Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Available Life

Matthew 4:12-25

With Emphasis on verse 17 which says: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And verse 23 which says: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people                                      

John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and preached about the coming Messiah or Savior.  Now this was not a new message. Jehovah God had been sending prophets into the world who preached that God was going to send the world a Savior since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. But, just before the Savior came, God sent the prophet John to refresh people’s mind about the Savior and remind them to,  Repent: for the kingdom of God is at hand.  (Matt. 3:2)   

Now, to repent means to change one’s mind. And For the kingdom of God indicates what a person is to change their mind about—the type of government to which people submit themselves.  When something is at hand it  means it is available. Therefore, what John was preaching was that the Messiah, or Savior, was soon going to be available, so get prepared to change your mind about who your ruler would be.

People from all over the country came into the wilderness to hear John preach. But, Herod, the current secular ruler, didn’t like the people being promised a Savior, or another kind of government other than his own, so he had John captured and put in prison. Worldly leaders never like it when God’s message of salvation and becoming a part of the kingdom of God is preached, and they will do everything they can to stop it.   

The Savior that John preached about was already in the world and at the imprisonment of John he stepped into place to launch a miraculous revolutionary movement that will never be matched. Jesus did not seek lands or titles, fame or fortune, or power or honor. Instead He came to conquer the heart of mankind and convert it back to its original purpose —to have a full, free, and fantastic fellowship with Almighty God! He preached the same message that John preached, Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.  The government of God had finally become available through Jesus Christ the Son of God!   

Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah had looked forward by faith and spoke concerning the Lord Jesus, who was yet to come, saying: 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7) And what God promises, He delivers by his own power!

This great prophecy that has now become truth, encourages our belief that good will triumph over evil, despite the many things which seem to suggest the exact opposite in these confusing times. Tune into any news channel and see how flooded we are with unbridled craziness, unimaginable corruption, and unbelievable cruelty. Nevertheless, when evil sits in positions of power and the streets of nations are filled with foolish acts of immorality and injustice, believers in God can take heart in knowing there is a government which is greater than these passing empires. It is the Kingdom of our God, and of His Christ.

And, for any heart that has received King Jesus fully, a promise is made that of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. Good government is what Christ brings to troubled souls, and peace is what results when He reigns and rules in our lives. To know this peace all an individual has to do is give their heart to Christ and let him rule their affections, appetites, ambitions, aspirations, and aggravations. But, no,  most people say, “We will not let this man rule over us”  and then they let another human like themselves do just that.

Old King Herod made a mistake! John the Baptist  was just a voice in the desert preaching to those who came out to hear him. But Jesus, the promised Savior,  according to  verse 23 went  through  all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Jesus first went to the Jews with the message of salvation, and they rejected his message.  He, then, went to Galilee which was primarily occupied by Gentile people.  This Jew, Jesus, began teaching these Gentiles about the government of God, and He healed  all kinds of sickness and disease.  We might think that sickness and disease are the same thing , but they are not. Disease pertains to the physical body, whereas sickness pertains to the soul and its emotions which can put a person really under the weather.  Jesus has the power  no other man has—the power to heal the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual  problems that people suffer from. He exercised that power, when people came to Him in faith believing. The miracle is: He still has the power to do that from where He lives right now.

Now, we all know that the governing powers of the secular and religious world  that  existed at that time didn’t like what Jesus was doing either,  and they began to join together to  exercise their so called power to get rid of Him. They hauled the man God sent to be their Savior, - the One who went about doing good - before a trumped up court in the middle of the night and sentenced him to be crucified like a common criminal on a cruel cross.

Oh, what a mistake they made! They didn’t count on this man having power they didn’t possess—the power to resurrect himself from the dead!  Neither did they realize that He had the power to ascend back to heaven to be with His Father and our God, where He would be totally out of their reach. 

And get this — what Christ did in those days, He is still doing in these days — in an ever increasing sphere of conquest. He is still bringing the good news of salvation into the very heart of people.  Jesus  has never stopped, and He never will! His kingdom just keeps growing, and it has reigned supreme down through the ages of time until today, and will go on reigning into eternity.

This, then, is our heritage as believers, as well as our mission. We are not merely subjects in this Kingdom; we are royal ambassadors, empowered by our King with the credentials that give us the clout necessary to call people out to be the redeemed of the Lord and help them see how they can be freed of the evil spirits that currently control them, through belief in Christ.  The harvest that Jesus once said was ready but the workers were few, now has laborers, all made a part of his workforce by his  GRACE, and enabled by it. And to obtain more help in the work,  all we have to do is pray for it.

