Not Good Enough

” You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “

John 15:3 NKJV

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I never have nor will I ever be a fan of Chitterlings (If you eat them or know of them the common vernacular is “Chitlin’s”). If you don’t know what they are, don’t ask.  They can be easily identified by the stench while cooking.  It is undeniably the worst, even though they are extensively cleaned as part of the preparation process. I have been told that some people clean them better than others and you can hardly sense the aroma at all.  Unfortunately, the best chitlin’ cooker can’t hide the evidence once the heat is applied. Such are our efforts when we try to clean ourselves. Many say they will one day “get themselves together”. ” I’m gonna stop this, stop that, and stay on the straight and narrow.” That’s about as futile as cleaning Chitlins’.  Our best efforts aren’t good enough.  Once the heat is applied in our lives, we see the stench of the impurities that were hidden from plain view in the intestines of our soul.

Jesus already cleansed us. Before we were born, He knew us.  His death burial and resurrection sealed our redemption and now we are clean.  Not because of our efforts, but because He said so.  Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am? Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”  A revelation of who Jesus is and what he has done will cause the transformation of or present manifestation. Faith for this only comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  This is not natural because it doesn’t make human sense.  After all,”Nothing is free, right?”  Wrong!  For by grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God;  with no strings attached! On you worst  day, you are clean because He said so! Be blessed.

It’s A Mind Game

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2Cor 10: 4-5 KJV

Mark Batterson has a 7 Day devotional reading plan that I came across called “Chasing The Lion”.  One of the daily readings referenced this scripture and his thought was from a different perspective. Most believers are somewhat familiar with this passage which is  usually referenced from a negative connotation.

Before I begin, let’s determine what is meant by “strongholds” or “imaginations”.  A stronghold can best be defined as a mental house of thoughts.  These mental images (imaginations) are vivid images of negative situations or circumstances.  We typically interpret this passage from the perspective of receiving healing, or deliverance from something; even negative thoughts that our innermost fears give residence.  We impeach those mental pictures introduced to our mind by replacing them with what God has said.  Yet, Mark Batterson suggested that we can use this passage to impeach Satan’s attacks on our ideas, inventions, our purpose, our Godly plans and God-given assignments.

What is it that God has placed in your heart that you can’t [not] do?  What about that dream or purpose He has placed in your heart that you would do for free? Joseph’s brothers tried to kill the dreamer thereby killing the dream he had. We are protected in the arms of Jesus but I believe many dreams, plans, and aspirations are snuffed out by our failure to cast down those strongholds as well.  The devil doesn’t mind you going to church, serving in ministry, and the like, as long as you never fulfill your individual purpose for being on the planet. The only reason he attacks your mind is because he is threatened by your potential. We only fail to finish when we never start the process.  The task of “casting down strongholds” is never over as long as you are on the planet.  You must know that God cannot lie and, that truth will make you free to live out your purpose.  You will complete that book, write that song, find that cure, start that business, and God will be glorified in you. Replace those contrary mental houses of thoughts with what God has said.  After all, it is finished!

Who’s Your Daddy?

Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: Exodus 3:16 KJV

 

All throughout the bible, God introduces Himself and is introduced as God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Family lineage is an identifier whether it be good or bad. I recall as a child being “labeled” as one of those “Nelson children”.  Mind you, my name is Nicholson, but once it was discovered who my “folk” were, It was widely accepted that I was well-behaved, smart, talented, and could probably sing even though they hadn’t yet heard a note. You see, there had been a long line of “Nelson” children who had matriculated through Carrie A. Tuggle Elementary and  A. H. Parker High School. They knew the matriarch very well….Johnnie Mae Nelson, my grandmother.  She didn’t drive, but you’d better know that if she was called, she would be up to that school in a minute and it only took one time if you know what I mean.

Neither Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob were perfect children of God. In fact, the Bible often discloses some of their imperfections. Each of their names had specific meanings.  Abraham meant father of many nations. his name was changed from Abram which meant fatherless. Isaac was the “son of promise’ and Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after an encounter with God. What’s interesting is that God never referred to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  Why? Jacob was a trickster, a hustler, a conniver.  Well maybe a junior hustler, because when he met his uncle Laban, “the player got played”. Yet,God chooses to identify Himself  with his birth name— the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!  There’s a message for us here.

God is not only our Father when we are pleasing Him.  He is our Father when we disappoint Him and sometimes our actions disprove that we even know him. He is our Father when we struggle with the same issues over and over.  He never gets tired of re-teaching a lesson unlearned. Thank God for His amazing grace and his tender mercies that are new every morning! Thank God that He blesses us even when we don’t deserve it! That’s because He’s a good, good Father!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Your Own Mail

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2: 15

Mail

Have you ever opened someone else’s mail by mistake? If you have, as soon as you recognized it was not addressed to you, what did you do?  Hopefully, you stopped reading it. Many times bible passages are taken out of context and even things are added to the scripture that are not in the Bible at all.  We just heard someone else we respected say it, and took it at face value. The Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy, telling him to study the Word, not to prove anything to anyone else; but so that He accurately teach and explain it to others.  The Key word is accurately or “rightly dividing” “truth”.

