ARE WE A SPIRITUAL HOUSE OR A STONE PILE?

Spiritual Blog - Living Stones

1 Peter 2:1-5 – “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  NASU

 

Personally, I have always found this a fascinating passage.  In fact, I believe that it is God’s Word to the Church in this hour!  I believe that the Church, the Body of Christ has come to a ‘new phase’ in its development and progress in the Kingdom!  I believe we are at a new juncture on our road to BECOMING that which God has designated and desired for us to be at this time.  If we are to become ONE BODY and function as a body to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for our sphere of influence and world we must become a SPIRITUAL HOUSE rather than just be a STONE PILE filled with individual stones.

  1. We MUST come to realize and know who we are.

We will never fully know who we are until we truly know whose we are.  I do not mean the religious cliché “I’m Gods”, I mean HIM – His person, nature, character, love, grace, trustworthiness, etc.  We must come to know the Covenant Maker and Keeper WHO IS GOD.  I’m talking about intimacy with Him not familiarity with Him.

  1. We MUST come to know His Covenant and His Kingdom.

I believe the Covenantal Relationships are the ‘foundation for function’ in the Body of Christ and in life.  The power, provisions, and promise of Covenant as walked out in daily living.  I believe that as we know God’s Covenant and Kingdom we come to know God and thereby know WHO WE ARE.

  1. We MUST come to know God’s Pattern for Function locally.

I’ve often called this the “Jethro Principle” as revealed to and practiced by Moses in the wilderness and by Jesus in the New Testament.  It is the PATTERN for Body Ministry and, I believe, the only way to successfully reach and develop the harvest.  It is here we come to know God’s Truths about Body Ministry, Team Ministry, Apostolic authority, and function rather than position.  It is here that we are able to pull down religious hierarchies and come to maturity in Christ.

  1. We MUST become a Spiritual House that is FULLY FUNCTIONING.

We must be ‘fitted and framed’ together as a unit, house, body, and family with the parts functioning as the whole.  It is in this condition that we ‘reproduce’ and ‘disciple’ others enabling them to FULLY FUNCTION as a part of the Body of Christ, God’s Spiritual House.

We are LIVING STONES and the problem with living stones is that they have a mind and will of their own.  We like to do our own thing, we do not always stay where we have been placed, and have egos, ambitions, and feelings.  Unlike natural building stones, we present a unique problem in the building of the house.  We are not inanimate objects but LIVING STONES and as living stones, we are literally ‘cells’ in the Body of Christ and linked to each other cell by the blood.  It is imperative that we ‘die to self’ in order to ‘live unto Him.’  Truly the words of John the Baptist is fitting – “He must increase but I must decrease.”  I urge you to make it your objective and purpose to become a SPIRITUAL HOUSE rather than a Stone in a Stone Pile.   

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

HOW DO WE REACT TO THE JUDGMENT OF GOD?

Spiritual Blog - Judgment

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 – “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” NASU

 

Over the past few years, I’ve heard more and more people saying that what is happening in America is the judgment of God.  It may be but that’s not the issue.  The issue is my title question – “How do we react or respond to the judgment of God?”  Sadly, I’ve heard people call the events of our nation and the world “God’s Judgment” and say it almost gloating and with pleasure.  That breaks my heart and I believe breaks God’s heart too!  If our nation is under the “Judgment of God” then we believers have a responsibility and duty to apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to the situation and begin in earnest to “intercede” for the nation and the people.

This is the time of year when many states across this great land find themselves under the siege of “wildfires” and the devastation is frequently catastrophic.  This is the time of the year where there is a drought in one area and flooding in another.  It is the beginning of hurricane season and that brings incredibly damaging inclement weather.  Parts of the country are also sieged with fires, floods, weather-related conditions, economic conditions, and more.  The relief agencies, firefighters, police, emergency crews, hospitals, and churches become taxed beyond their capacity to respond fully and adequately.  Those suffering need US!

They need us to:

  1. Become intercessors.
  2. Volunteer our physical labors, finances, goods, and services.
  3. Be compassionate.
  4. Stay on our faces until there is an answer from heaven.

