Articles from the Blog
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? — James 4:5Has there ever been anything you wanted so badly that you just couldn’t get it off your mind? Every time you tried to think about something else, your mind just kept drifting back over and over again to that thing you desired. Finally, your urge to possess it became so intense that every fiber of your being wanted to reach out and capture it before anyone else had a chance to snatch it first! Let me use a different illustration to make this point. If a drug addict or an alcoholic abruptly decides to stop doing drugs or drinking after many years of chemical abuse, what happens? Unless that person has a miraculous deliverance, it probably won’t be too long before his body begins to crave those chemicals. In fact, his appetite for drugs or alcohol might get so forceful that he doubles over in agony. That’s how much his body yearns for a “fix” of what it has habitually received in the past. In the New Testament, the images above would be depicted by the Greek word epipotheo, which is a compound of the words epi and potheo. The word epi means over, and the word potheo is the word for desire. But when these two words are compounded together, the new word epipotheo portrays an intense desire, a craving, a hunger, an ache, a yearning for something, a longing or pining for something. More specifically, it describes an intense, abnormal, excessive yearning. Usually this word is used to indicate an intense yearning for something that is morally wrong and sinful. It is the pitiful picture of someone, such as a drug addict or an alcoholic, who needs his “fix” so seriously that he is doubled over, racked with pain, and crying out, “Please, someone, give me what I need!” Remarkably, this Greek word epipotheo is the same word found in James 4:5 to describe the desire of the Holy Spirit when it says, “…The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.…” The word “lust” in this verse is from this same Greek word epipotheo. Only this time the word is not used to describe the painful addiction of a drug addict or alcoholic; rather, it depicts the Spirit of God! There is obviously some object that the Spirit of God craves. In fact, this Greek word pictures Him as desiring it so desperately that He is like one who needs some type of “fix” to satisfy an addiction. He is crying out, “I have to have it! I can’t wait any longer! Give me what I crave! Give me what I am aching and yearning to have!” But what does this mean? What is James 4:5 saying to us? What does the Holy Spirit yearn for so sincerely that the Bible would picture Him in this way? In James 4:5, the Bible reveals the intense yearning the Holy Spirit possesses to have us entirely for Himself. That should be no surprise to us. He is our Indweller, our Sealer, our Sanctifier, and our Source of power. His attention, His gifts, His power, and His Word are all directed toward us. He is in love with us! The Holy Spirit is so in love with us that He wants more, more, more, and more of us. Every day He wants our time, our attention, our devotion, and our fellowship. If we deny the Holy Spirit of what He wants from us, He cries out, “I need you! I must have you! I want to fill you, empower you, and flood you with My divine life!”
James 4:5 conveys this compelling idea:
“…The Spirit has an all-consuming and passionate desire to have more and more of us. In fact, this desire to possess us is so strong that He literally yearns, craves, and pines after us.”Never forget that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Lover who lives on the inside of us. He passionately yearns to fulfill His responsibility to the Father to help, teach, guide, and empower us. The word epipotheo emphatically means that when it comes to you and me, the Holy Spirit can never get enough! The Holy Spirit desires to possess you — all of you. Because of this intense desire, He is focused on changing you, empowering you, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, and helping you fulfill God’s plan for your life. Learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to have more and more of you each day. Satisfy the yearning of this Divine Lover. Let the Holy Spirit love you! Let Him control you! Let Him exercise His authority in your life and flood you with His divine desire!
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me to be mindful that the Holy Spirit lives inside me and wants to possess more and more of me every day. Please help me learn how to surrender to the Spirit’s power and to yield to His sanctifying Presence. I know that as I yield to Him, He will fill me full of every good thing I need to live a happy and successful life in this world. I want to begin today by opening myself to the Holy Spirit completely. Holy Spirit, I ask You to fill me anew right now.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that the Holy Spirit loves me! He thinks of me, dreams of me, and wants to fill me with His Presence and power. The Holy Spirit was sent into this world to be my Helper, my Guide, my Teacher, and my Leader. Therefore, I am learning to lean on Him and to let Him lead me through all my affairs in this life. I surrender to Him, yield to Him, and depend on Him for everything I need.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you ever experienced the deep love that the Holy Spirit has for you? 2. When you had this experience, where were you and what was happening in your life? 3. In order for you to continually experience the deep love of the Holy Spirit, what do you need to do?
