Scriptures: 1 Kings 17:1-7
In these verses we read that Elijah prophecies that a drought is coming: there will be no rain or dew, nothing from above or below. At this time Ahab was the king and he worshipped Baal, who was the god of rain and harvest. God responded to this with action!
God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith. Cherith means seperated; every person has a brook, or a place of calling. A brook is a place where we are sent by God. It was the will of God for Elijah to be by the brook Cherith and there he was given water to drink and ravens brought him bread and flesh.
Elijah was sent to the brook by the expressed commandment of God. Then the brook failed and dried up. Brook failure in our lives can be enough to crush ordinary faith! Elijah was not a sinner or a fugitive running from God, he was following God's direction. When the brook fails, its a test of our faith to see if we will stay with faith or run. "God has a plan for a person who can walk through the confusion of life and still hear His voice."
Scriptures: John 11:25-26, Matthew 22:23, Matthew 22:31-32
Jesus said: "I am the resurrection." When we have a relationship with Jesus we have the resurrection within us. What does that mean? Resurrection means: "a standing up again, a recovery, and raised to life again." With Jesus in your life things in your life can rise again. You can rise from any dead thing and your dreams can live! Spiritual recovery is part of your existance.
In these verses we read about the Sadducees who questioned Jesus's message: saying there was no resurrection. Their message is a message of no hope, no recovery and no rising again. Their message completely contradicts God's words, because He said He is a God of the living not of the dead. He is a God of renegeration.
Through His spirit we are revitalized, He imparts us with new life. We are restored to our proper position as children of God. We are refreshed, as He revives our passions and dreams. We are renewed, because God replenishes what this world and sin has taken from us.
Ask yourself the question: what in my life needs a resurrection experience? Is it your faith, hope and love? Your witness or outreach? How about your dedication or sacrifice? Have you lost sight or your dreams or passion for the things of God?
Jesus is the resurrection and what seems dead in your life can recover and rise again! Let Jesus breath new life into your life and situations. Allow Him to revitalize, restore, refresh and renew you!
Scriptures: Daniel 3:1-30, Exodus 20:1-6
When you stand for God, you will stand out. Standing for God is not always easy, in fact it can be painful; it takes courage to take a stand for God. How do we reach the place where we are still standing? These verses from Daniel tell the story of three young men who aganist adversity were still standing.
1) We must recognize that we need to stand- The Bible tells us to worship God and Him only: "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them." Nebuchadezzer commanded that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego worship the image he had made, but they remained standing, inspite of the unpredictable situation and consequences.
2) We must remember that God is still in control- Our human nature wants to be in control, but God is truly in control even when we are in a tight spot: like the three young men and the raging fiery furnace. God is able to deliver: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[ from Your Majesty’s hand" (Daniel 3:17) . Because God is in control he can determine how He will respond: we are not given an insurance policy, instead we are given faith. Faith gives us the power to be faithful. God always writes the best endings.
3) We must rely on God for He will provide strength- He gives strength to the weak and overcomes the powerful with the powerless. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were young captives, but that day they stood higher than a king. God defeats evils with good.
Recognize, remember and rely on God, so when the fire goes out you will be able to say "I'm still standing."
Scriptures: Psalm 35: 9-14, Acts 24:16, 1 Peter 4:8
In Acts 24:16 the apostle Paul said: I have a goal. His goal was to maintain a clear conscience before God and everyone else. Paul knew a day was coming when he would stand before his maker and he wanted to handle offenses without injury. There is a process which provides a clear conscience, Paul said: "I exercise myself." It takes effort to stay free from offense.
Let's look at a story from the Bible. It has four characters: Amnon, Tamar, Absalom and David. Amnon was a man who raped his half sister. Tamar was a virgin royal princess who was devastated with shame. Absalom was Tamar's brother who wanted revenge, his concept of justisce. Lastly, David the king and their father who was full of regret.
Absalom has Amnon murdered; he felt the proper authority chose to do nothing about this event, so he avenged his sister. Absalom perceived that David was weak and this one offense led to many offenses. But David knew that God has men like Nathan, who was a prophet. Nathan had a message that made David face his own actions, and showed that God did not need Absalom. Absalom then began to question his father's ability to lead and tried to overthrow him, which eventually resulted in his own demise.
So how do we retain a clear conscience?
1) Recognize that we are hurt- pride often leads to major injury. We have to admit our condition and admit our pain.
2) Forgive offenders- Rejoice in God's salvation and remember His delieverance. "They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul" a deep hurt is recognized. "But as for me" David humbled himself through fasting and prayed for his offenders: "when they were sick."
3) Ask God for fervent love- "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins..." Only through God can we maintain a clear conscience.
Scriptures: Zechariah 14:6-7
Zechariah the prophet speaks of a time that the church of Jesus Christ will experience: a time of mixed events, a strongly changing time. The Word describes it as "it will be neither clear nor dark, not day nor night." It will be both a time of grace and of judgement.
Zechariah represents this time as a cloudy day, where there is neither ran nor sunshine. A day when it seems it could rain any moment or the sun could break through the clouds.
The Christian walk is like a cloudy day: we have the light of God in us, but we constantly wrestle aganist darkness. We have the Holy Spirit, but we battle our own corruption. We have faith, but also doubt. We have a mixture of hope and fear. Mercy and judgement reside in us, and an uncertainty of which will prevail. We have neither perfect peace nor constant trouble.
