Posts Tagged With: Christian

Origin of the Bible

bible

It’s a fair question: “Can I trust my life to what the bible says?” Wasn’t it written by men? And yet, it, and Christians say it is God breathed. Let’s test the claims made about the bible.

Okay, so the bible is the bestselling book of all time. There’s no denying it has stood the test of nearly 2000 years, but what about the things Christians claim to be true about the bible? They say it is the inspired and the inerrant word of God, and that it is God’s special revelation of Himself to mankind. In fact, the bible itself makes these same claims about itself, but that certainly proves nothing.

This preliminary post, introduces a topic of fiery debate that can bring human emotions to the brink, and is the first in a new series, Lord willing. Today we merely want to peel back the first of multitudinous layers of discovery. Throughout this series we shall attempt to either nullify or verify the claims made about the bible, and my hope is that we may set aside all bias on both sides of the table, and simply examine the facts.

A scholarly or scientific mind can either verify or nullify these claims simply by applying the principles of logic, research, testing and study in discovering whether or not the bible truly came from a personal, all-powerful, Creator God.

“That’s precisely what we intend to accomplish.”

 

Logically, there are definitive qualities and characteristics one would expect to find if God breathed out the message of the bible, and if inspired holy men of God really did record it at His command, as the bible indicates. We will be checking some historical documents and studying the bible’s history. The first order of business would be to delineate answers to the normal, simple queries of who, what, when, where and how.

 

  1. The bible, as we know is not a singular book, but a compilation of 66 books.
  2. It was written by 40 different authors.
  3. It was written over a period of 1500 years.
  4. Moses began recording the Torah (law) which is the Pentatuech (first five books) 3500 years ago. Most believe this was during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The last book (Revelation) was written between 94 & 96 AD.

 

Some other easily verified facts are as follows.

 

  1. The bible was originally composed in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
  2. It addresses hundreds of various topics.
  3. It utilizes multiple genres, which include; historical, poetic, didactic, parabolic, allegorical, apocalyptic, and epic literary constructs.

 

It is interesting to note that the 40 men who did the physical writing were from a wide variety of backgrounds and stations in life, from royal monarchs to homeless vagabonds residing in the wilderness—from the formally educated, to those with only a rudimentary grasp of written language.

 

Sauer, in The Dawn of World & Redemption and The Triumph of the Crucified, writes: “In spite of all this vast diversity, the Bible reveals an amazing unity. First, it is one continuous unfolding drama of redemption from Genesis to Revelation; from paradise lost to paradise regained; from the creation of all things to the consummation of all things.”

 

Sauer was absolutely correct. Having read the bible through multiple times, I can attest to the accuracy of his statement. It is strange indeed that 40 different people who were vastly different from each other (most of them never met any of the other authors) that their writing would form a mosaic of one, single unfolding dramatic story. Most of them lived centuries apart. Some spoke different languages, and were of differing occupations. Not a single one of these 40 men ever received any form of monetary compensation for their contributions. Not one. It would be nigh onto impossible to perpetrate such an elaborate hoax spanning one and a half millenniums. The information they recorded was compartmentalized so as none of them had the complete story, and often did not have an inclination as to what significance the things they were writing would have in the overall storyline. That in itself is amazing.

 

Though it takes some correlating in our minds we will find that the bible has one centralized theme which centers around the person of Jesus Christ. He is referred to early on, yet this main character is not personally identified until we get to the New Testament. In the opening book of Genesis this redeemer of mankind: Savior, Messiah or Christ, though not directly identified, is spoken of as the seed (offspring) of the woman. Jesus of Nazareth is the only human person to be the offspring of a woman, and yet not the seed of a man. Speaking to the serpent the devil used to tempt Eve, God said:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15 This was God prophesying to Satan, alerting Him that a Champion would come from the woman’s womb and purchase people back to God.

 

Theologians confirm that this prophetic statement from God prefigures the virgin birth, or Immaculate Conception.  Further, it alludes to the defeat and overthrow of Satan (the serpent) and the redemption of mankind from the hand of death and sin through the Redeemer. He (the seed of woman) would inflict a head blow upon the devil, signifying complete victory over the enemy, who, at the time God spoke this, had just deceived mankind into rebellion against God’s rule over them. According to Christians and the bible, Christ’s work: His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, is the head shot that won the victory.

 

Approaching this study from a neutral perspective, however, let’s be fair. If God had a book written, there are certain things one would expect to be true of that book. Granted, some particular things could also be true of other books, but of a divinely ordained book, these things would be necessary.  Let’s look at the first ten items that would be true of a book from God.

