GUARDED MINDS…

Spititual Blog - Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  NKJV

I remember early in my Christian walk I was discussing this passage with a couple other young ministers.  One of them read it (KJV) and it says:  “Be careful for nothing…”  He concluded that we should throw caution to the wind and being careful in anything we did was a sin.  That, in my view, was and is a very dangerous philosophy to adopt and is completely foreign to this passage.  I cannot envision anything in the Bible teaching that ‘carelessness’ was a virtue and that throwing ‘caution’ to the wind all the time was the right approach.

In examining the language of this text it would seem that a right interpretation would be a warning against being anxious over life’s events and circumstances and to press it further the suggestion is that it is an instruction to be or have ‘care’ and ‘take thought’ without running amok through life.  It is not an instruction to allow ‘worry’ or ‘fretting’ gain a foothold and in that sense we are to not be anxious about anything.  It is an instruction to take whatever might cause anxiety to prayer presenting our petitions before the LORD and in so doing allow GOD’S PEACE to rule our hearts, guard our minds and allow us to move forward regardless of what we face.  This is a call to live with ‘guarded minds’ or minds guarded by the Spirit of God, the Peace of God and the Power of God.

Being anxious or filled with anxiety is not a demonstration or expression of trust and confidence in God rather it is a revelation that our trust and confidence has been in our ability.  If we trust the arm of flesh we will find that failure and disappointment is the result far more often than victory.  However, if we learn to take whatever might bring anxiety or anxiousness to our hearts and minds to the Lord and allow His perfect peace to rule our hearts and guard our minds we will find that we are able to realize the promise of Isaiah 40:31 where our strength is renewed, we soar with the eagles above the tempest, run without weariness and walk without fainting.  WE LIVE VICTORIOUSLY!

If our minds are cluttered with doubts and fears then truly our eyes will often be filled with tears and we will live in a state of anxiety that drives away peace.  But, if we allow our minds to be guarded with the peace of God we will find that though all hell assail us heaven’s grace will not fail us and we enjoy PEACE that surpasses all human understanding and is often perplexing to the natural mind because it does not make sense to the natural man but is real.

If you have been troubled in your mind take these two verses and allow the Holy Spirit to apply them to your life and incorporate them into your daily walk.  God bless as you go through this day!

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THE DEFENSE AGAINST WORLDLINESS….

Spiritual Blog - Walk in Spirit

Galatians 5:16-26 – “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  NKJV

Some time ago I had a young believer ask, “How can anyone resist temptation?  It is so appealing, looks so good and I just can’t seem to resist.”  I can empathize with that individual for the works of the flesh, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life are often appealing IF…   If we do not have the house or heart filled with something greater and that will satisfy so deeply in the core of our beings those things lose their natural appeal.

Paul made it simple and yet complex saying:  “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”  Simple, right?  Hardly for we know that UNLESS we continually keep the Word of God alive and active in our hearts and minds the flesh will grow stronger and the appeal of temptation will surface and bring great heartache.

Paul identified the works of the flesh and by the time you finish the list you realize that it was not meant to be an exhaustive listing of what one could or could not do but an identification of the sweeping vastness of carnality.  He then identified the fruit of the Spirit in much the same manner and through those two listings sought to inspire his hearers to seek to be saturated with the fruit that comes from the Spirit of God as the Life of Christ permeates our hearts crowding out the glitter and appeal of the world and unwholesome and unrestricted worldly pleasures.  He never said that we were to be void of earthly or physical pleasure but they could not supplant the Spirit of God or be uncontrolled and within the contexts and confines of right relationships.

Paul often brought to the forefront the incredible fullness of the Abundant Life that Jesus brought to us and the Holy Spirit administers in us on a daily basis.  If we are filled with God’s love, joy reigns in our hearts, walk in peace, demonstrating the quality of longsuffering, patience and forgiveness we receive and allow the Spirit of God to guard and guide our lives we find the fruit produced not only satisfies but draws others. It is completely opposite of that which the world exhibits and demonstrates and their pleasures and wantonness produce only temporary and passing satisfaction.  We are talking about a life in which out of our innermost being there is a fountain that springs up and satisfies continually.

May the Lord help you incorporate and apply the best possible defense against worldliness in your daily life!  God bless!

