Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are You Practicing the Absence of God?

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” 2 Samuel 21:1 NKJV 

Famine is an acute shortage of any good in life. For example, if you’re experiencing a lack of health or well-being, unemployment or under-employment, a lack of finances, broken relationships; not getting your prayers answered—any kind of lack or depravation is a famine. In the face of famine, you must learn to do what David did: inquire of the Lord, i.e., seek His face; seek the presence of the Lord. It is up to you to inquire of the Lord because you are responsible for your famine, and you have the power (Gen. 1:26; Luke 10:19)

Famine is where you are practicing the absence of God. Why? Is it because you believe that God isn’t there? Here’s how you can know that you are practicing the absence of God: consider your mood and your confession—how you feel and how you talk is telling.

If your mood is doom and gloom; fear and uncertainty; murmuring and complaining; griping and fussing; frequently annoyed and irritated; and perhaps, mad enough to “spit nails”, you are probably experiencing a spiritual famine. And, if your confession is: “I’ve got a problem”; “What am I going to do?”; “Why me?” or, “People are lying on me”, you may be experiencing an unabated famine.   Tell me what you’re complaining about, or what you fear and I’ll tell you where you are practicing the absence of God.

God is always present, here and now (Ps. 139:7-8). So, when you’re practicing the absence of God, you can insidiously have a place in your belief system where God isn’t present. The truth is: the only place God isn’t present is where you believe He isn’t.

On the contrary, when you practice the presence of God, you are filled with joy in His presence, and you stand at His right hand, i.e., a position of honor, favor, and power (Ps 16:11). When you inquire of the Lord, something wonderful and marvelous happens, and you’ll begin to feel something awesome. God is good and He has laid up great blessings for you in the shelter of His presence. Yes, God laid up for us before we got here. The thing you desire is seeking you and you’ll find it when you seek the presence of the Lord! (Ps. 31:19-20).

 

 

The Answer to Famine

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” 2 Samuel 21:1 NKJV

Jesus healed the sick; raised the dead, casted out devils; fed the multitudes; and, He is still going about doing good—now (Acts 10:38). God is a “Right Now God.” He is the answer to every problem, supply to every need, fulfillment of every desire, the provision that includes every provision, and the greater that includes the lesser. But is there is a way to experience these things now?  Yes, by seeking the face of God, i.e., seeking the presence of the Lord.

When there was a famine in the days of David, he sought the presence of the Lord (inquired), and the Lord answered that it was because Saul had massacred the Gibeonites, whom Joshua and the leaders of Israel had swore an oath not to ever do (Jos. 9). There is always a reason for a famine. Just like God told Solomon, “when I shut up heaven and there is no rain, . . . if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, . . . then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:13, 14). A shut up heaven when there is no rain spells a famine in the land (Amos 8:11).

A spiritual famine is an acute shortage; experiencing the lack of any good in life, e.g., health and well-being, employment, finances, relationships, getting your prayers answered; any kind of lack or depravation. David experienced three years of unabated famine. Why? Well, David didn’t do anything about it for three years. Have you noticed how long you can go before you do something about your famine? What do you do about the famine in your life? First, look at what you’re not doing about it. Are you acting like a victim in the face of famine? Are you blaming God and others? You must make the first move because you’re responsible for your famine (Gen. 1:26; 2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 1:13).

David sought the presence of the Lord (Ps. 16:11). He didn’t pray for rain or seek rain; he didn’t register for a class or a “how to” workshop or seminar; nor, did he attend a special conference (Prov. 8:17, 35). He inquired of the Lord—he sought the presence of the Lord.

In your famine, whatever it may be, don’t seek what God has—seek God Himself. For example, God doesn’t give health, wealth, or peace, etc. God is!  Jesus told the Jews who were following Him only for the fish and the loaves, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus didn’t say that he had bread; He said that He was bread! The answer to famine is not rain, but God. Whatever you need, don’t seek the thing; seek God because God is (Heb. 11:6).  The answer to famine is God!

