THE GOSPEL AS IT SHOULD BE…

Spiritual Blog - Power

1 Thessalonians 1:5 – “…our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…” NASU

I never cease to be amazed at how frequently in church, spiritual things, and life, we are willing to accept something less than the best available.  So many times politically we seem to be choosing between the “lesser of two evils,” and in life relegate ourselves to “average” and deem that acceptable.  When it comes to spiritual matters and the church many have bought the idea that the miracles and power that was exhibited in the Old and New Testaments were for another era and are no longer available for today.  I can only ask, “When did Jesus change?”  The Bible clearly says in Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” NASU It also tells us in Malachi 3:6 – “…I, the LORD, do not change…” NASU  Then Jesus said to His disciples and to us generations later in John 14:12 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” NASU

When Did That Change?  I suggest that it has not and that the Power of God is still the Power of God today as it was in the yesterdays of our human history.  God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent today just as he was in the beginning as we read about in Genesis and in the end as we read about in Revelation.  HE DOES NOT CHANGE!  If He confirmed His word with “signs and wonders” in so bygone era will He not do the same today?  I can attest that I have seen the Miracle Working Hand of God demonstrated.  I have experienced personally, seen it come for others, and have two miracles of healing with documentation from medical doctors confirming in my own life.  One was a broken bone and the other was cancer.  I saw my mother healed of a broken back and the paralysis relieved.  I’ve watched people recover from sickness in which the doctors said there was no hope.  I cannot explain God and won’t try.  I’ve prayed for people to be healed and they weren’t and prayed for others and they were.  I can’t explain it but feel like Peter and John as they came to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate and Peter said, “Silver and Gold have I none, but what I’ve got I’ll give to you.”  He then reached out his hand took the man by the hand and lifted him up only to see the power of God flow into his legs and he walked.

I’ve seen hard-hearted giants of men crumble before the power of God’s Word and their hearts melt. Tears would stream down the cheeks of those rock hard men as they wept before the Lord broken and repentant.  I’ve seen homes restored as the Power of God transformed hearts and brought reconciliation.  I’ve seen financial disaster averted by a miraculous supply.  Yes, I’ve seen the POWER OF THE GOSPEL and long for more and more of it.  Not so that I will be noticed but so that lives will be rescued by the Power and Grace of God.  I get angry at what I see the devil doing in lives and cry out continually for the POWER OF THE GOSPEL to be manifest in my life and the lives of those I come in contact with.

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

SERVITUDE I CAN ENDORSE…

Spiritual Blog - Righteousness

Romans 6:18 – “Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” NKJV

The Bible has much to say about our being “servants” or “slaves” to something or someone.  The only two categories that it allows are we are either servants to SIN or RIGHTEOUSNESS.  We either allow the flesh to have dominance or we allow the Spirit of God.   Here the apostle Paul identifies that the true objective of the Christian should be to become a “Slave of Righteousness”.    He identifies that this is possible, and I might add, only possible after we have been set free from sin.  It is only after we have been “born-again” and “transferred from the kingdom of darkness into God’s light” that we can hope to attain this lofty place of servanthood.

The Bible tells us that whatever or whoever we obey we are servants or slaves to that.  So, my objective or goal is to become a true “dulos” to Jesus.  I want to be a “bondslave” to Him and that relationship comes from a willing and surrendered heart.  It is never forced for God will not accept that as an acceptable pathway into His presence.  I want to hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful SERVANT…” when I stand before Him on that final day.  Notice, He used the word ‘servant’ to describe us.  We are called His BRIDE, His FRIENDS, His SHEEP, and His SERVANTS.  We are all that and more through the Grace and Love of God.

So, if you have been born-anew into the Kingdom of God you have been “set free” from sin and as a result, the door is open for you to become a “Slave of Righteousness.”  It is your choice and if you make that choice the Holy Spirit will come alongside and come within your heart and enable you to fulfill that desire.  Will it be easy?  NO!  But it will be the most rewarding life you could ever hope to encounter.

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

HELD AND UPHELD…

Spiritual Blog - Foot Slips

Psalm 94:18-19 – “I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.  19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” NKJV

As most of you have discerned by now I love the Psalms for they convey so many spiritual nuggets in such poetic language it is easy to remember and relate.  David, a man God identified as being after His own heart speaks from life experiences that most of us can relate to and is not afraid to expose his humanity.  I’ve cautioned young people seeking to go into full time preaching ministry to NEVER stop being human.  Too many that occupy the sacred desk in churches feel that they dare not expose the kinks in their armor or the people will turn on them, and sadly sometimes they are right but I could never abide by that philosophy.  I am human, I have struggles and difficulties and God has helped me overcome some pretty incredible things.  I believe that should benefit others to know that the man they are following spiritually has and is facing some of the same struggles they are and point them to God.

