What if . . . you won the lottery and didn’t know it??? Or maybe you didn’t believe it.

Robert was getting older and he had a guilty pleasure that he indulged in whenever he was in town.  He would buy a lottery ticket.  It was always the same numbers at the same convenience store.  He liked to think about what would happen if he won. He was old and he thought he would take it in a lump sum so he could leave it to his children.  He would travel to visit them all and play with his grandchildren.   He would sell the house and get a small but very high-end RV.  He would be like a turtle and take his home with him.  It gave him great joy to think about it.

Then came the day!  He had his tickets and the numbers would be drawn tonight.  he sat down to watch the program and because he had worked hard that day, he fell asleep.  The numbers were announced.  One by one the numbers were announced.  They were his numbers, but he didn’t know.  It was just another day.  He woke up and went to bed and didn’t give it another thought.  The news said that someone had won the largest lottery jackpot ever.  He was happy for the person that won.  The person never came forward.  Everyone was curious.  What had happened?  Who had won the money?

He went to town to pick up some supplies and stopped by his store to buy another ticket.  The man behind the counter said, “Robert, you always play the same numbers, don’t you?”  “Why yes, I do.  Why do you ask?”  The clerk told him that those were the winning numbers from the lottery last week.  Robert smirked.  He didn’t believe it.  He knew he would never win.  He went on his way.

The clerk notified the lottery people.  He said that the old man, Robert, had bought the ticket.  They looked at the security camera footage and checked the time and the history of the numbers.  He had definitely won.  They contacted him.  Still, Robert could not believe he had won.  He rummaged in his drawer looking for the ticket.  He pulled it out and stood there in awe.  HE HAD WON!!  His dream had come true and he almost missed it!

Today’s Lesson:

We are like Robert in so many ways.  God has provided everything for us.  He has given His Son for our salvation, His Holy Spirit to be our Comforter, Guide and Teacher.  He has made us His children, His friends and His lovers.  But like Robert, we don’t know it or maybe we know about it but we don’t believe it or maybe we believe it but it seems too good to be true and so our doubt outweighs our acceptance.

He tells us, “Only believe.  All things are possible to him who believes.”  If we turn away for any reason, He is still waiting to help us.  He wants to bless us.

We stop the blessing by being of two minds.  We believe it – sort of – but we don’t really think it could happen to us.  He has made it possible to be sons and daughters of the Most High God.  He is the King and we are King’s kids with all rights and privileges.  The tragic thing is that so few of us know what is available to us if only we will believe on Jesus Christ and His finished work.  Salvation is available to everyone and with it comes the whole package.  The reason that we don’t see the benefits, is because we choose not to believe in all He has done for us and all He has given us.

We live far below our privilege. Stop doubting and start believing.  Remember:  “Only believe.  ALL things are possible to him that believes.”

In order to get from one room to another in a house, you have to go through a door.  To enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ is that door.   He is the Way.  No one comes to the Father except by Him.

When you go through Him, you will encounter His goodness.  You will find that He is good and only does good.  If there is anything good anywhere, it is from Him.  Every good and perfect work is from the Lord.  You can trust Him.

Today I invite you to accept what Jesus did for you through His death, burial and resurrection.  To learn more, go to:

http://www.gothedistanceradioministry.org/messages/lgreen-wednesday-7-4-07.mp3

Astonishing Love!

The Story

The divorce was over. 

Since then, Anita had done a lot of things she was not proud of but she had been rejected so long that she was looking for affirmation from anyone.  She used her body to get relief from the words that had played over in her head.  Her ex-husband had told her that ‘no one would ever want her’and she had believed him.  Somehow, now there was vindication.  Everyone wanted her body, but maybe he was right; did any of them really want her?

She had two little children and she was always careful to see that they were cared for, but this last time, when she didn’t know where they were frightened her.  She tracked them down and loaded them into the car.  They stopped at McDonald’s and got hamburgers and fries for everyone.   The drinks she had at the bar before she went home were wearing off.