 

  1. It would be historically accurate when it speaks on historical matters.
  2. Its authors would be trustworthy.
  3. It would be thematically unified and without contradictions.
  4. We would have received accurate copies of the original manuscripts (God would preserve His book).
  5. It would have unique characteristics which no other book has.
  6. The words of the book would have power to change people.
  7. It would predict future events with 100% accuracy.
  8. A book from God would reveal knowledge beyond that of the time it was written.
  9. Those whom God would use to record His word would be confirmed by miracles.
  10. Scholars agree that it definitely should claim to be God’s Word.

 

Now that we’ve identified the first layer of this research’s content, we’ll be putting the bible to the test with these and other essentials, as we seek the truth. For the sake of brevity, we’ll leave off here to ruminate until the next post, when we’ll see how many of these 10 things are true of the bible, and expose the second skin of study.

 

If all goes well, we will continue into increasingly deeper research with each post.

Have a productive and a peaceful day.

 

Categories: Bible, Books, People, Research, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Party Time

praise

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is lauded as a celebration that stands above all others. The fervor with which preparations are made and the energy that is put into such wanton partying certainly nears being unrivaled. But since when does drunkenness, debauchery, or simply an excuse to cast modesty to the wind deserve such acclaim?

 

Yes there are religious observances that are wed with this festival, both Christian as well as those enamored with various cults and Satanism. Christ does not hold hands with the devil, and neither do his servants. A true Christian is set apart as holy unto God and does not mingle with blatantly evil revelry.

 

It’s not that Christians do not party—they do, only their celebrations look much different than what is done throughout this heathen celebration.

 

In Christ Jesus is found the apex of joy and unsurpassable satiation of the heart, of the soul and spirit. The entire being: from the physical body, to the mind, and into the spirit washes satisfaction—a saturation of contentment flowing from God’s throne.

 

Rife with all good things, Christian celebrations always burst forth with praises, singing, shouting and dancing in joyous revelry in response to the richness of the abundant and eternal life our Savior affords. And as with most festive occasions there’s usually a lot of good food involved.

 

Magnify the mighty name of Jesus! Let His deeds be known!

 

Recount the blessings from His hands, and go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Such good news of God’s amazing grace is cause for His acclaim, His glory, and for our celebration of the Lord’s exalted position.

 

Free yourself to celebrate the gift of salvation, and shout your faith from the rooftops. Let us parade down the streets with signs extolling our God’s holy virtues, His love and provision of every good and perfect gift.

 

Cause the Father of lights to rise and clap. Bring a smile to the face of Almighty God by celebrating His wisdom, His justice—His holiness and purity.

 

Let’s lift our voices to sing songs of thanks and praise. Let’s do so in the public arena, in our homes and schools, and in our government buildings. Nowhere is God absent, and there’s no place that His presence does not fill. For this reason all places are right places to acknowledge and proclaim His goodness.

 

I just want to celebrate! (As a teenager that was one of my favorite songs by the group Rare Earth.)  Never has that been truer for me than it is today, as I ruminate upon our glorious God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let’s toast to His love, as we perpetuate that same love around the world.

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Love—It’s All In Your Head

love

Part One: Love and the Human Psyche (By the Scientist in Me)

Part Two: Loving Loved Ones Who Are Hard to Love (By the Minister of Christ in Me)

 

Love & the Human Psyche

Neuro-Psychiatrists tell us the human brain is hardwired in a way that we crave intimate relationships—that we long for love. Yet often those relationships end so horribly in heartache. A bad relationship leaves our fragile psyches bruised, or even completely shattered. Once bitten by love, some fear a repeat of that emotional trauma so much that they close themselves off and never again open themselves up to love.

A young man attending college sees a beautiful woman in class, and immediately he is attracted to her. Several weeks pass, and he’s made a few heart-felt, yet feeble attempts to speak with her, but every time he sees her the attraction is intensified. Something has been happening within the neural network of his brain.

Love has a way of rewiring our neural network. We meet someone, and similar to a virus, they occupy and alter our synapses. This causes our brain to release chemicals that produce arousal, attraction, or obsession. That special person becomes an ever present distraction; we can’t seem to focus upon anything but them. But we are not simply thinking about them all the time. Our brain is building a model of that person—a simulation of who and what we believe them to be. Our mind is actually predicting what they think, or rather what we want them to think, and even how they feel. So let’s say we’ve begun a relation with them. It may go well for some time.

Then suddenly our illusion of that person meets who they really are. Our simulation of them and reality finally collide like two trains heading in opposing directions. That person had no chance whatsoever of living up to our expectations of them, because we had a false view of who they were. Our mind was in love with the depiction our brain created of who that person was, rather than the actual person. This brings up the all important question: Did we ever really love their true person, or were we simply in love with our perception of who they were?

