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Committed and Submitted

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 KJV

The devil is always trying to draw us away from God through enticements and worldly pleasures. If we are committed to God, we must resist the devil and the temptations he sends our way, and overcome him by the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. But the key to overcoming the devil and causing him to flee is submission to God.

To submit means reflexively to obey; to be subject to; to subordinate; and, it is a willingness to be helped (Greek). True submission is never based on coercion, force, or suppression. Because of your commitment in a relationship, you willingly submit. In fact, commitment presupposes submission in Biblically mentioned relationships on every level first to God (Ps. 37:5); second to your parents (Ex. 20:12; third to your spouse (Eph. 5:21); fourth to church leadership (Heb. 13:17); fifth to one another (1 Cor. 16:16); six to your employer (Col. 3:22); and, seven to civil government (Rom. 13:1). So, when resisting the devil, you need to be committed and submitted.

How do you resist the devil and overcome him? To resist the devil is to oppose and stand against him. You resist the devil, not in your power, but through the power of Jesus Christ. There two steps:

First, remember whenever you follow the devil’s wishes, you betray the Lord. The devil will try to destroy your faith by producing doubt and fear in your mind. Second, stand in the power of God which is always available. We must put on the power and the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-11, 13). God’s power is like electricity: you have to turn on the switch (Matt. 4:10). If you don’t exercise God’s power over the devil, he will try to destroy you by leading you into sin and disobedience; he’ll try to destroy your fellowship with other believers by creating conflict and confusion, enticing you to slander and backbite. Stay committed and submitted!

 

 

 

 

 

In It to Win It!

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV

In the race of faith (Heb. 12:1), you have to fight for your rights, and for what is right in Christ. You need to be in it to win! It’s like what the character, Sofia, said in that award winning movie: “All my life I had to fight” (The Color Purple, 1985). For some, this is true in life, but it is also true for every believer in their Christian faith. In the above text, the word “Fight” does not mean combat, but rather, it means to contend (Jude 3). The word is not taken from the battlefield, but from an athletic contest. The fight is the race connected with your faith in God.

We are told by the Apostle Paul to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life . . .” (Text). What does this mean? Why is it a “good fight”? To fight the “good fight of faith” means to stand firm and to stay anchored in the Word of God, and fight against the enemies of faith: yourself, other people, and the devil. It is a good fight because you always win; it means to be in it to win it!

First, fight the good fight against yourself by reckoning yourself to be dead to your un-regenerated feelings and human reasoning that is not in line with the Word of God. You must resist ungodly thoughts, desires, and affections, and unpack all of the old baggage that you’ve carting around from your sinful past (Rom. 12:1-2). Be in it to win it; therefore, do not run this race of faith like a man running aimlessly; do not fight like a man beating the air. Land your spiritual punches! Keep yourself under subjection to God and His Word so that when you have preached and witnessed the faith to others, you will not be disqualified for the prize, i.e., eternal life (1 Cor. 9:26-27).

Secondly, fight the good fight against others. Run well and do not let anyone hinder you (Gal. 5:7), neither let anyone throw you into confusion by perverting the good news of the Gospel of grace. Stand firm in your faith—stand on God’s Word. Resist all unscriptural ideas, advice, and opinions (See Gal. 1:7-10).

And thirdly, fight the good fight against the devil, just like Jesus did. Jesus fought the good fight with the Word of God (Matt. 4).  Remember, our struggle is not always against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). To be in it to win it, requires that you first be submitted unto God, then you can resist the devil and he will flee from you (Jas. 4:7). To resist is to stand against; stand against demonic thoughts, lies, and deceptions; and, fight against the “ifs” of the devil, just like Jesus did (See Matt. 4). Be in it to win it!

 

 

 

The Race of Faith

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

Your life following Christ is like a race—a race of faith. Like a good athlete, you must refuse anything that will hinder your pace or endurance. The object of this spiritual race is to run as fast as you can in order to win, and to give great witness of your faith.