There are three things that should be considered when interpreting and understanding scripture. The first is to determine who is speaking. The second  is to whom is it being spoken; and thirdly, in what context (situation or dispensation) were the statements made. This is the foundation of understanding any passage of scripture.  However, at the end of the day, one final factor can bring about freedom or bondage from the same Bible…

Every passage of scripture should be viewed through the lens of the finished work of Jesus. There are many verses in the Bible that were meant for the Jews only, or were meant for the people of that particular dispensation, but in the light of the cross, are only reminders of what we have now obtained through Him, and in Him.

In essence, the Bible has to be sorted like mail.   Everything in it is not relevant to the New Testament believer.  For example, Deut. 22:5  states that the woman should not wear anything that pertains to a man (paraphrased).  In times past we took that to mean that women shouldn’t wear pants.  The reality is no one wore pants back then.  Furthermore, in light of Jesus’ finished work , we are saved through out faith in Him and what He accomplished for us. That has nothing to do with one chooses to wear.

It is in Him we,live ,move and have our being. So His love for us and our revelation of what He as done is the catalyst that produces behavioral changes in our lives.  We’ve been reading someone else’s mail.

God’s Degree of Difficulty

Easy Button

If you’ve ever watched or participated in a gymnastics competition, you are aware that every routine begins with a certain degree of difficulty which determines the maximum score which can be awarded.  For example, there has to be a certain skillset within the routine in order for the judges to award the competitor with a “10”.  As believers, we often place God in a box, sometimes unknowingly placing limitations on his ability due to our perception of the situation.   It’s very easy to say, “There is nothing too hard for God!”, in our best Christian face and tone. But we have a difficult time when the situation seems impossible to us.  It is almost as if God has to exert more energy to do some things rather  others which are a little less “difficult” to pull off.  The fact of the matter is,  God has no hard or easy button!  It’s all the same to Him.  Terms like “easy”, “hard” and “time” are all finite units of measure created for man. God is not limited at all!  His Word produces whatever is necessary for the situation or circumstance.  When there was no light, He spoke and there was.  He told water to produce fish and birds and it was so.  You know the scripture, “Is there anything too hard for God” Jer. 32:27 (paraphrased).  Whether it’s cancer or a headache; growing flowers or limbs on a maimed body; mending a broken heart or  a relationship; It’s not hard, it’s not easy; It’s all the same to Him. His word will produce by itself with any other external source, just as it did in the beginning. In Him is Life, and that life is the light of men (John 1:4).  The very fact that you may be walking through the valley of the shadow of “whatever” should encourage you. Why?  Because the very fact you can see the shadow means that light is present.  Focus on the light!  Light always dispels darkness. The two cannot occupy the same space.  So in good times, thank Him. In bad times, thank Him.  When he provides what you need or desire, thank Him; for the big and the small.  It’s all the same to Him.  And our praise for his provision should be the same as well.

Prayer:  “Lord remind me by your Spirit to give you just as much praise for the big as the small, and the easy as the hard, for you are God alone and it’s all the same to you.  In Jesus’ name  Amen!”

God’s Operation

Operation game1

If you’re young enough to remember this game, or even own one, you recall what fun you had playing “doctor” trying to carefully avoid the “ehhngggg!”  That sound meant you messed up.  Skillful, steady hands were necessary to do well.  We as believers more often than not, try to “operate” our own lives, only to find our best efforts are futile. Thank God for his grace!  The grace that saved us through faith in Jesus Christ always causes us to triumph!  But this happens spiritually before it ever manifests naturally.  The manifestation is directly tied to our belief system.

Colossians 2:11-12 King James Version (KJV)

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

 

God uses circumcision in His chosen people, the Children of Israel to illustrate what He would accomplish through Christ in the spirit for every New Testament believer. Circumcision involved the cutting away of the foreskin of the male reproductive organ (flesh).  Once cut, the old flesh was discarded.  It was a sign of the covenant God had with His people. Once the flesh was discarded, no one went to try to sew it back on. It was thrown away.  So it is in the spirit when we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The person we used to be was cut away and discarded, and now God only sees us “in Christ”.  It is the revelation of how God sees us and bringing our thoughts in line with how He sees us that causes or actions to change.  Our job is to trust the “operation of God”, the master surgeon that has removed everything unlike Him from within us by His Spirit.  We must trust the finished work of Christ in spite of what our five physical senses reveal.  Every time we mess up, sin, miss the mark, etc., we keep trying to reattach that fleshly part of us that has been cut away.  Not only has it been cut away, but according to the scripture it (our old self) was buried with Christ in baptism and we are risen with Him though our faith in the operation of God. Our only job, though a difficult one, is to believe what God says about us in spite of what we or others see.

If we can trust natural doctors and take their word that the surgery performed was successful, how much more should we believe the finished work of Christ in us, the hope of glory!

 

Big Buts in the Bible

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent. 1Kings 5:4

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephes. 2: 4-5

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. Proverbs 10:12

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Romans 5:20

 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  Romans 8:9

Thank God for Buts!