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Maybe a little too comfy…

blankyboy

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. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11

When my children were little they all had some type of comfy blanket or toy. It was taken with us when we went anywhere overnight or when we traveled in order to ensure a peaceful trip for the rest of the family. They would sometimes rub it against their face when they were going to sleep or just drag it around with them when they were about the house. Fortunately they all outgrew them! 🙂

Us followers of Christ can sometimes be guilty of holding onto our comfort toys for far too long. Those things that bring temporary relief or pleasure but keep us from moving forward and actually living the mature Christian life. We all have ones that we wrestle with.  I know I’ve been sensing that God is not pleased with me when I waste time doing things that bring a little relief from this crazy world we live in when I could be doing something that can help change this crazy world we live in by changing the lives of those living in it!

There is a darkness encroaching that we all see. Christians are being persecuted worldwide at an alarming rate. Many are boldly dying for their faith rather than renounce the lover of their soul. Yet, in North America, Europe etc.  many of us are afraid to even share the gospel with our neighbor.  We don’t want to appear different or odd. Well we are different and odd. We are a peculiar people! We need to be bold in our love for Christ. He was bold for us when he went to the cross and suffered the dreadful death that He did.

The time for playing is over. We need to encourage one another to live our life (always guided by love and not our own agenda) boldly for Christ! We need to set aside anything that is causing us to be distracted or falsely comforted from avoiding the fact that many around us are going to not only miss out on a life of joy and peace but an eternity with Christ!

It’s time for us, the Church, to lay aside our comfort toys and be the Church Jesus called us to be!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.~ Ephesians 4:11-15

When less is MORE

 

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He must become greater; I must become less.~John 3:30 NIV

For us to really be servants of Christ we have to yield our own wills to His. We can’t just do this Sunday morning during church service. We have to do it daily, when or before our feet even hit the floor we must determine that today will be a day that I will surrender my will to His. This means in the home, at work, on the bus, in the store and anywhere else we may find ourselves. This means we may find ourselves being put in some difficult or uncomfortable situations for our flesh. In fact it is very likely that we will from time to time.

We have been called to be FOLLOWERS of Christ. Not LEADERS of Christ. He knows us and loves us more than we are capable of truly loving ourselves. He is a trustworthy leader and earned our dedication on the cross of Calvary.

Let’s use this day for Him! Let’s determine to allow Him to lead us this day to do good works for His Kingdom. Let’s be willing to share our love for Him & others in practical ways today.  Intercede for those who need prayer! Be a support to those who need it! Wherever He puts you and whatever He puts in your path today, do it in submission to Him and do it with excellence!  Less of us and our fleshly wisdom and MORE of Him and His infinite love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CULTURE is not our course!

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

If there is one thing a true follower of Christ can count on, it is that culture as a whole, will change and become increasingly bold and accepting towards sin as we draw closer to the return of Christ. it shouldn’t surprise us.  It shouldn’t scare us. It shouldn’t cause us to over react. It shouldn’t cause us to hate the sinner. Jesus told us that as the days draw closer to a close, sin will abound. Accept is as fact. It will happen and it will continue to happen until we see Him face to face!

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Tells us…But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Though once ourselves bound by sin, we now as followers of Christ, have been given the Holy Spirit! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to live a life of freedom! In order to walk in this freedom we must remain people of prayer and continue to study God’s Word, which will increase our faith!

We read in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 4-16,  that as the Lord’s return draws closer, some people will abandon their faith in Christ and be seduced by the increase in sin.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We must be knowledgeable of the Word of God and diligent in obeying it so that when our culture continues to grow more and more accepting of things that are clearly marked sin in God’s word we will not get entangled in that sin but will instead  intercede all the more for those who are trapped in it and by it! Our motivation must be love. Love for the lost, love for those trapped in the bondage of sin and love for those who have been freed from it through Christ! WE don’t change when culture changes. We are to remain steadfast to the Word of God. If you find yourself more accepting of sin than you need to get yourself into the Word of God (your Bible) and realize how God sees it. Just because everyone else is doing it  or approving of it does not mean it will ever be okay in God’s eyes.  This does not mean we should battle the increase of sin in our culture with fighting words against those whom we want to see freed! Words spewed out in anger and bitterness will never draw anyone away from their sin and to Christ.  Instead we are to share Christ as Lord and Savior. Without salvation and the Holy Spirit, all of us are bound by our sin! It is only through Christ that we are able to be free and keep that freedom. Quarreling words over sin will never accomplish what Jesus Christ alone can accomplish once He has inhabited the heart of a new believer!

