Brought out and taken in

Do you remember the old song, He brought us out to take us in….though there be giants in the land I will not be afraid, so let us go at once to our inheritance? This is what I think of when the feast of Tabernacles comes up. Tabernacles is a celebration commissioned by God so that Israel would remember their time in the wilderness.

The Children of Israel were not supposed to spend forty years in the wilderness, it was supposed to be a short trip through the wilderness to the promised land. How many times do we all do this, stop longer than we should or not heed instructions? But that is not what Tabernacles is about. Tabernacles is about God’s grace, God’s Provision and God’s nearness. Many of us start our walks as Jesus followers excited and then slow down due to distractions. God led the Hebrews the long way so they would not be tempted to turn around and go back. Why? Because the short route included a couple battles along the way, that alone is a message in itself.

The root word for wilderness and the Holy of Holies is the same word. It’s when we find ourselves in desert places that God is so close. We have misunderstood wilderness in our western culture. We look at wilderness as a bad thing, yet it was the wilderness where God spoke to Moses and let His goodness pass him. It was the wilderness where God’s presence first came to the Children of Israel, it is the wilderness where Jesus was filled with power, and it is the wilderness of life where many of us have found God and move forward.

Now grant it we should never live there but we should understand what the wilderness is, it is not a bad place but a meeting place with God for transitional time. Think about the instances mentioned, the wilderness catapulted those individuals into a completely different realm of life. Tabernacles is a celebration of God being with us.

Leviticus 23:33-44 gives us the outline of the celebration of Tabernacles and there are two things I want to look at. First, the giving aspect. Leviticus 23:37-38 NKJV “These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day – 38 besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD.”

Now before we get into the giving aspect I want to share a quote from Tiz Huch, “God is not trying to get something from us, He is trying to get something to us”. The enemy has convinced so many believers that giving is a taboo subject and that all the Church is about is money. I’m going to have a moment of blunt honesty with us, we are willing to give money for game tickets, willing to give money to eat out, watch movies, and more why aren’t we willing to give to God, the one who has given us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). We must break out of this anti-giving, anti-prosperous mindset the enemy has over much of the Church. We are blessed to be a blessing and if we only have enough for what we need we cannot be a blessing to others.

Verse thirty eight says besides Sabbaths, gifts, vows, and freewill offerings. Giving during the Feasts is what opens the windows of Heaven. Malachi three says we rob God in tithes and offerings. If we are not givers, why should we expect the blessing of God? God loves a cheerful and prompt to do giver. We sometimes hear, that’s Old Testament, tithing and giving isn’t mentioned in the New, we can just give whenever. Jesus and all the disciples were Jewish, there was no need to go over things that were already established and Malachi three and four were written to Gentiles, it is for us. Giving is what unlocks the door of blessing. These are not celebrations relegated to the Jews, they are God’s feasts and we are grafted in to the root and invited to join the celebration. Do as Malachi says, give and see that God will open the windows and rebuke the devour. And give with expectation to reap a harvest.

The second thing I want to draw our attention to is found in verse thirty nine, on the first and eighth day there shall be a sabbath rest. Hebrews four tells us that a rest remains for the children of God. It is good, it is biblical for us to have one day each week that is set aside for rest, especially with the kids of lives we live today. The rest of God, can be present everyday for those of us who will be willing to walk in that rest.

Tabernacles is a reminder every year that we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and have open and free access to a relationship with God. One last Scripture in closing, Deuteronomy 23:13-14 NKJV “and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.”

Bury your poop because God doesn’t want to step in it. Yep, that’s in the Bible. Sin is poop and God doesn’t want to see or smell it. That’s why Romans six through eight is all about how we are free from sin and how to continue to live free from it. It’s Tabernacles, check your toilets, make sure they’re flushed and spray some Febreze, God is coming to hang out.

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Atonement

To atone means to cover and every year the people of Israel collectively repented and the High Priest would go in to the Holy of Holies to atone for Israel’s sins. Then one day after hundreds of yearly sacrifices Jesus came and was the final sacrifice and we now have free and open access to God. That is the short version of the story but let’s look at the details, where love Himself is found.

Too many times as Christians we make an unnecessary division of Old and New Testament. The God of the Old is the God of the New and the law of Old was the grace of its time. When you look at the regulations in context of that time period it was God’s way of giving and showing His love. He made a distinction between His people. We read over and over God made a distinction between the Hebrews and the Egyptians during the plagues. Until the ministry of Jesus was accomplished the law represented the way of grace, when the sacrifice was completed we were able to enter fully into that grace. We must make a distinction between Galatians and Hebrews. Galatians tells us as Christians we are Blessed through Abraham and the book of Hebrews written to the Jewish people tells them it is no longer about a system of sacrifices but trusting Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice.

This brings us to what we as Christians can gain from acknowledging the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:26-32 NKJV  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

  To afflict your soul means to humble yourselves. Leading up to Atonement are the Ten Days of Awe where you seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, extend forgiveness towards other and do acts of charity. All of this prepares you for the ceremony of the Priest sending the scapegoat into the wilderness as a symbol of sin being far from God’s people.

We no longer need a scapegoat and we don’t need to sacrifice every year, Jesus is that final sacrifice. Jesus has provided us with the open access the people of Israel longed for in the Old Testament. Let us follow the words of Scripture and humble ourselves and prepare to enter Tabernacles with a pure heart and clean hands.

The last thing that is done on Atonement is you go through the Mikvah, you are baptized. Baptism is not a Christian thing, it is a Bible thing and every year on Atonement Jews enter the Mikvah to be immersed in water symbolizing newness, that the mistakes and sins of the previous year are gone and that they are offering themselves anew to God.

We can all get off track in our lives, we can miss the mark from time to time and that is why God set up His feast calendar. the Feasts are like a guardrail so to speak, to keep our relationship with God on track. So while you may not do a traditional fast or choose to be baptized, or other things associated with Yom Kippur, all of us can take time to humble ourselves before God, repent, spend time thinking on the goodness of God and renewing our dedication to God, His Word and His ways.

None of these feasts are about rules, they are about loving God and setting aside specific and special times to be with Him. This is why God classified the Sabbath as a Holy Day (holiday), so that one day each week would be specifically set aside for you and Him. To set aside the busyness of life and say God this day is for you. It refocuses us and calms us. Take advantage of the calendar God has set up, humble yourself, refocus yourself, and prepare your heart to enter in to Tabernacles, a time when His presence can be more real to us than any other.

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Reflection, Repentance and Reconciliation

Between Rosh Hashanah (New Years) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) is a ten day period of time known as the Days of Awe. This is a time of introspection, repentance and reconciliation known as Teshuvah. We can repent any time we need to but the Days of Awe can still be good for believers to search our hearts and make sure our attitudes and actions are right.

In Deuteronomy 16:16 we are instructed to bring a special offering to God three times a year; at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Before Tabernacles it is customary to make sure you are walking rightly with God, part of this is making things right with those you have wronged in the previous year. As stated earlier, we can do this any time but God is specifically giving us an opportunity once a year to make sure we are right with those around us.

