Friday, September 30, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Law vs. Grace

Read: John 5; Mark 2:34-3:6; Matthew 12:1-21; Luke 6:1-11
John doesn’t identify which feast this is but I would think it was Pentecost because they were at the Sheep Gate near the pool of Siloam which means “sent”. Pentecost has to do with making disciples and sending them into the world to multiply. It was also about the kingdom of miracles and wonders coming to the Church. This man was trying to get into this pool that was suppose to be a place of healing when the waters were stirred by the angels. It stood for the living water of the Spirit that moves in healing and restoration. Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well and the man gave all the reasons why he couldn’t. So Jesus just commanded him to stand up and pick up his mat and walk. He did. When the Jewish leaders saw him carrying his mat on the Sabbath they asked him why he was “working” on the Sabbath. He told them his story. When they asked the man who healed him, he couldn’t even tell them Jesus’ name.
Later, Jesus found him and told him to stop sinning or he would end up worse than he was. Jesus knew that his sickness was rooted in sin and unless this man got rid of the root, he would never remain healed.
The religious leaders were constantly finding fault with Jesus because of their jealousy. Jesus had everything they wanted. He had authority and could do miracles. He had the respect of the people and their affection and he was not afraid of them. This made him a terrific threat to the religious system since they lead out of manipulation and fear. Jesus lead out of love and submission to God.
Jesus told them that they would be judged by the very person they admired the most which was Moses since he gave the law and they were all about the law. They used the law to lord over the people and control them. Jesus told them that Moses would one day accuse them because they didn’t believe what he wrote. This had to make them super mad! He went on to say that if they had have believed what Moses wrote then they would believe what He said…since Jesus is the law!
Jesus came to bring grace and mercy to the law that brought death. He came to usher in a new and better covenant and to explain the spiritual meaning of the law. The written law taken literally brings death, but the spiritual meaning of the law brings life. Jesus came to make the law become flesh and life-giving!
Lord, help us to embrace your grace and mercy and life that your Word offers.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - The Gospels

Read: Luke 5:1-39; Mark 1:40-2:22; Matthew 8:1-4; 9:1-17
Reading through the Bible in chronological order brings out some things that I have missed before. Luke is the only one who tells the story of the great catch of fish and he is not even a fisherman; Luke was a doctor. Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell about the man healed of leprosy, the paralyzed man who walked, how Jesus called Matthew from the tax collecting table into discipleship and answered the question about why Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast. John is totally silent about all these things.
Each of the gospels were written for a different audience. Matthew, the wealthy tax-collector wrote to the Jewish believers and his theme was that Jesus was the King of the Jews. He saw the royalty of Jesus. Mark, a wealthy Roman, wrote to the Romans and his theme was that Jesus was the servant of Jehovah. Mark must have watched how Jesus, the son of God chose to serve his fellow men. Luke, the physician, wrote to the Greeks and his theme was that Jesus was the son of man. The Greeks were into the greatness of man. Physicians during that day were not the wealthy people they are today. They were the philosophers and the deep thinkers. Luke is the one who gives us an orderly account so his book is in the order it happened. But, John, the fisherman, wrote to the Church and his theme was that Jesus was the Son of God. John only tells of seven miracles. He speaks from a more intimate relationship with Jesus.
I don’t know why John left these stories out but each gospel is strategic in God’s plan. We need to see Jesus as the King of Kings, the Servant of the world, the Son of man, and the Son of God.
Lord, expand our sight to see you in your entirety.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - The Word Became Flesh

Read: Mark 1; John 4:46-54; Matthew 4:18-25; 8:14-17; Luke 4:38-44
John the Baptist is thrown in prison and Jesus continued his ministry going to the people’s towns that had come out to see John. John had prepared their hearts for Jesus to bring them salvation.
When Jesus went back to Cana he was grieved when the man came and asked him to heal his son. He was hoping that they would be hungry for more than just a miracle.
When he returned home he walked into the synagogue where he usually attended. He was handed the scroll of the days scripture. It was in Isaiah. He found the part that explained his ministry and just read a part of it. He stopped before it said, “and to bring the vengeance of the Lord” and said, “Today this is fulfilled in your ears.” (It wasn’t time for the vengeance of the Lord.) Then he sat down. When they questioned his authority to say that he explained to them that he would not be able to do much there because they could not be able to see him for what he really was. They could only see him as the little boy that grew up among them. Then he really offended them when he gave two examples of Gentiles being healed by God. He was using his home town to represent the Jewish nation. They couldn’t accept him as the Messiah because they couldn’t see past his humanity. He was trying to show them that he wasn’t just sent to the Jews, but to the world.
They couldn’t accept any of it so they tried to push him off a cliff. He miraculously walked right through the crowd and escaped.
One of the statements we read repeatedly today was that Jesus spoke with authority. He spoke like he knew what he was saying and that he believed it. He not only believed the Word; he was the Word. The demons recognized it but it took the people a little longer.
Lord, may we eat this Word and become it. We have the very Jesus inside us so may we recognize that and walk and talk with authority.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - Signs and Wonders

Read: John 3 & 4; Luke 3:19-20
Jesus came doing signs and wonders which made the people believe what he said. The church has become a place where words are spoke with little signs and wonders. God wants to bring back his power to his Church…all of his Church. Nicodemus realized that Jesus’ signs were evidence that God was with him. This made him ready to receive Jesus words of salvation.
Jesus explained being born again of the spirit to Nicodemus. He explained living water to the woman at the well and he explained spiritual food with his disciples. He was trying to get them to see outside their natural eyes to the realm of the spirit. It is the invisible world that must be entered by faith. In order for the Church to move in the power Jesus moved in we must be able to see with spiritual eyes.
The Samaritan woman was so blown away at Jesus “word of knowledge” about her life that she was able to convince the whole town to come and hear him. Many of them believed that he was the Messiah.
Lord, may we walk in the power that You did on earth because You are in us.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - Jesus Begins His Ministry