 

Loving Loved Ones Who Are Hard To love

(Previously published in “Christian Focus Magazine” June-July issue 2013 pg.42)

 As Phillip sat across from me with his elbows on my desk, his face in his hands, the quaking voice he emitted dripped with disappointment and sorrow. He was adamant that his wife Maria had changed completely after they were married, saying that she was not at all what he had expected her to be. When I also spoke with Maria, she said almost exactly the same thing about Phillip. Then, counseling both together, we discovered that they each had held very unrealistic expectations of the other, as well as a false view of each other from the beginning.

If we do not love God first, and understand our desperate need for the grace He gives, then the people we love will never meet our expectations of them. We will expect conformity to an illusion of what the perfect candidate for that particular role or relationship looks like.

When we come to Christ and see ourselves with clarity in the light of His holiness, how utterly detestable our own sinfulness becomes to us! It is only when we see ourselves for who and what we truly are that we can know what unconditional love is, for God has sent His own Son to die for us while we were yet sinners, while we are still in that wretched condition. The question is then begged: Do I really love this person who is so far from my illusion of what they should be? Our answer lies in the question: Has God demanded that we conform to a pattern of perfection before He loves us, or after His act of grace and mercy, after He has proven His love? He loved us first, and then acted upon that love with grace.

Speaking of our old sinful nature, Paul writes in Gal.2:20 “I am crucified with Christ”. In dying to the old self, we crucify our illusion of who and what we ourselves are, and of what that loved one should be. The weakness of the flesh perpetrates and perpetuates these illusions in our mind. The Spirit of Truth, or Holy Spirit, reveals truth. Jesus Christ is the truth, (John 14:6), and ALL truth can be found through a relationship with Him.

 

Expect your expectations to change!

 

With our illusions shattered by the illuminating reality found in Christ, we can decide to love unconditionally. We must begin granting grace and mercy to our loved one. Suddenly, our expectations are pure. They have not been lowered, but are now reasonable, having grown out of an accurate knowledge of who we really are, and hence who they truly are. We are now empowered to lead them to the same truth in Jesus to make the changes they need to make. We certainly cannot judge them (we are or were in the same condition) and we can now truly love them, for our disillusionment—the breaking of our illusion, has given us the ability, the power to love them into change.

There are 3 steps toward our loved one becoming what we need in that relationship.

Know the truth found only in a relationship with Christ Jesus.

Love unconditionally as we have been loved by God. 

And grant them the same kind of grace we have been given.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:20

Phillip and Maria just had their second child. After fifteen years of happy marriage, they say their love for each other has now grown to a beautiful maturity, and life together is wonderful, thanks to Jesus Christ.

 

 

Categories: Christian Living, Romantic Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

God’s Matrimonial Marvels

unity

He was less than attractive to look at, but one might say he was cute, if, that is, they were fond of pugs. When hearing Earnest Farnsworth preach, it was impossible to miss the passion in his voice. Accentuating this auditory indicator was his body language, with movements akin to the conductor of some grand orchestra. Right down to the drool on his chin, Earnest’s messages poignantly manifested his love for people, and for God. Oh he was a beautiful soul. That turned up little nose of his, though repulsive to the casual observer, became a beloved feature to those more astute, who knew him well. Many came to adore this man, whom strangers called ugly.

Some Christians have attempted to conceptualize the physical appearance of the Apostle Paul. Tradition has it that he was a slight man, and unseemly to gaze upon. Austerity marked him as a stern person. Yet, on the inside, he was one of the most magnificent souls to have ever lived.  He was so loved by the churches, that upon hearing they may never see his face again they were deeply saddened. “What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” Acts 20:38

What is it that resides on the insides, which can so negate these men’s deficiencies in physical aesthetics? What made them so appealing? Both were Christian men—men of God. But there are thousands of Christians who are ugly both inside and out. What makes the difference? Allow me to propose an answer: Perhaps the ugly souls are not really saved at all? My audacity in suggesting this is influenced by Jesus’ own words.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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!” Matthew 21-23


“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14 KJV

Allow me to make another bold and audacious statement, but before labeling me a heretic, please hear me out. Those who are extremely beautiful souls, who shine forth with the love of Christ, are God. What? That’s right, I said they are God.

Yes, Father, Son and Holy Spirit “alone” are God, the three in one, and that is no contradiction to what I said just previous. Allow me to present to you the doctrine of sanctification, and of God’s Holy Spirit. Please follow through to hear the conclusion, that you may understand my daring statements.