Matthew 5:23-24 MEV “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Scripture says god loves a joyful giver, we can’t be truly joyful if we are angry with someone. When we are right with others, we are also right with God. We are not saved by good deeds, we are saved by grace. Grace when it is truly received does lead to good deeds. We are not saved by works but blessings in both the Old and New Testaments have conditions on them.

The days of Awe are about honoring God by respecting our fellow man and making things right with people we have wronged and this is good for everyone. We’ve all probably made New Year’s resolutions in January, with the Hebrew calendar, the days of Awe is your resolutions; you right wrongs, you forgive and you do good to your fellow man. This prepares you for the day of Atonement that leads into the Feast of Tabernacles.  

Take some time during this period to search your own heart and actions; is there someone you need to forgive, someone you need to apologize to? Can you brighten someone’s day by giving them a compliment, give an offering to charity, volunteer at a community center. these are days to get our focus back. Jesus went about doing good it tells us in Acts 10:38. Use these days to be Jesus to someone and do good.

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Joy: The Purpose of God’s Presence

What is the purpose of knowing God, the purpose of relationship with Jesus? in a word, Joy!

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NIV “Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival – you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Be joyful at your festival. For the LORD your God will bless you…and your joy will be complete.

Sometimes the man developed systems can suck the joy right out of serving Jesus and that’s unfortunate. E. W. Kenyon said just as Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the expositions of how to live the instruction of Genesis and Exodus, so too are Paul’s letters the explanation of how to live out Jesus teachings in the new creation.

Look at Galatians 5:22-23 NLT “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

I’ve always found it interesting that it’s called the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruits, with an s. Think about this when we walk in love, we will be joyful, we will be at peace (things won’t bother us like they used to), we will have patience, be kind and good, be faithful to our friends and our calling, reply gently and exercise self-control. Am I the only one that looks at that and says, ‘Jesus I need help’. This is the purpose behind Rosh-Hashanah, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

Rosh-Hashanah, the celebration of a new year and victory. Jesus of course is our atonement, this is a good day for self reflection, repentance, and fresh commitment (this is why the Jewish people go through the Mikvah (baptism), a symbol for new life. Tabernacles is a remembrance of dwelling in tents and entering the promised land, which is why on Rosh-Hashanah people eat an apple with honey.

Even in the midst of atonement and a time of reflection, we pass through the waters of baptism and enter into new life as we progress towards tabernacles and a celebration of harvest!

Let tabernacles be a time when the joy of your salvation is renewed. Receive fresh vision! Make a new dedication and go forward in the goodness of God!    

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Jesus – Our Water & Our Light

The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths) is the last feast of the festival year and the beginning of the Jewish new year. There are three holidays associated with this feast; Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). This feast, like Passover has feasts within feasts.

Before we get into different aspects of the feast, I want to jump right to Jesus. There are two main ceremonies during Tabernacles, the water ceremony and the light ceremony. Late Autumn is typically a season of drought in Israel, so each day the priests would ceremonially pour water on the altar. People would chant Isaiah 12:3, “Then you will joyfully draw water from the well of salvation.” It was on the last and greatest day of the feast, when the largest amounts of water was flowing behind Jesus we read these words in John 6:37-38 NASB “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes on Me as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water‘”.

Remember when Jesus said to the woman at the well, if you drink of me you will never thirst again? Jesus is saying on this last day of the feast, I am the answer to the prayer you pray at this time every year. I am the water you are praying for, I am the salvation the Bible speaks of. Water is sustainment, Jesus is our sustainment. At Passover we discovered that Jesus is our sacrifice, our doorway into the presence of God. At Tabernacles He is our continual refreshing, our strength, our joy.

The second major ceremony is the light ceremony that took place in the women’s court. The story from rabbis is that the oil for the lights were of such quantity that when the lamps were lit the entire city of Jerusalem was illuminated. It is with this backdrop Jesus speaks the words of John 8:12 NASB “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In one celebration we see Jesus as our salvation, our constant refreshing and the ever giving light of the path of our life and we haven’t even gotten to the glory part of this feast yet. Every Feast points to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus which allows for the fullness of its joyous celebration.

In the coming weeks we will look into the glory side of this feast. With this feast and every feast, with every aspect of our lives, we can celebrate because Jesus is the door to our Father who only desires good for us.

Psalm 91:14-16 MSG “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation.”    

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Love: A breakdown of 1 John 4:9 – 5:21

Instead of writing a full blown post on God’s love and us loving others, I decided to let a particular passage, 1 John 4:9 – 5:21 (NIV) speak for itself, with a few thoughts from me.

 This is how God showed his love among us:

A –  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

[Because of salvation we have the ability to live as Jesus did through the power of the Holy Spirit. We may mess up from time to time but forgiveness is there and strength to keep going].

B – 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

C – 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

D – 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

E – 19 We love because he first loved us.

F –20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command:

G – Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

H – This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

I – In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

J – This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

K – For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

L – We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

M – 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

N – 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

O –12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

P –13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Q –14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

R –15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

S – 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

T – 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

U –19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

V – 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.

W -And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

X –21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

[anything we put before God is an idol. Whatever we put first, whatever we think most about, that is the god of our life. If we set aside devotional time or prayer time for something else, that thing is an idol].

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Studying a book of the Bible

Using A Study Bible

The most broad, yet rewarding way to study the Bible for me is to study a book. if you are going to study a book I recommend using a Ryrie Study bible to assist you. The Ryrie Bible includes all necessary information for a book study including; Author, date, outline and timeline. each book is broken up into parts and sub-parts which makes book study easier. The Ryrie also contains comments on most verses in the Bible. With much of the work for a book study already done, you will have more time to devote to study itself.

What to Look for

When studying a book of the Bible it is important to make note of key words and themes throughout the book. Studying is not a quick thing, nor is it meant to be done in a day, take your time and absorb the message of the book.  

What to use

  • Study Bible
  • Notebook specifically for the purpose of your study
  • Concordance (to look up words and find definitions). the Strong’s Concordance has an edition for most Bible translations.

Tips for Study

Start with a small book first, they are easier to study and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time which can give you a sense of accomplishment before you begin with longer books. James and First Thessalonians are short books that do not have much deep theology so i would start here before attempting a study on the book of Ephesians.

Always pray before you get started and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the truth in the book you are studying and how to apply it to your life. The life Application Study Bible is also helpful in this area.

I do recommend both the Ryrie and Life Application Bibles because they have two different purposes and have proven immensely helpful in my own studies. I use my primary Bible and these two as a help when I need an outline or practical application of a verse or verses. You can never have too many tools when it comes to helping you study the Bible.

How to Study    

Read the book through once.

Identify main themes as you read through the second time (This will take several days for longer books). Underline or circle key words.

Pick a key verse in each chapter.

Summarize each chapter in your own words and write a paragraph on how it applies to your everyday life.

Write a positive confession based on the theme of the book.

Write out a prayer based from the theme of the book. (Some books have prayers in them you may want to adapt for your life.)

