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Jehoshaphat Stands Firm and Single-minded.

Despite seasons of doubt and double-mindedness, the best was yet to come for Jehoshaphat. His righteous government and religious systems were in place, and his relationship with God was on track. Then, one fateful day, three foreign armies attacked Judah. Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but He knew God’s Word—and this time, he stood unwaveringly. He gathered the people to fast, pray, and seek the Lord according to 2 Chronicles 6:

When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, wherever You send them, and when they pray to You toward this city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

— 2 Chronicles 6:34–35, NLT

From that place of obedience to God’s written instructions, Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the temple of the Lord. He prayed and decreed to God who God was and why he and God’s people were there:

O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. They said, “Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.”

— 2 Chronicles 20:6–9, NLT

In a time of uncertainty when war with surrounding nations was imminent, Jehoshaphat unwaveringly trusted God for guidance. This is what it means to have an undivided heart, to stand firm and be “a nail in a sure place.”

Jehoshaphat had seen God’s faithfulness in the past and knew He could be trusted. Jehoshaphat declared God’s Word to Him in the presence of God’s people and let God honor His own words and character by His actions. Then, he made his petition for rescue. Despite all the warriors and wealth that Jehoshaphat possessed, he trusted the Lord alone for victory. He sought the power and throne of God before the power and thrones of men. Not knowing his next steps, Jehoshaphat then cried out to God:

We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you for help

— 2 Chronicles 20:12, NLT

As the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their families, the Spirit of the Lord came upon a man named Jahaziel who declared:

Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!

— 2 Chronicles 20:13–17, NLT

God responded to Jehoshaphat’s obedience by giving assurance of the victory. Twice in this passage, God told Jehoshaphat and the people not to be afraid or discouraged, and twice He reminded them the victory was His. The Lord, more committed in love than mere people, because He is love, promised that His presence would not leave them. He reminded His people that though no foreign king was fighting alongside them, nor any sidekick armies, God Himself was executing His own battle plan; He would fight on behalf of a people whose hearts were fully committed to Him (2 Chron. 16:9).  God was with them. Which, by definition, means He was not with the enemy. 

Jehoshaphat responded to the Lord, and the people followed their king’s leadership in a beautiful act of honor toward God:

Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.

— 2 Chronicles 20:18–19, NLT

This was no ordinary shout; it was a shout of victory to the Lord. It was a shout of verbal agreement that God’s words were true, and He was faithful to do what He said He would do. It was full of faith, triumph, and celebration, just as David described in Psalm 47:1: “Shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (KJV).

Early the next morning Judah’s army went out toward the battleground as God had directed. Jehoshaphat said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed” (2 Chron. 20:20 NLT).

If they believed God and His Word—if they remained loyal to God, unwavering in uncertain circumstances—Jehoshaphat encouraged the people they would be able to follow through on God’s instructions and stand firm against their enemies.

Praise – God’s Ambush

Jehoshaphat positioned singers and worshippers in front of the battle procession to praise the Lord. He believed God would do what He said and was honoring Him with praise before it happened. Jehoshaphat understood that the moment God spoke His instruction it was already completed. He trusted God, who does not lie or change His mind, knowing He would make good on the words He spoke (Num. 23:18–19 NKJV).

Jehoshaphat’s trust in God’s character enabled him to celebrate the victory that had been released in the unseen realm even before it manifested in the natural realm on the battlefield. Like David, Jehoshaphat could declare, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34 NLT).

The character of God is faithful love. In the story of Jehoshaphat, this faithful love was toward God’s people, and it would endure forever no matter what they faced.

Praise is a declaration of the Lord’s awesome and glorious character. Thanksgiving is the appreciation of that character, and what it accomplishes. Psalm 22:3 says, “God inhabits the praises of His people” (NKJV). The word “inhabit” is the Hebrew word yashab (Strong’s H3427) and means, “to sit down within as judge in ambush and quiet; to dwell and remain; to lurk.” God had already promised He was with Judah. He had already chosen sides. He was dwelling within “the praises of His people” waiting to release judgment against Israel’s enemies:

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So, Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.

The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.

— 2 Chronicles 20:22–30, NIV

The battle was already won, but judgement was not released until the people began to worship the Lord, trusting Him for what He had promised. Praise is what God uses to “ambush” His enemies. Jehoshaphat and Israel learned what it meant to believe God and stand firm until God’s love and promises manifested in victory.

From Double-Minded to Single-Minded

God is love and wants what is right and holy for you. His commandments are where the culture of heaven collides with earth. When you act on His instructions, kingdom culture is manifested on earth as it is in heaven, reflecting the heart of the true King of the kingdom. The transformation of Jehoshaphat’s kingdom reflected what was going on in his heart.

Jehoshaphat was a man devoted to God. He went from being double-minded and divided in loyalty to being single-minded. He and his people believed God and stood firm. This is a man who became like a nail in a sure place. In doing so, God was glorified. His people were exalted above their enemies, they reaped the spoils, and they enjoyed great peace as a nation.

God’s mercy to you is no different than His mercy to Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. He longs for you to trust Him for what you cannot see, to rejoice in the victory He has already won, and to worship Him through praise that He might release righteous judgment on His enemies. 

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

The Benefits of Trusting God’s Word

There are beautiful benefits to trusting in God’s Word.  It increases faith, is effective, brings peace and joy, and produces a harvest when sown.

God’s Word Increases Faith

One of the greatest benefits to trusting God’s Word is that it increases your faith. God is not insulted when the fruit of His past faithfulness is inspected for credibility. God created the Bible so you could see real-life people receiving real-life answers to promises thousands of years ago, and to see prophecies that have come to pass. This attests to His Word and His character. When He makes up His mind on a matter and speaks it, He follows through.  

God’s Word is Effective

Another benefit is that God’s Word is effective. When God speaks, He speaks as the God of all faithfulness and power. His words are life because He is life. They have power because He is power. They are faithful because He is faithful. They are eternal because He is eternal. They create because He is the Creator. They establish things because He is established and is the author and finisher of His people’s faith. His words are seeds because He is a multiplier, not an “adder.” When He sends a word, it is so there can be a harvest. His words do not return to Him empty, as Isaiah says:

As the rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

— Isaiah 55:10–12, NLT

If God has told you He will heal your family, bring you into ministry, have you write a book, or put your kids through college, then He will do it. The point of speaking His promise to you is to send His Word out to produce what He intends to happen. The only way to get a harvest is to sow a seed!

In Romans, Paul said God “calls into being that which does not exist” (Rom. 4:17 NASB). He intends to create something new in your life that does not yet exist and does this through His Word. Every time God speaks, His words literally go out and produce exactly what He intends them to produce. They never return empty, void, and without action (Isa. 55:11). His Word is effective in changing reality to match His God-ordained will.

God’s Word Brings Peace and Joy

Additionally, God’s Word brings unspeakable peace and joy. When God’s words come to pass in your life, there will be joy and peace. The psalmist David said that when the desire comes, it is a tree of life (Prov. 13:13). I remember when God spoke to me about a house for our family. I knew He would do it. And when it happened, I was filled with joy and peace. I felt like I was eating the fruit of my prayers, faith, and confident trust. Consider Isaiah’s words:

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! The events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of His power and love.

— Isaiah 43:12–13, NLT

Look at Isaiah 46:11 which says, “Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” Don’t you love the I’s? It means God will do what He spoke—not you. So, the pressure is off, isn’t it? You do not have to be faithful to accomplish God’s Word—but God does. If He gives you instructions, follow. If not, settle down in faith and trust with confidence in your great and amazing God. He has a great purpose in every single area of your life and in every single season of your life. His words have a purpose behind them.

