Lord, I Believe; Help My Unbelief

For most of my life I took my health for granted. As a child and on into my young adult life I was mostly healthy, skinny, due to a high metabolism and a somewhat active life. I ate what I wanted, exercised if or when and how I wanted, but really never very disciplined. The same went for my spiritual life. I was saved as a child and then baptized with the Holy Spirit as a teenager when I truly understood Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yet, I wasn’t very self-disciplined in my walk with Jesus Christ.

My health fell apart in my late twenties, because of a poor self-image due to childhood trauma, lack of personal responsibility for my eating habits, exercise and spiritual well-being.

I believed more about what I said about myself than what my Heavenly Father said about me. I lived a very self-centered and sinful life for several years. I’m not talking about the sin I acknowledged as a teenager and became saved from because my Heavenly Father worked in my heart and showed me the truth of Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NKJV) I’m talking about the kind of willful sinning a non-mature or weak Christian will fall into because their everyday life is not centered in/on Christ Jesus.

I do believe I was saved from an eternal life separated from God, however, the Holy Spirit at work in me tried to save me from myself and gently steer me away from the sin I was committing that would ultimately lead to my eternal separation from my Heavenly Father.

He spoke to my spirit on two occasions and said, “If you continue in this sin, I will have to withdraw my eternal life from you.” The third time he said, “I cannot work in you because you have not heeded my warnings. I will be here when you decide to return to and follow closely your Savior, Christ Jesus.”

Please understand that my Heavenly Father treated me with so much love during this time of my life despite the repercussions I faced due to my decision to walk away from my faith. I wouldn’t even come to understand just how much he deeply loved me and watched over me and my family for many years to come.

Open BibleI say this to encourage you to believe the Bible, God’s Holy Word, our heavenly Father’s love letter to us when it says, “The Lord your God is a merciful and compassionate God; He will not fail you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them,” Deuteronomy 4:31 AMP.

In fact, earlier in Deuteronomy 4:23 (AMP) he says, “So be on your guard and watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He has made with you.”

However, even if you do forget or walk away from your covenant with the Lord if “you will seek the Lord your God, …you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and tribulation and all these things come on you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice,” Deuteronomy 4:29-30. He never stops waiting for us to return to him and will welcome those who do seek him diligently with open arms like the prodigal child (Luke 15:11-24).

I believed I deserved nothing good in my life because I had not earned it or because I had not followed the Bible to the letter. I thought of God as a Judge not my Heavenly Father.

I am so thankful that is not how grace and mercy from my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ works! I did ask for God’s forgiveness, and he graciously and compassionately gave it and gives it each time I repent. As my daily walk with my Heavenly Father has ebbed and flowed, my trust and faith in him has grown. I believe he uses our unbelief, our misgivings, our trials in this life to mature us or grow our faith and trust in him if we allow him.

My Heavenly Father, because I do think of him as my Father not my Judge, brought me and my family to a place where I could understand just how much he truly loves me. Coming to understand just how much he loves me despite everything was so transforming.

Have I been perfect? By no means!! Yet, he has never left me. He has been there to pick me up and place me back on the pathway with him when I have stumbled or just plain wandered off the trail. He has stayed right beside me when I struggled with my doubts in him and my insecurities.

I love the list that went around at one point and is probably still out there, of all the imperfect people in the Bible that God used to further his kingdom. It helped me see that despite all my imperfections he can and will use me for the goodness of his eternal kingdom. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you [and me] will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return],” Philippians 1:6 AMP.

This is my prayer for you: “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God,” Philippians 1:9-11 NIV.

May my Heavenly Father pour out all his love and forgiveness and blessings upon you as you come to understand just how much he loves you!!

Bonita Burleson

Comfort and Encouragement Ministries, secretary

Lord, I Believe; Help My Unbelief Read More »

The Car Wash Kind of Faith

Car Wash

My Heavenly Father teaches me in so many different ways and uses every day things to help me understand his ways. The automatic propelled car wash has been one of those things.

For years now, when I go through an automatic propelled car wash I think of “blind faith.”  Think about it! You take your dirty vehicle and drive up to an attendant who then tells you this is what we will do for you, trust us!

You follow the attendant’s directions to drive onto a track that you lose sight of before you actually get onto it. You blindly trust that this person will guide you to correctly line your tires up to the track. Once you’ve successfully done this they ask you to place your vehicle in neutral and take your foot off the brake!?! The first time you do this you truly feel unsettled. I mean you are no longer in control of where your vehicle is going.

Soapy Car WashJust when you start to trust that process, you lose complete sight of the pathway because of all the soap suds blanketing your vehicle. At this point you are truly blind. Yet, weirdly in this moment, it feels quiet, like a pocket of calmness.

Now the storm comes and washes away the dirt and grime. Just when you think you are all finished, the last whirlwind comes along to dry you off and pushes you out into the world again.

Yes, I do overthink things, lol. Yet, come on, don’t you see the similarity between the car wash and your Faith walk?

