Sunday, November 12, 2017

Faith in Deep Water

"Hope itself is like a star; not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, but only to be discovered in the night of adversity." (C.H. Spurgeon)


Are you going through a time of real trial and adversity in your life?

By "real" trial and adversity, I don't mean discontinuing your satellite dish service because the economy stinks. I'm  not talking about the 'sacrifice' of giving up the Range Rover, or your summer house on the lake, because times are tough.

No, I mean real adversity. Crushing trials.

Crushing adversity; such as, your spouse, your child, or your best friend just passed away after a long battle with cancer. Real adversity; such as your wife just dumped you like yesterday's garbage and ran off with another man, leaving you alone with your children. Real trials; such as losing both your parents in a horrific car crash. Real adversity; such as suffering through mental illness or a life-changing, painful medical condition, but no one can relate with what you're going through and you feel rejected and alone. Crushing trials; such as, enduring a bitter divorce and a family torn apart by sin, adultery and unfaithfulness. Crushing adversity; such as you saw your brothers in arms killed in war in the Middle East, and you yourself lost limbs, and now you're suffering through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Crushing trials; such as your child or grandchild just committed suicide.

We can't even begin to understand what someone else is going through until we have walked in their shoes.

When you're young and strong, it's no problem to take that hill. When your marriage is rocking, you feel invincible. When your health is perfectcan't touch this. When you have a great job and plenty of money in the bank, you can kick back in the hammock with your iced tea and relax. 

Having faith is easy when life is easy.

But when you are really testedwhen your life, marriage, family, or health is in serious jeopardy, you really have to trust in God. When things get so bad that you can't possibly fix it by yourselfwhen all you have is your faith.

Hence the old saying:  "You'll never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have."

Having faith means to trust in, believe in, to have reliance upon. As followers of Christ, it isn't about "our great faith"... since faith itself is a gift from God.  It's all about Who we place our trust in. My faith is not in my faith. My faith, trust, reliance uponis fully and only in Jesus.

Here's an account from Paul, a fellow brother in Christ, who was no stranger to trials and adversity:
“Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.”  (2 Corinthians 11:25-27)

How did Paul endure these perilous times of intense trials and suffering? When he asked God three times that a painful "thorn in the flesh" might be removed from him, God's response to Paul was:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 
 Paul went on to say:
"Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) 
When we have no strength; when we can't fix it any longer; when Jesus is all we have; then we are strong: because Christ is strong in us.

"Take pleasure in my infirmities?! How can I possibly do that?! Can't you see how much I'm hurting?!"

Jesus said:  
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit—for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
The longer I livethe longer I walk the narrow and difficult path of following Christthe more I'm painfully aware of just how desperately I need Jesus; every minute, of every day. Truly, without HimI can do nothing good. 

For years, throughout my life-struggles, I sought comfort and solace in men's bible study groups. And there were some good moments and friendships in those groups. We are told in scripture to study the Word.
“Study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

However, if we're not careful, we can get so caught up in the intellectual 'study' of the word of God, that we miss the God of the Word altogether. The bible is not a college text book. It is the living word of God. 

Jesus said:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of MeBut you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

The whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth and dying on the Cross was to restore intimacy between God and man. He wants us to come to Him. It's personal. He wants a relationship with you, with me. He gave His life on the Cross for that intimacy of personal relationship with us.

Don't drive yourself crazy trying to understand why she left you. Stop trying to figure out why God would let him die. You won't understand it. It won't make sense now. It may later. It may never.

God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways, higher than our ways. Only God knows why He allows things to happen in our lives. He has a purpose for allowing them to happen. Just trust Him in it.

All you can do, should do, by far the best thing to do; is call out to Him. Come to Himthat you may have life.

As a friend once put it;
"Sometimes the best place to be is flat on your back, looking up, crying out to God"Help!"
Here is an old song that really speaks to me of God's love and faithfulness to us:

“I have journeyed through the long dark night,
Out on the open sea, by faith alone, sight unknown,
And yet His eyes were watching me.
The anchor holds, though the ship is battered,
The anchor holds, though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees, as I faced the raging seas,
The anchor holds, in spite of the storm.
I've had visions, I've had dreams,
I've even held them in my hand,
But I never knew, they would slip right through,
Like they were only grains of sand.
I have been young, but I am older now,
And there has been beauty that these eyes have seen.
But it was in the night, through the storms of my life,
Oh, that's where God proved His love to me
The anchor holds, though the ship is battered,
The anchor holds, though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees, as I faced the raging seas,
The anchor holds, in spite of the storm.”