The race of faith is different from a natural race. In a natural race, only one runner wins the prize. The Apostle Paul reminded us that “that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air” (1 Cor. 9:24-26).

In the race of faith, we need to take off all unnecessary clothing and jewelry. Such things will hinder the runner. We must take off every weight and sin in order to run more quickly because a weight hinders and sin entangles. Even small weights are a hindrance because small weights, unaddressed, can morph into sins. In Christ, many weights are not wrong in and of themselves, but they can still hinder us in our spiritual race—be careful. And remember, hindrances are not the same for everyone (Gal. 5:7).

We must “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14), and never look back.  To press is to “exert effort” (strive and struggle).  But do we really need to exert such effort if we are living under grace? We are saved by grace, justified and sanctified by grace. But unlike “fruit” that naturally ripens on a tree, we will not naturally become just like Christ, because man has free-will and must actively and intentionally submit and obey God. Thus, we must press; we must work out our salvation as we run this race (Phil. 2:12).

Put your eyes on Jesus and do not be distracted (Heb. 12:2). Gazing off to the left or right at the world’s pleasures, and looking back will cause you to wander from side to side (Phil.3:13). Wandering from side to side slows you down and may jeopardize you from finishing your course. Just forget what is behind you (Luke 9:62; 2 Tim. 4:7). The mature in Christ will forget what is behind and press forward to win the race of faith!

 

 

Don’t Quit!

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9 KJV

Never get so discouraged to the point of giving up on God and yourself. Perhaps you’ve have sown seeds of righteousness, finances, faith, etc.; yet seemingly, there is no manifested harvest, no measurable return on your giving, and no answers to your prayers—what ever you do: don’t quit!

When bad things happen in life, or when it seems like nothing is happening, don’t get weary, or weak in faith, discouraged and exhausted. Never lose courage; never lose heart; never give up; never quit. Just know that this season will change and you will bring forth good fruit in your season (Gen. 8:22; Ps. 1:3). “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35-36).

The Scriptures offer you at least three good reasons to never quit: (1) All Heaven is watching you, and waiting for your completion of the “race of life” (Heb. 11:39-40; 12:1); (2) Your circumstances are subject to change. Bad things don’t last always (2 Cor. 4:16-18); and, (3) The Lord Himself will renew your strength if you wait on Him, i.e., place your hope and trust in Him (Isa. 40:31).

Don’t ever quit. Continue to cast your seeds of faith in the “ground” and leave it there. Your due season will come with a mighty harvest (Mark 4:26-29). Harvest is the manifestation of the seeds that you have sown; it is the fulfillment of everything you need and desire; and, harvest is manifested wholeness that comes to all who overcome weariness. Don’t quit!

God Is Up to Something Good!

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things!  And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. Psalm 72:18-19 NKJV

God is a good God, and does only wondrous things—that which is wonderful, marvelous, and awesome. Even when you incur the bad and evil, God is still a good God. He is always up to something good. So, don’t give up on your dreams and visions, because your dreams and visions haven’t given up on you. Could it be that God is getting you ready for the fulfillment of your vision? While the vision is ready for you, you may not be ready for the vision. When it seems like nothing is happening, don’t quit—just feel the joy because God is up to something good!

The life of Joseph reminds us that God is always up to something good. Joseph was hated by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and falsely imprison; notwithstanding, God was up to something good (See Genesis 37:3-11). The same way God brought Joseph out and fulfilled his dream, God will surely bring you out, too. No matter your circumstance; no matter what evil and evil people come against you, God is working on your behalf, in the background, to manifest your dream and vision. Others may have meant it for evil, but God intends it for your good (Genesis 37:23; 50:20).

