“My Word Will Not Return to Me Empty…”

Knowing there wasn’t enough money to cover the first-of-the-month draft payments and pay our tithe, we paid our tithe. Two days later we received a check for back wages Marsha was owed by her former employer of several years ago.

A couple days ago, I awoke with the scripture, “God’s Word will not return to me empty” (Isaiah 55:11), on my mind. I knew it was for me, but I didn’t understand until this morning during my devotional time how it applied.

Philippians 3:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” and we in the faith movement like to stand on that. But, in context it says that (in paraphrase) because the Philippians church was faithful in giving, that God would supply…

It was out of our faithfulness in giving that our need was met. I know that the check we received had to have been mailed before I wrote the tithe check. But I also know that God, in His foreknowledge, anticipated I would write that check even though we knew we wouldn’t be able to meet our obligations, and He already placed into motion the response He had for us for our faithfulness in giving. God’s promise to provide when we are faithful was His way of showing us HIS WORD WOULD NOT RETURN VOID. “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh Lord, to me”.

Regarding the tithe, God said, “Test me now this this, and see if I won’t open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing…”. We tested, and He poured. Praise be to God!

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Final Lesson From Job #2

In the final chapters of the Book of Job, the Lord said He was God and didn’t owe Job an explanation. Once Job grasped the reality of that, he repented.

“Then Job answered the LORD, “I know that you can do everything and that your plans are unstoppable. “⌊You said,⌋ ‘Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge ⌊about it⌋?’ Yes, I have stated things I didn’t understand, things too mysterious for me to know. “⌊You said,⌋ ‘Listen now, and I will speak. I will ask you, and you will teach me.’ I had heard about you with my own ears, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. That is why I take back what I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show that I am sorry.””
‭‭Job‬ ‭42:1-6‬ ‭GW‬‬

Don’t try to figure out what God has not (yet) revealed to you, but trust His plan for your life as He leads you step by step.

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A Final Lesson from Job—For Now, Anyway…

Now in Job 36, as Elihu continues to speak to Job and his friends, it seems that, perhaps, Job’s self-righteousness is is downfall. He continues throughout his discourse that his circumstances are unfair because he’s lived a righteous life. Instead of pleading his case before God out of his righteousness, (and I go back to something I wrote earlier), what if he had cried out to God for deliverance? But, instead, he continues to try to justify himself before God…until…

…Until God asks Job who he thinks he is. Job is humiliated by his circumstances but humbled before God and repents of his self-righteousness. God restores Job’s life, blessing him with “twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10).

There are things about this story I still don’t understand. But the Lord has answered my prayer and taught me some lessons to apply to my own life and, hopefully, to share with others as well.

1. Don’t blame God for your circumstances, but praise Him in the midst of them.

2. Don’t look to well-meaning friends for your answers.

3. Seek God and ask Him to bring deliverance to your circumstances.

4. When you realize you’re in error, repent!

5. Remember that God is not answerable to you—or anyone else. He is God.

6. Trust Him to be with you through the storms of life. He will never let you down.

I’m sure there is much more I can learn from Job, and I’m looking forward to gleaning more from this book in my next Bible read-through.

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Another lesson from Job

When I began this book a few days ago, I admitted to God that I had trouble with Job, and asked Him to help me understand. He’s certainly answered that request. Having read, now through Job chapter 23. Job is bitter, blaming God for his circumstances. I keep coming back to the same question: “What if…?” The lesson I’m learning from Job is that when life throws you a curve ball continue to worship God and don’t compare your circumstances with others’. Don’t blame God for what the devil is responsible. Don’t try to defend yourself to God, or to your well-meaning friends who don’t understand what you’re going through and condemn you for your reaction. Above all, pray that God, who loves you, is for you and not against you, will deliver you from your situation. He knows the end from the beginning. And, ultimately, He will give you victory. Romans 8:18, “In my opinion,whatever we have to go through is next to nothing compared to the magnificent future God has in store for us.” (Philips translation)

Though God gave satan permission to attack Job, in reality it was Adam and Eve who opened the door for evil to enter into the world. Praise God, that door was closed when the tomb was opened!

