MAD AT GOD

Over the last few weeks I have run into a growing number of people that are angry with God.  Questions arise as to why God lets bad things happen to good people.  How could a loving God allow unexplainable, life altering tragedies to happen to loving and caring families?  I have noticed that these types of questions usually come from those who have knowledge of God, but have never had a real exchange with Him.  They observe God through their predetermined understanding of who He is.  They have sat in the “bleachers” on Sunday mornings, hearing the leader proclaim, “God is Good,” and then in unison all respond, “All the Time.”  So naturally they believe that He will not allow pain and suffering to sweep the globe, especially to the “innocent.”   They reason that if God allows “unjustifiable” tragedies to indiscriminately sweep the globe, something is wrong with the whole religious movement.  Many of the people that do not go to church today were brought up in the church.  The main reason they give for “dropping” out of the Faith, is disappointment with God.  What this tells me, is they have not been taught correctly.  People are taught every week by selected or biased truth instead of Holy Spirit directed Truth.  God has been presented as the “puppet master” and the Christian as the controlled puppet.  It is God who pulls the strings. Just when we face a battle, God pulls us up to safety and when the crisis is over, lets us down.  Armed with these types of teachings, one is thrown for a loss when catastrophic things happen in people’s lives and God did nothing to stop it!

Our Country is a democracy, where we are free to make our own decisions.  Our soldiers continually guard that freedom and are willing to defend it whatever the cost.  Christianity is a type of democracy in that we are free to make choices.  We can decide to go to church or stay home.  We can choose to read our Bibles or let our pastor read it for us by way of a sermon.  We can decide to pray spontaneously or read prepared prayers.  We can basically be what ever type of Christian we want to be.

God has chosen to give us a free will wherein we decide the type of life we want to lead.  I kind of wish it wasn’t that way, for man has a tendency to lean on his own understanding and acknowledge God only when things go wrong.  The problem is that man’s acknowledgment of God is to blame Him!  The Bible makes it crystal clear that difficult times will fall on Believers as well as non believers. (Matthew 5:45)  No one is immune from the consequences of life, but as a Believer God will be there to see them through.  When one looses a loved one prematurely, God will be there to bring stability to the shaken survivor.  We must stop looking at God as only the “Great Preventer,” but also see Him as the “Great Sustainer.”  We put so much into this life that we fail to focus on the life to come.  We do everything we can to keep us on this earth for as long as possible and if for some reason life is interrupted, we get angry with God!  Do we feel that we will never see one another in the life to come?  Maybe that should strike a sense of urgency in making sure our loved ones have accepted God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

I do not believe it was God’s initial purpose to allow man to pursue his own way, but through Eve and Adams decision to initiate self interest, the door was open for Satan to pursue his anti God agenda.  Sin became the platform in which man jumped into the world to oppose God’s ways.  Man looks to God as the villain and not to the rightful author of destruction, Satan.  If one has to blame someone for the results of a sinful world, don’t blame God, but the one who wants to destroy goodness.  I don’t understand everything about God, but with everything I have I trust Him.  Instead of pressing charges against God for lacking intervention in man’s crisis, let us reach out in Faith knowing He truly loves us and will never leave us alone to face those difficult times.

 

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WHAT IS THEIR LOCATION?

There are alarming numbers of people that are openly opposing the Church and its Biblical foundation.  My heart aches in that the Church is not hearing what the world is saying.  The Church must understand why they are so angry with Christians.

Countless times I have had the opportunity to interrelate with people that have never made a real commitment to God.  It is always interesting to hear their observations of life in general.  I have learned that to be a good communicator one must start by being a good listener.  Christians need to “hear” where people are before they tell them where they need to be!  Listening is a lost art.  Have you ever noticed that when we have a verbal agenda, we have little patience when the other person is talking?  What we are listening for is not the contents of their words, but an opening to express what we have to say.  Listening locates where the other person is coming from, while speaking is more interested is displaying the whereabouts of the speaker.

