own minds and hearts so desperately to secure our own well being?  With a single word of His mouth, God can say, “Well-being!” and it is done.  You’re blessed from every angle!  And, the antithesis is true.  God can say, “Woe!” 

In light of this most wonderful and scary fact, “My times are in thy hand” (Psalm 31:15).

Petition the One who authors wonder and blessing into our lives from His mouth.  We have not because we ask not!  So ask and keep asking!  It’s not selfish; we don’t ask enough!

I was counseling an individual who rejected all my counsel.  He was married for over twenty years and he began living very sinful.  He brought his wife into his sin.  And as sin destroys everything good, his marriage was now on the rocks.  So, he came to me very worried about how he was going to once again secure his marriage.  I, of course, shared with him the word of the LORD.  I said, “The fear of the wicked will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted” (Proverbs 10:34).  Then I mentioned a Psalm, “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).  I said, "Everything you want comes from Him.  So stop searching your own mind and heart, and get the heart of God on the matter.  Why don’t you come with us, we will give you more counsel and we can fellowship?”  He said, “No, I think it is more beneficial that I stay here.”  I said, “Whatever.”  Just kidding, I agreed, knowing he should have come with us.  Anyways, he didn’t listen.  He became hooked on drugs and his wife shacked up with some other dude.  He now lives at his ex-wife’s mother’s house.  Yes, with her mom.  It’s pretty weird if you ask me.  But that’s how these things go if you and I choose to not seek the LORD.  His mouth can perform all of our expectations in a single word.

Ask Yahweh to pronounce well being in every aspect of your life!  With simple words of His mouth He can change everything!  We have not because we ask not! – Well being!

Bring Yahweh into your marriage, your parenting, your social life, your work, your hobbies – Well being!

Or we can, in a desperate attempt to make things work, end up living at our mother-in-law’s in hopes that our ex will one day return – Woe!

Or we can constantly update our social media pages to make our lives seem more exciting than they really are in a desperate attempt and hope that the one-that-got-away will maybe look at it – Woe!

If you and I are looking anywhere except God for well being – Woe!  We’re barking up the wrong tree!  Look up!  Everything we really want comes from Him!

Ezekiel 1:10

As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of the lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle.

I find it very interesting that the temple, the lampstand, the altar, the cherubim, the veil, and so forth, all had heavenly realities.  When Jesus came and offered up His blood, He sanctified the heavenly temple, lampstand, altar, and veil.  It is a mystery, but Hebrews tells us, “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things with better sacrifices” (Hebrews 9:23).  The author of Hebrews was saying that the high priest sanctifies the earthly temple, which are copies of the heavenly realities, with animal blood.  Jesus, our High Priest, sanctifies the heavenly temple with His own blood.  He went on to say that Jesus sanctifies the heavenly things with a better sacrifice.

There was an item in the temple that I would like us to look at further – The cherubim or the face of a cherub.

I believe that as we walk in the Spirit that we too can take on these faces.  At any given time, we put on one of these faces as the Spirit leads. Since we are the temple, it’s an earthly reality of the heavenly faces we take:

The man face is the face we usually put on as we interact with others.  It’s the politician face, the smiling face, the debonair, the intelligent-bright graceful face.  That’s the face we should commonly be using to have any common ground with anyone.  “A man who has companions must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24).

The lion face is second.  This is the face of human reality.  Without a bunch of wordy-nonsense, the lion face is the face used to just be real!  When a lion sits in wait, he usually has a serious and calm and bold look.  Even in a grievous situation the lion has a calmness behind his roaring mean face.  He is confident of the power he has.  As righteous men and women, we are to be as bold as lions, yet, with a deep-seated joy contributing to a calmness, a control, and a tranquility.  We are confident of the power we have backing us up!

The ox face is another very real face, but it is put on during our meditation of the word of God.  We chew, ruminate, cogitate, and soak in the understanding of new ideas and spiritual fulfillment.  ‘Tis a peaceful face, as if satiated with contentment and cascades of gentle and tender understanding of novel concepts from above – simply stated, it’s the satisfied look from receiving a touch from above.

Finally, the anointed face is the eagle’s visage: focused eyes of fire and swift abilities.  Our skills and gifts come to life during these times.  It’s when God anoints us with power and might for His glory.  Succinctly put, It’s when God lights us up to do His work.  I love this phase, or face, the most!

As we walk in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit!  As we do, we’ll put on many faces, but if there is a face to put on above all – put on the Lord Jesus! (Romans 13:14).  Act as He would!  Let that character become yours!

Ezekiel 3:17

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them a warning from Me:

“When I say to the wicked, turn from your wicked way or you shall surely die, and you do not warn them; they shall die in their wickedness, but his blood I will require at your hand; But if you warn them, whether they turn to Me or not, you will have delivered your own soul” (See Ezekiel 3:17-21).

In the Scriptures, the prophet is often hated by the recipients of his message – Which makes the mandate to be a watchman, given to men and women such as us, stewards of the mysteries of God, very challenging.  Why?  Because telling people the honest truth is an undesirable option for the person who desires to be everyone's favorite person.  A specific Word of the Lord can be  offensive and uncomfortable – And the audience can reject and hate the messenger.

How do you tell your neighbor, “I had a dream about you guys last night.  God said, ‘Your fiancé is going to leave you for another man, though you guys already have a child together – So don’t marry her.’ ” That was the job of the prophet.

First of all, you and I have to be very in tune to the Word of the Lord if we are going to say something like that – It isn’t very safe and prophecies fail (1st Corinthians 13:8).  You might be better off just giving them a Bible verse if you don’t know for sure – You can’t go wrong with the declaration of Scripture.  It is God breathed.  It is inspired.  Yet, supernatural prophecies that deal with contemporary, social, and practical happenstances occur nowadays and must not be dismissed or despised (1st Thessalonians 5:20).

But, secondly.

You probably aren’t going to be liked – But would you still declare the Rhema or specific-spoken Word of the Lord?

The Logos is the Bible – It’s the whole overall heart of God from Genesis to Revelation.  The Rhema is the spoken Word.  It is a specific Word of the Lord that deals with a practical or present situation.  Both the Logos and Rhema are translated in the English term for “Word.”  So when we read the word “Word” in the Bible it is either the Greek word “Logos” or “Rhema.” 

The watchman stands guard on the city tower and warns the people of an impending danger that is coming on the horizon.  In essence, that is the function of a prophet.  Many Christians may flippantly take the office of a watchman or teacher or prophet for themselves, but must whole heartedly realize that many of us should not become teachers, for we shall receive the stricter judgment – When Ezekiel was installed into the office as a watchman, the glory of the Lord fell upon him and the Spirit entered him.  Then, God said, “And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them” (Ezekiel 3:25). 

The prophet or the dreamer isn’t always everyone’s favorite person – But he or she must be faithful in declaring the truth with grace!  A true prophet uncovers sin (Lamentations 2:14) to bring back captive people!  Jesus was full of truth and grace! 

Ezekiel 6:9

Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they were carried away captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations.

As a more seasoned saint, I utterly loathe myself and cringe when I think about my life without Jesus.  Through the grace of God, He was merciful to me because I didn’t know Him – And He was merciful to my transgressions when I did know Him.  I broke His heart – So did you.  He was crushed by our departure from Him, when we despised the commandment and went our own way.  He was grieved for us because He knew what sorrow, anguish, and grief would come from our sin.

Now, there are those who will come to your door under the guise and banner of being noted as “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” who will say, “The Holy Spirit is not a person, it is an energy like electricity,” when the Bible specifically teaches that the Lord is the Spirit (2nd Corinthians 3:17).  He is a person.  And, you can break His heart as you could to your spouse or those closest to you.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

Last time I checked,

I couldn’t grieve electricity.

Ezekiel 8:3

He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem….

As a preface, I believe this insertion is an imperative prelude to the following explication of Ezekiel’s vision.  Originally my notes and schematics for the structure of this devotion were to pen concerning Ezekiel’s being grabbed by the hair and “Scruffed” – About how God needs to get our attention by lovingly-scruffing us as lions do, in order to remove us from some impending danger or adverse circumstance.  And, though it seems cruel, at least that is what I believed when I first perceived animals in the Genus Panthera carrying their babes this way, I later realized it wasn’t – They were grabbed, carried away, and taken in love.

In this particular vision, God grabs Ezekiel by the locks of his hair and lifts him up to get another perspective concerning the evil and idolatrous practices of a sinful people.  And, though I am reluctant to write this – It was pornographically heinous – The seat of the image of jealousy and reference to the obscene fertility goddess Tammuz completely clarify their abominable actions.  Before God lifted him up, Ezekiel didn’t completely see what horribly heinous acts were being committed in Jerusalem – But that is what is really going on behind closed doors on computer monitors and on the television screens.  We just don’t see it.

After God lifted him up, He said to Ezekiel, “Have you seen this, O son of man?  Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here?  For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger.  Indeed they put the branch to their nose” (Ezekiel 8:17).  In other words, “You’re about to destroy yourself.  Your standing on a stool, the rope is tied around your neck, and your nose is to the branch that you will hang from – So watch what is hanging from your wall – Or, rather, don’t watch it!

Like most of us, we haven’t had the extra perspective that Ezekiel had – Until now.  Ezekiel did his best to describe the images on the walls that continually flood our houses with blatantly immoral images and perpetual violence.


God’s final word was:

“Ok, if you like violence, I too will act in furious violence.  I won’t spare you or have pity.  And, worst of all, I won’t hear your prayers” (Ezekiel 8:18). 

Don’t be blind to what is going on in the outside world – Speak against it.  Don’t ignore the immoral hints and violent acts that fill the land – Act against it  Don’t display them from your walls or computer screens or whatever it may be.  

You have hereby been scruffed in the Spirit.

Your eyes are open to the insidious and immoral evils that are out there – In all the houses, in their inner rooms.

Don’t be part and privy to it – Remove the unwholesome images or break them if you have to. 

‘Prey’ on them, so in turn, God will hear your prayers – If you will.


Go get ‘em tiger.

Ezekiel 12:23

Tell them therefore, “Thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ ” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision.”

There was a proverb in Israel that stated, “The days are prolonged and every vision fails.”  They began to despise prophecies.  They didn’t believe the impending Word of the Lord because of the prolonged time duration before the fulfillment of the judgment or the vision or prophecy.  They didn’t truly believe that God would make good on His Word.  Nothing is going to happen – They errantly thought.

Fast forward about two thousand, six-hundred years or so.  In our day and age, we dwell in the midst of a widespread culture that perpetuates the same snarky and cynical attitude – Knowing this: “That scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2nd Peter 3:4).

When reading through end times matters or eschatological events such as the rapture, the tribulation, Armageddon, judgment, and the new heavens and the new earth, many can wonder how these events are near or close at hand.  After all, John the Apostle mentioned in Revelation that “The time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3).

That was roughly two-thousand years ago. 

Yet, the phrase “At hand” or “Near” comes from the Greek word “En-gus.”  It’s where we get our present day term “Tachometer” or more accurately, to squeeze a throttle or rev an engine.  In other words, when you see end times things starting to be fulfilled according to Scripture – Then it will begin to happen, and it will happen fast.  Similar to pressing hard on the fuel pedal and the car begins to accelerate, even somewhat slowly at first, but in a second or two, the tachometer pins and that car is flying.  It’s the same idea.

When things start going bad – They are going to go bad fast.

When I look around at society I see prevalent evil snow-balling and gaining rapid momentum.

When I was first told this idea concerning the end coming quickly; not necessarily referring to an impending time frame, but rather a course of events all subsequently happening at once, I must confess that I was skeptical – Until I did the math.  Truly the phrase “The time is at hand,” means to squeeze an engine throttle and accelerate rapidly.  What is remarkable about this entire concept is that when we take note concerning the progress of the world’s disposition as it relates to prophecy, vision, and eschatological events or end times things – Something is about to birth.  Things are moving quickly and are falling into place in order to usher humanity into a new age, the end of the age.

Ezekiel 15:6

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

God is good.  He does not keep His anger forever.  Though fire and destruction type prophets proclaim and preach doom and gloom messages, we know, through the full counsel of God, that God will have mercy on the lowly and humble, and on the sinner who turns from his wicked way – He will not retain His burning indignation forever.  He will have mercy on us.

Though Ezekiel’s message is startling.

We just keep reading.

“And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it” (Ezekiel 17:24).

God has His eye on the underdog, to give him his shot.  He is just eagerly waiting for someone to step up and out of their mediocrity so that He can make them flourish; “That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).  And, if you are a flourishing mighty tree today – Stay rooted and grounded in Him.  Walk closely behind him.  Let nothing shake you or cut you off from the source of every blessing.  “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:21).

Ezekiel 18:20

The soul who sins shall die.  The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

In Ezekiel’s day there was a saying that was going around that God wasn’t buying.  It said, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.  ‘As I live’ says the LORD God, ‘you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel’ ” (Ezekiel 18:2-3).

In other words, since my daddy was a bad sinner, I have to suffer for it – which is completely false.  Each man or woman is completely responsible for his or her own actions.  This is very important because in society today we meet all kinds of people with a sob story about how they are like this because their daddy did this or mommy neglected them there – they need to move on.  God gives every man differing opportunities and chances that have nothing to do with mommy and daddy.  Our own actions result in life or death, and that is Ezekiel’s argument in totality.  The soul who sins shall surely die and the soul who lives and follows after righteousness shall surely live.  I’ve discovered that the more one sins, the more of a sob story they have about their upbringing. 

I met one dude who said, “I just didn’t do good in school because my mom always made me stay home and clean the house.” –Ha ha ha ha – Get over it!  Go to adult school.

Or, you’ll hear, “My daddy was a drug addict so I’m addicted too.” – Ha ha ha ha – Move on!  Read your Bible and learn how to master your flesh.

But Mike, “What about generational curses in Exodus 20:5?”  Oh, you mean where it says, “…I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me?”  My answer is very simple – when was it ever bad to have the LORD visit iniquity?  He never said He would punish the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.  You want the LORD to visit your children!

God does not want to hear you speaking to others negatively about your plight due to unfortunate upbringing and slander your mother and father.  Honor your mother and father no matter who they are and what you think they’ve done to you.  It is the first commandment with a promise attached to it.  It will be well with you if you do, He promises….

Ezekiel 22:30

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

Jerusalem and Samaria were committing atrocious sins.  The horror that God was about to pour out was a terror indeed.  There wasn’t one single person who was standing in the gap or interceding on behalf of a sinful people.  God is so good.  It’s almost as if He says, “Look, there is no one who is seeking My ways, but I will tell you what – If someone else does on their behalf – I will accept it.”

God accepts substitutes.

He accepted the substitutionary suffering and death of Christ on our behalf – Now we are free from the impending horror that God was about to pour out – A terror indeed.

God also accepts mediators or go-betweens or intercessors – Same thing. 

And that is what makes a mighty man or woman in God’s sight; someone who intercedes on behalf of others.  Moses knew about all the atrocious sins the children of Israel were committing and God said, “Get back Moses, I am going to wipe them out, but don’t worry, I will make you alone into a great nation.”  Then Moses said, “God don’t do it, for Your namesake.  You brought them out here and all the world will see that your people didn’t make it.”  And God relented from the disaster He had purposed for them.

Our nation, our families, the people around us are guilty of the same horrors of Ezekiel’s day.  I wonder how many of us truly stand in the gap on behalf of others – The same others who treat us like dirt and couldn’t care less about us?  I am not Moses.  I may have accepted God’s offer.  Though God has changed me, or is changing me of this desire to reign fire and brimstone upon my enemies (I think).  Now, I wonder if you had a magic button to blow every rude person off the face of the earth, would you push it or would you stand in the gap to build a wall like Jesus?  Magnificent and mighty men or women of God were noted as intercessors, not as button pushers.

Today is the day to intercede for someone; for your family, friends, strangers, or someone.

Ezekiel 28:17

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.

There are two giant key indicators that Satan fell because he became so enamored and obsessed with keeping up appearances, that he wouldn’t stop working to rise in beauty and power (Isaiah 14:12-15).  “By the abundance of his trading” (Ezekiel 28:16) and “By the iniquity of his trading” (Ezekiel 28:18).  Lucifer absolutely, ambitiously, and adamantly wouldn’t quit building himself up, and I believe with all my heart that I have seen this very scenario played out in various forms all around me.

