NEARSIGHTED

I am sure that every Christian has sometime in their life issued a question of challenge to God. By failing to understand our spiritual citizenship, we entertain a volley of thoughts that questions the actions or non-actions of God in our lives. Usually, the introductory word “if”opens the door of carnal reasoning. Following closely behind “if” is the seed word of doubt called “why”. These two words set in motion our confusion and misunderstanding of spiritual principles.

Gideon was facing a life-ending challenge from the Midianites. He could not understand why God was allowing His people to suffer. So Gideon brings an accusation that challenges the very relationship between God and His people. He states, to the angelic messenger, “If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13) There are times in our lives that some even wonder if God is really conscious of our situations. If we believe He is with us, why then do we face life challenging situations? Gideon shot an arrow at God claiming that if He really was with them, why were things playing out the way they were? Continuing to shoot accusations at God, he cries out, “Where are all the miracles that we have heard about for generations?” (v.13) Not seeing any manifestations of God’s power, he lets go with a flaming arrow claiming that God had forsaken them and delivered them to their enemies. (v.13) If we are honest, we will all identify with certain aspects of Gideon. Maybe there was a premature death of a loved one or a life challenging illness of someone close to us. We read of natural catastrophes that took the lives of strong Christians. We read of Believers who died in transportation accidents. We know the Bible states that it rains on the just and the unjust, but should not God’s “chosen” have some special immunity?

In response to Gideon’s frustration, the angel simply ignores his venting and tells him to go in his might and save Israel. (v.14) Initially, the messenger of God found Gideon near a winepress where he was hiding food from the Midianites. Upon engaging him, he addressed him with the salutation, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valour.” (v.12) Gideon was so nearsighted that he failed to see beyond the crisis to the solution. He was operating in the flesh, and instead of realizing that the Midianites were the ones with the problem, he began to question whether God was aware of the danger that faced them. Not once did the angel address Gideon’s accusations. Gideon questioned the reality of facing down the Midianites with a plethora of excuses. God simply told him, “Surely, I will be with you.” (v.16)

The Bible teaches that we are in the world, but not of the world. Being a Believer does not guarantee immunity from the consequential affects of a worldly existence. There is no doubt that God intervenes in certain situations, but it is equally obvious that His overshadowing protection is not always evident. There are many scenarios that display God’s selective intervention for Believers. The question that presents itself is what constitutes God’s protection for some of His people and not for others? The reason Gideon and the Israelites suffered near anilization was they had not obeyed God’s Word. (v.10) Many of the challenges to our faith stem from Biblical disobedience. When we sow fleshly seed, we will reap carnal results. How can we expect God to immune us from negative results when we have not obeyed His Word? There are many other reasons for not experiencing God’s intervention, but this is not the time to examine other causes.

There is no answer to the closed umbrella of God’s care when the true Believer experiences tragedies in their lives. It is not a time to introduce the “ifs” and “whys” but to realize what Gideon failed to understand; that was who he was, “a mighty man of valour” who, with the ability God gave him, was able to deliver his people from the Midianites. It is not the time to question, but to answer the call of God to live up to the ability He has given us. We can overcome the tragedies in life by simply putting our trust in the One who made all things!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A MYSTERY REVEALED

Throughout the Old Testament, the history of God’s “chosen” people is recorded with highlights of both their obedience and disobedience.  The Gospels continue to weave the tapestry of compliance and rebellion toward God.  Instead of falling to their knees in repentance, the Jewish leaders rose up displaying a religion that was far removed from God’s intention.  The religious leaders imposed rules and regulations that would cause people to conform to their interpretation of God’s Word.  The Scriptures were interpreted to fit into the understanding of the Pharisees and the religious community.  The coming of the Messiah was secondary to the teachings of the Pharisees.  When Jesus arrived as a baby, and through out His thirty-three years, God’s people did not recognize Him.

