What is Your Motivation to Love?

Years ago, there was a song that talked about how people look for love in all the wrong places. Actually, some look for love for all the wrong reasons. One lady who was in a marriage that was falling apart because her husband was abusive, told me that the only reason she fell in love with her husband was because she was on the “rebound.” Getting married on the rebound is a direct result of fear. We should never attempt to love because of fear. Love should be based on faith.

Over the years, I’ve met many couples that were brought together for the wrong reasons. Depression, jealousy, and manipulation are all grounded in fear and based on control.

Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” Titus 2:4 says that young women are to love their husbands and to love their children. Hebrews 10:24 says that we should consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. Yes, we must love, but we must love in faith and not by the spirit of fear.

Faith is associated with love in the same way that fear is associated with hate. The description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is also a description of faith. Faith is kind and does not envy. Faith does not parade itself. Faith is not puffed up and is not rude. Faith is not self-serving and is not easily provoked. Faith does not dwell on evil and does not rejoice in someone else’s failure. Faith believes, hopes, and endures. Faith never fails.

The opposite of faith is fear. Fear is not patient and is unkind. Fear walks in envy and parades itself. Fear is rude, self-seeking, and easily provoked. Fear is evil and rejoices in sin and despises the truth. Fear does not believe, has no hope, and will never endure. Fear always fails.

So what is your motivation to love? Is it based on faith or is it founded on fear? True love and faith are eternal and nothing can overpower them.

Devotion 0376

Four Building Blocks of Faith

When we study faith in the Word of God, we find many truths.

First, we find that, according to the Bible, faith is required to be saved. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

Secondly, faith is required to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says,“Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”

Then we find that the prayer of faith will heal the sick. James 5:15 says, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.”

Next, we find that a man who doesn’t pray in faith shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”

We discover that according to Romans 14:23, anything that is not of faith is sin.

We find in Hebrews 4:2 that the gospel did not profit some who heard the gospel because they did not mix it with faith in their hearts.

Also John 5:4 says that “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.”

With these verses we found that:

1) We are saved by faith.

2) We are healed by faith.

3) We need faith to please God.

4) If we don’t pray in faith, we shouldn’t expect to receive anything.

5) Anything that is not of faith is sin.

6) The gospel is only profitable to those who mix it with faith.

7) Faith is our victory that overcomes the world.

Too often ministers tell us what we need without telling us how to get it. So, with this in mind, I would like to give you briefly the four building blocks of faith.

Building Block #1

We must know that God cannot lie.

This is the most important fact concerning faith. If we believe that it is remotely possible that God could lie, then doubt exists. Where there is doubt, there is no faith. Only by believing that God cannot lie can we trust Him completely. Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 both tell us that it is impossible for God to lie and that is the first building block of faith.

Building Block #2

We must know the Word of God.

If we believe that God does not lie and only speaks truth, then we must know what it is He says. We find this by reading His Word, the Holy Bible. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

Building Block #3

We must speak the Word of God.

Jesus said we are to speak to the mountain (Mark 11:23). According to the Bible, our words are to contain faith. Jesus didn’t think to the storm to calm it, He spoke to it (Mark 4:39).

Building Block #4

We must act on the Word of God.

James 1:22 says that those who hear the Word and do not do it deceive themselves and James 2:17 says that “faith without works is dead.”

So, it’s this way. To have faith we must believe God, know what He said in His Word, speak the Word, and act on what we speak.

That’s faith.

Devotion 0043

How to Stop

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17 NLT)

Years ago, a young high school boy sat in my office. He was hurting. He had just returned from the doctor and was told that he had cancer in his mouth. Even though he was young, he had been chewing tobacco for years. He knew he should quit chewing, he wanted to quit chewing, but he did not quit chewing and developed cancer. He needed deliverance from cancer.

While it is true that God is our Deliverer, He also empowers us with His grace so that we can implement the preventive maintenance necessary to prevent destruction. Simply put, God could have empowered this young man to quit his cancer-causing habit so that the deadly disease never would have developed.

Sadly, the young man could not stop chewing on his own and he did not understand that God’s help was available. In the same way that God can miraculously heal us, He can also miraculously deliver us from the habits that cause destruction.

In Hosea 4:6, God says that His people perish because of a lack of knowledge. It is a lack of knowledge of the principles of God that causes destruction in the lives of many Christians.

