No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

Advertisements

I Believe… – A Devotion

I Believe

James 2:21-24 (NLT)

Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

What do I believe? Does it really matter what I believe is the truth all that matters? Deeply philosophical, maybe, but I think that as believers we say that we have faith or believe in God but do not have a clue what the Truth really is. My belief in most things is purely subjective because the determination is made from my perspective, vantage point or personal experience. Objectivity is for those who can step out of their circumstances and personal opinion stepping to a higher level of understanding. This is accomplished by the pursuit of knowledge intellectually and not emotionally. Not many are capable of such an assertion. We want to be fair and just in our dealings as believers but without a working knowledge of Truth it is impossible. My human weakness and sinful nature make it impossible for me to truly understand how God thinks and what perfection really is. I live within a body often led by impulse and emotion. I am certain I am the only one so please bear with me. I need to know what I believe in order to determine the direction of my life. I must decide who and what is relevant. I need to think about it seriously considering all the factors if I truly want things to change or improve. Will my life be driven according to the winds of change that whisk around the world with each new trend or idea? Or will I choose to submit my life to the One and Only Sovereign God and His Son, Jesus Christ? It all comes down to what I believe and such a revelation may even surprise me.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

 

Faith is confidence. To believe is to have confidence in the Truth, the existence, or the reliability of something without absolute proof that one is right in doing so. To believe and know are two different things. Faith is confidence that what we hope for will actually happen giving us assurance about what we cannot see. Faith and belief are partners who pursue Truth together. This is the unknown, unseen but totally credible belief in Jesus Christ as Lord which becomes a relative factor in the lives of those who truly believe. To know Jesus is not enough to release the miraculous in our life – we must believe.

Mark 6:4-6 (NLT)

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

 

Friends and family of Jesus Christ did not believe that He was the Messiah. Despite living with the Jesus and witnessing all the miracles and mysteries surrounding the man, they could not believe that this was the Messiah sent to save them and reign forever. He did not fit the mold that religion had built in the midst of society. So many times it is very difficult to perceive the Lord working in our life due to preconceived notions and popular opinion formed in advance by our way. We want what we want when we want it. When Jesus comes along with His Plan, we ignore Him because we are transfixed on human expectation and what society says makes a successful life. We are limited in the miraculous because we believe in mediocre things and remain attached to them.

Matthew 19:16-22 (NLT)

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”  Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

 

We form attachments to those things that we believe in. Security is found in the comfort zones of life. More than fourteen years ago, we welcomed our fourth child into the world. Moments after giving birth, I looked at her daddy and said, “I cannot leave her.” He said, “Yes, you can.” We both had jobs with equal pay. For me to quit working would cut our household income in half, we had a family of six now. Stretching each dollar was already tough, but without my portion seemed impossible. We prayed for the duration of my “maternity” leave that never ended. We never have missed a payment, had our power turned off, went without or regretted the decision. The Lord had laid it heavily on my heart to be with her, He made a way to do so. But it took every ounce of faith and fiber of belief to let go of my position to step into God’s Plan for our life. It was not an easy decision. The rich young man came to Jesus. He thought himself ready to follow Jesus Christ. That is until it meant changing this life to be closer to the Lord. He couldn’t release his earthly attachments to achiever spiritual security. It doesn’t matter what you are willing to do for Jesus Christ unless you believe in the Truth of who He is and what He came to do. Mark my words. Listen carefully. The very thing that binds you to this life will be tested, tried and broken to release you to have the inheritance that God has for you.

Matthew 8:5-10 (NLT)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.  I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

 

Do you believe in the Sovereignty of God? Do you believe that He is All-Powerful? Do you believe that His Word is the Truth? Do you think that His Way is perfect in all things? Do you trust that He is in complete and absolute control in every situation that we face? Wow, I struggle in these areas more often than not as demonstrated by my stress, worry and anxiety level. The Roman officer is one of my favorite faith examples in the Bible. He believed in the Power of God totally. He told Jesus that He didn’t have to come but just speak the Word. No begging or pleading just total and complete submission to the Word and Way of God. Jesus took note of this one man’s faith. He was not religious. He wasn’t even a Jew. He was a believer.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT)

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

 

Did all the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ believe? John the Baptist who foretold His Coming struggled in his prison cell just before he was beheaded. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Hey, is it really you?” (Paraphrase) Philipp wasn’t sure. (John 14:8-10) Show us and we will be satisfied. Where is faith in such a thing? The very definition speaks of the unseen. Mary Magdalene thought someone had stolen the body of Jesus. What didn’t she believe that He was resurrected just like He said? (John 20:1-2) What about Thomas? He went into hiding and did not believe until he touched the holes in our Lord’s Hands. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:27-29) I want that to be me. I want to believe totally without seeing! I want genuine faith like Peter who knew in His Heart who Jesus was so that it didn’t matter what happened around Him, Peter believed. I want to expect Jesus. I want to suspect the Lord in every situation. I want to belief. Lord, help my unbelief today.

Mark 9:17-24 (NLT)

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

In every situation, every participant has the opportunity to know the Lord. For example, in the account of the boy possessed by a demon, the crowd was disgruntled because the disciples didn’t have enough faith to do the Lord’s Work. Fair enough. When the dad came to Jesus, the man revealed his problem, too. “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can?” Who was the missing link here? Was it the lack of faith that kept the boy locked in bondage or was it the father’s unbelief? Both. Faith and belief are personal issues. Each and every single person who desires a place in God’s Kingdom must have faith that is demonstrated by belief in the sole Power and Authority of God given to Jesus Christ. We are to worship in Spirit (faith) and Truth (God’s Power and Authority). (John 4:21-24)

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

I believe in God the Father and Jesus His Son. I have faith. I have more today than I did in the past, but I still have a long way to go until my life demonstrates total trust in Jesus Christ and the Power and Authority of God in His Son. The tests and trials of life break the attachments that I have in this life that are manmade and unstable to affix me to God’s Will, Way and Word for my life. Change is uncomfortable. The transforming power of God and His Spirit living in us will produce change to be relevant and it will be worth it. I want my faith tested because I desire a genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I want it. I desire it. I know that in asking for such a thing, I am requesting to be tested. I am surrendering to the fire. (I Peter 1:6-8) I want to believe…

I Peter 1:8 (NLT)

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.