Read: Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-15; John 1:19-2:25
Mark and Luke make it clear that Jesus was tempted the whole forty days in the wilderness even though we know of only three temptations. “Wild beasts” is synonymous with demons. He was out there surrounded by demons and visited by Satan, himself. Satan tempted him with three things that God had promised him already. Jesus was the stone that was turned to bread. The law was written on stone and Jesus took the law and made it life that they could taste and eat. Jesus is the bread of life. The second temptation was for power and glory. God promised him both of these things countless times. The last was the temptation to tempt God by jumping off the Temple and having God resurrect him. One day, Jesus would die and be resurrected and receive glory and honor. Satan’s temptation was for Jesus to get his promises now and not have to go to the cross. If he had done that Jesus would have been famous but the world would still be lost. Satan always tempts us to get our promises now and not go through the channels of pain and suffering which make us wise and able to hold the glory God wants to give himself through us. Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered and we will also.
John came into his ministry preaching the coming kingdom and repentance. He baptized people to be cleansed from their sin. When the Pharisees asked him who he was, he told them he was there to baptize with water, but the Messiah would come who was much more worthy of praise than him. The next day Jesus appeared to be baptized. John announced him to the world, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” He tells them that Jesus existed long before him even though in the natural we know that John was six months older. He baptized Jesus that day and the next day, John’s ministry started to diminish and Jesus’ ministry started to grow. That was what was suppose to happen. John was sent to earth to prepare the people to Jesus and to announce his arrival. When he had finished his destiny, he was taken to heaven.
Lord, let us see our lives like John’s. We are on earth to prepare people for eternity and to announce Jesus to the world. May we fulfill our destiny.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Jesus Starts his Ministry

Read: Matthew 2-3:12; Mark 1:1b-11; Luke 3:1-22
When you read it I hope you saw how many times it mentioned prophecy and dreams. Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies about his first coming to earth and he was preserved and protected through dreams. Dreams are very important in our lives if we will take hold of them and meditate on them. Some times they can be a short snippet that gives clarity to your life.
I had one of those last night. I dreamed that I was in on a building project and we had the best carpenter. That was such a blessing to me because I have been pouring into a family member and am watching as God transforms her and her husband. God is building a new temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts and Jesus is the best carpenter. The result will be perfect!
I used to have a children’s book that showed the star as a huge star that lit up the sky. I wondered why only the wise men saw it. Now I realize that these wise men were astronomers and they spent their nights watching the sky. When a star fell, they knew that a great man had died. When a new star appeared, they could tell what kind of man was born by the nature of the star. This star must have been extraordinary because it made them travel two years to find whose it was.
I also wonder if John the Baptist knew Jesus as his cousin or if this was the first time he had seen him in his life. Either way, something about today showed him that Jesus was the one he had been preaching about would come. He only came to baptize the people to cleanse them of sin so that their heart would be ready to receive the Messiah when he came. That is what the Holy Spirit does today. He cleans out a path in the hearts of men so that they can see Jesus when he comes to them and accept him.
Lord, may your Holy Spirit keep our hearts open to receive Jesus and his baptism of fire.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - The Birth of Jesus

Read: Luke 1:39-2:40; Matthew 1:18-25
When Mary walked into Elizabeth’s house the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She started prophesying over Mary and ended with “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” She knew this was not the case for her husband. Because he refused to believe he was speechless. When he named John, his tongue was loosed and he began to prophesy over his son. He told him that he would be called the prophet of the Most High because he would prepare the way for the Lord.
Next, we have the story of the birth of Jesus. I used to wonder what was so special about Mary that she was chosen. Then I understood that we are all like Mary. God comes to each of us and asks if they will carry his son, Jesus in our womb. It is our choice. When we agree then he implants the seed of Jesus and gives us three gifts to help us: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is wisdom which is gained by our experiences we have in life. Frankincense is what gives us free access to the throne which is the Holy Spirit. Frankincense also soothes anxiety and promotes healing. Myrrh is used during death and it is to help us die to ourselves and come forth smelling like heaven. He also gives us his son which is growing inside and he is the Word incarnate. How can we lose?
This time I read this story I saw Simeon like I had never seen him before. Here was a devout Jew, an ordinary man who loved God and his promises and had spent his life in expectation of the Messiah. Because he was eagerly looking for Christ, he was able to identify him, hold him, and bless him. God visits all who expectantly wait for him.
Lord, help us to access everything you have given us to walk a life pleasing to you.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Believe

Read: Mark 1:1; Luke 1:1-4; John 1:1-18; Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23b-38;Luke 1:5-38
I love to read genealogies which I know sounds crazy, but I do. The genealogy in Matthew is Joseph’s line and the one in Luke is Mary’s line. Joseph was the kingly line and starts with Abraham. It was to be proof to the Jewish people that Jesus was a true Jew. Mary’s line goes all the way back to Adam to prove that he was human. I do want to point out that Adam was the son of God who was a type of Jesus, the son of God and that Jesus was a priest and a king.
Speaking of Jesus…we are finally getting to his life on earth. Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed for a son for years and she had been barren. Zacharias was a priest and it was his turn to serve at the incense altar on the Day of Atonement - the most important day for the Jews. It was the day the people would bring a sin offering to the temple which would atone for the sins of their family and the sins of the nation. On that day all sins would be forgiven for another year. When the angel appeared to Zacharias he told him that he had heard his prayer for a son and was there to grant it. Zacharias’ answer revealed his heart which was unbelief. So the angel answered him in a rebuke for not believing. When Mary was visited by the angle and told she would have a son it seems like she asked the same question but got a totally different response. Mary was wanting to know how it was going to happen, not that it couldn’t happen. Her question was one of belief and surrender but she just wanted to know how God was going to physically do it since she didn’t have a husband yet. So the angle told her exactly how it would happen. Her response was not one of unbelief. Unbelief cost Zacharias his speech for 9 months. Mary’s belief gave her a voice to sing praises to God. Unbelief cost the children of Israel their lives in the wilderness and will cost us a life of powerless Christianity if we let it rule our hearts. All Jesus asks of us is to believe. When you find it hard to believe for a specific thing you are asking for try just believing in God and who he is. Then he is still free to answer your prayer. Unbelief totally shuts down heaven’s response.
Lord, help us to believe in you. All things are possible with You and all things are possible to those who believe.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - The End from the Beginning