When I asked this young man specifically why he didn’t quit using tobacco, he said, “I have prayed and prayed and prayed and asked God to take the tobacco away, but He just didn’t do it.” He was blaming God, but it wasn’t God’s fault.

The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh.” He said that “the thorn” was a messenger, or angel, sent from Satan to torment him. He went on to say that he asked God three times to remove this thorn, and God didn’t do it. Instead, God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

To remove “the thorn” from your life, God will tell you the same thing He told Paul. His grace is sufficient for you. God will empower you with His power and His ability so that you (not He) can defeat the addictions of life. Even though it may seem like drugs, tobacco, pornography, overeating, etc. has you by the throat, it is possible to be set free.

Make the decision to rebuke the enemy with the authority Jesus gave you. Stand on the Word that says that you can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you and you will overcome the thorn in your life.

Everything we receive must be received by faith. God’s Word is pregnant with promises of deliverance. When you find them, believe in your heart they are personally for you, receive God’s empowerment (grace), and you will discover that you can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you.

Scripture References:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NKJV).

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NKJV).

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

Devotion 0468

Unconditional Belief Produces Miracles

Once I asked a Christian man if he believed a certain verse in the Bible. To my surprise, he commented that he would have to read it first and let me know later. Isn’t that amazing? Why would a Christian have to read a verse before deciding whether or not he believed it?

God’s Word is true. Not just a verse of it, not just a chapter, not just a book, but all of it – the whole Bible is true. Yet we must believe God’s Word and act on it in order for it to be effective in our lives.

Years ago when I was pastor of a denominational church, a man counseled with me that he loved his wife. He said that he loved her with all of his heart and that there would never be anyone else he could ever love the way he loved his wife. The problem was he didn’t act like it. All of his actions were opposite of the way he said he felt. The result was she left him.

In the spiritual realm, things are much the same. We must not say we believe in God and His Word and then act like we don’t. We must believe and act on His Word. That’s what we call faith. It is being hypocritical when we say we believe but do not act like we believe.

No one likes a liar. No one wants to be a liar. But when we say we believe but act like we don’t, we are liars.

Jesus said in John 8:31-32 that if we would abide in His Word, then we would be His disciples and we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. In other words, in order to be set free, we must know the truth.

Without getting into a deep study of the Greek language, let me say this. The word know used in this passage for “know the truth” is ginosko. This doesn’t mean knowing with your head only. It’s not talking about intellectual knowledge. It means to be one with the truth, to be so intimate with the truth that it is actually a part of you. When the truth is that much a part of you, you will instinctively act on it. When we do this, we are acting on the Word of God and when we do that, we get results. This is what the Bible calls “walking by faith,” and that pleases God (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Little children believe the Word of God so easily. Probably that’s because they have nothing to unlearn.

A few years ago, a missionary friend of mine returned to the United States with some exciting stories. In the continent where he was preaching, most of the people had never heard of Jesus. They had never been exposed to missionaries and because of this, they had to be taught the basics of God and His Word as a child would be taught.

In sharing his testimony, the missionary said that literally thousands of people were accepting Jesus and some great miracles had taken place. He said the blind regained their sight, the lame walked, and a man had been raised from the dead.

It was at that point someone looked at him and said, “That is really hard to believe.” The missionary looked back and made a statement I’ll never forget. He said, “You find it hard to believe? That, my friend, is why you haven’t seen it.” How right he was.

Devotion 0029

Winning Words Create Winners

Let me ask you something. How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as a victorious person, able to conquer the problems of the world? Do you see yourself as an overcomer?

There’s an old hymn that says, “I’m just a poor old sinner, saved by grace.” This song has a nice old melody and the words sound really religious. The only problem is the words are not completely true. A partial truth always sounds good and sometimes even very religious. But only the whole truth sets us free (John 8:32).

Yes, before you were a Christian you were a poor old sinner, and when you accepted Jesus, you were saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), but once you became a Christian you became redeemed. You became victorious and, according to the Bible, you became more than a conqueror “through Him who loved [you]” (Romans 8:37). Jesus became our redeemer. He made a way of escape from poverty, sickness, and spiritual death.

