Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Is Our Faith In Trouble In 2014?

The New Year is knocking on our door as we do a quick review of the departing 2013. At this time of year most of us go beyond a review of the news events and do a spiritual review as well. One of the questions we should be asking ourselves is : Is there anything in my life taking away from my relationship with Jesus? I am not really sure that we are equipped to answer this honestly.

One thing that ensures the development of faith is a reliance on God; when we know we need him. If we don't need God we will dismiss him from our lives. This is the reason why faith is on such a dramatic decline in the Western World. We don't need God. We have everything we need: wealth, health, education, jobs, purpose. We are perfectly self-reliant so why continue with the premise of worshiping a God who no longer has a place in our lives? This is why so many hearts have grown cold to the gospel.

And if you do not think this is true, ask yourself if you are more reliant on seeking God for provision or your credit card? Do you seek him for your daily bread or do you figure it out on your own? Is he just something to worship or is he the God who provides all that you need?

Couple this with our insatiable appetite for diversion. We are a people whose great motivation in life is entertainment. The enemy of our soul does not need to put in any effort to try to distract us at all from the Lover of our soul because we do it to ourselves. Even the Church has changed to accommodate this appetite by making everything more entertaining, feeding into this great weakness that is a threat to our faith.

If we examine Jesus' words more clearly we will discover that his instructions were to make the Father our focus. He reminded us that our love for God must be all consuming, greater than any love of anything else in this world, even greater than of our parents, spouses and children. Yet we submit ourselves to entertainment that constantly disparages this relationship, defames our God and ridicules those who chose to be dependent on him. Can faith really be as bright as it is meant to be when we allow life to be sucked from it by such things?

The only goals worth having for this new year is to love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength; and to show our love to be genuine by loving our neighbour as we love ourselves. We should seek to re-capture the servant heart of our Lord, desiring to be possessed and overwhelmed by his love. Perhaps we should start by returning to fasting and prayer. Perhaps we should start by removing the distractions from our faith. Perhaps we should start by returning to our first love with all our heart.

Jesus taught us to be radical in our love for our Father. He told us that if there is anything that is separating us from him we should remove it. He said it was so important that it is better for us to enter heaven maimed than to enter into hell whole. Is it not easier to turn off that television show or movie than to cut off a hand or to walk away from the internet than to pluck out an eye?

In 2013, has anything distracted you from your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? Has anything enslaved you again from what you were freed? Are you going to carry these things into the new year or leave them behind? Is it time to make some hard decisions so you can grow into the spiritual maturity to which our Father has called us? We cannot serve two masters. What is your priority for 2014?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 : Faithful In Love

Predictions for 2014? What kind of year is it going to be? As people look back at this time of year to evaluate what they have experienced they also begin to look forward to what might be. Christians begin looking around for prophecies, especially personal prophecies. Everyone is looking for some good news, something that will give them hope, something for which to look forward. But here is our real hope:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. (John 14:1-3, CEV)

Jesus is our living hope and in him we put all our faith and trust, not only for this coming new year but for this new day. Our walk is not a yearly walk but a daily one and one that should be governed by two simple things:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Ours days should not be filled with seeking personal fulfillment, riches or fame. We should not be trying to find short cuts or a way to avoid stuff we want to avoid. Our days should be filled with growing closer to Jesus and loving others with his love. This love includes telling people God's plan of salvation, even if they will hate us for it. In the gospel of Mark it is recorded that a teacher of the Law responded to Jesus:

It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make. (Mark 12:33) 

These two things are of greater value than anything else you try to offer God; of greater value than anything else you try to do for God. And how is this love defined? Hear the words of Jesus:

If you love only someone who loves you, will God praise you for that? Even sinners love people who love them. If you are kind only to someone who is kind to you, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners are kind to people who are kind to them. If you lend money only to someone you think will pay you back, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners lend to sinners because they think they will get it all back. But love your enemies and be good to them. Lend without expecting to be paid back. Then you will get a great reward, and you will be the true children of God in heaven. He is good even to people who are unthankful and cruel. Have pity on others, just as your Father has pity on you. (Luke 6:32-36)

But let us not put the cart before the horse and become humanistic in our mission. There is a reason why the greatest commandment is to love God with your entire being; an all consuming love and devotion. The only way we could ever love in this manner described by Jesus is if we are possessed by the love of God and the only way we can be possessed by this love is to be consumed by it. Our love for our neighbour is only possible when we are consumed by God. Loving God must always come before loving our neighbour. We can only love because he loved us first. But there is so much that wants to interrupt this love and devotion.

The time is now upon us that, for the sake of the survival of our faith, we must make some decisions to simplify our lives. We can't serve both God and money. We can't sit on the fence. We can't be entertained by sin. We can't have a divided heart. The world is getting uglier and more hateful toward the Christian but the only worthy response to this is extravagant love for the world. Yet the only way this is possible is by a heart fully possessed by Jesus, with no distractions and interruptions

What is 2014 going to hold for us? Only God knows but I do know what he told us in scripture and things are not going to get better. In fact, things are going to get far worse and that's okay because it means it is almost time to go home. However, in the meanwhile we have duties and responsibilities and they all hinge on loving God with our entire being and loving our neighbour as we have been loved. May 2014 find us faithful in love.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Something Is Not Right In The Church And I Think It's My Fault

Something isn't right, and I think it is my fault.

Something is not right in the Church. We are missing something; something in the teaching; something in the learning; something in the living; something in our understanding and relationship with Jesus. It isn't hard to miss. Just stand back and listen to the reaction to A&E's treatment of Phil. Listen to the rhetoric. Read the Christian comments to news articles and other people's comments on these articles. There are two things that I have noted from this.

First, we don't have much love for the world, at least how Jesus sees it. Somewhere along the line we have missed what he meant when he said that he didn't come into the world to condemn people but to save them. The world is lost. We should not be surprised or shocked by their behaviour. They can't help themselves. It is why they need Jesus in the first place. Their behaviour is just a symptom of the real problem. When that problem is dealt with then things will begin to change. The thing we need to remember is that they can't see or understand the problem without Jesus. By us concentrating on trying to change their behaviour we are only going to distance them from Jesus.

This leads to the second thing that is becoming obvious from this situation: There are two major camps developing in the Church that is causing a wide open split. I am not going to label these camps but just point out their general differences. In one camp we have people who believe we must confront people with their sin and not to do so is to water down the Bible. In the other camp we have people who believe we shouldn't concentrate on the sin but instead on the person in the hopes to be able to introduce Jesus. Both camps see the other as being wrong and willingly argue publicly about their stand.