She drove straight home and put the kids to bed telling them that she loved them.  As she did, she wondered how she would get off this crazy path she was on.  Anita loved her children and knew that the way things were now; she was cheating them of her time and training.  She had given that responsibility to others.

Going Home

When the call came that her Grandmother had died, she left work, picked up the children and put some things in a suit case and began the 28 hour trek to get back home.  She didn’t know it then, but she was headed toward love and freedom.

At the funeral, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Anita took stock of her situation.  She determined in her heart not to go back to the crazy life she had been living.  She was making good money, but that didn’t make up for the longing in her heart.

Following Her Heart

She quit her job and sold her house over the phone.  She made arrangements with her parents to move in with them until she could get established.  She got a job right away.  Her Sister stepped up to watch the children when she was at work.  She would come home, tired and hurting.  Her bunions throbbing from all the time she was on her feet.  Her dear Mother would get a pan of sudsy warm water and kneel down to lovingly wash her feet.

Love

Her folks never asked questions.  They knew she was different; not the sweet innocent girl who had left their home.  She was worldly and sensual.  It drove them to their knees.  Yet to Anita, they never offered criticism or condemnation.  They only gave love and acceptance.  She was their daughter and they loved her and that was unchangeable.

What Anita did not know was that her Mom was not well, and soon she ended up in the hospital.  The doctor removed her gallbladder and with it 300 gall stones.  Anita had been so self-absorbed; she hadn’t noticed her Mom’s pain.  What remarkable love her Mom had sacrificed to her oldest daughter.

Today’s Lesson:

Anita’s parents showed the love of family.  They accepted her even when their hearts were aching at her condition.  This is a picture of the love of God for His family but it is only a small peek at the astonishing love that Father God has for His kids.

We Have An Enemy Who Lies to Us

Satan and his demons have taught us to believe that everything bad that happens is ‘an act of God.’  We have accepted the idea that God is just waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can lower the boom on us.  We fear Him but we don’t understand that we are supposed to reverence Him.  (That is what the word ‘fear’ means in the Bible – reverence and awe.)

When things are bad, we bargain with Him.  God, If only You will . . . and we make our request and  .promise to be good if only . ..  Father God knows that we can’t be good with our own effort.  He only wants us to love Him by accepting His Son Jesus and then He will change our hearts and our spirits; then being good will become second nature.  It is not about what we do.  It is about Who He is. 

The Truth – God Loves US

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above and from the Father . . .
  • He loves us with an everlasting love.
  • He is good and only does good.
  • He is love.
  • He has promised ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’
  • His love endures forever.
  • We are His family.
  • We are children of the King.
  • He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
  • He has forgiven ALL of our sin – past, present, and future!
  • He has made us ‘new creations.’
  • Our old life has passed away and all things have become new.
  • Even when the old habits in our flesh act out, He gently nudges us to turn to Him so that He can help us to be free.

We Live Far Below Our Privilege

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 is haunting.  It says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”  In church, we don’t see many people who were truly free.  Learning how much Father God loves us brings us to that freedom.

If you are struggling, join me in singing, “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me,  yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”  Whenever we mess up, we can know that God’s love is always available.  Go to Him at once and receive His forgiveness.  It is always available.  Then sing that little chorus over and over again, until you begin to understand His astonishing love.

Living Sacrifices

When the firemen rushed into the distressed Twin Towers on 9/11, they gave no thought to their own lives, their own families or to the danger that they advanced toward.  When the Principal and the Counselor at Sandy Hook charged the gunman, they had only a desire to save the children.  When a soldier on the front lines steps in front of a ‘buddy saving his life, he does it without thought of himself.  A mother who has a child with enormous disabilities, spends her life caring for her loved one.  Others may forsake them, but she stays steadfast.  A grandmother who gives up her retirement plans to care for her grandchildren because her daughter is in jail.  An elderly couple who have spent their lives together are now facing the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s and the husband who loves his dear wife cares for her tenderly and no one sees and no one seems to care.

Everyday, someone becomes a living sacrifice.  Some of them we call them heroes; we may not even be aware of the sacrifice of others.  They are selfless people who have but one thought and it is the welfare of others.