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3 Keys to Building Faith

Have you ever had the thought ‘is my healing ever going to come?’ or ‘am I ever going to receive a breakthrough’? Sometimes we can find ourselves discouraged when what we are believing for doesn’t come in our timing. There is a truth for us concerning this in Mark 4:16-17 AMPC “And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; 17 And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.”

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God.” When we hear the Word faith will come but that faith is not without opposition. Mark 16:17 says trouble arises on account of the Word. We have an enemy who is going to fight the process of building our faith every step of the way. This is why we must determine at the outset of whatever we are believing for that we will not be denied and we will not back off of our faith.

Something from our thoughts to our circumstances will always try to knock us off our faith, so how do we stay in faith? The following are three keys to building your faith and keeping it strong all the way through to manifestation.

Proverbs 4:20-27 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

Keep your eyes on the Word

The Message Bible says, “keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions”. When thoughts come that say you won’t get what you are believing for, that is a sideshow distraction, it is something to be ignored!

Matthew 6:22 KJV “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

When we are singularly focused on the Word, the Word will produce results. It goes back to what we read in Mark chapter four a moment ago, we can’t allow the Word to be stolen from us through wrong thoughts or hardships. The Bible says persecution comes because we decide to grab hold of the Word, to stay with that Word we must focus on it and keep our eyes off of anything contrary to it. We must take the full Word, we can’t wonder about God’s will. His Word is His will, when we allow doubt and unbelief in, the light in us actually becomes darkness. Stay singularly focused on the Word and it will begin to bring forth results.

Keep your ears on the Word

Proverbs 4:20 NLT “My Child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.”

Mark 4:23-24 AMPC “  If any man has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him perceive and comprehend. 24 And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.”

When we hear something the first time it is seed, every time after that it is being watered and when we’ve heard it enough to take root we will have results. We can’t just hear teaching on healing once, faith comes by hearing and hearing. We must continually hear the Word for our faith to be built. The Woman with the issue of blood heard the things Jesus had done. Not one thing but things, when we continually hear the Word faith comes alive.

The measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear is what you receive from. If what you hear is contrary to the Word and faith that is what you will receive from. I can’t spend my nights in front of shows that don’t build me up and expect to be strong in faith. We must give our ears to hearing the Word and good and positive things that are in line with it to see our faith built up.

Speak the Word

Mark 11:23 KJV “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Our words are so important and so powerful, they are a key component to our faith. This verse says we can’t doubt, we must believe. This goes back to ignoring those sideshow distractions. When we speak the Word faith is built, when we speak things contrary to faith doubt and unbelief are built.

2 Corinthians 4:13 KJV “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believe and therefore have I spoken; we also believe and therefore speak.”  We train ourselves in negativity by thinking it, hearing it and speaking it, we train ourselves in faith the same way.

Let today be a new day, let today be a decision day that from today forward you will keep your eyes on the Word, you will listen to the Word and you will speak the Word. When we give the Word first priority it will produce the promises of the Word in our lives. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged, when we mess up, we simply repent and get back to the Word and get in faith. Get in faith, let’s stay in faith and let’s watch faith produce in our lives.

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Benefits of Bible Study

Many of us, no doubt as we sit and read our Bibles each day desire to find deeper meaning in what we read. I’m sure, like me, you have sat and wondered how exactly does this apply to my life? My desire is to answer that question as we discuss different methods of Bible study.

When it comes to our daily reading most of us will read a chapter or go through a plan on our Bible app and that’s great but when we take the time to study the Bible we see the depth of it and learn how it applies to our everyday life.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God’s kingdom first and everything we need will be added to us. The word seek in the Hebrew means to research and study. When we research and study the Scriptures we learn how to apply them and walk in the benefits and blessings promised in them.

God’s will for us is to be blessed in every area of our life; to have good friendships, a good family life and to be happy, healthy and whole. The Primary reason to study of course is to develop our relationship with God and become closer to Him but as we get close to God He wants to bless us. Remember Jesus saying, if you know how to give good gifts, doesn’t it stand to reason my Father gives great gifts, (my paraphrase). We will not walk in blessing if we don’t see it as God’s heart for us to be blessed. Studying the Bible brings not just spiritual blessing but mental, physical and financial blessing as well and those are just as much benefits as spiritual growth and God does not want us to shy away from that.

Studying the Bible brings success

Joshua 1:7-8 NLT “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”  

God intends for each of us to fulfill our God given purposes and each of us have a great purpose to fulfill. Everyone is important, everyone has a purpose and god’s plan is for everyone to succeed but a key to succeeding is spending time Studying the Bible.

Studying the Bible brings about a good life and health to our bodies

Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”

Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh.”

The first promise of healing and health came when the Israelite’s left Egypt. God said, I am the Lord who heals you. In order to walk in the promise of health we need to know what the Word says. We know what the Word says by studying it. We often quote that the truth shall set you free but the verse actually says, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. To know truth means to own it and apply it. We can only own and apply what we know and that knowing comes through study.

A closing thought

Psalm 119:9-11 NIV “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hid your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

We learn the word, we gain victory through the word by studying it, the Amplified Bible says conforming our life to it. As much as I believe in reading, we can’t conform our life to something we have read but something we have studied and as earlier Scripture pointed out studying and meditating has to be a daily thing. In the beginning your daily study may only be fifteen minutes and that is great. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. As you look at different study methods start with an easy, short book, start with an interesting character or a favorite subject. It’s important to build up to the longer books and the deeper subjects.  

Check the recommended reading page for Bible study materials. If you don’t have a study Bible my first recommendation would be the Life Application Study Bible because of all the practical helps. As you look at the different study methods don’t rush through your book, chapter, or character study. Bible study is meant to go more in depth than your reading, allow it to go slow in the beginning and enjoy the learning process. The more efficient you become with different methods the quicker you will be able to spot the different key things in each.

I believe studying the Bible can be and is a very rewarding experience, you just have to find your niche and that’s what I want to help you do.

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Walking in the Power of the Spirit

In this last post in our Pentecost series we will be talking about walking in the power of the Spirit. To talk about walking with the Spirit we need to first look at what Jesus said about the Spirit.

John 14:16 KJV “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever.

John 16:12-13 KJV “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he shall show you things to come.”

Understanding the Scriptures

When Jesus talked to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He never mentioned a supernatural prayer language, although that is important and is addressed in the New Testament, Jesus focused His attention on the Holy Spirit as our teacher.

It is little benefit to have a prayer language without understanding the Scripture. We wage our warfare, we pray, we receive, everything about our lives is based from our understanding of the Word of God. When we begin to read and study the most important thing we can do is invite our teacher the Holy Spirit to come instruct us.

1 John 2:20 and 27 HCSB “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.”

We can always count on the Holy Spirit to lead us on the right path, show us and correct error, and lead us away from false teachers. In order to walk in power and be witnesses we must first have a strong foundation in God’s Word and that is the first priority of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to teach us the truth of God’s Word.

