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Marks of a True Disciple

 

Prologue

There are those who may not know the benefits of being a disciple of Christ—the sweetness of life He affords. How could they fathom the depths of love, as rich deposits of precious ore to treasure up through their relationship with Him? If only they knew the provision of every need, and fulfillment of every purified desire. They haven’t yet experienced the assurance of hope and the spiritual wisdom—the perfect guidance. Never once having tasted of a joy that’s genuinely supernatural, nor the fulfilling contentment and peace of righteousness.

 

 Fair Warning

 

To some folks this straight-shooting post of biblical truth may sound extreme, difficult, even ominous. The time for sugar coating has passed, and I must be bold as instructed. I pray for courage. Others will nod in recognition of biblical truth, with joy, and they too may discover new areas of their lives that the Spirit now desires to take possession of, for Jesus.

 

Marks of a True Disciple

 

In the Gospel we find the word disciple used for three different groups of people. There were the curious ones responding to all the hubbub, as people tend to do. Or maybe, they came to hear what Jesus had to say. Yet once they understood the demands Christ makes upon His followers, they’re the ones who went away and “walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). Others were intellectually convinced, but they lacked the kind of faith that saves, so they, too, stopped following as soon as they realized Jesus was not doing what they expected Him to do. They looked for the restoration of the earthly kingdom to its former glory, as when David and Solomon reigned. Thay watched for the Messiah to take the throne as Israel’s Sovereign. There were few who went all the way with Jesus, but these… they are His true disciples.

 

To be quite direct, what Christ asks of those who believe on Him is a total and complete submission to Him—the same submission a slave gives to His master. Most were not ready for such a heavy sacrifice.

 

 

The High Cost of Being a Disciple 

 

  1. Obedient to the word of God: A true disciple sinks his roots down into the word of God, so that by the bible he’s guided, directed, nourished and supported by, as well as being empowered by the Spirit to obey.
  2. Surrenders all to Christ: Self must be placed upon the altar and sacrificed: a denial of self. All that a person is changes through yielding up their own will in favor of God’s will. They also surrender their bodies, their intellect and their emotions to Him.
  3. Loves: A disciple always yearns and strives to love like Jesus, exhibiting an unselfish response to human needs. They demonstrate the same kind of love Christ has shown to them. Jesus became not only a servant, but the suffering servant of all. He doesn’t simply tell them how to be, He lives it, shows it, as He often demonstrated, like washing the disciple’s feet, and then dying for them. He is the perfect paradigm. Awesomely, the One they’re to model their lives after always walks with them, empowering them unto goodness.
  4. Is a good Steward.  A servant is well aware that everything he has was provided by His Lord, hence his Lord has the right to everything he has. Most will soon learn that they simply cannot out give God. Jesus takes good care of His own, and the Father provides for every need.
  5. Hold themselves accountable to God for every thought, word, action, purchase, and every moment of time. These too are aspects of stewardship.
  6. Christ has right to be worshippedHe’s God. The Lord now has rights over the entire person: their body, their intellect, emotions, will, and possessions. All of their rights as a person must be surrendered to Him—all that they are and all that they have.  Christ is supremely trustworthy to hold and protect His disciple’s rights.

 

  • Jesus usually requires the sacrifice of something that’s precious to the individual. “Do you love Me more than this?” God may ask.
  • What He gives in return is always a great deal better than what was given up for Him.
  • Often, it’s a test of faith—faith will be tried and tested, tempered, stretched and grown.

 

Jesus’ call to discipleship says, 

“Give up your rights to yourself, your own will, your own way, submit to me as your Master.”

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” Mark 8:35 NLT

 

 

 

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Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Discipleship, Doctrine, Faith, God's Kingdom, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life’s Interruptions

Life has a way of interrupting our plans as unforeseen events crash down on us. The things we hoped to do, maybe even said we’d do, are necessarily pushed aside to take care of the unexpected. Our flight from the airport is delayed, or a major traffic accident puts us an hour behind schedule. Illness can sideline us without warning. So how do we prepare for something we don’t know’s coming? I rely on my faith in God and rest in knowing He has things well in hand.

