Posts Tagged With: God’s Plan

God’s Plan For You

Dear Christian,

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

 

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

Romans 8:29

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

      

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

God’s Will For You II

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

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

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

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

 Image result for lehman strauss

Dr. Lehman Strauss

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

 

ENTRY 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

BBN Radio

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

 

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

 

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

 

 I heard Dr. Howard Hendricks say: 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Two important points 

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

 

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

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Dr. Stephan Davey

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

But there’s a pitfall to watch out for. 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, Faith, God's Kingdom, God's Will, Leadership, Salvation, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Plan, An Inside Track

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

 

Introducing an exciting new series!

 

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

 

Stanley Toussaint

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Image result for Dr Tom Taylor pastor

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Dr. H.H.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, Faith, God's Kingdom, God's Will, Leadership, Salvation, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Phases of Salvation

 

Been Saved, Being Saved & Will Be Saved

 

Without a lucid understanding of God’s entire and perfect plan for the redemption of mankind, certain scriptures could possibly be confusing. There are three phases to salvation; hence, the bible uses three tenses in delineating the doctrine of salvation. For me personally, it took many years to understand this—I was saved at 12 years old.

 

Briefly, let’s lay the following stone of truth that we may clear a path to our main topic.

We are saved by a free gift from God called Grace. Grace is bestowed upon those who believe and place their trusting faith in Christ Jesus— the truth. And forever after that, God’s grace continues working for the soul who is saved. Grace is not a once and done kind of thing. When the Lord regenerates us (2 Cor. 5:17) we’ve been born again, and a magnificent transformation has begun. All that we shall be discussing here is included in the works of God’s amazing Grace. In fact, all of God’s dealings with every soul He has regenerated (saved) is included in the works of His grace, even His discipline. All the various giftings for service and for glorifying Him, and for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are gifts of grace and works of grace: God’s work, not ours. His grace even fulfills every one of our needs and provides love, peace, joy, bodily provisions and inner strength, etc., etc.. When it comes time for our bodies to turn back to dust, the Lord even gifts us with grace to die with inner peace and assurance, looking forward to where we’re going.

 

SALVATION

 

The study of salvation, known among theologians as soteriology, includes all three tenses of past, present and future. The bible uses all three in referring to those of us who’ve been redeemed and are heaven bound. Some verses indicate that we who are in Christ have been saved. Other passages say we are being saved, while still others say we will be saved. The truth in Christ reveals all three to be correct at the same time. The past tense is true because God is doing this work of saving us, and that which from our perspective is yet to be done, is so certain that we can speak of it as already having taken place. If we have truly believed, then we have been saved, and the next two phases or stages both: are happening, and will happen, just as sure as water is wet. God is not bound by time—He is the creator of it and is outside of time, so He sees the completed products of His grace. He sees you and I as we will be in heaven. Time is for us, though it serves God’s purpose. He does not need the differing tenses, but we do, because we are bound within time, until it, at a final point, shall cease to exist. From our current perspective we could say that eternity is one exceedingly long and never ending day.

 

In view of demonstrating the varying tenses scripture employs I’ve cited three verses—each refers to salvation and each uses a different tense.

 

First, we have Past Tense.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:8–9.

 

Next, we move to present tense.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

 

Finally, here’s an example verse containing both the past and the future tense of salvation.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5:9

 

This last verse is the perfect launching pad from which to discuss all three tenses. Because the doctrine of salvation, known in theological language as Soteriology (repetition deliberate) makes it exceptionally clear that there are 3 Phases to Salvation.

Those who have been born again of the Spirit, and who belong to Christ Jesus, AKA the redeemed or believers are right now in the middle, or current phase of salvation.

The gospel of Christ discloses:

  1. What has already taken place in the past for those who believe.
  2. What is currently taking place within those who believe.
  3. What will happen to those who believe when Jesus returns.

 

At this point we should identify the biblical terms for each of these 3 stages of salvation. They are as follows:

  1. Justification
  2. Sanctification
  3. Glorification

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JUSTIFICATION

Through the atoning blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, that is, through His sacrificial death, we are forever justified before God. Justified means our sins have been forgiven.  A simple way to remember what justification accomplishes is “It’s just as if I never sinned!” Our sins are taken away and we are covered (covered is the meaning of the word atonement) by the righteousness of Jesus. We are given the righteousness of Christ as a covering. The blood of Christ cleanses us and His righteousness covers us. We are made right in the sight of God, by God Himself. To justify is actually a legal term and is important in keeping with God’s nature of being a “just” (right and good) judge. Jesus took our sins upon Himself, and in return covered us with His righteousness, making us right with God. We are straight up and down, perpendicular or justified before God. As a good judge God has seen to it that justice was done when He poured out His wrath against sin as Jesus hung on the cross. He saw to it that the penalty for sin was imposed and carried out. Jesus became sin for us, so that He could take the penalty that we deserved. Now that our sin debt has been paid, we have been (past tense) justified in God’s sight.