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. — 2 Corinthians 4:7
When I was a small boy, the guys in our neighborhood loved to play like they were pirates. My friends and I would draw detailed maps with palm trees, waterfalls, lagoons, and, of course, buried treasure! The location of the buried treasure was always specified with a huge “X.” As we acted out our game and pretended to look for hidden treasure, we’d remind each other that “X” marked the spot of the buried treasure.Treasure hunters are always scouring the earth to look for treasures and relics left by previous civilizations and generations. But the greatest treasure in the whole universe is right inside you! I’m talking about a cache of wealth so immense that its reserves can never be completely dug out, explored, discovered, or discerned. These are spiritual assets beyond your wildest imagination! The apostle Paul wrote about this astonishing treasure in Second Corinthians 4:7, where he said, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The first thing Paul does in this verse is tell us where this treasure is buried. Notice that Paul says, “But we have….” The words “we have” in Greek is echomen, which is taken from the Greek word echo. The word echo means to have, to hold, to possess, or to keep. It is the picture of someone who “has” something in his possession because it belongs to him. It is rightfully his, and he has the right to keep it. But when Paul uses this word in this verse, he speaks in the plural, including himself and all believers. His words could be translated, “We hold and possess as our very own.…” He is describing something that is already in the hands of all believers — something that legally belongs to them and that they have a right to claim! The word “treasure” is the Greek word thesauros, a word that describes a treasure, a treasury, a treasure chamber, or a place of safekeeping where riches and fortunes are kept. It presents the idea of a specially built room designed to be the repository for massive riches and wealth. By using this word, Paul declares that we as believers are the possessors of riches beyond belief. Moreover, we are the chambers, repositories, or treasuries where God has placed this fortune. Because the word echomen (“we have”) precedes the word thesauros, this phrase could be translated, “We already have and hold this wealth in our possession.” Therefore, it is not something we are trying to obtain; it is something we already possess. However, Paul says that this treasure is contained in “earthen vessels” — a phrase he uses to refer to our human bodies. The phrase “earthen vessels” comes from the Greek word ostrakinos, a word used to describe small, cheap, and easily broken pottery made of inferior materials. This kind of pottery was weak, fragile, and valueless — so cheaply made that it would never have been seen in wealthier homes. These “bargain-basement” dishes were primarily used in the lower-class neighborhoods, purchased by people who couldn’t afford to acquire better merchandise. Because the dishes were made of imperfect materials, they usually had defects. As time passed, it is interesting that this word ostrakinos came to represent anything inferior, low-grade, mediocre, shoddy, second-rate, or substandard. Furthermore, it is where we get the phrase “to ostracize.” When people “ostracize” a person, it means they regard him as substandard — too unfit to be a part of their group. They speak derogatorily of him, poke fun at him, and belittle him in front of others. The person being “ostracized” most likely feels as though he has been cut out of the group — shunned, ignored, and treated like something that is shoddy and deficient. Shoddy, deficient, substandard pottery is exactly the kind of “earthen vessels” Paul had in mind when he wrote Second Corinthians 4:7. He used the illustration of these cheaply made dishes to announce the location of the secret chamber where God placed His greatest treasure on planet earth!
- Where is the secret chamber in which God has put His greatest treasure?
- Where are the earthen vessels Paul refers to in this verse?
This means that Second Corinthians 4:7 communicates this idea:
“We possess treasure within ourselves! And not only do we possess treasure, but our easily broken, inferior, temporary bodies are themselves the treasure chambers where this astonishing cache is kept.…”Paul uses these Greek words, almost in amazement, to joyfully announce that the human body is the residence of the Holy Spirit — God’s powerful gift to every believer. Even though our human bodies are fragile and eventually die, it pleased God to deposit this gift inside us. Think about how incredible this is! The human body is so fragile that:
- A wrong diet can kill it.
- Working too hard can break it.
- Too much pressure can damage it.
- And even after caring tenderly for it your entire lifetime, it still eventually dies.
My Prayer for TodayLord, how can I ever say thank You enough for putting Your Spirit inside me! It is so amazing to think that You would want to live inside someone like me. Yet this was Your choice, and for this I am eternally grateful. Help me live a life that is worthy of Your Presence inside me. Forgive me for times when I’ve treated You wrongly by defiling my mind or my body with things that are not worthy of You. Help me stay constantly aware that I am a carrier of the greatest gift the world has ever known.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI joyfully declare that I carry the Presence of God in my life. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit — a treasury where God has placed His power, His gifts, His grace, His fruit, and His character. Resident within me is enough power and answers to change both my environment and the environment of anyone to whom God uses me to speak the words of life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Are you daily aware of the wonderful Presence of God that is always resident inside you? 2. Do you look at yourself with disgust, or do you see your body as a wonderfully made treasure chamber for the Holy Spirit? 3. Since the Holy Spirit lives inside you, how should this affect the way you live your life?