Back in Genesis, God ordained the institution of marriage. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NIV

Though a man and a woman are two separate individuals, when joined in marriage, spiritually speaking they are now one flesh. Two become one. This is a spiritual union. We will come back to this in a moment.

Often I hear preachers and teachers of the word speak as if they were not in Christ, while at the same time preaching Christ. I’ve done it myself, many times, but this morning the Lord set something new into my mind. We ask, “What would Jesus do?” Or maybe, “What would Jesus say in this situation?” Really? We don’t already know?    If we are in Christ we should know what Jesus would do, or what He would say, because he lives within us. “…But we have the mind of Christ.” 1st Corinthians 2:16 Either we believe the bible or we do not. That tired old excuse about different ways of interpreting was worn out before it even began. It is nothing more than a rationalization to disobey God.

On this last verse phrase, I was amazed that all translations of scripture were identical, with the exception of a few using “Messiah” in place of “Christ”. We are a part of Him!

In the past I’ve talked a lot about our relationship with Christ, and this relationship is a sweet essence in our doctrine. But there’s a difference between having a relationship to Him, and a relationship with Him. I have a relationship to my desk. I sit before it, and it serves me well. I care for it, wiping off the muffin crumbs and cleaning off the coffee spills. Every so often, I actually tidy up the entire thing, though you may doubt that if you were to see it. It would be rather odd to say, “I have a relationship with my desk.” It is not personal. It has no personage.

We serve a personal God, who is intensely interested in every nanosecond of our lives. Paul speaks in relation to my audacious statements as being a former “mystery” that is now revealed. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. “ Colossians 1:27 NIV

Christ uniting Himself to us is the mystery that was not revealed until after Jesus’ ascension to the Father’s side. He is our righteousness, and He is creating holiness within us. This was and is the only way we could overcome our sinful nature. He empowers and enables us to obey God in all things. God did however give a few clues in the Old Testament era, as to how He would change us back into people who are fit to be in His presence. One of those clues is found in Jeremiah 31:31-33.

Here is a key verse when it comes to sanctification. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 NIV

If we are really saved and are true Christians, then Christ is in us. We are Christ’s church. We are the bride of Christ, but we are still in the engagement stage of this marriage to Him. When Jesus was on earth, a pledge to be married was a serious thing, not like today. It was a prenuptial contract. Our wedding shall take place in heaven, and we now are being made ready by becoming holy, as He is holy. Holiness is a qualification for entering the kingdom of God. We are washing our robes in the blood of Christ.

But we have been sanctified, set apart as a holy people, a royal priesthood unto God. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1st Peter 2:9 NIV

But we are also, currently being sanctified, as in the process of becoming holy. “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1st Peter 1:16. We are becoming holy (being sanctified). We are being conformed to the image of the Son of God. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Romans 8:29a

We’ve been set apart and joined to God through Christ. More specifically, we are joined to Him through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ. If in marriage two become one, as God declares, then are we not one with Christ? “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1st Corinthians 6:17 There it is again, our spiritual union (marriage) with Christ. We become one with God.

Is Jesus God, or not?  I pray that you said, “Yes!” If so, and we have become one with Him, then we too, are, in a sense, God. But our union with Him has stipulations. We can only be godlike when we are in full surrender, submission, and obedience to Him. Our union with Christ is contingent upon our submission to His Spirit, who is constantly hoping to unite with our spirits, and have control over us. But he will not take control, we must give it, and surrender ourselves to the will of God. This is FAITH! Do we believe in God’s love or not? Do we believe that He is right in all that he says, and in every way that He leads us? This is what repentance means. We cannot be born of the Spirit until we have repented, agreeing with EVERYTHING God has said, says, or will say. It is a change of mind.

I agree that I am a sinner and in need of God’s grace. I need a Savior, and God has provided that Savior for me in His Son, Jesus Christ. I agree that Jesus is both God and man, that He was born of the Virgin Mary, that he lived and died a physical death on the cross. God placed all the sins of the world in Jesus, and then Christ died and carried our sins to the grave and buried them there. He arose on the 3rd day, was seen by many witnesses, and finally ascended to sit at the right hand of God’s throne in glory. Jesus, our Christ is alive forevermore! We must confess Him before witnesses, and be baptized into Him (Romans 6, 10:9-10) and in obedience to his commands. Yes, salvation is a free gift of God’s amazing grace. This is called justification. But if I am to dwell in His holy presence, I also need to be fully sanctified and made holy. The more I mature in my relationship, which is synonymous with, the more that I trust Him by submitting (obeying), then the more like Him I become. That’s where the beauty comes in.