To the present day, to make it successfully in contemporary society, one has to work unceasingly to make his little kingdom fluid.  Though there is nothing wrong with diligence and hard work, there may be a move of the Spirit that certain individuals will not follow for the sake of a paycheck, the necessity to ‘make it,’ or to keep up aesthetic appearances–and that’s where Satan fell.  It seems that, through this very interesting text in Ezekiel twenty-eight concerning the fall of Lucifer, we can learn a monumental lesson from the error of one who was “The seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). 

When God says to let go–let go.  We aren’t here to please ourselves, but to please God.  Be willing to forego your own splendor and appearances for the sake of your wisdom, if needs be.  Men and women have utterly destroyed themselves and divided their families–as Satan destroyed himself and took one-third of the angels with him–from over-working to make a solid heavenly kingdom with himself as ruler.  Dearly beloved, don’t destroy the very kingdom you desire to build up because you missed a move of the Holy Spirit and just kept on workingand ignoring your lack of peace.  “How will I know if I am over-doing it?”  Soon, you will be filled with strife, then, soon enough, you will be filled with violence, and then sin will creep in…just like the age-old error of the devil (Ezekiel 28:16).  Which, seems to be a consequently-common pattern that men and women follow today. 

Ezekiel 33:32

Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but do not do them.

Ezekiel was the ‘rock and roll’ preacher of his day.  Everyone talked about how awesome his preaching was saying, “This guys is awesome, you ‘gotta’ hear him preach.  Please come with me.”  So they would gather before him and sit through his teaching, and when the message was over they would say, “Wow Ezekiel, that was perfect.  Thank you for that Word.  It really ministered to my heart.”  They would show much love.  But when they went home they didn’t allow the Word of the LORD to change them.  They heard it.  They agreed with it.  But they did not perform it.

Today, take a verse out of the myriads of verses you fill yourself with and pointedly do it with diligence and intentionality. 


Because we can all fall into this trap, especially people like you and me who love the Word of the Lord.  We finish our daily devotion and possibly take in a church message and say, “Wow, Lord, that message was a masterpiece.”  We hear it.  We agree with it.  But that isn’t the same as doing it.

It is such a good idea, in the midst of all the Bible reading and sermon listening, to actually grab a verse and really analyze it, and ask yourself, “Am, I really doing this one?”  Today, in your endless consumption of the Word of the Lord, stop and really try to carry one out to fruition.  Why?  Because “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (John 13:17).

Ezekiel 37:4

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the Word of the LORD!’ ”

Many scholars today believe that Ezekiel’s prophecy refers to the Jewish State of Israel reforming after being dead-desolate, and dry for two millenniums.  On May 14th, 1948, Israel became a nation after 2000 years of being dissipated, disseminated, and dispersed throughout gentile nations.  Truly, it is an interesting miracle:  Throughout world historicity, no other nation has been able to keep its culture, ethnic significance, and bloodline virtually un-amalgamated without assimilating to the surrounding nations.  Jews are extremely serious about retaining a perfectly-pure pristine personage, posterity, and people–they always have.  It had to be that way for the Messiah fulfill the prophecies culminating from the lineage of Judah.  This sort of non-defiled disposition towards non-Jewish interaction has resulted in the re-birthing of a nation.

Enough history...

Ezekiel was caught up into a virtually ancient cemetery full of dry bones.  He was asked, “Can these bones live?”  His answer was, “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3).  When I look around at just about all the city people who surround me; people that I interact with, I can honestly say that I believe most of them to be dead people without the Spirit of God.  I do not say that pharisaically or self righteously, they are genuinely without Jesus.  In my estimation, they are dead-dry desolate sinners.  And no, I do not feel that they can live again–but only God knows. 

And my answer should resemble Ezekiel's in verisimilitudeO Lord God, You know

Because I sure don't.

Ezekiel was commanded to declare the Word of the Lord to these dry bones saying, “Here’s what God says, 'I will cause breath to enter into you.  Your bones will rattle and come together.  I will put muscles and sinews around your bones.  Flesh and skin will cover you.  You will stand upright and become a great army ” (Ezekiel 37:1-15).  

So, the answer is:


They can live again.  

How? By preaching the Word of the Lord to those dry bones.

David’s army began as a motley rag-tag bunch of individuals that eventually became the army of the Lord!  They were renegades; distressed, discontent, and in debt (1st Samuel 22:2).  Are the people around you dead?  Open your mouth and God will fill it with the Word of life (Psalm 81:10); you may be shocked and surprised at who responds, repents, and becomes born again.  Are your bones dry?  Dive into the Word of life (Ezekiel 47:1-12).  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).  The Word of the Lord will be health to all your flesh and nourishment for your bones (Proverbs 3:8).

Ezekiel 43:24

When you offer them before the LORD, the priests shall throw salt on them, and they will offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD.

Ezekiel speaks about the millennial temple during the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth. This final, future temple will once again be rebuilt in the reign of Jesus.  The big question is, “What purpose does the temple serve?  Didn’t Jesus negate animal sacrifice and the need for a temple?  Didn’t God say, “I will no longer dwell in temple’s made with hands, but in temples (or bodies) of flesh?” 

Yes He did.

So what further need do we have of a temple during the second coming of Christ?

Animal sacrifice will once again be instituted by the Levites as a memorial forever.  The covenant of salt was given to the Levites as a reminder of their perpetual and continual duty to carry out priestly duties forever; they were obligated to perform the rituals of the priesthood and, in return, they would receive a portion of the flesh of the burnt offerings, wave offerings, heave offerings, and the right thigh (Numbers 18:19).  And later, the covenant of salt became synonymous with anything that was perpetual, everlasting, and permanent.  David’s descendant, king Abijah, used the covenant in reference to the throne belonging to David’s descendants forevermore by a covenant of salt (2nd Chronicles 13:5).


Serving Always; Loving Timelessly.

The covenant of salt isn’t simply a warm fuzzy sentiment–it’s a Biblical reference used for kings and priests such as Abijah and Aaron; And, they are the very offices God has installed us into (Revelation 1:6; 1st Peter 2:9).  Whether or not we will serve for eternity as a task is yet to be determined.  It sounds tedious.  When we hear the word "Serve," we usually think serving may be a big boring drudgery.  We think it is something we won't want to do.  Yet, we serve God in the very things we love doing naturally in the Holy Spirit.  Are you one who likes to pray?  Anna served God day and night with prayer and fastings (Luke 2:37).  It wasn't something she didn't have a heart for!  She loved to do it naturally.  When I see good intentioned people feeling like they have to serve God by compulsion and mandate, I say, "Go Home."  If you don't rejoice in the service you perform for God, don't do it.  Why?  It is Scriptural.  "Serve the LORD with all your heart" and "Serve the LORD with joy" (Psalm 100:2).  If the task seems completely and totally undesirable, then don't do itserve Him in another capacity that isn't boring!  Serve Him with a whole heart!  And, ditch any half-hearted-lukewarm-compulsory-service!  Rejoice always!  Serve Him with the gifts you marvelously move in!  God is good!  

When I would hear the pastor preach on how we needed to serve God and there was a need in the church, I would feel so bad that I wasn't stepping up and parking cars or collecting the offering buckets or helping in children's ministry.  And at the time, I couldn't care less about those things; It seemed so tedious, but I had a sense of obligation.  But now, after reading my Bible, I realized that I serve God with my whole heart, not half a heart!  God plugged me into the very things that I loved doing in the church, in society, at work, and at home, and these are the very things I serve God in!  His yoke was easy and His burden was light!

Daniel 2:6

However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor.  Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.

Nebuchadnezzar is telling his servants to interpret his heavenly dream.  Do you take time to hear from God through dreams?  We too should listen to the King and interpret the dream.  Accept it as a word of instruction and you will receive gifts, rewards, and great honor – I promise.

How do I know?  Men who didn’t discount dreams, but accepted them as a word from above were famous and powerful.  Dreams are biblical.

Daniel was noted as having an excellent spirit who excelled above his contemporaries and was promoted to reign next to the king.  He was a dream catcher, that is, he would interpret dreams and lay mysteries before the throne of God.  Joseph seemed to have the same kind of excellent spirit and moved up the ranks wherever he went;  in prison, in the house of Potiphar, and over all Egypt.  He was a dream catcher too. He would interpret dreams as if God spoke directly to him. 

Do you want to be completely in tune with the LORD?  Be a dream catcher!  Be a person of the scriptures!  These traits are tantamount to total maturity in the LORD.  Why?  Because you are hearing from Him in every way.  Through the scriptures you’ll hear the overall heart of God and through dreams you’ll catch the specifics! 

The Holy Spirit, of course, will always be the final touch in keeping in God’s presence through perfect peace, but dreams are another means of direction that God uses.

Anyways, fast forward to another Joseph.  The legal father of our Lord Jesus kept his family safe by the night-imagery, instruction, and interpretation of his dreams.  Do you accept your dreams as a word or a warning from God?  You should because it is biblical!  In the New Testament and Old, dreams are strewn throughout the pages.

I love the way Paul interpreted his dream in Acts 16:9-10.  When he saw it he immediately acted upon it with haste and departed for Macedonia.  He knew it was God.  He knew it was serious enough to set his course by dream directivity. There may be a day when we wake and immediately act upon our night visions as a word of the Lord too.  Whether it be to keep it in mind or get up and fulfill the dream – don’t disregard dreams!

We should desire the best spiritual gifts which include the interpretation of our dreams.  God speaks to us in our nighttime adventures.  “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream” (Numbers 12:6).

Next time you wake up take time to ask God what that dream meant.  You're not being dramatic; You're being dream-atic!  It's not weird or mystical.  It's another way our God speaks to us!

Daniel 3:17-18

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you set up.

And that is the attitude we should always have.  I’m not going to budge.  God will deliver me and come through for me.  But if He doesn’t, I don’t care, I’m still following the LORD.  Come what may.

These men were powerful.  Every man or woman has a breaking point, some individuals have a massive constitution, while others, the Bible says, run into evil.  They fall when things are good.  Jesus said, “If they do these things in a green wood, what will they do in a dry?”  In other words, when life is going good and there’s no pressure or reason to fall, they do.  And, though there is never a reason to fall, everyone has a breaking point. Thus, God sets a standard for our pressure.  One favorite verse of mine is in Isaiah, when he said, "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit will set up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19).  Satan has limitations.

One thing is for certain, If God doesn’t turn down the heat – everyone will break at some point.  How do I know?  The scripture declares, “For the scepter of wickedness will not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity” (Psalm 125:3).  If the enemy isn’t allowed to stop – we will all reach out our hands to sin.  God sets boundaries around Satan as He did with Job.  He told Satan what he could and could not do to Job (Job 1-2).  So, God may use our enemies to try us, yet their grief has an end.  They have limits, standards, and boundaries that are executively ordered from the throne.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had a massively concrete resolve!  And, the limits were high.  They stood their ground through the intense trial and God brought them out as gold.

Is the trial intense in your life?  Then be flattered.  You are in good company.  And since God holds the thermostat of your trials, He obviously knows what you can take!  You’re powerful in His sight!  Don’t cave in!  Do you find yourself saying, “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?  Why are You so far from the words of My groaning?” or “How long shall I cry and You not hear Me?”  Then, you stand among kings and mighty men.

Daniel 4:34-36

“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever…at the same time my reason returned to me.”

Nebuchadnezzar is walking around his palace praising himself saying, “Is not this the great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”  And while the word was still in his mouth, a voice fell from heaven saying, “The kingdom is departing from you and you are going to be driven from men; and you’ll be mad.  You’ll be on all fours like an animal.  Your hair will grow long, your nails will grow long, and you’ll be crawling around like the beasts of the field until you know that God rules in the kingdom.  He gives the kingdom to whomever He wishes” (See Daniel 4:24-37).

Nebuchadnezzar is going to go mentally insane, crazy, and deranged.  Nebuchadnezzar could have avoided the whole thing.  He was warned twelve months earlier by Daniel.  He was told to be righteous and merciful to the poor – which is good advice to the rich.  Be righteous.  Give to others because you are not here very long.

It’s also a concern for us.  What did God tell you twelve months ago?  Are we still diligent to do it?  Like Nebuchadnezzar, our mental health can suffer for it.  Stay close to the Lord.  Remember what He says to you.  You’ll have a mentally cognitive concrete soundness.  Why?  Because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind” (2nd Timothy 1:7).  You’ll be the pillar of resolute certainty when everyone around you has ushered confusion into their mind because they have disobeyed the voice of the Lord.  Sin makes you crazy, so will the flesh, and that's why the scriptures teach us to obey the Spirit when He calls.  If we don’t obey the voice of the LORD we shall be driven mad because of the sight of our eyes, we shall be oppressed and crushed continually.  Those aren’t my words – When you can, please spend some time and re-read Deuteronomy chapter twenty-eight.  It reaches me every time.  I know you’ll love it too.

Let us learn from Daniel’s exhortation to Nebuchadnezzar on obtaining mental sanity:

Here’s the key to possessing a sound, stable, and resolute mind.  Be righteous.  Give.  And acknowledge that God has given to you everything you possess, every skill you perform, and it is not you in the slightest.  If you can accept and approve this very idea – You’ll always have mental stability.  You won’t have to get diagnosed by some psychologist saying, “You’re bi-polar.”  Or, by some greedy shrink saying, “You’re depressed.”  By the way, they all say that, even if you’re the most mentally sound person, they get paid for those prescriptions.

Are you lifted up like Nebuchadnezzar?  Stay humble.  Stay in the Spirit.  You’ll avoid all extremes.  You are lifted up for a reason – To bring God the glory.  And, I’ve discovered the secret to glory – represent Jesus and God will light you up for His glory every time!  Fly the JESUS banner everywhere!  For His glory – Not ours!

Daniel 5:23

“…And the God who holds your breath in His hand, and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.”

Belshazzar the king of Babylon is having the ultimate party.  Tradition has it that smoke filled the room so thickly that you couldn’t see your own hand in front of you and would become intoxicated just by being in the room.  He had ostriches running around the party carrying pistachios on their back.  Ostriches are ditzy birds (according to Job 39:17) and when intoxicated they would behave very docile; docile enough to slowly carry around various party treats and delicacies.  In order for the room to become this dense with mind altering smoke, they must have pumped smoke out of barrels of substance.  Now, Belshazzar is having his way.  He has put together the ultimate sinful night of party and pleasure.  And, guess what, he is going to die that very night…and so will we.

What?  If we give into the devil’s lies in our minds and actually embark upon having the ultimate sinful fantasy, we can know for certain that the enemy is at the door and we will surely die.  “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  So, does that mean we will die physically from sin?  At some point, eventually; yet there is a greater problem than even physical death – Spiritual death.

When the serpent tempted Eve in the garden she recited to him God’s word.  She said, “We may not eat of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.”  She quoted the word of the LORD – but did they die that day?  No, but they died spiritually and death physically was now on its way.  So, sin brings spiritual death and premature physical death – that’s what scripture teaches.

Every once in a while I like to read through Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 to find out about the error of Satan.  In Isaiah 14 I’ve discovered something new; something I've never ever seen, that is, it is about Belshazzar!  He was an oppressive ruler, an angry man who ruled in wrath, and he was on his way to hell (Isaiah 14:4-12).  He was a rich and pompous sinful man whose physical death is pictured as gruesome as having a sheet of maggots spread under him.  His ultimate sinful fantasy came true, but it brought a horrendous price tag with it – friends, think about that when Satan fills your thoughts about what your ultimate sinful experience would be, and know, that true pleasure is found only in Jehovah our God.

Guys, sin does indeed bring physical death.  When you have a moment please read through Luke 13:1-5.  According to Jesus, even small sins bring physical death if they are unrepented of.

Daniel 6:16

So the king gave the command and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.  But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.”

What could make a man hold fast to his own way, even if it meant he would be thrown into a den of lions?  Joy.  In His presence there is fullness of joy and His lovingkindness is better than life.

His presence is what gives a man or woman the unyielding adamant attitude to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

By the time Daniel was thrown into the den he was about ninety years old.  He was picked up as a captive-boy, he lived through the seventy year Babylonian reign, and now in the reign of Darius he is being thrown into the den of lions.  Daniel was wise and discerning.  He was familiar with the presence of the Lord and knew that there was more joy and peace with the lions than in a compromise of his integrity.  He was following the Holy Spirit wherever it took him.  The Holy Spirit was there to guide and instruct Daniel, and all who were willing, long before Jesus came (Isaiah 63:10). The Holy Spirit was there nudging and prompting him, just like He leads us. 

