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CHECK YOUR HEARING

 

When God verbally revealed Himself to Peter, John, and James on the Mount of Transfiguration, there was an urgency to His words.  As the disciples had left their livelihood to follow Jesus, they evidenced a real lack of understanding when it came to the working of faith.  Much of their response to Jesus’ directions was shrouded by their own minds.    When Jesus was refused housing in a Samaritan village, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume those rejecters.  Jesus rebuked them for not knowing what manner of spirit they were of. (Luke 9:54-55)   When Peter rebuked Jesus for saying the cross awaited Him, Jesus countered by telling him that his mind was not on the things of God, but on man’s desire. (Mt. 8:33)  There were other times Jesus shared about His crucifixion but the disciples used the opportunity to debate among themselves who was the greatest. (Mark 9:34, Luke 22:24) There are many other illustrations that show the lack of the Disciples understanding.  What transpired on the Mount of Transfiguration was God saying enough is enough.  They needed to start hearing what Jesus was saying.  Hear is the word that means to give audience and to understand.  Jesus’ ministry was quickly moving toward the Cross and time was of an essence. The Disciples needed to “grow up” and start maturing.

The next day the four of them descended from the mountain and encountered a large crowd that was confronting His disciples.  A father had asked the Disciples to cast out an evil spirit from his son, but they had failed.  Jesus, looking over the crowd and especially His Disciples, made a statement that should have shocked the Disciples.  He simply said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I suffer you?” (Matthew 17:17)  Jesus was saying that after all those months their faith was almost non-existent.  He simply wondered how long He would have to put up with their unbelief. (Matthew 17:20)  Jesus was not addressing the seeking father, who had not had the opportunity to fellowship with Jesus, but the Disciples, who needed to understand His authority.

If there ever is a time that God needs to speak to His disciples, it is now.  We need to hear Him say, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, HEAR HIM.”  How much do we understand about the Kingdom of which we are a part?  Are we recognizing how God is working in the different situations in the kingdoms of this world?  Do we doubt who Jesus is when we feel the waves are too high or the wind too strong?  Do we understand what spirit we are of?  Do we understand the difference between our desires and His?  When someone needs a touch from the Lord, do we have the faith to respond as God directs?

If the disciples today will learn to hear what Jesus truly said and is saying we will truly see the Kingdom of God displayed in power and might!  Jesus said again and again, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Do we have hearing ears?

QUICK FIX WITH STRANGE FIRE

 

Emotional expressions of Christians are usually an evidence of the harmony of the soul and spirit.  When Believers are obedient to God’s Word, the window to the spirit is opened and a spiritual satisfaction flows upward causing the mind to to be renewed.  Whenever this dualistic nature of man harmonizes, the body becomes the outward evidence of contentment.  What we have than is the unblemished characteristic of a true Believer.  So many Sunday worship services are forced expressions that are exhibited to generate a feeling of excitement.  One cannot entice the Holy Spirit to move within the assembly by simply generating fleshly emotions.  We can holler, jump, dance, and shout hoping that God will evidence Himself in our midst, but unless our motives are pure, we have actually driven the Spirit further from our gathering.

The lifting of our hands and voices to God, as an outward expression of worship, is to be offered as a result of our service and obedience.  When we fail to live and share the Word, there develops a spiritual stagnation that affects our attitudes and behavior.  Our incomplete actions take a toll on our happiness and contentment.   Helping to fight off our wounded conscience, we hobble into our place of worship to acquire a quick “spiritual fix.”  Craving to “feel” the presence of the Lord, we allow our minds to control the experience.  The more the spirit has been neglected, the greater the opportunity for the mind to control the worship experience.  What happens is that the flesh generates emotions that counterfeit a true spiritual movement.  The louder the music, the longer the service, the misuse of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the carnal testimonies: all contribute to generate “strange fire.” (Lev. 10:1)  People will leave their “sanctuaries” with a temporary sense of fulfillment.

The real proof of the authenticity of our worship experience is what happened during the past week.  Did we show a readiness to avenge any disobedience?  Did we come to the place that even though we didn’t feel God’s presence, we knew He was there?  Did our problems become opportunities for spiritual growth?  Did we experience a renewed hunger for the things of God?  Were we ready to express the hope of our calling to those seeking real Truth?  Did our Bible study and prayer life take precedence over TV and our other carnal activities?

