A little learning is a dangerous thing!

What you don’t know will kill you.

    You know?
    What do you know?
    Who do you know?
    How do you know?

Everyday phrases like those seem to abound about knowing something. But what about NOT knowing something?

“If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.” (I Cor. 8:2 NASB)

Knowledge is defined as facts, truth, information, data; skills acquired through experience. Are those things important? Sure. More important than intuition? More essential than gut feelings? Yes and no.

When authentic (God-defined), knowledge has to be the foundation of our faith, set firmly in place before intuition or gut feelings can be depended on. The Holy Spirit can and does inform, lead and guide by what we might call intuition or gut feelings, but his advice relies completely on God’s word.

If you were to look over text books from a few hundred years ago, you’d see that some “facts” aren’t always factual, scientific “truth” isn’t always correct, and certain “data” sets have changed over the years.

Hecataeus of Miletus believed the Earth was flat and surrounded by water. He ridiculed the belief that water encircled the world, yet most classicists agree he still believed the Earth was flat because of his descriptions of literal “ends” or “edges” of the Earth. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth)

Even skills acquired through experience can be changed by further experience. Those funds of knowledge have been adjusted, adapted, even edited over the years.

But God’s word is unchanging. It’s actually alive, dependable, trustworthy and faithful. (I Peter 1:25; Hebrews 4:12)

God places a high value on a certain fund of knowledge: his word. Not just bits and pieces of his word, but the whole, the complete, taken in context, meditated on, digested, lived by. Everything we need to succeed as his children is contained in it. (II Peter 1:2-8)

There’s one problem; assumptions sometimes take the place of actual knowledge of the scriptures. Partial knowledge takes the place of whole understanding. Here’s one example:

I Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

That verse is often quoted. It sounds really deep, really holy, really true, doesn’t it?

However, verse 10 says, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Here’s another example:

John 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” That’s another frequently quoted verse, spoken by Christian and secular people alike. But it’s only the last half of a sentence.

The first half reads, “Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” Without the first half, the last half isn’t really true.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” And Isaiah 5:13 says, “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…”

That helps explain why many believers live beneath God’s best for them. Something critically important is missing in their life.

Missing with many believers is the knowledge and understanding of who we are in Christ, and the authority we have been given through the indwelling Holy Spirit. If you don’t know you have it, you certainly won’t exercise it.

Then too, believing the wrong thing, trusting on faulty or false knowledge will also lead to not exercising the authority and power God has delegated to us. (That’s especially true in our speech.)

Some critical truths for believers to learn, to know, and to act on:

1. Greater things than Jesus did will we do.
2. As he is in the world, so are we.
3. Prayer is not begging God to do something he has told US to do, he has told us plainly to do certain things. Prayer is finding out what God wants prayed and praying that: his will.
4. Words are destructive or creative, therefore speak creatively. Speak life: command, declare, decree what God wants in the circumstances.
5. If you keep saying what you’ve got, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.
6. You have an enemy stalking you, using stealth weapons. He disguises himself, of course.
7. Those include ignorance, doubt, unbelief, half-truths; believing lies about your identity, your ability, your assignment.

Scripture references:

1. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12 KJV)

2. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)

3 (a). “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:17)

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” (Col. 1:9)

3 (b). “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:8)

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:20)

“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20)

Note: The Lord can’t confirm something that isn’t preached…

4. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Prov. 18:21)

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:10)

5. See Number 4!

6. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (II Cor. 2:11)

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (II Cor. 11:14)

7. “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:23)

I have all sufficiency

“I’ve decided. Today I accept it. Today I believe what he said, and today I choose to live it.”

Esther's Petition

Abundance“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (II Corinthians 9:8 NKJV)

That is my confession.

  • God – the creator and sustainer of me and everything else that exists
  • is able – He has the power, present-tense (and He’s not just able, He is willing)
  • to make all grace – not just a little but all favor, every sort of gift you can imagine
  • abound – extend his favor to the very fullest of full, way more than needed
  • toward me – toward my self, mind, body, soul and spirit, whatever concerns me
  • that I – in order that, with the purpose, direction, goal, aim, end result
  • always – every moment of every day and night, 24/7, 365
  • having – actually possessing here and now, not someday in heaven but…

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What Paul did while weak

“The Lord can’t confirm what isn’t being preached.”

Esther's Petition

When you’re weak, then are you strong like Paul was?

To authenticate his ministry, Paul laid out his credentials in a letter to the Corinthians. In doing so, he reported an event that had happened 14 years earlier, when he was being harassed by a messenger (angel) of Satan. He had asked the Lord three times to get rid of it for him.

In II Cor. 12 (Kenneth S. Wuest Expanded New Testament) Paul writes:

“He said, My grace is enough for you, for power is moment by moment coming to its full energy and complete operation in the sphere of weakness. Therefore, most gladly will I the rather boast in my weaknesses in order that the power of the Christ [like the Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting] may take up its residence in me [working within me and giving me help].

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Who am I?

Our church praise team had recently learned a beautiful new song, Creator King. The chorus kept going around in my mind as I sat at my desk working one day.

“Who am I, that you are mindful of me? Who am I, that you set your love on me?” (From Psalm 8:4)

As I thought about those lines, an answer came back to me.

“You’re my child. I love you. Why shouldn’t I be mindful of you? You have children. Don’t you love them? Aren’t you mindful of them, no matter how old they get? That’s how I feel about you. You’re my child.”

I stopped typing and sat there. I suddenly saw in my mind a classroom from my past. The teacher walked slowly up and down the rows of desks as the students did classwork, stopping here and there to offer help, encouragement, suggestions for improvement or praise for accomplishment.

