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Articles from the Blog
- A Church that holds fast to the truth and faces the brunt of opposition because it refuses to bend.
- A Church in the middle trying to “ride the fence” through accommodation or compromise in order to avoid persecution and societal rejection (see Revelation 2:12-17).
- A lukewarm, “Laodicean-like” Church (see Revelation 3:14-22) that has allowed compromise to run its full course, stripping it completely of the power of God and leaving Jesus standing on the outside.
The Call To Be God’s RemnantIn Jesus’ message to the church of Pergamum, He commended the Pergamene believers who refused to be intimidated by the forces of darkness that were lambasting them from all sides, trying to make them abandon their commitment to the Gospel (see Revelation 2:13). These opposing forces took on a variety of forms for all early believers, ranging from strife among family members to communal ostracism to large-scale government crackdowns against the Church. However, despite the diverse ways in which this antagonism might manifest, these attacks against the Early Church were all deeply rooted in one common defining characteristic — an adamant adherence to the system of beliefs collectively known today as “paganism.” Now we are approaching the end of this age in an educated, highly sophisticated, and technological world, and we are witnessing a return to that pagan premise of the past that everyone’s belief system can be right. More and more, society has no stomach for spiritual or moral absolutes. In fact, the public reaction to moral proclamations is often so adverse that many pastors today are hesitant to take strong positions on issues of morality, even though these truths are clearly stated in the Word of God. Rather than answer difficult moral questions, they dodge the questions and skirt around the issues in an attempt to avoid conflict. This is precisely what the errant leaders, whom Christ called Nicolaitans, were doing in Pergamum. Theirs was a doctrine of self-protecting compromise and accommodation with the pagan culture that surrounded the Pergamene congregation. As a result, it is possible that the pastors and spiritual leaders in that city who decided to “take a stand” and preach the Gospel in its pure, unadulterated form were labeled as irrelevant or intolerant hate-mongers. Early believers endured bullying, ridicule, imprisonment, and even death because they refused to conform to the pluralistic pagan world that surrounded them on all sides. The religious, social, cultural, and political forces of the city exerted tremendous pressure to coerce these Christians into modifying their message to encompass a more moderate, inclusive view that would make them compliant with the spirit of the age. Although some believers collapsed under this pressure, many steadfastly resisted this coercion to conform and held fast to their faith. In our time and the times to come, there is — and there will continue to be — a remnant of believers who will not bow to the pressures of society. Although many did collapse under the weight of these external forces in the early centuries of the Church, there were many who did not succumb — and who even chose to suffer rather than to violate what they believed. God has always had His remnant who will not bow to external pressures, and in these last times, He will have that remnant once again. And those who refuse to fear or to compromise their faith in Jesus Christ will experience previously unknown levels of the power of God as a result of their commitment to stand by truth. Regardless of the governmental and societal pressures that tried to sway early believers from a singular commitment to Jesus Christ and His Lordship, most of them held fast to the name of Jesus and refused to be lured into believing that Jesus was just another option in a sea of choices. The world may have been religiously pluralistic, but the Church was not. Although society viewed Christians as narrow-minded simpletons, these early believers knew that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, and they refused to surrender to the pressures of their culture and times. May the Church today follow their lead and refuse to surrender to the pressures of our culture and times.
Have you ever seen the movie “The Princess Diaries”? I’ve seen it several times and love the wonderful storyline. One of the most powerful moments in the movie comes toward the end when the main character, Mia, realizes that she must take her place as heir to a royal throne. She understands that she must leave behind her fears, insecurities, and familiar comforts. She must “come into her own” in order to serve the interests of others.
Well, that is exactly where we are as Christians — as followers of Jesus Christ. We were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18,19). We’ve been made a part of His royal family. We are joint-heirs with the King of all kings! Now we must leave our old identity behind and take on our new identity of strength, dignity, and honor so we can effectively give ourselves away in the service of others.
I encourage you today to ask God to show you how you can sow more into the lives of others. Then be open and expectant for His answer! Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit’s beckoning to do something different — perhaps something outside your comfort zone that you’ve never done before. Now more than ever is the time for you to occupy the God-ordained position you’ve been called to stand in. Jesus purchased it for you to possess. Whether you always feel like it or not, He has made you strong and secure — not so you can boast in yourself, but so you can utilize your God-given strength for the benefit of others.
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When serving others is your agenda for the day, life will be different for you. So I encourage you to use your strength because of your vital union with Jesus Christ to help someone else today. As you step out more and more to do this, you will see places once filled with despair turn to places of hope. You will see the atmosphere in a room change from one of darkness, loneliness, and despair to one of joy and salvation as you bring to others the precious light of life (see John 8:12).
