Archive for the ‘The Word of Truth’ Category

The Two Paths

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If you’re like me, you are repeatedly drawn back to the very center of the Bible: the Psalms.

These ancient, inspired songs supernaturally connect our lives with the very heartbeat of our Heavenly Father. They openly express vast ranges of raw emotion, ask difficult questions and invoke intimate conversations with God. They take us on a journey from the cries of our darkest valleys to shouts of joy on the highest mountaintops. Uniting heart and head, they invite us to sing along by lifting our eyes (and emotions) to an Eternal Throne and the unchanging Truth of our Mighty God.

When we open this Hebrew hymnal to Psalm 1, we find only 6 verses. Although deceptively short, it is succinctly provocative and significant. Beginning with “blessed” and ending with “perish,” we should be quick to exclaim, “I want to be the blessed one; not the one who perishes!”

And just like that, we are shown there are only two ways: the way of the righteous/blessing and the way of the wicked/perishing.

Jesus also spoke of these same two paths when He told us about the broad way and the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14) or when He talked about building your life on the Rock, not the Sand (Matthew 7:24-27) or as He spoke about the wheat/tares (Matthew 13:24-30) or the sheep/goats (Matthew 25:29-46) – to name a few.

But with these two ways comes the inescapable call to choose – for the path you walk will determine your eternal destiny.

The path of the blessing is initially described by what it is not. Notice the warning of a slow, downward progression: don’t walk in the counsel/advice of the wicked or you might just end up standing around in the path of sinners and ultimately find yourself sitting down in the seat of scoffers (1:1). What is at first seemingly causal ultimately becomes fixed and final.

Instead, we must cling to the Word of the Lord – and not primarily as a discipline or a duty, but as our “delight” (1:2)!

Think about that! Whatever delights you effects your entire being and gives you great pleasure! In that same sense, if you delight in His Word then you rejoice in reading it and hearing His Voice. Plus, it is Life-giving because of your relationship with the Life-Giver (Psalm 16:11).

And this blessed one “meditates” on God’s Word “day and night” (1:2). You might say, “That’s impossible.” But in the Bible, this Hebrew word is not only used in a good way like “meditate,” but also in a negative sense when someone is “plotting” or “devising” a plan. Most of us can probably recall a time when someone wronged us and, over and over, almost involuntarily, we kept thinking about them while we pondered telling them off or figuring out how to get even!

So how is it we can so easily stew over someone but find it hard to mediate on the Word of God?!

Jesus calls it “abiding” (John 15:5), but either way, we should invite the Word into our hearts every day and nurture an ongoing, delight-full conversation with God. His Word is Spirit and Truth and Life. Breathe deeply and often and allow it to flow through your whole being with its Life-giving power.

And look at the result of clinging to the Word and its Author: You will “be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water” (1:3). More accurately, you will be like a tree that was “transplanted” from one location to another. The Hebrew verb is passive.

In other words, God Himself picked up the tree (that’s you) and planted it next to His streams of Living Water!

This tree is not only firmly planted (gracious, divine intervention), but also:

by streams of water (reliable, abundant provision)
yields its fruit in its season (a timely blessing to others, impactful, a heritage)
its leaf does not wither (drought-proof, a comfort and refuge to others)
in whatever you do, you prosper (the favor of God, divine purpose/fulfillment)

Now contrast this blessed, fruitful tree with those who choose the other path – those who scoff at God and pursue their own way – the way of sin – the way of the world. They are like chaff which is quickly blown away (1:4).

In those days, the harvested wheat was manually beaten on a windy hillside (the threshing floor) to separate the grain of wheat from its husk/chaff. Then the two were thrown into the air and the inedible part (the chaff) was blown away while the good part (the grain) fell to the ground. Why?

Because the useless, weightless chaff was quickly scattered by the wind whereas the valuable, heavy grain neatly fell in place and was gathered.

So it will be in the Day of Judgment (1:5). The Lord knows, cares for and watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish like chaff on a windy day (1:6). Please note: there is no third way.

By the blood of the Lamb, you can stand before God forgiven and clothed in His glorious righteousness or go your own way only to be scattered in ruin by the guilt of your sin.

This is a call to choose. Choose wisely.

