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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Truth

Turkey is but a light to us flies in the dark of night. Fear, unbelief, and condemnation; or, faith, hope, and love? From whence are we thinking and speaking on this Thanksgiving Day? A kind word turneth away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1) Win souls today! Goodness makes for a pleasant temporary social bliss, however, goodness does nothing to requite sin and justify us before a holy God who absolutely requires repentance and faith in his Son whose blood alone can cleanse from all iniquity. By our attitudes and example, let us invite the lost and the blind to come to Jesus just now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Am I Wrong?

Have I misunderstood the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of God unto salvation? Who’s report have I believed? Who is really on the Lord’s side? If I judge my brother and look at him sideways because I discover that he has engaged in all manner of sinful activity while professing to be a Christian man of God, then, aren’t I just as guilty of sin? Does the Bible not say, written in red letters no doubt, that I should judge not lest I be judged? (Matthew 7:1) Furthermore, are we saved by grace or by our good works? (Ephesians 2:8, 9) And, does Galatians 6:1 not tell those who are spiritual, whoever they may be, to restore the one who has been overtaken in a fault and to do it in the spirit of meekness lest the restorer also be tempted?

If God has truly begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled according to His abundant mercy (1 Peter 1:3, 4), then who among our accusers, the good, the bad, and the ugly ones, have erred because they know not the scriptures nor the power of God? (Matthew 22:29) If I judge my brother unfavorably according to his sins, am I not operating in unbelief and discounting the power of God, as if God’s arm was too short and could not save? And, in so doubting the power of God and the heavenly intercession of Jesus our high priest to completely deliver my brother from his body of death and save him to the uttermost according to His own sovereignty, faithfulness, and perfect will (Hebrews 7:25), haven’t I undermined my own chance at holiness, giving in rather to the accusatory temptation planted in me by the spirit of Antichrist, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) while exhibiting selfish self righteousness and the opposite of the love Jesus commanded in John 13:34.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, doesn’t the Word of God say that I am nothing? (1 Corinthians 13:2) How many say they are praying for that prostitute or drug addict but yet, in reality, they are loftily sitting in moral judgment and discussing what a shame it is that such people just will not do the right thing. How blind we fools are when we dare to think we are wise. (Romans 1:22) Some of us are measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves among ourselves. (2 Corinthians 10:12) We have either lost the compass or thrown it away altogether while blindly condemning ourselves, ignorant of the fact that we shall be held accountable for every idle word. (Matthew 12:36)

If it is I who is blind, please, rather than discuss my shortcomings among yourselves, help me pray for God to anoint my eyes that I may see more clearly and completely the way, the truth, and the life. One may very well be on the edge of their wilderness or in the middle of their Gethsemane when you see them broken. Yet, if we have no faith to believe God for their complete deliverance, restoration, and redemption, let us at least have the scruples to keep our negativity and discouragement to ourselves, unspoken. Let us be “looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble us, and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:16)

Corrupt communication fuels the enemy's tanks in battle. (Ephesians 4:29) If we have correctly understood the gospel, then let us have a bit more faith in God’s ability to save the lost and deliver those who, like the apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans say, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Now is the time, the daylight hours during which to speak boldly the truth in love rather than mutter faithlessly about the weakness and unfaithfulness of those who are yet climbing Jacob's Ladder on the way to purity and the highway (Isaiah 35:8). In our weakness, the strength of Christ is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9) and Jesus has prayed that we be one body even as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one (John 17:22). Please correct me according to God’s Word if I am mistaken. I thank God for every instance of chastening I received as a child because I would not enjoy prison today. Let us enjoy the liberty that comes bundled with the goodness and mercy inherent in God’s presence and shining countenance. The light of the world dispels the darkness of this world. Amen. May the grace of our Lord be with us now and always, and, may we stay blameless until He returns for the bride He himself has prepared and made worthy though she was an harlot in times past, resurrecting dead and putrid things to an abundant life of prosperity and peace with God Almighty in Heaven. Let it be unto us according to the Word breathed from God's own mouth by the prophets and the apostles as we encourage and inspire each other to fulfill the commission. We indeed have a charge to keep and a Holy God to serve.

