Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishing and Hoping

Matthew 16:25 - "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

The only thing we should consider when deciding who or what we will devote our lives to is what is to be gained or lost. Our decision should not be based on "wishing" as Jesus proclaimed, but instead it should be founded on the bedrock of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In order for a man or woman to move beyond the pipe dream of wishing, they must understand reality. The cross that many bear is superfluous or meaningless in the light of their eternal destiny. However, when the aforementioned give their lives to Jesus Christ, then the dynamic of hope fills their souls. And hope does not disappoint because of the love which Jesus Christ pours out within the soul of those who trusts in Him (Romans 5:5).

In this coming year, it is imperative we decide who or what we serve. Some might say, "I will serve none but myself and my family. I don't want any of this religious stuff." Of course the reality is that everyone is involved in this "religious stuff." Everyone worships in their own way. They either serve the god of self and human accomplishment, or they surrender to Jesus and come after Him, carrying their cross in joyous servitude. The former means eternal loss ... the latter equates to life eternal. Who will we trust to save our souls? If we trust in Jesus, may we all first deny ourselves and then take up our crosses and follow Him. There is salvation in no other manner!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Which Cross?

Matthew 16:24 - "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"

There are many "cross-bearers" in the world today. However, scripture tells us that many of these will be denied the heavenly prize and few instead will find it (Matthew 7:13-15). Some will bear their cross for a cause or a movement with no thought of God. These will reap what they sow, for God will not give a thought for them either in the final outcome. While there are a plethora of noble "crosses" to bear in our sick world, the only one that truly matters is that of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we carry a cross to save the planet or to help dying AIDS children in Africa or to open an orphanage in Delhi and are not following Christ, it will mean nothing in regard to determining our eternal home.

The only cross we are to bear is the cross of Jesus Christ. The world will congratulate us if we carry another cross for a noble cause, and will diametrically hate us if we carry the cross of Jesus (John 15:18). The former smacks of humanistic endeavor and the ability of man to pull himself up by his proverbial bootstraps. The latter is a declaration of the total inability of mankind to save himself and our need of a Savior. Only when we come to Jesus are we able to come after Him as the scripture states. Denial of self will not then be a laborious chore, but instead an expression of love toward the One who gave us life. Denial of one thing without passion for another only results in disappointment. (Ask the addict who attempts to quit drugs with just determination.) If we first embrace Jesus by coming to Him then coming after Him and bearing our own cross will seem the most natural thing. In reality, the natural will then become a supernatural empowering that will crucify our flesh daily as the aroma of Christ breaks forth in our souls.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Voice Recognition

Matthew 14:27 - "But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.'”

If we are seeking to do God's will, we will know the truth of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, His word will seem vague or ghostly in appearance. However, if we cry out to Him, He will reveal Himself. The problem is that often we are not listening.

What would have happened if the disciples argued with Jesus when He spoke with them? What if they refused to believe it was Him? This seems ludicrous to us today because we know they knew the voice of their Master. Do we know the voice of our Master? If we do, then we will hear His voice "immediately" when we begin to fear irrationally. He is always speaking and with earnest. We must only allow ourselves to hear what the Spirit of Christ is saying.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ascent through Descent

Psalm 47:5 - "God has ascended with a shout, the Lord, with the sound of a trumpet."

Jesus Christ ascended from the earth with a shout and the sound of the archangel's trumpet when He defeated sin. From His birth to His resurrection, He was continually ascending to God as a fragrant aroma—a pleasing Son. He delighted His Father in all things therefore the result was to be drawn back to the Godhead to become all in all with the Father and the Spirit.

Are we ascending to God today? Our ascent is predicated upon our obedience, beloved of God. When we are pleasing to the Father, He draws us higher and higher in the things of the Spirit. To ascend, we must descend first in surrender to His will. (Consider Enoch who pleased God to such an extent that He took Him bodily to heaven [Hebrews 11:5]). Only when we continue our ascent to God can we know with assurance that His final descent will be for our redemption. When the Last Trumpet sounds and He descends from the clouds, then we can be sure that the promise of our ascent will be confirmed.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Eyes of Desire

Psalm 123:2 - "Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us."