Today’s Lesson: 

Considering what people will sacrifice to save the life of another in this world system, how much more we, who love Jesus,

are privileged to sacrifice our lives for the opportunity of others to spend eternity with Him.  What a glorious privilege we have.  We may share the wonder of eternal life that saves others for eternity.

He isn’t mad at you.  He has made the way for you to come to Him.  It isn’t about laws and failure;  it is about love and faithfulness.  Such a great God is truly trustworthy.  He has given those of us who come to Him everything that He has given His Son.  We are joint heirs with Him.

I pray that He brings people to me with prepared hearts so that I may tell them of His great love for us and how he sent Jesus to pay for all the condemnation and sin that has been plaguing us and trading it for His great love and faithfulness.  Where ever He leads me, I will go.

There is a place in the Bible that says we are “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.”  I have read it many times.  It had always seemed to be an unreasonable request that asked me to give up my hopes and dreams.  As I have matured in the love of the Lord, I have come to realize that my hopes and dreams have changed.  I only want what He wants.I want His desires to be my desires.  I have placed myself in His hands as a living sacrifice.  I pray that I may be wholly, acceptable to Him.

He knows your heart and He wants to come to you.  He wants to have a love relationship with you individually.  Start seeking Him with all your heart.  Quit looking at what is holding you back.  He will help you develop a strong relationship.  He makes it so simple.  He will give you His Spirit to help you on the path of life to enjoy it to the fullest!

God’s heart hungers for you.  If you want to know Him and have never invited Jesus into your heart and life, here is a short prayer to help you reach out to His great Love:

Father,  Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross and through His resurrection, I ask Jesus to come into my heart.  Sin isn’t big enough to hold me as I reach out to You.  This life that I have now received will allow me to live with You  throughout eternity.   Jesus blood purchased me out and made me righteous.  Nothing can ever take me out of your love again.  Father, I believe You exist and that You sent Jesus here for me.  I receive you into my heart and I give you my life.   I receive Your life into me and now I join others who have a part in the abundant life.  I am a joint-heir with You on the other side!  Teach me what I am an heir to.  Show me how to walk with You and show me how to tell others of Your great love.  Amen 

This is what newness of life is all about.  Go to:  http://www.gothedistanceradioministry.org/our-pastors/larry-green/ and listen to the short teachings from April 15th to April 20th for more light on your new life.

Are You in the Way or is the Way in You??

Frank walked along the path in the early evening.  “It won’t be long before it is dark,” he mused, “I should be getting back.”  In a few minutes the sun was down and darkness was closing in rapidly.  He knew the path well, but the darkness began to conceal it.  He wished he had left home earlier or at least brought a flash light.

As he rounded the bend about one mile from the main road, a figure stepped out in front of him.  He could sense the size of the man, but couldn’t make out his features.  “Hello?”  The intruder didn’t speak.  “Excuse me,” he said as he tried to go around this silent interruption to his solitude.  The man grabbed him by the arm.  Alarm spread through Frank as he asked, “What do you want?”  Still there was no response.

Gathering his courage, Frank began to speak in soft tones.  “Sir, I don’t know why you have put yourself in my way tonight, but I have good news for you.”  The hold on his arm loosened slightly.  “You may not be aware that there is someone who loves you very much.  He lives in me an wants me to tell you that he understands and that he knows you are frightened and alone and that you don’t know what to do or where to turn.

He calls Himself the Way and I am His follower.  He knows that you thought to harm me by getting in my way tonight, but instead he wants to save you and has sent you to me, so that I could help you.  Won’t you please tell me why you are here and how I can help?”  For the first time, the man spoke, “My name is Stanley and I don’t know what to do.”

Frank thought he heard a sob escape from the man and he reached out and placed his hand over the hand the held him.  “It’s okay.  Let’s go get a cup of coffee and work this out.”

Today’s Lesson:

Frank knew who he had inside him.  He knew Him well.  Fear had tried to win the day when the tall anonymous man grabbed his arm, but he immediately turned to the One who lives in him and recovered his peace.  After whispering a brief prayer, he was able to share the Way out of the problems that Stanley was encountering.