As we study Scripture, we see God’s displeasure with those who profess to love Him, but fail to show their love.  The book of Malachi contains God’s displeasure with those who confess to be His followers, yet exhibit an inconsistent behavior.  God sees and hears what we do and say every day of our lives.  There is nothing that escapes His notice.  As we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, God is there to receive our offerings.  If we have been a blessing to others, we have also been a blessing to God.  If we have been of service to others, we have been of service to God.  If we have loved others as God has loved us, we have loved God.  If we have obeyed God’s Word, we have shown our obedience to Him.  If, on the other hand, we have neglected to live a life of a servant and have served our own desires instead of His, then our praise and worship is an offense unto God.  God is offended when we gather with other Believers and express our love for Him with no thought of how we failed to please Him during the week.

Instead of waiting for a Sunday experience to try and relieve our guilty conscience, let us serve Him daily, and then with a pure conscience, let us worship Him as He is meant to be worshipped!  Instead of hoping God will show up at our next worship experience, let us bring Him with us, and together with other Believers, we will understand what is true worship.

SURVIVING BOOT CAMP

After the calling of the Disciples, Jesus would lead them through a three year “boot camp” in which they would learn how to function as true disciples.  Throughout their “hands on training” there were times of testing in which Jesus would gauge their understanding and responses to different situations.  To our amazement, we see them continually falling short of their prescribed goals.  One such test was during their trip to the country of the Gadarenes.   One day, Jesus said to His men, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.” (Luke 8:22)  Modern day teaching takes this experience and centers on the purpose of the trip being to set a man free from the torments of evil spirits.  One of the problems with that interpretation is that the people known as the Gadarenes were part of an area engulfed in Greek culture.  The people of this region were not Jewish.  The raising of pigs for commercial benefits would also shed some light on their ethnicity.  Jesus had made it clear that His calling was to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 15:24)  He had commanded His disciples not to go to anyone outside the Jewish faith. (Matt. 10:5, 6)  To go to this area with the intent to heal the demoniac would bring conflict to His ministry as well as causing confusion to His disciples.  Jesus did bring deliverance to the demon possessed man because the situation presented itself, but to say He purposely journeyed to the land of the Gadarenes to heal the man is missing the real point.  Jesus had told the Disciples at Capernaum that they were going to take a boat ride to the other side of the lake.  No destination was discussed.  What was about to happen was a testing of their faith.

How would the disciples respond to this life threatening experience on the Sea of Galilee?  Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat when a storm of great magnitude came upon them.  Instead of batting down the hatches they woke Jesus and cried out, “Master, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Jesus then arose and rebuked the wind and a great calm engulfed them.  He then asked them why they were so fearful.  “How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)  In fact, they feared all the more and questioned among themselves what manner of man Jesus was that the wind and the sea obeyed Him. (Mark 4:41) They failed the test!  Maybe they learned a valuable lesson….or did they?  It is interesting to note that a few months later they were in a similar situation, but this time Jesus was not with them.  While in their boat being tossed about with the contrary winds, Jesus came near them, walking on the water.  They thought He was a ghost and cried out in fear.  Jesus immediately talked to them and said, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” Mark 6:50) The Bible says they were amazed beyond measure, and wondered.  Another failing grade!  One of the Gospels even described the role Peter played in this incidence.  When Jesus identified Himself, Peter yelled out that if it was truly Him, to let him walk on the water to Him.  Jesus granted his request and Peter briefly walked on the water, only to sink a few feet from the boat.  Jesus caught him and simply said, “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31)  Another failed grade!

