Hangin' Out With God

Getting up close and personal with God through knowing and believing His Word

‘Smoky Mountain Inspirational Novel Series’ now at Amazon in Paperback — April 28, 2017

‘Smoky Mountain Inspirational Novel Series’ now at Amazon in Paperback

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SET FREE AMAZON FRONT COVERThis week Book 1 of the Smoky Mountain Series took it’s place in the Paperback Inspirational Novel section of the Amazon book store.  I’m really happy to report that this first book of the series —Set Free To Love —  is now available at a new lower price — only $8.99.

It’s only a story — but when Private Detective Maddison Holt, Uncle Matt, Beth Hanover, and her young brother Lex get hold of your heart, you won’t feel like it’s just a story —– and you won’t want to miss picking up Book 2 of the series as soon as possible. The Smoky Mountain Series brings you stories where strong, loving, courageous characters meet the challenges of life with the power of God’s Word, and where true romance wins out over all.

Set Free To Love

As his vision suddenly blurred, Maddison realized he’d let it happen again. He swiped at his eyes with a thumb and forefinger, trying at the same time to pinch back more tears. He’d have to pull off the highway if he didn’t get better control of himself. The next moment, he could feel the anger boiling up from deep inside, needing an outlet. He’d swung back and forth like this relentlessly, between tears and anger for … how many weeks had it been now? Way too many … but then not really enough … not enough to dull the pain or answer any of the questions.

This first book in the Smoky Mountain Series follows private detective Maddison Holt’s journey from grief, guilt, and self-incrimination to a place where he is released from all of those burdens and able to freely give himself to loving and being loved. Order it here.

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Drawing From God’s Well — February 19, 2016

Drawing From God’s Well

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day you shall say, Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare  His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for He hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst.
(Isaiah 12:2-6).

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In this chapter of Isaiah, the Lord is encouraging Israel — and the church (by virtue of our Jewish lineage through Jesus Christ.) The promises in this particular chapter look forward to Jesus and all that He would bring to earth for the human race. Although the Lord is referring to a specific day of deliverance for Israel from her physical enemies, this passage, like so many in the Old Covenant, also foresees the ultimate deliverance of God’s people through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

What this passage offers one nation — on a small scale — it also offers the heirs of that nation (the church of Jesus Christ)  on a much larger scale. So if behooves us to look very closely at exactly what is being promised and offered here, so that we know what God has made available to us through our Lord’s finished work.

The most important word in this entire passage is “salvation.” Now, unfortunately, to English-speaking people, that word tends to turn our minds to a very limited, somewhat atrophied definition. For many, “salvation” represents some rather vague state of being resulting from the fact that God has forgiven our sins and that we are now in a position to be able to go to Heaven when we die. And, of course, it does mean that, but that simple definition is so far from the true meaning of the word in the original texts of Scripture that it leaves us in ignorance of all that Jesus has done for us.

The word which we translate “salvation” in the Old Testament comes from two Hebrew words — each of them used in different O. T. passages, but both of them having the exact same definition.  The really interesting thing is that the word we translate “salvation” in the New Testament comes from one Greek word which also has exactly the same definition as the two Hebrew words used in the O. T.

Every one of those root words means the following:
“To set free, deliver, aid, heal, prosper, protect, make whole, provide for one’s welfare.”

Now, if you are reading this article and you did not know that definition previously, you need to read through it again — maybe two or three times — because until we have all of those parts clearly embedded into our mind, we do not understand the word “salvation.” We also need to understand that when the Scriptures use other forms of that word (such as “save” or “saved”) they are still using the same root word with the same definition.

So what Scripture really tells us is that when Jesus took our sin and the curse for sin upon Himself, died with it, and rose from the grave with all the debt paid in full, He bought, not only forgiveness for the sin, but also deliverance from all the aspects of the curse that was in effect for breaking God’s laws. (For a quick list of the things included in the curse of the broken law, you can read Deuteronomy chapter 28. The first 14 verses list the blessings for walking in covenant and obedience with God, and the whole rest of the chapter lists the punishments for disobedience.)  Galatians chapter 3 explains how Jesus took that whole curse for us and left us free to inherit  the promises given to our forefather in the faith – Abraham.

