Read The Bible, December 17

Amos 1-4

Amos is an example of the Lord using a simple man to further his cause. Amos was not a priest or a prophet. He was a shepherd whom God called to be a prophet.

Much of what he says is right in line with what the other prophets have spoken. The people of Israel can never say that they weren’t warned. Time and again, the Lord raised up men to warn the people of their wrong doing. But they just wouldn’t listen.

In these first four chapters of the book Amos makes some statements which have been often quoted.

One of these is “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”(3:3) We see the wisdom of that statement often when people are attempting to accomplish the plans of God. Many churches have the problem of several people trying to pull in different directions. That can be devastating to the plan of God, because strife always ensues when people are in that mode. Strife and a huge standstill. It’s impossible to move forward when many are trying to go different ways.

The second famous verse is another one we should take to heart. “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (3:7) When big moves of God are about to take place, there will be many who hear from God concerning the moves beforehand. It’s one reason it’s so important to listen to prophets. They can hear and bring insight to others concerning the future.

Sometimes these words are warnings; sometimes they are words of encouragement. In either case, the words from God will protect us and keep us on the right path.

As we move along with the Lord, He will bring correction to the church. Suddenly new revelation will spring forth. Words which have never been noticed will suddenly be brought to light. Those who want to be on God’s cutting edge will truly benefit from such revelation. They will adjust and flow with the Father’s plans rather than pull against them.

You may be thinking that you aren’t in the elite class of ministers who hear dramatic things from the Lord. If you think that, you’re wrong. Neither was Amos, but He heard and reported what He heard, bringing a blessing to all of us.

So watch and listen to see what the Lord might be showing you. As you read the Word, He will speak to you also.

Hold on to what He says to you.

Revelation 8

In this chapter, we see a day of judgment which is coming on the world. Fire sent to the earth and seas, turning them into bitter waters which will kill the creatures within.

As we read these chapters, it seems scary to many. But it should not be frightening to those who are the Lord’s people. The last days and the final “wrap up” are God’s final dealings with Satan and his followers. As we proceed into the next chapters, we will get a more complete understanding of Satan and his history. We will also get a more complete understanding of God’s plans to take care of him for good.

One thing is for sure. God is the Almighty, great God, and Satan is a fallen angel. He has caused a lot of trouble, but Satan is no match for God.

Satan’s power is only in his ability to confuse men and cause them to turn away from God. He puts thoughts in the minds of men which cause them to turn from God. He will often call good evil and evil good.

Our present cultural environment shouts to us, attempting to get people to question God and to turn away from Him. There is no question that Satan is behind much of the confusion and perversion of God’s plan.

That’s why it’s so important for us to stay focused on God’s Word and for us to continue in locked step with Him.

God’s Word is true. His way is right. Hang in there, knowing that you can’t go wrong if you stick with God Almighty!

 

Read The Bible, December 16

Joel

Regeneration, restitution, and beyond! The book of Joel brings us to such a tremendous understanding of God’s blessing which we can live in today, if we so choose.

After a call for the nation of Israel to repent, he speaks of a day when the blessings will flow upon God’s people. They will have everything restored to them. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. The crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust.” (2:28)

Then our Father, speaking through Joel, goes on to the promise of our Christian experience.

“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams. Your young men shall see visions.” (2:28) These verses were those used by Peter to explain to the Jews what had happened when they first began praying in tongues. These prophesies had come to pass.

“And in that day, the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all of the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water. A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord to water the Valley of Acacias.” (3:18)

We are living in that day. The day of restoration. The day of God’s Spirit and His blessing flowing out upon us. And it’s a wonderful place to be.

Oswald Chambers once said, “The miracle of God’s grace is that He can make the past as though it had never been.”(2:24).

Do you have moments of your past which weigh you down? Sorrow, regret, and bitterness can all come from considering the past over and over.

Okay, we all have things from our past which we would like to change; but we can’t! What’s done is done, so we have to move ahead.

If we will receive our Father’s merciful forgiveness and healing balm for all the hurts of the past, we will enter a new realm. We get to start over, drop off the burden of  our mistakes, and pains, and vigorously pursue the life He has planned for us.

