To Mask or Not to Mask


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I’ve been a little troubled at how we are treating one another during the weird period we are in. In particular, I’m a little troubled how we are treating one another in the Body of Christ.

I see people getting frustrated with others because they won’t or don’t wear a mask. I see people getting frustrated at others because they do wear a mask. Now, outside the Body of Christ, I understand these frustrations, but inside…….?

Satan has always tried to divide the Body over issues. He wants us to focus on “levels” rather than unity.

What do I mean by “levels”?

He likes for us to get into a “spitting” match over who has faith and who doesn’t and who has love and who doesn’t. For instance, if you are wearing a mask during this COVID outbreak, then your faith level must be low. If your not wearing a mask, then your love level must be low – not caring for those who are concerned about contracting the disease.

Levels!!!!

Isn’t that what the Body of Christ always fights over? Who has the highest level of whatever? Doctrinal Correctness – Church Attendance – You name it!

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Romans, chapter 14 clearly addresses what to do in situations like the one we are currently in:

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Verses 13-15

This is not about food so let me put it this way:

If your brother is grieved because of a mask or lack of one, don’t destroy their faith by demanding they do what you do! When we do demand, we are touting our maturity while revealing our immaturity.

Now, let’s finish with chapter 15, verse 1:

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 

It doesn’t get much plainer!

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To mask or not to mask?

That’s the question! To love  – to bear long – to not require others to operate at a level above or below their faith – that’s the answer!

Let’s focus on being patient and loving with one another. Doing so will create an atmosphere in which everyone will want to grow up into Christ!

So, if I see you in church with a mask, I’ll love you. If I see you in church without a mask, I’ll love you! It’s my job to preach the gospel. It’s God’s job to do the changing. I don’t get the two mixed up!

The Power is Present


Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Luke 5:17

Did you notice what is said here?

The power of the Lord was present to heal the Pharisees and teachers of the law.

So, what happened?

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A paralyzed man was brought into the house where Jesus and the people and Pharisees were gathered. But, because of the crowd, his friends lowered the paralyzed man by removing the tiles of the roof above Jesus. They wanted their friend to experience the anointing present to heal.

God was ready to heal the Pharisees and teachers too. But, they stumbled at the words of Jesus when he addressed the paralyzed man. Jesus said to him:

“Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

The Pharisees began to reason saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus responded to them:

“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?”

It’s all included in the covenant!

The same God who forgives our sins – heals our bodies and souls. The same faith that makes Jesus your Savior and Lord brings healing to your body, mind, and emotions. Healing is not a different anointing from the one which forgives our sins. All benefits of the Lord proceed out of the same covenant and all the promises of God become yours when you receive Jesus by faith.

The paralyzed man was anxious to receive all the benefits of the covenant of God – whatever he needed for his life. The Pharisees limited what God could do for them – not because of a lack of power but because they staggered at the fullness of the covenant.

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The anointing is present to break every yoke. If you are Jesus’ disciple, then you have it all! Don’t limit God! Don’t stagger because you don’t understand how it is done or are offended at how God decides to release it! Remember these words:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things. Psalm 103:2-5

 

A Season of Lifting


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As I was praying over the season we are in as the people of God, I heard the Spirit say to me, “Lift up your eyes”

As I entered study about it, here is what I believe the Lord is saying.

Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! John 4:35

The world is saying, “Be careful! Distance yourself!” But, God is saying, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields.” This is a time for harvest!

“Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Isaiah 60:4

They world is saying, “Stay scattered!” The Lord is saying, “This is time for gathering!”

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Luke 21:28

You can’t lift your head and not lift your eyes. We don’t have much time! We must get ready for the return of Jesus for His people!

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So, here’s the summary:

  1. The harvest is a “God” priority in this season.
  2. God is gathering people. Some who once were in a relationship with you will return to your side.
  3. Get ready  – Jesus is coming! Soon, we will be going home!

Godly priorities are important. This is a season of lifting your eyes so that you will not be confused by the voice of the world.

One more word:

Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Psalm 24:7

The whole earth is full of something. Lift up your eyes and see! It is His glory!

What if?


I have been thinking a lot about the future. Some are calling it the “new normal”.

One question I believe we must answer as believers is this:

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What do we do if COVID-19 never goes away?