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Another Lesson from Job

In my last post I pondered what might have happened if Job had asked God for deliverance rather than blaming Him for his troubles.

I’m reading his friends’ responses to Job and I’m reminded of my early experiences in the Charismatic Movement. When prayers weren’t answered, many times the explanations offered were “You just don’t have enough faith”, or ‘There must be some unconfessed sin in your life,” as Job’s friends said.

If you believe that those are the primary reasons someone else’s prayers aren’t answered, you don’t understand God’s grace and mercy. First, Jesus said all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains (Matt 17:20). It’s not the level of your faith, but the level of His faithfulness that extends grace to us when we don’t deserve it. If your prayers aren’t answered, perhaps it’s because you “ask with the wrong motives (James 4:3). Or, it may be the answer you think is “No” is actually “Not yet”. Bottom line regarding “enough faith” is not evaluating your level of faith, but trusting His faithfulness, understanding He knows the end from the beginning, and is working things for your good (Romans 8:28). That’s grace.

The “unconfessed sin” accusation fails to recognize God’s mercy. Yes, if you are living in continued willful sin you have a sin problem, and you are blocking the flow of God’s blessing for your life. But to point a finger of accusation, telling them they “must have some unconfessed sin in their lives” is self-righteous and judgmental. We probably all have some unconfessed sin—sin either forgotten or unrealized—yet God’s mercy extends to all. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict someone of sin. It’s not our job to condemn them because they “must (or might) have some unconfessed sin in their lives.

Yes, I wonder what might have happened if Job had prayed for deliverance. But I also wonder what might have happened if Job’s friends has supported him instead of condemning him for the “unconfessed sin in his life”.

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Struggling with Job but beginning to understand (I think)

Reading Job, which has always been a difficult book for me to understand. God gives the devil permission to attack Job? Seems inconsistent with God’s character.

But, I think I’m beginning to understand. Job is no different from the rest of us. When Adam and Eve sinned, they released evil into the world, in essence giving the devil permission to attack. And, though we might blame God for our troubles, as Job did, in reality we are suffering the consequences of evil being released. Though Job blamed God, it was not God’s fault.

Because God has foreknowledge he knew the outcome before Job ever went through it. God does not cause evil to happen, though we might say He allows it. But, He will take what Satan means for evil and turn it around for our Good (Romans 8:28).

I wonder what would have happened if Job had asked God for deliverance rather than blaming God for his troubles.

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Sunday the Lord gave me a word for the church—not just Word of Life, but the chiurch at large. The word was “reboot”. I’ve been meditating on what that might mean, and I think I’m starting to understand. Reboot usually means something isn’t working or it’s working slowly, and you need a restart. Marsha Stire Dixon has often come to me with computer issues and I would ask, “Did you reboot?” That is, “Did you shut the computer down and restart? Lately she’s learned to reboot on her own, and occasionally when I’m having computer issues she will ask me if I rebooted.

The church has undergone a massive reboot. And, in the restart, we’re finding we had “files”—programs that we didn’t need and deleted them. But, we’ve also found we needed additional “files” that needed to be installed in order to run more effectively and efficiently, and other files that needed to be updated. Reboot has taken the church outside the four walls, enabling her to reach more people through means that were once incidental but are now essential. We’ve realized we need to update that way we do things. We’re looking at new ways of being the church—not doing church, but actually reaching out to make a difference.

It’s also set us up for a personal reboot. COVID-19 and the BLM have forced us to think. It’s forced us to add and remove “files” that affected the way we think and act. It certainly has me, anyway. And, some of my “programs” needed an update.

Change is often not comfortable, even when it’s necessary. We’ve been forced out of our comfort zone in so many ways. But, in the long run I believe we’ll look back and see some positive change out of what, at the time, seemed to be a negative situation. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those that are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

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Was COVID-19 Prophesied by Isaiah? If so, What Does it Mean?

