Growing in Faith

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.

set2

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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Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Alive & Active

Image result for feeding the poor

 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5

 

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17

 

There is a kind of faith that does not save, and the only way for you or me to distinguish between the faith of Christ Jesus that saves, and a faith that may profess Christ but does not save, is by what that faith produces.

 

Jesus said, “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 NLT

 

Being aware there’s a possibility of having a false assurance of salvation makes me want to be absolutely certain. I don’t want to go through life thinking I’m saved if I’m not. Jesus makes this truth exceedingly clear in several passages. One such scripture is Matthew 7—in verses 22 & 23 Our Lord said,  “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

How horrifying would that be?

Once we are fully assured of our own salvation and we are continuing to grow in that faith daily, God’s love should compell us to compassionately speak the entire truth to all. When we do, it’s usually not popular with the world, but also with many who have joined themselves to the church and yet are still of the world—those who don’t know the real Jesus Christ.

 

“A faith that saves is actively producing the virtues of Christ within the believer.”

 

The virtues of godliness perform—they do stuff—they’re active. The working of His Holy Spirit within is reproducing all the attributes of God in those who belong to Christ. In theological language it’s called being sanctified—set apart from the world to become holy, just as He is holy. Our works of righteousness (good works) can never save us, yet the reason God did save us is so that we can, and will, do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

 

Enjoy these beautiful lines from “The Book of Praise.”

 

Tis from the mercy of our God

That all our hopes begin;

His mercy saved our souls from death,

And washed our souls from sin.

His Spirit, through the Savior shed,

Its sacred fire imparts,

Refines our dross and love divine,

Rekindles in our hearts.

Thence raised from death, we live anew;

And justified by grace,

We hope in glory to appear,

And see our Father’s face.

Let all who hold this faith and hope

In holy deeds abound;

Thus faith approves itself sincere,

By active virtue crowned.

Categories: Christian Doctrine, Church, Devotional, Faith, Growing in Faith, Poem, Poetry, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing of the Soul

Discerning Thought Voices

 

 

Benefits

  1. Recognition of God’s Voice  
  2. Distinguish Nefarious Thought Suggestions  
  3. Better Self-control  

 

Tell a psychiatrist here in the western world that you’re hearing voices in your head and there’s a high probability you’ll be assessed for some type of mental disorder, like schizophrenia. According to the Mental Health Foundation, staticians estimate that from 5 to 28% of the population hear voices others do not, or are not able to hear. (1)

 

But doctors are now aware of a small percentage of people who simply have an amplified version of what all of us experience in our minds.

 

On the other side of the globe, in India, the concept of silent inner voices is well accepted. They refer to these as angles, with good angles being the conscience, and bad angles are that which encourage us to ignore it. The bad keeps our minds zeroed in on materialism, and includes things like lust for power and wealth. A high level of awareness in this regard is referred to as a type of inner sight, or an inner eye. We’re familiar with the symbol of the all-seeing eye in the forehead. Mankind is capable of coming up with all sorts of creative imaginings to explain away things in the spiritual realm using anything but the truth.

 

It is my assertion that we all have various silent voices that sound from within us, and while it’s certainly interesting to hear the beliefs of those who love to mystify the spiritual, those are simply manifestations of human pride. It’s very similar to the Gnostics of Apostle Paul’s day. They loved to set themselves up as gurus—mystics who possessed some secret knowledge to impart to their disciples. And some tried to mix this with Christianity, giving rise to the gnostic heresies. Today Gnosticism is alive and well, yet has taken on many different faces; that’s a topic for another time.

 

After reading medical journal articles about people who do not have a mental disorder, yet still hear voices in their heads, I was intrigued. Later the same day while studying the bible, I connected some stuff God had already taught me with what the psychiatrists, psychologists and other researchers have avowed. Thank the Lord! He’s helped me sift through the falsehoods espoused by those in psychiatric feilds who do not hold with a Christian view. That’s not to say they don’t get many things right.

 

I’d heard it often: Christians who say, “God told me such and such…” I remember dismissing them without a second thought, but I was wrong to do that. Allowing God to educate me on how to be more gracious, I now understand what those believers meant. God does speak to His own. The bible often refers to heeding the voice of the Lord. It is in the way God goes about speaking to us that we sometimes get confused.

 

The fact is, all of us hear voices inside our heads, we simply don’t hear them with our ears. We think in words, and technically we can hear ourselves think. As we read this sentence right now, we can hear ourselves reading in our minds. Everyone has hearing of the mind, or what most theologians refer to as the soul. To each of us it sounds a lot like ourselves, because it’s our own inner voice. Yet, we hear these thought voices at various levels of amplification. If these were external sounds we could measure the volume in decibels. About now, some might hear the voice of their thoughts asking, Where the heck is this guy going with this? 