—————–

Psalm 1

1 How blessed is the man who
Does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright ©1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Praise Awaits You

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Recently, I celebrated a numerically significant birthday.  We could just leave it at that, but I’m going to disclose the digits as I talk about my “birthday psalm” anyway.  So, turning sixty-five is kind of hard for me to believe.  It seems a long way off, and then inexplicably, there are a lot of candles on your cake!

Truly, time passes slowly and then suddenly.  

You may have heard the expression, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”  Well, not this old!  Truly, every day is a gift from God, and we should all be grateful for each purpose-filled day He gives us in Christ Jesus.

However, my birthday psalm quickly turns my eyes from the winkles on my face, the gray in my hair and the frailty of life to the Author of Life Himself.  Psalm 65 (see below) has always been one of my favorites!  I hope you will take time to read it aloud and talk about it with your friends and family no matter how old you are!
 
When you do, notice how many times it repeats “You” or “Your” as it proclaims the abundant provision of our loving Heavenly Father.  By doing so, David asks us to join him in a very personal psalm since he is not talking about our Heavenly Father, but to our Heavenly Father!

YOU (O Lord) hear our prayers (v.2), YOU forgive our sins (v.3), YOU choose us to become YOUR sons and daughters (v.4), and YOU lavish us with goodness because YOUR house is filled with good things (v.4)!

YOU alone are God and Savior – YOU alone are the Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas (v.5)!  YOU alone are the Creator, and YOUR sovereignty extends over all (v.6).

YOU created the spectacular mountains of the earth which rise in all their majesty (v.6) and YOU calm the roaring of the seas as well as the roaring of the nations (v.7).  From the heights to the depths, nothing escapes YOUR sight, YOUR care or YOUR command.  Now, rest your thoughts on verse 8 for a moment:

“The whole earth is filled with awe at YOUR wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, YOU call forth songs of joy.”  

How beautifully poetic!  We stand in awe at YOUR unfathomable wonders, O Lord.  Each day, we see the sun make its journey from one end of the sky to the other – from its dawning to its fading – shining in all the glory YOU gave it – bringing Light and Life – literally singing and shouting for joy unto YOU!

And oh, how YOU care for YOUR Creation.  By YOUR sovereign command, YOU soften it with showers, and YOU bring forth blessed crops to nourish YOUR people (v.10).  Without YOUR Word, both we and the land would be dry and barren.  But in YOUR kindness and grace, YOU drench us with abundance from YOUR streams whether watering the earth or quenching our souls!

It’s as though YOU personally sign all YOUR work by putting YOUR royal crown atop YOUR bounty (v.11)!  YOU, O Lord, are the God of superlatives!

The land is enriched abundantly (v.9) – the streams are filled (v.9) – crops are blessed (v.10) –  YOUR paths overflow (v.11) – the grasslands overflow (v.12) – the hills put on garments of gladness (v.12) – the flocks flourish (v.13) – the valleys adorn themselves with grain (v.13) – and everything shouts and sings for joy to YOU – our great God and Savior (v.13)!

This is a call to worship.  

Thank YOU, O Lord, for calling us to truly see what YOU are doing every day and inviting us to join in the song all of Creation is already singing.  I think that’s why David begins this psalm with the end in mind:

Praise awaits YOU, our God…

—————–

Psalm 65
For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.

1 Praise awaits You, our God, in Zion;
to You our vows will be fulfilled.

2 You who answer prayer,
to You all people will come.

3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
You forgave our transgressions.

4 Blessed are those You choose
and bring near to live in Your courts!
We are filled with the good things of Your house,
of Your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,

6 who formed the mountains by Your power,
having armed Yourself with strength,

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.

8 The whole earth is filled with awe at Your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
You call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
You enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so You have ordained it.

10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
You soften it with showers and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with Your bounty,
and Your paths overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

The Sounds of Silence

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“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God. Psalm 42:1 NIV

In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:3 NASB95

I call on you, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer.  Show me the wonders of Your great love…  Psalm 17:6-7a NIV

[The Lord] awakens me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. Isaiah 50:4b NASB95

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.  Psalms 119:18 ESV

[For] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105 ESV

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10 NASB95

Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation…  Psalm 25:4-5 ESV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning…  Psalm 130:5-6 ESV

O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Psalm 90:14 NASB95

As for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love.   Psalm 59:16a NLT

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; to declare Your steadfast love in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night.  Psalm 92:1-2 ESV

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…  Psalm 103:1-2 NASB

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness!  Lam 3:21-23 NASB95

Search me, God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.  Psalm 139:23-24 NASB95

Jars of Clay

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Isn’t it interesting one of the things Scripture calls us is “jars of clay” 2 Corinthians 4:7. Not long ago, I was broken and defeated from the relentless personal attacks of the enemy – you might call it spiritual identity theft as a result of agreeing with the lies spoken over me. And the more I talked about what I was going through with others, the more I found out I was not alone.

