THE UNSHAKABLE WORD OF GOD….

Spiritual Blog - Unshakable

Mark 13:31 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” NASU

In the context of this particular verse Jesus was speaking of His Second Coming and giving the disciples and future generations clues and keys to look for to identify the times.  In that context but also as a stand-alone statement He said:  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”  His Word is UNSHAKABLE and INFALLIBLE!   We trust so many things in this world and life but the only sure thing is GOD’S WORD!

When I enter my house at night I flip the switch and believe that light is going to immediately fill the room.  When I sit on a chair I believe that it is going to support my weight and allow me to sit there comfortably.  When I get in my truck I expect the engine to start and take me down the road to my destination.  When I get on an airplane I expect it to take over, become airborne, remain airborne until we reach the destination and then land safely and allow me to get off.  It is by faith that we operate in this life and if we did not have faith and confidence that those things and multitudes more were going to be realities we would be mental and emotional wrecks and completely unable to function.  Yet, too often we DO NOT TRUST the Word of God with that same expectancy.  We read the promises and consider them “hopes”, “dreams”, “aspirations” rather than FACTUAL PROMISES by God Himself.  We relegate them to some by-gone era or for someone else and that is wrong.  Jesus said that although Heaven and Earth passed away HIS WORD WOULD NOT!  It is rock solid and unshakable!

Let me encourage you to read the promises of God and take them literally not figuratively.  Read them as personal promises to you because, if you have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, they are!  We readily accept that God does not and cannot lie but we treat His promises as though they were something other than factual absolute commitments by Him to us.  If God says something He says it for purpose not just to hear Himself speak or to make us feel warm and fuzzy at the moment of hearing it.  He says it because of His great love and if He promises He backs up that promise with His very person, nature, and character.  GOD NEVER speaks idle words!

So as you go through this day and from this day forward as you read the Word of God receive it as a Personal Promise of God to you because it is.  May God be with you as you go through this day!

THE OPERATIVE WORD IS – “IF”….

Spiritual Blog - Vine

John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  NASU

 In His discourse about being the Vine and the Father the vinedresser, Jesus informed those hearing that He expected His followers to “bear fruit” and if there was no “fruit bearing” that branch would be taken away.  He talked about the cleansing of the branches by pruning and told those listening that they were clean already because of His Word.  He identified that there could be no fruit except it come from the life of the Vine and that since we are branches and He is the vine our fruit is the result of the life that exudes from the vine.  Then in verse seven, He makes a statement that far too often is taken as a stand-alone passage but must be viewed in the context of the whole – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask WHATEVER you wish, and it will be done for you.”  (Emphasis mine).

This door to the miraculous is conditioned not only upon the context of the whole but hinges on the small word – ‘IF’.  The two facets of the “if” are abiding in Him, and His words abiding in us.  It is in light of drawing life from the Vine and producing fruit that He identifies that we are recipients of life and as living branches, we produce fruit because we are ABIDING IN HIM and His Words are ABIDING IN US.  That is the flow to us and from us. We receive of His life and as a result of that reception we produce fruit which produces seed which produces more fruit and the cycle is endless.  In that context, we can “Ask what we wish and receive answers to our prayers.”

Unfortunately, it would seem that too often we either are not abiding in Him and His words are not abiding in us to the level that He is our ALL-IN-ALL and we are living in a relatively casual, relationship rather than a totally committed life in which we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.”  In that condition, we neither expect that whatever we wish or pray to come to pass nor are we in a condition of heart to attain faith to receive.  Contrarily, if we are abiding in Him and His words are abiding in us His life will prod us to the level of life that we live in expectancy and become fulfillments of His promise that “the Works that He did we will do and greater works because He has gone to the Father.”  We will exhibit in this life the life of Jesus and through the fruit of that relationship, others will be positively impacted for the Kingdom.