 

Let’s just say that I am convinced—some of us are able to distinguish voices from within, which are not our own, in the same manner that you hear your own thoughts. How distinct and loud these thought voices sound to us, is in proportion to each person’s level of awareness, combined with practice—learning the requisite discipline. Yes, this ability can be developed. Again, it’s louder and more pronounced for some folks than for others. In fact, before we’re through I hope we’ll note the benefit of fine tuning our capacity for distinction in this type of inner hearing. It’s my prayer that if we haven’t already, each of us will learn to differentiate between inner voices, but especially to recognize the voice of the Lord. And yes, I am connoting that we all hear silent voices in our minds, some that are our own thoughts, and some that are not, but sound like they are.

 

The importance, then, of knowing whose voice said what becomes vital. Aware of it or not, we have bad thought influencers that sound from inside us, which often come as suggestions, yet they masquerade as having come from ourselves. And then we have the voice of the Lord. If you’re keeping track that’s three sources, or voices, contributing to our thoughts: our own, the forces of darkness, and God. The Holy Spirit will often prick our consciences, which then actually does become our own inner voice, influenced by God’s goodness.

 

With my interest peaked, I sought whatever secular resources I could dig up on the subject of inner voices. Then I went to the bible in hopes of discovering if there were any scriptures which might pertain to the same. After all, if I’m being deceived into believing every single thought in my mind originated from myself, when in fact it did not, I need to know about it. It’s my mind and I don’t need some nefarious influence deceiving my thought processes. I’m quite capable of thinking wrong thoughts all by myself. If someone, or something is suggesting corrupt thoughts and fooling me into thinking they are from my own mind, that could prove to be catastrophic.

 

My substantiation for this post is God’s word. I believe the entire bible to be the infallible word of Almighty God, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. That’s why I’m citing the bible as my corroboration of these things, for the purpose of validating the existence of various inner voices that speak to our minds. And the necessity of recognizing whose voice said what.

 

Silent Prayer 

Do we pray? Do we expect an answer to our prayers? More precisely, do we expect to hear an audible voice in response to our prayer? No? Then why did we ask a question in prayer, if we did not expect an audible answer? That’s right, God utilizes many different means of communicating with us. We hear mentally audible answers far less than we’d like. Nothing worthwhile ever seems to be easy. But then, thousands of believers testify that they sometimes hear God’s voice, usually in the mind. There are also some who believe they’ve heard God’s voice with their external ears. I believe it just happened to be louder than usual in their minds, and so they thought they heard it with their ears.

 

Pandemic difficulties arise when we do not distinguish God speaking through our thoughts, speaking to our hearts.

Many true Believers are not aware of ever having heard the voice of God inside them at all. But the fact is, they have! They’ve heard it, and not realized it. More often than not, they attributed what they heard to their own thoughts.

 

Peppered throughout Scripture we find references to heeding, hearing, listening, obeying, and following God. We have Jesus the Son, God the Father and His Holy Spirit—AKA: Spirit of Christ. When a believer is walking in the Spirit, they are fully capable of hearing an actual voice from within: the voice of the Spirit.

 

In John 10, Jesus reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.

 

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…” John 10:27. If we follow Jesus then we are His sheep. He said we hear His voice. I want to make certain I always recognize the voice of the Spirit of Christ. That’s why I practice and exercise this ability, and every believer can do the same.

 

Was Jesus talking only metaphorically about hearing (in modern translations it’s listening), or did He mean it in a more literal sense? I believe it to be literal as to Him speaking in our minds. But yes, He also means paying attention to Him — obeying Him.

 

God’s voice has a primary means of speaking—it’s called the bible. It saddens me to hear Christians say they’ve never heard God’s voice, when they’ve never read the bible all the way through, even once.

 

A little earlier in John 10:4, Jesus had said, And when he (the Good Shepherd) puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” Jesus says that we who follow Him will recognize His voice leading us. He leads us both from within, and from without. This connotes God’s word (the bible) and an audible inner, or “thought” voice from His Spirit. Both are paramount.

 

Verse 5 saysBut they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize his voice.”

 

Anyone pretending to be Christ is an anti-Christ, a false shepherd and is of the evil one. The bible warns us about our powerful adversary, the devil. He is quite capable of suggesting thoughts to us, often about another person. He employs our weaknesses of the flesh against us, especially our pride, or lust, or greed, or self-centeredness. He offers thoughts that fit right into our flesh’s view of things—and makes it feel good. But because something feels good does not make it right.

 

Recognizing Christ’s voice, here in John ten, I believe indicates both determinates. We gauge the source of each thought by what was said, and by the actual sound of the voice. Optimal results are gained by using both measures concomitantly.

