Monthly Archives: May 2015

God Loves Us

But without faith it is impossible to please(to have thankful joy, for Him to have thankful joy) him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

So often in sermons we are reminded that we didn’t earn salvation and I don’t disagree with that at all. God, however, would not want us to wallow in our in our plight, rather the emphasis should be on believing who God is and trust in His magnificent ability to love us. That is what faith is. That is what Hebrews 11 is all about!

It is not God who constantly reminds us of our unworthiness. It is not God who pushes fear in our face every time we turn around. He is not the one whispering in your ear “What if?” God is always ready to be there for us, we just have to look in His direction for the answers instead of some place else. We run into trouble when we look to the world for answers or even try to rely on our own introspection for handling things.There are many things we do easily using the brain we have. However, we can be our own worst enemy at times due to blind spots in our thinking.The light of God’s word alerts us to those things when we face Him squarely and love Him.

The apostle Paul was by the world’s standards back in his time, a very successful man. Then one day he realized he was the wrong side of God. I’m sure when he thought of some of the horrible things he did once he woke up, thoughts of self-hate and condemnation probably tried to grab him back away from God (Check out Romans 7). He had to learn to disown his past mentally and stand up for the freedom and grace he was being offered.

Self-hate and condemnation don’t originate with God. They are the tools of the devil. we can become downright monsters if we allow them to dominate our lives. Romans 8 has a lot to say about staying out of their grasp. If you are struggling with those thoughts, slap Hebrews 11:6 on your mirror and remind yourself to trust the God who is real and that He can help you with that problem. If you doubt that read Romans 5:6-8.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

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Manifestation of the Spirit of God

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:7-11)

Recently we celebrated Pentecost (actually we celebrate it everyday). After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the gift of holy spirit was and is poured out to every person who makes Jesus Christ Lord and believes in his resurrection. What is the point of the above verses? God wants every man enabled with His power. That is important to repeat! God wants every man enabled with His power!

In verse 7, Paul explains that holy spirit has profitable uses. The language is a little misleading starting in verse 8 because it says ‘for to one is given’. It sounds like one gift is given to one person and another gift is given to someone else. The ‘for to one’ is actually referring to the ‘profit’ in verse 7. This list is a list of the profits of the holy spirit to an individual person.

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Utterance, Revelation, Impartation

In reality, any person in which the gift of holy spirit is energized will probably exhibit more than one of these benefits in any one situation, not just one.  Word of knowledge(what is going on) and word of wisdom(what to do about it) are often needed at the same time. Discerning of spirits (separating out the good and the bad) may also be involved and with all that going on, miracles, healing and faith (energized beyond ordinary believing) enter into the mix. So to say that one person operates one manifestation and another person operates another is not accurate. God energizes the spirit in a way that gets the job done. He could involve two people (we don’t dare put God in a box), but all nine profits are available to each individual.

Holy spirit in our lives is as simple as breathing. Man has mystified, elevated and complicated God’s gracious entrance to our lives by dissecting, separating and isolating it into pieces. Spirit comes from God. It is His very essence (John 4:24). Sometimes we work so hard at hearing from God that we can’t see how simple it is. God’s word is quick and powerful and cuts through anything. Sometimes it takes us some time to get it because of all the noise in our space, but when we get quiet and deliberately await God’s solution, answers are forthcoming, sometimes in a split second.

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Strong In The Grace

II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

So often when I read this verse,  I considered ‘grace’ as something having to do with ‘never forgetting how God changed my heart’ so that I could better help others. I perceived ‘grace’ as kindness. There is so much more to this verse, starting with being ’empowered by grace that is in Christ Jesus’. Christ Jesus is a messianic title. To engage the risen Christ in our lives is a powerful concept. Of course we are changed! What changed Paul on the road to Damascus? What he experienced was dramatic!

Grace is empowering. Grace is about what God has done or is doing, not what we have done. That is what we help others with.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

What is clear in Romans is that grace is free from merit. God is absolutely amazing! Jesus Christ had to believe in God’s grace to do what he did. When he stepped in front of the 5000, the sanhedrin, the woman at the well, or prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and hung ultimately on the tree (cross), he knew God would empower him. He exemplified power and authority everywhere he went.

