by Lawrence Powell
I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so, I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:14-16, 27)
Do you know that God has something to say that you need to hear today? God still speaks to man, and you can know His voice.
In Matthew 4:4 we read, …Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I want us to focus on the word proceed for a moment. To proceed means to go forth, to go out, to depart, to come forth, to issue.Its Gods words, thoughts, affections, and sayings projected from His mouth to our ears. Bread, as you know, is a staple of most cultures. You’ll find bread in some form everywhere. So Jesus uses this global picture to explain to us that we cant live off earthly food alone. We need spiritual food every day to maintain health, and that spiritual food is every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
God reveals His will to us by His spoken word. He wants every one of us to hear His Word because He wants us to know His will. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise… I need to stop here and share something with you: Years ago, I looked up the Greek word for unwise, and it said stupidly. So, God is warning us, Don’t be stupid; understand what the will of the Lord is. If I don’t understand what the will of the Lord is, I am stupid; I’m unwise, according to Scripture especially since the Word of the Lord is accessible and understandable.
Another reason God speaks to us is that He wants us to be found in the very center of His will. Don’t make major decisions without getting the will of God on them. Don’t jump into a job because it pays better than what you’re making right now. That job that looks so good might only have six months left to it. And don’t you dare get married without asking the Lord, Is this the one? You can know the will of God for your life, but you need to listen to His voice.
God speaks. He’s not mute, as the idols of various religions around the world. But, the truth is, sometimes we mute Him, don’t we? Sometimes God is speaking, but we’ve got the mute button on. Do yourself a favor: Don’t turn a deaf ear to the voice of the Lord when He’s speaking to you. We are so privileged to serve the true and living God. When we cry out to Him, He hears us, answers us, helps us, heals us, and delivers us from every one of our distress-es. He’s a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God!
Yes, God still speaks and will continue to speak. I grew up hearing the saints talk about how God spoke to them, and, honestly, I’m not sure if everything they said was really from God. It might have been that late-night pizza! But people said it in a way that you could tell they were familiar with the concept of hearing Gods voice. When I came to know Jesus, I wanted to hear what they heard. I wanted to hear the voice of God. So when somebody said that God spoke to him, I’d wonder to myself, What does God sound like? When somebody talks to me, it’s spoken aloud, so I just assumed that when God spoke, it was in an audible voice. Now, I’m sure you know that if God wants to, He can certainly speak in an audible voice if He chooses to. He determines how He will communicate with you. So let Him! The important thing is, He will speak to you, through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, and you can expect to hear clearly what He has to say.
Acts 13:2 gives us an example of how God spoke to the early church: As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and they sent them away. What were they doing when the Holy Spirit spoke to them? They were in prayer, praising and worshiping the Lord. In that atmosphere, the Holy Spirit spoke. If youre going to be a person who hears the voice of God, youve got to be a praying, worshiping person. Thats one of the reasons the enemy doesnt want you to praise and worship the Lord, because he knows that when you worship God, He will speak. If you need direction, guidance or help, just spend some time ministering to the Lord.
Keep those spiritual ears open so you can hear what God will say to you. It may be just a word or a paragraph; it may come in a dream. But know this: He will speak to you. Why? Because God wants to encourage you to trust Him and His Word, to know the sound of His voice. As you experience the fulfillment of His promises, He knows your faith will grow strong, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He will direct you in your deci-sions and order your steps so you can experience what He has for you. But your ears have got to be open to the sound of His voice.
Matthew 7:24-27 says, ‘Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.’
When it comes to listening, are you a fool…or are you wise? I don’t want you to forget that question because it’s not just hearing His Word that matters; it’s doing His Word. My prayer for you is that you will hear the Word of the Lord and then go and do it! Amen?
|Don’t Be Deceived
by Lawrence Powell
I want to talk to you today about the important topic of deception. There is so much going on in our world. Things have changed – a lot! We must recognize that, today, there is an intense opposition to truth as God defines it. There is a demonic agenda attempting to force its way on us and certainly intent on leading people, and, yes, even the church, astray.
