Posts Tagged With: Bible

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

Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)

Image result for bible

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

By Scripture Alone — Sola Scriptura 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Thought I Knew My Bible

Image result for majestic nature

”Venturing into God’s love and wisdom is the greatest adventure any soul can experience.”

 

As I continue doing research for my next post, I hoped to offer something here during the interim—something that was a blessing to me, and so am hoping will bless my readers as well. My mom sent this poem to me—it’s one of those that I realized was expressing thoughts very similar to those I’ve had in the past. So I kinda sorta wish I had been the one to write it, but I did not, and the author is unknown. Whoever it was, I completely agree with their words and have experienced this lack, caused by my own slack, but also have often witnessed this dilemma in others.

Enjoy.

 

I Thought I Knew My Bible

 

Yes I thought I knew my bible, reading piecemeal hit or miss,

Now a bit of Psalms or Proverbs, now a verse in Genesis.

Certain chapters of Isaiah, certain Psalms, the twenty-third,

Twelfth of Proverbs, first of Romans; yes I thought I knew the word.

But I found that thorough reading was a different thing to do,

And the way was unfamiliar, when I read my bible through.

 

You who like to play at bible, dip and dabble here and there,

Just before you kneel a weary, and yawn a hurried prayer.

You who treat the crown of writings as you treat no other book,

Just a paragraph disjointed, just a crude impatient look.

Try a worthier procedure; try a broad and steady view.

You will bow in very wonder, when you read the bible through,

And through and through.

 

Author Unknown

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Faith, Poem, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Waiting in Hope

waiting

 

Leading Israel’s army, Joshua waited seven days for something to happen as they marched around the walls of Jericho. It must have felt like a silly thing to do, but this is what God had told them to do. Their patient trust was finally rewarded as the walls fell down, just as the Lord had promised. Without the hope that faith secures, waiting on God can often seem a difficult task, and can give rise to doubts. But that’s only when we’re not operating in faith.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the promised pregnancy with Isaac in their old age. God had promised to make David king over all of Israel, but it wasn’t until waiting about 18 years before that happened. The Jews waited centuries for Messiah to come, but then He came. For ten days, Jesus’ disciples waited in Jerusalem for the power of God’s Holy Spirit to come. My own mother waited for several decades for her prayers to be answered. But finally, I fully surrendered my heart to Christ.

A person who lives in submission to Jesus Christ is someone who is often called upon to wait. And yet there are many good things we can be doing while we wait. Waiting time is not wasting time. With eager anticipation we all wait for Jesus to return and take us to our home in heaven. Yes, these are things that, as Christians, we must learn to do well—trust, hope and patiently wait.

 

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

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Alcohol For Christians

alcohol

According to Google, among the most frequently asked bible questions have to do with what it says about drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and getting tattoos. Today I’d like to focus on the first one: Alcohol.

Let’s say I drank a couple fingers of 18 year old Macallan scotch. Have I sinned? Answers from pastors around the world are as plentiful and varied as the shoes in Nick Cannon’s closet. But we can’t settle for fallible people’s opinions. As believers we want to know what God has to say, and so we look to the bible under the Spirit’s guidance for answers. After all, God is the one we want to please.

 

If you wonder how God feels about you drinking, I strongly suggest you take a moment right now. Pause from reading this post, and pray—ask God for discernment and clarity on this issue once and for all. And then continue reading. My own prayers before, and while preparing this post, consumed much time, and I fervently sought the Holy Spirit’s counsel. The optimal means of gaining absolute certainty on this, as with any issue is to prayerfully excavate truths from the bible under the Spirit’s direction. I’ve provided several passages from which I hope to offer perspective. But you may want to buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy ride with a few switchbacks along the way.

 

Is alcohol evil and sinful? No. But what we do with alcohol can be sinful. So, is drinking alcohol sinful? Yes and No. Clear as mud, right? Stay with us.

 

It’s a no-brainer that ALCOHOLISM IS SIN. Just about anything done in excess is sin, e.g. gluttony. A myriad of passages condemn being a drunken sot, or a glutton.

“…nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1st Cor. 6:10

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 1 Peter 4:3

 These are but two out of a plethora of passages that unequivocally identify drunkenness as sin.  So if we habitually get drunk…then yes, it’s sin.