Power to be a Witness   

Acts 1:8 KJV “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

If the disciples were known as the people who turned the world upside down, how much more could we with cars, planes, television, podcasts, social media and so many more avenues to quickly spread the gospel change our world for the better! Part of being baptized in the Spirit is being empowered, receiving a supernatural boldness to tell the story of Jesus and the goodness of God. Scripture says that it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance. When we allow ourselves to receive and walk in the boldness of the Holy Spirit we can see our world change for the better, one person at a time.

Praying in the Spirit

One thing that is commonly misunderstood is that the gift of tongues and praying in tongues is not the same thing. The gift of tongues is for the edification/encouragement of the body and requires an interpretation. Praying in tongues is personal and is between us and God.

When we pray in tongues the Spirit is praying through us. We have all been faced with or will be faced with a situation at some time that comes from nowhere and takes us completely by surprise to the point where we are at a loss for words when it comes to prayer. The Holy Spirit is there for us in those times. Romans 8:26-27 from the Wuest New Testament says, “And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know in an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings. Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.”   

Praying in the Spirit also builds up our faith. Jude verse twenty in the King James says, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,” We can build up our faith by praying in the Spirit! There are many types of prayer in Scripture but only one is connected to building your faith and that is praying in the Spirit.

We end where we began, the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. If the Holy Spirits primary job is to teach us the Bible then it stands to reason that when we just begin to pray in the Spirit we are building ourselves up in the Word!

One Final Thought

A Rabbi was studying one day and found a connection between the Torah, Prophets and the Writings and fire danced around him. When he was challenged he responded, “I was only linking up the words of the Torah with one another and then the words of the Prophets, and the Prophets with the writings. And the words rejoiced as when they were delivered at Sinai, and they were as sweet as their original utterance. Were they not originally given in fire, in accordance with the text, ‘And the mountain was burning with fire?'”.

Could it be that the cloven tongues as of fire on the day of Pentecost is not the representation of the Spirit but of the Word. The wind was the Spirit and the fire was the Word. Could it be that when we allow Holy Spirit to teach us the Word will burn in our hearts and change our lives?

When we are filled with the Spirit we open ourselves up to deeper revelation, bigger boldness, and a more intimate prayer life. A Spirit filled life is a full life. If you have never been baptized in the Spirit ask the father to send Him. If you haven’t been refilled in a while ask to be refilled, the disciples were filled in Acts chapter two and refilled in chapter four, when we use power we need to be refilled. The ministry the Holy Spirit wants to have in and through our lives is powerful but we have to be open, we have to walk the path, hear the instruction, we have to ask. I encourage each of us to engage in conversation with our teacher daily and allow the prayer language of the Spirit to flow freely through us.  

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Preparing to Receive Power

In the last two posts we have looked at the beginning of Pentecost and receiving and walking in new revelation from the Word. Today we will look at preparing and receiving the power of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  

Acts 1:4-8 KJV “ And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

The disciples were told to wait until they receive power, the old-timers of Pentecost called this tarrying or praying through, we have lost that in today’s church. I’ve grown up Pentecostal/charismatic and I’ve heard stories about this but I don’t think I have actually ever seen it in a service. I have heard stories of great prayer meetings where people were overcome by travail (a deep prayer) and prayer meetings lasted for hours. I have heard and read many stories but I am not seeing this in our Pentecostal churches (and by the way, no, I don’t handle snakes).

The General Overseer of the Church of God, Dr. Tim Hill at the Ministerial Intern Commissioning Service last weekend said, “Pentecost – put up or shut up”. This may sound in your face but his point was right on. If we claim to have power, this deeper experience with Holy Spirit, we should have something to show for it.

I believe we have lost our passion and our patience.   

Our passion has been replaced with routine and rutted services. Our patience has been reduced to we want to be out by 1:00pm and wanting to see people hurry out of the altars and moving to the closing prayer. I’m not saying every service needs to be wild and crazy, there are times when God wants to come down in his peace and dwell with us as we sit quietly (with no tongues to try and break the uncomfortable silence). True Pentecost is both still and moving; loud and quiet, concert prayer and personal prayer.

When I look back at my Pentecostal heritage I see founders who loved and taught the Word of God, I see people passionate and long in prayer time, I see people who had a heart for worship and lived empowered by the Spirit. True Pentecost is all these things. When  we look at the Scriptures and our heritage we see both instantaneous receiving of power and those who had to seek for it more than one time. I don’t believe this is because God was holding back or because the persons didn’t have the faith. If we are truly hungry for the infilling of the Spirit, as the old-timers we will tarry, we will pray through.

Like the disciples who were filled in Acts chapter two, they were refilled two chapters later. Some of us who were filled ten or forty years ago need to receive a fresh baptism. Ask Holy Spirit to give you the hunger, the desire, the passion you once had. Let us not look to our heritage as the good ole days but let us see it as an example and say their ceiling is our floor, we will see more salvations, more baptisms, more infillings, more churches built, more missionaries sent. Pentecost is not a onetime historical event, it started with Moses, it culminated in the giving of the Spirit and now we have the privilege of celebrating both the Word and power of God.

This Pentecost, let each of us read and receive new revelation in the Word, receive the baptism or a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Spirit is given freely to those who ask. Ask to be given the power to witness ask for your personal prayer language that builds your faith according to Jude twenty.

We are under the open window of heaven right now, today can be your receiving day, all you have to do is believe and take it – open your mouth and let a new language come out. Take the step and witness to someone, you have received boldness to witness! The Bible says we receive when we pray, now it is up to us to act on what we believe.

Resources on the baptism and ministry of the Holy Spirit can be found on the bookshelf.

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The Freshness of God’s Word

Centuries ago Moses was given the Torah on Mount Sinai and every year since then the Jewish people have celebrated. That same day after the ascension of Jesus and His instruction for the disciples to wait for power, the Holy Spirit came.  The celebration of Shavuot and Pentecost are one and the same. Shavuot is the second of three appointed times on God’s calendar. Each year at the appointed time we get to receive the freshness of that event.

Today’s post is about receiving the freshness of God’s Word in our lives. Each feast has a purpose of causing us to remember and bring us up higher. We are familiar with the giving of the commandments in Exodus 20 but it was more than just the Ten Commandments, it was the entire Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). When we think of Jesus, we often think of Him in “New Testament” terms. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, He fulfilled the law and did not come to destroy it but to fulfill it and show us how to live it. From the very beginning God has always been about a heart of obedience. God told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 10:16 to circumcise their hearts. Jesus said if we love Him that we will walk in obedience to Him. The Holy Spirit was sent when Pentecost was fully come so that we would be able to live out the teachings of God’s Word and be empowered to witness.

The day begins at sundown according to God’s time. It is customary for Jewish people to stay up all night studying the Torah and the next morning go to the Synagogue for prayer (this is the day fully come). At Pentecost the disciples would have been up all night studying the Bible before going to the Synagogue for morning prayers. If we will receive the fullness of Pentecost, includes a fresh perspective and understanding of the Scripture. We have always hear it said and it’s true, we can never reach the end of studying and understanding God’s Word.

If you have ever found yourself at a loss when it comes to getting in the Word, Shavuot is a Moedim, an appointed time, for you to connect with God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit teaching you, to gain fresh revelation during this feast.

