Sword of the Spirit – The Calamity of Esau #1160

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1160

“The Calamity of Esau”

For I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time when I punish him.Jeremiah 49:8

What is the calamity of Esau? As you recall Esau was famished when he returned from hunting and he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. The Word of God tells us that Esau despised his birthright. He carelessly tossed it aside to satisfy his hunger. God views Esau’s action as disastrous and destructive – a calamity.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. –  1 John 2:15

The word for ‘world’ in the Greek text is ‘kosmos’. It has multiple meanings: the world, universe, worldly affairs, people, and adornment. Which meaning is intended is understood from the context of its use. That is why we understand that God’s Word teaches us to not love the world, which is the things of the world, while we are taught that God so loved the world, the people, that Jesus died that they may have eternal life through Him.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

How do we avoid the calamity of Esau? We avoid it by having Christ-centered priorities. We must first recognize that we are children of God. We have a spiritual birthright and we must not despise it and act carelessly concerning it. We need to act and behave like children of the Promise and not hide the light of Christ or put our relationship with the Father ‘on the back burner’.

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.Galatians 3:29 3 John 4

Our priorities need to be eternally focused.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.Colossians 3:1-2

How and who we vote for indicates whether we are world friendly or Christ-centered. Take the abortion issue for example.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. – James 4:4

Our attitude toward money, work and the accumulation of wealth in relation to maintaining an abiding spiritual relationship and walk with Jesus is indicative of whether or not our love for the world has usurped our spiritual birthright.

The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it if riches increase, set not your heart on them. – Proverbs 10:22 – Psalm 62:10

Esau was hungry again a short time after eating the stew. We are like a mist on this earth, here today and gone tomorrow. May your walk be in the Truth of your spiritual birthright in Christ, Jesus.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12

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Sword of the Spirit – Last Days #1159

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1159

“Last Days”

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty… – 2 Timothy 3

Ever since the Resurrection of Jesus, people of faith have longed for and expected His imminent return. Great spiritual leaders such as Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards fully expected the Lord to return soon as they lived through difficult and stormy times in church history. Likewise, we ask ourselves today how much more the Lord will tolerate before He returns. The Lord’s delay has given fuel to scoffers who, like in the days of Noah, scoffed at him and the ark he built.

… Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” – 2 Peter 3:3-4

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. – Matthew 24:38-44

Christians need to have the Word of God in one hand and honest news reports in the other (hard to find but still available). The lawlessness that is seen today seems to be unprecedented. People are no longer looting under the cover and secrecy of darkness but in broad daylight taking what they want and calmly walking out of the stores knowing that the store owners and employees as well as the local law enforcement will do nothing about it. (Reference recent events at Lowes in Keizer, Oregon and Walgreens in San Francisco, California)

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. – Matthew 24:11-13

Drug overdose, suicide and homicide are three out of the top six leading causes of death among American 15 to 49 year olds in 2017. The numbers have only gotten worse leading into the present day. Compare the leading cause from drug overdose to that of abortions in the same period. Abortions, murder of the unborn, were 862,320 vs. 44,224. Why? Because in the last days people are lovers of self, money, pleasure etc. Killing the unborn is big business. Harvesting their organs presents even greater profit.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. – 2 Timothy 3

We think things cannot get any worse, yet they do. We wonder how much more will the Lord tolerate but we need to thank Him for His patience with us. He does not wish any to perish.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

Mankind has been living in the last days since Jesus ascended into heaven and promised to return. Remember that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day to our Lord. We measure the days by time, God sees the beginning and the end as now. We need to always be ready for at any moment He may say, ‘Enough’.

These are troubling times but Our Lord is our refuge and strength. He will see us through them.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. – Psalm 57:1

We need not fear the last days or the Lord’s sudden return if we have accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:13, 10:9

In the midst of all these troubling times, we have hope in the Lord and His love for us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

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Sword of the Spirit – Sowing Seeds #1158

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1158

“Sowing Seeds”

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.Galatians 6:7-8

I was shopping for Grass seed recently and noticed a wide disparity in price. Upon closer examination of the labels it became evident that the price varied with the purity of the seed. The less expensive product had higher concentrations of weed seed, crop seed, inert matter and sometimes noxious weeds.