I wish the solution was any easy one but the way people are digging in there will be no compromise because each sees that they are doing what Jesus would do. As far as I can see it, the truth is found in both. It is possible for us to talk about sin without a condemning attitude. We can discuss why certain behaviours are a result of our rebellion against God and just what a powerful hold those behaviours have on us. We are not as free as what we think. But in order for that to work we must be willing to be honest and open and explain how God has transformed us and is continuing to transform us. We can't place ourselves above those who have yet to receive Jesus. Consider others more important than yourself. You are already saved.

At the same time there has to be a shift in our message. What comes across now is that we have to change before we can come to Jesus. We are setting aside Paul's teaching, "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us". The Church is not into behaviour modification but into heart transformation. You and I cannot change anyone. It is only the blood of Jesus that saves and it is only the power of God that transforms. We are not the judge, jury and executioner. We are nothing more than the messengers, the living testimonies of God's grace and it is with grace that we must love as Jesus loves.

We know that it is the Father's desire that everyone would be saved. We know it because we read it in the Bible. We also know it by his character and actions. However, Jesus also demonstrated that our Creator has left the decision up to us. He has explained the consequences of our decision but it is up to us. All we can do, with love and grace, is pass this message on to the world. That's our entire purpose. The rest is between them and the Holy Spirit. But doing it with condemnation is going to close far more doors than it will ever open. That's just as bad as showing someone grace without talking to them about the author of that grace.

There isn't a lot of time left and hearts are getting a lot harder these days. We need to make the most of what little time remains. May the Spirit bring healing and unity to the Church so we can get on with our mission. In my opening sentence I said there was something not right in the Church and it was my fault. Yes, mine and every other Pastor because we are not training our people to do this correctly. We are teaching moral living, and how to live for Jesus with eyes constantly inward. We are teaching humanism, to meet the physical needs of a very needy world. But we are not training them to fight for souls as we ought. This must change.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

At One Time Christmas Wasn't A Big Deal In The Church

People are getting upset about Christmas. It is a two month long celebration of consumerism. Yet Easter, the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is a sedate one weekend event. Up until 150 years ago Christmas was not prominent in the Church calendar. When consumerism kicked in it was shaped and blown up, way out proportion, and had little to do with the Christian celebration.

Don't get me wrong, the introduction of our Creator into our history is no small thing. But consider for a moment which Christmas we celebrate.

Where do we find a Christmas tree in the Bible?

Where do we have an example of a gift exchange?

Where do the lights fit in?

What does Saint Nick have to do with it? I don't remember him at the manger.

This is not the celebration of Jesus but the traditions of man. And for this we are going to go to war with the world?

Christmas has become a crazy thing that people go into debt over. The gifts are no longer a token of affection but a societal obligation. People skip out of worship services and with-hold their tithe because of Christmas, the financial burden and the pressure of time. Is it worth it?

Do we think we are honouring God with this?

I think we have greater battles than Christmas to stand our ground on. Many of us need to do an evaluation to decide whether we are fighting for traditions or for souls.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Is It Sacrifice Or Privilege?

Too often we Christians can be accused of allowing our society to influence our perspective. It's hard not too considering how much of our mind and heart we lend to the world. With the music, the tv shows, the movies, books and other things that are produced by unspiritual minds, our spiritual senses are dulled and destroyed. Our sensitivity to the Spirit is lost and we become spiritual zombies; still walking but dead inside. We are getting to the point where there is little difference between those who go to church and those who don't, except for the church going thing.

Perhaps this is why attitudes toward sacrifice are either poor or religious in nature. The fact that we would even consider anything God asks of us as a sacrifice speaks to our spiritual condition. It should not be a sacrifice to be generous, kind, gentle, loving, but often it is for us. It becomes an extraordinary thing we do instead of a natural part of our day. So if we have trouble with the small sacrifices in our daily walk, what happens to us when we are called upon during extraordinary times? Do we rise to the occasion or disappear within our self-centered perspective?

Where are the heroes of the literature of old? Where is a Frodo Baggins, who rose above his lot in life, leaving behind his self-centered society to lay down his life for the benefit of everyone? Forget about literature, what about people like apostle Peter, Paul, John? Where are the Stephens; those who set aside their own interest for the benefit of the whole? What about Mary? Yes, what about the woman who was asked by God to give up everything she considered ordinary and important so that Jesus, the Son of God, could enter into our history and complete his mission.

Was this a sacrifice that God asked of Mary? Of course it was. Most of us know what was at risk for her. What if her fiancee rejected her? What about when society found out and people wanted to apply the law? What about the reputation of her family? It was a huge sacrifice to ask of someone so young, but to those who love and trust our God, we know this to be a privilege not a sacrifice. This is what we find in Mary who obviously loved the LORD God with all her being. Her's was not a song of complaint or regret but one of joy and thanksgiving:

Mary said,
        “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
              In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. 
           He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. 
             Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
                   because the mighty one has done great things for me.
         Holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-49)

We say that the Spirit Of Christmas is about giving instead of receiving, but the only sacrifice that is worth anything is what we "give unto the Lord". God has not told us to become humanistic in our attitude. He has told us to love as we have been loved; to forgive as we have been forgiven. Generosity in everything is a sure sign of someone who has given themselves fully to the Lord.

Jesus told us to not just love those who love us but to love those who hate us. The only way this is possible is when we understand that we love our God with our entire being and because of such we are loving him when we love everyone; we are giving to him when we give to others; we are serving and sacrificing to him when we serve and sacrifice for others. When we are doing these things because of God's love for us and ours for him, it is done with a genuine joy and attitude that shows we consider it a privilege.

Use this Christmas season as an opportunity to evaluate where to stand in your relationship with Jesus. What is your attitude? How self-absorbed are you? Who is shaping your perspective? Are you a Christian zombie? Or are you totally sold out to Jesus? Is it sacrifice or privilege?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who Is Killing The Christmas Spirit?

To call people skeptical today is putting it rather mildly. We live in a tangible world where people claim to only believe what they can see and what they can put their hands on. We all think we are intelligent and trust that science will show us the way. But hold on. I am actually only describing a small portion of our society. Most people actually believe there is more than what they see.

Just consider some of the more popular shows on television that deal with ghosts, mediums and other spiritual matters. Why are these shows so popular? Because people want to believe in more than the physical world. There is part of us that we know is missing, that is not being fed, that we are not dealing with, and so we search.

