Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. ~ 1 Samuel 23:7-8, 13-14

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” In other words, appearances can be very misleading. This is where King Saul found himself. David, his faithful servant and a man after God’s own heart, was anointed king in his place because God had rejected him (Saul) as king. Now, he wanted to kill David.

David heard that the Philistines were fighting against Keilah and he inquired of God whether he should go and fight against the Philistines and save Keilah or not. The LORD said go and he and his men went and dealt the Philistines a mighty blow and saved the city of Keilah. Then someone went and told Saul that David was in Keilah, a city with walls and gates so that he was trapped inside. Saul said to himself, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” So, Saul gathered his army around him and marched down to Keilah in order to besiege David and his men.

It looked as if God had indeed handed David over to Saul to be killed. The Scriptures never said that God did hand David over; Saul only assumed He had but never inquired. He went on looks alone, but looks can be deceiving.

David, on the other hand, consulted God again, this time about whether or not the people of Keilah would backstab him and hand him over to Saul and his army. God said that they would. So, David and his six hundred men departed and left Keilah and stayed in the strongholds in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph.

Saul looked at the circumstances and saw what appeared to be a good opportunity, but he did not consult the LORD; he only assumed because it lined up with what he wanted. It fit his plans. David, on the other hand, sought the guidance of the LORD and planned accordingly. The Scriptures say that God did not give David into Saul’s hand to be killed as Saul originally had thought.

Things aren’t always what they appear to be. So, the next time you see an opportunity and believe that it is from God, seek Him for confirmation. The Scriptures says in Matthew 7:7-8

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.

Heavenly Father, help me not to take things for granted, nor to go on feelings alone, nor to make decisions based on what it seems like only, but to ask, seek, and knock before I make decisions, even those that seem to be a no-brainer. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Counting The Cost

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10

We are saved by grace through faith. It is God’s gift to us, to everyone who believes and takes refuge in Jesus. We are born again to perform good works; it is not by good works that we are saved, but make no mistake, we are saved for good works. Sometimes, the concept gets blurred, and ‘no good works’ takes place. But the reality is, if you are born again, that is, if you have accepted Jesus as your LORD and Savior, then you are expected to do good works without counting the cost.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand tells a story about a communist soldier who was sent to him by one of his friends because he could not speak Russian, but Wurmbrand could. Wurmbrand told the Russian officer the story of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount; the man danced around the room in rapturous joy and proclaimed, “Wonderful beauty. How could I live without knowing this Christ.” But when Wurmbrand got to the part where Jesus was crucified and died, the officer began to weep uncontrollably and fell into an armchair.

He had heard the Gospel for the first time, came to believe in Jesus, and fell in love with Him, but now this Savior that he had come to believe in and Who loved him was dead. Wurmbrand had not expected that reaction, so he quickly told him about the resurrection. When he did, the soldier jumped to his feet, began to dance around the room again, and cried out with joy, “He’s alive! He’s alive!”

What am I talking about? I’m talking about sharing the Gospel. We are saved for good works, and there is no better good works than that of sharing the Gospel with someone who has never heard it. Wurmbrand took his own life, or at the very least, he took his own freedom in his hands to tell this Communist officer about the love of Jesus. He did not count the cost. He did not consider his life too precious or his risk of a prison sentence too much to pay; he understood that he was created for good works. There is a great reward coming for those who do good works.

We too are expected to do no less. We must tell the world that Jesus loves them. That Jesus cares for them. That we are so important to Him that He actually died a horrific death in our place. He died so that we might have eternal life.

Jesus is coming back real soon and only what we do for Him here will be sent on ahead of us into eternity. We need to tell as many people as possible. We need to try to save the world and stop counting the cost. Man may try to ban the Gospel, but we must obey God. So, Go ye into all the world and tell everyone about the love of Jesus we are told. So go, tell the world about the free gift of salvation, it’s life eternal for all who believe.

Heavenly Father, give me boldness and confidence to tell everyone I meet about You. Give me the wisdom to know how to share the Good News so that some may hear, and might believe, and live and not die. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Hold To The Name

11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:11-12

For 2,000 years, the debate over who Jesus is has never died. Many argue that Jesus isn’t God, while others argue He may have become a god, and others hold fast that He was only a good prophet. Jesus is God, and He is the only way to salvation. Peter also spoke up during Jesus’ earthly ministry and said, “LORD, You alone have the words of eternal life …” (John 6:68).

Who has eternal life? God alone has eternal life. So, if Jesus alone has the words of eternal life, then Jesus is God.

