Bible

Meekness Not En Vogue 

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In a world that understands power, influence and material wealth, self-assertion is king. Jesus’ words were completely counter cultural to the crowds around Him. But it’s even more so in our society today. 

 

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5: 5

 

It takes no great cognition to understand that meekness requires humility, but some may not yet understand the distinction between these two virtues. 

Essentially, humility is an inward virtue or characteristic, while meekness is an outward demonstration of the humility one possesses within. We are meek toward others. While, humility is more in keeping with our personal view of self. Romans 12; 2b ‘’Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. In other words, be humble. BTW, to God, the measure of your greatness is the size of your faith.

Note how this verse confirms (along with other passages) that faith comes from God. Salvation is of the Lord, even the part about us having faith. It too, is a gift from God. And yet, we are responsible to nurture the faith He’s given us that it may grow. But back to meekness. 

A meek soul will lift up and edify others. Meekness, restrains one’s own power, in order to make room for others, so that they can use their gifts, talents and abilities too. For example, I’m good at cooking, but that doesn’t mean I have to be the one to cook every time we have a church dinner. Others know how to cook too. 

It often helps to understand a concept by looking at its opposite. The opposite of showing meekness can be perceived in people who must always control others, and constantly be the one in charge, vaunting themselves over others, demanding that others capitulate to their way of thinking and their self-perceived superiority, which is usually quite false. Itthe assertion of one’s will over others, or being demanding. Basically, these are narcissists. The outworking of narcissism is antithetical to the actions of meekness. 

 

The Promised Reward for Meekness 

When eternity is ushered in, there will be new heavens and a new earth. It is this new eternal earth which the meek shall inherit as a reward that will last forever. The entire earth will be ours. There will be no narcissistic behavior, nor greed in eternity. All may own the same thing and be perfectly at peace with being a co-owner of all things along with Christ and all of the redeemed. No competition, no disputes, and no pride or arrogance. Everyone there will be both humble and meek. What a wonderfully awesome existence we will have in eternity! 

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From Sorrow to Comfort

Continued series on humility in relation to the Beatitudes

I have asserted the premise that humility is the foremost godly virtue required before any growth in Christ-likeness can be manifested. In fact, I don’t see how one could repent and be saved without first humbling themselves before God. There also appears to be the necessity of humbling ourselves associated with each of Christ’s commands. but this comes naturally when one receives a view of the One true omnipotent, infinite and sovereign God of the bible, and then compares self to Him. 

We’ve been gauging this assertion by recognizing the relationship between humility and the Christian qualities Jesus expounds in His manifesto on the mount in Matthew five—the Beatitudes. We now move to verse three. 

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  

 

Our knee-jerk responses gravitate towards the word “comfort” while the natural reaction of the flesh is repulsed by the notion of “mourning.”—that doesn’t sound so pleasant.  

 

Let’s think of comfort first. 

A softened comforter heaped playfully on a comfy bed. 

Ice cream and apple pie, chicken soup, biscuits and gravy, chocolate…comfort food. 

Late spring in a mountain meadow painted in wildflowers against an azure canopy.  

Relief from intense pain—there are many kinds of comfort. 

 

A sky full of fuzzy-type things may pass through our minds when we hear that word. One soul may go to thoughts of tender kisses from a beautiful woman with whom they’re deeply in love, her caresses. For another, it could be a bottle of booze—a self-perpetuating and unfulfilling pursuit. The human spirit will always seek to be comforted; with leisure, fulfillment of purpose, self-indulgences…there are myriads of them. The thing is, all of these offer an incomplete comfort, and as slight as that comfort may be, it’s always temporary. It does not last.   

 

Thank God for His comfort! I’ve tried a lot of different things and nothing comes close to the permanence of the comforts God lavishes upon those who seek Him with their whole hearts. There’s a world of joy that I never before knew existed, until I did. The Lord allowed me to go down a road of great hardship, suffering and grief. I lost everything, including my reputation. My good name was no longer so good. You can read a small sample about that at the following link.  Dancing With the Devil

How did I end up there? By seeking comfort, pleasure, relief from mental anguish, and doing whatever felt good. I was doing it my way—the way of, what the bible calls: “the natural man,” referring to our sinful nature. Food, worldly success, position, honor, sex, alcohol and a lot more, and finally opioid pain pills. None of that provided the comfort I sought. Oh, I felt good sometimes, but it was so very temporary, and it always left me needing more. Instead of scratching the itch, those things merely intensified my yearning for comfort. 

“Okay God, I’ll try it Your way,” I decided one day. But I thought Christians were supposed to be joyful, rather than weeping and mourning. Blessed are those who mourn? Then I read James 4: 9 and was really baffled. “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.”  

While praying over this seeming contradiction to the Christian experience, the Lord taught me of its meaning and of the tremendous power that was available for me to finally receive the comfort and joy a Christian is supposed to experience. And it came through mourning, weeping and deep sadness—the very things I’d been trying to avoid. But what was I mourning over? Let’s read the verses preceding and following James 1;9, beginning with vs. 8.  