You come to your heavenly Creator, the One true God, all dirty and sin-filled. You hear the Holy Spirit say, “Follow God’s directions and he will guide you down the unfamiliar path even the ones you can’t see. Spend time with him cocooned in quiet meditation of the Holy Word and prayer and He will envelop you with calm and peace. Cry out to Jesus and he will wash you clean.”

Next comes the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit fire to spur you on your way!! Then, your Heavenly Father lets you put your foot on the gas and go so you may do His Will in the world around you both big and small.

Have you ever seen when one of those car washes have a car that gets off track?  Maybe someone didn’t go into drive at the end of the process? Or got scared and hit the brake when they couldn’t see. I have to admit there have been countless times that I have stepped on the brakes and jammed up the process of my faith. But just like that conveyor system once I let my Heavenly Father get me back on track, he is faithful to guide me along the way to the end. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in [me and] you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return],” Philippians 1:6 AMP.

So next time you go through that car wash remind yourself, “If I can have this much faith in this man made operation, I can have faith in God, too!”

May God wonderfully bless you and yours,

Bonita Burleson

The Car Wash Kind of Faith Read More »

Guide to Successful LIving

Huge Benefit From a Small Book

Thirty-one short chapters comprise Proverbs.  However, we must not judge the book’s value by its size.  Its benefit for our everyday lives infinitely surpasses its smallness.

Delores and I began reading Proverbs through once a month by reading one chapter a day according to the calendar date.  On the first of the month we read chapter one; on the sixth, chapter six; on the thirty-first, chapter thirty-one.  In this way we go through Proverbs twelve times a year.  If we miss a day we read two chapters the following day or we just wait until the next month.

Of course, portions of Proverbs don’t apply to everyone.  Overall, however, everyone profits from the wise sayings and instructions of this wonderful guide to successful living.

What is a proverb?

A proverb is a short saying that expresses a truth.  Example: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” means that a proper diet will keep you healthy.  Proverbs teach lessons for life.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger” Proverbs 15:1.

Who benefits from Proverbs?

Proverbs show us God’s truth so we can cooperate with his efforts to make us happy.  Solomon introduces this book with an invitation for all to learn (2:2-6).  His invitation is all inclusive; he invites:

  • All People, verses 2-3
  • The Simple, verse 4
  • Young People, verse 4
  • The Wise, verse 5
  • The Understanding, verse 5

The Purposes for this Book
(Proverbs 2:2-6)

  1. So people may know God’s wisdom and teachings.
  2. So people can understand words of insight. Seeing “beneath the surface” appearance of life situations.
  3. So people can know wise dealings, righteousness, justice and integrity.
  4. To give prudence to the simple. Prudence is sound judgment in practical matters; being sensible, not rash.
  5. To give knowledge and discretion to young people. Discretion separates error from truth.
  6. To help a wise person increase in learning.
  7. To help a person of understanding acquire skill in applying that understanding.
  8. To help a person understand a proverb and its interpretation or application.

To help people understand the words of the wise and the hidden truths behind their sayings.

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

Guide to Successful LIving Read More »

Giving God Time to Enjoy You

            God enjoys being with you!

            “The Lord your God…will take great delight in you…he will rejoice over you with singing,” Zephaniah 3:17.

            “The Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession,” Deuteronomy 26:18.

            “You are precious and honored in my sight and…I love you,” Isaiah 43:4.

            “I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,” Isaiah 49:5.

            “I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine,”  Ezekiel 16:8.

            Obviously, God created you to enjoy you.

            Look at the beginning of human existence recorded in Genesis.  First, God goes through the trouble of creating a universe which sustains humans.  Second, he created male and female so he could be with them.  “The Lord God…was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you,’” Genesis 3:8-9?  God yearned for human companionship!  The entire Bible describes God’s effort to bring rebellious humans into loving fellowship because he wants us near himself.

            The Bible ends by describing the new heaven and new earth where God eternally enjoys being with us. “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God,” Revelation 21:3.

God Sets Time Aside for Being with Us

            Private time with us is God’s highest priority.  Consequently, in the very beginning of human history, He set aside the seventh day of the week and called it “holy” Genesis 2:2-3. “Holy” designates this day as special to the Lord.  Why special?  Because this day provided time for God to enjoy fellowshipping with the humans his hands made.  Under Moses’ leadership, the Lord designated lots of other days and weeks as time for his people to set aside to be with him.  He called these days “Passover,” “feast of unleavened bread,” “feast of Pentecost,” and “feast of tabernacles.” (Other feasts are listed in Leviticus 23.)

            Is there any doubt that God wants special time with you, when he can enfold you in his arms and love you?  Truly he wants to speak to you, to soothe you, to appreciate you and be appreciated by you!  Now let’s look at our part in giving God time to enjoy us.

Quit Belittling Yourself!

            It’s so easy for humans to diminish their own importance to God by ignoring what he says about them in his Word.  Even Jesus during his absolutely horrible suffering, called himself “a worm and not a man,” Psalm 22:6. We quickly forget how God feels about us during difficult times.  We effortlessly disparage ourselves when we’ve failed to obey our heavenly Savior.  Nevertheless, we can only give ourselves to God’s enjoyment by conquering the tendency to belittle ourselves.