This King, to whom we have become devoted, because of his love for us, told his disciples to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). He also told them in Matthew 10:7: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. In other words, Tell people the kingdom of God is available to them!   That is the same message that He and John preached. Jesus wants everyone to know that real Life from God is available. He wants people to proclaim like the Apostle Paul: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19) 


John preached in the desert; Jesus preached in Galilee, and beginning with the first disciples, his followers have been sent into the entire world.  The available Life of Christ is released to people who believe what they hear about Christ and the kingdom of God.  The world will never again be like it was before He came and made his life available to us.


What about you, will you let this man Jesus Christ rule over you? Rule over you for your good and God’s glory?  Will you let Him use you to tell the world that there is life available from the available God?


I’ll end this message with the verse that is in the very middle of the Bible:   It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. Psalms 118:8 (KJV)


Whom do you trust in troubled times? Some mere human?  or almighty God?  


Remember, if we don’t have, or make use of, the available life that comes from the available God, it is because we haven’t asked.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Holy Altar Fire

The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.

 Leviticus 6:13 (KJV)

Pray without ceasing. 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

If the fire in a person’s heart is always burning for God, that individual will always be inclined to pray.  When trouble arises, that person will instantly seek God’s help.  Therefore, the altar of private prayer is the very essence of the worship of God.  Keep it burning for your own benefit, but also for others who may need the light and warmth of it, when covered by the darkness of temptation or tribulation. Secret devotions are the very evidence and barometer of a person’s vital and genuine faith in God.

Burn your own sacrifices on the altar of your heart. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).  Allow your own sessions shut in the closet of your heart to be regular, frequent, and undisturbed. The fervent, effectual prayer of a person who is right with God does avail much, just as James 5:16 promises.   No one can ever say they have nothing for which to pray – there is the church and its ministries, your own soul, your children, your relations, your neighbors, your country, and the purposes of God and his truth throughout the world.

Each of us needs to examine ourselves concerning our private means of worship. Do we engage in it half-heartedly, causing our devotional fire to burn low? If so, become alarmed, and cry out to God for help to meet the need. For, if our fire should be smothered beneath the ashes of worldly cares and conformity, it will lessen our influence in our families, in the Church, and in the world.

The heart is an altar indeed, and God loves to see the hearts of his people glowing with love and respect for him there.  Give your heart to God, and he will keep it with love, because he is love.  Seek his help, so the fire on your altar may never be quenched. Our enemies will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand of God  pours the Holy oil of his Spirit thereon, it will blaze higher and higher. Scripture serves as good kindling for our heart’s fire. Also, it is important to hear the Word of God preached; it becomes like live coals to keep our fire burning. Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).   But, above everything else, we should spend time alone with our Lord.  He is the one who will enable us to be found… Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer (Rom. 12:12). 

Praise: For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4 (KJV)


Promise: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  (Matthew 7:7 (KJV)

Prayer:   Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psalms 143:10 (KJV)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Learned Lord


And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?  John 7:15 (KJV)

As the Jews listened to Jesus they got the impression he was an educated man. When our Lord stood up and spoke, a crowd would gather. There was something about him that compelled attention, though nobody could identify what it was. He was just a carpenter from a small town in Galilee; he had never been in any school to become a Jewish Rabbi, and never graduated from any university. Yet as people listened to him, they recognized he had the knowledge and wisdom of the learned.

It is also an amazing thing that the nearer people get to Jesus the more they recognize his scholarly intellect.  Some people can give the impression of being educated, but when people get close to them they soon become disillusioned. But nobody who came close to Christ was ever disappointed; instead they were overwhelmed by his abilities. The Jews had given their lives to the study of the Scripture; yet when they encountered Christ they recognize that they had met their Master. When they questioned him, he would ask, "What? Have ye not read?" Then, he would he give them understanding of what they had read.  The greatest scholar among them was probably convicted of his incompetence by this extraordinary teacher from Galilee.

The Pharisee’s learning lacked originality or imagination, and usually consisted of endless quotes from other authorities.  They were out of touch with reality with their meticulous details about the law which offered no grace and was the despair of common people; but, our Lord didn’t attempt to create a deep impression by any elaborate parade of knowledge. With perfect and unfaltering ease He handled the most perplexing themes! With common and familiar examples, he enlightened what was dark! Where others stumbled, groping around for big-many-syllable words, our Lord communicated so a little child could understand. There is such perfect mastery about Jesus, such ease of conscious and complete power. He represents more that the excellent intellect; he is the epitome of life. His intellectual processes are stunning, because His life and character are. He unashamedly proclaims, "I come to do thy will, O God."

Christ had the courage to be himself.  Many a young preacher of the gospel who might have had an admirable ministry soon begins imitating somebody else, and when that happens that minister might as well quit.  Jesus received his training at home, and in the synagogue, and faced tremendous pressure from the elite of his day but he refused to be overpowered by the traditions they touted.   He swept aside the status quo and went to the very heart of matters. He recognized the truth that everyone else missed; therefore his revelations were refreshing. No wonder that people who listened found their hearts beginning to burn within them as He talked with them along the way.

