(1 Corinthians 2:12-14)
If you or I are more concerned about what others think of us, we are not fellow heirs with Christ. Sound harsh? No, it isn’t because the truth doesn’t wrap itself into a pretty package to make it more palatable. Listen to these words of Jesus to His disciples, they have great application to you and me today. “Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36) Twice Jesus states that this world is not His and that His kingdom is not in this earth. Yet, because we have been so fortunate in the United States to have built this country on biblical principles and morals and respect for God and country, we have come to expect it to always be so and feel entitled to our freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while living on this earth. Unfortunately that does not line with up scripture. What was good has become spoiled and defiled. Greed and materialism, humanism and sin have taken root and have become a force of evil that is set to destroy anything, everything and anyone of God.
God warned the people of Israel through the prophet Isaiah with these words, “Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; And their honorable men are famished, And their multitude is parched with thirst.” (Isaiah 5:13) “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21) Those words are for you and me today. Even many who are believers have become so like minded with the world that they call evil good. And yet they believe they are walking in the Spirit of the Holy One. As we begin this journey we need to take a minute and allow the words of the Apostle Paul to speak to us and search us thoroughly. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Are you beginning to feel uncomfortable and ready to close down this devotional already? That is exactly what Satan wants you to do! I understand these are hard words. My heart is very heavy as I write them. Believe me, I have no idea where a devotion is going when the Lord gives me a scripture. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me and I am always so deeply touched and challenged by His words. My dear friends, for this very reason, the whole purpose of this website is to draw us into intimacy with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without intimacy and being sold out, falling in love with Jesus, we are standing on shaky ground and the storm that is coming will destroy us! "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27)
The Lord wants us to be reminded that He was not talking about physical buildings in this teaching, He was speaking of a life built upon Him, spiritual truth. Our houses are going to fall no matter what we do to protect our physical residences, but remember He was not talking about physical residences, He was talking about those who are His or not His. Again, we are to be reminded that our bodies are the temple of God, not a building. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
When scripture speaks of the “power of God” what do you think of? Do you assume it is physical healings or instant deliverances? While those most definitely are part of God’s power, if that is the basis of our understanding of the power of God we are missing out on the true blessings and power that resides within us through the Holy Spirit.
We may be reminded of the apostles Peter and John and the accounts of people being healed just because they were touched by their shadows. Or maybe the lame man at the temple. (Acts 3:1-10) “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.  And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.  When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.  But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!"  And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"  And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.  With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God;  and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
We are going to break this down into small segments and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding. First of all, this passage does not say that every person Peter and John came into contact with were healed. The power is of God, not man. Please remember that! According to this passage this man had been at the temple every day and Jesus saw him every day that He entered the temple. Jesus had not healed him. Why? Again, the power is of God and the timing is in God’s hands. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Even the name of the gate was significant, the Beautiful Gate means at the right hour or season. This man’s healing came at the right hour, or season, in the plans of God. The man wasn’t aware of God’s plans and neither were Peter or John but all were following the plans of God for their lives and this day God chose to move in power for His purposes. Don’t miss this, the power of God, the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and He had Peter and John stop and give their attention to this man...that’s the power of God at work in us. Peter and John obeyed and spoke as the Holy Spirit gave guidance and then Peter literally took the man’s right hand and raised him up to his feet. At that moment the man’s ankles were strengthened to hold him upright. If Peter had just spoken it wouldn’t have been enough, he had to allow the Holy Spirit to direct each move he made. Notice that he grabbed the man’s right hand. This, too, tells us that it is the power of God that is in Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father. “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19) "But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD." (Luke 22:69) "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)
Please do not miss the man’s response. He went into the synagogue praising the Lord for what He had done! Was he grateful to Peter and John? Of course, but he knew that they were only the vessels God used, that it had been the power of God that had touched him and healed him.