Today, the Church must understand its mission is to present Jesus as Savior and Lord, not Christian psychology.  Pastors must present Biblical directives that lead to changed and enriched lives. (Note: Wednesday and Sunday nights would be good times to present Christian social skills….Oh, wait a minute; many churches don’t have those services anymore.)  Not too long ago, I attended a Sunday morning service in which the pastor was teaching a four week study on the book of Revelation.  Here is a book that is almost impossible for Believers to unify on the intended meaning of its passages.  To present four different interpretations to a captive audience is to enhance division instead of unifying the hearers. (Note: Did God intend there to be more than one interpretation of the book of Revelation?)  I believe that Sunday mornings are a time of preaching (heralding divine truth), while the mid week services and cell groups are a time for promoting interactions around the Truth.  If I had brought a new Christian to this church that was teaching on Revelation, it would have taken me all day to straighten out the confusion he may have been experiencing.  The Holy Spirit can direct us through the book of Revelation, but our “Pharisee” teachings would first have to be compromised.

One of the most blessed individuals in the New Testament is Paul.  He was chosen to reveal a mystery (secret) that would engulf every human being.  No longer would God’s people be limited to the Jews, but an “open adoption” was offered to anyone who accepted His Son. (Ephesians 3:6)  The revealing that Jesus was the Messiah must have swept over Paul to the point he could hardly catch his breath.  All those years of study had failed to prepare him to recognize the Messiah when He came.  The Word Paul had been taught was sifted by the strainer of tradition.  God saw the zeal Paul possessed and knew the potential he had to represent the complete Truth.  The revealing that Jesus was the Messiah was only the beginning, for he had also been chosen to reveal the mystery of God’s will which had lain shrouded for generations.  Overcome with not only the Truth that Jesus was the Christ, but with the knowledge that the family of God was not exclusive, but inclusive to anyone who accepted God’s offer, Paul began an outreach that would touch the lives of people for generations to come.

The biggest challenge for Paul was to bring the “chosen” and the “elected” together.  Almost immediately after Paul started his “Stewardship” of God’s Grace, he was met with resistance from the “chosen” community.  From the early stages of the Church to its existence today, we continue to experience divisions.  As a result of hearing incomplete or limited Truth, most of the “separatist” defend their theology.  Lack of interfaith communication continues to erode our Gospel message.  Believers must stop defending their editorial viewpoints of the Scripture and start experiencing the Word under the Holy Spirit’s direction.  The Word will bring unity, but it must be rightly divided.  All Believers are now the Chosen.”  Let us walk in unity as members of the family of God.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

LEARNING TO WALK

 

The Christian life is a life of progression.  It is more than simply confessing what we believe; rather, it is a continual life-changing experience that pursues the on-going revelations of the Holy Spirit.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul uses the word walk to emphasize the “normal” Believer’s journey.  He first states that we were created through Christ Jesus to walk in good works. (2:10)    We were not created to be a “statue” that could be abused and torn down, but a living example of the Kingdom of God.  Every day our lives should exhibit a living God.  The things we do should cause our communities to take notice that there is something greater than their needs and desires, and that is a loving God.  We are the visual aid to the near sighted people who doubt God’s capacity to care about them.  Second, we are to walk worthy of our calling. (4:1)  We are to behave appropriately.  We are to compliment what we confess to believe.  The characteristic of the world, which we may have shown before, is no longer visible.  People should be able to identify a Jesus follower right away.  Third, we walk free of carnal reasoning. (4:17)  Instead of trying to reason our way through life, we see things as Jesus would see them.  One of the biggest negatives in Believers lives is facing the world with carnal solutions.  We may use the Christian language, but it will avail nothing when our carnal minds seek to engage worldly challenges.  Fourth, we walk in love. (5:2)  This is not a fleshly love that causes emotional goose bumps, but a Christ love where one is willing to lay down his life for others.  It is not a point of feeling, but an action that affects another’s life.  When we are more concerned with others than ourselves, it is like an offering that lifts a sweet smelling aroma into the presence of God. (5:8)  Fifth, we walk as children of the light. (5:8)  Wherever the Christian goes, he is a light that dispels darkness.  No matter how dark the night, one little candle will cause darkness to flee.  Sadly, some Believers stay in their houses with their candles, lighting their own rooms instead of going out into their neighborhoods dispelling darkness.  Instead of having “candle light” services every Sunday, let us light up the community that is floundering in the darkness.  Sixth, we walk circumspectly. (5:15)  We must walk according to the intended Word of God.  We must accurately represent the Word.  There is no room for doctrinal interpretation that adds or takes away from the Word.  So many Believers discover “new truths” that are really carnal interpretations.  False doctrines and teachings have corrupted the very foundation of the Christian Faith.  We must know the Word before we can present the Word.