Take, for instance, what we see in the media and entertainment. Things that used to grieve the people of God no longer grieve them. We see all kinds of ungodliness paraded before us and we wink at it. Nudity, cussing and swearing on TV and in the movies—not to mention all of the violence! “Well, it’s just the way the world is.” And that’s precisely the problem: the things that grieve the Spirit of God no longer grieve us. It’s as if we’ve been lulled to sleep. We need to come to grips with the fact that, sadly, this blinding effect has found its way into the church. You heard me! The spirit of this age, seated in church pews, seeks to conform believers to the evils of the day, when believers should be making a difference. You and I should be making an impact that brings about transformation in our culture and our world. Paul warned us ‘not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.’(Romans 12:2). God’s got a plan, a purpose in Heaven that He wants fulfilled on earth. We should be praying and cooperating with Him that His will be done – not the will of the enemy, but the will of God. So why are we sitting back and letting the enemy have his way?
Remember years ago we were horrified and grieved to hear that the courts legitimized abortion. But how many times do we think about it now? It’s just become a part of our culture. It’s become a part of what we do. Well, my Friend, you can legalize and legislate it, but sin is still sin. The problem is people want to redefine sin. People want to redefine the Bible. They’re deceived into thinking that’s okay; it’s progressive!
I came across a quote from evangelist Billy Graham that is so very powerful. He said, “Our society serves to avoid any possibility of offending anyone except God.” Today we’re consumed by political correctness at the expense of God’s Word. Christians are so afraid of speaking out against sin and deception that it’s got Satan dancing! These Last Days are tough…and they’re only going to get tougher. Remember Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4 that the time would come when people wouldn’t be able to stand sound doctrine and teaching, but, instead would run around like a group of chickens frantically chasing this way and that, trying to find teachers who taught what they wanted to hear. And Paul warns that “they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” That’s deception…and that’s what we, as Christians, need to avoid.
I want you to understand this, because, as believers faced with deception, we must be prepared to respond. What happens when you’re on the job and people begin to talk about racism or issues of sexuality or crime — what are you going to say? Here’s a little something for you to think about; a cat doesn’t bark. A dog doesn’t meow. A dog barks; a cat meows. It’s according to their nature, right? So sinners are going to act like sinners-liars will lie, cheaters will cheat, thieves will steal. When you are faced with all of that, how will you respond?
I’m going to share a personal story with you about what happened one day when I told a lie. Me, Pastor Larry, lying! I know that’s a shocker, isn’t it? I got in trouble about something and I figured, “Let me lie my way out of this.” So I kept a straight face and I lied. Everything in me was lying. And my mother said, “Alright now, I’m going to go in the room and I’m going to pray, and I’m going to ask God about it. And God’s going to tell me if you’re lying or not.” Now I knew she was tight with God, so I cried out, “Oh, Mama, I’m lying! Do what you’re going to do now, because I’m lying!” I knew my mother walked with God, so I was sure God was going to tell on me!
You know every April we’re confronted with this same choice: Do I lie…or do I tell the truth? You know April…Tax time! Whether you like it or not, if you choose to lie on your taxes, then you’re a liar! Hey, don’t shoot the preacher now! God said it – I’m just relaying the message!
When I was a child, Christians used to say, “We’re in the world, but we’re not a part of the world.” And yet, you and I have to live among people. We see each other daily at work, at school, in the supermarket. What makes us different is that we have a divine call to be a light in the darkness ; to be the salt of the earth. That means we have to keep ourselves from being deceived, so we can help others avoid deception as well.
How do we avoid deception? By staying close to Jesus. By reading the Word of God and meditating on it daily. By prayer, and fasting, if necessary. It’s not always going to be easy. There’s always going to be challenges. Life is full of them. But you can live clear-headed in God’s truth.
We all came out of sin and deception of one form or another. Paul explained this to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 6, when he mentioned a long list of their former sins. But he said in verse 11, “And such were some of you.” You, too, my friend, have sinned and fallen short of the glory. But note that little word “were.” That means that’s who you used to be. That’s who I used to be. But we’re not those people anymore. We’ve been washed, cleansed, delivered, sanctified, and set apart unto God. Amen? We’ve been justified. Now you and I can live in newness of life, free from deception. And that’s something to shout about!
|If God Can Use A Donkey
by Lawrence Powell
God wants to use you! You might have difficulty receiving it because, “You don’t know where I’ve been, Pastor; you don’t know what I’ve done.” God does. He knows everything about you. God, Who is omniscient, already knowing everything you’d ever do, was never taken by surprise that when He told you to go right, you still went left. He knows when you’ve been abused, when others have taken from you what they could get and then cast you to the curb. That’s not how He will use you. God is waiting for you to make yourself available to Him, allowing Him to be glorified in and through you–through your talents, skills, abilities and more. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you have anything to offer!
