Tuesday, June 27, 2006

#52 "An Ephesians 3:20 God"

June 27, 2006
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4). We can all use a little comfort now and then. God IS the God of all comfort and I believe that sometimes the comfort He gives is not for ourselves alone. It is a gift from God, given to be distributed, used as an instrument to help others. I have received the comfort of the Father and have seen miracles happen before my eyes. I wondered today what you might be going through right now. What trials and problems are you facing today? I would be amiss if I stored up all that God had shown me in my trials and kept it all for myself. I want to encourage you today, my friend, with what I know about the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

The truth of the Bible is that we serve an Ephesians 3:20 God. A God who is able. He is not just a God who may want to. You may ask me for one million dollars and I may want to give it to you, but the question is...am I able? Not by a long shot. But whatever your situation might be, God is able. He has sufficient power and resources to accomplish anything! He is able to save. He is able to heal. He is able to deliver. He is able to provide for your every need.

Not only is He able...He is able to do exceedingly abundantly. Exceedingly means to an extreme degree. The Greek connotation is over, beyond, more than. Abundantly means marked by great plenty (as of resources), amply supplied, abounding and plentiful. The Greek picture here is over and above, more than is necessary, superior, extraordinary, surpassing and uncommon. That's a lot of definitions but I want you to think about your personal situation and say, "God is able to do (fill in the blanks with the above words) about my problem." An unknown author is quoted as saying, "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death." I encourage you to feast on the above words, strengthen your faith with them and watch your fear disappear. God is able!

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that what God is able to do is far above all that we could ask or think. The NIV says "ask or imagine". Think about your situation. Think about the best outcome that you can possibly imagine. Think about all you have asked God for concerning this problem. He is able to go so far beyond what you could ever, in your wildest dreams imagine or think!

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." I believe that doesn't just mean when we get to Heaven. I believe that we can see these things right here on planet Earth. Our finite minds cannot even begin to fathom the power and ability of God. We look at Him through earthly eyes often comparing Him to our earthly fathers, giving Him human attributes and abilities because that's all we can relate to. But our God is not like any other person we know. He is above all things. He knows all things. In Him all things live and move and have their being. They were created by Him and exist for Him. He is all in all! And again, He is able! And He is able "according to HIS power that is at work within us." Not our power. The solution to your problem is not in your power. It is in the power and ability of God. Stop striving to come up with your own solution. You can't do it. Only He can. Do what you know is right and what you believe God has told you through His word and the Holy Spirit and leave the rest to Him. He will take care of the exceedingly and abundantly.

Finally, my friend, wield that Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) that we talked about last week. Go to the word and pick out all of the verses that apply to your situation and speak them out loud. Do what Jesus did in the desert when Satan was on the attack. Remember the devil is a liar. Fight back with the truth. If you are sick today, He is your Jehovah Ropheka, your healer. If you are in financial need today, He is your Jehovah Jireh, your provider. If you are confused and upset today, He is your Jehovah Shalom, your peace. If you don't know the way, He is your Jehovah Shaah, your shepherd who will lead you. Are you feeling alone? He is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there. You are not alone. Have you been treated unfairly? He is El Roi, the God who sees. He knows and He cares. He is El Shaddai, the all sufficient one...all that you need. In a battle? He is Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts who will fight your battles for you.

Feed your faith. Starve your fear. And when you have been comforted and God has done the exceedingly and abundantly in your life, remember to share that comfort with someone else. Let nothing you have gone through be wasted. "To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Donna Schultz

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

#51 "Prepare for Battle"

June 20, 2006
"Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6: 13)

The legions of the Roman Empire were equipped with some of the best arms and armor of the ancient world. These superior weapons, coupled with the highly trained and committed Roman soldiers, ensured the Roman Empire that they possessed one of the most dominant military organizations the world had ever known. St. Paul gives us a vivid description of this armor most likely because he was quite familiar with it. When he was in prison and tied to a Roman soldier, he got a pretty good look at that armor. (See Acts 28:16, 20)

The devil has been scheming against God's people for thousands of years. We are without a doubt in a battle. There is a battle for our families, our marriages, our finances and our own lives. It is being waged against us by "rulers, authorities, powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6: 12) One of my commentaries says we are in a spiritual conflict against the spiritual "Mafia". Opposition in the spiritual realm is real. Don't dismiss it...don't think it's just crazy talk. The Bible says it's real. We are at war!!