God’s Word Produces

Finally, God’s Word produces. Consider Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a young man and prophet of God set apart for a purpose even before he was placed in his mother's womb. God orchestrated Jeremiah’s birth at a time when God knew His beautiful people would be turning away from Him to worship other gods, breaking His heart. Jeremiah was young and scared by the task ahead of him. But God assured Him through the image of an almond branch:

 Look, Jeremiah! What do you see? And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree. And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”

— Jeremiah 1:11–12, NLT

God was teaching Jeremiah something using a picture he could understand. The vision was a parable, a story if you will, that told of God’s faithfulness. Almond trees, also called Watching Trees, were the first tree to awaken in spring. Their buds announced spring was on the way; Spring never failed to follow the blossoms of the almond tree. God was letting Jeremiah know He was aware of events, heralded and announced them before they came to pass, and watched over them to see that they were performed. Interestingly, the word for “almond” is almost identical to the word for “watching” in Hebrew. God wanted Jeremiah to trust Him that He was more faithful than the almond tree that Jeremiah had seen growing up in Israel year after year, spring after spring. What He announced would go forth first, and he could “watch” the reality of it follow without fail, producing exactly what He intended. And it will do the same for you.

Learning Takes Time

Real victorious belief can be hard at times, but it may be because you are still learning to more fully understand His unfailing love and excellent character. The more you learn about His character, the more you will know Him like a close friend, and the easier it will be to believe. Learning takes time. Knowing how the Holy Spirit is working when God speaks His power-filled words will help you believe, even when can’t see the outcome with your eyes.

 Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. What do I need to allow You to teach me regarding forgiveness and mercy?
  2. Does understanding Your character help my faith? How does it help me believe You?  
  3. How does it affect my next steps of obedience in my destiny and calling?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

Many people strive to believe God and have enough faith. They want to do everything well—even perfectly—so they can please God. However, they often find themselves worn out, discouraged, frustrated, and sometimes wounded trying to please what can seem to be an "unpleasable" God. The enemy, Satan, is ready to tell them they are not doing enough. They miss celebrating joys and victories because they do not understand God and His love. They don’t know Him, and because they have a misunderstanding of who He is, they will wear out spiritually trying to please Him.  By knowing Him, you can come into a wonderful rest and fulfill your destiny.   

The Pleasure of God Versus the Love of God

It was morning and I was laying on my bed feeling quite unsuccessful. I wanted God to speak to my insecurity and make me feel better, so I invited Him to my pity party for two. I cried out, “Lord, show me how I please you.” He answered, matter of factly:

“No.”

“No?” I questioned. I could sense God distancing Himself, like a parent refusing to engage their child’s drama.

“No,” He said again.

He whispered clearly but firmly to my heart: If I told you every time you were pleasing me or not, you would be up or down and striving every day to gratify Me. My love for you is consistent, steady, and unchanging, despite your decisions. This is the foundation upon which I wish My people to build their lives. Your love for your children does not go up or down. It is consistent and never changes. Your pleasure may shift momentarily with their behavior, but your love remains and endures through those moments…But My love endures forever.

I understood. God loves me and takes pleasure in me, but I did not need to focus my life on shifting pleasure.  His love alone is the steadying force of my life—and it is the steadying force in your life, too. God wants you to be able to say, like Paul, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV, emphasis added).

The reality is God is not that hard to please and He wants you to know this truth inside and out. It is hard to be steady, strong, bold, and at peace if the one you are in relationship with is up and down like a wave on the ocean. It can make you feel like you are walking on eggshells. But you do not have to worry about that with God. Learning about and understanding God’s desire to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving when you are less than perfect will stabilize your ability to believe; you will thus fulfill your God-given assignments in a peaceful and restful way.

God’s Eternal Character

I consider Exodus 34:5 one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture—when God proclaimed His very nature.

Even people in the Bible struggled with trying to please God. Moses, for example, longed to know whether he had found favor in God’s sight. He asked God to teach him His ways so that he could understand and know God more and continue to enjoy His favor. But God wanted Moses to know Him intimately, not just work to please Him, and agreed to show Moses His glory—the weighty fullness of His presence. God was pleased to show Moses Himself—His character—telling Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. I will show mercy to anyone I choose and I will show compassion to anyone I choose” (Ex. 33:14 NLT).

God’s goodness was the basis on which He wanted Moses and Israel to relate to Him. God wanted to be sure that as Moses experienced God’s goodness, he would act on it in prayer and spread the revelation like wildfire to the whole nation. He wanted to be sure that Moses knew He is abundant when a request comes in and He does not do things by halves. When He says “yes,” it’s a complete “yes.”

Not only did God allow all His goodness to pass before Moses, but He also declared His name, or His identity as a person. Consider one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture—when God proclaimed His very nature:

Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh.

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”

— Exodus 34:5–7, NLT

God wanted Moses to know He does not just extend compassion and mercy, but He is the absolute source and life-flow of those attributes. He is compassion and mercy. He is forgiving and fair.

God described Himself again in the book of Jeremiah, so that His people would boast not only about knowing Him and understanding He is the Lord, but also that His rule, reign, and actions flow from His beautiful character of unfailing love, justice, and righteousness:

This is what the LORD says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

— Jeremiah 9:23–24, NLT

Again, God declared Himself compassionate and merciful, and One who demonstrates unfailing love. Because He created man in His image, He created His people to represent this unfailing love to the world.

God revealed to both Moses and Jeremiah His goodness which included faithfulness that goes on forever. God Himself said He lavishes His love to “a thousand generations.” He was providing a picture of perpetual, faithful love to His children that would be released forever (Ex. 34:5–7, Deut. 7:9). God is eternal and His character continues to be good long after this generation or the next are gone from the earth—and even then, He does not stop being good to those He loves. Those who trust in Jesus will have an eternity to bask in His goodness.

Moses may have had some angst approaching God, but when he saw God’s compassion, mercy, love, patience, and faithfulness pass by him, he knew he—and the whole nation of Israel—could rest in the relationship. Because His character never changes; you can rest in that relationship as well and fulfill your destiny with peace.

The God of Mercy, Compassion and Faithfulness.

In the book of Exodus, God had rescued the Israelites out of Egypt in a display of His might and power, as an example of His love to the whole world. He had destroyed Pharaoh and his armies and had performed other miracles in His commitment to the Israelites. However, His heart was wounded, hurt, and angered by His people He had called to be a light to the world. But Moses knew that he, personally, was favored by the Lord and that it was time to press that to the advantage of the nation. He reminded God of this, saying:

You have told me, “I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.” If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.

The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

— Exodus 33:12–16 NLT

Amazingly, God assured Moses that everything would be fine for him. Moses wouldn’t leave God’s people and wouldn’t let God leave them. They were at crossroads, but God still agreed to reveal Himself. Moses would see how unfailing God’s love and faithfulness was and how He forgives sin, iniquity, and rebellion. Once Moses saw God’s very nature pass before him, he knew he could never let the knowledge of God’s character pass him by without applying it to those who needed it: God’s wayward children. He begged God to forgive the Israelites and make them His own. Moses had God on the ropes, but that is what God desired. He wanted someone to lay hold of and relate to Him in a way that understood that He wanted to forgive in the moment of sin, so that love could endure through every situation and forevermore.

When you believe God, and as you understand more and more of His goodness and steady love and come to know Him intimately, you will no longer be insecure. You will cease striving to please Him. It gives God pleasure to see you confident in His compassion and mercy and He is pleased with those who boldly approach His throne of grace. It means you understand Him and know what you will find there. His steadfast and unfailing love allows you to experience joy, peace, and rest as you believe Him. Like Moses, this truth should embolden you to take risks to obey His leadings and promptings in life without fear of what cannot be seen. God’s forgiveness, mercy, and compassion give you permission to fulfill your calling without striving for perfection, or fearing making mistakes, or being punished. It is there, ready for you, and authorizing you to grow. 

