Keep Walking

During my prayer time this morning, I could hear the rain falling outside my window and as the sun was coming up I can see how wet the ground was.  There are puddles of water everywhere and in Alabama this leads to mud puddles.  We have this red clay that when wet turns into mud.  This mud will stain your clothes, your shoes, your floors and can be a real pain to get rid of.  Our children love to play in it because they don’t see the damage it causes only the joy it brings them for that moment.  As their parents we end up having to clean them up.  First, we remove the majority of the mud by removing their shoes and clothes but they still aren’t clean.  We then have to give them a bath and wash them from head to toe.  Sometimes you may have to scrub them to remove all remnants of the mud.

I began to think about this mud in a spiritual way.  When we first get saved we are filthy with the sinful mud of the world.  When the Holy Spirit enters our heart it cleans us from the inside out.  It peels away the layers of mud and muck that have built up on us over the years of playing and living a sinful life.  This is part of our transformation.  Those sins that we all know to be sin are easy to see and we willingly give those up but it’s those remnants that are the hardest to get rid of.  When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are washed white as snow but we continue to hang on to the remnants.  If we are not careful these small remnants can turn into big stains in our lives.

As we walk through this world we see the mud all around us and sometimes we try to walk on the edge of that mud puddle and are shocked when we fall in.  The world will sling plenty of mud at us as we walk through this world but we just have to keep walking.  We often get in trouble because instead of just walking on we stop and just stand in the mud.  If you stand in the mud long enough the mud will begin to seep up around your feet and you can become stuck as this mud dries on you.  When you finally break free you leave a trail of muddy footprints of shame, guilt, and regret.

We as God’s children spend a lot of time playing in the mud of the world. The mud of the world can be enjoyable to play in but the entire time you are playin in it, it is sticking to you and staining you from the outside in.  I encourage each of us today to let go of those remnants of sin in our lives.  To allow the Holy Spirit to not only wash us from head to toe but to scrub those areas in our hearts and minds that keep leading us back to that mud.

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Accepting Your Calling

I believe each of us have a calling from God.  We have a calling to spread the gospel to others in some form or fashion.  Our calling may be different than anyone else we know or our calling may be like someone else we know.    The problem is as human being we try to fit our calling into a box.  We try to mold it and make it into what we think God wants instead of just letting God have total control.  We have all these references we make about thinking inside the box or thinking outside the box, when in reality we need to be thinking inside the Word.  Don’t let the world or others define your calling.  In Isaiah chapter 55 God says our thoughts are not his thoughts and our ways are not his ways.  in verse 9 it says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.  If God didn’t create humans exactly alike then why would He create our ministries exactly alike?

We limit God’s calling or purpose in our own minds sometimes to preaching, teaching, and missionary work.  If our calling or someone else’s calling doesn’t fit into one of those three areas, then we discredit their calling or our own calling.  I definitely believe God calls people into these areas and if that is your calling then you should go for it with all your might, praying, and seeking guidance from God daily so you can fulfill your calling.  However, if your calling is not one of these and it doesn’t fit inside the box, that society has created, you need to go after your calling with all your might, praying and seeking guidance from God daily so you can fulfill your calling.

I believe there is no limit to what God can call you to do on this earth.  It may not always be easy but if you know that is your calling then stick it out when times are tough.  God may only be pruning you and shaping you into your true calling or purpose. He may start you small in your purpose to only hone your skills, toughen you up, and grow you spiritually into who He wants you to be.  He knows your task ahead and what is going to be required of you to complete it.  He knows the battles you will face and He knows what you will need to win.  If you are struggling in your calling right now and you feel that no matter what you do doors are shutting in your face and you aren’t getting anywhere, know there is a reason.  The Word says for everything there is a time and season maybe it’s not your time or season, because He is still training you for the battle to come.  Maybe it has nothing to do with you and you are ready, but the people that are going to support you and help grow your ministry aren’t ready.  God may still be growing them physically and spiritually for their battles to come.  God is working on and molding all the pieces so they will come together to complete His purpose perfectly.