Can we address a serious problem with healing in the church today? There are many who have developed “healing ministries” where they charge pretty high fees to attend their conferences to “teach” others how to heal people. Did Peter, John, Paul or any of the other disciples set up “healing schools” to teach people how to heal? This has gotten so far out of hand in our churches today that no one ever considers that the “healing spirit” may not be of God. Can God use false healers? Yes, God can use anyone He likes, but it isn’t God’s way to “teach” people what only He can do. What He can and will do is choose an obedient faithful servant who is an open vessel to do His will, but it is God’s will, not the person’s ability to do the healing. Now with that said, remember that there are imitators, Satan himself and his demons who will replicate and make it look like it is God at work. Why would they do that? People will then become interested in the process and thus be directed to the spiritual realm where they will become trapped in demonic practices. Please take this issue to prayer and allow God to open your eyes and ears that there will be no deceit. If you still question these words, read the book of Revelation. The antichrist will be killed and come back to life again in three days. Will God heal him? NO! Please test the spirits with spiritual truth! “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.  And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.  I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;” (Revelation 13:1-3)
I often am reminded of the woman with the issue of blood. “A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years,  and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse--  after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak.  For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well."  Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.” (Mark 5:25-29) Numbers are very important in Hebrew culture. Here we are told she suffered with her condition for twelve years. If that wasn’t important it wouldn’t be noted in the scripture. Twelve represents government. She had exhausted every available resource available to her from those in positions of power, as well as all of her financial resources and still had not received any relief but instead her condition had gotten worse. She was desperate, so desperate that she took the chance of going out in public among the people just to see Jesus. Remember, she was considered unclean. She was risking everything. When she saw the crowds she determined that if she could just touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. “came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.” (Luke 8:44) This woman knew the Word of God and her faith gave her the strength to move forward. The garment Jesus wore was the prayer shawl and on each corner were the tzitzit. We’ll let scripture reveal the significance of this. "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2) “Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,” (Luke 1:78) (Refers back to Malachi in which the Messiah was referred to as the “sun of righteousness”.) “and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.” (Matthew 14:36) “Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.” (Mark 6:56)
The tzitzit (tassels) hang from the corners of the prayer shawl and are known as wings and, again, we must know the Old Covenant to understand and apply it to the New Covenant (which in all truth fulfills the Old Covenant but never does away with it). “The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,  ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.  It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot,  so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.  I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.’ “ (Numbers 15:37-41) This lady with the issue of blood remembered God’s Word, applied it and received her healing. While her healing was instant it was a painful and distressing journey that she had endured for 12 years trying every avenue available to her. Does that sound familiar? Yes, we most definitely are to seek medical attention but at the same time we should be petitioning the Lord for understanding and direction. When she heard that Jesus was in town she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity for her healing, she knew it came only through the Messiah. Notice she didn’t go after any other person who wore the prayer shawl, she knew specifically what the scriptures stated. She also didn’t take one scripture out of context, but instead, had an understanding of all the scriptures which told her the whole truth. Do you seek God’s desire for your situation through scripture and prayer? Dear ones, we can’t rely on others to seek God for us, we must be in a personal relationship through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
There are so many scriptures of healings that we could look at but is that the only “power of God”? Absolutely not! Listen to these words of Jesus that give us the truth of the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:13-15)
Think about this a minute. It would be a great miracle just to have the Holy Spirit in this world, but the Holy Spirit actually resides in EVERY true believer! The power of God resides in each and every one of us. Sometimes we just take this fact for granted but let’s think on this a minute. When Jesus walked on this earth He couldn’t be more than one place at a time. Now read John 16:7 again, "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” In verses 13-15 Jesus explains that the relationship that He and His Father had which was the “power” to do His Father’s will, is now given through Him to the Holy Spirit to you and me! We are talking about a living and personal relationship with the Creator of the universe! No one, except Jesus Christ, has seen God but you and I can talk to him every minute of our day! That is absolutely incredible! And Jesus Christ willingly gave His life so that you and I could have that same relationship with the Father that He had. Dear ones, that is the most precious gift in the whole world, it cannot be bought or duplicated. It is the also the demonstration of the narrow path that we are called to walk. "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Those on the broad path do not have the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Which path are you walking on? Please do not base your answer on whether or not you have challenges in your life, base your answer on if the challenges you have were given to you from God as His cross to carry! "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Have you accepted the cross that has been given to you? And, I would be negligent if I didn’t say that your cross may seem to be much heavier than others. Hardships do not mean that you are not walking with the Lord. If you are walking in sin or disobedience you may be experiencing great hardship and when you repent and turn away from that sin you will be forgiven and your relationship with the Lord restored but the hardship may not be removed immediately. There may even be times that it will never be removed, remember that what is critical is that the Lord’s will be done. I’ve shared in the past about a situation in my own life and I will share it again here because it fits our topic for this week so well. Several years ago I developed some medical conditions that were overwhelming but not life threatening. My medical issues just seemed to spiral out of control. I was in ministry and took a leave of absence because the problems were getting worse and I needed surgery. I spent three months in much prayer to make certain that there was not any sin in my life that may have brought about any of the conditions I was experiencing. During that time I came into agreement with the Lord that I could no longer continue in the position I was in and I just assumed that I would find another position in another ministry after my surgery. That didn’t happen and the Lord made it clear that some of the medical conditions were not going to be healed and that I was not going to be returning to a job, not even part time.
At that point the cross I was carrying for the Lord was changing. I now had a couple of disabilities that would change my life in various ways. I knew that God never closed one door without opening another door so as I continued to pray I began to feel as if He was telling me to write. I had always journaled but write? Write what? My husband suggested a blog and I laughed because I knew nothing about setting up a blog. But the Holy Spirit continued to speak and made it clear that I was to write. As I was sharing this one day with my dear brother Esher he also said you need to set up a blog and we will put a link from the Song of Solomon Devotional to the blog. I prayed and the Holy Spirit confirmed. I began a new journey learning how to set up a blog and ended up with a website that was totally directed by the Holy Spirit! That is the power of God in us that empowers us to be and to do what God has planned for us! That is also the definition of grace. I was overwhelmed in God’s grace as I began this new path that He had set me on.
I can either think of the cross I am carrying as a burden or a blessing; I choose to look at it as a blessing. He has opened the door to reach even more hurting individuals than what I could ever meet in the former ministries. At a time in my life that many might think my service is over for Him, it is greater than it has ever been! That is the power of the Lord working in us daily!
