#35 Free Indeed

Today, African Americans, along with our allies, celebrate the newly legislated Juneteenth Holiday in America. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom that began in Texas and is now celebrated across the United States. The historical legacy of Juneteenth began when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Lincoln on January 1, 1963, which freed slaves in Confederate states. Although Confederate states received the news that slaves were then free, Texas did not abide by the new legislation until they were forced on June 19, 1865. As I participated in several Juneteenth events over the weekend, I reflected on the fact that as Christians, we do not always live according to the freedom we have in Christ.

Juneteenth Flag
State Capitol, Olympia Washington

The Word of God is the good news that every believer is set free in Christ, and every sinner can be set free. We are no longer slaves to Satan and sin. We are no longer bound by the rules and laws of an evil slave master: We are emancipated. If this is true, why then do many Christians live as though they have not received the good news? Why do many Christians live and behave bound in thinking, bound to a specific geographical area, bound to poverty, or bound in sickness? Jesus is the enforcer of God’s Word. We have all been set free. If we believe in the truth of His Word, and accept and trust His authority, power, and promises, we can live a life of abundance, prosperity, health, and freedom.

For the former slaves in Texas, a path had already been created for their deliverance but an enforcer was needed. The Union soldiers came to share the good news and enforce the fact that the slaves were free indeed. Likewise, God surely created a pathway and an enforcer for the deliverance of mankind. He has shared the good news that every person can truly be free. God desires us to be free from sin, guilt, worry, condemnation, sickness, poverty, and all manner of dis-ease (3 John 1:2). Hear and accept the proclamation of God –for whom the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36).

I pray that you will study the good news and accept the proclamation of freedom in Christ.

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Highlights from Today’s Post:

  • God has created a path for freedom in Christ and emancipation from our old slave master, Satan
  • Jesus is the enforcer of God’s emancipation proclamation, and whom the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36)
  • The good news promises freedom from guilt, sin, and all manner of dis-ease (3 John 1:2)

#34 Name-droppers Shall Not Pass

Have you ever had the opportunity to be around a name-dropper? You know, an individual that likes to drop the names of famous, influential, or wealthy people. There are several reasons people name-drop, but oftentimes it is to make others believe there is a connection or relationship between themselves and the famous, influential, or wealthy person. Truth is, the latter usually has no knowledge of this relationship. So why then do people name drop? There must be an intrinsic or extrinsic reward; otherwise, why bother. Benefits may include the receipt of special treatment, favors, or reverence from others. It could also be an attempt to establish one’s credibility by claiming affiliation with a certain individual or group. What is so significant about name-dropping, and what does it have to do with purpose, kingdom assignments, or a relationship with God? I’m glad you asked.

Many people believe that just by dropping God’s name they get a pass into heaven, they establish creditability as being affiliated with God, or that they will receive or are due favor or special treatment. Some are misled into believing that simply dropping God’s name makes them part of His kingdom family, that God is pleased with them, or that He co-signs for them. Those who profess to believe and unbelievers alike fall into the deceptive illusion of name-dropping.  A deceptive illusion is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. It is this false reality that is so dangerous for anyone who has determined that heaven will be their eternal retirement destination.

I recall watching various music award shows over the years and noted how winners would pay homage to God for allowing them to achieve such an honor. The recipient would thank God and exclaim the improbability of receiving the award if it had not been for God’s help.  Never mind the fact that the award-winning lyrics were laced with profanities, sexual innuendo, and boasts of violent acts. You tell me; does that sound like God? Did God lend the songwriter breath and health every day while creating their music? Yes; however, an act of love and care is not to be confused with approval, acceptance, and relationship. Jesus clearly lets us know that if we are not going to do what He asks, why bother calling His name. Luke 6: 45-46 states:

