May 2, 2012

Special Possession    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

God created the heavens and the earth, plus every living creature, in six days. Jesus broke the power of death and arose from the grave on the third day. When you gave your heart to Jesus, you became family. The newest NIV calls us, “God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9).” Therefore, no matter what you may be facing … God knows, cares, has the power, and is committed to taking care of you because you are His special possession.

Problems tend to dominate our thought process and totally obstruct our vision. Faith does not ignore them, but it puts them in perspective. Immediately following the great faith chapter of Hebrews eleven, the writer instructs us to put our focus upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember, “Every problem is a possible setting for a miracle.”

October 28, 2011

Necessity of Prayer    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

Daniel was from the royal family of Judah. In fact this is the reason he and his three friends were forced to live in Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar after he had conquered Jerusalem (1:3-4). His goal was evidently to brainwash them into being loyal subjects of Babylon … he went so far as to give them Babylonian names, but Daniel and his three friends never forgot who they were and held to their faith in the true God of Israel. This placed their lives in jeopardy at different times, but God honored their faith … He exalted them to high leadership in Babylonia and saved them from various precarious situations.

One of the underlying secrets of Daniel’s perseverance was his life of prayer. Once, other leaders became jealous of Daniel’s exaltation and tried to use his prayer life to get rid of him. They played upon the king’s prideful nature and got him to issue a degree that no one could pray to any god or man other than the king for thirty days … if they did they would be thrown to the lions (6:4-9). Daniel heard about it but went right ahead (as was his custom) to his room … opened his window … and prayed three times a day to God. He wasn’t doing it for show or to be rebellious; he simply refused to allow anyone to interfere in his relationship with God … even with the threat of death. Daniel was thrown to the lions, but God closed the lions’ mouths through the night. Daniel was released from the lions’ den by the king the next day, and the king further made a decree throughout the land that Daniel’s God was to be feared and reverenced. Simply put, prayer is communication with God, and it is an absolute necessity on a regular basis if we are to be strong in the Lord and experience His blessings in our lives. Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 to illustrate the importance that men “should always pray and not give up (NIV, verse one).”

October 25, 2011

Occupy until Jesus Comes    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

Jeremiah records, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.” (Jeremiah 9:1 NIV) This sentiment is echoed over and over again throughout Jeremiah and the book of Lamentations that he also wrote. In fact, Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. This is not because of his personal problems, but because of the sins of his people and the resulting destruction that is coming to them. His message was very unpopular. Threats were made against him by the men of his home town (11:18-23) … and even by his own brothers (12:6). Jeremiah was arrested, beaten, and imprisoned (20:1-6). He was threatened with death (chapter 26). He was imprisoned again under false charges, put in a vaulted cell for a long time, confined to the courtyard, and then put into a cistern where he would possibly have died if it had not been for being rescued by an official of the royal courtyard who came to his rescue (chapters 37-38). He was finally freed by Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Imperial guard of Babylon when Jerusulem fell … only to discover that those appointed as leaders still wouldn’t listen to his advice from God (chapters 40-43). Jeremiah ends up being taken against his will to finish out his days as an exile in Egypt. In spite of all this, Jeremiah loved his people and wept because of the sorrow they brought upon themselves.

Chapter twenty nine records a letter Jeremiah had sent to the captivities in Babylon of how to deal with their time of exile. They were instructed to accept where they found themselves and to seek the peace of the city where they found themselves. Jeremiah understood that we cannot always choose the conditions in which we live, but we can choose how we live in those conditions with God’s help. Jesus promised in John 14:1-3 that He is preparing an eternal place for us to be with Him, and the apostle Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 2:9-10 that we cannot even begin to imagine the glory of what God has in store for us. This hope should give us courage to face our present life with an attitude that will glorify God. We are to live in submission to the authorities in our world as long as they don’t conflict with the commands of God (Romans 13:1-5), and we are to faithfully continue to pray for our country and its leadership (1Timothy 2:1-4). If our nation turns its back on God, we will be forced to live under the consequences as well … though we have God’s promise to never forsake us. But, if our nation lives under God’s blessing … life will be much easier and this will also allow for the spreading of the Gospel which we are to faithfully proclaim no matter what (Mark 16:15).

October 22, 2011

The Power of Yielding to God    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

Jonah is called by God to travel to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh to announce impending judgment from God. Assyria has been a very violent nation and has been extremely ruthless towards Israel. Jonah is excited about their impending destruction and wants to see them get everything that is coming to them. We discover at the end of the book that Jonah was afraid because God was warning them that He might change His mind if they repented. Therefore, Jonah decided to flee from his God-given responsibility and set sail in the opposite direction for Tarshish in Spain. God intercepted his flight by the way of a great storm and having Jonah thrown out of the boat. God then gave Jonah a personal three-day submarine ride in the belly of a great fish to the banks leading back towards Nineveh. This time Jonah grudgingly yielded to God’s assignment. He traveled to Nineveh, announced God’s impending judgment for three days and then climbed on top of a hill to watch what happened. God did restrain from destroying them after they repented for the time being, and Jonah pouted. God reminded Jonah that He loves everyone and it is His desire that all be saved. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in 1Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV), “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