No wonder we want to praise Him! Our Father’s blessings for us are more abundant than we can ever know.

We just believe, receive, and walk in His purpose. Free from guilt and shame.

Revelation 5-7

As we go about our daily lives, sometimes we lose sight of life’s bigger picture. We get so caught up in the natural elements around us, we don’t even think about the spiritual world and all that it involves.

Yet our ignorance and our apathy don’t stop the reality of God’s big plans going forth. And these big plans are executed from His headquarters in heaven. The throne room.

Revelation gets us focused on some of these weightier things. While we are partaking of the rich imagery supplied in the book, we need to remember that so much of it is symbolic of extremely significant spiritual truths.

God has provided John with complicated dreamlike visions of heaven and all that it contains. He sees the throne and all of the elders and angels praising God continually. There is tremendous anticipation in heaven as all are looking for the important operations of God on earth to be revealed.

As we look at the prophetic visions, we need to let God show us what He wants us to see in them. There is much to see, and there are many different emphases which people make as they read.

End time prophecy is revealed. There are secrets which could not be unveiled until the perfect One appeared on the scene. After Jesus paid the price and returned to heaven, He was the One who could open the seals and reveal the mysteries. Thus He opens the book and begins to break the seals so that the future may be told.

Throughout Revelation we will see significant numbers. One of those is the number seven. Seven represents the completeness or wholeness of something. Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven churches, seven lampstands, and seven candlesticks. What is being said is pretty complete, wouldn’t you say?

As you read, pray and ask God to tell you what He wants you to know about this prophetic book.

As we continue to read, we should be encouraged. We win in the end. God wins, and there will be a finality to the suffering the enemy has bought on the earth.

Praise God for that!

 

 

 

 

Read The Bible, December 15

Hosea 9-14

Throughout the book of Hosea, God demonstrates His great love for us and His faithfulness to us. His unconditional love is apparent.

Yet this group of people never receive God’s wonderful love for them. The Lord speaks of a day when He will bring back His people to their own land and bless them. And that word will be carried out, but this group will never be in on it.

Hosea is writing to the northern kingdom, Israel, which contains 10 of the original tribes of Israel. These people will be captured and transported to Assyria, and there is no record of them ever returning. The southern kingdom, Judah, will eventually go into Babylon and will be brought back by God’s mighty hand. But not the ones who go into Assyria. Some have come to call these people the “Lost Tribes of Israel.”

There are several books which give us glimpses of God’s faithfulness to the children of Judah in Babylon. The books of Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, and Ezra all show how God continues to work with His people even in captivity. But we never hear from these whom Hosea addresses again.

God’s love is there for us today – even in a greater measure because of the blood of Jesus. Yet not all will receive it.

Those of us who do receive His great love will bring forth much fruit for His kingdom. We will be empowered by Him to overcome the sin in our lives, and we will be empowered by Him to share the good news with others.

Hosea is a book which shows unequivocally how God is eager to bless those who are His. It also shows that we have a choice.

I pray that you and I will choose wisely. Living in His love is an awesome place to be!

Revelation 3-4

If you are a parent, you know the many sides of your responsibility toward your children. You are cultivating a life which will hopefully represent God and His kingdom, so your instruction is not always the same.

When your child is lacking in confidence – perhaps having been mistreated by a teacher or friend – your words to him or her are uplifting and encouraging. You remind him of God’s great love for him and that the Father= is there for him in whatever he pursues. You major on God’s grace.

However, if your child is off the path, and about to get himself into trouble – maybe because of his own stubbornness – your word to him is different. In this case, you bring correction and rebuke for the dangerous behavior.

In each case, your word is based on your love for your child. You are responding to the need of the moment.

Well our heavenly Father is the same way. There are times when we need much encouragement, and that is what He gives us. There are times, however, when we need to be corrected, and that is what He gives us.

In these chapters of Revelation, we see our God at work doing just that. Yesterday we took a look at some of the letters to the churches. Today, we cover the rest of them.