I have always desired to experience more of God’s love and to be entrusted with the things of His Kingdom.  Sometimes I would catch glimpses of what He was “seeing,” and then respond with actions that would defy human reasoning.  There were also times that my vision was limited to only what my natural eyes could see, and as a result I only saw the results of Satan’s workings.  What I was failing to understand was that for me to grasp the things of the Kingdom, I needed to learn how to deal with the negative situations in life.  When I am in a storm, I need to refocus and see Him in the storm, for He is truly in control!  When I don’t feel His presence during tumultuous times, I need to look out and seeing Him walking on water.  When He tells me to come to Him, I need to keep my eyes on Him and not on the problems of life.  I used to fear taking exams, but that was due to my lack of preparation.  When I studied and prepared myself, there was no option to fail.  It is the same thing with our spiritual tests.  If we have not prepared ourselves by praying and studying the Word, there will be questionable responses to life’s challenges; but if we have done our homework, we will be more than conquerors!

There is so much to learn about God and His Kingdom.   Let us look forward to the times of testing, for out of it all, we will experience the amazing Grace of God.

(Note:  December 4th, “Simply Rhetorical 2″ will make its debut.  It is a verse by verse teaching of I Timothy.  The main site, “Simply Rhetorical” will continue publishing articles on Mondays.  There is a  tag on SR through which you can access SR2.)

THE RELEVANT CHURCH

Why is it that the Church feels it has to be more relevant to be effective to an ever changing society? There seems to be a popular consensus that if the Church will present a more updated version of Scriptural truths, there will be a greater potential for numerical growth.  The theory is that if there is a relevance to the changing of society’s ethics and morals, there will be a greater interest in the message.  I have seen doctrines that have held a prominent position in the Church watered down, and even eliminated, to appear to offer a more “worship friendly” environment.  Teachings that were once sacred have been so altered that the salt has lost its savor.  For some reason, people believe that the message must change with the culture.  Whenever the Church alters the message to fit the “itching ears generation” we have done a great disservice, not only to the individual, but to God Himself.  To make the message more “hearer friendly” is to open the door to a spiritual drought. The Church must present the Word of God as God intended, no matter how it might be accepted or rejected by the reader or hearer.

Some people are quick to play their “get out of jail card” when they have knowingly been in conflict with the Word of God.  Statements such as, “I am not perfect” or “I am a work under construction,” are emphasized with, “God forgives me!”  It is true God does forgive, but when we try to erase our unbiblical behavior by saying, “God understands me and knows I am trying,” is to make a mockery of God’s Word.  Instead of looking for escape clauses through contemporary preaching and teaching, let us look for ways to comply with His Word.  Instead of searching the Word for Scriptures with which we will be comfortable, let the Word search our hearts with the Truth that sustains us through the challenges of life.

Inner conflict arises when we know what Biblical Truth is, yet we fail to express it through actions.  For years, I have heard people say they know what they should do but situations do not allow for its implementation.  What it comes down to is not rocking the boat of horizontal relationships.  We are more concerned with what others think instead of what God says.  When are we going to learn that God wants us to live an abundant life, and that is through living a life based upon His Word?  The Bible is not something we scan looking for selected verses that can fit into our comfort zones; rather, it is the anointed Word of God that will lead us into a life of spiritual fulfillment.  It is not a question of how others might respond to our Biblical actions, but are we in pursuit of hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”

Let us distinguish between speaking the Word of God and being a living example of God’s Word.  What we do with Biblical truths will speak louder than our words.  The problem is that we fail to exhibit these Truths.  Let us look at Biblical obedience as a tool of outreach.  Whenever we act on the Word of God, we release the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us.  Let us realize that our obedience brings opportunities to expand the Gospel.  Instead of anticipating negative responses to our actions, let us look for positive reactions.

CAN YOU REMEMBER?

I wonder how many people can respond with certainty as to what their Pastor preached last Sunday.  Have we replaced our ears with our feet as we go out in our communities to share what we have been taught?  Are we promoting the Truth through our actions, both personally and socially?

