CHURCH IMMIGRATION

The forming of an immigration policy for our great country is causing speculations to abound with mind boggling speed.  The arguments on both sides of the issue are inundated with limited facts and knowledge.  The media adds to the confusion by presenting interpretive analyses.  When one sees the vast number of the oppressed, who are seeking to escape the reality of war and poverty, we cannot turn our head in indifference.  Yet, at the same time, we cannot be ignorant to the potential threat from those who are determined to maim and destroy our socio/economic and political system.  This issue should not be a political divide, but a unified quest to find the answer for the displaced multitudes seeking a meaningful existence, while at the same time, creating a way to weed out those seeking harm to our Country.

There is also another immigration issue that has been largely ignored, and that is the “open door policy” of the Church.  Participation and eventual membership in the diversified Church has been an easy road to travel.  To those seeking deliverance from the sin filled world, the Church offers itself as a “sanctuary city” where people can be secure from the “deportation” policy of Satan’s kingdom.  It is through Jesus Christ, by the Cross and His Resurrection, that man can be a part of the Kingdom of God.  What a wonderful message for the world to hear!  The Church must recognize their pilgrimage and be ready and willing to offer them the peace that passes all understanding.  BUT, the Church must also be aware of those who seek affiliation with no intent for peace, but aim to disrupt and divide the Church.  The infiltration of the Body of Christ by the “enemies of the Cross” (Philippians 3:18) is so wide spread, that the effectiveness of the Church is brought into question.  Many of these “illegals” begin as attendees and slowly climb the ladder of service to positions of trust.  Sunday school teachers, Board members, and even Pastoral positions lay exposed to the ungodly.  Soon “strange fire” (Leviticus 10:1) and doctrines are introduced to the faithful hearers.  Jude, in his epistle, warned about ungodly people who crept into the Church unnoticed. (Jude 1:4)  As one searches the Scriptures, one will become readily aware of how many verses warn of the “illegal aliens” invading the Church. (II Corinthians 11: 13-15 e.g.)  Gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, grumbling, complaining, will seep into the very fiber of the Church.  Bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, lust, arrogance, and the works of the flesh will become an evidence of a church that has lost its direction.  Schisms and divisions will lead to yet greater cracks in the Church’s foundation.

People hate to hear the negative, but for the Church to ignore the assault against the very core of our beliefs is to guarantee an ineffectiveness in carrying out God’s calling.  While the Church basks on selective truths, Satan sends his soldiers to dilute the Truth through deception.  Jude stressed the importance of seriously contending for the faith. (Jude 1:3)  For the enemy to succeed, all the Church needs to do is to ignore the Biblical warnings and continue the way it is going.

So what should we do?  Should there be a vetting system?  Should there be qualifications for not only membership but for attending the local church as well?  Should there be references solicited for the potential attendee?  How far should the Church go to ensure its security?  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to help the Believer be effective in his mission.  One of the Gifts is the Discerning of spirits. (I Corinthians 12:10)  This gift is essential to recognizing and identifying threats to the Church.  We must never confuse this Gift with judging.  This is a supernatural discerning of the spiritual world.  When this Gift is in operation, it will be very difficult for an armed aggressor to enter into an active role in the Church.  Those with spiritual authority will be able to recognize “illegals” and, if their actions are a threat to the church, the leaders should take the necessary action to remove them from the fellowship.  They are welcome to be an attendee, but never to hold a position of trust, at least not until they have had a life changing experience with Jesus Christ.  Sadly, so many churches do not believe in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and as a result continue to have “open boarders.” The Church must not be naïve to the challenges that face its existence.  We must shore up our boarders or expect a greater erosion of Truth.

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GETTING IN SYNC

Whenever I visit a church for a Sunday worship experience, I find myself scanning the congregants trying to get a read on how they are reacting to the “worship” experience.  I know I should keep my triune man focused on the purpose of the gathering, but dealing with my curiosity of how people are responding to the message is hard to resist.   Basically the faces of individuals display their ongoing thought patterns.  From boredom to intense interest the minds of the recipients evolve around the presented word.  To some, there is little understanding.  To others it is a rejuvenating of the mind.  To still others, it a process of thinking with a determination to understand spiritual matters.  What I see in the faces of so many Christians is emptiness, a void of truly grasping what is being presented.  Yet their seat in the church will continue to be occupied, for that is what they are programmed to do.  I know that some of the negative expressions of the hearers are justified because of the lack of anointed preaching.  Sadly, a lot of hors d’oeuvres are served instead of the main entrée to the hungry saints, which in turn fails to generate a positive response from the people.  On the flip side, when the Word is presented, many listeners are so wrapped up in the things of the world that there is little or no room for the things that really matter.  Then there are those who display expressions of joy and excitement as the Word is met with understanding.