Remember only God has the right to do the commentary on your life. Satan is the author of death and wants you to question God’s goodness, doubt the Truth of His promises and walk around with spiritual amnesia. But God is the Author of Life and in the Name of Jesus, any lies we’ve believed – any agreements we’ve made – any ground we’ve surrendered must be repossessed one Truth at a time.

So, Jars of Clay was borne out of brokenness to proclaim the truth of who we are in Jesus – to overcome the lies of the enemy – to help restore fullness and wholeness in Jesus – and to declare THIS IS WHO YOU ARE.

How fitting God made us like fragile jars of clay. Yes, we are prone to crack and break in many ways, but oh how He puts us together again and then continues to use us! Can you believe He gives us the privilege of housing His priceless treasure – His glory inside of us?

And His repairs don’t diminish His glory, rather they allow it to be seen all the more. For the glory of God we carry inside shines through our cracks as a testimony to all He has done. Far from shameful imperfection to be hidden from view, these are undeniable declarations of the power and depth of His love for us. In Jesus, we are uncommonly common! We are gloriously cracked! Be not ashamed, but shine.

Will you join me in confident, expectant prayer asking God to multiply what we now hold in our hands and use Jars of Clay to speak His Truth into the lives of many?  And if you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to watch it here.

THIS IS WHO YOU ARE – 40 Day Journey

Coming in January to further the impact of this presentation, we will be offering 40 days of short devotionals anchored to 40 truths in Jars of Clay called “This Is Who You Are.” You will clearly hear the Words of Life our heavenly Father is speaking over us in the Name of Jesus!  Day by day and truth by truth, we will walk through, remember, meditate on, fight for, claim and celebrate the incredible fullness and joy of our spiritual identity in Christ.

We are like common jars of clay that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.  2 Corinthians 4:7 TPT

Please sign up and ask others to join the This is Who You Are journey by using the form right under the Jars of Clay video on our site. Please note: even if you are currently signed up to receive our monthly devotional, you must also choose to sign up for the 40 Day Journey.

What Does Scripture Say?

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What does Scripture say? Rom 4:3 NIV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV

I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:3 NLT

The devil was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 NET

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. 2 Ti 4:3 ESV

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 1 Ti 4:1-2 NIV

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled people and fall from your firm grasp on the truth. 2 Pe 3:17 NET

What does Scripture say? Rom 4:3 NIV

So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. Eph 4:14 NET

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Col 2:8 ESV

You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Pe 1:23 ESV

For this is no idle word for you—it is your life! Deut 32:47 NET

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:2 ESV

What does Scripture say? Rom 4:3 NIV

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Ti 3:16-17 NIV

Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. 2 Ti 1:14 NLT

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Eph 6:10-11 ESV

…and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph 6:17 NLT

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Rom 15:4 NASB

A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isa 40:6,8 NLT

What does Scripture say? Rom 4:3 NIV

 

 

 

the death of death

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No one likes a bully. They seem to be lurking around every corner. Ready to pounce, they intimidate and humiliate. Inflicting constant worry and dread, bullies push us around and try to imprison us in isolation. Many of us have had to endure a bully in our past, but everyone on earth is pursued by this enemy.

From our first breath, an unseen adversary came to visit. One more formidable and oppressive than any we’ve ever encountered. Stalking us night and day, there is no escape from the threats it intends to keep. This ancient foe, unearthed in the Garden, sits atop the food chain with no natural predators.

Death is a cruel enemy.

Wielding a host of lethal weaponry against the weakness of sinful flesh, we fear it and do everything in our power to avoid it. Satan, the unmerciful master of death, seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He was a murderer from the beginning. He delights in death and rejoices over the grave.

Remember when Jesus came to the tomb of His friend Lazarus? As He approached it and saw the weeping of Mary, He was “intensely moved in spirit” – the Greek literally says, “He snorted with anger.” For as Jesus, the Author of Life, walked toward death, it made Him groan out loud with anger.

He hated the lies of Satan.
He hated how sin brings death.
He hated how death separates.
He hated such pain and distress.