This is what is possible to us when we lay aside religion and get to know Jesus.  He IS the Way, the Truth and the Light.  When the Way truly lives in us, we can be bold in the most threatening situations.  As long as we are alive, the love of Jesus can reach out.

Sometimes we are so busy judging the person who is in trouble that we don’t want to be around them.  There are many stories of people who go to church to find help only to be told they don’t measure up.  It is God’s job to judge the world and for believers there is ‘no condemnation.’  When we judge others, it clouds our thinking and keeps us from the love that sets us all free.

So the question for today is:  Are you in the way or is the Way in you?

Reject Your Own Opinions

Two young ministerial interns, Russ and Toby, came to live with the John and Karen Wright family.  Karen counted it a privilege to have them share her home.  She had high expectations of their mission to learn and serve the congregation and was proud that she would be a good example for them.

The young men had two very different personalities.  Russ rode a motorcycle and looked a bit like a rock star.  He was zealous for the things of God and diligent in his responsibilities.  Toby, on the other hand, seemed shallow in his relationship with the Lord and more interested in the baseball box scores than doing ministry.

John and Karen took off a weekend to visit a nearby city and left the young men on their own.  When they came home, Russ was at church and Toby was sitting in the midst of the living room watching television and working the box scores.  The fact that he hadn’t bathed was obvious.  The house was a mess.

“Why aren’t you at church?’ Karen inquired barely concealing that she was seething with anger.  This was not what she had signed up for.  She was not interested in housing a slothful young man who was shirking his responsibilities.  ‘I couldn’t get a ride,” he responded.  “Well, you have one now.  Get cleaned up, and I will take you to church.”

The air was tense in the car as they sped over the road the seven miles to the church campus.  When they got there, she dropped Toby off at the door and went looking for the Pastor.  When she found him, he was teaching a class.  She walked to the door and when he looked her way, she beckoned him to come out of class.  “Pastor, Toby is not what I thought I would get when I agreed to take in these interns.    He was at home in a horrible mess when we came back from our weekend.  He is here at the church now.  I want him out of my home and I want him out now!” she said with emphasis.  “Would tomorrow be soon enough?” Pastor sighed.  Toby moved out the next day and she made excuses to Russ as to why he was gone.

Pastor called her and John in to confront Toby in his office.  It was less than satisfying to all the concerned parties.  After Toby left, Pastor looked at Karen and said, “You are an opinionated woman!”  Karen felt justified as she thought her opinions were right!

Today’s Lesson:

Karen had an opportunity to cover Toby and be redemptive in his life but instead she rejected him.  She justified herself and her opinions.  The Bible teaches us that love covers a multitude of sin and also, that we will know Christians by their love.  Where was the love in Karen?  She was judge, jury and executioner.

Toby finished his internship but his experience wasn’t good.  He returned to Bible College and thought that all Christians were like Karen.  The story leaves us wondering if he ever found the true love of God in others.

Since that time, Karen has learned a great deal and had an encounter with the Most High God.  He dealt with her and gently helped her see that her opinions were not His.  He helped her to reject her own opinions.  Father God showed her that passion is a good thing if it lines up with His will for us, but when it is based on our opinions, it is dangerous and destructive.  God healed her heart and she forgave Toby through the Holy Spirit who lives in her.

As Christians, we are passionate about many things.  We are opinionated about the political process.  We have ideas about how the church should be managed and what the color the carpet in the sanctuary should be.  We have ideas about what the right doctrine is and end up dividing from friends and congregations over basic issues like baptisms and tongues.

The point of today’s lesson is that we need to reject our own opinions and find out what God wants in each situation.  When we speak what we consider to be the truth based on opinion, we abuse the young believer and actually hinder his relationship with the Lord.  The Bible says that it is better to have a millstone (a huge rock) hung around your neck and be tossed into the sea that to hurt one of His little ones.

The next time you find yourself in an impassioned conversation filled with judgment, condemnation and opinion, stop, quiet yourself, and invite the Lord to cleanse and purify your opinion so that it lines up with His.  It may be necessary to excuse yourself and get alone with the Lord.