            By accepting God’s assessment of our value we become empowered to believe what God’s Word says about us.

             “The Lord was pleased to make you his own,” 1 Samuel 12:22.

            “Your hands shaped me and made me,” Job 10:8.

            “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:1.

            “This is what the Lord says—he who created you…he who formed you…. ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine,’” Isaiah 43:1.

            Then there’s Jesus, heavenly Father’s ultimate expression of his longing for our company, our fellowship!  2 Corinthians 9:15 designates Jesus as heavenly Father’s “indescribable gift.” Through Jesus, heavenly Father freed us from our sinful insignificance and elevated us to share Jesus’ throne in God’s eternal kingdom (1 Samuel 12:22).

Giving God What Belongs to God

            Time is a gift from God because time came from God.  Concurrently, our lifetime is a gift from our heavenly Maker.  We exist because he wants us to.  He both brought us into being and sustains our years in these bodies. They are his property on loan to us!

God gives us time so we can give it back to him!

            Shouldn’t love for God motivate us to give our time back to him?  Shouldn’t love for God seek to rejoice his heart by spending time in private fellowship with him?  Church attendance and other forms of fellowship with believers express our desire to rejoice the Lord.  However, I’m specifically emphasizing your private communion with the God who loves you and wants you near himself.

            Since God created us to rejoice in our love, we set time aside for loving him.   Praise, thanksgiving, adoration and serve as instruments for loving him, but these instruments are only useful as we pull away from life’s busyness and enter His presence.

            “You’re not praying,” the Lord’s Spirit spoke to me when I was about 28 or 29 years old.  I didn’t care to hear this, but I understood what the Lord meant.  I was busy with lots of things, but I set no special time aside for being with the Lord.  So I chose a specific time of my day and set it aside for spending time in God’s presence.  I remained faithful to this appointment with God even when I couldn’t sense his nearness.  But persistence paid off!

            After several days of disciplined private time with Jesus without feeling him near, I blurted out, “God, you have me whether or not you want me.”  Immediately the Lord honored my determination to rejoice his heart with my presence by pouring his presence into me.  His Spirit energized me with praise feelings and praise words that flowed from my innermost being.  That day began an ever-deepening fellowship between the God who rejoiced in me and the God in whom I rejoiced.  The same experience awaits every one of God’s children who give him time to rejoice in them!

            Start now.  Choose a small segment of your day for being alone with the God who enjoys your presence.  Persist in keeping this appointment with the Lord and he will reward you with an ever-greater awareness of his nearness.  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised,” Hebrews 10:36.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can hardly wait the thrill of your presence!

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

Giving God Time to Enjoy You Read More »

Enjoying the Bible Jesus Loved

Jesus With Holy Scroll             Jesus loved the Holy Scriptures written by his Jewish forefathers.  Jesus didn’t merely read the Bible with his mind—his innermost being cherished it.  The Word of God filled him with inexpressible joy that saturated him with an affection for it.  He delighted in God’s commands because he loved them.

Our record of Jesus’ life shows him constantly quoting Scripture or referring to it.  He once pointed out that, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’” Deuteronomy 8:3.  Jesus’ quotations of the Hebrew Bible and constant references to it fill the pages of the Gospels.

When Peter attacked the mob that arrested Jesus, our Lord commanded him to put away his sword.  Then, he explained why he refused to allow his followers to resist his arrest.  “This (arrest) has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled,” Matthew 26:56.  Jesus devoted himself to the fulfillment of all prophesies about His life.  What tremendous dedication to the Scriptures!

How can we enjoy the Bible that Jesus loved?

Appreciate the Bible Jesus Loved

Jesus only had access to what Christians called the Old Testament.  His reading of the Bible was confined to something between Genesis and Malachi.  The New Testament did not exist in Jesus’ day.

Many Christians fail to appreciate what Jesus loved.  They seldom read the Old Testament because they find it exceedingly boring and see no application to their lives.  How different from our Lord Jesus!

In reality there is not a Hebrew Bible and a Christian Bible.  The division into Old Testament and New Testament is artificial.  “All Scripture is God breathed,” 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to both testaments.  What we call the New Testament did not replace the Old Testament, the Bible Jesus loved.

The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament.  The New Testament depends entirely on the Hebrew Scriptures, written by Jewish people.  The Jewish Jesus declared “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished,” Matthew 5:17-18.

Refuse to discount the Bible Jesus loved.  There will be lots in the Old Testament you will find boring, but that is also true of the New Testament.  You will not always understand what you are reading, but isn’t that the same with the New Testament?  Ask the Lord to open your heart to a new appreciation of the Bible Jesus respected and loved.

Look for Phrases, Not at Verses

The New Testament quotes the Old Testament hundreds of times but never mentions a chapter or verse number.  That’s because chapter numbers and verse numbers were not included in either the Old or New Testament writings.  These numbers were added hundreds of years after the last book of the Bible was written.  Chapters and verses help us locate sections of the Bible that interest us.  However, they also focus our attention on huge chunks of text.  In this mass of words are buried wonderful phrases that apply to our 21st century lives.

