THE CHURCH NOT THE CHURCHES…..

Ephesians 4:1-6 – “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Church

 

            Through all my Christian life I have watched sectarian bickering and pride prevent unity in the Body of Christ and at times the ‘war’ between sects was more vicious than the assault by any from outside the Church or Body of Christ.  The claims made by various groups while helping to identify their core theology has often been laughable as each seemed and seems to think they have ALL TRUTH incorporated in their doctrine.  Seriously?  Which of us does not ‘see in part’?  Which of us was there when the foundations of the world were laid?  Which of us participated in the plan of God for mankind?  How dare we think that we have ALL TRUTH in our particular brand or label.  How dare us so vilify others who name the name of Christ as being 2nd class believers if believers at all.  They may not be true believers but that God will address on that day if not before. 

             Now before I alienate people in all sectors of Christianity I, like you, believe that what I believe is right but I do not believe that all I believe is infallible.  In my walk as a Christian I have found that some things I believed in the beginning were incomplete at best and wrong at worst and I have changed my theology and doctrine to accommodate God’s Word rather than attempting to use God’s word to validate my doctrinal beliefs.  There are some who identify themselves as Christians that believe things I cannot accept and believe they are not just wrong but heretical.  Because of our differences in belief we have little real basis for any fellowship and I pray for them as I suspect they do for me.

            Paul told the Ephesian believers that they should desire to live in humility, being long in patience, and saturated in love.  He also tells them that one of their prime objectives is to keep the ‘unity of the Spirit’ in the ‘bond of peace.’  Why?  Because there is ONE BODY or ONE CHURCH and that is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God did not divide it up into denominations, sects, groups, and divisions WE DID.  The fledgling church had differences and sects within but the apostles sought to tear down those walls and as Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos in Acts 18 to teach the way more fully and clearly. 

             It is not so much that I have a problem with the sectarian divisions in the Body of Christ as they tend to allow people who believe certain things to gravitate to that group it is when we elevate ourselves as THE ONLY ONES with the ‘truth’ as I used to hear preachers declare.  If we truly seek to WALK IN LOVE we would realize that some things we believe are not essential to salvation and while they may or may not be correct they are somewhat peripheral not critical.  I am not suggesting that you compromise your convictions or water down your theology or doctrine to accommodate someone who believes differently only that before you, classify them as ‘outside’ the Family of God you might want to allow God’s love to determine your definitions.

            I told a prominent official in a church organization once that if he actually listened and/or talked to the ones he was viciously criticizing he might find as God said to me concerning a minister I had spoken badly of – – “If you would actually listen to him you would find more to applaud than to criticize.’  That arrested me and brought conviction to my heart so powerfully and made me realize that most of us have some truth and some error in what we believe.  I realize that some reading this will find that repulsive but if we are deeply honest we will realize that we are mortal and mortals make mistakes.  As a human grows and develops into maturity that individual is in a constant learning state and the same is true in Christianity.  All are not at the same level of understanding or maturity but if we are growing in grace we are developing.  Would it not be better for us to seek the development of others rather than developing a sectarian pride that prevents us for receiving other members of the Body who do not look, talk, or think like us?  Again, I do not suggest that you ever comprise your convictions!

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

Advertisements

THE PROMISES HAVE CONDITIONS…..

Leviticus 26:3-4a, 14-16a  – “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, 4 then I will give you… 14 But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, 16 I also will do this to you:”  NKJV

 

 Spiritual Blog - Covenant

            In the Old Testament we find some incredible promises and provisions of covenant between God and Israel and as we read the New Testament we find many incredible promises of God to believers.  In both groups there are often ‘conditional’ aspects to receiving the promises and blessings.  Unfortunately some in today’s church believe that they have unconditional rights to the promises of God regardless of their participation or lack thereof.  I would suggest that we would be better to err on the side of caution than to fail in presumption.