In the first Psalm, we see the progression of sin illustrated.  Man walks with the ungodly, then stands with them, and then sits with other sinners. (1:1)  The Believer does just the opposite; he sits and hears the Word, then stands with others to confirm the Word, and then walks in the proclaimed Truth.  The hardest part is to walk or live what we believe.

As little children, many of us sang the song about our little light and how it was to shine until Jesus came.  We lifted our finger into the air and sang that Satan will try to blow it out, but we shouted NO!  Sadly, some Christians hide their light, only to take it out on Sundays to light up their places of worship.  It is wonderful to fellowship, but it does not compare with introducing someone to the fellowship.

If Christians are unwilling to walk their talk, rest assured the actions of the New Testament church will not repeat itself in this day and age.  The Church must be progressive; if it isn’t, all that is left is to hide in our walled sepulchers and await the return of Jesus.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NAME THEM ONE BY ONE

 

Believers are the most blessed people in the world, at least according to Biblical script.  Yet in reality, our behavior seems to conflict the evidence of spiritual blessings.  Some Christians go around as if they are on spiritual welfare.  The joy that they exhibited just days before seems to have escaped their memory.  The blessings that God has given them appear to have time restraints.  The application of the Word has faded throughout the generations.  From the time of the initiation of the Word until the current age, displayed Faith among the Believers has continually diminished.  Paul informed the Church in Ephesus that they had received “every spiritual blessing” through Christ.  These blessings were established in Heaven to be distributed to every Christian through Jesus Christ.  God’s plan for His expanded people (non-Jews) was set in motion before the foundation of the world.  God realized that His chosen people would reject Him many times and even turn on His own Son.  He saw a people who, through Jesus, would take up the torch and carry out His will.  He saw them as “holy and without blame.”  (Notice the period after blame in the ESV)  In love, God adopted them as sons.  Man became accepted to God through His Beloved.  Paul sums it up with statements pertaining to our redemption through Jesus’ blood, and the experiencing of God’s Grace to the point of even knowing the “mystery” of His will.  He states that one day we will all be gathered together for a great reunion with the Believers of time past.  Until that time, the Holy Spirit will seal us and become our guarantee of eternal life. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

 

We are so blessed, yet we don’t act like it.  Many complain about little things, instead of proclaiming the things God has done and is doing.  We see the problem, but fail to see the answer.  We major on the minor, and minor on the major.  We talk the Word, instead of walk the Word.  What more could we expect from God?  He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, yet we continually walk as if in need of something. (I Peter 1:3)

 

We need to realize how blessed we truly are.  I see pictures and hear stories of displaced families who, because of war, have had to escape their countries.  They are “nomads” in search of a place of safety where they can pursue a life of purpose.  But for the Grace of God, this could be me.  I see the faces of people who have so little food and water that they just lie down to await death.  But for the Grace of God, this could be me.  I read of the Holocaust and the millions of innocent people exterminated by ruthless leaders.  But for the Grace of God, that could have been me.  When I see the brown fields on the other side of the fence, how can I complain about the imperfect grass that I am standing on?