Read: Malachi 2:10-end of 4; Joel 1-3
This is the end of the Old Testament so God tells us what will happen in the end. In a nutshell the wicked will be punished and the righteous rewarded. God relates the way they were unfaithful to their wives to the way they were unfaithful to him. God looks at Israel covenant he made with them like a marriage. They didn’t keep their end of the bargain even though he was faithful to them. God promised to send his messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah. We know that this is John the Baptist. He would teach against sin and bring repentance to make them ready to receive the Messiah.
Malachi describes the day of judgement. For those who feared the Lord and honored his name, they will be spared and rescued. It will be a time of great joy and healing for them…for us! For the arrogant who refused to humble themselves before God, they will be burned like chaff.
Amos calls the nation to repentance and tries to warn the people of judgment. He describes the last day as a day of doom and terror. He calls them to fast and repent because: “Who knows, Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse.”
After judgment always comes restoration so Amos sees the time of restoration after the battle. It will be a time of rejoicing and rebuilding.
Lord, let us see the end from the beginning. Help us to see that the battles we are in right now always come with a hope of restoration and rejoicing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - The Dedication and the Priest

Read: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31; 5: 14-19; Malachi 1-2:9
It was time to dedicate the walls so everyone was to come to Jerusalem and celebrate. All the priests were to help in the ceremony. The priests purified themselves first then led the leaders up on the wall to be the choir. The wall was wide enough to ride a chariot on. The choir was divided in two groups and one group walked one way around the wall and the other one went the other until they met in the middle. All the while they were singing and playing instruments to the Lord. I can’t imagine the sound as the people stood in the city and were surrounded by the praises of God. The people had brought so many gifts and sacrifices that they had to put the offerings in storerooms to use later.
The priests read the law and they found out some more things they needed to get cleansed of. The first were the Ammonite and the Moabites. Their ancestors had hired Balaam to curse Israel when they were going through the wilderness. They had also refused to let them go through their land or give them food or water. Now they were refused access to enter the assembly of God. “Ammonites” mean “peoplish or tribal”. Their tribe was not of God but occultism and demonic in nature. Moab means “from father: what father?” Their father was the devil. So the devil is not welcome in the church of God. The next thing God had to cleanse was their foreign wives. The high priest had married a daughter of Sanballat. Sanballat had been Ezra’s arch enemy when he came back to rebuilt Jerusalem. Marriage is a covenant so they had made a covenant with death thus defiling the priesthood. Malachi nailed their actions by saying they show total disrespect to God. when they brought their offerings to the Lord they offered him an offering they didn’t want and they didn’t obey his laws.
Malachi explained the office of the priest. His life should be one of peace and integrity. His reverence of God should make the people respect him. He should preserve the knowledge of God in such a way that the people would come to him to be taught the ways of God. The priest was to be a messenger of the Lord that kept the people from sinning.
Lord, may we be priests unto you and live lives that honor Your name.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - The Exiles Occupy Jerusalem

Read: Neh. 11-12; 1 Chron. 9
People started resettling inside Jerusalem. A tenth were chosen by lot and others could volunteer. This reminds me of divine selection. First Peter 2:9 says that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people that we should show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Jesus said, in John 15:16, that we didn’t chose Him, but He chose us, that we should go and bring forth fruit. These scriptures would pertain to the tenth that were chosen by lot. The volunteers represent people who take the option to follow Christ.
The Jews believe that there are three types of people: the totally wicked, the totally righteous, and the in-betweeners. The in-betweeners are the people whose lives are in the balance and can be persuaded either way. The Old Testament called them the foreigners. If they chose to become part of the Jewish traditions and religion, God told the Israelites to accept them and treat them like their own. I know this isn’t taught in church and it’s not even something we need to dwell on because we don’t know who is who. Only God knows the chosen and the ones that can be swayed. It is our part to love the world as Christ did.
I love to read of these families coming back to Jerusalem. It is like all the prodigals coming home. Don’t you know they had learned their lesson and were grateful for their own land and their own God now. This is so true of us!
Lord, thank you that you welcome the prodigal home with open arms. There is no condemnation with You!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - The Temple of the Lord in Us