We don’t have this kind of power and influence because we’re wonderful or because of what family we were born into, naturally speaking. We have the potential to change individuals, communities, and nations because we were born again into the family of God. It’s not because of our personalities handed down to us by our parents; rather, it’s because of our new nature given to us by God that we have authority to reach out and minister in His name.
Friend, you are here on this earth to make a difference in the lives of others. I encourage you today to give yourself more to the plan of God for your life. And as always, if you have prayer needs, we want to know about them. If your burden seems too heavy, we want to help you carry it in prayer to the Father.
Thank you for spending this time with me. Tomorrow is the last of our 28-Day Journey together! I would love to hear what God is doing in your life.
In His great love,
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. — 2 Corinthians 2:11I don’t like talking about the devil, but time after time the Bible warns us that the devil is like a roaring lion who roams about, seeking whom he can destroy (1 Peter 5:8). Whether we like it or not, the devil is a real personality who is looking for ways to destroy our lives. Since the Bible frequently warns us about this sinister enemy, we need to know:
- How the devil operates.
- How to identify the devil’s attacks at their very onset.
- How to block and stop his devilish assaults.
- How to prevent repeat attacks from occurring in the future.
When you put all of these words together, it expresses this idea:
“Satan can forget it if he thinks he is going to pull the wool over our eyes! We know how he operates, and we understand the way he schemes and connives to take us out.”
So don’t shut your eyes and ignore the fact that the devil wants to bring about your downfall. Instead, open your eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you how to recognize the devil’s operations so you won’t fall prey to him any longer. Then you’ll be able to say, “Devil, I know this is you attacking me, so I am telling you to leave now in Jesus’ name!”
My Prayer for TodayLord, I thank You for opening my eyes and illuminating my understanding to recognize Satan’s attacks against my life. Thank You also for giving me the understanding to know how to stand against these demonic attacks. I am so grateful that You have sent the Holy Spirit to be my Teacher and Guide and to equip me to stand against every assault that comes against my life, my family, my church, my business, and all my relationships. Armed with the power and insight of the Spirit, I never have to allow the enemy to take advantage of me again. So I open my heart today, and I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me everything I need to know to stand against the wiles the devil wants to employ against me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI declare that I am not ignorant of Satan’s devices. Because the Holy Spirit is my Teacher, I know how to recognize the onset of Satan’s attack as he starts maneuvering to frustrate my plans. I am not in the dark about the devil; therefore, the enemy finds it very difficult to take advantage of me. Because my mind has been illuminated to see how the devil operates, his evil plots against my life are aborted by the power of God! I will not be taken down by any strategy the enemy tries to use against me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Are you aware of areas in your personal life where you are currently falling prey to the cunning plots of the devil? Can you think of some ways you have been susceptible in the past to his repeated tactics? 2. Have you really looked at Satan’s repeat attacks on your life to see what you can learn about the way he attacks you? 3. Since awareness of your enemy is so important, what are some ways you can be more prepared for his attacks, all of which are designed to bring ruin in your life?
I’m so excited to share with you what’s on my heart today. We are on day 26 of 28 — we are almost done with this journey!
Lately I’ve been studying the story of David and Abigail and how she became his wife through very unusual circumstances. The story is found in First Samuel 25. I strongly encourage you to read this account in your own Bible. This amazing drama began when David’s men helped the cruel husband of Abigail, whose name was Nabal. The Bible describes Nabal as a “churlish” man (v. 3), which means difficult, severe, cruel, harsh, inflexible, obstinate, or stubborn.
Nabal was a very rich man who had large flocks of sheep. One day while Nabal’s men were in Carmel shearing his sheep, David’s men provided protection to their flocks as they traveled through the region, and David sent his men to ask Nabal to show favor to them by sharing some of their provisions. Nabal — being the harsh, obstinate, headstrong man he was — answered David’s request with insults, saying, in effect, “Who is this son of Jesse?” Basically, Nabal said, “No way am I going to share my provisions with these men!”
When David’s men returned and reported Nabal’s response to David, David became so angry that he took 400 of his men and set out to retaliate by destroying all of Nabal’s men.
A servant of Nabal came to Abigail and told her how his master had insulted David and his men. Immediately Abigail began to gather provisions for David’s men so she could take the provisions to David herself and to apologize to David (vv. 14-20). As Abigail approached these 400 men, David had just exclaimed in anger, “…Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light” (vv. 21,22 NKJV).
That was the explosive scene Abigail rode into! But Abigail acted in wisdom. She got off her donkey, fell on her face before David, and began to give a most amazing speech of humility and honor and respect.