Paul tells us that in order to be ready and able to stand in defense we must make all of the necessary preparations and "put on the full armor of God." God does not put the armor on for us. It is the Christian's responsibility to put it on. Just as we put the various articles of our physical clothing on each morning, we should also put on our spiritual clothes (armor) as well. God gives them to us...it is up to us to put them on. I have started a habit each morning of literally putting on the armor. No, I didn't buy a costume. I imagine each piece, visualize putting it on and confess with my mouth that I am putting it on and what it means to me for my day ahead. First thing in the morning, I don't have a clue what my day holds. But God does. He's already been there. He goes before me and knows each conversation, each circumstance and each situation that I will find myself in. I prepare for battle so that I am prepared for anything that may come my way and I believe that God hears my confession and will remind me throughout the day about the pieces of His armor that I am wearing. I can testify to that truth specifically in so many ways. Once the battle is raging it's too late to grab the armor and try to put it on. You'll be defeated. Defense...preparation beforehand..that's what protects the soldier in battle. Now let's look at the pieces of that armor.

The first thing we are told to put on is "the belt of truth." God is truth. Jesus is "the Truth". Satan is the father of lies. He has been lying since the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, "You shall not surely die." (Genesis 3: 4) And he is lying to you today. He says, "go on, everybody is doing it, just a little won't hurt." He tells us, "no one will know." He lies to get us to sin. He lies to make us doubt ourselves and our standing with God. He attacks our self-esteem. And don't be fooled. His specialty is subtlety. But we also know that God's word is truth. If it doesn't line up with the Bible...it's a lie! This is why it's imperative to know the Word of God. To be in the Word each and everyday without fail. You can't identify a lie if you have no knowledge of the truth. So, "gird your loins about with truth". Just like the Roman soldier you will be prepared for activity. You will be able to identify a lie quickly and cast it down.

We are told next to put on the breastplate of righteousness. We have received a righteousness from God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ if we believe (Romans 3:22). We have the imputed righteousness of Christ. But part of this breastplate is also holy living. Righteousness being practiced in a believer's life. Satan also loves it when we lead unholy lives. Our natural flesh gravitates toward sinful behavior. But the Bible tells us that sin is no longer our master. We are to offer the parts of our bodies as instruments of righteousness, not wickedness. Offering ourselves to wickedness never produced one good benefit...it leads only to death. But the benefit of righteousness is that it leads to holiness and eternal life. (study Romans, chapter 6) A soldier's breastplate protected his chest and all of his vital organs from enemy attack. Righteous living guards our hearts against the assaults of the devil. Proverbs 4:23 says,"guard your heart, for out of it flow the issues of life." Protect the vital, most precious parts of yourself with righteous, holy living.

You need the right kind of shoes as well. Have your "feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." There are many varying opinions on the meaning of this verse of scripture. I prefer to agree with the one that says we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1) The good news of the Gospel is that I am at peace with God. The Roman soldiers' shoes had iron hob-nails on the bottom as treads. Much like football cleats. This is sure footing. No one can tell me that God has rejected me or that I have sinned too much to be accepted. I have peace with God because of the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross. Because of this truth, I can dig in my hob-nails and stand in the battle.

"Take up the shield of faith." That means the "shield which consists of faith, or is faith." Hebrews 12: 1-2 tells us to "lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, (there's that righteousness stuff again) and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." We must believe God. Believe that He loves you. Believe that He cares for you. Believe that He has a great plan for your life. Believers for centuries have conquered giants, kings and won the fiercest battles, literal and spiritual by having faith. Just read Hebrews 11, the "Hall of Faith." Just as they overcame by faith, so can you. When we take up this shield of faith and use it the Bible tells us that we can extinguish ALL the fiery darts of the enemy. Not some, ALL. The enemy is Satan and you, the believer, with resolute faith in the Lord can stop all of his flaming arrows.

"Take the helmet of salvation." Again, this is the "helmet which is salvation." The helmet is one of the last two pieces a soldier takes up. A helmet is hot and uncomfortable and would be put on by a soldier only when he faced impending danger. When your head is guarded by a helmet you have a sense of safety. Therefore the helmet of salvation refers either to present safety from the devil's attacks or to a future deliverance. Some translations say, "the hope of salvation." Tell the devil that you are saved and bought with a price, the blood of Jesus. Nothing can take away your salvation. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing. No Thing. Jesus said that nothing the Father gave Him could ever be snatched from His hand. (John 10: 28-29) You are saved, set apart and on your way to Heaven.

