MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART…

Spiritual Blog - After God's Heart

Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”  NKJV

This prayer of David is another reason I can accept God’s declaration that David was a man after His own heart.  Too many times we focus on David’s flaws and failures and wonder how it could be possible that God would so speak of Israel’s great king.  But if we allow the Holy Spirit to open the prayers of David we will being to understand that which God was speaking.  We must always remember that God does not look on the exterior but the interior (heart).  (1 Samuel 16:7)

This prayer in Psalms 19 is one of many that reflect the ‘heart’ of David.  Imagine a man whose greatest concern was that his ‘words’ and ‘thoughts’ be acceptable and pleasing to God.  He is a man rising in power or ascended to the highest position of power in the land and yet his ‘heart’ cries out to PLEASE GOD.  In my studies of the life of David and other characters in the Bible I find that one of the central parts of the equation for greatness was having a ‘tender heart’ before God.  They were strong men and some were men of war but when it came to their heart’s desire it was to PLEASE GOD.

God is always looking for hearts that are open, receptive and have a willingness to obey His purposes.  He chose Abram who became Abraham and one of the central characteristics of Abraham’s life was his ‘heart’.  We are told in Genesis and Romans that Abraham ‘believed’ God and it was accounted to Him for righteousness.  Likewise we are instructed that ‘without faith’ it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God.  These men, such as David, were men who trusted, received and exhibited a willingness to obey the Word and Spirit of God.

David repeatedly revealed his humanness and in many churches of today would have been disqualified as a result of his failings as would most of the other Biblical Patriarchs.  Yet, God chose to use these men to establish a nation that would preserve the lineage from which the Christ would come.  He continually confounds the wise, the religiously self-righteous and questioners using things and people we would not have chosen and their hearts crying out to Him brought about glorious results for the Kingdom of God.

If you only review the exterior or actions of another you will likely miss what God is doing are working in their lives and through them.  You will reject the messenger and thereby miss the message.  No wonder Jesus said to those who brought the adulterous woman before Him, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”  No wonder we are told, “Get the log out of your own eye before you try to remove a splinter or speck from the eyes of another.”  I have experienced the Holy Spirit opening my eyes to a spiritual truth through people and in places I would not have anticipated that happening.  He has taught me to not look at the packaging but the product.  It is not the marketing but the message that is important.

My heart cries out that the ‘words’ of my mouth and the ‘thoughts’ in my heart be acceptable and pleasing to My Lord.  I ask and continue to ask, Lord set a guard over my mouth.  “Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips guarding my heart from evil.”  That is a daily prayer and the desire of my heart.  I want to be a man after God’s own heart.  I want to be a vessel usable for His purposes.

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

Advertisements

IMPORTANCE OF THE MIND…

Spiritual Blog - Mind

Matthew 22:37 – “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  NKJV

Over the years I have become convinced that many believers have little or no concept of the importance of the mind in our Christian walk.  This passage describes three areas with which we are to love the LORD:  All our hearts, all our soul and all our mind.  There are a number of words used in the New Testament for ‘the mind’ and the one used in this passage speaks of the ‘entire thought process.’  The idea is that as all our ‘thoughts’ are passing through our ‘minds’ we are to turn them over and reflect upon them.  It is a process of looking at our life and we call that ‘thinking’.

It is a process of turning thoughts over and over in our minds.  I have become firmly convinced that we do not really live the Christina life fully UNTIL we love God with all our minds.  I have encountered some in the Christian faith who seem to believe that the ‘less you think’ the better Christian you are.  We even sing songs that suggest that.  Remember when your first accepted Jesus?  You were filled with doubts, fears, problems and questions and many of us were told:  “It’s not important for you to understand.  Just take it by faith.”  That is true to a degree but also presents a problem.

Spiritual Blog - Thinking

Romans 12, declares that we are to be TRANSFORMED in our lives by the ‘renewing’ of our minds not the ‘removal’ of our minds.  It is in the renewal of my mind that my transformation is developed.  We begin to think what God would have us be after which we talk and live it.  It is a process.  Unfortunately, some have tried to ‘live it’ outwardly and failed miserably then come back to try again not understanding that the problem is not in our words or deeds but our minds!  I am not suggesting ‘mind over matter’ or any such thing but stressing the importance of our thoughts.

We ‘are’ today, the result of what we ‘thought’ yesterday and before.  In a great sense we are our thoughts in action.  Our lives are the concreting of our thoughts.  The outside of the cup is not nearly as important as the inside.  Unless my walking out the Christian life begins in my ‘thought processes’ I will realize little but frustration and failure.  We want to do one thing but we are thinking another and the two never seem to come together so we become trapped in a cycle that never seems to end.

