“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

God’s promises are very precious. Not only do they remind us of His personal interest in our lives, but they also provide hope and encouragement during difficult times.

Before claiming a promise, we must check ourselves in three areas: faith, obedience, and patience. First, we must trust Jesus as our personal Savior and live on the basis of our belief in Him. Obeying God is also necessary. If we willfully continue to disobey the Lord, then He is not obligated to fulfill His promise (1 Peter 3:12). Finally, patience is another requirement. God operates on His timetable to accomplish His purposes according to His perfect plan. Waiting on Him is necessary.

At times it will seem as if a divine promise is not being fulfilled. When that is the case, take a second look at the biblical passage to be sure it applies to you. Then verify that you have met any conditions, and examine whether there is a genuine need. If you are still convinced the promise applies, then you can look a little deeper at your request. Will the Lord be honored when this promise is fulfilled? Can He answer this prayer without harming others or hindering His will in their life? Will this help you grow spiritually? These additional questions will assist you in claiming a promise of God.

The Holy Spirit is our instructor, who will teach us about the Lord’s promises. He wants to build our faith through Scripture, provide the strength necessary to obey, and develop in us the fruit of patience. These qualities help us as we look to God to fulfill His promises. What promise will you claim today!

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“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

The eye of the storm is the most peaceful place on earth. While wind and rain wreak havoc all around, pilots who fly storm-tracker planes say that all is perfectly still in that special place. In Psalm 91, David speaks about terror and plagues but says “but it will not come near you.” Why? Well, David tells us why. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver me” (Psalm 91:1-3).

There are two ways to go through a storm: in panic or in peace. When a storm suddenly threatened their boat the disciples cried, “Carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). And where was Jesus? Sleeping peacefully in the back of the boat. That’s because He understood:

1.  To get to where God wants to take you, you must go through certain storms. It’s not optional;

2. When you’re in the center of God’s will the storm can’t take you under; it’s in the storm, not the calm, that you discover this;

3. When it’s over you come out knowing God better, and more equipped to help others! “So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord is an everlasting Rock (the Rock of ages)” (Isaiah 26:4 Amp). That’s what it means to live in the eye of the storm! 

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Understanding who we are in Christ is important if we desire to walk in victory over sin and failure in our Christian life. Although it is not the only step in claiming victory, it is the first step. Confusion about your identity makes you a sitting duck for Satan.

One of the many reasons many Christians don’t live in victory is that they truly have an identity crisis. While we aren’t what we are going to be someday, we certainly aren’t what we once were and we must understand that.

Let’s look at who we are in Christ:

1.  We are children of God.  I Peter 1:23; Galatians 3:26; I John 3:1;  I John 3:3

2.  We are heirs of God. Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:3-6

3.  We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 2:6

4.  We are justified in the sight of God. Romans 5:1

5.  We are new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17a; 2 Corinthians 3:18

6.  We are free from condemnation. Romans 8:1-2

7.  We have everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3

8.  We are more than conquerors. Romans 8:7

9.  We are Spirit-indwelt. 1I Corinthians 3:16

10. We are ambassadors of Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:20

Prayer: O God, remind me of who I am in Christ. Help me remember that I’m forgiven, righteous, whole, filled with your Spirit, justified, and your personal representative. Help me in my daily walk to be who I am and to delight in my identity. Help me to bask in my new name, my new destination, my new companion, and my new agenda. Amen.

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HEAVENLY TREASURE imageOne night, a group of thieves broke into a jewelry store. But rather than stealing anything, they simply switched all the price tags. The next day no one could tell what was valuable and what was cheap. The expensive jewels had suddenly become cheap, and the costume jewelry, which had been virtually worthless before, was suddenly of great value. Customers who thought they were purchasing valuable gems were getting fakes. Those who couldn’t afford the higher priced items were leaving the store with treasures.

In our world someone came in and switched all the price tags. It’s hard to tell what is of value and what is not. Great value is given to the accumulation of material wealth and the power that goes with it. The world puts a high price on popularity, prestige, beauty, and fame. But Jesus taught that such things are virtually worthless in the only “jewelry store” that matters: the kingdom of God.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Earthly treasures—we all know what those are. We can see and touch the shiny sports car, the fancy boat, the big new home, and all the other creature comforts that money can buy. Compared to vague and elusive heavenly treasures, these things seem so real and attractive, especially when a neighbor has them and you don’t.