A valid question. Why? Because humanity lives with many viruses as part of life. Viruses are usually very tough to deal with from a medical standpoint. True vaccines often take years to develop properly, if one is ever found.

I believe that as the body of Christ, we must ask ourselves some hard questions:

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How do I fulfill my calling in the face of a new challenge?

Is this the beginning of a return to “New Testament Christianity” where my life could actually be at risk to fulfill my calling?

What are the priorities right now? Is what God has told me truly my first priority?

We nearing the end of the period of time in which the Jewish people identified the first fruits of their harvest. This occurred between Passover and Pentecost. Will you give it to Him or live a life of fear?

Count the cost during this time and give to God what belongs to Him.

Your Place of Peace


How are you doing?

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I’m having a few struggles. I’m tired of not being able to sit and talk to people. I’m tired of not being able to go to a restaurant. I’m tired of every chair in my house. I’m tired of the TV. I’m tired of Walmart – although its one of the few place I actually get to go! At least, they could move things around a little – to make things more interesting like hide and seek. Find the toilet paper!!!!

Its important right now that you find your place of peace.

I’m not really speaking of an actual physical place – although it may include that but I’m speaking of your place of internal peace.

Remember, biblical peace is more than a sense of undisturbed emotions – it includes well being. In other words, it means being undisturbed because you are centered or anchored on the Rock, Christ Jesus!

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Think of a ship – when it is in shallow water it doesn’t need much of an anchor to keep it stabilized. Lots of objects rest in shallow water. Often, you can just tie off onto something else for stability.

 

But, in deeper water, a ship often finds itself alone – tying to another object is usually not an option. You have to depend upon the anchor to stabilize the ship.

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We are in deep water now. Every object that we once tied to for stabilization is removed. The ship is left with only its anchor to stabilize it.

If you want peace, you must let down your anchor! The anchor holds no matter the circumstances you find yourself in! Jesus is the Anchor!

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The Wake up Call


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This week, we celebrate the greatest event in all Christendom – I believe it is the greatest event in the history of the world: the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Think on these scriptures:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9 -11

When you understand what is being said then you realize why I would say that the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest event in history!

Jesus possesses a seat of authority that no one else does. He is the gateway to eternal life which is more than just a ticket into heaven. Heaven is simply the fullest expression of our understanding of what eternal life really is – which is a relationship with Jesus.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

That you may know Him………does it shock you to know that Jesus would like to have a relationship with you? Not so that He can get to know you – He already knows you better than you know yourself. But, so that you can know Him. That is the essence of eternal life.

Knowing Jesus is not like knowing others. Oh, it has some factors in common with knowing others but the One being known is different from anyone you’ve ever known. It is in knowing Jesus that you truly know yourself. Notice I said, “truly”.

You learn the truth about you – your talents, your abilities, your gifts, your weaknesses, your value, your purpose – all these become clear when you know Jesus. No one on this earth can really impart value to you. Nothing on this earth can actually impart worth to you. What makes you important? What makes you loved? What gives you true worth?

Something you said? Something someone else said about you? Something you did?

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Such things are based upon opinion…..opinions which are subject to change. What if you could base your importance, your worth, and the knowledge that you are loved upon something that does not change?

 

That’s the essence of eternal life. And, since Jesus has a seat of authority no one else occupies and has risen from the dead, then you can base the answers upon something or Someone that never changes!

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The greatest “wake up call” in all history was issued on Easter Sunday morning. God, the Father called His Son, Jesus out of the grave into everlasting life so that you can come into a relationship with Him and know Him who is the Author of eternal life!

Do not be afraid! The answer stands in front of you! It is not a religion or a belief system or a pathway to self improvement. It is a Person……alive and ready to take you in and make you a part of His kingdom of eternal life!

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“Wake up” with Jesus by giving Him your life. He will release to you the greatest gift known to humanity: a relationship with Him! And, in knowing Him, you will finally find the wholeness that passes understanding!

 

 

The War Never Ends


The last couple of times I’ve written, the topic has been possessing your destiny. I know it seems as if it is a strange time to talk about destiny. Much of America is “shut down” at this time. Limitations are everywhere. But, God is never limited!! He uses times that seem to be bad to further His kingdom of which you are a part!

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You keep your eye on the ball! God is still moving in your life!