The operative word is “IF”.  If we abide in Him.  If His words abide in us.  IF is the condition and the conduit through which the life that brings the faith for the miraculous.  Lord help me to change the “IF” to “I DO”. 

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

IDLE, CARELESS, OR EVIL WORDS….

Spiritual Blog - Words

Matthew 12:33-37 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.  34 ” You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.  35 ” The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.  36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.  37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  NASU

 

I’ve heard so many interpretations of verses 36-37 that I approach this with great caution and careful thought.  I’ve had people tell me that this means that if you are not talking about God all the time you are uttering idle or careless words and will be judged for it.  That would seem quite legalistic and be quite a prison for all of us.  I’m not sure how you would conduct business, develop a social life, find a mate, or train your children in all aspects of life under that interpretation but if that is your view so be it.  I would ask that you restrain yourself in seeking to impose it on the rest of us.

I have studied this troubling and seemingly difficult translation to find what our Lord was truly saying to those in his audience then and now.  I refer you to two notable commentators on Scripture:

Adam Clarke suggested: 

[Every idle word] – Reema (NT:4487) argon (NT:692), a word that does nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who hear it.  The word argon (NT:692) corresponds to the Hebrew shaaw’ (OT:7723), which signifies not only vain or empty but also wicked and injurious, such as a false testimony against a neighbor, compare Deut 5:11 and 20. Add to this, that Symmachus translates piguwl (OT:6292), polluted, Lev 19:7, by the very Greek word in the text. It was to explain this ambiguous meaning of the word, that ten MSS. have changed argon (NT:692), into poneeron (NT:4190), evil. Our Lord must be understood here as condemning all false and injurious words: the scope of the place necessarily requires this meaning.

In looking at verse 37 we realize that – [By thy words thou shalt be justified] That is, the whole tenor of thy conversation will be an evidence for or against thee, in the great day. How many are there who count words for nothing! Yet eternity often depends on them. Lord, put a watch or a guard at the door of my lips!  That is a prayer proper for all men.

Barnes Notes suggested:

[But I say unto you …] Christ closes this address to his malignant and wicked hearers by a solemn declaration that for these things God would bring them into judgment. Therefore. THEY who had spoken so malignantly against him, could not escape.

[Idle word] This literally means a vain, thoughtless, useless word; a word that accomplishes no good. Here it means, evidently, “wicked, injurious, false, malicious, for such” were the words which they had spoken.

[By thy words thou shalt be justified …] That is, “words” are the indication of the true principles of the heart; by “words” the heart shall be known, as the tree is by its fruit. If they are true, proper, chaste, instructive, pious, they will prove that the heart is right. If false, envious, malignant, and impious, they will prove that the heart is wrong, and will, therefore, be among the causes of condemnation. It is not meant that words will be the only thing that will condemn man, but that they will be an important part of the things for which he shall be condemned.  See James 3:3-12.

I would suggest that Jesus is referring to words that are “without value”, words that are “harmful”, and words that are “untrue”.  I would also suggest that He is identifying the condition of the heart in referring to the utterance of words and is telling all who will hear that it is a WHOLESOME, GOD-FEARING LIFE that is to be prized and that will be acceptable to God on that day.  To suggest that simply by constructing our language and conversation in a particular way would be enough to gain entrance into Heaven would be to trample under-foot the Blood of Jesus and slander the Grace of God.  It would make Grace something earned and Salvation something we can become worthy of by our actions or words and we know that is not according to Scripture.  Therefore, this cannot be interpreted in that manner so understanding that it is not just talking a particular dogma that our Lord is focused on but the WHOLE OF OUR LIVES and instructing us to understand that “Words Have Meaning” and are “Powerful.”   I too pray that God will place a guard at my mouth and my heart and that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart prove to be pleasing and acceptable in His sight!

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

HEAVEN’S OPEN DOOR…..