Read: Nehemiah 8:13-10:39
On the second day of Tishri, the spiritual leaders met to dig into the Law and understand more. They realized that that month was the Feast of Tabernacles and they wanted to celebrate it. The people were to bring certain branches from the hills to make temporary dwellings for their families to live in for a week. As they lay under these branches at night with their families they were to look through the branches to heaven and teach their children that their lives on earth were temporary like these booths. Their real home was in heaven with God.
The people did this and on the 24th, they met and stood for 3 hours listening to more of the law being read. For the next 3 hours they cried out to God and repented for their sins. The Levites led them in worship and praise to God. They took them back in history and told the history of their nation and how God had moved in their past. It was a cycle of God doing great miracles of deliverance for them and them turning away to idolatry - over and over again until now they were slaves in the very land God promised them. The people made a new covenant with the Lord to follow him and his laws and to not neglect the Temple of God.
We can look at the things they promised and learn how keep the Temple of God holy in us since we are the Temple of the Lord.
1. They were not to intermarry. We are not to mix the world into our lives. We are to stay holy and untouched by the world. We are to live in it but it is not to live in us.
2. They refused to do business on the Sabbath. We must have a day of the week where we rest to regroup, quiet our minds and spirit and refresh. This has more to do with our prayer life than anything. We have to find time to get away and rest in the Lord.
3. Pay the temple tax. We have to read the Word which is the Bread of his Presence, repent, and build up our Spirit by spending time with Him.
4. They were to give the first fruit of all they had. We are to give God every part of our lives.
Lord, help us not neglect the temple of the Lord in our spirits. May it be strong and holy.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - The Joy of the Lord

Read: Nehemiah 7-8:12
Many exiles had come back to Jerusalem but few had opted to live in the city. None of them had rebuilt the city so God moved Nehemiah to number them. God had told David not to number the people because it would make David proud of his kingdom. God told Nehemiah to number the people so the people would be honored to be a part of God’s family. There is something about knowing your name is written down and you belong to something. Our name is written down in the Book of Life.
Next the people gave because they realized they were a part of a great cause. They gave abundantly. Then they wanted to meet together and hear the law read and taught to them. They met on Roshashana and listened while Ezra stood on a platform and led the people in worship to God. He opened the book as all the people stood in respect to God and his Word. As they heard the law read and explained its meaning they realized how much they had strayed from obeying God and were very upset. Ezra, Nehemiah and the priests all agreed that this was not a time to cry but for joy. The joy of the Lord would be their strength. So they celebrated for joy!
How opposite this is from what the devil wants us to do. When we realize our sin, it is right to repent but then we need to let joy strengthen us. Once we have repented, God has forgotten it and we need to too. Condemnation wants us to wallow in guilt and remorse. God can redeem anything that we have done. He is much more powerful than sin.
Lord, help us to enter into joy because our names are written in your book and they will never be erased.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sat.’s Devo- Rebuild the Gates

Read: Nehemiah 3-6
I love the book of Nehemiah! The first gate they repaired was the Sheep gate. The high priest, Eliashib worked on it. His name means “God will restore”. It was the entrance for the sheep to come into the kingdom of God. It had a tower called Hananel which means “the grace of God”. That is how we come into salvation…through grace. The people who worked next to him were the people from Jericho. How appropriate since the first city they came to when they entered the promised land was Jericho. It means “house of fragrance”. When people walk through the gates of salvation they become like sweet smelling incense.
Every gate had a specific purpose so the one I was drawn to was the fountain gate. Fountain means “the eye of the landscape”. It was repaired by Shallum, son of Col-hozeb. These names mean “restitution” and “every seer”. This fountain gate was a watchtower. This was describing the office of the prophet. He was to have the eye of the landscape and be a watchtower in the spirit to see when the enemy was coming. His goal is to bring restitution to the land. That is what a prophet does. He sees into the spirit what is up ahead so he can warn the people so they can prepare. This is the only gate that they had to roof. That is because the door for the prophet goes up and down from heaven to earth. The roof was to protect them from evil spirits traveling their spiritual roads and confusing what they saw. I hope this makes sense.
Of course, you can’t do anything for the Lord and not get opposition from the enemy. Nehemiah had his share of opposition. But he refused to stop his work to entertain them or even argue with them. He called them liars and continued his work. When it was finished the enemy was afraid of them!
Lord, make our resolve like Nehemiah’s. Let us see the enemy for who they are and go about your business until it is done.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Divorce and Rebuilding

Read: Ezra 9, Nehemiah 1, 2
Ezra found out that the leaders had led the people in marrying women outside their faith. These wives had caused the men to worship their idols. The news devastated Ezra so that all he could do was sit and pull his hair out. I know how that feels as we have battled for our family this year.
Ezra prayed and repented for his people and took the guilt of what they had done on himself. His act of humility drew others to join him in prayer and repentance. They agreed to divorce their pagan wives and make a new covenant with the Lord.
They called all the men throughout Israel and commanded them to report to Jerusalem. If the didn’t they would forfeit all their property and be expelled from the assembly of the exiles. Everyone came and divorced their pagan wives and made a new covenant with the Lord.
The pagan wives are a picture of our covenants with sin. Our pagan wives come in the form of addictions and strongholds in our lives. The only way to rid ourself of them is to divorce them and make a new covenant with the Lord. It sounds too easy, but it is just that simple. If they could do it, we can too.
They also sent the children away with the wives. These children represent the smaller sins that accompany the addictions and strongholds that we have. We have to have a renewed mind and start thinking differently.
Then we have to rebuild the walls around our heart like Nehemiah was sent to do in Jerusalem. Theses walls stand for salvation, the Word of God, the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, and our praise and worship. These are the tools we use to build back the walls of our defense against the enemy. We need to make our gates holy. Our gates are our ears, eyes, mouth and heart. We may need to change who we listen to, what we watch on T.V., what radio station we tune into, how we live our lives and our thought patterns.
Lord, you have given us all we need to be holy and righteous. Help us to appropriate your provision.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - It is a New Season