Sometimes we can help each other. But while we may mean well, we are still imperfect human beings. The Word does tell us though, that part of the beauty of the Body of Christ is that we can comfort others who are going through the same kind of troubles that we've been through:,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

But only Jesus can truly fill the empty places in our hearts. Those dark places of pain, loneliness, rejection, sadness, grief, depression, and hopelessness.

God has always been with me through every trial I've faced. He doesn't always take away the pain and suffering. Sometimes He does. But not often. I used to really struggle to try and understand why.

One day I cried out to Him in my desperation and said, "Lord, You can do all things! You could change us in an instant, and we would no longer sin and struggle any more. Why do You leave us in this condition?!!"

He said:  "So you'll stay close to Me." 


I love the picture of Jesus sleeping in the ship while His disciples are freaking out thinking they are going to perish in the tempest. But Jesus is fast asleep. After they wake Him up He rebukes the wind and waves saying, "Peace, be still." But to His disciples...His friends, He said, "why did you doubt? Oh, you of little faith."

For me the take away from this story is that we tend to freak out and worry that we wont survive the current trial we are going through, but Jesus is at rest. He is not worried. He is not freaking out. He is fully in control of the ship, the wind, the waves, the storm. And we are with Him in the ship.


There's no place I'd rather be, than here is His love.


"Peace, be still."




—God is Love, and Love Never Fails.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Man in the Mirror

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 12:23-24)

The Word of God is a mirror. 

When you look into it, who do you see in action? The old man? Or the new man? Which man does the evidence of your life reveal?

Who are these two charactersthe old man and the new man?

The Apostle Paul writes:

“Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

The old man is the flesh, or the sinful nature we had before being born again by the Spirit of God. The old man loved his sin. He didn't think he was a sinner. He would say "don't judge me! I'm a good person."

The new man is the born again person. Regenerated by the saving grace and power of Jesus Christ. When we are saved God promises to put a new heart and a new spirit in us. The new man desires to worship God and do His will.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

My friend Craig and I have been discussing the topic of how do you know that you're born again? Have I really changed? 

Paul makes a clear distinction between the old man and new man.

The old man grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

The new man was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians about the differences between the works of the flesh, as opposed to the fruit of the Spirit:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:19-26)

Both the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are evident. We are known by our fruit.

Paul also writes:

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Self examination of our walk with Christ should be done daily, if not moment by moment. And what follows self examination, is self confrontation. As we see in Paul's exhortation to put off the old corrupt man, and then put on the new man. It's a choice we must make of our own will. And that choice requires action.

Let us each examine ourselves, as to whether we are in the faith.

When you look in the mirror today, which man do you see?

So how do we put on the new man? 

Immerse yourself in Christ. In prayer and worship to Him. In communion with Him. In His Word. Cling to His precious promises. He loves it when we come to Him and give Him our brokenness. God is for us. He will help us.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

More times than I can count, God has helped and strengthened me in situations that I couldn't solve on my own. Times of deep water in my marriage where I was desperate. Times in my health where I didn't know what was to become of me. Times of financial hardship and unemployment with no light at the end of the tunnel. 

And most of those times He didn't immediately change the situation. But He strengthened me and gave me grace to go through difficult seasons. He has taught me to trust in Him, and draw near to Him.

He promised, "I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Thank You Lord.




God is Love and Love Never Fails.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Husbands Love Your Wives

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her." (Ephesians 5:25)


Back in the early 1970's, I was an awkward seventh grader growing up in small town southern Oregon. What I loved most in life was fishing, camping and hunting. The outdoors. My Dad taught me to love it from my earliest memories.

One weekend while Dad was out on one of his regular fishing/camping outings, I was grounded from all fishing because I was basically flunking out of junior high. I understood that it was my fault, and not Dad's. But I was still deeply hurt by this.