So when we read that word “salvation,” we need to stop and include all the words in the definition of that word. If we never give correct meaning to it, we will never be able to appropriate the wonderful things it offers us, and we will not be grateful to the Lord for having bought those blessings for us with His own suffering and death.

Just begin with this passage in Isaiah and when you come to the word “salvation,” stop and read “freedom from sin, deliverance, aid, healing, prosperity, protection, wholeness, and welfare.”  If you’ve never done it, you will find that it will change your life — and your relationship with God.

Let’s go one step farther into the New Covenant. The name “Jesus’ is actually derived from a Hebrew root (and is sometimes translated Joshua as well as Jesus.) But the point we need to zero in on is  the fact that the name is derived from a combination of the Hebrew words that mean “Jehovah saves — heals, delivers, sets free, prospers, protects, etc.”  Wow!  No wonder there was unqualified joy in Heaven and among groups of people who were looking for the Messiah when word came that “Jesus” had been born.

Now, let’s return to Isaiah 12 for one more thought. In the last sentence of that chapter, we are told that the inhabitants of Zion  are to shout for joy because the Holy One of Israel is great in her midst. Now,  this “Holy One of Israel” is the same God who came down in fire and burned up Elijah’s sacrifice, along with his altar, and then licked up the water. He’s the same God who slew Goliath when David through his rock. He’s also the same God who went before the army of Jehoshaphat and destroyed three whole armies without Israel even having to get sweaty. If that God is in the midst of Zion, she has nothing at all to fear.

It’s interesting to note that Zion is also used in Scripture to look forward to the church, and in the New Testament book of Hebrews we are told that believers have come to Mt. Zion, to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the general assembly and church of Jesus Christ.  Does that mean that the “Holy One of Israel” is also in our midst? Well, let’s take a look at 1 John 4:4 — a letter written strictly to the born-again believers who make up the church of Jesus Christ: “You are of God, little children and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

And not only is HE (the Holy One of Israel) in us, but so is His Kingdom. Jesus said the Kingdom does not come with outward observation, but that it comes to us internally. (Luke 17:21). He also insisted that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us His Kingdom. (Luke 12:32). And how does Jesus describe the Kingdom of God?  Well, it includes God’s righteousness, of course (Matt. 6:33) but it also includes healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and giving out the things of God freely.  Throughout the Gospels, Jesus tells people that when He or His disciples minister the delivering and healing power of God, the Kingdom of God has come to those people. All of those things are inside of our born-again spirit.

So, dear believers, it’s time we stirred ourselves up to go draw the water of life that we need from the wells of God’s “salvation” — the wells of “Jesus” — the wells of “freedom, deliverance, healing, prosperity, protection, and welfare.”

It’s time to cry out and shout for joy — regardless of how things look or feel in the natural. Because those things that have come against you — those enemies — those giants that threaten your survival — those multiple armies of deadly problems that have encamped against you — all of them have one thing in common: they are no match for the Holy One of Israel — for Jesus, who forgives, delivers, heals, prospers, and protects you. Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.  Believe Him and let Him work for you.

 

 

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John Osteen on Confessing God’s Word — January 9, 2016
Poems of Passion Week – Day 8 – ‘It’s In Me’ — April 20, 2014

Poems of Passion Week – Day 8 – ‘It’s In Me’

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Are you buried deep in sorrow
Over past and hurtful wounds?
Has the weight of your own failures
Left you feeling failure-doomed?


Has the peril of the systems
Of the economic sphere
Left you beaten down and overwhelmed
And buried under fear?


Has the rampant spread of sickness,
Diagnosis of sure death,
Left you reeling in confusion,
Condemned to draw your final breath?


Then look away: from all the darkness,
From the death and fear and pain.
Hear the rumble of the tombstone
As it rolls from off the grave.
See the lightning flash of glory
As the Son begins to rise,
As He steps from death’s dark dungeon:
The successful sacrifice.