The church of Ephesus went through a growth pattern.  They experienced everything from the characteristics of new birth to the heights of maturity.  One of the aids to their experience was the prayers Paul offered up for them.   He states that he prayed that God would give them the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” pertaining to knowing God.  He prayed that their eyes would be enlightened in understanding.   He petitioned that they would know the “hope of His calling,” and what the riches of His glory were.  He asked God that He would reveal the greatness of His power to them. (Ephesians 1:16-20)   Many times I have prayed for my spiritual brothers and sisters who do not understand His ways.  To see people attentive in body, but so inattentive in mind is a tragic reality in the Church today.  I remember in one of the churches I served, that each Sunday morning I would touch every seat in the sanctuary praying for those who would occupy that space to receive the Word with understanding.  If people are not grasping the Truth, much of the Word will fall harmlessly to the ground.  When Christians cannot comprehend the Scriptures, their life outside of the church will fail to display the Truth of the Word, and without a Christian example how will the world know the God who loves them?

So much of what Christians believe is based on the tutorial system.  They learn from religious leaders and their spiritual peers.  What they neglect to understand is that they still have an obligation to open the Bible themselves.  Much of their belief system is based on adopting “presented” truths rather than studying the Scriptures themselves.  The organizational Christian will defend his church’s doctrines to the point that they are divinely ordered and as a result are unquestionable.

The challenge that I face daily is how I can get the inactive Believers to shun their non committal attitude and renew a new hunger for the Word.  Many are so fixed in their prefab theology that they do not think there is anything more to learn, and as a result settle into a faith of status quo.  It is my prayer that God will awaken the Body of Christ.  For those who understand what the Kingdom of God is all about, let us run the race before us praying that the Church will awaken from its slumber and reestablish itself as the living Body of Christ!

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COUNT IT ALL JOY

Everything we face in life is a potential learning experience.  The trials and testing of our faith are meant to bring about growth and stability in our lives, but instead of recognizing them as such, we tend to take cover and question why these speed bumps are happening to us.  These challenges to our faith are introduced through the physical, mental, societal, financial, and spiritual arenas.  The Apostle James, who undoubtedly experienced his share of trials, revealed that when the Believer faces difficult circumstances, he should “count it all joy.” (James 1:2)  At first reading, we want to quickly find another translation that will soften the shock of his rhetoric.  What could James possibly see in the times of testing that would cause people to display total joy?  I can image how he felt when the Holy Spirit first revealed this to him.  He must have questioned how one facing a life altering situation could display joy.  Sometimes, Believers have a hard time experiencing the reality of the Word when it does not fit their understanding.  When we do not fully accept the reality of a Biblical teaching, we tend to back away by dismissing its relativity to our lives.  We must never retreat from Biblical truths.  If we don’t understand certain Scriptures, let us wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us.

The testing of our faith produces PATIENCE which, in turn, begins to work in the challenging situations that the Believer faces.  Patience helps to solidify the Believer’s faith and trust in the Lord.  Patience is not susceptible to time restraints.  The reason many Believers fall short of victory is because they are too impatient.  They want instant results and, as a result, they fail to let Patience perform its “perfect work,” which is to develop Christian character.  The longer the trial goes on, the greater the opportunity to grow in the Faith.  When patience has completed its work, the Believer will exit the trial in victory.  They will be “complete, lacking nothing.” (James 2:2-4)