 

I’ve included bible quotations that cover both the pros and cons of this most ancient of beverages. As with all spiritual issues, we must also look to passages that do not mention alcohol specifically, and yet, they set a spiritual precedent.

 

The following verse mentions wine, and we must apply it correctly, viewing it through the lens of the bible in its entirety. Scripture interprets scripture.

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. Psalm 104:14-15 (emphasis mine)

God created the earth primarily as a habitation for mankind. He told us to subdue it, to manage and utilize it. God wants us to enjoy what He has blessed us with—it’s all for our benefit and enjoyment.  Other verses, however, give strong warnings that expose the dangers of drinking too much wine. Anything, when combined with human weakness can become sinful.

In this last passage, the Holy Spirit indicates that alcohol, specifically wine, gladdens our hearts. It has the ability to make us glad or happy. But we can’t simply drive in a peg right there, or wave that verse around as validation for drinking any time we get the urge. There are other considerations—it doesn’t always make us glad, in fact, sometimes it can make us sad. The devil is in the details. Here’s another positive verse.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Eccl. 9:7

Honestly, I don’t yet feel qualified to exegete that verse—I never fake it when it comes to passages I’m not real solid on. I included it only because I was led to do so.

 

Jesus & Wine

We’re all familiar with Jesus’ miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding celebration in Cana of Galilee. (See John 2:1-11) Throughout the bible we see wine used in joyous celebrations. Can you imagine how good the wine Jesus made would taste?

Many well-meaning, but woefully misguided people of God have assayed to perform a little miracle of their own. They attempt transforming the wine of this passage to mean unfermented juice. Come on now, let’s stop trying to change what the bible says. It says wine—it means wine. Jesus drank wine, but this in no way makes it right for everyone to do so in every circumstance.

 

I remember my strict grandmother who attended church every time the doors were open. She was a very devout Christian woman, for which I am deeply thankful. But I was surprised when I learned she took a glass of Mogan David wine before bedtime to help her sleep.

Medicinal Value

In Paul’s first letter to his protégé, Timothy, he advises him to “Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” 1 Tim. 5:23

Here, we see that alcohol has medicinal uses that God approves of. It’s also good for use as an antiseptic, killing most every germ and bacteria known to man. But alcohol also kills skin cells in your; mouth, throat, stomach and digestive tract, and we know that habitual use damages internal organs.  As the redeemed, we are now the temple of God, so we want to respect our bodies and take good care of them. We’ve already established that God has given us many things from the good earth to utilize, but we must do so wisely. Remember, alcohol can be a slippery slope, and that’s why we get so many differing answers. There are several spiritual precepts we should consider before we opt for a bottle of Bordeaux, or whatever kind of scamper juice you happen to choose.

 

In Christ we have freedom—liberty. Under grace we are freed from the written code, and now obey God out of love for Him. The Spirit of Christ resides within believers, affording them the power of God—to give them power over sin, so they have the capacity to live godly, pleasing Him while conforming to Christ.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1st Corinthians 10:23-24

 

Enter the Law of Love!

During my spiritual infancy I heard a great sermon on the Christian’s freedoms by Chuck Swindoll, and then another by Charles Stanley. Subsequently, I read books by both men about it. “Liberty on a Tightrope.” The title itself is revealing—sometimes it’s a real balancing act to know when it’s okay to exercise our freedoms. It requires wisdom and discernment that can be procured only through a close relationship with Jesus. Yet our sin detection is based upon love, and I’ve learned that love has many faces.

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. Romans 14:21

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1st Corinthians 8:13

I’m simply going to say, “That’s love,” and allow those two verses to speak for themselves. They are commands that we are to take literally and very seriously.

Here’s a PDF for an excellent article on this subject of our freedoms, and those who would deny us our freedoms. It’s by an astute Doctor of Theology: “Tyranny of the Weaker Brother.”

 

Caution: speed bump ahead! Do you have your seatbelt buckled?

Sinning Against Conscience

When our consciences question whether or not what we’re doing is sin, we should take heed. Whatever you believe to be sinful, for you, it actualy becomes sin, no matter what it is. If I think it’s a sin but I do it anyway, it is sin. Even if some misguided person believes using musical instruments is sinful, for them it’s a sin to use musical instruments. To do so would go against their God-given and God-governed conscience. They believe it is wrong and yet choose to do it anyway. That’s called willful sin against the conscience. Personally, I know God approves of musical instruments, so for me, I can use them with a clear conscience. For me it is not sin, and the same goes for alcohol. But out of love, I will not do so in the presence of a weaker brother or sister in Christ who thinks otherwise, or else I could cause them to violate their conscience, and sin.

