Thursday, December 20, 2018

He Satisfies the Longing Soul

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

You gotta have the want to.

That’s the title of an old book on my shelf by Pastor Allan Oggs.

You gotta have the want to.

As we square up for a new year, 2019, do you have the want to?

Even if you feel battle weary, even if 2018 wore you out – maybe you don’t have the motivation, maybe you feel depleted, maybe 2018 drained you – but do you WANT to do better?  Do you WANT to rise up and be all that God wants you to be in 2019?

WANTING it is the key.

Look at Matthew 5:6, where Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...”  It doesn’t say, “Blessed are the righteous” though the righteous are surely blessed, but it says, “Blessed are those who HUNGER AND THIRST for righteousness.” 

In other words, blessed are those who WANT it.

I’ve spent the year 2018 doing a deep dive into the Psalms, and my reading today stopped suddenly at the powerful Psalm 107 verse 9, “For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

What is my part in that verse?  My part is to have a longing and hungry soul.

I long for the Lord.  I hunger for more of Him in 2019, more of His character in me, more of His will done in me and through me, more of “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” in ME as it is in heaven, in my family as it is in heaven, in my work as it is in heaven, in my church as it is in heaven.  HIS will be done.  I hunger and thirst and long for that.

And the good news is, He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness!

Do you feel it?  Are you hungry for it?

Psalm 42:1 – as the deer pants for the water, Lord, my soul longs for You.  I need You and want You and desire You.  I want to walk in Your Spirit and live by Your Spirit and bear the eternal fruit of Your Spirit.

I want it, and long for it, and seek it, and pray for it.

And everyone who asks, receives.  And he who seeks, finds.  And to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

And today I plant my flag of hope firmly in Psalm 107:9, for He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good things.

May God bless you as you long for Him today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

They That Seek the Lord Shall Not Want Any Good Thing

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

“They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”

That’s what it says in Psalm 34:10.

Now I might need to explain the King James English.  When it says, “shall not want any good thing,” it means you won’t be lacking any good thing.  Of course you WANT good things.  You desire good things, and here’s how you get them.  You seek the Lord.

You seek the Lord by drawing near to Him.  We enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  We come boldly before His throne of grace.  We draw near to God in our personal prayer time, alone, seeking Him, seeking His truth and His light and His heart.

When we seek the Lord, then His will begins to unfold in our lives.  We obey Him more; and when we walk in His ways, we become more pleasing and more attractive to other people.

When you are living a life that is pleasing to the Lord, it is a life full of love and joy and peace and patience, and people like that!  People will be drawn to you.  They will like you.

And they will be glad to help you get the good things you desire.

So that is one way that, when we seek the Lord, we shall not want for any good thing; because God makes us into a good person, and other people will be glad to bring their blessings into our life.

And when you are a good person, you will always be doing good for other people.  That is a blessing in itself; and then the Bible also says, “give and it shall be given unto you.”

I like the quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you help enough other people get what they want, they will make sure that you get what you want.”

Another blessing from seeking God is that He lavishes His love on us.  When we receive His love, especially during our personal times with Him, that gives us good mental health, and good spiritual health, and good emotional health.  It gives us hope and a positive outlook on life. 

When we seek God, then we stop grieving and quenching His Holy Spirit inside of us, which unleashes the power of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  And that really opens the flow of every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of lights!

So you want good things?  You want a blessed life?  You want God to flow through you and your family, then do this with all diligence:  seek the Lord.

For they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

May God bless you as you seek Him today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

By the Power Vested in Me

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I love this little phrase, “by the power vested in me.”

Like they say at weddings.  “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife.”

It means you didn’t have the power, then someone “vested” the power in you.

That’s the way it is in our Christian life.  There are things God wants us to do, but we can’t do them faithfully in our own power.  We need His power to work in us.

For example, it’s not easy to forgive people like God wants us to forgive, but we can do it…by His power vested in us.

It’s like we’re saying, “I can’t forgive you for that, at least not in my own power; but by the power vested in me...I forgive you.”

