God’s Weight-Loss Program

CHECKING WEIGHT - SEPIA“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” — Hebrews 12:1

Without doubt, one of the most consistent preoccupations of the American mind today is this subject of weight – more specifically, too muchweight. As a result, about every two weeks a new diet plan is foisted upon gullible Americans, and another fortune is made by some clever soul.

Maybe it’s time we looked into this matter of weight from a different perspective: not the kind of weight that an exotic diet will solve, but the burdensome weights that the Apostle Paul admonishes us to lay aside. He is referring to that excess baggage that affects our Christian walk and witness – weights that make it difficult for us to move along as well and rapidly as we should, delaying, and even preventing, progress. The apostle directs us to lay them aside, and the clear implication in this Scripture is that we can do that by an act of our will: put it away! Whether it is hanging on our backs or sitting in our paths, we must move it out!

Weights appear in many and varied forms, and Satan will use any one or all of them to prevent our being the effective Christian witnesses Jesus wants us to be. He will also use them to keep us from having a happy and peaceful life. Some are so commonplace and deceptive that we hardly recognize them as such; we just thoughtlessly pick them up and carry them.

Let’s examine some of the weights noted in the Scriptures:

Possessions:  First, let’s remember the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Luke 18. Having possessions is not a sin, and, in fact, properly handled they are, or can be, a blessing. The problem surfaces when possessions begin to dominate our lives — as was the case of the rich young ruler. How much better for us if we keep our material blessings in perspective and use them in all ways to the glory of God.

The Cares of the World:   In Jesus’ parable of the sower, as recorded in Matthew 13. Here is a weight that can get so heavy it will simply override the things of God. We get so wrapped up in jobs, social schedules, sports, and selfish desires that our church attendance and commitments are relegated to a lower position on our priority list. Then there is too much busyness. God expects us to provide for our families. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that he who provides not for his family is worse than an infidel. But he also reminded Timothy that there is a place where we are to be content – not continually striving for more.

To some men (even Christian men) their jobs take precedence over everything, including God and family. The same is true with some women. This is a terrible weight, and it will drag our vital fellowship with God to a complete stop.

Self:  Self can also be a weight. We need to consider carefully whom we are serving and whose will we are concerned about. How did Jesus deal with this problem of the importance of “self”? His whole attitude and focus can be summed up in this one statement: “I delight to do the will of my Father,” He said. “I do the will of Him who sent me.”

The Desire to be Seen and Heard: This desire can be a weight. In one of His teachings, Jesus admonishes us to “take the worst seat at the table.” Remember that Jesus washed feet! He also instructed us to do as He did. Remember, it is God’s job to elevate us to the higher positions – not ours.

Timidity: This characteristic can develop into a weight. Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no on is pursuing; [this is actually a picture of timidity] but the righteous are bold as a lion!” and 2 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.”

Murmuring: This habit is one of the heaviest weights of all. First Corinthians 10:10 needs no clarification: “Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured and were destroyed.” Something about us is always destroyed when we murmur. It may be our fellowship with our Lord; it may be our strength or joy, or even our health. But something is definitely affected in a damaging way. God said so.

Beloved, it is important to remember that God never tells us to do something we cannot do. If He admonishes us to put away from us each of these hindrances to serving Him effectively, then He does so in order to make our lives freer and better. He does not intend to add another burden by insisting we do something that is going to make our lives harder. So let’s believe our Father when He tells us the way to a happier and more effective life. Let us eagerly “… lay aside every weight,” and “… put off the old man …” and let us run the race that is set before us with top efficiency – all the way to victory!


© 2006 Ted Pavloff

 

 

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JESUS IS ALIVE! What Does That Mean?

TERRY'S BLUE TREES WITH SUNRISE AND BURST expanded

We’ve just celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What exactly does that mean for us? Here’s 5 truths that are part of our lives as a result of Jesus’ resurrection. Are you enjoying all 5 of these benefits in your life? It’s the heart’s desire of the Father that you experience daily the fullness of the fruit of the resurrection:
Jesus Lives!
Sin has lost its grip!
Death is defeated!
Mercy has triumphed over judgment!
Love has won the victory for all eternity!