She wasn’t angry, resentful or mean. She was friendly, helpful and caring.

In that instant the Lord let me know that as I struggle to do my assignments, that’s how he sees me. But I’m more than just his student, I’m his child and he loves me. I can be confident of receiving His help, encouragement, suggestions for improvement, or praise for accomplishment.

Whenever I hear that chorus, I’m going to remember this answer. Who am I? I’m his kid, and he loves me.

(First published September 21, 2006)

Which truth do you believe?

Esther's Petition

Grapes of the Promised Land, Nicholas Poussin, Louvre.God told Moses to send 12 men, leaders of their tribes, to spy out the land of Canaan. They traveled from the Wilderness of Zin south of the Negev desert and southwest of the Dead Sea, north to Rehob, northeast of the  Sea of Galilee. (Numbers 13)

Their instructions were simple:

And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwell therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first-ripe grapes. (13:18-20 KJV)

It took…

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How to Pray Less, Succeed More: Praying the Word of God.

How important are words to God? How important is his own word, to God?

According to John14:26, the Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance the words that Jesus told us. He’s our “Reminder-in-Chief” of God’s word, and he does it in several ways:

By our reading, studying and meditating on the scriptures for ourselves (the Holy Spirit can’t remind us of something we didn’t know in the first place); by hearing teachings and sermons of people like pastors and Bible teachers; and even by the conversation of Christian friends, our mentors whether they consider themselves as that or not.

Here are some reminders, scriptures dealing with our use of words. We all use words in casual conversations, as well as in our thoughts:

  • Proverbs 6:2 – “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (KJV)
  • Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
  • Proverbs 21:23 – “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”
  • James 3:19 – “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Since you are a hearer of your own words, they should be ministering (delivering) grace to you yourself, as well as anybody else. Even in your private thoughts, you’re hearing words.

So what kind of words might you be hearing from your own self? Words of confident, relaxed faith? Or words of frustration, irritation, annoyance, impatience, anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, fear? Pain or disappointment?

It’s a common temptation to let our words contain stuff that doesn’t minister grace to anyone, including ourselves. Even the words we may use in prayer. The temptation is to pray in exasperation, desperation, frustration, and not in faith.

Then too, did you ever begin to pray but then get distracted? Distraction is another common temptation, losing focus, the mind wandering to family situations or work problems.

Trials and temptations – do they affect prayer?

Yes, they do. Of course they do. But there’s an excellent example of coming out ahead despite them – our primary example, Jesus.

Matthew Chapter 4 and Luke Chapter 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean wilderness, after he received the Holy Spirit. We tend to think about the desert as being empty, and that idea limits our ideas of the temptations Jesus faced. But he was tempted in every single way that we are, and that temptation started in the desert.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15, NASB)

Let’s think about that a bit. What exactly was Jesus tempted with, during those 40 days before Satan began “sweet-talking” him? Where was that wilderness, what was in it, what it was like at that time? Here’s some interesting information about it:

East and south of Jerusalem, the Judean Wilderness is one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. It was and is craggy and rough, hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines, difficult but not impossible to traverse on well-used trails criss-crossing the area. Takes concentration.

There were occasional streams and many wadis, some pools of water in shaded areas and oases with trees and other vegetation.

Sparsely inhabited, it contained small villages on its edges (Bethlehem was one of those), as well as Bedouin encampments, camels, sheep and goats, leopards and other wild creatures. People! Company! Interesting conversations! Temptations? Perhaps.

Then there was the spectacular and huge Herod’s Palace (Herodium)* south of Jerusalem, which may contain his burial site. It has been the site of an intermittent archeological dig over the years. In the days of Jesus’s wilderness temptation, this was a busy place with many people coming and going, the Roman guards who served Herod, as well as Herod and his entourage.

Masada is also there, overlooking the Dead Sea. It was captured and built up by Herod as a military fortress. More Roman guards came and went; lots of people to see.

(Both of these historical sites are Israeli National Parks today, popular tourist attractions.)

There were quite a few trees in the Judean Desert; they existed then and still do today, such as these:

The Carob / Locust tree (above left). It’s fruit is edible whether green or dried, and is frequently used as a chocolate substitute. The Acacia is also called the Rain tree (above right) because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. It’s used for animal fodder, gum, and has many medical uses.

Also located in the desert were date palms, pistachio trees, and wild figs. Fasting would definitely have been a temptation for Jesus; there was plenty of food and water available.

Physical fatigue, loneliness sometimes, and a great many distractions including people and scenery. There were lots of things to do, lots of things to see – and lots of things to guard against, including wild animals.

Not to mention the enemy, who used words to tempt Jesus to compromise, as he does to tempt believers today. But Jesus knew the importance and power of the scriptures, and he made excellent use of them. So can we. So must we, if we’re going to Pray Less and Succeed More.

* For more information about Herodium,, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodium and http://allaboutjerusalem.com/attraction/herodion-national-park.

The Anointing

Esther's Petition

Lord, what is the anointing?

“If you need to hammer a nail, I hand you the hammer, then my hand on your hand, together we hammer the nail. My hammer, handed to you, my hand on your hand wielding the hammer – that’s the anointing.

“If you need to saw a board, I hand you a saw, then my hand on your hand, together we saw the board. My saw, handed to you, my hand on your hand wielding the saw – that’s the anointing.

“If you need to preach a sermon, I inspire in you the sermon, then my words in your voice, together we preach the sermon. My words, inspired in you, my words spoken through your voice – that’s the anointing.

“If you need to love the unlovable, I impart to you my love, then my love in your heart, together we love the unlovable. My love…

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