There is always going to be part of us that struggles with believing what we cannot see or making assumptions about what we do see. There is so much about Jesus that people can not get past because of the skepticism that is so prevalent in us. We would rather believe in evil demons, vampires and werewolves then in a God of grace who wants to transform us into what he always intended us to be. People dismiss the Christmas story because of something as simple as this:

Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Only, this isn't found in the gospels but in the old prophecies. But people scoff at the idea of the virgin birth. They scoff at the baby in the manger. They scoff at the cross, the empty grave and the giving of the Holy Spirit. But behind their scoffing I think there is a bit of fear that they could be wrong. So they fight harder against it, attacking it and putting down the people who do believe, just to encourage themselves. Why is it so hard to believe in a Father, Creator, who loved us enough to go through all this trouble to rescue us from ourselves?

I actually don't think it is hard for them to believe as much as it is a desire to keep their independence. That is what the whole rebellion is about; us wanting to be our own gods. We want to be the master of our own destinies. We want to write our own stories. We want to call the shots. But that's because we don't know that we are already slaves. We think we are calling the shots but we are actually trapped by our sinful nature which never allows us to live up to our full potential. We can't live up to that potential except through the one who came to set us free.

So yes, it is getting harder to convince people to consider the goodness of God when they don't consider God to have any relevancy any more in our society. We will accept all other forms of spirituality but not that of a Creator who tells us we have to do it his way in order to have life in its fullest. People will accept the "magic" of Christmas but they will not bring themselves to actually believe in the one who we celebrate. Me thinks the end is approaching as hearts are hardened, eyes grow blind and ears are plugged. These are the things we were told to watch for, that would be obvious to those who choose to believe but hidden from this who choose themselves.

Skepticism is killing more than Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 9, 2013

To Be A Producer Of The Kingdom Of God

Lord, I believe you want to bless me with riches so I am trusting that you are going to help me win the lottery. Lord, I believe you want to bless me with an easy life so I am trusting you are going to make all my problems disappear. Lord, I believe you want to bless me with fame so I am trusting that you are going to overlook the things I have to do to get there.

Sounds ridiculous to me. How about you? Yet so often it is our attitude as we make God into our own personal genie. We seem to have missed the point that the Christian life is about producing, not consuming. Where did we go wrong with what Jesus taught us? How did we get is so twisted? Jesus stated:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. (John 15:5)

I find this whole passage to be one of the most profound in John's purpose of revealing the incredible relationship Jesus made possible between us, Jesus, the Spirit and the Father. Yes, I could simply say God but I want to make this a little more personal than the title "God" allows.

We have the purpose of remaining in Jesus, allowing him to remain in us and to be producers. The emphasis has to be on all three here because our purpose is to produce but we can't do it unless we remain in Jesus and he in us. But let me also point this out to show just how important it is to produce:

My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples. (John 15:8)

How wrong we are to believe that God's desire is to make us comfortable here. Jesus did not take on the torturous cross so we could be comfortable but instead so that we could spend eternity with our Father. We are here so that our faith would be developed, to mature spiritually, to become producers as mature citizens of the Kingdom. It is the selfishness of our sin nature that pushes us to be consumers, to take from God and consume the seed he has given us instead of sowing it as we are intended to do. But that is only part of the issue.

We would understand our place so much more if we would but remain in Jesus and allow him to remain in us. We can't do anything without him. Sure, we can produce great things according to this world but with no value in the world to come. Jesus told us to "lay up" our treasures in heaven where nothing can touch them. The principle is so simple but we often complicate the application.

We complicate it by never really dying to ourselves. The things of the sinful nature we died to still lick at us, producing selfishness, envy, conceit, unforgiveness, hate, depression. These things and so much more are produced in a life that is not found in Jesus and in which Jesus has no part. So before we can become producers who glorify the Father, we have to possess Jesus and be possessed by him.

This is not a self-will endeavor. It is not accomplished by intellectual pursuit. It cannot be grasped by an unspiritual mind. It cannot be helped by psychology or science. It is born of the conviction of the Holy Spirit who plants a seed in us that we must desire. "Seek my face" God told a disobedient nation, "and you will find me." God gives us the desire for him but we have to act on it. He convicts us but we have to act on it. Jesus has shown us the way "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me" but we have to desire it. In desiring it the Spirit will do all that is necessary for us to die to ourselves with great joy as we are possessed by the only one who truly loves us.

We have to be possessed by Jesus and not our selfish desires in order to fulfill our purpose of being producers. Examine your day; it should be quite easy to tell what you are and if you find you are something you don't want to be, you know what to do to see it changed.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Cross Is For Our Benefit, Not God's

There are very few relationships where the giving is only one sided. Every person who is in your life gets something out of being part of you. None of them exist only to give to you; not your best friend, not your teachers, not even your parents. That is why Jesus is like no other person in your life.

No matter how you look at it, Jesus received nothing from giving himself for you. He came entirely for your benefit. Jesus came so that you can have full life through him:

I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. (John 10:9-10)

God doesn't need us. He is self contained within the God-head. He does not need the angels. He does not need creation. He does not need mankind. But he created us and made a covenant with us, and even though we broke relationship with him, he never gave up on us. He gave himself entirely so that we could have life to the fullest, as he always intended for us to have, simply because of his word to us.

We certainly didn't merit Jesus' death. We do not merit his love. No matter what we do we could never earn it; never. But he freely gave it at no cost to us and to no benefit for himself. He paid the full cost only for our benefit. No one else could ever show that kind of love for us.

And all we have to do is accept it.

Everything that needs to change in us will be changed by the power of the love we accept into our selves. We don't receive it after we have changed. We change after we accept it because that love transforms us, making us a new creation, and continues to transform us until we are just like Jesus. Again, all for our benefit.

Don't ever think that God did this because he needs something from us. Don't think that he needs our worship, our talents, our offerings. He needs nothing. He did this because of the purest form of love; a love that is God himself. For this we gladly give him our lives, because such love provokes absolute trust, service of gratitude and whole-hearted worship. So take time to come to as deep an understanding of this love as God is willing to reveal to you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Do Angels Still Speak?

If you ask me how God does something my response will be, however he wants to do it. If the Bible teaches us anything it is that our God responds in a diverse manner that suits the person and situation. So, would God use angels to convey something to us? It wouldn't be beyond him so I wouldn't rule it out, by why would he put a mediator between us and him?

In ancient times God had to communicate to us through prophets and angels. There are a few examples of God speaking directly to people but they were exceptions. However all of that changed with Jesus Christ:

In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

God revealed his heart, his plan, his great mysteries through the Son, and then something really amazing happened. Jesus returned to the Father so that he could send us the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit of God who now dwells in us, making us one with Jesus; Jesus in us and us in him. Here is the truly amazing thing:

Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone. Who has known the mind of the Lord, who will advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)

We do not have the Holy Spirit on us like the prophets did in ancient times. The Spirit would come on them as they needed to act or speak God's will. Instead we have the Spirit of God in us, living in us, giving us the mind of Christ, that we would know and do the will of God.