 

 

 


 

Killer Storms Are NOT From God

Clouds & Sky 129The state of Florida, as well as the whole southeastern coast of the United States has been preparing this week to face one of the most horrendous storms in the century. Our Gulf Coast — particularly Texas — is currently trying to recover from a storm almost as devastating.  I have friends and family in both places, and their well-being is a priority in my heart. I live in the Heartland of the United States. Most years during the spring and fall, when our seasons undergo a major change, our section of the country, along with the section to the south and east of us, experiences frequent occurrences of severe weather. In recent years, there have been some devastating storms that brought hundreds of deaths and destruction to massive portions of the Midwest.

When horrific events like these killer storms develop, there are a number of people who automatically suppose that God is behind those events — or that He deliberately allows them as a way of teaching or punishing the people on earth. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in response to a number of misguided comments on that subject, by both Christians and non-Christians, I am posting this article in an effort to clear the record and bring to light the truth — both about devastating storms and about God.

Jesus said, in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”

And there you have it, friends. Those words say it all. That one statement by Jesus gives us the definitive answer to the question of whether hurricanes, tornadoes,  and other “killer storms” are from God.  Do they kill?  Do they destroy?  Then according to Jesus Christ Himself, they are not from God.  Where do they come from?  They come from an aberration and twisted use of the natural elements that is orchestrated by Satanic power in operation on this earth.

God made all natural elements, including the elements of weather, to be a blessing to man.  And even in Psalm 8, He tells us that man is to rule over “all the works” of God’s hands.  But man rebelled against God and His purposes in the garden, and listened to Satan instead.  His actions in response to Satan put man in a position of subservience to the devil, and that sin opened the door to a curse that would effect all of the created earth. (Gen. 3 / Rom. 8).  When man gave Satan the right to operate in this earth, Satan then moved into a position of being able to take hold of any of the natural elements, adulterate them, twist them, and use them to inflict evil upon mankind — and the planet itself. He operates this way on a regular basis and then tries to convince the world that God causes it all. That’s Satan’s M.O.

However, that is not the last word in the story.  God’s Covenant with man — which He calls a “covenant of peace” (Is.54) — restored man’s right to rule over the elements again — only through that covenant — and to take authority over those demonic powers.  Even in the Old Covenant, the Lord expected His faithful servants to know how to use that authority over the natural elements.  When Jesus is with His disciples in the boat, they are all still living and operating under the Old Covenant with God. But notice that when they are struck by a severe storm (Matt.8), He tells them that they are showing a serious lack of faith in responding in fear rather than authority.  He finally stills the storm for them, but at the same time, He asks them “Where is your faith?”

Please note that He did not say, “God sent this storm as judgement for the evil that’s been going on.”  Nor did He say, “God is sending this storm to test your faith.” We can’t believe two contradictory things at the same time, friends. We either believe these horrible storms are from the hand of God — or we believe Jesus and recognize them as an evil that we are supposed to take authority over.

As part of the New Covenant, Jesus literally bought back man’s right to govern in the earth as He was intended to do.  We as believers are made the Body of Christ, and since the government is now upon His shoulders – His body – us – we are supposed to be “governing.”  (Is. 9).  The devil still has the right that man gave him to operate in this earth, but we now have absolute power and authority to bind his power and activity wherever we will make the effort.

Since the finished work of Jesus, we are now literally in the highest position of authority on this planet.  Philippians 2 says that every created thing — in heaven, on earth, and under the earth — must bow its knee to and obey the name of Jesus Christ.  Do we believe that?   Ephesians 1 says that Jesus reins over all principalities and powers and that He is the head of His body – which is the Church.   If we are His body, and all things are “under His feet,” then all things are under us as well.  Do we believe that?   Jesus made it so clear: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.”

