My Prayer for The River

Father, I come before You and pray for The River.  May You raise up a church in Gila Valley that flows with Your compassion for the lost.  I ask that You would remove the spiritual blinders from off the hearts of the unbelievers in the area, especially those who are bound up with false religion, such a stronghold in this region.  I ask You for an outpouring of Your Holy Spirit as You promised in Joel chapter two… not that we may be lifted up, but that Jesus may be exalted.  I pray that the Word of God would go forth under the anointing of Your Holy Spirit and loose the bands of wickedness and set the captives free.  Father, place in us a giving heart; use our talents, time, resources, and finances for Your glory.  I dedicate this church and it’s beginning to the purposes of God and ask You for favor and blessing; meet our every need as we trust in You.  Bring in those who are supposed to be there.  Help us to reach the unchurched with the truth of Your gospel.  I ask for the presence of God to meet with us in the morning, as we gather together, small in number, but mighty in Spirit.  I love You Lord.  I ask for these things in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

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The River…

This Sunday, April 1st, will be the first worship service of The River, a community church located in the Safford, Arizona area.  To begin this journey, we are blessed to be meeting in the conference center at the Springhill Suites Marriott on Highway 70 in Thatcher.  There is a private entrance and parking located in the rear of the building.  Our service time on Sunday will be 10:30am.  Dress is casual.  Come and join with us in the celebration.

March 28: The Good Samaritan (an Allegory)

Luke 10:30-35

New King James Version (NKJV)

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

Today I want to present an allegory from the story of the good Samaritan.  An allegory is the figurative, symbolic treatment of a subject.  It does not replace, nor conflict with the literal meaning.

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 

  • Certain man = Adam
  • Jerusalem = Heaven
  • Jericho = Earth
  • Thieves = Satan
  • Stripped of clothing = Poverty
  • Wounded = Sickness and Disease
  • Half-dead = Spiritual Death

31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 

  • Priest and Levite = The Law
  • Samaritan = Jesus

 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 

  • Oil = Holy Spirit
  • Wine = The Blood of Jesus
  • Inn = The Church

35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

  • He Departed = Jesus’ Ascension
  • The Innkeeper/Host = The Holy Spirit
  • Two Denarii = Two Day’s Wages (a day is as a thousand years)
  • When I Come Again = The Second Coming of Jesus

So in the story of the Good Samaritan, we can see the entire presentation of the Gospel.  Have you been left half-dead in this world, without hope?  Allow Jesus to bring you new life today.

March 28: Scandalon

There is a word used throughout the New Testament in connection with temptation, scandalon (Greek).  It literally means, “the trigger in the trap upon which the bait is placed.”  Scandalon always denotes an enticement… something which gives occasion to conduct leading to ruin.  The word is translated as “occasion to fall” in Romans 14:23.  In Jesus’ rebuke to Peter in Matthew 16:23, Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan, you are a scandalon (translated “offense”) to me.”

Some things we should know about the devil:

  • He operates in wiles (Ephesians 6:11).  The word wiles (Greek: methodeia) means, “to go systematically to work, to pursue something methodically.” Believers need to have on the whole armor of God to protect themselves from his schemes and methods of attack.
  • He tempts us in our weaknesses.  God will test our strengths in order for us to trust in Him, not our own abilities.  But Satan attacks at the point of weakness for the purpose of destroying us.
  • He walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).  He is always on the prowl to attack and bring down.  Lions hunt primarily at night, stalking their prey.

How do we maintain the victory that Christ purchased for us at Calvary?  First, understand that we are fighting from the place of victory, through His blood.  Next, line up to the Word of God and submit to God’s way of doing things as outlined in the Bible.  James 4:7 says, “submit yourself therefore to God and resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  One cannot resist the devil without first submitting to God.    Lastly, whatever scandalon that Satan is using against you must be dealt with.  Hebrews 12:1 says, “Lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset you…”  Stop putting yourself into situations where you know you have fallen before.  Don’t flirt with the opposite sex and you won’t end up in an affair.  Don’t visit websites that pull you down and you want fall into the same trap.  Stop craving attention and it won’t result in an emotional affair.  When you put yourself in the wrong place, there will be a time when you are weak, and it is then that Satan will strike.  Don’t allow the enemy to entice you into the trap!

Father, I pray for Psalm 91 protection over those who read this blog.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler.

March 26: Symbols of the Word of God

Scripture gives us numerous symbols for the Word of God, all of which have meaning.  Let’s consider them.

