Uncage

PROMISE 4

I will bless you.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 12:1‭-‬3 KJV

Think about the last time you checked the ATM. Did you marvel at how much you have or did you struggle to cover all of your obligations? Or how about your job? Do you come home each day amazed at how energized and appreciated you are? Or does it feel like you barely have the strength to return tomorrow? These are “not-enough” moments. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough energy, patience, connection, happiness, joy, or peace. No matter what you have, you need more of it. And no matter how much more of it you get, it’s still never enough.

It’s nearly impossible to share what you have when you’re constantly worried that you don’t have enough. You filter everything through the sense of scarcity, and this mentality destroys generosity, contentment, and gratitude. Thankfully, there’s another way of seeing life: with an abundance mindset. It declares that there will always be more than enough. It’s the idea that generosity is hardwired into reality. God is the source of everything good in this world. He loves to see his people well-cared for. There is no scarcity with him because God has no needs yet supplies all.

Whenever you see God show up in the Bible, it’s so often to bless people—to provide them with what they need, often to the point of overflowing, so that they can in turn be a blessing to others. God has given us this promise,I will bless you because without it, we will never have enough, do enough, or be enough. God’s blessings are the only cure for not-enough-itis.

The Bible holds powerful proof that God wants to bless us! Jesus’ longest sermon in the Gospels begins with the Beatitudes, which is a whole invitation to blessedness. And in the opening pages of Genesis, the very first thing God does after creating man and woman is bless them. The entire Bible is filled with God blessing his people. And in the New Testament, Paul says that the most important promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 is passed on to you, too, and that it’s not supposed to end with you. God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others.

Live free in the promise: I will bless you.

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PROMISE 3

I will send my Spirit

So, salvation and our free access to God’s presence is what God has donefor us through Jesus. The way we receive it, the how, is through the power of the Holy Spirit. God strengthens your life as you rely more and more on his Spirit dwelling in you—especially at times when you simply can’t go on. You can take great comfort in God’s promise: I will send my Spirit.

What could happen if you daily asked God to fill you with his Spirit? What kind of turnarounds could you experience if you stopped trying to turn things around in your own power? What could be different if you asked God to make you feel alive again with his presence and power?

The word often used in the original Hebrew for Spirit, ruach, means breath or wind. God’s Spirit is as close as our own breath. We depend on breath every moment of every day. God’s Spirit is both untamed and principled, powerful and gentle, expansive and immanent, literally “wind” and “breath.” These two symbols suggest dimensions of our atmosphere, from whirling windstorms to peaceful breezes, to the air we breathe. God’s Spirit is present in all of this. When you accept Christ and place your faith in him, he sends you his Spirit. Paul commands believers to “be filled” with the Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you! The Spirit wants to lead you into life, but you need to be willing to follow.

One primary word for Spirit-filled living is surrender. When you feel tired, lifeless, or parched for joy, Jesus shouts, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart’” (John 7:37-38). He wants to fill you. You don’t have to live feeling out of breath.

Live free in the promise: I will send my Spirit.

stronger than your enemies

you are invited

BEWARE

THE RISE AND FALL OF KING SOLOMON

1Cor.10: 1 – 12,“Lord as I run this race of life,Let me be temperate in all things,Put my body in subjection,That I may not be a cast away”

Introduction: Perhaps no man began with more promise than Solomon. Yet a good beginning does not mean a good finish. Solomon drifted and defected — can it happen to us?Yes, but our prayer as we study tonight is that God will make us end well in Jesus name! Amen.

Let us consider one major factor about King Solomon:In 1Kings.1-10, Solomon was literally the king who could do no wrong. But his fatal disease was sin. What caused this disastrous demise in Solomon’s life? In a word, it was COMPROMISE. All his compromises led to a King with an empty heart and a kingdom torn apart.

COMPROMISE: It is the expedient acceptance of standards that are lower than is desirable.

1Kings. 11:1 – 4Compromise is sin and doubles mindedness (Matthew 6:24; James 4:4, 8).