Our eyes will either commend or condemn us before God. Whatever we look at consistently will become our desire, which will ultimately fill our hearts. In time, we will resemble the very thing which has captivated our gaze. Our eyes are merely extensions of our hearts. The soul of a man must be dealt with before the eyes will ever be fascinated by the Lord.

We serve a wise, loving, benevolent God who longs from on high to have compassion on His children. Yet, He desires we look to Him in faith, unwavering, until he sends His gracious compassion. Just as a servant looks to his master for his sustenance, so we must look to Jesus for all our provision. If we look to another master, may we quickly repent and put our eyes back on Him. Though other masters will promise us peace and pleasure, none will fulfill us except Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Persevering Until the End

Revelation 3:10 - "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."

Many use scriptures such as this to say Jesus will not allow us to go through tribulation, but will whisk His church out of harms way during the Great Tribulation. However, what many of these fail to understand is the first part of this verse. How has the Church of Jesus Christ in the earth persevered in these latter days? True, third world countries have certainly suffered for the Lord's sake. There are more martyrs in the 20th century for Jesus than all 19 previous, combined. However, what of the church in America? Can we confidently say we will be whisked away to heaven on the proverbial coattails of these who have truly persevered? My belief is "no".

I have studied rapture theology for years (both privately and academically) and I believe the church in America is deluded if they think God is going to spare us from suffering that others have so marvelously endured for His glory. It is time to wake up, beloved. There will be many sadly forlorn when all hell breaks lose upon this earth. However, we should not fear. He is coming back at the sound of the last trumpet to take home all those who have persevered until the end.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christ is Born!

Isaiah 9:6 - For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

Most of the world is disadvantaged when trying to relate to the birth of Jesus Christ. Most see Him as a
baby born in a manger nearly 2,000 years ago in ancient Palestine. Unfortunately, they do not have the prophetic insight that Isaiah shares with us how this baby would grow up to be so much more. Ironically, the prophet speaks of a child, the paramount example of the weakness of human flesh, preordained as the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." To many, this is pure silliness that a baby born in post-Bronze Age Israel could possess eternality and redeem mankind from His sin.

However, unless we embrace this baby with all the attributes the prophet ascribes, we will be lost like the majority of this world. "Embracing" means more than sympathy toward the idea. It means surrender and obedience to this child who is returning as the King of Kings. May we all embrace Him on this Christmas Day, for He is worthy! ... A holy and blessed Christmas to all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Visible Faith

Matthew 9:2 - "And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the  paralytic, 'Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.'”

We cannot see the wind. However, we can see the effects of it as it blows through the trees or unfurls a flag with its directional force. The same is true of faith. We cannot see faith unless it is in action. James tells us "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). Jesus understood this perfectly and that is why he made the proclamation to the paralytic that his faith had made him whole. Could He see the substance of faith itself? Not as the perfect Man who had emptied Himself of God. However, He could see the fruit of faith as they struggled to see Jesus.

If people would look at our lives today, would they see faith? Would they see someone struggling to know God  more in their lives? Or, would they see someone who is content and happy with the status quo. Beloved, we all have a degree of paralysis from the effects of sin. Jesus is looking for faith in our lives to help us to walk with Him -- joyous and free in His holiness!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Speaking to Our Souls

Psalm 42:5 - "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God,  for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence."

If we are not allowing the Spirit of God to speak to our souls, then we are allowing the flesh and the devil  to do so. Revelation will come from soaking in God's word and understanding His promises. When we know we have help in the Lord, then we are able to speak by the Holy Spirit with faith to our hearts. There is nothing more that the enemy desires is to exclude God from the conversation. He desires to do all the talking and have us do all the listening. What we hear with our hearts is inevitably what we will end up doing with our lives.

The help of God's presence only comes through faith, and faith by the word of God (Romans 10:17). What are  we listening to today? This will be the great determiner in what we do, beloved of God. Will we see the  situation as hopeless, or will we praise God for the help of His presence as we allow God to speak life to  our souls?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blameless with Great Joy

Jude 1:24-25 - "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

"Blameless with great joy" should be the desire of every believer to one day experience before God and man. In truth, this will be the heritage of every soul who has trusted in Jesus when we see the Lord in His glory. However, while this is our pledge for heaven, this is also our promise for earth. We are the righteousness of God in Christ, beloved. The only blame those who have trusted in Christ will incur is the accusations Satan is allowed to heap on us. Our guilt is a lie from the pit of hell if we have received Christ.