Finally, a Roman soldier would take his sword in hand. This was his only offensive weapon. We are told to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Literally, this means the sword supplied by the Spirit. God reveals Himself to us by the Holy Spirit through His Word. Even Jesus needed this "sword" to combat the enemy's assaults when the devil tempted Him three times in the desert. (see Matthew 4: 1-11) If Jesus needed this sword to defend Himself, how much more do we need to take it up? We need to meditate on the Scriptures and make them a part of our lives (Joshua 1:8). When the enemy comes in like a flood we don't have the time to go running to find our Bible. It's too late. You've already been hit. Just as the psalmist said that he hid God's word in his heart (Psalm 119: 11), we must hide that word in our hearts so that we can speak it and wield it around like a sword when the enemy attacks. The soldier's sword was for hand-to-hand fighting and was meant to deliver cutting or stabbing blows to the enemy. Know the word and speak the word. Cut and stab the enemy and send him to flight with the Word of God.

The purpose of all this armor is to stand against the schemes, strategies and methods of the devil, our adversary. We are not to attack him, but he sure will attack us. We do not advance toward him, but we are stationary and we "stand" and hold our territory when he attacks. Our territory includes everything that Christ has conquered. It includes our marriages, our children, our jobs, our ministries, our finances, our very sanity at times. Our enemy attacks in order to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus died so that we could have life, in abundance, until it overflows. (John 10:10) Satan is trying to rob us of every spiritual blessing God has given us (Ephesians 1:3). Are you willing to take this lying down? I'm not. I want to be prepared for battle each and every day. I never want to be caught off guard. I want to have all that Jesus died to give me. I don't want to miss a thing.

God has given you everything that you need. He has supplied all the armor for you. You have the truth of His word. Remember Jesus is the Truth. You have the righteousness of Christ and His strength to live a holy life. You are at peace with your Heavenly Father. You are saved and nothing can separate you from God's love. He has given you a measure of faith to use as a shield and His Word to wield like a sword. The rest is up to you. Are you dressed and ready for battle? Do you have your armor on?

Donna Schultz

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

#50 "What Makes God Smile?"

June 13, 2006
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act (reasonable act) of worship." (Romans 12:1)

As a parent of four children, in the course of 24 years I have had many occasions to smile. I've had many proud moments watching my kids accomplish something, perform, make right choices and I have been able to say, "Hey, that's my kid!" As my heart swells with pride, my lips smile and I delight in them.

I have a Father in Heaven who delights in me. He delights in you too. The Bible says so. But what specifically delights Him? What makes the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, Maker of all the stars (He knows each of them by name by the way)...what do I do that makes Him smile? What makes Him delight in ME? Positionally, I know that I am pleasing in His sight only because of Jesus' shed blood for me on Calvary. When my Heavenly Father looks at me, He sees Jesus. He is pleased and delighted that I believe in His only begotten Son. But on a day to day basis, what makes Him smile? What makes Him peer over the clouds of Heaven and causes Him to say, "That's my kid?" Let's take a look in the Word for the answer.

Psalm 147: 11 says that "the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." To "fear the Lord" is to be in awe of Him, to have a reverent respect for Him. Proverbs 8:13 says that "to fear the Lord is to hate evil." Fear of the Lord acknowledges how great and awesome He is and governs our actions accordingly. Hoping in His "unfailing love". This is His "hesed" (Hebrew) love...a loyal, covenantal love. A love that never fails. A love that cares for us, protects us, provides for us, never leaves us or forsakes us kind of love. If you fear the Lord and count on His unfailing love for you...He is smiling.

God delights in our obedience. 1 Samuel 15:22 says, "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" We may give our money. We may serve in a ministry at church. But are we obedient in the everyday choices and decisions of our lives? Is what God says in His word the basis for every move we make? Everything we say? How we love others? How we treat people? How we give of our time, talents and resources? If we are obedient to His word, not just hearers but doers, God pokes one of the angels and says, "Look that's my kid!" God is smiling.

