Posts Tagged With: Theology

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.

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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.

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

Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

By Scripture Alone — Sola Scriptura 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Origin of the Bible

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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.

 

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Introducing God

It’s an astonishing, yet elating discovery: God in all His glory and holiness is intimately interested in having a relationship with every one of His children.

I was fortunate enough to know a fair bit about God before actually meeting Him. But I had a good deal of fallacious thinking about Him too. We all do.  God overlooks the invariable false understandings people have of Him, at first. Faithfully, He will bring us to a lucid enough understanding where we’ll confidently be able to proclaim, “I know God—I have a personal relationship with Him!”

Many people construe the personal aspect of a relationship with the Lord to delude themselves into thinking they have a special and unique means of connecting with Him. That’s simply not true. Often we hear people saying things like: “Me and Jesus, we’ve got our own thing going.” It’s even in a song that’s actually sung in worship services. The next clause proclaims, “Me-n-Jesus, we got it all worked out.” They will believe that lie, thinking that each of us has our own formula for coming into the presence of the Most High. God Himself, however, is the one who ordains how we are to approach and make contact with Him, as well as how to unite with Him.

It is only through faith and trust in Jesus, His Son, that we can meet the righteous requirement of entering into His glorious presence. Faith and our submissive dependence on Christ are unwaveringly requisite, that we may be with Him.

Granted, once we unite with God our relationship with Him becomes very personal and there will be very sweet things that only you and He share together. For example, I myself have a pact with God. On His part, I am irrevocably saved, and on my part, I will never surrender to defeat in attempting to be perfectly righteous and sinless in the life I live, as impossible as that may be. As individuals, we may have widely diverse assignments and various paths to walk. One may be ordained to suffer great pain and loss for the cause of Christ, while another may be held up before the world as a powerfully used vessel for propagating the gospel and leading many souls across the threshold of life. The way into that relationship, however, remains a stringently singular path.

Even when time ends and eternity is ushered in, I don’t think anyone will know ALL there is to know about God: He’s simply too big and complex. He does, however, reveal the most important aspects of His being, which are essential to know if we are to interact with Him and become like Him in character. Here’s a good place to start: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

In the stillness of an empty mind, my soul inhaled the merciful goodness of God, as He revealed Himself in response to faith. I was silent before Him. The first towering wave rushed from His throne and washed over me—I found myself imbued with an awareness of His sovereignty over all things, most importantly over me. He is to be exalted, worshipped and praised. And suddenly I was acutely aware that the Lord’s omniscience causes Him to know my thoughts even before I think them. King David noted the same thing: “Before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely.Psalm 139:4
The second wave came as what I call a thought-sensation, which this time communicated His pure holiness and righteousness. This, His glory, caused me to tremble in fright, because I am not perfectly holy. Yet within that same wave came the torrent of His love, expressing the merciful grace He had already lavished upon you and me. My quaking limbs were stilled. Fear was replaced with elation and praise! I had humbled myself, and so He lifted me up and gave me His joy and peace! (1 Peter 5:6)

God demands to be recognized as the awesome God He is. The bible indicates that we are to fear God in over one hundred and twenty five verses scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments. This goes far beyond the greatest respect and honor that we would show to someone here on earth. With God we move into reverent worship and awe. Don’t fret, His mighty love casts out our fear, that we may have fellowship with Him, unafraid.

And yet, before we simply sashay up and talk to God, we’d best be aware of who and what we’re talking to. Our lives depend upon it. Often I’ve heard Christians speak of Jesus as if he were simply a bosom buddy, and that is reflected in the lives they live, as well as in their prayers. They don’t seem to realize who it is they are speaking with. I’ll be the first to admit that I was the same way in my Christian infancy. And God winked at my immature view of theology. But I don’t think any of the Apostles looked at their relationship with Christ that way. Sure, He is a friend who will never leave or forsake us. He demonstrated the tender compassion and mercy of God throughout His ministry, until He finally manifested the unrivaled love of the Father by willingly dying a horrible death on the cross, that we might again have a close relationship with our glorious God. But He is still God, and we are but children in His sight, and quite limited in our ability to wrap our heads around His majestic being. But one day we too shall receive glorified bodies.