First Peter 5:5, it says, “…Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” And in the account of Abigail, we witness a woman who remained in an attitude of true humility before her enemies — even before someone who had the power to destroy family members, servants, her home, and her life as she’d known it. Abigail could have taken a bad attitude toward David, but through her humility, which was her one of her greatest strengths, she saved her entire household.
First, Abigail fell on her face before David and said, “…Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be…” (v. 24). In other words, she took complete responsibility for the cruel decision and actions of her husband. She also immediately postured herself as a servant to David, addressing him as “my lord” 14 times in her speech while addressing herself 6 times as his “handmaiden.” I encourage you to read the details of Abigail’s humble and gracious speech in verses 24-31.
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I will make a long story short. Abigail’s humility silenced her enemy and completely changed his response to the situation. David even apologized to Abigail and thanked her for her words that restrained him from killing many innocent people in his anger (vv. 32-34). Then David’s men received all the provisions she had provided.
While all this was happening, Nabal was at home throwing a party and getting drunk, so Abigail waited until morning to tell her husband what had happened. Verse 37 says that when she told Nabal everything, “…his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.” Ten days later, the Lord smote Nabal and he died (v. 38).
When David heard that Nabal was dead, he sent his messengers to ask Abigail to be his wife. From her humble position, Abigail saved her husband, all their servants, and all their belongings. And because her heart was right before her evil husband, God honored her for the cruelty and abuse she’d endured for so many years and positioned her to become the wife of a soon-to-be king.
Friend, a humble position is a powerful position! Abigail’s story is amazing, and we can learn a lot from her.
- Even though Abigail was a rich woman, she remained humble. She didn’t set her heart on her riches and was not led by a fear of losing her material possessions.
- When her life and everything she knew was threatened, she didn’t yield to fear; instead, she acted in wisdom. Through the years, as she humbled herself before her cruel husband time and time again, God was building character within her heart, causing her to grow into a respectful and powerful woman, even in the midst of adversity.
- She didn’t nag her husband, even though she had the right to say, “You fool! You’re going to get us all killed! How many times have I told you to do something about your temper?”
- An attitude of humility and honor and respect gives a person boldness. The extent of Abigail’s boldness can be seen in the way she walked up and faced a man, who would one day rule over Israel, and his 400 strong and angry men.
- Abigail had faith in God and recognized His plan for Israel concerning David, the man whose intent on destroying everything she’d known. Humble, honoring, and respectful people believe for God’s good plan and keep expecting the best outcome.
- She was forgiving. Humility, honor, respect, and wisdom don’t mix with bitterness and unforgiveness.
- Abigail was thinking about her enemies’ good. Jesus said, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:28). Abigail knew David and his troops needed food — physical sustenance. She focused on their need, not their anger and threats.
As those who live in this world’s system, we’re often taught, “Don’t put up with that! You don’t deserve that! You need to give them a piece of your mind!” But we can see through Abigail’s example that even while living under the cruel hand of Nabal, God was putting into her the attributes of a queen.
You may not be facing a specific enemy right now, but Abigail’s story gives you clear insight into the power of humility, honor, and respect to defeat your enemies and even cause them to agree with you. I hope this has encouraged you, as it has encouraged me, to know how to respond when you experience rejection or mistreatment from another. Let’s learn from Abigail and discover the powerful secret of humility, honor, and respect.
I’m going to close with one last verse that speaks of our Savior Jesus Christ. No one has gone further in humility than our Lord, who laid down His life for our redemption.
And being found in fashion as a man, he [Jesus] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Friend, the challenges of living in this hour aren’t going to get any easier. Please read my prayer for you and let your heart agree.
Father, I lift up before You the precious person who’s reading this. I pray that he or she will learn something new from the humility of our Savior Jesus — and of Abigail — and find wisdom in Your Word to face every enemy. Holy Spirit, I know that You are surrounding this person with grace and peace. I ask that this dear one experience Your comfort and know that You’re working out the Lord’s good plan in his or her life to become strong and overcoming, wise, humble, honoring, and respectful. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thank you for spending this time with me. Please let us know how we can pray for you. We want to be your partners in prayer as well as in the Gospel. We’re standing with you in faith, believing God for success and fulfillment in every area of your life.