The book of Proverbs tells us that God delights in honesty and integrity (11:1), in our ways being blameless (11:20), in our being truthful (12: 22) and in prayers backed up by upright behavior and pure thoughts (15: 8, 26). Keeping the Sabbath holy (Isaiah 58: 13-14) delights Him. Jeremiah 9: 24 says that the Lord delights in kindness, justice and righteousness. Not taking delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, the Lord would rather see you with a broken and contrite (repentant) heart, sorry for your sins, crushed and humble before Him (Psalm 51: 16-17). And then, according to Micah, Chapter 7 and verse 18, the Lord will delight to show you His mercy.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary "delight" means to take great pleasure in, to give enjoyment to, to give joy or satisfaction. The Hebrew word for "delight" means that God accepts you, He is pleased with you and is favorable to you. In my words, "You make Him smile."

Besides just wanting to please Him because He is our God, Savior, Redeemer, All in All, if God delights in you He will do some things for you. Just as a parent rewards his child, our wonderful Father will reward us. He will make you prosperous (Deuteronomy 30:9). Not just monetarily, but health, wholeness, harmony...nothing missing and nothing broken in your life. Numbers 14:8 says that "if the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us." David says that God rescued him "because He delighted" in him. (2 Samuel 22:20 and Psalm 18:19) Do you need a rescue today? Solomon was placed on Israel's throne because the Lord delighted in him (see 1 Kings 10:9 and 2 Chronicles 9:8). He will promote you. Psalm 22:8 says that God will deliver those He delights in. What kind of deliverance are you looking for? Do you need to be delivered from disease, poverty, pride, addiction, an impossible situation that only the Holy One of Israel can deliver you from? A situation where you are saying, "Lord, if you don't step in, it's not going to happen!"

"If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." (Psalm 37: 23-24) Making your steps firm and your paths straight is more than just God's guidance. You will have fewer problems; He will remove obstacles from your way, give you a smooth path and bring you to your appointed goal. You will have great peace that passes all understanding because He will quiet you with His love if He delights in you (Zephaniah 3:17c). You may still have some unpleasant situations in your life but you will be able to go through them peacefully and with inner joy instead of letting them derail you and destroy you. Peace and joy will govern your life...you will not be a victim to your circumstances.

This living to make God smile sounds like a pretty tall order. But I believe that God never tells us to do anything that is impossible or that we can't accomplish. That would be unfair and God is not unfair. To live in a way that makes God delight in us takes commitment, courage and the strength that only He can give. But it is possible. We must consciously live each moment of our day for Him. Putting Him first in all we think, do and say. Learning what He asks of us by being in the Word and then leaning and depending on Him to help us do it. And when we fail, which we will, being quick to go to Him in repentance. He will brush us off and send us back on our way again, just like the loving Father that He is. Still loving us, still being proud of us, still making Him smile.

Zephaniah 3:17d says that when God takes great delight in you "he will rejoice over you with singing." Is He singing over you today? Is He smiling? Is He calling all of the angels to the edge of the clouds, leaning over with a huge smile on His face, pointing you out and telling them, "Hey everybody, that's my kid!"

Donna Schultz

If you would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail every Tuesday morning please e-mail Savemom@aol.com and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

#49 "Are You Ready?"

June 6, 2006
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24: 36)

So they're out there again. And if you want to believe them, today is the end of it all...the Apocalypse, the end of the world. If you're like me you didn't even notice that the date is 6-6-06. Or maybe you did. You can even bet on whether it will happen or not. There is an online sports book, BetUS.com who gives 100,000-to-1 odds that the world will survive today. You can bet $500 and win half a penny if we survive. And if you bet $100 that today is the end of the world and it is, you can win ten million dollars. Good luck collecting that! (accessed via the Internet at http://news.aol.com/topnews/articles/_a/a-calendar-date-to-end-all-others-nears/n20060605074509990001) As a Bible believing Christian I'm going to sit back for a nano- second and say, "Hmmmm....NOT!"

Over the centuries, many people have tried to predict the date of the coming of the end of time. These include Christians and non-Christians. Obviously they were wrong! I "googled" the word "apocalypse" and found 38,500,000 items and 22,700,000 on the Second Coming of Christ. A whole lot of subject matter on a very popular subject, I'd say. Because I like to know the truth and because I simply don't have the time to go through that many articles, I'm going to stick to what my Bible says about the return of Christ.

In their book, "Are We Living in the End Times?", Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, authors of the "Left Behind" series, say, "A study of "signs" of the end of the age or the return of Christ should always be undertaken with a degree of restraint. Date setters are to be ignored or, even better, rebuked as false teachers. It mystifies us that men would try to set dates for the return of Christ in view of the warning of our Lord Himself: "Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." (Matthew 24:36) "It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority." (Acts 1:7) Those two verses alone should warn us that anyone who suggests a date for the return of Christ is wrong."