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (lift you up).”  

I won’t go into a full exegesis of these verses here. 

Verse 8 is speaking of seeking God and repentance from sin. I cannot properly repent until I understand how deeply I’ve offended a holy God. When we finally receive a clear view of God’s nature of holiness and purity, we are greatly humbled and saddened over how far short we fall from His glory. My sin was truly something to cry about. I wept and wailed over my iniquities and transgressions, acknowledging how deeply egregious they are to God.  

When I did that, something amazing happened! He took my sorrow and grief over my own sin and He supernaturally transformed it into elation and joy! He forgave my sin, cleansed me, and lifted my spirit to soar with the clouds of heaven. It was the greatest joy I’d ever experienced, and it never left—it remains today.  

It took humility to really look at, and see myself from God’s perspective. It brought great sorrow, but that was essential in order to experience the true supernatural joy that comes from the Lord. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

 

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Poor in Spirit

In the spring of 1980, the pop and country artist Mac Davis made a hit song titled “It’s Hard to be Humble.” By the fall, another artist named Stout recorded a version of the song in the U.K. that made the top 20 list there.

 

With a haunting mantra, the song becries “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror—I get better looking each day.”

 

A satirical relief about the laughable male ego, this musical hit touts an exaggerated hubris that we find easy to recognize in each other. The problem is, it’s more difficult to detect in ourselves. When it comes to godly virtues, humility is probably the toughest godly characteristic to achieve and it can be challenging to maintain.

 

As we wade into our continued study of “The Beatitudes with regard to Humility,” You may want to read the introductory post titled: “Humble Pie.”

We’re going to sit down to a big slice of that pie right now, because nearly every good action we take requires some degree of humility. If you’re reading this post with an open mind, you’re demonstrating humility.  Those who are growing in wisdom are keenly aware of the need to hear and assess information, where utilizing humility becomes requisite.

Whenever errors in our thinking are brought into the light, it takes humility to embrace the truth. This is the concept behind that word we’re all so familiar with: repentance. To repent is to undergo renovation in the mind—to change what we believe in a way that impacts a change in our desires. As a result, we turn away from sin and towards God. If we don’t humble ourselves before God, becoming poor in spirit, our minds cannot be changed; our spiritual eyesight will be incarcerated by darkness.

The bible teaches that every person is born under the deceptive powers of sin. But when we’re born of the Spirit, saved, we’re given new eyes and ears to perceive truth, and a new heart that will accept it. God has given us His word to correct our thinking, so that He may inculcate you and I with truth. He gave us His Son Jesus who is truth personified. In Matthew 5: 3, Jesus spoke these words:

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Here, the word Blessed means happy and divinely favored. Sons and daughters of the King must become poor in spirit before being granted citizenship in the “kingdom of heaven.” We are need oriented creatures, dependent upon God. Being poor in spirit is indicative of heaven’s residents.

 What does Jesus mean by Poor in Spirit? 

 It means to humble ourselves, to acquiesce to the truth about mankind’s condition without Christ—the truth that the bible teaches concerning mankind in his unregenerate state.

 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” Romans 3:11-12

Here’s where our understanding of grace is so vital to our new lives in Christ, as well as our knowledge of what it is to be poor in spirit. Everything God does for mankind is a grace of God. He proffers many graces, which perform a plethora functions, gifting us in every aspect of life. Grace is technically defined as unmerited favor.

There’s nothing we can bring to God, nothing we can do for Him, and no good works that mankind could perform that would merit eternal life and curry His favor. We must humbly accept that fact.  Without God doing something for us simply out of His love, mercy and grace, we’re hopelessly lost. Isaiah informs us that to God “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” What may appear as good to you and me in our finite thinking, is pitifully inadequate when contrasted against God’s true goodness.

God is holy, righteous and pure, and we are not. We must come to Him completely broken in spirit and aware of it. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17
If you’ve ever been close to a herd of horses running wild, you may have noted how spirited they are, strong and proud. A wild horse is not at all useful for riding or working. Their spirit must be broken before they can be tamed, trained, and their strength put to good use. If we’re going to be of any usefulness to God, our spirit of pride must be broken too. We have to pull back on the reins of our hearts, and realize the truth.

We’re totally helpless to help ourselves become good and holy and righteous. Our self-sufficient thinking must change, be broken, our pride broken, and we come to God completely dependent upon His grace. This is being poor in spirit, cognizant of our complete helplessness. We cannot save ourselves.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9a
For the sake of brevity, I’ll merely point you to a good passage of scripture to read as a follow up to this post. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18: 9-14.

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Beatitudes & Humble Pie

A Series on Humility

(Lord willing)

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Coming to Christ first requires humility: we must acknowledge our need for someone else to save us. But then, each virtue of righteousness, all of the characteristics of a godly life require increasingly greater humility. A problem presents itself, however, for it seems the more we try to be humble, the more prideful we become. What we seek is a humble, servant mindset which Jesus demostrated so poignantly.

