Thursday, February 29, 2024
Would You Ask This?
by David Brenneman
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." Psalms 139:23-24
In going through a study book by Dr. Charles Stanley on his 30 Life Principles, I think at the end of each so far he says: "Then spend some time in prayer, asking God to draw you into intimate communion with Himself and to transform your life so that you can affect the world for the sake of His kingdom."
What are you really wanting out of your life? Many don't ask God for fear of what they think the answer might be. So they create a path for themselves and call it a career...and wonder why it's so filled with stuff they never wanted out of life.
We all do it. We like sheep have gone astray...isn't that what the Bible says?
If we say otherwise we're calling God a liar. We all are dealing with a sin nature that's relentless. Our sin nature doesn't turn off when we are asleep. From the dreams that I have had that certainly were sin laced nightmares when compared to the Word of God...I have no doubts about how intertwined my sin nature is.
To obey Jesus in our wanting to follow Him, He said to take up our own cross and follow Him.
I've used this example before...and the visual that it produced to me decades ago still is with me. An Easter service...watching the man portraying Jesus attempting to carry his cross. There's nothing to hold onto but that cross. There's a weight to it. For us it's a weight of responsibility...and of acceptance...in our obedience.
With all our being we're to take up this cross. With all our heart, mind, soul and spirit we hold onto it with our eyes ahead on Jesus.
There's no time for other things to hold onto. But we try.
We are to be growing with respect to our salvation in Christ Jesus.
We are in the process of sanctification. This is the workmanship of Jesus Christ in and through us.
People are never going to see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven if we aren't living life in such a way that it can be seen that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
It's a challenging prayer to pray. To let go of those things that so easily entangle...isn't that what Paul wrote? About the sin that easily entangles? Sin always easily entangles...because our sin nature knows us better than we do.
Not every stumbling block is Satan's fault nor is it the fault of his minions. We are as susceptible to falling on our own as the Israelites were for the 80 years a few generations of them proved.
We have a sin nature that can not only push our buttons...but can play us like a concert piano...and we end up liking the music much to our own detriment!
As we go through this life...prayer isn't an option. Prayer is a necessity. Jesus, as the Bible says, often got away from EVERYONE, to be with His Father. Scripture says He entrusted Himself to nobody. His was to do the will of His Father.
Yours is to do the will of your Father who is in Heaven. You see it in the Lord's prayer He taught the Disciples. The Lord's Prayer isn't to be a thing of monotony...just said over and over like some set of magic words. Within its form and structure is found all that's important to guide a mind to the things that are important to God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. So don't repeat it for the sake of repeating it. Same thing goes for Psalm 23.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from ev'ry sin and set me free."
This hymn by J. Edwin Orr hits on the same passage we opened with.
Would you dare to pray this?
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 your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.
Upon coming to Christ for salvation...our lives aren't about us.
We're not going to know what needs to be let go of to carry that cross until we get honest with ourselves and our God.
Jesus has a life in mind for us...not just life, but a life more abundant.
You're never going to see it until you let go of it...think about that.
All NASB 1995 and NASB Scripture Excerpts used by permission. (C) Lockman Foundation.
Wednesday, February 28, 2024
The Rains Have Come...as Promised
by David Brenneman
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall." When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." Matthew 7:24-29.
There within this short passage is a promise...that rains, winds, and flooding would be coming...not just to the Believer but the unbelieving as well.
We read often the phrase "He who has ears, hear what the Spirit says to the churches..." in Revelation 2. Did you catch it that Jesus also said words such as those in the book of Matthew? 11 verse 15.
Listening is more to the point than speaking. Much of what we read in Leviticus on what the Lord Jesus was telling them to be doing on the Sabbath had to do with thinking on, considering, the words of God.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalms 19:14.
How can you have words coming out of your mouth that are acceptable to your Savior and Lord if you aren't listening to learn what's important to Him?
Rains, winds, storms, will always be a part of our lives. Socially, financially, personally, and every way that matters to impacting our growth in Christ Jesus.
But where you have your foundation determines if you're going to survive in a way that glorifies your Father who is in Heaven.