David said, “If I say, MY FOOT SLIPS, Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.”  I make it through life resting in the shelter of the Arms of God.  When I am overcome with things that distress my life I lift up my eyes to the hills and know that my help comes from the Lord and His comfort and strength brings renewed joy and strength to my life.  God is our “present help in the time of need,” but sadly too often we fail to remember that or allow His strength to flood our lives.  We struggle and press to “do it” but there are times when we need to “cease striving” and just allow God to be God in our situation. We cannot do what God can do!

If you feel that your foot is slipping do not despair rather rejoice because God’s mercy and grace will hold you if you will let Him.  If you are overcome with anxious thoughts and concerns, do not despair but rather rejoice because God’s comforting strength will bring a renewal of joy to your soul if you will allow it.  God wants to bring you out of the struggle and difficulty stronger!

Rejoice in the Lord today and rest in His grace!  Blessings as you go through your day!

REAL FREEDOM…

Spiritual Blog - Freedom

John 8:31-33, 34-37 – “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  35 ” The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  NASU

On July 4th we, in America, celebrate Independence Day and reflect on LIBERTY and what it means.  We are cognizant of oppression and express gratitude to all who served and sacrificed to bring or preserve FREEDOM and LIBERTY.  It is a day of reflection, introspection, honor, thanksgiving, and remembering or should be.  It is both a joyous and solemn day.  It is a time for festivities and a time for deeply personal and national introspection.  It is a time to give thanks to God for our Freedom naturally and a time to focus on what REAL FREEDOM really is.

Here in this passage, our Lord identifies TRUE FREEDOM.  It comes from and can only come from God.  It has nothing to do with whether you live under oppression or even if you are in chains it has to do with the heart, the mind, the soul, and the spirit.  Jesus said “IF” and that is an undeniable qualifier.  “IF you continue in My word, THEN you are disciples of Mine; AND you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The IF, THEN, and AND of the Gospels are important!  So many times, we run across that very situation and fail to read it all and apply it rightly to our lives.  There is commitment involved with the continuation on the path of righteousness and as a result, we are recognized as Disciples of Jesus, and we taste and experience TRUE FREEDOM.  Without Him there is no real Freedom because if we are living in sin we are the slaves of sin and outside the family of God.

Jesus identified that “if the Son makes you free, you will be FREE INDEED.”  The words “Free At Last” could be rightly applied to this passage and the condition of our hearts once we have accepted the Gift of Salvation from our Lord Jesus Christ through our repentance.  The Cross is a most beautiful picture of FREEDOM because it was there that Jesus paid the price for our FREEDOM.  It was there that He bought us back from the dominion of the devil and opened the door for us to be transferred into the Kingdom of God – FREE AT LAST!

I hope that you know REAL FREEDOM today and as you go through this day you go through it with a consciousness of that LIBERTY and FREEDOM that only comes through Jesus Christ.

Blessings abundantly as you celebrate our FREEDOM today!

NO GREATER LOVE…

Spiritual Blog - Love

John 15:13 – “A Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” NASU

Jesus went on to say in the next verse “You are My friends…”  He laid down His life for us.  As John 3:16 tells us His act was an expression of LOVE both by the Father and the Son so that you and I could have access to the Eternal Presence of God.  What love!

To lay down one’s life for another is the highest tribute that could be paid to the individual who has been died for.  I know what it is like to have someone step in front of danger to protect you.  I have experienced that kind of love and commitment and it forever changed me in ways that I am still discovering.  I have heard family members pray to God to allow them to suffer the disease and death that was coming to their loved one.  Why did they do it? Was it out of some false sense of nobility and self-sacrifice?  NO, it was out of LOVE!  They loved enough that if it were possible they would step in and take the death that another was facing.  Jesus did that for us.  He went to the Cross and paid the penalty for our sin, a penalty that He did not deserve or merit in any way but He willingly paid our debt out of LOVE!

When I consider what God has done for me, how could I not LOVE HIM?  How could I not serve Him?  How could I reject Him?  When I came to Christ and received Him as my savior I went through a period of days and weeks in which I was the most condemned and miserable person on the planet.  I knew I was lost and that is the first step to receiving salvation.  You cannot help a man become found that does not know he is lost.  I knew that I was headed for hell and believed the lie that I had done too much to be forgiven.  I won’t say as I heard a person testify in church, “Lord, I’ve broken all the commandments.”  No, but I had done far more than my youthful years should have.  I had survived Vietnam and was struggling with who I was, where I fit in, and what I was to do in life.  I found that nothing satisfied me, for very long not money, not job, not relationships – NOTHING!   Then I fell under such conviction and my heart so condemned me that I despaired of life itself but can honestly say I did not consider suicide.  Now, admittedly, had that state of mind continued for a long period of time that would be the likely thoughts that would come, but thank God I did not go that long.