During the working of Patience, there are bound to be questions that will arise pertaining to the ongoing testing.  There is nothing wrong with asking questions, as long as the objective is to reach spiritual understanding.  James tells us if we lack direction in our challenges, we should ask God for wisdom.  God is more than willing to give us this guidance.  Wisdom is not a reckless abandonment of faith, but a spiritual grasping of how to deal with our challenges.  There is a stipulation to receiving wisdom; that one must ask in faith, “with no doubting.” (James 1:5, 6)  In the middle of our testing, we must never try to find a way out, but a way through to the victory.  Patience is a road less traveled by so many Believers, yet it is the pathway to spiritual growth.  God knows that so many Christians are on the “clock,” and because of their impatience, have lost great opportunities to mature in the Faith.  We cannot have the mind of Christ and a resurrected carnal mind when it comes to facing our various trials.  The Bible states that a divided mind will result in spiritual confusion. (James 1:8)

In every major airport there is a mark along the runway that signifies a point of total commitment to the take off.  At that point, there is no aborting of the flight.  It is either lift off or crash.  Many Believers start their spiritual flight with God, but for some reason they never reach the point of total commitment.  They go along by playing church, but when the trials and tests come, they fall into feeling and emotions instead of seeing things by faith.

Our Trials are there to help us grow.  So let us say with James, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

 

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Spiritual Potpourri Part 3

* The world is looking for the difference only seen when Christ lives through us.

* The more the Believer increases in understanding, the more visible the Kingdom becomes.

* Hearing the Word is more than giving audience, it is understanding what the Word is saying.

* When we mix our tangible opinions with God’s intended Truth, we will run with our emotions instead of our faith.

* Praise is to raise up every aspect of our being in acknowledgement of His Holiness and Sovereignty.

* Worship comes out of praise.

* When our crisis situations fail to compliment our confession, we are doing more damage to the Kingdom than we are by being a silent Believer.

* One of the causes of decreased spiritual stamina is an overactive memory bank.

* One of Satan’s objectives to get Believers to realize old hurts.

* It is not a question of how bad things are; rather, how good God is!

* Maybe one of the reasons we fluctuate so much in our faith walk is because something in our belief system is out of order.

* What is our motive in worship, to feel the presence of God or to confirm His presence?

* It is not a one time acceptance of the Truth, but a continuing effort to display it.

* We may not understand everything about God, but with everything we need to trust Him.

* The validity of our confession is directly related to our actions.

* It is so easy to say, “Jesus is Lord,” but it is another thing to live like He is Lord.

* God owes us nothing, but we owe Him everything.

* Why is it so easy to accept the lies of the Devil and so hard to implement God’s Truth?

* Many of the Church doctrines are striving to be religiously, rather than scripturally, correct.

* The reason there is so much diversity in the Church is that man has been too eager to interpret the Scripture through human understanding.

* Weak faith is a result of weak reading.

* Walking with God is being in His presence without any thought of petitioning or desiring anything from Him.

*There should never be a time when feelings determine the degree of our faith.

* One of the biggest problems facing the Church today is Christians who are not following Biblical teachings.

* Split churches are usually the result of Believers who have not grown up.

* Why is it that we take the words of people more seriously than the Word of God?

*Our faces should demonstrate our faith.

* Some of the greatest blessings are experienced through faith that is evidenced by works.

* I believe that God chooses to reveal Himself through His people.  When the world cries out “Where is God?” we must stand forth and show God in us.

* If Fear and Depression have come in our front door, let Faith show them out the back door.

* There are many Believers in a self-imposed exile due to human reasoning.

* The Church must realize that the more we involve ourselves in “mirror theology” the less likely we will be involved in the needs of others.

* It seems that many Believers are talking and petitioning so much that there is little room for the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s plan for their lives.

 

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From the Historical to the Living

 

Believers must understand that just inviting people to church does not fulfill their Christian obligation of sharing the Gospel.  What is turning off the world from spiritual awareness is the church itself.  Debt ridden monuments of human ingenuity have turned off countless numbers of potential believers.  What the world needs to see is Jesus, not a buffer zone between the Savior and the people.  The lost will only see Jesus through the Believer.  If we are not living the Word there will be little of no chance for the carnal to visualize Jesus.  The Gospel is a visible, living, example of the written Word.  To simply hear the Word preached from the pulpit, will have little or no effect on the hardened heart.  What opens the heart is when the Believer exhibits the Word through his life!  Let’s take this one more step.  Once a person comes to know Jesus, he then is challenged to see God through Jesus.  This is where the problem of spiritual growth is challenged.  People stop their spiritual questing by resting on the foundational teachings of Jesus.  Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Hebrews that when Believers settle only on the “Doctrine of Christ” (principles), their spiritual maturity will suffer. Those foundational areas are, repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection and judgment. (Hebrews 6: 1, 2)  Today many churches center only on these six teachings.   Paul stated that after establishing themselves in these areas, they needed to “go on into perfection.” (Hebrews 6:1)   Failure to press on in their spiritual walk, will keep them from maturing.  The Christians that settle on the “milk” of the Word will remain unskilled in the Word, for they will lack the ability to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:13, 14)