Believing God Through His Word

I don’t think God ever intended His children to have faith without it being reasonable. Faith is to be anchored to something worthy of faith and commitment, and followers of Jesus are blessed that the substance of their faith is the character of God. The writer of Hebrews said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1 KJV). Let’s break this verse down for greater understanding. The Greek word elipso (Strong’s G1679, rooted from elpis (Strong’s H1680) means, “confident trust and expectation.” Faith is the Greek word pistis (Strong’s G4102) which means, “assurance, belief, believe, fidelity and truth itself.”

When you receive a word from God, you receive it in seed form

Paul taught that faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), and Luke wrote that the Word of God is a seed (Luke 8:11). When a person hears the Word of God and the Holy Spirit breathes His life on it, it is no longer just a random word, but a Spirit-filled word that has substance.

What is present inside an apple seed is a promise of an apple tree. It can grow, but it takes time and the right conditions. At first glance, only the seed is visible—not a tree. Nonetheless, there is a tree within the seed, as well as the potential for millions more trees. You know that apple seed will not produce a dandelion or a cucumber plant. You can confidently expect an apple seed to produce an apple tree that will produce apples in due time.

When you receive a word from God, you receive it in seed form along with the guarantee in your spirit of what you hope for and the confident assurance of what it will become. Waiting for the “due time” can be difficult but God says, “Let us not be weary in doing well for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9 KJV).

I am reminded of my son as a preschooler. He received a seed in a Styrofoam cup. At first it appeared as if nothing was happening. He couldn’t see a thing because the soil was blocking the view. But a lot was happening under the soil in the unseen realm, and in due time he could finally see the little green bump pushing forth out of the dirt. This is not unlike God. When He releases a word and a believer hears it, that child of God receives the little seed with the potential of something inside it growing. It begins working right away, but not in a way they can see.

I have a friend whose daughter wanted to be a mom from the time she was a young girl. Some medical issues surfaced, and the doctors told her she would have problems conceiving without drugs, or possibly not conceive at all. I heard Jesus speak to me that she would conceive naturally, so I prayed with faith and assurance with this great promise. I did not pray long—just confidently—and sensed God’s assurance in my spirit immediately that it was done. When the time was right, she became pregnant, but I learned that her placenta was in the wrong position and she would require bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy. Again, I heard Jesus speak; that was not His will. So, I prayed His will and received it with confident trust. I immediately sensed it was accomplished. The placenta miraculously shifted and the pregnancy and baby were fine. But I had to wait for the “due time” to see my little apple seed become a tree.

When someone asks me to trust them, I take a quick stock of that person’s character. Is this someone who keeps their commitments and word? Is this someone who is willing to put my best interests ahead of their own? What will my trust cost me? Will I turn up broke and disappointed on a matter, or is it a good investment?

God wants His children to take Him at His Word based on His character, which is faithful, unchanging, and true. He gave everything for those He loves, it costs them nothing. Those who believe come to know God more intimately.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. How does Your love versus Your pleasure affect my stability, trust, and peace? 
  2. Show me Your love for me versus Your pleasure.
  3. How does Your compassion and mercy affect my confidence? 
  4. How would You like it expanded in my life?
  5. Show me how You feel when I receive Your forgiveness.

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

blog title and book cover

Now this is going to blow your mind regarding God’s faithfulness. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abraham that through him all the nations would be blessed. Although God would start with Abraham to begin the nation of Israel, He would finish His work with all the nations of the earth. Israel would be a picture of what God would do with and for the whole world. He would make all nations precious in His sight, not just Israel.

Fast forward to Genesis 22:18: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” This word “seed” was speaking of Jesus. All the nations of the earth would be blessed through Him if they too would believe as Abraham did, but in God’s saving grace and mercy in the new covenant. Because of Jesus, it was even greater than the one He “cut” with Abraham. It was also greater than the covenant God made with Moses, when He gave His righteous law to the people at Mount Sinai knowing they could not keep it. God already had a plan; He would enter the new covenant for both parties as both a sinless man and God, so that no sin could ever separate man from His love and boundless blessings; man’s sin was paid for with Jesus’s death on the cross.

Each of the previous covenants were “copies,” or “shadows” that pointed to a better covenant. Those “shadows” were meant to show how the fulfillment of the covenant would look, and how God intended to make it eternal (Heb. 9:23). The lives of animals could not truly remove sin. The life of an animal was never a sufficient substitute for a human life (Heb. 10:24), and the wages of sin was death. The blood of bulls and goats was a temporary appeasement until the final, ultimate blood covenant was made by Jesus Christ Himself—the God-man (Heb. 9:24-28). The new covenant was made in His blood (Luke 22:20).

Sadly, each person has sinned since Adam ate the fruit in the garden. All have fallen short of God’s goodness and have broken God’s covenant of the ten commandments given to Israel through Moses. Man—the people of Israel—took upon themselves a curse if they did not keep the law saying:

“Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

— Deuteronomy 27:26, NIV

The people “amen-ed” the covenant. Now, the consequences would be upon them if they failed to keep it just as it would have been upon God if He had not kept His promise to Abraham. Unfortunately, they could not (and were never able to) keep it—no one can. It reminds me of a story of a woman who prayed and said, “Lord, I haven’t lied, gossiped, swore, cheated or coveted my neighbor’s new house today. But in about two minutes I’m going to get out of bed and then I’m gonna need some help.” Yes, and God foresaw that need for help well in advance and had a plan, fulfilling what no person could. To be right with God, an adequate payment for sin was needed.  Jesus had to pay for, and amen, every covenant man has broken as a sinless man; He paid with His blood and death, while fulfilling the covenant Himself for everyone else.

Now pay attention to this little gem: If the wages of sin is death and Jesus Himself never sinned, then is it any wonder death could not keep Him? He was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit and resurrected from the dead. Since Jesus paid for humanity’s sin and the sentence should have been death, but that sentence has already been paid, then no sentence can be given. Those who believe in Jesus receive eternal life; death has no power.

In the ultimate act of love for the world God gave His only Son, Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). By believing and amen-ing God’s character and covenant [WH4] fulfilled for those He loves, followers of Jesus—like Abraham—receive the same reward, counted to them as righteousness. They look at the covenant God made, observe Him taking the oath and its’ harm to Himself (in the believer’s stead) and say, “let it be so,” thus receiving His righteousness as their reward, as well as all the promises and blessings of the covenant. This gives new meaning to the verse:

For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ, they are [all answered] “Yes.” So through Him, Jesus, we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.

— 2 Corinthians 1:20, AMP

Jesus was the seed through which all the nations would be blessed. He took the curse the people spoke upon Himself as a man, by dying on a cross. Paul explained this in his letter to the Galatian church:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

— Galatians 3:13, NASB

He cut the covenant in His own body so that every promise of God could be answered “yes and amen,” just as God walked through the carcasses and “yes and amen’ed” His promise to Abraham. Not only did Jesus keep the promise for man, He died for man, who should have died but didn’t.

You, as a Christian, do not take on a weak foundation of trustworthiness like a surfboard, or even the more stable Great Wall of China. When you put your faith in Christ, you took on the stability of God Himself. Now, knowing all of this you can sing with Jehoshaphat, “Give thanks to the Lord, His faithful love endures forever” (2 Chron. 20:21 NLT) and shout out, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm” (2 Chron. 20:20 NLT).

Look to the great lengths God has gone to prove His trustworthiness to make promises and keep them—for Himself and those He loves. He was willing to die to make and keep every promise.  Your job is simply to look at those promises and believe He will be faithful to keep them based on His character. When He promises anything or asks one of His children to act on His Word or follow His direction in faith, they can know that He has paid a great price to earn their trust and obedience.

Promises Versus the Promiser

God Himself walked through the slain animals, and Abraham believed God’s promise and acknowledged God as the “God of the amen.” He was the God who would bear the curse of death to keep His promise. It was not an impersonal relationship with a promise that Abraham trusted in, but rather a personal relationship with the Promiser. The promise itself was the icing on the cake. Knowing God’s character and faithfulness was the greatest portion. It was also knowing His protection, blessing, mercy, love, and friendship.