 

“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

My assertion is that absolute dependence on God is the only means to successfully obtain any degree of humility. Focusing on Christ: the paragon of all heavenly virtue, self is progressively swallowed up by His glory as we become one with Him. By comparing ourselves vertically to God, we depart from the horizontal and skewed comparison of ourselves to each other, opening a clear view to our personal inadequacies—our need for continuing grace.

 

I’ve discovered a hazardous pitfall in my own walk—one that’s difficult to detect. It’s called false humility. Something I’d done in te past , which, I thought was making me humble, was self-deprecation. I’d put myself down, or launch a bad spin on my actions, talking about the bad stuff I’ve done. But it only produces a false humility—not at all conducive to eliminating a hunger to be noted. While I thought it would be destructive to my pride, it only fed my ego. If we’re honest, we’ll see it’s the same for all of us. I’ve been doing a deep dive on the subject, and found that nearly every great thinker down through history has percieved the importance of this trait and written on the topic of humility.

 

 Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. Lewis

 

“A great man is always willing to be little.”

Ralph Emerson Palmer

 

Bryant H. McGill is more stoic, stating “True love is quiescent, except in the nascent moments of true humility”

 

Only by emulating the love of God do we transform into humble servants, which in turn elevates our eternal ranking.

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1st Peter 5:6

 

The assorted virtues of Christ-likeness expounded by Jesus in His great manifesto on the mount are all rooted in, and dependent upon a prior condition of humility. Assuming we all agree that the antithesis of humility is pride, we can easily recognize pride to be the primary, or root sin which so deceives mankind in its many forms. Pride hinders our growth in Christ-likeness.

It’s the #1 sin—not merely the first sin perpetrated chronologically, but also the sin which underlies all others. Pride and humility can never coexist in the same arena, that’s why Satan promotes pride in mankind. He knows it to be the root from which springs every form of ungodliness.

 

“Let us carry ourselves as God’s children in humility. ‘Be ye clothed with humility’ (1 Peter 5:5). It is a becoming garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the glass of God’s Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He suffers them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes may fall, and that they may learn to go on lower ground.” Puritan, Thomas Watson

 

Each week I hope to spotlight one heavenly virtue from Matthew 5: 3-10, demonstrating how every righteous trait flows from, and is anchored in, humility.

 

This is one trait that appears to act as a huingepin for developing the godly traits Jesus talks about.

Since humility is the condition of heart and mind every soul must possess, if they hope to approach God and be reconciled to Him through trusting faith, learning to lean on this virtue becomes paramount.

In chronicling the characteristics of citizens of God’s kingdom, Jesus seems to demand we presuppose humility as a type of key to all of them. Certainly, if I am to become “poor in spirit” I must first humble myself. Note how essential humility is in becoming what Christ calls us to be.

It will be fruitful for us to disseminate the precondition of humility that’s common to each of the virtues Christ provides. I’ll do so by first defining each characteristic Jesus extols, then by considering examples in the context of current culture, and finally view the whole matter in relationship to ourselves as individuals—making personal application to our hearts.

 

Bring your bibles and join us for the next post as we look at the first virtue found in Matthew 5:3. Please click on notifications and watch for “Poor in Spirit.” 

 

 

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Blood of Life

In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a girl who was suffering from a disease that would soon take her life, unless… Lisa was told that without a blood transfusion her death would be imminent. Thankfully, she had a little brother who shared her blood type, which was very rare. The fact that he’d defeated this same disease three years earlier offered the doctor even greater hope for success. So the physician carefully explained all of this to Lisa’s little brother, Dennis, discretely informing him that without the transfusion his sister would surely die.

 

“For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Lev. 17:11

 

“Do you think you would be brave enough to give your blood to your sister?” he asked. Dennis’ lips trembled nervously as he contemplated the situation, but finally, he smiled and said, “For my sister, yes, I’ll do it.”

 

As the two children were rolled into the hospital room, Lisa’s body looked enervated and pale, while Dennis appeared quite robust. The boy smiled at his sister. Together, they watched the blood make its way through the clear plastic tubing as it flowed out of Dennis’ arm and into her’s. Eventually, the smile began to fade from the boy’s little face, and he lay there feeling weak. Looking intently up at the elderly MD, he asked, “Doctor, when am I going to die?”

 

Dennis thought he would have to give all of his blood to Lisa, believing he was trading his life for his sister’s. Because of his love for her, he was prepared to pay that price.

 

When the Son of God became a man, coming to earth revealing God to mankind, one of the memorable truths He disclosed sheds light on that young boy’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his sister. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

 

That’s precisely what Jesus came to do—to be the Christ, the Savior—to offer Himself as a sacrifice to pay the terrible penalty for the sins of the whole world. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

 

Since no other person who has ever lived on earth is perfect, this was the only way a perfectly innocent sacrifice could be made. God Himself had to provide the Lamb for the sarifice.

 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

 

The good news of Jesus Christ has come, been declared and preached. This news concerns the greatest love ever known, and the greatest love ever shown.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

God loves us. Jesus sacrificed Himself, giving His life blood to save you and me. God wants us to repent of our sins—turn to Him, and simply believe on His Son, Jesus Christ, and trust Him to be the Lord of our lives.