Truth cannot continue in that environment (Galatians 2:4-5). Compromise causes God’s people to be indecisive and faithless (1 Kings 18:21). When one compromises, the heart is turned away from God and one no longer will stand militantly for the truth. Sin and error cannot be met by a soft approach (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17). Solomon compromised his life in two crucial areas, all stemming from one sin.

He Compromised His Conduct

At first Solomon had a close walk with the Lord.He built the temple and dedicated it to God (1 Kings 8:14-21).His prayer of dedication is one of the most beautiful in the Bible (1Kings 8:22-53).God continued to remind him of the importance of a daily walk with Him.God told him what he needed to do to receive His blessing (1 Kings. 9:4-9).Yet His greatest error and compromise was with his marriages. An Israelite was not to marry a foreigner, but Solomon had married many (Deuteronomy 7:1-4).a) He had not found one good woman among 1,000 (Ecclesiastes7:28). His problem was that he was around the wrong kind of women.He Compromised His Worship Solomon did not fully follow the Lord (1 Kings 11:5-8). He even built pagan worship centers — no wonder God was angry (Habakkuk 2:18-20).God alone is to be the sole object of our worship (Matthew 4:10).He will not accept second best. We had better be very certain that we do not fall down to the gods of the 21st century.

Conclusion:

Let us not forget 1Kings.11:4, it did not just happen, but when he was old, which means the devil can take long to accomplish his mission, hence, we need to be cautious according to Deut. 8:11.

My Spirit, My Responsibility

Guard Your Spirit

Do you realise that your spirit is your responsibility?

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

The Bible likens the person who does not control their own spirit as being like a city with walls that have tumbled down. That makes the city defenseless so it is vulnerable to any attack. In the same way, if we don’t ‘take care’ of or ‘rule’ our own spirit, we are like a city with cracks in our foundations and breaches in our fortifications, open to every kind of attack imaginable.

The reason you must take responsibility for your spirit is that your spirit makes a way for you in life. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a young person in Bible College was this ‘Never develop a wounded spirit.’ Your spirit is the key to your future and above all else, Proverbs 4:23 says, we should guard it with “all diligence”, (the Bible translates the word for heart and spirit interchangeably). Poor choices, lack of wisdom, emotional instability, pride, bitterness, a ‘wounded spirit’ and unforgiveness are the kinds of things that weaken us and leave us open and vulnerable to an assault.

Daniel 6:3 says that Daniel had an excellent spirit. It was this quality that changed the way king Nebudchdnezzar looked upon Daniel, and he was favoured and promoted as a result.

Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.

In the same way as Daniel’s excellent spirit caused the king to look at him differently, if you look after your own spirit, you can rise above any difficult circumstances that you face and find favour with others. However, if you allow other things to take hold of your spirit, they will stop you from entering into all God has planned for you.

It is my prayer that you understand the immense value of your spirit and that you take up the responsibility to guard it faithfully every day. Responsibility for a pure, clean heart and a right spirit is an imperative to walking in a fruitful relationship with Christ.

PRAYER: Lord God, help me to keep my heart and my spirit pure before you. Bring to mind anything which has caused me to live ‘wounded’ and enable me to have a right spirit.

By Brian Houston

Uncage

PROMISE 2

There is no condemnation in Christ.

Too often, we can slip back into old patterns—the residuals of thinking rooted in guilt and self-condemnation. Sometimes, I fall back into these patterns after I screw up, like when I’m short with my kids or lose my patience in traffic; when I don’t get my way and pout like a two-year-old in a grown-up body; or when I stick to my health plan for a few days only to gorge on chicken nachos instead of hitting the gym. Afterwards, I’m disappointed in myself and guilt and condemnation rise up.

God’s presence may be the promise, but sometimes it feels like I deserve to be cut off from his presence because of my own stupidity. I fear that I’ve disqualified myself from his grace, and selfishness has put me on probation. Can you relate? Do you believe that God forgives others, but you still wonder if he forgives you? Do you get that God loves you, but you still feel like a failure? As a fellow struggler, I can only remind you of what I tell myself: there is no condemnation in Christ.