For example, I read Isaiah 49:23 many, many times.  Regrettably, I regarded the fifty words of this verse as a unit.  Therefore, I failed to pick out the phrase that applies to all of us.  Please notice the last part of Isaiah 49:23: “I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”  Can’t we in the 21st century make the same declaration?  We accept God as our Lord, and because we hope in him we will not be disappointed!

Apply the Promises not the Curses

            Multitudes of wonderful promises fill the pages of the Bible Jesus loved.  The Old Testament also records lots of consequences for disobeying God.  We usually refer to these consequences as curses.

I continually share with people promises recorded in the Old Testament.  Some of these folks question why the promises apply to them but not the curses.  Here’s my explanation.

First, Jesus bore all the consequences of our disobedience to God.  Galatians 3:13 declares that, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”  Then, the apostle explained that, “It is written: cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  The curses pronounced on the disobedient no longer apply to us after Jesus’ blood washes away our sin.

Jesus “redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles,” Galatians 3:14.  You see God’s promises to his Old Testament saints can be applied to us in this age.  We should feel completely comfortable trusting in Old Testament promises while not fearing Old Testament curses.

Be Filled with the Spirit of the Author

          Jesus At The Temple  God used about 45 people as his partners in writing the Scriptures.  Here’s how Peter described the partnership between God and humans that resulted in the writing of the Bible.  “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” 2 Peter 1:21.  No, they weren’t puppets or dictation machines.  God incorporated their personalities, education, vocabulary and experiences in writing Scripture.  Nevertheless, God’s Spirit superintended the work of compiling the Bible.  His infallibility enabled fallible men to record words we can confidently call the Word of God.

Now, we can be filled with the Spirit of the Author.  The One who superintended the recording of Scripture dwells in everyone who trusts Jesus as Savior.  As we persistently read the Bible the author who lives in us explains it to us, little by little.  He makes the Bible come alive.  He opens our hearts to understand Scripture and shows us personal applications that help us in everyday life.

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields



Enjoying the Bible Jesus Loved Read More »

Keeping Yourself Victorious

See Hear Say No EvilYour eyes and ears are gatekeepers for your brain, your thoughts.  Your eyes and ears are doorways through which ideas, desires and thoughts enter your mind.  Therefore, as a follower of Jesus, you must watch over your eyes, ears and thoughts.  Basically, you are a gatekeeper in charge of what enters your mind and resides in your thoughts and controls your desires.

Your Creator entrusted to you the control of what you think, what you desire and what you pursue.  The Lord assigned you the position of guarding your thoughts so they would please him and keep you free from sin.  Then, you will live a victorious life free from sin, discouragement and defeat.  So, regard yourself as a gatekeeper in charge of your eyes, your ears and your thoughts!

Be Faithful to Your Creator

“The gatekeepers had been assigned to their positions of trust,” 1 Chronicles 9:22.   God loves you and wants to guide and lead your life into the victory that originates in overcoming sin.  He entrusts you with the power to faithfully say “No” to sin that attempts to fill your thoughts.  On the other hand, he empowers you to say “Yes” to the purity that Scripture describes.  Therefore, as gatekeepers of our thoughts we say “No” to thoughts that contradict God and His Word and “Yes” to all that agrees with His Word.

Do you recall Jesus’ temptation?  Satan placed sinful thoughts in Jesus’ mind, but Jesus always rebuked him and quoted scripture that defeated every anti-God idea.  Matthew chapter 4 describes the mental battle that Jesus fought against Satan’s wicked suggestions.  Well, Jesus’ Spirit lives in you.  So, you can win every mental battle you will ever face!  You can keep yourself victorious no matter what comes your way!  The Spirit of Jesus in you coupled with the Word of God makes you more than a conqueror!

Think On These ThingsYou are in Charge of Keeping Yourself Victorious

When you became a child of God he appointed you a gatekeeper in charge of your eyes and ears, your thoughts and desires.  In fact, God placed you in charge of guarding your eye gates and ear gates and whatever resides in your thoughts and attitudes.  Heavenly Father placed in you the power of Jesus’ presence so you can remain in charge of what happens in your mind, your attitudes and your thoughts.  1 Chronicles 9:23 declares that the priests “we’re in charge of guarding the gates of the house of the Lord.” So, you are in charge of guarding your eye gates and ear gates.

“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God,” 1 Corinthians 6:19.  You are in charge of guarding your eye and ear gates!  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and so you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to guard what enters your mind and thoughts.  You cannot always prevent ungodly thoughts from entering your mind but you say “no” to these thoughts.  Remember that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” Romans 8:37.   You are in charge of keeping yourself victorious through the power of the Lord who lives in you!

You are a Winner!

When you received Jesus as your personal Savior, you became a gatekeeper in charge of whatever enters your eyes and ears and resides in your thoughts.  “The gatekeepers…are entrusted with the responsibility for the rooms and treasuries in the house of the Lord,” 1 Chronicles 9:26.