There was a time when God could only speak to his people through angels and prophets but we are now one with God so that he speaks to us directly. The question is, are we listening?

We have to be careful because there is one who wants to drive us into confusion and cause blindness to God's people. He has done it to the world and of late he has been effective in the Body of Christ:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Don't allow the lies of the enemy to cut you off from communication with our Father. Don't listen to those who have lifted humanism, morality above the truth of our relationship with the Christ. The Father is still speaking and he is speaking with you. Set aside thoughts of angels and open your ears to the Spirit's voice. Allow him to direct your days according to the will of the Father.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

So This Is Christmas

Christmas? Bah-humbug!

I am getting to that point as we strip away any significance of the Christian celebration. Forget trying to convince the world to keep Christ in Christmas. Why should it? They don't believe. For them Christmas is about family traditions, having fun with the kids with the figure of Santa Claus, and having a great party at the beginning of winter. No, the real fight is to get the Christian to keep Christ in Christmas.

Society is a powerful machine shaped and molded by the media. Most people accept as truth whatever they watch on television, especially the news. Christians submit themselves to this same mind-shaping machine every day. Ask the average Christian how much they will spend on gifts this year and it will be no different than the person who does not believe. Ask them what Christmas is about and the two will give similar answers: the family.

As nice as it is to have the family together for Christmas, it is not about the family. Christmas is not about the food. Christmas is not about family traditions. Christmas is not about the magical time for the children. Christmas is about one thing:

In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)

The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

That's it. That is our celebration that we have allowed to become something it was never intended to be. Now it is more a celebration of the family, which Christians who worship the family are happy for, but it is not the true celebration. Now we don't even open our churches on Christmas day to worship God for this incredible start to his great act of mercy and grace. No, we would not want to disturb family time.

"Keep Christ in Christmas" we say as we stress out over Christmas shopping and running up our credit cards with stuff we can't afford. We are caught up in the machine just like our non-believing neighbour and we don't have the guts to admit it.

The Christmas message is still a message of the Cross. The Christmas message is about the Light that entered this dark world to die for mankind who did not deserve it. The Christmas message is about God's love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. The Christmas message is about God's reconciliation with man. The Christmas message is nothing without Easter. I do not worship a baby in a manger. I worship the risen King; the Alpha and Omega; the first born of us all.

Re-think Christmas this year and don't be a lump of clay for this society to mold.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Until Our Dying Breath

"The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people." (Colossians 3:15)

Our history is filled with Christians who kept the faith even as they were tortured in prison because of that faith. Not just an ordinary faith but a faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. But today, scores of people are falling away from that faith under the light pressure of a few questions from people without Jesus. How can it be that the darkness is able to swallow the light? The answer is as simple as it is sad: There is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.

Someone asked me the question, "What if an atheist convinced you that God does not exist?" Can someone convince me that my dad does not exist? Of course not. Atheists look at our faith and do not understand because they can only see words and morality. They see only with their eyes. They believe an academic argument can dismiss what they do not understand. But Jesus is not a matter of academics or logic. It is about relationship, just as my dad and I are about relationship. How can I be convinced not to believe in someone I experience every day?

The reason so many fall away by fine sounding arguments is because that is how they came to know Jesus. But we can't argue someone into belief. Belief happens when a person responds to God calling to them. The Word says, salvation belongs to the Lord. When we have experienced the peace of Christ we know the reality of Christ. That peace must be permitted to control our hearts in the face of everything this world has to throw at us. But we cannot hear God's voice if we refuse to believe.

Perhaps this is the great falling away that we know comes in the end times, but those who know Jesus by the Spirit and not by intellect alone cannot be persuaded otherwise. It is impossible to drink from that cup and change our mind, not if we are being refreshed in the spirit every day. By being refreshed, his peace is renewed in us and, although many things would try to prevail over us, we make the decision to give his peace control. We choose to trust in Jesus and his promises and we shall trust until our dying breath.

I will not turn my back on the lover of my soul, who I experience every day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Because Of God's Grace, I Am Thankful For You

"I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus. That is, you were made rich through him in everything: in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you." (1 Corinthians 1:4-6)

The world is getting to be a very hostile place for people of faith so we better start appreciating the Jesus in each other. Imagine thanking God for a brother or sister in the Lord, not for what they have done, but because Jesus saved them. Do you ever marvel at God's grace in a person's life instead of looking at what they used to be?

I have heard mature Christians respond in such positive ways when gossipy people have tried to bring up someone's past: "Did you know this Mrs. White used to ____________?" Response: "The emphasis is on the "used to ". What a wonderful trophy of God's grace she is now, all praise to Jesus." It is amazing how quickly a mature Christian can chase those spirits right out of the room with a wise response.

I have always said there are a lot of bullies in the Church, who try to make themselves feel good by pushing people down. But we don't have time for that in the Church, never did. We need to come back together as a family as the world heats up against us. We need to appreciate the one Spirit we were born from, the one Lord who is our head, the one grace that sustains and empowers all of us. It doesn't matter what we have been forgiven because we all have been forgiven more than we deserved.

We are family and in the months to come we are going to discover the value of our spiritual family. May that day start today. "I thank my God always for you..."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shouting Praises To Our God

Come, let’s sing out loud to the Lord! Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation! Let’s come before him with thanks! Let’s shout songs of joy to him! (Psalm 95:1-2)

Many of us miss the opportunity and benefits of worship because we are too busy complaining. We are so caught up in our little lives, with our little problems and our little perspectives that we miss the greater vision of what God is doing. It is impossible for us to give to God what is owed to him when we have allowed negative emotions and attitudes to cloud the benefits of life in Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we don't even realize we are doing it. We intend to be thankful. We intend to show our love and appreciation. We intend to worship with all our heart, mind, soul and body. Yet, it is a hard thing to do when we are double minded. The worship is happening all around us but our mind is on the bills to be paid, the shopping to be done, the work to be arranged, the fight during breakfast. It is hard to be thankful when we are mulling over the hurt we have experienced at the hands of people during the last week. It is hard to worship our God when we are focused on ourselves.

Even at night, laying in bed, when we should be peacefully at rest in the Lord, we are wide awake, trying to find solutions to our problems. Perhaps it is the fear that we are losing someone or that we have things for which we just can't find a solution. If you are willing to hear, God is speaking in those moments, giving instructions, showing us the path, telling us to trust. But we can't hear because we don't know how to see past ourselves to worship the one who holds all the solutions.

