Archive | February 2013

Staying close to the source!

Madoc-20130225-00132[1] I enjoy learning as much as I can about Biblical prophecy. So much of what the media has portrayed over the last several decades is just bunk. Before I came to Christ I remember watching movies that would touch on the subject, demonstrating God pouring out his wrath in various ways but never told anything even close to the real story.

It is a subject that brings fear to a lot of people. Fear that motivates them for a while to seek God, but over time they lose interest and move away from anything resembling  intimacy with Him. Anyone that is seeking God just to avoid His wrath in days to come, is missing the most wonderful thing about Him. They are missing a relationship of love and intimacy that only He can offer. When we come to know who God is, through Christ, we begin to see Him as the loving Father He is and understand that He always desires our fellowship. Fear can draw us to Him but only LOVE will keep us walking with Him.

As we learn of who He is through reading the Word of God, spending time in prayer and spending time in His presence, it slowly begins to sink in how NOTHING can separate us from the LOVE of God.  NOTHING! Paul said it beautifully in the book of Romans….

Romans 8:38,39 NIV 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you are finding yourself fearful of the things you see on the news and it is causing you anxiety or stress, realizing many of the things  coming to pass have been prophesied, take yourself back to the Word of God. Rediscover through Christ, how very much He loves you and what He did for you!  When we know how much He loves us, we can than trust that He will never give us anymore than we can handle.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

As a young believer, I remember feeling incredible fear at times when I would read or see something on the news that had been predicted to happen in  the latter days. It used to cause me a lot of anxiety and I would lose sleep over it. I would dwell on all the possibilities of what could result and how it could affect me, my loved ones and friends.

Today, though it upsets me to see things that are going on; mans inhumanity to man, abuse, mistreatment, hatred, wars etc., I no longer fear the future. I am sure of one thing, Christ will never leave me or forsake me. He has seen me through many trials and will continue to be with me as I complete my journey here.  He is faithful and true.  His love for me is available every morning! He hears me when I cry out to Him. He walks with me through every minute of every day! What He does for me, He does for all His followers. He is no respecter of persons but loves us all equally.

When we take our eyes off of Him and focus on the outward things around us only, we become a slave to our fears and emotions. So while we wait for His return, let’s spend more time with the lover of our soul. As we remain in close intimacy with Christ, fear departs!

1 John 4:18 NIV For there is no fear in love, But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Our Myopic vision

imagesCAJQJQ9X God has a plan for each of our lives. In order to fulfill that plan we need to spend time in His presence, in His Word and allow ourselves to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Our walk, as followers of Christ, is a walk of relationship and just as in any relationship if we don’t spend time with the other person we really don’t learn who they are and what they are expecting of us.

I was reminded this morning how easy it is to take our eyes off the things God wants for us and put them on our circumstances and thereby making very poor choices as a result. I know I find myself at times thinking that this “difficult thing” can’t be what God has for me or for a loved one, only to realize that I was using my “natural” thinking and that God has indeed allowed certain things I would deem “difficult”  to further His Kingdom. It really isn’t all about me or what I want for myself or others.  I would certainly do some things differently, if it were up to me.  :/

With my reading this morning I realized how similar Peter’s thinking was at times…..

Matthew 16:21-27  21From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 23But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me Satan! you are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26″For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  27″For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

How many times do you catch yourself insisting God intervene in a difficult situation for someone or for yourself for that matter and when He doesn’t react immediately and according to your wishes you pout and whine? We need to remember that His ways are not our ways! He happens to be the Creator of the Universe and has an edge in the wisdom department over and beyond us!

We need to be mindful that at times,  God allows circumstances we don’t understand to happen or continue because of His ultimate purpose.  His timing is perfect.  Jesus rebuked Peter because his insistence that Christ would not be killed was based on his “natural” desires only. He wasn’t looking for nor did he see God’s plan in action at that time.  And as we all know, if it were not for Christ’s death on the cross there would be no sacrifice,no resurrection and therefore no means of salvation for you and I!