If Abraham had believed the promise only, it would have created instability. But when Abraham believed the person who spoke the promise, he stood firm. God’s character is what made the promise stand. A glove cannot pick up a cup. The glove depends on the hand to give it the power and strength to keep the cup from falling to the ground. God’s character is the power and strength needed to keep the promises and words He speaks from falling to the ground.

When you look at God’s promises and not at Him, you will continue to look about and wonder why your circumstances do not line up with what He has said. You will constantly measure your present reality against what God promised and wonder why He is not being faithful—you will be like a person on surfboard.

However, God wants you stable, strong, and confident. Instead of focusing on the promise, look to the Author and Finisher of your faith—Jesus—and enter His rest.

He has secured every good thing and made those promises through His blood. He amen’ed it with His own body.  Ponder that for a moment and rest with joy.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1.  How would You like me to apply Your Word or character to this area? Jesus, will You give me a picture of this?
  2. Is there anything else You want to say to me about this day?
  3. Does this help me be more single-minded in my faith and decisions?  
  4. Does it increase my confidence in Jesus and His word?
  5. How am I inspired or fired up to go forward?  
  6. What is making me feel restful?  

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

From now on we will look at how you can put your new singleness of heart and mind into learning and accessing new levels of trust in God’s unfailing love and character. You’ll learn how to stand firm in your faith and win life’s battles with your words, worship, and weapons with the expectation of victory. These tools, and others, will help you on your journey to leading a powerful, peaceful, and God–inspired adventure.  Now that you have dealt with your noisy and nattering “second-head”, you will be free to know and believe God, take the next steps, and do great exploits. This is where the adventure begins!

What You Stand on Affects Your Stability

You can have the best of intentions in remaining steadfast in the Lord, but whether you are able to stand firm or not depends on what you are standing on and its stability. Standing on a surfboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with waves swelling up and down will make standing firm more difficult. Conversely, standing on the Great Wall of China in a windstorm will not be a problem. What is the difference? The stability of what you are standing on.  This determines your personal stability. Of course, the Great Wall of China is more reliable than a surfboard and can be trusted as a firm foundation that will not fail.

It is the same with God’s character. As you stand on His character, you take on His stability. Although God has made a promise that is to be believed, it is to be believed based on His character.

Reinhard Bonnke, an evangelist who has led 78 million people to The Lord, says, “People will trust those they believe will not fail them.”  Recall the Hebrew word for “believe,” aman, discussed in Chapter 2. Aman is the act of considering someone or something trustworthy. It is the act of fully trusting or believing. Aman is also used in Deuteronomy 7:9 where Moses described the Lord as, “the faithful (aman) God, which keeps His covenant and mercy.” This is the same word Jehoshaphat used when commissioning his soldiers before battle: “Believe (aman) in the Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm.” God is the “God of the amen,” or the God who will always accomplish what He says He will do. The word “amen” is more than a word that means, “let it be so.” It is an oath given in a covenant, which is a promise made between two parties. God’s character is the collateral on the promise:

I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name, For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;

For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

— Psalm 138:2, NKJV

The New Living Translation phrases this same verse beautifully:

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.

— Psalm 138:2, NLT

This sounds like the well-known phrase, “A man is only as good as his word.” God exalts His words or promises even above His name so that His name is kept pure and spotless in its’ integrity. Think of someone you know whose words cannot be trusted, versus a person whose words can. It’s likely easier to believe the trustworthy person, not because of what he or she promises, but because of the person’s character.

The Beauty of Covenant

Stick with me here.  We are going to head into some teaching so that you will know why you can believe God.  It will be foundational to fulfilling your destiny with peacefulness of mind and be worth every moment.

You and I are in a covenant with God. It is the basis of our wonderful relationship with God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The word “covenant” in Hebrew is beriyth (Strong’s H1285). Beriyth means, “to cut.” Therefore, a covenant is “a cutting.” Cutting covenant refers to the ancient custom of covenant-making, a way of making a contract and was commonly used in land deals. The two parties making the covenant, or the contract, would divide or cut an animal in two and walk between the bloody pieces. They would pronounce a vow/curse: “May I be torn apart like these animals if I fail to uphold my part of the covenant.” This imagery is seen in Genesis 15 when God made a covenant with Abraham, who cut an animal in two pieces; in a sleep-induced dream, God alone passed through the slain animals as a “smoking firepot.” This indicated the covenant was a promise by God to Abraham; God alone passed through the carcasses, for He was the Promiser. God was making a profound statement—His very life was the guarantee the promise would be kept.

Don’t miss this powerful message: The Eternal God who is life and cannot die promised Abraham He would make good on His promise, and if He did not, He would be torn apart like the animals and die, ceasing to exist. God would be willing to lay down own His life to keep His word. Centuries after this covenant was made, the author of Hebrews wrote:

When God made his promise to Abraham since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.

— Hebrews 6:13–18, NIV

The covenant and the “amen” declared God’s faithfulness and to what length He was willing to go to be faithful to Abraham. When covenant partners finished making an oath, the one speaking it would say “amen” meaning, “let it be so.” The result in Genesis was that “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6 NIV). “Righteousness” is an incredible word. It means “to render innocent or just.” If there were a sentence and condemnation to be handed down, a righteous person would be found just and rendered innocent. Because Abraham believed God, God considered him to be righteous which cast aside any argument, objection, or doubt in Abraham, and caused him to be quiet, still, firm, certain, and faithful, and believe God’s trustworthiness. This gives a whole new perspective to every single promise God has ever made in His Word or to you personally!

God wanted Abraham to trust Him. When Abraham believed God, He came into and took on the same righteous standing and stability as God, taking on God’s good character and righteousness. He became like a man standing on the Great Wall of China, steady and immovable, on an unshakable, firm foundation.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. What have You promised me? Can I rest more now in those promises, knowing the price You have paid to keep them?   
  2. How does this affect my faith and ability to stand firm?
  3. Where am like a surfer on a surfboard?
  4. In what area of my life do I want to stand firm and have stability, peace, and rest as though I were enjoying the scenery walking on the Wall of China?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

The Daniel Kolenda Dream

One night I had a dream I was sitting across from Daniel Kolenda, and world-renowned evangelist.  His face was serious, and his eyes fiercely and firmly held mine until he knew he had my absolute and total attention and focus.  As his eyes unflinchingly held mine, he authoritatively asked, “Are you a lawbreaker?” His piercing gaze and authority demanded a completely truthful response.  I felt myself surrender internally to conviction. I was willing to die rather than lie or hide. I unflinchingly held his gaze in return and said, “Yes, I am a lawbreaker.”  Then I woke up.

I asked the Lord what this dream meant and puzzled for a few days.  I knew that Daniel Kolenda was a man and minister of integrity, but I knew it was the Almighty I had just encountered.  He took the form of someone who I would recognize as a person of great integrity and authority so that I might relate to Him as such within the encounter.  I am very sensitive to a clean and clear conscience so lying is not something I am comfortable with.  But a lawbreaker? This was not something I perceived in myself. I knew that this was a prophetic dream for the body at large.

A few more days after the dream, the Lord caused me to stumble on this verse:

Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws

– Isaiah 26:8, NLT

And there it was in black and white.  The revelation I wish to leave you with is this: It takes trust to obey God, the Lawgiver.  It requires a ceasing from your own works and finagling to trust and obey His laws and believe that things will come out right and prosper in the end.  The surrender I experienced was a willingness to die rather than live in the discomfort of a lie.  God is beckoning you into a place where you will cease striving and simply trust and obey His righteous ways, look Him in the eye and begin to establish your life in truth.