Our hearts, our minds, and our souls are being fashioned into the most gorgeous creatures you could ever imagine. This is the beauty that made Earnest and Paul so attractive and lovable. It was their union with God, through their submission to God that made them so attractive on the inside. They shone with the glory of Christ, who dwelt within them.

A splendid truth concerning those who are saved and sanctified and being made holy, is that you are the elite, the elect, the chosen of God. You belong to an upper echelon and will one day even judge angels. There is no imagining how exalted your position is. Spiritually you are seated with Christ at the side of the Father. All enemies are being placed under His feet and you are a part of Him. But it is not by your own merits. Jesus has won all of this victory for us. We can accept no credit for simply doing our duty. But kudos anyway, for striving with every fiber of your being to become just like Jesus.

We too can blossom into stunningly winsome people, regardless of our external appearance. So what is your soul and spirit looking like today? Buff it up and make it shine by trusting Christ completely. When we say that we are trusting Him, it means we are obeying Him. We will make mistakes. But they better be mistakes and not deliberate sin! We do not consciously set out to disobey God. If so, then we are not united with Christ, we are still in our sins, and Jesus will say those horrible words we never want to hear. “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  If you still love that sin, then you do not love God with the type of proving love He commands. We love holiness, righteousness and all that is good, beautiful and glorious.

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 KJV

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Becoming like children means that He is our Parent and we must be as a humble child and do as our loving Father directs us to do. When a saved soul sins, and they will sin, they will hate that sin just as God does. We won’t be able to stand ourselves until we confess that sin to God. This restores our fellowship with him. We must repent. In addition to the previous definition of repentance there is also this: “I hate my sin, and I never want to do it again!” This is true repentance and confession.

Sadly, we often hear only a partial gospel. “Get your free ticket to heaven.” Yes salvation is free. It is a gift from God. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Yet, this in no way eliminates our responsibility. The New Testament is replete with staunch warnings about our new lives in Christ and what the Lord expects of us. He saved us for a reason, for a divine purpose. One of those reasons is mentioned in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Make no mistake, the redeemed are God’s passionate project. He is working in the world through us, the church. He’s also busy recreating inside us, working to shape you and I into glorious creatures. Let’s rejoice over this next verse: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NIV Did you catch that? Glory, in us! Praise God!

We are to be obedient, and sin not. But when we do sin, even though we do not want to sin, we have forgiveness. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:9. The Lord is keeping us spotless, if we are truly in Him, united and joined to Him in the closest bond known to the human mind: marriage. We weep and mourn over our sin, forsake and confess it.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can just take the free ticket to heaven and go on about our business without doing any changing. He will give us the power to make the changes that are requisite for our transformations. Come beautiful butterflies—let’s sing praises to God, who is still at work in you me, and who promises to bring that work to completion.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in salvation by works. But I do not consider obedience a work. We must forsake our sin. How can one rationalize willful sin and explain away the following verses? “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8. NIV

This was written to Christians, saved souls, besides, it says “Whoever”.

I can’t wait to see your beauty unveiled in its entire splendor. We see only a small portion of that resplendent loveliness in this life; but it is enough to distinguish those who are truly being conformed to be like the one who is the most gorgeous of all: Jesus. He is the one who has made all of this possible. May Christ Jesus and God the Father be forever praised!

 

 

 

 

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

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

Unstressed Servant

unstress

As the multi-plenteous things I needed to accomplish today swirled in my head, and blood pressure began to rise, the Spirit spoke to me. You better spend some time in prayer and bible reading first. I was stressed with a capital “S”. There are just not enough hours in my days to accomplish all I hope to do. It’s possible that I have two hairs left which have not yet turned white.

Yesterday I finished my planned bible reading, and so this morning I realized that I’d failed to plan where to read next. I’ve been through the bible many times, yet it continues to teach me new things, as if it’s growing along with me. So, I did that thing that perhaps others have done at some point. Allowing my bible to fall open, I simply read whatever passage my eyes fell upon.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

That’s all it took to remind me that God is in control, and He has my situation well in hand.

As I began praising God, and thanking Him, another passage flashed through my memory. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  

My thoughts were: Christ is the one doing the work, not me. I’m just a tool in His hand. My breathing slowed to become deeper inhalations, and I began to relax. The fact that the work I do is actually Jesus’ work took a considerable amount of pressure off of me. Nobody expects a tool to rise up all by itself and accomplish this or that each day. I must simply yield myself to Christ and be available to do as he directs. He’s the one controlling and empowering the tool (you and me).

Then I flipped the pages of my bible to another random scripture and looked down to read this: (May God) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…” Hebrews 13 (Parts of 20 &21).