When you received Jesus as your personal Savior the power of God entered you and bestowed on you Jesus’ ability to defeat impure thoughts, discouragement, attraction to sin and everything else that is ungodly.  You are a house of God in which he dwells by his Spirit.  You can defeat every thought that is against the Lord and his Word and his will.  He empowers you by his Spirit to destroy every ungodly feeling, idea or attraction that touches you.

Yes, we cannot control everything we hear and see, but through the power of the Holy Spirit we can reject all these impure thoughts from residing in us.  Jesus’ presence in you equips you with his super human ability to defeat every thought that damages your relationship with the Lord.  When God assigns divine responsibility to us, he accompanies the responsibility with divine power to guard the godly life he entrusted to us.  Jesus in us is more than a match for all Satan throws in our path.  We keep our bodies and our minds sinless through the irresistible power of Jesus who lives in us!

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

Keeping Yourself Victorious Read More »

Returning to the Primary Purpose of Tongues

What Does The Bible Say About Speaking In TonguesThe apostle Paul pointed out to the Corinthian believers that he valued his ability to speak in tongues.  “I thank God that I speak in [strange] tongues more than…all of you put together,” 1 Corinthians 14:18 AMP.  On the other hand, he made it plain to the church that he rarely spoke in tongues during church meetings.  “In the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue,” 1 Corinthians 14:19.

If Paul spoke in tongues more than all the Corinthians put together and yet didn’t speak in tongues in church meetings, when did he speak in strange languages?  Well, obviously he spoke in tongues during his private time with the Lord.  Not only that, but his claim that he spoke in tongues more than all the Corinthians put together required him to employ tongues a lot.  Why did he bother with tongues?  Why did he thank God that he spoke in tongues outside the church walls?  Paul understood the primary purpose of tongues!

Speaking to God from the Human Spirit

“If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays,” Paul testified (1 Corinthians 14:14). Through tongues the Holy Spirit equips the human spirit to commune with God who is spirit.  Basically, the Holy Spirit gives a voice to the human spirit so it can pour forth praise and adoration for Jesus.

On the Jewish festival day of Pentecost, one hundred and twenty of our Lord’s followers gathered in Jerusalem.  “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them,” Acts 2:4.  The Holy Spirit gave them the ability to speak from their human spirits.  What were they saying?  Acts 2:11 concisely records that the 120 were “declaring the wonders of God….”  They were praising the Lord, not with their minds, but with their spirits.

Brother Paul loved Jesus supremely.  Nevertheless, he found it impossible to adequately express his feelings for Jesus from only his extensive human vocabulary.  So Paul, like the believers on the day of Pentecost, spoke his admiration of Jesus from his human spirit as the Holy Spirit supplied him with limitless vocabulary.  How good it felt to speak the overflowing love for Jesus that dwelt in his heart!

When by himself Paul communed with the Lord using both his mind and his human spirit.  “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind,” 1 Corinthians 14:15.  His mind and spirit took turns worshipping his redeemer who mercifully met him on the road to Damascus.  This undemonstrative communion with Jesus satisfied his spirit’s need for the Lord’s presence.

Focusing on the Primary Purpose of Tongues

“Anyone who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God,” Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 14:2).  How plain can it be?  Tongues are primarily for communing with God, not speaking messages to people.

The immature Corinthian believers misused the gift of tongues in church. As a result, Paul recorded detailed rules governing the use of tongues during public meetings.  These guidelines occupy the majority of 1 Corinthians Chapters 12 and 14.

Consequently, many modern era Christians mainly focus their attention on the gift of tongues.  Regrettably, this stress on tongues during public meetings diverts our attention from the primary purpose of tongues.  Then we devalue the importance of tongues as a means of communing with God from the human spirit.

Many dear Christians who experience the baptism with the Holy Spirit speak in tongues when initially filled with the Spirit.  After that, they use tongues less and less.  This neglect of our God given ability to speak to the Lord from the human spirit robs us of the benefits of using tongues in private.

Unrestrainable Joy

Paul experienced huge disappointments and massive doses of physical pain.  He stated, “I have…been in prison…frequently, been flogged…severely, been exposed to death again and again,” 2 Corinthians 11:23.  We would naturally expect Paul to drag from one degree of depression to another.  However, he plainly declared, “In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds,” 2 Corinthians 7:4.  Where was the depression?  How could he experience unrestrainable joy when Christians disappointed him and unbelievers tortured him?

Part of the answer lies in his frequent use of tongues.  Paul pointed out, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,” 1 Corinthians 14:4. Speaking from his spirit in languages supplied by the Holy Spirit reinvigorated Paul’s God-given joy.  His joy didn’t originate in this world, his circumstances or his feelings.  Joy that flowed from the throne of God sustained his unbounded happiness!  It’s the same with us in the twenty-first century.