The more I listen, the more I understand the reason behind people’s actions.  Before we can make a positive contribution in someone’s life, we need to understand the thinking behind their actions.  We might disagree with their reasoning, but we must respect their right to express their feelings.  We must never allow our spiritual commitment to minimize their status.  To display an attitude of arrogance is to shut off the opportunity for constructive dialogue.  Believers know the answer, but to trump another’s actions with a patronizing attitude will do irrevocable damage.

Much of the attitude that is displayed against the Church is based upon misinformation about God and the Christian Faith.  Sadly, the Church has played a pivotal roll in fueling the misconceptions.  When a Believer’s walk does not confirm their talk, or the structured Church displays the physical instead of the spiritual, the interest in “religion” is either scoffed at or ignored.  In many cases, God is hidden from society by the self-serving Church.  Our building facilities stand as a “golden calf” that is built with money that could have been used to bring economic stability to the needy in our community.  Christian structures tend to isolate themselves from the general populace.  If people want to find God, they are urged to take a tour of a local “shrine” and be awed by the physical plant.  Money seems to be the focal point of so many churches.  Sadly, the Church has become big business.  I am surprised the Church is not listed on the New York Stock Exchange.  We don’t need huge TV screens in our spacious “sanctuaries” just so we can see the speaker “up close and personal.”  We don’t need premium sound systems so we can hear the music thundering through our heads.  We don’t need coffee and refreshment stands outside the auditoriums to fuel our spoiled stomachs.  We need to come out of our fortresses and start up conversations with the skeptics.  Let them tell us their gripes.  Let them point out what upsets them about the Church.  What we will hear will have some legitimacy as well as misinformation.  We must be willing to acknowledge our mistakes, and at the same time show them, through love, where they may have it wrong.

The mission of the Church is to point the way to God through Jesus Christ.  People are turned off with what they see displayed by the religious community.  They want the Church to not be so judgmental.  Their list of grievances is very long and compelling.  They have legitimate concerns, as well as erroneous concepts.  It is time to hear what the world is saying and then doing something about it!

 

 

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CHASTISEMENT Part 2

When a Believer experiences Biblical chastisement, either by the written Word or verbal admonishment, there is a tendency to respond with a number of reactions.  Some assume a defensive posture which is supported by self-justification or denial.  Others will accept admonishment and are quick to level self-imposed punishment for their actions; in fact, they are harder on themselves than the situation merits.  There are also those that feel so ashamed that a mild depression surrounds them.  Finally, there is the group that rejoices in the chastisement, for they see how much God loves them and, through this encounter with Truth, they learn from their failures.

The real issue to be considered is what we do after we have been chastised.  If we respond with a quick repentance, and continue to sporadically indulge ourselves in the same behavior, our faith walk will become unstable.   If we simply reason that one strike will not throw us out of the game, we shake the chastisement off and wait for an “uplifting” message.  We look forward to the “sermon” that will highlight the blessings we have grown to expect from God’s Biblical treasure chest.  Why is it that Believers take sin so lightly?  The attitude of some is that God is not going to do anything about it, so why worry!  It is almost like a challenge to God’s authority.  Maybe they need to look at it from a different perspective.  The concern should be what is sin doing to me?  How is it affecting my spiritual walk and talk?  Every time we sin, it affects our relationship with God.  Maybe God will not reach down from Heaven and physically draw attention to sinful behavior, but it hurts Him when we willing walk away from chastisement with an unchanged attitude.  Think for a minute how Jesus was nailed to a cross because of man’s sinful behavior.  There on Calvary, He experienced the wrath of God.  How can we look at sin so casually when, because of it, Jesus paid the ultimate price?  God turned His face from Jesus as He suffered for the sinfulness of man. (Matthew 27:46)  Today, God’s face is turned toward the Believer and He sees sin being so casually addressed by His followers.  How can this be?  How can we so flagrantly turn our backs on God by failing to respond to His chastisements that are meant to correct our wayward direction?

I believe that God’s chastisements are directly related to Jesus’ intercession for the Believer. (Hebrews 7:25)  When Jesus sees our slip ups, He intercedes to God on our behalf.  God then chastises the forgiven Believer so as to correct his momentary relapse.  When we do not understand this, chastisement will not be appreciated, but resented and even ignored.