Hear Him say, “The curse is broken!
I have come to give you life.
Ask of Me, and I will answer;
I have victory for your strife.
I’ve a storehouse of provisions;
I have healing for your pain;
I’ve forgiveness for your sin,
And I can make you clean again.


“For as surely as I died for you,
Took all your sin on me,
So My resurrection power is yours;
It’s enough to set you free.


There is no price;


It’s for the taking.


But the only place you’ll find it

Is in Me.”

 

 

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Praise Your Way Out of the Whale — March 16, 2013

Praise Your Way Out of the Whale

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In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet, under the inspiration of God, says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vine; though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from  the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls; yet I will exult in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength. And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” (Hab. 3:17-19).

Habakkuk has made a decision of his will to refuse to let natural circumstances control him or his life. Natural circumstances give him absolutely no reason to praise God. Yet he decides to praise Him and exult in Him. Why? Because he has a reason that far outweighs the circumstances.

His exultation and rejoicing are in the fact that he knows God is his salvation. That word salvation, from the original Hebrew, means much more than having our sin washed away. The word translated salvation, in both Hebrew and Greek, means “deliverance, victory, health, and prosperity.” Habakkuk knows that no matter what the trouble he faces, he has a God Who will deliver him and bring him out in victory, if he will remain faithful and keep his eyes on the Lord.

When Habakkuk talks about the Lord making his feet like hinds’ feet, he is referring to the fact that the hind lives high up in the mountainous areas and walks fearlessly along the steep sides of the mountains, and the narrow ledges over steep drop-offs. This dexterity comes from the fact that God made the hind to be able to leap from ledge to ledge in such a way that the two back feet come down in exactly the same spot that the two front feet left. So the animal is perfectly confident as it leaps and walks in the most dangerous places.

The prophet realizes that as long as his trust is in his God, he can be confident that no matter how dangerous or treacherous the way in the midst of trouble, he will not fall, but will leap from point to point, as sure-footed as the hind. And he will come at last to the highest level of victory over the problem.

Habakkuk is not alone in recognizing the value of praising his God in the face of bewildering negative circumstances.  David, when he and his men returned to Ziklag (1 Samuel 30), found it had been burned down completely, and all their wives and children had been taken captive by the Amalekites. David and all of his mighty warriors were so distraught and horrified that the Word says they wept until they had no more power to weep. Then David’s men began to talk about stoning him, because he had been the one responsible for their being away from their homes at the time of the attack. David had absolutely nowhere to turn for help. No one even wanted to talk to him, let alone befriend him at that time. But the Word says “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

Once he turned away from what he could see and hear and feel, and began to build himself up on what he knew to be the truth about his God, David gained new spiritual strength, and put himself into a place of being able to hear from God. He then called for the priest to bring the ephod, which was a tool God had given Israel’s leaders to aid them in hearing from Him. After centering all of his attention on God, David was then in a place to hear what God told him. And because he was again in a place of faith, God was able to instruct him to pursue the enemy and recover everything he and his men had lost. God was able to give the victory, but David had to be able to receive it. And he could not do that in a state of hopelessness and despair — but only in a state of faith.

Another well-known Old Testament prophet speaks almost the same message in the midst of what I perceive as the most bazaar, hopeless situation that I can imagine. Jonah,  in chapter two of the book named for him, speaks while inside the belly of the whale. (Scripture calls it a ‘great fish,’ but ‘whale’ will suffice for this lesson.) He describes the total ugliness and hopelessness of his situation, but then he says, “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to Thee, into Thy holy temple. … I will sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.”  (Jonah 2:7-9).

Here again, in the midst of the most severe trouble and the direst prognosis for the future, the prophet concentrates on the truth which outweighs all that he sees and feels:  God is the source of salvation (deliverance,) and therefore, is worthy to be praised. Jonah makes a decision to worship God and give Him the sacrifices of love and praise which are due Him.

Pastor John Osteen, of Houston, Texas, once made the point, while teaching on Jonah, that we have none of us ever been in so negative a situation as Jonah. He said no matter what we’re facing, we can look in some direction and see at least a little light or encouragement; but no matter where Jonah looked, all he could see, in any direction, was whale. How true. We should be thankful for even the smallest encouragement from any direction.