Would you still follow the Spirit of the Lord if His presence was there in the midst of your prowling predators? – Your enemies?  That’s often how He works.  He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

Would you follow the joy of the Lord into the jaws of death?  Jesus said, “He who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).  What is the cross?  The very instrument that can destroy you.

“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.  But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy…” (Acts 20:22-24).  

Do what Paul did.  Follow the Lord wherever He leads you.  Don’t give up your joy for some over-demanding lame-job, or some person, or whatever your logical mind says!  Trust Him!  Onward Christian soldier!

Daniel 7:18

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.

Daniel is having dreams and visions of Biblical proportions.  So big that its relevance goes beyond the four kingdoms it represents, and pours out life-applications for you and me.  He sees a Great Sea of people and from it come up four beasts.  Each beast is a different kingdom:  Babylon is the lion with eagle’s wings, Medo-Persia is the bear with ribs in its mouth, Greece is the leopard with four wings, and the revived Roman Empire is the fourth one, pictured as an abnormality with ten horns and iron teeth, dreadful and terrible.

Daniel tells of future kingdoms led by great men such as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander the Great and so on.  Each of these men had their time to be giants.  They were larger than life.  So often we can feel like we were skipped over and received the raw end of the deal, but we are, oh, so wrong!  God is no respecter of persons.  We all have opportunities to be beasts, if you will.  We all come from the Great Sea, we are all the same in His sight and He lovingly gives us opportunities to be giants.  The problem is the flesh.  When we were fooling around with mediocrity we missed the wave that came over the Great Sea – and were all washed up.  But, God is so good to beasts like me and you!  He is able to restore the years we were diddle-dallying in sin.  So it’s time to walk in pure love.  Rejoice in all that you do and you’ll catch every opportunity placed before you!  You’ll rip it up like the beast you are!  You’ll tear up the challenges life throws your way like an animal!  You’ll be carried through life in your Master’s hands and rejoice in the LORD saying, “My horn is exalted in the LORD.  I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation” (1st Samuel 2:1) and “My horn You have exalted like a wild ox;  I have been anointed with fresh oil.  My eye has seen my desire on my enemies; my ears hear my desire on the wicked who rise up against me” (Psalm 92:10-11).  The key to differentiating and distinguishing between you and the rest of the masses in this Great Sea – is walking in love – ferocious and vicious love!  Don’t watch the clock!  Love what you do so much that you can’t hardly wait to get back to it again! 

Daniel 8:5

And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

As we read further into the text, Daniel introduces a figure who gives us an angelic commentary on this verse.  The archangel Gabriel says, “And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece.  The large horn between its eyes is the first king” (Daniel 8:21).  Alexander the Great is the large and notable horn.  His life is amazingly noteworthy.  He moved so fast that he took over the whole known world by the ripe old age of thirty-three.  It’s like he never touched the ground, but when he did, he suddenly died.  And that’s where we can all fall.  See, Alexander had it all, and what do many people err in doing when they’ve accumulated all the riches, power, and wealth?   They party.  They figure, “I’m set, it’s time to have some fun and take my ease.” They stop advancing the kingdom.  When we fail to realize that our time is short; we get caught in a snare like Alexander, who died because he caught a pneumonia while being drunk in the rain.  He failed to continue redeeming the time.  When we stop advancing the kingdom across the surface of our earth – We’ve become complacent.  David the king of Israel fell when “It was a time when kings should have been at war” (See 2nd Samuel 11:1).  He was just walking around his house doing whatever.  Oh, there’s such wisdom in these exhortations!  It’s when we are lifted up that we must beware!

It’s when He gives us “Houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant – when you have eaten and are full – Then beware lest you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:11-12).

We should walk in love, and do all we can while we can because the time is short.  Better still, we should run in love, without touching the ground, and take all the ground we can away from the enemy.  We aren’t here long.  Live for the kingdom and let not the gates of Hades prevail!  Keep taking ground!  King Uzziah had a time of quiet peace in his kingdom, and what did he do?  He kept advancing the military of Judah.  He built fortresses, weapons, and never stopped advancing the kingdom.  He was awesome.  Is there a time, season, or hiatus of rest in our lives?  Don’t get lax!  Keep pursuing the things of God.

If Alexander the Great was asked "What's the secret to conquering so much in so little time?" He would tell us to "Do it now."  I think there's wisdom in that.  Life is short.  It's a vapor.  Friends, number your days and you'll gain a heart of wisdom (See Psalm 90:12).  Redeem the time because the days are evil.

Daniel 9:27

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to the sacrifice and offering.  And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.

Daniel is to the Old Testament as Revelation is to the New. 

Daniel’s seventy weeks are tantamount to four-hundred and eighty-three years.  They tell us the exact date of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.  It starts at March 14th, 445 years before Christ and ends at April 6th 32 Anno Domini – Putting us at the very date Jesus rode into Jerusalem in His coronation as the Messiah.  But, that doesn’t explain the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy.  It only explains sixty-nine weeks.  There’s a week in limbo.  There’s seven years hanging in the balance.  This is the final week of human history when Anti-Christ reigns on the earth.

The Bible is strewn together with small nuggets of truth about a final world ruler.  He is the Anti-Christ, or the “Instead of” Christ.  Anti, of course, can mean “Against,” or it can mean “In-the-stead-of.”  He is foreshadowed in Daniel as Antiochus Epiphanes the Fourth who enters the temple and defiles it by offering a pig on the altar and desecrating it.  Jesus spoke about a coming ruler to the Jews saying, “I have come in My Father’s name and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43).  The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah – It’s too bad they didn’t read the prophecy of Daniel.  Had they done so, they might not be duped into embracing Anti-Christ.  Jews, this very day, believe that Jesus is not the Messiah and that the coming messiah will lead them in the rebuilding of the temple – They are setting themselves up for the ultimate deception of the Anti-Christ, also known as the Lawless One who is to be revealed, or the Beast.

As Daniel mentioned, Anti-Christ will set up a covenant with the Jews and help them set up their temple, but he turns on them in the middle of the seven years.  He demands to be worshiped as Yahweh God.  He stops the sacrifice and offerings and sets up and image of himself in the temple.  The Jews then reject him and he declares war on them – worse than any holocaust they’ve ever seen – which is saying a lot in the aftermath of Germanic persecutions.  They run for the hills and caves and deserts.  It is the ultimate desolation, desecration, and destruction for Israel.  Jesus said, “But when you see the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house” (Matthew 24:15-17).  Unless those days are shortened, no flesh will be saved, and immediately after the middle of the week, the sun will go dark, the moon won’t give its light, and the stars will fall.  Then, Jesus, the real Jesus, will return for the second coming.  I’m so glad I will not be here for all this.  I’m going to be at Jesus’ side dressed in white and riding a white horse – So will you – when you ‘giddy-up’ in the rapture with the rest of us!  We won’t be here for all this ‘hog warsh partner.’  Ok, the cowboy thing has got to stop.  God bless you!  

Daniel 10:12-13

Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.

And the word of the Lord to me and you is the same.  From the very day we pray about something – whatever it is, we get an answer in transit.  The problem is the enemy and all his angels.  They slow things down in the heavenlies.  If we could only see the unseen, we would see that there is a raging battle overhead and we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly realms (See Ephesians 6:12). 

Sin, bondage, addiction, and all the chains of darkness will not break, relent, or yield without a battle in grueling prayer, persistence, and submission to God.  When, like Daniel, we disconnect from our status-quo and mundane routine and get on our knees, God sees one thing – We mean business.  And it gets His attention.  Daniel humbled himself for twenty-one days!  That’s persistence!

Jesus told a story about prayer.  A man came to his friend late at night asking him for some bread.  He needed it to entertain a visitor.  So he ran over to his friend’s house to borrow three loaves to set before him.  So he said, “Friend please open up, I need some bread to give to my visitor.”  And he replied, “I can’t get up and give you bread right now.  It’s late.  My kids are all asleep.  Come back tomorrow.”  Then Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, he will get up and give to him, not because he is his friend, but because of his persistence.  He will give him as much as he needs!  So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you” (See Luke 11:5-9).  Ask and keep asking!  Knock and keep knocking!  Seek and keep seeking!  Show God you mean business.  Give it twenty-one seconds of prayer, or twenty-one minutes, or twenty-one years or….

Daniel 11:32

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.

Wicked and sinful people can easily be corrupted and misled.  It’s pretty easy to pull the wool over their eyes.  Why?  Because they lack discernment. 

The people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits, mighty works, and great feats.  More and more I’m realizing what makes a man or woman awesome in the sight of the Lord.  It’s turning many to righteousness.  Though there is something to be said about quality ministry and not necessarily quantity ministry, the scriptures teach that powerful and shining stars turn many to righteousness. 

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).  It was said of John the Baptist that he too was great in the sight of the Lord.  How?  He didn’t drink wine or strong drink which takes away discernment.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit.  He had the spirit and power of Elijah, yet never performed a miracle, except pointing people to the miracle  Jesus the Messiah.  And, finally, he would turn many to the Lord their God (See Luke 1:15).

We can do that.  We can abstain from intoxications that cause us to be corrupted by flattery.  We can point people to Jesus.  We can be filled with the Spirit.  And, we can turn many to righteousness. 

Right where you are you have the ability to think of ways you can turn many to the Lord their God.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand behind a pulpit and preach to thousands, it’s that too.  But there are creative ways you can be noted as a giant in God’s sight by turning people to righteousness by big numbers, large quantities, and masses by doing little things with a big impact.  For instance, I know of one man who, years ago, noticed an old abandoned bar on a busy street.  On the side of the bar there was an explicit picture of a woman dressed inappropriately.  So he simply grabbed a paint roller and rolled over the picture.  Twenty-five thousand people drive that street on Valley Blvd. in Fontana, Ca. per day.  Think of the multiplied millions of people he has blessed by blocking the obscene image.  There’s an elementary school just yards away.  That’s a great exploit.  That’s turning many to the Lord their God!

Get creative.  How can you and I deter the enemy and restrain his influence on a mass scale?  Look around and see the stuff that is out of order and be bold, calculatedly-wild, and spirit-led reckless for Him.  Turn many to righteousness with something as simple as a Jesus sticker or telling someone their shirt is inappropriate and to put it in the trash where it belongs, or with love and without violence, in restraint use something as bold as guerrilla warfare and militant Christianity like our paint roller friend! – Hate evil and love good!  Do what it takes to beat back the enemy’s devices in your sphere of the world!

Daniel 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

There’s no such thing as soul-sleep.  As we compare scripture with scripture we see that there is a process to the resurrection that does not involve a period of sleep, apart from what others teach.  “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2nd Corinthians 5:8).   There’s no other way around it.  When you die you are with the Lord.  Your spirit returns to God who gave it.  Then what does Daniel mean when he speaks of sleeping in the dust?  He is using the term “Sleep” as a euphemism.  A euphemism waters down the harsh reality of a word.  It lightens it.

When you give someone the news of someone passing, you usually don’t say, “Oh, your Grand-Daddy just dropped dead.”  Or, “Your little cousin Jimmy just croaked!” 

No way.

You water it down by using a euphemism, and say, “I’m sorry she just passed or he’s no longer with us.”  That’s what Daniel is doing.  Why is that important?  Because there are those who will come knocking on your door who will try to throw you into confusion and misunderstanding concerning the afterlife.  They teach the doctrine of soul sleep.  But clearly, there’s no such thing as soul sleep.  Moses is a prime example.  He clearly died.  His death is spoken about in the Old and New Testaments (Jude 1:9 and Deuteronomy 34:5).  So what’s he doing walking around with Elijah in the transfiguration and talking to Jesus about His impending death on the Cross of Calvary?  Moses definitely isn’t sleeping!  And, look at the criminal next to Jesus.  The thief on the cross was told that he would be with Jesus that very day.  Jesus never said he would sleep for thousands of years until the rapture and be resurrected, and then, he would be with Jesus.  And time would fail me to speak of Lazarus and the Rich Man or the great cloud of witnesses looking down on us.  Succinctly put, every knowledgeable Christian man or woman knows – There’s no such thing as soul sleep, spiritually sawing-logs, or soul-snoozing.  In heaven you may be counting sheep when you see your friends there!  But you won’t be counting sheep to sleep!

There is a resurrection of your mortal body that has rotted away and turned to dust.  During the rapture God will resurrect our decaying or disintegrated body (1st Thessalonians 4:16).  Jesus said, “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28).  It’s not really a big mystery.  This body we have now will be transformed.  Do we come back to it after our spirit leaves in a sort of re-unifying of our spirit and a transformed-glorified body again?  That seems to be the case!  One thing is certain – To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. 

Hosea 3:1

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” 

Let me say that I'm thankful to have a faithful and godly wife and I do not have to wrestle through these verses in my own life.

Throughout the years I have been used of the LORD to counsel men and women who have been the victim of adultery.  And, in the aftermath, no matter how you dish it up – there are only two paths a person can take.  The first is divorce, and the second is forgiving that person and letting them back in your life.  In the sight of God they are both acceptable and plausible options, though none of these roads will ever be easy.  That’s why adultery is so destructive and vicious.  It’s listed right after murder in the ten commandments!

Maybe you know someone who, like Hosea, chose the hard and high road and forgave her, or she him.  Let me tell you what he will have to face.  One day, as he is showing his wife affection, he subconsciously, will-all-of-a-sudden bring to remembrance how she hurt him.  He will remember how she gave away his treasure to another man.  And, if he has chosen to forgive her and remain with her, he is going to have to fight against bitterness FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.  Oh, I’m sure there will be periods of non-remembrance, but you can be certain that adultery scars for a lifetime.  His life’s verse, as so many others’ life verse will be, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter towards them” (Colossians 3:19).  Or, wives, forgive them and do not be bitter towards him because you’ve chosen this road.  You’ll get to experience firsthand what God feels when we sin against Him and just how He forgives us.  In Hosea, our sin against Him is equated to an adulterous relationship.

Now here’s the other road.  It’s the only option for the people who cannot deal with an unfaithful spouse – It’s divorce.  I hate saying the word divorce.  I teach my children that it is a bad word.  Jesus said, “Anyone who divorces his wife for any reason, except sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32).  So, there is only one reason that a man or woman can divorce their significant other that is sanctioned by God and only one – marital unfaithfulness.  And that is it.  No exceptions.

But Michael, “What if he beats me?”

Take some time away, pray, and get over it. 


“She treats me with disrespect, my children shouldn’t see that.”

Did you marry a Christian?  This is all stuff that is resolved and combed through in pre-marital counseling – Get past it. 

I’m senile on this point.

There isn’t a plan-b.  Divorce is not an option – It doesn’t matter what you’re going through.  Except for adultery or sexual immorality, there are no other options. You vowed to stay with your spouse before God. I've heard all the arguments.  I'm not convinced. Honor your commitment and follow through ‘til death.

Hosea 6:3

Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.  His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

Without any contradiction, God is mysterious, unsearchable, and beyond every nuance of our comprehension–yet His ways can be known to us.  He has revealed His heart and character through His Word–and though it may sound somewhat sacrilegious to a degree, there are certain aspects of God’s operations that are as predictable as the morning. 

We usually expect the sun to rise and can pinpoint the times it shall dawn on the horizon.  We can discern when the sun’s temperature will be warmest and the geographical location of its setting.  Hosea tells us to know–to pursue the knowledge of the LORD.  Why?  So we can become acquainted with the God of the universe and know His ways, His likes, His dislikes, and how He will operate in various situations; to get to know Him as a person. 

When a stranger is in the same building as me, he is simply a person in the room.  I do not know about that person, I do not have insight into his (or her) personality traits, I do not know their mode of operation, or their likes and dislikes–he or she is just a person with a closed mouth in the back of the room.  But when they open their mouth and words pour forth, the more I'm enlightened regarding their conduct and what is to be anticipated from their behaviors.  Their speech reveals their heartfor out the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Many today say, “I know Jesus.”

Do they? 

They don’t read their Bible.  How can they know Him?  God, to them, is a man with a closed mouth in the back of the room!  He is a stranger.

Friends, know God so close as a person, that you anticipate what He will do in certain happenstances and in various circumstances–the same as you would expect the recurring routine-clockworks of the morning!; and that only comes from reading God’s words from Genesis to Revelation, and over and over again, until we move on to heaven.

Hosea 8:12

I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.