Even though I was grounded from fishing, Dad never said anything about spending the night at a friend's house. So that Friday evening I asked my Mom if it would be okay if I went across the street to spend the night at my friend Tim's house. Her response totally upended me.

She started crying and said, "I'm about ready to leave you and that daddy of yours if you don't just stay home!"

This was a life changing, earth shattering moment for me.  My parents had never had a single argument on front of me all my life. Our home life seemed to me, to be perfect and ideal. Always very close and loving. We kids were definitely brats. But my parents marriage was solid. Never a question about that in my mind.

The rest of the weekend I pretty much stayed hunkered downstairs in my room. Shell-shocked. Not sure what to do or say. But I was as nice and helpful to my Mom as I could possibly be. When my Dad got home on Sunday afternoon, I pulled him aside and told him what happened. He was speechless, but he thanked me for letting him know.

My folks worked things out, and my Dad mended his ways and didn't go hunting or fishing every weekend after that. He realized that his life was way out of balance and he wasn't putting his wife first, above his own interests. The term "Deer Widows" is aptly named. Many wives feel abandoned once hunting season starts.

This is very common in marriages. 

Bottom lineselfishness is the #1 killer of relationships.

I've never forgotten the fear and heartache of that moment my Mom said she was about ready to leave me and my Dad if we didn't stay home more. It's a lesson I have tried to carry with me throughout my life as a husband. I haven't always succeeded. But I will never forget that moment.

What's your first love?

Obviously, for the follower of ChristHe should always be our first love.

But our wives better be a close second. 

Every guy has something that consumes his life as a passion; hunting, fishing, football, baseball, motorcycles, fast cars, golf, flying airplanes, making money, etc. For some it's other women or pornography. I can't begin to tell you just how destructive this is to your marriage, family, and even your own soul.

My passion for many years was fly fishing.  One year I think I went fishing 55 times. A friend told me "You fish too much!" And that summer my wife certainly let me know she felt pretty abandoned. I wounded her heart and spirit. I had forgotten the hard lesson I learned from my Dad's marital sins.

One of the most common wedding vows is "Forsaking all others..."

Guys, do you forsake all other people and interests and put your wife first in all ways? That is what we are commanded to do.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

What does that mean"and gave Himself for her?"

He died for her.

And that is what God commands us as husbands to do for our own wivesHis daughters by the way.

Die to self. 

Die to our selfishness and self-will. Die to putting ourselves first. Die to treating her like a sex object and our personal servant and maid. 

"Take up your cross and follow Me"is what Jesus commands us to do.

He carried that heavy, blood-stained cross up the long hill climb through the city of Jerusalem for one cause: To die for His loveHis Bridethe Church.


"There is no greater love than this, than a man would lay down his life for his friends."  Jesus




God is Love and Love Never Fails






Thursday, September 14, 2017

Will He Really Find Faith on the Earth?

"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
—Jesus 
(Luke 18:8)

Over the years I've asked myself, and others, this very pointed question:

"If you absolutely knew for certain that Jesus Christ was coming back to earth in exactly 30 days from today, what would you do differently starting right now, in how you lived your life?

However, most people are often hesitant to answer that question.

But here's a couple that I have heard:

"No, I'm not ready for Him to come back yet. I want to get married and have kids and raise a family first."

Or,

"I'd like to enjoy retirement first."

This will be a pretty short blog post. Much of what I wanted to say, I already said in my last post; "Are You Ready?" (August 31, 2017).

I don't know about you, but I feel my remaining days on this earth are few. 

Whether through natural death, or the Rapture, I have as the bible directs, "numbered my days." The time is short. And when Jesus, the Lord of Glory comes for His Church, I don't want to be out serving myself, spending my time on life's simple pleasures when there are people eternally perishing all around me. How can I?

How can I live for myself when Jesus paid the price for my sins on the Cross? How can I enjoy a selfish leisurely life when He suffered, bled and died for my iniquities? How can I focus on loving myself when He showed me by His example that there is no greater love than this, than a man would lay down his life for his friends?

All the stuff of this life; possessions, money, valuables, yard, houses, even the beautiful creation God has made, shall one day be burned up. It's all going to be firewood. (See 2 Peter 3:10-12)

So why hold onto it so tightly now?