If I never say another word, hear this from me: faith is the preeminent, most crucial and absolutely necessary ingredient in a fruitful relationship with God. Have it, sustain it, and guard it as if your eternal life depended upon this one thing alone. You are the apple of God's eye and nothing shall separate us from the the love of Christ. Nothing and nobody... (Romans 8:35-37) Jesus paid it all and He is not leaving the mall without His package. Be encouraged all! This is the good news written in the blood of our passover lamb. Rejoice and be glad! "The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof." (Psalm 97:1) I, for one, am ecstatic about it and moved to action and devotion. Pray with me that all the brethren be so converted that we would dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1) and be that answer to the prayer Jesus so urgently prayed in John 17:22. Let's not be the weak link in the chain of salvation. Let us pull each other up instead of down! One love (Spirit), one heart (body)- let's get together and be (not just feel) alright! Search the Scriptures daily whether these things be so. (Acts 17:11) If you can't encourage, be silent until love makes such positivism possible for you. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Rescue Mission

Humanity was created in God’s image and enjoyed perfect fellowship in right standing with God until the fall when sin entered in and humanity's condition changed from perfect and blameless to condemned and lost. Humanity would thereafter be separated from God. Yet, God promised in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and thus restore humanity to a state of sinless and blameless fellowship with him through this seed that we know to be Christ. God sent his Son to serve as a perfect sinless sacrifice able to satisfy the wrath of God that was due to humanity because of sin. Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

As Jesus was sent by the Father with the means of salvation, now those who received that salvation are sent or commissioned to take that saving grace, love, hope, and charity to those who need it in the entire world. The condition of the lost cannot be overcome without the efficacious grace of God. Without this grace, the lost are condemned by the depravity within them to spend eternity separated and estranged from God. Without grace there is no hope. Without grace there is no improvement of the condition. Without grace there is only darkness without even the possibility of light. Only by God’s grace can the lost be rescued from eternal spiritual death and damnation. Without grace, the unmerited generosity of God directed towards humanity, one would not be capable of desiring to be rescued. By faith in God’s ability to save and in the expectation of the availability of the grace and means by which salvation is made effectual, namely repentance, confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and believing in the heart that God has raised him from the dead, the lost can be saved. (Romans 10:9) Hence the work of salvation is of God through the external means (the “doings” of the church) ordained by Him to those who are in turn entrusted with the responsibility of communicating this grace to the whole world. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

God pursues the lost because of his love for his creation and it is with this perfect love that he gets their attention and begins drawing them to himself. If the church is full of the fruit of the Spirit and walking in God’s love, only then can the church be a truly useful instrument in the service of God’s purpose. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Short One

I'm breathing in fresh flowers that were planted in my soul by my beloved today.
Blossoming even after I was buried, dark, cold,
And waxing old in the wee small hours of a nightmare.
I am so happily not the man I used to be.
Not knowing what the clue was;
Interestingly and amazingly to me,
I could have been who I thought I was, now look at me.
And by His stripes, I am inexorable, and purely healed.

A Little Prayer

A wonderful change has come over me! I am just a little nicer today, a bit less stubborn, and a tad more aware that I am less than nothing without the grace and mercy of God that I have experienced in my life. I desire more each day to disappear until only the image of Christ, my Lord, remains in this mirror. I have been such a vampire in my life thus far. And yet, because of Christ's love, I am not ashamed. The Gospel of Christ is the powerful detergent that is cleansing me and delivering me from all unrighteousness day by day. It is the glorious power of God and I am growing in grace. I am one day closer to the day I surrender the rest of my life to save another. Hopefully, and in faith, I am fortunate enough to be on my way to being conformed to the image of The One who was sent to pay my ransom. Lord, give me grace in suffering and spare me a life of ease. I accept my mission, Lord. As you were sent, and as you sent the Holy Spirit, so now I accept my marching orders. I will go and do as you have commanded. I will lay down my life and not look back. Like the Boys of Summer with a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac, I won't look back. I can never look back. Thank you for making tomorrow so much more relevant than yesterday. You are my beloved and I am yours. Hallelujah! I am so grateful to be closer to being wholly yours. In faith, believing that you are able to perfect that which concerns me, and, elated to know for sure that you are faithful and perfect in all of your glorious ways, I lay this at your feet and move onward through the night knowing that joy comes in the morning. "Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope." (Psalm 119:116) In Jesus' name, believing that it is so. Amen and amen.

Don't Speak?

