Why have so many Christians embraced the idea that following Christ means losing individuality, creativity, ingenuity, and the passion for excellence in all spheres of life? Too many believers are trapped in "the ordinary" when God promised an extraordinary life!
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Zechariah 12:1-13:9 This scripture in Zechariah is a powerful prophecy of when the veil of the Jewish people will be dropped and Israel will be saved in a day. Zechariah prophesies, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born" (Zech. 12:10, KJV).
Psalm 146:1-10 We are fast approaching the new year, and soon we will hear the age-old phrase, "Happy New Year!" Everyone wants a happy New Year. The Greek word for happy also means "blessed." In fact, the Beatitudes in some modern translations say, "Happy is the man who-.-.-.-" instead of "Blessed is the man who-.-.-.-" Let's think a moment about the word Beatitudes. When we break this word down, we see it means the attitude of our being. This psalm states the attitude we should have daily as we live on earth. Listen to the words of David: "While I live I will praise the Lord, I will sing praises to my God while I have my being" (v. 2).
Psalm 145:1-21 I remember as a child praying this blessing before every meal: "God is great! God is good! Let us thank Him for our food! Amen." This psalm expresses the greatness of God. David says, "Every day will I bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable" (vv. 2-3).
Psalm 144:1-15 One of my favorite Christmas hymns is "Joy to the World." True joy can only come from Jesus, and on this Christmas morning we are more aware than ever of this fact. All over the world people are celebrating the birth of Jesus, and their joy is not based upon their circumstances. Their joy is based on the fact Jesus has come to touch their circumstances and every area of their lives.
The United States has seen an awakening in every century of its existenceexcept this one. Billy Wilson says America's greatest need is spiritual revival.
Psalm 143:1-12 In this psalm David said, "I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land" (v. 6). Recently we have gone through a severe drought where I live. As I looked on our land, I saw cracks in the earth, and they seemed to be crying out, "Fill me, fill me." The earth was cracked because there was no moisture to spare it from the burning rays of the sunshine. David was going through a dry time, and the land of his soul felt parched, dry and cracked for lack of the rain of God's Spirit.
Zechariah 4:1-5:11 We sing a song in our church based on this scripture. This song is saying it is not by our own might or strength that we do God's will. It is by the might and power of the Spirit that we are able to do anything for the Lord on this earth. The Holy Spirit is the might and power of God. The Holy Spirit manifests God's works and wonders on this earth, and these wonders and works reveal God's might and power. We can only see the wind by watching the trees rustle their leaves and sway to and fro. God's Spirit manifests God's power and might throughout the earth and also through our own lives. We are vessels of the Lord created to contain His Spirit. We have to remember, however, we are not to keep this treasure to ourselves. We are to manifest God's glory (His might, light and power) to others by allowing the Holy Spirit to rustle us, to stir us up and to pour the oil of His anointing from these earthen vessels to all those we encounter throughout the day.
There are three reasons starting the year with a fast is a good practice.
Psalm 141:1-10 In this psalm David prays a prayer we all need to pray. He prays, "Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips" (vv. 2-3).
When it comes to pleasing God, the big question is, "Can we do it?" Do we have what it takes to make Him smile? Can we who live in an imperfect world, bring a perfect God delight? Can we actually please Someone who is flawless?
Zechariah 1:1-21 As we come nearer to the celebration of Jesus' birth, our thoughts go back to that still, quiet night in Bethlehem when the shepherds were startled by a heavenly host that sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to men." I had the opportunity to stay in a kibbutz in Bethlehem that overlooked the shepherds' fields. As I sat quietly on the balcony I could hear in the distance the tinkling of the bells on the shepherds' staffs as the shepherds led their sheep to a place of rest for the evening. It was a star-filled night very much like the one when heaven came down and glory filled our hearts.
Psalm 139:1-24 This psalm declares clearly how much God is thinking about us. We have an expression in the Christian community we use when we are concerned about someone. We say, "You have really been on my heart." We are on God's heart every day of our lives. Listen quietly and You can hear Him say, "Today, My child, you are on My heart, and I am praying for you." This psalm says, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with You" (vv. 17-18).
Psalm 138:1-8 Through the years I have used this scripture many times as different situations and relationships became a concern to me. It is so comforting to know that the Lord knows everything that concerns us. He knows every person that we are concerned about. It is so exciting to realize that He not only knows all my concerns, but His plan is to perfect everything that concerns me. Listen to these comforting words again "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands" (vv. 7-8, KJV).
Habakkuk 1:1-3:19 The Bible tells us that without a vision the people will perish. It is so important to have a vision or several visions throughout our lifetime. God calls us to be visionaries. He created the imagination to be used for His glory. Satan, however, ever since the Fall seeks to use our imaginations for his dirty work. Satan has the power to plant images in our minds that will tempt us to sin. We see this clearly when so many today are involved in pornography. When we set our eyes on anything that is not holy, good, pure, virtuous and lovely, those images we receive will be played over and over again in our minds. The spiritual battlefield is our minds and we must use the mighty weapons of God (His Word, the blood of Jesus, prayer and the name of Jesus) to pull down those vain imaginations that Satan would use to destroy us. God desires our minds to be stayed upon Him, and when they are, we will have perfect peace. The visions and images God wants us to have are of Him and His plans for our lives.
Psalm 135:1-21 When we praise the Lord with singing, it is pleasant to Him, and He will make our days pleasant if we will sing throughout every day. David spent most of his days singing songs of praise. He was a psalmist. We do not have to be an expert as David with his song writing, but we can sing in the Spirit and sing some of David's psalms all the day long. In fact, this is the way to stay filled with the Spirit. Paul exhorts us in Ephesians to sing spiritual songs, psalms and hymns and to always make melody in our hearts. He shares that this is the secret to staying filled with the Spirit. It is hard to fulfill the lusts of our own carnal nature when we are constantly making melody in our hearts unto the Lord.
Micah 1:1-4:13 The Bible is clear about what causes war. James tells us that wars exist because of our own lusts. I am so thankful that no one in my immediate family ever had to fight in a war, because "war is hell." I heard the testimony of a Christian who was shot down in Vietnam and held prisoner for over a year. His testimony was inspiring, but just think of a day when there will be no more testimonies like his. One day there will be no more war. Micah looks forward to that day when he says, "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Mic. 4:1-3, KJV).
The fear of the Lord is not being scared of God. How can we have intimacy with someone we are scared of? God's greatest passion is to have close fellowship with us.
Psalm 133:1-3 One of God's greatest desires is that we dwell together in unity. One of Satan's greatest desires is that we would be divided. God hates it when men come against each other with accusations and strife.
Proverbs 29:24-25 When I first married, I was so bound by the fear of what others thought of me. I wondered if my mother thought I was a good mother. Did my husband think I was a good wife? Did my neighbors think I was a good neighbor? I remember my next door neighbor coming to my home and telling me how she cleaned her oven and range every day. From that day forward I made sure my oven and range were spotless just in case "Mrs. Clean" dropped by uninvited. Before I was delivered from the fear of man, I never really listened to what people were saying. I was too busy thinking about what I would say to them when they finished talking.
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