To some people, the application of the “sermon” is of no significance.  The attending of the obligatory Sunday morning “only” service fulfills the duty of every “certified” Christian; at least, that is a popular consensus.  By making a regular physical appearance at our pre selected place of worship, we show others that we are Christians, and after all, isn’t that what it is all about?  Tragically, this seems to be the mind set of a growing number of attendees.  Jesus addressed this issue during His earthly ministry.  He likened a group of people that simply heard the Word as those who built their house on sand.  On the other hand, there were those who did something with His Word and these He likened to those who built their house on a rock. (Matthew 7:24-27)  Each of these people experienced a life threatening storm. The difference was that those who built on a solid foundation were able to ride out the storm, while those who built on the sandy foundation lost everything. The way to determine the validity of our confession is how we respond to the everyday challenges in life.  A person, who just hears the Word, will trip, stumble, and fall during pressures in their life, while a “worker” of God’s Word will walk into a problem with the confidence and assurance of victory.  The “hearers” of the Word are people who are serious about their faith.  These are the people who carry their Bibles into the Christian assemblies with the purpose to learn under the Pastor whom God has called.  These are the people who take notes from the sermon so they can study more in depth.  These are the people who, when they get home from “church” will discuss the message with their family.  These are the people who after they have digested the “sermon,” will decide how to implement the teaching.  These are the people that will make a difference in their community.  These are the people who know how to stay focused on Kingdom living.  What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?

I have noticed over the years that the people who continually ask for prayer are usually those who have neglected to put into action what they heard from the pulpit/lectern.  I am amazed at the number of attendees who have spent a life time in “church” and yet are still in spiritual diapers.  What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?  I am amazed how much carnality is being displayed in the “church.”  When Believers should be teaching others, they are in need of having to be taught again. (Hebrews 5:12)  If we would take serious the instructions we receive on Sundays or Saturdays there would be no moral, ethical or societal crisis in America.  What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?  I have noticed how many Christians remember what they have heard or read from the secular media, but fail to remember what the Pastor preached and illustrated from the Word. What is even more amazing is how Christians are ready and able to pass on the world’s news instead of the “good news.”  When are we going to take serious the heeding of God’s Word?  The preaching of the Word is not to make us spiritually fat, but to make us spiritually fit. What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?  Hearing the Word proclaimed without having a commitment to service can bring dissatisfaction with our faith.  Spiritual lukewarmness comes when we do not obey God’s Word.  We can go to “church” every week, but if we do not have a resolve to put into practice what we heard, we have deceived ourselves.  (James 1:22) What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?

REACTIONARIES OR INITIATORS

 

Are Believers reactionaries or initiators? Are we responders or expounders?  Do we rely on secularist to define the issues of the day or do we promote the agenda that God desires?  Why do we wait for the world to challenge our faith before we take any action?  Why does it seem we are so oriented to defending our beliefs instead of presenting our faith?  As Believers, what is our objective, to condemn those of the world or to commend them to the One who made the world?  I believe the best answer to those who challenge the foundation of our faith is to present the Founder of our faith.  We must never let non-believers determine what parts of our Faith need to be addressed.  When we get baited into responding to their agendas, we have fallen into a trap that will lead us away from tasks to which God has called us.

Recently the Mayor of a large American city issued an order that certain pastors release their sermon notes to her office.  This was a response to what she felt was an attack on a proposed law that would give certain rights to those with a different sexual orientation.  The order to surrender the different forms of communiqués was sent to five pastors. To many Christians, this was the dropping of the gauntlet and a challenge to the very foundation of their faith.  Churches throughout the country rose up with fleshly indignation to respond to this flagrant assault against God and religious freedom.  As Christians flocked to Houston to reinforce the “beleaguered” pastors, the Gospel message, once again, became an after thought.  Satan wants Believers to major on issues instead of presenting the Grace of God.  Issues divide, Grace unites.  The Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but to make sexual orientation a major issue is to miss the point.  We must stop majoring on what is sinful and start emphasizing the love of God.  Don’t misunderstand; there will be a time when sin and its consequences must be presented, but not before a person is introduced to God through Jesus Christ.  Is the Christian community determined to destroy its opponents or win them over?  I am convinced that the “Houston Five” could have handled the situation with the Mayor without any outside help.  Some will say that if we don’t take a stand on certain issues, we are denying our faith.  To me, denying our faith is when we react to secular bullies with emotional responses.  It is when we choose to be reactionaries instead of presenters of God’s Grace.  When the world baits us into defending what we believe, they have succeeded in drawing us away from God’s directive. The worldly person can’t understand the principles of God’s Word, yet we continue to quote Scripture that tells him what he is doing is wrong.  Pulpits hammer away against homosexuality, while the choruses of “amens” shake the rafters.  We then sit in our homes and watch with a sense of disgust as more and more homosexuals dominate the media’s rhetoric.  We must change our thinking.  Invite, instead of incite, the one who does not know God and His love to church next week.