 

I recall a time I was slated to build a cascading water fountain and falls on a client’s luxurious property. Getting ready to load up the truck, I realized there’d been a break-in the night before. Most of the tools I needed for the job had been stolen and it took most of that day to replace them. At first I was frantic, worried I’d lose the job. As it turned out, the next day my client discovered a new design he preferred over the original we’d decided upon. If I’d have begun the job on schedule, I’d have dug and poured the shape he no longer wanted. That would have required tearing it apart and beginning over again, wasting both time and materials.

 

We never know when sudden happenstances may interpose between us and our plans, commanding our attention. We need to remain aware that God may have other plans for us, to help grow us into more mature followers of Jesus. It tests and deepens our faith.

 

The unpredictable happened to me in a big way about a month ago. It has impacted this very blog. That’s why I sense a responsibility to my faithful readers to share the reason why our last series temporarily came to a screaching halt. I’ll offer the details on that momentarily.

 

I’ve sub-titled this site “Spirit Writer” with a definite purpose in mind. It forces me to continue growing and to discover new truths to share. I strive to remain spiritually relevant in my writing, hoping to offer nuggets of help to better equip us all for everything life may throw at us.

Thank you for walking along with me as I learn. My readers teach me a lot, and for that I’m very grateful. Besides that, I hope to build up, or edify the faith of my readers.

 

Prayerfully, I share what I pray the Spirit of Christ is leading me to write. I want to be a blessing and shine the light of God’s love to the world—the light He’s shared with me. It’s my hope that every soul would experience the joys of drawing ever closer to our awesome God. I have nothing special that nobody else has access to through an obedient relationship with Jesus. And yet, God’s word and His Holy Spirit compel me to extol the glories of God, to share the gospel of Christ, and to express His love that He’s planted in my heart. There’s help from God available for every situation in life. He confirmed this to me while giving me the strength to endure and the comfort I needed through a terrible freak accident.

 

Here’s What Happened

 

Being a care giver at home for my wife, Becca, offers many oppotunities for those unexpected events to throw a wrench into my plans. Becca was crossing the street at an intersection, gimping along with her rolling walker. She was heading to a little corner market that has all sorts of little goodies that women get excited about. It doesn’t matter that I have no idea why she likes that stuff, as long as it makes her happy. Suddenly, a big truck laden with scrap metals to be recycled came screeching around the corner. On top of the load were a pile of unsecured car batteries. The centrifigal force of a quick right turn slung the batteries off the back of the truck. Becca said they were like killer bowling balls speeding towards her, and she couldn’t get out of the way in time.

 

One of the heavy batteries bowled her over while another smashed down on her ankle, crushing several bones, another battery took out the walker. Thank God one didn’t hit her in the head. There she lay in the middle of the intersection, struggling to get up and out of the traffic which kept swerving around her. The truck never even slowed down or looked back, but kept going. Finally a bystander helped her to the curb. None of the witnesses took down a tag nunber of the offending vehicle; neither could they offer a description of the truck.

 

It took reconstructive surgery and a very long screw up through Becca’s heel bone to knit her ankle back together. I praise God they were able to fix her up. She’d just recovered from another major operation, during which she almost died twice. Now this.

A few days ago Becca arrived back home once again. She spent weeks at the same rehabilitation center she was at just a few months ago. Things are finally getting back to normal.

 

Taking care of my disabled wife takes priority over everything else, including this blog. You are all very important to me, and yet the Lord indicates that I should take care of my own household above all else. So I’m back, praise God!

 

I believe everything that happens in life is allowed by God, for a specific purpose. Both the good and the bad, just as Romans 8:28 teaches us.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

 

I don’t have to know the reason why this happened, because I trust that God is good, and that He has His reasons for allowing bad things to take place. Now to get back to work on what we we’re talking about before I was sidelined…LORD WILLING! He’s teaching me that when, either making, or announcing my plans, I should always make room for unexpected interruptions and include those two words: “Lord willing.”

Stay Blessed.

