Are You Crooked?

Luke 13:11-17 – and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.  When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.  Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”  The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”  When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Now that we are into some disasters and calamities, it’s good to remind ourselves that God writes straight with crooked lines. We need to strengthen our faith, making deliberate acts of faith to avoid letting the pillars of our ultimate beliefs eroded by the many trials and difficulties we are and will be experiencing because of them.

God is all good, all wise, and all merciful. He does not want to play tricks on us. He is not a hunter who likes to harass us and to strike us in our most vulnerable moments. He is a good father who understands us well, loves us no end, provides us with everything we need, and solves our problems in their final terms. He does the same in Luke 13: 11-17 when he dealt with the crooked women who was sick and was in bondage for 18 years. “Bowed together” (Luke 13:11). She had been bound by Satan for eighteen years (Luke 13:16). Completely deformed by the power of the Devil. It is always Satan’s business, wherever he can, to bow down the souls of men to the earth. Sin never fails to make a crook in the will and thoughts of those under its dominion.

“She could in no wise lift up herself” (Luke 13:11). It was utterly impossible for her to break the cords that bound her face to the earth. She had been so long bowed down that her deformity had become fixed, like a crooked tree of eighteen years old. She was perfectly conscious of her outward disfigurement, and had often tried to straighten herself up, but “she could not.” How like this is to those who are morally “bowed together” through drink, lust, or temper, and who again and again have attempted to lift themselves up, but they cannot, back they go to their natural deformity.

Notice the terms used, “Loosed from thine infirmity… made straight… loosed from this bond” (Luke 13:12). It was to her a full salvation. It consisted of a deliverance from her own weakness, a freedom from the binding power of Satan, and a being made straight for future life and work. She was now a monument of His gracious wonder-working power. Such is His salvation. A loosing of the soul from the bondage of Satan and moral infirmity, and a making of the heart straight for an upright life and loving service. Therefore the song of the saved is, “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, ” (Rev 1:5 NIV). “Immediately she glorified God” (Luke 13:13). A new song was put into her mouth as soon as her feet had been taken out of the horrible pit of her eighteen years’ bondage through Satan (Psa 40:2-3). The snare was broken by the power of Him who came “to heal all that were oppressed by the Devil” (Act 10:38). So are you crooked spiritually or physically God is near where you can reach him at any moment to heal you right now… Experience him today.

~ Amen and Amen

Why you don’t have it . . .

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

One of the plainest and most obvious; yet woefully overlooked statements in the Scriptures is found in James 4:2b, “…You do not ask.”

The Bible is very plain… We don’t receive from God simply because we don’t ask.

What a frightening thought. This Bible verse emphasizes the utter importance of genuine prayer. God is not playing games. We must ask to receive! One can’t help but wonder how many blessings are forfeited each and every day because of a lack of prayer.

James 4:6 says, “…But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”.” The proud are those who fail to pray. They think they can make it alone without God. They think they are all of that, and a bag of chips! If you don’t pray, then God will resist you, and you won’t receive. It’s that simple. Whether God answers or not doesn’t matter, our part is “TO ASK.” Many people don’t pray because they don’t get the answers they expect—when, where, and how they expect them. Let God be God.

Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God desires for us to come to Him in prayer, making our requests known unto Him. The Bible tells us to have an attitude of thanksgiving when we approach God in prayer. This is important, because gratitude comes from a humble heart. Remember, “..But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”.”

Hebrews 4:16 teaches for blood-washed, born-again, believers to come “boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” “Boldly” because Christ shed His blood for our sins, granting us the privilege and right to approach God’s throne of grace. Praise God for the literal precious blood of Jesus that gives all born-again believers unrestricted access to God’s throne of grace 24/7, 365 days per year. Amen and amen!

Prayer is in itself an act of humility, being humble before God, which is why He wants us to pray in the first place. God already knows what we have need of, even before we ASK Him according to Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, BEFORE YE ASK HIM.” So why does God want us to ASK if He already knows what we need? It is because “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” If we’re too busy and proud to ASK, then God will resist us. Those believers who are truly humble, having a thankful spirit, will take out time to bring their burdens, griefs, fears, concerns, needs, problems, and desires to God in prayer. Notice in Matthew 6:7 that God discourages lengthy prayers. He just wants us TO ASK.

God works in mysterious ways; that is, mysterious to us, because we cannot see beyond the hands of time. It is easy to see God at work when we view over thousands of years of history past, but we need to trust God step-by-step today. Our part is to ASK. That’s all God requires of us.

~ In His Grip!

It’s Not an Accident!

Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

In Jeremiah chapter 1, God gives his call to the prophet. In Jeremiah 1:5 it reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” What a call! There was nothing like accident in our life. Before Jeremiah was even born God had set him apart to be an incredible prophet. Jeremiah’s response in 1:6 is “…I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah’s response is so honest and tender. He is insecure to the call God has given him and so God reassures Jeremiah that God will be with him and to not be afraid (1:8, 1:19). I always viewed the prophets as people made of superior material. God forged them to be bold and courageous and galvanized their faith to endure any opposition. However Jeremiah’s response reminded me that the prophets are ordinary men God called to an extraordinary task.

What makes Jeremiah special is that he trusted in God’s promises to be with him. It’s not explicitly stated but we know that Jeremiah obeyed God’s call to be a prophet of warning to the people–calling people to repentance and to return to the Lord their God. In 1:11-15, there is this intimate moment when God asks Jeremiah what do you see? I am reminded of God’s relationship with Abraham when God promises that he will be the father of many nations. What do you see, Jeremiah? Jeremiah says he sees an almond tree, which is one of the first trees to bloom. It is the first tree to “awaken” or it is a watchful tree. God’s responds in v.12, “…you have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” God is ever watchful that his word is fulfilled.

He has a plan to transform this broken world and the campuses we serve with the gospel. God asks me this same question today. What do I see? I see a broken world filled with people who are in misery because they have corrupted hearts enslaved to idols. I see the effects of sin in broken homes, memories of abuse and lives without purpose. I see people who hope in material wealth and comfort and still have experience a gaping hole in their hearts for love. God asks a person what they see before he reveals His prophetic vision. It’s clear that God is calling me to be a prophet to this generation and this is the call for everyone who sees what he sees. My response is filled with fear and anxiety but God says do not be afraid for I will go with you. This is a pattern I see repeated many times through the Bible. God asks me to trust in Him and to trust in His promises. He reminds me of a time when I didn’t give into the fear and I believed in Him fully. In Jeremiah 2:2b it reads, “I remember the devotion of your youth, and how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.” This is my testimony.

God called me to the ministry out of my personal Egypt and muddy cistern of sin, brokenness, and bondage over 25 years ago.  When the naysayers and haters would remind me of my past failures, present fumbles, and future mess-ups, I can respond “God called me”.  When standing in John’s shoes, preaching the one and only sermon he had; “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”, I am reminded that “God called me”.  When the world wants to hear “tickling ear’d sermons” and “pie-in-the-sky-imma-have-a-bentley-by-and-by lectures”, I am compelled to tell them, God said “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  By the way, I am called!  I drove 355 miles one way, to preach a one night revival one year, and the Pastor of that church gave me a $20.00 honorarium.  I was EXTREMELY mad!  The Lord spoke to me and said, “Don’t worry Pastor!  I called you!  Didn’t Reverend Doctor Paul remind the church, and you, in Ephesus, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”

It’s not an accident, that you might not pastor a large church.

It’s not an accident that you are in a “single season” right now.

It’s not an accident, that your Boo or Booette walked out on you.

It’s not an accident, that you have more month than money.

The questions to answer are this:  Are you called by God?  Are you remaining faithful?

~ Class dismissed!  ** drops the mic and walks off stage **

Living with a Broken Heart

2 Samuel 12:9-13  –  “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”

Brokenness is our humble response to God’s conviction of our sins. Once broken, we find ourselves responding in humility and complete repentance. We are actually agreeing with God and saying, “Yes, Lord, You’re right . . . I have sinned. All of my heart is yours and I’ll keep
nothing from you.”

Being broken also means the walls of sin protecting the parts of our hearts we refuse to surrender to God are torn apart and destroyed. When we choose to yield to the Lover of our souls, He gives us a promise. Isaiah 57:15 declares: “For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

God often uses people to convict us. When Samuel rebuked Saul because of his disobedience against God, Saul tried to justify his actions and remained unbroken (1 Sam. 15:19-21). In contrast, David, when Nathan confronted him concerning his sin, responded humbly with brokenness and repentant, and made no excuses for himself (2 Sam. 12:9-13).

Brokenness also involves giving-up our personal rights and selfish interests to God. We actually make God the custodian of our rights. In Galatians 2:20, we find: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Friends, being broken mean, we are to DIE TO SELF; to live by faith in Jesus, not to live by sight. The following chart may help our hearts see clearer:.

Brokenness is painful, costly and difficult. It is no surprise that most people resist being broken. The ONLY MOTIVE that can compel us to die to self is the CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul states:  “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see a crushed and broken Jesus, yet steadfastly obedient to the Father’s will. Let us also realize that God, our Father, broke His own heart when He ignored His only Beloved Son’s appeal for relief, if possible, from the cup of wrath that He was about to drink.

Let our prayer be for the Holy Spirit to have a monopoly over every aspect of our lives, and that no walls of sin or hard-heartedness remain in our hearts.

~ Selah