Next Tuesday (May 30) set aside a few hours of your night to read and study the Bible. You can study alone or with friends. It is customary to read the book of Ruth because it takes place during harvest time and she converted to God’s ways. It is also customary to read the accounts of creation, the exodus, giving of the Torah as well as the first and last chapter of each book. This is probably a different form of study than most of us are used to but do it in faith believing to receive revelation and new insight because that is what this holiday is all about. As part of the celebration it is also tradition to eat cheesecake as you study because the promise land flows with milk and honey.

Each feast is an open window for different things, Shavuot is our open window to receive a deeper understanding of God’s Word and financial breakthrough. Take the next few days and ask Holy Spirit to show you what to read, if you’re needing a specific need met, find verses on that issue and believe God during this open window to meet that need. As Deuteronomy 16:16 says, we are not to come before the Lord empty handed during this time but to give according to the blessing on our life. Give your firstfruit offering and believe God for your harvest.

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The Beginning of Pentecost

When we think of Pentecost most of us automatically think of Acts chapter two. The events in Acts two were actually not the first Pentecost, Moses going up Mount Sinai and receiving the Ten Commandments was the first Pentecost. Pentecost is actually a Greek word that means fifty, the Hebrew word for this celebration is Shavuot, meaning feast of weeks. The importance of this is noted in John 14:26 NIV “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 16:12-15 NIV “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” 

When Jesus walked on this earth He expounded the truths of the Scripture. He said in His sermon on the mount, I have not come to do away with the teaching of the Torah but show you how to live it. In the two passages above we see the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the truth of Scripture, which is why He was sent when the day of Pentecost was fully come. It is customary on the night before Shavuot to stay up all night studying the Scripture and for everyone to gather the next morning and present their firstfruit offering to the Lord. This provides a new light on exactly what was going on for the Holy Spirit to come at that time. We will get into this later in the series, today we will focus on stepping in to the season of Pentecost.

Shavuot is also known as the feast of weeks because there are seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost. The time in between was used for God to prepare them for receiving the Word. They had to go from a slave mentality to a free mentality.

Ephesians 4:23 tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Ephesians 5:26 tells us to be cleansed and renewed by the washing of water by the word. The Word of God is our path for life. In our English translations we see the word law in the Old and New Testaments; in the Hebrew it means pathway or teaching and in Greek it means legalism. When we think of the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament in general it is not ‘old’, it is still the Word of God and should be followed. Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial elements but showed us how to walk out the teaching in the Torah.

Paul said all things are permissible but not everything is profitable. God, each year gives us the appointed times of Passover, Shavuot, and Tabernacles for us to connect with Him and see the windows of heaven opened over our lives. The rabbinical teaching is that God invited several different people groups to receive His law and finally the Hebrews did.

Galatians three tells us that we are blessed with believing Abraham. Romans nine tells us that we who believe in Jesus are grafted in to a Jewish root. Pentecost for us is a two-fold celebration of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. When we begin with the giving of the Word of God we prepare ourselves to receive the full capacity of Holy Spirit to teach us the mysteries of God’s Word. Each year as we come to the different feasts it is an invitation to experience things again like when they first happened. During Pentecost we can receive a fresh joy and new insight about the Word and as Israel went from a slave mentality to a free mentality we too can come into a mindset of prosperity and see the curses of lack and debt broken off our lives.

As we continue in this series we will look at how to prepare ourselves to receive the fullness of Pentecost, including what books and chapters to read in Preparation. We will also look at how the Holy Spirit teaches us the Word of God and the power in the supernatural prayer language.

We are entering into the second of three appointed times that Scripture tells us not to come before God empty handed. Shavuot is a season to receive revelation and prosperity so ask the Lord what ministry you are to sow in to and what amount to give.

My prayer as we go through this series is that each of us will receive new revelation in the word of God and of the power of the Holy Spirit. I may do some extra posts in the coming weeks as part of this series so if you are not signed up to receive updates, get signed up so you don’t miss anything.

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Giving in Worship

In the last three weeks we have looked at the Word and prayer as it relates to spiritual warfare. 2 Corinthians 10:4 KJV “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;” Ephesians tells us that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness. Part of our warfare is worship and giving. Many times we have a tendency to separate these two things, yet Scripture says God loves a cheerful or worshipful giver. In the Jewish culture, giving was a very intentional part of worship.

The Church also sees giving as worship but in many cases giving has been removed as a part of actual worship, through online giving, boxes in the back and other things, I think we have lost a worshipful expression in giving. Look at Malachi 3:11 KJV “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake…” When we give, God Himself does battle on our behalf. This is a key element of our warfare.

Worship defined in the Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary is extreme submission. Yes, worship is singing, clapping, raising our hands, etc. it is also giving and much more. James 4:7-8 KJV ” submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

Part of our warfare is submitting to God. We cannot resist the devil if we are not first submitted to God. Part of that submission, our worship to God is found in Malachi chapter 3:8-11 KJV “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Before we break this down, notice it is tithes and offerings. When we give our tithe so that the house of God is taken care of but it is our offerings that open the windows of heaven and get the devour rebuked. many of us have wondered why we give but are not prospering, the key of prosperity is not found in the tithe but the offering. Each of us will walk in a level of blessing when we tithe, giving offerings take us to another level.

The Lord works with each of us where we are at; if you’ve never tithed to your church, start there. If you’ve tithed but have never consistently given offerings, begin to give. If your church has a missions program, begin giving to it. If a particular ministry is a blessing to you, sow into them. If your city has a food bank, take some can goods. Giving is not always money. We can give of our time, our talents and monetarily. Giving, true giving from the heart and not out of compulsion is joyful, we will enjoy giving if it’s in our hearts to do so. When we give out of guilt or pressure there will be no harvest that comes from that. If we are giving with no joy but only to receive, there will not be anything coming back to us.

Worship and giving are weapons in our warfare but in order for them to be effective we must use them properly and that means worshiping and giving with a right heart. Let’s take a moment today and examine our motives in giving and in our worship. Let’s look at the regularity of our worship, is it a church thing or a daily thing? Is our giving regular, are we praying about what and where to give? are we doing both of these things with joy in our hearts?

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Prayers That Produce Results

The last couple of weeks I have been praying/telling allergies to leave me and I have continued to deal with them. This morning the Holy Spirit said, the reason you are still dealing with these allergies is because you address them once a day and you are not in the Word concerning your healing. Needless to say, I paused after hearing this and the verse from James, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much came to mind. I wondered what the words effectual and fervent really meant so I a grabbed my concordance to look them up.

The word effectual is Strong’s #154 and means to be active, efficient, to be mighty, and to show forth self. The word fervent is Strong’s #2205/2204 to be hot. It wasn’t heard to see that my believing for allergies to be gone was not falling into this category. I share this story because it is easy for our prayers to become routine and to actually lack any faith being behind the words we are speaking. To be active and efficient in prayer means not to give up, to constantly speak the Word over a situation. To show forth yourself is to continue believing and speaking no matter what things may look like.

