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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Groanings of the Spirit

I am home, recuperating from knee replacement surgery, and I want to continue to talk about intercessory prayer. Anyone who has had any kind of surgery knows that the spirit is willing to pray but the flesh is just too tired, too hurting, or sometimes (thanks to pain medication) too much out of it to pray! Last time I talked about the Universal Pain-Assessment Tool that hospitals and doctors use to ascertain your level of pain. This assessment is useful in providing guidance for pain medication doses. A 0 on the chart is no pain, and 10 is unbearable. When you get to #5 on the scale, your pain causes you to be unable to do some activities. It's right about there that the Holy Spirit kicks in with the groanings and utterings mentioned in Rom 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Perhaps you have seen an old western movie where the hero is in a mine and and things start shaking loose and the timbers start to creek and groan. A ship's timbers will do the same thing in stressful seas, always reacting to the stress in such a way as to keep things from falling apart. They take the stress upon themselves in order to prevent a cave in, or a ship that would bust apart at the seams! This is what the Holy Spirit does for you in your stressful situation. You find yourself in such agony or dire straits that you cannot even find the words or the spirit to pray. And the Spirit comes and wells up inside you and makes perfect intercession for your hour of trial. He did it for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and He will do it for you as you lay in your hospital bed at level 5 or worse of the Pain Assessment Chart! Here's the thing about the groanings of the Holy Spirit. They won't fail! In the movies the mine almost always caves in, but God hasn't lost one yet. Don't bolt. Hang in there. Endure! This trial is only meant to accomplish something in you for your own good. And when the dust settles, you'll be able to say with Paul in Rom 8:28, “All things (even this trial) work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

One of God's Tools For Handling Pain

It's been a week and a day since my knee replacement surgery under the able hands of Dr Kuplic of the Orthopedic and Sports Institute of the Fox Valley. Things are going well and my first visit to the physical therapist after the surgery was very encouraging. I am very thankful to the Lord for everything that has taken place leading up to the surgery and whatever may follow. To Him be all praise and glory! Those of you who have undergone any kind of surgery are likely familiar with the “Universal Pain-Assessment Tool” which is used to help diagnose and manage your pain. The nurses constantly use this tool to find out where your pain level is at and then medicate accordingly. 0 = no pain on the scale and 10 = unbearable. I am very thankful that my pain level hovered around the 3 mark (mild on the scale) with an occasional burst to a 5 (moderate pain) when my surgical area was stressed due to physical activity. At the number 3, the patient can do “most activities with rest periods.” But at 5, the patient is “unable to do some activities because of pain.” I am so thankful that God has His own tools for addressing the pain in our own lives. One of those tools is the prayers of other believers. Remember the men who took apart a roof, so they could bring their paralytic friend to Jesus for healing? This man was in no condition to come to Jesus on his own. He was at a 5 or more on the Universal Pain-Assessment Tool, but his friends brought him to the Lord! They interceded on his behalf and “when Jesus saw THEIR faith,” He answered their prayers for healing on his behalf! There were times leading up to my surgery and hospitalization that I was like that paralyzed friend. Immobilized by fear, and sometimes wracked by physical pain I was in no condition to physically pray. To be honest, today was the first time in a long time that I was able to spend some quality time in the Word and talking to my Savior! So I thank those of you who have been praying for me. Those of you who had a tap on the spiritual shoulder to lift me up in prayer! You, by the grace of God, have helped me through a difficult time and may the Lord reward you accordingly! Job 42:10 says, “And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” I have a friend who just came home from the hospital after his own knee replacement surgery and you can be sure I have been praying for him and those times when he gets above 5 on the Universal Pain-Assessment Tool. How about you? Is there anyone in your life now facing some sort of physical, spiritual, or emotional pain that scores higher than a 5 on the scale? You know, that point where they may be unable to “do some activities because of the pain in their lives?” How about taking time today to lift them up to the Lord for His healing touch!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I'm Still Here!

I get about 7,000 views per month worldwide on my daily blog, and it's at times like these I feel I need to let my viewers know what's going on. As you may or may not know, I use this daily blog as a live on-air devotion on 919,915 The Family out of Appleton Wisconsin. Therefore if for some reason it has not been updated, it's likely due to technical error, or (more likely) I'm not at work on this particular day! It's why there is no blog updates on weekends, holidays, sick days, or vacation days. I did this so the on-air devo and off air blog would always be in sync! Right now I am in the midst of a long period of absence, as I convalesce at home from some major knee replacement surgery. The doctors tell me I will be unable to work for at least three to five weeks. Let me say first of all that I am greatly humbled to have that many viewers of my blog site, plus many more who listen to the radio station, or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and on You Tube. My prayer is that I will always be true to the Scriptures and thereby offer words that will, in accordance with 2 Tim 3:16, be (1) profitable for others. (2) provide reproof where needed, (3) correct those who need correction, (4) provide instruction for righteous living! In the days ahead, I ask that you will all take the intercessory role of Aaron and Hur and lift me up in prayer that I may regain my strength and be back on the airwaves again, wielding the sword of the Word of God that He has by grace placed in my hand!. Ex 17:11-13 says, “ And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Thanks again for your prayers, hope to be back on the airwaves soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