We see in Scripture that we can speak like the very angels of heaven but without love, we are profited nothing.  The next time you see another who is walking in error and you want to rush in and deal with it, remember to reject your opinion and choose love over condemnation.  The amazing thing will be that your heart will change and the wonderful peace of God will reign in the place of opinion.

What is the Name of the Wall Between You and God?

A young man was coming for prayer and ministry regularly.  His heart was hard and though he obviously was seeking, he couldn’t get passed the barrier that He had put up against the Lord.  We loved him faithfully for more than a year.

When the focus of our lives is ‘all about me,’ we are living in the pride of life.  Pride gets in the way.  It can be bad.  It will take you to a wall and once you hit it, the only recovery is to deal with it through Christ and confession leading to humility and then the wall will come down.

One day the young man texted pastor and it read, “Is the wall that I struggle with pride?”  He shot back, “It always is.”

When we are in pride, we resist the truth that is trying to set us free.  Father God will give us many opportunities to walk in humility.  If we keep resisting, He steps back from haughtiness.

Today’s lesson:  Die to your will and give God your future and your life.  Always remember how to kill pride because the old man will continually try to bring you back to the wall.  That is where he is comfortable.  We had a whole life of living any way we wanted and now we are releasing that and God is taking charge of areas that each of us had been running.

When we stay in sin, our old man commands us and we obey; thereby keeping others from coming to know Jesus.  ‘How is that?’ you ask.  When we walk in the ways of our soul man, the devil laughs.  The reason is that he is keeping us from walking in God’s ways.  He knows that when we do God’s will, we show others the goodness of God and that leads men to repentance.  Rom 2:4, 1 Pet 2:9

Everyone who is not born-again is dead.  Yes, they breathe, eat, sleep, and work but they are dead spiritually.  When we are born-from-above, we come alive spiritually.  Our soulish man still argues with us.  He wants to sin.  He has had a lot of practice and has become quite good at it.

Until we are washed by the water of the Word (Jesus) and the Spirit, we do not enjoy the many benefits we have in God.  ‘It is for freedom that Christ set us free,’ Gal.5:1.  He set us free from the compulsion to sin and gave us the right to live in the Presence of God.  What do we find there?  In the Presence of God is fullness of joy!  Grace becomes like oxygen to us.  As we give grace to others, we breathe the Kingdom of God in and out.  Mercy is multiplied grace.  Compassion is God’s love poured out on those who don’t deserve it.  Not only that, but the retirement benefits are ‘out of this world!’

There is a river of life that flows out from the throne of God.  We are all wells and we get filled with life when we spend time in His Presence.  There is no death here.

We draw out the water of the river with our tongue.  Don’t clog your well with words of unbelief and condemnation.  Draw the water out with words of life gracing yourself and others.

Kill pride and keep the down the wall between you and the Lord.  Spend time in His Presence and joy will overtake you and others will see it and desire what you have.  God’s goodness to you will lead others to come to Him.

Minister of Death

The Pastor stood up in the pulpit.  He was a strikingly good looking man his hair graying a bit and a wonderful resonating voice.  He looked out over his congregation still reeling from the last counseling session is his office the day before.  How could anyone be so involved in so many sinful things?  He just didn’t understand.  Images had penetrated his mind that he just couldn’t shake.  He took a deep breath and began.

After an hour of coming against sin and admonishing everyone, by reminding them that every sin led to death, he begged them to give up anything in their lives that would cause them to come to judgment.  His own heart ached at the things he sometimes thought about.  He told them that “lust led to more lust, anger to more anger, dishonesty to more dishonesty, envy and strife to confusion and every evil work.”  He diagnosed their condition, but gave them no remedy.

He was quite worked up and the people sat in shock!  Their pastor had never before been so forceful.  Everyone sat in the pew, condemned and without hope.

This well intentioned pastor was a “minister of death.”

Today’s lesson:  When we try to be good enough, there is always someone to point out that our efforts are futile.  It is a misery that shows us exactly why God gave us the Law.   It is a bit like the diet started on Monday morning.  After you eat something that is not in the plan you just think, “Well, I blew it, I may as well finish that cake I made for the family.”