Jesus is a friend who will never leave or forsake us. The Lord’s tenderness and compassion were clearly demonstrated until His ultimate display of God’s awesome love was manifested on the cross

To have a good relationship with God, and gain His favor and blessings upon our lives, there are some things we must first be aware of. We have to know how we are to approach Him. Let’s list a few facts.

  1. He is Omnipotent, meaning all powerful.
  2. God is Omniscient—He Knows all things, including all possibilities.
  3. Our Heavenly Father is Omnipresent: in all places at the same time.
  4. The Lord is infinite.
  5. God is eternal.
  6. He is Spirit
  7. The Most High is immutable: unchanging.
  8. Our Creator is not bound by the laws of physics, as He is the one who ordained them and did the math that is involved. He can operate outside of the laws He put into motion. If you need examples, do a study on all of Jesus’ miracles and see how each miracle He performed defies a particular law of science. Jesus was revealing that He is indeed the Creator of the cosmos, and: “The Great I Am”.
  9. God created time, and He is outside of the time He created, yet He often works with, and within time. He made it for a purpose.

And all that is just for starters.

Everything the Bible says about God is but half of what we learn once we actually come to know Him. That’s what I’ve been working at for the past forty years, and I still have a long ways to go. No, I’m not slow—He is just that vast and complex. We won’t know Him fully until eternity, and even then I’m not certain we will know ALL about Him. He’s a very big God!

Lately it’s gotten to the point that I even rejoice when God disciplines me. It reminds me of when my son was very young. Whenever he felt he was not getting enough attention, he’d do something to get my attention, like drinking Tabasco sauce from off of the refrigerator door, or pouring a cup of dirt onto the dining room table. It’s having the attention of our Fathers that feels so good. Even negative attention gives us the assurance that someone greater than ourselves loves us, and is in control.

But I’m talking about attention from a HOLY GOD. Many volumes cannot fully convey what holiness actually is, and what it looks like. My next book is on holiness and how it pertains to our sanctification, but about the time I believe I’ve grasped deep spiritual insight to pass along to others, I discover higher, more elevated planes of knowledge. The more I learn the more I discover that I have yet to learn. When we receive a solid vision in our minds of who God is, and what He is, it is simply amazing that He would stoop so low as to be intimate with you and me.

When we come to God’s character, His nature and His complex personality we do not have anything on earth to compare Him to. Let’s continue our previous list.

  1. God is pure holiness. The visible quality of His Shekinah Glory can actually be seen. But then you’d have no retinas left. The brightest, whitest light you’ve ever seen pales in comparison to God’s visual appearance—He dwarfs the sun’s lumens. In fact, the bible teaches that a man cannot see God and live. His holiness would automatically incinerate us—He’s that great.
  2. The Lord Most High sets the perfect standard for righteousness. He is flawless.
  3. God is LOVE!

While this is far from an exhaustive list, each of the above descriptions should be pondered individually if we hope to fully understand the importance of knowing these things about God, before we can actually come to know Him personally.

With that being the case, God reveals Himself to us incrementally. And the further we go with Him the more wondrous and amazing things about Himself He reveals to us.

God is so great that humbling ourselves before Him should be automatic. If we have properly meditated on His properties and virtues then our humility when approaching God should come quite naturally. Just listen to the Beloved Apostle John’s testimony about the time He envisioned our Savior, Christ Jesus in His glorified form. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Revelation 1:17) What does that speak to your heart about the greatness and the glory of our God?

God called Job a righteous man. But look at this righteous man’s response when our Holy God spoke to Him. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” Job 40:4 Then, Job found the boldness to speak just a bit more, which is a good eye opener for us. He said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  By the way, the eyes Job was talking about were the eyes of faith. Hebrews talks about this kind of faith in chapter eleven. I like the part where it reports that Moses “Saw Him who is invisible”. The only way to see the invisible is through the eyes of faith. Believe me when I say, “Along with great faith comes spiritual eyes which demand that we conform to the new didactic and divergent sights. They are highly illuminating vistas. The information the Lord offers us is gained only through a close personal relationship with Christ Jesus. (Yes, He is also our friend, but let’s not forget His exalted position.)

I garnered a good rule of thumb from a High Priest in Israel’s history. Even though Eli failed to restrain his son’s from doing wickedness and desecrating a rite God had established, and was punished for it, He had some words of wisdom to pass along.