If we are going to walk in what the New Testament calls the WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE we must bring our minds into subjection to the Lordship of Christ.  It is not possible to fully understand the end until you understand the beginning.  We have a body, which is a phenomenal machine.  Inside that machine lives ME and that ME is made in the Image of God.  That was the plan that God would be seen in man but the Fall presented a colossal problem.  To determine who or what I should be I have to look at God.  It is in seeing God that I can comprehend what man was supposed to be.

spiritual Blog -  Choices

In the Garden Adam and Eve choose to be ruled by their feelings rejecting God’s thoughts and superimposing their own thoughts over His.  It was the choice not the fruit that was the problem.  Their choice was the result of their thoughts for when they rejected God’s thoughts for their own the fell.  If you remember the Genesis account, the process moved from what Eve ‘saw’ to her ‘feelings’ to her ‘desire’ to be wise and then the devil’s suggestion came questioning God and she thought about it.  Their thoughts were governed by ‘what they thought’ rather than ‘what God said.’ 

             No wonder Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10 we are to bring ‘every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’  If our minds are to be renewed and we are to be transformed by that renewal our thoughts MUST become totally submissive to Christ.  You are not what you think you are but you are what you think.

           May the Lord be with you as you go through this day!

SET YOUR MIND ON CHRIST…

Spiritual Blog - Mind

Colossians 3:1-5 – “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  NKJV

 

Very interesting passage!  I would like for you to consider several words in this passage.  They are words that link sentences and believe me I am not attempting to give a treatise on English grammar.  If you can accept it, God speaks to us in normal language so that we understand.  He uses grammar that obeys the laws of grammar, thus it becomes important for us to notice the grammar as we study scripture.

Two words stand out in this passage.  In verse 3 the word FOR and in verse 5 the word THEREFORE.  These two words are incredibly important because they ‘link us back’ to the previous.  I find it amazing how sometimes the smallest things hold a vital key to understanding.  Listen carefully to what is being said.  Paul writes, “IF then you were raised with Christ…”  Think with me to what is being said.  IF that is the case!  That is not the IF of a question but the IF of ‘since.’  Simply, SINCE you have been raised with Christ!  If that is the case THEN what are you to do?   In verse 2 you find the answer:  “Set your mind on things above.”

THEREFORE, if it is the case that you have been ‘born again’ or ‘raised with Christ’.  IF that is the case, THEN you have to do something.  You have to ‘set’ your mind on Christ. In verse three we find FOR.  This is not a new idea this is an explanation.  Do you know why you have to set your mind on things above?  FOR or BECAUSE you have died and now your life is hidden with Christ in God!

Are you following me?  When Christ, who is our life comes we have to change our thinking, because we have a different life.  We are no longer the person we once were and no longer in the place, position or condition we once were, FOR WE HAVE DIED!  We left Egypt, passed through the Red Sea and DIED.  We said ‘farewell’ to the world. We ‘announced’ our burial.  We have been buried and IT IS OVER!  We are now ALIVE unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Christ is now our life!  That is why you have to ‘set’ your mind on things above, AND the fact that you have set your mind on things above; THEREFORE! 

In light of the fact that you have died, risen and Christ is your life you MUST adjust your thinking.  It is at that point we must CONSIDER the members of our earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, etc.  You now THINK about yourself and everything else in a different way for your mind is ‘set’ on things above not on things of earth.  WHY?  Because you are a new person in Christ dead to sin and alive to God! 

Honestly, if you are not born again’ all the self-help books you can read will do little to truly change your life.  They tell you that you can change your life by changing your thinking but leave out something vital.  We do not begin in our ‘thoughts’ we begin in our ‘spirits.’  When a person’s spirit is dead all the positive thinking in the world will only result in them being positively dead and none of that thinking will make them whole.  We are UNITED with Christ and in that we are united to LOVE, GENTLENESS, JOY, and PEACE.  We cease traveling the religious road looking for virtues we have been united with VIRTUE HIMSELF.  Christ in us is the Hope of Glory.  The life we now live in the flesh we live in and through Him.

            God bless you as you go through your day!

CREATION or EVOLUTION….

Spiritual Blog - Creation

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  NASU

I believe in God and therefore creation!  The odds of random chance are so astronomical that I would have to have almost incomprehensible faith in chance to believe in evolution.  There is a new movie called “A Matter of Faith” which, according to the director, was attempting to alert parents to what their children are taught in secular schools.  Education, on the whole, today is not neutral on our origin and often teaches evolution with no opposing view. Sadly, many and maybe most universities are nothing more than churches of atheism teaching a materialistic view of our origin.  That view is diametrically opposed to the view presented in the Bible that God is Creator.  If Genesis is wrong it would be a simple task to extrapolate that the remainder of Scripture is completely unreliable and unbelievable as well.  If Jesus is not the Creator of John 1 then He does not have the power to save and we are without hope of salvation and eternal life.