Due to legal blindness, I lost my driver’s license when only 29 years old.  By age 34 I began using electronic recorders for achieving more and more of my office work.  My secretary printed my sermon outlines in ever larger letters.  Many other setbacks have occurred in my personal life and ministry because of my decreasing vision.  I admit that depression and discouragement often attempted to smother my determination to continue in ministry.  Fortunately, during my early twenties I began daily using tongues during my private communion with the Lord.  As a result, I experienced Holy Spirit edification that beat back attacks of despondency and despair.

I think that many ministers of the Gospel have failed to latch on to 1 Corinthians 14:4: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.”  They miss the self-edifying effect of partnering their spirit with the Holy Spirit in tongues.  In partnership with the Holy Spirit, our spirits praise, magnify and glorify the God in whose presence is the fullness of joy.  These expressions of our delight in God allow superhuman joy to flood our feelings and our thoughts.  Depression loses its grip on our hearts and minds and “in all our troubles [our] joy knows no bounds.”

Self edification isn’t selfish. The Lord who placed us in ministry edifies us by his presence so we can edify others by his power.  Let’s return to the primary purpose of tongues and use our spirits in communing with the God who depends on us to bless people.

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

May I suggest my book Demystifying Speaking in Tongues if you would like to learn more about this gift from our Heavenly Father.  Click here to order it for $5.00 plus shipping and handling.

Returning to the Primary Purpose of Tongues Read More »

Identifying the Spirit of Antichrist

Open BibleThe Bible predicts a miraculous event commonly referred to as the rapture. “We who are.. .alive.. .will be caught up.. .to meet the Lord in the air,” 1 Thessalonians 4:17. However, this catching away of God’s people does not shield us from the many anti-Jesus deceptions present in the world today.

Scripture predicts a world government headed by a man called Antichrist. Before this evil person arrives on earth, “Many antichrists [will] come. This is how we know it is the last hour,” 1 John 2:18. Let’s consider Jesus’ warnings regarding deceptions advanced by the spirit of antichrist:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many,” Matthew 24:4-5.

“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets
will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it,” Matthew 24:23-26.

We must learn to identify the spirit of antichrist who currently stalks planet earth!

BIbleFirst Declaration Made by the Spirit of Antichrist: The Bible Isn’t God’s Word

Every person and every group controlled by the spirit of antichrist claims that the Bible is merely a book written by humans. This assertion isn’t surprising.  In Genesis 3 the supreme deceiver attacked the validity of God’s Word. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

First, Satan insinuated doubt about God’s Words: “Did God really say?” Second, Satan distorted God’s Word: “You must not eat from any tree in the garden.” God actually said to Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” Genesis 2:16-17.

Genesis 3 exposes the pattern the spirit of antichrist always uses—deny the Bible is God’s Word and distort it. What does the Bible say about itself?

“The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16 ).

“I wrote for them the many things of my law” (Hosea 8:12).

“Jesus replied.. .These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

“Every Scripture is God-breathed—given by his inspiration” (2 Timothy 3:16 Amplified).

“These are the true words of God” (Revelation 19:9).

“He who was seated on the throne saidthese words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5).

God handpicked various men who served as his co-laborers in recording Scripture. “Understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” 2 Peter 1:20-21.

In summary, Scripture is the reliable Word of the Creator of the Universe. There is no writing from either ancient or present times remotely equivalent to Scripture. Therefore, everyone who declares their word equals Scripture is of the spirit of antichrist. Everyone who changes the meaning of Scripture is under the control of the spirit of antichrist. Scripture means what it says and says what it means.

Second Declaration Made by the Spirit of Antichrist: Jesus is not God in a Human Body

 Verses in 1st and 2nd John clearly expose another deceptive teaching of the spirit of antichrist.

“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. The spirit of the antichrist…even now is already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3).

“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 1:7).

Jesus’ humanity is absolutely essential to God’s plan for creation. In the man Christ Jesus, heavenly Father exalted a human to lordship over all things. When we repent of our sins and submit to Jesus’ lordship, we participate in Jesus’ exaltation. “God…seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6. The Spirit of antichrist hates this because our enthronement dethrones him!

The spirit of antichrist always alleges that Scripture is not God’s Word and Jesus isn’t God’s Son. Each teaching depends on the other. If Scripture is invalid, then Jesus’ claims to deity are untrue. Conversely, if Jesus’ words are unreliable, then Scripture is undependable. Every human is free to determine truth. Basically this teaching goes back to Satan’s lie in Genesis 3:5, “You will be like God.”

 Satan desires equality with God. In reality, he regards equality as superiority to God. In the same way, the spirit of antichrist seeks to elevate its teachings above Scripture. This so-called superior teaching downgrades Jesus to a mere mortal like every other human. For example, a Hindu can easily fit Jesus into his pantheon of innumerable gods; Jesus is just a good teacher who lived about 2,000 years ago.

During these days of rampant deception, we trust “him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and great joy,” Jude 24.

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields


Identifying the Spirit of Antichrist Read More »

Bible Names that Describe the Jesus in You

Hand Made Heart

The Spirit of Jesus lives in every human who surrenders themselves to his lordship.  “Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit,” 1 Corinthians 6:17.  We do not become Jesus and Jesus doesn’t become us.  However, his dynamic life imparts life to our spirits which were formerly dead because of sin!  When Jesus’ Spirit moves into our dead human spirit, we experience what Scripture calls the “new birth.”