One night I was leaving Rosena Park after spending the evening there with my wife and children.  We had a giant family size sandwich and chips and threw our trash in a plastic grocery bag.  We dumped the trash in a giant concrete circular trash can and left the park.  As I was exiting the driveway of the park and heading toward Beech Avenue, I had this overwhelming alarming sense in my heart that I shouldn’t have dumped our plastic grocery bag into the trash.  I felt that I should go back and keep the bag of trash with me.  With all that is within me I felt that I should go back.  But, of course, the natural man in me said, “Dude, you’re crazy and weird too…and you’re strange…and you know what else, you are like a bum who is a little off his rocker…and you know what else, your cheese slipped off your cracker – You’re going to dig in the trash?  Don’t you know what that’s going to look like to everyone?  That’s going to look strange….” – So, of course, I didn’t go.  That night, late and just before it was time to go to sleep, I said to my wife, “Where’s my wallet?”  She said, “I put it in the plastic grocery bag.”  I said, “The one with the trash?”  She said, “Yes, the one with the trash.”  That night I was face down in a trash can in the middle of the night with the sprinklers spraying all around me digging my wallet out of the trash.  I got it.

And, Oh how I hope we get it.

See, we have the Holy Spirit.  We have convictions that may seem strange to the natural man, but if you push them away you’re going to end up bankrupt, face down in the dumps, and all wet.  The fear of man brings a snare, friends.

Here’s the thing:

How often does the Holy Spirit ask you to do something that seems weird?  He doesn’t.  So, if He does, why not just go with it? 

God’s ways are the most sound, absolute, and sane directives a man can follow.  His ways are great and mighty; His discernments and convictions distinguish the heavenly man from the natural man – So just go with it!  Don’t call it strange!  He isn’t going to ask you to do something so weird that you’re going to be ashamed – Those who trust in Him will never be ashamed! 

Hosea 9:1

Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples, for you have played the harlot against your God.  You have made love for hire on every threshing floor.

We have all transgressed and missed the mark.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and quite drastically in some instances–but we come back and keep coming back with a heart that forsakes sin forever, which is what distinguishes us from illegitimate children and the children of God.  God chastens His children as, of course, any loving parent would.  Hosea gives us the proper demeanor and attitude we must have when enduring the chastening of the Lord.  Returning in repentance to the Lord from a sinful sabbatical or unholy hiatus requires us to be broken before Him–to seek Him on our knees in an apologetic fashion and withdraw from exciting and joyful activities.  

We’re in trouble.  It’s time to stay quiet.  Turn off the blaring devices.  It’s time to sit at His feet.  We’ve sinned against the Lord.  Show the Lord you truly mean business!  Wait!  It’s not the proper time for anything except remorse and repentance!  Give it a couple days before you start doing everything you once did and you begin to act like nothing happened.  Retreat with a tender and broken heart!  Do not be hasty to leave the king’s presence! 

And then,

He will restore your heart and bring you back into the joy and rejoicing you once had.

“Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.  After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight” (Hosea 6:1).  Though this may resound as a trite platitude, it’s Scriptural:  If you are feeling blue because you’ve been untrue, give it two...

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6).

Hosea 13:9

O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me.

The underlying-overwhelming message in Hosea is to beware of idolatrous behavior and to avoid the activities that enslave the heart; which are the things that demand your attention and thereby steal your affection away from the Lord.  Ephraim, Samaria, and Israel altogether are destroyed because of their unyielding and staunch love for idols.  And, as you may already know, we can create an idol out of just about anything.  An idol steals our heart!  It makes our remedial daily tasks a mundane drag, because we would rather be doing whatever the idol’s thing is–when we should be rejoicing in everything we set our hands to do!

Chapter by chapter, Hosea enumerates what God will do in retribution, recompense, and in return for allowing our hearts to be separated unto shame of idolatry (Hosea 9:10).  We will seek Him, yet He will withdraw Himself (Hosea 5:6).  He will allow us to forage alone like a lamb in open country, being dangerously alone (Hosea 4:16).  He will be like a bear robbed of her cubs to us and who rips up apart (Hosea 13:8).  And, He will send the whirlwind because we have sown to the wind (Hosea 8:7).

Why so harsh?

Because we don’t have to sow to the wind and reap the whirlwind.  

We do not have to sow to the flesh and reap corruption.  We can plant seeds of righteousness and reap in joy and rejoicing by making every move in the Spirit of God’s love!  Hosea’s message is to abstain from harlotry, wine, and new wine which enslave the heart (Hosea 4:11).  I find it very interesting that men fashioned a molded image and gazed upon it; and in some cases kissed it! (Hosea 13:2). The molded glass screen that we gaze upon incessantly while it portrays hints of harlotry and the spirit of the world–needs to be removed, and in its place–sit at His feet!  Gaze upon His face!  “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little (Psalm 2:12).  Spend so much time seeking His face, that you are Son-burned and glowing like a mountaintop-Moses, not subtly burning with harlotrous images in the eerie light of a molded glass screen, like a monumental-mess.

Kiss the Son, not the screen.

We need Son-screen.

Don't just scream about the screen.  Just smash it.  Let it be your smashing screen debut!

Okay, I'll stop now!

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen. 

Okay, now.

Joel 2:25

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

All the years wasted in the vanity of sin can be miraculously given back to you as a gift from the Most High.  All of the losses through missed opportunities because of indulgences in the flesh and the losses sustained from Satan robbing us, can be restored when we follow Him closely.  With God nothing is impossible.  This particular headlining verse is a comfort to many who have given their years to the devouring locusts because God will establish them once again–and will even restore to them the dew of their youthfulness!

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.  Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:  I am the LORD your God and there is no other.  My people shall never be put to shame” (Joel 2:26-27).

Sin and the flesh causes foaming-loathsome shame and reproach.  But think of it, anything you’ve ever done for the Lord was a sweet blessing to you!  The armies of locusts in Joel are representative of the Assyrian armies that God has sent to judge His people, but when they set aside a day to fast, to call a sacred assembly, and cried out to the LORD–He relented.  The LORD once again became zealous for His people.  Friends, when the swarming locusts are on the horizon and you discover that the well-being and livelihood of you or your people are threatened–it’s time to get serious.  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2nd Chronicles 7:14). If there is a crucially-problematic issue presenting itself against you and your people–fast, pray, cry-out, and get together to set up a time to do so.   

Joel 3:14-15

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.  The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness.

Joel has eschatological significance and prophetic applications that deal with end-times matters.  He makes reference to the valley of Jehoshaphat, or better translated the valley where God judges.  The war in the valley of decision or the valley of Jehoshaphat is a type of what is to come in the valley of Megiddo, or better translated Armageddon.

In both accounts, every nation is gathered together against the Lord and His people.  And without any descriptive effort, Jesus captures the Antichrist-beast and his spokesperson the false-prophet, and kills the rest of them with a sword–with a word–of His mouth.

So often we believe that the defense of the Word of the Lord requires several years in the study of Apologetics, and Apologetics is a wonderful study.  Although, notice what Jesus did.  Without exhaustive effort, exegesis, exposition, or elaborate explications…the Word from His mouth knocks ‘em dead!  The Word of the Lord is powerful!  While earnestly contending for the faith or the gospel–there isn’t anything more you need!  The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

How do you defend a charging bull?

Hmmn…I think he can take care of himself.

And someone is going to get the point!

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  When dealing with astute or cynical man steeped in the ways of the world, open your mouth wide and He will fill it.  Not necessarily with cleverly contrived ideas and notions of argumentation, but with the word of the Lord.  Endless babbling may not be necessary, just one ‘blunt’ strike from the two-edged sword of the Spirit may knock ‘em dead–all of them!  The word–concise–clear–and mighty!

Amos 1:3

Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment….”

It’s a marvelous day when we realize that God no longer keeps a record of our shortcomings in Jesus.  “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity” (Psalm 32:1-2).  We can never ‘fill up’ the measure in our guilt anymore as we believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation.  He put a hole in our cup and sin is never imputed unto us as believers.

The recurring phrase in the introductory chapters of Amos is the three plus four motif.  In totality, for these seven sins they have reached the brim of the cup and have filled up the measure of their sins.  The punishment of the LORD will no longer relent.  At some point, apart from following the Lord, in each and every one of our lives, the Lord reaches His tolerance threshold for our transgressions, though He is loving and patient, and merciful.

When someone is filling your glass mug and says to you, “Say when.” 

You usually wait until it just about hits the brim and say, ‘when.’

There comes an interval of time when God says, ‘when,’ to our transgressions.

He has had enough–and that’s the message of Amos.

Seven, in the Scriptures is the number of perfection, maturation, or completion.  Compounding sin finally adds up to a measure that forces God to act out of a complete discontentment.  And, as a result of stacking subsequent sins and multiplying transgressions, we force consequence and punishment.  Paul said that there were those in Thessalonica who were “…Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (1st Thessalonians 2:16).

The message of Paul was salvation in Jesus.  It was the message that Jesus removes all of your sins.  He punches a hole in the bottom of your cup and kicks out the base of your barrel!  Your account has been drained of iniquity!  He will be merciful to your unrighteousness and your lawless deeds He will remember no more!

Amos 2:4

Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments.  Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed."

The introductory chapters in Amos have a recurring ‘seven sins’ motif.  Amos adds three, and then four offenses against the Lord which inevitably cause His judgment upon them.  Through the blood of Jesus, God forgives and forgets our sins.   He is merciful to our unrighteousness and our lawless deeds are remembered no more (Hebrews 8:12).  Our three, and four, are completely wiped from His memory.


What if I return to wrongdoing?

“When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall surely die” (Ezekiel 33:13).  Though God forgives and God forgets, when we backslide or go back to gross-iniquity, we are seven times worse.  “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he looks for rest elsewhere.  He doesn’t find it.  So he goes back to the original house and finds it clean, swept, and put in order.  Then he goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter and dwell there.  The last state of the man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).  God forgives and God forgets, yet never venture back, for you can incur a punishment seven times worse because you are seven times worse (Leviticus 26:18).

In Amos, God is burdened and weighed down by the sins of the nations.  Why does He separate the sin-count into three and four?  If God was anything like us, He would send the lightning bolts after one singular offense.  I suggest it’s because He is so mysteriously longsuffering and mercifully loving-kind.  He should have pronounced judgment after three offensive shortcoming-strikes, but He relented.  We should have been out.  Maybe these nations mistook His gracious and loving patience with acceptance?  And now, God must pronounce punishment.  Not because He takes pleasure in our repercussions, but to gravely remind us that sin is devastatingly destructive and should He continue to relent from disaster, we may just remain in our ‘unlucky-seven’ to our own peril.

Amos 4:9

“I blasted you with blight and mildew.  When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD.

Amos introduces another recurring motif in the phrase, ‘yet you have not returned to Me.’  The LORD repeatedly sends a grieving consequence and expects them to wake up, but they do not.  So He sends another troublesome event and they persist in remaining distant from the One who can pronounce well being into their lives.  Calamity or plight should drive us back into His loving arms.  What’s interesting about this distinct word is that it’s for those who are making decent money and are lifted up.  So they begin to sip wine, because after all, they’re classy.  They oppress the poor and crush the hearts of the needy, yet they still love attending church, going through ritualistic-robotic religious routines, tithing, and living up to their ascetic disciplines (See Amos 4:1-5).

Friends, when you’re lifted up and prospering, beware of being guilty of oppressing the poor or suppressing those who do not have much.  It’s not something God takes lightly.  God has sworn by His holiness that He will judge oppression by saying, “Behold, the days shall come when He will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.  You will go through broken walls, each one straight ahead of her, and you will be cast into Harmon, says the LORD” (Amos 4:2-3).  The oppressor will find himself or herself wrestling with personal addictions because, well, they’re hooked–and they’ll repeatedly be swept away by the same thing–whatever it is.  Their households will be ‘broken’ and disbanded, and they’ll find themselves in ‘Harmon,’ which has an unknown Biblical meaning, but could possibly refer to corruption or soldiering, as it does in some cultures.  Nevertheless, the wine sipping-saint who oppresses the poor will find herself (or himself, as this text in Amos is written to women!) soldiering-on in a mess of corruption, and fighting wars she never needed to be engaged in.  Those lifted up…should ‘up’ the kindness factor towards those who are still trying to find their place in life.

The dreadfully cruel Assyrian nation eventually came and displaced Israel by conquering them circa 722 years before Christ came.  They led some of them away captive by parading them in succession with literal fishhooks in their mouths.

Amos 7:3

So the LORD relented concerning this.  “It shall not be,” said the LORD.

And thus, Amos introduces us to his third repetitive pattern known as “Anaphora” in literary circles.  It’s a rhetorical device that doubles-up to reiterate a conceptualized notion for the reader, and I’m so glad he did.  Two for two, when Amos steps up to intercede on behalf of a sinful people–God relents from returning reprisal, from relegating retribution, and from readily recompensing a greater judgment upon them by saying, “It shall not be.”

To put the phrase lightly, prayer is eternally powerful, beyond everything we could ever imagine.  Oh what rich-fulfillment we have as we lay every problematic and circumstantial issue before His feet!  Throughout every generation, once a year, the entire nation of Israel has a day of atonement referred to as Yom Kippur–it’s an entire nation praying and fasting! 

How unfathomly-powerful! 

That’s a prayer-bus, I believe, we should all board fastly!

Just one self-denying day set aside, once a year, required forever and throughout all generations (Leviticus 23:27-32).

That’s a big load of prayer and supplication placed before the Father–and He loves it; as you would be driven towards loving mercy and kind-approbation for every just petition placed before you if thousands of people lovingly thronged you and laid at your feet begging you for a request that you could indeed perform!  I would be overwhelmed!  Family, overwhelm the Father of Mercies!  It is absolutely and totally Biblical, and not-at-all-legalistic, to set aside a day to fast with your family, church family, and with others in a far off distant land and pray!  Intercede, repent, heal, get the Father’s heart on every matter, and receive acute heavenly clarity on various issues because every needless weight and yoke has been broken (Isaiah 58:6) from your walk and the walk of others as you intercede for them!  Two for two, God will come through!

“Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

And what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” – Charles Crozat Converse.

Obadiah 1:13

You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity.

Ezekiel condemned the Ammonites for doing the same thing.  They had an attitude that said, “Aha! You’re getting what you deserve,” instead of “Oh God, I pray that Your hand would be with them during this calamitous time” (Ezekiel 25:3).

The message in Obadiah is one and the same:  When God judges someone for their transgressions, you and I should not rejoice in watching it as a spectacle or an exciting form of entertainment.   And, apart from that, we do not rejoice when our enemy falls and we do not let our hearts be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and it displease Him, and He turns His wrath away from Him. 

But the Scriptures do not stop there.  With the same enthusiasm and excitement we gaze upon the calamity of others, it returns to us! 

When we see trouble, we need to check our hearts before we act like ‘rubbernecks’ or ‘nosy-neighbors.’

Am I looking at others with an attitude of prayer?  Do I gaze upon them with an attitude that says, “Oh, God, I hope everyone is okay – God please let everyone be safe.”

Or, if indeed God is judging someone for their sin, we seek to remain sympathetic and at least neutral because, after all, God is judging them and we do not want to get involved or try to stop His hand.  Which, is why we check our hearts every time we see trouble happening to our neighbors, or a mangled car accident, or the police raiding someone, or the woman making a scene walking out on him – We must not gaze upon the calamity of others, but pray and ask the Lord what attitude should I have in all this?

Jonah 2:8

Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy.

Jonah chapter two is unique because it is a doctrine from the depths of the sea.  It’s an underwater whale of a word for all of us.  These salty scriptures teach us that we miss out on mercy when we pray while adamantly refusing to let go of our way; from our idols. 

Jonah has been dumped in the Mediterranean Sea and swallowed by a great fish.  He finally decides to let go of the error of his way after Sheol, or hell, itself has taken over his life.  He comes to this realization while he is literally underwater.  Oh, how I hope Jonah’s conclusion envelopes us the same way!  Jonah's relinquishment of sin is similar to what we do when drama comes from our sin, and then we decide to let go and repent.  Unless we want to go deeper into the depths of trouble, and unless we want our prayers to not be heard, we need to forsake, repent, and turn from the idols we hold onto – Whatever it is.  We won’t be heard any other way. 

God won’t hear sinners, save for one prayer – “God forgive me” – That’s it.  If we harbor, embrace, or refuse to let go of our iniquity  God won’t hear us:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).

“Behold the LORD’S hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). 

“Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will He hears him.” (John 9:31).

Now we are all sinners and we fall short of His glory daily.  That’s why we constantly confess, forsake, and repent of our shortcomings.  It’s the only way to continually break down the barriers that hinder His mercy from cascading, washing, and flooding over us – The way it should have been for Jonah.  The sin, transgression, and iniquity that holds our heart captive and precludes us from walking in the Holy Spirit is out-right detrimental to our prayers being heard.  All sin separates us from God because He is holy, but God knows your heart.  He knows if you are always willing to give Him everything, or if you reserve unyielding compromises, compartments, or crass-idols that cause the Lord to withhold mercy from flooding down on you – Now, let that wash over us!

Jonah 3:1

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time….

We serve the God Who is appropriately referred to as The God of the Second Chance.  And if you have experienced a similar testimony as I have, He is the God of the third chance…


The fourth chance,


The fifth chance,


I highly recommend reading through the Bible straight through from beginning to end.  I 'fish' for a chapter a night, at least. Upon finishing the book, it is a good idea to start again and repeat this cycle until you leave the earth.  Why?  Because you will always discover new and profound insights, but more so, you will gain the overall heart of God in any matter.  We attain, apprehend, and acquire such 'depth' in His character when we do so – When we go into the 'deep' and when we swim back and forth from cover to cover.  I believe the following insight is the result of the Lord swirling me about through various books to gain the overall heart of God with regards to His loving merciful kindness, and just how He lovingly 'swallows' us up in His bastion of chances:

God called Jonah to Nineveh. 

He didn’t go. 

Then after a boat-load of trouble – He went.  God gave Jonah a second chance. 

When God called Israel to enter into the promised land, they did not go.  God gave them a whale of trouble too.  God plagued and struck them, and as a result they said, “Ok, we changed our minds.  We will be obedient to the word of the LORD.  We will go.”  But, that 'ship' sailed. Then, God said, “No, you will not go.  You will die out here in the wilderness.  You have crossed Me ten times now.  I have had enough” (Numbers 14:22).

“But wait,” they said. 

“We will go.”

And, they went.

They were defeated before their enemies and wandered in the wilderness until every one of them was picked off.

He is the God of an absolute first chance.  He is the God of the tenth chance (Numbers 14:22), and He is the God of the four-hundred and ninetieth chance (Matthew 18:22).  But, we never know when He has had enough.  I believe that number is different in every one of our lives.  We have each been distributed a measure of faith.  He is appropriately entitled, “The God of the Second Chance.”   Yet, the children of Israel who died in the wilderness wanted to fulfill a second calling and couldn’t.  So, maybe more-so, I believe they would refer to Him as The-God-of-the-Second-Chance-Usually.  

When He calls us to do something, it is safest to perform the calling the first time.  We do know this: Whether we enter in to His perfect will on the first attempt, or wander through desolate seas as result our fishy dealings – His mercy endures forever.

Jonah 4:2

So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country?  Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”

Believe in the Lord God and you shall be established, believe in His prophets and you shall prosper (2nd Chronicles 20:20), 

Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7),

And Jonah the prophet has disclosed an attribute of God’s person that is a life changer!

Jonah unveils an eternal secret about the Lord God that reveals His flawless-winsome character.  He is gracious and merciful, He is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and He is quick to change His mind with regards to doing harm.  Give Him any excuse to relent from disaster and God will take it!  Ahab reigned and ruled in desperate wickedness, yet at the slightest sign of seeking the LORD, God relented from the disaster He prepared.  Manasseh reigned fifty-five years in grotesque evil, yet at very appearance of His repentance God relented concerning his destruction–His mercy endures forever….

God prepared a great fish for Jonah–when Jonah was traversing in the wrong direction.

God prepared a thriving-rich and shady gourd for Jonah–when Jonah was watching God work–nothing wrong with that!

God prepared a vehement east wind–when Jonah’s thinking was amiss concerning Ninevah’s judgment.

Guys, judgments are prepared.  The Lord will meet you wherever you are.  When you are right-on, God will provide thriving-richness and shady gourds for your contentment.  When we are off, He sends other foreordained preparations to open our eyes and wake us up.  Today, if some form of grief or discomfort has befallen you in any area of your life, don’t see it as a punishment or condemnation.  See it as God getting your attention–to change your thinking and your course, and to get you back under the thriving rich and shady gourd or just to get you back home!

Micah 2:1

Woe to those who create iniquity in their hearts and minds while on their bed.  At morning light they practice it because it is in the power of their hand to do so....

Sin starts in the mind.  Don’t enjoy the thought of sin while on your bed; don’t develop it in your heart and wait for the morning to commit it!  When Micah said “Woe,” he meant it-watch out.  The best thing to do when you’re tempted is pray;  Jesus said, “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation, the Spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).  The Enemy is trying to get you to "be tempted" for sin starts in the mind (James 1:14-15).  Prayer can cause God to postpone it.  Yes, you don't have to "be tempted" always, Jesus said, pray or else you will fall into temptation (Mark 14:38).

I opt for the "or else."  It is a good thing too because I absolutely hate going through temptation, even though I know that we must count all trials joy.  Jesus knows we don't like it either, that is why He taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation."  So, we can avoid it!  But we can't avoid all of 'em because God uses it to test us.  Every time I go through it I end up being on my face (resisting the evil one) for forty days or so.  It’s ugly, torturous, painful and plain ‘ole tough.  I do love, however, what happens afterward though!  He makes my light shine like a bonfire and I experience His favor like crazy for years…and then it happens again.  Satan comes back, “when he has an opportune time” (Luke 4:13) and I go through it again.  But here’s the thing:  God can postpone some of the temptations and He can get rid of some times of temptation altogether!  Jesus told us so when he taught us to “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation!”  Wow, we can actually avoid some times of temptation!  Notice how Jesus uses the word “lest.”  Lest means “or else you may.”  It means one thing…you can pray or you can fall into temptation, the choice is yours. 

Micah 3:8

But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.

Micah’s message is to the false prophets and perilous-prosperity preachers.  Though there is nothing inherently wrong with an exciting feel-good message, our antennae should rise when the full counsel of God is ignored, that is, when the less palatable Scriptures aren’t served to us.  Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word of God found in Genesis to Revelation.  One attribute of a false prophet is their lack of revealing the sin of the people.  They consistently chant “Peace, Peace” to those who are constantly committing iniquitous behavior.  As a result, the LORD declares, “You shall have night without vision, and you shall have darkness without divination.  You’ll get no answer from Me” (See Micah 3:6-7).  So if they aren't hearing from the Lord, what will they declare before the congregations or church assembly? 

The answer–

Their own feel-good message based on natural humanistic precepts, and that usually cater to covetousness.

That’s why we watch out for church pastors who decline to teach through the Bible.  What else can you preach?  But, I find that the hourly sermons pass, and I still haven’t heard a word from the Scriptures which are the only infallible, inerrant, and inspired words of God. 

There’s nothing amiss with regards to comical jokes or experiential stories or extra Biblical quotes; those aspects of a pastor’s message are emotionally charged and heartwarming, yet those are side-lights as we travel down Scriptural streets and Biblical interstates–that’s how our inner state changes!  So keep the course down the discourses of doctrine, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse!  Don't get wrapped around poles!  Keep your eyes on the path of fiery-hermeneutics and not fire-hydrants–which can cause you to wreck before you're refreshed!  Paul said, “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ” (2nd Timothy 3:15).

Micah compares and contrasts himself with the feel-good false prophet.  He is going to deliver to them a blatantly truthful message without hiding anything, even if it makes them uncomfortable and subsequently hate the message…and the messenger.  He can take it–and so can you!  Speak the full counsel of God with truth and grace!  The world needs truth as much as a patient needs the physician to give him the news about a newfound-operable cancer.  Though the patient may be uncomfortable with the news, he needs to hear it!

Micah 5:2

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.

Micah foretells of the coming Messiah and says there is going to be One who steps out of eternity into time, space, and matter.  It's Jesus.  Jesus is the One whose goings forth are from everlasting to everlasting.  It isn’t a paradox for our cognitive-logical reasoning mind to deduce that the future can be eternal and everlasting–that's easy because the future keeps moving forward–but evidently, the past keeps moving backwards!  Jesus is from everlasting!  Just when I thought I have mentally traveled backwards to the vanishing point of creation, it just keeps going to another vanishing point and repeats eternally–backwards!

We worship a God outside of the time domain,

Which is why we attempt great things for God–and expect great things from God!

God is out of this world awesome, and He still does miraculous wonders through us.  Look closely at the life of a man or woman who has spent a lifetime following close behind His Spirit and they'll come out with some stories that will blow your mind–experiences that are larger than life.  Saints, we are the mountain movers and water walkers–and thanks to Jesus–the grave skippers.  He is bigger than our sound-scientific reasons and, still, beyond our wildest-irrational thinking. His ways are beyond our ways and His thoughts above our thoughts.  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out. He’s from everlasting to everlasting–I’m from California.  I can’t figure things out.  Amen?  I necessitate a provenance, direct origin, and ‘start date’ for everything.  My finite-logical mind says, “It must be that way.”  And, once again, I showcase my lack of ‘outside the box’ thinking and marginalized mental limitations which are more precisely referred to as the ‘scientific-mind.’  Jesus will always be bigger than our minds can comprehend,

He has to be! 

He’s from everlasting!

“Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and You have seen Abraham?’  Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’  Then they took up stones to throw at Him...” (John 8:57-59).


“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).  Jesus maneuvers on a grander scale than we can wrap our minds around, and He has stepped into our dimension of time, space, and matter.  It's a wonder that meta-physicality would even consider performing miraculous wonders through non-metaphysical beings, for the Spirit always transcends the flesh.  It always will.  Saints, be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Micah 7:8-9

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.  I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.  He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.

We have all sinned.  Some of us have fallen over and over again to the same thing.  And, like clockwork, we repent and get up again – Only to fall again and repeat the same pattern year after year; and for the decades.  And for the man or woman caught in the disheartening swirl of this cycle, don’t lose heart.  Keep repenting.  Keep forsaking your sin life.  Keep getting back up again.  Never accept your sin nature as part of who you are.  Persist in rejecting your sin nature because there is wonderful news that I believe is the Word of the Lord from heaven above if you continue forsaking, rejecting, and turning away from your sin, no matter how many times you have fallen to it:

Are you ready?

Pharaoh the king of Egypt was adamant and persistent in one thing – Rejecting God.  He had the choice and opportunity both time and again to get right with Him.  He didn’t.  So, God finalized and solidified his decision to be an obstinate and reprobate sinner destined for destruction.  God solidified his choice.  

God solidifies all of our endlessly unyielding choices – Whether it is for righteousness or not.

I’m not a pentecostal charismatic preacher – I don’t think – But I am going to repeat myself:

God solidifies our choices when we persist in them – He begins to carry us along that path.  

He floods us with the resources we need to continue along the paths we choose and carries us along.  He confirms and hardens us in the repetitive choices we make, even the excellent choices we make.  Pharaoh was a creature of destruction due to his continual rejection of righteousness, and we are creatures of luminous and glorious wonder due to our continual rejection of the sin nature.

That’s why when we keep forsaking our sin life and repenting – God takes note.  He says, “This boy keeps repenting of his sin and he truly means it, though he falls.”  And, “He gets back up again and bears My indignation and chastening.  So you know what – I’m just going to solidify his choice to be a righteous man and a warrior for me.  I'll make him awesome.  That is who he is.”  This isn’t a predestination doctrine, it is simply God defining who you are as a result of your continual rejection of sin.  He will begin to carry you along the path that you have chosen  There I go repeating myself.  You and I choose our character and definitively declare that we are children of God when we reject evil and never accept it as who we are.  We declare that we are righteous when we fight against our flesh, and we declare that we are children of the Most High God by our continual rejection of the sin nature – No matter how many times it shows up.  How do I know?  Because though a righteous man falls seven times, seven times he will rise again (Proverbs 24:16).

Never stay in sin.  Repent and reject it.  Forsake it with an attitude and disposition that says, “I will NEVER fall again,” and mean it with everything that is within you.  His mercy endures forever.  “If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1st John 2:1-2).  Propitiation of course means “Satisfaction.”  

Nahum 1:3

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.  The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.

A messenger came to Job saying, “ ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in your oldest son’s house and a whirlwind came and struck the four corners over the house and crushed them.  I alone have escaped to tell you.’  So Job arose, and tore his robe and shaved his head; and fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 2:18-20). 

Who had his way in the whirlwind? 

Was it Satan?

Oh, Satan was behind it.  The devilish idea originated from him, but God will ultimately have His way in the troublesome messes and whirlwinds that come our way.  Contrary and satanic-circumstances are meant for evil against us–to sift us like wheat.  People purposefully mean what they do against us for evil.  Even the very elements can be demonically charged against us for evil, but God shall ‘twist’ and ‘spin’ a precarious and inherently evil circumstance into His perfect will.

Remember Joseph and his brothers?  Remember how they violently cast him into the pit and sold him into slavery, and then how he ultimately found himself in prison?  If you do, then you’ll also remember his majestically-exalted outcome and what he said to his brothers about their ungodly behavior towards him.  Joseph said, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many alive” (Genesis 50:20). 

It's when you're in the pits,

When you say, “I don’t see how any good can come out of this one.”

When you declare, “Oh, Father, why is this happening?  Is it because of my past sin?”

And the Lord would say, “My son, My daughter, I know what I’m doing.  You have to keep walking with Me through this torturously painful trial of affliction.  You’re in the fire for a reason.  You’ll come out of this thing golden and be useful to Me.”

My son, My daughter, remember – “All things” (Romans 8:28).

Nahum 3:19

Your injury has no healing, your wound is severe.  All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually.

Nahum is a minor prophetic book most people don’t usually expound or explicate during conversational fellowship.  Nahum is the book of Jonah part two.  Jonah would have loved it.  He wanted the violent Assyrians to burn.  Nahum is a prophetic word about the destruction of Nineveh, or, more specifically, the retribution of the barbaric Assyrian nation for their cruel devastation, destruction, and displacement of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 (Before Christ) and, evidently, their alluring-contagious immoral ways and sorcerous-drug practices (Nahum 3:4).

This book is about an entire nation.

But in Genesis God calls an individual person a nation (Genesis 25:23).

Studying through Nahum, I believe God gave me an epiphany concerning the so called, “gangsters” or “gang member” style people that M-TV portrays as living the life and being satisfied in their exciting wild ways.  When you pore over the three little chapters in Nahum, you will find that they were guilty of lies, stealing, blood, sexual immorality, drugs, and being wicked continually (Nahum 3: 1, 4, 19). Who does that sound like?  To me, it sounds like the local neighborhood druggie-gangster guy or the misled backslider who acts hard and tough again.  Here’s what Nahum says about your local neighborhood tough guy:

He’s tangled-up and caught-in a variety of messes (1:10), he has a name no one likes (1:14), he stumbles (2:5), he is desolate, wasted (as in destroyed), knee-shaking scared, suffering pain, pale (2:10), empty (2:10), plundered, heartless (as in doesn’t have any passion to do anything), his dwelling is insecure (2:11), no car because it overheated (notice Nahum 2:13), they are a spectacle (3:5), they are vile (3:6), no one wants to help them or comfort them or be around them, they have no one (3:7), will soon be cut off, or carried captive, or carted off to jail (3:10), the children they actually do have are taken away, probably by child protections or by a domineering baby's mother at enmity with them (3:10), and, they are chain bound in slavery or addiction and cannot get themselves under control because they lack the constituent fruit of Spirit which is self control.

Now, does that sound pretty gangster?;  Or tough and hard?  Sounds lame if you ask me, so remember Nahum next time you meet someone who glorifies their “gangster-ish” past and call it for what it is.  Nahum did, he knew God was patient and slow to anger, but Nahum also knew God wasn’t going to acquit the wicked.  These “rock and roll-vida loca” dudes don’t get away with anything (Nahum 1:3).  Some men foam up their shame and think it's exciting.  We live the exciting life, not them.  Call it for what it is.  Friends, don't let the seduction of Satan make a vile life alluring.

Habakkuk 1:1

The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.

The whole vision of Habakkuk summarized, succinctly put, and in a synopsis….