 

 

Categories: Accidents, Christian Living, Faith, God's timing, Growing in Faith, Schedules, The unexpected, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The New Heart God Promised

 

Praise God for His holy word, the bible. Thank God for His Holy Spirit who lives inside us. And as previously stated, I thank God for the multitude of wonderfully adept bible expositors and preachers that God has provided us. We’re left with no excuses to offer: “Lord, I didn’t understand.” Or, “How was I supposed to know what You wanted me to do?” Even on earth they say ignorance is no excuse. God has made these things clear to us and revealed Himself through His Son and the bible. So let’s continue studying God’s word while listening to those biblically sound teachers and preachers.

 

God revealed to me how there are three things that must take place before anyone is even capable of becoming a faithful, fruitful, and productive follower of Jesus. And to live for the Kingdom of God.

  1. We must know and understand God’s; will, plan, purposes and promises.
  2. We must love God, His will, plan, purposes and promises.
  3. And finally, we must actively engage God’s will, plan, purposes and promises.  

 

There is, however, a huge problem that effectively precludes all people from being able to do these three all important things. In our unsaved state—the condition into which people are born, we are sinful at the core, having our very nature corrupted. Mankind cannot understand things in the spiritual realm, and God is Spirit. The will of mankind has been rendered rotten by the affects of sin and the curse. In our natural inward persons, we’re not capable of doing these three things. I can unequivocally and didactically state such. That’s why we must first be born again, born of the Spirit, and given a new heart—the bible very clearly teaches this.

 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

Here’s the same verse in the NIV, which might be a little easier to understand.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

 

We need God’s Holy Spirit, AKA Spirit of Christ living inside us before we can do those 3 things. And we cannot have the Spirit, unless we have placed our faith and trust in Christ Jesus and been saved. We also confess Him before others and are baptised, demonstrating our faith in and obedience to Him.

 

In the bible, the heart refers to human will—man’s desires.

Humankind’s will is faulty. We need a new will, a new heart. This is what God has promised to do for us! if we will simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (See also John 3:3, 2 Cor. 3:3)

 

Only then, are we finally capable of learning, embracing and doing the will of our Creator and God, who loves us beyond comprehension.

 

We must be radically changed in our nature. We are freed from slavery to sin by denying our old sinful nature, which is self-centered, and, by receiving the power of God’s Spirit inside.

Our God has placed moral obligations upon us, and we’ll never be able to keep those obligations until we are converted. We become a new creature, and God, through regeneration places a new nature in us, and gives us;

  1. A new motivation
  2. A new desire
  3. A new understanding
  4. And a new power! He dwells in us.
  5. And a New Life in Christ!

 

We did not have to work for our salvation, nor for our new heart. It was impossible for us to earn or merit God’s amazing grace. But from here on out, there’s lots of work for us to do, the first of which is to learn how to think with our new heart. Our old way of thinking must be placed upon the altar and sacrificed to Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us, now, He shares Himself (His character and power) with us. We give ourselves to Him—deny self, take up our crosses and follow as He leads. This is absolutely essential to living the good, productive Christian life Jesus wants to help us gain. God wants us to be fruitful.

 

Jude 1:24 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” 

Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Faith, God's Kingdom, God's Will, new nature, Salvation, sin nature, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

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

The World Needs More Kindness

“Everyone you meet is facing a battle you know nothing about, so be kind.”

That’s the admonishment we hear promulgated. The bible says to be kind. Through our life experiences we discern how well this rings with authenticity. But, I decided to test the veracity of that adage anyway, and the results were amazing. I became inclucated with an awareness that I’m not as informed about people as I previously believed.

 

In my quest to know things, as usual, I learned how far less I actually discern about people. To me, my friends were the obvious choice for study subjects, and I was jolted to discover important things about them I never knew before. It took some dilligent, yet gentle persuading to get some of them to open up to me in this way—to expose and share their vulnerabilities. I reciprocated with my own personal stuff—secret hurts. The blossoming of our resulting relationships has now filled our hearts with the essence of love, understanding and acceptance towards one another. The investigation was small in number, only seven people, eight, counting myself. What I’m about to share is highly personal, so I’ve given my solemn word to maintain their anonymity. That’s why I’ve assigned each of them a pseudonym.