But Jonah, with absolutely no natural encouragement at all, made his decision and praised his God. And notice what happens in the very next verse:  “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto dry land.” The chronological order is very important here. Praise first; deliverance second. It is after we make a decision to praise God and acknowledge Him as our complete salvation that the Lord can move freely on our behalf.

You see, we must use our spiritual vision and see that very real salvation (deliverance, healing, prosperity) which is in the spirit realm. Being in the spirit realm, it is eternal and unchanging, and more powerful than any natural circumstances, which are always bound to change when pressured by things of the spirit. We don’t deny those circumstances, but we make up our mind that God’s Word is true — more true and more trustworthy than the circumstances.

Then we will praise and worship our God, even though the fig tree is dead. Our praise and worship will release our faith and unlock the doors between Heaven and Earth, allowing the salvation and resurrection life of God to flow freely into our situation. Then the fig tree will blossom, and then the vine will bear fruit. †

(Scripture references taken from New American Standard Translation.)

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Overcoming Impossible Circumstances — March 7, 2012

Overcoming Impossible Circumstances

O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
‘There is no deliverance for him in God.
But Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
For Thou has shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Thy blessing be upon Thy people!”

(Psalm 3, NAS)

 

These words, penned by David, but spoken by God, have much to tell us about what to believe, and how to act in the midst of trouble. Very rare indeed is the Christian who cannot relate to the words of verses 1 and 2, especially in these latter days. It seems that the enemy has pulled out all the stops and attacked the faithful from every conceivable angle.

Almost every devout Christian that I’ve talked with the last couple of years has felt that the battles against him have intensified to a frightening degree. One attack seems to follow hard on the heels of another, and for many believers, it seems that the enemy is encroaching from every possible angle at the same time, and that his forces have grown stronger. Our adversaries have increased, and we hear that insistent, nagging voice say, “You’re not going to get the victory this time; just look around you; there’s no help coming for you from God now.”

How I hate that voice! I must have heard it thousands of times during my walk with God. And the particularly aggravating thing is that even after God has proven that voice a liar and delivered me many times, the next time I face a battle, the enemy jumps up again and says loud and clear, “But this time’s different; this time’s worse; you won’t be able to hold on for the victory this time. How well we can feel what David was feeling when he wrote these words. Our enemies may not be mighty armies on horseback, as some of David’s were at this time, but they are just as dangerous and just as deadly serious about attacking and destroying us.

What do we do when we’re overwhelmed by the attacks of the enemy? When all natural intelligence tells us there’s no reason to hope for deliverance or victory? When our circumstances and thoughts, and even some of our Christian friends tell us we’re fools to keep expecting God to step in and deliver us? We do what David did. We look to the One who identifies Himself as our God, our Savior, our Deliverer, the great I Am.

That name which God first declared to Moses, and which we generally translate as “I Am,” actually has a much more involved meaning. The name, from the Hebrew, literally means: “I Am that I Am; I will be what I will be; the Self-existent One who causes all other things to exist.” Now it’s of paramount importance, dear Christian, that we really understand this name. If our God is the self-existent One who will be whatever He wants to be, then He will be whatever we need at any particular time, and be something totally different for each one of us at the same time, in order to meet our needs and accomplish our deliverance and victory. The Creator of the universe willingly adjusts Himself to the needs of each of His children, when we fully believe Him and operate in complete faith and trust, thus keeping the channels open for Him to move.

So David is surrounded by an advancing enemy, rapidly increasing in numbers and strength (most probably a real army of defectors led by his son Absalom). There seems to be no escape, and if he would believe his senses and the voices of the demons sent to torment him, there’s no help even in God. But David knows God from the days of his shepherding, when he killed the lion and the bear, and from the day of Goliath’s defeat. So he turns his eyes to that same God and sees that He is exactly what he needs right now: A Shield!

Now, the word translated “shield” in this passage is extremely interesting. David isn’t talking about just a little shield that he would hold on his arm. He says God is a shield “about” him. All around him, in other words. And that’s why he’s chosen this particular word. The Hebrew word, as it’s used in this verse, refers to the “scaly hide of the crocodile.” That being the case, we get a whole different picture of God’s protection. The hide of a crocodile is made up of heavy scales which continuously overlap one another all down the length of the creature’s body. They leave no open area through which a weapon can penetrate. Virtually complete coverage.