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
Little children often say, “since you don’t agree with me, I am not going to speak to you.” How infantile and yet, what a natural stage in the development of all who were born into sin and shapen in iniquity (Psalm 51). We are all commanded to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), “as newborn babes, desiring the sincere milk of the Word.” (1 Peter 2:2, 3) By all means, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) And yet, as obedient Disciples of Christ, mature Christians brimming with the fruit of The Holy Spirit, called to isolate ourselves from others and communicate only with those who agree with us? How is that being a witness and how does that minister grace? Ministry is not meant to be comfortable... "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (Matthew 25:35-37) Let us get off of our high horses and let's get about our Father's business; loving the unlovable and opening our mouths to speak the truth in love to all, no matter how we may differ in doctrine or opinion. Let's grow up saints.

The Suffering, The Reward, and The Responsibility

To the extent that we (our gifts) are being used and discarded, misunderstood, maligned, slandered, injured, or ignored by people, especially “friends”, we are suffering with Christ and we should rejoice. The lostness of humanity is an eternal reality and we, Christ's disciples, must be made broken bread and poured our wine in ways that are not so glamorous as standing before a crowd that agrees with us and may even praise us. No, the real work is at the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). Yet, in the process of God's economy, "the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." Hold on.

The best is yet to come. For now, let it suffice that we are baptized into Christ in His death (Romans 6:1-4) and resurrected with Him unto newness of life. Therefore we turn the other cheek and persevere with a grateful heart full of the love of Christ as, by God's grace, we are transformed into the image of His Son unto eternal glory. Hebrews 12 denotes the reward for persevering in this race until the end. May the grace of our Lord be with us as we run suffering towards the prize of our inheritance that is stored up for us," incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:4, 5)

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18)

“But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” (Matthew 12:48)

In kind, I would venture to say that it remains to be seen who our friends are. If it can be said that friends don't let friends drive drunk, how much more should we say that friends don't let friends perish for lack of knowledge? What are we talking about when it is promised that we shall give an account for every idle word?

The eternal condition of those lost without Christ is a death sentence and the Gospel is the only efficacious means of bestowing the grace of God that results in eternal life. Not many of us would fail to act if we saw an infant running towards a road buzzing with heavy traffic or reaching for a boiling pot of water. How much less then can we, as disciples, be driven to evangelism and missions by the knowledge that “Jesus came not to make bad people good, but to make dead people live.” (Ravi Zacharias Sermon, "The Lostness of Humanity")

Jesus alone is the exclusive way to the Father. I make myself a target for the violent terrorism of Jihad extremists and humanistic "good" people alike by stating the truth of God's Word, breathed from His own mouth just as He, Yahweh, breathed life into our nostril's when we became living souls. There is no other life raft. How can the lost not starve to death throughout eternity unless they accept the bread of life, and, how can they accept the truth of God’s Word unless it is offered to them so that they have a chance to be “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8)? “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV) I believe that to the extent one has been fully persuaded of the truth of the gospel message and come to faith in Christ, that is the extent to which one is powerfully motivated to act responsibly in the areas of evangelism and missions. Hence, to Christ’s disciples, the lostness of humanity is to the heart a clarion call to action born of love.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Upholding All Things

According to Colossians 1:15-20, all things were created in order that we know the creator and come to faith in Him. Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus prayed in John 17:17 that God the Father sanctify us through His truth: His word is truth. Jesus states in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him. When a man really loves a woman, he desires that she first notice him and that she would progress to greater levels of intimate knowledge of him until finally they become one. He will sacrifice himself unselfishly for his bride's sake. I see it as being the same with God’s love for us. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3). Oh how I love Jesus, because, He first loved me.

Reflections (Matthew 5:16)

My justification is assured since I have believed on Jesus and my glorification is assured at His return. Sanctification, then, is an ongoing process which requires something of me and is the focus of my spiritual development and maintenance. Thank God I have divine omnipotent help and I am not alone in meeting the task! It is not an easy project and there is no fast track. But God is perfect and cannot fail. My hope is in Jesus Christ.

I pray that I have a greater hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God tomorrow than I have had hitherto. This time to focus solely upon spiritual and conscious communion with God is as vital to my existence as oxygen and perhaps more valuable ultimately. In order to integrate a balanced, thoughtful, full-orbed, mature Christian spirituality, I must not get out of bed until I have prayed and acknowledged my complete dependence upon Christ, and inquire what devotional activities might be immediately scheduled into my schedule for this day to insure that I spend more quality time with the Lord. The well organized person manages his time wisely. So should I make certain I have scheduled (spent) my time with the Lord each day and be careful to guard that time jealously, not having neglected to do all else as unto Him in an attitude of selfless love that might please Him. This is the stewardship God desires for me to exercise in this life. God is jealous for His people and I pray to become ever more desirous of His pleasure in my life.