Not only is Jesus God, but:

  • Jesus is the Holder of Salvation
  • Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith
  • Jesus is the Great I AM
  • Jesus is the Giver of Life
  • Jesus is our Healer
  • Jesus is the Supplier of our needs
  • Jesus is our everything

There is no one else, no other name except the Name of Jesus alone, that can save us. It’s only by the name of Jesus that we can be changed and make a change. It’s only by the name of Jesus that we can see mountains move and walls tumble down. Jesus is the Savior of the World and the Giver of Eternal Life. It is His name that we should cling to, for it is His name alone that can change us. Therefore, be confident in whom you serve. Be confident in who Jesus is and what He has done for you.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Hold To The Name.

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Keep Marching On

17 And as they [the two angels] brought them [Lot and his family] out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” ~ Genesis 19:17

Do Not Look Back! Do Not Stop! Under no circumstances were they to look back. Under no circumstances were they to stop! They had their marching orders, so to speak.

I mean, I understand that the LORD rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah; therefore, there was probably a whole lot of noise, possible explosions, and even a shaking of the ground. It had to be tempting to look back to see what was going on, but remember, curiosity killed the cat. It is better to obey than … anything else. Our obedience is what God expects.

As the bride of Christ, we are not to look back. We are not to stop! We are not to dwell in our past. We are to keep moving! We are to keep climbing one step higher every hour of every day. It does not matter what we hear behind us. It does not matter how exciting it sounds; we are not to participate in ungodly events. Do not let this world deceive you into lingering.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Keep Marching On.

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Right Standings With God

33 And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place and set themselves in array at Baal-tamar, and the men of Israel who were in ambush rushed out of their place from Maareh-geba. 34 And there came against Gibeah 10,000 chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them. 35 And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword. 36 So the people of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. ~ Judges 20:33-36

Do you recall the Gibeonites? Well, they were the people who came deceitfully and lied so that they could make a peace treaty with Joshua and the elders of Israel. And they tricked them into signing the peace treaty because they did not consult the LORD. Because of the peace treaty, they could not totally destroy them as the LORD God had instructed them to do. So, the Gibeonites lived among the Israelites as slaves, but I am sure they passed on or transferred their way of worshiping their gods to the Benjaminites, who took possession of that portion of land, which included sexual immorality.

The Israelites were fighting against the men of Benjamin because an Israelite traveler had stopped in at Gibeah with his concubine and his servant to spend the night. Some worthless men of the town came to the house to have sex with the man and his man-servant. The man sent his concubine out to them, and they raped her and mistreated her all night long, and in the morning, she was found dead with her hand grasping the threshold of the door.

The man took his concubine and cut her up into twelve pieces and sent each piece to the different tribes. The decision was made that the Benjaminites must pay for their crime against the man and his concubine. So, they went to war against Benjamin. The Scriptures tell us that the battle was hard on this day, and all though the Benjaminites were fighting undauntedly, disaster was looming near and they did not know it.

There are two lessons to be learned in this story. When you become one with people that are not of God, you become like them. Birds of a feather flock together. It is also like the other proverb: bad company corrupts good character. And that is what happened to the Benjaminites; they did not know or did not realize disaster was about to strike them. That happens when your conscience becomes seared. Your conscience becomes seared when you keep ignoring the warnings of the Holy Spirit. And when you keep ignoring the warnings, you make God your enemy instead and not your ally. When that happens, God will fight against you in order to get your attention and bring you back into right standings with Him.

Therefore, do not become one with wayward people. We are in the world but not of the world. Then, do not harden your heart against the warnings of the Holy Spirit.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to be obedient to Your warnings so that I can always be in right standings with You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Let God Plant

6 Then he placed garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Arameans became David’s subjects and brought tribute. The Lord made David victorious wherever he went. ~ 1 Chronicles 18:6 CSB

King David is one of the most well-known and beloved Bible characters of all time. He’s known for being the slayer of Goliath and the man after God’s own heart. This is how he slayed Goliath.

David didn’t put his faith in horses, swords, or any other weapons. He put his faith in God. It didn’t matter what the task was or where the task was as long as he wasn’t alone. See, David understood that it is better to be in the will of God than to be outside the will of God doing whatever he wanted.

Therefore, David flourished wherever he was planted. He flourished because he allowed God to guide him, instead of thinking he knew better. Instead of thinking he was better off doing it his way.

God’s plan may not always make sense in the moment, but God’s plan is always good. That is why we live by faith, not by sight, because he had faith in his God. He knew the Rock on which he stood.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Let God Plant.

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Start Abundant Living

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~ John 6:32-40

Jesus claims here to be the true bread that came down from heaven. In verse 35, He actually says, “I am the bread of life …”

When Jesus refers to the bread that Moses gave the Israelites in the desert, He is actually talking about the Manna that God fed them with, in the desert after bringing them out of Egypt, the land of slavery. Did you notice that in verse 35, Jesus said, “33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world?”