However, some Christians don’t understand that we have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). They accept sickness and poverty as part of life. This should not be. We have been set free from the curse of the law. We need to start acting like it. We need to quit speaking the lie and speak the truth. We’re not “just poor old sinners.” We are the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Before we were Christians, we had a debt. Unless this debt was paid, we could never have everlasting life. But the problem was we could not pay the debt. It required a perfect sacrifice. We were not perfect. So, our debt was impossible to pay.

But then Jesus came to earth as a man and died in our place. He took stripes on His body for our sicknesses. He redeemed us. He paid the debt we could not pay.

So, when we become a Christian, we receive all the benefits of a paid-up account. We have health and prosperity available. Now, I’m not saying that there will never be problems, but what I am saying is this. We don’t have to be diseased and in poverty. The problems can be solved. Remember, Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law.

We are victorious. Jesus has defeated Satan and we, as Christians, are the body of Christ. We are not only on the winning side, but we are also on the side that has already won.

Unfortunately, there are many good Christians who see themselves as beat down and defeated. Why? It’s because they believe the lies of the devil.

Several years ago, my son was on the state championship football team. One thing you can always spot on a championship team is this — they believe that they are winners. A winning team is always filled with the belief that they can come in first. The coach must be an encourager. He must constantly build up the boys and keep them looking toward the goal.

A different coach could take this same team and instead of encouraging them, he could discourage them. How would he do that? He would do it with his words. The only thing required to take a winning team and make it a losing team is to start speaking losing words. The more the words are heard, the more the team will believe. And a team that believes they are losers will be losers.

That’s what Satan tries to do to the believer. He says, “You’re a loser.” He says, “You can’t be healed.” He says, “You can’t be prosperous.” He says, “You’re just a poor old sinner, saved by grace.”

Read the first two chapters of Ephesians and you’ll discover who you are in Christ. You are victorious!

Devotion 0111

Enough is Enough

Your life can change. You can change. Things do not have to be the way they have always been. But as you well know, as long as you keep believing and saying what you’ve always believed and said, you will continue to have what you’ve always had. “Nothing is going to change until something changes.”

God is the God of change. Even though He remains the same throughout eternity, He sent Jesus so that we would no longer have to be the way we’ve always been and so that things could be different.

There was a time when there was no hope. When things looked bad, things were bad. And the only hope for people was that somehow, they could survive the attacks of the enemy. But because God loved us so much, He sent His Son and through the birth, death, and resurrection of His Son, we now have hope. And we can have a life of victory (Isaiah 9:2).

Too many people are living their lives in just a day-to-day existence. Each day they do what they have to do. For many, the days are filled with loneliness, regret, pain, and suffering. But what is even worse is when victory is available, but it’s not known or accessed.

God has called men and women everywhere to preach the Good News. He wants the world to know that pain and suffering is not necessary. He wants the world to know that there is hope. He wants you to know that tomorrow can be better than today (Psalm 119:114).

I’ve been writing articles, devotionals, and books for many years. I have thousands of subscribers to my daily devotional. But I don’t write because I feel compelled to be writer; I am compelled by the Spirit of God to proclaim every single day of my life that there is hope for those who feel hopeless. There is no day off from this drive that God has put in me. And God has put millions of people on this earth with the same drive. The purpose is this. He wants to get His message out that there is hope.

So, when things seem like there is no hope, just remember that if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to have what you’ve always had. “Nothing is going to change until something changes.” Today, you can decide to make a change. Today, draw a line in the sand and say, “What the devil stole from me, he will steal no more! I am turning to the source of my victory — which is Jesus Christ, the Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If nothing is going to change until something changes, then I am going to change something today. I declare today I am going to change what I say.”

As I said earlier, even though God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and is consistent throughout eternity, He is the God of change, and you can change. But just because you can change, it doesn’t mean you will change. Unless you change, everything will stay the same.

This is the time to stand up and say, “Enough is enough. I do not want my tomorrow to be like my yesterday. Today I choose to believe what God says and because I believe what God says, I will say what God says. God’s Word changes things. Because I am speaking and proclaiming God’s Word, my life will change. Instead of defeat, I will have victory. Instead of depression, I will have joy. Instead of death, I will have life. Instead of stress, I will have peace. My life will be full of the things of God because I choose to speak the Word of God.”

So, how do we know what to say? The answer is quite simple. God’s will and desire and His plan for us is found in the Holy Scriptures. His Word contains His promises to us. God said that we were to remind Him of His Word (Isaiah 43:26). That’s because His Word is not automatic. The promises are written, but we receive them when they are believed and spoken (Romans 10:17).