The “milk” Believers will face the danger of falling away from the Faith due to their lack of spiritual growth.  The “deceitfulness of sin,” (Hebrews 3:13) will draw the untrained Believer away from the faith through feelings and emotions.  Paul warned about the consequences of falling away from the faith.  (Hebrews 6: 4-8)  He was not talking about backsliding, but apostasy, a complete forsaking of the Faith; body, soul and spirit.  To the “milk” Christian, they reject the concept that one can forfeit their salvation.  To support their Scriptural ignorance, they gather verses that at first reading, would seem to debunk the interpretation that one can lose their spiritual status with God.  Contextual robbery and the elasticizing of  Biblical verses has given way to a belief that once they Believe, they are in a holding pattern waiting for the Lord to come, or for them to go to Him.  Armed with that resolve, they attend a weekly gathering with other Christians and then return to the secular realm with lukewarm behavior.  With this kind of attitude one can readily surmise why the Church is not more effective in its representation of the Kingdom of God.

When a person has truly experienced God’s grace, there is a desire to dedicate ones life to accomplishing all that God has for them.  Every day is a day of opportunity to increase in the knowledge of His will.  Reading God’s Word should be as normal as breathing.  The more the Believer increases in understanding, the more visible the Kingdom becomes.  The “meat” consumer has moved from the basics of the Faith, to the reality of who they are in Christ.  They realize they are more than conquerors.  They have become what the Word of God proclaimed they could be.  These Believers are sealed by God (II Corinthians 1:21) and the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30).  Unlike the “milk” Believers, the maturing saints know that they know and nothing could ever separate them from God.

Problems abound with the weak, while Praises abound with the strong.  Feelings and emotions energize the label wearers, while faith and actions motivates the true Believer.  What are the people of the world seeing in us, Jesus, or a slightly different version of themselves?  It is time for Christians to decide whether to rest on the historical Jesus, or live a life with the resurrected Christ!

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Spiritual Potpourri Part 2

`Spiritual Potpourri  Part 2

* Revelation reveals the Word.  Reason dilutes the Word.  Faith experiences the Word.

* The problem for some saints is not with God’s capacity to forgive, but with man‘s inability to forgive himself.

* Man has evolved from Faith to sight, from worshiping and serving the Creator to honoring and desiring the created.

* Answered prayer is understanding the Word of God and praying its fulfillment.

* Always remember that Faith looks up and accepts God’s Word, while works looks out and displays the Grace of God.

* Praise is what brings us into the presence of the Lord and worship is what we do when we get there.

* Christians must start seeing beyond the problem to the answer.

* Every so often we see reverse evolution in Believers.

* Understanding is being under the tutorage of the Holy Spirit and standing on what He has taught us.

* The next time our knees hit the ground, discover His immediate will and pray the vertical prayer of agreement.

* It is amazing how with our finite minds we try to understand or explain the responses or non responses of God.

* Moses biggest problem was not Pharaoh but the Israelites.  The Pastors challenges are not the unsaved, but the saved that need renewing.

* The reason many Christians terminate their journey is because they only had a “drive through” experience based on a “super size” of emotions.

* A living epistle is exemplifying the reality of the Word.  The unsaved will read us more than they will the written Word.

* Waiting on the Lord is not assuming a position of rest; rather it is serving others.   BE A WAITER.

* When I AM calls, just answer, “Hear I am.”  When I AM chooses you for a task, don’t say, “Who am I.”  Hear Him say, “I AM through you.” (Exodus 3)

* The supernatural comes from naturally believing in Him.

* God limits His ability to our availability.

* Any set backs we experience in our spiritual walk are nothing more than set ups for us to learn more about the ways of God.

* There are differences between knowing about God and knowing God, reading about God and listening to God, acknowledging God and worshiping God.