Why would Jesus warn us about these earthly treasures that seem to make so many people happy? The answer to this can be summed up in three words: “temporary,” “perishable,” and “shortsighted.” We are destined for eternity, but the treasures of the world are not. It’s shortsighted to set our hearts on things that will fade away (Colossians 3:2). What will last forever, Jesus says, is the treasure of heaven. This treasure really is worth seeking,

We lay up our treasures in heaven when we give ourselves to the service of others in Christ’s name. On the great day when Jesus will sit upon the throne of glory as Judge, He will turn to those on His right hand and say, “‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me'” (Matthew 25:31-39).

“Heavenly Father, help me to put you first in all things and seek first the kingdom of God, rather than earthly treasures.

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“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not over- flow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour” (Isaiah 43:1-3).

 What a marvelous promise from the Word of God! So often “life strikes a minor chord” and we find ourselves in the midst of the flood and the flames. When trouble comes we often are overcome by fear. Let me say to you that God’s precious Word can conquer the fears that you have and overcome all your anxieties.

Isaiah 43:1 says, “…Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”       If you are saved (redeemed) you belong to God. He bought you with the price of His own blood. He knows your name. You belong to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the God Who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. He cares about you very much.

Once I came across Isaiah 43:1-3 when I was facing “the flood and the flames.” Never had I faced such fear and uncertainty. I was on the verge of tears for several days as I faced a terrifying storm. Several times I had to get alone with God, and weeping, beg for His help.  I was afraid and needed something special from God to handle this new fear that gripped my heart with an iron hold.

It was then that I began to search the Scriptures for a promise from God that would give me strength to go through the storm I was in with courage and assurance that God was in control. I knew that God was not giving me this fear, for II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” As I begged God for help, Isaiah 43:1-3 seemed to leap off the pages of Scripture and plant itself firmly in the depths of my heart. I found new hope and peace of mind as I rested in this great promise from God.

God does not promise the Christian that he will never have trials. In fact, just the opposite is true. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When thou passest through the waters…when thou walkest through the fire”

Everyone is going to face the “flood and flames” of life. It is true that many things that we must learn can only be learned though trials. However, the Christian can face these experiences of life with assurance that Christ is going to go through the flood and the flames with him to guide and strengthen him. I find three important promises within this wonderful passage of Scripture:

1God’s Divine PRESENCE will sustain us through the flood and the flames.

Isaiah 43:2 says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee.”

We do not face our struggles alone. God is there in every situation. You will never have to face a circumstance, trial, or trouble in which God is not there to bring you through. Every flame and flood has a reason.  I admonish you to lean upon Christ. He will always be there waiting to help and strengthen. He has promised  …”I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

2.  Secondly, God’s Divine PROTECTION will sustain us through the flood and the flames.

The trials of life are inescapable. Every person must face them. But how wonderful to know that God is there to protect us with His omnipotent power.

Isaiah 43:2 says, “…when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned” Certainly the three Hebrew children who were cast into the fiery furnace discovered this truth.

I learned that God’s mighty hand was able to protect even in what seemed to be a hopeless situation. When facing a furnace heated seven times hotter than ever before, God was there to assist.

In fact, after being taken from the furnace, Daniel 3:27 says, “…the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” You can trust the living God for help and protection. He will strengthen you in your time of need.

3.  Lastly, God’s Divine PROVISION will sustain you through the flood and the flames.

Many times it is not God’s will that we escape trouble, but rather His will that we learn of His provision through the trouble. I have seen God heal people, including myself, miraculously. But that is not always the will of God.

As Christians, one of the most difficult lessons we must learn is how to accept the will of God. God’s will is always the best way for our lives, but not always the easiest way.

The Apostle Paul, who had to be the greatest Christian that ever lived, had a thorn in the flesh. It was not God’s will to remove this thorn. However, God did provide Paul with extra grace to sustain him. Pain is a part of living. Even our Lord endured the sufferings of Calvary on our behalf because it was the will of God. God will provide whatever you need to face life’s struggles.

Friend, if the flood and the flames are upon you, turn to the Word of God. Anchor yourself to a promise from the Word of God.  God will be with you; He will protect you; and He will provide for you. He is able, He knows your name, He says, “Fear not.”

Though the flood and the flames are upon you, God’s Word and His grace will sustain you. Never fear, He is there.  And He knows every care. His love and His power will bring victory.

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John 6:1-14

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.  Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.  When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.  After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

Even after the meager bit of food is offered to Jesus, it’s still not very much. You couldn’t feed the “SoFIVE LOAVES TWO FISHESns of Thunder” with it, much less all 12 apostles, much less the vast crowd of men. But here is where the miracle must begin.