In His great love,
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. — Ephesians 6:10Many years ago, I was preaching in a series of meetings about the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of one of the services, an invitation was given for people to come forward who wanted to be filled with the Spirit. I watched with great joy as nearly one hundred people filled the altar of that church. They slipped down on their knees at the steps of the stage, lowered their heads in prayer, and began to ask the Lord to touch them, to fill them, and in some cases, to refill them with a fresh infilling of power. As I stepped off the stage to pray for the people, the host informed me that he would be praying for them that night. I moved aside to let him take the lead, but it was a decision I soon regretted. I watched as this leader moved among those dear people, patting them on the back and telling them, “You have to pray louder. You have to pray harder. You have to plead if you want to be filled. You have to tarry a little longer.” In a matter of minutes, the atmosphere at that altar mutated into a sad scene as those precious people began to beg and plead for something that God graciously and freely wanted to give them. A precious work of grace was turned into an ugly work of the flesh — and as a result, few of them received anything from God that night. Later I asked the host, “How long have these people been praying to be filled with the Spirit?” He answered that some had been waiting as long as twenty years; some had been waiting fifteen years; and others had been seeking for a “mere” year or two. I was aghast! I thought, Why has it taken so long for these believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit when this is something God has made so accessible to every believer? You see, the fresh touch of power each of us need today is as close as the air we breathe. God designed us to be the receptacles for this power (see January 12), so He wants us to receive it. He knows we need it to walk in victory, to exercise authority in our lives, and to overcome the works of the devil. But where do we get that supernatural power? Paul answers this question in Ephesians 6:10, where he says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” I want you to especially look at that phrase “be strong in the Lord.” The phrase “in the Lord” is a Greek phrase that means that this special infusion of dynamic, supernatural power can be found in only one place — in the Lord. The fact that Paul wrote in this particular Greek case is very important, because it tells us that this power is locked up in the Person of Jesus Christ and that it can’t be found anywhere else. You can’t obtain this supernatural power by reading books or listening to tapes. The books and tapes can direct you to the place where it can be found, but the power itself can only be obtained through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This power is locked up “in the Lord.” Now, let me take this one step further so I can explain why it’s so easy and uncomplicated for you to receive a new infilling of God’s power in your life. This same locative case that describes the power of God being locked up inside Jesus Christ is used nine times in Ephesians 1, where Paul uses it to declare that we are perpetually and infinitely locked up inside the Person of Jesus Christ. In verses 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 (twice), 11, and 13 (twice), Paul says that we are in Him, in Christ, in whom, or in the Beloved. Because these phrases are in the locative case, Paul is saying we have actually been placed inside Jesus Christ; He has become our realm of existence and the place of our habitation. Just as you live at a certain physical address, you also have a spiritual address. You permanently reside inside the Son of God! He is your permanent home — a home from which you will never move because you are locked up and securely placed inside Him perpetually! Stay with me, because this now leads us to the reason that the supernatural power of God we desperately need is so easy to receive! The reason God’s power is so accessible to us is that both we and this divine power are gloriously locked up inside the same place! The power is located inside the Lord, and we are also located inside the Lord. We may not always be mentally aware of it, but we are constantly rubbing elbows with this divine power on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and minute-to-minute basis. Let me use a simple illustration to help you get the point of what I’m communicating to you today. The fact that we reside inside Jesus along with God’s power can be somewhat likened to water and fish sharing the same space in an aquarium. The water and fish are definitely different in substance, but they both reside in the same tank. The tank serves as the “home” for these two substances that are held simultaneously within its walls. Therefore, the fish doesn’t have to release its faith to get into the water, for it already perpetually lives in the water. The very fact that we are locked up inside the Lord along with the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power means that we are never far away from a new surge of superhuman power into our human spirits. A fresh surge of this power into us is as accessible as our very next breath of air! It’s just as normal for us to receive a new infilling of the Spirit as it is for a fish to freely swim around in its tank. In fact, God has designed our lives in Christ in such a way that it would be very difficult for us not to freely receive this impartation of superhuman, supernatural strength for the fight. However, if we are to experience this ever-available, ever-near power, we must open our hearts to it and ask God to release it into our lives. Then by faith we must reach out to embrace it. This means there is no need to beg, plead, or beat yourself up in prayer to somehow prove that you are good enough to receive this divine power. If you know Jesus Christ, you are already locked up in the same place with the power of God. In fact, you’re rubbing elbows with it all the time. It’s no more difficult to receive than it is for a fish to start swimming! It’s yours for the taking!
You are surrounded by God’s supernatural power right now. At this very moment, you are immersed in that divine power. Supernatural inner strength and ability is yours for the taking — so take it by faith!
My Prayer for TodayLord, how can I ever thank You enough for making Your power so available to me? I need this power so much in my life, and I’m grateful You have made it so easy for me to receive it. Therefore, I open my heart right now by faith, and I ask You to give me a fresh infilling of Your Spirit.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power is never far away from me. A fresh surge of this power is as accessible to me as my very next breath of air! It’s just as normal for me to receive a new infilling of the Spirit as it is for a fish to freely swim around in its tank. In fact, it’s difficult for me NOT to receive this impartation of superhuman, supernatural strength for the fight! Because my heart is open to receive it, I ask God to release it into my life, and by faith I now receive this divine power. It’s mine for the taking!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!