* Let us turn our pouts into shouts, our scars into stars, our frowns into crowns, our depressions into expressions, our sadness into gladness.

* God’s permissive will is self directed, while God’s directive will is Spirit directed.  It is simply immaturity versus maturity.

* You said, others said, circumstances said, Satan said, God said, now who should we listen to?

* We must move our attention from the empty tomb to the occupied Throne, from Remembering the historical Jesus while worshiping the exalted Lord.

* When the Christian fails to keep horizontal acceptance of one another a strong priority, the revealing of God’s Word will be limited, and the Gospel will be hindered in its presentation.

* Christians need to stop expelling the carbon monoxide of negativity and breathe in the breath of God so they can share the positives of our faith.

 

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A PERSPECTIVE ON SUFFERING

The subject of suffering has presented the Believer with more questions than answers.  Suffering transcends the triune nature of man.  Our spirit, soul, and body are susceptible to the painful sensations and impressions that inflict our lives.  Is there a purpose to our sufferings?  Why do we suffer?  Is suffering a normal aspect of our life?  We know that when we deviate from God’s will, we are susceptible to wrong decisions and the consequential results.  This type of suffering is negative and harmful.  It is a debilitating experience that can lead to despair and discouragement.  Satan will use this type of suffering to question God’s love.  “If God really loves you, why does He let you suffer?”  “Why doesn’t He answer your prayers?”  Satan also loves to take situations in peoples lives and transfer the causes and results to God’s initiative.  There are also friends, and even family members, that will question our spiritual walk.  It comes down to the principle of reaping what you sowed.  There is a merit to that charge, but it does not fit all the degrees of suffering.

To give us an understanding of suffering, from a spiritual perspective, one needs to look at the last twenty four hours of Jesus’ earthly life.  From the Garden of Gethsemane, to His abuses at the hands of the Temple soldiers, and finally His crucifixion, Jesus would suffer to the very limits of human tolerance.  Before reaching the Garden, He began to display heaviness.  He would share with Peter, James, and John that He was “exceeding sorrowful unto death.” (Mark 14:33, 34)  There in the Garden, Jesus petitioned God with strong crying and tears. (Hebrews 5:7)  His suffering was so intense that droplets of blood surfaced on His face and dropped to the ground. (Luke 22:44)  Throughout this titanic struggle, it was heard by the angels and God Himself that He feared God (reverenced His sovereignty.) (Hebrews 5:7b)  When Jesus cried out that it was not His will that needed to be done, but God’s, He was learning obedience through His suffering. (Hebrews 5:8)  Obedience is the doorway to spiritual growth and fulfillment.  The Faith walk is not an easy journey.  Through our ordered steps, we will meet challenges that will try our faith to the very limits of tolerance.  There will be persecutions, both physically and mentally.  But it is through these sufferings that we will learn obedience.  One of the things that helped Jesus confront His sufferings was what He saw on the other side of the Cross.  Jesus knew that when His work was done, He would sit down at the right hand of God.  Dying to His human desires, He resolved to complete the task that God had sent Him to earth to do.

We need to look at suffering as a means of defining our faith.  Through suffering we will learn obedience.  Through suffering we will learn what prioritizing means.  Through suffering we will understand it is not our will that matters, but God’s will.  Through suffering we will truly understand God’s sovereignty.  Through suffering we will learn the true meaning of fearing God.

So many Believers fail to understand the purpose of suffering.  When we read the epistles of Paul, we are immediately aware of how he learned through suffering.   Let us identify the difference between suffering due to our mistakes and suffering as learning obedience.  I wonder how many of us have really suffered to the point of reaching beyond our own desires and learning what obedience is all about?  Sadly, many Believers have been taught a gospel that takes little or no real commitment.  Some of the greatest truths have been discovered through suffering.  Instead of demonizing suffering, let us discover what we can learn through suffering.  Paul was able to travel the road to Heaven, with the reality that it was no longer his life, but Christ that lived in him. (Galatians 2: 20)

 

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SPIRITUAL POTPOURRI Part I

 

The following are excerpts from the Blogs of Simplyrhetorical.

 

* We may love to hear the Word, but if we are not willing to experience the Word, our lives will be limited to feelings, instead of Faith.

* Prayer releases man’s will and desire to God’s attention.

* God will never ask us to do anything that will bring failure by our obedience.