As Christians in this fallen world we sow seeds of the Gospel Message with every interaction with others. How pure is your seed?

Inert matter does nothing and adds no value. How many times have we held our tongue and remained silent when prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak the Truth of the Gospel to someone? Oh, Lord, forgive me of the times I was afraid to speak up and quenched the leading of Your Spirit. Give me boldness of faith to plant the seeds of Your Gospel as you direct.

But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money… He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master… I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ – Matthew 25:18-25

Weed, crop and noxious seeds are impurities that detract from and choke the Gospel Message that we ‘preach’ by our words and actions. These seeds bear the fruit of the works of the flesh along with injustice (Proverbs 22:8) and discord (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21

The pure seed bear righteousness and the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.Hosea 10:12

It takes time for planted seed to germinate and grow. Sometimes we grow impatient that for all the seed planting we do into some people’s lives that it seems to no avail and we want to give up. We must continue to pray and wait for the Lord.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – 1 Corinthians 3:6 Psalm 27:14

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Sword of the Spirit – The Potter’s House #1157

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1157

“The Potter’s House”

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.Jeremiah 18:1-6

Come with me to the Potter’s house. The air is filled with the earthy scent of wet clay. We are reminded that God created us from the dust of the earth and that we will return to the dust.

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Genesis 2:7 Genesis 3:19 – Psalm 90:12

We see the Potter, intently focused on the clay he is working to shape and mold into something useful and purposeful. We are reminded that God knows us intimately. His thoughts are always on us – each of us – always.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!Psalm 139:17

With gentle pressure we see the Potter’s hands form the clay. The clay cannot form and shape itself.  How prideful and arrogant we are when we declare that we are ‘self made’.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

–  John 15:5 – Philippians 4:13

The room is filled with many earthen vessels of all shapes, sizes, and uniqueness. Each is a one of a kind. Each is a work in process. The potter knows each of them intimately. Each was formed with a plan and purpose in mind. Similarly, Before He created us God had plans for us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11

Can the Lord not do to us as the potter does to the clay? Do we have a right to question what God is doing? Do we have the right to tell Him, ‘No. My plans are better’? We may not see clearly what God’s plan is but by faith and trust we must yield to Him as the clay yields to the Potter’s hands.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 16:9 – Proverbs 3:5-6

We see the wheel that the clay sits on. The wheel spins at speeds under the potter’s control. The combination of the spinning wheel and the gentle pressure of the Potter’s hands create the circumstances that shape the vessel. The earth we live on spins on its axis and the days come and go. Each day brings new circumstances and new pressures that shape us and test us.

But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you… so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – Jeremiah 12:3 1 Peter 1:7

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28

We see that the vessel was spoiled as it was being worked. There was perhaps an impurity in the clay or an area that was unyielding and remained hardened and the Potter’s plan for its shape became marred by the hardened area. Note that the Potter continued to work to reshape and to soften the hardened area.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

Outside the Potter’s house we find the Potter’s field where the broken shards of fired pottery that were flawed and failed the firing process. Sometimes the flawed nature of the clay does not show up until it is tested in the kiln. The vessel can crack and at that point it cannot be recovered and reworked and it is good for nothing and is thrown out.

As we reflect on the Potter’s field it is interesting to note that the blood money paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus after being returned was used to purchase a Potter’s field.

And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers.Matthew 27:5-7

We may feel that we have failed because of our sin and rebellion against God and that there is no hope for us. We may feel like the fired and failed pottery thrown into the Potter’s field. But thanks be to God for the blood of Jesus shed for us. God made a way that even broken lives can be healed and made whole again.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

Pray for a heart that will yield in faith and trust to the Lord’s shaping and molding. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you discernment that you may know His will and plan for your life. Allow Him to direct your steps.