Read: Ezra 4:7-23; 7-8
Never underestimate the power of your stand. Enemies of Judah sent a letter to King Artaxerxes complaining about the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem. They told the king that if they built Jerusalem that they would not give tribute, customs or tolls to the king. So, the king shut them down. Many years later Ezra rose up and asked the same king if he could go back and rebuild Jerusalem. Not only did King Artaxerxes agree to let him go, but he gave him everything he asked for and decreed that anyone who wanted to go with him could. He even told them that the priests and anyone who worked for the Temple would be exempt from paying tribute, customs or tolls of any kind. So what was it that made the king change his mind? All it says is that the gracious hand of Ezra’s hand was upon him. That is a total reverse of favor!
That kind of favor is what the Lord wants to give us. We are to walk where others were not allowed to walk before. There are certain doctrines that were not allowed to be talked about in main-line churches, but I see God taking down the walls of religion and giving favor to those who humbly carry His Word. It has to do with God’s timing and we have to wait on his favor to fall. I see it falling now. Hearts are opening and fear of change is being overcome.
I pray that we move with wisdom into this new season God is bringing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - The Curse is Reversed - A Nation is Saved

Read: Esther 5-10
Esther knew that what she was about to do was so serious that it would need prayer and fasting. Jesus told us that to get some people free it would take prayer and fasting. Esther was wanting to free a nation from the anti-christ spirit. She knew they would need more than just prayer. Sometimes it takes fasting to bring down a stronghold.
As the whole Jewish nation fasted, God reversed the curse that Haman had devised and put it on him and his family instead. That is exactly what happens when we pray, fast, and fight the enemy. The plans that he has planned for us return to him. The Jews not only got to defend themselves but they won. Fear of who they were fell on the people and they joined them. Mordecai, who had been a gate guard was promoted to Haman’s job and given respect and honor. He worked for the good of the people instead of his own honor like Haman. Esther won the love and respect of her husband and the nation. Purim became a Jewish national holiday. Purim means to cast lots. It reminds us that the lots have already been cast and we win. All we have to do is to appropriate that victory and claim it. It might take prayer and fasting to overcome but the victory is ours.
I noticed that they didn’t ever take any of the plunder of their enemies. The enemy has nothing that we want. Everything good comes from God.
This is encouraging to us about our nation. We can fast and pray for America and expect the Lord to reverse all the negative things the devil has planned for her. We need to have the boldness and courage of Esther to go before God and ask for the impossible. We need to have the passion for our nation that Mordecai had that we will not just stand by and let our nation be led to destruction under an evil government.
Lord, we pray that God’s people will seriously pray and fast for our nation and fight for a reversal of evil and the rise of a standard of righteousness.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - God’s Plan is Higher

Read: Ezra 6:14b- 22; Esther 1-4
Finally, the Temple is completed and they dedicated it to the Lord with much sacrificing and joy. It was finished right in time for Passover. Everything went well for a few years till King Xerxes came to power.
The tale of Esther is a fascinating story that is too detailed to retell here so I’m going to touch on the things that stood out to me. Xerxes was a pawn in the hands of his friends. They got him to severely punish his wife so that it would make their wives respect them. Xerxes fell for it. Then when he regretted it, his friends had to come up with a way to appease him. This is the way the world acts. It is all about pleasure and comfort and putting yourself first.
Mordecai was the complete opposite. He unselfishly took in his brother’s daughter, Esther, and raised her as his own. When she was taken to the palace for the harem, he got a job watching at the palace gate so he could find out how Esther was doing and advise her. While there, he overheard of a plot to kill the king. I would think he would liked to kill that king himself for taking his niece by force from him, but instead he did the right thing and reported it to Esther. He let the circumstances God placed in his lap play out instead of fighting them. He got no recognition immediately and instead of demanding attention, he kept living his life as before. God was setting a stage and they were key players.
It became obvious to Mordecai why they were there when Haman’s decree against the Jews went out. Now their faith was on the line.
I wonder how many times God wants to use our adverse circumstance for something much bigger and all we can do is complain and fight against God. I have been doing that until last week-end, when I finally gave it to the Lord. Now I am seeing him work in the middle of the mess I kept trying to sweep up. God is not afraid of messes and chaos. He will turn the mistakes and chaos into beauty and order.
Lord, thank you for your plan. Your ways are so much higher.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - Victory Over Sin

Read: Zechariah 9-14
God declares war against the land of Aram. They exalted themselves against Him and oppressed the land of Israel with their idolatry. The ones who would escape death would humble themselves and worship God and become an adopted clan of Israel.
Israel was in exile living as slaves when Zechariah told them to rejoice because Jesus, their Messiah was coming. He would be riding on a donkey bringing peace to the nations. He would set prisoners free and bless them double. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies would protect them in battle. They will shine like jewels in a crown. Prosperity and joy will return to God’s people. It will be as if the Lord had never rejected them because He did hear their cries. They will pass safely through distress because God will hold back the flood waters. By God’s power, He will make his people strong and by God’s authority they will go wherever they wish.
I changed the tense from “would” to “will” because those promises were for them then and for us now. This is what God has promises to all who will turn to him in totally.
In Chapter 11, God came down heavily on the bad shepherds. Because they did not care for their sheep, God was going to turn them over to a shepherd who would not care for them. They had lost the favor of God.
But, then God gives them future hope. He will send his Spirit of grace and prayer on his people and they would come to salvation through Jesus. God would cleanse them from all their sins. Zechariah 14 gives us a play-by-play of the final days into the new millennium. It will be a day where God restores holiness to the earth!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Nothing is Impossible with God