In chapter three, He addresses a dead church.(And we have seen some of those). He also addresses two others. The church of Philadelphia is the most on track of any we have seen. This church is producing fruit for the kingdom, and has a door open to it – a door which no one can shut, because Jesus Himself has opened the door. It’s their reward for “having a little strength, having kept His Word, and not having denied His name.”(3:8)

Then Jesus comes to the lukewarm church – the church which is the most prevalent “problem church” in our society. When we have grown up in a religious society, we forget some things along the way, and our sight becomes clouded. We start relying on our own righteousness, and not that of our Savior. We start living our lives from our own works, and we forget how much we need our Father’s empowerment to live for Him.

That’s where the Laodicean church found itself. And they had quite a rebuke! Jesus says to them – and those of us today who are in that quagmire – that He will vomit them up, if they don’t repent. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chastise.” (3:19)

Yet He is still knocking on the door of their hearts – and yours and mine when we become self-sufficient. If we have an ear to hear, we will overcome and sit with Him.

Over the years, there have been many times when I would feel God’s correction for me. Perhaps concerning an attitude; perhaps concerning incorrect thinking. One thing is certain: His correction is always sweet. The devil will condemn, but Jesus corrects in a way that doesn’t condemn. His correction will bring peace, because it will be obvious that it comes from His love.

I am so very thankful for the many facets of my God’s love for me. Always love, but many expressions of it. Awesome!

Read The Bible, December 14

Hosea 5-8

“Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. For His going forth is certain as the dawn.” (6:3) This was  a leap-off-the-page verse for me several years ago as I was reading Hosea.

God has a plan and He is carrying it out. Sometimes – even many times – when He tries to get people to work His plan with Him, they say,”no.” So he has to go to another – and another. But, make no mistake about it. God’s overall plan will get done.

His going forth is as certain as the dawn.

So when you and I see things in the Word which aren’t being fulfilled, we shouldn’t worry, and we shouldn’t give up. Every Word of God will be fulfilled in due season.

The times and seasons of God are for Him alone to know. (Jesus even said that He didn’t know the times and seasons).

Yet there is a method our Father uses. When it’s time to bring forth the next phase of His plan, the Lord shares it with His prophets. They, in turn, give a heads up to other leaders, and specific prayer begins. Prayer that will bring the next phase on the scene.

Many years ago, as I realized such mechanisms of God’s processes, I made a commitment to Him and to myself. I want to be in on whatever God is doing. I don’t want to be bypassed when He brings great moments to the earth.

Recently, the Father has been showing many prophets that He is lining up His people for a “great awakening.” He is transitioning some to new assignments, and He is calling many to pray specifically for this movement.

When He says it’s going to happen, it will. Some won’t want to be involved, but there will be some who have the privilege of a remarkable move of God in the earth.

Wait for it, and watch for it. Our Father’s going forth is as certain as the dawn.

Revelation 1-2

We have seen Jesus in many facets of His being. He has been the humble servant, the Passover Lamb, the wise counselor, merciful One. In revelation, we see Jesus in a new light. He is the Alpha and Omega, and the One who holds the keys to death and of Hades. (1:18).

As John sees the appearance of the risen Lord, He describes Him as glowing like burnished bronze. His head and hair are like white wool, and His eyes are like flames of fire. This appearance presents our all-powerful, all-knowing risen Lord. Very dramatic. Even John who knew Him well, is now in awe of this appearance. He is Jehovah Tsaba, the Lord of Hosts.

When people want to keep Jesus in some sort of religious box, they don’t realize what they are doing. He paid the price to defeat Satan for us all, and in doing so, all authority in heaven and earth now reside upon Him. He is awesome!

The day will come when everyone (even those who pierced His sides), will recognize Jesus as the One with all authority. People from every tribe of the earth will recognize Him and mourn because they didn’t see Him for who He was and is. He is truly the Son of God. (1:7).

Throughout Revelation, we will see some understanding about God’s divine plan from the beginning of time. We will see the demise of Satan and his fallen angels. We will also see ourselves, the saints of God, playing our parts in the destiny of the world. We will see ourselves as “kings and priests” with only One higher in authority, that is the King of kings and the High Priest of the priests. (1:5)

It’s an awesome picture of God’s liberation of us all.

Jesus starts right out in this vision speaking a word to the churches of the era. These Words are for those specific churches, but for us also. He first brings encouragement to each one, and then He brings some direction – some constructive criticism, if you will. If we will take the words and examine our own hearts, we will see how we can better participate in all that He wants for us.

