Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Long Game

gtcotr/ws101718

Life is a long game.

Relationships are built one kindness at a time.

Life is made up of simple formulas. Scientists spend their whole life trying to discover the patterns and laws of nature. Yet, these simple truths have been written in the pages of the Bible and are crystal clear, even to a child.

Families endeavor to teach their children right from wrong by instilling a few of the basic values common to mankind.
·        Kindness invokes kindness
·        Unkindness invokes unkindness
·        Kindness can even revoke unkindness

Galatians 6
7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 
8  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
10  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The Circle of Life – Things begin and things end

The Cycle of Life – Both good things and bad things happen in life between the beginning and the end

The Secret of Life – The secret of Life is giving

We reap what we sow … thank you for sowing such kindness and care into the lives of so many hurting people along the Gulf coast of Florida. God will not forget your labor of love.


Tonight I need your help packing 101 20-gallon trash cans with$10,000 worth of new tools that we have purchased for the victims of Hurricane Michael in the panhandle of Florida. Make sure you get one item from each of our 20 stations, pack it with love, and take it to our trailer. Thanks!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Together We Can



Gtcotr/ss101418

In the wake of Hurricane Michael which devastated much of the panhandle of Florida on Wednesday of this past week, our Church is responding once again to meet the needs of those who have lost so much. We have a mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ to help those in need.

The entire gulf coast of Texas was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago and we have not fully recovered yet. However, today we are in much better shape than we would have been had so many individuals, organizations and Churches not reached out to us with resources that made the difference. From prayer to provisions, water to generators, food to financial assistance, people from all over America and around the world sent help.

One group of people who worked hard to collect and transport much needed supplies to help southeast Texas communities through our Church was Lighthouse Church in Panama City, Florida, led by Pastor Cole. Although I’ve never met him personally I can testify to his character and concern because of the way he responded to our critical need.

When it became evident that Panama City was in the path of the historic category 4 strength hurricane, Hurricane Michael, this past week, I called Pastor Cole to see how he, his congregation and community was fairing. Later that day he sent me a text with pictures of the Church building where he pastors. He said, “The roof just blew off!”. Later he shared that their second campus looked like a “lumberyard”.

I notified several pastors from around the nation to begin praying for their recovery. Later I met with our Church staff and made several other contacts and decided to push hard to respond with tangible assistance by way of purchasing and transporting some much needed supplies to assist Pastor Cole in helping his congregation and community to dig out and begin with some measure of recovery and rebuilding.

We know what it is like to be in a disaster area with no way to get the things you need to begin the healing process. We know what items will be in abundance and which ones will be so useful and yet in great demand. We understand people want to help but often don’t know what is really needed. We have spent hours unloading trucks hoping to find the tools and supplies we knew we could immediately use.

With these things in mind our staff put together a “Together We Can” campaign and shopped and struggled over just how much and what types of critical tools and supplies we felt were best and could be purchased and packaged for transport and distribution for only $100 per container. The results are represented by what you see in our foyer and on the overhead.

It is my hope that our Church congregation would show our appreciation to the congregation of Lighthouse Church in Panama City for the seeds of compassion they sowed in our lives and communities by raising $5000 this morning above our regular weekly giving to be used to fund 50 of these containers filled with tools. I believe we have enough clout and credibility to raise another $5000 from other pastors, churches and friends to make a total of 100 containers of supplies to help with critical needs immediately.

This Wednesday evening I would like to invite you to participate in packing and stacking the containers we have ready to be transported to Panama City. We will have everything in place by that time. If you want to help with some of the shopping and purchasing and getting ready for our Wednesday night work or if you are willing to be a part of our transport crew, sign up at the information desk and someone will contact you.

Now, let’s get to the message for today entitled, Together We Can!

Matthew 14:19  Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

Point 1: This is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.

Point 2: Jesus did not feed the 5000.
·        Rather:
o   He Took the fish and loaves
o   He Blessed them by giving thanks to God for the provision
o   Broke them by His own hand as an offering to God
§  Every offering and each sacrifice must be broken, burned, bruised or dead to be accepted by God.
§  From bulls to the fruit of the vine …
§  From the Brazen Altar to Gethsemane …
§  From broken bread to poured out wine …
§  A broken and a contrite spirit the Lord will not despise.
§  This is the divine miracle of multiplication.
§  Jesus was multiplying the resources … He started the miracle He hoped the disciples and others would continue.
§  God breaks hearts, not hopes, not homes and not heads.
o   And He Gave the broken pieces to His disciples and His disciples used them to feed the multitude.
§  Just like Jesus, the bread could not be fully given until it was first truly broken.
§  And neither can we …
·        In each account, Matthew 9; Mark 8; Luke 9; and John 6, Jesus first put the responsibility to feed the multitudes on the shoulders of His disciples … then He gave them the means to do it … and then the disciples fed them.
·        God still sees the hungry multitudes and is asking us what we will do to feed them.
·        God will still make a way for us to do it.