The purpose of the rules of the Law was to teach us that we can’t do it on our own.  All of our attempts, at keeping the whole Law,  end in frustration and disappointment.    Lifting up sin never leads us to freedom.  The Bible tells us that when we lift up Jesus, He will draw all of us to Him.

The pastor drew no one to the Lord that day.  He showed them their utter hopelessness without the Lord of Love.  His own sin loomed bigger and bigger as he spoke the words of judgment and condemnation over his listeners.

Jesus offers us grace which produces life.  Our job – our work is to believe on Jesus that God sent.  (John 6:29)  Our work is believing.  His work is doing in us what needs to be done.  Believing and trusting in Him sets us free.

So, do you want to be a minister of life or a minister of death?  Telling people all that they have done wrong never changes them.  We are told in Scripture that “the goodness of God leads people to repentance.”  Rom 2:4.  Repentance is a Bible word that means change.  It is turning away and turning around.  We look to Jesus instead of our sin.  We look to the Father instead of our own personal strength and ability.  We trust it all to Him.

As we turn to Him, His life – the ‘zoe’ life of God – grows bigger in us and we become freer and freer.

Why does the church minister death?  The Apostle Paul said, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.”  (Galatians 1:6, 7)  This precious pastor never meant to lead people to a different gospel and a different Christ, but ‘there are some who want to trouble us and pervert the gospel.’  There is a demonic realm that interferes with us and we must be ever vigilant.  He wants to steal our freedom and put us back under condemnation.

There is only one Gospel.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Grace and  Love.  It is not about our sin.  It is about how He purchased us out of sin with His own blood and lavished His grace upon us.  Now we share with Him all of theblessings that Father God has provided for us.

‘I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing therefore, choose life that both you and your descendants may live!’  Duet 30:19  It is a generational promise!

Religion or Encounter?? You choose!

My Mama didn’t believe in joining a church because of her Mama’s religion. They taught you would get ‘the Mark of the Beast’ if you did. (I didn’t know what that was.) Grandma’s religion had made atheists of all of her kids because it was, what was then called the “holiness” movement. She wore dark stockings, no make-up and did not believe in having much of anything. There was no radio, television, indoor plumbing and for many years, no refrigerator. She carried wood and coal and used an outhouse until she was 90 years old. Her belief colored all of our lives. Mom and Dad could never agree on what to do about church and so they slept in and sent me to a small church two blocks away.

At that little church, we had a series of pastors, at least two of which I believe loved the Lord. The others were merely religious and not true shepherds.

The one that negatively impacted me the most was a man who had been asked to leave his previous denomination – and pastorate (at least that is what I remember.) Reverend was very unhappy. He had five children who were unique in that they didn’t even fit in and I know that was painful for them.

His wife was the one that still causes me to shake my head. One thing I remembered vividly was that she wore silk stockings with a seam down the back and acres of unshaved hair beneath them. She taught Sunday School. Her favorite song was “Holy, Holy, Holy” and I always felt she was singing about herself as she closed her eyes and warbled in a high stringy soprano.

She didn’t like me much. I was a bit of a leader among our small fellowship. The kids voted for me to give the Youth Sunday sermon. When the news got to Mrs. Reverend, she took me aside and said, “Reverend and I don’t believe that we should have someone in the pul-pit (emphasis on pit) that isn’t a member of the chucha (no ‘r’ and strong last ‘ch’).”

I was very hurt and confused. I left and went to a church across town until they left. It was years before I could hear the song ‘Holy, Holy, Holy and focus on the one it was about.

At no time did anyone in that small church talk to me about the Gospel. There was no power and often little love. It was a place where some folks were thought of as pillars and others as necessary but not honored.

When I went through my rebellious years, I turned from traditional ‘religion’ and started looking at alternatives including the New Age. I found the focus on me and I liked it. I had a new religion and I was the ‘god’ of that religion. It was comfortable but it did not satisfy. I did what felt right in my own eyes.

