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.