Prayer is a spiritual weapon that many of us don’t use. many are familiar with the armor of God in Ephesians chapter six but many times we stop with the sword of the Spirit but Ephesians 6:18 KJV says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” The heading in my Old Scofield says, “The warrior’s resource”. Prayer is a resource in our life. The Amplified Bible says praying with all types of prayers. There are different levels of prayer and different ways to pray. We shouldn’t pray the same way over our food as we wood someone believing for healing of an incurable disease. We don’t use the same Scriptures believing for finances as we do family. The verse also says praying in the Spirit. Many of us don’t use the gift of praying in tongues as we should.

So how do we keep from having a mundane prayer life? One thing I suggest is having a designated time of prayer that is separate from your morning prayer time which for most is during your ride to work and that is great. Along with that we need a time set aside for deeper and more concentrated prayer. I’m not saying you have to start off with an hour start with thirty minutes, which is split with fifteen minutes; five spent in worship, five spent in reading a couple verses and five praying. Pretty soon your fifteen minutes will become thirty, becomes forty-five, becomes an hour.

The reason I suggest worship and reading as part of our prayer time is because worship slows us down and gets our minds set on God. Reading a few verses refreshes our minds and puts us in a place of faith which lends to more faith filled praying.

I know I have caught myself even when I have put specific time aside when I pray that at times I will ramble and not know the direction I need to be going. It helps to focus our prayers by having Scriptures that pertain to that area so we can pray the Bible. James says we can pray amiss, when we are basing our prayers from the Scripture it guards against that as well as helps provide direction in our prayers.

I want to close out this post by talking about a form of prayer that is not utilized among many of us as believers. Jude 20 KJV “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost”.

Praying in tongues and speaking in tongues are two totally different things. Speaking in tongues requires an interpretation and is meant as edification and instruction for the church. Praying in tongues is personal, private and builds up our own faith. When we pray in the Spirit we are causing the Word in us to be built up and come alive.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation not knowing what to pray or how to pray? Romans 8:26-27 in the Amplified Classic has the answer, “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer, nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings  too deep for utterance. 27 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.”

For us, prayer should never become mundane, boring or “routine”. Our prayer lives should always be fresh, praying in the Spirit helps keep a freshness to our prayer lives. As the Holy Spirit reminded me today, there has to be faith behind prayer. My prayer for healing of allergies was just words, I didn’t have my eyes on the Word, I wasn’t feeding on healing Scriptures. As Brother Jesse Duplantis says, “faith doesn’t store up, once you use it for a situation, you have to get back in the Word and get more.” Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by God’s Word. In order to have a producing prayer life we must have faith and there is great faith, little faith and no faith. To have great faith we must be in the Word.

This all sounds so simple because God made it so, it’s just at times we forget the simplicity. Let’s be reminded of basing our prayer on the Word, being in the Word so the Word can come out of us and produce prayers that see answers.

 

Resources to develop your prayer life:

Prayers that Avail Much by Germaine Copeland

The Power of Your Words by E. W. Kenyon and Don Gossett

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Putting The Word to Work

Last week we talked about how the Word will work for us in any situation and how it is important that it is a revelation in our own hearts and minds and not just something we heard from someone else or read in a book. I enjoy listening to good Bible teaching and reading books but unless I am in reading and studying the Word for myself, taking what I learn from others and studying it out it hasn’t become revelation it’s just information and it’s revelation not information that leads to transformation.

Ephesians 1:17-18 KJV says, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”

Let’s break this down. The spirit of wisdom and revelation – In the knowledge of Him.

Why? That the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened.

For? That we know the hope of our calling and our inheritance.

This is a snapshot of the Christian life. We grow in wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus who is the word of God (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13) and in knowing the Word and applying it in and to how we live we can know our calling, fulfill our destiny and have an inheritance now and in eternity.

The Greek word for revelation in this verse means an uncovering, a manifestation, a coming to light. As we read and study there needs to be an uncovering of truth that produces light in our lives that causes transformation which leads to the manifestation of the goodness of God in every area of our lives.  Many believers though can have a hard time knowing where to start, what to do and how to apply what they read. This is the reason why so many of us at times have tried to copy our favorite teachers and wonder why it doesn’t work. Copying what someone else did does not necessarily mean we have a revelation of what we’re doing, we could be doing something without understanding the why behind it.

The Apostle Paul commended a particular church group for studying out what he taught. Paul would come in and preach but in turn the congregation would review their notes, study and apply the teaching to their lives. We can be great note takers but unless we’re reviewing our notes and studying them out during the week it does us no good. Today I want to help us put the Word to work in our lives by talking about how to read, study, confess and pray the Word of God. I also want to end with an ancient secret in the Bible about a very special portion and promise in the Word of God.

Reading a chapter a day

The easiest way to develop the habit of Bible reading is to make a quality decision to read a chapter of the Bible every day. Proverbs is a great place to start; it has thirty-one chapters and can be read through each month. There are many daily Bible reading programs available on the Bible app you use. While it is good to read through the Bible at least once, I personally do not encourage it yearly because if you miss a day or more it can get frustrating and often times we can tend to hurry through the reading.

Reading and studying are not synonyms, when reading make note of things you would like to study later.  It is also good to read through the gospels, Paul’s epistles (excluding First and second timothy), and first five books of the Bible, this gives you 364 readings.

The benefit of developing and maintaining a daily reading habit is found in Proverbs 3:-2 AMPC “My son, forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you”. And Proverbs 4:20-22 AMPC “My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.”

Studying the Bible

In the summer we will do a series covering each Bible study method, today, we will do an overview of how to study the notes we take from a message and/or study the message of a book or devotional you may be reading. Many pastors provide outlines of their messages so it makes studying a bit easier. if your Pastor does not give out outlines make note of the title/topic, each Scripture reference and main points.

To study read the chapter of each text. It is important to note that studying isn’t done in one day but it is done continually over several days. Some studies will be short and others will take more time based on the interest you have in the subject. It’s important not to rush studying but take your time and allow yourself to dig in to the material.

To help you study I recommend:

A Bible with cross-references, if not a study Bible

Concordance (Strong’s Concordances come available in many translations

Pen and highlighter(s) – I color code by subject.

As you read write down words that stick out to you and look them up in the concordance (find the word and the verse, and look up the number next to it in the back of the concordance, Old Testament is Hebrew and the New Testament is Greek. Example: (Faith – Mark 11:22 – 4102, I’ll flip back to the Greek and look for 4102). This helps understand the deeper meaning of words in the Bible, the Amplified Bible is also a good tool to help you dive deeper.

Bible study can sometimes feel like you are chasing rabbits with going from verse to verse using cross references and looking things up in a concordance but we are actually following the thread of Scripture connecting one verse to another and one promise to another. You can study a chapter, a verse, a book, a character, or a subject and we will go over all of these in the summer. Using your pastors notes or a devotional to base your study off of will help guide you in what to study and give you deeper insight into the message, so take the verses and look up key words and find others that relate to it. This brings us to the next area.