 

I had no idea of the fear that my friend, Marci faces every day.  At 15 years-old, a male relative abused her trust, along with her diminuitive body. Many years later she still has difficulty trusting anyone at all. It hinders her relationships, and because she’s aware of that fact, she often cries herself to sleep. But if you met her, you’d think she was a highly confident and an easily entreated person—trusting even. Marci is kind to a fault, and she loves helping people. Every time she sees me, I know there’s a compliment coming my way—just a really sweet woman.

 

Russell is one of those nerdy guys you’d expect to meet at a gaming convention. The golden thumbed player holds several high score records on half a dozen video games. Kindness emanates from his presence. At the young age of ten, Russell’s father was killed while serving in Afghanistan. The boy retreated into the gaming world in search of solace. Today in his thirties, he seems closed off from people, unless they engage with him first. Then, he’s highly personable, obviously in search of acceptance.

 

Phillip fled from drug cartels in his country of origin, who had put out a kill order on him. He was accepted into the U.S. as a refugee, and I understand he also helped the DEA with information on the cartel. I didn’t know that, and I’ve been his friend for 8 years.

 

Life of the party types, both Marty and Allison suffer from deep bouts with depression and anxiety. They’ve both lost jobs because of it, and both said they feel a need to keep most people distant from them. You’d never surmise as much by speaking with them, or by being a casual friend, as I was: they’re both great at concealing their horrendous dilemmas. It’s not brought on because of any cirmustances—it’s a chemical imbalance, and medications only seem to make it worse. I’m so grateful to have become closer with these two beautiful souls.

 

Finally, Tina indicated her constant paralyzing fear of rejection. As a child her mother abandoned her at age two, and her father abused drugs and is still addicted to Meth. Made to feel worthless, Tina has difficulty understanding her value as a human being. Everyone deserves to be loved, accepted and cared for. But she never tells anyone about this. Silently she suffers, while her feelings of inferiority grow, being confirmed daily by mean spiritted people who only care about themselves.

 

Yes, everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. I’m fighting my own. What if all of us were to double our efforts to be kind, understanding, and caring with everyone we meet? Can we each do our part to make other people’s lives a little easier? I promise to double my own efforts. This world has plenty of hatred, judgment and animosity. What it needs is more love, and shiploads of kindness.

 

(The Bible teaching series entreating us to Join God’s Plan, promises to get good!)

Next time. Love.

 

 

Categories: Christian Living, depression, Faith, Fighting a battle, Good People, Kindness to strangers, Love, Ministry, People, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Prison Poetry

Television networks like A&E make a fortune off of airing footage from inside state prisons. People seem intrigued or curious about what goes on inside those walls. There’s even a site online that sells memorabilia once owned by infamous prisoners. There’s a great deal of art, music and poetry that flow out of the prison systems as well, and often hand crafted products. I’ve known dozens of fine Christian men who are incarcerated, and I enjoy visiting with them. Some have now served their time and been released. Today I’m offering up this short poem written by one of those friends. You may find it odd, or different. It was written by my friend, Frank H. in Westville Correctional Facility, an Indiana State Prison. He has since gone to be with the Lord.

In honor of Frank H., a man completely transformed by the love of Christ. Miss you bro!

Image result for man penitentiary window

Solo Party

 

Havin a party—it’s here, inside

No, you can’t come in, cause I’m me alone

It’s just a cup of joe

A penitent man and a radio

Walking down this beaten path

That’s winding through my brain

Listen now, and hear me laugh

A bend in time to kill the pain

Outside my window, upon the horizon

The sun paints colors there

Inside my windows, a glimpse, just one

Freedom blazes a gala fair

Behind the walls, inside the fence

The state penitentiary

My body’s here, they have this dust

But my spirit, it is free

 

Living a Christian life behind bars is not easy, and Frank had many challenges, and faced physical danger daily. Yet whenever we corresponded, he was always more concerned with how I was doing. He constantly assured me that he was praying for me, and he loved to share the bible with others.

 

The next post from Series On Doing God’s Will is coming very soon.

Please subscribe to be notified of future posts. Thank you and have a suprememly blessed day!

Categories: Christian Living, Incarceration, Jail House Religion, People, Poem, prison, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.  

good life

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.

 Image result for lehman strauss

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!  

BBN Radio

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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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

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!

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