 

 

 

 

 

Turnaround

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:12-15 NKJV

Notwithstanding powerful manifestations of God, e.g., fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple (2 Chron. 7:1), some people still don’t forsake sin. They continue to live self-centered lives, unyielding to God’s Word and His will, even to the point of becoming cold and callous towards the things of God, having their conscience seared with an hot iron (1 Tim. 4:2).

God told Solomon that pride, prayerlessness, and a lack of devotion to God was sin, and if God’s people didn’t turnaround from their wicked ways, the heavens would be shut-up the heavens and there would be no blessings, locust would be commanded to devour their land, and God would send pestilence and plaques if the people didn’t turnaround.

A “turnaround” is the act of turning about and facing and moving in the opposite direction—it is a spiritual breakthrough—moving towards God in repentance and faith (Heb. 6:1). Repentance (metanoia, Greek word) is after thought, a change of mind, and to think differently. Repentance is not just an Old Testament concept. John the Baptist was the first to preach repentance in the New Testament. He stressed in his message that the kingdom of God was right here, right now, and furthered insisted that true repentance produced fruit (evidence) of change (Matt. 3:1-2, 7-8).

The fruit of a turnaround is evidence of change. You must change your mind about sin, God, and yourself. God is not overlooking sin, especially the sin of idolatry, “but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Idolatry can be a subtle sin because it so easy to idolized, and place before our jealous God (Ex. 20:5) your spouse, children, your house, your car, and your job, etc. Be careful. Unrepented sin will do you in!

Seems to me, there are three things that we need to turnaround from, face God and move towards Him in faith: sin, transgression, and iniquity. Sin is a falling away from God, missing the mark (disobedience) with respect to what He commands; transgression is a violation of law (the Word of God) committed through ignorance or by rebellion; and, iniquity is wickedness, crookedness, perverseness (moral distortion).   The bottom line is: again, unrepented sin will do you in by shutting up heaven, locusts devouring the fruit of your life, and suffering the problems of pestilence and plagues. Just turnaround!

 

Face-to-Face

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:12-15 NJKV

God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5), and He has a problem when we ignore Him or seek Him only in an emergency, but refuse to seek Him continuously. God desires a face-to-face relationship with His people. As God says in the above text, when God’s people get tired of shut-up heavens so that there is no rain, and devouring locusts, suffering pestilence and plagues of sickness, they will seek God’s face, and then God said He would hear their prayers, forgive their sins, and heal their land.

What does it mean to seek God’s face?  “Face” is an idiom for presence in Old Testament writings. It’s not seeking God’s outward appearance, but rather seeking to experience God’s presence (Ex. 33:20).   Without seeking God’s face, His people can, at best, have a long distant relationship with Him. But long distant relationships are hard due to loss of passion, things lost in translation, communication breakdowns, etc.  The prophet Isaiah warned against such relationships with God when he said, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6). A face-to-face relationship seeks out the presence of the Lord in every situation: good, bad, or ugly. Isaiah is further saying that if you have something to say, say it to God’s face.

After the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem, King David wrote a psalm of thanksgiving and delivered it to Asaph, the chief musician. The psalm included these words: “Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face continually” (1 Chron. 16:11). A face-to-face relationship with God seeks His presence continually—not just in an emergency or a time of need.

God wants His people to live, work, and worship seeking His face. It is not where you worship or seek His presence that counts, but it is how you seek His presence. “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart” (Ps 119:2).  “God is spirit, and those who worship Him [seek His face] must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

It is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and rain righteousness upon you (Hos. 10:12). They that seek God, face-to-face, shall not want for any good thing (Ps. 34:10). No shut-up heavens; no devouring locusts, and no pestilence and plagues because God hears from heaven. He forgives sins and heals your land. So feel the joy of His presence (Ps.16:11). He is always there. Wherever you are, God is. So ask and it shall be given unto you; seek His face and you will find. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, face-to-face!