Now, of course, since God ordained that man was to be in dominion over all the creatures of the earth, He has given man the wisdom to eventually learn how to get past that almost impenetrable armor and kill crocodiles when necessary. But that is not the case with the protective shield God wraps around us. When we remain faithful to God, He wraps us in that impenetrable shield and does not open it up to the enemy.

Unfortunately, we have often given the enemy dominion over us and exposed ourselves to his weapons – either by deliberate disobedience to God and His covenant, or by ignorance of His Word. We must live in that Word and devour it until it has created the faith in us that receives and applies that protection from the Lord. Remember, it is the Word alone that creates faith (Romans 10:17). Nothing but the Word has the power to create faith, because it is only that Word that can show us the reality of the promises of God.

We must keep in mind the fact that there are two realms: the natural realm and the spiritual realm. And it is that spiritual realm – which we cannot access by our five senses – that is the most real and the most powerful. The things that we can see, feel, and hear are temporal (temporary and subject to change), but the things that are not accessed by our five senses are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:18). The Spirit God created everything that is natural. So all things natural are subservient to the spirit realm.

When God’s promised protection becomes more real to us than the enemy and his threats, we will say continually out of our own mouths that God is our shield and protection and that no evil can befall us. And we will be at rest, because the protection has become more than just words on a page to us. But, thank God, even when we fail at this responsibility, God still has mercy enough to deliver us from the results of our own foolishness and disobedience. Repentance and a return to His Word, will open the door to that mercy triumphing over what we justly deserve.

So much for the shield. What about God’s being the “lifter of our head”? This description of the Lord refers to a long-held tradition among the Israelite nation. When a man was troubled with a problem or burden, he would often go about in a dejected manner, with his head downcast. It was common practice among the Hebrew people that if a friend of the troubled man walked up to him, put his hand under his chin, and lifted his head, that meant that the friend was willing to take on the problem of the troubled man and help him solve it.

So it is that our Lord Jesus, the Hebrew of Hebrews, comes to us, the sons and daughters of Abraham, when we are troubled and pressed down even to the point of despair, and He lifts our heads. He says, “Cast all your care on Me, for I care for you.” (1 Peter 5: 6-7).

Now, the Lord has several ways of putting His loving hand beneath our head and lifting it up, but one of the most common ways is through His Word. In the midst of the worst oppression, when we open that Word and feed upon it, it saturates us,and our head is lifted, our soul is lightened, and our spirit soars to meet God and receive His victory.

No wonder David could say that he would lie down and sleep in peace, knowing he would awake safe the next morning because God was with him. No wonder he boasted that he wouldn’t be afraid, even if ten thousands of his enemies surrounded him on every side. He knew, like Elisha before him, that the horses and chariots of fire from Heaven were much more numerous than all the hosts of the enemy. Elisha had said, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:11-23).

Dear Reader, beloved of God, have your adversaries increased? Are you surrounded on every side by the enemy forces attacking you and your loved ones? Are you facing problems that, in the natural, have no solution: serious illness, indebtedness and foreclosures, broken marriages, children addicted to drugs? The list is virtually endless. Are you feeling desperate? Are you hearing the enemy say, “There’s no help for you in God?” Then you must do what David did. You must set your eyes, without wavering, on God. Elisha’s servant had to have his spiritual eyes opened miraculously to be able to see the chariots of God. But, dear one, we have only to look into God’s Word.

Open up that Word and devour it. Let it fill your eyes, your mind, your heart. That Word will show you God, your shield; that Word will bring the hand of Jesus beneath your chin and lift your head; The Word will show you the angels of God and their chariots of fire, prepared to move on your behalf.

Stay in that Word until your Deliverer is more real to you than all of your enemies. Stay in that Word until every word out of your own mouth says what God says. Then you’ll be able to testify with David: “I cried unto the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain and delivered me!”

 

 

 

 


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