In a real-world context, this means that we, as believers, do not need to cheat on our taxes because when we do what is right, God will provide.  In fact, we can even tithe and offer, because we trust Him enough to obey Him and He will prosper us. It means we can tell the truth and not worry about the results; our life is in His hands.  We do not need to fear man but obey God. He will prosper our way, be our defender and promoter. We do not need to satisfy our lusts of the flesh because He will give us the desires of our heart in a wholesome way and satisfy our souls.  No finagling required. No mental gymnastics. Just trust and obey!

God, as a good Father, desires you to be steadfast in your faith and established. Your stability comes from building upon something sure, unchanging, and enduring. His word endures forever (1 Peter 1:25 NIV). You demonstrate your trust in God’s unfailing character by following His instructions and ways outlined in His Word.  Doing so will result in a lasting and solid foundation for Jesus said, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35, NIV).

Through Isaiah, God describes how He will lay your foundation as you allow Him and His Word to be your teacher. It is not one of concrete, but of precious gems to be treasured and stones of antimony—far more beautiful than river rocks. Scripture says He will build upon that foundation with precious stones and gates of crystal. He longs for you to treasure the foundations of God—His Word—like precious jewels.

Sometimes, however, our desires are out of step with God’s righteous ways and can pull our affection away from Him, creating that loyalty tug-of-war. Isaiah, like James likens this “back and forth” state to the instability of the sea being “storm tossed and afflicted.” Isaiah also spoke a clear word from the Lord, that He will lay the foundation for His people that they may be established in righteousness:

O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
All your sons will be taught of the Lord;
And the well-being of your sons will be great.
In righteousness, you will be established;
You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;
And from terror, for it will not come near you.

— Isaiah 54:11–14, NASB

As you devote yourself completely to Jesus, with no “mistresses” vying for and dividing your heart with another desire, you will become steady and established through righteousness. No matter what storms arise that may contend for your heart’s loyalty, or trials that hit that may cause you to doubt God’s character, you will not be like a house that falls or a storm-tossed wave on the ocean of life’s circumstances. You will be solidly established thru the trials, internally instilling a deep trust in God’s character.

In Step with God’s Heart

Because God has put an understanding of what is right and wrong inside each person’s heart, the human heart will never be at peace in doing what is wrong (Heb. 8:10). That is why “storm-tossed and afflicted” is such a great word picture. Have you ever seen a poorly behaved child who was happy or peaceful?  The child is often miserable, crying, whining in their wayward desires. They are angry, confused, and insecure. The moment a parent has had enough of the willful behavior (unrighteousnes and, in love, intervenes, the child settles down into peace. When the child is no longer misbehaving, his or her conscience becomes clear and after adapting to being good and doing right, the child becomes happy and full of joy.

No one is happy doing wrong, even a child. Bad behavior troubles a person’s heart and conscience, and often hurts those around them.  

I remember when one of our sons was developing a haughty attitude. We had tried without success to train him at home, but his attitude remained the same. I grounded him from an upcoming mission trip but changed my mind because I figured it would be good for a young person to serve in missions. But when he returned home, his bad attitude showed up at work and he was fired. He was stunned and so were we.

I asked the Lord what happened, and He said, “Tyrelle, you have always prayed ‘All my children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of my children. In righteousness, they shall be established. They shall be far from oppression for they shall not fear.’” I understood immediately.

God had provided the necessary teaching, that I hadn’t, to ensure long-term peace in his life. If our son learned righteousness and acted it out, he would not be in fear of losing his job in the future and would be established and secure. Thankfully, he did realize he was being unrighteous, and decided it was better to adapt to the heart and behaviors of God’s kingdom and be good toward others. My son treasured the lesson and God quickly supplied a new job. Our young man has kept it for nearly three years, enjoys his co-workers, and is one of the most valued employees in the establishment.

Living in step with God’s righteous commands results in peace and rest. Doing things that are wrong will produce a sense of being out of step. Believers must march in time to the drum beat of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. When followers of Jesus do what they know is right, their lives will prosper and produce wonderful results. This is the joy of a well-disciplined and fruitful life.  God will establish the lives of those who treasure the Lord and His ways, as He has established His own unshakeable and everlasting kingdom.

Roots of Righteousness

Our Father uses tree imagery throughout Scripture as a picture of an oasis of hope for those who long to be steadfast, immovable, and fruitful. God articulates clearly how a person can easily become this way:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

— Psalm1:1–4, ESV

The tree is a picture of followers of Jesus who cling to His Word. Notice that it did not spring up from a little seed that just happened to fall near the stream.  No, God Himself planted this tree “by streams of water.” He chose both the tree and the place in which to plant it with the intention of establishing the tree and growing it to [WH5] [TS6] become a steadfast, enduring, and glorious tree. Streams are reflective of God, the fountain of abundant, living water. He is the source of life and enables believers to bear fruit in season and retain life so that their “leaf does not wither.”

Those who do not delight in righteousness, but rather in wickedness, become like chaff; they are susceptible to every wind of temptation because they have no roots to hold them fast. They are here one moment and gone the next with the ever-changing wind.

The Lord used this image of a tree in Isaiah 61 to describe how He plants and establishes His children when they operate in righteousness. They will be called “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. (Isa. 61:3 NIV).

Righteousness has a steadying nature to it. To walk in righteousness means rejecting the fleeting temptations and benefits of doing wrong in exchange for the lasting benefits and peace of doing right. Oak trees are strong, enduring, and have long lifespans—often up to 600 years. Winds may blow them and cause them to bend a bit, and branches may break, but they are not likely uprooted. When you live in righteousness, the wind of temptation can blow, but you will remain rooted, established, and flourishing as God’s oak, planted to display His splendor (Isa. 61:3).  You are in this process right now! Isn’t that great news?

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

You are now at the end of inspecting your heart for division. You have shifted into a season of wholeheartedness. Your whole heart will now find it far easier to believe God’s incredible character and enduring love. With an undivided heart, you will be able to live out your purpose and fight every battle with joy, knowing victory is your birthright and inheritance as a child of the living God. This will be the focus of the second half of the book. Spend some time reflecting with God on how far you have come and the new stability and confidence you are developing to fulfill His purpose for your life.

  1. Lord, show me how You think and feel about establishing me in righteousness.
  2. What does it do to You as I become wholehearted?
  3. Thank Him and celebrate as He rejoices over you singing.
  4. Invited Him to show you areas where there is now more peace and single-mindedness.
  5. Where is my faith at this point?  God doesn’t change by my faith in Him does.  Is it getting stronger? Am I becoming more steadfast?
  6. What new adventures would You like me to embark on now that we have so much of these things out of the way?
  7. Lord, tell me how You feel and what You think of our new faith adventures ahead?  I’m listening wholeheartedly.

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

1

Two Horses and One Rear End!

One of my favorite movies is Sweet Home Alabama starring Reese Witherspoon. Reese’s character, Melanie Smooter, married young. After a series of painful events, she left her childhood sweetheart (now husband) in Alabama and headed for New York. There Melanie pursued a life that she hoped would fill her hurts—and for a while, it did. She met a new man in New York who wanted to marry her. The problem was her husband in Alabama would not divorce her. He wanted her back knowing they were supposed to be together. She fought him tooth and nail and finally, he signed the papers.

But as she walked down the aisle to meet her new husband, her lawyer stopped her. She asserted, “He signed the divorce papers!” The lawyer replied, “Yes, he did. But you did not.” Melanie was aghast. Subconsciously, she had two loves and as a result, forgot to sign. Her dad spoke up and said, “You can’t ride two horses with one rear end, Honey!” Her father’s words hit her like lightning. She had already given her heart—her whole heart—to her first husband. She ran away from the wedding to tell her first husband they were still married because she did not sign the papers.

Melanie’s heart had become a war zone between two loves, two masters, and only one could be the victor. The same is true of followers of Jesus. He will not accept mixed service between Him and the love of the world. Followers of Jesus can’t ride two horses with one rear end.

Two Masters

Jesus knew money would be a struggle for His followers. That is why God the Father sent Jesus to reveal His heart on the matter and warn His children that they could not serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24).

