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“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 The external things may be impressive and rewarding to those who would settle for less than God’s approval. Men celebrate success and imitate the lives of those who appear to have accomplished what they one-day wish to achieve. It is often that gifts and talents may carry a person where character cannot maintain them. Their truest nature will all too often peek around the corner and betray them, thus exposing their motives. We cannot fool ourselves, nor will ourselves into having the heart of Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts so that our will is to do His will. All other works are rejected because the motives are not pure. We must pray that God would give us a clean and pure heart and a steadfast spirit. Then we must constantly pray that nothing would enter into our hearts to turn us away from remaining pure before God.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:6-7 Faith is placed on trial when you are given a seemingly legitimate reason to rebel against God as the result of current circumstances and the decisions of others. Logically the thing to do would be to disobey God and partake of the forbidden, or curse God for relief that does not seem to be on the horizon or even a part of the plan. One is for self-gratification and the other is to remedy the effect of constant misery. Faith rises in the midst of trials as being more precious than whatever the outcome would have been if you had relented in the midst of your greatest and most fierce battles. It is precious because in the end, God will prove Himself to be faithful. He will reward those who do not cave in under pressure, and will avenge them from…

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:6-7 Words give expression to the disposition of the heart. Eventually, not always immediately, the mouth will be engaged in speaking the truest feelings that reside deep within the soul. It is never a matter of merely guarding your words in order to sound off appropriate expressions. The issue must be addressed at its root. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. When the heart is rightly governed, the tongue is sure to follow. But what comes out of a man defiles him for when he speaks he spreads the contagion to others. You are responsible for how you influence the people with whom you come in contact. Not just your body, but the whole body is defiled and set to follow the course of nature. It is what you have heard in the past that has influenced your future. Sweet water must flow from a pure fountain for no bitter water is contained there. God gave…

‘‘Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low.” Isaiah 40:4 God reaches down to valleys in order to lift them up and pulls down ever-exalted mountain. He encounters the mighty when they trust in their own strength. Nothing is able to stand above Him. These mountains stand to challenge His authority. His is the power to uphold mountains, and He has the right to remove them. By His Word mountains quake and the earth trembles. He is awesome in power and majesty. Yet He dwells in the high and holy place with the humble and the contrite. He exalts the valleys. The same power that brings mountains down is the power that lifts valleys up. The purity of their hearts permits them to see God. Their perspective is not the same as those who have lofty goals and are selfish in nature. They possess His heart. Their wills are in synch with His will. The way up is down and the way down is up. So different from the nature of fallen man, but the way of life that leads us down the path of life. 

“Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them.” Nahum 3:18 The sheep have wandered away from the fold, each sheep in search for greener pastors. Because each has gone its own way, they are prey to the attacks of animals that make food of them. It is not the disobedience of the sheep, but the silence of the shepherds that are sleep and the leaders rest in the dust. There is no warning, nor guidance given to the straying folds. Shepherds must be awake and aware of the dangers lurking behind rocks and hiding in caves. It is the voice of the Shepherd who never sleeps nor slumbers that guide the under-shepherds. They too are sheep and it is required that they be awaken to righteousness. This is the time for gathering those who would be gathered, not gathered to a spectacular event or to a personality. The truth must be the clarion call coming making a distinct sound as a rallying cry to all who name the name of Jesus Christ. Deception is rampant today and many are misguided and apathetic. The…

“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Matthew 13:10 He spoke to them with simplicity, but with profundity. There were natural things that they were able to see and understand. Therefore the language of Jesus was overly simplistic. Often His message is ignored because those to whom it has not been given may easily dismiss truths with such depth that the sharpest of minds may spend a lifetime examining one sentence, yet not be able to scratch the surface of its meaning. God has “hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and have revealed them unto babes.” There is a language that is coded for those whose hearts are open to receive the message. One must have a heart of understanding in order to have a mind of understanding. When Jesus speaks, we must hear Him with our hearts and not just our ears. The parables separated the seekers from the groupies. There are crowds that gather for entertainment. There is another select few that want to know the Lord. They have blessed ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand.

“Then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah 37:17 When it appears as if everything is well, any word will do. Extracurricular activities and entertainment may occupy one’s time and attention. There would be a generalized approach towards Church, leadership, and life. Convicting messages appear to be too harsh and insensitive. An approach to reach common ground among all men is then the agenda of those where a distinct sound of warning is not heard. Then trouble comes! New questions and concerns are raised when we hear from Him. There is a quest for real answers that can navigate the lost soul to a safe harbor. “Is there any word from the Lord?” We want to know if there is a true message to be relied upon. We need more than what would otherwise tickle our ears. That would be the same as taking a drug to desensitize oneself from the pain and somehow thinking that we have escaped the pressure. God is speaking today, but not what many wish to hear. His truth challenges the very core of our being….

“God, my strength, my stronghold, my safe retreat when trouble descends.” Jeremiah 16:19 (MSG) God does more than provide strength thus leaving us with the responsibility of knowing how to apply the pressure where most needed. He is our strength, upholding us when we are in our most weakened state, and warding off the enemies lurking around to take advantage of our vulnerabilities. As long as we maintain our focus on Jesus, He will fight our battles. And He upholds us with the right hand of His righteousness. When we enter into battle alone, we are prey to be devoured by one more force and shrewdness with experience in deceiving the self-confident. But when we humbly submit to the Lord, we are in the safest place we could possibly be. Trouble may bear down upon us as a storm that is out of control. Yet our God is our refuge in the time of trouble. God is my strength and security, and my sanctuary. I praise Him as my weapon of war, and worship Him as my place of rest.

“You’ll find wisdom on the lips of a person of insight, but the shortsighted needs a slap in the face.” Proverbs 10:13 We must see into a matter and not just casually view it. It is the gaze accompanied by a rash opinion that influences many today. Little wonder why it has become so difficult for sound reasoning to be the guiding principle for so many. There are precious hidden nuggets contained within many messages that are hurriedly scanned by the minds of those who are wise in their own eyes. It requires the Holy Spirit and meditation on what God has promised in order for His Word to be rightly interpreted. The heart must be prepared first. Then one can ponder in their hearts what they have heard before they speak. If the old references remain in place, the pollution within the mind will distort the truth rather than purifies the soul. The Holy Spirit must be our filter so that we are enabled to attain a heavenly perspective. Our vision then would not be shortsighted, but we are enabled to participate in God’s eternal plan.

“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 The keys unlock the doors to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. With one key, the largest and the most difficult door can swing open on the hinges of faith. Peter was given the keys to unlock every door existing there. The possessing of keys is essential, but their proper use is still required. Peter received from the Father the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ accompanied with the relationship that exists between them. The revelation that He is the Christ provides the keys given to man in order for him to correspond and commune with God. Now it takes spiritual growth and experience to know what things we should ask for thus aligning ourselves with the will of the Father. When earth reflects the will of heaven, then earth will have upon it an instrument that will use the keys as a means of having God’s kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it is in…