David tells us in the Psalms that in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalms 16:11). If we are not experiencing joy in this lifetime, it is because we still embrace blame. And, from what we know from Scripture, the blame is only a game of the enemy to keep us from the prize of God's presence. Beloved, cast off the guilt today! Walk with Him and experience His great joy ... the heritage of every believer!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Looking to the Earth For Answers

Isaiah 8:22 - "Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness."

The days grow darker as Mankind continues to look toward the earth instead of heaven for help. In this day of environmental concerns and "loving the planet" we have forgotten Who made this orb, and to Whom we owe our first allegiance. We have turned our hopes to New Age philosophies and humanistic answers born in the bowels of the earth rather than in the One who created it all. The absurdity of putting our hope in creation rather than the Creator is not a new dilemma, but one that has been around for millennia (Romans 1:25).

Just as those who are born of the Light are drawn to His marvelous light, those born of darkness will be driven further to the darkness. Their choice is abstentious of righteousness by not choosing the Creator rather than embracing His creation. Professing to be wise, they have become fools. May we all submit to the Light and not be driven to our own insanity by those who rule the darkness.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Transitory Journey

Psalm 39:4-5 - “Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah."

Do we really understand that we are a mere breath? Or, a vapor as James describes us? (James 4:14) Our depth of understanding of our transitoriness will depend on our comprehension of God and His eternality. Without the fear of the Lord and an understanding of His greatness, we will not adequately understand our insignificance and our smallness in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully, as we age, we grow in our understanding that we are not "bullet-proof" and we will not escape the Reaper. Our fear will determine how we ultimately embrace the inevitable. If we do not fear the Lord and surrender to Him, we will surrender in fear to hopelessness and dread.

Our breath is only significant when it is inhabited by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, the very air we breathe is inhabited by ever-nearing death. But, when the Holy Spirit lives within, every breath is eternal and a calculated nearing to our eternal destiny.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nothing is Too Difficult for God!

Jeremiah 32:17, 27 - "Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You! ... Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”

Often, it is easier to believe God for something of a spiritual nature rather than a miracle manifested in the flesh. We can believe for a person's salvation because the Word tells us that if someone confesses Jesus as Lord then they are saved. (Of course, one must then live as if Jesus is living in them and not like the devil!) Believing for a miracle in the "flesh" is often different then believing for salvation. When we pray for a cold to go away we are not overly distressed when it doesn't, because we know in time it will run its course. However, everything is on the line regarding a terminal disease. If we could lay hold of the same desperation praying for the dying that many of us experienced when we gave our lives to Jesus, we would see many more remarkable miracles. Where is the belief that only Jesus saves and likewise heals?

Lord, help us to believe for salvation --body, soul, and spirit -- for the whole man. Is anything too difficult for You? Please move on our behalf, in the Name of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Death of King Self

Isaiah 6:1 - "In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple."

In this turning point of Isaiah's life we see a progression of "NO, WOE, GO." Before this fateful day -- when the prophet saw the vision of the Lord "high and lifted up" -- he was what we would today consider a "good" Christian. However, in the year of King Uzziah's death, the paradigm of faith shifted in Isaiah's life forever. Uzziah will always be symbolic of rebellion, pride, and arrogance as he tried to act like a priest and God smote him with leprosy. This dreaded disease is a metaphor for sin and all its consequences. Isaiah deliberately tells us that he was diametrically changed in the year Uzziah died. Allegorically, it was the year of his death to what he thought a good follower of God should be.

Before the death of "king self" typified by Uzziah's death, he said, "No, not me Lord!" He was probably happy with his life as a well-educated priest. But now something changed. He saw the Lord high and lifted up in the subsequent verses of this chapter and said, "Woe is me!" seeing himself in the light of God's knowledge. Now, he became the prophet as God told him "Go" with total disregard for his own life and total concern for God's mission.

How many of us need to come to the "year of King Uzziah's death" in our lives? How many of us need to quit being "good" Christians and see our flesh for what it is, but then also see that God has made us the righteousness of Christ in God? Revelation of this sort can only result in a desire to go, say, and do whatever the Lord might lead.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Possessing Christ

I John 5:12 - "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."

