LEARNING TO WAIT…

spiritual blog - waiting

Psalm 33:18-22 – “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, 19 To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine.  20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.   21 For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.  22 Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You.”  NASU

 

I find this a particularly interesting and challenging passage.  It is encouraging, filled with promise, laced with guidance and direction, and carries a condition that most miss.  When I read passages from the Bible sometimes there are certain things that leap off the page to me and grab my attention which results in going back to look in more detail at what has been said.  That is what happened with the conditional portion of this passage.

As I gave this passage a cursory reading I was blessed but when I came to verse twenty-two I was arrested by the Holy Spirit and went back to look over the passage in more detail and with a different heart.  Let’s consider it from verse eighteen and see where it leads us:

  1. We have a Revelation which also has a condition attached.

The Eye of the Lord is on those who Fear Him and on those who Hope for His Lovingkindness.  They are hoping, trusting, or believing for God to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. There is both protection and provision in this revelation of “God’s Watching Over Us.”  I find repeatedly in Scripture the solidification of this and take great comfort in knowing that God not only Sees but Can and Will do something about my situation. 

  1. There is the Instruction.

The Soul that is waiting upon the Lord knowing that He is our Help and our Shield, that’s the picture.  Wow!  In my “waiting” on the Lord, I am entering into not only His provision but His protection.  That is not only instructional but tremendously encouraging. 

  1. There Is an Encouragement and a Nudging.

To allow the heart to Rejoice in Him, and that is possible because we Trust Him.  It is out of my faith that I am able to “Rejoice in All Things” and “Give Thanks in All Things.”  It is as I trust His Name, His Person, and His Grace that I am Free to Rejoice! 

  1. There is the Request and the Condition.

The Request is – – “Let your Lovingkindness be upon us.”

The Condition is – – “According as we have hoped in You.”

That reminds me of the passage in 3 John 2 – “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” NASU The promise and desired result are clear but the condition is unmistakable if we are haphazard in our relationship with the Lord we become as James described “double-minded” and that instability renders us, poor candidates, to receive.  Why?  We are not in a spiritual mindset or condition to utilize it properly and in all likelihood would as James declared “consume it upon our own lusts rather than to move us closer to God and advance the Kingdom.”  I am not saying that God will not bless anyone who is not Totally Dedicated to Him.  No! No!  If that were the case few of us would have ever received anything from Him.  What I am saying is that if we want to live in the midst of God’s Care, Keeping, and Blessing we need to train our souls to WAIT UPON THE LORD and SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!  It is in that condition of heart that we humbly receive His blessings and as a result, many others are also blessed.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

TIME TO GET DRUNK…

spiritual blog - drunk

Ephesians 5:15-21 – “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” NASU

 

Hopefully, my title will not cause a mass exodus from my friend’s list on Facebook or cause anyone to refuse to read what I am about to write.  Read the passage before you jump to any conclusions as to what I am going to say.  That is always the safest course of action in any situation.  We need to become people who “Hear the conclusion of the whole matter,” before we render judgments.

Paul tells the Ephesian church and the church today that they and we are to take care “how we walk” or “live” this spiritual life in the flesh.  He warns us against being “unwise” while reminding us of the condition of the hour regarding evil and wickedness.  He admonishes us to “understand” or “discern” what the Will of the Lord is.  Then he says something that is almost totally off the topic he is discussing and says in verse eighteen – “Do not get drunk with wine…”  Had he stopped there one would have to conclude that there was a problem with drunkenness in the Ephesian church but he continued and said in contrast, “Be filled with the Spirit…”

He identified some characteristics of a Spirit-filled Life in the next verses that are worthy to be considered:

  • Speaking to one another in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.
  • Sing and make melody with your heart to the Lord.
  • ALWAYS giving thanks for ALL THINGS in the Name of the LORD.
  • Be subject to one another in the Fear or Reverence of Christ.

If I truly consider what he is saying then I immediately recognize that adoration, praise, and worship is vital to the Spirit-filled life.  It is important that we rejoice in the Lord and from many other passages in the Bible I would suggest that this should be not just an occasioned occurrence but a daily one.  We notice additionally that it is important to have “An Attitude of Gratitude” in our daily lives and be thankful for All Things not just Some Things!  Then we come to a place that most either have a problem with or resist and that is “being subject to one another” but doing so in reverence to Christ.

We seem to have an innate fear of subjecting ourselves to anyone for fear that they will abuse us in some way.  I suggest that if the church practices mutual subjection in reverence and fear of Christ there will be No Lording it over anyone but there will be a mutual desire to protect and defend each other from the enemy and forces of evil.  There will be a caring for each other that seeks the best good of that individual rather than a Lordship Position.  There will be the rise of humility and servanthood rather than abuse and lordship.