A slave is committed to the will of his master. No slave can commit his whole will to two masters; his service would be divided. There would always be one master he liked better and to whom he would be more devoted. Eventually, the slave’s heart would become hostile toward one master. Moses described an example in the book of Exodus of a servant who willingly became a bondservant out of extreme love for his master. It is a picture of the type of devotion God desires:

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him to the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.

— Exodus 21:5–6, NKJV

In ancient biblical times, when a servant voluntarily served his master, he was called a “bondservant.” After approved by the judges of the land, the master would take the servant to a doorpost and put him against it. He would take an awl—a sharp, pointed object—and pierce the servant’s ear with it. The pierced ear would serve as a notification to the whole world that this person was a bondservant for life because he loved his master and chose to be his master’s slave. The slave’s needs became his master’s responsibility; service to his master was the slave’s only responsibility.

Throughout the New Testament, the word “bondservant” or “slave” or “servant” was symbolically used to describe a person devoted to Jesus. Subsequently, that person’s needs become Jesus’ responsibility.

Paul declared many times that he was a bondslave of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, Paul began his letter to the Romans saying, “Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1 NASB). Although Paul was a free-born Roman citizen and had a great deal of status and security as a Pharisee, he counted it as worthless so that he could lay hold of knowing the Lord Jesus and making Him known. He made his choice and stuck with it with his whole heart until the end of his life.

Fear, Money, and Godly Preparation

Sometimes people are devoted to making money out of fear. It has never been God’s plan that His children walk in fear. That’s why He has devoted half of Matthew 6 to calming those concerns. Jesus taught His disciples how to prioritize money in their lives by faith, and how to trust Him, not the money:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

— Matthew 6:19–24, NIV

Jesus was not teaching it is wrong to save money, for according to the Bible even ants know how to store up for the winter (Prov. 6:6–8; 30:25). Rather, Jesus taught His disciples to guard against treasuring up material things and making them their security. Those things are temporal, while heaven is eternal. Jesus was encouraging believers to give thought and care beyond their retirement to their eternal retirement by sharing what they have with those who have less; He will reward those who do. Those whose hearts treasure money will be attached to money.

He was also encouraging His followers to have single vision. If the “eye” of a person’s heart is focused on one thing—the Lord—his or her whole body will be full of light. If not, they will see double, and it will be like walking in darkness; it will cause a lot of stumbling.

Think of a tight rope walker. He stays balanced with a bar, but he also keeps his eye on a single focal point in front of him. If he looked at two focal points, he would have a difficult time going straight and making it to the end without falling. Eventually one focal point will win and cause him to lose his balance and fall. That is why the Lord and His kingdom must be the believer’s single focus:

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

— Matthew 6:25–27, NIV

Parents take care of their kids. My eight-year-old does not worry if I will buy him winter boots or feed him. He pleases me, and it is my responsibility to provide those things for him. It increases his trust in me. I love that he assumes that when he rolls out of his toasty bed in the morning, there is cereal to eat, and he can fill his little belly. Yet children of God fret, thinking God doesn’t care about their needs when in fact, He cares more.

God only asks that His children put His kingdom first; He longs for His children to seek Him with their whole heart and be solely devoted to Him. He will add all that they need. So, don’t worry and give in to the battle of having double-vision, focusing on both money and God. God will provide.

Trust God for Provision

Corrie ten Boom travelled the whole world in God’s service. She would lay out a map and ask Jesus where she was to go. He would instruct her, and she would make her plans. Many times, she had to trust that funds would be available when she was in need. Often when she was about to leave for a different country, not knowing how she would be able to board the plane she had booked, someone would provide the funds (in those days people could book a flight but pay when they were about to board). It made for some stress, but her faith grew enormously as she learned to believe and trust in God’s good character to provide for all He guided her to do.

One day, God spoke to her during a prayer time that she was no longer to ask churches or any person for an offering. She was troubled by this, not knowing how the Lord would provide. Nonetheless, she trusted. That day in the mail she received a letter from a person close to her who had been praying regularly for her. This person wrote, “The Lord has shown me that you are not to ask any more for an offering but to trust the Lord.” That was the confirmation that Corrie needed to be sure of the Lord’s leading.

God knew it was better for her to lean only on Him with an undivided heart and not to trust in man to provide. This allowed her to fix her attention completely on service to Him and not worry if her messages were well received or not. It allowed her to travel anywhere, to any church or group of people that needed her and the Lord’s messages, without thought of payment. Her heart was free to be completely devoted to Him.

A Modern-Day Repentance

There is a concerning trend taking place today even among seasoned preachers and teachers. The explosion of the Internet and social media and the subsequent surge of marketing has opened the door to greater access to finance; this has led to an increase in Bible teachers worldwide charging money to take “courses” on their teachings. These are not schools of ministry but teaching messages that God has given them by the Holy Spirit. However, when Jesus sent out His disciples, He told them, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8 NASB).

Jesus should be the believers’ model and Scripture their plumb line. When Isaiah the prophet testified by the Holy Spirit about what the Messiah would do, he said:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

— Isaiah 61:1, NLT

When John sent his disciples to confirm Jesus was the messiah, Jesus declared to them:

Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen- the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good news is being preached to the poor.

— Matthew 11:4–5, NLT

One aspect of messianic proof was not the miracles Jesus did, but whether He preached to the poor. Jesus never waited for people to pay a fee or a tithe at the local synagogue. He went out to the hills and spoke from boats at the edge of the shores of the Sea of Galilee so that multitudes could come—rich or poor. There is no record of Jesus charging people to hear Him speak. But there is a record of Him instructing His disciples regarding possessions:

Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you for the laborer is worthy of his wages.

— Luke 10:4, 7, NASB

His followers were to take the gospel and freely give it, trusting in God’s care for their needs as they went. People donated food and shelter. Jesus even received finances from high-society women and those who had been blessed by His ministry (Luke 8:3). But He never required anyone to pay.

Jesus’ mission was to represent the Father, and fathers do not charge their children for their wisdom. Recall that your mission is the same as His:

As the Father sends me, I am sending you.

— John 20:21, NIV

As Jesus sent them into their international ministries to teach, make disciples, and baptize, He said:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

— Matthew 28:18–20, NIV

Many of the Lord’s ministers have books that God has blessed and turned into bestsellers, but they do not charge to take a “course” on the book. They simply teach the Word and upload it to the Internet or other media. Those who wish to go through the teaching in more depth or at a slower pace than a sermon can purchase the book. But the whole world has free access to what the Lord has freely given them, and they, in turn, are making disciples internationally. The body of Christ must return to Jesus’ model of discipleship, and freely give what the Holy Spirit has so generously given.

I wish to point out that there are ministers that charge for a “course”, but you can still find their teachings on YouTube or other media for free.  It is more that the learner is paying for formatted material. They have been incredibly generous in sharing what the Lord has given them.

When our children were little, we had to pray for every jug of milk and loaf of bread. We were avid tithers and givers. God met our needs, but the last thing we could afford was a “course” on faith or trusting God. Yet, it is these people who are struggling, like we were struggling, that need to be strengthened with biblical teaching during difficult times.

Despite this age of rapidly changing technology, it is time to return to preaching the gospel to the poor. As the kingdom is put first, everything will be added by the Father (Matt. 6:33). In doing so, believers’ hearts will not be divided between meeting the needs of those they are called to serve and their own needs and desires.

A Matter of Heart, Not Money

There are people God selects to work in the business world to amass wealth for the sake of the gospel or the needy. It is as much a ministry before the Lord as being a pastor or missionary. They love God and serve Him by making money for His purposes, and their hearts are devoted to Him. One such man was asked by God to give 3.5 million dollars. It was his entire profit, and it had taken a great deal of hard work to accumulate. He swallowed hard, wrote the check, and started from scratch. His heart was devoted to the kingdom and he was a servant within it; he understood that his gold and silver were God’s.