Can we say with all certainty today that we possess Christ? When most are asked whether they will go to heaven they say "I hope so!" However the Bible is very clear in telling us we can know for sure. John 3:16 emphatically states our assurance is guaranteed if we only believe. But what does believing mean? James tells us the demons believe also ... and shudder! So, belief without obedience is merely acknowledgement.

Therefore, to have the Son means to possess the Son through obedience. And, if we possess the Son, he possesses us also. Do we know Christ in this manner? If so, we can be sure that our Beloved has us and we have Him. As Paul states, we are hid with Christ in God and we forever have "the Life."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beyond Grief

Ecclesiastes 7:2 - "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart."

Grief is a God-given emotion. While it is uncomfortable, it is necessary and often expedient to allow us to decompress constructively. Solomon subtlety tells us in this verse how our tendency is often to move past mourning too quickly because of its uncomfortability. In these instances, we would rather spend time anesthetizing ourselves rather than allowing the Spirit of God to bring us through to the other side. I am not speaking only of alcohol or drugs. We can anesthetize ourselves with a variety of “comforts.” When we run from God and what He wants to show us in mourning, then we abort His purposes. Ultimately, God wants to walk through the grief with us so we will be able to help others along this way of heartache.

We can either run from God in our loss, or we can run to Him and with Him to the other side. Beloved, we should allow God to bring us through grief in His timing. Otherwise, the "house of feasting" will not provide for us the relief we so desperately desire.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Watchful Eyes

Psalm 33:18 - "Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness."

The humanist's answer for an eye of protection is "Big Brother." Government, as their "religion," is the answer for all of mankind's woes. If we just help one another by keeping an ever watchful eye on one another, we will evolve into the societies that will mean eventual utopia. What they fail to recognize is this mindset has been around since the first sin of independence from God and was demonstrably acted upon with the building of the Tower of Babel. This Babylonian idea that man can cure all of woes by collective cooperation is born in the bowels of hell.

However, our hope as believers is to fear the Lord in reverence and awe. Then, His ever watchful eye is on those who wait for His love to appear in all instances in their lives. This, my friends, is the difference between godly dependence and ungodly, rebellious independence. While humanists believe collectivism will bring us together, in the end it will mean utter isolationism, despair, and eternal death. May we all fear the Lord and hope for His lovingkindness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rightful Esteem

Isaiah 2:22 - "Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?"

A rhetorical question, yet one that needs asking. The prophet prefaces the Lord's command with an emphatic ... STOP! God is not saying, "It would be a good idea if you did not listen to that prosperity preacher," or "You might want to not involve yourself with yoga or meditation." In context of the first couple of chapters of Isaiah, the Lord is saying through the prophet for Israel to divorce their thinking from the knowledge of eastern thought or Babylonian concepts. Should we in America not heed this same "emphatic" to STOP listening to what man thinks and start getting back to the word of God?

C.S. Lewis appropriately suggested that all thought outside of pure Christianity is Hindu at best. It is the idea of working our way up to God rather than acknowledging His Son has already worked His way down to us through His death, burial, and resurrection. Whom shall we follow today, beloved of God? Shall we listen to man or God? ... As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bloody Hands

Isaiah 1:15 - “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood."

 God will always hear our prayers individually. If we repent, He is gracious and merciful to forgive and heal us. Just as in Isaiah's day, if someone cries out to God, He will hear them. America today is corporately in the same position as Isaiah's Israel. Just as Israel sacrificed their children in their idolatrous fires to Moloch and Baal, the industry of abortion is fueled by self-centeredness and greed. Shall we escape captivity and destruction any less than Israel? Many, including myself, believe that if God excuses America then he will have to apologize to Israel for their Babylonian destruction.

Beloved, we have sold ourselves as a nation into captivity to the spirit of Babylon. The blood of 50 million babies is on our hands. May we seek God for mercy, for judgment will soon fall and with a vengeance if widespread repentance does not occur.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Goodness Without Limits

Psalm 31:19 - "How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men!"