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You Are God’s Masterpiece

Have you ever noticed how adeptly Jesus addressed the issues of life? He always goes straight to the heart of every difficulty, and shines the light of truth to expose the root of everything that’s wrong with the world, along with the real cause of every sin. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13)

I find it to be so very awesome to have a relationship with Christ Jesus—His wisdom is beyond the scope of my comprehension. And yet, He knows how to convey truths to each individual person in a manner that can be clearly understood. But there are some qualifiers—things He requires of us before He does so.

 

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He sets it forth like this—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

“Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21)

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1)

We love from our hearts, or from the center of our being, at the very root of who and what we are.

Jesus Christ is “The Truth.”  Love desires to know the Truth.

Love desires to obey Truth—to act & speak in a manner consistent with and faithful to the Truth.

Love remains in the light—it doesn’t hide in darkness from the Truth.

A child of God who has been born from above, lives moment to moment seeking to perfect this Love.

Jesus has planted that seed of love in our hearts—in each of those who belong to Him. We are given a new nature and a softened heart that can be shaped by the hands of the Master. As the gardener of our hearts, our heavenly Father is faithful to nurture, prune, test, grow, and constantly tend that love until it finds completion on the glorious day when Christ Jesus returns.

God continues to impact who and what we are with His dynamic love, which produces transformation in us. Then He begins to love all others through us, for we have entered into Christ, and He dwells within us through His Spirit.

I have discovered a fantastic truth. The more I let God’s love flow out of me to others, the more of His love He pours in! So I say, let His love flow!

 

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God’s Plan For You

Dear Christian,

God has one all-encompassing purpose for you, and He has promised to bring it to pass. That is, to make you like His Son, Jesus, which is the highest and greatest position anyone could ever possibly have! We are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. This in no way negates man’s freedom of choice. I’m not a determinist, yet do I believe in the sovereignty of God.

 

“…Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

Romans 8:29

 

Once you and I agree with God on this particular part of His plan, which says we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, it should become like a juggernaut, driving all that we do. It’s a process, and we grow into it. Our delight in doing God’s will takes all the sting out of life’s disappointments. It’s a love thing.

 

Whatever you may have aspired to, that God has thus far withheld, He has something far better for you. Sometimes, it might not look that way, but faith sees the invisible, including the future that Christ has promised to those who love Him. If you’re a Christian, then when you placed your faith in Christ to be saved, in essence you were saying that you trust in Jesus, so trust Him. He’s more than worthy, and immutably faithful to His word. 

 

In order for us to remain joyful and fully satisfied right now, He teaches us to be eternally minded. The bible refers to it as spiritually minded, and, we trust in His Promises. That’s how we embrace God’s will. It’s a way for us to grow to love Him and His plan, perfectly. 

 

It may be of benefit to list just a few of the plenteous eternal promises God has given to you.

  • God will not stop working inside you (making you like Jesus): “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 
  • You will reign with Christ: “…if we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Tim. 2:12), 
  • You Will inherit all things: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
  • There will be no more: sorrow, sin, death, night, pain, suffering—all the bad things in life will be forever gone (in eternity).
  • God will reveal Himself to you: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (He reveals Himself to His own, in this life, right now).
  • God will provide for your physical, spiritual and emotional needs:And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
  • He will give you power (supernatural assistance) to do what pleases Him. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

      

(Be advised, this series will be coming in short bursts, and the next 4 posts will be coming approximately 2-3 days apart.)

 How can we become eternally and spiritually minded, yet still live and operate in this temporal realm?

 

The answer’s right here, in God’s word.  We find the “How-To” peppered throughout scripture. Look at our main, recurring text for this series:  Paul summarizes it like this, in Romans 12:1-2.

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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Don’t miss the next post, when the above verses will be fully examined, and the “How-To” explained.  You are Christ’s most treasured possession, and as the church we are the Bride of Christ.

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God’s Will For You II

2nd intro: An Inside Track on God’s Plan — Partnering with Christ 

Jesus wants you and I to have an inside track into heaven’s operations here on earth. He wants us to know and understand His plan. You and I are like the soldiersonly, in this army, the top brass invites all soldiers to see and understand a whole lot of the strategy and plan. When I was in the U.S. Army, officers didn’t tell us soldiers anything, except to bark orders at us.  

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Christ Jesus affords discernment to know how to walk in the Spirit, which, basically, is obeying/doing God’s will. After our salvation has been obtained, we develop a deep desire to please our Lord. It’s a love relationship. We then secure the requisite changes in who we are, through the step by step training God’s word affordsThe problem is, the bible isn’t always easy to understand, and that’s why we need good bible teachers. The Spirit will confirm our understanding of truth. 

God does mighty works in us, so that He can then do mighty works through our lives. That’s what He wants to do, and that’s a part of His will for each of us.  S.B.

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Dr. Lehman Strauss

Even though we’re still in the introduction phase of this series, you’ll note nuggets of truths from the bible that we’ll want to treasure up in our hearts, so we can be mentally prepared to garner the greatest benefit from the much meatier things to come. Milk first, meat later. 