Habakkuk cries out to the LORD because of the oppression and wickedness of the men of Judah.  The LORD answers him and says, “Habakkuk, I’m going to return the wickedness of your brethren upon them.  I’m raising up a bitter and hasty nation against them referred to as the Chaldeans.  They are going to violently kill some of them and take Judah off the map.”  Then Habakkuk, in essence, says, “Oh my LORD have mercy. We’re bad, but the Babylonians are worse than we are!  Why do you hold your tongue when the wicked devours someone more righteous than him?  Are we all like fish of the sea who eat each other and it doesn’t matter?”  Then when Habakkuk innately knows that there is something about God’s character that he doesn’t understand, he sits atop a rampart to wait for God to correct him.  He didn’t just run off.  He waited for his answer and received a word from above.  God said, “What I’m going to reveal to you is so serious, I want you to write it on tablets–and it will be forever recorded in Scripture.  Habakkuk, I’m going to destroy the Babylonian empire after they finish off Judah, and everyone else who is proud will have the same utter shame that reproachfully adheres to the memory of everyone they encounter, like a taunting riddle or a children's song.”  

Even now, there is a childish malaise-melody resounding in your mind as a trite song–never to be forgotten.  

Row, row, row your boat gently down the….I’m sure you can finish.  It’s abecedarian prattle–I know.

Jack and Jill went up the hill to….Go ahead, it’s rudimentary-lame but it’s forever imprinted in your memory.

The itsy-bitsy spider went up the….And that's the LORD’S point!

God is fashioning such embarrassing shame to-be-bestowed upon the proud, everyone will always have their disgrace embedded, ingrained, and imprinted in their heads as a taunting riddle or a trite children’s song.  These are not offenses we should ever catch ourselves in!  Both the backsliding Jew or the pagan-world offending in these areas will become a perpetual by-word, taunting song, and derision in the esteem of others–forever!  They’ll be a lasting and living laughingstock! How embarrassing and shameful!  So Habakkuk concludes his short prophecy by realizing that God doesn’t let people get away with anything!  Though He seems to tarry, He’s coming in a Spirit of wrath (3:2), war (3:9), and wonder (3:10-11) to strike the head of every house who commits these atrocities.  And Habakkuk, and me and you, should tremble with joy that God gives us rest in the day of judgment. He finalizes his prophecy by remembering that we have a God we can call upon, we rejoice in our salvation, and He makes our feet like deer’s feet.  We walk on our high places!  “When the wicked spring up like grass, it is that they may be destroyed forever!” (Psalm 92:7).  Persecutors only have a brief duration of time to grow and thrive–and the deer chew up the grass!  So keep rowing!  Keep climbing the hills!  And keep traveling up the spout where the blessings come out–where the love of God is! (Jude 1:23).  The wicked will bow in the presence of the righteous!

Habakkuk 3:18

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

What an opposite perspective Habakkuk has upon conclusion.  He began his prophecy crying out to be saved, saying, "O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?  Even cry out to You 'Violence!'  And You will not save"  (Habakkuk 1:2).  Now, he is rejoicing in the God-Who-Saves.  What happened?  I read the book.  There isn't a significantly direct answer that deals with Habakkuk's plight.  The concise message that I can recall was that God was going to judge Israel and then God was going to judge Babylon...and then Habakkuk praises the Hero who rides on chariots of salvation.  At some point Habakkuk's mindset changed into having a God who saves us versus the God who previously and allegedly didn't hear when we called.  And I suggest to you that he never received a detailed response addressing his problems because he already emphatically knew of God's saving character through the written word.  His third chapter is extremely reminiscent of Psalm 18, a Psalm of David's salvationa section of Scripture he already knew...just like you and I know.  We cry out for an answer and wrestle through our drama, when we already know of God's saving character by the word and what our outcome will ultimately be!  

In some cases, as you know, He tarries and delays much too long for our satisfaction, but He comes in His perfect time and delays for His reasons;

Heavenly reasons we may never be aware of.

Job cried out seemingly-endlessly without any response, but there was something much bigger taking place–a face to face showdown between God and Satan in the heavenly places (Job 1:8-12; 2:1-7).

Though we should never put God in a box because His ways are past finding out, we have a good idea of how God operates through the written word!  His ways are established as recurring as the predictable patterns of the morning (Hosea 6:3).  So, He is coming to fix everything in His time.  He always does!  We may not get an answer!  But here's why our opening downcast-prayers outburst in delightful praiseHe's done it before and He'll do it again!  Chances are, you've been face down on the floor crying out about something that troubled youbut here you are again!  You're blessed and can't remember what was plaguing you!  And when more troubles befall you, He is going to get you out of them again!  He is the Savior!  That's what He doesteachers teach, singers sing, police protect...saviors save!

Though His salvation sometimes falls in line with our timetables, it's just not about you and your time; or me and mine.  It's all about God's grand schematic and a precise heavenly timing that performs the greatest good.  When Jesus was called concerning His friend Lazarus' dreadful sickness, He did nothing about it.  He stayed where He was for two more days. Then, when Lazarus died, his sister Mary said, "If You would have been here my brother would not have died!"  Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?"  Then Jesus said, "Roll away the stone."  And Mary said, "Lord, by this time there is a stench.  He has been dead four days!"  And He said, "Lazarus, come forth!" And Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44).  Though you are dreadfully sickened from calling out because the situation is dastardly sourin fact it's borderline rotten, and it flat out stinks!the Lord is don't need an answer.  Beloved, He's going to fix everything in His time, not in yours or in mine.

Zephaniah 1:3

“I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked.  I will cut off man from the face of the land,” says the LORD.

One sinner destroys much good.  He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and cover over a multitude of sins–sins that stumble others into destroying much good too.  Now when a man or a woman accepts sin as normalcy, they casually commit the very evils that God declares as forbidden, yet they carry on in it and others begin to think it’s acceptable.  Or, worse yet, people are seduced and drawn into sinning; that’s why Paul said, “But rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). 

There is, however, one stumbling block that God deems acceptable to roll under the feet of others.

It’s the Chief Cornerstone which the builders rejected–Jesus (Psalm 118:22).

“But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1st Corinthians 1:23).

There are an ostentatious select few practicing gross sin all around us.  They flagrantly, flippantly, and flamboyantly act as if nothing is wrong with it and push away the Spirit of repentance.  Don’t be deceived by them, they don’t last long.  God won’t accept it.  ‘God will remove every stumbling block, along with the wicked.  He will cut them off from the face of the land. 

They won't be around very long.  They're disillusioned by a short-lived licentious freedom.

It’s true.

“For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more.  But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:10).  The word meek is definitively power under control.  It was a term used in reference to a wild stallion who has become broken, tame, and docile.  When a stumbling block rolls your way–be meek.  Resist the seduction.  Keep yourself from running wild like an animalso you can continue hurling the Stone back at them!  

Zephaniah 3:19

 Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you;  I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame. 

What a hidden diamond tucked away in the obscure, usually unreferenced book of Zephaniah!  God is speaking to individuals who were driven out, and to a nation that was yet to be re-established.  They are appointed to fame and praise.  What good news for those who have lived mediocre and recurring-carnal Christian lives. 

Now is the time for your solidified unwavering loyalty–it comes with a unique blessing!

Today is the day to walk in the Spirit–today and forevermore.

“But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5).  There are levels of enjoying our blessed salvation, though we are all saved by childlike faith in Christ.  There are those who are still steeped in Egypt and don't have a clue.  Secondly, there are those who are saved, but are carnal and on the brink of recapitulating calamity and wandering through life defeated–people who never enter into the promises and the blessed Spirit filled life.  And, finally, there are those who let the Lord have His way–people who are extravagantly sold out, surrendered, and Spirit filled!  So, there are:

‘Egypt’ style people–fully engrafted in the world’s system and lost,

Children of Israel style people–saved from the world, but their repetitive backsliding causes them to live a life full of wandering and questions.

Then, there are those who have left Egypt, they’ve left the wilderness wanderings, and they’ve traveled up the mountain to remain in the presence of God as Moses did, and God made him exceedingly famous (Exodus 11:3).  Why? because hearing from God in the solitary-quiet places causes you to returnglowing in the Spirit of God.  Praise and fame awaits the select-elect chosen few, 

Though, in the end, 

It doesn't matter if you are world famous or not.  

We aren't here long.  

We are just passing through like everyone else.  Soon enough, your fan club will dwindle into an old group and another generation on the up-rise will say, “Who...who is that?  I've never heard of him.”  We are here as living stones that are being fashioned, chipped away, and smoothed-out for heaven–we are here to be tested, approved, and hauled off to eternity.  Our lives are as short lived as a flower, and so is our glory...and our praise and fame (1st Peter 1:24).  

So be joyful and rejoice!  What does it matter anyway?  We're going to heaven!

Haggai 1:6

You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.

The people of Haggai’s day were saying, “Oh, it’s not time to re-build and embellish the house of the LORD,” when indeed it was high time to start working on it again.  They were experiencing harsh circumstances as a result of their temple neglect.

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” (1st Corinthians 6:19).

The message in Haggai is one and the same:  

It’s time to start building up the temple.  

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you have from God.  You are not your own.  You were bought at a price, therefore honor God in your body and your spirit which are God’s (1st Corinthians 6:19-20).  Why is this such a crucial doctrine hidden and tucked away in the Old Testament?  Because God wants to use you, but if your body is in shambles because you aren’t taking proper care of it as a result of a licentious or lascivious or loser-ish lifestyle of living, then you aren’t going to prosper.  You’ll put your money into a bag with holes.  And not only that, you’ll work hard and only bring in little.  And, worst of all, you’ll eat and drink but not be satisfied.  And not only that, your style, swag, and habiliments will tatteredly-testify to your lack of care for your own body.  Your body is the exalted temple that David declared, Must be exceedingly magnificent and famous among the nations” (1st Chronicles 22:5).  The screaming and sobering message of Haggai is to take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit and to not let yourself become a ‘hag-guy’ or a ‘hag-girl.’  Sin takes a toll on our vessels, and rapidly wearies and ages our flesh.  I’ve seen young people who look twenty to thirty years older than they really are because–well, who knows what they are doing?

Haggai 2:9

“The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,” says the LORD of hosts.  “And in this place I will give peace,” says the LORD of hosts.

The subsequent Jewish temple which was constructed, and later beautified five-hundred years later during the Herodian Dynasty, did not resemble the quality, splendor, and grandeur of Solomon’s golden temple.  Herod’s embellishment of the second temple was magnificent, but did not, I believe, have the same richness and sterling quality of Solomon’s first construction for the time.  Why? Because in Ezra we read that Cyrus’ temple was a sad and crude travesty compared to the first temple.  The old men, who knew how beautiful it was, wept aloud because the temple just wasn’t the same (Ezra 3:12).

So why does Haggai say that this second edifice will be greater than the former?

It isn’t because Herod the Great renovated it–it’s because Jesus will physically show up there!

Like most of us, maybe you don’t have a mansion with bowling alleys and Olympic sized indoor swimming pools, and a Starbucks caffeine-free automatic dispensing coffee and chocolate machine, but Jesus is welcomed in your home!  And that makes your dwelling divine!  Every home that worships the LORD in the beauties of holiness is a glorious home that exceeds EVERY other residence that doesn’t–Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My father on His throne" (Revelation 3:20-21).  Let Him sit on your couch, so to speak, and He will let you sit on His!  May Jesus be at home in your house–making it a gloriously divine dwelling, and an exalted high heavenly home....

Zechariah 1:1-2

In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, “The LORD has been very angry with your fathers….”

How often I wish I had the gumption, confidence, and boldness of a prophet–to have what it takes to plainly declare the truth without masking any of it.  The office of a prophet is not to be taken lightly.  We glorify fiery words and thunderous declarations from the Lord, but audiences regularly do not accept them.  Zechariah, the prophet before us, isn’t any different.  Notice what Jesus said about His prophetically incredulous-tough audiences, “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:34-35).

And throughout Scripture,

The worst of them were very religious.  

They often persecute those who walk in love and in the Spirit–and nothing has changed.

Does anyone desire prophecy?  If you do, then good!  Desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy (1st Corinthians 14:1).  Just know that if God gives you a vision or a dream or a word for someone, it may not be very pleasant or palatable.   You may not be very popular.  Recently reading through Amos, I was reminded concerning this fact; when he said to Amaziah the priest of Bethel, “Your wife shall be a harlot in the city and your children shall fall by the sword and others will take your land...” (Amos 7:17). 


I doubt that one went over.  Evidently, it didn't go over for Zechariah either.

Zechariah 3:9

“For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua:  Upon the stone are seven eyes.  ‘Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.’ ”

And He did…

Around three ‘O’ clock past midday (Matthew 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37; Luke 23:44-46).

In fact,

He removed the sin of the world along with that!

Joshua the high priest is being accused by Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren.  Satan stands against each and every one of us to accuse us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10).  And the Lord stands for each and every one of us both day and night, and forevermore (Hebrews 7:25).  He always lives to make intercession for us.  He’s our eternal advocate (1st John 2:1).  Joshua wasn’t worthy.  He was defiled, soiled, and wearing tattered garments. 


We aren’t worthy.  We are defiled, soiled, and tattered by sin–just like Joshua the high priest; we are firebrands plucked from the impending fire of hell, thanks to Jesus Christ our Savior.  He has washed us in His own blood and clothed us with garments of righteousness.

Praise God.  Hallelujah.  Without being robed in His righteousness and holiness, we wouldn’t have attained our V.I.P. heavenly all-access pass! – Void of Iniquity Persona Pass.

Jesus said, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.  So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’  And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” (Matthew 22:11-13).

As an addendum,

Though prophecy can be geographically-intricate and symbolic at times, the seven eyes that Zechariah mentioned on the stone are the eyes of the Lord (Zechariah 4:10).  Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone.  He's the Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense.  Whomever He falls upon shall be crushed to pieces (Luke 20:18).  I believe that includes our accusing adversary.  Jesus is always watching us with perfect clarity, awarity, and sharp advocacy as our heavenly defense attorney.  We are the apple of His eye and we are engraved upon the palms of His handswe are the inscription on the stone which Zechariah spoke of.

Zechariah 6:13

Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD, He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

Today many orthodox Jews continue to not believe in Jesus as the Messiah.  They’re still waiting for Him as if He never came.  They believe the coming Messiah will lead them in the construction of their temple–and they’re all set up for the Antichrist!

Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).  Jesus spoke about the temple of His body that He would give for the life of the world, and rise again.  He raised up His own vessel after three days of being buried, and most assuredly, He who believes in the Son has everlasting life–with full confidence and assurance, He will raise up our temples in the same fashion.  Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah at every angle:

And though Jesus has a resurrected body of glorification,

He will also build a millennial temple with a physical location,

And put your dead body back in motion!

“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11).  There’s a hidden key in all of this:  It’s the secret to maintaining and preserving glory.  Throughout Scripture, there’s only one King and Priest which is, of course, Jesus.  When anyone would try to assume the role of king and priest such as Uzziah or Saul–He snatched their glory away!  There’s only one all-wise potentate and we are not him, so it’s mandatory to allow the Holy Spirit of God to rule and reign in our temples.  Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are not our own; we were bought at a price (1st Corinthians 6:19-20).  Jesus rules as Wonderful Counselor and High Priest and governing King on the throne of our hearts, forever....

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem for not knowing the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Daniel foretold of this event (Daniel 9:24-27) and Zechariah gives us the collaborative detailed picture of this anticipated advent.  In lowliness and humility, Jesus moved the whole city.  And we know the story:

“A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David!  ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’  Hosanna in the highest!”  And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:8-10). 

Even on His greatest day, during His inauguration as King over Jerusalem, He was lowly.  He didn’t ride on a golden chariot or silver palanquin.  In lowliness of mind, the Messiah came meek and humble, and on a donkey.  There are two verses that I often seek to call to mind:

“…I am nothing” (2nd Corinthians 12:11).


“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God…made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:5-7).

When I keep in mind that I am nothing, without fail–God gives me grace and loving favor.  He lifts me up.   Then, like clockwork, I subtly begin to think I’m God’s gift to humanity and He reminds me how expendable and worthless I am when pride creeps in.  I don’t have self confidence issues–I am nothing.  I am staying there tooI am loving it!

Zechariah 11:17

Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock!  A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye; his arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded.

This passage is in reference to the Antichrist. 

John said, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been wounded, and his deadly wound was healed.  And all the world marveled and worshiped the beast” (Revelation 13:3). 