Because God is up to something good, all things work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; with the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself” (Ps. 76:10). No matter what evil befalls you, man can only do to you and against you what God allows—no more, no less! Nothing shall circumvent your God-given dream and vision. In due season, it shall come to pass (Gal. 6:9). So, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

God doesn’t speed up difficult trying season, but joy makes the time seem so much shorter. And remember, the greater the vision, the more thorough the preparation. Preparation is never lost time because God is up to something good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Darkroom

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

Before the advent of smart-phones and computerized tablets, people could only use cameras to take pictures. After the picture was taken, the film in the camera had to be developed in a “darkroom.” A darkroom is a room made completely dark to allow the processing of the light-sensitive photographic film.  Once the film is developed, it can be seen in the light as a picture or photograph.

In the Scriptures, night speaks of darkness, and morning and day symbolize light (Gen. 1:3-5). When you’re trusting God for a manifestation of a promise, and you’re standing on His Word and nothing seems to be happening but silence, inactivity, and a loss of vision—don’t panic!—you’re having a darkroom experience.

God-given dreams and visions are developed in the darkroom (Prov. 29:18). After pictures are taken in the light, they are developed in the darkroom—even though you don’t see anything, God is developing you and your dream (2 Cor. 4:18). God is faithful. “His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life” (Text) and He who gave you the vision in the light will encourage you with His promise in the darkroom (Isa. 41:10).

In the darkroom, keep saying what you see by faith. Confess it with confidence while being patient (Heb. 10:35-36). True confidence is continuing to be outspoken, with bluntness and assurance about what you believe. Then combine this confidence with patience (hupomone, Greek), i.e., steadfastness,, constancy, and endurance. Don’t give up! Endure the process because “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Text).

So, in the darkroom what is God doing? God is getting you ready for the fulfillment of the vision. While the vision is ready for you, you’re not ready for it. When nothing seems to be happening, feel the joy! (James 1:2-4). God is up to something good (Jas. 5:11; Job 42”10). Just like He did for Job; He will turn your captivity; He will turn your night into day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nearsighted or Farsighted?

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 KJV

There are times when we don’t see anything happening in fulfillment of what God promised. And, because we don’t see it, we assume that it isn’t so—not so! These are the times that we need to be more spiritually farsighted than nearsighted. Shame on us for being so spiritually nearsighted, that we lose sight of the vision.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to be nearsighted is “to be able to see near things more clearly than distant ones” (Myopic). Farsighted (Hyperopia) is the opposite where you see far off things more clearly than the near ones. When you are spiritually nearsighted, you need “spiritual eye glasses” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Now, the farsighted will always remember three unchangeable things about God: God doesn’t lie; He doesn’t change His mind (Num. 23:19); and, God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7-9).  But on the other hand, the nearsighted will always forget the promise of God. They are prone to discouragement. They get weary in well doing because of things and circumstances affecting them beyond their control, but God has promised (Isa. 41:10).

If the nearsighted would lift their vision far and high and see by faith into the eternal realm, trusting God, they would see that awesome things are happening in the invisible realm of the spirit (2 Kings 6:14-17). Nearsightedness will cause you to waver, to revert to human reasoning, and tempt you to help God out—try to make it happen—especially during those dormant seasons of silence and inactivity (Gen. 16:1-4, 15-16).

Because you don’t see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t already exist. Just refuse to doubt and fear, and believe that God is with you; do not get discouraged, for God is with you; He will strengthen and help you; and, God will uphold the “farsighted” with the “right hand” of His righteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sow a Seed Reap a Harvest

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:7-9 NKJV

There are times in life when it seems like nothing is happening in fulfillment of what God said. During these difficult times you begin to wonder, what’s the use? Perhaps you said to yourself or to others, “I’ve tried to be faithful. I’ve done all that I know to do: I’ve been praying, faithfully attending church, and regularly tithing. I’ve been doing everything that I thought I should do but nothing seems to be happening, so what should I do?”   Keep sowing your seed!

Don’t give in to deception because God is not mocked. Resist discouragement and weariness because you will surely reap a harvest in due season, if you don’t lose heart (Text). There are three unchangeable things about God: (1) God doesn’t lie (Num. 23:19), (2) God doesn’t change His mind (2), and God cannot be mocked (Gal. 6:7). What God has promised to you is true; and, what God has spoken concerning you shall come to pass—not in your time (Chronos) but in His time (Kairos)—at the set time; at the proper time and season.