 

It is time to stop complaining about how bad we think we have it and start declaring how we are truly blessed.  It is time to stop making mountains out of mole hills.  It is time to put away our petition lists and pull out our diary of blessings.  The hard thing for me to grasp is how many Believers are pursuing a touch from God when we already have the full blessings of God.  When are we going to realize the benefits of being part of God’s family?  It is time to stop asking for something, and start living with the blessings we already have.  Believers need to take a day off from carnal reasoning and let faith rinse out their mind.  We need Faith to flush out the contaminants of our consciousness.

 

Let us start each day counting our many blessings.  When problems appear, let us compare them with the blessings with which God has blessed us.  Get ready to smile!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

GONE FISHING

In the Scriptures we have a plethora of conversations and verbal exchanges that would lead us to draw simple conclusions as to the intent of the interactions.  The problem is we may not truly understand what the participants are actually meaning.  When we talk with somebody the tone and inflection in our voices plays an important part in conveying not only what we are saying, but what we are hearing.  One of the most maligned men in the New Testament is John the Baptist.  Many Christians promote the idea that John exhibited spiritual weakness when he questioned the credentials of Jesus.  Obviously, when we are unable to hear the actual words, we  tend to color the written words with our experiential artistry.  The greatest Prophet of all time had a moment of negative reflection?  Sure, John sent two of his disciples to Jesus to get an answer to their doubts, but for them to approach Jesus took courage, so John told them to use his name so it did not reflect on them.  Picture John with a slight smile on his face as he told them to go and see for themselves if Jesus was truly the Messiah.  Could John’s inflection been as a teacher to his students?  As they confronted Jesus, He played right along with John and maybe with a slight smile, told them to go back and tell John what you have “seen and heard.” (Luke 7:18- 28)  I have no way of proving the correctness of this theory, but neither can I see this great prophet shaken in his faith at the eleventh hour!

Peter was a high powered believer who voiced his commitment to Jesus with unwavering consistency.  He was an outspoken leader of men.  His vows to Jesus dwarfed his fellow disciples.  He was willing to die for Jesus if the situation arose.  When his eleventh hour struck, he faltered.  That night in the Garden of Gethsemane surrounded with soldiers, Jesus was taken into custody.  Peter valiantly defended Jesus with a sword, but Jesus told him to lower his sword.  Surrendering to the mob, Jesus was taken prisoner.  Within hours, Peter would deny he ever knew Jesus.  Reality setting in, Peter “wept bitterly.” (Luke 22: 54-62)

Shortly after the Resurrection, Peter and six other disciples had gone to the Sea of Galilee to do some fishing.  On this particular day, they toiled all night and caught nothing.  As the dawn broke, Jesus appeared along the shore and called out to see if they had caught anything.  The disciples cried out, “NO.”  Jesus told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, and as they did they netted 153 fish.  Peter jumped into the water and swam to the shore to meet Jesus.  When the others came ashore, they had breakfast together.  After the fish fest, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him?  All Peter’s responses were affirmative.  Was Jesus really wondering if Peter really loved Him?  Or was there something else at work here?  Again, we cannot tell what was the inflection and tone of the exchange.  (John 21:3-17)

There are a growing number of Believers today who have willfully or unintentionally sinned.  As a result of their actions, they have created and participated in their own trial.  They are the prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury.  Some feel they have failed God, and as a result God cannot forgive them.  Maybe Peter felt the same way.   Jesus was getting Peter to realize that no matter what he did, he still loved Jesus.  Jesus knew this, but wanted Peter to acknowledge it.  It was like Jesus saying, “Say it again Peter…..”  The answer abounds three times with YES, YES, YES!  Jesus tells him that he still has work for him to do.  Feed the new Believers (lambs) and nourish those who already believe (sheep).

How many Believers are in self- imposed exile?  We are harder on ourselves than Jesus would be.  He sees our slip ups, but He knows our heart.  When we fall, we need to ask for His forgiveness and then get up and see His forgiveness through the things He has for us to do.  See Jesus with a smile on His face as He says, “You love me, don’t you!” If we have gone back to fishing, its time to get ashore, for Jesus wants to use us again!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHOSE WAY?