Spiritual Blog - Open Door

Revelation 4:1 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven…” NASU

Although there are many paths I could take with this text I only want to pursue one and that is “Heaven’s Open Door.”  Just the other day as we were traveling my wife and I were listening to some old Gospel Music and “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before” made its way into the rotation of songs and this scripture came to mind.  In that song, it says, “I can see the Father standing at the door.”  That reminded me of the parable of the Prodigal Son and how the father saw the returning wayward son at a great distance and ran to meet him.  That suggests that he was always “looking” for the return of his wayward child and possibly standing in the doorway of his house looking over the way hoping against hope that his son that was lost would return.  I can imagine our Heavenly Father looking over His creation at the doorway of Heaven and longing for us to “return to Him with a whole heart.”  At times I can almost hear the sobs of the Father and my Lord Jesus as they weep over the condition of mankind in this day that we live.

Several things come to mind when I think of a “Door Open in Heaven”.  That tells me that there is “open access” to God’s throne through prayer and how we need to take advantage of that invitation and opportunity.  It suggests that God is eagerly awaiting us to petition Him and is willing to dispatch help to us at a moment’s notice.  The picture that comes to my heart’s mind is that of a loving parent watching over their children and ready to protect and nurture them if there is a need and willing to let them spread their wings to learn to fly.  I sense that there is a “Door Open in Heaven” and God is extending a personal invitation for us to “enter in” through the vehicle of prayer and commune with Him and receive from Him His supply.

Whatever you do as you go through this day, hold in your heart and mind that there is an “Open Door in Heaven” for you right now!  May God be with you and bless you richly!

THE LIVING DEAD!!!!

Spiritual Blog - Dead

Romans 8:10-12 – “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh….”  NASU

We are the “Living Dead” and I’m not talking about Zombies as Hollywood seems to be obsessed with these days.  When I say the “Living Dead” I am talking about people who have “died to sin” and “risen to life” in Jesus Christ through the Power of the Blood.  It is a beautiful place to be – LIVING DEAD!

Paul informs the Roman believers that IF the Spirit of God, that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us that same Spirit will give us LIFE in our mortal bodies.  We are then DEAD but ALIVE and that is because we are not controlled by the “flesh” but the “spirit.”  As a result, we are no longer under OBLIGATION to Live According to the Flesh.  That leads me to my next question – “Why do we?”  Why do we allow the FLESH to have so much power in our daily lives?  Why do we allow the FLESH to be such a dominant force in our lives?  WHY?  There can only be one of a few possibilities.

  • We are uninformed as to our position and condition in Christ.
  • We are willing participants with the FLESH.
  • We are so underdeveloped spiritually that the devil easily sways and overcomes us.

None of those are conditions that are required.  We are not OBLIGATED to live according to the flesh.  The result of Jesus coming, living a sinless life, dying sacrificially on the Cross, rising again on the third day, and ascending to the Right Hand of the Father – is the defeat of the devil.  That is not a maybe or someday, somehow when we all get to heaven he will be – HE IS DEFEATED NOW!   Jesus said that ALL POWER or AUTHORITY in heaven was given to Him and He gave that to us.  Therefore, we have authority and power over the devil which would mean that the FLESH is to be subject to the Spirit of God, not vice versa. We are under NO OBLIGATION to succumb to the temptations or whims of the flesh.  We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Jesus and We CAN do all things through Christ!  That is our Covenant, Heritage, and Promise from the Lord Himself so why not employ it and enjoy it?

As you go forth today go in the strength of the Power of the Spirit of God and walk in Victory!  God bless you richly is my prayer!

 

CONSIDER ANOTHER HE MIGHT BE A WEAKER BROTHER…

Spiritual Blog - Weaker Brother

1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” NKJV

Personal Liberty and the Conscience of a Weaker Brother is and always will be an issue in the Church.  How far do we press our liberty before we become a stumbling block for a “weaker brother”?  Is there a time to say, “Grow up and realize that different people have different convictions”?  Is exercising our liberty worth causing another to stumble?  How you answer those questions will determine how you relate to those around you.