Confessing and Praying God’s Word

When something sticks out to you in a message, relates to something in your life, or just encourages you, take that verse and make it into a confession.

Psalm 107:20 says that God sent His word to heal and deliver us. Mark 11:23 and 24 says we have what we say and what we pray. It is important for us to speak the Word over our lives and pray the Word of God into situations. If you don’t know where to find a verse on a particular situation look up the subject or word in your Bibles concordance, get a book of Bible promises at your local Christian bookstore or visit the Real Help section of Kenneth Copeland Ministries website .

find a verse or two and make it part of your prayer life and confess it over yourself. For example if you need healing take Isaiah 53:4-5 in the Amplified and make a confession like this, “Jesus bore my sicknesses and weaknesses, He carried my sorrows and by His stripes I am healed and according to Mark 11:24 I am praying in faith and I believe I receive my healing and I call it done.” no matter what the situation is you can find some verses to pray and make a confession with. When we speak God’s word instead of negative things we get good results.

An Ancient Secret, An original Bible Teaching  

All the Bible is available to us but like we talked about in the beginning there are things that must be revealed to us. Just as Jesus taught in parables because it was given to the disciples to know mysteries, they had to search out the meaning of the parables. many things in Jesus day were understood so Jesus didn’t go into a lot of detail but we have a Western-Greek mindset while Jesus and his listeners had an Eastern-Jewish mindset so much of what was known then has become lost to us, so many of us are rediscovering the Bibles original teachings for the first time. One of those teachings is the Mezuzah.

In Deuteronomy chapter six the Hebrews were instructed to teach the Word to their children at home, on the road, when they wake up and when they go to bed. They were also instructed to put the Word on their doorposts. Today this is observed with the use of a Mezuzah a container that is attached to the door frame of the doors of the home (all except the bathroom). The Mezuzah contains a parchment with the words of the Sh’ma of Deuteronomy 6:4 CJB “Sh’ma Yisra’el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad (Hear, Israel! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one).

Moses received the Torah (first five books of the Bible) on Mount Sinai, this is the written Torah, but there was also the Oral law which taught how to live the Torah which was not officially written until the destruction of the Temple, these writings are known as the Talmud. The teaching is, the home is a mini sanctuary and by placing the Mezuzah on your doorpost your home is dedicated to God and the enemy is not allowed to enter. It is also customary to put the Mezuzah on every door frame inside the home except the bathrooms. this is a reminder of the Word and presence of God in the home. You attach it slanted as a sign of love, compromise, and that differing opinions are both correct in some manner.  Think about this, if every time we walked in and out of a room we paused for a second and honored the Word (you do this by touching your fingers to your lips and then touching the Shaddai), how much more peace would we experience in our home? How much less strife and anger would be present if we were constantly reminded of the Word and presence of God?

This is not a legalistic thing, God intended for this to help remind His people of His Word and presence not just in the Synagogue but in their homes as well. Just as the blood stopped death at the door during Passover, so dedicating our homes, placing Mezuzah’s and making the quality decision for God to be the center of our homes stops the enemies plans in his tracks. All this because we devout time to reading, studying, speaking and praying God’s Word.  

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The Word Works

Today we’re beginning a new series on spiritual weapons. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

Since the Scripture says our weapons are not carnal that means we have spiritual weapons, our first thoughts probably include the Bible, prayer and worship; all these are weapons that we will be talking about in the coming weeks along with some others.

Let’s look at a few Scriptures about the Word;

2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Proverbs3:1-2 AMPC “My son forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you.”

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

There are many more verses we could get into but for the sake of length we won’t. Many of us have probably heard messages on these Scriptures, have confessed Scriptures, take copious amounts of notes in church but don’t see the Word working for us, I want us to address that for a moment. I truly believe the title of this post, the Word works, but honestly, sometimes we don’t work it correctly.

I listen to some really good preachers, I go to a good church and I read books but that can’t be my word supply. If I am not in the Word for myself, if I’m not reading and getting my own Scriptures to stand on the Scriptures aren’t going to work for me. Almost all of us have probably heard the verse, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. This is a false statement because the Scripture is out of its context.

John 8:31-32 NKJV “Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.””

We cannot know the truth if we are not abiding in the word. The word abide in the Amplified Classic is defined as, hold fast to my teachings and live in them. The word know means to own the truth, to apply it in every instance and area of life. There was a moment when I realized that just because I listened to someone, took notes and quoted the verses they gave didn’t mean it was a revelation to me. The Word has to be alive to us, we need to dig out the deeper things from notes we take. Devotionals and reading plans are good but unless we develop our spirit man to come to a place to be able to make our own reading plans, finding verses on our own to pray from we are not abiding in the Word. if I rely on my pastor for all my daily reading material I’m only alive (and even then, just barely, only because of him). Many of us have done things we have heard taught that just haven’t worked for us, I submit to us that it didn’t work simply because, yes, it is true, but, no, we didn’t own it.

I believe the Word works, it’s just that many times we don’t work the Word. So how do we get the Word to work for us? I have a challenge for each of us, let’s take the notes we’ve taken over the years find some that really speak to us, read the Scriptures slowly, take them in and study them out. If you don’t have a concordance (a dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words) I would encourage you to get one from a Christian bookstore or online. Most people use the Strong’s Concordance, it is available in many translations. You will look up a word and it will list all the Scripture references, next to every reference is a number that either goes with a number in the Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) in the back of the concordance. Look for the number and it will give you the definition. You don’t need to do this for every word, just the ones that stand out to you.

If you need healing, a financial breakthrough, family restoration, whatever you need just do a search and go through the Scriptures that come up. We know the Word is alive, but it is truly only alive in us if we are spending time in it.

This may sound very basic to some but I think after a few years of walking with God we can forget the basics and need to be refreshed. We can get in the routine of doing church and see that as our relationship with God, when it is actually our relationship with the rest of the body of Christ.

The Word works, sometimes we don’t work the Word, sometimes we just don’t know what we need to know. Hosea 4:6 says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Just as ignorance of the law won’t get us out of a ticket, ignorance of the Word does not get us out of the issues of not obeying it. We are also responsible for what we are taught, if we are taught a truth and do not obey it, we can hold up the blessing in our lives until we walk in the truth. yes there is grace, but grace does not excuse disobedience. Like the Scripture says, the truth, the truth that you own and do makes you free.

I Know I have made some hard statements in this post, before I write them, I get it for myself. Proverbs says the ones God loves He corrects, let’s take what’s been said and examine our lives and our doings. Many of us have faith, but James says faith without works is dead.

Ask yourself this week, am I working the Word or am I hoping it will work by osmosis?

Next week we will specifically look at how to put the Word to work in our lives.

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Resurrected & Rejuvenated

When we think of the resurrection we typically just think of Jesus coming out of the tomb, but the resurrection is so much more than that. The resurrection of Jesus is not just Him coming out of the tomb but us coming into new life.