In Matthew 21, we read of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry before the crucifixion. At the beginning of this passage, Jesus sends His two disciples into the village to retrieve for him a donkey, tied to a fence, and her colt with her. Their instruction was to tell anyone who says anything to them, “The Lord has need of them.” Please notice that when Jesus was arranging transportation for this most important moment, He did not choose a white stallion or a black stallion, a gray mare or even a brown camel; He chose a donkey! Jesus chose a donkey to use on His very public, triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
It is interesting that this wasn’t the first time He used a donkey. In Numbers 22, we read that God opened a donkey’s mouth to speak to a wayward prophet named Balaam. Balaam was entertaining the idea that he could, for a price, curse the people of God even though they had been blessed by God! This aroused God’s anger against him. God sent an angel to block Balaam’s path. Three times the donkey saw the angel blocking the path and halted, and three times Balaam whipped the donkey. The third time, the beast opened its mouth and said, “Why do you keep on striking me? For years I have served you faithfully and have not caused you any anger. Why are you now striking me? Can you not clearly see the angel blocking our path?” The Lord then opened Balaam’s eyes, and it says in verse 31 that “he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His sword drawn in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell on his face.” God used a donkey to get a prophet’s attention.
Move forward to Judges 15, and you’ll find another account of God using a donkey – or what was left behind of one! Here, the Philistines were coming with shouts toward Samson. Verse 14 tells us, “The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson… And he found a still moist jawbone of a donkey and reached out and took it and slew 1,000 men with it.” We often think of Samson as being buff, someone naturally intimidating. But he wasn’t really. He was an average Joe, a natural guy with a supernatural anointing. Just about anybody can sing, anybody can talk, anybody can preach, but it’s another thing to have the anointing of God upon you. The anointing brings distinction. It causes burdens to be removed and yokes to be destroyed, and whenever you have an anointing, God will allow you to get your hand on some things – even some things you think are useless. They’ll be useful in the hands of the right person! God used the fresh jawbone of a donkey in the hands of an anointed judge, Samson, to bring deliverance to His people. If God can use a donkey, certainly He can use you!
When I think back to Jesus’ triumphal entry, I discover these three things are essential:
The donkey was SELECTED. It was chosen. In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You didn’t choose Me; I chose you and have appointed you to go bear fruit.” He prearranged your selection before your grandmother ever met your grandfather. “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure He took in planning this! (Ephesians 1:3-6, MSG).” You are not His second choice; you are His first choice! Don’t allow the enemy to convince you otherwise. Despite flaws, imperfections and issues, you’re chosen. Isn’t that wonderful?! You’re here today, not because of your goodness or what you’ve done, but because of what He’s done. He sees something in you and says, “That individual, that one, has something I can use.” God says, “I choose you.” Accept your calling today!
The donkey was SANCTIFIED. Mark 11:2 tells us that no one had sat upon the colt. It was sanctified. Sanctification is not just about being set apart from sin. It is also means to be set apart to God. When God calls you out of this world’s sin and bondage, He also calls you into His light. Sanctification is more than the way you dress. I remember how that was such a focal point in times past when women had to wear peanut butter colored stockings that were so thick Superman couldn’t see through them just to be considered sanctified. Now our culture has swung the other way, acting as if sanctification and your dress code have no connection. Our eyes are supposed to be on Jesus, not on you! Be truly sanctified, observing the Lord’s instructions, and be careful that you don’t allow the world’s system to have such an influence on you.
The donkey was SATISFIED. Please notice that this donkey said nothing. It was content to be used of the Lord and had no issue with all the praise and glory going to Jesus. If you’re going to truly be used of the Lord, then settle it in your mind today. May it be your resolve that when He uses you to bless someone in song, you’re satisfied that He gets the glory and not you. When He uses you to pray for the sick and the sick recover, be clear on this: to God be the glory. When He uses you to sow and water a seed, and yet someone else brings in the harvest, be sure to give Him the glory, praise and honor. It’s not about fame or fortune. It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus. Let your prayer be, “Lord if you can use a donkey, you can use me today. I will be faithful to give you the praise and the honor.”
Remember that there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor in the Master’s house. If you cleanse yourself, you will be “a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21).” Do you want to be used of the Lord today? Tell Him you’re available!
Watch the celebration at Agape.