God’s power is vested in us through His Holy Spirit inside of us.  God puts His Spirit inside every believer when they are born again, and He begins His good work in us, exercising His power to bring us to maturity.

So when Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” and you really do have an enemy?  In the flesh, in your own carnal power, you just can’t do it.  You can’t really love them like God wants you to love them, except by the power of the Holy Spirit vested in you.

How can you “count it all joy” when you go through trials?  You can’t really do it...except by the power of God vested in you.  But with that power,  you can literally “rejoice in the Lord always.”

So you’re a believer, and you know the Holy Spirit is inside of you, but maybe you aren’t really enjoying the full fruit of the Spirit.  You’re not really feeling His power vested in you.  Now what?

Maybe you need to waste some time with God.  That sounds strange, doesn’t it?  But that’s what a Christian counselor told Pastor Paul Westbrook when he was going through some problems.  He said, “Paul, do you ever waste time with God?”

As a pastor, of course he SPENT time with God, he studied and prayed and whatever; but WASTING time with God, that’s different.  It means hanging out with God, and talking to God, and listening to God and generally just being in the presence of God, or as the counselor said, “Wasting time with God.”

Time with God helps you stop blocking and quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit.  It helps you get tuned in to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. 

And as we do that, we can feel the power surge, and God can enable to do all those things that He wants us to His power vested in us.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Lean on a Broken Reed and Pierce Your Hand

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

It’s one of the most powerful illustrations in the Bible, if you just think about it.

If you lean on a broken reed, it will pierce your hand.

Ow!  I don’t even like stubbing my toe or stepping on a Lego.  I can’t imagine using a reed like a cane or a walking stick, leaning on it, and having it give way and pierce right through my hand.

But that’s what happens when we trust in things that aren’t of God.

You’ll find the illustration in 2 Kings and Isaiah and Ezekiel.  It’s when the Israelites want to trust the Egyptians instead of trusting the Lord their God.

Just imagine leaning on a reed, and it breaks, and it pierces right through your hand.

That is when you put your trust in something other than God and His principles.

When you lean on lying, but God says be truthful.

When you lean on anger, but God says His joy is your strength.

When you lean on revenge, but God’s way is forgiveness.

When you lean on alcohol to help you make it through the day.

When you lean on a little pot to ease your mind.

When you lean on mother’s little helper, you’re leaning on a broken reed, and it will pierce your hand.

Karen Wheaton’s daughter has written a book called The Way Home, by Lindsey Wheaton Doss.  For reasons described in the book, Lindsey began to lean on broken reeds.  She leaned on the broken reed of the attentions of another man, not her husband.  She ended up leaning on alcohol and parties and other men, and that reed broke and splintered into her hand and her mind and her soul and nearly destroyed her.

When we lean on anything but God and His ways, we are leaning on a broken reed, and it will pierce our hand.

So what are you leaning on today?  What are you putting your trust in, for your hope, for your pleasure, for your satisfaction?  For your provision?  For your mental needs and spiritual needs?  For the sanity of your soul?

Lean on Jesus!  Lean on the Lord and His Word!  Put your trust fully in Him!  He is the rock we can trust in and lean on and build our lives on.  It’s Him and only Him and all Him all the time.

But if we lean on the world’s very poor substitutes, they will all turn out to be a broken reed and pierce our hand.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Three Ways That Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

First John 4:18 says that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Here are three ways that happens.

One is, when you really love someone, then it drives out your fear of them.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”  The problem with enemies is that they stir up so much emotion, you can’t even think straight.  And one thing they make you feel is fear.  They are out to get you.  That is a fearful thing. 

But when we obey Jesus and love our enemies, which we can only do in the power of God’s Spirit inside of us, then that love drives out our fear of them. 

It’s the same for people who give you anxiety or make you nervous.  When you love them with God’s love inside of you, then all fear is driven out.  You are free to truly love them as God wants you to!

Another way perfect love casts out fear is when other people fear you.  Who knows why they fear you.  Maybe you have power over them, or hold an important part of their life in your hands; but when they know that you love them with the love of God inside of you, then their fear of you is cast out!

“But maybe I want them to fear me,” you say.  “I need to keep them in their place.”