There are many lessons from the life of Jonah, but the one I want to focus upon is the importance of yielding to God’s will in our lives. When we choose not to yield, such as acting in disobedience or refusing to accept what God sends or allows within our lives; we can expect a lack of growth, a lack of God’s blessings, and eventually calamity in our lives. Yielding will result in our developing into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29) and we will be in line for all of God’s blessings. This will create confidence in the presence of God (1John 3:21-22), grace to endure all that comes our way (2Corinthians 12:9), and the power to overcome any adversity we encounter (1Corinthians 10:13). The secret of yielding is to recognize our limitations and God’s greatness (Isaiah 55:8-9) and to learn to always be thankful. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV) tells us we should always be, “giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) instructs us to, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

October 21, 2011

Passion that is Godly    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15, NIV) God is incapable of committing evil as it is totally foreign to His nature; and He does not entice any person to commit evil. Evil arises from desires out of control. The Greek word translated “evil desire” in the NIV or “lusts” in the King James refers to God given desires such as love, happiness, and even anger. They only become evil when they are allowed to control us and carry us outside of the boundaries God has established for them within our lives. Anger should create a passion and strength to stand against that with is contrary to God’s will within our lives and the lives of those around us … it should not be allowed to lash out with intent to bring harm. Love should underlie every relationship beginning with God and extending to everyone around us … it should never be expressed in a manner outside of God’s boundaries. Love’s characteristics are beautifully spelled out in 1Corinthians, chapter thirteen. In addition, the Bible clearly restricts the expression of sexual intimacy to one man with one woman in the holy estate of marriage.

Therefore the secret to a Godly life is not removing God-given desires. In order to do this, one would have to become a zombie incapable of feeling and passion. Then one would be incapable of loving God or anyone else, and it would be impossible to have a Godly passion to reach the lost. The secret is making Jesus the Lord of our desires. As 2Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

October 19, 2011

To Him that Endures    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

We first meet Elisha when he is called to serve Elijah. Elisah breaks up his blowing equipment to build a fire, slaughters his team of oxen to roast upon the fire, has a going away party with his family and friends, and then begins indefinite time of service to Elisha (1Kings 19:19-21) … no evidence of pay or any guarantee of future employment. The next picture we have of Elisah is in 2Kings, chapter two. The Lord has revealed that he is going to take Elijah up to heaven and they leave Gilgal and travel to Bethel … then to Jericho. At each place Elisah is encouraged to stay behind and become a part of the local band of prophets by both Elijah and the prophets of the area. Each time Elisah declines and commits to stay with Elijah till the end. Elijah smites the waters of the Jordan with his cloak, the waters part, and he and Elisah cross over the Jordan on dry ground. Elisha is caught up into heaven on a fiery chariot and the spirit of Elijah is transferred to Elisah.

The secret to this anointing was that Elisah refused to quit, even when he was given permission to do so by those around him whom he respected. He carried through to the end of what God had called him to do. James 1:12 NIV records, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” Sometimes a crown can carry a high price, such as Jesus crown of crucifixion, but it will only be given to those who complete their course … whether it is a track event or the race of life. All the promises given to the seven churches of Revelation, chapters two and three, including the crown of life promised to Smyrna, are given to the over comer … not the quitter. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3, NIV)

October 17, 2011

Handling Depression    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

It would appear impossible that a man like Elijah could experience depression … but he did … and right after a tremendous victory. It all started when God directed Elijah to go to King Ahab and announce an upcoming drought brought on because of Israel’s forsaking God in 1Kings 17:1. Elijah did this and the drought came. During this time, God hid him and miraculously took care of him … first by a brook in the Kerith Ravine and then at a widow’s home in Zarepath. In the third year, most likely of the drought, God instructed Elijah to reveal himself to the king (Judges, chapter 18). Elijah does this and calls for a contest to prove who the true God was. Elijah prays, fire falls from heaven, and the 450 prophets of Baal were slaughtered. Then Elijah prays and the rain falls once again upon the land. Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life because of the death of her prophets of Baal, and Elijah ran for his life and ended up laying down under a broom tree and wishing that he was dead (1Kings 19:3-5). How could he go into depression after witnessing God’s great power and protection … he was human like you and me. A better question is, “How do we handle times of depression?”