  • The Word of God is a Seed: I Peter 1:23 calls it the incorruptible seed of God’s Word.  In the parable of the sower, Jesus told us that there are four kinds of hearts: 1) Wayside Heart (devil steals the seed); 2) Stony Heart (outward excitement but no root); 3) Thorny Heart (allows cares, riches and pleasures of life to choke the seed); 4) Good Ground Heart (receives with an honest heart and bears fruit).
  • The Word of God is Food (Milk and Meat): Jesus said that “man should not live by bread alone but by every word of God” (Matthew 4:4).  Hebrews 5:12-14 teaches us that God expects us to nourish ourselves and build ourselves up with the Word.  Verse 13 talks about newborn food, i.e., the milk of the Word and verse 14 speaks of mature food, i.e., the meat of the Word.
  • The Word of God is a Fire: Jeremiah said, “His Word was in my heart like a burning fire (Jeremiah 20:9).  God’s Word is a purifier and purger to cleanse and sanctify us.  Like Jeremiah, I have had the fire of God’s Word burn out the dross in me and prepare me for His purposes.  God went on to say through Jeremiah: “Is not My Word like a fire, says the Lord?”  Hebrews 12:29 also tells us, “Our God is a Consuming Fire.”
  • The Word of God is a Hammer: Jeremiah 23:29 goes on to say, “…and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”  If you strike a rock 100 times with no break, and you strike it again and it breaks, was it the one hit or the 101?  God’s Word is like that, always working in our hearts until the breakthrough comes.  Some areas require only a little time of the Word hammering away, but other areas, perhaps a few years.
  • The Word of God is a Mirror: James 1:23-25 compares the Word of God with looking at our natural face in a mirror.  James reminds us that it is easy to forget what we look like.  Begin to see yourself as God sees you, through His Word.  Philemon 1:6 tells us to “acknowledge the good things which are in us in Christ Jesus.”
  • The Word of God is a Sword: As a sword, the Word has a two-fold purpose: 1) a surgical tool to divide spirit and soul and discern the thoughts of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12-13); 2) a weapon whereby we overcome the enemy (Ephesians 6:17).  The Word of God is the only offensive weapon included with the armor of God.  Satan knows the written Word, but he has no revelation knowledge of the Word due to being cut off from God.  When you speak revelation out of your spirit, the enemy has to flee.
  • The Word of God is a Lamp: Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.”  God’s Word is our source of direction for living.  Everything that you “feel” that God is telling you should line up to the Word of God.  There’s only one thing that I know is consistent all the time in my life, and that is the Word of God.
  • The Word of God is a Medicine: Proverbs 4:20-22 says that God’s Word is health to all our flesh.  Psalm 107: 20 says that God sent forth His Word and healed them and delivered them from all their destruction.  There is healing power in the Word of God.  Not just physically, but including the physical body.  There is also healing for the heart and mind.

Thank You for Your Word Heavenly Father!  It is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89).  Give us a hunger for the riches of Your Word and may the Holy Spirit enlighten us with Truth.  Amen.

March 26: The Process of Faith

Our needs touch God, but our faith is what moves God. Consider that Jesus could do no mighty work in His hometown because of their lack of faith (Mark 6). But saying that we need to have faith without explaining what that means from the Word of God, doesn’t help anyone. Faith is a process. Below I will list how faith is received, activated, released and consummated.

1. Faith Comes by Hearing: This is what Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing.” But let’s look closer. Hearing is in the present, continual tense, meaning that faith comes by “hearing and hearing and hearing…” Not from “having heard.” If you want faith in your heart and life, you need to get into the Word of God and understand its promises for your life. Get in a church where the Word of God is taught and surround yourself with friends who speak the Word.

2. Faith is Activated by Seeing: I’m not talking about the natural eyes, but your spiritual eyes. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). You have to begin seeing your situation changed and seeing your prayers answered. Looking at everything in a negative light all the time will crush your faith. Begin to see your children, your job, your marriage through the promises of God.

3. Faith is Released by Speaking: Mark 11:23-24 says, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Notice how Jesus keeps emphasizing saying? Make what you say out of your mouth line up to the Word of God.

4. Faith is Consummated by Doing: Here’s where the rubber meets the road! Faith ultimately requires action on our part. Consider some of these quotes from Jesus:

“Take up your bed and walk”
“Stretch forth your hand”
“Go wash in the pool of Soloam”
“Go show yourself to the priests”
Jesus required one to act in faith in order to receive.

This point is made no clearer than in James chapter 2:

17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Are you trying to have faith, but skipping one or more of the Biblical components of faith? Maybe it’s time to reset and start over. Or perhaps all that’s left is for you to finally “take up your bed and walk.” Be aware though, the above is not a formula that can simply be outwardly followed. Faith is a matter of the heart. Grab your Bible and get alone with God.

March 25: What Does It Mean To Praise God?

Today is Sunday and most believers attend a local church for the purpose of corporate worship.  As God’s children, I think we often underestimate the importance of praising Him.  I love the book of Psalms because although emotional struggle and despair runs the deepest, in the very same psalms, praise begins to ascend to God in magnificent splendor.  There are seven Hebrew words translated as “praise” in the book of Psalms.  I list them below, along with a single reference and the definition.

  1. Halal (Psalm 103:18): to shine, boast, overwhelming excitement
  2. Yadah (Psalm 138:1): the extended hand
  3. Barak (Psalm 95:6): to kneel, to bow
  4. Zamar (Psalm 42:1): to touch the strings
  5. Shabach (Psalm 63:3-4): to shout with triumph
  6. Towdah (Psalm 56:12): to confess; sacrifice of thanksgiving
  7. Tehillah (Psalm 22:3): to sing the new song from the heart

As you head off to the house of God today, stop and think about these meanings.  Are these manifestations of praise found within your church?  One might say that there are many ways to praise the Lord.  I agree.  I found seven, listed above.  None of them mean “sit of you duff and do nothing” or “look around and watch others.”  Let’s each focus on praising Him today!