Your joy does not depend on your circumstances but on your relationship with Jesus Christ. Your worship is not dependent on a perfect day but on your relationship with Jesus Christ. Your thanksgiving is not a result of a problem free life but on your relationship with Jesus Christ. We do not worship because of us; we worship because of him. We do not worship because of what we receive; we worship because of who he is.

If we know him we will love him. If we love him we will see what he is doing. If we see what he is doing we will be overwhelmed by who he is. If we are overwhelmed by who he is, we will not just sing songs of praise, we will shout them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Does Compromise Come Easy?

The truly happy person
    doesn’t follow wicked advice,
    doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,
    and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
Instead of doing those things,
    these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,
    and they recite God’s Instruction day and night! (Psalm 1:1-2)

The difference between God's way and the way of the lost is very clear, at first. It is obvious to us what pleases God and what does not. But unless we keep ourselves alive and fresh in God's Word, it becomes less clear to us and compromise seems necessary, often the only way, to achieve our goals.

It is the reason why so many older Christians temper their passion and make excuses for accepting what once they would have stood against. It is the reason so many preachers seem to wonder, the further they travel down the road. As we achieve success in the sight of the world the more value we put on the opinion of the world. We find more time to fit in the priorities of the world and less time for God's Word.

Psalm 1 seems so obvious to us but it is not saying wicked advice but the advice of the wicked. Who are the wicked? People who do wrong? Maybe from the point of morality but from God's perspective the wicked are those who are in rebellion against him; those who are without Jesus. And yet Christians flock to anyone in the world who appears to be wise, especially about finances. We don't take note if they are in the Lord. We don't consider the source of this wisdom. Advice is advice, wisdom is wisdom, and we don't bother about the source.

How much compromise does it take before we are standing on the road of sinners, doing what they do, just hiding it better? Where are we when it comes to generosity, kindness, love, respect, forgiveness, grace? Again, not from the perspective of morality but the transforming power of Jesus. Has compromise cut in on our transformation? If you hate, are jealous, hold on to hurts, fail to forgive, then you stand on the road of sinners.

You call yourself a Christian. Have your spoken against the leader of your country? What about your mayor? Have you laughed at the jokes against them? Have you laughed at jokes against God? You my friend are a mocker. That mocking will eat away at your faith so that soon you will even mock the simple things of trust in God. Compromise comes in all kinds of forms.

But who are they that are filled with joy, peace, trust, laughter, sincerity? Are they not the ones who shun the way of this world and choose God's way? Are they not the ones who take their pleasure in knowing and doing the will of the Father? Are they not the ones who choose to set their mind and heart on the things above instead of this place? Are they not the ones who take delight in God's Word over all other delights and desire only to know him more? Are they not the ones who refuse to compromise?

To which camp do you belong?

Monday, November 18, 2013

He Gave Himself Completely So You Could Be Completely God's

Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. (John 17:17)

The things you think you need to make your life complete, you don't really need. What we really need is food and clothes, and even these Jesus told us not to worry about. Shelter would be good, some companionship but Jesus said that not even he had a place to lay his head.

Truth be told, our priorities are in a mess. Kingdom values are all mixed up with earthly values. It is hilarious to hear how much they say it costs to raise a child today. Sure, if you are going to buy them all over-priced name brands and fall for all the marketing gimmicks of food and toys. All we are doing is re-enforcing the values of this world in the minds of our children. According to the experts, I would have to be a millionaire to raise the 11 children who share my name. 

It is when we are lost in these wrong values that the value of the highly important gets lost. How are you sanctified, set a part from this world, for God's purpose? By the gospel of Jesus Christ. God's Word is truth and by this Word, the truth that Jesus brought forward, we are made completely God's. Hear Jesus' prayer:

Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. (John 17:15-16)

We don't belong. Look at your credit card bill and repeat those words, I don't belong. Look at your long term goals for your life, your family and repeat the words, I don't belong. Look at your attitude toward your boss, your neighbours and repeat those words, I don't belong. When you are standing in a crowd, is there anything about you that let's people know, you don't belong?

We are in this world but not of it. We don't belong. We are not here for our benefit, for our pleasure, for our self-seeking, but because we have been given a mission. We don't belong. The gospel of Jesus Christ, God's Word, has sanctified us, set us a part for his purpose, not our own. We don't belong.

I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth. (John 17:18-19)

That stings a bit. Jesus gave himself completely so that we could belong to God completely. How does your life reflect this truth? Are we living to honour the price Jesus paid? Does our living demonstrate that we belong to God completely, or are we living as part-time warriors?



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Needy Christians

When you listen to our worship songs Christians sure come off as a needy bunch. It seems we are always crying out to God, expressing our needs but if you listen closely you will hear the difference between our cries and the world's. Our need is for the Lord Jesus himself.

We don't go to church to win favour with God.

We don't do kind things to earn merit points.

We don't do anything to try to manipulate four our own benefit.

We don't need to; he already gave us all the benefits of being his children.

So why do our songs sound so needy?Because we know that without Jesus we are nothing and have nothing. He is our source of joy, strength, hope, love, peace, everything. Our entire desire is to grow closer with him, so we can be more like him,so we can obey what he has commanded.

Yet we live in a world filled with attractions. No one says that sin is ugly in appearance and it is only after we have eaten that the rotten taste is clear. Our heart, mind and spirit long for intimacy with God but our body longs for the pleasures of this world. We cry out to God because we want his presence so evident to us that no temptation could ever overpower us. And it is a daily walk.

For a people who are used to planning a week, month, year or even 20 years in advance, to live day by day in the Spirit is not always an easy discipline. Imagine planning your meals a day at a time, needing to shop every morning for what you need today. That is how it works with Jesus. We have what we need for today. That is why he told us not to worry about tomorrow. It is why it is called a walk of faith. Daily trusting in his mercies for today.

There is no shame in being needy when that need is Jesus Christ. But when he has responded and renewed us again, when we have been bathed in his presence, when he has responded to our heart cry, we need to rise up and take action in the mission we have been given. If all we did was sit around and bathe in his presence, we would fail the mission.

So sing his praise and your need of him; receive all his benefits; and get to work.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Open My Eyes Lord

"Open my mind and let me discover the wonders of your Law." Psalm 119:18 CEV

So many people approach the Word of God as they would a novel, a book of history, or some impossible thing to understand, and approaching it in such a way will make it impossible to understand. What is worse is when we approach it like unbelieving theologians, tearing it apart like some ancient text book that has to be proven or disproved. The Word of God does not need to be defended any more than the Ark of the Convenient needed to be protected. It is not in need of being proven. It is from God, of God, holy and protected by him. He will defend it. He will prove it.