 

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16


God knows our hearts and our consciences. When we’re saved, the Holy Spirit directs our consciences, but we must remain attuned to Christ for this to be so. We can be deceived by false doctrines. We can be lured into participating in something that could tarnish our testimony for Christ. Or, we can have our freedoms chained up by wolves among the flock. And… Heaven forbid that by my drinking, I should embolden a brother or sister in Christ to drink, who has been enslaved to the old loony-juice in the past.

 

Consider this. Though slight, just one ounce of alcohol impairs our judgment, enervating our decision making prowess. We are commanded to be self-controlled. How can we be certain we’ll know when to stop drinking? If you’re going to indulge, you may want to determine the amount before you drink. If you’re at home, pour your set amount, and then put the bottle away.

 

Grandma used to say, “All things in moderation.” We shouldn’t be given over to anything, or to anyone, except to God. It’s easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re controlling our drinking when it could be the other way around. Again, we are to exercise self-control. It’s difficult enough to control our fleshly urges without having our commitment weakened by alcohol. We’re talikng about a fruit of the Spirit here, meaning, that God’s Spirit helps us maintain control so we can follow Him. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) The Spirit provides for us the genuine article, not the false relief alcohol provides.

 

I cannot tell you whether or not using alcohol is okay for you, unless you are an alcoholic, and then it IS sin. This is something that’s between you and the Lord. He will give you the answer that’s right for you, as an individual. You will need wisdom and spiritual discernment. And you must consider all the variables, of which, I’d like to add one more.

 

Idolatry

When I turn to other things instead of to God when He has all we need (peace, joy, comfort, etc.) it is a form of idolatry.  If I turn to alcohol to help alleviate my hurt feelings or depression, anxiety, or because I’m angry, instead of seeking God’s provision for relief from these, then I’m turning to an idol. Anything we put in the place of God is idolatry. He provides peace and joy, security and wisdom and guidance and anything else we could ever possibly need. Every so often, that may include a tall glass of wine. Always seek God’s counsel on all decisions in life, and at all times. The following verse illustrates the truth of these things.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…”(Ephesians 5:18).

Noteworthy in this verse is the fact that our beloved comforter, Holy Spirit, provides for us the supernatural gifts of joy, contentment and inner peace. It is, however, often that believers have not yet learned how to call upon these helps, and will instead reach for an artificial means of feeling better, like drinking alcohol.

The following is straight from the bible’s book of wisdom.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Proverbs 31:6

 

When experiencing deep grief, the loss of a loved one, you’re dying, or when enduring tremendous pain, God has provided a little additional relief in alcohol. This verse appears to indicate we can use (but not abuse) alcohol for these purposes.

 

In conclusion

We’ve disclosed how wisdom, discernment and self-control, coupled with personally seeking God’s counsel make all the difference in discovering what’s right for each individual. Sometimes drinking alcohol is sinful, and other times it’s not. Alcohol is sin for some, but not for certain others who may lose their self-control by drinking. There are benefits of drinking and there are many hazrds of the same. So I pray I’ve left you with some pertinent truths to ponder. As you take this issue to the Lord, ask Him for enlightenment concerning each of the variables we talked about.

 

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. Proverbs 20:1

 

God Bless You!

 

Categories: Addiction, Alcohol, Bible, Christian Living, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gore & Love Intersect

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“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 

 

As a boy of ten years, I kept a scrapbook filled with images of lions and tigers hunting. Many of them depicted gory kills. Several decades later, I can still picture the blood covered faces of those vicious beasts. One day my mom happened upon the bloody pictures I’d been saving. Understandably, she became concerned that I might be turning into some sort of twisted, sadistic kid. Blood has a tendency to make us recoil in horror. But my fascination had to do with a compulsion to understand death.

 

Many old Christian hymns include references to the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. Here’s one example—an old favorite performed by some promising musicians. “Nothing But The Blood” 

 

It’s the blood of Christ which cleanses us from our sins. What picture could better display the awful consequences of sin upon the world than grisly blood? God has a good reason for the use of blood in the bible. The blood used in the old sacrificial system of temple worship was a foreshadow of the blood of Christ. Justice demands blood.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it drastically changed mankind—even the earth was changed by a curse. The consequences of sin are exceptionally horrific. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a  

And, God says that life is in the blood. “For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Leviticus 17:11a  

And so, spilled blood is synonymous with death—and death is the penalty for sin.