* Many of the problems Believers face are a result of shuffled priorities.

* We lift up unholy hands to petition Him, rather than Holy hands to adore Him.

* When is the Church going to stop piecemealing Scripture so as to create doctrines that will exhibit the reincarnation of the Law?

* Every Believer needs 39/27 vision.  When we see things through God’s Word, it puts things in the right perspective.

* We need to stand away from the mirror and look out the window, and not only see the needs of others, but also reach out and meet those needs.

* There is a difference between speaking the Word of God and being a living example of God’s Word.  What we do speaks louder than what we say.

* Many prayers are based on emotions that are a result of fleshly responses to God’s Word.

* Let us learn that real giving is not the issuing of material things, but a giving of ourselves.

* Young people are not looking for a faith that is dressed up like the world, rather a living hope that distinguishes itself from the world.

* God is not impressed with our “weakly” attendance on Sunday.  What pleases Him is to see the strength of our daily commitment.

* There is nothing wrong with asking questions, unless they are meant to expose the ignorance in others, while promoting their own arrogance.

* As Believers, what is our objective, to condemn those of the world or to commend them to the One who made the world?

* Don’t let negative thoughts grow into obstacles by dwelling on them.

* Let us see Scripture as a way of life in which God has dictated a pattern we should use to make our lives into a duplication of His Word.

* The reason the world is failing to see the answer is because Christian are failing to live the answer.

* Weakness comes from fasting the Word.  Strength comes from feasting on the Word.

* Always remember when God calls one into service, He will not only equip that person, but will accompany him into the challenge.

* Whenever our consciousness of God is interrupted by our sleep, our subconscious continues the intimacy.

* If we don’t exhibit what we believe, let us hide in our church buildings until we are ready to practice what we say we believe.

* Faith draws the problem into defeat.

* Ignorance of the Word leads to complacency, which in turn leads to ineffectiveness for Kingdom growth.

* Download God’s revelation, upload our praise, make known His Truth.

* Jesus came down as the son of man, so that we might go up as the sons of God.

* Christmas is focusing on who was on the tree instead of seeing what is under the tree.

* The Christians should understand more than anyone else how to bring about unity.  Let it begin in the Church.

* Oh, for the strength and ability to press on to comprehend what I have been apprehended to see and experience.

* It is not the talk that brings the lost to Jesus, it is the walk.  One’s life is the drawing card to a hurting world.

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UNSOLICITED BLESSINGS

So many times Christians exhibit Christmas mentality when presenting their petitional prayers.  Prior to the December Birthday celebration, people are engaged in pursuing what someone wants for Christmas.  Children are eager to share their page-long list of things they would like.  Adults, admittedly less energetic, will drop hints as to what they could use.  Now, maybe the wish lists might find their way under the Christmas tree, but there are also some unexpected gifts that bring a surprise to the recipient.  In fact, the response to the surprise gift might generate more excitement than for the expected gift.  Many of our prayers are requests that basically pertain to our wants and desires.  When we receive our answer, we express our gratitude, and then, almost immediately, begin preparing our next list of requests.  To emphasize our needs/wants, we incorporate others to hook up with our prayers to invoke the reality of Matthew 18:19.  Answered prayer is a shot of spiritual adrenalin.  To receive an answer to prayer is a blessing and stimulus to spiritual growth.

There is another area of blessings that seems to go unacknowledged, and that is the area of unsolicited blessings.  These are acts of Grace that God gives us everyday, but we fail to recognize them.  For some reason, we tend to see God’s actions as originating only from our prayers.  If we have not asked God for intervention, we assume that whatever happens in our life is just a natural path of coincidental experiences.  When we walk with the Lord, we will see blessings abounding all around us.  When we fail to accompany the Lord during our daily routines, our blessing meters will not register His involvement in our every day activities.  God wants to be active in our lives, and to bless us, yet we fail to recognize his blessings because we are so busy with the sights and sounds of a sinful world.  We need to start being cognoscente of God’s daily activities in our lives.   Look around and see the blessings of God, they are everywhere.  When we stop centering our life on ourselves and start putting God before everything, we will witness so many blessings that we will think we are on the outskirts of Heaven.

