You Can’t Tie a Man Who’s Already Bound

Who is this “Paul” anyway? Sound a little strange? bound

DBR – Daily Bible reading: Acts 19-21

S. SCRIPTURE
The Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” [Acts 21:13 13 NKJV]

O. OBSERVATION
Paul had been beaten, jailed, and ran out of town by those who didn’t want any part of his message. The Christians at Caesarea tried to keep him from going to Jerusalem. In verse 4 it says, “They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.” So who’s right? I believe that was a test to see just how committed Paul really was. How could Paul be so ready to be bound and to die (vs. 13)? A nugget is hidden away here.

1.Paul Purposed in the Spirit. [Acts 19:21]

2.Paul Goes Bound in the Spirit. [Acts 20:22]

First Paul “purposes”, (or makes a decision); then he experiences the momentum of that decision. This is what catapulted him into a whole new way of thinking and living. He was literally consumed, and driven by the Holy Spirit. Paul wasn’t the kind of Christian that needed to be prodded. He had been prodded once before, and that was enough for him.

A. APPLICATION
As strange as it seems – the Holy Spirit can direct another Christian to be a roadblock on your path in the race you’re running. Am I going to “stick to my guns”, or am I going to go the way of the coward and say,
“Yeah, well it did kinda seem like a crazy idea…” I need to ask myself this morning… “What decision is the Holy Spirit calling me to make?” Do I realize that this morning could be the turning point in my life which catapults me into such a radical commitment to Christ ? Because I’m a bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ – bound by His Spirit – I won’tl be affected by anyone that tries to bind me in the flesh.

P. PRAYER
“Father, it’s my prayer this morning that You would open my eyes to the decision, to the commitment, that You are calling me to make today. I long to be in that place of total surrender where nothing ruffles my feathers, and where all I see is souls, and the finsihed line of my faith. I’ll gladly be bound in the Spirit today! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

N.I.N.O.

Last nite I shared a message with my young people about N.I.N.O. Now, for those of you who aren’t up on the latest “Techy” terms it means, “No Input, No Output.” Basically it means that if the right data input isn’t typed-in, then you’re not going to get the right result. It’s like when you want to change your profile on MySpace… if you type in the wrong HTML what’s gonna happen? Exactly! A messed-up profile! Many of us get messed up results in life, not just because “the devil is after me!”, but because we haven’t taken the time to put the proper spiritual nutrients into our spirit-man. In fact Mr. Job knew all about this when he said,

“I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12 [NKJV]

In other words, God’s Word is what sustains us and gives us supernatural strength.

Now there’s another acronym that is along these same lines, and it goes like this… G.I.G.O. Heard of this one? “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” Just try eating a solid diet of Hershy’s candy bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner… just for a week! [I know, I know… that’s gross.] But so many of us are pumping garbage into our mind and hearts non-stop 24/7, and we wonder why we get so irritable and feel like “Devil’s food” everyday?

Here’s a couple quick tips to get the right “stuff” into your system:

1. Go Get You a Strong Devotional-Life!
Living from crisis-to-crisis has to stop. Get back to spending quality time with the Lord each and everyday. There’s no short-cut to spiritual growth.

2. Invest in Some Good Q.T.A.’s!
Q.T.A.’s are, “Quiet-Time Accessories”. Get yourself a good Bible, maybe even buy a new Bible, start fresh! Buy some fluorescent pens and begin a new journey with God! Next, get yourself a Daily Bible Reading Plan. This will give your Quiet-Time some focus. You’ll know where you’re going to read each day and won’t be intimidated by the thickness of God’s Word. Then I would say, invest in a Spiritual Journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a spiral notebook works fine. This where you write down what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. It’s also a great outlet for frustration. “Are you serious?” Just read the Psalms! That was King David’s Spiritual Journal! And then lastly make sure you invest some quality, un-hurried time in prayer to God. This is going to energize you more than a double-shot at Starbucks!

Just remember those acronyms: N.I.N.O., G.I.G.O., and Q.T.A.’s, and develop your spiritual-life!

“Church Molesters”

So horrible and sick! This is happening in Churches around the world, and the Lord of the Church is about ready to lock somebody up!

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Cor. 15-16

SCRIPTURE

“For I am the least [worthy] of the apostles, who am not fit or deserving to be called an apostle, because I once wronged and pursued and molested the church of God [oppressing it with cruelty and violence]. 1 Cor. 15:9 AMP

OBSERVATION
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase of molestation. I’m not taking about priests, pastors or Sunday school workers. I am talking about those who are molesting the Church. The apostle Paul was once guilty of such a heinous crime. Back in the day he would do such cruel things to these kind saints. I wonder how many of us have forgotten just how bad we have been before we came to Christ. Even Paul here, after being used so mightily by God, stands his ground by saying, “I am the least [worthy] of the apostles, who am not fit or deserving.” Why is it that after awhile of being a part of the Church that we somehow think we deserve so many things? We used to be so grateful just to be saved. And yet after being saved for a few years and after attending Church Sunday after Sunday we begin to get a little rough around the edges, and then we spite the Church and, in a sense, “molest” it by our critical attitudes. We become “Church Molesters” by speaking against the way “they do” Church. We speak against our precious leaders that God has set in place, and thus we spear at the very heart of Christ and slap His innocent children in the back room of our griping sessions. If we’re not careful the Lord of the Church will incarcerate the “Church Molesters” and throw away the key.