There was a time in my Christian walk that I felt that everyone should hold the same convictions that I did and if they did not they were “carnal” at best and “backslidden” at worst.  That was incredibly Pharasical and in a very real sense I was a Pharisee of Pharisees!  It took God rattling my cage in a major way to cause me to rethink my way of thinking and to understand that I was not God’s Fruit Inspector He could handle that job just fine without my assistance.  Likewise, I had to learn, although in my heart I knew it that most of what I called “convictions” were simply “opinions” and did not have the weight of Scripture.  An opinion is just that and is something that may and should change if any new light comes.  If God “convicts” your heart over an action, belief, or anything you should follow what God says implicitly and explicitly.  Yet you must always remember that what God “convicts” you of He may not convict another.  Many times the roots of that conviction stem from something within you or the geographic region in which you live and the mindset of those around you.  God will bring conviction to your heart for your benefit not so you can attempt to impose it on everyone else that would be what a Pharisee does.

There have been times that I could have done something but knew that there were those around me who would be hindered in their Christian walk if they saw me.  So, in the interest of another, I choose to abstain.  In traveling to other parts of the country and world I have found that there are many differing views on various things that Christians do or do not do and sometimes the dogmatism is so strong that no amount of reason or biblical teaching can break it.  Unless God brings light to the heart that person or persons will remain as they are.  Attempting to legislate a particular mindset or lifestyle would be futile and brings to mind the old saying:  “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  They may yield to your insistence but their hearts and minds have not truly changed.  You are not God so why try to be?

As you go through your day realize that what you do and say will have an impact on others so choose your words and deeds carefully considering another for your liberty is not worth hindering another in their pursuit of GOD and His GRACE!

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

WANTED – – Truth Tellers…

Spiritual Blog - Truth

Ephesians 4:25 – “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” NASU

 

I won’t get political or go on an all-out attack on religious hypocrisy but will say that what we need in this present world is men and women of THE TRUTH.  Paul tells the Ephesian Church that they are to “lay aside” FALSEHOOD and “speak the truth.”  He reminds them and us that we are not isolated from each other but as members of both the human race and the family of God we are part of the same fabric and while we sometimes are guilty of lying to ourselves or distorting reality in our minds we do not practice that regularly, at least I hope we do not.

My grandfather and father always told me, “Tell the truth it is easier to remember than a lie.”  They usually told me that when I attempted to pull the wool over on their eyes and they saw through it with amazing clarity and regularity.  Neither would tolerate laziness or dishonesty and were truthful to a fault and even if telling the truth brought them personal or financial difficulty.  They believed and so do I that “honesty” is not just the best policy it is the “only policy.”  If we are truthful then we do not have to worry about being exposed and that in itself brings a certain sense of peace and security to the heart and mind.  We have all known people who it seems would climb a tree to tell a lie when they could have stood on the ground and told the truth.

My children know that I told them, “If you lie to me and I catch you it will be far worse than if you tell me the truth.”  If they remember they can recall times when they told me the truth and escaped punishment and times when they didn’t and the punishment or correction was stepped up a notch.  If we encounter someone who tells us untruths on a regular basis, no matter how hard we try not to label or characterize them as being a liar we still do so, at least in the back of our minds and it affects our relationship or prevents us developing one that is positive.  No one wants to do business with a person that distorts the truth or facts.  No one would want to sit under a preacher who uses fabrications.  As a friend of mine had a member of his congregation asked him, “Pastor was that story you told the truth or were you just preaching?”  What a statement and while she may not have meant it as it came across that she would even entertain it is a tragedy.

You do not want anyone to tell you anything but the truth so why practice telling others something that is not truthful?  You would not want your doctor to tell you something that was not true regarding your health because that could cost you your life.  You would not want your banker or financial adviser to misrepresent your finances that might cost you your possessions.  In life (all of it) let’s be PEOPLE OF THE TRUTH!

May God bless you as you go through your day!