I remember in my high school days I had a hard time following directions.  I was always looking for a short cut or a way to exert the least amount of effort to secure academic requirements.  My system was awarded with grades that would cause penalties that would limit my social participation.  In college, I was excited to be able to expand outside the realm of correct answers.  Finding relief through subjective reasoning, I was free to express my own interpretations.  Seminary was to be an adventure in Biblical revelation, but to my chagrin, I was back in high school listening to interpretive rhetoric in which doctrines of denominational beliefs were laid out to young men who felt a leading to enter the ministry.  If one wanted ordination, he was required to endorse the tenets of a certain church’s dogma.

It was not until I received my diploma that I realized there was a Higher Education that was awaiting my enrollment.  Joining the “Triune University,” I begin to see things in a different perspective.  I saw unfiltered Truth with no bias or doctrines of human interpretation.  The Holy Spirit became my teacher and guide.  The Words of Jesus were fresh and inviting.  The Epistles were more relevant than the daily newspapers.  The Old Testament revealed God’s constant love for His people.  It also showed the mistakes they made and the consequences they experienced.  Every day was filled with opportunities to travel to new heights and depths in His kingdom.  BUT!!!

The key to success in our Kingdom journey is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  I am sure that every Believer at sometime in their life has failed to obey the Holy Spirit’s directive.  Maybe His leading was taken as an elective, rather than as a directive.  Human nature tries to filter God’s Truth through feelings and emotions.  There may be times when our receivers are on men’s instead of God’s frequency.  Sometimes the Believers want to see the result before an action is initiated.  Other times, we venture to think that our way might be the better way to achieve God’s intended purpose.  The Apostle Paul was zealous for the Kingdom of God.  He was the New Testament spear point of evangelistic outreach.  What he went through would cause the average Believer to be embarrassed of their commitment.  During the latter half of Paul’s third missionary journey, he got ahead of the Holy Spirit.  Previously, Paul was submissive to the Spirit’s leading: e.g. the Holy Spirit told him not to go into Asia and he obeyed. (Acts 16:6)  When he was told not to go to Bithynia, he agreed. (Acts 16:7)  BUT!!!  Throughout his last evangelistic outreach, the Holy Spirit continually warned Paul through other Believers that if he went to Jerusalem his ministry would be in jeopardy (Acts 20:23); that he would face “chains and tribulations” in Jerusalem.  Every step of the way from Mellitus to Caesarea, the warnings were issued. (Acts 21:4,11)   Paul was determined to go no matter what the Spirit told him.  From the time he arrived in Jerusalem, his ministry was limited to small gatherings.  There is no way to estimate how many people could have been affected by his continual ministry.  How many more “tours” he could have initiated if only he had been obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

God did not turn His back on Paul; rather, He put in motion an alternative plan that he was going to be a witness in Rome … not as a free man, but as a prisoner of the Roman Empire. (Acts 23: 11)  God has a directive will for each of us, but if we chose to pursue our own way, God will still use us, although not to the full capacity of His purposed will.  Paul was successful in Rome, even to the point of converting those in Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22), but think of what could have happened if he had only followed the Holy Spirit’s leading!  Be excited about the Kingdom of God, but don’t outrun the Holy Spirit.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DRAINING THE SWAMP

The Apostle Paul faced endless trials and tribulations throughout his ministry.  The trying of his faith generated increased faith.  He learned that through obedience and submission he could overcome every obstacle that presented itself.  He wholeheartedly believed that all things worked together for those who responded to God’s calling and purpose. (Romans 8:28)  When he was down, he reached up to the outstretched hand of the Lord.  When he felt alone, he looked over to see Jesus who was his constant companion.  When the fiery darts of persecution reigned down on him, he simply raised his Shield of Faith.  When discouragement tried to slow him down, he quickly turned to encouraging others.  As we read about Paul’s life, we gain immediate strength, for the little challenges that we have exaggerated as a full blown problem seem trivial to what he experienced.  Someone may say they have a problem that even Paul never faced.  That may be true, but God is just as consistent in helping now as he did for Paul.  God sees your situation and promises He will not let your trials be more than you can handle.  Believers need to be encouraged by the consistency of God’s love for them.  Instead of fueling a problem with worry, anxiety, and fear, we need to fuel our faith with the Word and watch that problem dissolve into a learning experience.