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Now, I would classify these types of artists as non-believers or as new believers who have no knowledge of the expectations of God. However, those who profess to know God and to be on His payroll are not exempt from the deceptive illusion of name-dropping. If you grew up or have been around evangelical or Pentecostal churches, you have heard Psalms 105:15, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” Albeit far from context, I often heard this phrase from believers -mostly preachers and prophets- as a roundabout way of saying they are tight with God and He will revenge anyone that harms His anointed one. This type of name-dropping was often used to manipulate or intimidate, and it is definitely not a message approved by God. What God expects is obedience and relationship: Obedience to His will, not ours, and a committed, not one-sided relationship. Ultimately if we don’t live a life of obedience to Him, it will benefit us nothing to drop His name. Matthew 7:14-23 states:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, and neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Believers nor unbelievers are exempt from the deceptive illusion of name-dropping. It is important to assess our beliefs, daily living, our works, and our motives in what and who we claim God has co-signed. Unbelievers should first accept God, study His Word to know what is expected of every believer, and learn how to please God. For if our actions do not bear good fruit, we will ultimately be disowned and rejected by Jesus.

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Highlights from Today’s Post:

  • Name dropping is a deceptive illusion that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality
  • Dropping God’s name to establish credibility, to receive favors or reverence, to intimidate or manipulate, to misrepresent a relationship with God, or to misrepresent approval and acceptance by God will ultimately profit nothing
  • Not everyone that claims to work in Jesus’ name, or that calls Jesus Lord will enter into heaven
  • We should examine our daily living, our works, and beliefs and motives to ensure obedience to the Father’s will and that we are known by Him

#33 Messages from God: If you can hear the sound of my voice, Pray!!!

Zion, wake up!! The battle is raging and the enemy is launching an all-out attack on all of God’s created. If we understood the power of prayer to change outcomes from the enemy’s assaults, we would pray without ceasing. One can put a thousand devils to flight, two ten thousand. There are many who are praying without ceasing but more intercessors are needed for this great spiritual battle happening right now. This battle is for health, marriages, the innocent, and the very elect. The spirits of hatred and anger are leading demonic forces to wreak havoc on earth. If you cannot hear God’s call for prayer, if you cannot see in the spirit realm the battle that is raging between the heavenly hosts and the prince of the air, you are sleeping. Zion, wake up!!!

God has given believers the keys to tipping the battle, opening the floodgates of heaven, removing pestilence, and ensuring His will on earth. In Chronicles 7:14, the Lord gives us a condition by which we can change circumstances. When we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, He will hear our prayers and deliver us. Prayers of all believers are needed for this current battle playing out before our very eyes. Saving children –unborn and born alike. Premature deaths due to loosened restrictions on guns and weapons, and increased perversions, biases, and wickedness of mankind acting out under the influence of evil spirits. In our world we see the outcome of the consorted, calculated, and unified work of the demonic world; forces working together for a common goal. Demonic forces are implementing orders to instill hate, anger, pestilence, disagreement, and chaos in this world. What we don’t see is how the angels are supported to block demonic influence through our prayers. The more we pray, the more successful angels are at defeating demonic forces.

From the book of Daniel (10:12), we learn that there are fierce battles taking place in the spirit realm in which Satan and his forces try to interrupt God’s messages and plans. I believe it was the unwavering prayers of Daniel that ensured help from a commanding angel so that the message from heaven arrived as God planned. Recall in the battle with the Amalekites that as long as Moses stretched out his hands, Israel prevailed in the battle. However, when Moses lowered his hands, the Amalekites would prevail. I view the raising of Moses’ hands as an appeal to God for victory. This battle illustrates the power of prayer to change circumstances and foil Satan’s plans. So, how do we turn the tide on this onslaught of the enemy, especially in light of recent and current events? How do we support heaven and bring God’s will to earth?

As believers, our ears should be open to hearing the will and plan of God. We should be aware of the battle plan on some level. No army sends its troops into war without sharing some intel and plans for battle. And, the soldier’s motto is to never leave a soldier behind. This means we must seek to understand and know the strategy of heaven and our required actions to support the heavenly hosts and influence outcomes in the spirit realm. We must be aligned with God through relationship and holy living. We must recognize and respond to the voice of God, and we must increase our connection and concern for what concerns God.  We can accomplish this and much more through prayer. We learn from Jeremiah 33:3 that if we call (pray) to Him, He will tell us great and hidden things unknown to us in order to bring about His will. He will direct our paths so that we can know what to pray in order to support the heavenly hosts who are engaging in fierce battles in the spirit realm. It all begins with listening ears that are sensitive to the voice of God.

I pray that Zion will wake up and recognize the impact of prayer on outcomes in the spirit realm. As long as we pray without ceasing, our side will prevail.