Jesus Christ is our deliverer! He delivered us from the penalty for sin. The penalty is death. This is being Justified.

 

But wait, what about the real us on the inside? I’m only covered with righteousness, viewed that way by God, but not righteous in actuality. We still sometimes sin! God did not pay our sin debt for us just so we could continue being such horrible sinners. On the contrary, He has justified us so that He could give to us His Holy Spirit, that we may have the requisite power to say “No!” to our sin nature, and overcome it in this life. Simply being justified is not the final product of salvation. Once justified we begin the growing process of sanctification. We are becoming holy, like Jesus. He is our perfect and exhaustive deliverer. God’s power in the form of His Holy Spirit doesn’t only give us the ability to do what pleases God, He also gives us the desire to do what is right and what pleases God—the urge to do His will, and the power to work it out.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT

 

I’ve been saving this point for right here, but first allow me to preface it with the following. I myself still have urges to do what the sinful flesh wants, like to be noticed as someone of importance. Vanity and pride still wage war against my new life in the Spirit, and this conflict will continue for you and for me until we are glorified. Romans 7 & 8 make this clear. But I am saved. I love God and all that is good. But my flesh still loves the world. I have to deny myself (the flesh), take up my cross and follow Jesus. I must decide daily to die to the flesh and choose to love God more than myself. See Luke 9:23, and Galatians 2:20.

I’ve stated that to ask, which do YOU love more? Oh wow, yes, I just shifted to a personal and pointed voice, because I love YOU and I don’t want to see you be eternally lost. But this is between you and God, I’m just a messenger. I believe a true test for whether or not we are saved could be: which do we love more—God or ourselves? Has God given you the DESIRE to please Him? If so, you are saved. If you choose to follow the flesh over the Spirit most of the time, you probably do not have saving faith. But you still can be saved by TRUSTING Christ with your life. Among other things, this involves doing things His way, knowing that He is going to give us everything that is good. I can humble myself because God has promised to exalt me. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

 

SANCTIFICATION      pho2

To sanctify in the biblical sense means: to set apart as holy, to be used for holy purposes. The words; Saint, Holy, Set-apart, and Sanctify all come from the same root word in the Greek.

Currently, those who are in Christ are saved, and also are being saved, by undergoing sanctification: maturing and growing in holiness. True believers live in the resurrection power of Christ. We are buried with Him by baptism into His death, identifying with Him in His death, so that we may also rise with Him to walk in a new life by His power. We are being conformed to the image of God’s holy Son, Jesus. During this sanctifying process Jesus delivers us from the power of sin, giving us His Spirit. Holy Spirit is the dynamic employed to overcome personal sin, and live in a way that is pleasing to God. Jesus and Holy Spirit are both praying for us.

 

 

GLORIFICATION

When Jesus comes and calls us home to heaven and the saved are raised to life, we shall receive new spiritual bodies that do not sin—ever! The bodies we have now will be raised and radically changed from fleshly bodies to spiritual bodies (see 1st Corinthians chapter 15). We will be delivered from the very presence of sin. This is the final phase of salvation and it is called glorification.

 

“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

Did you notice how the “glorified” is in the past tense? That’s because it is so certain to happen! And God sees the completely saved you—after the 3rd phase.

 

Jesus saves us in three ways.

  1. He has delivered us from the penalty of sin—Justified (past).
  2. He is currently delivering us from the power of sin—Sanctifying (present).
  3. Jesus will deliver us from the very presence of sin—Glorified (future).

 

Once glorified we will never again sin, we will never see a sin committed—we will be completely taken away and separated from all that is sinful, evil and wicked—in a utopia known as heaven in the very presence of God with all His splendor and glory. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is flawless, genius, and displays His love and patience with mankind in an extremely poignant manner.