Pray also for our nation. Pray that God will raise up people to govern our land whose hearts are not hardened toward Him and His Living Word, our Lord Jesus. Pray that the Lord will work to shape and mold those who represent us in our nation. Pray that their hearts will be for the Truth of God and not for evil.

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Sword of the Spirit – Our Father #1156

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1156

“Our Father”

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1

Jesus’ reply to the disciples’ request was ‘Pray then like this…’ Note that He did not say, ‘Recite these words…’ For many of us the Lord’s Prayer has been, and continues to be mindlessly recited words.

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; – Matthew 15:8

Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father – You are ABBA, Father, and my Daddy. You created me and love me more than anyone on this earth could ever do. You are always there for me. You protect me, provide for me and died for me so that I might have eternal life. Thank you, Father for your loving embrace. Thank you for always being there to comfort and care for me.

He calls us His children and He calls us by name. Before I formed you in the womb I knew youHow precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!Isaiah 43:1 Jeremiah 1:5Psalm 139:17

Who are in HeavenWhen I look up into the vastness of the night sky I marvel at Your creation. Yet what I see is but a speck of what Heaven is like with You. Thank You, Father for saving me. My soul looks forward to eternity in Heaven with You.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,Philippians 3:20

Hallowed be Your Name – I worship You, Father. I repent of all the times I have used your name in a flippant or cursing manner. I revere Your name, Jesus and worship You.

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Jeremiah 10:6Proverbs 18:10

Your kingdom Come – Lord create Your kingdom within my heart. I seek Your abiding presence continually. I acknowledge Your sovereignty and submit to your perfect will.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.Psalm 103:19

Your will be done – I trust in you and your plan and will for my life. Holy Spirit, I pray for discernment to know the will of my Father and for the strength of heart and purpose to truly say as Jesus did, ‘not my will, but Yours be done’(Luke 22:42).

Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,Hebrews 10:7

On earth as it is in Heaven – Lord, You are sovereign over all. Nothing is impossible for You. Your perfect will prevails and I trust and place my hope in You.

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. – Jeremiah 10:12

Give us this day our daily bread – Lord I repent of my striving for the material things of this world. I repent of my worry and fear and anxiousness during difficult times. I place all my trust and hope in You and Your love and care for me as my Father in heaven. Thank You, Lord for healing me in body, mind, and spirit and for providing all my daily needs.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? – Matthew 6:25

And forgive us our sins – Thank you, Father for dying in my place in the Person of Jesus. Thank You for forgiving my sins and for the free gift of eternal life through Jesus.

…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9

As we forgive those who sin against us – May I not disgrace Your grace, Lord. May Your love and forgiveness flow freely through me to those who sin against me.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,Matthew 6:14

And lead us not into temptation – I repent, Lord of my own evil desires that bring temptation. I pray that You will be a shield about me, protecting my mind and heart from the attacks of the enemy of my soul. Thank You, Father for always providing a way of escape. Strengthen me with power by Your Holy Spirit to overcome the weakness of my flesh.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13

But deliver us from evil – Father, our world continues to degenerate as it turns from You and rejects You and Your Son, Jesus. Evil has established its strongholds in the fabric of our society and its laws. I pray that I would not become fearful in spirit. I pray for the courage and confidence that comes from Your abiding presence in my life. Deliver me, protect me and carry me through these evil times to Your praise and glory.

I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless. – Jeremiah 15:21

Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.Proverbs 3:25-26

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.2 Timothy 4:18

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Sword of the Spirit – Calling and Election Sure #1155

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1155

“Calling and Election Sure”

…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. – 2 Peter 1:3-10

I try to live a healthy lifestyle, eat right (most of the time) and get regular exercise, plenty of rest etc. But even with all that I choose to supplement my diet with a variety of vitamins and medicinal herbs. This helps to assure me that my body is not lacking in what it needs to maintain health.

What about our spiritual health? By faith we have accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and we have God’s guarantee of eternal life.