A few short years later he had more than surpassed what he had given. He could truly be trusted with wealth, the heart of God, and true riches—eternal souls.

God wants your whole heart, too. When you trust, seek, or love money, it divides your heart, creates instability, and pulls at your devotion. Commit to God that you will stop cheating and “riding two horses with one rear end!” When your heart is undivided, you will be free to serve God wholeheartedly, trusting His incredible character and that He will provide and care for you.

 Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1.  Lord, if I was riding two horses with one rear end, what would those horses?
  2. How can I put Your kingdom first and free my heart to serve You wholeheartedly?  
  3. How is believing in Your awesome provision setting the stage for a new adventure in trusting You

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

1

When God first called me to ministry, I went through a time of waiting on the Lord and intense study. I sensed in my heart that my waiting period was to be three years. It was a step of faith for me and my family. In the beginning, I had shared God’s leading with my husband that the Lord was calling me into full-time study. Within days, a powerful confirmation came to my husband that God had it right; I was to pursue a few years of study in preparation for my personal ministry, but also for us as a couple. Soon, I was happily immersed in Greek and Hebrew, dissecting Scriptures and coming alive as the Holy Spirit led me through the Word of God. But something else also began to happen.

I daily struggled to believe I could accomplish everything He wanted me to accomplish, or that this investment of time was worth the cost. I felt guilty for putting my family through this time and for following me on this journey; from an earthly standpoint, it meant less financial security. The enemy plagued me daily with thoughts of, “You are wasting your life. You’re going to have nothing to show for this. By the way, you need money! Look at how successful so and so is!” I equated success with financial security—and obedience and the desire to follow Jesus wholeheartedly did not necessarily promise extra money! The mental torment was thick, as obedience to God spoke to my heart with one mouth, while my desire to be financially stable spoke to my heart with the other. I was battling double-mindedness, and it was exhausting.

God Warns Before Sin Occurs

the Lord spoke clearly: “This is that!” as the dream flashed through my mind

At one point during my studies, I had a dream I was a prostitute and had walked into an apartment. My husband was with me. I said, “Hey, this will be good. I can work. I’ve got this all worked out. I can make some money and it will be great.” My husband responded casually, “Okay, sure. We can do that,” and went along with my plans. A person went into a room to prepare for the services they desired. My mind suddenly cleared, and I said, “What am I doing? This is crazy! God will provide! Let’s get out of here.” Again, my husband again said, “Okay, sure. We can do that.” We left that apartment swiftly. I woke up, puzzled by the dream, and stumbled out of bed to make my coffee, read, pray, and begin my day.

Not long into my studies that same morning, I began thinking of how I could purchase a new car for our family. I imagined a certain number of hours I could work and how much I could make per month, while continuing my studies to prepare for ministry. I came up with a great plan. My anxiety and stress about success and money had settled down somewhat, and I began to feel in control again. When my husband came home for lunch, I shared my fantastic plan with him. His response was, “Okay, sure. We can do that.” We enjoyed a great lunch, and my world seemed brighter. I felt good.

However, as I drove down our street after dropping my husband back off at work, the Lord spoke clearly: “This is that!” as the dream flashed through my mind. My soul was arrested before God. Deep shock and shame hit me. The Lord, whose eyes see the motives of all hearts and souls, had seen mine. He saw my heart departing from Him long before I did, before I could even act on it, and He released the warning. He knows His children’s days before any of them come to be (Ps. 139:16); He warns His children of potential sin before sin occurs. My heart had departed from pure and simple devotion to Him in my studies and in preparation for ministry because I wanted to make money, feel secure, and buy a car.

I had hurt Him, and I was deeply ashamed. I was thankful for the correction, but for a few moments I felt like the man who beat his breast and said he was a sinner but would not even look up to heaven. I was not condemned, but I was deeply convicted. From the Lord’s perspective, He had entrusted me with a preparation time, calling, and gifts. He was committed, but I was not . . . but I did not know it. I repented.

I immediately called my husband and shared the dream and what the Lord had said as I was driving home. I then said, “God will provide.” I told him we needed to stay on track and complete God’s work. The response was the same as in my dream, yet again: “Okay, sure. We can do that.”  We were back on track.

It was God’s mercy to show me what was happening in my heart so I could repent. He gave the dream in the context of marriage and harlotry, so that I would understand the level of commitment He had to me and the level I needed to have with Him. I was reminded of the prophet Hosea’s words:

A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.

— Hosea 5:4, NIV

This is a solemn verse. This word “acknowledge” in Hebrew is yada (Strong’s H3045) which means, “to observe and think about and to know by experiencing.” Those who have been walking with God for some time have likely experienced His faithfulness in the past; even when they were faithless, He remained faithful because He can’t deny Himself and stop being who He is. Attempting to provide on one’s own what God says He will provide hinders a person from knowing Him by experiencing His faithfulness.

A prostitute has no commitment to anyone. She is committed to herself. This imagery contrasts marriage and faithful fidelity. Throughout Scripture, God refers to sin as adultery, harlotry, and prostitution simply because it is born out of self-interest and self-care. However, in marital commitment, the spouse remains within the confines of boundaries that allow for greater intimacy. Each spouse dedicates him or herself to the other person’s happiness and needs. I had devoted myself to the Lord and to the needs of His kingdom, but cheated on Him in my heart with money, self-interest, and the status of possessing a new car. I was being double-minded and had two masters. Thankfully, the Lord was gracious to alert me, forgive me, and set me back on track.

I thought I had given God my whole heart, but He needed me to experience what that faithfulness looked like in real life. When I returned to the Lord with my whole heart, I returned with fidelity—with a commitment to my first love.

Each time I have stepped forward in obedience, God has abundantly provided.  There was more than enough. He will supply all that is needed for your obedience in all that He calls you to do.  Sometimes fear of lack can be a noisy mistress that causes us to doubt. Satan is still whispering, “Did God really say……?”  Pick up that shiny deadly sword and say, “Yep, He did say He would supply all our needs according to His riches in glory! Yes, He did say if I sought His kingdom first, He would add everything, all my needs!”.  Save yourself the exhaustion that doubt and double-mindedness brings and just cut off that nattering head. Amen!

Reflect with the Holy Spirit.  

  1. Am I afraid regarding money, or the lack of it?  Is money motivation my decisions? What are Your thoughts Lord?
  2. Am I greedy at times, or do I buy too many  things?
  3. Is there anything I need to step into and trust you for provision for?  What are my first steps?
  4. Make me audacious and single-minded in trusting You.

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

corrie ten boom and nazi soldier

Corrie ten Boom and the Nazi Soldier

One day, Corrie was giving a talk at a church about God’s love. She nearly froze, paralyzed with shock, when she saw one of her Nazi guards. He had been exceptionally cruel. She regained her composure and finished her talk. She desperately wanted to escape, but there were hands to shake and people to greet. Suddenly the man came up to her and introduced himself; she knew him all too well. With tears, he confessed his sin to her and asked her to forgive him. He said he knew Jesus had forgiven him, but he knew he must ask her as well.

Corrie cried out to the Lord. She knew she had to forgive the man, but she was in a battle. Finally, she surrendered by faith and told the Lord she would lift her hand to take his, but that God must supply the love. Miraculously, despite her suffering, when she touched his hand, the love of Jesus began to flow, and she said, “I forgive you, brother.” She experienced so much of the love of God, but she also obeyed God. By bringing her heart into alignment with His, her heart’s loyalty and her faith remained undivided. Corrie ten Boom was an incredibly fruitful woman, seeing thousands saved into God’s kingdom.

However, few have suffered as much as she suffered. Whatever you are bearing, it is just as real and just as difficult. Today, if you will lift your hand, God will supply the love you need for miracles to again flow in your life. Resist the love of the world that demands payment and let your heart beat in time to the love of Christ, undivided in His forgiving love. Your faith will work through His love, and together with harmony and power, you will see the impossible.