Oh, what a Savior!

Jesus was angry, but His anger sprung from a supernatural heart of love and compassion that moved Him to face our enemies on the cross. Jesus confronted sin, Satan and death on our behalf and was victorious. As the perfect sacrifice for sin, the sinless Son of God rose from the dead never to die again! He silenced the boasts of Satan and conquered the grave!

Thank You, Jesus, for the victory we have over sin and death.
Thank You for the power of Your precious blood.
Thank You that we no longer must live in fear.
Thank you that nothing, including death, can ever separate us from Your amazing love.

Oh, what a Savior!

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ESV

when the rooster crows

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Guilty  
Cold 
Alone 
Accused
Ashamed
“What have you done?”
And the rooster crows 
 
Running 
Denying 
Justifying 
Hiding
Sewing fig leaves 
“Where are you?”
And the rooster crows 
 
The weight, heavy
The voices, condemning 
The burden, unbearable
The fear, enslaving  
The lie, empty
“Who told you?”
And the rooster crows 
 
Truth arises
Blood shed
Debt paid 
Grace flows
Chains broken
Free indeed
“Where are your accusers?”
 
No more shame
No more condemnation 
No more guilt 
No more fear
No more darkness 
No more running 
“Come to Me”
 
 For from His fullness
we have all received,
grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

The Light in your Eyes

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Your eyes are a doorway to your heart and mind, and a window into your soul.

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” Matthew 6:22-23 NASB.  Since Jesus sandwiches this verse right between talking about laying up your treasure in heaven and that no one is ever able to serve two masters, He is clearly telling us how to have a “clear” eye.

Physically, light bounces off things in our field of vision and enters the eye from the outside to help us form an image on the inside. Spiritually, the same is true, but then it makes a round trip.  For what our eyes feed on eventually reflects outwardly by displaying a bright, glowing fullness or a dull, dark emptying.

What do others see when they look at your eyes? Do they see heavenly love, hope, joy, and contentment? Or do they see earthly envy, strife, fear and discontentment?

If our eyes are primarily focused on the things of this world, then they will be blind to the beauty, glory and goodness of God all around us. God’s Word helps bring our eyes and our hearts sharply back into focus much like a corrective lens. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes Psalm 19:8 NIV.

Do you want to have a twinkle in your eyes?  A supernatural spark from within? The Light of Life? 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Make Him your treasure. Feed your spirit daily with the Word of God. See the unseen hand of God at work with the eyes of your heart. Gaze on the beauty and wonder of His creation, but worship the Creator and not the created.

Stare intently at the things that are praiseworthy, lovely, true and excellent. Focus on the light of grace, the glow of generosity and the brightness of the love of Jesus. Then let your heart and mind dwell on these things.

Stoke a holy fire within and the Light in your eyes will tell the story.

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord. Walk as children of Light. Ephesians 5:8 ESV

 

Thirsty?

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Nothing quenches our thirst like water and every morning we begin a new quest for it. Most of us take it for granted since we don’t have to search any farther than a refrigerator or faucet, but for many worldwide it’s a daily challenge and fight for survival. Fresh water that’s free of disease and harmful chemicals is a true blessing.

Since God composed our bodies of 60% water and every single cell requires it to function properly, this quest is absolutely essential for life. Most of us need at least 2-3 liters/day and without it, we would die in less than a week.

As great as our need for physical water, our need for spiritual water is infinitely greater. Yes, our mouths are parched, and we naturally crave water to satisfy that thirst. But our souls are also designed by God to thirst, and to discover this thirst can only be satisfied in Him. We cannot drink physical water from just anywhere unless we want to risk sickness, disease or death and the same is true for us spiritually.

My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 ESV

God obviously isn’t talking about drinking water. His people no longer drank from His spring of living water but created an alternate supply of their own choosing. Surprisingly, there never seemed to be enough. They abandoned the only everlasting and soul-satisfying supply for brokenness.

What satisfies the thirst of your soul?

Remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst…a well of water springing up to eternal life” John 4:13-14 NASB. So, if I’m still thirsty with such an unlimited supply of living water in Jesus, I wonder why?

Drench your soul every day by drinking deeply from the Fountain of Life. Be washed by His Word and bathed by His Presence! And rather than a pond, be a river of refreshment to others!