When we pray for ourselves or others we can boldly come before the throne of God, through the blood of Christ and make our requests known. We should not however, insist that it be done our way and in our time. God loves us and when we are walking and abiding in His will and presence we can ask with confidence however, we cannot demand our way.  When I look back  to earlier  times in my life, I am thankful for many of the prayers God refused to answer. Prayers that were prayed out of selfish ambition and desires that I now realize, had they been answered would have taken me from the path God has prepared for me. A path that isn’t always easy but is a path of deeper growth and intimacy with Christ.

If you are walking with Christ and are seeking answers to prayer that appear to be on hold, don’t allow your heart to grow discouraged or bitter. His ways are far above our ways. Unless He tells you no, allow God to work out the details and learn to trust in His perfect timing and Lordship.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV 21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

REAL love or Reeling, feelings love?

Considering today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it appropriate to do a post on love as it is described in the Bible. It doesn’t take long to discover that society’s definition of love varies from that of God’s.

Dictionary.com shows the definition as follows..

LOVE: Noun, verb, loved, lov·ing.

noun

1.a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 

2.a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

3.sexual passion or desire.

4.a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

5.(used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?

Though all these varied definitions are somewhat true, they all  based on feelings. This is a vastly different type of  love than the one God has  provided for us and the one His Spirit allows us to receive and demonstrate to others. Much of the troubles the world is facing today is due to the fact that LOVE has become “feeling” motivated only. People often get into relationships, marriages etc. based on their feelings alone and wonder a few years down the road why their relationship is failing or going south. When we base our love for another or from another on feelings alone, we set ourselves up for great disappointment and trouble.  Though feelings are very important, they cannot be the basis for Biblical love.

Here’s what God’s word says about love..

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This is LOVE! This is the kind of love God has for each and every one of us! This is the kind of love He wants us to have for one another! If we operate in this type of love, we will not see the kind of destructive bashing and hurting we so often see.  It is only possible to have this kind of love when we come to the realization that this IS the kind of love our Heavenly Father has for us. It is through the security of  His love for us and the power of the Holy Spirit  that we are able to allow ourselves the vulnerability to demonstrate  this kind of love to others, not only when they deserve it, but even at times when they don’t.

 By offering up His Son, as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, God demonstrated this kind of  love for us.  John 3:16 NIV 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

 If we want to make an impact on our families, communities and our world, we need to take our definition of love from the Word of God,  not from society.  My prayer is this year, God will help me to grow more in His kind of love and less in the world’s kind of love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

No longer a slave!

Galatians 5:1 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

When we accepted Christ into our lives we not only received salvation and eternal life but we also received the Holy Spirit. The Word of God tells us that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

God has provided us freedom from the bondage of sin. We no longer have to be controlled by habitual sin and striving. As we turn to Christ, He will guide us and lead us away from and apart from those things that used to easily ensnare us! Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV 12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Now that we have been made free, it is so important that we don’t become spiritually lazy. We need to be reading the Word of God, be in prayer and fellowship on a regular basis. Without doing these things we will begin to compromise our walk with Christ. Life as a believer is exciting. We get to see the hand of God move first hand in our lives and the lives of those around us. Let’s not take for granted all that Christ has done. Let’s run the race He has set before us. If we are busy spending time in the presence of God we will not want to do those things that end up causing us pain and separation from the lover of our soul.

God has bought you freedom from spiritual bondage at a great price! The price of His precious Son. Don’t take it for granted. Instead enjoy intimacy with Him while you read your Bible and learn who He is and how much He loves you. Talk to Him. He is never more than a breath away. And lastly stand firm. Don’t look back or side to side. Move on forward in love and obedience. God has great things in store for each of us and if you allow the things that once held you in bondage to gain a foothold back in your life you will not only lose your intimacy with God but you will lose sight of the purpose for which He has called you.

Galatians 5:1 NIV 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Whose voice are you listening to?