Well that’s not God’s way.  God’s way is that you amp yourself up full of His Holy Spirit, and then you love and you love and you love.  That’s God’s way.  Read all about it in First John chapter 4.  That chapter is brimming with God’s love for us, and the love we are to have for one another.  Check it out.

And another way perfect love casts out fear is when other people want you to fear them – like the old bumper sticker, “Fear this.”  They want to hold power over you through fear, but if you love them with the love of God inside of you, then once again, perfect love casts out fear.  It casts out fear in all equations!

It’s like a multiplication problem where perfect love is the number zero.  You know, it doesn’t matter what numbers you are multiplying.  Make it 10 times 10.  Make it 10 times 100.  Make it a thousand times a thousand!  Those are all the fears, thousands of fears. 

Then bring in the number zero.  Make it a thousand times a thousand, times a thousand…..times zero.  What’s the answer?  How much of the fear is left?  Zero.

Because perfect love casts out fear.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Trees of the Lord Are Full of Sap

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
And I am one.

I want to be that mighty tree in Psalm 1, planted by the water, delighting in the Word of God, full of the water of the Word, dense with it, heavy with it.  Strong with it.

The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
And I am one.

I want to be dense with the Spirit of God, full of the Living Water of John 7, filling me, like a mighty tree, dense and mighty and every branch and leaf and twig and sprout...full, and growing, in the Spirit of the living God.

The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
And I am one.

Mighty in Christ Jesus.  He is the Vine.  He gives the life.  He gives the strength.  He gives the power.  He gives the wisdom and the knowledge from His limitless treasures, abounding and abounding and abounding with life, the ever expanding, growing, filling, abundant life in Christ. 

I hunger for it.  I thirst for it.  I long for it.  I desire it.  I need it.  Nothing else matters if I am not that tree, planted by the water, soaking up the Word in rivers, and letting it flow in me, from the roots to the tips.  No bad spots, no blemishes, no part unreached by the sap of God as His Spirit flows up and up and up, filling me and stretching me and growing me as the Kingdom of Heaven becomes in me that mighty, life giving, life nurturing, life sustaining tree, filled to the absolute most dense fullness that is possible.

The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
And I am one.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

(Psalm 104:16)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tiny Drops of Life

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

How does a tree get its water?

If you as a person want to get water, you take a drink.  You pour it into your mouth.

But how does a tree get water?

You might think, “Well, water falls on it, and it soaks it up, like a sponge.”

So if you take a bath, it’s a like taking a drink?

No.  People take in water through their mouth.  And trees take in water through their roots.

The life-giving water starts at the roots and it flows to the rest of the tree, one tiny little drop of life at a time.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” 

Life flows from the vine to the branch.

So what does that look like in real time?  How does that spiritual life, that living water, flow from Jesus to us?

I think we’re usually looking for big things, the thunderstorm, the flood, the spiritual tsunami that sweeps us into God’s plan.

But I think it’s more like how water flows from the vine to the branch:  one tiny drop of life at a time.

For example, here’s a tiny drop that I believe God dropped into my life.

At the time my wife and I had four small children, and I was working each day until about 6 p.m.  I would come home and the kids would have already eaten.  It was a bit scattered, but I don’t think we even thought about it. 

Then I went to a Promise Keepers event.  There were thousands of men, singing and praising God and it was powerful.  So there I was, standing and singing with the rest of them, my hands in the air, and all of a sudden a phrase popped into my mind, “Start having family dinners.”

It was so out of the blue, I stopped singing, sort of stunned.  I finally just sat down to let it sink in for a minute.  And while the rest of the men stood around me, singing, I wrote down this little note.  “Start having family dinners.”

And we did!  We started having family dinners.  There was bonding and conversation, and it really brought a good, new dynamic to our family.

It was a tiny drop of life that I believe flowed from Jesus, the vine, into me, the branch.

And I think that’s how our spiritual lives usually work.  Yes, sometimes God speaks to us in the thunder and the flood, but I think most of His work in our lives probably comes in these daily little ways, where His Spirit talks to our spirit, and He pours Himself into tiny drop of life at a time.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.