So far, we’ve said that possessing destiny requires an ability to trust God to remove every obstacle out of the way. We then talked about allowing God to circumcise our hearts for the removal of every internal obstacle. Today, we will talk about a reality that doesn’t make us happy but is true. That is: The War Never Ends!

If you are going to value comfort over battle, the enemy will steal your destiny. You see in this life there are enemies that want to steal what God has for you. You cannot be the type of person that has a “Pollyanna” view of life that includes you not experiencing the resistance of the enemy of your life. As long as you live, you will face “dream thieves”. Get it straight in your mind. This place is not heaven. One day, we will find ourselves in a home where all opposition is completely vanquished.

Until then, we fight!

How will our Field Turf hold up in this rain?

The children of Israel crossed that which could not be crossed on the way to their promise. God took them across the Red Sea and the Jordan River at flood stage. The children of Israel took time in the wilderness of their Promised Land to undergo circumcision to the Lord God. One neat point: the place you allow circumcision will become a part of your promise!

After these processes, the land of promise lay before them. The problem was that it was possessed by enemies! So, the children of Israel had to change their mindset from slave to slayer – from wanderer to warrior!

If you are going to possess your destiny, you are going to have to change your mindset too!

One day, we will lay down the weapons of our warfare in the kingdom of heaven but until then, we must be ready to engage the enemy at any time!

I told the Lord one day: “Lord, I’m tired of a constant battle! I’d love a break!” I heard the Lord say back to me: “Are you asking Me to take you out of the game? Are you asking to come to the sidelines?” I remember thinking about this and saying: “No, Lord. I want to remain in the game. I don’t like the sidelines!”

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Stay in the game! One day when rewards are handed out you’ll be glad you did!

A Critical Step


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Last time I sat down to write, I told you that we would take some time to talk about possessing your destiny. I know – it may seem like a weird time to be talking about destiny since we are in the midst of slowdowns and shelter in place orders. But, God’s purpose does not stop – everything that happens is factored in to His master plan for your life! Last blog, I wrote about overcoming obstacles as a critical part of possessing your destiny. Today, we will look at another critical step.

Once the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, they went to a place called Gilgal. Here’s a couple of interesting things about Gilgal:

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The name Gilgal means “rolled” or “removed”. Gilgal was located east of Jericho in a wilderness area. It was at Gilgal that Joshua commanded the men who had not been circumcised to go through the covenant procedure.

Everyone who is on the way to their destiny stops at their own personal “Gilgal”. Under the New Covenant, the circumcision of our hearts in dedication to the purposes of God is vital to the success of our mission. We cannot accomplish God’s plan with a divided heart. Gilgal is a place where separation occurs. It is a place where dedication occurs. It is a place of “cutting away” the things of the world. God removed physical obstacles to the accomplishment of His plan from the pathway of His people. It is at Gilgal that He removes the internal obstacles to the possession of His inheritance from the hearts of His people. Another interesting point: Gilgal was located in the wilderness of Israel. Most “spiritual” circumcisions of our heart occur during a time in the “wilderness”. But, the wilderness the children of Israel were in at Gilgal was a part of the land God had given them to inherit.

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If you are in a wilderness right now and God is working on your heart – don’t despair! The wilderness you are in is a part of your promise! Many equate a “wilderness” time with being out of God’s plan. In actuality, the children of Israel were already in their land of promise while they were at Gilgal.

The “wilderness” you are in is part of your possession! The circumcision of your heart occurring during this time is a critical step of success! Don’t despair! God has led you to where you are even if you have not been aware of it! The circumcision in the wilderness is a part of God’s pathway to possessing your inheritance! So, slow down and allow the process to take place as God intends.

God is rolling away the failures of the past. He is rolling away the flaws that end in falling short of the goal. Trust Him! He knows what He is doing!

Next time, we will look at one more step to possessing your destiny. See you then!

 

Possessing Your Destiny


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It’s great to be back home after 10 days in Cuba. Here’s some great news: the church in Cuba is growing and thriving! Despite persecution and the challenges of daily living, the Cuban church is a model for how to spread the Gospel. It is amazing to see these wonderful men and women of God go forth into the calling of God despite what they face. If only we in America who face much less could have the same passion and resolve!

Okay, I’m back!

I want to start a three part conversation centered on possessing your destiny.

Each one of you have a calling to glorify Christ, to reach others with the Gospel, and to live a godly life in Him. With that being stated in the Word of God, I want to use the children of Israel as an example of three steps we must take to walk in our destiny.