We now have the blood-bought spiritual authority living in us to take command over every natural thing.  All natural things were created by a Spirit God, and they will respond to the commands of the Spirit God in us.

What do we do with that authority?  In Mark 11 — as well as several other scriptures in the Gospels — Jesus says that if we will speak to a mountain or a tree and tell it to move, and not doubt in our hearts, but believe that it will come to pass, we will have what we say.  And He clearly demonstrated that the same action works with a storm.  Do we believe Him?

Unfortunately, some Christians seem to think that all natural calamities are some kind of judgment from God.  There will certainly come a time for God’s judgment to be unleashed — at the end — but that time is not now, if we are to believe the commission of Jesus Christ to His church.  Jesus said twice in the Gospel of John that He did NOT come to judge the world, but to save it.  He then told His disciples, and all of those who would become disciples, to follow His specific examples and continue to carry on that work of taking the Gospel to the world.  That being the case, we need to get into agreement with Jesus and say God is not judging right now; He is delivering the grace and mercy of the Gospel of salvation. 

HOWEVER: We do need to be aware that when a nation or a people deliberately throw God’s Word in His face and deliberately take a stand or practice things that God clearly says are against Him and His ways, they are literally opening the door to an attack from demonic power.  When we do those things, we set ourselves up for that attack — even invite it.  God isn’t sending it, but it will come.  But even in that kind of situation, God has repeatedly shown mercy and turned destruction away from people — even in the Old Covenant — because faithful believers prayed and took a stand of faith.

Many times in my own life, I have experienced the power of God’s Word and the name of Jesus Christ taking authority over destructive storms, and as a result, I’ve seen those storms dissipated, turned away, and or destroyed.  Many other believers have experienced the same thing.  And yes, I’m talking about deadly tornadoes and hurricanes as well as severe thunderstorms.

But when you are facing a huge battle, sometimes you need a huge, united front to win.  The need in this nation is for a strong united front of faith on the part of the Christian believers to stand in authority against these deadly storms and weather systems.  This whole massive movement of deadly, destructive weather is nothing but a spiritual war being waged by demonic forces, using natural elements.  We must learn to recognize it as such and command the demonic forces to take their hands off — and command those elements to obey the purposes of God in the name of Jesus Christ.

Come on, Church!  Rise up and take your authority! If true believers in this nation will unite in faith, take a strong stand on God’s Word, and take authority over these destructive storms in the name of Jesus Christ, the storms and elements of weather have no choice but to obey.

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Healing Through Praying in Tongues

 

CROSS & DOVE - GOSPELGIFS 2012 darkerMany people do not realize that the ability to pray in tongues is also a very valuable tool when seeking healing from the Lord. Of course, this gift comes with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, because so many in the Body of Christ have been taught that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues are not for today, those Christians do not have the opportunity to take advantage of this avenue to health.

It is not the purpose of this book to teach a lesson on tongues, so we will limit the explanation to the following: There are two different categories of tongues spoken of in the Word of God. One is the gift described in 1 Corinthians 12, which includes both tongues for personal prayer and for giving messages from the Lord in public meetings.

When used for giving public messages, the tongues must be accompanied by interpretation, and scripture explains that tongues used in that category are not necessarily available to everyone all the time. The gift of tongues for messages, along with the gift of interpretation are operated, like all the other nine gifts of the Spirit, and they are manifested only as the Spirit wills. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 gives detailed explanations of how these gifts should be used in public meetings.

However, the second category – tongues for personal use – is given to all believers and, whether or not those believers make use of this gift is entirely up to each person. We must be careful to understand that even if we do not find ourselves used to give public messages in tongues, we have Jesus’ word of promise that we will have access to tongues for personal prayer equally with every other believer. Mark 16:15-17 tells us clearly,

Now, the word translated in English as “tongues” is actually the Greek word which means “languages not learned through natural means.” So, in other words, a totally supernatural gift from the Lord that bypasses our intellect.