My message today is just don’t give up or underestimate your calling.  You have dreams and goals of where you want to take your ministry but God may be saying “Wait” because He knows you are not ready for the battle ahead that you can’t even see.  Maybe he knows the support system you will need is not ready or prepared to back you at this time.  We all get impatient because we want what we want and we want it now.  God may know that you don’t really want what you think you want.   How many times have you waited and dreamed of something only to get it and be disappointed?  You find out that you really didn’t want it as bad as you thought.

I know it is hard and it can be frustrating when we feel we are doing everything we can and we aren’t going anywhere, but just remember He is the driver of your calling and you are only kicking up dust by running in place if He has His foot on the brakes.  God is preparing for such a time as this! Be patient and enjoy the journey.

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Defeated Christians

This phrase came up in my spirit this morning as I was praying “Defeated Christians”.  We know whole heartedly that God cannot be defeated.  He is the Alpha and Omega the first and the last so if He is in us, how can we be defeated? The answer is you and me.

You probably thought I was going to say Satan but he can only defeat you, if you allow it.  I am not saying you won’t have hard times or be knocked down, but you choose defeat.  If you read the story of Job, he suffered great loss, financial devastation, and sickness but Job was never defeated. Job kept God first and he continued to praise God during his time of sorrow and in his time of need.

When we get saved we tend to think everything is going to be perfect in our lives from here on out. We think we won’t have anymore difficulties or pain in our lives because we now live for Jesus Christ.   The enemy uses our ignorance here to attack us with the following 3 things.  The enemy is made up of Satan, the world, and your flesh.  We give Satan way too much credit, he is not responsible for every wrong thing that happens in your life.  The 3 things I want to talk about are three things we choose to allow to defeat us.

  1. Doubt and Fear – The minute something doesn’t go the way we think it should or it is not as easy as we think it should be.  We let doubt move in like storm clouds rolling in before the storm.  These clouds cause everything to look dark and gloomy and we can no longer see the sun.  We know the sun is still there but we cannot see it because the clouds have blocked our view.  Fear makes a lot of noise like thunder when doubt rolls in.  Fear, like thunder, is meant only to be a warning of something to come.  In a storm, thunder, is a warning that lightning is near.  Fear is not always our enemy sometimes it can be just a warning that something worse is out there.  Fear is our enemy only when we let it stop us dead in our tracks.  If you are outside and you hear thunder and you don’t take cover, you may get struck by lightning. In the bible God tells us not to fear because he is with us.   He is our cover and when doubt and fear move in, we need to take cover in God.  We need to draw near to him and cling to him during the storm.  Just as the sun is high above the storm clouds and thunder that roll in, our God is high above our storm still watching over us.
  2. Comparison – Comparison is like the wind in a storm you can’t see it but it can destroy and disturb everything in it’s path.  Once doubt and fear have rolled in then we begin to compare ourselves to others.  We view someone else’s success in their life or their ministry as our failure.  We say things like why can’t my ministry be as big as theirs?  Why don’t I get as many likes and followers as they do? Why are things so much easier for them than me? Why do they get to have the nice house, cars, money in the bank, and I don’t?  Once the winds of comparison start blowing through your life the clouds of doubt grow larger and darker and the thunder rolls even louder because the fear is now even greater than before.
  3. Acceptance – Acceptance is the lightning strike in the storm because once you accept defeat from doubt and fear, comparison then acceptance will strike and burn your ministry and faith to the ground.

We as Christians sometimes spend our entire lives on this earth rebuilding our ministries over and over because we let the same storms destroy them.  We let doubt and fear move in and obscure our view of God and our ministry.  Then the winds of comparison begin to loosen everything we have built in our lives until it falls apart and we have no covering left, because we lost sight of our ministry.  Once we have no covering the lightning of acceptance burns our ministry to the ground.  We say things like well it wasn’t meant to be, I guess.  That is a lie straight from Satan’s mouth.  If God told you to do then it is meant to be.  Everyone who is saved has a ministry for God.  Your ministry is your way of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is not always from a pulpit.  Don’t let doubt, fear, or comparison tear your ministry apart until all that is left is for the lightning of acceptance to burn it to the ground.  If your ministry reaches one person then it is a success in the eyes of God.