Pastor David Wilkerson, in 1986, wrote this to Jerusalem Prayer Team’s Dr. Mike Evans, who shared it in a recent message. It’s very timely in light of current events. Perhaps this is, indeed, the beginnings of the next Great Awakening.

As I was in prayer, studying and preparing in my prayer room, I picked up an old Bible and out of it fell a note I had forgotten I even had. As I read it, I found myself trembling and crying. The note was from a breakfast I had with Dr. David Wilkerson in 1986 at the Embassy Suites near the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

… Brother Wilkerson opened his Bible to Isaiah 24. He said, “every house will be shut up, and no one will be coming or going. The city of confusion is broken down, and every house is shut up that no man may come in (v, 10), all entrances and exits to the city are gone (v.12). In other words, there will be no place to escape. God has shown me that a calamity is coming beyond humankind’s capacity to respond. This judgment will devastate the world’s economies. Every restaurant and bar will be shut down, and all the drinking and merrymaking will end. All entertainment and churches will be shut down. Isaiah says in the 24th chapter, verse 9, “they shall not drink wine with a song.” The mirth of the land is gone. All sports will be shut down. But the prophet Isaiah also saw a great shaking of the olive tree coming in Isaiah 24:13. In other words, God’s shaking everything that can be shaken… a time of overwhelming darkness as He exposes the world’s idols.

But in the midst of this terrible shaking, a song is heard, a chorus of voices singing praises to the majesty of God. “They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea,” (Isaiah 24:14). That’s the beginning of the Great Awakening. And then in Isaiah 24:15-16 it says, “from the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the Righteous One.” Lukewarm Believers are going to come back to their first love. Their souls will be flooded with godly repentance, falling on their knees with repentance. There will be a great awakening. The song of revival will be heard from the uttermost parts of the earth. From Israel to Indonesia, Africa, from the east to the west, from the north to the south, from China to Arab lands, all parts of the earth will rise up in the midst of this plague.

They’ll be feasting on the Word. The idols are coming down. They will see in horror the idols they have worshiped that have blocked them from the power of the Holy Spirit…idols they put their faith in. The greatest cry of repentance will come from God’s remnant.

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In the Midst of It All, God’s Still In Charge!

Wednesday evening during praise and worship I sensed a deep sense of concern, perhaps even fear, was beginning to impact the faith of some of those who vowed to remain strong in their faith during the COVID-19 crisis. I asked God what my response to people should be. I picked up my Bible and turned to Isaiah 40.

Chapter 40 is a prophetic proclamation of the coming of the Messiah being told by God through the prophet. But, the people are fearful, and unwilling to believe in light of their circumstances. The chapter concludes:

“Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, My way and my lot are hidden from the Lord, and my right is passed over without regard from my God? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” [Italics and emphasis added]. (Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬ ‭AMPC)

In the midst of all the chaos surrounding us during these times, expect, look for and hope in the Lord, trusting in Him. You’re going to make it because, in spite of how it may seem to you right now, God’s still in control.

Northwest Arkansas Chaplain Ministries is a 501.c.3 non-profit corporation that’s making a difference. We provide chaplain services to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement agencies and fire departments, and ministry to prisoners in the Benton County Detention Center. Find us at nwachaplains.com, or on FB at NW Arkansas Chaplain Ministries.


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More Grace Than Ever!

I can’t get away from it…and the more I study it, the more I want to experience it and walk in it–Grace. Grace is both unmerited favor and divine enablement, as I’ve said before. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us how we are save–by faith, through grace–and tells us what we are to do as as result–good works. And, reiterating a previous blog point, we’re not saved by our works, but for good works.

So, why is God so willing to lavish His grace upon us? The answer is in the preceding verses, Ephesians 2:4-7.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (NAS. Emphasis added)

We’re not saved so that we will love God. We’re saved because he already loves us, and through that love extends His grace to us so we can experience His kindness through that grace forever.

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