Are you more interested in fantasies of this world rather than reading the truth of God's word?
Are you more interested in statistics of people, sports, etc. than knowing what's right and true from the Word of God?
A great many people will lie through their teeth about answering those two questions. Because the truth is in the living. Proof is in the pudding as they used to say. Our society would be radically different if people who claimed to be living on the Rock, were really after living a life that Jesus speaks of.
I used to bury myself in science fiction because this world wasn't a nice place for people like me. It was my escape. Perhaps you have escapes too that you justify by way of saying you've earned this or that, or it's your 'me time'.
Go all the way back to Genesis...human beings are experts, due to our sin nature, at living a justified existence. We can craft expertly given answers to justify our beliefs and behaviors.
My Dear Reader, IS what's important to Jesus Christ important to you? ARE you proactive, intentional, in reading the Bible He has given you to be reading? Are you at all more interested in what it has to say than what psychology has to say about your thoughts and way of life?
Are you at all desiring to be a hearer of the word and a doer of it?
My head is full of useless facts, things learned, things read about that I have never done.
Be ready...because when you choose to lay aside something from this world to replace it with being intentional in living with Jesus...your mind will fight back. Will give you excuses and sound reasons to not do things to grow you in Christ. Will get you to justify not doing it.
It all starts with prayer.
Jesus said that if anyone wishes to come after Me...what? Deny himself, take up his own cross and follow Him.
You have to be intentional on saying no to yourself. You can't do that alone. Pray for whatever is important to Jesus for you and listen.
Jesus is returning soon...will you be found as a doer of the Word?
The rains, the winds, the storms of life are a promise. Where you build will determine how well you survive and grow. A tree only grows tall and old because of rains, winds and storms. It drives the roots deeper.
Welcome what you are going through. See now what it means elsewhere that says to give thanks for everything?
Change your way of thinking and listening before you speak.
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Unacceptable Declared Acceptable
by David Brenneman
"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the food of his God. For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles. No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a defect is to come near to offer the Lord’s offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the Lord who sanctifies them.'" Leviticus 21:16-23.
"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.
In what we read in Leviticus, someone like myself, wouldn't have been able to approach the Lord.
Yet because of the finished work of God through Jesus on the cross, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21.
In Christ, because of Jesus, I can approach the Lord Jesus Christ.
People like me, or others out there in this world, who have defects physically, have none spiritually...all because of Jesus.
Being accepted by people has always been an issue with me. My Savior indeed saved me in 1974, however, and in His name and because of His love, I was made perfect before Him...His love for me never to diminish nor fade with time. However, the world was never and has never been so kind.
My life in public schools was, mostly, torturous. To say the least, I do have a very intense hatred for bullies. Just putting that out there because it's true about me. I will defend those who aren't able to themselves, but for deeper reasons than just to do what's necessary and right.
Even throughout my life, my childhood colored my views of people. Was watching a small video clip of Dr. Charles Stanley this morning. He said he had had a conversation once with someone and this person was giving a different perspective on God than what he knew. They had went into great detail. He said that it had the potential to color his views about God. You don't listen to wrong things and not be impacted by them. The video clip was too short but I wonder if he went on to talk about how Paul wouldn't even listen to such people even for an hour.
We may or may not have heard of the saying "garbage in garbage out".
What you take in becomes a part of who you are. Paul had also wrote about taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus. We live in a world, in a society, that loves to spend time thinking that they aren't thinking...some refer to it as veging out. Becoming a couch potato. Immersed in fiction or even what might to some be harmless activity such as sports...watching for hours. Regardless of what you believe...hours spent doing something have a positive or negative impact on your walk with Jesus.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."...for the reason of our relationship with Jesus and God our Father.
In my life I have physical limitations. In my salvation in Christ Jesus...I have none. In my physical world I wouldn't have been able to approach the Lord Jesus Christ as it said in Leviticus. In the grace and mercy of God in Christ Jesus I can.
You too might be thinking that you're too far gone to be of any earthly good to Jesus.