I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR BRAND…

Spiritual Blog - Brand

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

 

A long time ago I grew weary of the man-made branding, labeling and tags that often are nothing more than religious sectarian pride that divide rather than advance the Kingdom of God.  You may disagree and that is fine I won’t fight with you over it that is between you and God.  I am however interested in what you believe and in whom you believe.  I do not care about your particular brand or title but do care about your relationship with our LORD.  I recently has someone ask, “Are you a reverend?”  My response was, “By man’s labeling yes, but I’ve been Roy longer than I’ve had a title so please refer to me by name and identify me as simply a follower of Christ.”  My attitude toward labels and tags is:  “If you go up they will fall off and if you go down they will burn off.” 

Paul called for “unity of the Spirit” everywhere he went.  To the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1 he broached the subject of their sectarianism as some would want to identify with Paul, Apollos, Peter or someone.  Paul’s challenge was for them to show him where Christ was divided and bring them into the “unity of the Spirit.”  He continued that topic in 1 Corinthians 3 addressing the issue of carnality, envy, strife and discord reminding them that when someone would declare, “I am of Paul and someone else I am of Apollos” it was carnal not spiritual and thereby detrimental not beneficial for the Kingdom.

I am glad you have an association of like-minded believers to worship, fellowship and grow with but if it becomes a prideful division it is rooted in carnality not the purpose of God.  I understand doctrinal differences but also understand that many of those differences are more semantics than essential concerns.  It is often preference rather than anything near the heretical labels often ascribed to the differences.  I am told that Voltaire once said, “If Christians want us to believe in their Redeemer, let them act redeemed.”  If we are fighting each other in various sects we present an image of the Christian faith that is anything but constructive or appealing to the lost.  Be a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Charismatic, or whatever but NEVER allow your particular label or band make you EXCLUSIVE to the point that you only accept those who agree with you in all things and all the time.  We ‘know in part’ and it just might be that someone who does not fully ascribe to that particular brand of doctrine we follow might have some truth and we might have some error.  Christ is not divided and He is the one that SAVES!

Spiritual Blog - Brand 1

I realize that in entering this discussion I run the risk of being labeled with some incredibly negative characterizations.  Years ago, the Holy Spirit instructed me that I had to be ‘inclusive’ not ‘exclusive’.  He made it clear that I WAS NOT to become politically correct and allow everything but I also WAS NOT to become so narrow that I excluded everything that did not fit my particular mold.  That has been a difficult, rewarding, trying and wonderful experience as I walked through the mine field of man’s opinion seeking God’s truth, power, purpose and vision.

I am very interested in people and their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  I desire to see the Body of Christ be the Body of Christ and impact our world powerfully for the Kingdom of God lifting up the Name of Jesus and demonstrating Him in our lives.  That is my desire!

            May God bless you as you go through this day!

POWER TO WITNESS…

Spiritual Blog - Power

Acts 1:4-8 – “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;  5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  NKJV

 

The last words or instructions of a leader are usually very important and this is most assuredly true of our Lord Jesus’ last words or instructions to His followers.  The question that had haunted the twelve still was paramount in the minds of those hearing Him on this occasion. They were still heavily locked into an earthly mentality believing that their Messiah (Jesus) had come for the explicit purpose of restoring the natural kingdom to Israel.  Jesus had communicated to them time and again that His kingdom was spiritual but they, as we, often hear what we want to hear not what is actually said.

On this particular occasion, when asked again the driving question of natural Israel Jesus was a little terse and said:  “It is not for you to know times or seasons the Father has put in His own authority.”  Simply, “It is none of your business or that is not what is most critical here so listen…”  Then He makes an incredibly powerful declaration.  He had instructed them to WAIT in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father which was the HOLY SPIRIT.  He then further informed them of one of the significant purposes and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the earth and their lives.  He said, “But you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” One of the results of the empowering of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is to EQUIP and ENABLE them to WITNESS. 

In the strength that comes with the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is an EMBOLDENING which gives us a sense of purpose, strength and fearlessness.  There is an ANOINTING that comes with that presence as well and when we speak we are not just speaking some learned rote of man but the GOOD NEWS of God and in the power of the Spirit of God the Word of God in our mouths demonstrates that it is ‘quick and powerful’ and can cut to the chase and bring conviction leading to repentance and life.  No wonder the apostle Paul wanted to know of the disciples at Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  They responded that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit and Paul instructed them so as to lead them to the EMPOWERING of the Spirit of God that they too might more fully and effectively carry out the Great Commission.