 

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

 

The primary way we distinguish the Lord’s voice requires knowing Him through His word. The Spirit speaks to us as we read and study the bible to help our understanding of what we’re reading. But we can benefit from this ONLY when our minds are yielded to Him. Everyone has preconceived ideas of what the bible means before they open it the first time.  Some preachers may tell us to leave those notions outside the door. Yet what we really need to leave outside the door is our pride—what we think we know. One must diligently guard against confirmation bias!—truly allow God to lead our thinking.  I’ve found that often the Lord will use the false notions we had, and show us how ludicrous they are. As He straightens out our false beliefs we can say, “But Lord I thought such and such was true.” He can then show us how what we had thought was wrong, and the light of His truth will bring the greatest clarity, with joy, to our hearts and minds.

 

Once we understand theological truth better—when we know what God says in His word, about Himself and about mankind, and we know the accurate meaning of His words (hermeneutically), the Spirit can then bring those truths to our remembrance when we need it. I recall a time when I was all set to give in to a particular temptation, which I’d done periodically (a sin in my thoughts accompanied by a physical action). I knew it was wrong, but just couldn’t seem to overcome it. Well, I was getting ready to do it again.

 

I heard the Lord very loud in my thoughts, speaking a bible verse that I had known well.  But I hadn’t read it in several years. It sounded a bit like my own thoughts, but was different. Trust me when I say, at that moment my thoughts were as far away from the bible as they could be, and from God. It rang like an ultimatum: “Choose you this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:15)

 

I was terrified, trembling like a leaf in the wind, and almost soiled myself. It was suddenly a whole lot easier to resist that temptation! What I heard that day was definitely NOT my own thoughts. It was so loud that, at first, I believed I’d heard it externally.

 

 Knowing the Lord and understanding His word will insulate us in the truth.  

 

Knowing God intimately also empowers us to instantly detect false teaching or preaching. And can set off alarm signals when the evil one suggests wrong thoughts to our minds. When a demon suggests a thought that goes against what we know God has said, we automatically know it is not the voice of our Lord. Remember the devil is an imitator and he’s extremely good at it. He does thought-voice impersonations—both our own, and God’s.  We do not heed, or listen to that voice. Instead, we resist that thought/voice, and the evil influence will flee at the mention of Jesus’ name (if we are in fact in Christ).

 

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

 

The enemy, Satan, is also capable of making suggestions to our minds. He’s very good at imitating the sound of our own inner voices, and every so often, he tries to imitate the voice of the Lord. But to the astute listener, subtle, yet distinct differences are detectable between the actual sound of a demon’s voice, their own thoughts, and the voice of Christ. The difference in the sound, however, is the secondary manner in which to distinguish who said what. The best and primary determining factor of whether or not to heed the voices inside our heads (thoughts) is comparing what’s said with what God’s word says.

 

The Spirit and the Bible will always be in perfect harmony.

 

The Spirit will NEVER contradict, or go against what the bible says, but the enemy, of course, will. Ideally, God’s word and His Holy Spirit, should have complete rule over both: our words and actions. After spending much time being obedient, our thoughts are also trained in righteousness, and when that’s the case, we are extremely difficult to fool! Allow me to restate this—The Spirit and the bible will always be in perfect harmony. They are the double check, to be certain we are doing and saying the right things in the right way. It is learning to discern the Lord’s voice and comparing what we hear with God’s word, these are the two fail safes that victorious Christians employ.

 

There is a ton of information I want to share here, but this post is too long already, so I’ll drive in a peg right here until next time.

 

The following is a link to great post to edify and further prep our minds.  https://www.allaboutprayer.org/hearing-gods-voice.htm

 

  1. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/h/hearing-voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Research, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Power to Spare — Part 2

Welcome to the life giving words of God that we will be using in this post. I hope you’ve read part one of this series. Reading the book of Colossians will help you to understand the context of what we’re talking about—living in the power of the risen Christ!

be-prepared

In our Colossians text we find an empowering master key, both for conquering sins of the flesh, and for practicing godly relationships in the church, the home, the workplace, and the world in general. Here in Colossians the Spirit in essence is saying: 

To win against sin, live in light of your new identity in the risen Christ. 

 

  1. As Christians, we all battle against the sins of the flesh. 

Occasionally you’ll meet a dear saint who claims that he lives above all temptation and sin. That he or she has learned the secret of victory, where they abide in Christ to the point that sin is never a problem! They intimate that they have no more temptation, and they always respond correctly, with never even a wrongful thought. I wouldn’t purchase a used car from a person who says that. In order to disprove their claim, just talk to those who live and work with them. You’ll no doubt hear a different story.  

 

I pray that every one of us is able to admit our continuing need for God’s grace and mercy, and confess that we fight a daily battle against the sins of the flesh. These sins are mainly what Paul has in mind when he directs us in Col. 3:2 not to think “on the things that are on earth.” That phrase is repeated verbatim (in the Greek text) in verse 5, where Paul tells us (literally) to put to death our members “that are on earth.” He goes on in 3:5 & 8-9, to list many sins that we may struggle against: immorality, impurity, fleshly passion, evil desire, and greed, along with; anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying. Paul wouldn’t tell us not to have our minds characterized by these sins, and to put them to death, if we were not going to face some battles concerning these things.  