The first church mentioned is Ephesus. This church is thriving – filled with saints who are discerning about false teaching and lack of holiness. They are holy people. Yet there is one thing they lack. They have left their first love.

There is a difference between working for the Lord and spending time with Him. Most of us start out in total awe of our Lord. He has looked past our sins and set us free from them, giving us a chance to start over in life. What a marvelous time we have as we pour out our hearts and listen to His voice. He loves us and we love Him.

Then as time goes by, the “first love” aspect of our walk can suffer even while working hard for Him. Yet He longs for us always to seek Him first – even before we do the work.

Return to your first love, He says to us as well as them.

As Jesus speaks to the other churches, one of the common themes is…stay away from sin and don’t be influenced by those who are not truly His. Let your doctrine be pure and untainted by the world.

And above all, be steadfast. Overcome the temptations. Those who overcome will have a special blessing from the Lord, because He watches over those who are HIs.

As we read through the letters to the churches, we look for the messages which apply to us. All of us have certain strengths and weaknesses – certain areas which are especially tempting to us.  So we listen and learn – and hang on.

We want to be those who overcome.

 

 

Read The Bible, December 13

Hosea 1-4

We backtrack a bit to hear what Hosea has to say. And we indeed want to hear it, because Hosea has a unique assignment of showing God’s mercy.

This prophet has a message to the northern kingdom, Israel, after the kingdoms split. He spends about 40 years pleading with them to turn back to God, but they won’t listen.

In the midst of his message, however, Hosea shows God’s unfailing love towards His people. Hosea is instructed to marry a prostitute and to have children by her. She, of course, will be unfaithful to him, but he will continue to love her through it all.

It’s a picture of God’s faithfulness to Israel, even when Israel is “playing the harlot” with all of the gods around.

Chapter two is especially poignant. The Lord says that He will lure Israel into the wilderness and make a covenant with her there. He will rescue her from destruction, and draw her out to be with Him. “The valley of Achor will become a door of hope.”(2:15) The valley of destruction will become a hope for her, because it will be from there that Israel will remember God and turn back to Him.

This verse has brought solace to many mothers I have known. Praying for their wayward children, they have seen them suffer because of bad choices. Yet often that wilderness experience has been the very thing to bring them back to God. The Valley of Achor (pain) has become the door of hope indeed.

In this chapter of Hosea, we see that God’s people will begin to call Him “husband” (Ishi), because of the closeness they develop. All of this allegory reminds me of a passage in Song of Solomon 8:5. “Who is this coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” It’s the bride of Christ, of course, His church.

We are married to our Lord, so that we are one with Him now. What a beautiful picture of our love relationship with Him!

The difference is that we will remain faithful to Him…won’t we?

Jude

There is one word which leaps out at me from Jude’s letter. That word is “contend.” Contend  earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to you. (V. 3)

He goes on to mention the angels and their fall from the very throne of God. Then he speaks of many others who have turned from God. Finally he gets to the present day (and , yes, they are still present day), men who try to turn the grace of God into licentiousness.

God’s grace is such a precious thing. His love for us and His empowerment of us through His Holy Spirit is wondrous indeed. We are to honor that grace and live lives which show His grace to others. Never is that grace to be defiled by taking it lightly and abusing it.

Jude finishes his letter by saying that there will be those who come into our midst, trying to create divisions and strife. They will be mockers, following after their own lusts, worldly-minded, and self-centered. (V. 19)

But there is good news in all of this: we don’t have to be that way. When we keep our eyes focused on our Lord, and when we “build ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit”(V. 20), we will be filled with faith, love and His purpose.

And our God is able to keep us from stumbling, when we commit our lives to these things. (V. 24)

It’s do-able – we just have to do it!

Read The Bible, December 12

Daniel 8-12

In this section, we come to one of the most important principles for a successful Christian life. It’s a lesson the Lord wants us all to know.

God is sovereign; He makes the rules and He implements them. However, many people stop with that thought and never go on to think: so what are the rules?

One of the most significant rules is that He has given to man a certain amount of authority on the earth. He has designed it so that men are to pray for even His will to be done. We have a part in all that He does.