 

As a lasting and stark expression of sin’s staggering cost, God clothed Adam and Eve with dead animal skins. This signified the horrors that the world would experience as a result of sin. Sin brought with it; sickness, war, a curse, slavery to sin, and death for every person since Adam and Eve. Some of the animals changed from herbivores into carnivorous creatures—the images of which I kept in that childhood scrapbook.

 

God has taught me that I should be aghast and horrified at the prospect of sin. It should make me shudder in horror—the same response one would have to a bloody, gruesome death.

But it’s in man’s fallen nature to trivialize sin, rather than to acknowledge its true devastating make-up.

 

Because of God’s awesome love for you and me, Jesus allowed His own blood to be spilled, taking that awful death penalty in our place. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, (from John 10). The macabre sight of His blood flowing down to puddle in the dust, proclaims God’s monolithic love for you and me. Do you see the importance of the blood? If not, you do not yet understand the way of salvation that God has provided for us. His blood equals love, atonement, propitiation, forgiveness and salvation.

Bloody gore and love intersect at the Cross of Jesus. ©

 

Below is Alan Jackson singing  Are You Washed

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Cross of Christ, Devotional, Faith, Salvation, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God’s Revealed Truth

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In Mark 7:3-13 Jesus condemns the traditions of men when those traditions take precedence over God’s word.  Note, however, that not all traditions are wrong, or bad.  Apostle Paul wrote, saying to follow the traditions he and his missionary team had preached to the churches they had established through the Spirit’s leading.

 

Let’s read a short bible account that includes some of Jesus’ teaching.

 

Here are verses 1 through 9 of Mark 7.

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

“Jesus replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”

 

Our Lord then goes on to say, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

 

Jesus gave one example of how they did so in verses 10, 11 & 12. He then sums up the great truth He was teaching in the following verse (13). “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

 

We often hear theologians quoting other famous theologians in order to validate their point. But if they cannot find that particular truth in God’s word, then they are teaching falsehood and error. Don’t get me wrong, many of them are fine Christians and are saved, and yet they do not understand certain truths of God’s word accurately. A good indication of this is, as I’ve already stated: they reach to quote another man’s words, rather than quoting the bible.

 

Nowhere in scripture do we find a command from God that told the Israelites to perform the particular ceremonial washing the Pharisees referred to when they were accusing Jesus’ disciples of breaking God’s laws. Yet there were ceremonial washings God had commanded, but the Pharisees and religious leaders added additional ceremonial washings to God’s commands.
It isn’t so much that the teachings of men are always wrong or bad: it is when those teachings usurp authority over God’s commands, and over God’s word that they become abominable to the Lord. No man is to be our authority when it comes to knowing the truth as it is clearly set forth in the word of God.

 

As believers we are afforded the assistance of God’s Spirit residing inside us to lead and guide us into all truth (See John 15:26 & John 16:13 & 14).

 

“The bible is the only book we can read with the author Himself always present.”—Unknown.

 

The scriptures were written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and He knows precisely what He intended for them to mean. This is why we should always read God’s word prayerfully and submissively. Truth is the only right defense against falsehood and error. And we know that Jesus is “The Way, the Truth and the Life.”

 

On a personal note, I pray that you have a fruitful day, filled with the love of Jesus.

 

 

 

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Be Prepared

be-prepared

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” General Sun Tzu

I keep a slogan hung on the wall above my desk where each morning it reminds me of how important it is to start the day out right. It is the Latin slogan “Carpe Diem,” which means “Seize the Day.”

Though I’ve not yet reached dinosaur status, I’m far enough along to note how the longer one lives the more time seems to accelerate. The exceptional brevity of this life is especially noticeable when we juxtaposition it against eternity. There’s a sense of urgency to make the best use of the smidgen of time we’ve been allotted to prepare for the real life that is yet to come.