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

I pray that you hunger and thirst to know the Lord God with increasing passion, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has saved me and set me free from sin.

pho3 

 

If you would like to go a bit deeper and do a proper study of what we’ve discussed here, I recomend prayerful study of the New Testament. But the following is a resource that may help you further. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

Blessings!

 

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Church, Faith, God's Faithfulness, Salvation, Sanctification, 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!

 

 

 

 

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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

Church Hopping

“There’s no place like home!” Dorothy made those words famous in the Wizard of Oz. And we all know it to be true. Ideally, there is no place more safe and secure than at home, among your family where you are loved and cared for.

God has ordained that whatever Church congregation you have joined, is your spiritual home until Jesus returns. The members of your congregation are your spiritual family, your brothers and sisters in the Lord. But all too often, when difficulties arise we look for a new church to attend. Usually, God would have us stay put, and mature through adversity.

So how often do Christians change churches because of a dispute, or we feel like we just don’t fit in? Perhaps we say we are not being fed spiritually. Maybe God would have the person who feels that way to do the feeding? Maybe some spiritual family member treated us badly. Many times the divide comes from some doctrinal difference, which in the end, has no real bearing upon salvation or the gospel of Christ.

I’m hoping to present this without giving the impression of finger pointing—Lord knows, I need grace from my spiritual family too. I’ve said and done some dumb things in the past, including changing churches for the wrong reasons.

We see it all too often today: people jumping ship when they realize everyone is not following the same spirit. In a perfect church everyone always agrees with each other and there’s nothing but love. But we all know: that perfect congregation does not exist.

I was that guy, hopping from church to church searching for the right one for me. It had to fit all of my requirements. It wasn’t until God put the thought in my heart that I needed to stop looking for the right church and simply look for a place where I could be of service to others. Rather than, a place that would satisfy my needs. What a tremendous difference this made. For a few years after finding my church home I still thought I was in the wrong church. Why aren’t these people doing what they supposed to do as Christians? I constantly wondered.

Many righteous people today work diligently for the Lord, yet they see little result or reward from their labors. Sadly, some are wearied from working alongside or beneath church leaders who seek to elevate themselves rather than Christ. I too have faced this dilemma in the past. I wanted to change churches and I asked God’s permission to do so many times. But every time He said, “NO!”

Wow, was I ever miserable. Until I finally submitted and said, “Yes Lord.”

I needed to simply remain humble, submit to God, and submit to the leaders who were over me. I had to trust the outcome to the Lord. My leaders had been selecting who they wanted to edify and support, while leaving myself and others out in the cold. They wanted followers for themselves, who would heed their every whim. Oh they did it subtly and covertly, of course. It looked to me as if they were trying to take the place of Christ as head of the church. They would nefariously hold down or suppress those they felt were a threat to their own exaltation. Part of that included refusing to facilitate the obvious spiritual gifts God had given to others. But in so doing, they sabotaged themselves, along with the entire congregation. Every believer’s gifts are for the purposes of edifying their spiritual family—building up their fellow church members, while bringing glory to God. Those church leaders would have been highly exalted by God, had they themselves submitted.

Thank God I did as He directed so that I could learn of His power and ability to transform hearts and lives!

Sometimes the answer may be to change the church family you work with. Far more often, God wants to use that hardship to grow you, and to teach you what diligent and faithful patience will bring.

  1. Trust God to work in that situation.
  2. Simply serve others, love and forgive (this is serving Christ).
  3. Reverse lead your leaders. Perhaps you are there to lead by example, even though the ones you may be leading have been placed in a position above you.

David experienced similar things from his predecessor. Just think of David’s righteous example to King Saul and his followers. Listen to his words in Psalm 37.

Verse 1:Fret not yourself because of evil doers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity.”

Take comfort in knowing that God sees your dilemma. He watches over you and takes note of your faithful work for Christ. Continue following Him. We are learning to love the unlovable, and forgive the ugliness, just as God loves and forgives us.

Verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

Yes, we are applying this to leaders of the church, whose hearts may only be half on Christ. Maybe their love is simply lukewarm. Remember, it was the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who drew His harshest criticisms. But even some of them became true followers of our Lord Jesus. Nicodemus comes to mind. Love them through it. Kill the bad with kindness and save the good in them.

Consider this: If you leave that church, how will the innocents of that congregation ever see the light of truth, having only ego driven leaders? Or leaders whose hearts are not fully set on Christ? What about the others?  They need you and your example!