On the way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, his ship landed at Miletus.  Desiring to speak to the Elders of Ephesus, he sent for them to come to Miletus so he could share with them an urgent message.  During that ministerial retreat, Paul made it clear to them that he had shared everything that God had directed him to say and do.  He also warned them of false prophets and speakers who were really wolves, who would seek to devour the “flock” of Believers.  He warned that even some of them would bring false teachings that would cause people to fall away.  He had been so concerned about the threat against the church that he talked about the danger for over three years.   Paul told them that financial interests had been of no concern to him, in fact he reminded them that he worked with his hands to supply not only his necessities, but the needs of those who had assisted him.  He had not acquired a summer home on the Aegean Sea.  He did wear expensive robes from Omar the Taylor.  He never traveled first class, but went steerage on his watery travels.  He told them what Jesus had taught years before: it is move blessed to give than to receive.  After the meeting they prayed together and then Paul set sail for Jerusalem. (Acts 20: 17-38)

Political and Religious corruption has been an issue of concern for generations.  Almost every newly elected politician faces the challenge to eradicate the quagmire of self interest groups in the political arena.  Sadly with the religious community there also is a swamp of corruption.  This is an area that those outside the Faith have been eager to address.  Their purpose is to throw all Christians under the bus.  Where are the faithful servants that are willing to call out the corruption within the Church?  Some of the teachings that are presented are in direct contradiction to God’s intended Word.  Many promote a lifestyle of the “rich and famous.”  Ministers exhibit lavish houses, cars, airplanes and other material evidences of a misinterpreted truth.  Should ministers live a life style higher than those who they shepherd or teach?  Should the shepherds sell their materials at a profitable margin, even though they claimed they received it from God?  People are receiving correct as well as incorrect teaching, but the motivation of the speaker is self serving.  Ignoring the problem only brings a greater freedom to continue to present a misinterpreted message.  The Church needs to drain the religious swamp, so that the uncompromising Truth can once again present a unifying message.  But the problem is who has the courage to pull the plug!  Who has the courage to call out the false prophets?  Instead of heeding the warning flags, millions of Christians continue to follow the “Pied Piper” as he leads them from Biblical Truths to a worldly concept that financial gain is the evidence of spiritual blessings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

APOLLOS

Evangelist Apollos built a reputation as a dynamic speaker who generated a large number of followers.  His knowledge of the Scriptures was unchallenged. (Acts 18:24,25)  His enthusiasm and fervent zeal for the Word of God produced disciples from Ephesus to Corinth.  He was so idealized in Corinth that people began to promote his ministry above those of Paul, Peter, and even Christ. (I Corinthians 1:12)  The attachment to the messenger was a serious problem in the expansion of the early Church.  Sadly, the thread of human attachment to the messenger has continued through the generations.  The elevation of “spiritual” leadership to a role of sainthood has hindered the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Paul wrote a stern letter to the Corinthians to stop elevating individuals above the message.  He called such seekers carnal, who need to understand that the messengers are just relaying what God has directed them to say.  He pointed out that he may have planted the Word and Apollos watered the Word, but it was God who gave the increase (I Corinthians 3: 5,6)

Apollos had received teachings from his “denominational” headquarters and presented accurately the truth that was taught him.  The problem was the teachings he received had not gone far enough.  He was taught Old Testament 101 and Repentance 202 up through John the Baptist’s ministry. (Acts 18:25)  Today, many denominational and independent churches center on only certain aspects of Biblical truths.