The apostle wrote: "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come." (Hebrews 13:14)

We as followers of Christ are called to be faithful to preach the gospel. The results are not up to us. We can't make people believe. We cant 'seal the deal.' All throughout the gospels and NT we see that some believed and some didn't, or wouldn't. It's no different today. We can't save the whole world or solve the whole world's problems. God has placed each of us in our personal sphere of influence. Bloom where He has planted you. Speak the truth in love. Help whoever you can help with the needful things. Love courageously and unselfishly. And leave the results to God.

So I'll leave it at this, what Jesus asked of us all:

"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”



God is Love and Love Never Fails.





Thursday, August 31, 2017

Are You Ready?

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”—Jesus 
(Matthew 24:38-39)

In a day when people are living care free, "business as usual" lives, Jesus Christ will come with a startling unexpectedness that will take the unbelieving world by surprise.

Never before, has our world been so self absorbed, self indulgent, and completely oblivious to the spiritual reality of just where we are as a civilizationcircling the drain.

I don't need to list all the serious problems in the world. Just turn on the TV news or search the Internet and it's everywhere you look, the world over.

Most people simply don't have a Heavenly perspective.

I believe there is a strong delusion on many people who profess to be "christian." A complete lack of real spiritual discernment. An utter failure to recognize where we are at prophetically, and in history, as pertains to the Kingdom of God and His coming back to earth. Many are blind to the truth.

You see it in people's political views, in how they prioritize and spend their time and money, and in how they respondor fail to respondto the lost and hurting people all around them. Hobbies, leisure, self interests, personal issues, marriage, family, business, wealthall distract people from what should really be important to God's people in these perilous last days of our current world.

Did you know that all Christian believers will stand before Christ and give an account of every single thing we did in our life as a Christian?

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10)

How can I stand before Jesus Christ, who willingly died on the Cross for my sins, and hear Him say, "You wasted much of your life on pleasing yourself, while lost and hurting people all around you were perishing eternally." 

Most of us need to get outside our 'selves' and rise 10,000 feet up and get a Heavenly perspective on the true condition of this lost and dying world. Then, get a true perspective on the condition of our own hearts. Who are we living for?  Our self? -Or for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom?


Jesus said:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Sitting on the porch this morning sipping my coffee, I realized we've lived in this house for 27 years... That's nearly half of my entire lifetime. And it hit me just how short this life really is. My 58 years have blazed by like a runaway train. This present life is not even a blink of an eye compared to eternity. 

And yet, most people are so bound up in this present world, they give little to no thought to the afterlife. I'm so convicted today, for the rest of my time here to be mindful of investing myself in what really matters in this life. None of us know when we will step into eternity. But it will probably be sooner than we think.

The hearts and eternal souls of people are what really matters in this life... the same world full of eternal souls that Jesus Christ gave His life for on the Cross, because "God so loved the world." That's why we have been saved, and calledto point people to Jesus Christ, who is the only One who can save our eternal soul.

"To whom much is given, much is required." Jesus

Are you ready to meet Him at His coming?


God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, 
and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” 
(Acts 2:2)

Whether you are a Christian or not, does modern Christianity in America seem to you to be a genuine, effective and powerful movement that is truly changing the world in a spiritually redeeming way?

When I examine my own experiences in modern Christianity over the last twenty five years, I see churches that are caught up in the 'cult of  personality.' People follow the personality that they like best. It's like a big popularity contest much of the time. And the Christian sub-culture of method, music, and style dominates much of the movement. Post modernism has also crept into Christianity, complete with modern psychology, activity centered ministry programs, and "community" or common interest "fellowship" groups. And a lot of this activity is much more culture-centered than Christ-centered.

But does modern Christianity overall in any way resemble the original Church that Jesus began, some 2,000 years ago?

Much of what I have witnessed in "church" over the last twenty five years has been powerless, man-centered, and ineffective.

I see a lot today of what I call "good deed-ism." Church people are doing some truly good things to help others, including feeding those who are hungry, giving clothing and other items to those in need, volunteering to help at ministry fund raising events, running half marathons for a good cause, serving dinner at a rescue mission, and adopting orphaned or special needs children. These are all very wonderful things by themselves.