Although I have personally suffered from the drought condition I have not faced the devastation of raging fires, destructive winds or flooding.  My economics aside I have been somewhat spared although we are in a dire situation with the cost of my wife’s cancer chemo medications requiring frugality and prioritization.  Although I feel the pinch I also feel the compunction of the Holy Spirit to do what I can to help others.  The one thing that I feel best equipped to do is PRAY!  Judgment, if that is what we are facing, is not designed just to punish but to bring to repentance, reconciliation, and restoration.  There are things that I cannot do, at this time, physically but pray I can, have, and will continue to do.  However, the crisis is escalating and therefore I will commit to praying more and plead with others to join in with fasting and prayer!  Thousands if not millions of lives and families are being negatively affected by the natural disasters, personal economic crunches, and violence.  Those conditions and situations will impact them for the rest of their days here on earth.

God’s promise in this passage is that IF we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from wickedness – THEN He will HEAR, FORGIVE, and HEAL the land.  If you are a believer it is time that you invested a portion of your day and energy praying!  Even if you feel that you have nothing to repent of, repent for the State, the Nation, and the World.  Even if you feel that you are not following wicked ways in any fashion, turn your heart toward God more than ever and SEEK HIS FACE!  The intercession of Abraham provided an opportunity for Sodom and Gomorrah to escape judgment.  The intercession of Moses spared the nation of Israel from God’s hand of judgment.  The intercession of God’s people today can turn this devastation and avert further damage.  In many ways, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel but many are still struggling and fearful. I do believe that it is up to us to do more than just say we will pray but to pray more than we say we will.

May God have mercy on us!  I pray that we will intercede for the nation and see God’s Restoration!  Thank you for your investment and commitment to prayer!

God bless you and may you live in peace and safety!

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WAIT ON THE LORD?

Spiritual Blog - Waiting

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”  NKJV

 “Waiting” is not one of humankind’s strengths.  It would seem that most of us most of the time “hate to wait”.  We don’t like lines at the check-out stand, delays at the doctor’s office, the interim between the time we are ready to go and those going with us getting ready, delays in answers to prayer, waiting at restaurants for our seat or food or in traffic.  We just don’t like to “wait.”  So, when we read, “…those who WAIT on the Lord….” – – it causes some difficulty in the mind for many.  The idea in the Hebrew seems to indicate that this “waiting” is a word that comes from a prime root that means to “twist or bind together”.  It means to “look, patiently tarry, wait for” with expectation.  Therefore, in a true sense, spiritually, when we are “waiting on the Lord” we are allowing the Holy Spirit to twist us together and bind us together with Him so that we become ONE with Him.

With that in mind makes perfect sense that through this process we should gain a “renewal” of strength because we develop a oneness with Him and therefore have a greater infusion of His strength into our lives.  Because, he sees all and is overall it is no stretch to use the analogy of mounting up with wings like eagles, because from that binding together into a oneness with Him allows us to rise above the din and clutter below and enables us to see the bigger picture.  Likewise, because He is the infinite strength we would naturally find ourselves able to go tirelessly without being weary in this race and able to walk (live) without fear of exhausting from the taxations of life’s difficulties.  Therefore, if we need to learn anything it is to “wait” on the Lord.  That does not mean just sit back and delay but an active allowing of the Holy Spirit to mesh our lives with Him, our minds with Him, our spirits with His and become ONE with Him.  As we do this and learn this we find ourselves walking in a more full and victorious life in the King and Kingdom of God.

Do not fear silence or time alone with God it is a time of development of strength as much or more than intensive exercise to build muscles in the natural body.  Therefore, set some time aside on a regular basis to “wait on the Lord” and then stand amazed at the growth that transpires in your life.

May the Lord richly bless you as you embark on today’s journey!