I won’t saddle the old horse of ‘missing links’ but simply refer to the Bible declaration in Genesis 1 that God made the animals ‘after their kind’.  I understand that the word ‘kind’ is not limited to our modern term ‘species’.  There are obviously many varieties of fish, cattle, plants and even people.  For example we might have a new species of pepper’ but they are still the same kind.  There may be changes within the species but the pepper does not become an apple or potato.  We may have changes in the dog ‘kind’ but they did not become lions, tigers, or cows.  They are still dogs.  Likewise there are limitations within the variations of plants and animals.  Dogs cannot mate with cats, pigs, or monkeys and reproduce.  Even further take the mule it cannot reproduce.  It is the offspring of a horse and a donkey and is a different species that is not perpetuated.  If it were all simply evolution then why would that limitation exist?

While I can acknowledge that some people act like animals I cannot believe they evolved from animals for the Bible declares that we were created in the ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ of God.  Man is the only creature so described in the Bible and I believe the biblical record and the scientific evidence that supports it.  When Adam was searching for a mate none of the animals qualified so God create Eve another human being for him.  If we look at the incredibly intricate network of nerves in the human nervous system, the miles of veins, vessels and arteries in the cardiovascular system it is impossible for me to believe that just happened in an evolutionary process.  A single celled amoeba becoming a living breathing thinking human is beyond my ability to believe.  I said once that in some ways it would take more faith (albeit negative) to believe in evolution than creation.

I believe the account of Genesis 1, the miraculous incarnation of Jesus, the miracles and the promises of God’s word.  In short, I believe God!  I have experienced God!  I trust God!  I told a young man on the streets of Dallas years ago while street witnessing with Teen Challenge, “If I am wrong and you are right I have lost nothing living a moral upright life.  I still had a great life.  However, if (and I am) right and you are wrong, you lost everything.”  An elderly man who seemed to appear our of nowhere and spoke with incredible authority in his voice said to the young man I was speaking, “You’d better listen to him.”  A silence fell over the people gathered and a sense of God’s presence was there.  I have no regrets for living my life believing in God and His word.  I know my redeemer lives!

            God bless you as you go through your day!

OMISSION and COMMISSION…

Spiritual Blog - Cistern

Jeremiah 2:13 – “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns That can hold no water.”  NASU

I had a person justify their failure to do something by declaring that he did nothing.  I know that sounds nonsensical but he argued that his omission was okay because he was not guilty of committing a overtly wrongful act.  He failed to remember the words of scripture in James 4:17 that knowing to do good and not doing it (omission) is sin.  Just because you do not commit one of the classically identified actions we have deemed sin does not mean that we have not failed via our omission. The one does not justify the other.

Jeremiah declares that the people had committed two evils.  They had forsaken God’s fountain of living water and hewn for themselves cisterns.  He identified the problem that flesh cannot provide the spiritual nourishment for it is a broken cistern.  I am reminded of the words of our Lord when He stood and declared in John 7 that if we believe on Him there would be an artesian well springing up from within us that would become a river flowing out from us.

There is a significant difference between a ‘free flowing well’ and a ‘cistern’.  A cistern was hewn out of solid stone.  Its purpose was to hold water that had been poured into it.  That water would become warm and stale because it had no flow; whereas a well was dug and lined with rocks and the water flowed into it.  Initially the well gives off little water and thus the reason to pump water out for as the water is pumped out the veins through which the stream flows is cleared and more water flows in.  In our lives we find that as we come to Christ we have tapped into the ever flowing stream that fills our wells and never runs dry.

If we want God to guide us we have to ask for, embrace and desire it.  I have encountered people who appear genuinely fearful of submitting to God’s guidance.  The main reason is their want to maintain control.  Imagine, if you will, having a wild child teenage son who had been getting into trouble frequently, demanding a car, more money and freedom.  Then suddenly one day he comes to you and says, “Dad/Mom, I’ve been thinking a lot lately.  You know I used to think I knew everything about life and what I was going to do, but I am beginning to realize that I am still just a kid.  You’ve been around a lot longer than me and I’ve begun to realize that what you want for me is best. Therefore, from now on I want you to guide, direct and show me the right way and I’ll do my best to obey.”   You would not send him to his room saying, “You’re grounded for six months.”  You’d be in shock and deliriously happy.  Many seem to think that is exactly what God is going to do if we submit to Him totally.

Philippians 2:13 – “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.”

Philippians 4:13 – “I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives in me.”  (Phillips).

God will guide all who will submit to His guidance.  It is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.   God bless you as you go through this day!