Through the encouragement of some people who loved me in spite of my meanness I read Proverbs 3:5-6 after midnight on a Saturday night in Palestine, Texas and as I read that passage the light came on and I knew that I could be forgiven.  I experienced God’s forgiveness and love and the world lifted off my shoulders and I felt like I could float in the air.  That was the most incredible night of my life and I have been thanking God for over forty years for that love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and pardon.  It was LOVE that lifted me.  LOVE spared my life.  LOVE rewrote my life.  LOVE transformed me for the vile creature that I was to a “born-again” child of the King!  I AM SAVED!  Hallelujah!

So, if you are struggling know that God loves you enough that He was willing to allow His Son, Jesus to die on the Cross for you.  Jesus loves you enough that He was willing to endure the Cross.  So, instead of reaching for the bottom lift up your eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to minister the LOVE OF GOD to you right now!

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

CLANGING AND BANGING…

Spiritual Blog - Noise

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 – “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never fails…” NASU

 

The most important thing in our Christian Life is LOVE!  Love for God and love toward our fellow man.  We may be the most eloquent of speakers, have the greatest insight, and manifest incredible gifts but without love, the Bible tells us we are nothing more than NOISE.  Some of the things Paul lists as having but not having love seems almost impossible to me but I conclude that while he may not have been speaking literally but metaphorically I will accept that it is possible that one might manifest these things and not have love.  In that case, that individual would be quite the show but nothing more than “rain on a tin barn.”  All foam and no beer, as a friend mine likes to say.  All hat and no cattle or all talk and no walk.

I know some people who are incredibly generous and truly orators but in private I know them to be lacking greatly in the arena of Love both for God and man.  Paul tells us in verses four-eight something about LOVE.  It is patient, kind, not jealous, does not brag, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, is not self-centered, not provoked, does not harbor grudges or rejoice in unrighteousness.  Love seeks truth bears burdens, believes in people and God, has hope, and endurance.  Then he tells us the most powerful thing of all – – LOVE NEVER FAILS….   I hear people talk about “falling in love” like love was a mud puddle.  Love is not something you “fall into” but something you make the choice and grow into.  I love my fellow man, not because I fell in love with them but because I love God and loving God I make the choice to love my fellow man.

So if you are finding yourself deficient in any gift that you once operated in or in an area of spirituality that you believe you should have more proficiency in check your LOVE QUOTENT.  How is your heart in that regard?  Turn to the LORD and ask Him to send forth the Love of God so that it is spread abroad in your heart and as it spreads in your heart it will flow out of your heart into your life and touch others.

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

PRAYER IS NOT PERSONAL P.R.

Spiritual Blog - Prayer

Matthew 6:5-8 – “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.  8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  NASU

 

 There is far more here than I can deal with so I am selectively drawing on the thought that Prayer is not designed to be your personal public relations vehicle.  This and other passages in the Holy Scripture regarding prayer is why I do not like to broadcast what I am praying.  I am more than willing to ask for specific prayer and even willing to acknowledge specific prayers that I am offering but by and large when I pray I go into the prayer closet, shut the door, and engage in a private conversation and entreaty with God about particular needs.  I don’t like long prayers in public and personally prefer spontaneous prayers to those that are written and read for the purpose of being noticed.  I don’t mind men not noticing my prayer so long as God does.  After all, I am not praying to men I am praying to God and He doesn’t need to be impressed with my eloquence or words.  He is looking beyond all that directly at my heart. 

Jesus cautioned us about using meaningless repetitions and being incredibly wordy in our public prayers or even our private prayers.  If you and I sat down and I wanted to ask something of you I would not ramble on being repetitious and verbose I would come to the point and in as simple language as possible tell you what I desired.  I believe you would do the same with me.  Yet, when we go before the God of all creation many change the inflection of their voice and attempt to impress God with their eloquence or words.  He’s not impressed!  He created language and knows it far better than any of us, even the most eloquent and educated of us.

When we go before God we would do well to remember that He already knows what we need and our petition is not one trying to convince Him of the merits of our petition but aligning our hearts and thoughts with His word and will.  It is allowing God the opportunity to be God in our situation.  Jesus said the Father who sees what is done in secret will reward us openly.

So do not attempt to use prayer as a P.R. tool but as a means of communication with God in an honest and heartfelt manner.  Come before Him with humbleness of heart, and true thanksgiving and watch Him be God in your behalf.

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