 

ENTRY 

 “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21  

Here, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that true salvation always  will result in obedience to the will of God. If we’re to be obedient to God’s will, we certainly must know what His will consists of.  

 

So if we’re not at least seeking God’s will, wanting to know the next step in His plan for us corporately and as individuals, how can we believe we have a close relationship with Him? 

 

It’s important that we’re all on the same page in our understanding of what we mean by “God’s will.” There are different aspects to His will. Each of these facets fit together to form God’s ever unfolding plan from eternity past, which impacts the present, and reveals eternity future. His plan (God’s will) was developed before He created thworld, as we see revealed throughout scripture (e.g., 1st Peter 1:20).  

Sometimes I may interchange the words, God’s “will” with God’s “plan” as well as God’s “purposes.” And let’s not forget the awesome promises He’s made concerning His plan. Here are some of the different aspects of God’s will, each of which will be examined according to their component parts. But we want to focus on numbers 6, 7 & 8. 

 

  1. The redemption of man 
  2. God’s eternal kingdom 
  3. God’s purpose for allowing the existence of wickedness 
  4. God’s promises to us for life on this earth 
  5. God’s promises to us for eternity 
  6. Our transformation into children like Jesus 
  7. The church’s role in His plan on earth today 
  8. Your role as an individual Saint 

 

I’ll be setting forth and expounding scriptures in an attempt to reveal how all of God’s plan fits together. I did not come up with all of this on my own. I’ll be drawing from bible lessons of 27 Doctors of Theology. God has used a plethora of blessed saints to assist my understanding.  It’s important for each of us to find good sound bible teachers whom we can trust. There are lots of them out there who surpass my abilities by leaps and bounds. But God has called me to put this together using my unique way of presenting the truths of His word. Recently I’ve been studying under several dozen leading bible professors who truly walk what they talk. And you can do the same. I highly recommend BBN’s Bible Institute. It’s free!  

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Oh, how I praise God for the collection of Godly men who teach those lessons! What a tremendous blessing it has been to my relationship with Jesus, and also to my comprehension. Out of the 3 dozen or so collection of courses I’ve been through, BBN’s BI is at the top of the list for learnability. The Bible Institute is merely one of many online resources to find trusted conference speakers, seminary professors, bible expositors and wonderful pastors. I myself have been a sub-shepherd under Christ and serving a growing congregation for over 9 years now. I have another pastor over me, and also a chief elder. Thank you, Jesus—I’m so blessed! 

 

Please understand, it’s not my intention to tell you what Christ’s specific will is for your unique service in God’s plan. Each of us must do what is needed for God Himself to show us how we, individually, fit into the overall plan. I will, however, walk you through the steps of how to discover that for yourself.  

 

But the majority of God’s will is universal for all who are saved. Such as His plan for Jesus’ church. It’s God’s will that we all love one another, that we all become more like Jesus, and that we encourage and edify one another. It’s God’s will for every believer to share the gospel with others—He’s going to teach us what to say.  The steps, and acts of obedience, which lead to accomplishing these and many other things, are the same for everyone. But He has a special plan just for you too. It’s highly specific to the talents he’s progrmmed into your DNA. Once we start doing it, WOW! We receive a tremendous sense of purpose and draw great delight from Him.

 

 I heard Dr. Howard Hendricks say: 

 

“Prayer is the hand of faith that translates God’s promises into performances.”  

 

I mention that quote because each action we’ll need to take, and which we’ll be talking about here, is; preceded by prayer, activated by prayer, and performed during prayer. This makes understanding prayer a vital, and valuable parallel study for discerning and doing God’s will. Without communicating with God, we cannot, and will not, know and understand God’s will, nor His plan. 

 

As an example of God’s promises, here’s one you’ve probably heard before. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 

If we’d like to understand how we could possibly have everything our heart desires, this study is for us. This delight in Him, it’s like a secret key. When the way God thinks is delightful to us, He offers more understanding. And when His laws, His holiness and righteousness become delightful to us, our level of wisdom takes a giant leap upward. And since our desires will then be in harmony with His desires, we receive everything we desire. Our desire will be for God’s will to be done. Being united with Christ is very delightful.

Two important points 

  1. God teaches us in increments—bits at a time.  
  2. We will not move forward in understanding, until we’ve been obedient to what He’s already revealed to us (let that sink in). 

 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17 

 Davey2

Dr. Stephan Davey

The way we come to love the will of God is by obeying it—doing it. The result is stupendous joy! and great discernment! We begin to see God’s purposes, even in the really horrible things that happens on planet earth. When we obey (do) God’s will we experience the results—the wisdom of His will. Before we can actually experience God’s will, we must do it. Before we can do His will, we must know what it is. And before we can know what it is, we must trust it. Faith in God, is trust in God and in His infallible, authoritative word: the bible. Each one in succession is a prerequisite for the next. 

 

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths.”  

 

 

From these two verses we learn four dynamic truths. As you read each numbered point, go back to the verses and absorb them again.