Whoever confesses the Son has the Father alsoIf what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. John 2:23-25

For many of us who are saved, however, the pressures of life and the matters of this world consume us and we fail to grow spiritually, placing our relationship with Father God on the ‘back burner’ so to speak. Our relationship with Jesus becomes ritualistic worship and our spiritual health suffers. Over time we become spiritually weak and susceptible to the enemy and we wonder if we are really saved. Our faith supplements are:

VIRTUE – Moral Goodness. Morality has to do with the right and wrongness of human actions as to how they affect the individual, others, and society as a whole. Do you act as Jesus would act?

KNOWLEDGE – Knowing God. Study the Word. Read it, meditate upon it. Pray the Word. Not occasionally but continually and you will grow in knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus.

SELF-CONTROL – A healthy spirit, abiding with Christ will overcome the sinful desires and cravings of the flesh.

STEADFASTNESS – A patient enduring. Waiting upon the Lord means to hope, anticipate, and to trust in Him. This comes from a foundation of personal, intimate knowledge of the Lord.

GODLINESS – Reverence for God in all circumstances. It is a true, reverential heart response to God no matter what happens. Contrast the response of those who curse God with Job’s response to worship Him.

BROTHERLY AFFECTION – Being a loving friend to fellow believers. Being Christ to the brethren in their time of need.

LOVE – Agape—Godly love. Being spiritually healthy brings the ability for God’s love and blessing to pour through us to others.

God is sure of our calling and election and if we supplement our faith as directed in our reference Scripture we can be sure also. These faith supplement virtues are evidence to the world of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.Romans 8:29-30

To have that blessed assurance of our salvation means to live our Christian life in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit as we seek the presence of Christ continually.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.1 John 5:13

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Sword of the Spirit – Truth #1154

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1154

“Truth”

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.John 8:31-32

Pilate asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38). That question remains relevant even more so in today’s convoluted and corrupt society.

Truth is the body of real and actual things, events and facts. Today’s societal norms have embraced ‘real’ as someone’s perceived reality and we are expected to believe that to be the truth and accept it as such.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. – Romans 1:21-23

Our mainstream news media has strayed far from their code of ethics which calls for them to seek truth and report it without distortion due to their personal or corporate bias. Truth cannot be found in watching or reading mainstream news channels. Truth – real, absolute Truth is only found in the Living Word of God, Jesus.

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.Proverbs 12:17

The world cannot accept this fact and it will do all that it can to suppress and malign it. Just as they sought to kill the Truth by crucifying our Lord more than two millennia ago, they continue today to attempt to eliminate the Word of God from all vestiges of society and to substitute their relative truth for the absolute Truth of God.

Truth is offensive. The Truth of God is a light that reveals all that the world desires to be hidden. The world loves darkness and the Truth of God dispels that darkness.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. – 1 John 1:6 Matthew 11:6

Truth is narrow-minded. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.Matthew 7:13-14

Truth is exclusionary and not inclusive. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven… – John 14:6Matthew 7:21-23

Truth is divisive. Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.Luke 12:51

To answer TIME magazine’s question: No, truth is not dead. Truth is alive and sits at the right hand of the Father and He will return again and we will be with Him for eternity.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. –  Job 19:25

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. – Psalm 25:5

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Sword of the Spirit – A Mist #1153

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1153

“A Mist”

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”James 4:13-15

James’ rebuke and coaching is a word we should all pay attention to and take to heart whether we are in business or just going about our daily lives. The older I get the more keenly aware I become of how short life on this earth is. I still have my plans for things I want to do and accomplish and it is good to do so – in light of God’s Word.

Jesus taught a parable about making plans that were selfishly motivated and without an eternal perspective and for the glory of God. God calls such a person a fool.

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

Paul was a planner but his plans were always made with the Lord’s will in mind.