But many of the people doing wonderful deeds, while meeting the immediate needs of others, are not ministering to every human being's ultimate need of salvation that is through Jesus Christ alone.

It does little good to give a homeless man $5, or a burger and fries, or even your coat, and then drive away without addressing his greatest spiritual need.

So how was the early church in Jesus' day different?

They operated under the power of the Holy Spirit.

What did Jesus command the first Christians to do?

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1 :4-8)

Jesus didn't tell His followers; 'Go immediately out and become an organization of nice people, just doing nice things for others.'

There are a lot of non-Christian people out there who are pretty nice people, doing a lot of nice things for others.

He first commanded them to wait, until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. And once they were baptized with His Spirit, they would receive His power to be His witnesses. First there at home, and the surrounding regions. Then to the very end of the earth.

This is where there is a big disconnect today in Christianity. There are a lot of very nice people out there, trying to do some really nice things to help others. But there is no power of the Holy Spirit in their good works. There are wonderful intentions, but no power.

Many people have never been taught about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, much less ever received it.

This was also a problem at times in the early church.

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”

So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized (in water) with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:1-6) 

Not everyone "speaks in tongues" nor is it the main focus of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The primary purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to be empowered to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. And then to do whatever He commands us to do through His powernot through our own. And why would that be?  Because we have no power of our own to do or be what God requires. No wisdom. No strength. No goodness. Our hope of glory is Christ in us.  Without Him we are nothing. Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing." (See John 15:4-5)

This is why He commanded His first disciples to wait there in Jerusalemuntil they received power once the Holy Spirit came upon them. Only then would they be empowered to be His witnesses.

Have you ever been baptized in the Holy Spirit?

So how do you receive it?

Ask.

Jesus said:

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)

I recall several years ago at a men's retreat in the mountains, a friend of ours was asking us what the baptism of the Holy Spirit was all about. We shared with him from the bible what it is and what it's for. He said, "I want that baptism!"  What's amazing about this, is this man was always very shy at the home fellowship we attended. He never spoke up. Never prayed aloud. He was always very quiet. But after we laid hands on him and prayed for him as he asked God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he soon started doing street witnessing, preaching the Gospel of Jesus to people he met downtown. At the home fellowship he began to boldly share scriptures with confidence, many of which he said he had never heard or read before. Soon after that he was leading teams of people downtown to teach them how to share the Gospel with people. His wife said he had gone through a dramatic change, ever since he prayed to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We were all amazed. God is so good!

Would you like to have that kind of Holy Spirit power in your own life?

This is where making a difference for God has to start. 

You have to acknowledge that without Jesus empowering you through the baptism of His Spirit, you can do nothing good. You can't bear any good fruit to God. You can't effectively preach the Gospel of Christ to anyone. Cant rightly teach a bible study. Can't be an effective worship leader. Cant be an effective pastor. Nothing.

Are you living in victory today?  Or are you constantly failing to live according to God's Word? If you are not experiencing victory over the trials and temptations that constantly plague you, have you wondered why you have no power in your life? It's because you are trying to do everything in your own strength. The problem is you have no power. This is why Jesus said He will send another helper, the Comforter; who is the Holy Spirit. We need His power to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. Please understand: this has nothing to do with salvation. That is a gift from God by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ; through His death, burial and resurrection.

So if you are living a life of failure, defeat, and you are stuck in a revolving door of sin, repent, and cry out to God and confess your sin. Your weakness. Your powerlessness in your own strength. 

And then start by asking Jesus Christ to baptize you in the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes historically, this occurred when other Christians who already had been baptized in the Spirit were laying hands on a person, praying for him, and they then receive the baptism. But not always. 

Again, the best place to start is talk to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to baptize you in His Holy Spirit. And keep asking daily for His power to walk in spirit and in truth. This is not a one time thing.

I try to ask God every day for His wisdom and power to overcome sin and weakness. To walk in purity. To be a good husband. To do my job in a way that brings glory to God. To be an effective witness for Jesus Christ and share the Gospel with people. To be a good father to my children. To be a good friend to my friends. To love those who do not love me back. To pray for those who curse me and spitefully use me.