APPLICATION
I am just amazed at the holy humility I see here in the apostle Paul. He is so real and transparent. He knows he doesn’t deserve the blessing of being apart of the ministry – the work of God. He seems to be living in such a way that he knows where he is going because he understands where he has comes from. This morning I want to remember all that God has done in my life and how grateful I am to be where I am. God doesn’t owe me anything. I’m fortunate to be alive, not to mention be in the ministry. I want to gain a new appreciating for the Church – God’s House and make sure I’m doing all I can to protect and stand up for her.

PRAYER
“Lord, I know I’m unworthy to be called by your holy Name. Please forgive me for taking your Holy Spirit for granted and for not maintaining the humility that I see the apostle Paul. No matter what others do or say empower me today to stand firm until the very end. Let me be a blessing, and not just seek a blessing. Fill me afresh today. Give me a new perspective. Anoint me with fresh Oil I ask. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Prepared for Battle

So many today are not prepared for spiritual battle. Worse yet, those who are suppossed to be used of God to set others on fire are wasting their life.

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Cor. 12-14

SCRIPTURE
“For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” 1 Cor. 14:8

OBSERVATION
Though in the context Paul is talking about speaking in tongues it is a very interesting analogy that he uses. Here’s the deal. We have been called to fight the good fight of faith [1 Tim. 6:12, 2 Tim. 4:7]. We are not only called to be ready and prepared for battle, but we are commanded to prepare others! “Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples!” [Isaiah 62:10]. Isaiah 58:1 declares, “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet…” So, I am called to be ready and prepared for battle – fighting the good fight of faith as well as training others to do the same. My voice is actually to be like a trumpet. Think of that! Here’s the question. How clear is the sound coming forth from my mouth, and my life? How clean is that sound? Or is there any sound at all? A good way to gauge these questions is to ask myself, “are others around me desiring to fight the good fight of faith because of my life? If not, I need to see what kind of sound is coming forth from my life. Is it uncertain? If so, why? Is there insecurity? Is there sin? Does my trumpet need a little adjustment? Or do I just need to go back and learn to “play the trumpet” in the privacy of my own prayer closet?

APPLICATION
Before I preach to others I must first preach to myself. Before I prepare a message for people I need to prepare my heart before God. After I have does the necessary “heart maintenance” then (and only then) can the Holy Spirit begin to use my life for His glory. Once I have sincerely prepared my heart I had better use the trumpet of my life! There’s too many “silent witnesses” these days who sit around on Church chairs doing a whole lot of nothing. The Apostle Paul said with heart-wrenching tears… “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” [1 Cor. 9:16]. Wrench-out your heart here, or wrench it out on Judgment Day, but we must awaken ourselves to the signs of the times and rise up like never before to declare this glorious good news of the gospel of our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It’s all or nothing. Are you ready to start preparing for battle?

PRAYER
“Lord, I feel a sense of urgency. Too long I have been sitting around polishing the trumpet, but not blowing the trumpet. I’ve been “blowing it” in the flesh, but haven’t yet understood just how crucial my role is in your Kingdom. Help me today to be re-awakened to be prepared for the battle – to fight the good fight of faith. Today I take hold of Eternal Life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Getting Back Into Focus

Glazed eyes and spiritual dizziness needs to be stopped! The perfume of the flesh cannot be matched with the extraordinary fragrance of His Presence.

SCRIPTURE

Jeremiah 48:10-11 “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully, And cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood. 11 “Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs, And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, And his scent has not changed.”

OBSERVATION
Being honest before God I feel I’ve allowed some things to settle. Someone on the outside might say, “But you look fine! In fact it seems like you’re on-fire for God.” But as they say, “the nose knows.” And Jeremiah says, “his scent hasn’t changed.” In other words God is saying… “You ain’t smelling like a rose to Me!” This Scripture has always had incredible life-changing significance to me in difference seasons of my life. It just keeps coming back to me as if to slap, and re-slap me in the face. The Holy Spirit wants to pour me from “vessel-to-vessel”.

• From mere “prayer” to intimacy.
• From a “half-hearted container” into the cup of the zeal of the Lord
• From the “gotta-do-it Styrofoam cup” to the golden chalice of “it’s my honor to serve you, Lord.”