Let’s pray today when the clouds of doubt and fear roll in that we cling to God in those storms.  You may feel alone and you may not see God in that moment, but remember it is only the storm clouds that have obscured your view of Him.  He is still high above that storm watching over you.  I believe he rejoices when we make it through each storm just as he did with Job.

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Attention!

I was reading in Deuteronomy chapter 28 this morning and I read a verse that I have heard quoted many times, which is verse 13.  This is a verse that I have quoted many times to encourage myself or others.  It says And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. NKJV.  

This morning as I was reading this verse it hit me, that most of us quote this verse and put a period after and not be beneath.   This verse goes on to say if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.  There is a condition or requirement for each of us in order for the first part of this verse to happen.   In the Webster’s the word heed means to pay attention to or take notice of.  So God is telling us to pay attention to His commandments.  The next part of that verse say and are careful to observe them.  In the Webster’s the word careful means done with or showing thought and attention.  The word observe means to fulfill or abide by, conform to, pay attention to.  What stood out to me in the definitions of these words was all 3 words had to do with our attention.   In this verse God isn’t asking us to do us to heed His Commandments and carefully observe them but the scripture says, which I command you today.  

Sometimes we just want the reward without the work or commitment to God.  We want to be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath without doing our part as commanded by God in this verse.  We often wonder why our ministry is not growing like we want or why we feel unfulfilled in our purpose, and it’s because we have taken our attention off God and His Commandments.  We live in a society that is not only condoning what God calls sin but encouraging it, and since we don’t want to offend anyone we let things slide.  If we are not careful we will begin to let things slide in our own lives, because of our need to please others,  and we take our attention off God.  The world we live in today needs Christians that have their attention on God.  We need Christians who can stand up and be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath because they are so focused on God, that He will fulfill this verse.  God is always going to keep His Word to us, but we have to do what is required of us.  We keep our attention on God by staying in His Word and in prayer.  When we allow these two things to slip in our lives we are taking our attention off God.

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Spiritual Backsliding

Walking By Faith With Tressie

I was reading in 1 Timothy chapter 4: 1-2 this morning which reads, Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. I began to think how do we depart from the faith?  Is this a conscious choice or does this happen little by little?  I started praying and asking for insight on this because I know people who were once on fire for God and are now so cold in their spirit.  They flee at the mention of God’s name in a conversation.

While for some the decision to walk away from God was a conscious choice, but for the majority I believe it subtle changes in their day to day life that cause this.  I have often read that if…

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Arise Quickly

I was reading in Acts chapter 12 this morning when verse 7 caught my attention.  It says Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise Quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.  I completed the chapter but couldn’t get Arise Quickly! out of my mind.  As I prayed over this verse, I began to think how many of us is the Lord telling right now to Arise Quickly?

As I continued to pray I thought there are a lot of Christians in our churches today who are down and out.  They have situations and circumstances that have chained them down inside their own prison.  They feel defeated and are ready to give up.  Today if that is you, I want you to know that God is not giving up on you.  He is still working on your behalf and if you stay focused and keep your eye on Him, He will bring you out of this.  See that verse goes on to say that once the Angel said Arise Quickly, then the chains fell off his hands.  The chains didn’t fall off then the Angel tell him to Arise Quickly.  The angel could have had the chains fall off and he could have carried Peter out of prison, but he didn’t.  He told him to get up and get himself together.  He told him to get dressed, to put his shoes on, and Peter walked out of prison.  This action from Peter showed his trust and faith in God. He didn’t just sit there when the angel told him to get up with a woe is me attitude.  He didn’t worry about waking the guards, because he trusted God and he was going to do what the angel told him to do.  If this is you today put your trust in God, pray, and fast over your situation.  God will bring you out of this.  He will cause the chains that are binding you to fall off, if you stay focused on Him and the purpose He has for you.