Faith Like a Mustard Seed

When Jesus told His disciples it would be better for them if a millstone were hung about their neck than to cause one of God’s little ones to stumble, His disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). They were scared when they heard this. But Jesus responded that they needed to have faith like a mustard seed; then they could speak to the mulberry bush and it would be uprooted and cast into the sea.

Many texts have switched the text to read “faith as small as a mustard seed” but size has nothing to do with it. Mustard seeds are unique seeds. They can endure fire and remain fertile. They can tolerate water and not drown. They spread contagiously and rapidly, can withstand great hardship, and are unaffected by their surroundings. Consider how the Lord describes His love toward you. It looks quite a bit like the mustard seed of faith Jesus was describing to His disciples. Faith works through love:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

— Isaiah 43:2, NIV

Love never fails. It endures all things, hopes all things, and believes all things. Therefore, if love is like a mustard seed, it will endure outward obstacles and remain unaffected and un-killable, as will faith. Where there is love, faith will work through those barriers—even ones that seem impenetrable. Remember: love forgives and keeps no record of wrongs. This does not mean taking abuse or letting a person sin against you; rather, address it as Jesus commands, but then discharges the debt.

Jesus taught His disciples that love and forgiveness beats in time with God’s heart. Therefore, the child of God who loves and forgives keeps his or her heart undivided from the love of the world and releases the faith they need to see the impossible happen.  

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord is there anyone I need to forgive?  Show me how You want to heal my heart.
  2. Is there anywhere I need to “lift my hand” so to speak as Corrie ten Boom did?
  3. Do I need a greater appreciation of Your mercy and forgiveness to be able to fully forgive others?
  4. Am I feeling lighter? Or excited to have a whole heart and believe for new things when I forgive?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

A woman recently attended one of my extended events where I preached the Gospel.  Her faith for her community was low and she was not a happy person. I began to preach about being forgiven but also forgiving others.  The Holy Spirit began to touch her deeply. She came forward for prayer and shared that she had not been in contact with her family for seven years because they had hurt her.  I felt compelled to hold her in my arms and the Lord began to minister love to her pain. Tears flowed freely down her face and she went away under the presence of God. The next day, I noticed she was not in attendance despite that she had been at all the other sessions. 

When she arrived later in the day, she had a skip in her step and her face was glowing.  She smiled at me and said, “Jesus wouldn’t let me come back until I forgave my brothers and sisters and reconciled with them.  Sorry I am late! I needed forgiveness, but I wasn’t giving it away. Wow, I feel different.” 

Two weeks later I received an update that her brothers and sisters we going to church and seeking Jesus.  Her faith and joy are touching her community and she has fresh faith to see God move in the lives around her.

Unforgiveness can hinder belief in God and impact a person’s ability to stand firm with an undivided heart and fulfill his or her destiny. But what does unforgiveness have to do with hearing God’s voice, obeying Him, and being close to Him? Let’s unpack this idea and see if it’s possible to find some answers to these questions.

What is Unforgiveness?

Unforgiveness occurs when a person has been hurt and hasn’t forgiven the person who hurt them. Sometimes when we are hurt, we can become bitter or attached to the pain and remember it regularly. Ultimately, unforgiveness is a love issue. Loving people should reflect how God loves. Paul described God’s love best in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Love is patient, love is kind . . . it keeps no record of wrongs. Love never fails.

  — 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, 8, NIV

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

— 1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV

I remember one day when the Lord reminded me of His declaration that He is love (1 John 4:8). I began to replace the word “love” with “God” in 1 Corinthians 13 and view it over myself and others. First Corinthians 13 reveals how God feels about His people, and what that kind of love looks like. God is patient with His children, and kind. But notice what 1 Corinthians 13:5 says: Love keeps no record of wrongs. If God is love, then He keeps no record of wrongs. In fact, He says that He blots out our transgressions for His own sake.  Forgetting is a gift He gives Himself, not just us (Is. 45:25). It allows Him to restore relationship with us as if nothing had happened.

To “keep a record of wrong” means harboring hurt against another or remembering the hurt in light of the deed. The world demands payment for sin; this is an antichrist spirit in which one person accuses another person in his or her heart and assigns a sentence or condemnation against the person. Ultimately, keeping a record of wrong divides one’s heart and loyalty.

This means that to walk in step with the Lord, followers of Jesus must also keep no record of wrongs that others have committed against them, since God keeps no record of wrongs done to Him against those He loves.

Satan, on the other hand, stands before the Lord accusing the brethren day and night demanding God’s punishment. Punishment is different than discipline. Discipline involves teaching, learning, and growing. Good fathers teach; God the Father is a loving teacher. Punishment, however, involves torment. It does not involve learning, but only the weight of a sentence that is inescapable.

But the love of God forgives the debt of the wrong one at His expense. Sometimes people hurt others more than they could ever repay. The same is true of God and His children. All have sinned more than they could ever repay. When part of a person’s heart is loyal to demanding that the other person pay them back for hurt they have caused, he or she displays a love of the world and an antichrist spirit. However, forgiving others as Christ forgave displays loyalty to the heart of God and demonstrates His heart to the one they are forgiving. A divided heart, on the other hand, is loyal to receiving forgiveness, but disloyal to giving it away. It is loyal to demanding payment. 

Does Forgiveness Affect Faith?

Jesus connected faith with forgiving others and keeping one’s heart in step with His. Kenneth Hagin once said, “Faith works by love; if we are not walking in love our faith is not working.” Where there is a lack of love for God, there will be a lack of faith. Consider Jesus’ words in Mark 11:

Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.

— Mark 11:25, NASB

Jesus tied faith with forgiveness in another passage, when He instructed His disciples:

It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, “I repent,” forgive him.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.”

— Luke 17:1–6, NASB

To better understand what Jesus was teaching in this passage, it’s important to first understand that He is love. The Ten Commandments are about love, and though they may appear restrictive—don’t steal, don’t covet, don’t lie—they are actually protective. Stealing, coveting, and lying hurts others and may cause a person to remain in a state of unforgiveness because their heart has been wounded. If they have trouble forgiving, it affects their faith. That is when it really becomes a problem for God because faith is the basis by which a person can be in relationship with Him and hear His voice.

It takes courage to confront hurt and sin, but it needs to be done.

Jesus also taught when a brother sins against another believer, we are to rebuke the one who sinned. However, most people bear the sin quietly and try to forgive quietly. I am convinced this is where bitterness creeps in. It takes courage to confront hurt and sin, but it needs to be done. Minimizing sin says, “It’s not a big deal,” and thus, it minimizes the person’s worth who was sinned against. When a person doesn’t feel valuable, they might become bitter and resentful. To clear up this challenge, John the apostle instructed us to bring sin out into the open:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

— 1 John 1:7, NASB

Bringing another’s sin to the light also brings to the light your hurt so that the other person can see it and acknowledge it. The blood of Jesus will cleanse the other person if they repent. However, if the offending party does not repent, you have still walked in the light, acknowledged your value, and set a boundary. If you have sinned against another, however, repent and tell the person you are sorry. They may tell you how you hurt them, which will be uncomfortable; however, they need to bring to the light their pain as well so that it doesn’t evolve into unforgiveness on their end of the relationship, which could lead to additional faith issues between them and the Lord.

Doing so will make it possible for each party to dwell with Jesus in the light. Satan attacks what is hidden, but he cannot lay hold of anything in the light (John 1:5). This will re-establish relationship by putting it back on good ground.

 Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Is there anyone that I need to walk in the light with?
  2. Have I demanded payment from anyone?  Have I given forgiveness freely as You have? Remind me.
  3. Forgetting is a gift we give ourselves and others.  How do I feel about that?
  4. Am I willing to let You unite my heart and help me forgive?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.