All God needs are some blessed people who are willing to be broken.
·        People like Isaac; Joseph; Ruth; David; Jeremiah; Daniel; Mary; Martha; Zacchaeus; Paul; Martin Luther; Billy Graham; and you …

1.  He will accept you
2.  He will bless you
3.  He will clean up your life
4.  He will make you a blessing to others

God breaks hearts, not hopes, not homes and not heads.
·        God won’t give you cancer – He will give you the answer.
·        God won’t make you sick – He will heal you.
·        God won’t make you poor – He will provide for you.
·        But God will lay the burden of the lost, hurting and hungry on your heart in hopes that it will break … then He will multiply your resources and use your broken heart to feed the world.

Point 3: Together we can!
·        Together we can reach our families.
·        Together we can reach our communities.
·        Together we can reach our nation.
·        Together we can reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Choose Life


Gtcotr/ss100718

1 Kings 3 NKJV
16 ¶  Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him.
17  And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house.
18  “Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house.
19  “And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him.
20  “So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21  “And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
22  Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king.

A few things to note here before we continue.

·        The Bible is not just a history book detailing the lives of others, but it is a roadmap for our lives.
·        In order for us to get the full scope of this account, it must be viewed in light of both context and culture.
o   Try and put yourself in the times and in the place of this story.
o   Look around for the obvious and ask yourself a few questions.
·        How did these two ladies gain audience with the King? Why was he hearing this case?
o   King Solomon was certainly not the first one to hear the testimonies of these two women.
o   Throughout history fair-minded governments have offered avenues of appeal. In this case and culture, going before the  King was the last appeal and his judgement was final.
o   No doubt all eyes were on this case and it was much noted among the politicians and the common folk alike.
o   High profile cases often polarize people and we can well imagine everyone had their own opinion.
o   Without divine intervention, any decision King Solomon made was apt to divide his kingdom and lose much needed support.
·        As well, some scholars have suggested these women weren’t really harlots but rather they were inn keepers or food servers or some more common trade workers. This is simply not the case.
o   First let’s look at the facts:
§  These were two women, both absent of husbands to make or support their case alongside them.
§  They evidently lived together and shared a house together where no one else lived.
§  They had both gotten pregnant within a few days of each other and gave birth alone together in the house.
§  The fact there was no midwife speaks of the state of poverty one might expect from a harlot out of work due to the late stages of pregnancy.
o   Also, we see a parallel between King Solomon’s display of divine wisdom and that of Jesus in the Gospel of John chapter 8. Both the Old and New Testaments tell the same stories.
§  Jesus was confronted by those who had legal right to judge such cases of adultery.
§  The adulterous woman was brought before Jesus as the Supreme Judge.
§  All eyes were on Jesus, just as all eyes were on King Solomon that day.
·        Furthermore, the Hebrew word translated “harlot” in this verse and 82 times in the OT = play the harlot, go a whoring, be a prostitute.
·        Lastly, this is a picture showing that all people, regardless of age, stage or situation of life, deserve a hearing and should be afforded the same protection under the law. This is also the heart of God and a picture of His divine justice for all mankind.
o   Both Jesus and King Solomon heard the case before attempting to render their verdict.
§  Solomon would later write in his book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 18:13  He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.

§  We all do well to hear a matter before we answer. Being swift to hear and slow to speak is wisdom in action.
§  What does it hurt to fully hear a matter before we decide on our opinion?
§  Even a fool is thought to be wise when he holds his tongue and reserves judgment. (Proverbs 17:28)

Now, let’s get to the meat of this morning’s word. In verse 23, King Solomon repeated the matter to insure he and all who were listening understood the gravity of the argument.

1 Kings 3
23  And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’ ”
24  Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king.
25  And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
26  Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
27  So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
28  And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

This divine judgment caused everyone to see and agree with the King. I wonder what happened to the other woman? Maybe she repented …

Those who call for a sword to divide the baby are heartless and without the love of God. God says, “Mark those who cause division among you.”

You see, this story is not really about the wisdom of Solomon but rather about the love of mother for her child. Love will always choose life.