The children of Israel were in bondage and slavery in the nation of Egypt. They had promises from God but those seemed like distant fantasies. But, God’s word is not fantasy it is certainty to those who believe!

God sent a deliver – Moses – an Old Testament type of Christ to deliver them from their bondage. After being freed, they had to alter their perspective and learn to live a  new way. They had to learn to believe God for what they needed. This was a stretch for them since they had left the land of slavery but “slavery” thinking had not left them.

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After a period of time, they finally approached the land of Promise. Can you see your Promise in front of you?

Three steps to possessing their destiny still lay in front of them. The first was that they had to cross their Jordan.

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The Jordan River stood between them and the land of Promise. It was at flood stage when they arrived. Crossing it was not an option, yet God wanted them to move forward. What to do? Just like the children of Israel, you are going to face an obstacle to your promise. It probably is impassable in the natural. This type of situation is very normal in a walk with God. God will often lead us to a place that cannot be crossed without His divine intervention. When faced with these obstacles, God is testing our faith: do we believe He can get us across or do we revert back to natural living and give up on the journey? This journey is about God demonstrating His glory. Without faith, you cannot cross. With faith, you will see God reveal His power!

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God caused the Jordan River to dry up before the children of Israel! The children of God crossed over on dry ground. Once they were over, the river returned to it’s previous position. Wow! There’s a story in that as well! Don’t get distracted! That’s for me not you!

Everyone who wants to possess their destiny will have to cross their obstacles! Yes, you will encounter multiple obstacles along the way. Remember, the children of Israel had to cross both the Red Sea and the Jordan River!

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I speak over you the ability to be an “obstacle overcomer!” Instead of crying at the presence of obstacles, rejoice in the fact that you are about to see the Presence of God like never before!

Once in the land of Promise, the children of Israel had to do two other things to possess their destiny. We’ll talk about another one next time!

I leave you with this word:

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. Psalm 18:29 NLT

Casting Out Demons


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I recently spoke on the power of the church to cast out demons. In that message, we learned that:

Demons cannot be counseled.

Demons only respond to authority and its attending power.

When you take over a demon’s house, fill it with the Holy Spirit.

Only a warrior can cast out a demon.

The words of Jesus found in Mark 16:15-18 are powerful:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

It is a spiritual truth that demonic activity is present in the realm in which we live. God gives us instructions as to how believers are to bring His glory to bear when confronted with these spirits. You don’t have to go looking for demons. As you pursue the Lord’s will and go after what has been stolen by the enemy, you will encounter them. When we confront them, we are to:

Cast them out: To throw out, as to evict someone from a place; to drive out; to expel. To forcibly remove.

Matthew 11:12 tells us that the kingdom of heaven advances through force. Satan has no alternative but to vacate territory that is claimed through the authority of the finished work of Jesus. Using Jesus’ name releases His authority and power to free the possessed or oppressed.

Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian can evict demonic powers. If you aren’t under the authority of the Word of God than the authority of Jesus is not present in your life to cast out demons. Remember the seven sons of Sceva talked about in Acts 19?

They tried to cast out a demon in the “name of Jesus whom Paul preaches”. The demon responded by saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about; but who are you?”

Since demons only respond to authority, they only respond to those who are under Christ’s authority!

One final word to the wise:

Acts 19:18-19 speaks of the salvation of the people in Ephesus. It says that those who practiced magic arts got rid of the items of withcraft they possessed. It states that they confessed their deeds.

The word “deeds” in Greek refers to “magic arts, incantations, spells, or any item or activity connected with witchcraft or sorcery.”

I don’t believe in fear but I also don’t believe in allowing things in my life in the name of “freedom from legalism” either. Practices such as the reading of horoscopes, tarot cards, palms – involvement in ouija boards, seances, conversations with the dead, crystal balls, etc. are created for use by the occult and shouldn’t be used by Christians.

Finally, using drugs for recreation or mood enhancement outside of medical authorization is another form of withcraft. Even listening to blatantly evil music is very simply listening to the prophets of the flesh and the devil!

What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” “Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 16-18

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The child of God is not afraid of demons! The child of God does not fellowship with them either. As you go into the harvest field, use the authority that Jesus entrusted to you and free those who are under the bondage of the enemy and lead them into the light of God!