Many years later, as I drove down the street listening to R. W. Shambach on the radio, the Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart and my life changed forever. I had an encounter with the Living God. I learned that afternoon that God was real, He loved me and had a plan for me the most amazing thing of all, I found out that I was forgiven. God Himself walked me through receiving His forgiveness and washing me clean. No one can ever convince me that God is not real. He is real! I am His and He is mine.

Religion is an ugly thing. It is a practice of traditions not instituted by God. It is primarily cultural and doesn’t focus itself on the love and Presence of God. It talks about God but doesn’t really know Him and can be a mere history lesson.

Religion is found in many different forms and even embraces Christianity that has explained away the power of God. Because they do not experience it, they deny it. I includes many different belief systems from all around the world. It incites people to have wars to protect their doctrines and beliefs. There is form but no supernatural power.

Today’s Lesson:

What religion has is tradition, judgement, culture, doctrine, history, and social clubs as well as conflict with anyone who disagrees with them. What God has is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness is His gift to us at our acceptance of His Son’s finished work.

Peace is ‘shalom’ in Hebrew which means wholeness – complete in Him.

Joy comes from His Presence and has no opposite and is found only abiding in Him.

A relationship with the Living God is far better than religion.

Are you in religion? Or do you personally know and fellowship with the living God?

If you don’t know Him, I invite you to an encounter with the Living God by accepting the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is easy to do. Just call on the Name of the Lord Jesus and believe with you heart – NOT your head – and you will be saved and He will send the Holy Spirit to Guide you into all Truth. Then ask Him to make Himself real to you and He will.

Let me know if you make this decision.

I Surrender Some . . .

The musicians began to move from praise to worship music and the words went up on the overhead.  “I surrender all, I surrender all.  All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

Travis took a deep breath.  He had surrendered his time by teaching the young people.  He had surrendered his money by giving generously to the church and to rescue children from the sex trade and support children in India.  He had surrendered his talent by singing in the church choir and even occasionally performing a solo.  He had surrendered a lot.  He studied the Scriptures and could quote them with ease.  He had surrendered more than most, he thought.

He was somewhat proud of his ability to argue doctrine.  He disdained those whose opinion was different from his. He judged the preachers on television and even judged his own pastor.   He had given Jesus his whole head, but what he didn’t realize was that what God wanted was his heart.  Something about the song began to disturb him.  He sang out the words with his usual enthusiasm, but the band kept playing the tune over and over and over!

He began to examine his own heart and he found that it was closed and dry.  He changed the words to “I surrender some . . . “  Tears began to slip down his face.  He tried to get control.  He didn’t want anyone to see.  He wanted the song to stop!  He was, after all, the ‘go-to’ guy with all the answers, but it was too late.  The tears were flowing freely now.  Without any volition on his part, he found his feet moving toward the altar and there in front of everyone – all his acquaintances and friends – all that he had judged and disdained, this hard-hearted guy fell to his knees sobbing.  Shockingly, he didn’t respond to an altar call by the pastor, yet he found himself on the floor in broken-ness.  The worship team was still singing, “I surrender all . . .” and this tough, arrogant guy was being changed.

For the first time, Travis, felt the breath of the Holy Spirit flood his soul and he was swept into the arms of His loving Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Travis had surrendered his heart and his soul.  He was made new.

Today’s Lesson:

Today, there are many people sitting in the pews in churches who have prayed a prayer with their heads and think that they have something.  They go about doing good and thinking they are special.  They don’t know the One they think they are serving and this is a tragedy.   When Travis prayed the first time, it was with his head.  The Scriptures tell us that when we call on the name of the Lord, it must be with our whole heart and not our whole head.  Father doesn’t want just ‘some’ part of us.  He wants ‘all.’

If we have not entered by the Way that Jesus opened by His death on the cross, when the day comes, and we stand before the Lord, will He say, “Depart from me, I never knew you?”  The wheat and the tares – the real and the counterfeit – serve together in any local church.  So, as leaders and pastors, what can we do?  Is there an answer?