“Okay Lord, I get it. Forgive me for taking your job onto myself. I’m getting back behind you—help me to follow closely. Please use me for your purposes today, and lead me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

We can step into each day with confidence, knowing that as long as we are following Jesus everything is going to work out fine. There are still some projects I need to complete, but now I’m relaxed and confident in Christ. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, know that the Lord is with you. Make certain that you are following His lead, and remember, He never fails!

At this juncture in my day a second cup of coffee is calling my name. Mine is always fresh ground, but it would taste much better if you were here having a cup with me.

Faith, hope, love & peace to you today, and may God Bless You.

 

Categories: Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Bible and…A Beer?

beer & bible

Is Alcohol Sinful?

Alcohol is a subject that touches a lot of folks, and we hear varying opinions today on whether or not it is okay for a Christian to indulge. But as we all should know, the opinions of people are not what matters. It is what God has to say that’s important. So I’d like to lead a discussion here based upon scripture.

A visitor to our congregation informed me that the last church he attended told Him he was going to hell because he liked to drink a beer while shooting pool. It’s what he did twice a week to unwind from work. I can tell you with absolute confidence that it was sin for them to say that to him. They took God’s role of judging a person’s salvation unto themselves. That was the devil’s original sin: trying to take the place of God. In fact, that church’s leadership said the man’s recreation was three sins. That’s putting it to him a little bit better, yet they were still wrong on two of their accusations against him.

*Side Note* Satan is called: “The Accuser”.

These are the sins the congregation had listed against the man. One, he was drinking alcohol. Two, he was mingling with the ungodly. Hmm, I’m wondering…How did they know who was in the bar when that man was present? And three, he was harming his witness for Christ. Well, today he no longer goes to bars or shoots pool for recreation. He took that last judgment to heart, because they were right on that one. Whether or not the beer was a sin, he, and we are to remain above reproach. In other words, we guard against any situation that may be construed to look like we are sinning. I know, that’s a bummer, but that’s just the way it is. Oh don’t worry, God more than compensates for anything we give up for Him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anytime you go into a bar you are committing some heinous sin. Individual people and circumstances make that determination. The supernatural gifts Jesus offers are mountainous compared with catching a little buzz. We cannot allow ourselves to publicly do what may cause another person to stumble. For more on this, check what Apostle Paul has to say in 1st Corinthians chapter eight.

One of the go-to passages for answering our questions about alcohol is Ephesians 5:18. And I’ll offer it here in two different translations. The King James says: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit…”

New International Version renders the verse: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…”

Straight out of the gate, the thing that stands out to me is the word DRUNK. Nowhere in scripture does it say that drinking alcohol is a sin. However, anything that would conflict with the 9th fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL, would be counterproductive to our relationships with Jesus. Getting drunk and losing control is excessive and there’s just no way to candy coat it and still be standing for truth. Getting drunk and weakening our restraint is sin. Whereas having a few drinks to calm your nerves, or to relieve our sadness over the loss of a loved one, for instance, is not sinful.

Anything that vies against the Holy Spirit of God is of the flesh, is evil, of the world, and is to be avoided. When we are obedient we are rewarded. “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The Spirit always dwells within Christians, yet when we are “filled” with the Spirit it feels far better than any buzz alcohol could ever give us. Whenever you feel the need to reach for something to help your mood, ask God for a super abundance of His Spirit, and buckle up. You’re in for a treat.

If we become drunk to the point that we are no longer being obedient to the Spirit of Christ, we step out from under His Lordship. We are acting contrary to what the Spirit commands us to do, such as to treat everyone with love. That is when it becomes sin.

Let’s take a hypothetical for example’s sake. Let’s say that for me, watching the old television show Bay Watch is a sin. Why? Because I have a weakness, and I am aware of my weakness—God has shown it to me. So if I watch that show, I know I am going to look at those hot babes in bikinis and start to have thoughts that are not Christ-like. Now if that show does not affect you the way it does me, then it’s not a sin for you to watch it.

But the crux of the matter is this: Do you see how something can be a sin for one person (me), but the very same thing can be okay for another? The same is true of drinking alcohol. It becomes sinful when you do it in excess. Drunkenness, by the bible’s definition is EXCESS. It means losing control. Jesus is our Master, and anything that denies or takes away His dominion over us is sin.