So today, make the commitment to change your vocabulary and speak the promise instead of the problem. Regardless of how dark your past has been, you will step into the light of God’s blessing.

Devotion 0586

How Do I Become a Christian?

I received this nice letter from a young lady who asked a very important question.

Dear Brother Ollison,

I have never met you, but I know who you are. I believe you can help me with my question. I have been wanting to know how I can be a Christian so I will go to heaven someday. My real mother is there, and I know she was a Christian. Everyone tells me to listen in church, but I get so confused. The preachers talk about what to do when you are a Christian, but I want to know how to be one. Can you tell me?

Yes, I can! Becoming a Christian is not difficult. It’s not my intention to give you a formula, but in order to keep things orderly, I’m going to list the requirements.

First, you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that God raised Him from the dead. This is the basis of our Christian faith.

One thing to remember here is that Jesus was not created by God and sent to the earth as a man. Jesus has always existed with God and in actuality is a part of God.

In the book of John, chapter one, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

Second, you must repent of your sins. Repent means to turn away from your sins and stop doing them. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The payment for sin is death, but when you accept Jesus and repent of your sins, you receive eternal life. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You must confess your sins and repent of them.

Third, you must publicly acknowledge you have accepted Jesus. Being a Christian is not a hidden thing. It is not something that you do once and then deny the rest of your life. Becoming a Christian is a lifestyle. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Did you catch that? It doesn’t say “Believe in your heart and you will be saved.” It says, “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Jesus said, – “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” We cannot hide our belief in Jesus.

Fourth, by faith you must accept the gift of salvation that God has given to you. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” And John 1:12 says “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”

To accept Jesus, pray this prayer from your heart.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come in the Name of Jesus. I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, into this world to die for my sins and for raising Him from the dead so that I can have everlasting life.

I recognize and acknowledge Jesus as my Savior and as the Lord of my life. I repent of my sins, and I forgive those who have wronged me. I believe in my heart, and I will confess openly my belief in Jesus.

Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and giving me eternal life. I receive this gift by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Devotion 0095

He Disarmed Principalities and Powers

In the beginning, Jesus was with God. At the time of creation, He was there. Everything that was made was made through Him and then to make the point as clear as possible, the Word tells us that nothing was created without it being created by Jesus (John 1:1-3).

Then in the fullness of time, Jesus came to earth and conquered the darkness that had overtaken it. The Bible says that the Light, Jesus, came to earth and the darkness in the earth, Satan, did not overpower Him. Jesus became the victor. He became our champion.

Jesus defeated the prince of darkness and took back the authority that Adam had surrendered through his disobedience to God. (Genesis 3.) Jesus then made a public display of the demonic powers: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). Satan and his demonic hosts were not only defeated, but they were humiliated publicly.

Satan is the most prideful being in existence. He has done and is doing all he can to cover his tracks. Jesus said in John 8:44 that Satan is a liar. Like most liars, when he gets caught doing something wrong, he blames someone else. Guilt and condemnation are tools of the devil. He reminds me of a criminal who tries to get as many others implicated in the crime as possible.

Now, here’s the point. When Jesus came to earth as a man, He was executed and buried. Although He was buried and in the grave, He overcame death and came back to life on the third day. By doing this, He defeated Satan and made a way of escape for you and for me. All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Satan, on the other hand, will do everything within his power to blind the eyes of the lost so they will not accept Jesus.

For the Christian, however, Satan has a special plan. He knows that one Spirit-filled Christian, hearing and doing the Word, can deal a severe blow to his kingdom. He knows he only has one hope and that is to confuse and distract Christians. When we become distracted from the Word, then our faith is in peril. God loves faith, but Satan hates it, and he will try to destroy it anyway he can.

Now, here’s the good news. We do not have to listen to the lies and deception of Satan. Jesus defeated him. Romans 8:37 says that as Christians we are “more than conquerors through [Jesus] who loved us.”

So when Satan attacks you with guilt and condemnation, just remember that he is a liar, and he is defeated. Jesus conquered him and we who are in Christ are more than conquerors!

Devotion 0045

Light Always Overpowers Darkness

“God is light” is a very interesting truth (1 John 1:5).