  1. We must trust God implicitly. 
  2. We cannot trust our own thinking without Him leading our thoughts (I will demonstrate how this is unequivocal, using many clear scriptures). 
  3. Our relationship with God is to impact the way we do anything and everything. We acknowledge Him in every decision we make and every action we take. 
  4. God will show us the way we are to proceed, each and every step of the way. 

 

But there’s a pitfall to watch out for. 

 

It’s in our human nature to become proud of our spiritual knowledge, and pride is always destructive to the human heart. God had revealed so many things to the Apostle Paul to pass on to us, that the Lord allowed Satan to inflict him with a thorn in the flesh, to keep him humble. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul writes: “…Because of these surpassingly great revelations, therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” 

 

That’s very revealing to us. It’s something we need to pay attention to, because pride will also halt our learning—our inculcation of God’s program. Our goal is to remain plugged into His power and wisdom, and continue growing in understanding and doing His will, working in partnership with Christ Jesus. 

Yes, we will make mistakes and come unplugged every once in a while, but we simply confess our sin, He forgives us, and we move on a little wiser than beforeGod often uses our mistakes to teach us, and to keep us dependent upon His grace, driving us to cling that much more tightly to our Savior. We’ll endure hardshiplearn and grow. There’s nothing easy about walking in the Spirit, obeying God. But doing so is the best that life has to offer. He’s going to empower us to succeed!  

 

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 

“…equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:21 

 

We’ve now had the two part introduction and laid the groundwork, offering some of what this series will entail, but we’ve barely spoken of the dynamic and wonderful benefits of walking with Jesus, partnering with God.

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God’s Plan, An Inside Track

How to move under God’s power instead of your own

 

Introducing an exciting new series!

 

“The Good Life is Knowing God & Doing His Will.”

 

Stanley Toussaint

 

God has designed His will to be deeply enjoyable to you. It’s been specifically crafted to be of ultimate benefit to God’s children. Not only has God designed us, He’s also designed a pattern to make us perfectly joyful through knowing Him, resulting in you and I playing an active role in His plan here on earth. 

 

Moving up the straight and narrow road to the good life of joy, contentment and complete satisfaction is what I like to call getting into the gain lane. We gain all the great things our Lord has in store for us. And this concerns all the things God wants you to know, the first of which is: HIM.  

 

 One of the plethora of great bible teachers, through whom I’ve been inculcated with many blessings was Dr. Tom Taylor who said, “It is only by grace that we can know God and respect Him—to know anything about Him!”

 

Image result for Dr Tom Taylor pastor

I’m deeply grateful that in God’s grace, He has chosen to reveal Himself to you and I. So, if you’re serious about living for Jesus, we’re going to talk about vital essentials here.  God possesses the greatest thought power in the universe, and He wants to share many of those vital thoughts with you. We’ll discover how to put our old way of thinking to death—to open our minds without our brains falling out, so that God may reshape our thinking. Our philosophy of life is transformed to reflect all of the awesomeness of life in Christ.

 

Apostle Paul found what every human heart is searching for—contentment and satisfaction, fulfillment, peace, joy and tremendous purpose. “…For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

His summary of how to find this good life is found in the following power verse, which reveals Paul’s philosophy of life. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I understand that by offering this verse here, without explanation, may seem a bit disjointed, but I do have a method, and I promise all the passages shared will coalesce once we get into the study.
We’re going to find out how we can discern the Lord’s leadership, and learn to apply the Master’s leadership principles to help each other. We’re going to discuss the sole means God has ordained for mankind to know His will. It’s how to plug into God’s mind in order for Him to teach us a very specific type of wisdom.

 

This is what Peter was referring to when he writes “Be of one mind.” It’s what Paul was talking about when he told the Corinthians “We have the mind of Christ.” It explains how the following from Acts 2 is possible: “And all that believed were together, and had all things in common.” 

 

“God not only ordains the end, He also ordains the means.” Dr. Howard Hendricks

Dr. H.H.

 

Right now, I want to hit you with a couple bible verses that we’ll be coming back to time and again. We’ll discover that what they teach is the key to everything. They contain the methodology God has prescribed to us, and it’s what we need to do if we hope to get the inside track on God’s plans.

 

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

While studying The Will of God, I became really excited about being a Christian again, perhaps more so than at any time before. I can’t help but to tell everyone I know how God is blessing my life, and the astounding truths He’s teaching me. For instance, how God’s will is designed for us to enjoy, and doing His will is intensely pleasurable! Being the Creator of life, the Lord knows what you and I need to do in order to get the very most out of life on earth. That’s what He wants to teach us—how to discover and adore His will, and how to do His will, and perceive the path to His blessings.

 

Before we’re through with this series, you’ll be confidently conversant about God’s will, His plan, and your individual role in it, as well as the role of the church as a whole. We’ll begin with the following.