APPLICATION
My habit is to use a 1-hour prayer frame as a general marker to be reached everyday, nothing “special” – just a starting point. It’s not to earn God’s favor, but to merely place myself in a locked-in time frame where I give the Holy Spirit time to change me. “Could you not tarry one hour.” I guess I’ve gotten busy the last week and a half. Ministry trip, Church, meetings, paperwork, being tired, family… the list goes on and on. But still Jesus sits by Himself wondering what happened to the tears I shed in prayer for more of Him. It’s time to get back to my prayer commitment. It’s time to get back to looking over and revising my life’s mission statement, and setting new goals. It’s time to pursue, overtake, and recover all!

PRAYER
“Lord,. I come to you this morning ashamed. I know it’s not what you want for me, but I know it’s better than living in the smell of apathy. My present condition is nothing of intentional sin, but rather of neglecting my “so great a salvation”. Scheduled, business, and even ministry – I myself take full responsibility for allowing them to overwhelm me. Please forgive me today. Empower me to get back into focus, and to rise-up to be the man of God that you’ve called me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Around the World in 3 Verses

Stuck in Church?“Lord, please don’t send me to Africa!” is the prayer of many Christians today. But maybe that prayer is twisted for a reason. Could it be that we’re not seeing something?

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 67-68

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 67:1-3 “O God, in mercy bless us; let your face beam with joy as you look down at us. 2 Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind. 3 How everyone throughout the earth will praise the Lord!” TLB

OBSERVATION
1. MERCY: Mercy Comes First. God is always the initiator, and man is the respondent. What a wonderful thing Mercy is! When we ought to be judged, God has mercy!

2. SHINE: Then God’s Face Shines Upon Us. No mention here of us doing anything to make God happy. And yet when we receive His Mercy it thrills the heart of God. No longer is there any barrier. Now we have wide-open fellowship and communion with God.

3. EVANGELISM: The Right Response. Here the Psalmist is so overwhelmed with the Mercy and the shinning Face of God that he says, “Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind!” This is God’s desire. It’s not something we have to conjure up. It’s not that we’ll have a world-wide ministry, but it’s the natural prayer of someone who has experienced God’s Love. How can we not want everyone to know this great Mercy and Love?

APPLICATION
Barriers, walls, sins, strongholds, transgressions, anger and resentment – this is why we need Mercy. Until we humble ourselves and ask for Mercy we won’t get past any of it. But as we do – anything is possible with God smiling over your life! If I don’t have this burning heart for world evangelism and Missions could it be that I haven’t experienced Mercy? Could it be that God isn’t pleased with me? I want to take some time to really pray about my heart today. Because deep down I really want everyone to hear the Gospel, but I am willing to pray that God would literally send me around the world to do it? What kind of sacrifice are we talking about here?

PRAYER
“Lord, how I desire to pray like the Psalmist. But my heart needs Mercy. My heart needs You. Please have Mercy on me this morning. Let my heart burn with a day-by-day passion to see the Gospel declared in all the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Caught Drooling…

Have you ever been caught drooling? How embarrassing! But before the “drool” is the “signal”. I wonder how many Christians today are “signaling” without even knowing it.

Daily Bible Reading: Matt. 23-28

SCRIPTURE “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Matthew 25:5-6 KJV

OBSERVATION
Most believers know about the 10 Virgins, and how that 5 were wise, and 5 were foolish, and that we should be like the 5 wise virgins, (obviously). But, this morning I saw something: “They ALL slumbered and slept”. These are actually 2 different words. “Slept” is= totally asleep. But the other word, “Slumbered” actually comes from 2 words= 1) Nodding, and 2) signaling. Have you ever seen someone beginning to nod off? They’re signaling to everyone, “Look at me, I’m exhausted! And I’m about to fall asleep.” Well, in these Scriptures even the “wise virgins” were caught drooling. Have you ever been caught drooling? How embarrassing! But before the “drool” is the “signal”. I wonder how many Christians today are “signaling” without even knowing it. As they hold on to the “pillow” of their secret sin the drool of a cold and indifferent heart is like a screaming ambulance signal in Heaven, and… in Hell.

APPLICATION
It also mentions that there was “a cry made”. This is amazing, because even though we might be drooling on our pillow of slothfulness still the Holy Spirit is trying to get our attention. He could just let us settle on our dregs at the darkest moments of our life, but He intrudes with His own signal! His strong desire is for us to be fully awake, fully filled with Oil, ready to do the will of God, and ready to meet the Lord in Heaven at any moment. We need to hear the signaling cry of the Holy Spirit today.

PRAYER
“Lord, let me not slumber, let me not nod off in my spiritual walk with You. I don’t want to be caught drooling in apathy when You come. I want to be fully awake – busy doing Your will. I also pray that not only would I be awake, but that You would use me in this generations to cause others to be awakened! In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”