The Lord explains, through the words of St. Paul, in Romans 8:2-27, that often “we do not know how to pray as we should.” And, of course, many people, when they are suffering physically, find it hard to pray as effectively as they need to pray. But God has a solution to this problem, and verse 26 tells us that His Holy Spirit helps us pray through utterances too deep for words. (The literal Greek here says “groanings or utterances too deep for articulate speech.”)

St. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, goes on to tell us in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that he wishes we would all pray much in tongues. And he makes clear in verse 14 of that chapter that when we pray in tongues, our minds are not involved – only our spirits. It is true that our minds must make the decision to allow our spirit to be in charge of our prayer, so that we release our tongue to speak the utterances the Holy Spirit gives us, but other than making that decision of the will, the mind has no part to play. As a result of that fact, our own mind, our own lack of understanding of medical conditions, and our own fears are shut out, and our spirit – helped by the Holy Spirit – takes over our prayers.

But possibly one of the most exciting truths in this passage of Scripture is what we learn in verses 2 and 4 of chapter 14. Verse 2 tells us that when we pray in tongues, we speak mysteries to God. He can also speak mysteries back to us because He’s in charge of the language. We must do the actual physical speaking, but He provides what’s being said in the sounds we make. But since we’re speaking mysteries, not only does our un-renewed mind stay out of the picture, but so does the enemy of our souls, because he can’t understand what we’re saying either.

But wait: It still gets better. Verse 4 tells us that the one who prays in tongues edifies himself. Now, most people consider that verse to mean that we build ourselves up spiritually. And, of course, we do, but that’s not the total benefit. The word translated “edify” means “to build or repair the house.” Now, let that sink in: your spirit is praying (with the language provided by the Holy Spirit), and that prayer is building/repairing your spirit’s house. And what is that house? That’s right – it’s your physical body. A number of Christians have learned that healing – especially for seriously troubling or obstinate maladies – can come successfully through praying in tongues. I know of situations where nothing else seemed to bring the desired manifestation, but praying at length in the language given by the Holy Spirit accomplished the work and brought forth the miracle.

As we’ve said each time we’ve discussed one of the means of healing that God prescribes in His Word, these means and these practices are not formulas. They do not work because we follow a list of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s. They are each an avenue that God has provided to get His healing power into us, and they work successfully when we dig into the Word and prayer and let God lead us to the specific means that is right for each of our situations at that particular time.


* Excerpt from Healing Is For You! by Sandra Pavloff Conner


Graphic: © Jim Sutton @ gospelgifs.com

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Wait Three Days

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”     (Psalm 27:14)

FLOWERS UNDER UMBRELLAAs Ben left his office in lower Manhattan, he followed the usual pattern for Friday and stopped by the little flower stand on the corner to pick up a bouquet for his wife. The stand was unpretentious, and the lady who operated it a study in contrasts of human nature. Elderly, frail looking, shabbily dressed, and yet, a pleasant personality with a perennial smile.

Although Ben had stopped by the stand of the “flower lady” every Friday for months, he had never taken the time to talk to her beyond making his selection. But this time was different; something prompted him to comment.

“Every time I come by here you seem to be happy.”

“Sure, why not? Everything is good,” she replied.

“Well, you mean you don’t have any troubles?”

“Oh yes, just like that man walking over there, and you, and everybody, I have troubles. But when trouble comes, I just think about Jesus and Good Friday.”

“What do you mean?” Ben asked, somewhat puzzled.

“Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, the worst day in the world. But after three days came the greatest day in the world … Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and everything was OK. So, when I have trouble I tell Jesus about it, wait three days, and everything always turns out OK for me too.”

Interesting philosophy … “Tell Jesus then wait three days.”

But there is a dilemma here; we are part of a “want-it-now” society that will not wait any length of time for anything. Even the most elementary student of the Word cannot help but notice that our God is just the opposite. He is organized, deliberate, extremely patient, on time, and always successful. Have you ever wondered about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and why the climax of that earthshaking event had to wait until the third day? He died on Good Friday; why didn’t God the Father bring Him out of the tomb the next morning … or even late Friday night?