You might be dwelling on physical infirmities that limit your life...that you can't see how Jesus could use someone like you.
Jesus said "“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
In my anxiety in my early years as a Believer...I would say that I wish then that I had the understanding of that passage as I do now.
In this world, I might not be accepted by people, in my true home in Heaven, I am fully accepted by my Savior Jesus Christ because He said so. As some say "God said it, I believe it, that settles it".
This message today is certainly for someone out there. I woke up in the early hours of today when I really don't need to be up this early and I couldn't let go of this.
My Dear Reader, you ARE accepted fully in Christ Jesus as long as you have come to Christ for salvation and have received His free gift thereof.
You don't need, I don't need, the acceptance of people to be valued by my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus cannot love you any more nor any less than what He gave for you by being nailed to the cross in your place.
It's why I love the song Charley Pride had out decades ago called "He Took My Place".
He took my place, He took your place. He made those such as you and I right before God because of the resurrection power through Jesus Christ. For the Believer, the Father looks at us and only sees Jesus. His true and perfect Son.
Find peace in the truth that a life in Christ Jesus allows all to come boldly to the throne of grace.
Monday, February 26, 2024
Much More Than Anyone Knows
by David Brenneman
"Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:6-9
"So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11
I have been around for some time and have seen, have met, many in my life. From the plain unbelieving to the demon possessed. Have heard many excuses as to why people don't want to believe in God from simple denial to anger about it.
As I told one last year...it doesn't matter what people choose to accept or deny...the Bible, which has indeed withstood the tests of time...will be proven right, true and accurate. The Word of God will indeed be completely found to be fully accomplished at the end of time shortly after the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ.
In no way during the final judgment...actually in no way at the Behma seat for Believers...does Jesus ever ask a single person a single question to clarify their thoughts or intentions for any moment of their lives for which they are giving an account.
Jesus isn't interested in our opinions of His Word...He wants our obedience to His Word.
Whether or not a person wants to accept the Word of God as factual or true is irrelevant. Dying without Jesus as your Savior and Lord you immediately wake up in torment in Hell. That too is the Word of God.
Whether you want to accept the Bible for what it is or are after picking out the parts you like and tossing the rest...the whole Bible as written and protected by the Spirit of God will come to bear on the lives of all human beings.
For hundreds of years of writing in the Old Testament, the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was foretold in detail. Yet the Jewish leaders didn't catch it. Guess what? Their belief or unbelief didn't change or alter the outcome. Jesus still came. Satan could do nothing to prevent it. Satan tried on many occasions to try to kill Jesus as an infant and probably throughout His early years. He knew full well who Jesus was and where His life was headed...to the cross. To his defeat.
Whether or not people choose to believe will not change the outcome of human history.
How human history plays out will always fit the plan and purpose for humans as written by God through those chosen by Him to do so. We are not going to 'rise above' the coming judgment of God as written.
This is what is meant in Isaiah 55:11. His perfect will WILL be accomplished. He intends to seek and save the lost until the last who will be born that are to be saved are saved. Nobody will stop this from happening.
No government ideologies are going to stop the will of God. Read the beginnings of the Gospels...governments tried to find and kill Jesus.
Jesus told all of us truth.
Truth that includes knowing that we battle not against flesh and blood. We are in a Spiritual war. Lives are on the line. Where people spend eternity is at stake. Cultivating lives that are growing in Christ Jesus is what's important..
Oh my Dear Reader there's much more going on in your world than you know. Jesus is working all things together for your good...as He defines it. We're to be ready and obedient in what He gives you and I to be doing. Our definitions of right and good aren't what Jesus sees them as.
Take time to pray a prayer that Jesus opens your eyes to see what you're really here for. It's not at all about peace and prosperity. It's not about a slice of Heaven here on Earth. It's about our obedience in growing in Christ and doing what He's called you to be doing. To become more like Christ every day.
Pray for eyes to see, ears to hear what the Spirit has to show you and tell you. Then pray for your obedience in that.