Paul discusses our liberties in Christ in 1st Corinthians 6. Verse twelve says, “I have the right to do anything,’ you say… but not everything is beneficial.” Apostle Paul acknowledges the freedoms we have in Christ. Yet he goes on to say, in essence, that just because I am free to do something does not mean that I should do it. We need to apply wisdom and discernment and prudence to every decision we make. Now here’s the rest of the verse: “I have the right to do anything—but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Do you see the part about being mastered by things of the world? When something else takes control away from God, then it becomes our master. That activity has become sinful to us. It may also become an idol if we put it before our relationship with God. As Christians, Christ is our Master!

So let’s answer our question, “Is alcohol sinful”? No, it is not. But how we use or abuse it will determine whether or not it is sinful for us as individuals. If you are an alcoholic, you already know that you cannot take just one drink. When you drink, you get drunk. Face it, you drink to get drunk. Sorry folks, I cannot in good conscience dance around the issue. For alcoholics it is best to simply leave the alcoholic beverages alone altogether. Much easier said than done, I know. I’ve been working as an AA and an NA sponsor for many years now. So if you or someone you love has a problem with the stuff, I just want you to know, that I care very deeply about all people. I don’t judge any person, and I am here for consultation or counseling anytime. But be advised, as the Spirit leads and according to God’s word, I do judge actions to be right or wrong.

“The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things.” 1 Cor. 2:15a

As a sponsor helping other men to slay the dragon of addiction, I have to be very careful about alcohol or any type of medicines. I must remain standing tall in the eyes of the men I counsel if they are to trust my words. So for me, I might have one or two drinks once or twice a year, and I am a servant of the Gospel of Christ.

I do enjoy a good draft beer now and then. And I have a taste for very expensive wines, though it’s not often I’ve had the pleasure of tasting them. Maybe when you and I get to heaven we can ask Jesus to whip up another batch of that miracle wine!

 

 

Categories: Church, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking Intimacy With God

The Lord is currently leading me to write a book. While in fellowship with the Lord, I sought His direction. “Lord, where is the void that I can fill? How can I edify my brothers and sisters in Christ? What is yet to be said that other books have not already covered?”

Over the past eighteen months, the answers came clearly and loud, yet in the silence of communion with Christ. The words now burn like a fire within me until they are committed to the page. Here are some snippets from various chapters of that work. I have no idea how long it will be until its completion.

As yet, untitled

“Undertaking to refine a rich spiritual life with the intent of mining deeper into the wealth of communion with God requires the cessation of all devilish hindrances. The enemy is quite adept at impeding our progress toward the higher inner life of supreme sanctification. These obstructions could rightly be described as noisy interference, like many radio stations all bleeding over onto our frequency.”

“All too often we make the mistake of relying upon self-effort in ascending the spiritual heights. Ideas and notions resound in our mind, drowning out the still, small voice of the Lord. Human intellect is a boon for the devil. That old serpent knows that we are incapable of attaining what we seek by means of our own thought processes, and those of us who feel intellectually superior are at higher risk in this regard. Our minds must be led by God in order to reach that desired state of hearing, submitting and following.”

“Be still and know that I am God. In these words from our great benefactor we learn the necessity of shutting down external senses, forgetting about all the weighty concerns of life, and simply waiting upon the Lord. Learn to focus upon His holiness and faithfulness. We are to cast our cares upon Him, because He cares for us. But first we must know Him and experience His presence within the innermost holy place. We first must simply be silent in the presence of holiness. Just as Eli, the High Priest instructed young Samuel. Our opening words to God, whether vocally or simply in practice should be: Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Our concerns will be taken care of God’s way and not how our minds think it should be done. Many times we will receive answers that do not seem to fit our questions. Because we are asking the wrong questions for those burdens to be addressed.”

“It is victory we seek in the attaining of spiritual maturity through intimate fellowship with He that is holy. Yet, for the redeemed, death is imminently required. There can be no survival of the sinful self. One cannot be raised to new life and remain in its glowing warmth while still clinging to remnants of the old self. We must succumb to the extinguisher of every vestige of the life that is passed. This is not relinquishing the true persons we were created to be. Our uniqueness remains intact, yet is purified and more fully developed than ever before—more beautiful than ever before. God’s will as spoken to the believer through the Spirit and the word of God is that extinguisher. He will reveal to us what must go and what should remain and be nurtured of ourselves.”

“The Spirit cannot be fully in charge until the old life has been rendered quiet. There is no possibility for two lives (in this case two natures) to simultaneously control any one vessel. We will obey one or the other and there is no middle ground upon which to compromise. Jesus would have us either hot or cold.”