Read: Zechariah 6-8; Ezra 5:3- 6:14
The other night I had a dream about a large bird who flew into the window where Dave and I had been staying for a temporary time. Dave was busy sweeping and cleaning the place up. The bird suspended in air right at the window looked in then flew off. Then a huge bird came zooming toward the window and hit the window with its beak. It stayed there for a while just staring at us. I noticed a blinking light on it neck like it was recording what it was seeing. It had orange feathers and I knew it was evil. When I finally got Dave’s attention, he went to the window and opened it and the bird was gone.
We have been doing great spiritual warfare for my son and his wife and are seeing the hand of God. I felt like this watcher was coming to see who was causing the tremble in his force and trying to intimidate us. Then I read today’s reading and am so encouraged. This Word is so relevant to what we are living in our lives if we can see the picture.
Today, three men bring gifts from the exiled Jews. There names respectfully mean: “My times and goodness will be known of God.” They were to crown a man whose name means “Savior, son of righteousness” who was called the Branch. He would be a priest and a king. I don’t need to tell you who he represented.
Then, two men came to intimidate them. Their names meant “gifted, and evil watcher”. That was what got my attention concerning my dream. They wanted to know who had given the Jews permission to rebuild and restore the Temple. (The devil will try to intimidate you and ask you who you are to think you can change anything.)
Their answer was that they were servants of God and they had been given authority from the king to rebuild this temple. That is our answer. We have been given permission by the King of Kings to rebuild the Temple of God on the earth.
Not only were they able to keep building, but their enemies were commanded to help them and they were given tax money to fund it. Everything they needed was provided and God said that He was planting seeds of peace and prosperity in the place of ruin and destruction. That is a promise we can take into whatever prayer we are praying. God told them that all this may seem impossible to us, but it is not impossible for Him.
Lord, thank you for this encouraging Word. With You, nothing is impossible!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - The Temple of the Holy Spirit

Read: Haggai 2, Zechariah 1- 5; Ezra 5:2
The temple they were building didn’t have the splendor and majesty of Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple was a picture of God’s temple in heaven. This temple was much more simple. It represents us - ordinary people who are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God told Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah and to Jeshua, the son of the High Priest that even though this temple didn’t compare to the first one, they were to be strong and keep building because one day he would shake the heavens and the earth and the treasures of all the nations would be brought to this Temple. In this Temple God would put his glory. God did just that on the day of Pentecost. God gave the church the gift of the Holy Spirit and placed him inside his believers.
God spoke to Zechariah in dreams and visions. He showed him a man on a red horse, four animal horns, four blacksmiths, a man with a measuring line, just to name a few. Zechariah understood that these weren’t just pizza dreams or his imagination running wild on him. He understood the language of God. God speaks in enigmas, dreams, mysteries so he was constantly asking the angel what the symbols meant. That is what we need to do. I got tired of waking up from prophetic dreams and wishing I had asked questions during my dream, so I prayed about it. The next time I had a dream like that I actually asked what things meant in the dream. It was amazing! God hides things not from us, but for us. It is our job to ask and seek out the meanings. Sometimes I won’t understand the meaning behind a dream for months or years, then something will stir the memory of that dream and I will know what it means.
Lord, we do ask that you reveal to us mysteries that are being released in our season. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear, and a heart to understand.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Till the End

Read: Daniel 10 - 13, Ezra 4:24-5:1; Haggai 1
I am asking God about tomorrow and God gives Daniel the future of the rest of time. How awesome was that? It was a very frightening vision, yet in the middle of it he tells Daniel, “Don’t be afraid. Be encouraged! Be strong!” The rising and falling of nations is already planned yet our part it to pray. God planned to destroy Nineveh so he sent Jonah to warn them. They did exactly what the Lord planned in advance for them to do. They repented. God didn’t make them repent, he just knew ahead of time that they would. Somehow, Jonah felt they would too which is why he didn’t want to go. He was more interested in his reputation as a prophet than the mercy and grace of God. God had to deal with him and change his heart.
There are many scary things ahead for the world before Jesus returns but Daniel 12 tells us that when the end comes, Michael will stand up and every one whose name is written in the book will be rescued. This sounds like the rapture to me! We have nothing to worry about because our Father is in control and He loves us with a love we cannot even begin to comprehend. We are being refined and being made pure until the time of the end.
Lord, we trust you and love you with our whole being. Thank you for entrusting us to live in this generation. May we be brave and not back away in fear. Greater are You in us than anything the devil has to offer.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - The New Foundation is Laid

Read: Ezra 2- 4:5; 1 Chron. 3: 19b - 24
Close to 50,000 exiles returned to Jerusalem to build the new Temple and make Jerusalem their home. They rebuilt the altar to sacrifice on but nothing in mentioned about the ark. We haven’t heard of the ark since the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. It has been missing since that time and has yet to surface. The truth is that the presence of God is not restricted to a golden box but we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Lord rests in us. We can close the lid or open it up and let him flow out of us and change everyone we are around. We have that power in us - Christ.
Look at the strategy of the enemy. First they try to lie and get them to include them in the work. That looks like coexistence to me. When the Israelites say no, their true colors come out and they are bent on stopping them.
Interestingly, when the foundation was finished many cried for excitement and many cried because it didn’t look like the last one. We can not be these people who cry over the past. God is doing a new thing and we need to readjust our thinking and see through spiritual eyes. We have to have new wineskins.
I woke up with an urgency to pray for our nation. I have heard the dooming prophecies about out nation but we are not to just stand by and watch thinking it is God’s will. God allows us to see what the enemy is doing so we will pray and intercede and stop him. God tells his prophets what he is about to do so he can see our reaction. If we humble ourselves and pray, He will heal. If we repent, He will heal. Our enemy is not flesh and blood but principalities and powers and we have been given authority over them. We can pray the heart of God which is to have mercy and bring healing. I pray this for America. I pray that God will bring to light every scheme that the devil has concocted and planned. Lord, reveal what is in secret and shine your light so all the world can see. Open the eyes of your people so they will mount on their horse and fight. Teach us to pray!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wed.’s Devo - God Control’s the Heart of Man