63 Times the Bible Tells Us To Fear Not

199 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7) I have a pet peeve and it involves the phrase “fear not” as found in the Bible. Perhaps you have heard it said or seen it posted on social media as gospel truth that the phrase “fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times, once for every day of the year! I know I have quoted this in the past, but then one day the Berean in me decided to check it out. Funny thing, my concordance shows the phrase fear not appearing in the King James Bible just 63 times. Ummmm, that's a little short. The idea of 365 “fear nots'”, while comforting, just isn't true. However, having said that, the concept of trusting God and not fearing is found in many places in Scripture and worthy of noting. Fact is, if it were only found in this one place in Timothy, it would be and should be enough! The recent results of the presidential election in America has stirred up the very real emotion of fear for many of those who voted against Donald Trump. The news media is long on showing us the results of this fear, but short on offering solace and comfort. That's where we, the church ought to come in. Let's just try and put the shoe on the other foot. 81% of white evangelicals cast their vote for Trump, but I wonder how those voters would've reacted to a Clinton victory? It would be foolish to think that there would've been no fear. Fear, needs to be dealt with and perhaps that's why it is indeed mentioned often in Scripture. Followers of Christ ought to have a leg up on others in the matter of fear, and if fear is gripping a believer, then we ought to point to those “fear not” verses of consolation in Scripture. If fear rises up in the heart of an unbeliever and in the streets of a nation, then we ought to take note that the nation needs Jesus. So, as we see these fearful reactions to circumstances, the best thing we can do, is pray for and work for revival. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and denigrate the protesters, but let's get past that and see the real solution. People need Jesus. How can we best bring Him to them?

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Antithesis of Fear

198 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 1:6,7 “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:6,7) Whenever we see the word “therefore” in Scripture, we need to go back a couple of verses and see what the therefore is “there for!” This “therefore” is connected with the genuine faith of Timothy. Because Timothy had come to genuine repentance and faith he is being reminded by Paul to rekindle the gift of God that was in him through the laying on of Paul's hands. With the specific mention of Paul's laying on of hands, we should get the idea of a passing of the baton to Timothy. This could be likened to Elijah passing his prophetic mantle on to Elisha! 1Ki 19:19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. Elijah would soon be departing and the gifts and authority of Elijah needed to be passed on to the next generation. Likewise Paul would be departing soon and his gifts of preaching, teaching, admonishing, and his mantle of authority were to be passed along through Timothy. These gifts passed along to Timothy were just as real as the gift of repentance and faith given to him and they must not be allowed to sputter and die! Fan the flame! Give the Holy Spirit air! Do not let fear douse the fire. There certainly was cause to fear with the persecution of Christians that was taking place, but Paul reminds Timothy that the Holy Spirit is the antithesis of fear. He is power! He is love! He is a sound mind, (that is a mind that is under control, not panicking, due to exterior circumstances.) Perhaps fear is creeping into your life due to external circumstances today. Remember this verse! Claim this verse! The Holy Spirit who is in you from the birth of your faith is not of fear! There is no dread in Him. He is power and love! Fan this gift! Tap into this gift as needed! And may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Holy Tears

196 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 1:3-5, “ I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Tim 1:3-5) As I read this, I keep wondering, “What was Timothy crying about? Why was Paul “mindful of his tears?” Why did the tears of Timothy fill Paul with joy! There is a connection between tears and joy! It's like the psalmist said in Ps 126:5 Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.” These tears of Timothy are likely connected to the tears often accompanying repentance! Paul speaks of Timothy's genuine faith being brought to mind through these tears, and genuine faith is always connected to genuine repentance, which is godly (often tear producing) sorrow over sin. 2Co 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” By the way, there is a huge difference between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world. The tears of worldly sorrow pour forth only because the offender has been caught, he or she has been found out, and there will be a price to pay, hence the tears designed to stir up empathy, and temporary regret, but the tears of genuine repentance pour forth from the realization that the guilty party has offended a holy God. A God that loves them so much that He sent His only Son to die for their offense! The tears pour forth in part due to the realization that the price has been paid by God's Son Jesus! These are holy tears! And I believe these are the tears of Timothy that Paul witnessed and fondly remembered as he awaited his execution in a Roman prison. The remembrance of the tears of Timothy persuaded Paul that Timothy's faith was genuine and that Paul's work with the gospel was not in vain, but God had used him to lead someone to repentance and saving faith in Jesus. Think about your own time of genuine repentance, and perhaps God will stir up new tears of thanksgiving! Think also of your brothers and sisters who have experienced repentance and then thank God that the Holy Spirit is still in the business of leading people to genuine repentance and a flow of holy tears!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Power of Remembrances

196 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 1:3-5, “ I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Tim 1:3-5) Thank God for remembrances! We should not forget that Paul is writing this letter from a Roman dungeon. His home now an underground prison with only a hole in the ceiling to let in light and air! Peter has already been crucified upside down, many other Christians have suffered similar martyrdom, and Paul is on a short list of who's next. His friends have abandoned him, only Luke remains at his side! But Paul thanks God for bringing Timothy and his genuine faith to mind often! (without ceasing!) Many long hours in the dungeon and I'm sure Paul was assailed by doubts. Was this really worth it? At moments like these God brings to mind Timothy, Paul's son in the faith. He recalls grandma Lois, and Timothy's mother Eunice and how they and Timothy came to the faith of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the preaching of the Gospel! Paul is not talking about the misplaced faith of the Pharisees, but the true faith of Abraham who simply “believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness,” This is the faith that produces a pure conscience! It is the gospel promise that Jesus, (who came from the seed of Abraham) would die on the cross for the sins of the world and as many as believed in Him would have the same right of Abraham to be called a child of God! This Jesus in whom Paul has faith, has cleared his conscience of any wrongdoing. It has convinced him that no matter his past, he will one day soon stand before God and declared “not guilty!” No wonder Paul is overflowing with thanks! It was worth it! It is worth it! We may struggle at times with that same question, “Is this worth it?” When we do, may God cause us to remember the depth of His forgiveness for us and also those times He used us to make a difference in the lives of others, and may we turn our doubts into concrete expressions of praise!