 

  1. A description of God’s will
  2. Discoveries about God’s will
  3. Taking delight in God’s will
  4. Deciding to do God’s will

 

We’ll learn that knowing Jesus Christ and doing His will is the only way to find lasting meaning—to engage in a good, satisfying life. That’s the main thrust of the book of Ecclesiastes, where an aged and wise King Solomon records the summum bonum, the highest possible good. He concludes that if you pile up all your possessions along with all of your life experiences, you’ll find that they do not, and cannot make a full life: they cannot satisfy us. Only by serving God and glorifying Him can a person derive good from life. It’s the purpose for which we were created, so naturally it’s very satisfying.

 

The good life is expressed through industriously applying yourself to whatever God puts before you to do. We eagerly accomplish God’s purposes with vigor, and in so doing He adds vitality to our lives and our efforts. He puts life into your life, and living into your years. God can take the blandness of repetition and turn each recurrence into something brand new every day.

 

Our part is simply to put ourselves at God’s disposal, eager and ready to do stuff. Pardon my highly technical usage of the word “stuff.” I hope you’re smiling, because God’s the one who provides the stuff for you to do, and accomplishing that stuff is where you’ll get the most out of this life on planet earth. Besides, partnering with Jesus is one of the ways we store up treasure for ourselves in heaven.

 

That’s another reason we want to invest ourselves and everything we do into the kingdom to which we belong—God’s kingdom. If we are Christians, then we are citizens of God’s kingdom, and we’re His children, and we’re heirs of the kingdom into which we’re investing. We’re also becoming little microcosms of Jesus, emulating Him in character.

 

As we live for God, we also find Him directing us to invest our lives into other souls. Whatever we have, we use it wisely, investing, sharing and doing. Although money most likely will be involved when we invest in people’s lives, that’s merely a small part of what we’ll be called upon to accomplish. If I have knowledge of how to get to heaven, or, of how to live a good life, how to learn God’s will, and do His will, I need to share that with others. I may invest myself in the kids who live in my neighborhood, or in the widow at the nursing home, or the businessman in my office building. Whatever we have, whatever we are, and whatever we do—it is all used for the glory of God, and for His purposes in moving His program forward here on earth.

 

But in order for any of this to be possible we must learn what God’s will is, and know how to tap into His power to perform our various functions. We’ll need to understand God’s plan—how He is bringing His kingdom to full fruition. We must know what’s most requisite to successfully partner with God in order to propagate His plan—learning how to operate using God’s wisdom and power, instead of our own.

 

I hope & pray you’re onboard to grow along with the rest of us, because I want to see you be happy, fruitful and completely fulfilled. That’s what I want for myself, and so that’s what I hope for you too.

 

To receive this entire course for free, be sure to subscribe for notification when each installment lands here. Stay Blessed! 

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Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)

Image result for bible

 

It’s painful and sad to hear a preacher trying to explain away a wrong interpretation of scripture. Mans’ nature has always been to create a God of their own, which fits their lifestyle and beliefs. Falsehood runs rampant throughout communities of people who say they have Christ, and yet Christ does not have them—they trust in something more than the finished work of Christ. Worshipping a God of their own imaginations, they’re inculcated with a wrong theology based in humanistic reasoning. We can never come to know God that way.  

 

I remember several times throughout my 40 years of bible study (intermittently), when I’d read something I did not like. It didn’t fit with my idea of God. The enemy is good at offering us alternative meanings that we’re more comfortable with. But I praise God that I learned how necessary it was for me to humble myself and allow the Spirit to lead me into a proper understanding. The scriptures mean what they say. When the text is didactic, we cannot monkey around with its meaning, such as in the epistles of the New Testament. Where the text is a narrative, giving an historical account, we need to have more discernment from the Spirit. We must be very careful, prayerfully studying with a mind yeilded to the Spirit, before trying to claim a truth drawn from inference out of a historical narrative.  

To the intellectually humble, the Lord will give understanding and spiritual wisdom. Surprisingly, the very concepts we had difficulty accepting will be the same truths which end up blessing us the most. Often, we’ve simply had wrong understandings of them, or did not have the complete picture of that truth and the reason for it. Remember what God said, My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Mine are so much higher than yours—as high as the heavens are above the earth. This is why we MUST allow Him to teach us, rather than trying to reason from our own minds. He is God, we are not. 

 

“…Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2b 

“…Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:10 

 

By Scripture Alone — Sola Scriptura 

What we mean when we say “Scripture Alone” is that here on earth the only thing which has supreme authority over the church is scripture—God’s word. The church is to be in subjection to the scriptures, rather than any member or group within the church usurping its authority—going beyond or subtracting from what has been revealed within it. We do acknowledge that Christ has delegated some authority to His church (to be discussed). The bible not only reveals to us what the truth is, the scriptures are also our Master’s explicit instruction manual. Adamantly proclaiming that the bible is our only supreme authority on earth comes in response to the church’s errors of superseding and adding to scripture.  