DISCIPLINE vs. PUNISHMENT FROM THE LORD…

Spiritual Blog - Discipline

Proverbs 3:11-12 – “My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” NASU

Isaiah 13:11 – “Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.” NASU

 

            It is my opinion that far too many people in every aspect of life misunderstand the difference between “discipline” and “punishment”.  Too many people administer “punishment” where “discipline” is called for not realizing that “discipline” is designed to bring to repentance and “punishment” is the ultimate result of an offense of the rebellious that refuses to modify behavior, repent, and return to the correct path.  It is punitive whereas discipline is administered with “reconciliation” as the primary focus.  Hell is “punishment”.  Chastisement is “discipline”.  When my children young my objective in what some called “punishment” and God called “discipline” was to shape their attitudes and behavior to bring them to the right path.  The objective was to “teach” them the error of their ways and help them understand not only the consequences but the proper way.  It was to bring them to an understanding that their actions not only affected them, their parents, and frequently other people as well.  It was to enable them to develop a solid foundation and moral base upon which to build their lives.

For the most part, our penal institutions are designed for “punishment” rather than “discipline”.  Most of our churches administer neither for fear of losing members and not fully understanding either the authority nor the responsibility of the church in this area.  Too often, when the Lord “disciplines” us we accuse Him of “punishing” us and develop a mentality of God as this Giant Ogre who is waiting for us to slip up just a little so He can whack us over the head.  I remember as a child hearing the phrase when we were acting up, “God’s watching and He’s going to get you for that.”  God’s objective is not to “get us for that” but to “reconcile us to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ the Righteous.”  God is more interested in “reconciliation” than “condemnation”.  He is more interested in “restoration” that “retribution”.  God wants us to be FREE and live in the “Peace that passes all understanding” not live in “Fear that that is torment and paralyzes.”

Therefore, when the Lord “disciplines” you do not despise it, reject it, resist it, but embrace it, learn from it, and allow it to move you ever closer to His presence, person, and character.  You do not want to experience “punishment” those standing at the Great White Throne will know that.  Satan knows that.  The Angels that fell know that.  The demons know that.  Know that God’s “discipline” is based on love with the desire to bring you to Him in a greater measure and a deeper relationship.  It is to teach you His character, His heart, His love, and His way.  Love is the basis of “discipline”.  You will experience it and it is important that you understand the difference between “discipline” and “punishment.”  It never means that God is through with you, it means He sees enough in you to continue to invest His time, energy, and effort to bring you into total conformity to His image.  It is a sign of His love!  Rejoice in it and be thankful.

May God richly bless you as you move through the conclusion of your long weekend and move toward the goal of life!

THE “IF” – “THEN” OF JESUS…

Spiritual Blog - If

John 8:31-32 – “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” NKJV The NASU lists it as “… if you continue in My word….”  NIV – “…If you hold to My teachings…”  NLT – “…if you keep obeying my teachings….”

 

            It is sometimes surprising how many times we fail to notice simple little phrases in what the Bible teaches and either ignore them to fit our doctrine or miss them because we are reading with a preconceived notion of what it should say or should mean.  Here is a most powerful statement by our Lord that contains an “if” or a CONDITIONAL PHRASE.

Jesus said to His followers regarding their relationship with Him that IF you “abide”, “continue”, “obey”, or “continue obeying” my word, my doctrine, my teachings, my truth YOU ARE OR SHALL BE “My Disciples Indeed”.  Then He adds an addendum that is without price in its value – – “You shall “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.  Spiritual freedom comes through relationship and relationship comes through obedience to Him and His word.  That is inescapable!  The idea presented here is “continued obedience” not one-time “acceptance”.  It is a “maintained relationship” not signing a membership card and paying regular dues like a club membership.  It is a “personal relationship” that is maintained through communication, communion, and commitment.  In too many ways and too many situations, we seem to have lost that and it’s time for the church and God’s people to return to their “First Love” and restore that relationship and commitment to the Lord of Lord and King of Kings!

May God bless you as you continue your brand new week of opportunity in His service and Kingdom!  Blessings!

KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE GOAL…

Spiritual Blog - Goal

Philippians 3:12-16 – “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” NASU

 

There are two ways that one can go through life.  You can go through life looking forward, eyes fixed on the prize, goal, or destination or you can constantly be looking back playing the “what if” game and wondering, second-guessing, and questioning.  One way leads to an assured victory the other way has a great propensity for failure.  Recently I sat with some old friends from my early days and they began reminiscing about some of the antics that we pulled during our youth and for a brief moment, we all began to live those times again.  The laughter was there, the memories vivid, and even some of the feelings of those things came back when suddenly the Holy Spirit stopped me and reminded me of a passage that caused me to change the topic.  He said, Luke 9:62 – “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” NASU Then He also spoke to my spirit, 2 Peter 2:22 – “…A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” NASU He asked me, “Do you want to reminisce on sinful things and possibly create a longing to go back or do you want to keep your eye on the ultimate prize in Me?”