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full…. And He [Jesus] arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. — Mark 4:37,39Anytime you are on the front lines of battle doing something significant for the Kingdom of God, the enemy’s attacks against your life will escalate. I’m not telling you this to scare you, but to mentally equip you. That way when the attacks come, you won’t be taken by surprise! Being mentally prepared for a spiritual attack is very important. If you are familiar with the devil’s tactics, his assaults won’t take you off guard or by surprise when they intensify against you. You’ll be able to recognize and resist every demonic attack, rejoicing in the Lord because you know what’s happening. Jesus came under this kind of intense attack when He was crossing the Sea of Galilee with His disciples on His way to cast a legion of demons out of the demoniac of Gadara. This demon-possessed man was an important weapon in Satan’s arsenal. Through the actions of the demoniac of Gadara, the devil had held the countryside hostage with fear for a very long time. The demoniac was so legendary that people throughout the entire coastland region knew of him. The devil knew that if Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee that night and reached the other side, He would cast the demons out of that man. When that happened, Satan would lose the weapon he had long used to terrorize the whole countryside. So as Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee that night, violent and destructive winds seemed to come from out of nowhere to capsize Jesus’ boat and drown Him and His disciples in the middle of the sea. Mark 4:37 says, “And there arose a great storm of wind….” The phrase “there arose” is taken from the Greek word ginomai, which in this case describes something that happens unexpectedly or something that catches one off-guard. This plainly tells us that Jesus and His disciples did not expect bad weather that night. The Greek word ginomai emphatically means that this event completely took the disciples by surprise. To let us know the size of this storm, Mark uses the Greek word mega, which denotes something of massive proportions. It is where we get the idea of mega-bills, mega-work, and megaphone. Because Mark uses the word mega, it alerts us to the fact that this was a mega-storm with mega-winds! The word “wind” is the Greek word lalaipsi, which means this was a turbulent or terribly violent wind. This word can also be translated hurricane, cyclone, tempest, gale, windstorm, a furious tempest, or a fierce squall. Therefore, we know the storm that came against Jesus that night was no small breeze. It was a formidable, crushing, overpowering type of storm. One very important fact must be pointed out: This was a windstorm. There is no mention of rain at all because this was a storm of wind. Jesus and His disciples could feel its effects as the wind blew against them and their boat. They could see the raging waves that were tossed to and fro by this violent wind. However, the windstorm that had come to overturn their boat in the middle of Sea of Galilee and to kill them before they reached the other side was invisible.
The Greek words in Mark 4:37 gives this idea:
“And suddenly and unexpectantly — as if it came from out of nowhere — there arose a gale of wind. It was a ferocious tempest with winds that were terribly violent, turbulent, and overpowering.…”
Here was Jesus — on the brink of one of the greatest miracles of His ministry. At the same time, there was the devil, fearing that he was about to lose one of his most highly prized weapons of terrorism. It was at this exact moment that this violent, destructive turbulence came down upon Jesus and His disciples.The occurrence of the storm at this exact moment was no accident. The devil didn’t want Jesus to reclaim one of his most prized captives. This was a preemptive strike of the devil to undo the work of God. But that night in the midst of the storm, Jesus arose and took authority over the situation. The Bible says that when He exercised His authority over this unseen turbulence, “…the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). In doing this, Jesus demonstrated that He was the Lord of the wind and the waves. This potentially deadly situation provided a great opportunity for the disciples to learn that Jesus Christ is truly Lord over all! Rest assured — Satan will certainly try to attack you with unexpected turbulence from time to time. His attacks against you will probably escalate whenever you’re right on the edge of a breakthrough, as was the case with Jesus that night. But just as that event provided an opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate His power and authority, you need to see each demonic attack against you as an opportunity to rise up, take authority, and demonstrate who you are in Jesus Christ! Mentally and spiritually prepare yourself to deal with the devil’s attacks. Put on the whole armor of God. Rise up and take authority in Jesus’ name over the wind and the waves that come against you and your family. Never forget that this is your golden opportunity to see a demonstration of God’s power in your life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, thank You for teaching me that Satan often attacks right when I’m on the verge of a major breakthrough. This knowledge helps me so much because it causes me to recognize that Satan loves to make all hell break loose in my life just before a big victory. Now that I know this, please help me keep this in mind when a turbulent wind blows into my life. Help me to look at that storm and say, “I know that the devil must be upset; otherwise, he wouldn’t be messing with me right now. I must be right on track with God!” With this understanding, I will keep pressing ahead, regardless of what I see, feel, or hear.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI declare that every attack of the devil is my opportunity to see a demonstration of the power of God. What the devil meant for my harm, God will turn for my good. This is my opportunity to rise up, speak the name of Jesus, use my God-given authority, and declare to the spiritual realm that the Lord of lords whom I serve is by far the One with the most spiritual power!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Do you recall some storms in your past that you had to stand against until the victory finally came? 2. How did you react to the last storm in your life? Did you rise up and take authority over the situation? 3. In what ways are you mentally and spiritually preparing yourself for future attacks?