“Picture yourself bringing a glowing smile to the face of the supreme lover of your soul. For it is blessing which He so vehemently desires to impart to us, and only we ourselves stand in the way of receiving an infinite flow of spiritual blessing. Each time we nail another of those fleshly and sinful longings to Jesus’ cross, our souls beam forth a bit brighter with the light of the Lord’s glory. It is His holiness working within us, bringing forth His glory. Just as a reflection of the “shekinah” glory of God remained upon and radiated from Moses’ face, so shall the beauty of God’s holy nature be reflected from our hearts and through the words we speak. This is for the benefit of all, that others too may see our good works: That praise may be induced unto the Father’s glory. Reflected from us and revealed to the world. This is our assignment. Our task is to constantly reveal and thus propagate the glory of God—the image of God on earth.”

“May we each one retain His glory upon our faces, as did Moses when he descended the mountain. Yet that glory faded over time. This is a profound indication that we must continue to seek God’s face—His presence, and hence constantly revitalize His glory on our faces and through our hearts. He is our perpetual spring of life giving water and we must pitch out tent there and never leave. We must remain in constant fellowship with God. “Pray without ceasing.”

“This then is why we seek intimacy with Him. This is why we long for the joy of His near presence often. Oh the power, the glory, the peace and joy that is demonstrated through the fully surrendered soul! Through the ones who’ve sought the Lord’s face and received counsel from Him. And who have submitted to His word. It is a glorious sight to behold: God’s redemptive plan fulfilled to the fullest it can be until the resurrection of the body at His coming.”

“In every phase of our Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry He found it essential to prepare. Before beginning those three years of ministry work He spent solitary time in much prayer and fasting, in the presence of the Holy Father. Preceding the selection of the twelve disciples, he prayed, apart from others, yet in fellowship with the Father and Spirit. He did not send out the seventy until seeking conversation with the Father. Immediately before His arrest and crucifixion, we see our Savior in the garden, praying, seeking fellowship with God. It is in and through that close fellowship that we too, are prepared for success in our various missions and ministries, as well as in carrying out the general commissions Christ has given to us all.” End snippets.

It is my hope that you will pray for this work. And if the Lord lays it upon your heart I pray that you will give your feedback on the few thoughts presented here which come from different chapters in this coming book. If you know of a topic concerning intimacy with Christ that you feel will help, please let me know, and we will pray together over it.

God bless you as you continue your transformation to be more like the Son of God.

 

 

Categories: Books, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treasure Beyond Description

The Christian’s keys to hope, provision and fulfillment.

Around 30 years ago Rob Cutshaw, a rock hound, dug up a big blue sapphire near Anderson North Carolina. Not sure what he’d found, Rob stowed the rock under his bed, and it sat there for many years. In his endearing Carolina drawl he described the stone as, “big-n-purdy”.

After reading up on sapphires, he took it to a gemologist, who cut and polished the Gem to reveal a stunning star shining through its core. At one point the sapphire was displayed for sale in Rob’s roadside shop. He says he would have taken a hundred dollars for it, enough to pay his electric bill. It is now known as “The Star of David Sapphire”, with an estimated worth of two to three million dollars. It is one of the largest and arguably, most beautiful blue sapphires known today. (1.2.3.)

The intriguing aspect of this story depicts a lack of awareness, a person not knowing the value of what they already possess. Most times as Christians, we are the same way. The treasures and riches we have in Christ far exceed what our finite minds are able to comprehend. Yet the value of God’s gifts of grace are beyond price, completely immeasurable.

When we are born anew in Christ, God adopts us as His sons and daughters, granting us a standing in His family and in Jesus’ dynasty. We are coheirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:17) The Lord’s dilemma, is getting us to understand the vastness of our privileges as His child. He wants us to enjoy complete entitlement.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…” (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV)

Yet, too often we search in the wrong places or things, for that which we already own. Either we’re unaware of its existence or we haven’t learned how to gain access. We’re not certain how to go about making a withdrawal of peace, of wisdom or of power. Not fully believing, we fumble the key of faith. But Christ has already opened the storehouses of God for us, offering complete access to everything we will ever want or need.

It is through the same faith that saved us in the first place, that we receive every benefit of His grace.

Maybe it is healing we seek, protection perhaps, or possibly it’s guidance we need. It could be loneliness that brings a heavy heart, or brokenness in a relationship. Hopelessness and despair are obliterated through faith. Whatever our needs consist of, God will provide for us.

Our obedience, which results from true faith, assures we receive every asset of God’s amazing grace.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11 NIV)

The solution to your every need is closer than you could ever imagine. If you are already saved, continue in that faith. Submit to God—Believe—Ask—Receive.

You truly are exceedingly wealthy!

 

1. Sun Sentinel April 12th 1987

2. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1454&dat=19870425&id=GlFIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-hMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6211,3195235

3. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/t/treasure.htm

Categories: Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.