One day, Apollos was speaking at the local Synagogue in Ephesus.  The people eagerly listened as this charismatic speaker shared the Gospel message.  In the crowd that day was a husband and wife evangelistic team that had accompanied Paul on a number of his crusades.  After the meeting, Aquila and Priscilla met with Apollos to help him fine-tune his message. (Acts 18:26)  Encouraged by what they shared, he decided to take his ministry to Corinth.  There he encouraged those who already believed, as well as confounded the Jews by showing that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:27,28)  Much of teaching today is limited to the basics.  We preach and teach repentance and the accepting of Jesus as Savior, but we fail to present the Holy Spirit and Jesus as Lord.  The result is we have “baby” Christians that never mature.  There seems to be contentment in our spiritual lives, rather then a questing for spiritual growth.  Apollos persuaded many Jews to accept that Jesus was the Christ, but there seemed to be no follow up.  He knew only the “baptism of John.” (Acts 18:25)  But by the actions of Aquila and Priscilla, he was able to share the complete Gospel.  I believe one of the greatest mission fields today is the Church.  Believers need to reach out to the unsaved, while at the same time encouraging each other to quest for the Kingdom.  Repentance and acceptance of the Savior, followed by the empowering of the Holy Spirit and service should be the journey every person should take.  Let our churches move from being nurseries to places of higher learning.

In our journey in the Kingdom, let us never lose sight of our goals; for when we do, we will follow our own agendas instead of God’s.  Apollos let success go to his head and as a result pursued his own desires.  Paul wanted him to return to Corinth to help with the church, but he was “unwilling” to do so.  He would come at a “convenient” time, in other words, when he was ready. (I Corinthians 16:12)  I urge all spiritual leaders to never let success go to their head.  It is not their ministry, but God’s ministry.  It is not their timing, but God’s timing.  It is not their way, but God’s way.   It is not listening to people, but listening to God.  It is not justifying their ministry by numbers, but by seeing changed lives.  It is not about them, but all about Him!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I WANT A MIRACLE

When does a supernatural occurrence qualify as a miracle?  Are all miracles supernatural manifestations?  What role does faith play in witnessing Divine interventions in life?  Who initiates the miracles?  Can one’s personal faith ignite an action in someone else?  As one mills around these questions, other thoughts will present themselves.  Does our faith move God, or does God move independently of our faith?  How much of a role do we play in the miracles that present themselves?

Peter, at one of the inner gates of the Temple, confronted a lame man who had never walked.  This individual was carried daily to the Temple area to ask for alms.  When Peter and John saw him, Peter told him to look at them.  He then commanded him to get up and walk.  The man must have hesitated, for Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up.  When he saw that he could stand, he immediately started walking, leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:2-8)  This man exhibited no faith; rather, it was Peter’s faith in the name of Jesus that brought about the healing. (Acts 3:16)

Paul, in the city of Lystra, also confronted a lame man who had never walked.  As Paul was preaching, he noticed a cripple who was carefully listening to the word.  Paul looked at this man intently and realized that the word he brought had initiated faith in this individual.  So Paul commanded him to stand up and walk.  The Bible says the man leaped up and walked. (Acts 14:8-10)  Paul did not need to help him up or assist him in anyway, for the man’s faith ignited the healing.

When our faith brings about the supernatural, should it not be a normal experience?  Biblical miracles were used to bring attention to the message.  Once the message is secured in an individual, they will begin to act on God’s Word.  Signs and wonders are to bring attention to God.  Once we enter the family of God, miracles will be administered, but the purpose is not for the “sign seeking” Christians, but for the lost that need to be drawn to the Savior.  For Believers to gather in a closed environment to seek “miracles” for themselves is to miss the point completely.  To the Believer, the miracle of faith is what opens the door to the supernatural; whereas, the unbeliever is drawn to faith through the supernatural.