…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. — 1 John 3:8Multitudes of people in this world today are held hostage in their minds by the devil. They are incarcerated, locked up, and caged in their minds and emotions, held like slaves, prisoners, or detainees who are under arrest and live at the mercy of their conqueror. I couldn’t begin to count the people I’ve met through the years who fit that description. Although they belong to Jesus and legally have every right to freedom, they remain in spiritual bondage, at least in some measure, in certain areas of their lives. Whether they persisted in a particular sin or failed to do something they should have done (such as read the Word, pray, or stay in fellowship with other saints), their minds were pried open wide enough for Satan to find an inroad and take that part of their minds captive. You see, the mind is the primary area Satan seeks to attack. He knows that once he succeeds in planting a stronghold of deception in some area of a person’s mind, from that lofty position he can then begin to control and manipulate that person. The Bible calls this kind of deception in the mind a “stronghold” (2 Corinthians 10:4). It is a “stronghold” because once a lie is planted in someone’s head, it is very hard to remove! But First John 3:8 says that Jesus came into the world “…that he might destroy the works of the devil”! I want you to particularly notice the word “destroy” in this verse. It is taken from the Greek word luo, which refers to the act of untying or unloosing something. It was used in classical Greek literature to refer to people being delivered, released, or freed from difficulties, burdens, or needs. In the New Testament, the word luo was used to depict the untying of the thongs of a shoe or sandal in Mark 1:7; the unfastening of a donkey’s colt in Matthew 21:2; the loosening, unraveling, and removal of Lazarus’ grave clothes in John 11:44; and the taking away of Paul’s chains in Acts 22:30. But the Greek word luo also means to break or to destroy, as in Revelation 5:2, where the Bible says that Jesus is worthy to “loose” (or break) the seals referred to in the book of Revelation. One of the clearest examples of the word luo is found in Luke 3:16, when John the Baptist says, “…But one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose….” The word luo is translated here “to unloose.” It is the picture of someone who reaches down to unloose the tight strings of a sandal; then he begins to unwrap those strings from the shoe until finally the shoe becomes so loosened that it easily slips off his foot. Now let’s look at First John 3:8, the verse we are focusing on today. Here the Bible uses the word luo when it says, “…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” This tells us that when Jesus Christ came into the world, He came to untie and unloose Satan’s binding powers over us. His objective was to disentangle us from Satan’s control; to unfasten us from the demonic shackles that held us captive; to unravel the chains Satan used to keep us in his grip; and to break and destroy all the fetters Satan had used to hold us hostage.
Because the word luo is used in First John 3:8, it could be taken to mean:
“…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might untie people from all the works of the devil, unraveling Satan’s hold on them — until the devil’s works in people’s lives are utterly destroyed and his hostages are set free.”Through His death and resurrection, Jesus’ redemptive work destroyed the power of the enemy and our liberty was fully purchased. You see, setting people free from Satan’s power has always been Jesus’ primary concern. First John 3:8 declares that this was the purpose that the Son of God was manifested on this earth. Since this is His concern, it should also be ours. So many people in this world today are incarcerated, locked up and caged in their minds and emotions. They are held like slaves or prisoners, living at the mercy of their conqueror. Therefore, it is time for you to learn how to recognize the devil’s strategies in other people’s minds and lives. Jesus came to set people free, and God wants to use you to take the delivering power of God to them so the works of the devil can be destroyed in their lives. The mind may be the devil’s preferred battlefield, but you can make sure he loses every skirmish! Just determine today to be a willing vessel God can use to free spiritual hostages from demonic oppression!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, please help me to be conscious of the people I meet who are bound by the devil in their minds. I know that You want to use me to touch them and to bring them the freedom that can be found only in You. I am so sorry for the times I get so busy that I fail to recognize opportunities to speak Your name and to share Your love with people who are lost and bound. Please help me to become consistently alert to the people for whom You died and to go out of my way to tell them the Good News that will deliver them and set them free.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am alert to the people around me who are held as hostages in their minds. I see their struggles; I recognize their fears; and I use every available opportunity to speak words of freedom and release into their lives. I have received so much from the Lord; now it is my responsibility to share this same liberty with others who come into my life. I know this is what God is asking of me, and I choose to start obeying this mandate today.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
1. Can you think of people you know or have known who live like spiritual hostages?
2. Has the Holy Spirit ever told you to minister to any of these individuals? How did you respond to His instructions and what was the result?
3. Why not make a list of the people you know who need to be set free from Satan’s bondage and then ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to bring freedom to them?
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. — Hebrews 10:35God has all kinds of ways to pay you for staying in faith and doing what He has called you to do. But one thing is for sure — Hebrews 10:35 proves that God wants you to receive a blessing for the services you have rendered in His Kingdom! The phrase “recompense of reward” is from the Greek word misthapodosia. The word mistha is the word for money, a person’s salary, or a payment that is due. It was primarily used in an industrial or commercial context to denote a payment, salary, or reward that was given for a job performed. However, when it becomes the word misthpodosia, it doesn’t just refer to a payment, but to a recompense, reimbursement, settlement, or reparation. The first part of this word is the Greek word mistha, which communicates several vital ideas to us. First, as noted above, mistha communicates the idea of being paid for present labor. When any person does a good job, he expects to pick up a paycheck for the work he accomplished. It is appropriate for him to expect payment. That paycheck reflects the effort he put into his job. Because he was faithful to do what he was hired to do, he has earned that money. Therefore, it is normal for him to expect to be paid. But now this word is used to tell us that God rewards or pays those who are faithful to assignments He has given them. This refutes the common misconception people have that if they serve God, they will suffer loss or lack for the rest of their lives. These people think they’d do better in life by not serving God. But why would we think God is going to do less than a human employer would do? Don’t we expect a human employer to reward employees properly? Because the verse above uses the word mistha, it emphatically asserts that God is going to take good care of those who do His will. This means that faith really does pay! But in Hebrews 10:35, the word used isn’t just mistha; it is expanded even further into the word misthapodosia. This compound word means reimbursement for expenses you spent to do the job; a settlement to take care of injuries or losses; or reparations to cover all that vanished due to war. God is mindful of the time, love, patience, and money you have invested as you have worked for Him. Hebrews 6:10 says God never overlooks or fails to remember what you have done for Him. If you’ve worked long hours on His behalf; if you’ve invested your personal energies into the work of His Kingdom; if you’ve given 100 percent of your heart and soul to your assigned task; or if you’ve given sacrificially of your finances — God has never forgotten any of these things. That is why Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name.…” The word misthapodosia suggests that God will be sure to remember it all — and He will see to it that you are fully reimbursed for everything you spent to accomplish the assignment He gave to you. He will make a settlement with you for past expenses that would make anyone want to rejoice! God will make sure you get reparations for any damage you’ve experienced because of the battles you’ve fought for Him.
Because the word misthapodosia is used, Hebrews 10:35 carries the following idea:
“…God will see to it that you are paid and fully reimbursed for expenses you have spent to do His will; He will make a settlement that takes care of all injuries or losses you may have incurred; He will make sure that you get reparations to cover all that has been damaged or destroyed due to the attacks of the enemy or because of the adversarial situations you have faced.”Hebrews 10:35 makes it clear that God is fair and equitable in His dealings. You may have given your best and worked with all your heart and might to fulfill an assignment He gave you. You may have invested your whole heart into that assignment or lost something along the way that was precious to you. If so, God will make certain that you are paid and reimbursed. God never disregards what you have done for Him. God’s payments and reimbursements for what you have done may come to you in different forms, but you can be certain that it will be equitable for what you have invested. For instance, He may pay you by giving you:
- New victories in different areas of your life.
- Success in your business or ministry.
- A greater anointing than you’ve ever had.
- An increase of financial prosperity.
- A long-term friendship you’ll be able to count on for years to come.
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am thankful that You reward us when we are faithful to fulfill the assignments You’ve given us to do. I know that by serving You, I will never suffer real loss or lack because You always take good care of those who do Your will. I trust that You will see to it that I am fully reimbursed for everything I’ve spent to complete my assigned tasks. I believe that You will make a settlement for past expenses that will make me shout with joy! You’ve never overlooked what I’ve done for You in the past, and I trust that You will take care of me now as well.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that God is mindful of the time, love, patience, and money I have invested as I’ve served Him. Hebrews 6:10 says God never overlooks or fails to remember what I have done for Him. This means I can rest assured that as I work long hours on His behalf; invest my personal energies; give 100 percent of my heart and soul to my assigned task; and give sacrificially of my finances, God will never forget any of it. He rewards those who diligently seek Him, so I’m a candidate for one of His rewards! Therefore, I will not get tired; I will not give in to discouragement; and I will keep pressing forward to do what God has called me to do, believing that He will take care of me all the way through to the end!