First, we must do what Elijah did … hold firmly to our faith in God. Elijah was extremely discouraged, but he never doubted God … he just wants to end it all and go be with God. Much more so, we must never doubt Jesus, our high priest, savior, and Lord (Hebrews 4:14-15). He is greater than the angels (Hebrews 1:4), greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:3), greater than Abraham (Hebrews 6:20 – 7:4), greater than Aaron and the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7:21-22), and greater than the Old Testament sacrifices (Hebrews 10:11-14). Only Jesus has the power, authority, and ability to lead us into the true final rest of God (Hebrews 4:1-11). Second, we must get alone with God as Elijah did. It is not time to go running all over the place looking for an answer … it is time to go to Jesus and find strength and receive directions (Hebrews 4:16). Spend time in the Word of God and in prayer and seek out Godly counselors and advisers … seek the peace of God and settle for nothing less. Then, we must get up and go again … looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

October 16, 2011

Eclipsing Love    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

Jesus is speaking in a hyperbole, an exaggerated overstatement, in Luke 14:26 to emphasize a very important truth, “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” This was a very common form of speech in the Hebrew world … indeed it still is today. Some examples might be: “My mouth is so dry that I could spit cotton!” or “He’s so skinny that if he turned sideways and stuck out his tongue … he’d look like a zipper!” Jesus is not giving permission to escape the responsibility of caring for one’s earthly family. In Matthew 15:4; Jesus reminds the Scribes and Pharisees of the command to “Honor your father and mother”, and 1Timothy 5:8 (NIV) states, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Jesus clearly teaches the importance of family, but here He is stressing what it requires to be a true disciple … total abandonment unto God. This kind of love for God eclipses earthly love for family in comparison. Example: When the earth is compared to the moon … the earth appears gigantic. But, if the earth and the moon were to be placed side by side next to the sun … both the earth and the moon would appear extremely small … the distinction between the earth and the moon would be eclipsed in the enormity of the sun. Jesus stated we are to, “… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37, NIV).” Then, you will have true love to love your family in a way greater than you could ever love them through human love.

October 15, 2011

Dedication from the Heart    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

Rehoboam was faced with the results of his father’s disobedience … God had told Solomon that the kingdom would be divided under the reign of his son. The catalyst that lead to this was a prideful action of a young king who rejected the advice of older and wiser men for the advice of his peers (1Kings 12; 2Chronicles 10:1 – 11:4). Rehoboam accepted God’s discipline and was rewarded by God blessing the two tribes remaining under Rehoboam’s rule. Judah prospered militarily and spiritually, and Rehoboam was blessed in his family life as well (2Chronicles 11:5-21). Yet, Judah failed and God sent Shishak, king of Egypt, to invade and punish Judah in the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign. Rehoboam and Judah repented. Therefore, God didn’t destroy them, but He still placed them under slavery to Shishak.

How could Rehoboam start out so good and then fail? The answer is in 2Ch 12:14 NIV, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.” Rehoboam did what he had been taught to do to, but it was from his mind not his heart … the source of true discipleship. A man came to Jesus and stated a desire to be His disciple. Jesus made him look into His heart first to determine his motive. Jesus reminded him that He didn’t even have a place to call home … was he willing to pay the price whatever it might be? Another man stated he had to go and bury his father first … Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead. (Luke 9:58-62) Jesus wasn’t excusing one from taking care of their family … He plainly teaches family responsibility. Jesus was stressing that God must be first in our heart. It is only then that we will truly be able to provide for our family what they really need.

October 14, 2011

Wisdom that is Wise    Author: Exie Barber

Posted in Daily Post,Devotional | |

God appeared to Solomon after he had become king and gave him an option to ask whatever he desired. Solomon humbly asked God for wisdom to be able to govern Israel wisely. He could have asked selfishly for wealth or long life. Because he asked humbly for the benefit of others, God was so pleased that He gave him what he didn’t even ask for (Matthew 6:33). God promised him wealth and long life as well. (1Kings3:4-28; 2Chronicles 1:7-17) To this day, wisdom and wealth are synonymous with the name of Solomon. But even a wise man can make a dumb decision. This search is recorded in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon was king over Israel at the time Israel was the most powerful nation in the whole world. Therefore the most powerful, wisest, richest man to ever live evidently decided to go on a search for purpose and happiness in life outside of God. He searched through the use of power, exercise of wisdom, experience of pleasures, storing up of riches and possessions, and hard work. His conclusion … there is no fulfillment outside of serving God.

From Solomon’s teachings and fruitless search outside of God; we can learn a lot about true wisdom. It’s characteristics are: (1) Respect and honor for God – Proverbs 9:10; 15:33; (2) Separation from what is evil and contrary to God – Proverbs 14:16; (3) Builds quality relationships with others – Proverbs 11:30; (4) Heeds good instruction and rebuke – Proverbs 9:8-9; 10:8, 14; 12:15; 13:1, 20; 18:15; 21:11; (5) Is known for prudent speech – Proverbs 15:2, 7); and control of one’s emotions and actions – Proverbs 29:11). This kind of wisdom will result in strength and protection (Proverbs 24:5), riches (Proverbs 14:24, and quality accomplishments in life (Proverbs 3:35; 24:3). Anything not evidencing the above characteristics is not true wisdom and will come to eventual destruction. This wisdom can only come from God; therefore, it can only come by asking of God and then listening to and obeying the instructions of God found in the Bible … by seeking after God with our whole heart … and by listening to the Godly leaders that God places within our lives. James 1:5 NIV, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

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