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Highlights from Today’s Post:

  • Believers can change third world problems and outcomes of spiritual battles through prayer (Chronicles 7:14)
  • Daniel 10:12 illustrates how the prayers of the believer support angels in a spiritual battle and ensure God’s intended outcome
  • Prayers of the believer have a direct impact on battles in the spiritual realm (Exodus 17:11)
  • If we pray to God, He will open our eyes to spiritual matters so that we understand how to support heaven in bringing about God’s plan on earth (Jeremiah 33:3)

#32 Messages from God: Be Gracious To One Another

Graciousness is something that I observed in my parents and other adults as a child. I venture to say that it is a lost attribute in society today where there is a proclivity towards external awareness of the flaws of others over an internal awareness of one’s own flaws. There exists an ineptness toward esteeming others higher than one’s self, and the common response to an offense is revenge or unforgiveness. Like many values held by our parents and ancestors, graciousness seems to have diminished with each generation. What would happen if graciousness became a valued personal attribute once more? I believe if one knows the value of grace, they are likely to be more grateful. And, grateful individuals extend more grace; they are happier and more content.

What does it mean to be gracious? Being gracious simply means showing kindness, having compassion, showing mercy, extending courtesy, and generally being accepting of one another (Eph. 4:32). One’s level of graciousness can be observed through an offense, an inconvenience, or a trial. Consider the story of Job. How do you respond to an offense, an inconvenience, or a trial? Do you seek revenge, withhold forgiveness, or respond with intolerance or indifference? How do you respond to the misfortune of others? Do you gossip about the individual or withhold support or encouragement? How do you respond when the behavior or decisions of others conflict with your own? Do you judge and reject? To become gracious, we should respond to any situation with ourselves in mind. What response would we want if we offended others? Naturally, most of us would want forgiveness and mercy. What response would we want from others if we fell into unfortunate circumstances? Assuredly, most of us would want to receive kindness, compassion, acceptance, empathy, understanding, and freedom from judgment, like Job.

Recently, there was an incident on my job where I had to travel out of town but the company required employees to share agency vehicles when traveling to the same location. This makes total sense except when you are coming out of a pandemic. Personally, I was not ready to ride in a vehicle with someone just yet. So, I elected to drive my own car and forego mileage reimbursement. My decision to drive my own car became the subject of ongoing and repeated conversations and attempts to force me to rideshare with a co-worker. The topic of ridesharing for this out-of-town assignment was brought up on multiple occasions by multiple individuals in random conversations. I finally wrote a note to the director explaining my disbelief at how big an issue this situation had become. I thought by staying silent, the situation would fizzle out and people would move on to other things. In my note to the director, I explained my reasoning for choosing to drive my own car and asked for grace to make decisions concerning my health and safety.

After explaining my reasoning, there was a significant shift in people’s responses and attitudes. By observing them, I realized that it finally clicked that, “oh yeah, we are in a pandemic. That makes total sense. We should inform leadership that it’s probably not the best idea to have people sharing cars at this time.”  In my situation, I ultimately had to share details I wish I did not have to. I wish I had initially received the grace to make my decision without feeling like I had to give an explanation. I wished others would have just accepted my decision but that’s not what happen. In this instance, although there was no reward to the grantor for the extension of grace, it would have pleased me greatly as the recipient of the grace.

Being gracious bears witness to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. How well do we share this gift (Gal 5:22-23) given us by His Supreme Grace? There is no comparison to the grace we receive from God. His grace is all-sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). His love and kindness, compassion, mercy, courtesy, acceptance, and forgiveness are unparalleled. How many opportunities exist during a day, a week, a month, a year, or our lifetime to extend grace to others? I endeavor to be more conscious of extending grace to those that do not behave like me, whose decisions conflict with mine, and whose circumstances place them in a different position than mine. May we all extend just a little more grace to one another.