                                                                                

 

 

Wide Awake

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:12-15 NKJV

It is interesting how people are quick to dedicate everything to God but themselves. God accepted Solomon’s dedication of the newly built temple, but warned him of conditions of drought, devouring locusts, and pestilence that would come against the people unless they dedicated themselves to God. If God’s people dedicate themselves to God—and not just things—then God would forgive their sins and heal their land, and God’s eyes would be open and attentive to their prayers, i.e., God would be wide awake: “ . . . he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4).

To be wide awake (idiom) is someone who is fully awake and unable to sleep. “Prayerfulness makes you, the believer, wide awake. Prayerlessness characterizes you as one who lives a life of “slumber and sleep.” Prayerlessness is an insult to God, because every prayer-less day makes a statement: “I do not need God today; “Lord, I got this.”  On the other hand, a life dedicated to God is a life constant with prayer. As apostle Paul told the Roman Christians: rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer (Rom. 12:12).

“Continuing steadfastly in prayer” is praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).  To pray without ceasing is having a spirit of prayer that depends on God for everything, and an attitude that says, “Without God, I can do nothing.” Praying without ceasing is both a daily attitude and an activity of being wide awake, i.e., talking to God from your hearts. Continuing steadfastly in prayer is also a natural expression of faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6) to whom you belong (1 Cor. 6:20); it is just like breathing is a natural expression of one’s life. Without prompting, you are committed to inhale and exhale to live. When your life is dedicated to God, prayer—formal or informal—keeps you wide awake.

Wide awake is praying earnestly (Matt. 7:7-8); praying persistently (Luke 18:1-8); and, it is praying and not losing heart—not quitting, ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If”

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:11-14 NKJV

God promises prosperity and fruitfulness in whatever He leads you to do (see Prov. 10:22; Jos. 1:8; Ps. 1:1-3) and that your blessings will increase without toiling if you fulfill four conditions: humility, prayer, seeking God, and repentance of sin. These also are conditions of forgiveness. But if you refuse to fulfill these four conditions, God will bring judgment rather than blessings (verse 13).

The word “if” is a conjunction that joins together a condition, an event, or a thought together with something that happens. For example, God said, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land (Isa. 1:19). “If” is a small two letter word that has a big impact in our lives. Why? It is the “little foxes that spoil the vine” (Song.  2:15). “If” is like a “little fox.” When the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, notwithstanding Israel’s then good success and prosperity, He warned him of four conditions that were connected to “if” in order that the Lord would send blessings rather than judgment on the nation. These four conditions were humility, prayer, seeking God, and repentance of sin. Let’s focus on the first condition: humility.

Blessings, success and prosperity are preceded by humility. Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride is the enemy of humility (Prov. 16:18).  Pride is being haughty and high-minded. Humility is lowliness of mind. Humility is a pre-condition to blessings and prosperity. For example, Jesus said, “if” you humble yourself and become like little children, you can be great in the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:1-4); the writer of Hebrews said that “if” you obey and submit (act of humility) to church leadership, your soul would be joyfully watched over (Heb. 13:17); and, the Apostle Peter said that “if” you’re clothed with humility, then God would exalt you in due season (1 Pt. 5:5-6).

“If” God’s people will humble themselves, then God will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Your year 2020 blessing, prosperity and success is depended on “if.” Happy New Year!

 

20/20 Vision: Healthy Eyes

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4 NKJV

In this New Year (2020), it is a new decade and a new season; thus, it is fitting to refer back to the beginning of the very first year, almost 6,020 years ago: “In the beginning God . . . .” This first verse of the Word of God is the most important verse, because it is the foundation on which everything else is built. Please notice, in the text above, that God’s second act in creation was to provide light. Without light, we can have no vision. And, we need a 20/20 spiritual vision (Prov. 29:18). There can be no 20/20 vision without healthy eyes.