 

Through the new birth (regeneration or salvation), we are radically different than we were before. We were once enslaved to sin, but Christ has set us free—free to choose the things above and walk in the Spirit, rather than being controlled by the lusts of the flesh. Our old nature, however, was not eradicated! It’s up to us to seize upon the power made available to us to resist temptation by walking in the Spirit, which is relying on God’s power. It is great news that we are no longer bound to obey the demands of the flesh. As Christians, we have to actively fight against these sins, BY living in the victory that Christ won for us. Though we still sin at times, that’s not what we want to do—we want to be holy as He is holy. Our hearts and minds have been redeemed, so that we now want what God wants. And that brings us to the question: How can we be more obedient to the One we love? 

 

soldier

 

  1. To win the battle against sin, we must understand our new identity in Christ.

 

These verses are very Christ-centered. Paul mentions “Christ” four times in four verses. There are two sides to our identity in HimFirstly: 

 

  1. We died with Christ.

In Colossians 2:12, Paul states that we were “buried with [Christ] in baptism.” And then in verse 20 he says that we died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, which I believe refers to a rules-based approach to God. Now again in Col. 3:3 he explains, For you have died Jesus wants us to understand that when we trusted in Christ we became identified with Him in His death. (See, also, Rom. 6:3-11; 7:4, 6; Gal. 2:19-20; 6:14.) 

 

The problem with this truth is that I don’t feel dead toward sin, or to the world. In fact, to be honest, when I am tempted to sin (which is often), my old nature feels very much alive and well! There’s a strong inner desire to indulge in sin because the sinful flesh is still in my body waging war against my mind, but it’s not in my spirit. So then, what does it mean that I am dead to sin, in Christ? And how can this help me to overcome sin in my life? 

 

One answer lies in our remembrance that death, in the Bible, never means cessation of existence, but rather, it means separation. When we die a physical death, the soul is separated from the body. To be identified with Christ in His death means that I am separated from the power of the flesh, from the power of sin, and from the grip of this evil world. I am now a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, so that I do not have to obey the sinful laws of my old country, of this sinful world. 

 

I like using the illustration of a man who was a citizen of a country which had imposed a 6 p.m. curfew, but then he moved to the United States and becomes a citizen there. He’s no longer under that old curfew law. But because he has lived under that old law for so long, he still may feel if he’s bound to keep it. But the truth is, he’s not. He died to that old law and its power over him so that he now can live under the new laws of freedom that characterize his new country. 

 

Here’s a different analogy of the same principle. I grew up sort of country, so I’ve seen a lot of old cars sitting up on jacks in people’s yards. If you’ve ever seen a car with the wheels off the ground, you know that (if it runs) you can step on the gas pedal and the wheels will spin like crazy, but the car doesn’t go anywhere. The wheels are separated from the ground. When you’re tempted to sin, your old nature may get all revved up and make a lot of noise, but we now can say, “My old nature died with Christ—I am separated from its power.” It has been rendered inoperative, so that it doesn’t have to go anywhere! As Paul says in Romans 6:11, “Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 

 

Therefore, it’s not a matter of feeling dead to sin, but rather it’s a legal fact. If we’re joined to Christ by faith, we’re one with Him in His death. We’re divorced from the old life, which was like a tyrant, keeping us in sin. But now we’re married to a new husband who gives us new life and freedom from sin. But we didn’t just die—we have new life! The stellar flip side is this — 

 

  1. We have been raised up with Christ to the right hand of God.

 

Paul mentions this in Colossians 2:12-13: 

… having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. 

 

Now, again in Col. 3:1 — “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” In the Greek text the word “if” does not imply uncertainty. We can be certain. And Paul is writing that God wants us to consider the implications of it. Like being united with Christ in His death, being raised up with Him is not a matter of feeling, but one of fact. When Jesus was raised from the dead, if by faith we’re in Him, we also were raised. 

 

Being raised up with Christ teaches us that salvation is not a matter of human decision or will power, but rather of God’s mighty power imparting life to us back when we were dead in our sins. Salvation is not making a resolution to kick our bad habits to the curb, or to clean up our act. It rather involves the life-giving power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. It means, as the Puritan, Henry Scougal, put it, “The life of God in the soul of man.” It means that we are so united with Christ that He is our life! Col. 3:4 says When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
 

Just as a branch draws its life from the vine (John 15:1-6), so we must live in dependence upon the supernatural power of the risen Christ. We place no trust in our own human strength or will power, as if we merely receive a little help from God now and then when we think we need it. It means living in union with the risen person of Jesus Christ. He is our new identity. 

 

(To Be Continued)  Have  a Power packed day in Christ! God Bless You.