I cannot teach you the Word of God unless I am anointed by the Spirit to do so. You cannot receive from the Word of God unless you have a spiritual mind because only God can provide revelation. Only the Spirit can give us the heart and mind to understand what is spiritual. What is so difficult to understand, that the Word of God can only be understood by the mind possessed by the Spirit of God?

People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. (Romans 8:5)

The Spirit, through apostle Paul, made it plan for us to see:

Every word we speak was taught to us by God’s Spirit, not by human wisdom. And this same Spirit helps us teach spiritual things to spiritual people. (1 Corinthains 2:13)

Spiritual things to spiritual people. And by this Paul refers to those possessed by the Spirit of God. It is great that we have accepted Jesus as Saviour but to grow spiritually, to be one with Jesus, to understand the revelation of the Word of God, we must be Holy Spirit possessed. We can understand nothing but our selfish desires when we try to understand in our flesh.

I read a lot of "junk food" theology in the sphere of social networking, but much of it is propagated by people who have understood the Word through their flesh. Certainly they have taken courses and may even have letters behind their name, but it does not mean they are anointed by the Spirit. Many are unpiritual people teaching an unspiritual people, and it is just creating a mess. It is not a new phenomena:

My friends, you are acting like the people of this world. That’s why I could not speak to you as spiritual people. You are like babies as far as your faith in Christ is concerned. So I had to treat you like babies and feed you milk. You could not take solid food, and you still cannot, because you are not yet spiritual. You are jealous and argue with each other. This proves that you are not spiritual and that you are acting like the people of this world. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

I encourage you, if you want to dig deep into the revelation of God, into his holy Word, then cry out to God to be possessed by his Spirit. Die to your own understanding and caste away your selfish desires. Soak in the Spirit, making sure that you are fully surrendered, then ask God to open your eyes to the Word. There is nothing new under the sun but that does not mean you understand what is of the Spirit. Make it your heart desire and God will see that you receive it and he will give you a spiritual mind.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Praising Through The Tears

"I am in deep distress, but I love your teachings." Psalm 119:143 CEV

Wouldn't it be great if everything was daises and sunshine all the time? But it isn't and I think we are doing a disservice to ourselves to expect it to be. I think we are also doing a disservice to God. Jesus did not promise us a rose garden or utopia. He warned us many times that it was going to be tough. We only make it harder on ourselves when we act all shocked when things don't go as we had hoped.

There are times when I am in deep distress. It does not come from a lack of faith. In fact, it is actually me working out my faith in Jesus. It is me facing my weaknesses and submitting them to the authority of Jesus. Sometimes there is some wrestling involved until I get to the place of laying it all down and saying "not my will but yours be done".

Such times do not mean that we love the Lord any less. It is not even saying that we do not have faith. We can be in distress and worship with such a sweet and sincere praise. We can cry out our love from a place of deep agony. We should not feel guilty because of the pain but instead recognize that we are participating in the process. It is one more weakness exposed, to be dealt with by the Spirit. It does not mean our love is weakening but instead growing stronger as we learn to submit more of ourselves.

They only time we need to worry is when the praises stop, when we stop seeking his face, when we start to search for other solutions within ourselves. If we are in distress and we start to resent God, then we are facing a true crisis. If we can walk through the "valleys" knowing Jesus is guiding us and loving him for it, even though we don't see the solution, then everything is okay.

Praising and trusting Jesus through our tears is a powerful moment of growth.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Moving Beyond The Beginning

"Christ died once for our sins. An innocent person died for those who are guilty. Christ did this to bring you to God, when his body was put to death and his spirit was made alive." 1 Peter 3:18 CEV

As is said, Jesus doesn't have to do another thing for us and this one thing is sufficient for an eternity of praise. This moment permeates every single moment of our lives, leaving us in a position of praise and thanksgiving. But this was not the end. This was the beginning point for us. It is the beginning of the transformation, the beginning of the journey, the beginning of spiritual maturity.

The reason so many fall away is because they fall asleep too close to where they crawled in. They accept Jesus as Saviour but never learn the importance of making him Lord. They never receive the Baptism of the Spirit. They never learn that we are Kingdom dwellers. They never learn that we live by different rules and that we don't pursue the things of this world. They go no further that attending church, singing songs, giving an offering and reading a Bible they don't understand.

Jesus died, not so we can attend church, but so he could bring us to the Father. The Holy Spirit was given to us for more than a mark, more than just to mark us for the Lord. The Spirit was given so that we could be one with God; Christ in us and we in him. We are never away from him. We are never separated. We are always empowered. We are always comforted and strengthened, and filled with hope.

We recognize that every day is another day to serve Jesus, to progress in our maturity, to die to ourselves. There is never a moment of our day that is not dedicated to our King. We take our example from him. Wherever he goes, we go. Whatever he does, we do. Whatever he prays, we pray. Anything less is not our all, and God wants it all, or nothing.

Christ died once for our sins; and we die every day to ourselves. Giving him all the glory and all of our lives.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Don't Use Your Freedom To Do Wrong

"The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone. You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. You are free, but still you are God’s servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong." (1 Peter 2:13-15)

What is our responsibility toward the government, considering that we are not of this world? There are many groups that always seem to be against the government. We often speak against our leaders when they do not adhere to the Word of God. We sign petitions and talk around the water cooler,tearing down, not building up. But is this honouring to God?

The Word tells us here that we are free, because our citizenship does not belong here but to the Kingdom of God. But the Word also instructs us not to use our freedom as an excuse to do what is wrong according to God. We may not always appreciate our government and the decisions made but the Word is clear that we are to submit ourselves to such authority.

Do we trust God?

Do we trust what the Word says, that he raises up the government and he brings them down again?

Like so many things in our lives, we want to take control. We pray but at the same time we want to control our finances, our employment, our church and our government. I don't think we really believe that God is in control of all things. And the truth is, he is only in control of what we allow him to control. We can take control over things that God wants to direct, make a real mess of things and then blame God.

I liken it to one of my children who ask me to teach them to bake. Then part way through the process they decide they know what to do and stop following my instructions. To no one's surprise, it ends in disaster. Praise God for his grace, that he is always sovereign and has plans to clean up our messes. But we lose out in the relationship because we do not allow God the control that is rightfully his.