When I look back over the years, I see more and more of God’s role in my life.  Things that I had previously thought were just coincidences were in reality God-incidences.  During my trucking days, I experienced life-saving situations that I had chocked up to my own initiatives, when, in truth, they had been God’s intervention.  So many of my decisions were, in fact, God directed.  When I began to realize how active God had been in my life, I was overwhelmed.  I remember sitting down and hitting the rewind button in my memory bank and seeing how God had been involved in my life.  All the years I had spent petitioning God, while at the same time failing to witness His blessings, caused me to ask for forgiveness.  Witnessing God’s daily inner action in one’s life is a vital part of the Believers growth pattern, just as prayer is a vital part of the Believer’s faith.  Jesus stated that God knows what we have need of before we even pray. (Matthew 6:8)  What will surprise many Believers is that God may have already started answering our prayer before it was even uttered.  He knows what we are going to ask and may have already prepared the answer for our observance.

God answers prayer, as well as blessing us, even if we are not cognizant of the fact.  As we continue to petition God, let us also praise Him for what we are experiencing.  Prayer is giving God permission to work in our lives.  It is opening our doors for God to work in a requested area in our life.  Let us also open our eyes and see what God is doing.  Let us not be surprised when we receive an unsolicited blessing, for His blessings are all around us, just waiting for us to discover them.

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THE CHRISTIAN TRIFECTA

Some time ago, I was sharing with a person that is no longer actively involved in a church.  When I started to interject spiritual matters, he quickly interrupted that he had given up on the church.  I told him that I was glad he had, if he was talking about the brick and mortar, programmable, and secular institution known as the visible church.  I told him he was not alone, for there has been a wave of exodus from the organized church searching for the Promised Land.  Slowly, he began to open up and share his disappointments with the church.  What was sad is that he had legitimate gripes.  I shared with him that maybe he had put too much trust in imperfect instruments, and that somewhere along the line, he had transferred his faith in God to faith in his church.

Some of the biggest problems in people’s faith walk are with the church.  I know there are some powerful churches that don’t stand between the people and God; instead they stand with the Believers in helping them see the One whom they are to represent.  Sadly, these churches are the exception rather than the norm.

The Church is not to be the spiritual babysitter of the Believer, but a worshipping, teaching, preaching center of spiritual growth.  It is to be a place of praising, instructing, and heralding God’s word in an atmosphere of holiness.

The church in Thessalonica faced tremendous challenges in the beginning of their new found faith. (Acts 17)  They learned that faith was not a simple acceptance of spiritual principles, but a “hands on” developing of a belief that was not contingent on what they saw, but on what God’s word said.  They struggled to grasp the reality of the Word.  To erase their old way of thinking and acting took an effort.  To test the Word with faith took laborious actions.  Praying was more than just petitioning, it was seeing the answer before it appeared.  Trusting God during those difficult times was a WORK OF FAITH.  I believe many new Christians do not understand what a “work of faith” means.  Jesus once told a group of followers that they needed to work on believing who He was. (John 6:28, 29)  Today, people know about Jesus, but don’t really know Him.  The evidence of having a personal experience with Jesus is the work of faith that we display.

The Thessalonians evidenced their work of faith with their LABOR OF LOVE.  They reached out and touched the lives of others.  It took effort and time, but they did it.  The Jehovah Witness movement seems to have adopted the theme of the post office in that they will deliver their message through all kinds of weather, because they have a “labor of love”.  I do not agree with their Biblical interpretations, but their love of what they believe is without question.  Love is exemplified by action.  It is not a token offering, but an energy consuming action.  It is not a once a week expression, but a daily effort to help the whosoever’s of our community.

The Believers in Thessalonica developed a PATIENCE OF HOPE.  Sometimes things did not display a quick resolve, but they rested with the assurance that what Jesus promised would be fulfilled.  They displayed a hope (confident expectation) in His ability to lead them through life’s challenges.  When they experienced times of difficulties, they patiently looked ahead with confidence to the victory.   Today, Christians want instant gratification.  If God doesn’t come through with an immediate answer, we question not only God, but ourselves.  When we put our spiritual walk on a time table, we are opening the door to watered-down faith, which leads to our justifying not receiving all the benefits of the Kingdom of God.  Let us display our commitment to God by OUR WORK OF FAITH, OUR LABOR OF LOVE, and OUR PATIENCE OF HOPE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST! (I Thess. 1:3)

 

 

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