 

Scores of heresies have been imaginatively promulgated and thrust upon congregants of various assemblies, compelling them to participate. The veneration of and praying to Saints is idolatry. There’s been the false notion of purgatory and selling of indulgences. There has been the priest’s erroneous use of absolution and forgiving of sins, and a host of other heresies which have wrought much harm to the true church. There was the practice of purchasing deceased loved ones from purgatory, purporting that it would allow them entrance into eternal life in heaven. These are merely a few examples of a plethora of errors which have plagued us. Not to mention the numerous atrocities perpetrated by the church’s use of false authority spanning several centuries. The bible does not support any of these things of which we speak. In fact, many of them are in direct opposition to what God has declared to us in His infallible, authoritative word. 

 

“This concept (Sola Scriptura) came to the fore publicly during Luther’s famous confrontation with the rulers of the state church at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521.” Dr. R.C. Sproul 

 

Scores of books relate these events and several films depict Martin Luther’s 1521 appearance before this Roman Catholic council. 

 

Martin Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the university of Wittenberg. Earlier that same year (1521) he’d been excommunicated by the Pope. His works subsequent to the 95 theses had set off a chain of reform all across Europe. He was then called upon to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire to answer for charges of heresy. Bound by Christ to remain faithful, he refused to recant.  

 

Standing before the papacy, Luther valiantly stated, “Unless I am convinced by sacred scripture or by evident reason, I cannot recant, for my conscience is held captive by the word of God.” He went on to state, “To act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, God help me.” 

 

Sola Scriptura was Luther’s primary thrust or emphasis at this trial before a spiritually illegitimate council, which had blatantly usurped authority over God’s holy word. And as Luther too had earlier pointed out, we know that it is possible for a pope, a pastor, or even a church council to err and make mistakes. Yet the word of God is perfect and does not err.  

 

The only absolutely authoritative written source of Divine revelation is the scripture itself. There is also what we call “General Revelation,” which is drawn from creation, as we see expounded in Romans 1:20 — “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  

 

Many of the Psalms too espouse this concept of general revelation—things we learn about God by what He has made. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1b 

 

In one of my recent messages, I stated that “Creation in its entirety is designed to reflect the glory of God. By observing the universe, we comprehend a glimpse of His divine; wisdom, love, power and splendor.” 

 

The scriptures are special revelation, rather than general revelation. Primary in the tension between Catholicism and Protestantism, from Luther on down through the years, has been over “Special Revelation.” Protestants proclaim the truth that there is only one source of special revelation, and that being scripture. But the church of Rome espoused the erroneous belief in two sources of special revelation—scripture and church tradition. But Sola Scriptura was not a concept born during the reformation. It was espoused by many church fathers throughout the preceding 1500 years. 

 

“The Scriptures alone are the proper source from which Christian doctrine and morals should be extracted.” Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) 

 

“I have learned to hold only the holy scripture inerrant.” Augustine 

 

 Rome held the Council of Trent in response to Luther and the Protestant doctrine. This council was spread out over a few years, holding various sessions. It was during the 4th session that the Roman Catholic church erroneously declared the truths of God to be found in both scripture and in the church’s historic traditions. The way it’s stated in the first draft of that session, says “The truth of God is contained partly in scripture and partly in tradition.” In effect this would mean that our doctrine should be drawn half from God and half from man. Granted, the traditions were from the history of the church. But the church is made up of fallible humanity. Redeemed or not, we are still not perfect. Not only is this so, but also: the bible is a perfect and complete revelation and needs no additions—explanation and exposition, yes—additions or subtractions, no. 

 

The bible clearly teaches that the idea which purports mankind can become perfectly sinless in this life, is glaringly false. If you’re not so sure about that, read Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7, which is only one of many references we could offer to demonstrate that what is known in theological circles as the doctrine of perfectionism is erroneous. But that’s an entire issue in itself which can be addressed at another time. 

 

Our focus here is to declare that scripture is our only source of written revelation and the only written authority that can bind absolutely (though it’s not the only authority). During the reformation came the affirmation that the bible was the “Vox Dei” meaning “Voice of God,” or the “Werbum Dei”: the “Word of God.” It is inerrant because it comes to us through God the Holy Spirit’s superintendence. The bible is inspired to the extent that God is its’ author, even though it is transmitted to us through human writers. Human writers, admittedly are fallible. But we believe that God so assisted these particular 40 human individuals so as to accurately transcribe His intended meaning, His words, without flaw. Scripture declares itself to be authoritative. 

 

 In wrapping up this compendium on Scripture Alone, I’d like to affirm that God has given the church on earth authority. It has authority to teach, exhort, rebuke and to discipline, according to scripture. It has the authority and command to preach the Gospel and shine the light it has been given. The church has authority to act as the preservers of the truths found in scripture. It is to act as salt in arresting corruption and in preserving the word of God. It is given authority to speak and pray in Jesus’ name. No, we do not deny that the church has been granted some degree of authority, and yet its authority is always subject to the scrutiny of the word of God, the Bible. And so, we proclaim “Sola Scriptura.” 

 

Please note the articles yet to come on the Five Solas. We will cover: Faith’s relation to works of righteousness, the grace of God, Christ alone is sufficient. And finally an article on the purpose behind it all: the glory of God. Blessings to all!

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, Reformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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