In Proverbs it says that the fool says in his heart that there is no God. This does not alter the outcome of the Word of God concerning those who take that stance. There's millions of the foolish waking up in Hell every single second. All who are there are fully aware of the truth that there IS a God and that His Word is what was and is right and true...not their opinion.
Pray for all whom the Spirit brings to your mind. There are those who need a prayer to push them in the right direction towards Jesus. Jesus said that prayer would be needed to do what's necessary in the lives of demon possessed people. Jesus taught His Disciples how to pray with priorities...His Father's priorities.
Take time today to stop n listen.
Make it a habit. Start.
Oh there's much much more in store for you and I than we know or can fathom.
Jesus is waiting on our obedience.
Sunday, February 25, 2024
God's Will in God's Timing
by David Brenneman
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" Romans 8:28-31.
We read here of those predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son. In another place we read of how we're His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that we might walk in them. In still another place, to the Thessalonians, it's written of what the will of God for you and I is: our sanctification. Our becoming more like Christ Jesus.
Our obedience to the will and word of God should never be limited. We shouldn't only think of speaking to Him before eating. Before something heavy on our hearts and minds. Before a church service.
What kind of quality relationship would you physically have if that's how you treated someone supposedly near and dear to you?
Do you truly listen to them or let it go in one ear and out the other? Do you cut them off whom took the time to talk to you? Honestly if that would be how you treat people in your world then maybe you do have serious relationship issues. If that's how short your devotional attention span is towards people you claim to care about...it would give me serious pause to believe you have a deep abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus cultivated relationships all around Him. Jesus cared deeply for those who came to Him. Jesus went to the cross for those who loved Him and every single person who hated, rejected, Him.
Do you at all pray for those in your life? Do you have the names of people come to mind at various times? Ever considered that was the Spirit prompting you to pray for those people? I do.
Quite frankly my mind often seems like it's running its own software that's different from most other people. I never learned how to study. Never learned how to memorize Scripture. Never have been able to remember names, places, or most of what I do in a day 24 hours later. Yet here, every day for several years now, Jesus meets with me to write something for hopefully someone out there in His world.
People who come to mind to me are triggers to pray. My loyalty to friends often goes farther than what is reciprocated. I will forgo sleep to complete something for a friend. I will go out at any hour of the day or night to help a friend in need. It's not just because of how I was raised, it's because that's what Jesus would do.
I have friends that I pray for that I dearly wish we could pick up where we left off. I have co-workers whom I only worked with for barely 90 days whom the Spirit doesn't let me forget. I have people whom did me wrong whom I obviously don't forget. I have people whom the Bible says that I ought to be praying for.
Listening to the Spirit is as important as praying. You cannot approach the Throne of God in prayer doing all the talking!
There probably isn't a single individual who has ever succeeded in over-talking a teacher in a classroom setting. At some point every student is told to wait their turn to speak.
The Spirit is not just there to help us grow in Christ, but is our Teacher. Jesus called Him the Helper who would come.
All Believer's have a place, a part to fulfill, in the body of Christ. All are placed as He sees fit. We do not place ourselves in the work of the Spirit of God as we desire, but as He desires. Get it? This isn't about our thinking we are smart enough to choose our own role in the body of Christ. We aren't. What He would have you do might not look like anything you ever considered or imagined.
But you must be willing to obey. You don't have a resume to offer God that's got certifications, degrees, etc. that matter in your part of the body of Christ. He wants you, your full obedience, regardless of what it appears to be.
How IS your relationship with Jesus? Are you at all checking up on the people He put in your life for His reasons? Because they indeed are in your life for His reasons, not due to them coincidentally appearing in your life. Do you care as much about these same said people that He does? These too are hallmarks of a life becoming more like Christ.
Yesterday was really hard for me. Yesterday I learned of someone whom I had respected actually not being who I thought he was. As Jesus said you will know people by their fruits...his fruits are rotten. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. What's worse is realizing there are still others at that same church who still are the same. This man had taught on Spiritual Disciplines. Yet the reality is he certainly never lived them out. Now there's years of victims in the mix.
