PURE RELIGION IS NOT A BAD THING…

Spiritual Blog - Pure Religon

James 1:26-27 – “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  NASU

 James had a way of coming to the point and pointedly declaring relevant truth as he does here.  If you transpose the word religious with spiritual it might be more accepted by some but either way I believe we get the message even if we deny that we did.  He addresses and contrasts two types of religion or spirituality.  One is pure and the other is worthless.

He begins by drawing our attention to the fact that perception may seem like reality but it is not.  He draws attention to how we view ourselves and in today’s world, there is so much effort in every arena and discipline to make people feel good about themselves even when they should face the guilt and conviction that God wants them to deal with.  He says if you think you are religious or spiritual and do not bridle your tongue you are living a deceived life and your perception of your religious status is Worthless. That is bold!

He then defines Pure Religion in God’s sight as one that cares about and ministers to the orphans, widows, and keeps his or herself unstained by the world.  Christianity must by its nature be concerned with the needs of people spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, economically, and in every way.  That does not mean that we neglect other aspects of life but if we have no compassion for people then how can we claim to be followers of Christ who came to ‘seek and to save’ that which was lost?  The very heart of the ministry of Jesus focused on people.  I’ve had preachers tell me that they loved preaching but didn’t like dealing with people.  I always said, “What are you doing in the ministry?”  People not your ability to stand in the pulpit and your oratorical skills should be the focus of your labors.  Some ministers are not pastors and should never lead congregations because that is not the gift that God put within them.  That does not give them license to be unconcerned about people or from loving people.  How can I claim to love God if I do not love people?

I want my religion or spirituality to be Worth Something not Worthless.  I want to develop and manifest Pure Religion in the sight of God.  I am less concerned about what people think of me than what God knows about me.  I do not want to perform religious functions out of a sense of obligation but out of a heart of love that compels me and motivates me to action because of God’s love.  One will be nothing more than a clanging banging gong and the other will bring the nectar of life to hearts.

So as you go through this day seek to manifest Pure Religion in the sight of God and it will minister to those who are hurting and hungry.  Blessings as you go through your day!

BACK TO THE FOUNDATION…

Spiritual Blog - God

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God….” NASU

I sometimes wonder if we complicate truth, spiritual truth or any truth with our attempts at ‘deep thinking.’  We want to use ‘human reason’ to explain GOD.  That is absolutely impossible when you consider that God is infinite and we are finite.  God has ALL knowledge and we see darkly as though an opaque glass.  God sees the end from the beginning and we see the beginning from the end.  We are creatures and God is the creator.  How could we possibly explain God in our wisdom and understanding?  It takes God’s divine revelation and that is found in the Bible and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  We complicate that simplicity with the insertion of our ‘opinions’ and attempts at superior intelligence.

Today I want to focus on the first four words of the Bible and let them stand alone – – “In the beginning God….”  In the beginning, God is the rock upon which we anchor our hope of eternity.  God is the beginning and without Him, there is nothing, at least nothing for mankind.  From the beginning of our universe, planet, and all creation we find that the foundation is GOD.  If you do not believe that then the Bible is nothing more than a piece of literature for you and holds no power in your life and offers no direction more than any other book.  You probably view it is a mythological fantasizing of man and would agree with Karl Marx that ‘religion is the opiate of the masses.’  That is your choice but not a philosophy or belief system that I ascribe to.

I believe the report in the Bible that ‘In the Beginning God…’  I believe that God created the heavens and the earth.  I believe that God created all that is in the Earth.  I believe that God created man and breathed the breath of life into him.  I believe we are created in the image and likeness of God.  For me, GOD is the foundation of all that I believe and all that I am.  He is the ROCK upon which I build my life, my system of values, and my worldview.  Without God, I am nothing more than the lower animals drifting through this thing called life with no moral compass or hope beyond this life.  I cannot be held accountable for any moral failures because without God there is no basis for morality determination.  It would be subjective to the particular philosophy of each individual and every man would basically be a law unto themselves.

So I am crying out to God to inspire us to return to the Foundation GOD.  I am praying for a revival, renewal, and regeneration in the world of belief, confidence, and faith in God and obedience to God and His Word.

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

THE POWER OF ANOINTED PREACHING…

Spiritual Blog - Anointing

Acts 2:37-44 – “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” NASU

If you read the entirety of the chapter you find that they were in one place and in one accord (a novelty in today’s world).  As they were assembled there waiting on the Promise of the Spirit as Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit showed up mightily.  People around them thought they were all drunk, but Peter under the inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit preached and the result is seen in the above verses.  Three thousand souls were added to the church that day.  How many were saved is not fully known because they normally only counted men not women and children so who knows how many actually came to Christ that day.  They then did what is absent too often in today’s world as verse forty-two depicts.

They were “continually” devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.  That is not the normal course of events today in the modern church world.  Then verse forty-three goes a step further and states that they (everyone) kept feeling a sense of awe, and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  In Today’s church, many would likely be scared out of their wits if there were signs and wonders done in it.  I dare say that too often we are more concerned about what we are going to eat, wear, or something other than Continually devoting ourselves to the teachings of the Gospel, to fellowship, breaking bread and prayer.  Oh we’ve got the ‘breaking bread’ part down pat and talk a lot about fellowship but do we have ‘koninia’ – [communion and community] becoming one in Christ.

I suggest that if we truly seek the face of the LORD GOD and invite Him into our lives and midst He will show up and when He does He will be God!  Remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If you are queasy about not having control and seeing the supernatural demonstrated in your midst I would suggest that you might not want to pray that prayer.  But, if you are hungry for God and are willing to allow Him to stretch your current understanding and beliefs then pray it and willingly allow Him to become Lord of All in your life, home, business, and church.

Blessings as you go through your day!

REVEALED OR HIDDEN IT MATTERS…

Spiritual Blog - Secret

Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” NASU

I have long found this passage a most interesting and challenging one.  Depending on what interpretation you allow you could either see it as a command to not seek God’s mind on what is coming down the pike or you could see it as a declaration that God reveals to us what He feels we need to know.

It is, without question, important in that it identifies that God is the possessor of all ‘knowledge’.  If something is not revealed it is not revealed because He has chosen to keep it secret or hidden.  That does not mean that we should immediately shy away from the pursuit of that information, revelation, or knowledge but it does identify that there are some things God has chosen not to share with man, at least at this point.

I believe that a good rendering of this passage would be – “What God has thought proper to reveal, he has revealed; what he has revealed is essential to the well-being of man, and this revelation is intended not for the present time merely, nor for one people, but for all succeeding generations.  The things which he has not revealed should not be a major concern to man.”  If God, in His wisdom, decides to pull back the veil and allow us to see more clearly into those hidden realms then mankind will benefit from it and should rejoice in the expanded understanding.

My suggestion is that instead of spending all our time trying to get a “New Revelation” and understand the “Mysteries of God” why don’t we walk in what we do know?  Why don’t we take what He has revealed and apply it to our lives, churches, homes, businesses, and even government?  Why not allow the things that God has revealed to become the cornerstone of our lives?  That would mean that we are seeking and allowing the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness to take top billing in our lives and the result would be incredible.

So, if you are one who has diligently sought to understand that which is not understood regarding scripture and the Kingdom of God that’s fine but if you make that more important than obedience to what He has revealed you err.  I am convinced that as we walk in what He has directed and revealed He opens more to us as we can handle it and as the need arises.  If we are trying to be smarter than God we will only prove how little we actually know and become an easy target of the devil.

So as you go through this day why not go with the desire to walk fully in what God has revealed to you through His Spirit and Word?  I believe that your life and those you impact will be blessed beyond anything you could imagine.

Blessings as you go through this day! 

DON’T BE STUPID…

Spiritual Blog - Stupid

Proverbs 12:1 – “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. “ NKJV

Wow!  That could not get much clearer, could it?  If we are teachable it is evidence that we love knowledge and want the truth.  If we hate correction the Bible says WE ARE STUPID!  I don’t know about you but I really don’t want to be stupid.  I want to be like clay in the potter’s hands – pliable and moldable.  I want the Holy Spirit to be able to shape my life into that which God desires so I can be a vessel of honor to the Lord.  I realize that I am an earthen vessel and flawed at best but I don’t want to magnify it by being stupid too.

Some people are just not teachable.  It is their way or the highway.  I’ve known people in the pews and in the pulpit that would seek God’s blessings on their plans rather than seek God’s plans.  They envision themselves as being so valuable to God that He would probably resign if they were not there to help Him.  They have little to no tolerance for any opinion other than their own and are rigid in their approach to that which they desire to do or be done.

I have also known people that are so teachable and love instruction that they are like sponges soaking up whatever correction and knowledge is offered.  They constantly seek to be better and never take, correction as the rejection of their person but as a tool to help them become honed and shaped into a more perfect vessel in Christ’s Body.  One is a joy to work with the other a pain in the neck.