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Devotional, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Power to Spare — Part I

Applying God’s power to our point of contact with the world around us may not be as complicated as one would imagine. I want to address an aspect of Christ’s sufficiency that we don’t hear about as often as other facets. This post is the intro, or part 1. But first let’s talk about a super powerful truck — The Shockwave!

Shockwave

I’m a man who appreciates powerful engines, so I get all revved up when I come across copious horsepower. And when a truck is involved it’s like icing on the cake. So I was surfing around on YouTube and found a video about the “Shockwave Jet Truck.” It runs over 300 mph and races against fliers at airshows. This hulk on wheels holds the world record in the quarter mile for trucks, where it reached 256 mph in just 6.36 seconds. That’s some real power right there! This beast also holds the world record for top end speed in full size trucks, reaching 376 mph as recorded by Guinness Book of World Records. At 36,000 horsepower the Shock Wave has enough power to accelerate at three Gs vertical, which is just as much as the Space Shuttle! (wow emoji)

Okay, so the builders might have gone a little overboard in creating such a super-truck. But this is a great illustration for the power God makes available to every believer. Christ is much more than sufficient for every task, situation or circumstance.

The Bible teaches that God provides everything that you and I may ever need.

God has all the power we will ever need and plenty more to spare, for any and all the issues we find ourselves having to face.  

 

Colossians is a great book for studying this subject!

 

*NOTE* — I urge you to read the book of Colossians in preparation for the truths I will be presenting in the next couple of posts. Some really dynamic stuff will begin in the next post (Part 2). I will provide some of the verses written out here for us (NIV), yet not all of them.

 

Colossians 1:11— “…Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” 

The “all” in the above verse indicates both; the different kinds of power we’ll need, and the fact that the supply is beyond ample.

 

At present I have friends whom God is empowering to face cancer. Numerous others have lost loved ones, and others friends are dealing with poverty. One of my ministry partners added that God provides us with the power of wisdom, direction and purpose. God gave Sampson physical strength beyond our imaginations. Today we find ourselves living in an age when we need the power of courage to stand up for truth, and to proclaim God’s word to a lost and dying world. God empowers the words we speak, and there are plenteous other ways that God empowers us, of which time would not allow us to exhaust.
In the same way that a 36,000 horsepower jet engine is so ridiculously over juiced in a land vehicle, possessing more than enough power to propel a truck, Christ’s power is far above commensurate. He empowers everyone who places their trusting faith in Him—affording us the dynamic, engaged through faith, at the split second of need—that we may live a victorious, transformed life.

 

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules…?” Colossians 2:20 Whenever I read that “we have died with Christ,” I would sometimes scratch my head in wonder. I know the Bible says that I’m dead to sin, but I don’t always feel dead to it. Often I may feel kind of faint to it, but it’s difficult to feel completely dead to it. In light of this reality, what does it mean to consider our old selves dead in Christ? And how can we apply these scriptures to our battles against sin in a practical way?

 

Paul addresses this issue in Colossians 3:1-4 — Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (underscore mine)

 

First mentioned is how we who are saved have died with Christ, and then is added the corresponding truth: that we’ve also been raised up with Him. Paul also gives what, at first glance, sounds like rather impractical advice. “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth.” Paul is saying, To be capable of operating in the sufficiency of Christ—to have our works empowered by God here on earth, we need to be more heavenly minded, instead of so earthly minded.

 

To understand our text, as always, we need to view it in context. In the previous verses, Paul had been exposing the rules-based, asceticism of the false teachers—the Judaizers. Of whose false doctrine he says, is “of no value against fleshly indulgence.” In other words, observing those things from the law has no power to actually help us in our struggle against sin. In fact, the law only exposes our sin and makes it more difficult to always do what pleases the Lord. So he’s first showing us what does not work—what has no power to help us live in obedience to God.

 

Then in verses 5-9 we are exhorted to put to death the members of our body with regard to a list of sins that characterize the flesh—our old life. Scholarly Paul then elucidates the qualities that characterize those who’ve been redeemed. It’s quite revealing that now, instead of giving us the precise good virtues, he takes us straight to their application in our earthly relationships.  He utilizes some common relationships we find ourselves dealing with on a day to day basis: between wives and husbands, children and parents, and then between workers and bosses—how they should relate to one another (Col. 3:18-4:1). Finally, in chapter four, verses two through six, he exhorts the church to prayer, and to wise witness. He concludes the letter with a lengthy personal section in verses 7-18.

 

In the book of Colossians we find an empowering master key, both for conquering sins of the flesh, and for practicing godly relationships in the church, the home, the workplace, and the world in general. Here in Colossians the Spirit in essence is saying:

To win against sin, live in light of your new identity in the risen Christ.

 

That’s our intro. —For the sake of keeping these posts as short as possible, I’ve divided this study into three separate posts. Because I know your time is valuable. But if you think it’s important to have every single tool that God has to give us—if you feel it’s urgent that we learn how to live victoriously in Christ, then I pray you’ll visit for the following two posts as well.  Within the next couple days I will post part 2, and then within another couple days, the third and final part of the study. Be sure you’re set to receive notification when new posts are presented. Thank you and have a super power packed day!