Isaiah 9:6 lists several descriptive names to the Jesus who lives in us.  Knowing these names builds our faith in his commitment to helping us.  Our reliance on his help builds our confidence in our ability to live victoriously no matter what goes on around us.  Instead of succumbing to defeat, discouragement, hopelessness or confusion, we stand fast with confidence in the Jesus who dwells in us.

The Jesus in Us is “Wonderful” (Isaiah 9:6)

The Hebrew word for wonderful means “a miracle, miraculous thing, a wonder or great.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) All these adjectives describe the Jesus who moved into your spirit the moment of your new birth!  The word impossible never deters Jesus from doing or being anything.  “All things are possible with God,” Mark 10:27. “With God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.  

“Wonderful” means to be full of wonders.  “Wonders” exceeds human comprehension and therefore are inexplicable; wonders are extraordinary or superior to the usual.  Well, since all things are possible with God, we can afford to go beyond our human understanding and expect better than the best and more than the most.

When Delores and I chose to leave a very prosperous church we had pastored for 15 years, move to Houston and prepare for ministry in Southeast Asia, we needed miracles.  Approximately two weeks after moving to Houston, I woke up one morning about 1 a.m.  I couldn’t sleep—I was terrified.  What had I done?  How did I ever expect to make it to Southeast Asia without a national mission’s department supporting us?  Since I couldn’t sleep, I arose, walked to our living room, sat on the couch and began worrying.  Worry was conquering me that morning, but the Lord, the Wonderful Counselor, asked me a question.  “Are you going to live by my promises or your explanations?”  I thought about the question for a while and then looked up and said to the Lord, “I am going to live by your promises and not my explanations.”  Total peace immediately enveloped me.  I returned to bed, slept the rest of the night and the rest is history.  We not only ministered in several Southeast Asian countries, but also pastored in Japan.

Friend, I don’t know what miracle you need. I can’t imagine the disappointment you feel.  But I can recommend that you turn your attention to the God of wonders who lives in you.  Quit trying to figure life out and depend on the Spirit of Jesus who lives in you to perform miracles for you and your family.  He appointed you a winner, not a loser!

The Jesus in Us is “Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6)

The God who created the first humans immediately began counseling them about life.  Counsel” means “to warn, instruct, admonish, and guide.”

In the biographical sketches of Jesus, he is often referred to as teacher.  In fact, Jesus was the ultimate Teacher whose instructions guide us, warn us and cheer our hearts.  Not only does Jesus counsel us through the Holy Spirit, but he provided the Bible for us.  This book offers direction from our Creator which shields us from falsehood and keeps us on the path of divine truth.  Jesus’ words in John 14:6 are so reassuring.  “I am the…truth…. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Notice that Jesus did not say, “I teach the truth,” but, “I am truth.”  He is the personification of eternal divine truth!

We rest in Jesus!  Every human teaching that disagrees with Jesus is a lie.  Every human teaching that substitutes anything for Jesus is wicked.  So, we rest in the Jesus who is the embodiment of truth, eternal truth that doesn’t change according to convenience or selfish ambition.  Everything we need for victory lies in Jesus, the wonderful Counselor!

The Jesus in Us is “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6)

Humans find it so easy to concentrate on personal weaknesses.  That’s understandable since we are so prone to every kind of emotional, physical, spiritual and all other types of deficiencies.

But the Jesus who moves into our spirits is “mighty God.” True, our Lord Jesus surrendered himself to human weakness and died a horrible death.  But he was raised from the dead and seated at heavenly Father’s right hand!  There is no frailty whatsoever in the man Christ Jesus whose Spirit lives in us.

Listen to what Scripture says about God’s children.  Through Jesus “we are more than conquerors” in everything that happens to us. (Romans 8:37).   The Spirit of the Ruler of the universe brought his conquering power into God’s children.  He is undefeatable so we are winners because of his presence in us.

While in prison the apostle Paul declared, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” Philippians 4:13.  Can you imagine that?  A prisoner of the Roman Empire saying he can do everything?  Paul’s words “through him” are the key to this seemingly absurd statement.  However, Paul’s declaration is not absurd because it stands on the “mighty God” whose Spirit indwelt Paul’s human spirit.  Guess what?  You can make the same statement about yourself.  You are God’s child because the Spirit of Jesus dwells in you.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so train yourself to expect to be a winner! (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The Jesus in Us is “Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus is not heavenly Father and heavenly Father is not Jesus.  They are two different persons of the Trinity which includes heavenly Father, Christ Jesus and Holy Spirit.  But in Isaiah 9:6, “father” refers to Jesus as the Provider, the Guardian and the Creator of everything.  Colossians 1:16 points out, “By [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created through him and for him.”  Heavenly Father, eternal Christ and Holy Spirit worked as a unit bringing creation into being.