It is after we confess Jesus Christ as Savior that we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to turn away from sin. While we are still dead in our sin it will remain a lifelong struggle. So fighting with a sinner trapped in sin is futile. What they need to hear is the gospel message of salvation. Too often we want people to clean up their lives before they come to Christ when what they really need is the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to bring about real heart change!

We don’t serve culture, we serve Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Our King of Kings and the true Holy One! He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His opinions on sin don’t change. He will always detest sin. He willingly endured the horrific death on the cross to free us of it! He doesn’t take it lightly! It is Jesus Christ that the sinner needs! Whether they are busy hiding their sin or boldly flaunting their sin, Jesus Christ alone can free them of it. Just as He alone has freed us of our past sin and continues to intercede on our behalf before the Father. He alone can bring salvation and true freedom.

So as things grow darker in this world we live in, we are to remain true to the Word of God, which requires us to read it and know it. We are NOT to be influenced or transformed by what culture says is okay. We are to stay true to the course Christ has put us on. The course to take up our cross daily, and follow Him and as we do this we are to share the gospel with the messed up, broken and lost. Once they have given their heart to Christ, we are to encourage them in their faith through the Word of God and in prayer. That is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.

So each of us needs to be prepared to willingly share the gospel with the lost where they are. Trying to get them to clean up first is futile and renders the cross unnecessary. God has provided a beautiful way of saving and growing up His church. Salvation through Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us over sin. We don’t need to improve on it. We just need to share it!

It’s the SAME Spirit!

We follow the same Jesus that the disciples followed. We are filled with the same Spirit that filled them. The words that Jesus gave to His disciples are words for us today. He didn’t say, “I am with you always, until the last of the 12 disciples dies.” NO. Matthew 28:18-20 says 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  He is with us always! To the very end of the age! The same Jesus, the same Spirit abides with us today! 

I believe we need to remind ourselves from time to time that the Holy Spirit that moved in the book of Acts is still moving today. It is up to us to make a daily decision to read the Word of God and listen to the voice of the Spirit to lead us. When we do we are able to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God. When we don’t we are merely living out a fleshly existence with little to no fruit.

Once the disciples repented of their sins, made a decision to follow Christ as their Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit they became power kegs for the Kingdom of God. They literally turned the world upside down with the gospel. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We too have the ability to turn our world upside down with the gospel, if we yield ourselves to the purposes that God has called us to. First and foremost we must grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and secondly we must obey the Word. Being fired up to serve God without knowing who He is or what He wants us to do is a waste of time. We must learn of Him and that comes through studying the Word prayerfully. We must also spend time with Him in prayer daily. The saying, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak,” is more than just a cute phrase. We can’t live out a life of faith on old studying habits. We must continually be in the Word and allow God to transform our thoughts and life by the washing of the Word over our hearts and minds.

Too often we are walking around weak and defeated because of our lack of studying the Word and inconsistent prayer life. There is no excuse for this. We have the same Spirit that led Jesus, Paul, Peter and multiple others that have accomplished great things for the Kingdom. It is time we got serious about allowing that same Spirit to lead us into the works God has called us to do. NOTHING good will be accomplished by trying to please God with our own thought directed efforts. He has called us to abide in Christ. Abiding requires spending time with Him.

The book of Acts is so full of wonderful examples of how the men and women of God allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them in what to speak, who to speak to, where to go etc. We to need to be led by the Spirit. We need to keep our hearts tender before God so we can hear the still small voice of the Spirit when He leads and then OBEY!  When we do we will have the boldness to share the gospel and therefore see souls won for Christ, we will see signs and wonders and we will be growing in our walk with Christ as we should. The Word of God doesn’t change. The Spirit of God doesn’t change. The purposes of God don’t change. As you read the following scripture remember, it is as relevant for us today as it was for the Apostles..

Acts 2:14-21 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women,  I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Father God: Remind us that we your sons and daughters are to be led by the Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that longs to share the good news of Christ with those who desperately need to hear it. Keep our hearts tender before You so that we may yield to Your will and accomplish much for Your Kingdom.  We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Oh to have a heart like Stephen!

Reading Acts 6 & 7 just blesses me so much! I love Stephen’s passion for Christ and his desire to share the gospel despite the circumstances! A man of love and faith, fully passionate about our beautiful Jesus! His love was even evident on his face!  All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15) Stephen was filled with the Spirit of God and sold out and radical for His Savior. There was no other Way for him to live. His allegiance was to Jesus!