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning Spiritual Insights

croc

At a church I attended some time ago there was one guy who would say things about me, and to me, that sounded like veiled criticisms. It had the same affect on me as fingernails on slate—it was really irritating. His words came out as feeble attempts at joking jibes, and this was a constant thing. But underneath it all, I could detect a hurt feeling, as if I made him feel a little “less-than.” I didn’t realize this in the beginning, but thankfully I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and He is super wise. Cutting me down, while making it sound as if he was only kidding was a way for the poor fellow to express what was going on inside, without anyone calling him on his badmouthing.

Lots of people suffer insecurities, and often those feelings will rise to the surface in both word and actions, often distinguished through facial expressions and body language. These feelings, though usually unfounded, do stem from legitimate needs that are not being met: such as the need for self-worth—healthy self-esteem. Sometimes there are deep rooted emotional injuries from childhood that have never been addressed, hence, have never healed.

At first, his words hurt my feelings and stirred a bit of anger. My knee jerk response was to let fly right back at him with a wittier slam than his, and being a writer I’m quite able in that respect. In fact, I actually did that, and later felt really bad about it. So I repented, and then told the man I was sorry for saying what I did.

A couple days later, while in prayer, God’s Spirit of wisdom showed me that there were underlying hurts and heartaches in that man—some past trauma at the root of the problem. This is something God teaches us to do—be discerning. The Lord has even given us His Holy Spirit so that we’ll have the power to know and understand things that are going on in the spirit world, in our own spirit, and in that of others, like my criticizer. God knows all things, even our most secret motives, and often He shares needed information with us, if we will remain open to receive it. God then affords us the power to respond in the right way, with discernment, discretion and healing love.

God has taught me to pray about everything, and this was one of those things I definitely needed to talk to the Lord about. For one thing, I had to be certain I wasn’t saying or doing things that would perpetuate this man’s feelings of some form of inferiority.

“Lord, why does he feel that way in response to me? Have I said or done something wrong to him?”

Well, as usual, God did not answer in the way I wanted or expected Him to. Perhaps I was hoping for something like, Oh no, you’re fine, Sheldon. It’s that man’s problem and he should not be talking like that.

But instead, I was simply given direction as to what I should do. I sensed God speaking inside me. You may be wondering, ‘How do I know it was God talking?’ Because it’s not what I myself would have thought of, or done in response to the situation. And, it was in keeping with God’s very nature of love and compassion. And, it was in harmony with other things that, as my educator, God has instructed me to do in the past. I’ve already told you what my own human response was, which came from the sin nature. Yes, I’m still growing, but so are all believers.

The Lord said something to the effect of “Ask him to do something for you—something that you don’t know how to do yourself.”

Hmm, that makes sense, I responded. Yes Lord, I will. It’ll make him feel better-than, instead of less-than, and I’ll get a lesson in humility.

“Now you’re thinking,” is what I believe the Lord was saying at that point.

As it turns out, the guy is a whiz with computers, and I owned a laptop that had crashed. Fixing it would require a set of skills that are completely out of my purview. Now I can fix a car and sell it too—I can write some pretty fancy words and even pitch some woo. But when it comes to computers: software, malware, Tupperware; all that jazz, I have to leave it to those nerdy types with skinny necks and pocket protectors who look as if they may take over the world some day.   Sorry about that, I got distracted by my funny bone.

He did a great job fixing my laptop, for free, and he even gave me a beefed up hard drive. That guy was tickled rosy to show me how smart he was, and I made sure to stoke that sensation in him. Ever since that day, he has stopped criticizing me and sometimes he even asks me questions about the bible. I think he and I are becoming friends outside of church too. Now, if I can get him to open up about his past, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to counsel him, and get him to seek the Lord’s help in addressing whatever the root of his dilemma may be. God sure does know what He’s doing. All I have to do is pray, then listen…and then do.

Blessings.

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Ending Journey

On this spiritual journey of faith in Christ Jesus, it is often difficult to locate mile markers to know how far we’ve come. But looking back over the past several years, it’s exciting to see the obstacles to our goals that have been overcome.

trail

For instance, on my journey of becoming more like Jesus, I can see myself forgiving others just a bit more easily than I did a couple years ago, and that’s very encouraging to me. This process of sanctification, or being made holy will not be complete for any of us until Jesus returns.

 

When others, who don’t want me to achieve anything at all, show their evil contempt by their actions and treatment of me, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers as easily it used to. Of course, I still have a very long way to go. But I cannot take any of the credit for my growth, not at all. Every good change that has taken place in my character has been done by God, simply because I asked Him to help me. He’s given us who are saved His Holy Spirit to help us along on this arduous trek —all the way home.