Charles Dicken's said it quite accurately: "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The church has come to this hour: times of challenges, yet times of blessings. People are choosing to abandon their faith, while others are hungrily seeking God. A time of tears and laughter, pain and pleasure, turmoil and victory, dying and life, etc.
The Word tells us that "but at the evening time it shall be light." When it looks like darkness will prevail, when it looks like the sun will set: light will break through! Light will overcome darkness! The church will rise!
God's deliverance and mercy shall have dominion, what we have believed God for will become a reality. Hold on, move forward and light will shine in a dark hour! Those dark clouds will blow away!
Scriptures: Matthew 4:1-11
Fact: Your identity will be challenged, because your identity determines your destiny: how you act and what you do.
Our destiny is on hold until we settle the issue of our identity. God deals with our identity, because our destiny is linked to our identity. We need to stop worrying about what we are supposed to do and determine who we are supposed to be!
In these verses from Matthew we read about the three temptations of Christ:
1) "If thou be the son of God": Satan challenged Christ's identity. He asked Him "do you know who you are?" Telling Jesus to turn the stones to bread, he provoked Jesus to prove who He was. Satan's first challenge was: prove who you are by demonstrating your power. Jesus said no, and His identity was secure!
2) "If thou be the son of God": Sound familiar? Satan's second challenge is: "do you really know who you are?" Satan desires to have us question our identity so that he can undermine our destiny. Questions like: why do you think like that or why do you talk like that or if you are really a Christian why did you do that? Satan desires to put doubt in our minds about our Christian identity.
3) "All these things will I give thee": Finally he tries to see if Jesus will compromise His identity: offering an easier road, seemingly a way out. But with this "reward" comes the requirement that Jesus must bow down and worship him. How does Jesus respond: "get thee hence, Satan." If Satan can get us to compromise he can steal our identity. We must be like Jesus and stand firm!
Our confidence rises when we know who we are. This week remind yourself daily who are you: a child of God, a Christian, a saint, an Apostolic...show the world that you know who you are!
Scriptures: Isaiah 43:18-19
God is ready to do something new: "Behold, I will do a new thing." He wants to provide a "way in the wilderness," a passage in uncharted territory. He will provide "rivers in the desert," provisions in unexpected places.
God wants you to have true happiness. Mankind needs three things for happiness: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. God provides us with all three: a cause to believe in, a love that produces comfort and His soon coming!
This is a time of renewed vision: "remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old." The New Living Translation says it this way: "But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do."
Ask yourself the questions: do you have more memories than dreams? When we spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror we will stop moving forward. This is a time for great dreams: we must crave "what can be." Setbacks are God's springboards. Obstacles are God's opportunities. Barriers are God's doors to blessings.
Are you ready for God to do something new? If you want to be defeated then look back. If you want to be distracted then look around. If you want to be dismayed then look ahead. But if you want to be delivered- LOOK UP! If you want to be happy then believe, love and look for Jesus.
Jesus will take us through our uncharted territory and provide provisions in places we never expected.
Scriptures: Matthew 10:1-4, Acts 1:15-18
In America every 79 seconds there is an identity theft and the average cost to repair identity theft is $1500, not counting lawyer's fees. You can spend your whole life building your credit and in one moment someone can steal your identity and destroy your future!
An apostolic identity is the door to your destiny: your identity is the key to your destiny. When you know who you are confidence rises up in you. Your decisions are made based on your identity, which gives you the knowledge of what the next steps will be in your life.
The goal of the enemy is to steal the identity of believers: if Satan can get you to forget who you are then you will forget about your destiny. Our identity is linked to our destiny! If you know who you are then you know what you are supposed to be doing.
Judas was one of Jesus' twelve disciples: he was given power aganist unclean spirits to cast them out and power to heal all manner of sickness and disease. Judas as a volunteer: he chose to follow Jesus! He chose to be a part of an elite group of men who walked daily with God in flesh.
But Judas had his identity stolen and his destiny was stolen, he became: "Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him." Judas forgot who he was, a disciple of Jesus, and once he forgot he started to make bad decisions. He started to make decisions based on emotions, not on his apostolic identity.
What happened to Judas? Satan took over his life and he lost his power aganist unclean spirits. Sin diseased his mind and then Judas hanged himself.We cannot lose sight of our apostolic identity and allow the enemy of our soul take over!
Scriptures: Isaiah 40:1-5, Luke 3: 5-6
Isaiah told the people: "prepare ye the way of the Lord." We must prepare to see God work! Even through times of adversity we must make preparations for God's arrival in our lives: He wants to give us revival.
The Bible says: "Make straight in the desert a highway for our God," a highway is a raised up place; a higher elevation. Its time for us to fire up the bulldozer and get rid of some things in our lives, so we can offer God a straight way into our lives and hearts.
We will always face obstacles when we prepare the way of the Lord:
"Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
1) The Valley- these are the things we must go through in our lives, but the above verses insure that God will fill our valleys.
2) The Mountain- these are the things we must get over. Some things in our lives we need to just let go and get over them, because God assures us that He will level our mountains.
3) The Crooked Places- These are the things that we must straighten out in our lives: for example seeking or offering forgiveness. God wants us to walk a straight path.
4) The Rough Ways- These are the things we need to smooth out: things that need correcting in our lives. God's wants to polish up the rough patches in our lives.
Then after He has brought us through and over, straightened our ways and smoothed our rough patches the Word tells us: "then shall all flesh see the salvation of God." This is God's plan for revival, let's prepare the way of the Lord!