To use the words of John Wesley, forerunner of the Methodist Church, “I am convinced that God does nothing in the earth unless a man first prays.”

Wow!! That certainly goes against the grain of those who say that all we have to do is sit on the sofa and eat popcorn while God runs the world.

Yet this is the thing. God sends His word to the earth so that man will know what to pray for. How about that? We get a “cheat sheet” which tells us what to pray for; then He brings it to pass.

We see a perfect example of this in Daniel’s book. The prophet saw that God had told Jeremiah that the children of Israel would be in captivity for 70 years. And guess what! 70 years were up!(9:2)

So Daniel prays for God’s will to be done. (This is the real “your will be done” prayer, when you see in the Word what is His will and you pray for it to happen).

Now let’s be clear about this. Most of us don’t have God telling us exactly what He intends to do in the whole world – or even in our own country. O.K. So we aren’t a prophet to the whole church. But what about our family? He certainly tells us about what His will is for them.

Right in the Word when we see our covenant, we see over and over that He wants us to walk with Him, be healthy, prosperous, and successful. He wants that for our families also. Abundant life – isn’t that what Jesus said? (John 10:10)

So we do what Daniel did. We take that word and we pray it back to our Father. Then we speak it into the atmosphere for all of the demons and angels to hear. (Remember, the angels hearken to the voice of God’s Word to obey it. When we speak it, we are giving it voice).(Psalm 103:20)

We are working with God to bring about His best for our families and our communities. We aren’t begging Him for something He is trying to withhold. He wants to give us the kingdom; it’s His pleasure. (Luke 12:32)

Pray. Speak. Pray. Speak. Don’t give up until you see it manifest!

III John

This thought just moves us right into III John:2. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health just as your soul prospers.”

There is a doctrine of demons our there, which has really worked its way into the church, and which says that God wants us poor, sick, and suffering “for his glory.”

Well that doesn’t give Him glory. What gives our God glory is for us to be filled with his love and mercy. And for us to have blessed lives in every respect so that people can see that He is really the One True God in heaven and on earth.

So let’s shake off that phoney doctrine, which is the devil’s will for our lives, and look at what His Word says.

He wants us to prosper and be in good health. I’ll take that, won’t you?

Then we take the cue from Daniel and we pray that Word of God until we see it with our eyes and hear it with our ears!

Let’s never give up until we see God’s Word being performed in our lives!

Read The Bible, December 10-11

Daniel 5-7

When you read these stories, I hope that they aren’t just good old stories. They are meant to be much more than that. They are meant to show us God’s principles, and they are meant to be examples of heroic faith for us to follow. As you read, prayerfully consider what your Lord is showing you.

We are living in times very similar to those in Daniel. You are probably wondering why I would say such a thing, so I’ll tell you.

Earlier in these studies, I shared how the Babylonian captivity in the natural, parallels a spiritual one which has gone on for centuries. The word “Babylon” signifies a state of confusion which will come from mixing the cultures of Israel and of heathens. You can easily see that the same thing has happened to the modern church.

For centuries now the church has succumbed to a state of confusion by mixing the ways of God with the ways of the world. When we allow that to happen to us in our own minds and hearts, we no longer are sure about what God wants. We look around us to see what is true and what is not. And, unfortunately, we can never find God’s truth just by looking around us to see what everyone else is saying and doing.

In the midst of that confusion, we see some truly remarkable young men, and we see God really showing Himself strong toward them. We also see our God showing Himself strong toward the arrogance of men who don’t honor Him.

So when the new king and his cohorts mock God by taking the vessels from God’s temple to use for their partying, they see a hand writing a message on the wall. A message which foretells the king’s demise. And instantly the kingdom is overthrown. God shows Himself as God Almighty, Creator of all things.

Then when Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den for his refusal to pray, again we see a miracle. The mouths of the lions are shut, and Daniel remains safe. Only an all-powerful God could accomplish such a thing.

My guess is that none of us will ever be thrown into a lion’s den. Yet in a mixed-up world, when we remain true to God, He does and will continue to  intervene on our behalf. The more we trust Him, the more we see His hand.

There will come a day also when the Lord will arise to judge the arrogance of men. I want to be on the right side when that happens!