Let every Believer reach out with the Gospel message.  Do not let the world determine our agendas.  Let us not be pulled into defending our faith to a faithless generation, for all they will do is ridicule and misinterpret what we say.  Instead of being defensively offensive, let us learn to reach out with the objective of sharing the Gospel.  The only issue we should be concerned with is, “Do they know Jesus?” Amen?

THE INNER WORKING OF A BELIEVER

 

Paul, writing to his spiritual son Timothy, listed the foundational basis for being a true representative of God’s Kingdom: love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and unfeigned (sincere) faith. (I Timothy 1:4)  Paul encouraged Timothy to exhibit these characteristics.  The Apostle had left Timothy in Ephesus to oversee the young church.  He knew that the new converts would be susceptible to different kinds of teachings and ministry.  Timothy was to make sure that any teachings would not be out of line with Paul’s exhortations.  Paul warned Timothy that any doctrines that produced questions that would fail to edify the hearer, should be avoided.  Paul knew there would be legalist who would teach things they did not understand themselves.  They would take the Law and with their “vain jangling” bring confusion to the hearers. (I Timothy 1:3-7)

Paul said that effective leadership starts with a pure heart.  We could apply this same formula to all Believers. Before we can become an instrument of God’s Grace, we must have a clean and clear heart.  It is a love for others that is promoted by God’s presence within us.  David would cry out, “Create in me a clean heart O God…” (Ps. 51:10)  The Bible says God is Love and, when God dwells within us, His love will flow out of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16)  The Believer’s life is a life of giving!

Every so often I take on the task of cleaning my office and throwing away things that have outlived their usefulness.  I have to admit it is a struggle, not knowing what to throw away and what to keep, but when I am finished, I feel so much better.  One day I thought about the contents of my heart.    Were there things that were hindering me from being what God wanted me to be?  I asked my Heavenly Cardiologist to search me and know my heart. (Ps.139:23)  I asked Him to remove anything that was blocking my lifeline to Him.  As God performed open heart surgery on me, I felt I had been given an added dimension to life.  The result of these eliminations was that I experienced a greater love for others out of a pure heart!

The second ingredient to being a successful leader, as well as a Believer, is to possess a clear conscience.  We may present ourselves in many different ways, but we know who we really are.  We may fool people into believing we have everything under control, when in fact we are out of control.  We may exhibit a strong spiritual presence, when in reality the label on our conscience reads “hypocrite.” We may claim to love one another, but in reality we are judging each other.  We may be able to fool a lot of people, but our conscience will always reveal to us who we really are.  We may resist hearing or reading the Word because it may expose our flaws.  But no matter how we try to run away from the Truth, our conscience will make sure we understand our true condition.  I believe the conscience can serve as the contact point between us and the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit can become the guide to Truth through our conscience. To respond to God’s Truth by way of our conscience is to experience having a good conscience.

Finally, we must have sincere (unfeigned) faith.  We can talk about the faith we have, but the evidence of its reality is how we live.  Verbalizing and singing about faith does not constitute sincere faith.  It is when we are facing trials and challenges that we walk by genuine faith and not by sight.  It is coming to the point where faith overshadows anything that tries to counter God’s Grace.  Let us learn with Timothy how to walk with a pure heart and a clean conscience while showing sincere faith.

IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

 

Every Christian knows the importance of sharing the Truth with others, especially those outside the faith.  When we scan the horizon we are aware that the fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35), but we are equally aware there are so few reapers. (Luke 10:2)  It is easy to talk about our faith with other Believers, but when it comes to sharing the Truth with non-believers, it’s another story.  Engaging someone in a spiritual conversation that has no desire to hear the Truth can be a daunting task.  One of the reasons some of us are timid in sharing our faith is that we are ill prepared to present the Gospel.  In other words, we are not familiar enough with Scripture to supply the recipient with the right incentive to change his thinking.  Every Believer needs to study the Bible and be ready to share his faith through the written Word. (I Peter 3:15)  Another reason for timidity in sharing is that sometimes our life is a walking contradiction to the Word.  We have the right words, but our behavior does not line up with what we are promoting.  If we are not practicing what we want to present, how can anyone take us seriously?  When judgment, instead of Grace, flows out of our mouth, we will achieve the opposite of our intention.  The Bible tells us to be gentle with people. (II Timothy 2:24)  Sometimes we wield a two edged sword cutting out those who disagree with us and wounding those who need to hear the Truth.

