Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Receiving your restoration and forgiveness

Jeremiah 31:3-4 (NKJV): ... Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.

The word 'build' (or 'rebuilt) here comes from the Hebrew word 'banah', which means 'repair, restore'. Notice the word 'again' here? Yes, He can do a miracle and build you again. And if He can restore the glory of 'virginity' again in His people, there's nothing that He cannot do for your life, no matter what had happened, or what mistake (or mistakes) you have made recently.

Though this chapter (Jeremiah 31) speaks about the nation of Israel, it is also applicable to you, because you too are God's precious child. And if you will return to Him, there is forgiveness for you. Sorrows will be turned to joy, and mourning into dancing. 'Tambourines' here speaks of 'joy and celebration', and He wants you to be 'adorned' with such again.

The word 'virgin' here has spiritual meaning, not just literal (or physical) meaning. There are two Hebrew words for the word 'virgin' in the Bible, namely 'bethuwlah' (see Genesis 24:16) and 'almah' (see Genesis 24:43). In Jeremiah 31:4, this word 'virgin' is 'bethuwlah', from the root word meaning 'separated', and implies 'something so precious, like a treasure (or a rare, hidden gem)'.

In Christ, you too are separated unto God (i.e. made holy), 'precious, like a treasure (or a rare, hidden gem)' in His eyes. You may not think so (how precious and valuable you are), but the truth is this is how God sees you today - washed by the Blood of Jesus, made holy, precious, like a treasure (or a rare, hidden gem), and bought with the price of His own Son!

Jeremiah 31:16-18 then says, 'Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they (God's people) shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord. That your children shall come back to their own border (i.e. where they are meant to belong or supposed to be). I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself; "You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull; Restore me, and I will return. For you are the Lord my God."'

The word 'restore' here speaks of  'returning to the starting (original) point (where one is supposed to be), or receiving back something that was lost'. The word 'Ephraim' here is from the word 'Ephrathah' in Hebrew, meaning 'fruitfulness'. As God's precious child, you too are supposed to be fruitful in all that you are (or do). This is His original plan for you!

Know also that no matter what mistake (or mistakes) you have made in life, He still loves you. And the Bible says He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). In fact, He loves you so much that He's willing to carry them all just for you! All the sins, the cross, the shame! (Isaiah 53:3-5)

In Luke 5:17-26, a group of men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Jesus. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the roof (tiling) into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said to this paralyzed man, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." He then said to this man, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.", and immediately this man was being restored and made whole, to be who he was supposed to be.

As you can see above, God's restoration work flows easily when you know that in Christ, you are already forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Forgiveness leads to healing and restoration. As you receive your forgiveness, may you also forgive yourself and forgive others, so that your prayers will not be hindered (Mark 11:23-25). And if you find it hard to forgive, trust that He will help you. Philippians 2:13 says, '... for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure'. Amen.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A time to protect your mind!

Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV): If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Recently, somebody asked me how to be set free from a distracted or wandering mind, and the answer I gave was Colossians 3:1-2. You see, a person may be declaring God's Word over and over again, but if done 'mechanically' or as a 'chore', his (or her) mind can still be wandering miles away! So, it is more than just declaring or confessing God's Word aloud, but to set one's mind (in KJV, 'mind' here is translated 'affection') on what God says in the Word!

By the way, the word 'set' here is 'phroneo' in Greek, which means 'to interest oneself in, to entertain, to set the affection on'. In other words, the apostle Paul wrote that we are to 'interest ourselves in' or 'set our affection' on things above, i.e. Him and His Word, His glory, His power, His goodness, His love, and His grace (supply, ability), instead of 'the things on the earth', or worse still, the things of the 'enemy'!

During a time of worship and prayer the other day, God spoke these words:
"Let not your mind wander away from Me! Let it not be distracted by the enemy! Let it not be distracted by what the enemy says! Let it not be distracted by whatever the enemy throws against you - the sickness, the lack, the problem! But let it be set on Me! Focus on your own 'Bread', and not the enemy's 'bread'!"