Yet I have to pray for him. I have to because the Spirit says so. I mentioned a close friend earlier whom I pray for. We moved and I had hoped to renew that friendship. I pray for him practically every day. I pray for whomever the Spirit brings to mind. The former Pastor whom lead me to Jesus has his own ministry. I pray for him and his Wife. I pray for family. For those of them who speak to me and those who don't.
I pray for those whom I have no doubt are demon possessed. The Spirit has said in the Bible that demon possession would rise in the last days. Well, my Dear Reader, we are in those days.
What do you do to encourage and embrace your walk with your Savior and Lord Jesus Christ? How do you show Him how much you love Him?
Regardless of how I am treated by people whom I would like to know better, I pray for them.
Our country wants something better in our leaders. What does the Bible say? Pray for your leaders and those in authority over you.
We all want to run before we know how to walk. As my Saturday Group Leader often says, "Keep pace with Jesus. Don't get ahead of Him".
Take some time right now to re-evaluate your commitment to your life in Christ Jesus. If at all you think it's off...come back to Jesus in the right way. Walking with Him the way He wants...letting go of what you want.
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Oh the Heartbreak and the Admonition
by David Brenneman
"God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices." Acts 19:11-18.
It's with a heavy heart that I bring up the fact that I've seen such happen to people that I knew.
Two now, who had been at one point from a church my Wife and I had attended, so torn down Spiritually. One was so possessed that he left family, friends, etc. that he pursued changing genders, name, everything. Yes, that's demon possession. This second, after an illicit affair and having left that church in disgrace, went to other churches that were mentioned in an article I was just drawn to in searching out his name. Wondering what became of him.
My heart breaks because this second one had been the one to teach a class on Spiritual Disciplines.
It brings to mind a saying "There are none so blind as those who will not see".
The taking on of the Spiritually dark forces in this world are not for the inexperienced nor is it for those who are thinking they are making a name for themselves. It's not a game when eternity is in the balance.
My Dear Reader, Jesus was not just out for a walk when He decided to come to Earth to save mankind.
Born as a helpless baby, read for yourself all the times Satan attempted to kill Him, knowing full well the consequences of failing to do so. He wanted Him dead BEFORE Jesus could speak. Think about that. He knew full well the power in the spoken Word of God...especially from the Author!
On at least one occasion the Disciples tried to cast out a demon and couldn't. Jesus said plainly that it was due to the littleness of their faith. At that point it wasn't even as big as a mustard seed that Jesus went on to talk about.
I have been face-to-face with people who are possessed by demons. My God was and is still greater. His promises of protection were active and alive then as they are now.
There's a spirit, a soul, on the line.
Satan's not wanting any to come to the truth of God's Word and the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
Scripture says that in the latter days demon possession will be more rampant.
Without naming names I am around at least one demon possessed person even in my world today.
You, probably are as well.
Does the theme of this post bring to remembrance all the places in the New Testament where Paul told us to be on the alert?
He spelled it out just what we're up against.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12.
Things happening to us and around us we need to seek out in prayer before handling ourselves.
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8.
We cannot face him on our own and in our own strength without exceedingly great difficulty.
Believers cannot be possessed by demons. Once the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the hearts of those who are in Christ Jesus, there's no way He leaves under any circumstances. This lends to an understanding of why it's said in at least one place in the New Testament of being sure of your salvation in Christ.
My Dear Reader, please be sure of your salvation in Christ Jesus!
Jesus is the only answer to demonic possession. You may indeed be as I am currently, only able and permitted, to continue to pray for their release.
Jesus told His Disciples that that particular kind of demon only comes out by prayer and fasting.
We're not talking school yard bullies. We are talking demons who do not want to turn souls over to the salvation that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Pray to have eyes that see what God needs and wants you to see in yourself and others.
Pray before leaving your home.
Pray during your day.
Pray on, pray over, pray through.
Jesus is returning to put an end to all rebellion against the authority of God in Christ Jesus. We have this hope and need to be about His Father's business daily. Growing in Christ is but one reason we remain here. Telling others about Jesus is the other.
Keep praying my Dear Reader, keep praying.