Hell is a very real place, but that should not be the flag of warning that leads the Christian army into the fields of the unsaved.  It is true that when one rejects Jesus Christ there is no alternative to Hell, but to use the consequences of sin to bring people into the Kingdom of God is like putting the cart before the horse.  Fear of Hell does not save an individual.  Salvation is brought about by the love of God. (John 3:16)  We need to stop pointing our fingers of judgment at individuals.  Instead, let us point to God who offers an abundant life to all who would accept His Son.  Instead of leveling a spiritual gun in the face of the unsaved, let us with compassion present the spiritual gift of God’s saving power.  If we cannot learn to present the Truth in meekness and patience (II Timothy 2:25), it would be better that we sit on the sidelines and pray for those who know how to be led by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we display a fleshly attitude that dwarfs our spiritual knowledge.  It is displayed as arrogance and pride.  Not only is it seen by the world, but it is witnessed by fellow Believers that have a view of the Scriptures different from ours.  Paul stressed in his writings how he became like the unregenerate Jews and those without the Word so as to win them over. (I Corinthians 9:20,21)  Let us not stand on our pinnacles and reign down judgments; rather, let us sit with the lost, and with a gentle spirit teach them with patience the wonderful Words of life.

What it comes down to is that we must stop depending on our feelings.  We must prepare for our encounters with the world by studying the Word. (II Tim. 2:15)  We must remember we are only an instrument that God uses to reach the unsaved.  Let us present ourselves before Him and then let the Holy Spirit use us to God’s glory!

THE EMOTION CALLED ANGER

 

Anger is an emotion that is expressed much more frequently than we care to admit.  All of us have sometime or other ventilated a barrage of words and expressions that have caused our peers, and even family members, to retreat to a place of safety.  Anger that is exhibited from a Believer tends to have not only external ramifications, but also internal effects.  We have seen anger demonstrated from non-Christians, but to see it displayed from Believers is both puzzling and confusing.  Is it normal for a follower of Christ to express anger?  Is it a sign of spiritual weakness when it is displayed?

The Bible says that we can become angry, but are warned not to allow that anger to reach a level in which it becomes sin. (Ephesians 4:26)  The word “anger” here means to “provoke or enrage, to become exasperated.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)  Whenever something or someone provokes or causes either spiritual or personal discomfort, it is normal to have displays of displeasure.  But to personalize it toward the one who antagonizes is to enter a very dangerous area.  One of the qualifications of a Bishop is that he is “not soon angry.” (Titus 1:7)  Whenever someone’s emotion is quickened by the shortness of their fuse, the door to the arena of sin is opened.  A Believer must exhibit a great deal of tolerance when it comes to areas of frustration.   The Bible warns against letting the day end without putting “anger” to bed. (Ephesians 4:26b)  Whenever we let anger stay active during our time of sleep, the subconscious will be a breeding ground for tomorrow’s attitude.  If we have not dealt with anger before we lay down, there is a good chance our rest will be anything but restful.  Anger must never be directed at an individual.  When we display anger at another person, we have opened the door to other emotions that can promote disharmony and hurt.