 

As I pondered the specific things that I’ve learned along the way, and things God has led me to do, so that I’d continue growing spiritually, several things became apparent. It became noteworthy that others just might be helped if I were to share some of what God has led me to do. That’s why I’ve put together some bullet points as an easy to use checklist each day—simple. though vital reminders that need to stay with us. It is my prayer that someone out there will be blessed by my sharing them.

 

 

Spiritual Health Tips

(A Bakers Dozen)

 

  1. Confront (face) the issues in your past that hurt you, with Christ as your Counselor—He is your healer, not time! If you don’t, your past can be very harmful to your future. 
  2. Ignore the naysayers and those who criticize you. Listen only to what God says about you. 
  3. Replace all negative thoughts that come into your mind with good, positive & constructive thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Your happiness & satisfaction are found in Christ alone, so, don’t seek them anywhere else. Examples: finances, relationships, social status, etc. He will give you those too…when it’s time. (Luke 9:23)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to understand the mission God assigned to you, and, be on guard against those who don’t want you to succeed—avoid them when possible. Rarely, but sometimes, you must act in order to be vindicated. (John 21:22)
  6. It’s your journey, but not yours alone: Jesus walks it with you. (Hebrews 13:5) 
  7. Encourage others who are on their journey with Christ, help them, walk beside them for a while. Offering your hand will strengthen both their walk of faith and your journey—be kind. (1 Thes. 5:11)
  8. It’s okay to not know everything—wise people always seek counsel and they ask many questions. (proverbs 15:22)
  9. Acknowledge your flaws, while working to overcome them in the strength God provides. Everyone is flawed, everyone has weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect except God. (Proverbs 16:18)
  10. Live one day at a time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) 
  11. Never compare yourself to anyone on earth. Compare and measure yourself only by Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:29) 
  12. Humility is difficult to maintain & requires supernatural assistance from the Holy Spirit, and yet it is a key to great spiritual power. Secretly performing kind acts of service is a good exercise for developing humility. (Matthew 6:1)
  13. Smile, and don’t be so critical of yourself, Jesus loved you long before you even knew His name. (Psalm 143:8)

 

You already know the Christian disciplines of daily prayer and bible study, fellowship often with other Christians, and all the rest of them. Say a prayer for me as I continue my journey, and I’d be pleased to pray for you as well. Blessings.

 

P.S. We love you too. crop graceme

 

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hello 2018

image

It’s another year, already? Just the other day I saw this really old looking fellow and wondered how fast time was going by for him, and then I realized, Hey, I went to high school with that guy! It made me feel older than the Dead Sea.

 

Gone are the times I’d wake up New Year’s Day and recall wearing some woman’s bra as a headband while showing off my lack of dance skills the night before. It was no fun worrying over what other ways I may have played the fool while too drunk to remember.

 

Just like lots of folks, I used to jump on the band wagon with all of the New Year resolution stuff, and more often than not I failed to keep my resolutions. Some of the most common determinations people make are things like; lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with family, or complete a long procrastinated project. I seemed to do okay for a month, maybe two, and then other things always usurped priority, leaving my resolutions to fizzle out like a dud firecracker. But since Jesus has become the focal point of my life, I have only one resolution which remains a constant every year: to be more like Him.

 

Experts say that making resolutions is a good thing. It causes us to take a good look at ourselves, and register an internal inventory. The worst jerk in town just may wake up to the fact he’s a numbskull and decide to do something about it. As evidenced by the huge self-help genre of books, I think all of us have things we’d like to change and that probably should be changed. The key is in staying motivated to make the improvements so that our commitments can maintain impetus. A good way to accomplish this is to mark one day every month on our calendars to revisit what it is we said we wanted to do. Perhaps a goal map would be in order to chart our progress, just as with any goal.

 

By definition a resolution is a determined course of action, or, the state of being resolute.

 

As followers of Jesus we must often renew our decision to die to the old sinful self; that we may live for God, following the leadership of His Holy Spirit. Even the Apostle Paul found it necessary to “die daily” (crucify his self will), so that Christ could be better formed in him. That fits nicely with another definition for the word: resolution; it’s the one used in photographyThe fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image.

 

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are predestined by God to be conformed to the “image” of Jesus Christ, His holy Son. (Romans 8:29)

The onset of a new year is a great time to take a good hard look at how well we’ve been representing Jesus as His ambassadors here on earth.

How fine tuned is the image of Christ in us? Do the people we come into contact with see Jesus in the details of our lives?

As we look to our hearts, do we see a high definition image with good resolution of the holy Son of God?

 

Hopefully we will reflect on how well the image of Jesus was portrayed in our lives over the past year. Though we should do so every day, this is a good time to renew our resolve.

 

I hope you’ll pray this short prayer along with me.