We need to thank God for His Grace and patience with us.  We need to thank Him for loving us so much.  We need to thank Him for His willingness to intercede in our lives by way of correction.  We need to thank God we are under Grace and not under the Law.  In the Old Testament, sin could cause an immediate termination of one’s life.

One of the deceptions Christians fall for is if they do not commit an outward, visible sin, they feel they have not sinned.  Satan applauds that reasoning.  There are sins of commission and sins of omission.  The Bible lists countless illustrations of tangible sins.  Those might be hard to locate, for we have not underlined them in our Bibles!  The sins of omission are simply stated as, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17)  When we choose to enlist in the “secret service” and keep our faith to ourselves, we are sinning.  Let us learn to hate sin and everything it represents.  Let us learn that when we slip up, Jesus is pleading our case before God, who will then reach down and chastise us as a loving Father who wants to see us cross the finish line!!!!

 

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CHASTISEMENT Part 1

One of the subjects that many Believers ignore, either inadvertently or on purpose, is the area of Chastisement.  What exactly is Chastisement and how is it administered?  The New Testament, of which the theme is Grace, mentions this word or a form of the word 12 times.  It is discovered two times each in Luke and the Corinthian letters, once in Revelation, and seven times in Hebrews.  Hebrews 12:5-11 gives the reader an excursion into understanding the full implication of this word.

Basically, chastisement comes under three categories: 1) training; 2) correcting with words; 3) discipline enforced by physical means.  When one enters residency in the Kingdom of God, there are many things to learn and understand.  The growth process can be both a rewarding and at the same time a discouraging experience.  Some of the Believers’ early mistakes can be overlooked as basically a learning experience.  But, if no progress begins to show in their ongoing spiritual education, there will be words of chastisement that will land on the eyes and ears of the disciple.  This is experienced through the reading of the Word or spoken through those in ministerial offices.  In the Old Testament, God’s chastisement was administered by visual means, such as physical ailments, military oppressions, famines, atmospheric phenomena, as well as geographical influences.  Under the Law, God’s response to disobedience was dealt with quickly.  Under Grace, His Word plays center stage in the lives of the Believers.  So many Christians look to the Bible as a treasure chest of blessings, and it certainly does contain a wealth of Truth, but it is also meant to be for “…reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16)  So many times God has used His Word to chastise His followers, but when the Holy Spirit, witnessing our disobedience, attempts to lead us to Scriptures of correction, our human mind ignores the prompting and the Bible remains closed, or a search for blessings ensues.  We must always remember that God chastens us because He loves us and wants us to experience the fullness of His Kingdom.

God also uses Pastors to bring correction to the body of Believers.  Sadly, some Pastors are more concerned with pleasing their “employers” rather than God.  I remember preaching chastising messages that did not exclude me, and had members of the church chastise me for being so negative.  I have always wanted to be liked and accepted by the people whom God had chosen me to lead, but because of my commitment to God, I was willing to bring His message of correction whenever it was called for.  Many times as a pastor I was chastised by God’s Word.  The Scripture came to me as a two-edged sword, cutting away errors in my life as well as clearing away obstacles that stood before me.  I have to admit that God’s chastisements were challenging and even painful, but through the acknowledging of my errors and seeking His forgiveness, I was able to experience the fullness of His joy.

One of the reasons people neglect reading their Bibles is the anxiety of what will be found, especially if it exposes sin in their lives.  Neglected Sunday worship also is framed around the potential embarrassment of sinful exposure.

When we are on the wrong road, evidenced by our unsettled peace, we need to receive His chastisement.  Thank God He cares enough about us to be interested in our lives.  Let us welcome His chastening as an evidence of His love for us.  Don’t blame your pastor for messages that expose the mistakes of the Saints, but encourage him to tell it like it is.  After all, it may save our lives!

 

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THE POWERFUL LITTLE WORD

Many of the Biblical promises rest upon the action of the reader or hearer.  The little word “if” plays a big role in experiencing the Word.  In the Bible, this two letter word contains the option to either accept or reject the Word.  The Word of God is limited to man’s response.  The Scripture lies dormant until man responds to its content.  If man chooses to ignore the Word, it becomes nothing more than a conglomeration of phrases and sentences hidden under a book cover.

If it was not for the Bible, we would have no knowledge of God and His love for mankind.  If it was not for the Bible, we would not be aware of Jesus and His earthly ministry.  If it was not for God’s Word, we would never come to the knowledge of what Calvary was all about.  Without the Scriptures, man would be like a ship without a rudder, a car without an engine, or a plane without wings.  Without His Word, man would flow with the tide of changing opinions and life styles.  Without the Bible, mans’ hope for purpose will never be achieved.  Sixteen times in the book of Hebrews, this powerful word highlights the responsibility of the individual.  In chapter three, verse six, the Believer is likened unto a house that is built by Jesus; but if, by the actions of Christians, the world sees a creation that is no different from its own life, what would draw it to seek our building Contractor?  There are a lot of “prefab” Believers that build their faith around convenience and self-fulfillment, and, as a result, turn off prospective “buyers” of the Faith.  The problem is many treat the salvation experience as an “upgrade” to their lives instead of as a total rebirth experience.

In this same chapter, verse four states that the Believer is a “partaker” (participant, sharer, associate, partner) with Christ.  This means that we are to be a walking example and extension of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  When the unbeliever sees us, they should be drawn to an individual whose actions far exceed the normality of human behavior.  The reality of these two illustrations is contingent on the powerful word “if”.  To evidence our participation as a “house” built by Jesus and in a “partnership” with Him, we are called upon to make a decision.  “If we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (vs. 6, 14)  We receive the fulfillment of the Word by making a decision to act on the Word.  To reach that place we are confronted with that little word again, “If ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”(vs.8, 15)  Hearing His Word without resistance is the first step to experiencing the reality of Scriptural Truth.  It is not just an initial step, but a journey that continues throughout our lives.  It is not a one time acceptance of a Truth, but a continuing effort to display it.  If there is no on- going exhibiting of our “house” and “partnership,” then we cannot apply those realities to our lives!

When one reads through the book of Hebrews, one is reminded again and again of the role one plays in experiencing God’s Word.  The Believer faces the decision to accept the Word personally or read it as simply Scripture that requires no response.  When there is no action by the reader, the Word will have little or no effect on him.  Believers are continually looking for God to do something in their lives, while God is continually waiting for them to do something with His Word.  Man seems to be in search of new truth by introducing “extra Biblical” revelation.  Believers need to center on what God has already said and stop looking for a new ingredient to make their interpretation more palatable.

It is all up to us.  When we are hungry for Truth, let us open the Word and feast at the banquet table. There is so much Truth in the Bible that all we have to do is open our eyes and make a decision to act on His Word.

We should also be aware of consequential “ifs.”  Hebrews chapter’s ten through twelve highlights what they are and the pending results.

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QUESTIONING GOD

Have you ever been disappointed with God?  Have you ever been angry with God?  Have you ever come to a place where you momentarily questioned the reality of God?  It is almost blasphemous to entertain such thoughts, but in the recesses of our mind there is no denying that these questions have at some time presented themselves.  Satan will take those thoughts and magnify them to the point where our faith experiences a breeze of instability.  There is nothing wrong with questioning things of our faith, as long as the objective is to secure the reality of the Truth.  Are our questions meant to challenge God or to challenge our own lack of understanding?

The real problem is that we try to fit God into our self-created existence.  Instead of emptying ourselves of pride and self-sufficiency, we attempt to merge God into our human understanding.  We expect God to respond to our every whim and desire.  If He fails to meet our expectations, we want to know why, and through the promptings of Satan, we push the issue until we can find some sort of satisfaction.  The problem with that approach is it intensifies our doubts rather than eliminating them.  If we would take an objective look at our spiritual journey, we would be surprised at how big a role we played in screening God’s Word.  We tend to accept what we can fit into our comfort zones, and dismiss anything else as non-applicable.  How much of the Christian walk is simply a copying of what we have seen in other Believers, especially the veterans of the Faith.  Questioning God comes from this type of environment.  We expect God to do certain things, and if He doesn’t, we are disappointed.  If God fails to intercede on our behalf, we become angry.  If our emotions continue to stress dissatisfaction with God, the seed of doubting His reality is planted in our ground of reason.

I have been disappointed with God when he “messed” up my carefully thought out plans for serving Him.  I was angry when He closed my four lane highway and directed me to a narrow road that I thought led to nowhere.  I found myself in places where I wanted to cry out and say, “Hey God, remember me?”  After periods of emotional release, I would eventually settle down in Biblical exploration.  Finding things I had missed, I realized I had been in “good hands” with God all the time; I just had not recognized it.  Whenever we elevate our will and desire above God’s sovereign purpose, we will continually experience frustration when things don’t go the way we think they should go.  When that happens, we have a tendency to blame God, and we let Him know it through our thoughts and actions.  Instead of being disappointed or angry with God, let us put the blame where it belongs – with ourselves.

At the show down at Mt. Carmel, Elijah challenged the people to make a decision to either follow God or Baal. (I Kings 18:21)  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out to God that it was not what He wanted, rather, what God wanted Him to do. (Mark 14:36)  We must come to the point where we make the decision to either trust God or rely on our own leading.  We must decide, as Jesus did, to utter the words, “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”  When we make these decisions, we will come to the place where we would never dream of challenging God in our disappointment and frustration, for “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

 

 

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DIVERSITY

Being retired, I have had the opportunity to travel around to different religious venues, either as a guest speaker or a congregational participant.  The diversity of “worship” experiences has taken me on excursions of discovery that left me with a greater awareness of the Christian arena.  On one end of the spectrum, there are the highly emotional and energetic groups that promote feelings as an evidence of being in the presence of God.  The similarity between the “golden calf” worshipers and these groups should at least promote a study of the objectives of these types of experiences.  On the other end, are those groups that know the basics of the Christian faith and realize their responsibility is to dwell on the reality of their faith.  There is little emotion, but a strong inner evidence of God’s presence.  “Be still and know that I am God” is their motto.  Those in the left spectrum display an informality that displays a commonality with their Creator.  Their gatherings display openness to generalities.  To them, the sanctuary is whatever their mind describes.  Those on the other end of the scale center their worship experience around the physicality of the surroundings.  The sanctuary resembles Jewish traditions with the altar and other furniture.  The room becomes the “House of God” and is treated with the utmost respect.

No matter what part of the spectrum one identifies with, there should never be a question as to the genuiness of the others’ faith.  To say that one way of worship is better than the other is to show a shallowness of understanding whom God is.  Each group’s methodology is used to enhance man’s consciousness of God.  Those on the left end of the spectrum want the triune man (Spirit, Soul, and Body) to be involved in their worship experience.  Those on the other end are concerned only with the dualistic nature of man. (Spirit and Soul)  The lefties break with traditions, while the rightist defend traditions.  Through all the ritualistic maneuvering that Believers do, God is more concerned with the inner man than the outer man’s physical calisthenics or lack of such.

I have been in services where the music was so loud that I requested ear plugs from an usher.  I have sat in services where the music was more appropriate for a recital.  I have witnessed Believers shout, run, and jump while praising the Lord.  I have also seen people sitting quietly in their chairs with tears running down their face in praise and gratitude.  I have seen raised hands accompanied with verbal acknowledgement during a sermon.  I have also seen people simply nod their heads depicting their unity with the message.  I have seen all manner of greetings: hugging, squeezing, fist pumps, hand shakes, nods, and smiles.  I have stood during music celebrations, and I have also sat during song services.

People are different and have varying ways of worshiping.  What works for one person may not work for someone else.  What it comes down to is the motive behind their worship.  Is it to glorify God or rejuvenate their neglected spirits?  Is it to feel the presence of God or to confirm His presence?

Sunday mornings are not about us.  Monday through Saturday we are center stage.  During the week, we are to be a living example of the One whom we serve.  During the week, we petition God for direction, knowledge, and wisdom.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit surround the Fruit that we display.  God witnesses our actions during these days of service.  BUT, on Sunday, it is all about Him.  With our whole triune man, we center on Him.  Praise and Worship fill the auditoriums.  It is forgetting about ourselves and centering on God Himself.  No matter if we are on the left or right of worship, let each of us have the freedom to express our devotion to Him.  Amen and Amen!

 

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POLITICAL OPPOSITION

I am dismayed at how many Believers are involved in verbal and written attacks against those in or seeking political authority.  The social media is laced with innuendoes and rhetoric that is aimed at exposing the flaws of candidates seeking the trust of the American people, as well as those already in elected office.  Those in Governmental positions are the apex of the assaults.  If authoritative figures do not fit into one’s mind set, they become the target of aggressive attacks.  I have never seen such a venomous barrage of rhetoric spewed against those in the political amphitheater.  Rumors have been solidified to support unfounded accusations.  Internet reporting has become the “holy grail” of misinformation.  If it is in the air waves, it must be true!  If it is in print, it has to be accurate!  If it is reported on TV or radio, it must merit authenticity!

 What has happened to Believers that would cause them to mount such an attack against those in the political arena?  It does not take a politically astute individual to recognize the failures and short comings of those in politics.  The question that must be asked is what is the purpose of exposing the failures and limitations of those in authority?   Maybe we are concerned that God needs help in determining whom He should choose for implementing His plan for our Country!  Some Christians defend their political affiliation with more zeal than they do their own Faith.  No matter if we are a Republican, Democratic, or Independent; we must always be a representative of the Kingdom of God.  When our actions violate God’s Word, our Christian testimony is blemished.

Believers are not to pick and choose what Scriptures to accept or what verses to ignore, for all the Word is to be experienced with Faith and humility.  I wonder how many of us are aware of what the Bible says about our oral communication.  The Word of God states that the words that come out of our mouth should be “edifying” and not “corrupt.”  When we lift people up with our words, we are ministering the “grace” of God. (Ephesians 4:29)  Whenever our words come out displaying two different languages (carnal and spiritual), we are going against the grain of the Scripture. (Read James 3)  The Bible states that those of the world will speak evil of “dignitaries” and “despise government.” (II Peter 2: 10)  Character attacks against those in governmental authority are to be expected by those of the world, but it should never come from those who claim to represent Jesus Christ!  Our responsibility is to pray for those in authority, not to be instruments of discord or judgment. (I Timothy 2:1, 2)  God has a plan for our Country and He will appoint individuals that will bring either judgment or prosperity to our land.  They are there to fulfill God’s purposes and plans.  The Believers’ position is to support whatever God is doing, even though we don’t always understand.  If God chooses a person to lead this Country, and we throw stones at him, are we in effect opposing God?

During this election year, let us rest on the assurance that God has everything under control.  God does not owe us an explanation on anything, but we owe Him our obedience in everything!

 

Let us stop acting like the world and start living the Word!

 

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FOUNDATIONAL BELIEFS

Why are Believers so hesitant to examine their foundational beliefs?  What are we afraid of finding?  Could there be a flaw in our adopted theology?  What if what we believed for so many years has contradicted Scriptural intent?  What if what we have been taught has been a human interpretation instead of Divine presentation?  What if the denominational or independent church has been wrong in its doctrines?

We should not be afraid of examining the sub floor of our house of belief.  If it is intact, our confidence should rest in the assurance that what we are building shall never fall.  If, on the other hand, there are cracks in our tenets of faith, should we not address the issue and secure our foundation?  Whenever there are flaws in our basic beliefs, it will affect our Christian walk.  Maybe one of the reasons we fluctuate so much in our faith walk is because something in our “belief” system is out of order.

There are so many split decisions when it comes to Biblical interpretation.  Almost every major Scriptural truth has at least two different or opposing views.  Through the persuasion and numerical support of other Christians, many teachings are accepted and adopted by the new convert.  Unable to understand the meaning of so many of the Scriptures, they simply endorse what is being taught.  The quickness at which they receive these teachings depends on the charisma and boldness of the teacher.  When a Pastor is established in the community and supported with a large number of followers, who is to doubt his presentation?  God uses human instrumentality to convey His message, but we must ALWAYS confirm the spoken word with the written Word!

I believe that every Believer needs to have an annual checkup.  We need to take our “Bible Pressure” and see if our study habits are consistent.  We need to check our “Prayer Rate” reflecting the reality of our communication with God.  We need to check our “Spiritual Weight” to see if we are gaining spiritual muscle.  We need to check our “Hearing” to see if we are hearing what is being presented by God’s representatives.  We need to check our “Eyesight” to make sure we are focused on the Kingdom and not the fleshly enticements of the world.  We need to check our “Vocabulary” to make sure what comes out of our mouth is pleasing to God.  We need to check the freshness of our “Fruit.”  If after carefully analysis we find our spiritual condition worthy of God’s pleasure, let us press on as a walking example of Jesus Christ.  If a red flag appears, let us check our foundational beliefs and see where we may have missed it.  When our foundational beliefs are built on the sand of public opinion, our Christian walk will sway with inconsistent behavior.  When our “sub floor” is incorrect, we will have a greater tendency to go by feelings rather than by faith.

While knowing one’s spiritual condition is imperative to spiritual growth, there are some who are content to live out their lives with a simple affirmation of whom Jesus is.  Their attitude is that life goes on and when the heart stops beating, they will be with Him.  They have been taught that Faith alone is all that is necessary.  Attend and pretend is their motto.  Deep down they desire a living faith, but they have been inoculated from the Truth.  They ride the waves of change, oblivious to where it takes them.

Do not be afraid of checking out your foundation, it may be a life altering experience!  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

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GRACE AND PEACE

Whenever I think about the Grace of God, I reach a point of ecstatic energy.  I find my spirit over riding my mind with waves of God consciousness.  How could God, who was before all existence, love me enough to be personally involved in my life?  As I try to grasp the unattainable reality of His Grace, I am suddenly overcome with a peace that passes all understanding.  Recovering from basking in the reality of His Grace and settling into His peace, I come across Peter’s letters to the Believers of Asia Minor in which he says, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you…” (I Peter 1: 2, II Peter 1:3)   To just dwell on the basic truth of God’s Grace is overwhelming enough, but to think of multiplying that Grace is to tax one’s mind beyond its capacity to fully understand.  It is like recovering from a Tsunami, only to experience more and greater “waves” of Truth!  O the wonder of it all!  I want to cry out as David did, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4)

All of the New Testament letters, with the exception of First and Third John, contain the bestowed blessing of Grace and Peace to the reader.  One would readily come to understand why these words would precede the intent of many of these Epistles, for without God’s Grace, no one would be where they were spiritually.  Today, we are the result of God’s Grace.  If it was not for His Grace, we would be simply a number in the maze of humanity riding the waves of life into a purposeless existence.  The world is coming apart.  Things are happening today that, a decade ago, our fantasies could not have imagined.  Many lift up their hands in despair and token surrender to the tide of human depravity.  Negativity and pessimism flow unabated from even the mouths of confessed Believers.  As we witness the chaos around us, we quickly glance Heavenward, hoping to see the clouds part and Jesus returning for His people.

The early Church faced many problems and challenges.  As Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John sent out their letters, they always prefaced their messages with acknowledging the Grace and Peace of God.  No matter if their writings were corrective or informative in nature, the Grace of God would always be front and center.  We must never allow anything to minimize that truth.  God has made the greatest investment in all of living history: sending His Son to pay the price for man’s disobedience.  Someone said that God’s Grace is defined as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  Because of God’s Grace, we have God’s peace that He is in control.  I don’t care how bad it gets; I have the peace that passes all understanding.  My eyes may see one thing, but my faith sees something different.  It is not a question of how bad things are; rather, how good God is!

Positivism and optimism should flow out of our mouths as rivers of refreshment to those who are discouraged and spiritually parched due to their dwelling on the negative aspects of life. I am shocked at how many Believers hit the social media with adopted rhetoric they have heard from other biased individuals.  If a Believer is addicted to the Internet, he should at least promote building materials that will build up instead of tear down!  Instead of quoting what the media has to say about political and social events, let the Believer begin to quote the promises of God’s Word.

Peter reminds his readers that they have been given “exceeding great and precious promises…” and as a result have become partakers of God’s Divine nature. (II Peter 1:4)  Let us dwell on the promises of God, and let anything contrary to His Word deflect off our “Shields of Faith.”

May God’s Grace and Peace be multiplied unto YOU!

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