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Jesus, John 7:37-38 ESV

A planting of the Lord

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Holding a seed in your hand, it’s not much to look at. But don’t be deceived, an incredible miracle lies quietly waiting to happen – for life is found just beneath its tiny, unimpressive shell. So full of potential, it must patiently wait to fulfill its purpose.

And those who dare to plant, who courageously look beyond appearances with eyes of faith – for sowing takes both belief and patience. Yes, there will be life, but later. Yes, there will be a harvest, but in due season. And through the miracle of multiplication, the reward inherent in the harvest is fruit containing more seed which, in turn, bears more fruit.

The Scriptural principle is clear: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” John 12:24 NASB.

In other words, don’t be afraid to be planted. In Jesus, it is your calling. For your earthly covering – your shell contains the incredible Life of Jesus – the imperishable seed of His Word. And like seeds, we remain alone and unfruitful unless we are sown.

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” 2 Corinthians 9:6 NASB.

Everyone is sowing something. As sons and daughters of the Lord of the Harvest, we are so full of potential. The question is not if you are sowing, but what will the harvest be? We are His seed and are called to be sowers. And those who give themselves away – who freely sow the Life and love of Jesus – will bear a great harvest of the fruit of righteousness.

So do not hoard the seed nor fear being sown. Rather, fear not being sown. And even if the world stomps you into the ground, remember that’s not a bad place for a seed.

“We shall be called ‘oaks of righteousness’ – a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” Isaiah 61:3 NIV.

The War Zone

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If you’re like me, a trip into your heart and mind is like traveling into a battlefield. We are under constant attack – besieged by external forces and confronted by internal thoughts and feelings that wage war against our souls.

Otherwise, why would the Word command us to guard our hearts and take every thought captive? Why would the Word warn us not to be led astray and not to be deceived? Why would the Word instruct us to stand strong against the schemes of the devil and not to be ensnared by the empty lies of this world?

We are at war. Every day, we are bombarded with misinformation – propaganda designed to deceive, distract, and destroy. Like foreign operatives, it covertly infiltrates our thoughts to create confusion, discouragement and doubt. It is not accidental. Rather, it is the tactical deployment of a plan to make you forget who you are, question your Supreme Commander and abandon your mission.

However, we are not defenseless. We are not destined for destruction. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ESV.

God’s Word, energized by the Spirit of Truth, is our defense and protection. It binds and secures all the pieces of our armor. It renews our mind and clarifies our thoughts. It covers our heart and keeps our emotions on a short leash. It exposes lies and overcomes the onslaughts of the evil one.

Without it, we become prime targets as we walk blindly into the enemy’s sights. With it, we wield a powerful, offensive, supernatural weapon. Never leave the Sword of the Spirit in the corner of your room.

Pick it up. Remind yourself what you know to be true.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” ~ Jesus in John 17:17

The Challenge Flag

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“Yep, he just threw out the red flag so he’s definitely challenging the call” is a familiar soundbite heard during NFL games when the head coach wants to question the ruling made on the field by the officiating crew.  In the crew’s defense, these full-speed, split-second decisions can be very difficult and they do seem to get it right most of the time.

But once the red flag is deployed, the game screeches to a halt while the lead official watches various replays from many different angles in super slow motion to determine if the original call was accurate (“stands” or “is confirmed”) or needs to be completely reversed.  The moment of truth arrives as the official emerges from the hood, faces the camera, and declares the verdict, “Upon further review…”

We know our culture is refusing to accept more and more of God’s calls, but have you ever thrown out the challenge flag on the Lord?  Guilty.  “God, you really missed that one.”  “That’s not what I expected.”  “I don’t believe that’s true.”  “That’s not fair and I won’t accept it.”  And so out comes the red flag.

Statistics show, on average, coaches win their challenges just about 50% of the time.  How often have you won your challenges against God? Thought so.  Oh, God’s calls are frequently disputed by us on the playing field, but they cannot be reversed because they need not be reversed. We can view them from any angle we wish, argue until we have no more words left to say and replay them over and over in our minds, but God’s rulings are always perfect.

Job didn’t like several of God’s calls and threw out the red flag, “I wish there was an umpire between us, who could lay his hand upon us both!” (Job 9:33).  Been there.  But like each one of us who has questioned the Lord’s accuracy or fairness, He asks, “Will you discredit My justice and condemn Me just to prove you are right?” (Job 40:8 NLT).