Four times in the passage, that we read, Jesus refers to Himself as bread. And bread in some form is mentioned 97 times in the New Testament. In those times, bread is a metaphorical symbol of spiritual nourishment.

In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus refers to healing as the Children’s bread (Mark 7:27). Healing and casting out demons are the children’s bread, and Jesus is that bread. He is the Living Water and the Bread of Life.

Jesus didn’t just come down from Heaven to die for our sins; He came to bring life and life more abundantly. Jesus came to give us life with freedom. Freedom from sin, disease, oppression, illness, stress, addiction, psychological issues, etc. He came to free us from any and everything that tries to hold us back.

Therefore, confidently approach the throne of grace through the precious blood of Jesus and give it to God. Jesus paid for your healing with His own flesh. He paid for your peace with His own chastisement. Jesus purchased us not so that we could remain oppressed by the enemy and the cares of this world but so that we might be free in Him. So that we might live life more abundantly. So, take every stronghold in your life and begin to tear them down in the name of Jesus because it is through Him that we overcome because He first overcame.

Peace. Love. Go Forth and Start Abundant Living.

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Shall I Not Drink My Cup

10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” ~ John 18:10-11

Judas had led a company of armed soldiers, along with some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees, to where Jesus and His disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Simon Peter saw what was going on, he drew his sword in a daring attempt to defend Jesus, and he struck Malchus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

But Jesus shouted to Peter, “Cephus, put your sword away! Do you not think that I can call on my Father and He will put at My disposal more than ten thousand of His angels? Or do you suppose that I should not drink the cup that is given to me? If I do not drink, how then can the Scriptures be fulfilled? And if the Scriptures are not fulfilled, you have no life; you have no salvation.”

By saying and doing this, Jesus has set a precedence for us. If Jesus, being God, felt it necessary to drink the cup that He was given, how much more should we feel the need to drink the cup that is given to us. Too many times, we as Christians hope for a certain situation to turn out such and such a way and when it does not happen the way we have designed its conclusion, we are crying, “Woe is me! Woe is me!”

We’ve all been given a cup to drink; shall I not drink my cup, and shall you not drink your cup? Of course we should, to each his own cup, to each his own trials and rewards. What God has called you to do is not what God has called me to do, and vice versa.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tells the story of Peter being warned that Nero was seeking an opportunity to put him to death. It stated that the believer’s persistence for him to escape the city was so strong that he was persuaded to flee. As he was coming to the gate, he saw the LORD Jesus coming to meet him.

“LORD, where are You going?” Peter asked Him. “I am come again to be crucified,” was His answer. It was then that Peter had to answer for himself the question, “Shall I Not Drink My Cup?” And Peter turned around and went back into the city. He was crucified upside down at his own request, as he did not feel worthy to suffer in the same manner as the LORD had.

We all have a cup to drink, some more bitter than others. Still, we must all drink the cup that is handed to us. Serving Jesus is not all peaches and cream. It is not all sunshine and games. Some will have to drink the cup of suffering, or the cup of persecution, and others the cup of Martyrdom, and some the cup of joy and increase. Whatever your cup, whatever my cup, we must all drink.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me not to complain about the cup that I have been handed. Help me not to look at others’ blessings and complain, but rather to be grateful that I have the privilege to drink the cup that is handed to me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Much Fear And Trembling

16 and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. ~ Galatians 2:16CSB

As far as salvation goes, there is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it. It is received the moment that you accept Jesus as your own personal LORD and Savior. Now, this isn’t to say that works are of no effect because the Bible tells us that we must work out our salvation with much fear and trembling.

Therefore, you have everything to do with your own salvation. It all depends on how you live and how you interact with your fellow people. For instance, Jesus said that if we don’t forgive those who trespass against us, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us our sins.

Now, does that sound like you have absolutely nothing to do with your salvation? No, it depends wholly and completely on you. So, the next time you’re tempted with the lie that you can do whatever you want and you’re good, reconsider your actions.

Heavenly Father, thank You for saving me, and please help me to live for You and to be pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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Fight, It’s Your Family

14 After I made an inspection, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.” ~ Nehemiah 4:14

The Jews had just returned to Jerusalem to find the walls broken down and the Temple destroyed. When their enemies heard that God had visited the Jews, they were angry. They did not want anything good for them. They threatened them and tried to intimidate them, anything to get the work to stop.

We have an enemy that has those same feelings toward us. He hates us and does not want anything good for us. He does not want us to work for God. He will do anything to get us to stop working for God.

Nehemiah encouraged the people to ignore the threats and to not fear them because God is for them. Then he charged them with this: fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.

That is what we must do: fight for our family members in prayer, crying out to God day and night for their salvation. God will hear, and He will answer and save your family.

Dear Heavenly Father, please remember my lost loved ones. Please speak to their hearts and bring conviction on them. Save them, LORD, in Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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