Read: Daniel 6; 9; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11; 1 Chronicles 3:17-19a
Jealousy is a murderer. Darius had 120 provinces and appointed a ruler over each of them. Then he chose Daniel and two other men to supervise the 120 rulers and all the kings dealings. Daniel proved to be so superior of a leader that he was about to be put over the entire empire. The other two men were so jealous, they plotted a way to destroy Daniel. This is politics in the raw. It happens every day, we just need to make sure it doesn’t happen in our hearts. Jealousy always leads to murder. We might not kill someone with our hands but we will do it with our words. The loss of someone’s reputation is the same as a death. That is why James said that the tongue was an unruly member. God is our defender. Daniel didn’t take up for himself or even protest the order, he just did what he always did and worshiped the Lord first. He put his whole career, which was so promising, on the line and let God stand up for him. God did in flying colors. He killed the whole family of his enemies and exalted him and Himself. God got the glory!
Reading today’s reading is such a confirmation that God is in control of nations. He put it on the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to build God a Temple in Jerusalem. Then….then he stirred the hearts of His people to go to Jerusalem and do the building. Their neighbors insisted on giving them silver and gold and provisions. That reminds me of when the children of Israel left Egypt to go to the promised land. God will use the ungodly to bless us. It is all His anyways so don’t get tripped over who He chooses to use and how He chooses to bless you. God is in control!
Lord, we rest in this knowledge that the You have ordained this time in history and You are reigning. Thank you for your peace that passes all understanding.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tues.’s Devo - Signs and Wonders

Read: Daniel 7-8; 5
I can’t begin to interpret end times since they have not been revealed completely yet. Daniel sees four beasts who stand for four kingdoms that would manifest on the earth. The lion was Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over Babylon. The Persians were the bear, Alexander of Mecedon was the leopard, and the fourth stood for the Roman Empire. These were types of kingdoms in the end. The anti-christ spirit comes from the papacy. They have so twisted scripture to their whims and cause and set up a man to be God on earth. It doesn’t get more perverted than that. When it gets near the end of the ages we should see the Roman Catholic Church in Rome become more and more powerful.
When King Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall, he called for someone who had the spirit of God in them. When the end is near and the heathen see “the writing on the wall” they will call for someone who has the spirit of God in them to help them. We need to be ready to read the signs. Somehow we have let the devil steal signs and wonders from the church. We have been told that you shouldn’t look for a sign. The Bible is full of signs and wonders. They are God’s language and we need to learn to speak God’s language. God is a God of mystery and intrigue.
Lord, help us to open our Spiritual eyes to see your signs and wonders and learn the language of the Spirit. Use us to point people to truth through your signs.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mon.’s Devo - The Future for Israel

Read: Ezekiel 47, 48; 29:17-21; 30:1-19; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34
If you have been to Israel, then you have seen the Dead Sea. Nothing can grow in or around it because of its amount of salt. Nothing can drown in it either and it is healing for your body. It is an enigma, but according to Ezekiel’s prophecy, it will one day team with fresh water and be flowing instead of still. Fish will live in it and trees with fruit and healing leaves will spring up around it. No doubt this will really happen in the natural, but it is a picture of what a flow of the Holy Spirit will do to a place that is dead. God’s spirit brings life, healing and nourishment.
Next, God gave Ezekiel the boundaries of the land of his kingdom. The Levites will be in the middle with the Lord’s Temple as their center. The gates are on the north, south, east, and west with three names on the gates. Revelation 21:12-13 speaks of these gates and says that there are three on each side with the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Verse 21:21 says that the gates are made of one pearl and verse 25 says that the gates remain open always. The name of the city will be “The Lord Is There!” Ezekiel was given a glimpse of the Millennium where we will rule and reign with Christ after his appearing.
It is impossible to read the Old Testament and not realize that God is in total control of all the nations. Today, we see God reward Egypt for destroying Tyre, then destroying Egypt for its idols. We also see the king of Babylon whose name is Evil-merodach, show kindness to the king of Israel. (If I was going to name a villain, it would be Evil-merodach.) Evil-merodach’s name means “foolish is thy rebellion”. It was foolish for Israel to rebel. He brought King Jehoiachin out of prison, exalted him and gave him new clothes and had him eat at his table. What a picture of Psalms 23: “you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil”.
Lord, you are the one who bring us out of rebellion and give us new garments of praise and worship and exalt us to sit with you in heavenly places. You invite us to dine at your table everyday. Great is our God!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sun.’s Devo - Enter Into the Presence

Read: Ezekiel 44 - 46
In Ezekiel’s vision he saw the glory of the Lord enter the Temple through the east gateway. He was seeing the future return of Christ but since God is not in time, he was seeing it as if it had already happened. That is how faith works. We believe in things that have not been manifested as if they had. Since this glory entered through the eastern gateway, it was to be shut so no one else could enter it. Only the prince could sit inside this gateway to enjoy the presence of the Lord. The prince was to represent a son of the king which makes all son’s of God princes in the spirit.
God told Ezekiel to take careful notice of the procedures for using the Temple’s entrances and exits. This is important for us to know. They were to exit the opposite door they entered. We should never leave the Lord’s presence the way we entered. We should be totally changed.
They were to be circumcised and have a heart for God. In Romans 3 and 4 we learn that circumcism is our conscious decision to rid ourselves of the sin of this world and be joined to God. It comes by faith and makes us righteous before God. But if we consciously abandon the Lord like the Levites did, we will bear the consequences of our sins. The family of Zadok remained faithful which shows us that we can remain faithful to the Lord when everyone around us doesn’t. Zadok means “to justify” which means to be made righteous as if you had never sinned. We have that promise.
The priests had to wear linen only which stood for purity and grace. They were never to sweat which speaks of our works. In God there is no toil: only rest and trust. They had to change their garments before they went out to the people lest they transmit their holiness onto the people and the people be responsible for something they couldn’t carry. This speaks to me of not sharing everything the Lord gives you to people that can’t spiritually understand it because they will be responsible for something they can’t hold. Deliverance is one of those things. We can’t go casting out demons from people who have no way of keeping it. They will be worse off in the end.
The priests were not to shave their heads but they were to trim it regularly. Sin is a process that we work on daily. If we were delivered of all our sins at once we would be open for attack.
I’m running out of room but I want to bring out one more point. Priests were not to own any property or land, yet God portioned them off land to live in, so there is more to this than natural. We own things on this world but none of them are to own us. It is all the Lord’s and He is our possession.
Lord, may we enter your presence and rest and be changed.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sat.’s Devo - The Glory of The Lord Returns