            Consider what God is telling Israel here and then expand that principle to believers in the 21st century.  He gives them both sides of the coin or equation:

 Spiritual Blog - Unconditional Love

  • If You Walk In My Statutes and Keep My Commandments, and Perform them, THEN I WILL….
  1. Rain in its season
  2. The land will produce.
  3. The produce of the land will last from harvest to harvest.
  4. Divine Protection.
  5. Peace in the land.
  6. Evil beasts eradicated.
  7. They would overpower their enemies and 5 would defeat 100 and 100 would defeat 10,000.
  8. The presence of God would be real in their midst.

 

  • But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statues, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you…
  1. Terror will come to the land with devastating disease and sorrow.
  2. Crop failure.
  3. God’s Face would be against them allowing their enemies to defeat them.
  4. Seven-fold punishment for sin.
  5. Pride would bring them low.
  6. Drought.
  7. Labor without realizing any real productivity.
  8. Plagues will be seven-fold.
  9. Wild beasts would overrun the land killing their children and livestock.
  10. God’s presence would depart

            It is clear that God expects obedience and as I consider our present world I sometimes wonder how much what is now transpiring is the direct result of our disobedience and how much we would see if we were to ‘return to the Lord’ with a whole heart.  God will not and cannot wink at sin and disobedience and remain a Holy God.  He will never cease being the Holy God of all creation so I would call to all who name the name of Christ to cry out to God to reveal to each of us any and all areas in which we may have drifted from His covenant and purpose asking His mercy and seeking to be restored.

 God bless you as you go through your day!

CHRISTIAN ASPIRATION….

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 – “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Quiet Life

 

            We all know that we are to ‘love one another’ and while we sometimes fail we know it is biblical.  It is easier to love some than others and often when we fail to demonstrate love we attempt to justify it and even deny that we have failed.  Paul’s counsel to the Thessalonian believers is certainly applicable for us today and is easily misunderstood and misapplied, in my view.

             He says that we should ASPIRE to lead a quiet life.  I had a person tell me that to accomplish that I had to cease virtually all socializing, sporting activities, and could never be involved in anything political.  Exactly how they arrived at that conclusion is still beyond my grasp but they did, were sincere and adamant that to lead a ‘quiet life’ we had to virtually become recluses and become so stoic in our view and approach to life that laughter and fun was somehow negative.  I suggested that may the next portion of the verse could be applied to their indictment and they did not appreciate that observation.  But I said it in love!   Well almost in love I was being very facetious and sarcastic and probably deviated from the love quotient.

             The Bible addresses ‘minding our own business’ by counseling against being ‘tattlers, gossips, trouble makers, and meddling in the affairs of others’.  That does not mean that we are to never insert our view, make a recommendation, or question some activity or action.  It does mean that we are to respect others realizing that their lives are largely between them and God and not our concern.  I stepped in once in a domestic dispute where there was physical violence and was told by both parties to ‘mind my own business’.  Yet, when I see someone in need it would not be minding my own business to ignore that.

             Paul says we are to ‘work with our own hands’ which is a clear and consistent directive that we are not to be moochers or willing to live on the dole.  In fact the Bible says that a person that ‘will not work’ should not be provided for even in giving them food.  The key is ‘will not’.  A person that is unable to work is a completely different story and someone the church is responsible for helping.

             He tells them and us that we are to walk or live properly before those outside or the unconverted or unbelievers.  As we walk circumspectly before them demonstrating a purity of life, civility, and Christian love we will find that we are better received and able to earn our livelihood with less hindrance and thereby find that we ‘lack nothing’.

             We are to manifest and represent Christ demonstrating His life to the church and the world.  My prayer is that as you go through this day you are able to lead a quiet life, not be viewed as meddlesome, productive, and be respected by those outside and inside the faith.  God bless and have a fantastic day!

HUMAN ORATORY OR HEAVENLY POWER?

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 – “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Human Wisdom

 

            I have had the pleasure of hearing men and women who exhibited incredible oratorical ability and could hold a crowd virtually spellbound for lengthy periods leaving them wanting more.  I have heard preaching and read the writings of some incredibly wise people regarding spiritual things.  Some seem to have such a depth of knowledge concerning the Word of God that it is inspiring and challenging.  Yet, orators and word smiths cannot substitute for the crucified Christ in transforming lives.  I am not diminishing either and value learned theologians, people with oratorical abilities, and the word smiths of our day and previous generations. They have offered and offer something valuable to the Body of Christ.