As a church we see Christians that we call family that are suffering and going through hard times.  We say things like we feel bad for them and wish there was something we could do to help them.  There is something we can do as their church family, and that is pray.  If you go back to verse 5 it says Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.  Sometimes people are going through pain and heartache that we can’t fix or take away, but we serve One who can.  We serve a God that will walk with them and comfort them in ways we are not capable of.  As a church we need to be in constant prayer for each other. If we know of a situation then we need to come together as a church and pray for that person.  We need to cry out to God on their behalf for the chains that bind them to fall off.  They need to feel our love for them and know we are there for them in the physical as well as in prayer.

Today in your prayer time lift up your church family to God.  Lift up your Pastor and his family to God.  Ask God to cover each and everyone of them with His love and protection.

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Sleeping Christians

I was reading in Matthew Chapter 26 this morning where Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and he took Peter, James, and John with him when he went to pray.  He asked them to watch with him, but found them sleeping on three separate occasions when he returned from praying.   The question that came up in my spirit was, if Jesus returned today how many Christians would he find asleep?

The word sleep means a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli.  I want to break this definition down into 3 parts to explain how I see it affecting us as Christians.

  1. State of rest for the mind and body in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost.  This is the first step in going to sleep as a Christian.  You start by just going through the motions each day.  You put very little thought into your purpose or your calling.  You have closed your eyes to what is going on around you and are only concerned with your life.  As long as everything is good within your life, you are content.   You are not studying the Word or spending time in prayer like you once did.  You often turn a blind eye to sin in your life or make excuses as to why this sin is now acceptable.  You justify sin to make your life easier or to fit in with others.  Your light is no longer shining because you don’t want people to think you are weird or that you have become radical.
  2. There is a decrease in bodily movement.  Once your mind is not focused on God you become physically stuck in your walk with God. God is not a top priority in your life, but has been replaced with things or dreams of this world.  You are no longer active in your church or community.  You have excuses as to why you are missing services or are unable to help with outreach programs.  You allow the offended spirit to get all over you, so you now have an excuse or justification for not being faithful and dedicated to your church or community.
  3. Responsiveness to external stimuli. The last part of this definition applies to your spiritual heart.  You no longer have the love and compassion that is required by God toward others.  You become cold and indifferent to the needs of others.  You start to only worry about yourself and your household.  You no longer want to give of your time or money to help others.  You no longer feel the Holy Spirit or the presence of God almighty in your life.  You begin to find fault in everyone and everything because you have taken your eyes off God and put them on man.  Lastly, you turn on your church and walk away.  Now that you are no longer being spiritually fed at home or at church, you only grow colder and colder spiritually.

The good news is you can avoid going to sleep by staying focused on God.  Praying daily for guidance and strength to stay on fire for God.  If you feel you have fallen asleep in your walk with Jesus, you can wake up today.  With one prayer you can turn it around and with consistent prayer and time in the Word you can get back on fire for God.  We cannot fulfil our purpose or our calling by being asleep.  As Christians we need to get excited and share that excitement with others.  Tell others about Jesus and what he has done for you.  We all have a story to tell of what He did for us and what He can do for us and others.  Challenge yourself today to tell at least one person about Jesus.

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Junk Mail

I decided this morning I was going to clean out my Inbox for my email account.  When I check my email each day I read the ones from actual people, but I usually just skip all the junk mail, such as ads and coupons. Instead of deleting those immediately I tend to procrastinate until I have over a 1000 of these in my inbox.  As I was deleting these this morning and getting my email account in order, I began to think about how we do this as Christians.  I thought about how our minds are like our email accounts.  It receives thousands of emails or bits of information each day.  Some of these emails are important and are needed, while other emails are just junk and serve no purpose to us.  Instead of deleting it immediately we allow it to take up space in our minds.  We feel it is not harmful or evil junk mail, so we tend to just ignore it.

In Colossians 3:2 it says Set your mind on things above and not on things on the earth.  Are we allowing junk mail from the world to take up too much space in our minds? As I thought about this I realized that worry and doubt come from our minds.  We all say things like “I need to quit overthinking it and just do it” or “I am reading to much into it.”  Both of these things have to do with our mindset.  This is because we are searching all around the junk mail in our minds to find the emails from Jesus and his Word.  When things come up in our lives, our minds immediately begin to look for validation.   It starts searching through all the emails in your Inbox and other Folders you have created and when it doesn’t find what it needs, doubt and worry take over.  Doubt and worry lead to fear and fear will stop you dead in your tracks.