Jesus did not leave us comfortless but the Father has given the Comforter to walk with us, live in us, guide us and empower us as we fulfill our purposes in this generation we live.  When I hear someone say, “I can’t witness” as a justification or excuse for being silent regarding their faith I want to ask Paul’s question regarding the Holy Spirit for when He comes, Jesus advised in John 16:13-15 – “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

We have the secret to eternal life and we dare not fail to share it with WHOSOEVER.  May God be with you, equip you and empower you for His service as you go through this day!

LORD, YOU ARE REPEATING YOURSELF…. Why???

SPIRITUAL BLOG - MISSING INFORMATION

Joshua 1:6-7 – “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”  NKJV

Anytime the LORD repeats Himself or makes greater emphasis I get concerned that there just might be something He is not telling me about the upcoming events or the instructions.  If I were Joshua in this situation I would have wanted to ask more probing questions but if I had been through what Joshua had I might have just accepted it without question.

God addresses the new leader of the nation of Israel telling him that his mentor Moses was dead.  The further instruction is that Joshua is to lead the nation across the Jordan and into the Land of Promise with the provision that every place their feet touched would belong to them.  There was additional comfort and promise that just as God had been with Moses He would be with Joshua.  THEN, the disturbing part comes and God says, “Be strong and of good courage.”  That by itself would be wonderfully encouraging but then in the next sentence God says, “Only be strong and VERY COURAGEOUS…”  Hold the fort God.  You are repeating yourself and emphasizing that I need to be both strong and courageous why?  What is it that you are not telling me?  What is there lurking in the future that will require both strength and courage and even require me to be VERY COURAGEOUS to be able to get through?  WHAT ARE YOU NOT TELLING ME?

I have found in my Christian walk that there are times God does not give full disclosure with His instructions.  I have learned that one of the reasons, in my case, was had He fully disclosed what was going to happen I would likely have sought ease and might have run or wanted to and become a hindrance in the process.  I have learned that it is best to TRUST Him completely and while some would argue that is BLIND FAITH I would contend that it is EXPERIENTIAL CONFIDENCE that He will work ALL THINGS together for my good and no matter what I face will NEVER leave me or forsake me.  I remember hearing about an elderly saint of God in a particular church defining faith to some younger believers in this manner:  She declared that if God told her to jump through the hole in the wall it was her responsibility to jump and God’s responsibility to make a hole in the wall.

sPIRITUAL BLOG - DISCLOSURE

Too often we want God to give us everything in detail BEFORE we do anything and for that reason we sometimes miss the moment and opportunity before us.  We need to know the ‘time of our visitation’ and realize that TODAY is the day of salvation.  We do not have a promise of another tomorrow as James 4:14 informs us that life is like a vapor here for a short time and then vanishes away.  We do not know what tomorrow holds but we do know who holds tomorrow.  Either God is trustworthy and capable of fulfilling His promises or He is not and if He is not we are in a world of hurt beyond our ability to rectify.  If He is, and I believe He is, then we can calmly and faithfully TRUST HIM.  We know we have an adversary that wants to ‘sift us as wheat’ and ‘devour us’.  We know that we will face situations in life in which there is incredible uncertainty and we only see the momentary and temporary requiring us to be strong, courageous and trusting.

I stand with Joshua as he challenged the nation of Israel, “Choose you this day who you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”   May God be with you as you go through your day!

NO OTHER GODS…

Spiritual Blog - No Other Gods

Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no other gods before Me.”  NKJV

Some take issue with any quote from the Old Testament arguing that we are under the New Covenant and the Old has passed away and is no longer relevant.  I cannot abide that for the Bible tells us that ALL SCRIPTURE (2 Timothy 3:16) is given by INSPIRATION of God and profitable.  The New Testament interprets the Old and applies the principles under Grace and gives us access to God through Jesus Christ.  He, by His own declaration and confirmation of the Father, is THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE.  He is THE DOOR!  There are NO OTHER GODS for the God of the Bible is THE LIVING GOD!