There is so much we can glean from Stephen’s final day. When the elders and teachers of the law had him falsely accused of blasphemy against the law he didn’t fight back in the flesh but he used a more powerful weapon, he preached the Word of God to them! He didn’t try and justify his actions. He didn’t cry out to God for deliverance, He preached the Word, starting with the Old Testament and leading up to the ONE to whom he loved and followed, Jesus and what a sermon he preached! He knew the Word and he used it. He didn’t rely on his earthly wisdom, but rather the Word.

In chapter 7 we see him preach how God moved through the generations from Abraham up to the coming of His Son and how the “learned leaders” often refused and rejected God’s message and persecuted those who brought it, even to the point of betraying and murdering the Righteous One.

The Spirit of God moved mightily through Stephen as he preached with boldness! He didn’t back down or relent knowing full well that it may result in his death. Stephen’s focus was on sharing the gospel of Christ and Christ alone!

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60)

I can’t help but notice two things, Stephen did not want the Lord to hold their sin against them and his persecution was witnessed by Saul, whom later had his name changed to Paul and who happened to become one of the greatest preachers of the gospel ever!  Stephen’s death was NOT in vain!  We are living in times where are brothers and sisters around the world are often called to share the gospel amid hostile persecution! The way things are going in North America, it soon may be upon us too.

Lord give us a heart to share the Word of God boldly and in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Let us not be cowardly, or cling to things that really don’t matter. Give us a holy boldness to speak the truth when called up to do so! There is no ONE more worthy of our allegiance, than you Jesus!  Let Your Spirit move upon each of us that call you Savior and Lord to be bold and obedient, regardless of the circumstances we may face!

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.

He has equipped us for every situation!

As I have mentioned in previous posts in the past, I like to read my Bible front to back. Other than when I am studying a particular topic, I like to read from Genesis to Revelation in order it has been placed.  I am once again back in one of my favorite books of the Bible, the book of Acts. When I go through this book I like to take it slow and savor every word and chapter. If you haven’t done so recently, I highly recommend that you reread the complete book of Acts!

Yesterday I was reading Acts 4 and was so encouraged. The Apostles and all those present in the Upper Room had been filled with the Holy Spirit. No more would Peter be afraid to admit to being a follower of Christ as he had previous to receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit provided all they needed to be able to complete the work that Christ had called them to do. With the experience at Pentecost, God had  equipped His children to continue to share the good news with the rest of the world, Jews and Gentiles! He also equipped them to cast out demons and heal the sick in the name of Christ.

Just prior to chapter 4, the Apostles, now filled with the Spirit,  had just healed a man in the name of Jesus, who was about fourty years of age. This man had been lame right from birth. Because of the miracle, many became followers of Christ! Because of the miracle there was also a new threat of persecution. The Jewish rulers, elders and teachers were not happy to have Peter and John healing the sick and teaching about Jesus, whom they had crucified. They wanted them jailed and silenced.  I couldn’t help but think of all my brothers and sisters in Christ, worldwide, who are now going through the same thing. They are being threatened with prison or death if they continue to follow Christ and share the gospel with others.

When I read the following verses I was so encouraged and blessed! When faced with the threat of persecution or death, the Holy Spirit will provide the boldness and faith any true follower of Christ will need!

Acts 4:8-31 NIV Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected,which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord  and against his anointed one.’

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

I have often wondered, Lord, how exactly should we be praying when faced with opposition for our faith or for those who are enduring persecution. At times I have prayed for deliverance  from the situation, I have prayed for the Lord to provide courage to endure,  I have prayed for safety  and I have prayed for God to intervene and stop the persecutors. However, after reading this chapter this time around I feel encouraged to now  pray as Peter and John prayed.  “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness! Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus!”  Every follower of Christ is blessed with the gifting of the Holy Spirit! We too can call on the Lord for great boldness and signs and wonders through Christ!

God does not want us to walk in fear and trepidation when faced with opposition or persecution but wants us to call on Him in every situation and to use every situation to further His Kingdom!  I am believing, just as Peter and John did, that God will hear me and give me great boldness when I cry out to Him when i am faced with opposition for my faith.  I am also believing that when I intercede on behalf of my brothers and sisters suffering for the faith  that God will give them great boldness! It is the same Spirit in us that raised Christ from the dead! He will provide the power His church needs to stand and be bold. The Holy Spirit is as important in the life of the church today as He was on the day of Pentecost!

Lord, You have not left us without providing all we need. You have given us the Holy Spirit to equip us for every good work that You want us to fulfill! You have given us the Holy Spirit for signs and wonders! You have given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us! Thank You for His presence in our lives! Remind us to allow Holy Spirit to move through us and teach us all things! Give us a hunger for Your Word and keep us close to You as we fulfill all that You have called each of us to do.

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.