When young Samuel heard the Lord calling to Him twice, Eli gave great advice.

 

“So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9

When we come before the throne of God we need to allow Him to be in charge. God will hear our petitions or whatever is on our hearts. He wants to help us with that, but first things first. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” That is complete submission to God, recognizing who He is. Allow the Lord to set the conversation, and when it comes time to speak what you have to say to Him, or questions you hope to ask, you will know.

Okay, my coffee is worn off—time for a fresh pot. Blessings!

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Professor Proudy Pants

pride

Everyone loves a good educator—unless of course they happen to be unedifying and overly didactic all the time, even towards the waitress when ordering at a restaurant. “If you cook the veggies in such-and-such a way they will retain more of their nutrients.”(I may be guilty of that particular one myself). It seems that the chances of falling victim to foolish pride increases with the number of years one attends formal schooling.

In my sophomore year of high school I took “Electricity” as an elective course. The teacher was a brilliant electrician, but he did not have the capacity to teach. He wasn’t even capable of teaching someone how to tie their shoes. Having knowledge is one thing, but knowing how to convey that information to others is an entirely different matter. Over half of the class received an “F”, including myself. One fellow made an “A”, but his father was an electrician and had already taught him the trade. My apologies in advance, but I can’t help but convey to you this teacher’s name, because there is such irony in the fact that it too began with an “F”—Mr. Fink. That was really his name—I’m not making this up!

But again there is irony here because I actually did learn something from Mr. Fink: One way to not teach. His problem was that he was too far above everyone else to know how to teach it to us in a language we could understand. The man’s frustration caused his anger to flare up often.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m focusing on one pandemic problem that keeps any person from being able to convince, explain and teach what they know to others. It, of course is having pride in how smart we are. When we become proud in this area we will not even realize that we are communicating that fact to others. In their minds it sounds like we calling them stupid and proclaiming ourselves to be geniuses.

Prideful teachers usually already know all they ever will, because their horse is too tall for them to dismount and study the ground any further. They feel no need to dismount because they already know all about what’s down there, even when they don’t. To think another person, especially one with a lesser degree on the wall has anything of import they could pass along to them, well that would just be ludicrous. Even though they may never say that outright, that’s the way they make people feel.

It is for this very reason that some Christians make extremely poor evangelists. We can have not only an intellectual pride from what God has taught us, but we also could develop a feeling of spiritual superiority. We know our doctrine and have studied our bibles extensively. Perhaps we have been a Christian for a very long time. We have Doctorates in Theology for goodness sakes!—or, we’ve been teaching the bible for many years. I’m feeling the heat in this next one. We have a PhD from the Holy Spirit, just like some of the early disciples had.

I’ll never forget the time the Spirit taught me some fairly deep theology through an atheist. Well…if the water wasn’t deep at least he cleared up the muddiness a bit. I’m certain it was a lesson the Lord wanted me to learn well.

“I can use anyone as an instrument to teach you, pay attention.”—God

It’s odd how the more educated one becomes the more they seem to forget some of their common sense stuff and social etiquette. So here’s a checklist for us to use before witnessing to someone else, or teaching a class, or writing a post for that matter.

  1. Never stop being a good listener.
  2. Always be open to learning something new.
  3. God can use anyone to speak through!
  4. Try to learn the feelings that lie behind the other person’s beliefs. (There’s usually some past pain that shapes their thinking)
  5. Empathize with them, love them, and then lead by example.

Yes, pride of intellect can often play a huge role in skewing our testimonies. Pride causes us to not truly hear others. But it can also cause us to unknowingly give off signals that automatically switch our hearer’s ears and hearts to the off position. A very old adage fits this situation well: “They won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

So let’s save the lectures for the classroom. Let’s actually feel what they are saying, and learn where their understanding and thinking is at. Let’s make room for their past experiences and care about their feelings. Let’s find some common ground and agree on that first. Then maybe buy them a coffee, and wait for the Spirit to show us an opening to love them into the truth.

FYI: When sharing the good news of Jesus a person must first know what the bad news is. They must first understand that we are all sinners and that the penalty is death, eternal separation from God. Then, the good news will sound as good as it truly is! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16


Categories: Christian Living, Ministry, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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