There have been days when I felt so rushed to get somewhere, or to accomplish what needed to be done that I neglected my quiet time with God. I was just now mentally comparing that forgetfulness with taking off on 200 mile drive and forgetting to fuel up the car. Those days never went the way they should have. I was not plugged into my source for all things needed, and my focus was all wrong, because I began thinking horizontally instead of vertically. It doesn’t take very many days like that to understand the seriousness of approaching every day under God’s direction, with eternity in mind.

Living in a sin cursed world makes it so easy to forget who we are in Christ Jesus. I need to prepare for whatever each day holds by first consulting the one who already knows what lies ahead.  Whenever I start out right I am more joyful, at peace and confident. I get more accomplished, and can see great purpose and significance in everything He leads me to do. It’s the best way to really make the day count for something. Even if it’s your job to scrub toilets, you can do the best job possible and make them shine, because you are doing it for the Lord. Whether I am teaching a class, building something, or simply cleaning up my dog’s poop off the side of the road, it is for Jesus, and that gives it importance. What a tremendous difference our perspective makes! When I remember to pull into the spiritual fueling station of God’s word, I am more productive—I can really seize the day!

One of the things I’m reminded of each morning as I read my Bible and pray, meditating and listening to God, is that I am a child of a king. We will one day reign with Him. We don’t have to fear what may lie ahead. Besides, we know there’s a subtle and powerful adversary out there just waiting to try and trip us up. Since we know it’s coming, it is prudent for us to prepare to face temptation. Only a fool would go into battle against a Goliath like Satan without careful preparation, having some form of protection, and a weapon.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” SunTzu

In Ephesians 6 we are told of the gear we’ll need to do battle in the spiritual sense. Yes, you’ve heard of this before. It’s called “The Armor of God”. We first show up and then suit up. Verse 11 tells us: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Let’s briefly review each piece of armor. And please remember that if any one of these are missing, that’s the precise place where you will be attacked. The devil is a seasoned warrior—he knows how to take advantage of the slightest weak area in our defenses.

The belt of truth. God’s word, the Bible is our sure source of truth. When we are grounded and founded in His truth we don’t have to fear. It is difficult to deceive someone when they know the truth. We ourselves do not deceive; instead we reflect the light of God’s glorious truth.

The breastplate of righteousness Once Christ justifies us in the sight of God and His righteousness has been imputed unto us, we guard our righteous status. We do not return to the filthy sinful ways of the world that we have been cleansed from. This requires remaining in constant contact with the water of God’s word which cleanses us daily. We need that daily cleansing because we are going to make mistakes.

Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, We must always be ready to share with others how they too can be reconciled unto God. We must carry the Gospel message of salvation to the world. We must be able to share with others the scriptures which pertain to how we are saved.

 

Shield of faith, Faith is the catalyst that activates God’s power in our lives. Power to resist temptations and power to live a joyful and peace filled life. Faith is our shield against the attacks of evil: Believing completely and then acting based upon that belief.

The helmet of salvation, We must first be saved, establishing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, which includes a myriad of benefits. We must confess our need for God’s grace and receive the gift of salvation by placing our faith in Christ Jesus and in His work at Calvary and at the grave. Our response to salvation is then obedience to Christ (We did say He is now our ‘Lord’, right?). We do so out of love and appreciation.

The sword of the Spirit, The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, alive and active. It is sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow, it judges (discerns) the thoughts, intentions and attitudes of our heart. God’s word is a very powerful weapon against evil, in defending righteousness. But never use it against God’s own people. We learn to skillfully use God’s word to build people up. (But there’s also a time to tear down.)

We must carry God’s word in our hearts and minds if we hope to be victorious over the adversary’s schemes. Every day we must fine tune our focus in the light of a close relationship with Jesus Christ. The more time we spend with God, seeking His presence, the more power we assimilate into our lives. God is all-powerful. We need that power in our lives. It is a rough, tough world out there. But we don’t have to face it alone. Here’s a handy checklist.

  1. How is my focus today?
  2. Are my spiritual eyes open and perceptive to the underlying causes and effects going on around me, and within me?
  3. Did I spend some quality time with my sweet Lord today?
  4. Did I read my Bible and take it into my heart?
  5. Did I speak with Him and seek His counsel, His wisdom, and His purpose for me today?
  6. Did I start out clean and fresh, asking God to forgive my sins of yesterday?

If I’ve done all these I’m ready to:

CARPE DIEM – SIEZE THE DAY!