“Lord Jesus, help me to become more like you over this next year. Please set Your Holy Spirit to work on me. Your word promises that God will continue the work of sanctifying me and maturing me in holiness, until you come to take me home and fully complete that work. Forgive me for times when I saw something else as more important than spending time studying my bible and praying. Father, help me to yield myself moment by moment to You, so that Christ may be seen through me with fineness of detail throughout the coming year, amen.”

 

One day the image of Jesus will be perfected in us when we shall be “Raised incorruptible.” (1 Cor. 15:51-58)

 

But until Jesus returns, let’s joyfully continue renewing our resolve to walk in the Spirit in close communication with our Lord, so that His image may shine forth, reflecting His light of truth and His love to the world.

 

May your resolve be strong. Happy New Year!

 

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Broken To Become Whole

break

Brokenness in the Christian experience can refer to bad and harmful brokenness, but more often it refers to a necessary state of dependence upon the Lord. This is a very good type of brokenness.

In her book The Broken Way Ann Voskamp testifies about the benefits of becoming openly broken together—of being transparent with each other about our brokenness and our weaknesses. She says there’s winsomeness when we are vulnerable together. Another woman who is from a long line of farmers was conversing with Ann and proclaimed how she clearly comprehends this brokenness as being like a seed.

In John 12:24 Jesus teaches the following.

 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.”

 

When we can allow ourselves to become openly vulnerable with each other, the seed hull breaks open to germinate in the nutrient rich soil of God’s word as it is discussed in a group setting such as a bible study.

 

“A yielded life, surrendered to God yields the most.”—Ann Voskamp

 

If we hope to be glorified we must be crucified with Christ and die to the old self-life, as Paul so succinctly expounds.

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. Galatians 2:20

 

This is in perfect union with Jesus words in Luke 9:23 “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves…”

As excruciating as death sounds to human sensitivities, it is required. It is the secret to receiving great spiritual power for renewal and transformation, which, every soul of great faith has received from God’s Holy Spirit imparting the new life within.

 

This brokenness or death to the old self is clearly counter cultural. The world’s way is to avoid suffering, pain and brokenness. Here again, we see the upside down ways of God’s wisdom compared to the world’s perspective and beliefs.

 

How do I live my life surrendered to God, dead to self and alive in Christ? It is by my willingness to be broken by God. It is humbly accepting that I do not know, and God does know, so I must surrender my mind to Him. The world itself is broken, and yet, God is able to break the brokenness of the world and create a new wholeness, a new life which produces more of the same.

 

When a seed or kernel is planted in the ground it must break open, and then the embryo breaks through the earth to rise up and become a stalk of wheat with a full head of kernels. Because the seed yields to brokenness, the seed eventually produces many more seeds.

 

And so in our lives, as we prayerfully learn from the scriptures, humbly yielding every thought and each area of our lives to Christ, He brings to life in us ten times more than we have surrendered.

 

“…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

 2 Corinthians 10:5b

 

If we could only see with His eyes how puny and haggardly the things our old lives cling to actually are, we’d drop them like glowing embers. During this maturing process, God does give us sight—light to see how destructive those things of the old life really are. We begin to lucidly perceive things from a spiritual perspective, and then wonder how we could have been so blinded by our old fleshly desires.

 

The Spirit will tell us to let go of that putrid practice, that immature way of thinking, that old disparaging habit, our pride. He will say, “Here, take these diamonds and emeralds instead.” Because, what God gives in return is worth exceedingly more than what we must surrender to Him. We could compare allowing ourselves to be broken with scrapping an old jalopy and exchanging it for a shiny new Rolls Royce. And to giving up a position as the janitor of a company in order to become the CEO of that company. And with trading the strength of a deathly sick Pee Wee for the strength of Sampson. And to trading ignorance for wisdom, knowledge and discernment. And to handing over our ticket to the lake of fire in exchange for a ticket to paradise. But without allowing ourselves to be broken and remade, we will not receive any of the good things God has to give us. We must become Broken Vessels.

Broken Vessels By Hillsong

 

If we hope to truly live we must put our old sinful nature to death, while nurturing the new life we have in Christ. We do so through prayerful study of God’s word, fellowship with Godly people, removing worldly stimulus, and all the rest of what the Spirit of God leads us to do. See you up yonder!

For more on Brokeness in relation to the Christian experience see this post and others from the site I received the opening image from: Sovereign Grace

Categories: Bible, Books, Christian Living, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Passion For Holiness

As time slips through my fingers, scorched by the hot irons of multitudinous responsibilities I juggle, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain three blogs. That’s why I am praying for guidance while rethinking which venue the Lord would have me focus upon. During the interim, as I seek the Lord’s direction, I decided to share here today my most recent Youtube video from my channel for extended friends and family, and that includes my church family. I call these little informal episodes of edifying  information, encouragement and bible teaching: “Coffee Talks”. That’s because I love discussing spiritual things over a good cup of coffee. If you believe becoming more like Jesus is important, this talk is for you.

Become Beautiful

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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