Begin with the first part and “Get Drunk on the Spirit” and “Jesus” and the rest will follow naturally.  So I declare that today is a good day to GET DRUNK in the Spirit or on the Spirit of God.

May God bless you as you go through your day!

BUT IF GOD…

spiritual blog - god

Matthew 6:28-34 – “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  NASU

 

When I look around and view God’s Creation with all the spectacular beauty and intricate detail I am deeply moved!  It is amazing to see how God cares for the flowers, trees, grass, landscape, animals, etc. within His creation.  Considering that man is the highest of his earthly creation and that Jesus went to the Cross for mankind I must immediately conclude that “if God cares so much for those things, how much more does He care for us.”

Here Jesus instructs us NOT TO WORRY about such simple although necessary things as clothing.  He then paints the word picture of how even the flowers that grow by the way-side care arrayed in more glory than even Solomon.  He then reminds us that if God cares so much for simple flowers HOW MUCH MORE will He care for you and me?  He gives a gentle chastisement regarding our FAITH and TRUST and instructs us to STOP WORRYING about “food, clothing, houses, etc.” because if and that is important – “If we seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, then all those things will be taken care of.”  He tells us to Cease Fretting about tomorrow, that has not yet come to pass, and know that He will take care of it when it does.  He reminds us that today has enough challenges of its own to be concerned about so stay in the present.

The Key is to “put God first” and “put dismiss worry.”  If you can’t change it and you know that it will take the divine intervention of God – – Why Are You Taking Responsibility For It?  You are assuming a position, condition, and responsibility that does not belong to you and the end result can only be frustration and even the diminishing of your faith and confidence.

So as you go through your day, walk with your focus firmly fixed on God and His purposes and trust Him to do what He has promised to do.  He will not fail nor will He disappoint.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

CAN’T FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT IN GOD…

spiritual blog - faith it

Acts 19:11-20 – “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. 13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.”  NASU

 

I have used this passage in preaching and teaching to illustrate the truth and drive home some points about “Second Hand Faith.”  What I mean is that we can imitate what someone else has done expecting to get what they and become incredibly disappointed.  I had someone tell me, “Well, we just need to fake it ‘til we make it.”  That might work in some areas of life but not in the realm of faith.

This account illustrates that point powerfully, in my view.  God was using Paul to perform some ‘extraordinary miracles’.  I really don’t know what that entailed but for the Holy Spirit to prompt the descriptor of extraordinary to the miracles being performed they must have been extremely incredible and eye-catching.  That prompted some of the Jewish exorcists to attempt to mimic Paul and I find it almost laughable that they would attempt to perform an exorcism with the words, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  I can imagine the devils laughing at them if not openly, secretly.

The Seven Sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, attempted this, and I can envision a Keystone Cops type scene or someone trying to baptize a house cat resulting.  When they attempted this, the evil spirit turned on them and spoke incredible reality and makes my point.  It said, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”  Then the evil spirit prompted the man in whom it inhabited to physically attack them and overpower all seven.  In fact, the Bible says they were left ‘naked and wounded’.  How’s that for faking it ‘til you make it in the spirit realm and in faith.  It didn’t turn out well then and won’t produce results now.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.  It is like having a title deed to a piece of property or a written guarantee.  It is not speculative but definitive.  It is a commodity of heaven.  It is the conviction or absolute confidence that those unseen or yet to be realized in the natural things or events are Assured!  That’s not faking it.  Had Peter and John been ‘faking it’ at the Gate Beautiful the lame man would not have walked.  They would not have had the opportunity to keep repeating a charade and attempting ‘til it happened they had one shot and that shot required Faith, not Fantasy or Imitation.

How do we develop faith? According to Romans 10:17 it comes by HEARING, and hearing comes by THE WORD OF GOD!  I argue that Faith is a commodity of heaven and originates with God and as He speaks, and man hears faith is received.  When man acts upon what He has heard with confidence that it is true faith is released back to God.  When man acts on the promises of God, God responds by confirming His word and fulfilling His promises.  Faith then goes full circle of beginning with God and ending with God and we are the flow through channels.

If you do not have Faith for a particular thing or need, call others to join you in prayer and come into agreement with them.  The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much.  We are the Body of Christ and not isolated islands.  We need each other and as we pray one for another God responds.  Does it really matter if it was your faith or the faith of another that touched the throne of God and brought about the desired result?  Don’t pretend, but confess to God your doubt and fear and He will send the Holy Spirit to minister to you.  Hold up the hands of your brothers and sisters in Christ and together we will overcome.  Remember a three-fold cord is not easily broken.  Don’t let your pride keep you for asking for help.  Don’t try to fake it ‘til you make it but call on Him who can make it happen!

God bless you as you walk in His Light and Love!