 

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Time To Rejoice

rejoice

 

There are nearly a dozen hot button topics that have come up over the past week that I had hoped to expound. It would have drawn a lot more readers. But life kept on happening, effectively robbing me of the time I needed to plant my butt in the seat and type. But then again…

Today I want to block out all those other things bouncing around in my thinker, to relate what the Lord spoke to my heart this morning, through His word. Hold onto something now, we are entering my brain.  ☺

We hear the verse often, and most every Christian is familiar with it. I think there’s a danger in over using popular verses. When we hear them, our minds believe we’ve already received the full impact of that particular passage of scripture in the past, and so we don’t really think much about it. Opening my bible this morning, I turned to one such verse.

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I can say with confidence, I’ve read that verse lots of times over the years, and have heard it quoted even more. But let’s dig in, and see if we can draw some deeper meaning than what appears on the surface.

First, let’s list the topics that this verse includes. Certainly it speaks of God’s sovereignty: God is in control. He can do as He pleases. I’m thankful He is a good and loving God, aren’t you?

This verse also proclaims that the Lord is the Creator of time.

Trusting God through whatever the day might bring is another grand principle we need to apply to our minds, which this verse implies.

God is working out His grand plan for mankind corporately. He also has individual, personalized plans for each one of our futures. (Jer. 29:11) He is aligning circumstances and events so that His plan for you will be brought to pass. This verse shouts the topic of Divine Providence.

We should rejoice.

When we can rejoice in the Lord, regardless of what is transpiring around us, or happening to us, God is very pleased. It reveals that we are trusting the Lord, and acknowledging His sovereignty. We are showing our understanding of His providence. We are acknowledging His provision of all we need, and we are joyful over His love. So here’s the thrust of the message I received today. God led me to the book of Job to make the connection.

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 2:10

You should already know the story of Job, so I won’t get into that, but suffice it to say that God allowed Job to suffer horrendous tragedies in his life

Yes, it is easy to trust God in the good times of plenty and health. But what about the days when my sciatica is raging, causing terrible pain in my back? What about the days a migraine headache forces me back into bed? Can I rejoice then?

Often, I think I know what needs to be done in order for me to continue growing in holiness. I have mapped out how to best serve the Lord, and what I need to accomplish in order to minister to others. I have my days all planned out. But sometimes God interrupts my plans, with His plan. He might say, “No, Sheldon, today you need a headache.” Will I trust Him still? Will I rejoice in the fact that God knows what he’s doing, and that it’s all for my own good? Can God show love to me by allowing me to have a splitting headache? Yes! I may not enjoy the pain, but I can rest assured that God’s love for me remains intact. I can rejoice because I trust in His wisdom, which eclipses my own.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should shout, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer!” I’m not going to actually thank God for my pain. But I am going to thank Him that He is using my pain to shape me into the image of His holy Son, just as He has promised. I will praise Him for aligning events to coincide with, and bring about His perfect will, because His will is better than good.

Another popular verse states, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

If I am going to rejoice in the Lord at all times, even during a sciatica flare up or a blasting migraine, I will need to trust God. I must accept the bad along with the good, as did Job. I must believe that in His providence He is working all things together in a way that will bring about all that is good for me. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Perhaps I needed to be reminded today that God is in control, and that He loves me very much. Maybe I required a refresher course in remaining joyful over my relationship with Jesus. But then, maybe God simply wanted me to write all of this out so that you would be reminded of these things. Whatever the case, the Lord is working.

Not perceiving or acknowledging God’s loving control does not hinder His plans from progressing, not in the least. But it will harm us, and steal off with our joy. Let’s lift up the mighty name of our glorious God today and rejoice in Him! Because, as we all know, God is good, all the time!

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we praise you that you are a holy God, and we praise you for your goodness and your sweet love. May your mighty name be forever exalted. We especially thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to pay for our sins and reconcile us unto Yourself. What an awesome plan of salvation! It is so wonderful that we have this precious relationship with you, and with Your Son, through Your Spirit within. We pray for your will to be done in each one of us, and across the earth. Teach us, oh God, to recognize your Lordship over all things, and to rejoice in the fact that you love us so much. Thank you for providing everything we need to grow in goodness and in godliness. We praise you for nurturing us along, as we become more and more like Jesus. We love you, Lord! We praise your mighty name, Hallelujah! In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.

Categories: Growing in Faith, Ministry, Providence, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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