Pray for the government. Submit to the laws. As free as you are, do what is right in God's eyes by submitting to the authority that is under his control. Trust God and accept that he is sovereign in all things, even if it is not going the way you think it should. God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people, by obeying him.

Friday, November 8, 2013


"But if you don’t want to worship the Lord, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the Lord!" Joshua 24:15 CEV

We have a choice. Christianity cannot be legislated. No government can adopt it and then force their citizens to believe. No one can be forced to believe anything. Don't look back to the past, see Christianity forced upon the masses and think "the good old days". They were the worse days of Christianity, the birth of a religion instead of the growth of the Body.

God never forced anyone to worship him. He did not manipulate or coerce. He wants worshipers who have freely chosen him but he won't put upwith false worship either. He has dealt with those who worship him with their lips but acted differently in private. He has also explained the blessings of worship and the curses of going our own way. He has explained the curse of our sinful nature and his desire to free us from it. But he has always left it up to us to decide.

In recent years we are seeing the false testimony of our society falling away and the true nature being revealed. It is only natural that those who have decided against Jesus to gravitate to and support rebellion produced in their sinful nature. Of course we are seeing sin being called natural and beautiful. Come on now, it is the nature of this world and our society.

The question is, what decision will you make in the face of the rebellion all around us? Will you choose the idols of this world and throw yourself at the feet of money, fame, false security? Will you worship the gods of this land, as is natural to the sinful nature, the rebellion we were all born into? Or will you choose the Lord Jesus Christ, who has called us out from this rebellion and into his peace?

Take note of Joshua's words: to worship and obey the Lord! We all love the worship part, it makes us feel good, but it is the obedience that we must focus on. "If you love me you will do what I have said" stated Jesus. Do you love him enough to make a choice, to take a stand and accept that nothing in this world holds any value or wisdom for you? Do not seek anything in this world but always seek what you need (physical, mental, spiritual) from the great provider himself. And remember, his provision is to equip you in this place for his work.

We are not here to grow fat and lazy. We can choose to if we want but it is not his purpose for us and Jesus warned us what will happen if we decide to seek for ourselves instead of others. So yes, you have the freedom to choose but choices have consequences.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Must We Sin?

Do we have to sin?

That depends if you are speaking of sins we are aware of or things we do that offend God of which we are not aware. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ that his grace covers all things we are blissfully unaware of so the question then is, are we able to avoid sins we do on purpose. The answer to that is, yes.

People mistakenly misuse the scripture where Paul stated what his struggle was with sin before accepting Jesus:

I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. (Romans 7:18-20)

Paul is describing what it is to be a slave to sin, the sin that is revealed by the perfect Law of God. But earlier Paul also wrote:

Don’t you know that you are slaves of anyone you obey? You can be slaves of sin and die, or you can be obedient slaves of God and be acceptable to him. You used to be slaves of sin. But I thank God that with all your heart you obeyed the teaching you received from me. Now you are set free from sin and are slaves who please God. (Romans 6:16-18)

So why is it that so often we fall back into sin? Why is it that we end up so weak? For the answer to that I think we need to consider king David.

In some ways this is comparing apples and oranges because we are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit and David was not. God applied a lot of grace to David in the same way he did to Abraham but today we live in a constant state of grace because of the blood of Jesus. However, there are certain behaviours that are similar that still get us in trouble.

The big difference between David and us is that David had no choice in his sin; he was a slave to it. His best chance was to avoid situations that would cause him to fall. As he stood on the roof top looking down on a bathing Bathsheba, David was a slave to his desires, but he shouldn't have been there. When you read the scriptures you discover that it was the time when kings went off to war, but David was not where he was suppose to be. He sent off his army and he stayed home, bored. Boredom is never a good thing. If David had been fulfilling his duties he would never have sinned and an innocent man would not have had to die.

Too often we decide to sin because we are not where we are suppose to be. And yes, I chose the word "decide"on purpose. In this age of grace, with the indwelling of the Spirit and the broken bonds of sin, we have to make a conscience decision to sin. We know what we are doing and decide to do it any way. It is not as Paul described what it was like before Jesus. We know him, have been freed by him, have the ability to decide for ourselves and are strengthened by the Spirit to do the right thing.

If we are where we are suppose to be in the Spirit, doing what we have been called to do, serving our Lord Jesus, then no temptation could ever overwhelm us. There is no reason why we must give in to sin, but we can make the decision to do it. When we are weak in our relationship temptation is strong. When we are strong in our relationship, temptation is weak.

Are we where we are suppose to be? Are we bored? Are we lending power to temptations? Then turn back as quickly as you can to Jesus. Who the Son has set free is free indeed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Misuse Of God's Gifts

If you are a member of the Body of Christ, you are called, equipped and anointed for the function you have been given. No one can exist in Jesus outside of the Body. Many try due to their lack of maturity. They are too busy looking at the imperfections of other people to understand the grace that has been applied to their own. They use others as an excuse to separate instead of a reason to serve. We are the Body and God has appointed us to our place in it. Verify the truth of the matter in 1 Corinthians 12.

You have been given certain gifts by the Spirit in order to function within the Body. These are not natural to us but are supernatural, given to us supernaturally. We cannot serve God in a way that pleases him in our natural, but he equips us to serve him in the supernatural. The question is, will we use these gifts to faithfully serve his will, or will we use them selfishly for our own gain? Solomon is a good illustration.

King Solomon knew enough to know he was over his head. What he had been called and anointed to do was beyond his own natural ability, and he was wise enough to realize it. So when God asked him what he could give Solomon, this young, wet behind the ears, newly appointed king asked for two things: wisdom and knowledge. But take note of why he wanted these gifts from God:

Lord God, you were always loyal to my father David, and now you have made me king of Israel. I am supposed to rule these people, but there are as many of them as there are specks of dust on the ground. So keep the promise you made to my father and make me wise. Give me the knowledge I’ll need to be the king of this great nation of yours. (2 Chronicles 1:8-10)

Solomon did not ask for his own benefit but so that he could fulfill his calling, the task for which he was anointed, which is why we receive gifts from the Spirit. God was pleased with this and because he asked with this motivation he also provided Solomon with everything else. But Solomon did not stay so pure in his motivation.

Solomon allowed his eyes to turn inward. He indulged in the privilege of his position. Instead of serving God by serving God's great nation, Solomon started serving his own selfish desires. How easy it is to turn what God gives us to serve him into something for selfish gain.

As great as Solomon was he could have become more. He seeded things into his children which caused the split in the kingdom. Instead of being a united people for the glory of God, they became spoiled and selfish, requiring the great correction God visited on them. We are not too far from this ourselves, even in the early days of the Church.

When apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, guiding him in the strengthening of the Church in Ephesus, he said something that we need to take note of today:

You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith. (1 Timothy 1:4)

We can never forget the purpose of our calling and the focus we have been given. There should never be anything that we are involved in that does not help us to do God's work. That is the entire focus of our life, to do God's work. It is not a part-time thing. It is not a weekend thing. It is something that we are occupied with every moment of our day, and it is the reason we have been equipped by the Spirit.

It is possible for us to waste the gifts of the Spirit, to use them for ourselves instead of for Jesus in the context of the Body. It is possible but it will prove to be our ruin as it ruined Solomon. We will never reach the heights that God has intended for us and we will seed things that will prove to be the undoing of other people as well. For this we will have to give an account. Don't forget the parable of the talents.

Perhaps it is time to allow the Spirit to take an inventory of where we are with the gifts we have been given, and permit him to remove what is not a help in doing God's work by faith.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Self-Made Or God-Made?

Have you asked Jesus to walk with you or have you accepted to walk with Jesus?

Do you ask Jesus to bless your plans or do you ask to know the Father's will so you can be obedient to it?

Did you ask Jesus to use your talents for his glory or did you ask the Spirit to manifest through you with the anointing of God so that his glory may be revealed?

There is a difference.

But today we don't have time to understand that difference. Everything is a rush. We don't have time to sit in the presence of God, to have his anointing wash over us. We don't have time to meditate on his Word and hear his voice speak his will to our heart. We come to him with our limitations and say "Use me Lord and here is what I mean by 'use'".

Here are the first words to describe Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1:1:

King Solomon, the son of David, was now in complete control of his kingdom, because the Lord God had blessed him and made him a powerful king. (2 Chronicles 1:1)

Solomon had not done anything to accomplish anything. He contributed nothing. He did not fight any great battles. He had won no wars. He did not go out and enslave the world. He had done nothing to warrant any thought that he was a great king. He was what he was and had what he had because God had decided it. God had made Solomon an incredibly powerful king and his fame spread around the world.

On his own Solomon might have been able to survive. He might have been able to accomplish some things, or he might have been conquered and killed in the first week. We don't know but we do know that Solomon was a powerful king because God made him powerful.

Are we a self-made people or a God-made people? Who is in control of your life? Does it matter?

We are not a dumb people.With some hard work we can accomplish a lot. We can at least survive. We can scheme, manipulate, work and accumulate some wealth and reputation. We can even give God credit for all of it, although it was only us who did it.

God does not want credit for what we do in our strength. Jesus does not want you attaching his name to something that has nothing of him in it. If you were a master electrician would you want your name attached to a job completed by an amateur? If you were a well known artist would you want your signature on the finger painting of a two year old? What could we possibly achieve that would give Jesus the same level of glory that he is able to give himself?

What we can accomplish is nothing compared to what God can do through a humble and surrendered child. God does not need us creating glory for him out of our limitations. He wants to reveal his glory as he manifests through us and does his thing in and through us. He does not want our ideas, schemes, or actions. He wants us to be his tool, worked in his hands and all it requires is surrender and obedience. He does not want our opinion or our perspective. He wants our heart, mind, soul and strength given in love every moment of every day.

God blessed and made Solomon a powerful king. What does he want to do with a surrendered you?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Don't Give Satan Power Over You

Have you ever been told to be careful of what you say? Have you been told to watch what you confess with your mouth? Often people say that you will bring life to whatever fear, worry, lust, longing that you speak. Your words give it life. The Word of God is filled with warnings to be careful of what you say. There is a reason for all of this: It is with your words that you either defeat or arm your enemy against you.

So let's understand this: Satan is not God. He is not an equal force fighting against him. He is not arm wrestling with Jesus over souls. Jesus sent Satan packing with a few simple words and, with the authority given to him by the Father, he sent the servants of the enemy scurrying away with the simple command to "Go!" God is God and there is no other. Evil cannot overcome him and there is no foe that can defeat him.

Now understand this: Only God knows your thoughts. No one knows what you are thinking, except for our Creator. He knows our motivations because he knows our mind and our heart. Don't worry; he knows and he has still chosen to love you. That's how great his grace is. The Word tells us:

You know when I am resting
    or when I am working,
    and from heaven
    you discover my thoughts. (Psalm 139:2)

 Don’t say, “I didn’t know it!
    God can read your mind.
He watches each of us
    and knows our thoughts. (Proverbs 24:12)

When king David was preparing his son, Solomon, for the great task that awaited him, he told him:

Solomon, my son, worship God and obey him with all your heart and mind, just as I have done. He knows all your thoughts and your reasons for doing things, and so if you turn to him, he will hear your prayers. (1 Chronicles 28:9)

The problem is when we turn around and credit Satan with the same attributes as God. Satan does not know your thoughts. He cannot hear what you are thinking. He does not know your words before they are on your lips but when they are on your lips he knows, and that`s the point.

Satan is a great student of human behaviour and character. He has servants who watch, take notes, and listen to your words to know your heart. He has no other way to know you then to study your words and actions. It is the reason we are warned:

Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. (1 Peter 5:8)

How does he know who to attack? Is he going to attack those who stand strong in the authority of Jesus; who worship and praise all day long? Is he going to attack those who proclaim the promises in every situation? Is he going to attack those who have developed faith muscles by declaring the goodness of Jesus in the face of all circumstances? Or is he going to attack those who show their weakness by the confession of their mouth? Those who grumble, complain, back bite? Is he going to attack those who confess (not to God but the world) their illnesses, lusts and desires? Is he going to attack those who expose their plans and who curse the good things that God is doing through circumstances?

We have nothing to fear from Satan unless we give him the power over us; unless we leave the pasture of our Shepherd and tell the world of our fears. As long as the Lord is our strength, our sword and our shield, as long as his praise is sweet on our lips, as long as we make sure our words, the confessions of our hearts, are seasoned with his grace and love, the enemy will never be able to touch us. But the moment we start confessing our fears, anxieties, anger, bitterness, hatred, discontent, he will know exactly how to work on us until he succeeds in separating us from the Lover of our Soul. Like a knife in an open wound, he will continue to twist on the nerve of our emotions.

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)

And let your words flow from such things. Even if you are struggling with a wrong attitude, confess it to God but be silent before your enemy. In fact, know what is best for you and despite how you may feel, let the praises of our Lord fill your mouth and the air around you simply because you know he is good. May the atmosphere of where you are change from whatever it is to the sweet awareness of God's presence and may others be blessed by you instead of cursed as a result of your close walk with Jesus.