I would also have to note that some are not even referring to Christ's return when they talk about the end of time. They refer to nuclear holocaust, burning up from the sun's rays, and a host of other things that will end life as we know it today. Spontaneous combustion? I guess if you believe that it all started with a "big bang!" you can believe in spontaneous combustion, right? That would take a whole lot more faith for me to believe than what my Bible says.

Since this is my article and I believe that Christ is coming back again, we'll look at it from that perspective, okay? Jesus Himself said that He's coming back. "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Matthew 24: 30b) When He was taken up to heaven, two men dressed in white stood beside His disciples and said, "Men of Galilee why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1: 11) "These verses describe the Lord's Ascension but they also anticipate His return. He will come back in a cloud, bodily, in view of people (Rev. 1:7) and to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4)-the same way the apostles saw Him go." (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, Walvoord and Zuck) The apostles saw Him go visibly, literally and physically. He will come back in the same way. Again, Jesus said, "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthew 24: 27) I suppose that's why EVERY eye will see Him on that day! (Revelation 1:7)

It could happen right now as I'm writing to you. It could happen before I send this to you. It could happen right now while you are reading this. Be assured...it WILL happen. There is more evidence today to suppose that we have more reason than any other generation to believe that He will come in our lifetime. More signs have come to pass in the last fifty years than ever before in history. Some would say that there have always been wars, earthquakes, hurricanes and famine. (see Matthew 24: 6-8) But just as literal birth pains increase in intensity and frequency the closer the baby is to being born, the "birth pains" that Jesus spoke of are more frequent and more intense than ever. You just have to read the morning news to validate that. And that's not even scratching the surface of what's going on in the Middle East. So, if I may borrow from the words of Peter, "what kind of people ought you to be?" (2 Peter 3: 11) How should we live in light of what we know?

Jesus instructs us to "keep watch" (Matthew 24: 42) and to "be ready". (Matthew 24: 44) We don't know when He will come and He promises that it will be "at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24: 44) If you read the story of the master and his servants in Matthew 24: 45-51 you will see that Jesus wants to find us faithfully carrying out His will. Peter tells us that we should live "holy and godly lives". (2 Peter 3:11) Holy lives literally means "holy conduct", living not like the world, but set apart for God. "Godly" means living faithfully and devoted before God. Looking forward and anticipating Christ's return should spur us on to live holy and godly lives. Being doers of His word, not just hearers (or readers)." (James 1:22)

We should also be living for others. Evangelism, witnessing and missionary work become ever more important because Christ is coming soon. There are countless numbers of people who need to accept Christ as Lord and Savior before He comes so that they can have eternal life in Heaven with Him. The book of Jude tells us in verse 23 to "snatch others from the fire and save them." Understand that any day could be THE DAY. It is no surprise that the Bible gives us 318 promises of Christ's return and made 28 percent of the Bible prophetic in nature. (The Beginning of the End by Tim LaHaye, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1972, 1991)

Keep watch, be ready, live holy and godly lives and evangelize the lost. And if today you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I urge you to stop right now and ask Him to come in to your life. Just as you are, right where you are. Nothing is more important. Tell Him that you are a sinner and that you are sorry for your sins. That you need a Savior. That you believe He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for all of your sins, past, present and future. Tell Him that you believe that He rose from the grave and that you want Him to be King and Lord of your life. Thank Him for the indescribable gift of salvation and promise to walk with Him for the rest of your life. If you do this you will never have to wonder again if you're going to heaven when you die or when He comes again. You're adopted into God's family now. Welcome to the family! Let me know if you prayed this prayer so that I can rejoice with you and give you some practical further steps that you can take as a new believer in Christ.

I had some friends stay with me this month. Anticipating their arrival, I spent some time in preparation. I put fresh sheets on their beds and food that they liked in the cupboards. I bought some new towels for them to use and made sure that their room was just right. Just as I prepared for my friends' arrival, I believe we need to prepare for the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the most honored, important visitor we will ever receive. We need to put more into being ready for His arrival than in anything else we do.

If you're reading this right now, the Glorious Day of Christ's return is still to come. Look up at that eastern sky and know that He is coming back. For you. "Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22: 20)

Looking up,

Donna Schultz