As Creator of everything, the eternal Christ Jesus is “sustaining all things by his powerful word,” Hebrews 1:3.  Like any faithful father, the everlasting Jesus watches over us, blesses us, protects us, guides us, comforts us and carries out God’s will in us and through us.  He cannot and will not let us down because “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Matthew 28:18.   This “everlasting Father” promises that “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.  Therefore, the presence of this “everlasting Father” in us fills us with the boldness to proclaim, “the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid,” Hebrews 13:6.  Praise be to the Lord who is our victory!

The Jesus in Us is “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)

The Hebrew word for “prince” refers to “a head person, captain or chief, a ruler.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) So the inner peace that God plants in us cannot be taken from us by anyone or anything in the universe.  Jesus is Prince, Head Person, Captain or Chief Ruler of peace in us.  No enemy of our indwelling peace can overcome our Prince of Peace!  He always wins and cannot lose.  His presence equips us with a peace that does not originate in us or around us.  This peace is beyond human comprehension because this peace is the Person Christ Jesus!  He doesn’t change, he isn’t unreliable because Jesus “is the same yesterday and today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8.

These Bible names that describe the Jesus in us fill us with superhuman ability to stand strong in all circumstances!

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

Bible Names that Describe the Jesus in You Read More »

A Concise Picture of Earth’s Future

God watching over earth

The Bible contains hundreds of predictions about the future of planet earth and humanity.  To write these predictions, God personally selected individuals in whom he placed his Holy Spirit.  United with these human spirits, the Holy Spirit accurately foretold many events.  These forecasts are normally called prophecies.

Three Men God Chose

Bible prophecy can only be understood if we appreciate three men God selected for His purposes.

Abraham was a regular heathen who knew nothing about the true God, the Creator of heaven and earth.  Nevertheless, God broke through Abram’s ignorance and began revealing himself to this ordinary human.  Genesis 12: 1-3 records:

“The Lord had said to Abram, leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

After Abraham passed away God spoke to his son, Isaac:

“The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, ‘I will be with you and will bless you.  For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham….  Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,’” Genesis 26:2-4.

On one occasion the Lord appeared to Isaac’s son Jacob and declared:

“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.  I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying; your descendants will be like the dust of the earth….All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring,” Genesis 28:13-14. 

In view of all these promises, we understand that God’s commitment to Israel isn’t based upon the Jewish people.  God’s commitment to Israel is based on his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.   But the Jewish Jesus is God’s instrument for reaching out to everyone of each race and nationality.  Therefore, our hope for humanity’s survival and salvation includes hope for all mankind.    Let’s look at a concise picture of earth’s future as recorded in the book of Jeremiah chapter 30.

The re-establishment of the nation Israel

In about 606 BC the prophet Jeremiah spoke for the Lord and predicted, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers,’ says the Lord,” Jeremiah 30:3.

In the year 70 AD the Roman Empire crushed the little nation of Israel.  The Jewish people were dispersed over the face of the earth and remained a scattered people until the year 1948.  In that year the United Nations re-established Israel as an independent nation.

The birth of modern-day Israel represents an absolutely huge step forward in God’s plan for mankind.  God always keeps his promises!  “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill,” Numbers 23:19?  The promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will certainly come to pass and all humanity will benefit from God’s faithfulness to his Word!

A Time of Terrible Trouble for Israel

Most people and nations hate Israel.  This animosity springs out of mankind’s hatred of the Creator.  This abhorrence will not decrease but intensify as time passes.  The prophet Jeremiah referred to this worldwide hatred of Israel as “a time of trouble for Jacob,” Jeremiah 30:7  (The name “Jacob” in prophecy is synonymous with the word “Israel”).   This “time of trouble for Jacob” will be awful beyond description.

Sinful humans find it easy to blame God for earth’s problems.  “If God is good why does he allow bad things to happen?” they shout.  In reality, God is not the author of confusion, tragedy and heartache.  He instituted the law of cause and effect at creation.  Consequently, the angry rejection of the loving Maker of everything causes unpleasant effects that create unimaginable trouble on planet earth.  So, mankind’s rejection of the Lord brought about the immeasurable pain that humanity has endured.

As we watch world news, we witness mankind’s march toward total loathing of our loving Creator.  This rebellion culminates in what Scripture calls the battle of Armageddon.  Armageddon is a location in Israel where Satan and his earthly partners “gather the kings together,” Revelation 16:16.  At this time, Israel is almost annihilated.  “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it;….Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city,” Zechariah 14:2.  As the armies of the Antichrist exult in the destruction of Israel, Jesus appears in the heavens.  His armies obliterate the followers of Satan and the armies of Antichrist!  Israel is almost destroyed, but not quite, because Jesus is faithful to his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Beginning Is at Hand

There is no such thing as the end of the world.  Yes, mankind will almost be eliminated from planet earth, but not before Jesus rescues heavenly Father’s plan for human beings.  Bible prophecy never predicts the annihilation of God’s work.  It predicts a wonderful change for planet earth, but this change is a beginning, not an ending.  A brighter future awaits mankind!

Be greatly encouraged,

Pastor James Fields

A Concise Picture of Earth’s Future Read More »