But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. – Acts 18:21

The great recession of 2007 – 2009 destroyed all the plans I had for my life. Yet through it all, the Lord sustained us and provided for us. It was a time of great material loss but also a time of great spiritual growth in our relationship with Jesus.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1

A decade plus later, we have been rebuilding our lives and now making plans for retirement – and then the Covid pandemic hits and our plans are derailed. But God’s faithfulness is true and He continues to sustain, protect and provide for us during this time.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11

It is good to make plans. It is wise to make plans with God’s will in mind understanding and believing that His plans are perfect and for our best.

We truly are a mist. Live each day continually seeking His presence. Make your plans for His glory and praise and to fulfill your kingdom purpose rather than for self-centered reasons. Keep an eye on the horizon of eternity with Him as you navigate the tempestuous waters of this life always trusting in Him and in His perfect love and plan for you.

My times are in your hand; Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.Psalm 31:15; Matthew 6:10

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Sword of the Spirit – Do You Love Me? #1152

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1152

“Do You Love Me?”

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him “Feed my sheep.John 21:15-17

The first time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him Jesus uses the word ‘agape’ for love. Agape is the unconditional love of God for man and man for God.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.Matthew 22:37

Note that Peter replies to this first question using ‘phileo’ for love. Phileo is an affectionate friendship type of love. Peter is perhaps being cautious about using such a strong word as agape given his recent boasting about never falling away and then denying Christ three times.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”Matthew 26:31-33

Jesus sees Peter’s weakness in heart, yet still commissions him commanding him to ‘Feed My lambs’. The same exchange transpires with the second time Jesus asks Peter if He loves Him. Again the Lord continues Peter’s restoration with the command to ‘Tend My sheep’.

The third time Jesus asks, He meets Peter where his heart is at and uses the same word for love that Peter is comfortable with, ‘Phileo’. Peter responds as before although he is now grieved in heart that he was asked three times and perhaps because he was unable respond with agape love. Yet again, Jesus completes his restoration of Peter as a forgiven friend and commands him to ‘Feed My sheep’.

Don’t miss the significance of this third dialog between Jesus and Peter. The Lord will meet us right where we are at in our relationship with Him and help us to grow from that point. He loves us unconditionally, and died for us while we were as yet steeped in sin.

Do you (Agape) love the Lord?

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.Matthew 22:37

Do you love Him more than the things of this world? We cannot effectively fulfill the Lord’s commission to us with a phileo relationship with Jesus. To feed and tend the sheep and to faithfully proclaim the Gospel requires the agape love of God working in and through us.

May the Holy Spirit come upon you as He did at Pentecost. May He fill you with the presence of Christ and the power to overcome the flesh. May He fill you with His agape love to fulfill your purpose and His plan for you.

We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19

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Sword of the Spirit – Great Things #1151

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT                                                                                               1151

“Great Things”

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.Psalm 126:2-3

Have you ever paused to reflect during your quiet time with the Lord on the great things He has done for you?

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.1 Samuel 12:24

It is easy to marvel at the greatness of God when we see the intricacies, complexities, and vast variety of His creation in the heavens and on earth. But what about the great things He has done for you and for me personally?

Oftentimes our present trials and difficulties cast a shadow on the great things God has done for us.

By prayerfully reflecting on these things the Holy Spirit lifts the cloud of despair and the light of faith floods our present circumstances and we are filled with joy and confidence in the Lord.

And yet there are so much more of the great things God has for us in this life and for eternity.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.1 Corinthians 13:12; Jeremiah 33:3

Has God ever healed you? Has He ever given you peace – the peace that surpasses understanding – in difficult times? Has He ever provided for you to rebuild your lives after a catastrophic loss? Has He been faithful to restore broken relationships and heal the hurt of a broken heart? Has He ever shown you mercy when you know you deserved wrath? Has He forgiven your sins and granted you eternal life through Jesus?

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.Jeremiah 33:6-8

Of all the great things God has done for us in this world, the sum of them cannot even begin to compare to the gift of eternal life He has provided for us through Jesus.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16

May the joy of the Lord flood your heart, mind and soul as you reflect on the great things He has done and will do in your life now and forever.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Psalm 71:19; Ephesians 3:20-21

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