The world is not an easy place, that was determined a long time ago as recorded in Genesis 3, however God provided another way:

8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the workS of the devil. (I John 3:8)

The devil loves ‘works’. He is not about imparting ‘grace’. Grace is free. The devil is all about obligation. Anything the evil gives has a price. God has paid that one all time price of error in Genesis 3 through Jesus Christ , the second Adam. It is done, finished and overwith for those who choose to believe. That is what we simply and freely have to share with others.

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Balaam

In Numbers 22, Balaam is introduced. As the children of Israel approached the land that God promised to them, some of the people who had heard about them were concerned. Balak, who was a Moabite, sent for a man noted to be a diviner, named Balaam, to curse the people coming into their land.

Balaam is an interesting character. He must have recognized God in that God told him not to curse the Israelites. In fact God told Balaam to not go with the men from Balak. The men from Balak came back and promised more (Numbers 22:17) and Balaam went back to God to see if God changed his mind. He should have told them to go back where they came from, but Balaam was interested in what they could provide.  God could not make Balaam send them away and Balaam had free will choice to do whatever he wanted. God did what he could to convince him even using his donkey to try to knock some sense into him.

Balaam was drawn by his greed to tweak what God had said for his own benefit. He never did curse Israel but he did some other things that would cause the Israelites some problems.  He  helped Balak find a way to lure the Israelites to go against themselves.

16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Number 31:16

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. Revelations 2:14

Balaam may have thought the fabrication of his mind in achieving his fame and fortune would bring him great blessings, but he ended up being drowned in the mire of worldly greed.

It is a great lesson for us. Sometimes we push the envelope on what we ‘imagine’ would be godly blessings and direction for ourselves. ‘Imagination’ (images that exert pressure) could involve something less than God’s standard. Staying humble to God and His word, living in thankfulness for how He continues to love us and staying flexible and receptive to Him are key components for living above the fray. These actions are also great indicators where our mind is at to ourselves.

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Happy Another’s Day

What if there was a day where a moratorium was called for individuals, groups, the press, the media, politicians, and yup, even religious institutions, where people stopped insisting, persuading, judging, reading into another’s behavior, rebelling against, condescending to or ascending to or excluding? It would be a day of patience, understanding, and love. It would be miraculous!

There are a lot of ways to learn patience, understanding and love. Today is Mother’s Day. Mother’s have an opportunity to learn a lot of good things in life, but so do nurses, caregivers, firemen, teachers, public servants who really serve, ministering types, and people who are in professions to help and encourage people. There are plenty of opportunities for lessons in living to go around.

Patience can be tough; we are not born with it. We are not omniscient about everything that is going on in other’s lives; understanding has to be learned. We are not perfect nor is anyone else; so love can be challenging.

 Most pressure comes from people. Think about it. How much angst does a tree or a rock or a petunia represent? God didn’t send a petunia to save us from ourselves. He sent Jesus Christ who had to be born, fed, trained, grow up, take pressure and live life. He sent a man to show us the way to live. The world treated him not so great and ultimately tortured him to death, but God raised him up to give more by being the head of the ‘church’. It was after his ascension, he became part of the pouring forth of the wonderful gift of holy spirit that we could be strengthened to rightly take care of each other and ourselves with patience, understanding and love.

Romans 5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Happy Another’s Day! 

 

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Paul, An Individual

10385382_10206765472478570_238611597128753149_nThe apostle Paul went through such a drastic change on the road to Damascus (see previous post). He was changed when confronted with the real purpose of Jesus Christ. Today we all don’t necessarily have to fall to the ground because of a light from heaven; but as we understand God’s true intent in Jesus Christ, our lives change direction.

In the book of Galatians, Paul made some interesting statements:

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. (Galatians 1:11-17)

Paul had a lot to unlearn. His background basically rested in a performance, works-orientated theology. His path toward grace from legality no doubt was arduous and soul-searching. He kept it between him and God. Later when he met with the other apostles and leaders, he was given the ‘right hand of fellowship’. They obviously were on the same page having been taught by the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the crisis of circumcision reared it’s head later, Paul was strong and stood on grace principles to even question Peter about his behavior regarding people who advocated circumcision. Peter loved God, but Peter was human, just as Paul was human. This was not a political maneuvering. Every believer develops a relationship with God and learns individually but no one person has all the answers. Each of us can learn from others perspective, but God is ultimately the sun that shines in each our lives.

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