God’s ways are not our ways and I am so thankful! He constantly reminds me daily of how much He loves me through His Word. There is power in the Words of Scripture, they are the very life breathed words of our Lord spoken through His chosen servants. No matter how many times I read Psalm 139 I am wrapped in God’s love. I’d like to share one of my favorite scriptures with you and pray that it ministers to you as much as it does to me. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.” (Psalms 139:17-18) God thinks of me (and you) more times a day than the number of grains of sand in the universe! Have you ever tried to count the number of grains of sand you hold in the palm of your hand? Impossible! And when you consider the countries in the Mideast that are desert lands of sand, and the ocean shores and the bottoms of the oceans and even the sand dunes in Arizona, it is totally overwhelming!
In my Bible study time yesterday I was in the Gospel of John and was deeply struck by the following scriptures. “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.  But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,  and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-25) Twice the Holy Spirit directed the Apostle John to tell us that Jesus knew what was in man, meaning He intimately knows every thought and intention of the person. Think about this seriously for a moment. Some of you may be thinking that you haven’t been given “a cross to carry for the Lord” or you have no desire to serve the Lord in ministry of any sort. First of all, please be reminded that scripture adamantly tells us that we are to do EVERYTHING as to the Lord! “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,” (Ephesians 6:7) “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Colossians 3:23) Our life is a ministry to the Lord!
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10) “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
Sadly my dear friends, a great many of those who say they are believers are in the exact place that those in scripture were in the Gospel of John. Listen to these words and then we can put together the pieces which may reveal the stronghold in many lives. “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.” (John 2:23) But Jesus didn’t trust them, He loved them, but He knew the intimate thoughts of their minds. They were living in circumstances they didn’t like and they wanted a king who would deliver them from their circumstances, not a Lord who would reign over their lives. Let’s be honest here, what is it you want from Jesus? Is it to get you out of your circumstances or to give you the desires of your heart? Or, do you want Him to be Lord over your life to guide you in HIS path? Have you surrendered your life to Him? If not, do you have a desire to surrender your life to Him? If not, He will not entrust you with His heart to share with others or to carry out “a mission or plan” for Him. It can’t be both ways my dear ones, we must choose and if you don’t choose-you really have chosen and it is against Him. Please hear the Lord’s heart, He loves us so much that He speaks very clearly so that we have no excuse for not understanding. He even has given us the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and understanding to our minds that we know what the right answer is, but the final decision is ours. Throughout all of scripture we are given insight into the very depths of the heart of our dear Lord.
The prophet Isaiah revealed God’s ways and thoughts to His people and gave us such great insight so that we too could walk in unity and intimacy with Him and bring Him glory. “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.  And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;  But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.  Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.” (Isaiah 11:1-5) God was prophetically speaking of the coming Messiah. Notice in verse 3 that He said that the Messiah would delight in the fear of the Lord! Was the Messiah afraid of His Father? Absolutely not! In fact, it was the exact opposite. They would be so connected, so in love with each other that the Messiah would be obedient to the Father’s will because He didn’t want to ever hurt His Father! Does that describe your relationship with the Father? That my dear brothers and sisters is the “secret” to walking in obedience to the Lord. We are so in love with Him that we want to be a pleasing aroma. We take everything to Him in prayer and the Holy Spirit will reveal His will for us. It won’t always be the answer we may want to hear, but it is not about us, it is all about glorifying the Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth!
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) In one of my Bible studies a few months ago this verse came up and I learned that the translators of the Christian Bibles have actually translated this verse incorrectly and instantly the Holy Spirit confirmed this truth. While it is true that we need to be in scripture and prayer on a daily basis and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us, growing daily in our relationship, our minds were renewed when we accepted Christ as our Lord! “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The question is whether or not you received the “new man” or continued to walk in the “old man” and never grew beyond your initial salvation. Do you still have the need to be fed milk or are you walking in the obedience that comes through surrendering your life and allowing Jesus to be your Lord? Listen to the Apostle Paul as he admonishes those believers who have neglected the gift that they were given. “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,” (1 Corinthians 3:2) “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12)
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.” (Hebrews 5:13) If this is you, rejoice that you have recognized the sin in your life and now can repent and begin to move in His power!
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,  knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;  for he who has died is freed from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,  knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,  and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:3-13)
“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)
Abba Father, You are sovereign over all! Thank You for Your love, Your grace, Your mercy, Your lovingkindness! You are great and greatly to be praised! Forgive us Father for walking in the ways of the world and falling in deception and being led astray by the lies of the serpent. Heal us O Lord our Father! We bow down before You today in repentance, asking for forgiveness and a desire to surrender our desires to You so that we may see clearly what You would have us see and how to talk in this evil world. You are the only Light and without You we cannot see. Let us not be like the five foolish virgins who did not have oil in their lamps and thus were not able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You are the Holy One of Israel and our lives are in Your hand, for good or for evil. We know that one day we will stand before You in judgment. Our desire is to hear “well done good and faithful servant”. We desire Your discipline and teaching so that we have the wisdom which is from above. We love and adore You! This we pray in the Holy Name of the blessed Messiah, amen!