All too often, we are quick to make excuses, to evade responsibility, to give up and say, “It can’t be done.” And sometimes we do nothing because we think what we have doesn’t matter. “I can’t sing. I can’t speak. I’m not rich. I don’t have many talents. I’m not beautiful. I’m not well connected. I don’t know many people.”

But things change when we step forward and offer whatever we have to Jesus. He never asks us to start accumulating more before we begin to minister. It’s not as if he said to Andrew, “Go out and round up three dozen more biscuits and 15 more fish, and I’ll see what I can do.”

All he wants is what we have right now. As long as we keep what we have in our own hands, we are limited to what we can do. But when we transfer what we have to the mighty hands of Jesus, there is no limit to what he can do.

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II Samuel 7:18-29

      A blessed man is one who sits before the Lord, meditating on His Word regularly (Psalm 1:1-2). No other man has pursued this endeavor of meditating on the Word more fervently and faithfully than King David. Many of the Psalms are a result of his quietly sitting before the Lord, meditating on His Word.Bible-300x220

David is called a “man after God’s own heart.” To be this kind of a man David had to first know the mind and heart of God. To a large extent, David accomplished this through the persistent practice of Godly meditation. II Samuel 7 is an illustration of this:

Here we see that David had reached a place of rest in his reign. His war campaigns were over. He is now contemplating the building of the Temple of the Lord.

The prophet, Nathan, gives an encouraging message of God’s faithfulness to David and the Lord’s plan for constructing the temple….but that it would be through David’s son, instead of David himself that the temple was built.

David’s response is found in verse 18: “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: ‘Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?'”

Notice the phrase, “David sat before the Lord.” Now he wasn’t sitting in a chair as we would. He was kneeling and sitting back on his heels, listening, and talking to the Lord. David was meditating.

Meditation was nothing new to David because he had long known what it meant to meditate. We read in the Psalms how often he listened and talked to the Father our in the fields. Even when he was running from Saul and dodging javelins, David took time to meditate upon God.

We would do well to follow David’s example and give priority in our life to meditating on God’s Word. From David we learn four principles about meditating on God’s Word:

 1. David Reviewed the Past. Vs. 18

One of the first steps David took in II Samuel 7:18 was to recall God’s blessings, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

* David remembered his battle with Goliath.

* He remembered how God protected him when he was running from Saul.

* He remembered the battles he had won.

Now that he had peace in his life and kingdom, he had the privilege of savoring God’s wonderful works.

When we meditate, we should focus on how God has worked and blessed in our lives.

2. David Reflected upon God. Vs. 19-21

As we reflect upon God, we should consider:

* His Greatness

* His names…

* His Attributes….

Our troubles and heartaches shrink in comparison. In light of his presence and greatness, nothing is impossible in our lives.

* His Grace

* His Goodness

Focusing on our difficulties intensifies and enlarges the problem. When we focus on God, His greatness, His goodness and His grace….the problem is put into proper perspective.

3. David Remembered God’s Promises. Vs. 28

David remembered God’s promise to Abraham.

When we kneel or sit before God and meditate upon Him…we need to remember his promises….promises about:

* His presence

* His peace

* His provision

* His power

David had stood on God’s promises before and now he reflects on God’s sufficiency in delivering on His promises.

4. David Made Request Of The Lord.  Vs. 29

What a tremendous request David made. When we sit before God we shouldn’t just listen…there is a time to request too. David doesn’t just ask God to bless his family…He boldly asked for God’s everlasting favor…And God answered his prayer.

What is your need today? Is it financial? Is it material?  Is it spiritual? Is it help in a relationship with your mate, with your children, with a brother or sister in Christ?

No matter what your need, God has a promise for you.  Why not claim it?

So, how do we sit before the Lord?

* Sit alone: Mark 1:35…….”And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place and there prayed.”

* Sit still: Psalm 46:10…….”Be still and know that I am God.”

* Sit silent: Is. 30:15……..In quietness and confidence you shall find your strength.”

* Sit secluded: Psalm 62:5…….”Wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.”

* Sit regularly: Proverbs 8:34…..”Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at the gates.”

* Sit submissively: James 4:10…….”Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up.”

And what happens when we meditate on God’s Word, when we sit before the Lord?

* Things that worry us lose their grip.

* The things that weaken us, God turns into strength.

* Our viewpoint of ourselves, others, our jobs, our problems and even our enemies change because we see them from God’s viewpoint, God’s perspective.

* Meditation brings peace, positive attitudes, personal Intimacy, purification and a passion for obedience.

Why would we not want to sit before the Lord?

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