We know that light travels at the speed of 299,792,458 meters per second or 186,282 miles per second. That’s faster than most people can comprehend. But let me ask you this. How fast does darkness travel? Well, I’ll tell you. Darkness doesn’t move. It has no light. Darkness only exists where there is no light because light always overpowers darkness.

The apostle John talked about light and darkness in John 1. “In the beginning was the Word [referring to Jesus] and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5).

The Greek word for comprehend (katalambano) could also be translated as overpower. In that case, verse five would read like this: And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overpower it.Once again, we see that light always overpowers darkness.

With that in mind, remember that Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” And He said in verse sixteen, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Again, in John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Now, if you have problems in your life and it seems as though they are about to get you down, remember what Jesus said in John 8:31-32. He said if we would abide in His Word, we would be His disciples and we would know the truth and the truth would make, or set, us free.

Well, the truth is God is light and in Him is no darkness. If you are a born-again believer, then Jesus is within you, and you are light. And the great news is that light always overpowers darkness. Not sometimes, not most of the time, but light always overpowers darkness.

Satan is the prince of darkness. Jesus has already defeated him. The Bible even says that Jesus made a public mockery of him and defeated death (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14). Jesus took authority over darkness, and He has given that authority to all who believe (Luke 10:19).

Remember this today. If you are a Christian and you are being attacked by darkness, just let your light shine. Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4), and “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

If you are not a Christian and the prince of darkness is attacking you, you only have one hope and that is Jesus. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior and you will have the light of God within you. Then you can walk in the light.

The bottom line is this: God is light. And, according to Jesus, we as Christians are light–and light always overpowers darkness.

Devotion 0012

The Silk Scarf and the Leather Jacket

When I was in junior high school in the early sixties, one of the coolest things a guy could have was a white silk scarf to wear with his leather jacket. Well, I was “lookin’ cool” in my new white silk scarf. It was a gift, and I was proud of it. I was in eighth grade, and I knew all the girls thought I looked good. I was tall and very, very thin. I had lots of hair and big feet. I must have looked like a Q-tip, but I still felt like I looked good. After all, who wouldn’t with a white silk scarf around his neck?

Each day after school I would stand outside waiting for my bus to arrive. I liked standing outside – just me and my scarf. We both looked good.

Then, one day it happened. A ninth grader, who had a black leather jacket but didn’t have a scarf, came up to me and told me how much he liked my scarf. Then he knocked me down and took it. I was mad, but he was big, so I did nothing. For weeks I watched him as he wore my scarf openly at school. He was big and strong, and he knew it. I didn’t dare approach him. Deep inside I hated him. Each day the hate grew.

After a while, school was out. He went on to high school and I stayed in junior high. I thought of my scarf from time to time and would think of ways I could hurt him. He humiliated me and took something I loved. He had no right.

Years passed. I went to college, got married, and started growing up. During those early years, I worked as a male nurse at a major hospital in Kansas City. One day one of my patients had a visitor. We stood together in the waiting room. He looked familiar. He looked at me and I looked at him. I could see in his eyes he recognized me. Then I remembered. He was the guy who took my scarf. But something had changed. He was about 5′ 8″ and thin. I was 6′ 4″ and medium build. The tables had turned.

I wanted to hate him, but I couldn’t. I tried to, but the hate just wouldn’t come. The only thing I could do was reach out and shake his hand. He flinched. He must have thought I was going to hit him. I laughed and asked him if he still had the scarf. He was scared to death, but I felt clean. God had removed the hate and love was in its place.

Only God can change hate to love. Only God can remove the darkness inside us and replace it with light. Only God can take a heart that is full of pain and replace it with a heart full of love and peace. Only God can heal the broken heart.

Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” This verse sounds great, and it is true, but we must read God’s Word in context. The next verse says that if we have anything against anyone, we should forgive them, because if we don’t forgive those who have wronged us, we will not be forgiven by God.

Too many people are living their lives under the stress and pressure created by unforgiveness. As a Christian, we have the God-given power to forgive and all it takes is a decision. Even though it looks impossible and even though the hurts may be deep, if we can decide to forgive and step into forgiveness by faith, then God will empower us with His power to do what looks impossible.

If the wounds are deep and the scars are old, don’t believe the lie that you cannot forgive. Believe the truth. Jesus told us in Mark 9:23, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Step out in faith and the impossible will happen.

Devotion 0010

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