Some in Christendom seem to have undertaken to rewrite the Bible and in what can only be understood as a compulsion to be politically correct are opening Pandora’s Box of heretical declarations and declaring that Jesus is A WAY rather than THE WAY!  That, in my view and the Bible’s, HERETICAL and should be dismissed immediately.  If I were part of a congregation and the leader of that flock were to stand in the sacred desk and declare that there was any pathway to the Father but through the Cross and the Son of God I would immediately separate myself from that church and pastor.  I can say that with confidence that I am on solid biblical grounds for in 2 John 1 we find the John the Beloved warning that many deceivers were in the world and refused to confess that Jesus was coming in the flesh.  Many were spreading false doctrines contrary to the doctrine of Christ and polluting the church.  John declared that if you encountered them, “…do not receive them into your house or greet that individual.”

There is NO GOD but THE ONE TRUE GOD Jehovah!  There are not many roads leading to salvation there is ONE ROAD and that road travels by way of the Cross and the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  We are advised in John 3:16-17 that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Romans 10:9 declares that IF we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  In Ephesians 2:8 we learn that our salvation is BY FAITH not WORKS and not something we can EARN.  We are advised in 1 John 1:9 that IF we confess our sins He is faithful and just to FORGIVE us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.

We are not on some religious crusade to eradicate all who do not believe or confess from the planet.  We are not on a campaign to force everyone into submission to our doctrine and beliefs.  We are on a mission of LOVE from the Father of Lights who sent His son into the world to bring redemption.  We have the GOOD NEWS that we can be FREE from the bondage of the devil, delivered from our transgressions and the destruction of sin.  We can be restored to relationship with our creator and LIVE FOREVER in peace with Him.

There can be and are NO OTHER GODS.  The God declared in Genesis 1:1 and referred to again in Revelation 22:21 is GOD and He is Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent.  He has and continues to extend an invitation to WHOSOEVER WILL to come and drink of the Water of Life freely receiving cleansing from sin and the New Birth.  No other god can offer that for all other gods are creations of men’s minds or hands.

May The Living God be with you, keep you and guide you as you go through this day!

THREE KEYS FOR VICTORY…

Spiritual Blog - Listen

James 1:19-20 – “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  NKJV

 

I find the Bible a most incredible book for frequently we will find in a very short sentence key instructions that are guaranteed to produce victory and help us avoid many of the pitfalls of life.  The tragedy is too frequently we fail to heed the instructions and this passage is a case in point.

I’ve been told all my Christians experience that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason:  He wanted us to listen twice as much as we spoke and most fail miserably in that.  In fact, most are not good listeners for as they listen they are contemplating their opportunity to put in their two cents worth and fail to fully hear what is being said and that often produces misunderstanding and difficulty.

Consider what James offers as a guidance for life:

  • BE SWIFT TO HEAR…

The word most assuredly means prompt and ready to hear.  A Hebrew rabbinical adage is:  “Talk little and work much.”  We read in Ecclesiastes 5:6, “Do not let your mouth lead you to sin.”  If we gear ourselves to ‘hear the conclusion of the whole matter’ before rendering a decision or comment we will find that we are following the directive of Scripture in setting a guard at our lips.  HEARING is vital to communication for until we have HEARD what is being said we cannot properly respond.

  • SLOW TO SPEAK… 

We are taught in Scripture that we are never to vow a vow to God and fail to keep that promise therefore we should weigh our words carefully before allowing them to be released into the atmosphere.  Once words are released they cannot be retrieved.  Growing up we were told, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’.  That is absolutely false as we have all come to realize as we matured in life.  Words can do incredible damage and that is another reason that James describes the tongue as the most destructive member of the power and compares it to a bridle in a horse’s mouth or the rudder on a ship.

  •  SLOW TO WRATH…

We are told to be angry but not sin and too often what we call ‘righteous indignation’ is nothing more than full blown rage and carnal anger.  We may attempt to justify it but we cannot and find that the Bible gives warning to avoid people that are quick tempered for they are dangerous and destructive.  They are given to vindictiveness and often seek vengeance rather than producing the fruit that Proverbs speaks of “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

If we are to be the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus we cannot allow the fleshly anger or wrath to take charge of our lives.  Rather we must seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and in so doing will find that our thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ and the Holy Spirit is able to place a guard at our lips and keep our hearts.  Becoming angry at sin and the destructiveness of it is not a bad thing but to succumb to carnal wrath and anger is.  Therefore the directive is for us to discipline ourselves and seek the help of our Helper in learning to LISTEN, maintain our peace and rejecting the wrath of flesh.  As we do we will find that we diffuse many situations in life without becoming doormats in the process.  There is strength in being in control of your emotions.

            God bless you as you go through this day!