The Antichrist miraculously heals due to a satanically charged power and authority.  Evil has power.  Its duration is short and its wrathful-power brief.  When Jesus was being led and unlawfully carried away to a kangaroo trial, He told them that tonight they have been granted power and that tonight, this ungodly night, is yours.  It was the night of the power of darkness (Luke 22:53).  God gave the devil the power to shake the earth, create whirlwinds, and possess wicked men to fulfill satanic purposes (Job 1-2).  So the Dragon, who raises Antichrist from the dead in mimicry of the Father raising Jesus from the dead, has been given power–but it accomplishes God’s purposes in the end.  Nothing can be done against the truth, but for the truth.  I can’t help but think of Job patiently enduring hardships from the devil, only for God to use his life in all of our lives.  I still can’t think of one single solid Christian who hasn’t related to Job in one way or another. Joseph’s brothers violently cast him into a pit of envy.  They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).  And, I can’t help but think of Jesus, who was given into Satan’s hand for the suffering of death, but God used their ill-intentioned Pharisaical hands to accomplish an eternal good.  Stand in the evil day, having done all to stand (Ephesians 6:13).  God’s purpose will prevail.  It always does.

Malachi 1:1-4

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?  And yet Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated and laid waste his mountains for the jackals of the wilderness.  Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished yet we shall rebuild the desolate places.”  They may build, but I will throw down,” says the LORD.  “They shall be a people of whom the LORD shall have indignation forever.”

I do not want to be Esau.  I do not want the LORD’S anger to burn against me forever...that sounds like what eternity in hell would be.  I want to be like Jacob, even though Jacob means “deceiver” or “supplanter.”  Jacob had a heart for God.  God loved him.  Yet, Esau was godless and was willing to give everything up for small bowl of soup.  What are we willing to give up God’s blessing for?  A night of sin?  An extremely short indulgence for a lifetime of pain, sorrow, and anguish?

“It just sounds so pleasurable,” we say.  Well, even the Bible says sin is pleasurable for a season but afterwards it yields harmful repercussions (see Hebrews 11:25).  You will get trouble in the workplace, pain in your family, enemies surrounding and rejoicing over you…the price tag is just too big.  Romans 2:9 declares, “Sorrow and anguish to every soul that sinneth…yet glory, honor and power to the soul that persists in righteousness.”

"So let us make sure that no one is sexually immoral or that no one is Godless like Esau, who for one morsel of food gave up his birthright.  For you know that afterward when he wanted to receive the blessing he was rejected, even though he sought it [the blessing, not repentance] diligently and with tears”  (Hebrews 12:16).  The mathematics of sin always work out the same way: It will add to your sorrow, multiply your troubles, subtract from your energy, and divide your loyalties. Friends, don't be godless like Esau, who traded his future blessings for one quick little indulgence of sin.

Malachi 2:8

“But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law.  You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of Hosts.

In an ever growing monetary demanding society, work is an absolute necessity.  I believe doors will open for every person who truly wants to succeed in any area of their fancy.  The imperative command from above, today, would be to walk in the Holy Spirit and perform in your area of expertise in the love of Christ–in burning love.  If not, then, of course–do not spend eight hours a day for forty hours a week watching a clock and desiring to be elsewhere.  Life is too short.  Many passionate glowing Christians eventually adapted to societal workforce sector standards, only to live out drab lives whose only highlight is to consume alcoholic beverages and obsessing-fanatically over watching sports. 

You can do better. 

To them, Christianity was a thing of the past.

It became a sentiment and fond memory because they departed from the way.

They still claim Christianity, yet I easily recognize such persons by their inability to communicate Christian values and lack of spiritual fervor.  It’s extremely hard, if not impossible, to fellowship with apostates who forsook the law.  We all have to work.  When work causes you to disconnect from your God and family, and leaves your domestic home-life cloudy and uncontrollable–something went wrong.  The only way to see God work to the fullest potential in your life is to give Him all your years.  We are His poem, workmanship, and masterful piece of art (Ephesians 2:10).  Any abandonment, jumping the clay-wheel, or deserting ship will leave an abstract-obscure and unfinished pending piece of work that stumbles others–a vast many others.  I would rather be broke than depart.

Malachi 3:10

“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 such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

You’ve heard of the ties that bind, but blessed be the tithes that unbind!  When we give, we give away our greed and selfishness–and in return we become sterling people of integrity.  There aren’t many places in the Bible where God asks you to test Him.  In fact, testing the Lord is frowned upon–but not with regards to tithing.  God says, “Try Me now in this and see if I won’t pour out for you such blessing that you won’t have room enough to receive it.  I’ll open the floodgates of heaven.  I’ll rebuke the devourer for your sakes–I’ll stop the worm from gnawing on everything you have, including your conscience.  You’ll tread on your high places with joy and rejoicing–and majestically retain an enviable quality of life.  Every class of people in all nations will call you blessed, and you’ll be a delight.”

And, know for certain:

The devouring worm will not eat at your conscience–as it does when you withhold your tithes.

You won’t spend all your guilty thoughts on justifying why ‘it’s okay’ to keep your tithes!  What a wearisome war!

“Oh, but we aren’t under the Law anymore, so I can keep it,” one says.  That’s risky business, because tithes came before the Law was given.  In the New Testament Jesus says to give your tithes (Matthew 23:23).  “He who gives sparingly will also reap sparingly, but he who gives bountifully shall also reap bountifully” (2nd Corinthians 9:6).  Tithing puts you in a whole new realm and drastically changes your domestic circumstances; it's tried and true!  It's more blessed to give than to receive. Try Him!  Test Him!  You can't out give God!  He rolls back so much more!  Just a tenth, that's all He requires of you.

The tithes goes to His house, His churchnot on some charitable cause for feeding children or relief effort.  As good as those things are, there are specific prerequisites for tithes. It's into My storehouse,’ says the LORD.  Give to the place you know where the word of God is being systematically taught.  Everything above the tithes is the offeringand that goes wherever you want it toyou know, feeding the children, rescue efforts, or cousin Billy who always needs five dollars.  

I don't have a cousin named Billy, but you know.

Matthew 1:18b-19

...Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Joseph was a just man.  He knew Mary could be stoned or be categorized as a shady-lady in the eyes of the public.  It obviously looked like fornication, so he tried to cover it up.  What a good man.  If I was in his shoes I would have been first to call the Orel Hershiser assembly of Jews against her; He was an M.V.P. shut-out pitcher for the Dodgers in game 7 of the 1988 World Series.  Anyways, not Joseph, he truly was a loving man and a just man.  How do I know?

“He who seeks love covers a transgression, but he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9). 

One sure fire way to ruin your friendship bond in any relationship is to mention your past sins.  In college, when I was the teacher for Campus Crusade Cal. State San Bernardino, I met a stranger who was a new believer who said, “Man, Mike, I love this girl and I just want to be honest with her.  I want to tell her everything I’ve done both good and bad.”  “Whatever, sounds good I guess,” I said (Just Kidding). Then he said, “I’m gonna tell her about every girl I’ve ever been with.”  “Whoa tiger!” I replied, “are you sure that’s a good idea?”  Then, in this hypothetical and true conversation, I shared with him Proverbs 17:9 and said, “You’re gonna end up separated.”  See, the wife is commanded to be a friend to her husband: “Admonish the young women to love their husbands” (Titus 2:4).  The Greek word for “love” in this scripture is “Philia” or “Phileo,” which, of course, is a “friendship.”  Wives are to be friends to their husbands.  You repeat old sinful matters and you will break that friendship – I promise.

You’re a new creation in Christ.  You died and your life is hidden in Him.  Your sin life will never benefit you in any way.  Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).  Well, some say, “Having tried sin, I’m a better person because now I’m aware of the sin that is out there.”  -Nope, you are dead wrong.  The flesh profits nothing.  God didn’t want you to ever know the depths of sin.  Paul said, “I want you to be wise about what is good and be innocent about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).  God would rather you be an ignorant-country bumpkin when it comes to sin than to be wise at it or an authority in it.  Have you been evil?  Why glory in shame?  God has cleansed you of it, purged you from it, and provided a covering for it.  

God has always been in the business of covering sin up.

He covered up the sin of Adam and Eve with a sacrifice and created for them tunics of skin.

He covered it up in the Holy of Holies when the blood of the animal sacrifice was sprinkled on a Mercy Seat on the top of the Ark of the Covenant.  What was inside of the Ark?  There were three articles symbolizing sinful disobedience covered up by a mercy seat.  These included: The stone tablets of the law consistently broken throughout the wilderness wanderings; the ever-so complained about and rejected manna pot, and the rejected authoritative-rod of the Aaronic priesthood.

He covers up all your sin forever through the shed blood of Jesus the Messiah.

Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  One day Ham happened to see his father naked and drunk while being passed out in his tent.  ‘Twas a shameful and embarrassing sight indeed.  Ham, at this point, began to proclaim and parade his father Noah’s sin.  His brothers, Shem and Japheth, grabbed a blanket, walked in backwards so as not to see their father’s nakedness and covered his shame up.   When Noah awoke from his stupor he knew what Ham did.  As a result, Noah cursed Ham’s lineage but blessed those who covered his sin up.

Wanna be a big Ham?  Talk junk about your Dad, dishonor your Mother, or rejoice in parading the sin of others.  Or, instead, just gossip, and watch how you live a cursed and unattractive life with wretched friends who have an evil ear to hear what you have to say.  Now, instead, “Speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2).  -Not even your enemies.  Joseph didn’t, and he goes down as a just, good, and godly man who literally knew Jesus in a way all of us never have.  

Matthew 5:1

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you…” (Matthew 5:2-18 NKJV).

I love Jesus!  I want more!  I get the feeling you do too!

Thus, we have the inception of the greatest sermon ever preached!The Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:7-8a

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.  For they think they will be heard for their many words.  Therefore do not be like them….

Even the heathens pray?  Yes, and notice what else they do:

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness’ ” (Matthew 7:22-23).

I was amazed when I saw that the heathen do these things, then it occurred to me – these are all miracles that deal with speaking: 

Vain repetitive prayers –they’re just speaking empty words that don’t even hit the ceiling (Psalm 66:18).

Prophesied in Your name –talk, talk, talk, they’re prophesying, but not by Him (Jeremiah 23:21).

Cast out demons –blah, blah, blah, they are casting out devils with no results (Acts 19:15).

Done many wonders –most likely dealing with speaking.

Pseudo religious people can readily be identified by their true colors, by their fruits, and by the spirit behind them.  Though it may be a mystery to differentiate between a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a genuine bona fide Christian’s conversation when they both speak the Scriptures, their fruit will eventually come to light.  You’ll soon see the flesh in their lives rear its ugly head.  Bad language here and there, improprieties then and there –it all comes out sooner or later.  There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

On the contrary, the Spirit filled believer speaks words in due season that are timely, inspiring, and trustworthy to act upon in your hour of decision.  So, someone says, “But, I haven’t got anyone real around me.  They’re all religious hypocrites.” Not true, there have to be some true Spirit filled believers in your life because God always leaves a remnant no matter how dark the days are (Romans 11:3-4).

The truly Spirit filled Christian speaks words that feed many; Their precious words are apples of gold in settings of silver; mighty words in due season. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Oh, that we would be men and women whose words are weighty, powerful, and full of truth and grace!

Oh, that we would be men and women whose prayers come before Him, even to His very ears!

Matthew 11:11

Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Luke illuminates various facets on this passage that further declare who John was, in Jesus’ estimation.  Jesus said, “But what did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.  This is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…” (Luke 7:26-28).


So, if John is greater than all other miracle-making prophets, he must have:

Called lightning down from the heavens,

Shook the earth when he spoke,

Vanquished his enemies with fire from his mouth.

No.  He did none of these things – All he did was point to Jesus.  In fact, the Bible says, “John performed no miracles, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true” (John 10:41).

Naturally, we would interpret the charisma, character, and mighty wonder working power of John the Baptist as a transcendent being who possessed abnormal supernatural qualities surpassing every other unique Biblical figure.  After all, he is the greatest of every prophet who has ever lived.  Yet, all he did was tell others about Jesus, and he had a greater ministry than every prophet who has ever lived.  I believe that if we point to Jesus as the central and most pertinent message of everything we possibly have to say, we too will have an all surpassing and transcendent ministry!  Point to Jesus!  There is no greater message!  There is no greater sign and wonder!

Matthew 12:31

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.

There is an ultimate sin.  There are lesser sins.  And, there are levels of sin.  Not all sin is the same, but all sin separates you and me from our Creator.  It doesn’t matter what interval our sin falls under, whether it be small or horrendous, it will eventually cause dangerous trouble.

The disciples told Jesus about how Pilate viciously put to death some Jews by mingling their blood with a sacrifice.  Pilate did it to mock them.  Jesus responded by telling a story about a building that toppled over and killed the eighteen people inside of it.  He said, “Do you think that these people were worse sinners than all other people who dwell in Jerusalem because the tower fell on them?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (See Luke 13:1-5). 

Pilate killed them, and they weren’t that bad, but according to Jesus they were guilty of small sins that led to their death.  The tower fell on these upper class sinners who seemingly had it all figured out, yet they were practicing smaller sins that would lead to death.  They weren’t repenting of all their sins, even the ostensibly petty and tiny sins that would seem insignificant to me and you.  That’s why He said, “They aren’t as bad as others, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”  So, there are levels of sin.  Some are worse, but if you and I choose not to repent, we will have the same fate.

When the Holy Spirit of God is calling you to give it up – give it up.  Repent of it and toss it, no matter how small or petty you think it is.  Let the Spirit of God have His way, and peace and rest will fill your heart.

What is the ultimate sin?  The ultimate sin we can commit is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  All sins will be forgiven men and women, but the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this life and in the age to come.  Jesus said, “If anyone speaks a word against Me it will be forgiven him, but he who speaks against the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven him forever" (Matthew 12:32).

What exactly is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?  It isn’t necessarily mocking or making fun of Him; it is that too, but it is singularly the rejection of His tender call.  Turning your back or going against the gentle loving beckon of the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.  How can it?  If someone rejects the Holy Spirit, who will forgive them?  They have rejected the only way to be forgiven.  The Spirit of grace is the only entrance into the heavenly call of embracing Jesus Christ and all He did for you and I.  It is an insult to reject Christ – it's an insult that results in a fearful expectation of judgment, and according to Hebrews, it is like trampling the body of Jesus underfoot (Hebrews 10:26-28).

Matthew 18:19

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Being in the Christian faith long enough, you’ll hear pastors and preachers negate the impact of this very verse by saying that it isn’t an opportunity to get what you want and just because you both agree, doesn’t mean it will happen.  Don’t believe it.  God gives us the keys to the kingdom that transcend human understanding, even though incredulous skeptical critics beg to differ and forget that if we ask anything in the name of Jesus we shall have it (John 14:14).  He hears our prayers and we have the things we ask of Him because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing to Him (1st John 3:22).  So why wouldn’t the impact of two carry double the potency in prayer?  It does–both effectively and impactfully–it does, which is why it’s crucially mandated to bring our requests to the church, prayer boards, or our friends and family in the faith.  Daniel the prophet did.  He saw trouble from afar and, by default, immediately let his fellow companions know to pray (Daniel 2:17-18).

“The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

And, the effective fervent prayer of two righteous avails more. 

There’s a divine summons that occurs by the gathering of two or more in the name of Jesus, though He is omnipresent, He beams and teleports Himself into your gatheringand reveals His presence in a very tangibly luminous way.  Our prayers reach His ears even when we are alone–I do not doubt the power of one–but God takes a literal written note when the righteous gather together to talk over issues and problems (Malachi 3:16).  And, when they pray as two or more.

Matthew 21:13

And He said to them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer. 

Recently, I attended a church that I didn’t put much stock into.  I must admit that I attended because there was going to be free all-you-can-eat street tacos that night.  I expected to be bored.  As I gathered into the worship hall with my wife and children, I sighed….

But then,

Soon enough, the Spirit of God descended upon me and everyone else,

As He always does at a Jesus believing church,

And I had a revelation.

Jesus is going to show up at church.  He always will.  You can come expecting a dead body, for the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23), and leave like the two women who came expecting to see the grave and corpse of Jesus, only to find that He wasn’t dead, but glorified (Mark 16:1-6). 

I did have a life changing revelation.  The Holy Spirit took of what was in my heart and revealed to me that:

I don’t have to be bored.

I can pray.

Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13).