Cast your seed in the ground of your heart and leave it there and your harvest will come (Mark 4:26-29).  Never uproot your seed. Something secretly and powerfully is happening inside the seed. Life is in the seed, not the soil. E.g., when the seed of God’s Word is planted in your heart, you receive new life, for it is God who creates that life and watches over His Word to perform it (Jer. 1:12). Sow a seed and reap a harvest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Almond Tree

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”  Jeremiah 1:11-12 NKJV 

The Almond tree is known as the wakeful tree. It awakes from the sleep of winter earlier than other trees; it flowers in January and bears fruit in March—first to bloom and last to bear fruit. It is a symbol of God’s early implementation of His plan and purpose, to bring it to pass in your life.

No matter what your condition, i.e., sickness, distress, lack, problems or turmoil, everything that God says, He will perform; every promise He makes, He will fulfill, so never give up on God and His Word— just stand on His promises! Like the almond tree that was first to welcome the spring, to watch over it, God watches over His Word to perform it, so always remember the almond tree.

When God said to Jeremiah that He is ready to perform His Word, literally, God was saying that he was ready to watch over and hasten the manifestation of His Word. Almond (shaqad, Hebrew) is translated “to watch.”  God chose this symbol to assure Jeremiah that He is watching over His Word to bring it to pass, no matter His youth or how long it takes.

The Almond tree and its branches is like a “receipt” for God’s “lay-away” plan, if you will, because His works are already finished (Heb. 4:3). It’s just a matter of time when the things that He has prepared for you will manifest in time and space (1 Cor. 2:9). The almond tree reminds you being the first tree to bloom and the last to bear fruit.

God’s Word, plan and purpose will always come to pass (Matt. 24:35). Why? Because, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11). Don’t ever give up. Hold on to the promise because your winter will be over and your spring shall begin. God makes everything beautiful in His time.” God executes His plan and purpose in Kairos not Chronos. Chronos is a space of time; Kairos is the set time or proper time based on God’s eternal plan. God will never stop watching over His Word to perform it (Jer. 31:28). Remember the almond tree!

 

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How Long? Not Long!

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’? Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision.  For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God. Ezekiel 12:21-25 NKJV

With the promises of God, you cannot put God on the clock or a timetable, choosing to believe, and then stop believing because of time. Time is a measurement of the progression of events—measured in minutes, hours, days, months, and years. Time can be your friend or your enemy. Time is a friend if you use time to thank and praise God and continue to act on His Word. It’s an enemy if it seduces you into apathy and indifference, doubt and unbelief because of what you do not see or hear. So, you might ask how long will it take for God’s promise to manifest in your life? And God says, “Not long.”

There are three likely reactions to the promises of God: faith, foolishness, and presumption. Faith believes and sees the answer (2 Cor. 5:7). Foolishness rebels against the answer in unbelief (Ezek. 12:2). And, presumption predetermines the answer and outcome—deciding when, where and how the promise should manifest.

As stated in the text above, God doesn’t prolong His Word, He hastens it and watches over it to perform it (Jer. 1;12). So you might ask, “Why has it taken so long?”  “So long” is a measurement of time, not eternity. God operates in Kairos and not Chronos (Greek words for “time”). Chronos is a space of time (e.g., see John 5:6) and Kairos is a set time or proper time, based on God’s eternal plan (e.g., see Matt. 8:29). No matter how long, as measured in time, God’s Word doesn’t return to Him empty, fruitless, and unfulfilled (Isaiah 55:11).  The Word that God speaks “will come to pass; it will no more be postponed . . . [God] will say the word and perform it” (Ezek. 12:25).

The Word (which includes the promises of God) will work for you if you’ll be patient (Heb. 10:35, 36). God is not bound by time but operates according to His eternal plan and purpose, and His Word will never return to Him void!