             I am convinced that there were few in Paul’s day that had a deeper knowledge of Scripture than he and yet when he spoke to the Corinthian church and others he did so with a humility that is refreshing.  Here he tells them that ‘excellence of speech or wisdom’ is not the most important Jesus’ work on the Cross is.  He pulled back the veil that many in ministry and leadership refuse and exposed his own weaknesses.  The Holy Spirit backed up Paul’s preaching and teaching with the Power of God and I would to God that we could somehow get back to the ‘Power of God’ rather than the ‘Wisdom of man’.

             I could have great theological knowledge, be an expert in Greek and Hebrew, able to teach with oratorical skills that could captivate audiences and write with such fluidity and clarity that people were instantly enlightened and that would pale in comparison to the demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s Power in lives.  If I am able to do anything I want to point to the Cross and the Resurrected Christ.  I know that dazzling people with speech can become nothing more than a tinkling cymbal or sounding brass and have the ultimate effect of rain on a tin roof but when the Holy Spirit moves in a life it is forever changed and that is what I desire!

             The Western church has had enough preaching to last three lifetimes and I am a preacher, enjoy preaching and believe it is valuable but I long for God’s presence in people’s lives more than I desire to preach.  My heart’s cry is for God to move through me and if necessary in spite of me in the Power of the Spirit of God and transform lives.  I am convinced that if we were to become what they were in the early church we would so radically transform this world that Sunday morning would become a ‘reporting time’ rather than a ‘preaching time.’

             Oh Lord God move in our midst and remind us of the Cross!  May God be with you as you go through your day!

TRUST – Your Eyes or Your Faith?

Exodus 14:10-14 – “And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Faith or Fear

 

            The children of Israel were no different than people today in that people have a tendency to trust what they see rather than what their heart declares.  We often trust our senses rather than our spirit.  God had miraculously delivered Israel and as Moses led them through the wilderness and came to the Red Sea Pharaoh closed in and the people saw the Egyptians and trembled.  They turned against Moses regretting they had ever listened when the the first sign of trouble or difficulty arose.  Is that really much different from today?

             The people were drifting with the current and Moses was standing in the middle of the river saying, “No upstream!”  Finally as they trembled and lamented having listened to Moses, the Lord through Moses gave a prophetic declaration – “Do not be afraid. Stand still and watch what God does.  This army you are looking at by the end of the day will be no more and you won’t see them again.  God is going to do this so just be quiet, quit shaking in your boots or sandals and observe!”  Understand God does not always fight our battles for us but sometimes empowers and equips us to fight the fight as Israel would learn later.  But the Covenant Keeping Living God had led them out to lead them in and He would not fail them.

             It is easy to trust your eyes or senses but not always easy to trust your faith and God’s promises.  Now I did not say that following what you see will necessarily be an easy road but that is the path of least resistance and one the devil encourages always!  If God has called us, and He has, then we can trust God to work His work in us, through us, around us, and for us.  He will not fail nor will He forsake us.

            So as you take the next step in your journey through this thing we call life, determine in your heart that you will trust your faith not your sight.  Determine that you will look to the author and finisher of your faith and trust Him to do what He has promised!  God can pull you through anything if you can stand the pull.

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

HAS YOUR MOSES DIED???

Spiritual Blog - Move Forward

 

Joshua 1:1-2 – “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them — the children of Israel.”  NKJV

 

            Every time I read this passage the same thing leaps off the page at me – “Moses My servant is dead.  NOW THEREFORE….”   Joshua had been in training and could not rise to his full potential and fulfill his destiny UNTIL Moses died.  Some will never launch out into what God has for them as long as their ‘security blanket’ is present.  That may be an association with an organization, a person(s), a job or something else.  I have watched people become so attached and dependent upon a leader whose charisma and/or wisdom overpowered and overshadowed everything in their lives.  Some leaders cultivate that type of allegiance and dependence.  It may not be intentional but the end result is the same. 