Manufacturers know keeping inventory is expensive. The ideal is throughput, which is "produce as needed" and then ship accordingly, thereby reducing the cost of storage. However, God is limitless in His resources and has boundless supplies of His goodness stockpiled for those who fear the Lord. If we are turning from evil and embracing righteousness, then we fear the Lord and have all of heaven's goodness at our disposal.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3 how God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. The qualifier in this verse is "in Christ." Are we in Christ, beloved? The reality is often not dependent on whether we believe it. Sometimes the devil can persuade us differently. However, a growing faith in this regard is mandatory to appropriate all of God's goodness He has stored up on our behalf.

May we know we are rich in His goodness and may we live accordingly. For when we do, we will show others the way to this inestimable treasure!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Questioning of Fools

John 18:21 - "Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.”

Even today, many seek to disprove God and what He has spoken to mankind. His voice goes out into all the earth (Psalm 19), yet many only wish to argue with the obvious. Jesus Christ, the manifestation of God in the flesh, continues to speak today for those who would listen. For those who arrogantly seek to disprove the Bible and His word to mankind, He answers in the same way as he answered the Pharisees, "Why do you question Me?" Defiant arrogance never listens but only seeks its own position. Jesus Christ would not engage it then, nor will he now. When someone is truly ready to hear what He has said, He is more than willing to repeat Himself through His word until the epiphany comes. However, to the obstinate, He will only offer a question in exchange for an arrogant interrogation.

Unfortunately, many of us as Christians question Jesus wrongly. Possibly not in the same arrogant frame as the agnostic or atheistic, but we act similarly when we lack faith. Trusting the Lord ensures His answers, not his questions that will shame us.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Evil as Good

Malachi 2:17 - "You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, 'How have we wearied Him?'" "In that you say, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD,and He delights in them,' or, 'Where is the God of justice?'”

How it must grieve God when we say we are a Christian nation and yet live like the devil! When so called Christians do evil and say they are saved by the grace of God it is a travesty. Marriages end in divorce and then these say "Oh well, God will forgive me." Or, others embrace homosexual marriage and say that God has changed today, culturally, from the God of the Bible. No, beloved, God has not changed. He still hates divorce as he said through His Prophet Malachi, And He still regards homosexuality a sin according to His Apostle Paul.

God never changes. However, mankind continues to insist that He does. Until mankind surrenders to the unchanging God, he will continue to arbitrarily change his own mind. Professing to be wise they will continue to be fools. May they come to understand that a God of love has not licensed the world to sin.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saving Defense

Psalm 28:8 - "The Lord is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed."

This verse has nothing to do with justification and redemption, but everything to do with sanctification or holiness. The greatest offense to evil and darkness was the cross of Christ where he obliterated sin on behalf of mankind forever. However, this verse speaks of a "saving defense" which calculates the Lord's strength as immense. Often in scripture we see the analogy of fortresses as God's strength. These are positions of unassailable power where the redeemed can rest in assurance they are safe. The enemy would seek to tell us otherwise, trying to get us to run out to engage him from behind the walls of God's strength. When we do not rest in God's strength in His place of power, then we often abort our position of power by engaging the devil on his own terms.

Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes 10:4 that "composure allays (or combats) great offenses." Our saving defense, beloved, is our refusal to get all upset when the enemy comes against us. We must rest in the Lord and know that our composure is the flesh and the devil’s defeat. Our justification and redemption is complete if we have trusted in Christ. Now, our becoming like Him in holiness is contingent on how well we can rest behind our "saving defense."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

God Seekers

Psalm 27:8 - "When You said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You, 'Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.'”

Those who boast in being seekers after God usually do not have a clue about what they are stating. If a person is being led to seek God, it is only because God is drawing them out by His divine mercy. There is no kudos whatsoever to the individual, only that they have finally become available to the divine wooing. To believe otherwise is like thinking an animal has no instinctive leading to water. They must go out of compulsion and need.

A man's response is also very telling whether God is truly drawing him, or it is his own puffed up pride seeking "enlightenment." The difference is the head and the heart. If a man's head is seeking God, then he will find a god to his own thinking and understanding. It is the only possibility since man will only conceive after his own kind -- his flesh. However, if a man is being drawn from his heart, then the Spirit of God has taken the reins of this man's soul and will lead him in humility to be born again in God's image. Only heart knowledge can truly set us free, beloved. The other is merely a false balm or a band-aid leading to destruction.

Friday, December 7, 2012

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.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

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?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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 ignominity. 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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

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 westernernized 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.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

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.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

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!