When your hurt makes you lose perspective and you find yourself wanting to hurt others, don’t’ call for the sword - think again, and choose life!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

He Will …



Gtcotr/ss091618

Today is the 7th Day of Awe in the 10 days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement this year. These events are worth mentioning because their ultimate fulfillments are still on God’s calendar for planet earth. This coming Wednesday the 19th is Yom Kippur. This Day of Atonement has been observed by God’s command for over 3500 years as a dress rehearsal pointing to the Second Coming of Messiah Yeshua, better known to us Gentile Believers as Christ Jesus.

Every year for the past 3500 years heaven and earth have been reminded that the Savior of the World will return on the Day of Atonement with His saints to the earth after the great tribulation to do battle with the Anti-Christ and the forces of evil, in the valley of Jezreel. Afterwards Jesus will establish His Kingdom on the earth and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a thousand years. You can read about what happens after that and new heaven and earth in the last two chapters of Revelation.

Many of you have joined with me for a special time of personal prayer and Bible reading each morning during these 10 Days of Awe this year. Today we read 1 Corinthians 13 and refreshed our hearts and minds concerning the love of God. My prayer of dedication today included a commitment to love my neighbor as I love myself. Tomorrow we will read from James 4.

This world is waxing worse and worse day by day and to my knowledge all of the prophecies which must come to pass before the Rapture of the Church and the ensuing apocalypse have now been fulfilled. If I didn’t firmly believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, I’d be busy building a Faraday cage and storing up tribulation food. As it is, it would be better if we just  continue telling others about the saving grace of our Lord Jesus. Only Jesus can keep us from the wrath which is to come. I believe:

God wants to give you peace, and if you give your mind to Him, He will.

God wants to give you hope, and if you will turn your situation over to Him, He will.

God wants to love others through you, and if you will offer your heart to Him, He will.

Jesus came to earth to accomplish two important purposes.
1.   To save us from an eternity in hell,
2.   And to save us from the hell of this life.

The New Testament Book of Matthew records Jesus teaching a multitude on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee. He taught them how to take charge and change their lives. Many of you have traveled with me to sit on that same hillside and read from this account in chapters 5, 6, & 7. In the very middle of His sermon that day Jesus began to teach His followers how they ought to pray. He knew prayer to be the most powerful tool a person could possess. As He taught them to pray, He gave them specific guidelines.

Three years later Jesus told His 12 Disciples: “When you pray, say …”, (Luke 11:2), and then He again recited those same guidelines. This morning I want to teach you how to effectively pray with the same priorities, posture and passion Jesus did while He was on the earth.

Praying in this way will help you keep on track with God. It will help you take charge and it will change your life. This prayer has helped me to learn and to apply the Will and the Word of God to my life for many years. Jesus must have known we would need a personal plan if we were going to maximize our time and effectiveness in prayer.

Turn with me now to Matthew, chapter 6, and let’s begin. After we survey this personal prayer guide given to us by Jesus, I am going to ask you to consider praying with me for 21 days in accordance with what we will learn this morning. It will help you to establish your priorities, fix your posture and fuel your passion in prayer. Believe Jesus … it will change your life!

Matthew 6 NKJV
9  “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Model Prayer

The Model Prayer, also known as, The Lord’s Prayer, includes:
·        3 Proclamations
·        3 Petitions
·        A Personal Time of Praise

First:
The 3 Proclamations
·        Your Name
·        Your Kingdom
·        Your Will

These proclamations remind us of the first priority of prayer. The first priority of prayer is to offer reverence and respect to our Heavenly Father.
·        Prayer is designed first to move us, not to move God.
·        Our prayer is God’s hope that we will understand and participate in His plan as our first priority.
·        Jesus shows the proper posture of prayer is one of humility and submission to God and His will above our own.
·        Prayer should first and foremost be about Him and His needs.
·        Remember, prayer, like faith, is less about what we can get God to give us and more about what He can get us to give Him.

Next, the Model Prayer teaches us about God’s provision for our lives. Jesus encourages us to petition God on behalf of ourselves and others.

     The 3 Petitions
·        Give Us – Simply tell God what you want and what we need.
·        Forgive Us – Find a private place and be honest with God about your sins, failures, frustrations and fears. Ask Him for help if you need to forgive others or if they need to forgive you.
·        Lead Us – It is reasonable to let God know that you will follow His leadership and work with Him as He delivers you from the power and the plan of the devil.

God knows what we need before we ask however, He teaches us that we should ask for what we want in prayer.