Without spiritual 20/20 vision our spiritual eyes are closed. When our eyes are closed, our lives remain “without form, and void” surrounded by darkness. Healthy eyes are opened eyes. For example, when the king of Syria sent horses and chariots, and a great host, to arrest Elisha. His servant could only see doom and destruction. But when Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. After the servant’s eyes were opened, he could clearly see that there were more horses and chariots of fire with them than a natural force with the Syrians (2 Kings 6:17). 20/20 spiritual vision makes for healthy eyes.

Naturally speaking, “normal vision” is 20/20, i.e., you can see the same line of letters at 20 feet away as a person with normal vision. Unhealthy vision is anything less than 20/20. E.g., 20/40 vision means that you can only see at 20 feet what a person with normal vision sees at 40 feet.  Some may be nearsighted (myopia) where they can clearly see things close to them. Others may be farsighted (hyperopic) where they can clearly see things at a distance. Spiritually, a nearsighted eye can only believe what has already been manifested—what it can touch, taste, feel, hear, or smell. And, spiritual farsightedness is when we are so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good; we can have a vision for the future but no reality of faith in the present. Both of these conditions are unhealthy because the eye of the mind doesn’t have the ability to “refract or focus” God’s light sharply enough; thus, the eye is considered unhealthy.

Jesus talked about the importance of healthy spiritual eyes in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:22-23). He reveled that the light of the body is the “eye”—the soul, the mind, emotions, the will and intellect. With our spiritual eyes, we see good things in the realm of the Spirit for the year 2020 and beyond. Because spiritual eyes are healthy, our whole body is full of light and fresh vision for this new season. But if our spiritual eyes are closed or blind, then God’s light cannot shine in our souls and we remain in the darkness of past seasons and past years.

So, for the year 2020, let us believe God that His light (John 1:9; 8:12) will come into our lives through our healthy eyes to give birth to a 20/20 vision. And, let us resolve to submit to God, to serve Him with gladness and joy, and to sow into His kingdom; and, do these things with faith, focus, and fearlessness; and, let us further resolve to believe and obey all things in God’s Word. The year 2020 is a new year, a new season, and a new opportunity to spiritually renew and reset with a 20/20 vision. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Jesus is the reason for the season—in fact, Jesus the the reason for each day that the Lord God makes. Rejoice and be glad; give God the glory for His perfect and unspeakable gift, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Clothed With Humility

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith . . . 1 Peter 5:5-9a NKJV

For the third time in the Bible, we are reminded that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). God is a God of grace, but He doesn’t give grace to all—only to the humble. He opposes the proud (Prov. 16:18), and to be proud is to be an enemy of God.

God firmly stands against and opposes the proud for two reasons: (1) Satan, and (2) Adam and Eve. Pride drove Satan to want to exalt his throne above the stars of the Most High God—to be like the Most High God (Isa. 14; Ezek. 28). And, Eve and Adam, out of their pride, disobeyed God to become wise like God (Gen. 3). In both cases Satan, and Eve and Adam’s pride led to them being cast out of heaven and the Garden of Eden, respectfully. Pride was Satan’s chief sin and Adam and Eve’s main sin. Pride is a stronghold of temptation and sin. Therefore, as James admonished the Christians of twelve tribes of Israel scatter abroad: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Jas. 4:10).

Jesus also taught His disciples that the way to go up in God is down (Matt. 23:12). Peter taught that because God resists the proud, believers need to be “clothed in humility” (Text), i.e., to wear humility as a spiritual girdle. Humility can be a hard virtue to maintain because it is the opposite of pride, and again, pride is a stronghold of sin. But it is better to put yourself down than to have someone else do it. If you humble yourself, God will lift you up.

We are to humble ourselves under the “mighty hand of God.”    The mighty hand of God, universally speaking, is God’s omnipotence—power and authority. If you don’t humble yourself under God’s grace, He will humble you under His judgments.    The mighty hand of God will punish the proud and defend the humble, because He cares for us. And finally, what does the Lord require of His people: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Be clothed with humility; resist the devil and he will flee from you!

 

 

 

 

 

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!