Read: Ezekiel 40:38- end of 43
God took Ezekiel in a vision to a very high mountain. He could see what looks like a city toward the south. The Spirit brought him closer and a man was standing there with a linen measuring cord and a measuring rod. God told Ezekiel to pay close attention to everything he was about to show him so he could go back and tell the people what he saw. (Eze. 40:1-4)
Today we read about he rooms where they prepared for the sacrifices, the priest’s rooms, the inner courtyard and the Temple and the altar. Carved on the walls of the inside of the Temple were Cherubims with two heads, carrying a palm tree between each of their faces. One of their faces was of a man and the other of a young lion. Yesterday I suggested that these palm trees represented the overcomes who weathered the storm. How fitting that they would be carried by the angels. Their faces show who is watching us and the way we go through our trials: man and Jesus.
Ezekiel was to measure each room and building so he could tell the people how majestic it was. The glory of the Lord appeared in the eastern gate - the same one that Jesus will enter when he returns. The glory cleansed the Temple. There was one basic law for the Temple and that was absolute holiness. What a word for us. If we want the glory of the Lord to visit us in a tangible manner, we need to have our temples holy. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit that God wants to fill with His presence.
God told Ezekiel to tell the people about the vision and the measurements of the temple so that they would repent. This blueprint for this temple was not only a blueprint for a building but it was a blueprint for a nation. The people were in exile, without a nation so this was to give them hope for a new nation and another chance.
Lord, fill our temples with your Spirit. Baptize us in your Holy Spirit anew. May we be palm trees engraved on the walls of your Temple.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fri.’s Devo - Kings

Read 1 Chron. 8:29 - 9:1; Daniel 4; Exekiel 40: 1-37
Today is a hodgepodge of information. We start with the lineage of Saul. Saul was from Gibeon which means “little hill”. In the Bible a mountain represented a great power so a little hill would represent a little power. Saul’s father was Kish which means “a snare” and Saul’s name means “requested”. It was a snare to the people that they requested a king because God wanted to be their king. But, God gave them what they requested and they got Saul. He was tall, handsome, and looked like a king but his heart was proud and self-centered.
Then we skip over to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon when Daniel was living. He was also powerful and proud. This is the account of what happened to him after the fact. He had had a dream which Daniel interpreted. It meant that he would lose his mind for seven years and be driven into the wilderness to live like an animal. After this time, God would return his mind to him and he would realize that God was in control of the earth and not him. It happened one year later, just as Daniel said and Nebuchadnezzar ended up humbly praising God.
Fourteen years after Jerusalem had fallen, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the new Temple. He gave this to him during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Even though they were not allowed to celebrate their feasts, God still keeps his feasts. Tabernacles represents God’s new kingdom so it is fitting that he show Ezekiel a sneak preview of what it will look like. It is tall and majestic with palm trees decorating it. I think the palm tree represents the faithfulness of God to carry us through any storm or trial we face. A palm tree can be bent over to the ground in a storm and aright itself and survive. That is a great picture of the overcomers! This is where the true, righteous king will reign.
Lord, let us be palm trees in your temple.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thurs.’s Devo - Your Place in the Army

Read: 1 Chron. 5:18 - 8:28
We are reading the history of the tribes and today we read about the rest of the tribes. Remember there were two and a half tribes (Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh) that opted to stay on the east side of the Jordan and not take their inheritance in the promised land. They had 44,760 great warriors who called out to God for help during one battle and God fought for them. But they turned to the gods of their enemies and were taken into exile.
Aaron’s descendants were the priests who aren’t numbered and didn’t have an army. They were taken to Babylon during the exile.
The warriors from the tribe of Issachar numbered 87,000. Benjamin had 20,200 warriors. Of the descendants of Naphtali, only four people are mentioned. In reading the descendants of Manasseh, no warriors are mentioned, but a few women are. Ephraim must have not be a warring tribe either because no military is mentioned. Asher had 26,000 mighty warriors and outstanding leaders.
Benjamin is mentioned again and though we don’t have a military count, we know that they had warriors because they drove out the inhabitants of Gath and occupied Jerusalem.
It is interesting to read about the tribes because we are all a member of one of them. Some of us are leaders and fighters and others of us are more comfortable in the background doing our job. All of us are vitally important to the body of Christ and we need to get in our position and do our calling. We are all called to war against the powers of darkness, but we all are positioned at different stations. Some are on the front lines, some are in the nurses tents tending to the wounded, others are recruiting new men, others are training these new recruits, others are studying the enemies strategy. The Bible calls this the five-fold ministry: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists. We perform our duty with the gifts of the spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpreting tongues. (1 Cor. 12:8-10)
Lord, help us to find our identity in You and know where we are suppose to be serving. Thank you for the gifts you have given each of us so that we can come together as one powerful force.