I believe this is why the Bible talks about a renewing of the mind when we are saved.  This renewing that takes place when we are first saved is because everything in our Inbox was deleted and replaced with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  In Ephesians 4:23-24 it says, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  In Romans 12:2 it says, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  The word renewing means to give fresh life or strength to.  As I read this definition I thought wow! isn’t this exactly what He tells us in II Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  There is no power in worry or doubt, only fear.

As I thought about this more, I realized that all this junk mail that we think is harmless is the reason we have doubt and worry, which leads to a spirit of fear.  These harmless emails are paralyzing Christians because their Faith has become diluted.  Their Faith is diluted because Jesus and His Word is not easily found in their Inbox.  When your Faith is tested and you have to search your mind for validation you are opening the door to doubt, worry, and fear.  A sound mind, as mentioned in II Timothy, comes from being confident. Confidence comes from knowing God can and will do what His Word says He will.  Confidence is a firm trust and certainty that you cannot have unless your Inbox is filled with God and His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the love of Jesus Christ.

Today I pray that each of us delete all the junk mail that enables the spirit of fear.  I pray that we all put Jesus number one in our Inbox, so when hard times arise or scary situations occur we stand strong in our faith and are confident in what  our God can do.

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Battle Scars

As I was laying in the bed this morning praying, the phrase or term “Battle Scars” came up in my spirit.  The definition of battle scar is the mark left behind by wounds or injuries received during battle that have healed.  Most of us know what physical battle scars are, but what about spiritual battle scars?  How do we get spiritual battle scars?

I believe we get spiritual battle scars from getting to close to sin and not close enough to God.  Sin is used to lure you away from God and once you begin to participate in or condone it, you will be wounded.  Most of the time we have to receive that wound before we realize how far we have gotten away from God.  Once we receive that wound some will repent and draw close to God, while others allow themselves to become mutilated by sin.  During this time of mutilation they try to justify their sin by saying things like my sin is not that bad, or God knows my heart, or I could be doing worse things.  As they continue to make these excuses that sin is cutting and slashing away at them until they become unrecognizable.  They keep trying to control it and figure out how they can balance living for God and still enjoy a little bit of their favorite sin.  Some fight this battle their entire life and lose.  Others return to God only after sin has broken and defeated them.  The sad part is they were fighting a battle that Jesus had already won for them.  Unlike Jesus, we cannot bear the weight of our sin, it will crush and defeat us without His power in us.

In Ephesians God tells us to put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the devil.  The first thing he tells us to do in putting on his armour, is to gird our waist with the truth.  I believe this is because until you admit the truth about sin and your sin in particular, you can’t put on the rest of the armour.  You have to be able to call sin a sin, even if it steps on your toes.  You cannot put God’s armour over lies and deceit. God gave us his armour to defeat the wicked one, not to allow us to play with the wicked one.

We all have some type of battle scars.  Some are old and maybe some are new but once God heals the wounds they become only scars.  These scars have no power over us but are only a reminder of where we came from.  These scars can become part of our testimony of where God has brought us from but should not have control over us.  Sometimes we become so ashamed of these scars that we allow them to prevent us from speaking out about God.  Sometimes we allow others to make us feel ashamed and unworthy due to our scars.  They point out our scars to keep people from seeing their scars.  If you have given your life to Jesus then your scars only show His victory.  They show that no matter how bad, disgusting, or filthy your wounds were, He was able to save you with his amazing grace.  Your scars are just your reminder of not only how awesome and powerful our God is but how merciful and loving He his.

Just as we all sin differently, our scars are also different.  This doesn’t make my battle scars any less or any more than your battle scars.  They are just scars that longer have any power or control over us.  Today if you are struggling with wounds from sin in your life surrender them to God and let Him heal you. Give him total control over all of your life and just watch what He can do.

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