The Scripture tells us that in a certain Synagogue Jesus experienced a confrontation with a number of Pharisees who were exhibiting religious hypocrisy.  They were waiting for Jesus to break one of the rules of Judaism.  On this particular day, there was a man who had a withered hand and everyone watched to see if Jesus would attempt to heal him.  Jesus asked the religious hypocrites a question, to which they did not respond.  The Bible says Jesus then became angry and grieved at the hardness of their hearts. (Mark 3)  There were two other occasions where Jesus expressed Himself with an aggressive action.  Twice Jesus cleansed the Temple with a display of physical energy that caused the money changers to make a hasty retreat.  Jesus was not evidencing a fleshly anger, but a religious indignation against the desecration of God’s House.  The Temple had become a “house of merchandise” and a “den of thieves” instead of a House of Prayer. (John 2; Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19)  I wonder what Jesus thinks of merchandizing in His Father’s house today?  In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus made it clear that there would be accountability if someone “continues” to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him. (Amplified Translation)  There is a difference between carnal anger and spiritual anger.  One steps away from the Faith boundary with a resolve to bring satisfaction to a wounded ego, while the other stays within Faith’s parameter to defend the Kingdom of God.  A Believer can become angry at a system, but not at the person who is being used to assault the Faith.  Fleshly (carnal) anger takes the situation out of God’s hands and places it in man’s control.  Spiritual anger puts the situation in God’s hands and judgment is displayed through the Believer.

Sometimes fleshly (carnal) anger is displayed toward ourselves.  We become frustrated by our failure to overcome certain challenges.  If that anger would stay self centered, there would be limited damage, but we usually take it out on the ones we love.  There is also misdirected carnal anger that finds the individual confronting God.  God is blamed for certain tragedies that have been experienced or witnessed.  Carnal anger (uncontrolled) has severe consequences that will have not only a negative effect on the initiator, but also on the lives of others.  Spiritual anger (controlled) propels one into a representative action, and is directed by the Holy Spirit.  Let us never allow the emotion of anger to control us; rather, let us learn through the Holy Spirit how to control anger.

THE EMOTION CALLED FEAR

 

Fear is basically a painful reaction to situations that could potentially challenge one’s   stability.  It is brought about by speculating on the negative and its possible ramifications.  Whenever there is an experience in which we are not able to respond in a positive and controlling way, we have opened the door to the emotion called fear.  Fear is anticipating the worse.  Fear is a seed that, if watered, will produce apprehension and alarm.

To understand fear and its ramifications, we need to look at the Old Testament and a man named Job.  Job was blessed with unfathomable wealth.  He had everything that life could offer.  One day it all began to crumble.  Within hours, he lost all his oxen, asses, camels, and sheep.   All but four of his servants were killed.  A natural catastrophe  killed all his children.  Job became afflicted with physical problems.  In the midst of these tragedies, his wife’s only response was for Job to curse God and die. (Job 1:13-2:9)

One of the most alarming aspects of these tragedies was the roll Job unknowingly played prior to the actual events.  Job made the statement, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” (Job 3:25)  What was Job afraid of?  What had he greatly feared?  His life was so full and complete.  What was there to be fearful of?  Could he have been entertaining thoughts that he might some day lose everything he had acquired?  Suppose his health would fail him?  What about the threat of a foreign invasion and the taking of his land?   What about disease infecting his live stock.  What about droughts or storms that would wipe out his crops?  What he was doing was creating something out of nothing.  We do the same thing today.  We worry about losing our job.  What if cancer becomes a reality?  What if we don’t have the money to pay the bills?  Will we have enough money to retire on?  These types of fears open the flood gates to debilitating emotions.  Fear can be so strong that some are immobilized and retreat into the hidden confines of their own selves.

Jesus continually commanded His followers not to fear. When Jesus called Peter away from fishing, He told him not to fear his new calling (fishing for men).  He told His disciples not to fear what people could do to them.  They were not to fear being without the every day necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter.  In the midst of storms and calamities they were not to be afraid.  They were to simply walk in faith, trusting Him. Jesus is the same today as He was before.  Let us give no thought of tomorrow for He will be there.

Fear is elevated to a place of prominence when we take our eyes off God and fasten them on the negative.  Job was a perfect candidate for Satan to release his barrage of chaos.  Job had already prepared the soil by his speculative fear, so that when the tragedies happened they would take a heavy toll on him.  We know the book of Job was a unique situation that entailed a challenge from God to Satan.  But the principle of experiencing life by dwelling on negative thoughts was a real part of Job’s life.  When fear presents itself, we must recognize its objective and counter it with our faith in God and His Word.