Also, everything the Lord gained from Scripture and from nature was obtained while working.  It is commonly supposed that Joseph died when Jesus was still young, and he became the sole support of Mary and the children, working from morning sun till its setting. There was not much leisure time for him to spend studying, but  while he worked he undoubtedly stayed in touch with his heavenly Father who taught him by his Holy Spirit what to know and how to live to God’s glory. Then, when he went out to minister to the public, He was perfectly equipped intellectually and spiritually.  He yielded the sword of the Lord from the very outset of His ministry, even when tempted by the devil to worship him instead of his Father.

Some of us may be just like Jesus and have little time or opportunity for a worldly education, but just remember to be yourself, and do what Jesus did. Don’t forget that the One who was once a carpenter in Nazareth is now sitting by his Father’s throne in heaven. He got there through listening to the One who said: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:9 (KJV) The Master understands the temptations we face, but we can learn obedience just like Jesus by listening for our Father’s still small voice.

Devine Guidance

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever

 Exodus 14:13 (KJV)

I remember reading these words at a time when I felt like I was in extraordinary difficulties.  I felt helpless; I could not go forward, or back, and felt I was shut in on either side with no visible means of escape, just like those Israelites at the Red Sea. What was I to do I didn’t know.  As I read Moses’ instruction to the people, I decided that although I was in a scary position I would not be afraid, but would stand still until the Lord freed me of my dilemma.  In the meantime, many opposing voices goaded my soul.  One whispered, “Give the Christian way up and quit.”  Another prompted, “you cannot live the Christian life, it is too difficult for the likes of you.” Another pushed “Get up–to-date; people don’t live by those old-fashioned ways anymore!Then, an inpatient spirit shouted, “Arouse yourself: do something.  To stand still and wait, is sheer stupidity!” And finally a presumptuous one yelled, “Whatever is before you, march into it and expect a miracle!”

But, whatever Satan and his evil cronies may urge upon a person, a child of God can’t follow it. His official sanction is for his people to go from the strength to strength he provides, and that is the way his people should go letting nothing turn them from that course. So, what if for a while you are called to stand still, take it as an opportunity to renew your strength for some greater progress at the right time.  That’s why, God would have us stand still, put on cheerful face, be courageous, and even in our worst times, rejoice and trust in his love and faithfulness.

It pays to wait on the Lord. He will not only do something, but will do whatever is needed to put space between us and our tight spot. A person of faith in God  doesn’t listen to the wicked spirits; it hears God say, “Stand still,” and immovable as a rock stands, and waits cheerfully and patiently for that same  guiding voice to issue further orders.  It will not be long before God will have the escape arranged and then will direct, (as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel), “Go forward.”

Praise: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1 (KJV)

Promise: For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.  (Isaiah 41:13 (KJV)

Prayer: O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.  Isaiah 33:2 (KJV)




Saturday, August 3, 2013

Good Ole Hillbilly Sense


Years ago my husband and I had about 200 hogs. Somehow the gate was left unlatched and they all got out. He came running to the house to get me to help him chase them back in.


“Not me.” I said, “I won’t chase them. I will use the welfare system.”


He asked, “What do you mean, use the welfare system? …. .. I need your help.”


“Please stand by the gate and when ‘em hogs are all back in, just close it” I told him. 


I got the feed bucket I always used to feed ‘em; filled it with corn; walked up to ‘em hogs and then began walking toward the pen. They all followed me. You see, ’em hogs were used to being fed, not havin’ to hunt for their own feed, or root it out for themselves.


Later, my husband ask me why I called that the “welfare system”.


“Oh, that’s the system the government is using to keep people in their hog pen—give them what they want, so they will become dependant on the government, instead of themselves,” I replied laughin’.


You see any good hillbilly woman knows that dependant people don’t have to use their God-given mind to figure out how to make it in life; neither do they have to use their own energy, resources, or talents. But, they will also be the losers in the end. Someday, someway they will see that they profit the masters that feed them….


But, when hogs are locked in, they don’t know how to get out.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sensing God

           --Wanda Hartley Butts 1/9/2010

When a person works and says, “God is with me”;

Or when the sick declares, “God knows all about it”;

And people meet difficulties saying, “God is in it”;

or when the  dying  looks up  whispering, “I am His”;

then in communion with that power and goodness

that person is no longer tempest-driven and tossed,

but faces the battle of storm and shadow with courage.


To be in communion with God through Jesus Christ—

Is to know that He is ours and we are His— and

that becomes the victory which overcomes the world.

Such courage is kindled and kept by the eternal Spirit;

So the weakest can dare to stand alone, and live alone,

and die alone, saying, “The miracle is, God is with me.”