Even when we don’t fully understand, we must believe and accept God’s calls as the infallible, indisputable, perfect, good and wise Word and Will for our lives. “I [now] know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?  I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 42:1-3; 40:4). Like brother Job, perhaps we aren’t nearly as brilliant as we think we are.

Some of us expend far too much energy challenging God’s calls when we’d be way better off simply obeying His call.  Perhaps a worthy 2017 resolution might be to keep the red flag in our pockets because, upon further review, God’s Word and Will are confirmed.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Psalm 19:7-11 NIV

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

The intolerance of tolerance

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Truth is never afraid of a challenge because it withstands the test, but today’s brand of tolerance has retreated into blatant censure and, paradoxically, intolerance.

For centuries, tolerance meant respect for other people who disagreed with you or vice-versa.  It was an attitude allowing freedom of expression and healthy, truth-seeking discussion.  However, the number of those who prefer to suppress conversation about truth in the name of tolerance is increasing exponentially.  Driven by fear, modern tolerance seeks to destroy disagreement by aggressively mischaracterizing any opposing view as “offensive” and then marginalizing those who hold to it – particularly God’s truth.

Even though our nation was founded on biblical principles and religious tolerance, increasingly and ironically, Christians are being targeted and mislabeled as intolerant bigots by a society intent on systematically silencing anyone and eliminating anything that questions its lifestyle or moral choices.  It grieves me deeply to witness this widespread mistreatment and aggression.

God’s truth is, by nature, offensive as it holds error up to the light and pierces deeply into the heart to convict and reveal.  But if we will allow it to work within us, God’s truth is also powerfully transformative as it rescues, corrects, changes and restores.  In spite of all the craziness we see around us, the firm foundation of the Lord stands.  God’s throne is set in heaven.  His Kingdom is unshakable.  His Word is alive.  His-story is not yet finished.

So what are we to do?  We stand firm on the eternal truth of God’s Word – even when ridiculed or persecuted.  We speak the truth in love – even in the face of hate.  We continue to be salt and light in a world becoming increasingly dark and distasteful.  We show grace and mercy.  We remember what it was like to be trapped in darkness.  We proclaim the Good News.  We love our enemies.  We go the second mile.  We pray for our leaders.  We seek to live in peace with everyone.  We fear God rather than man or the punishment of man.  We never ever forget that Jesus is the answer and, if we remain silent, the Enemy will gladly fill in the blanks.

“Violating God’s Word only ends up proving it, not destroying it; and those who have tried to bury it, find that the Bible always rises up to outlive her pallbearers” (Ravi Zacharias).

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8 NASB).

Spread the Word!

© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

Right-side up

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Yep, you’ve been doing it all wrong.  You know you gamble every time you grab the stem (the bottom of a banana) and try to open it.  It’s like 50/50 that part of the good stuff will break off and you’ll have a dangling mess on your hands. Why not eat a banana like a monkey? God made them banana-peeling experts!  If you watch them, they hold the banana by the stem, pinch the top and then perfectly peel it back.  It’s a beautiful thing and a testimony to us to try the top-down approach next time!

The world is doing it all wrong as well.  Living and seeing life upside down, there are many who distort and capsize the truth.  Calling “evil good, and good evil,” they “substitute darkness for light and light for darkness,” and “substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20 NASB).  Creation, marriage, sexuality, gender, morality, faith, law, and even the miracle of life itself have all been flipped.  Deceived in their thinking, it seems to make sense, but it’s inverted and perverted. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). Wise in their own eyes, they have become fools (Isaiah 5:21).

Jesus came to open our eyes and heart to experience life from a whole new perspective – His.  He said provocative things like love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, go the second mile, forgive those who hurt you, the humble will be exalted, you must be born again, the first will be last and the last will be first, you live by dying, you gain by losing, there’s power in weakness, you receive by giving, there’s freedom in serving, and you find your life by actually giving it away.  What?!  That’s crazy talk…or is it?

We were doing it all wrong.  Sin had flipped us upside down, but Jesus came to save us and set us back on our feet with a new heart, new eyes, and a new song.  In Acts 17, Paul and Silas were preaching the good news about Jesus in Thessalonica and people were being saved.  When an angry, jealous mob attacked the home where Paul and Silas were staying (but couldn’t find them), “they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!’” (Acts 17:6 ESV).