The Conclusion – Our daily prayer should both begin and end with our recognition of Who God is. The Creator of the universe is our Father and all power and glory belong to Him. So, Jesus encouraged us to offer God our:

     Praise
·        There is nothing sweeter to a Father than the praise of His children.
·        I’m certain – Unless we have the same Father, my Dad can whoop your Dad.
·        He is bigger, better and stronger than any other … and I want Him to know how proud I am and how safe I feel just to know I am His child.
·        Prayer which comes from the heart of men will reach the heart of God.
Colossians 4:2  Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

God wants to give you peace, and if you give your mind to Him, He will.

God wants to give you hope, and if you will turn your situation over to Him, He will.

God wants to love others through you, and if you will offer your heart to Him, He will.

He will … will you? Well, you’ll need to let Him know …

If you don’t have a personal prayer plan, or even if you do, I want to invite you to join with me beginning tomorrow morning for 21 Days of Prayer. It will help you to take charge of your life and change you to be more like Jesus.

And remember, it’s not the quantity of prayer but the quality … Keep it simple, remember the guidelines given to us by Jesus, and simply talk to God.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Believe and Embrace Part 8 – The Baptism



Gtcotr/ws091218

We previously discussed how Each Prophecy is fulfilled in three ways:
·        The Initial or Specific Fulfillment – It will happen to a specific person at a specific time to clearly fulfill the Word of the Lord. Such is the case of Isaiah 43:2 which was specifically fulfilled in Daniel 3:25&27.
·        The General or Continual Fulfillment – Every Believer can look to, profess, and have confidence in each and every Word of God. It gives hope to all and for many it releases the anointing and manifests the eternal will of God in this temporal life.
·        The Eternal or Ultimate Fulfillment – One day, when eternity begins with the new heaven and the new earth, every prophecy will have its ultimate fulfillment as it applies to the eternal will and purpose of God for His children. God has always been building an eternity …

Mark 16
15  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16  “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17  “And these signs shall follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18  “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

1.  Cast out demons
2.  Speak with new tongues
a.   Speak: The use of words and sounds to communicate or disclose one’s mind and declare one’s thoughts.
b.   New: Unprecedented, uncommon, unheard of, unusual and new
c.   Tongues: A language or dialect specific to and distinct from those languages spoken by other nations

Joel 2
28 ¶  “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
29  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Acts 2 was a Specific Fulfillment of the prophecy given by Joel: (Joel means = Jehovah is God.)

Acts 2 NKJV
1 ¶  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In Acts 2 there was a specific fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in that every person who was in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost was filled with the Holy Spirit to the point to where when they attempted to talk or pray or witness, the Holy Spirit changed the pronunciation of their words and instead of speaking their native language, they began speaking a heavenly language.

This was the specific fulfillment and we can look forward to the eternal or ultimate fulfillment when we get to heaven. It will have to happen to you and to everyone else … everyone else, forever and ever – or else we will not be able to understand 95 percent of the people in heaven or God for that matter. Without this miracle gifting you will be very lonely and isolated throughout eternity. I don’t imagine everyone who goes to heaven is going to speak English. And, if there was only one language everyone would have to speak I’m guessing it would be Chinese. 29,000 Chinese are currently born-again each day. Thank God there is a heavenly language!

Between Pentecost and heaven, we are in what I have called the general fulfillment period of this prophecy. This simply means that not everyone who gets saved experiences the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and begins to speak in tongues. Not every person receives the miracle gifting of interpretation of tongues and prophesying when they get Born-Again. It is the same with healing, prosperity, deliverance, faith and other miracle giftings from God. All of the miracle giftings and manifestations or the Holy Spirit are available to every Believer, but they are not automatic. We are encouraged in the scriptures to pray for these blessings and even to earnestly desire spiritual gifts and seek to prophesy. But, as the Apostle Paul says in:

1 Corinthians 12  NKJV
29  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
30  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31  But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 14
5  I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

14  For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 ¶  What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

18  I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all;
19  yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

And not only was the miracle of tongues present on the day of Pentecost but there was also the miracle of interpretation of tongues given to the thousands of people walking the streets of Jerusalem that day.

Acts 2
5 ¶  And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
7  Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?
8  “And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

Without regard as to how God chose to do it, this event was definitely a specific fulfillment of the prophecy given by the Holy Spirit in Joel 2 as testified to by the Apostle Peter on that day. As well, there are several other instances recorded in the Bible and throughout history where people were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in this heavenly language. (Acts 10:44-48)

In Acts 19 the Apostle Paul encountered 12 men he recognized as disciples. Assuming they were Born-Again Believers in Jesus as Messiah working to spread the Gospel through Asia Minor, Paul asked them a reasonable question of that day. Let’s read from that passage:

Acts 19 KJV
1 ¶  And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2  He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3  And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7  And all the men were about twelve.