OUR WORTH TO GOD…

spiritual blog - loved

Luke 12:4-7 – “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!  6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.  7 ” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  NASU

 

I have had times when I felt so valueless that I could not fathom God or anyone viewing me as worth anything.  I was about as low as any man could go and I shudder to think of where that might have lead were it not for divine encounters and wonderful friends who helped me change my outlook.  I have often used this passage to convey to others and encourage myself regarding God’s view of man and our worth to Him.  It is not the best necessarily but one that conveys a comparison to which we can relate.

Imagine keeping up with the number of hairs on our heads and the constant change in that number.  Consider the small birds and how insignificant they seem.  Consider the lilies of the field and all of God’s creation and then remember that it was not for them that Jesus came to die, but for us, mankind.  We are the creations of God that were made in His image and likeness.  We are the creations that God designed for fellowship with our Creator as is revealed in the Garden of Eden.  We are heirs of God and joint heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ.  That is amazing!

I have, in times past, related some of my childhood experiences to illustrate this truth and it has been of great benefit and encouragement to me.  I was very sickly as a child and my parents were in the doctor’s office virtually every week trying to get me help.  The doctor could not determine exactly what the problem was but gave my parents little hope that I would ever reach my teens much less live into my twilight years.  My parents were troubled and heartbroken at the prospect of losing their middle child and second son.

Let me digress a bit and say, that I never remember hearing my earthly father tell me that he loved me until I was an adult and in the ministry.  That was not how he was raised.  Men did not express or display their emotions, except possible anger.  Yet, I never questioned that he loved me.  I longed to hear the words but knew from events in life that I was loved.

Back to my childhood illnesses.  One summer my mother took my siblings and me to East Texas to care for her parents and over that two-week period, I got better.  That caused my father to go to the doctor and ask, “If Roy was in East Texas not Pasadena, Texas would he get better?”  The doctor obviously could not answer that definitively but said, “He might.”  My father immediately had my mother take me and my sister and spend a month in East Texas and I got significantly better.  My father quit his job with the Good Year Rubber Plant in Pasadena, Texas, the best job he had or would ever have and moved the family to East Texas.  Within a few months, I got completely well. The atmosphere was killing me and the love of my father for his child saved my life.

Remember the words of Jesus in Luke 11:13 and Matthew 7:11 that if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit and what is good to those that ask Him.  Consider the incredibleness of what God did as revealed in John 3:16. The incredible and boundless love of God and the placement of value on man revealed in His act of allowing His only begotten Son to die for man is nothing short of amazing.  The Love of Jesus demonstrated in His willingness to endure the Cross and purchase our salvation is nothing short of amazing.  No, I cannot question or doubt the love God has for me and in that love, I realize that He deemed me worth the Blood of Jesus.  I did not say worthy but worth!  That’s how much we mean to Him!

Never, and I mean never doubt God’s Love!  The next time the devil tries to beat you up or someone tries to tear you down and make you feel worthless remember what God has said and done and run to the Cross and receive His mercy and renewal.  Rise up and resist the devil and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and rejoice in His Love!

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

 

 

WHAT A QUESTION – Do You Wish To Get Well?

spiritual blog - question

John 5:2-9 – “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [ waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”  7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, ” Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”  9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.”  NASU

 

From the first time I read this verse until now, this question has always amazed me.  Here is a man that had been lame for 38 years.  Think about that?  He had been brought to the Pool of Bethesda for a very long time.  The remarkable thing about his recurring trek to this pool was that on occasion an angel would stir the waters and the first one in the water was healed.  The fact that he was there indicated that he wanted to be healed.

Jesus asked, “Do you wish to get well?”  I would have expected him to shout at the top of his lungs, “Yes, Lord, Yes!”  But rather than respond with a simple yes, he began to offer excuses as justifications as to why he was not healed.  His answer reflects somewhat of a “woe is me” attitude.  It was a backdoor response saying, “Yes, but.”  I can almost hear, in his response an accusation toward the LORD by insinuating, “It’s not my fault.  I’m lame and nobody is here to help me get to the water.”  I would suggest that rather than expectation he was living in exasperation.  I would also suggest that he had become accustomed to disappointment that he feared to answer the question in the affirmative fearing another letdown.

I find it difficult to criticize him because after 38 years his hope most assuredly had waned.  He still had a flicker of hope or he would not have been at the pool, but that light was growing incredibly dim.  I would also suggest that he did not truly know who was asking him the question.  In that light, he may have been somewhat aggravated that anyone seeing his condition would even ask that question.

Sometimes the LORD seems to allow us to come to the end of our hope and rope so that He can demonstrate His incredible love, grace, mercy, and power.  I wonder how many times the Holy Spirit whispers to us, “Do you want?” and we, out of fear, disappointment, or self-defense give excuses rather than give a straightforward answer.  Too often we tend to justify our lack rather than face reality and openly admit that what we want seems impossible and out of our reach.