May the same be said about us! Like Paul, Silas, Jason and the other believers, we should be on a mission to upright the world.  The world thinks we are turning everything upside down, but in reality, we are turning it right-side up.  We might be seen as threats, but being countercultural is not the goal.  We need to engage culture and captivate it one life at a time.  True, some will dig in and defend their inverted ways, but others will be converted.  As Christ-followers, we need to be living life in remarkable and unexpected ways so people are moved toward the Light and begin to see the Way.

Now, go turn the world “upside down” – Jesus style.

A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Jesus in Luke 6:40 NASB).

© 2015 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries
www.OnEveryWord.com

Welcome the Word

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This is exactly the way we should respond to the Word of God.

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Speak it!

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Looking at this sunset over Camp Life, Zambia brings to remembrance all the amazing ways God is moving there. But one truth Greer Kendall, President and CEO of Family Legacy (https://familylegacy.com/), taught us at camp rises to the top:

It’s not enough to hear.
It’s not enough to understand.
It’s not even enough to believe.
You must speak it.

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The Real Thing

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God provided a way for our family to go on a mission trip to Africa this week with a ministry called Family Legacy. Their “Camp LIFE” is an amazing camp for orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. We will join with over 600 Americans who will come to spend a week this summer leading and sharing the love of Christ with a group of 10 Zambian children. We are expectant about all God is going to do during our time there and would love for you to partner with us in prayer.

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No Room in the Inn?

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Santa’s advent is a done deal, but Jesus’ arrival this year may be as challenging as it was during the Roman census.  Political and cultural correctness are putting up so many barriers that, once again, there’s no room in the inn. With all the hatred of Herod, the spirit of the age seeks to destroy this would-be King.  Corporate America has decorated accordingly in the name of tolerance, but increasingly capitalizes on and commercializes the day.  The hollow ring of “Happy Holidays” has euthanized the decrepit and distasteful “Merry Christmas.” It appears the Grinch stole Christmas again.

What now?  Get angry and revolt?  Give up and withdraw?  Give in and go with the flow?

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Cotton Candy Faith

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I’m not really sure what it is, but it’s pretty interesting stuff.  I think it’s mostly air and sugar.  It’s always a cool color, fun to eat, and tastes really sweet.  However, you soon discover it’s much smaller than it appears as it suddenly dissolves to nothingness in your mouth.

Let’s review: Looks good and tastes good, but quickly vanishes.

Do we have a cotton candy faith?  One that looks pretty when times are good, but rapidly fades when the wind and the waves kick up.  A faith that is dependent upon sight rather than firmly rooted in an unwavering trust in Jesus.  A faith that appears big and sweet when God acts the way we expect, but rapidly dissipates when times are tough or heaven is silent.

Jesus said, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe” (John 4:48 NASB).

There’s certainly nothing wrong with “signs and wonders.”  Our God is a miraculous God so ask Him to work wonders!  But right in the middle of a carnival-like atmosphere where folks were coming from miles around to see this miracle-worker do His thing, Jesus’ statement goes to the heart of true belief.  To look at it another way, Jesus is asking, “What if I didn’t work these signs and wonders, would you believe in Me then?”  “Come one, come all – miracles galore!” and who wouldn’t believe?  Wind and waves…not so much.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples saying, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29 NASB).

Seeing Jesus clearly and true belief have much more to do with the eyes of your heart – a 20/20 vision that rests and abides in Jesus and His Word no matter what.  An enduring faith that clings to a God who has revealed so much of Himself yet whose ways are not our ways and thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Finite creatures.  Infinite God.  Don’t try to do the math.  Put down the pencil and believe.

Sweet fellowship with Jesus doesn’t have to dissolve like cotton candy.  He offers a fullness of joy that is firmly tied to His very Presence. Feelings cannot always be trusted and appearances can be deceptive.  So don’t lose faith.  Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  Trust in who He is.

…and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” (1Peter 1:8 NASB).

© 2013 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

Dine with Me

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We all hunger.  Our bodies require nourishment to function properly, stay healthy, and thrive.  Most of us don’t worry about from where our next meal is coming.  The only question is, “With what do we fill ourselves?”

One of the things Jesus taught us to pray is, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 NASB).  Now, was He talking about physical bread (food) or spiritual bread or both?  Before you answer, consider this statement Jesus made, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 NASB).  Clearly, Jesus is aware of the body’s need for physical nourishment, but His overwhelming emphasis is on the nourishment of our very souls by the Word of God – the Bread of Life.