The wisdom for us in all of this is to be like Daniel and learn to trust Him more. When we get to know Him and trust Him, we see His hand working in many ways that only He could do.

II John

Babylonian thinking was already getting into the church in John’s time.

There were those who were trying to change the gospel. Some were even saying that Jesus Christ never came in the flesh. It’s amazing that such heresy was already starting so close to the time of Jesus.

That’s the way it is, however, because we do have an enemy out there – the devil. The one thing he tries to accomplish is to make us unbelievers. If he can discredit the gospel and the true message of Jesus, he has us. So our enemy is busy at it from the first.

Beware of deceivers. That’s John’s message to this lady who has a church meeting in her home. That’s also a message we need to keep in mind.

Beware of deceivers. They are dangerous.

 

Read The Bible, December 8-9

Daniel 3-4

Our God is able!

If you ever are in a situation where those around you don’t believe in God and you feel your faith waning also, these chapters should help rev you up. Daniel and his buddies, in a foreign land, surrounded by unbelievers, are remarkable in their ability to continue to be faithful.

It would have been so easy for them to cave in to the influence of those around them. After all, they are there because most of their fellow countrymen had long ago stopped believing in their God. But not this crew. Nothing can stop their faith!

The jealousy aimed at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by the Babylonians is obvious. Annoyed with the newly earned prestige of these foreigners, the locals quickly snap up the opportunity to point out their disobedience to the king. If the king had asked for most things, they would have complied. Yet there is no way these faithful ones are going to bow down to worship anyone but Jehovah God. So they get into trouble, but God turns the tide for them.

As they are obedient to Him, the fire in the furnace can’t even touch the young Jews. Even though the furnace is seven times as hot as usual and the men who throw them into the fire die instantly, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come out without even the smell of smoke on them. Could it be because of the “fourth man” in the fire with them? I think so.

Hopefully you and I won’t be thrown into a furnace during our lifetimes. But every life has hardships, and every Christian suffers unfair treatment from those who don’t know the Lord. There are times when we feel like we are in a furnace. And it can be tough.

Yet our Father is there for us, just as He was in the early days of captivity. If we will believe in Him and stand tall, we will be amazed at the many ways our God can turn things around for us.

But we have to be faithful, and we have to believe.

If we do, we will see miracles – just like the Jews of old. And God will get the glory for His greatness.

Read The Bible, December 6-7

Daniel 1-2

What does the favor of God look like? We have it right here.

Daniel and his three best friends were taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, along with other rich and noble people. These young men were singled out because they  “had no defect, were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had the ability for serving in the king’s court.” (1:4)

All of these attributes, given by God, were lining Daniel up for great favor with the king. But there is one more thing to notice. Their favor also came because of their faithfulness to God. When the king wanted all of the “interns” to eat his rich, fat-laden food and drink his wine, they appealed to the commander of the officials to exempt them. Instead, they asked to eat vegetables and water instead – fare that would be healthier for them, and God’s favor secured their request.

So these young men prospered in the foreign kingdom because God’s hand was upon them.

Now comes the famous moment when Daniel gets to interpret the dream of the king. Not only does he know the interpretation, he also knows the dream itself, and can relate it to Nebuchadnezzar. As a result, the king declares, “surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.”(2:47) Then Daniel is promoted to the highest position in the land – the position right next to the king.

What our God can do in a moment’s time is amazing, isn’t it? From somewhat of a slave to the highest position over night!

As we read these accounts of our Father’s dealings with the people of old, let’s remember that our God hasn’t changed. He still brings favor and honor to those who are faithful to Him. If our lives are totally His, we can count on that favor.

I’m not saying that each one of us will be second in a kingdom somewhere, but I am saying that God’s favor will help us fulfill His plan for our lives.

So let’s stay faithful and yield to His plans. We will see His hand upon our lives also, each in our own way.

I John 3-5

“For whoever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” (5:4)

“And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”(5:14-15)

A man who has submerged himself in the love of our God, knows the goodness of our God. Our Father’s will is always for our good. So as we study God’s Word, we find His will, and we are able to boldly and confidently ask Him, knowing that He will accomplish it in our lives.