The answer was obvious.  The things we were reminiscing about involved drinking and mischief.  They were times of our youth when we were young, wild, and free (so to speak).  We were invincible and 10 feet tall and bulletproof!  We danced to our own drummer and resisted and rebelled against the status quo and were constantly stepping outside the acceptable into those things that would cause raised eyebrows among the older generation.  Most just called it “sowing wild oats” but it was not a spiritually positive time of my life and not something that I wanted to get back into my mind or spirit.  So as gently and inoffensively as I could I moved the subject to some of the times when we were more in step with what was considered normal and acceptable and began to tell how my life changed after Vietnam and I came to know the Lord.  What was heading down a path that was not spiritually productive became a time of deep introspection and reflection on how our lives had changed and mostly for the better over the years as we had grown and matured.  Each of us confessed that we would be very disturbed had our children done the same things we did.

It is important to keep your eye on the goal.  If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?  If you don’t know your objective how will you know when you have achieved it?  If you don’t know what is required how will you know what to do to be prepared?  Focus, in everything, is important but in spiritual things it is critical.  We MUST keep our “Eyes on Jesus” lest we turn aside and become sidetracked and lose our way.  He will walk beside us, provide the Holy Spirit to be our very efficient and capable guide through this maze called life and lead us to that HIGHER CALLING and enable us to ATTAIN THE PRIZE of the HIGH CALLING of God in Christ Jesus!  So my dear friend, don’t let the little issues sidetrack you.

May God bless you as you go through your day in Him!  Blessings!

THE LORD IS…

Spiritual Blog - The Lord Is

Psalms 23:1-6 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” NKJV

            I was troubled in my spirit most of the night, not from physical pain but from pain in my spirit and could not sleep so I arose and spent several hours praying and studying before going for my morning walk.  As I walked the Lord began to speak to me about Psalm 23 and this is what I heard in my spirit:

  1. THE LORD IS… Not has, “is”.  Not does, “is”.  Not might be, “is”.  The Lord IS “my”  He is the one watching over my soul and caring for me.  No other person, power, or entity – THE LORD!  I’ve heard people say for all my life, “Well you’ve got to look out for old number one, meaning themselves.”  My take, since becoming a Christian is that “old number one” is THE LORD and He is to be sought above and before everything else including self, family, church, job, relationship, etc.  HE IS!

 

  1. BECAUSE HE IS… I shall not be in   He is my provider and as David declared in Psalms 37:25-26 – “I have been young, and now am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful and lends, And his descendants are blessed.” NKJV Paul echoed that sentiment in Philippians 4:19-20 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” NKJV Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 7:7-9 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” NKJV Therefore, if HE IS then among the things HE IS, is “my supply.”

 

  1. THE PROCESS OF HIS CARE AND KEEPING…
  • Causes me to rest in Green (plenteous)
  • Directs me to Still (refreshing) waters for nourishment to quench my thirst, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
  • Guides me in Righteous Paths.
  • Guards Me against all enemies (Foreign and Domestic or External and Internal).
  • Even in the Face of Death, He gives a CALM ASSURANCE.
  • He provides not only GRACE but the ANOINTING to accomplish His purposes.
  • I walk the ABUNDANT LIFE filled with His Goodness & His Mercy.
  • I spend my entire days with my PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN HIS PRESENCE.

That is the picture of what it is like to serve THE GOD WHO IS…  It is the picture of the Normal Christian Life!  Most think it is the abnormal and unusual Christian Life that I have described but according to the Bible, it is the NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE serving THE GOD WHO IS.  Therefore, I urge you to allow the Holy Spirit to immerse you into that life today and learn to live in His Abundant Life and Presence on a daily basis.

Blessings as you enter your long weekend!