John 10:27 NIV “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Through Christ, God has provided the door to our salvation and made us joint heirs. He has also provided the means by which we are to continue to walk closely to Him. This is what He desires. In order for us to be able to do this we must have a steady diet of the Word of God. It is through the Word of God we learn truth and are able to distinguish what is of God’s will and what isn’t. It is our anchor. Along with the Word of God, He has provided the Holy Spirit to first woo us to Christ, to convict us of sin, empower us, equip us for service and to direct us in our daily lives.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NIV But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

John 14:26 NIV But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Romans 8:11-15 NIV 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors-not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out “Abba, Father.”

The Holy Spirit dwells within us and leads us in the ways of God. He draws us to Christ and He keeps us close to Him as we yield ourselves to His sweet leading.
The majority of our difficulties come when we begin to allow His voice to be drown out by other voices. When we yield to thoughts of fear, temptation, unjust anger, bitterness, resentment etc. we are choosing to listen to a “foreign” voice. When we entertain thoughts of self defeat, self hatred, discouragement and giving up, we are not hearing the voice of the Spirit. We are hearing the voice of the accuser of the brethren who would love nothing more than to destroy our fellowship with God, our peace and ultimately our life.
The Holy Spirit will bring conviction of sin in order that we can repent and thereby restore our intimacy with God, but He will never attempt to destroy us or who we are in Christ. We are required to test the spirits that we are hearing from. If the voice we hear inside our head is telling us anything that is contrary to the word of God than it is never the Holy Spirit.
Too often Christians walk around in discouragement because they are listening to the accuser’s voice telling them they will never be good enough for God, that God can’t love them after what they just did etc.. Though the Spirit of God will definitely bring conviction when we sin, it is for the reason of repentance. Once we have repented and turned from the sin we are free. The word of God says in

1 John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

Any thought, feeling etc. that would follow telling you otherwise is not of God!

To live a victorious life in Christ, we must be immersed in the word of God, it is our truth. Without it, we are subject to being tossed around like rag dolls spiritually and emotionally as we often yield to thoughts and feelings that are not from God. As we daily immerse ourselves in the word of God we are able to quench the fiery darts that are shot our way by holding them up to God’s word.

1 John 4:1-4 NIV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 by this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world. 4 You are of God little children and have overcome them because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Romans 12:2 NIV And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Without renewing our minds in the word of God we lack the discernment required to “prove that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” If we are to test and prove what thoughts, feelings etc. are from God we have to have a standard to hold them up against. Without studying His word, it is virtually impossible. We are left listening to, justifying and accepting those thoughts as truth. This is why many struggle in their daily walk with Christ. They are trying to do it on their own, unable to hear the voice of the Spirit, and instead yielding to their own voice or the voice of the “foreigner.”

Paul reminds us we are not to walk in the flesh but to be led by the Spirit in the book of Galatians. If there is any question as to which voice you are listening to, you need to ask yourself, “If I follow through with this thought what/where will it ultimately lead me to?”

Galatians 5:16-25 NIV I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries,and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

If you are struggling in your walk and finding yourself making poor decisions that end up leading to guilt and further separation from the lover of your soul, you need to spend time in God’s word daily. Renewing your mind will strengthen your walk and help you to challenge and take captive thoughts that are not of God. The battle starts in the mind and when the mind is renewed so is the life. When your thoughts are a mess, so is your life. Ask Christ to give you a new love and hunger for His word and with the power of the Holy Spirit He will begin to transform your thought life.

“Our thinking is like a football that may bonce off in any direction. This can be very treacherous indeed, especially when our thinking, emotions, and wills get mixed together. The only thing that can tame our thinking and help us find a proper path to tread is the Word of God. If our thinking is seized by the Word of God and we begin to pursue a life of obedience to His Word, we then begin to pursue a life of obedience to His Word, we then begin to bear fruit for God.”~Dr. David Yonggi Cho