Jesus did not chide him for his failure to answer definitively and in the affirmative, but said, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”  Jesus saw the desire in him and after asking a question that had to cause him to look deep inside himself offered him that which he had not been able to attain.  In the Bible, Jesus, from time to time, asked people, “What do you want?” or “What do you want Me to do for you?”  Most of the times they responded with definitive requests, but it appears, that this man needed something beyond physical healing.  He needed what everyone needs, a Savior and a refreshing of hope.  I suggest that based on Jesus words to him later.  In verse 14 Jesus found him in the temple and said, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”  Jesus was addressing the man’s spiritual condition as well as his physical malady.

God’s greatest concern is not our physical well-being but our spiritual health.  He is concerned about us physically else the promises would not be in the Bible and He would not have endured the stripes for our healing as spoken of in Isaiah.  Jesus’ focus is the whole man, body, soul, and spirit.  So, today, “Do you wish to get well?”  It doesn’t matter if your issue is physical or spiritual the question remains the same.  The song, “Touching Jesus” comes to mind as I write, and it is my cry and prayer to “touch the hem of His garment” and not only touch Him but have Him touch me and touch you.

God bless you as you reach out to Jesus and find He is reaching out to you!

EXACT TRUTH – A Prime Objective of the Church…

spiritual blog - truth

Luke 1:1-4 – “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”  NASU

 

The KJV phrases it “the certainty” and the NASU says, “exact truth.”  Both convey the idea of completeness and comprehensive veracity.  We could attempt to dissect this passage and easily become bogged down in the minute and miss the magnificent.  For example, we could struggle with who this Theophilus is and his role in the early church.  However, the word translated Theophilus means “a friend of God”.  It could be a literal man or Luke could have been addressing anyone anywhere who is a friend of God.  I am not suggesting this was not a person but offering that as a possibility.  The title “most excellent” suggests it is a literal person and that would probably relate to the character of this individual.  Whether it is to an individual of rank and distinction or to all people who are lovers of and friends of God matters little in delving into the truth Luke presents.

In today’s world as in Luke’s world, there are many voices claiming to have “the truth” and set themselves up as arbiters of God’s truth rejecting anyone who does not come into alignment with their philosophy or doctrine.  Luke’s stated objective is to compile a narrative of the things accomplished in the life of our Lord and the apostles.  He seeks to present it as a reporting of the words of those who were eyewitnesses and participants in the miracles and ministry of Jesus.  That is in contrast to the many voices giving hearsay and speculation.  His objective is Truth!

He writes as an investigative reporter and seeks to detail the events, miracles, doctrines, and ministry of our Lord in an orderly fashion so that the reader would know truth, and have a foundation.  He seeks to detail his findings in consecutive order so as to build a foundation for ‘exact truth’ or the ‘certainty’ of the Life and Ministry of Jesus.  That is important because, as Paul warned of the danger of being caught up in fads and being ‘blown about by every wind of doctrine’ that comes down the pike.

That is why we need the five-fold ministry gifts in the local church and the church universal.  Their purpose is to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry’.  Their function and assignment are to build up the body of Christ enabling us to attain the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.  Their purpose and function are to enable us to grow to spiritual maturity rather than, in childishness, blow around like a boat in a windstorm.  The purpose of Truth is to Liberate and then to Enrich so that we can mature and grow to maturity in all aspects of our lives.

Sound Doctrine tears down sectarian walls and barriers.  None of us have a corner on truth in our limited finite minds and understanding.  Truth is like a cut diamond and has many facets.  The only way to see ‘exact truth’ and have absolute certainty is to view it from above.  From heaven’s perspective, we can see the many facets of truth and in that truth find liberation.  In that truth, we are open to things that are new to us in our sectarian doctrinal positions.  No, I am not suggesting that you abandon the truths you have learned but always be open to expansion of your doctrinal position to embrace God’s Truth.

If the Bible declares something to a part of the New Covenant, why do we reject it?  I have people argue against various things such as the miraculous quoting I Corinthians 13:10-13, But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For 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. 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Let me ask a probing question and one that is a constant challenge for me personally.  Is that which is perfect the canonization of the Bible?  Has knowledge been done away with?  Is not knowledge expanding exponentially every year?  Has the Body of Christ reached maturity individually and collectively?  Do we see clearly and understand all things?  Are we unified?  If the answers are no, then I must conclude that ‘that which is perfect’ is something more than just having our King James Bibles.

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  We also read in Hebrews 13:8 that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”  Therefore, we can take the Truth of God’s Word and appropriate or claim it for our lives in the present.  That is Good News!

God bless you as you enjoy His blessings and guidance on this day!