Our faith in His Word is key. Our faith in believing what He says will give us victory over the world. Our faith in His Word will also give us victory over our flesh and over desires which are not of Him.

John’s example is a great one for us to follow. Always loving God and others. Always believing. Always victorious.

Read The Bible, December 4-5

Ezekiel 46-48

This is it! It’s like a dipstick to check your walk with God. And it certainly explains a lot concerning the many different doctrines we see on a regular basis.

Years ago, when I made my first forays into a deeper walk with the Lord, these passages were life-changing for me. So I’d like to share some personal insights.

After several chapters of describing God’s plan for the temple, we come to chapter 47, and see water coming from the altar of that temple. An angel takes Ezekiel on a short excursion, showing him how the water flows out onto the land.  The angel takes Ezekiel out to water which reaches the ankles, then the knees, the loins, and finally over the head. “A river which could not be forded, but waters in which you swim.” (47:5)

Where the river goes, there is an abundance of healing, with trees on each side bearing fruit in every season. (Hang on. We are going to see this again when we get to Revelation 22. It’s the River of God). This anointed river is the river of the Holy Spirit pouring out onto God’s humanity. A beautiful picture, isn’t it?

Now this is where the dipstick comes in. The water flows out, but there are many different levels of it for us to choose. Do we want just a dab of God? Do we want to go about our busy lives and just throw up a “Thank you, Jesus” or “Help me, Jesus” every now and then? In that case, we will stay in ankle-deep water all of our lives.

Or do we want to wade out to our knees or our loins? Perhaps as we do, we think that we have performed some great service for our God. But not so. There is a place we can get to which is water over our heads. It’s not our own wills, but His. It’s water where you swim; you can’t stand on your own feet any more.

This is the thing. We get to decide how much of God we really want in our lives. We can’t fake it; He knows where we stand. But let’s just know that the more of ourselves we give to Him, the more of Himself he gives to us. It’s the Law of Measure, and we get to choose our measure. “By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return.”(6:38)

And what does it mean to get out into the deepest water? More guidance, more understanding and revelation of Him, more ability to hear His voice, more favor, more abundance in our lives. Our Father wants us to have a relationship with Him which is without measure. And that’s what I want.

One more note. Several years ago we were having an extended revival in our church. It was really exciting to see so many saved and healed, as we had meetings several nights per week for a total of 13 weeks. One morning during that season, just as I awoke, I had a little vision. I was in the River up to my neck, treading water. But the amazing thing to me, was that I literally felt the current of the River – and it was very strong. In fact, it was so strong that it was carrying me in its power and I had no control.

Until that time, I had thought of the river as being placid and peaceful, but not so. The current was as strong as the ocean current, and I knew that God was in control, carrying me where he wanted me to go.

I don’t know about you, but I want the deepest relationship with God available. I want to truly know Him and walk with Him every day. I realize that you and I have a choice. We are not required to walk with Him that closely, but that’s where the blessings are. The shallow waters are not for the fulness of his promises, but if we will commit ourselves to the “water where we have to swim,” we will accomplish our purposes in the earth, and we will see His plans demonstrated in our lives.

And the best part: we will truly know Him as our Father.

I John 1-2

John was a remarkable disciple. When we read his gospel and then this book, we are aware that he knew the love of God better than any. He received that love as very personally his, just as God wants us to do.

So let’s take a look.  John says that those who “walk in the light” and those who “keep His commandments” are truly His.

When a life is committed to the Lord, there is evidence. The tree should be bearing fruit, if it’s real. So as we walk with Him, there will be evidence of a life lived for Him. We will not be living sinful lives, and we will be walking in love toward others as well as ourselves.

Now when I mention “sinful lives,” I don’t mean we have to be perfect. In fact, right in the middle of this dissertation, John says that “if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves.” (1:8)

So what then? We make mistakes, but we don’t choose to go another way. We don’t choose a sinful lifestyle, but choose to walk in His light. And if we do make a mistake, He is quick to forgive us and to help us do better next time.(1:9)

Walking in the light signifies walking a path toward His light. We grow in our ability to overcome the sins of the past, and we grow in our ability to demonstrate God’s love for us and others.

Light, life, and love. That’s the fruit we will show to the world – the fruit they need to see.