Physical malnutrition is fairly easy to see.  In fact, images of the hundreds of millions people worldwide who are either starving or malnourished prompt us to change the channel rather than see the walking skeletons, severe bloating, rampant disease, and debilitating lethargy – all stemming from a profound emptiness in their digestive systems.

But what about the symptoms of spiritual malnutrition?  Perhaps busyness, despair, discontentment, self-centeredness, bitterness, fear, worry, strife, greed, lust, pride, or worldliness should make the diagnostic list…just to name a few.

Consider the amount of “Bread” Americans are surrounded by.  It’s not like we don’t have access to true nourishment for our souls?  The irony is akin to a starving man trapped in a grocery store – encircled by an abundance of food, he slowly perishes.  Oh, there is a difference between proximity and nourishment.  It’s like a famine in the land of plenty.

We must realize our soul’s need to be fed – not with junk food and the empty calories of this world, but with the Bread of Life – Jesus – The Word.  It is possible to be full of something and yet still hungry for true nourishment.  No wonder Job says, “I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12 NIV).

Here’s my closing challenge to you: approach God’s Word just like you would an exquisite meal.  Set your expectations high.  Look forward to the joyful fellowship and incredible conversation you’ll have with Jesus.  He is the Word so when you read His Word you should hear His voice.  Engage all your senses.  Experience it.  Taste it.  Feast on it.  Digest it.  Be nourished by it.  Allow its inherent, supernatural power to bring energy, fullness, and life to your entire being.  Let it be on your heart as you walk in it and on your lips as you share the Bread of Life with a starving world.

Are you hungry?  Jesus is calling, “Come dine with Me!”  “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8 NASB)

© 2013 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

Spread the Word

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God’s Word is alive. Read it as if the ink was still wet. When you read something from someone you know well, you hear his or her voice, don’t you? When you read God’s Word, you should hear His voice.

Rejoice in it.
Meditate on it.
Hide it in your heart.
Believe it.
Pray it.
Live it.
Speak it.

And remember this: when we speak, we control our words and determine if they will encourage or wound, heal or tear down. But when we speak God’s Word, we lose control. It’s bigger than we are. It’s different than our words. It’s not our breath; it’s His. It’s supernaturally powerful and always accomplishes His purposes. It’s unpredictably amazing as it blows where He wills! It transforms darkness into light. It penetrates deeply and can soften even the hardest heart. It never returns void.

As in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and now in Prince Caspian, Lucy sees what the others cannot. It is her sight that opens the eyes of those she loves. For Lucy, Aslan (the Lion who represents Christ) has changed from what she remembers…

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” He answered.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find Me bigger.”

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of Your awesome works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds. They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” Psalm 147:3-7 NIV84

Great is our Lord. Spread the Word!

→ To read our year-end update, click here.

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

Cut it straight

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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15 NASB).

I used to think this verse was only a call to be very careful to immerse ourselves in the Word, study hard, ask the Spirit to teach us, understand what it is saying, and not present it out of context to others. We must absolutely hold firm to all these things – seek God through His Word, hide it in your heart, and live it out to His glory.

But look down the tracks. Someone had to work hard to cut a straight path through lots of trees to build this railroad track so that people and cargo could travel to a certain destination. God calls us as fellow laborers in the family business “to accurately handle” (“orthotomeo”) the word of truth. That Greek word literally commands us “to cut it straight.” We must work hard to “make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23 NASB) directly through the vast forests of confusion so that people can easily get on the right track and follow Jesus.

Most people simply do not know what the Bible says. They are groping in darkness and God is calling us to be truth-bearers. So “prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Phil 2:15-16 NASB).

Cut a straight path. Speak the truth in love. Light the way!

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

Be strong and courageous

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When you consider these meanings along with God’s command to obey His Word, not let His Word depart from your mouth, and to “meditate” (“growl, rumble, or groan”) on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:7-9), then you see that success is defined by clinging to the Word and having a steadfast heart for God, not by might or the sword.

Can you hear His voice? God is calling you to “be strong and courageous.” Are you clinging to and abiding in His Word? Do you find His Word frequently on your lips? Are you hiding the Word in your heart so that it’s growling like hunger pangs in the depths of your being? Besides a daily time in the Word, try memorizing and mediating on just one verse of Scripture each month. Start with the one you need the most and God will honor it and multiply it.

© 2012 Tim McKenzie – www.OnEveryWord.com

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