             I have frequently challenged people reminding them that I am not the one they are to look to God is.  I did not call them, commission them, and while I may have been used in their training, equipping, and spiritual development that too is the work of God ultimately.  God has a purpose for each of us and that purpose will never be realized as long as we have a Moses living in our lives who overshadows the purpose.  I have seen some who would not venture into the uncharted waters of God’s call because the Moses of Security and a regular paycheck and job held sway over their lives.  Understand I am fully cognizant of our personal responsibility to meet obligations and provide for family.

            It was when God identified to Joshua that Moses was dead that Joshua could begin to accept the responsibility of leadership and face the stark reality that he was now a Moses to others.  It was God reminder to him that his source and strength was not Moses but God.  God rehearsed the covenant promises and in East Texas verbiage He was saying, “Nuff said Joshua, Get up and get ‘er done.”  Joshua had observed, been mentored, and tested so now it was time to apply what he had learned and experienced and rise to face the challenge before him in faith!  God did not fail Moses and He would not fail Joshua.  He had kept His promise to Israel and would continue to do so.  So it is time to GET UP and GET GOING!

             I have heard people say that they felt God wanted to use them but never saw the opportunity.  What?  If God has called you to anything He will also open the door and equip you to fulfill that purpose.  It is up to us to present to God a willing heart and an obedient life.  Allow the Holy Spirit to dismiss timidity and fear while filling your heart with faith.  It may not always be easy nor the way always clear but if we keep our eyes on Him we will reach our destination.

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

NO SHAME….

Spiritual Blog - No Shame

 

Romans 1:16-17 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  NKJV

 

            I am unashamedly a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and a Christian.  I have not ‘seen’ heaven I have ‘experienced’ it.  My life was totally transformed when I acknowledged Him, confessed my sins in repentance, and by faith received His offer of redemption.  I have known people in the public or secular world who wanted to keep their Christianity a secret.  Some explained to me that they did so primarily thinking that if they did something unbecoming it would not have a negative impact upon Christianity.  I can hardly comprehend that approach and it seems to me it is one that presupposes moral or spiritual failure.  When I think of that mind-set I recall the words of our Lord in Luke 9:26 – “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” NKJV

             I would never say that one must wear their Christianity on their sleeve and in any way be overbearing.  As I was told early in my Christian walk, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  I was told that on an occasion when I was being overbearing and trying to use argument and logic convince everyone to accept Christ and Christianity.  A very wise elder in the Lord said that to me and said, “Son, you can plant the seed, others will water it, but only the LORD can give the increase.”  If conviction does not come to their hearts nothing you can do will change them.  I learned to live my faith, be open and honest about it and allow the Holy Spirit to do what He does best in lives.

             I do not see the wind but I see the effects of the wind and know that it is real.  I have not seen heaven with my natural eye but have tasted it in my heart and am fully persuaded of its reality.  I know that when I believed and received Him the Holy Spirit applied the Blood of Jesus to my sinful heart I was CHANGED.  Things so dramatically changed in my life that others took note and would me ask what happened.  I viewed life and people differently than at any time in my life.  I had a peace about my eternity that I had never known before.

             It is not mandatory that you believe ‘everything’ I believe spiritually or in any way but the gospel of Christ has within it the power of God to salvation.  As we receive and are spiritually born again we find that He begins to make Himself known to us day by day and then as we participate and allow Him to live His life through us we move from faith to faith and truly live!  As I consider what Jesus did for me I ask why I would ever contemplate hiding my relationship with Him.  When many were turning away from Jesus He asked His disciples, “Will you also leave?” Peter’s response was, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

             For me personally it is liberating to be identified as a follower of Jesus Christ.  It is also a continual reminder that I not only represent Him but am to manifest Him in my words as well as my deeds.   So as you go through this day go in the grace and strength of the Lord!  Blessings be upon you abundantly!