Romans 6:3-11 KJV “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.For he that is dead is freed from sin.Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus did not rise from the dead for Himself, He rose for us, so that we could live a life free from sin, shame and bondage. Just as God lead the children of Israel out of Egypt so they could inherit the land of promise full of milk and honey – so the resurrection of Jesus is for us, going from bondage to the land of promise.

The death on the cross forgives our sins and the resurrection frees us from the bondage to them. We can live free, that is what the new creation is all about! 2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature all together); the old (previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” Now, this doesn’t mean everything is easy, there will be a spiritual fight, that’s what Romans chapters six through eight are about. Our next series will deal with how to do spiritual battle and win but before we can engage in the battle we have to know and understand who we are.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is all about us becoming like Him! We can be like Jesus, it’s why He came, to reconcile us to God and help us live a victorious life. I season let us grab hold of the truth that we are new creations and we can live the good life God intends for us!

Resources for helping us grow in the understanding of the new creation:

Gone – One Man, One Tomb, One Sunday: Rod Parsley

New Creation Realities: E. W. Kenyon

Your Best Life Now: Joel Osteen

The Blessing of the Lord: Kenneth Copeland

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Crossing Over & The Cross of Christ

Exodus 14:13-15 KJV “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you this day: for the Egyptians ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward…”

I am so excited for Passover on Monday! During this season each year God, as the Scripture says, tells us to go forward. No matter where or how we may have missed it, Passover is our opportunity to go forward on the path God has for us!

In the story of Passover, the Hebrews were told to put the blood of the lamb over the doorpost so that death would passover them. After this event they were released from bondage and look at what the Scripture says;

Exodus 12:33-36 HCSB “Now the Egyptians pressured the people in order to send them quickly out of the country, for they said, “we’re all going to die!” So the people took their dough before it was leavened ‘ with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their clothes on their shoulders. The Israelite’s acted on Moses’ word and asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD gave the people such favor in the Egyptians’ sight that they gave them what they requested. In this way they plundered the Egyptians.”

Just as the Israelite’s plundered the Egyptians, so, Jesus, plundered the enemy for us:

 Isaiah 53:4-5 NLT “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” The words of verse four also mean griefs, weaknesses, sicknesses, and distresses, sorrow and pains.

Psalm 103:2-5 AMP “Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits – Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [ each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity, and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming and soaring]!

For Some of us to move forward, we will have to grab some things from the past and pull them forward, others will have to let go of the past to move. Ask Holy Spirit what needs to go and what needs to stay.

We need to get these passages deep in our hearts; copy them to our phones notepad, put them on index cards around our houses and highlight them in our Bibles. In order to cross over from defeat to destiny, from doubt to declaration, from fear to faith and from passivity to possession we have to have in us and coming out of us what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. The crossing of the red sea is a picture of going from bondage to freedom. The cross is about the same thing and going from darkness to light!

No amount of teaching in and of itself can change us, we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind and our minds are renewed by the Word of God. Instead of expounding on what has already been said I want to encourage us that from today till the next post that each day we will review the following portions of Scripture:

Exodus 12-14

Romans 6-8

and at lunch, Psalm 10:2-5 and Isaiah 53:4-5

I know six chapters is quite a bit of reading but I believe if we will commit to read them for the next eight days the truth found in these portions of Scripture will come alive in us. In fact, that is my prayer for all of us who will commit to reading these sections for the next eight days, that the truth will become revelation to us and that we will see ourselves as living and able to walk out its truth on a daily basis.

Along with reading these sections, study a chapter a day, dig into the Word, let it get deep into your heart and mind and watch a transformation take place.

If you need some help digging into these truths the following books have really helped me dig in and I know I’m still not walking in the fullness of this revelation but I am believing for greater growth in my understanding in these eight days!

New Creation Realities by E. W. Kenyon

The Crucified Life by A. W. Tozer

The Cross by Rod Parsley

We believer’s can tend to relegate the crucifixion and resurrection to once a year in our thoughts, but the power, the gospel itself hinges on these events, we would do well to visit them often. I pray your reading of Scripture is blessed and if you get any of the books I mentioned that they will be a great help to you. Next week we will talk about the resurrection!  

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Feasts Giving Produces a Full Harvest

No doubt the title of this post makes some people uneasy and gives the feeling that I’m trying to get your money. I can put you at ease and say I’m not asking for your money. Giving has always been about God trying to get something to us, not trying to get something from us.

Many in the Church today have an adverse reaction to a health and wealth gospel yet so many struggle with debt and have health issues, we are so willing to go to financial advisors and doctors and these are great tools yet we won’t go to the Scriptures and tap into our covenant benefits.

Before we get into this teaching; yes, I am going to suggest you find a ministry or organization to give an offering to. No, offerings don’t have to be money, we can give of our time, but we are willing to spend our money on so much why not give into the Kingdom. With that being said, God has never been about or required people giving big offerings.

Deuteronomy 16:17 KJV “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.”

1Samuel 15:22 says that obedience is better than sacrifice. It’s not about giving a huge amount but being faithful in what God asks of us.

Remember in Luke twenty-one when Jesus said the widow woman’s two coins were more than the abundance of the others? Giving is a motivation thing, not a means thing. Our giving, obedient giving is the key to releasing God’s blessing in our lives. God’s not trying to get something from us, He’s trying to get something to us.

Malachi 3:7-11 KJV “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of thy ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Many of us can say, but I give my tithe and I’m not seeing the windows of heaven open and the enemy is not being rebuked on my behalf. I believe this is because the Scripture says we have robbed God in tithe and in offering. Many of us have left out the offering part, and this is not talking about special speaker or missions offering but feasts offerings.

Let’s go back to one of the first verses we talked about and back up a verse. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 KJV “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread (Passover), and the feast of weeks (Pentecost), and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.”

Notice once again, it’s not about giving a large amount but giving according to your means. This was not just an old covenant thing. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and Paul said let us keep the Passover by celebrating Christ, our Passover lamb.

When Jesus mentioned 30, 60, 100 times that which was sown in the parable of the sower, His Jewish audience understood the double meaning of giving during the feasts; 30 (Passover), 60 (Pentecost) and 100 (Tabernacles).

We can  all get off track in our walk with God throughout the year, that’s why God instituted the feasts, to help provide away at specific times to get back to Him. Remember in Isaiah it says, come to Me while I am near and in James it says, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. This is what these three feasts are about, coming near to God and unlocking the windows of heaven through our giving and receiving what God has for us during these three specific times each year.

God said in Malachi that we could test Him in this, so if you’re a little skeptical I would encourage you to pray and ask God what to give and where to give during the three feasts this year and see what God does. I specifically sow my feast offerings into one of the ministries I know who gives to Israel, but step out and ask God what to give if you would like more info on the feasts click the feasts and festivals category and study out the Word and see how God speaks to you. If you don’t feel right in this, don’t do it – I am sharing this because for me it has been revealed as a key to receiving from God and it may be for you too.

For more information on the feasts and giving:

Larry Huch Ministries (Learn and give.)

God’s End Time Calendar (previously published as Divine Encounter): Rod Parsley

Jesus and the Jewish Festivals: Gary M. Burge

Give to the Church of God Israel Initiative  

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