DIVINE GUIDANCE…

Spiritual Blog - Guidance

Isaiah 35:8 – ”And a highway shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called the Holy Way. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for the redeemed; the wayfaring men, yes the simple ones and fools, shall not err in it and lose their way.”  Amplified

Through the years I have been asked many times about Divine guidance.  Most of the questions came from hungry hearts wanting to know the will and plan of God for their lives.  Some were looking for an easy formula they could apply and others were almost in despair tormented by fear of failing God.  Divine guidance is real and God has made provisions for us to experience it.  I find wonderful comfort in the words of our Lord in John 16:13-15 – “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”  He promised the person of the Holy Spirit to walk with us, in us, through us and teach us so we could know.

Our lives have a distinct purpose(s) in God’s Eternal Plan and He does not desire it to be a ‘hit’ and ‘miss’ proposition.  That leads to error and promotes selfishness and self-centeredness.  Unfortunately we sometimes use words so familiar we lose sight of their true meaning.  The term ‘saved’ is used to identify those who have accepted Christ and ‘sinners’ all the rest.  That is true yet sometimes the oversimplification can open the door for error and that is unfortunate.

Please understand, I am in no way diminishing the essentialness of accepting Jesus as our personal savior but if we take the word sin and understand it as ‘missing the mark’ it opens a door of discovery.  If we are saying that a person who has accepted Christ is ‘hitting the bull’s eye’ and ‘fulfilling God’s purpose’ then a brief reexamination of terminology might be in order.

Acceptance of Jesus as Redeemer is the basic requirement for all who desire to know God.  I must ask, ‘Is it possible to be saved and still miss the mark as to God’s purposes and plan for our lives?’  I am not trying to start an argument only to open the door for thought.  Let me give an illustration as to what I am talking about:

A father on the way home from work decides to take his little boy to the ice cream parlor for a treat.  When he arrives home he finds the lad in the back yard playing in the mud.  The father did not change his mind about the ice cream parlor; he brought the little boy inside, gave him a bath, put clean clothes on him and says, “Son we are going to the ice cream parlor for a treat.”  The little boy being a good fundamentalist said, “But daddy I don’t want to go.  I want to stay here by the bathtub and tell everyone how dirty I was and how good you’ve been to me.”  The father says, “Son, you do not understand WHY I cleaned you up.  I want you to go with me.”

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:9 – “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and plan…”  Jesus found us in the mud, cleaned us and redeemed us so that we could live for and with Him.  Tragically some thank God genuinely for their salvation, but continue to live in the same way following their own desires, ideas, guidance and initiative.  God’s purpose is to save us from sin and unto His eternal purpose.  I am reminded of the story of the little boy who fell out of bed and when his father came to check on him he asked what happened.  The little boy said, “Well I guess I stayed to close to the edge where I got in.”   Move away from the edge and press into God.

            God bless you as you go through this day!

IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD…

Spiritual Blog - God

Psalms 19:1-6 – “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.  2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world.  In them He has placed a tent for the sun, 5 which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.  6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.”  NASU

 

I, personally, do not understand how anyone can look at the heavens and not believe in creation but millions ascribe to that point of  view.  I find it more than a little amazing that all the supposed coincidences took place situating our universe and planet so perfectly.  When I look up at the stars I see their endlessness and the question comes to mind, “How did they get there if not for God?”  When I think of the temperature of the sun and our distance from it knowing that if we were closer or further away we would freeze or burn up.  The fact that our little orb rotates around the sun every 365 days is significant because if it were faster or slower we would not have the atmosphere that is necessary for us to survive.  This little planet upon which we live is 75% ocean and if it were more our annual rainfall would cause the planet to be flooded and if less it would be a parched desert.  All that just happened?  How can you ask me to believe that?

To go further the average temperature of the earth’s surface depends on a number of factors and among them the distance from the sun and the tilt of the rotational axis.  The earth is tilted 23 ½ degrees relative to the perpendicular of its plane of orbit. That tilt gives us the four seasons.  If there were no tilt there would be no seasons and that would cause issues on many fronts.  Equally amazing is our atmosphere composed of four vital gasses.  Nitrogen which makes up about 78%, Oxygen which comprises 21%, Argon less than 1% and Carbon Dioxide which is .03%.  That just happened?  Do you seriously want me to believe that random chance produced that mixture which is perfect for us?  The average ocean temperature is about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  The colder polar and warmer equatorial regions are that way by design.  The ocean currents are caused by the earth’s rotation and serve the purpose of circulating seawater to prevent the equatorial seas from becoming too hot and the polar seas from totally frozen all the time.

The Psalmist said,In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Oh, come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our makerPsalm 95:4-6.   Oh how wonderful and marvelous God’s works.

The heavens declare God’s glory and serve as a constant reminder that this great design has a designer and He is still on the throne.  Astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote the famous passage:  “A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard.  What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there?  So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole Universe.” (p.19)

I believe in God.  I believe God. I have experienced God.  Therefore, I am settled in my faith that IN THE BEGINNING GOD….    May God bless you as you go through your day!