*Most Importantly*

Pray for your leaders. And love them through their spiritual obstacles. Watch God work through your faithfulness and your prayers. Watch His mighty love work and watch how wonderfully He reconciles each one of His children to Himself.

Verse 3: Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and verily you shall be fed.

Continue to trust God for your advancement, and for the freedom to use those God given gifts for the building up of others in the church. You shall be fed and nourished up in Christ; our spiritual sustenance. Wait for God to vindicate you and He will lift you up.

 

The dilemmas I faced at a particular church, which I will not name, have since been resolved. Oh there are still disagreements and possibly we can get on each other’s nerves at times…but isn’t that the same with all families?

You are not free to choose your biological family. Neither are you free to choose your spiritual family in Christ (a particular congregation).

The Spirit of Christ (Holy Spirit) adds you to His church. And then, He is the one who leads you and dictates which spiritual family you will grow among. What an epiphany that was when God first revealed it to me!

Be certain you are walking in the Spirit and following God’s direction when selecting a church home. Then stick with it, for better or worse. But in Christ, it always gets better.

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Thru the Fire—A Powerful Testimony

Jim, a fellow minister of the gospel, is one of the men I work with at West Park church.

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The Silent Years

“But 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 KJV)

It was on an elementary school playground during recess that I first heard the little rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” It didn’t take long to learn the fallacy of that statement. Words can, and do inflict much damage and pain.

There is something else, however, that may have even a more profound impact than words, and that is ‘silence’. One poetess, Phyllis Mc Ginley rewrote that little rhyme to say: “Sticks and stones are hard on bones aimed with angry art. Words can sting like anything, but silence breaks the heart.”

When a loved-one gives us the silent treatment and refuses to speak to us, we can be assured we’ve probably said or done something wrong. That silence can bother us so badly that it awakens a desire to restore our relationship with that person and make things right.

During the four-hundred year interim between the Old and New Testaments, God remained silent. No signs or wonders from heaven, and no communication through prophets—nothing.

The last words of the Old Testament are Malachi chapter 4, which delivers a stern and frightening warning in verse one. Then verses two and three are a gloriously wonderful promise. And then in verse four God gives a direct command. Finally, verses five & six closes the Old Testament with the prophecy of Elijah coming again through John the Baptist. Upon whom the spirit of Elijah rested. Many, myself included believe Elijah will also return to earth bodily as one of the two witnesses for God, during the Great Tribulation.

Four-hundred years is a long time to give mankind the silent treatment. Hunger for a word from God was finally at its apex. That’s when the Lord chose to break the silence. And oh how gloriously He did so! For it was in preparation to fulfill the last two verses of Malachi. And to announce both the forerunner of our Messiah, and the wonderful coming of that Messiah, the long awaited Savior, Jesus the Christ.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah, to announce that he would have a son. He would be John the Baptizer who was to come in the spirit and the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the people back to God and to herald the coming Christ. Six months after Zachariah’s wife became pregnant with John, the messenger angel, Gabriel visited Mary to deliver the splendid news that she was to be the mother of the God-man, Emmanuel (God with us), Jesus. Her fiancé Joseph was also informed of this coming virgin birth in a dream. What an awesome way to break the silence.

God’s timing was and always is perfect. World events were aligned in just the right way for prophecy to be fulfilled. So that, these happenings would have the greatest impact upon mankind. And what a tremendous impact Christ Jesus has made in our world. His powerful work offers eternal and abundant life, victory over the enemy, and a matchless love that lasts forever.

Today, we may get a little uptight when we can’t seem to hear anything from the Lord. But regardless of that, we can continue to trust that God is faithful. He always delivers on His promises. We can be confident that the Lord is in control and He has our individual situations and circumstances well in hand. God is not bound within time as we understand it. Peter wrote: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

This season as we prepare to celebrate that awesome event when the Christ child was sent into our world, I hope you will take the time to do something a little different.  Before you read the usual Christmas story in the first two chapters of Luke, please read the last chapter of Malachi. Think about the long silence from God, and imagine yourself living your lifetime during that inter-testamental era.

You and I no longer have to hunger for a word from God. We have His complete word in written form, and we also have His Spirit joined with ours to lead, guide and comfort us. We are truly blessed to be living in this age of grace. Emmanuel (God with us) has come. He may have gone back to the Father bodily, but He has not left us as orphans. Remember Jesus parting words to you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

&
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

      (Psalm 46:1b NIV)

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (Psalm 86:5 NLT)

 

Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

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