First, it is important that we examine our own hearts to see if we are fully surrendered and fully awake.  Have we walked with the Lord so long that we are more into the organization and the management end of things than we are into spending time in His Presence?  Are we lifting Jesus up in every service?  Are we drawing near?

The worship team in our story was fully prayed up and the anointing that rested on them lifted Jesus higher and the convicting power of the Holy Ghost was on hand to convict and to save.  When one of the prayer team knelt beside Travis, he just put a hand on his back and prayed quietly while the man wrestled with his flesh and came to full surrender.

When Travis finally stood up, the stress and arrogance were gone.  He had met the One who created him and he had changed his citizenship.  Somehow now, all of the things that he thought about his ideas and reputation didn’t matter.  He was made brand new.

Related Scriptures:

Romans 10:9,10   

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

1 Corinthians 13:3
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Psalm 51:10-17

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Secret Place

When my Daddy was a boy in the 1920’s, he found what he thought was an excellent place to hide.  The old roll top desk in the parlor had a deep dark cavity where he could conceal himself from his parents.  With stealth, he secluded himself under the desk and pulled the large chair in behind securing the secret place.  He was safe from being discovered.

Soon, his parents realized they didn’t know where he was.  They began to holler for him.  “Lee-ee, Lee-ee,” they called.  No answer.  Again they called, “Lee!  Lee!”  No answer.  His Mom rang the dinner bell alarming the others on the farm.  Still no one had seen him.  She went to the old wooden wall phone and did the general ring to let the neighbors know they couldn’t find their son.  The neighbors began to show up as the concern for his welfare grew by the minute.

The young lad, Lee, was under the desk, safe and secure in his hiding place.  He was very pleased with himself.  Finally, having enjoyed his prank fully and chuckling at his own joke, he pushed the chair out and revealed himself.  His Mom grabbed him and hugged him with tears flowing down her face.  After the reunion, she realized that he had tricked her and after a severe scolding, he got a spanking that I think he never forgot the rest of his life!

As a born-from-above child of God, we have a Secret Place available to us because we belong to the One who shelters us there.   He is our refuge and our fortress and we can fully trust Him.  It is a place where we are invited to live and abide.

But when we decide that we can face the world on our own and step out from under the protection of the Most High, we face consequences that make my Daddy’s spanking seem like a wonderful reward.  It is at our own peril that we confront the enemy in our own strength.

When we are lured into temptation by doubting in God’s great love, we are greeted for a brief moment with what seems like a good deal.  Our enemy always starts with a pleasant temptation – like the fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Our enemy doesn’t show us beyond the pleasure.

For instance, the enemy may start us out with a pretty green, very tasty alcoholic drink called a Grasshopper;  there are few concoctions that can match it for taste and style.  There is a social aspect to having a drink along with a desire to fit in.  This simple beverage may lead to addiction and a devastating end.

I understand that it doesn’t happen all at once.  It is a slow and steady process that lures us in deeper and deeper until we have lost everyone and everything we held dear.  It feels like there is no way to return.  The user is hooked!

Today’s Lesson:  Regardless of the temptation, run to the Secret Place where you find safety, peace, joy, welcome, comfort, ease, guidance, and love.  It is home.  It is the biggest perk that we have as children of the Most High.

As we abide in His Presence, we trust in His timing.  When He chooses to lead us to confront the enemy, it is on His terms and we rest in His provision.  We delight in His Presence and as we participate with Him, He takes care of the problems as they arise.  What privilege we have when we dwell with Him.  No evil can befall us.  His angel guards take our part.  Thousands are no issue for Him.

Why do we doubt Him?  Why do we get too busy to settle in and find Him in the Secret Place?  Are we playing church and trying to impress others with our abilities?  Our ability is inability when we face of our enemy alone.  We are lots of noise with no victory in our life, while we are deceived into thinking we are really special.

The escape is to get into the Secret Place and rest in Him.  When we advance under His directive and act on our God-given authority, we are an unstoppable force.  The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against us!!!

Related sites:

Abide

Deep Calls to Deep

Happily Ever After

Confirming Scripture:

Psalm 91

1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.