Nothing—past or future—can cut you off from God’s presence through Jesus. This restoration promise makes it clear that God knows all about the mind games we play and the ways our enemy can exploit them. But God’s gift of grace is a precious gift. Paul describes it as the chain of actions that lead to our salvation.

“For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30 ESV).

The power of the past and the penalty of your sin have been utterly demolished by this golden chain of salvation. You’ve been foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Our old habits might keep us feeling caged, but God has blown the door wide open. God’s mercy is new every morning. His grace is fresh every day. Great is his faithfulness! He does not treat us as our sins deserve!

Live free in the promise: there is no condemnation in Christ.

Uncage

PROMISE 1

I will be with you.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalms 23:4 KJV

Recently I read about an incident at the Los Angeles Zoo. An employee named Gary Richmond noticed a cage full of fifteen red-tailed hawks kept in a back room, leftover evidence in a defunct poaching case. They could not be displayed and would likely die in captivity. So, being a rebel at heart, Richmond decided to “accidentally” leave their cage door open and give them a chance to escape back into the wild.

Returning an hour later, he was shocked to see that all of the hawks were still there. So he charged at them like a bear, trying to scare them out. Most of them flew a few feet away but looked back longingly at the cage that had become their home. The hawks got so used to a caged life that they forgot what it meant to be free. Eventually, he gave up and herded them back into their cage.

Each day, we have the opportunity to really trust in God’s true, biblical promises and live in the freedom we have through our relationships with Jesus. We’ve been set free and the cage door is open, but too often we would rather have predictability instead of purpose, boredom instead of bravery, and the empty promise of our cage instead of the unlimited promise of freedom.

God often leads his people into places where they feel overwhelmed. In every case, one promise was given by God himself: I will be with you. Not a promise of comfort, convenience, or construction. He promised to walk with us through overwhelming scenarios.

The promise is spelled out in Isaiah 41:10: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” John Piper noted the prepositions that come from this passage about God’s presence with us:

“I am your God”… God is over you.

“I am with you” … God is by you.

“I will strengthen you” … God is in you.

“I will help you” … God is around you.

“I will hold you up” … God isunderneath you.

Because his presence to help is over, by, inside, around, and underneath you, your temporary fear and discouragement lose their power. Instead, courage and strength flow into you even when it feels like life’s coming off the hinges.

Live free in the promise: I will be with you.

Is Sex Before Marriage Bad?

Sexual intercourse is a “life-uniting act,” as our friend Lewis Smedes calls it. That’s why sex outside of marriage is “sex-to-soon.” It violates the intended purpose of sex. “It is wrong,” according to Smedes, “because unmarried ­ people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent…. Intercourse signs and seals—and maybe even delivers—a life-union; and life union means marriage.”

Scripture clearly states that sex is for marriage and marriage is for sex. Jesus quoted from Genesis (1:27, 2:24), when he asked: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?'” (Matthew 19:4-5). The writers of Scripture use sexual purity and faithfulness between spouses as an image of our relationship with God (see Song of Solomon and Hosea, as well as the 16th chapter of Ezekiel).

So if you want to reserve sexual intercourse for marriage, the $100 question is how? How do you abstain from sex without shutting off your sexuality?

Granted, it’s not easy, it can be down right excruciating—but it’s possible. We know plenty of happy ­ couples who have saved sex for marriage. In case you are wondering, we abstained from premarital sex ourselves. In seven years of dating we had our share of passionate moments and plenty of tempting situations, but we stayed true to our decision to wait. Looking back over our entire relationship, it remains as one of the best decisions we ever made. We had plenty of time to evolve through the natural stages of physical intimacy as our permanent commitment to each other progressed.

The secret to saving sex for marriage is found in a single word: boundaries. Couples who abstain from sex without shutting off their sexuality have learned to set specific boundaries and stick to them. They have made intentional, deliberate, and conscious choices about how far they will go.

sex and marriage

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