Trust in God to teach you and lead you.  As you do, things will begin to happen in your life that will surprise you. When they do, give God all the glory.

Most of all, as you are being empowered by the Holy Spirit, in His love, keep sharing the Gospel and pointing people to the risen Savior; Jesus Christ. He is our only hope.

Amen.



God is Love and Love Never Fails.



Sunday, July 9, 2017

Not Many Wise

“Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” 
(1 Corinthians 1:26)

Have you ever been talked down to by someone who has a doctorate in theology? And they basically tell you that you'll never understand the bible until you, (like they have) take multiple college level courses on exegesis, hermeneutics, bible theology, biblical history, Greek, Hebrew, and read scores of writings from the early church fathers, etc.

I have.

And the more I talk with some of these people, it becomes obvious that when it comes to the bible, more often than not, they miss the forest for the trees.

Think about it...  Would an all-knowing, loving God, who intimately knows that we as a species are weak, not all that bright, and with limited understanding, give us a bible that no one would ever be able to understand except a small group of the most intellectually elite biblical scholars?

That would be cruel to say the least. But more importantly, the bible never teaches that.

Look at the rest of the passage from 1 Corinthians chapter 1:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greek foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Cor 1:18-29)

Read that entire passage a couple of times and really let it sink in. Hear what it is saying.

God calls simple people to bring a simple message of hope to the world.

When we're brand new to the bible, we certainly need someone knowledgeable to teach us. But even though the prophetic books of the bible are at times difficult to understand, as they contain metaphor, symbolism, and some allegory, most of the bible is not that difficult to understand, if you will take the time to read all of it, several times, and just take it at face value. Even more important, before you study the bible, and while you're studying it, pray and ask God for wisdom and understanding of what you are reading.

God would not give mankind a book that is a mysterious riddle that cannot possibly be unlocked. 

The bible is for believers, that we may more intimately know our Savior, and His will for us, and our eternal future with Him.

But the bible is also for unbelievers, that they may know what Jesus did on the cross to save them from their sins, and to call them to repent of their sins and turn to a loving God, lest they perish forever.

No one understands the entire bible 100% perfectly. I've been studying the bible for twenty five years, and the more I study it, the more I realize how much I don't know. But most people fail because they refuse to regularly read and study it at all.

The other group that can be frustrating to talk to are the strict bible contextualists.

While the individual scriptures may have an immediate, historical, cultural context, they also have an overarching spiritual context, purpose, and application that thousands of years cannot change or undo. 

Rigid contextualists will argue that a particular verse can only be understood or applied relative to its immediate historical or cultural context. But again, the Word of God is timeless in its ultimate spiritual purpose and application.

When I read the Bible, no matter what topic I am studying, I want to know what was God's purpose for putting this in the bible. What is God's heart on this passage or topic? How does it apply to my relationship with Jesus? And how do I apply it to my life? How will this passage help me to know God better?

I once had a lengthy discussion with a religious intellectual who earned a doctorate in theology from a bible seminary.  I was asking him to expound on what Romans 7:15-20 means. And he refused to offer his thoughts on the passage. He was the guy who told me I need to go take some courses on hermeneutics and exegesis and then read some books by his favorite early church fathers. And only then I could understand what this passage means. I challenged him, "You were an assistant pastor for years, teaching the bible. Why can't you expound on and apply this passage?"  He again refused and said, "I would rather stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before me, than say something about this passage and be wrong."  His time at his bible college ruined him. What did his fancy doctorate degree profit him?  He was so afraid to be wrong he was paralyzed by his own fear and advanced education.

Consider the simple fishermen Jesus called to be His disciples and Apostles. They had no formal advanced education. No degrees in theology. Why would Jesus use simple unlearned men in this capacity?  1 Corinthians 1:29 tells us:

"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

God could have called only the super intellectuals, the brightest and most accomplished religious people of their day to be His apostles and disciples. But most of them were just the opposite. These simple men and women turned the entire world upside down with the Holy Spirit-led and Holy Spirit-empowered Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"That no flesh should glory in His presence."

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not so much about what you know... It's more about Who you know.

Tell the world about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)



—God is Love and Love Never Fails.