I would also endeavor to meet any and all instances of conflict, pain, or potential confusion, whenever they occur, with the immediate response of prayer, praise, and worship however brief. I will be mindful not to allow worldly entertainment, a career, or even church duties and ministry to outweigh my time in the secret place each day, knowing that God desires to meet and nourish me in that stillness as much as I desire His presence. If it can ever be said that I have completely surrendered to God every hour of any given day, I will ask Him to make me more like Christ more consistently and continually until I am forever in His presence (like Enoch). I pray that I will always pray for a greater hunger and desire to get closer and communicate more consistently with God and that I will progress steadily in this direction. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:25, 27)

I have learned that I must respect the most valuable resource I have and that this resource, namely prayer, must be put to a good use on a daily and hourly basis. This is crucial in order that my faith fail not and that my effectiveness in evangelism and ministry increase and be continually renewed and strengthened. In this way I hope to know Jesus more perfectly and make Him more perfectly known. This is the only way I will be able to say that in Christ I live and move and have my being. This is the only way I will accomplish the coveted goal of remaining more consistently connected to the true vine in my daily life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Whip It "Before the Butter Sits Too Long" (DEVO 1980)

“So stir up the gift of God that is in thee” (2 Timothy 1:6, KJV) Or, in the words of DEVO, “now whip it into shape, shape it up, get straight, go forward, move ahead, try to detect it, it's not too late to whip it, whip it good.” Paul said in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal.” My personal experience is that I cannot let down my guard for one moment without it adversely affecting my spiritual life, the absolute top priority. It is not legalism for me to realize that I cannot forgo prayer to watch another repeat of Law & Order, or let the filthy language of anytime television into my ear gate without damage. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:8) Darkness and sin are always at the door actively seeking an entrance. If I am not this moment pushing myself towards righteousness, I am slipping into darkness. Sin is actively killing us whenever we cease to actively mortify the deeds of the body. Let us keep praying, Brethren. The whole point of this race is to finish it, having been declared blameless by our Savior who has risen and is at the right hand of God making intercession for us right now. Devotion is love in action and I believe it naturally leads us outwards to be witnesses unto Jesus, knowing Him and making Him known. Evangelism then is more about multiplication than addition. May God bless the friends I may lose by writing this...

And After He Had Prayed

As we interact with the world of others, we need to divert attention away from ourselves and towards God, His Word, and His will. Also, as the two forces make contact, I want to make sure I am so in touch with the Spirit of God at that moment that I am the spiritually influential one and not the one being spiritually influenced. The meaning of being holy is that as believers we should be set apart from the world. Romans 12:1-2 is a daily instruction and must precede my going therefore into all nations baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In that order and daily nourished, as a living epistle I am then able to be a light to folks still in spiritual darkness. If I am not in the proper spiritual condition and state of mind myself, I am but a blind man trying to lead the blind. That is why constant prayer for my own steadfastness in faith precedes my going out. This does not mean, however, that I never intend to go out, but that I would rather go with as much of God’s leading and empowerment as possible. Once we have daily received the Bread of Life, we interact with all men (as we have opportunity) that we may win some. Moses said unto God, in Exodus 33:15 “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” I pray to be in the right place at the right time always for the right reason. I look to God for this direction lest I lean to my own understanding.

More Living Water Please

A well-rounded spirituality includes realizing that, “The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). The fear (holy reverence) of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but is also an aspect of the holy life that will keep me mindful of God’s presence, God’s Word, my total dependency upon His grace, mercy, and omnipotent power in every aspect of my life. This world is not my home. I have to be willing to forego some of the time consuming dainty meats of this world in order to finish this race and hold the beginning of my confidence steadfast unto the end, overcoming stress, unbelief, and the cares of this world. (Hebrews 3:14) I am praying each day for full growth that leads to action, studying to show myself approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15) while realizing that the most important prayer is that my faith never fail. (Luke 22:32) A balanced, full-orbed Christian spirituality would be in vain otherwise. Matthew 7:22, 23 illustrates the ultimate futility of not staying connected to the true vine, abiding in Christ with Christ in me just as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. The Word of God begs for a constant, close, intimate contact throughout our walk with Him. I want to cultivate that more and more in my life, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. Not able to live a monastic life, the challenge is greater for me but not impossible. I have achieved a much greater balance just by severely limiting television in the daily routine. I am praying for more and more time in the secret place of prayer.