A similar thing happened to Peter and John when they went to Samaria to check on the progress of the revival being held by one of the deacons named Phillip.

Acts 8
14 ¶  Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15  who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16  For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17  Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The conclusion we draw from the whole counsel of God’s Word concerning speaking in is without reasonable refute. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is secondary and subsequent to being Born-Again and this “infilling” either awakens or deposits or releases certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. Acts 1:8 is clarifies what a person receives when the Holy Spirit comes upon a Believer.

Acts 1: 8  “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Two conditions can be found in the New Testament for the Believer who wishes to pursue this offering and they are no different from those associated with a Believe seeking healing or prosperity from God. First: Acts 5:32 – obedience; and Luke 11:13 – asking God to fill you.

Good News! You can be filled with the Holy Spirit just like on the day of Pentecost if you will simply dedicate your life to God and seek that miracle gift of God just like you would pray for healing if you were sick.

3.  Take up serpents

Mark 16:18  “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The specific fulfillment of this prophetic word came to the Apostle Paul as recorded in:

Acts 28
3  But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4  So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.”
5  But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
6  However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

The general Word gives each Believer hope that if spiritual or natural serpents attach themselves to us that we will be victorious and that they cannot harm us. We can hold to this Word of God to know His will and therefore never doubt God’s ability to save and deliver us from evil.

If we were to consider the wording in the translation of Mark 16:17 of the phrase, “will take up”, we would find the Greek word used herein is also translated: take off; take away; remove; carry off; carry away; take from among; and cause to cease. This shows a clear intent to reveal the power and the authority we have over serpents whether natural or spiritual. In other words, … nothing shall by any means hurt you … and this is for today!

Luke 10
19  “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20  “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

There are … nonetheless, greater concerns and greater miracles and greater priorities for the Believer.

As well, the eternal fulfillment of this Word from Jesus will be seen in the ultimate binding of the original serpent which deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden … One day we will witness the physical binding and removal of this sneaky snake from our midst forever and ever!

I do not believe, nor do we teach that anyone should ever put themselves in the path of a poisonous snake or any other danger on purpose trying to prove faith or spirituality … one might as well step in front of a moving train and trust God to be delivered. It’s not a consideration of faith … that would be more akin to testing God from the standpoint of stupidity … forgive me for using the S word.

4.  If they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them

Just like the practice of handling snakes, we should not drink any deadly thing on purpose either. Jesus encourages us with a strong admonition to not tempt God.

Matthew 4
5  Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
6  and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
7  Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ”

However, if anything does try and harm us, thank God we have an advocate with the Father and a reason to hope and pray that no deadly thing will hurt us. But, if we tempt God, we may find ourselves discussing this doctrine in person with St Peter.

5.  Lay hands on the sick and they will recover

James 5
14  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

I cannot tell you why we don’t see every person instantly healed from every sickness and disease when we pray. I can tell you that it does happen and that our faith has a huge part to play in moving the hand of God however, even the greatest faith a man or woman could possess will not and should not override the purpose-filled plan and will of God.

We are told to not worry about anything but instead, pray about everything; tell God what we want and then thank Him for everything He does. (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

I believe that there is more work to be done in heaven than there is on the earth. I also believe that the work which is being done in heaven is very important. Jesus said that He was more needed in heaven and that it would be better for us if He went there and worked from here. I believe that Jesus did His job on earth and He is doing more for us from there than He could do from here. It was the will of God to limit the span of lives on earth and to take the limits off of life beyond death for the Believer.

We pray to keep the ball in God’s court … And to help keep our heart and will in agreement with His. Prayer always gives us the victory … and we often see victory in the situation before we see victory over the situation.

When discussing the plight of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, we confirmed that:
1.   We know what God is able to do
2.   We do not know what God will do
3.   We do know what we will do
4.   We will trust God, put our hope in Him and pray the Word.

Mark 16
19 ¶  So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
20  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

Notice: He sat down, and they went out …
·        The work of the Kingdom of God has now become the responsibility of man.
·        Each person who gets saved as a result of us going and preaching the Gospel to every creature gets to go to heaven.
·        Every worker/disciple of Christ will be eternally rewarded/paid according to the work they have done for Christ on planet earth.
·        We have been given power and authority to go in His name.