So if you want to walk a more complete Christian life and experience the companionship of the Holy Spirit cultivate a desire for instruction.  Reject the tendency to personalize correction.  If we can view correction as something that God is allowing to be presented to us to reveal potential or real kinks in our armor we will grow in grace.  In so doing we will demonstrate a kind of character that will attract others to the God within us and enable us to reach those we have not heretofore reached.

So as you go through this day seek instruction and refuse to be stupid!  Blessings!

 

NOT FOR US, BUT FOR US…

Spiritual Blog - Power

Acts 1:6-8 – “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  NASU

Sometimes God says things by not saying things and communicates a wealth of knowledge and truth therein.  Here in the first chapter of Acts, we find the disciples asking the question that caused problems among the twelve.  They apparently were convinced that Jesus had come to restore the kingdom to Israel in the natural and began jockeying for positions in that administration.  Their personal egos were a source of conflict.  Here they press that question asking again, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  Jesus’ answer was probably surprising to them but he, in no uncertain terms, let them know that some things were for them and some were not.  One of those was, knowing the times or epochs (seasons) which God the Father has reserved for Himself and has not seen fit to share that at this point.  Jesus seemed to be attempting to put to rest the question and direct their attention to what was for them.

After He informed them that that information belonged to the Father He said, “BUT….”  That was an indicator that although the other “was not for them” the next statement would reveal what “was for them.”  I don’t know if they sat up on the edge of their seats or not but they should have.  This would be incredible.  This would be a revelation of the highest order.  This would impact their lives in ways possibly never dreamed of.  He said, “but you will receive power…”  He did not say you may receive power but YOU WILL receive power.   “…when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”  There would be something recognizable that was going to, happened and one of the things would be POWER – SPIRITUAL POWER.  Out of that power would come, a harvest of epic proportions.  Out of that “energia” of the Holy Spirit, they would take the Message of Jesus to the world.  He began at the center and worked His way out in addressing where they would take this gospel.  I’ve often thought if we cannot take this message to our Jerusalem how can we take it to the remotest part of the earth?

The conviction required to convince someone that they are lost and draw them to God can only come through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus identified that as ‘power’.  In Mark and other places He identified that they would not just preach but heal the sick, cast out demons, and work miracles through this POWER.  The Holy Spirit was identified as a Comforter, a Companion, and a Teacher.  He would be a guide and a defense for them and He is for us.  We need to earnestly seek that which is for us and leave the other in the hands of the Father.  We do not need to know when Jesus is coming back when He is restoring the kingdom or any of that.  We do need to focus on what is “for us” and that is the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT.  That is the Great Commission.  That is the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the earth.  That is exercising the power of the Spirit of God and walking in the fullness of the Promises of God.  That is for us!  That brings heaven to earth in individual lives in a way that impacts everyone around us.

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

FOCUSED ON THE WRONG THING…

Spiritual Blog - Focus

Matthew 15:10-11, 15-20 – “After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand.  11 “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”  15 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also?  17 “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?  18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  19 ” For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  20 “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” NASU

 Jesus was dealing with man-made traditions and the legalism of the Pharisees when He made this statement.  It highly offended the Pharisees because of all their laws, rules, and regulations.  They were very much a “touch not” and “taste not” society on virtually every level of life including what they ate or refused to eat.  Jesus’ words indicate that too often we are focused on the wrong things in life.  His teaching covers so much more than food but sometimes we miss that part.

You can eat some things that while they are not forbidden by God that will most assuredly harm your health.  They won’t keep you out of heaven but might help you get there earlier than you would have otherwise.  That is a choice you have to make for yourself.

Here Jesus gives clarity to his statement and identifies what comes out of the heart – evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders.  He is identifying that out of the heart, the core of the being, the spring of your thoughts, is what produces the defilement not what you eat.  We know that it is out of the abundance or what the heart is filled with that a man speaks.  (Luke 6:45)  By and large, what you hear people saying identifies what is in and the condition of the heart.  I listen to what people talk about and how they talk to help me understand who and what they are.  The heart will reveal itself and the mouth, the eyes, the thoughts, and actions will give evidence as to what is inside.

So I encourage you that instead of focusing on man-made rules, regulations, and ceremonies focus on the heart and in that make the focus of the heart God.  It is imperative that we “seek first and foremost” the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.  If you carefully read that passage you will realize that the Kingdom and the King are inseparable.  If we have the King we have the Kingdom.

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