When you are at church, pray.  When you are sitting there among a congregation, pray.  God inhabits the praises of His people.  When two or more are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).  And, though God answers your prayers from afar, even when it is just you and Him.  There’s something about reaching out to God when His heart is overwhelmed with the love of His people who have gathered in His name.  His presence is there in a very real and tangible way.  It’s overwhelming and indescribable.  You don’t have to be bored, you can pray.  Make the most of the opportunity!  There He is!  Now is your chance!

Matthew 22:30

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

Upon the deceasing of an espousal in a marriage, the passing party releases the significant other from the marriage bond.  If the husband or wife dies then he or she is free to marry whom they please without committing adultery.  We were married to the law, and since Jesus Christ annulled, abated, and removed the handwritten requirements that were against us–we’re incredulously free.  We are not under the law, but we’re under grace, so, Paul the Apostle says to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).  What glorious freedom we have in Jesus Christ; it’s not a ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ religious relationship, it’s a ‘get to do this’ and ‘get to do that’ relationship.

Yet, the Theological implications of this passage are remarkably phenomenal.

There isn’t any marriage in heaven (Mark 12:24).

That’s not what the other religions teach.  Mormonism teaches celestial marriage.  Islam teaches marital unions between a man and his seventy virgins.  Islam also teaches that Jesus Christ never died for sin, which means they are still married to the law–which means they’ll be condemned by the very doctrine to which they are espoused.  Both are very misled. 

I feel so bad for the wife of a Muslim man.  She has to live out her marriage knowing that her husband is going to soon be rewarded with seventy women that are not her.  Men could you imagine a doctrine that teaches that your wife is going to be taken by seventy men?  It’s the same thing.  What kind of hope is that?  It’s just weird.

Matthew 28:19

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit....”

I love baptism.  It is an outward sign of an inward confession.  Upon completion of writing this installment, I asked my wife if I had written concerning baptism before because I wasn’t sure.  My tech-savvy daughter then brought up my site and typed something to bring up the word “Baptism” and she quickly told me that I had.  So, I realized that I have explicated, expounded, and elucidated this ideology before, but I don’t mind.  It is a very serious doctrinal issue and I believe I will leave it too.  I hope I don’t sound redundant; I really don’t beat this drum always.  I just happened to do it again.  I hope you enjoy.

Baptism doesn’t save you.  The blood of Jesus saves you. Period.  Entire cults have been formed over this misconception and it is a bummer that they divided, sectioned, and factioned over it. 

Here’s the big problem-resolved that any student of the Bible must know.  Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; But he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).  The Greek word for “Saved” here is “Sozo,” which means to do well, to be successful, and to enjoy the full orb of God’s blessing.  It is the same word that Paul used when he said, “Nevertheless women shall be saved in childbearing” (1st Timothy 2:15).  It just means you’ll do well in life, not saved from impending destruction.

There is another word the Bible uses for being saved from destruction and hell.  It is the word “Saved” and it is written as the word “Diasozo" as the Greek transliteration.  

Ok, so Sozo means to do well and Diasozo means to be saved from destruction or hell.

Entire churches and cults have formed from this error.  They’ll tell you that if you aren’t baptized you will go to hell.  They’ll tell you that you aren’t saved.

They’re weirdos.  As if anything could be added to the work that Christ accomplished on the cross!

Think about it like this: The God and Creator of the universe, of the earth and everything, every creature; along with the seas and the teeming life within them came down to the earth and shed His blood on the cross.  He suffered, was whipped with a flagellum, and had His back ripped open to resemble bloody ground beef – atoned for our sins forever and ever.  He saved us.  Amen…Oh, and you gotta dip your body in water.

No way!  That last part surely doesn’t sound right at all!  No, it is “By grace you are saved, through faith and not of yourselves.  It is a gift of God, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Baptism is a work, not the free gift of eternal life!

In Luke 23:42, Jesus was crucified between two criminals.  One of them said to Him, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”  He never had time to go and get baptized, but based on the words of Jesus, he is in heaven aside from baptism.

Baptism is wonderful and I desire to baptize as many as I can!  People who are baptized do well and fulfill the righteous requirement of God.  Baptism will not, however, get anyone into heaven.  It’s all about the blood!

Mark 3:5

And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

Once again, Jesus is the final authority on everything due to His sinless nature.  Though Jesus was mad, you’ll never ever see Him fight with His fists or have any altercations.  If He did, you can be sure He would have the victory, for those hands are the hands of God.  He fought through prayer and the Spirit of the Living God.  When we perceive His smoldering anger, we know that it is right, just, and pure-holy anger.  He was always filled with the fruits of the Spirit. 


When we think about the fruits of the Spirit, we all ponder the traits of love.

We think about joy, peace, and patience…

We reflect on longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and self-control…yet,

We are forgetting one:

Anger (1st Samuel 11:6).

Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us and we will serve you.”  Then Nahash said, “Let me put out all of your right eyes and I will let you serve me.”  Then they said, “Give us seven days to send messengers throughout Israel to call for help, and if no one comes, then we will serve you.”  So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the words of Nahash the Serpent, for Nahash means “Serpent” in Hebrew, in the hearing of the people.  “Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.”  Then he ripped apart the oxen that were with him and cut them in pieces and said to everyone in Israel, “So shall it be done to your oxen, if you don’t help me fight against Nahash” (See 1st Samuel 11:1-11).  We, so often, forget that the fruit of the Spirit can produce righteous anger and holy indignation to set the things of God in order; It is God given and inspired indignation.  Jesus cleansed the temple time and again to remind us that overturning the money-changers’ money and stopping those who had wares, while cracking a whip and driving out the ever-evasive idolatry, was necessary for us in our lives.  And every once in a while, every other blue moon or so, you will find yourself cleansing, driving out, and cracking a whip (So to speak) in your own temple courts to set the things of God in order, to prepare your own heart for the seasons of quiet peace, and it’s completely spiritual – And necessary to rip apart the flesh that rears its devilishly horned-head, as Saul ripped apart the oxen when he was filled with the Spirit of God – And to wage war on the Serpent that rears its head in our lives and tries to make covenants and compromises with us.

Mark 7:20

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.”

It doesn’t matter who you are.  Eventually your speech will betray you–for out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  Inevitably, what’s inside is outside.  So often we spend time with individuals who share a mutual faith, but as time progresses we see a surfacing of the true colors.  Jesus said to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing who appear outwardly innocent, but they are ravenous wolves internally (Matthew 7:15)and spiritually–desolately deficient; and that we would know them by their fruits.  A good tree does not bear bad fruit and a bad tree does not bear good fruit (Matthew 7:18).  Though I have been humored by many a person who discovers my love for the Lord, I just happily go with it without any reservations or suspicions.  I treat them as a true believer and time usually shakes and separates the oil from the water.  Over a season and a span, it becomes clearly evident who is serious about their faith and who is mouthing lip service–by what proceeds out of the man.

Jephthah and the Gileadites destroyed the people of Ammon.  The Ephraimites complained that Jephthah did not use their alliance in the battle and said, “You Gileadites are fugitives among us and we are throwing you into prison if we catch you because you should have called us to battle with you.”  Then Jephthah said, “No way, I called you and didn’t come and now we are fugitives?”  So Jephthah defeated the Ephraimites in battle and seized the fords of the Jordan, where he knew the escapees would return.  When an Ephraimite would try to cross the river, the Gileadites would say, “Say Shibboleth!”  And the man would say, “Sibboleth.”  He couldn’t pronounce it. Then they would take and kill him, as they did forty-two thousand of them (Judges 12:1-6).  

Your speech will always, eventually and inevitably betray you.

 Mark 11:2-3

“Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat, loose it and bring it.  And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

This didn’t look very good.  The disciples were unleashing a colt that wasn’t theirs; thus Jesus said for them to explain themselves to the onlookers.  (Maybe you are doing a righteous deed somewhere; somehow.  'Tis a commandment of Jesus to explain yourself.  Don’t feel too bad if people question you.  Just do as Jesus says and explain it away).  This may have appeared evil to those who were watching but I assure you it was a righteous act of obedience and faith on the part of the disciples.

See, Jesus sat with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes (Matthew 9:10, Luke 7:39).  This probably looked bad too, but we know He was ministering.  He was changing them and not the other way around.

Mary was with a child before she was married.  She was ridiculed for it and even though she seemed like an immoral fornicator, she was pure in the matter. 

Jesus flipped the temple tables up and over again at the beginning and the end of His earthly ministry (John 2:15, Matthew 21:12-13).  This too seemed bad to the “Churchy People” but I assure you this was a godly and righteous indignation, once again, misunderstood.  Friends and folks, don’t fear being misunderstood or called evil or ungodly when doing the right thing.  Just do it…God is cool with it!

Here, Jesus is commanding His disciples to borrow a donkey without asking for it.  This would have been an uncomfortable command for me.   I would have wondered what people were thinking of me.   I would have been scared of being called a ‘car thief’ if you will.  But, “The fear of man is a snare but he who trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).  And they were…as you will be too when you are obedient to do what He tells you to do in the sight of men. 

Ultimately, the disciples did it.  Their act of faith is inscribed on the pages of scripture forever and all time.  And, because of this deed they helped fulfill one of the greatest Messianic prophecies ever.  Jesus needed a colt to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 which states, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you, He is just and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon a donkey.” Don’t be too disturbed, perturbed, or even preoccupied about the appearance of evil when doing a godly thing; God isn't and neither should you....

Mark 11:23

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

Jesus also said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).  The Holy Spirit comes upon us, He runs along the side of us, and dwells in us–He helps us in our weaknesses and in our prayers, for we ourselves do not know what we ought to pray for (Romans 8:26); which is why it is so important that we are in tune to what the Spirit is saying and where He is leading us.  When we were new believers and young Christians, maybe you noticed that your prayers were usually hit-and-miss prayers.  You knew you weren’t completely connecting with God in prayer.  There was a serious reason for our denied or unanswered requests–we were still carnal and not in tune to His heart.  And though God can still deny us or not reply now, carnal Christians cannot tell, discern, or properly evaluate what is acceptable in prayer at all because they’ve authored too much confusion into their life. Yet, we haven't.  We are in the Spirit.  We can discern what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God:

We have what we ask for in the name of Jesus.


as long as we believe in our hearts, it shall be doneno more hit-and-miss.

The Greek word for Spirit is “Pneuma.”  Pneuma definitively refers to the wind, breath, or breeze.  I have found, I hope you have too, that when I am doing what is proper and acceptable in God’s sight–I can breathe easy.  I can physically breathe freely when I am walking in the Spirit–and I know I’m right in the center of where He wants me.  When a thought or an idea comes to mind that I feel is worthy to pray for or to do, I can breathe easy because I know it is from Him. And when I can’t breathe freely, then there is a road blockage, a prohibition, and a stoppage in the breath–it’s just not right or acceptable!

Mark 16:16

He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this scripture but there shouldn't be.  I'm no Greek scholar...maybe more of a Geek Scolari (sorry I had to).  But referring to Strong's concordance and Blue Letter Bible I see that the word "SAVED" is translated two ways.  One way speaks of the salvation that Jesus Christ has accomplished for us on the cross; that is, we are saved from hell ("Diasozo").  Another word for "saved" has the definitive meaning- "To do well, to be complete, to experience the full circle of God's blessing."  -That's the other word ("Sozo") and it is the word Mark uses in 16:16. Water baptism does not save us from hell but we would "do well" to be baptized! 

It is amazing how many cults are formed from this type of stuff.  One group in particular has become so caught up in this that they equate water baptism as the same as the work of Christ!.  These are two entirely different works! I am so glad I've been baptized.  We need to in order to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15).  I love baptism.  Please don't misunderstand me.  We need to be baptized in water.  If you've never been then-Get Dunked!

It was Paul the apostle who said to, "Imitate Me as I imitate Christ."  So let's do that.  Let's be like Paul.  Paul said, "Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel."  We shouldn't get caught up in baptism but belief. The thief on the cross who was dying next to Jesus didn't have time to be baptized in water but simply said, "Lord remember me when you enter into your kingdom."  And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise."  He wasn't water baptized; He simply believed in Christ and was able to enter in. 

The God of the Universe shed His divine majestic blood for us to save us...oh and you need to get wet too to be saved.  Hmmn.  That just doesn't sound right. Let's leave that second part out and simply believe that it is by grace that we have been saved through faith and NOT OF WORKS lest man should boast.  Baptism is most definitely a work on our part…I love that I’ve been baptized, but I don’t rest on it for my salvation.  My hope, as is yours, is fully beset upon the hope of the shed blood of Jesus Christ! 

Mark 16:18

"And they shall take up serpents."

There are some polarized churches and groups in the South that handle snakes every church service.  They pick up deadly serpents and quote this verse.  Though their services are very exciting and entertaining, I cannot help but think, “Are these people for real?”  The Bible also says, "Thou shall not tempt the LORD thy God" too.  They are obligating God to save them.  This is wrong and God may not do it.  The Devil did the same thing to Jesus saying, "Jump off this pinnacle and God will send His angels to save you."  What did Jesus do?  First, we know He flat out didn't do it, and second, He said, "It is also written thou shall not tempt the LORD thy God" (Matthew 4:7).  In other words, "I know it's written, but it is also written." 

This is a real key to the Christian life- We say, "I feel God is telling me to do this and I have a scripture verse that confirms it."  Oh do you?  If it is in conflict with another verse it may be wrong.  It may very well be Satan using the Word.  Satan knows the Bible from cover to cover and can put Bible verses in our head that are out of context or misquoted or misinterpreted (Matthew 4:1-11).  

Now I think we will all agree that it's probably very unwise to take this playful-God-tempting approach toward serpents, yet, I wonder what our approach is toward Satan the Serpent of Old or towards the sin crouching at our door?

Do we treat sin as a serpent or like a cream puff?  So often we say, "Oh that’s not very good to do, or to eat, or watch, or listen to, or whatever," but we merely wince at it at best.  We don’t destroy and eradicate sin completely from our lives. We keep baby-pet-serpents in our lives and ignore the Holy Spirit when He wants to rid us of them.

And therein lies the problem: serpents of smaller stature have the greatest toxicity.  The word declares, “A little yeast leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).  Just ask king Saul that first king of Israel.  God commanded him to annihilate the Amalekites.  He didn’t.  He left the finest things of the Amalekites alive, including Agag, king of the Amalekites.  At the end of Saul’s life it was an Amalekite who did him in, killed him, and wiped him out.  I bet Saul was thinking…"Oh that’s why God wanted me to do this; for my own good."  -Poor Saul.  It was too late for Saul, but it isn’t for you if you are willing to let God have His way in your life and give Him everything.  

Give him everything, every little thing, or it’ll bite you later; it’s a law of spiritual nature:  “Whatever a man sows that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). 

By the way, I've taken up serpents before but it was in true faith and not tempting fate.  Just recently, I cut the head off of a baby diamond back rattlesnake after I stuck a twig under his fangs and let the poison drip out.  I buried the head alone in a shallow hole because the poison is still active for 24 hours.  Today is the day to bury the old nature and reckon its grip inactive.  Don't just leave it.  Deal with it.  It can destroy you and others.  Put it under!

Luke 1:13

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”

Our prayers are in the docket; they are on God’s ‘to do’ list.  They have been duly noted and filed away until the proper time.  Zacharias and Elizabeth prayed for a child and they did not receive an answer.  They simply accepted Elizabeth’s barren womb as part of their lives.  When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, he could not believe the angelic message given to him–and that was his problem.  Zacharias did not believe in the ability of God to bring forth a child in Elizabeth’s old age.  He was struck with mute silence as a result. 

God is good, and in His time we will receive our answers.  Our prayers are logged in the queue.  We have received much more in answered prayer than we acknowledge because we write our blessings in the sand and our hardships in stone.  Men ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).  We should ask and keep asking (Matthew 7:7-11) and cry out day and night until our heart can rest on a yes answer, or a no answer, or a wait answer.  We can either be filled with belief in the Living God, or else our mouths are mute with nothing pithy to say because we have limited the works of God to simplistic miracles and limited His word to trite notions. 

“Oh, God,” we say, “please heal my headache.” 

That’s easy for God.

But to say, “God, please heal my cancer, my wife’s barren womb, or my diagnosed incurable disease,” that’s a harder task for God in our estimation.  It shouldn't be.  We serve the God of the universe who created heaven and earth, and the oceanic and earthly regions with a word–and with a word He can pronounce well being for us.

Luke 4:5

"Then the Devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the Devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give you, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish."

All Satan needs is a moment.  He only needs a moment of time to do a “world” of damag