We must remember that when Jesus died on the cross, only His physical body experienced the phenomena of death. His Spirit lived on and continued to function in the Father’s business. His Father had much for Him to do during the period described as “three days and three nights.”

He told the repentant thief, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” Here is solid indication that upon His Spirit’s separation from His body, at the instant of death – on that day (today), He traveled to Abraham’s Bosom … Paradise, where all the faithful saints of old were peacefully awaiting that moment of fulfillment. They had believed the prophets and anxiously anticipated the coming of the Anointed One, but fell asleep in death before the appointed time. Can you imagine the excitement among those joyful souls, as they saw with their own eyes the vindication of their faithfulness? Then, the Risen One completely emptied Paradise and escorted all of the jubilant saints to heaven. Just think, they will be seated with us at the great wedding feast.

Now, on to the next job.

In 1 Peter 3:18, we are told that His body (flesh) was put to death, but He was alive in the Spirit and (in the Spirit) went to proclaim His victory to the spirits kept in prison. Those who rejected the message of God’s spokesmen, and (v.20) who thumbed their noses at Noah, as the Creator waited patiently for them to repent. All of the deceased unbelievers, now in Hades – the place of torment — saw the Messiah as He presented Himself as a proclamation of His eternal victory and proof that God’s Word was and is true!

And now, one final detail before Sunday morning. Our Lord faced Satan, himself, toe to toe. Undoubtedly the devil thought he had Him, and probably summoned every demon he had to join him in trying to keep the King of Kings in hell. Now, Satan is not stupid, but he does stupid things, and this act ranks as his dumbest move since his rebellion.

In a flash of divine power, Jesus stripped the evil one of every vestige of authority, and as an act of totally disarming him and his hordes forever, snatched the keys of death and the grave from his grip. Satan and his cast fell back in cringing fear, and could not stop the Messiah as he blasted out of the confines of hell and in a flash, returned to His body in the tomb.

And not a moment too soon, for dawn was about to streak across the Jerusalem sky. The Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit was dispatched by God the Father, and Christ the Anointed One, came forth out of the tomb in His glorified body … the First Fruit of many to follow!

It was the third day!

Hallelujah!

Wait three days …

There is a message here that has eluded us far too long: “Wait three days” or “wait until the third day” are simply metaphors for “waiting upon the Lord.” If Almighty God, Creator of all, had reason to wait three days before He brought His Son forth from the tomb, why can’t we trust Him to answer our prayers regardless of the time span? His Word assures us that He is faithful — that our prayers in faith that line up with His will (His Word) are heard and will be answered.

Sometimes the answer comes immediately. At other times, for reasons only He may know, the answer does not manifest until “the third day.”

Listen to the “flower lady.” In faith, tell Jesus about your situation; then wait three days! He has promised everything will be OK!


by Ted Pavloff

 

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Monthly Devotional 5/3/17 – Our Worthy Sacrifice

`YELLOW ROSE CAMEO HEART

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength.”  (Mark 12:30).

God isn’t looking for any sacrifice except a surrendered heart. Anything else we can offer Him — money, goods, labor, good works, study of the Word, hours of prayer, ministry to others — none of those things have anywhere near as much value to Him as our individual hearts. When we make the decision to love Him with all of our hearts, all of our minds, all of our wills, and all of our strength, then — and only then — have we offered Him what His heart desires more than anything else in the universe.

He created everything we see, hear, touch, smell and taste — everything we interact with — from the tiniest seed planted in a field to the gold and diamonds dug from beneath the ground to the vast array of stars that beguile us at night — all of it was created for us. Without us, none of it gives Him the pleasure He deserves. We are the crown of His creation because we are at the core of His love. Give Him the joy He so richly deserves today. Give Him yourself — without hesitation — without reservation. Our surrendered hearts are the most precious sacrifice, and the most holy worship, we can give.

 

 

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