Peter lifted up the lame man.  Paul commanded the cripple man to get up by himself.  We need, as Peter did, to reach out to the “whosoever.”  Let us lay hands on the “lame,” expecting to see the power of God.  May our faith influence the “fence riders.”  We need, as Paul did, to encourage those with beginner faith.  We need to speak encouragement to those whose “walk” is difficult.  For years, I have heard Christians say that they need a miracle.  This shows how misguided we are.  We don’t need a miracle, for we have been given everything we need for an abundant life. (II Pet. 1:3)  What we need is to walk in faith and appropriate what God has given us.  When we get in a mess we tend to ask God to bail us out.  We must remember that what we sow outside of the Word will reap the consequences.  Miracles are the sinners “get out of jail card,” not the Believers way of recovering from a miscalculation.

Let us replace our mirrors with windows.  Let us walk with the assurance that we are the representatives of God’s Kingdom.  It is not a question of what God can do for us; rather, what we can do for God.  Let our shadow move over the lost, exhibiting the power of the Holy Spirit, as did Peter’s in Jerusalem. (Acts 5:15)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THEY MISSED IT

Watching the stoning of Stephen was a young “religionist” by the name of Saul. (Acts 7:58)  He was well versed in the Jewish Law.  He had received his training under the great Jewish scholar, Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3)  His knowledge of the Jewish faith elevated him to a “valedictorian” status. (Galatians 1:14)  His father must have been a positive influence on his life, for Saul’s educational journey would lead to him becoming a Pharisee, just as his father. (Acts 23:6)  As Saul watched the stoning of Stephen, he knew that his time had come to play an active role in opposing this new religious movement that was proving to be a serious challenge to Judaism.  Jerusalem became the hub of persecution against this newly formed group of religious heretics. (Acts 8:1)  It seems that Saul became the spear head of this “religious cleansing.”  He led raids throughout the city arresting those who dared to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Acts 8:3)  As the Jesus followers fled the city, Saul pursued them with extradition papers to seize and arrest them, especially in Damascus.  (Acts 9:1, 2)

The question is how could such a learned individual as Saul fail to discover the timely application of Scriptures that pointed to the coming of the Messiah?  Just in the book of Psalms, there are over 101 verses that point to Jesus as the Christ.  Isaiah has 124 verses that specifically speak to whom Jesus really was.  In fact, there are over 355 Old Testament verses that apply to Jesus. When the Wise Men came to Jerusalem to enquire about the birth of the King of the Jews, the whole city was troubled. (Matthew 2:3) The Chief Priest and Scribes informed Herod that He was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, fulfilling Micah 5:2.  This should have caused tremendous excitement to the religious community.  The Sanhedrin should have appointed a “grand jury” to investigate the merits of the inquiry of the Wise Men.  Special committees should have been formed to travel to Bethlehem to gather all the information they could.  Scriptures should have been opened that might shed light to a possible arrival of the long awaited Messiah.  Instead, Herod the King ordered all children living in Bethlehem and coastal regions under the age of two to be executed. (Matthew 2:16)  The religious community dismissed the inquiries of the Wise Men as unfounded speculation.  How could one of the most respected Pharisees and a member of the Council, Gamaliel, have missed the significance of the Bethlehem birth?  Even after Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies the organized Jewish community failed to connect the Scriptures and recognize their Messiah.

The Jewish leaders centered their teachings on restoring the Jewish Kingdom to a place of prominence in the world. Through that process they elevated selected Scriptures to the fore front.  They separated themselves from the common believers, by promoting themselves as mediators between man and God.  The Oral Law reinforced their agendas.  Saul was taught by the biased Jews who pursued their own interest.  After his eyes were opened at his conversion, Saul, now known as Paul, could hardly wait to share the real Truth.  Today we face similar obstacles to the real truth.  Promotions of selective truths penetrate the Christian community.  There are many sincere Believers that have been blinded to the real Truth by those who have elevated themselves to a self promoted position of authority.  The Bible is not a Lego manual, where man builds his own theology.  It is not a book to pick and choose what we think will satisfy our spiritual lives.  I believe that the Church is missing God’s intent by listening to teachings that cater to the senses instead of the spirit.  The Truth is there, we just need to center on the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.  When we discover the whole Truth, we will as Paul did, be eager to share it with others.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment