Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Moment of Testing

Genesis 22:1 - "Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.'”

Few take time to truly understand the context of Abraham's greatest test of faith. We look at Abraham's obedience to sacrifice Isaac and we shake our heads in wonder. However, a test of this colossal size only occurs "after these things." It is a decided moment in the heart of God and at a point in a man or woman's life when either heaven or hell is about to bend. However, this moment was also a series of faithful and not so faithful exercises throughout the life of the patriarch. Often, Abraham did as God desired and believed Him. At other times, we see him lying to save his own skin. However, all of that was now moot in the light of the one great question; Could Abraham totally give away what he loved the most?

Jesus knew all about "after these things." He lived the perfect mortal life and showed us how to live, die, and then be raised into new life. While Jesus is our perfect reflection of the Father, Abraham is our imperfect model to show us how the journey is always preparing us for that moment when we can say, "Here I am!" We will not do everything perfectly, but we must continue on in faith because we will come to that moment in time "after these things." Then, may we like Abraham, be ready for anything the Lord would require of us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Turning Irrational Fear to Faith

Genesis 20:11 - "Abraham said, 'Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'"

Even the most spiritual get into places of irrational fear. Just because we have trusted God to pay the water bill and He came through, does not mean we will automatically trust Him from then on. Faith is living and unbelief is constant, so therefore the former has to be exercised daily. It has to be drawn upon through past examples, realizing how God has answered our prayers. However, it must also be worked out regarding the unknown, understanding that each fear we face can take on a whole different complexion.

As with Abraham, it might wrap itself in the fear of King Abimelech. In this instance, we might condemn Abraham for already going through this lesson with the king of Egypt. One might think he would have already learned that it was unnecessary to lie about his wife to protect his own skin (see Genesis 12:10-16). However, for whatever reason in the latter example, the patriarch considered his death not worth the risk.

Faith will always involve death to self. It will always butt up against irrational fear and sometimes it will win. The goal is to eventually conquer all instances. The miracle is that Abraham had no more than two recorded instances of treachery. How many do we have, and like Abraham have we finished writing that part of our history?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Putting Ourselves Out

John 12:42-43 - "Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."

What is our fear of being "put out" of today? Mankind has various spiritual and soulish temples and are apt to protect these shrines at all costs. Do we love the religion that our structured religion offers us? Or, do we love the temples of idolatry that would seek to steal our hearts and passion? Then, there is the temple of God that exists within the heart of the believer. Are we protecting the temple of God, not allowing ourselves to be "put out" by any fleshly frame or demon? If we are loving the Spirit of Jesus within, then we care not about the approval of man or what mortal flesh thinks about our devotion. We will not be bothered a wit about those who try to look so "spiritual" on the outside but are full of dead men's bones on the inside. We will think it something strange if we are not "put out" of their man-made religion while we cling to Jesus, only caring about His approval.

Are you "put out" today, beloved? If not, we will be put on by the world and will inevitably put ourselves out of God's grace.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Mountain Climbing

Psalm 121:1-2 - "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

Salvation is never confirmed in the valley of plenty but rather on the mountains of adversity. We disallow God moving profoundly on our behalf when we fail to take the mountainous ascent to search out His best. Or, we might state the way is too hard and treacherous when the going gets tough. Beloved, the mountain paths are often hard and lonely. There are not the accolades of the demon-possessed valley where the gifts and miracles are flowing. All that is certain is death to self through the obscurity of no longer being visible to the multitudes below.

Salvation cost Christ everything and it is free for all. Yet we have to often look beyond the quick fixes that the world would offer and look to the Ascended One for our deliverance. He is our example, climbing Mount Calvary into a place of shame and inexplicable ignominy. When we give ourselves to this type of death, then we will understand the ascent is where true power dwells. For only as we ascend to a place of death, can we descend where we will be raised into Christ's likeness.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rise Up, O Church!

Joshua 7:13 - "Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.'”

The great conundrum in the westernized church is our inability to "rise up." In order to rise up, one must know that they have sunk low into sin. Most churches in America believe they are okay. They state this overtly by continuing to compromise and to sleep with the world. They wink at homosexuality and adultery and say they are not sin. They pride themselves in their progressiveness and their open-mindedness. Yet, they daily give themselves more to humanism than God's holiness. They have exchanged what they believe to be enlightenment for depravity. For the church to understand their enemies are real and unchanged over time, they must recognize them once again. Until that is the case, we will continue to see the moral decay of the church. The only rising up we will do will be to further embrace our idols.

The impotence of the church will continue until we can rise up against our enemies and say "this far and no more!" Until we rise up and destroy the golden calf of indifference and rebellion, we will remain deceived. When we can once again sink low in humility, then we will once again rise up and take our rightful heritage as the church of God.

Friday, December 2, 2016

God's Welfare Plan

Jeremiah 29:11 - "'For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'"

The Lord's message to us through this familiar verse is He continues to be God and we are not. He may decide to allow us to know His plans for us, on a limited basis. However, the majority of the time we just need to trust Him and know He has a plan for our lives. No matter how things might look, no matter how bleak our circumstances might appear, God is always for us if we continue to submit to Him. As Jesus tells us, all that is required is to come. However, God will tax all heaven if at times we cannot come yet desire to do so. He knows that we are often too weary to come because of the weight of self and must instead call upon Him for rescue.

True joy and peace will only come when we realize His Lordship and relinquish any rule over our lives. May we give ourselves to His plan, for only then is there a sure future in Him.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

True Freedom Through Christ

John 8:31-32 - "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'”

I am just as eager to accept the promises of God as the next man. However, it is often easy to take a promise out of context or without its conditions. Jesus' words here are a wonderful promise how the Son certainly sets us free through the knowledge of the truth. The quid pro quo of Christ's promise in this instance is the word "If" and then the condition of continuing in His word. What does that mean, to continue in His word?

In simplest form, it means obedience to what Jesus says. That does not mean picking and choosing what He says either. It means studying His love letters written to us in the Holy Bible everyday. It means understanding that Jesus was so full of love that He often spoke the truth with brutal honesty. It means loving the Jesus that weeps over the lost but equally as much the Jesus who whips sin out of His temple. Those who would just seek to "follow" Jesus' teachings will never come any closer to knowing this Man then if someone tried to follow the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi expecting to know him.

It often sickens me when I hear someone say they follow the teachings of Jesus. This shows me they have never met the Savior. No, what they follow instead is an idea or a concept. This is not Christianity. To be a Christian is to fall in love with the Man, Christ Jesus and want to know everything you can about Him. It is to become like Him because we have surrendered to Him, not to an idea. Then, beloved, we will know truth and the truth will set us free!