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Highlights from Today’s Post:

  • Being gracious bears witness to the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
  • Being gracious means showing kindness, having compassion, showing mercy, extending courtesy, and being accepting (Eph. 4:32)
  • Knowing the value of grace leads to personal gratitude and happiness
  • God is the ultimate extender of grace and it is all-sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9)

#31 Messages from God: When God Says, “Trust Me”

When God says, “Trust Me”, what comes to mind? In the bible, these words are meant to bring comfort and assurance before or during a trial, a transition, or a setup for an enormous blessing. That is not to say that an enormous blessing will come without challenge or transition. In some cases, a blessing is the ultimate outcome and is different than when the ultimate outcome is for an increase in knowledge, endurance, patience, or the ability to endure suffering. When I hear the phrase, “Trust Me”, from that still, small voice, I stop what I’m doing, my head tilts slightly to the left, my eyes shift from side to side, followed by the questions, huh, what’s going on, and what is this about? There is usually never an answer to my initial flurry of questions just a repeat of the phrase, “Trust Me.” Thankfully, I am able to reflect on the knowledge and responses I’ve gleaned over the years when I’ve heard this phrase.

Past experiences have taught me to ask questions, to listen intently for instruction and directions, to take action when instructed, to be still when there is no direction, to be aware of distractions and false instructions, and to beware of what I share with others. In fact, my practice is never to share words of knowledge or movements that are private between God and me until there is a testimony, or until the appointed time.

Over the years, I have come to equate the phrase “trust me” with the phrase “fear not”, which was often exclaimed by angels before an announcement of a trial, a transition, or a setup for a blessing. I believe the statements are analogous because trust simply cannot exist without some level of fear. Perhaps I’m overthinking the relationship and the phrase ‘trust me’ is simply the new ‘fear not’ as we typically don’t go around speaking in Old English vernacular.  In either case, hearing that phrase is a notice from God that something is going to happen that is bigger than me, that is outside of my ability to control, outside of my scope of knowledge of things present and future, and which, will require me to place my trust in Him.

I recall examples in the bible where ordinary people, like Mary (Luke 1:30-33), Joseph (Matthew 1:20), and Abram (Genesis 26:24) heard the phrase, “fear not.” Their encounter served notice of enormous blessings that also included challenges and transitions. Only God knows, and we in part, the generational impact of their trust in Him. Each of these individuals faced challenges, believed against odds, trusted in the face of fear, and received enormous blessings. From my experiences, I have received enormous blessings through receiving the words ‘trust me.’ After receiving an announcement, “Trust Me”, and being obedient to instructions to move to a new state without a job, I received confirmation of my Kingdom purpose. In addition, I was blessed with a job and a home -built from the ground. As He promised, no man (or woman) has left houses or land for the Kingdom’s sake and did not receive 100-fold in this life in return. Although my salary was significantly lower, God blessed me with that home in a state where the housing market is among those of the most consistently hot in the US.

When I reflect on the ask to trust and see the outcomes of my obedience, I’m made to laugh and shake my head. In fact, in every circumstance where God asks that I trust Him, the outcome turned out far better than alright; better than anything I had imagined, and far better than what I asked for. When the Word says He can do exceeding, abundantly, above all you can ask or think (Eph. 3:20), He can and He will! And, He will make you laugh.

I am learning that the outcome when God says, “Trust Me”, will be a blessing that keeps on giving. Over and over circumstances arise as a reminder that the existence of favor and blessing in my life is a direct outcome of trusting God when I could not fathom His plan and being obedient when He said move even though taking action at the time made no sense to me at all (Proverb 3: 4-6). I know I would not be in a position of favor and blessing in an unstable economy and global health crisis where the odds should be stacked against me. I understand how trusting Him then has opened doors for bigger and future related blessings, if I continue to trust Him.

I hope that you will come to be assured of the favor and blessing that comes when God says, “Trust Me.”

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Highlights

  • When God says, “Trust Me”, it is to bring comfort and assurance before and during a trial, a transition, or a setup for an enormous blessing
  • Trust does not exist without some level of fear
  • The outcome of trusting God can lead to enormous blessings that have a generational impact
  • When you hear the still, small voice that says, trust Me, you can expect a transition or challenge that leads to an enormous blessing that keeps on giving
  • When you hear God say, ”Trust Me”, you are favored to be blessed and He will cause you to laugh as He does exceedingly, abundantly, above what you could ask or think

Resources:

  • Genesis 26:24
  • Matthew 1:20
  • Luke 1:30-33
  • Ephesians 3:20