People of God, there's an intense 'battle' in the spiritual realm over the area of the 'mind' at the moment. This is a time to 'watch and pray', just as Jesus had said in Mark 14:38. Never get distracted by whatever the 'enemy' has to hurl at you! Instead, focus on your own 'Bread', the Word of God, no matter what! If you begin to focus on (or 'entertain') whatever the 'enemy' says (instead of what God says), he's got you! The Bible says to 'be sober, be vigilant (watchful); because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' (1 Peter 5:8).

I'm writing about protecting your mind here, and let me tell you that Psalm 91 isn't just a psalm about physical protection, but it also includes secrets to the protection of your mind! The key in this psalm is actually found in the very first verse that says, 'He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty'. If you have the revelation and understanding of this first verse, you'll have no problem believing for the rest of the promises of God's protection in this psalm!

Many people don't know two of God's names are actually written in the first verse of Psalm 91:
God Most High (El Elyon); and
God Almighty (El Shaddai).

Set your mind on God Most High (El Elyon):
The expression 'Most High' here is 'Elyown' in Hebrew, which literally means 'Elevated, Supreme, Upper, Lofty', and the first time 'El Elyon' is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 14:18-20 that says, 'Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High (El Elyon). And he (Melchizedek) blessed Abram and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High (El Elyon), Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High (El Elyon), who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And Abram gave him (Melchizedek) a tithe of all'.

'Melchizedek' comes from two Hebrew words - 'Malkiy' which means 'king', and 'Tsedeq' which means 'righteous, prosperity'. In other words, 'Melchizedek' means 'king of righteousness' or 'king of prosperity'. He is a 'picture' of Jesus Himself, whilst 'Abram' is a 'picture' of you and me. See the word 'blessed' here? 'Melchizedek' was there for this one sole purpose - to bless Abram! Today, know that Jesus (who is the king of righteousness and the king of prosperity) is here to bless you too! Galatians 3:13-14 says, 'Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith'.

So, people of God, with the revelation and understanding above, you can protect your mind (from the trickery of the 'enemy') by immersing your mind on the truth that you are blessed of the Most High God, made righteous through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), and not just that, He is also here to prosper you! (3 John 2)

Abram then gave Melchizedek 'a tithe of all'. You see, Abram knew that he was blessed, therefore he gave. Today, in the New Covenant, it is the same with your giving to the Lord. Giving tithe is not a donation or a casual giving. And you give to the Lord not because you fear He'll curse you for not giving. Jesus has already carried all the curse! (see Galatians 3:13-14 again) But you give to the king of prosperity, the El Elyon (Possessor of heaven and earth) with the revelation and understanding that this king of prosperity wants to bless you even more (through your giving to Him)! Notice that's how Abram began to prosper from then on! (see Genesis 15:1, Genesis 15:5)

Set your mind on God Almighty (El Shaddai):
The word 'Almighty' here is 'Shadday' in Hebrew, from the word 'shadad', meaning 'to be burly (i.e. strong), powerful, impregnable (i.e. cannot be overcome, cannot be broken down)'. Indeed, He is a God who cannot be overcome and cannot be broken down! And Psalm 91:1 says you 'abide (remain, stay, be permanent) under the shadow of this Almighty ('Shadday')'! No wonder later on, the psalmist wrote, 'A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it (i.e. the work or trickery of the 'enemy') shall not come near you'! (see Psalm 91:7)

Not only is He the Almighty, He is also your All-Sufficient God! This word 'Shadday' is from the root word 'Shad' in Hebrew, which actually means 'breast of woman or animal that provides milk for the young'. You see, He is a God who meets more than enough for you, like the breast of the mother who provides milk for the young; all-sufficient, enough, and the young has no need for other food!

And very interestingly, the first time this name El Shaddai is mentioned in the Bible can be found in Genesis 17:1-2 that says, 'When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God (El Shaddai); walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."' What a promise! Yet at that very juncture, Abram didn't even have a son born by his own wife! And he was already ninety-nine years old by then, and his wife eighty-nine years old, way beyond the age to conceive!

But God! And because He is the El Shaddai (the All-Sufficient God, the One who meets more than enough), God then said to Abram, "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations." (Genesis 17:4-5) He then said further, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her." (Genesis 17:15-16)

God continued, "(Not anyone else) But Sarah your wife shall bear you (Abraham) a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him... My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you (Abraham) at this set time next year' (Genesis 17:19, Genesis 17:21). And the set time indeed came to pass.

People of God, whatever situation you may be faced with at the moment, the El Shaddai who covers you under His shadow (Psalm 91:1) is saying the same to you, just as He has said to Abraham, "Is anything too hard for Me?" (Genesis 18:13-14) Therefore, immerse your mind on this truth that 'under the shadow of God Almighty (El Shaddai)', there's really nothing too hard for Him in your situation as well! And of course, 1 John 4:4 says, 'You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (i.e. the work and trickery of the 'enemy'), because He (the Almighty, cannot be overcome and cannot be broken down) who is in you is greater than he who is in the world'. Amen!

The Bible says, 'He (the Most High, the Almighty) is the same yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13:8). And just as He had done for Abraham those days, God (the Most High, the Almighty) is here to do the same for you today! Be blessed as you immerse and set your mind on your El Elyon and El Shaddai, and you can be sure whatever work of the 'enemy' (that tries to come against you) cannot touch you. In Jesus' name. Amen!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jesus has the 'last laugh' over the enemy!

Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV): The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

One may ask, "But why 'seven ways', and not 'six ways', 'eight ways', or any other number of ways?"

From the many commentaries I've read on Deuteronomy 28:7, I like the way Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki (Rashi) put it: "So is the custom of them that are terrified, to flee, scattering in every direction."

'Seven' in Hebrew is the number for 'completeness, perfection'. So, 'seven ways' here can mean 'scattering in every direction', or 'a complete overcoming (or victory) against the enemy'.

In cross-reference, Judges 7:20-22 says, 'Then Gideon's three hundred men blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers - they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing - and they cried out, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army (of the Midianites) ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man's sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army (of the Midianites) fled...'

In another cross-reference, and this time in Elisha's days, 2 Kings 7:6-7 says, 'For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses - the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of Hittites and the kings of Egyptians to attack us!" Therefore, they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact - their tents, their horses, and their donkeys - and they fled for their lives'.

The word 'fled' in both the cross-references above is from the same word 'flee' in Deuteronomy 28:7, pronounced 'noos' in Hebrew, which means 'to vanish away, or to be chased out completely'.

People of God, if you have been feeling discouraged or defeated lately, Deuteronomy 28:7 is for you. You may even want to personalize and declare this verse over your life right now:
"The Lord causes my enemies who rise against me to be defeated before my face; they come out against me one way, but flee before me seven ways, scattering in every direction! In Jesus' name. Amen!"

Recently, I heard these words from the Lord:
"I have the final victory! I have the 'last laugh' over the enemy! I have overcome it for you! This is the time to receive the faith and anointing to take authority and triumph over every spirit of discouragement and defeat that has been sent by the enemy against you."

Just to be sure, I then scoured the dictionary to find out what exactly 'last laugh' is defined as, and here's what I found out: 'Last laugh' means 'the ultimate success (or victory) achieved after a near failure or loss (or an apparent failure or loss)'.

This immediately reminded me of Jesus Himself. The enemy thought he had won when Jesus was hung on the cross! In fact, no one on earth, by seeing it, thought Jesus was the winner at that time either! But God! And how foolish of the enemy to believe that he had won! Because little did he know that he was about to be 'checkmated' big time!

So who has the 'last laugh' here?

Jesus!

People of God, because you are in Him, know that you too have the final victory, the 'last laugh' over whatever the enemy has to throw at you! As Jesus is, so are you in this world! (1 John 4:17) Victory is yours for the taking today. Declare: "Now thanks be to God who always leads me in triumph in Christ!" See the word 'always' here? Yes, always! The Word of God says so! Claim it! Believe for it, and receive it! You'll have it! In Jesus' name! Amen!