HOW MANY?

If you were to ask the average Christian (whatever that means) how many people they have led to Jesus Christ, the number would be alarmingly small.  The majority of Christians know they have a spiritual obligation to share the Gospel, but how to do it is an entirely different question.

I remember early in my ministry I promoted “soul winning” programs that would help the bashful saint present the GOOD NEWS.  I tried everything from James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion to producing our church’s own tracts (pamphlets).  Bumper stickers plastered the cars with spiritual gems with the hope that the simple message would draw the unsaved to the nearest salvation station.  In one city where I pastored, I had the youth of our church meet every Thursday to hit the streets to present our salvation tracts.  For over two months, they distributed the pamphlets to over 1,000 homes with the hope that the recipients would respond to the written invitations.  Instead of jubilation at the responses, discouragement laced their minds.  There were a number who made the decision, and for that we were thankful, but the toll it took on our youth weighed heavily on the leadership of our church.  It was not only in our body of Believers, but many other evangelistic churches also experienced the same disappointments.

Within the next few years, the “soul winning movement” moved from the streets into the houses of worship.  Altar invitations became the way of bringing the lost to Jesus.  People were released from “one on one” evangelism.  Their calling was to bring people to the church.  It was there that the pastor would take over the “soul winning” duties.  What happened was the salvation message took center stage, and soon the saved begin to starve for meat that would help them grow and become effective Christians.  People failed to realize that pastors don’t reproduce sheep, the sheep do!

Today, it seems the evangelical church is slowly coming out of its citadels of worship to once again bring the Gospel message to the lost.  I am thankful for those who understand their Biblical calling and are willing to share the wonderful message of God’s love.  We must be careful though, not to adopt man made techniques to present the Gospel.  The Church tried that before and it did not work.

Much of the discouragement that faces Believers today is based on not knowing what is expected of them.  Instead of attending seminars and course instruction on “soul winning,” Christians need to simply share their story.  Every day there will be opportunities to present the Truth that has been instilled in us.  When we see people going through similar life-altering experiences, we must be ready to present our story.  Simply share how the Lord helped you through your crisis or situation.  People will not challenge your presentation, because you are the living proof of that victory.  Share how you came to know Jesus Christ.  Maybe that individual will not respond to your sharing, but you planted the seed.  That planting will pave the way for another Believer to water that seed with his story and, through the Holy Spirit, that person may experience the miracle of rebirth. (I Corinthians 3:6-9)

How many people have you led to Jesus Christ?  Maybe we don’t have a definitive number, but if the Lord would reveal to us how many came into the Kingdom by way of our seed planting or watering, we would be amazed!  Maybe your joy was the sunshine that helped the seed to grow.

Share your story!  Be a Planter!  Be a Waterer!  Let your SON shine!  It is a team effort!  God gives the increase.

 

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THE FOCUSED PRAYER LIFE

I wonder how many Believers find it difficult to stay focused when they pray.  Soon after the salutation and a brief expression of praise and worship are uttered, the supplications and petitions begin their upward journey.  If we pass the three minute mark, there is a sense of accomplishment, but from that point on there is an increasing struggle to keep our mind on our one way conversation.  Now if we are in a crisis, either imaginary or real, we force ourselves to stay the course, hoping our prayers are reaching beyond our immediate surroundings.  If we are praying for others, not fully understanding all the implications of their request, our attention span is severely limited.  I know it is difficult to admit that we might have “prayer anemia,” but to go through a form of praying with a lack of excitement and expectation is falling short of what is expected of every Believer.

Years ago, there was a thing called, “praying through.”  What that meant was that you prayed until you felt a release in your spirit, knowing that your faith was carrying your requests to the Throne Room of God.  Sometimes those supplications and petitions would take unrecorded time.  During those prayer roads to Heaven, one would become so excited in the experience that it was hard to return to the carnal activities of life.  Today, we pray through until our mind decides to wander off to things that have no spiritual significance.  We try to stay focused, but it becomes a struggle.  Now to those who are prayer warriors, this article will have little or no effect.  You have identified and understood Satan’s tricks to bombard the mind to keep the spirit from being released within the Believer.

It is very difficult for some Believers to live a truly dedicated life while surrounded by the carnal and tangible things of the world.  It is hard to open our Bibles daily and study the Words of life.  It is hard to show outwardly the change that has supposedly occurred inwardly.  It is hard to be surrounded by the unsaved and still maintain the integrity that the Believer is to exhibit.  If we have not been a living example of Jesus Christ in our daily lives, both in our actions and thoughts, it will be very difficult to stay focused when it comes time to having an uninterrupted time with God.

Before God called me into the ministry, I worked in an auto assembly plant in Detroit.  When I got home, the first thing I did was take a shower.  It felt good to get rid of dirty clothes and wash the grim of the job off me.  Why can’t Believers that are working in the world take a spiritual shower with God’s Word?  Let us wash the daily influences of the world off our minds through the opening of our Bibles.  Let us then open our freshly washed minds so our thoughts are on God.  When that happens, our spirit will be released to begin its conversation with God.

When we live like the world, we begin to act like the world.  Unfocused prayers come from unfocused lives.  The focus and longevity of our prayers is directly related to the time we spend every day focused on the One who loves us so much.

Have a happy focused prayer life!!

 

 

 

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CHURCH IMMIGRATION

 

In our political quagmire, rhetoric has evolved that has added to the division of our Country.  Immigration has been front and center to a continuing volcanic eruption of opinions.  The vacillating of viewpoints has driven our divide into a chasm that widens everyday.  On one side, there are the open arms of acceptance to anyone who wants to be part of this great land.  On the other side are those with folded arms of immigration restraint.  One group conveys an open door way, while the other group offers a door that can only be opened by meeting certain criteria.

Parallel to the political landscape is the Church and its immigration policy.  There are basically two viewpoints to the accepting of individuals who are seeking Christian citizenship.  One is an open door policy that offers acceptance to anyone occupying a pew.  The other offers citizenship by the person’s acceptance of Jesus Christ.  The oversimplification of these two approaches has led to a corrupted and ineffective Church.

Our Country is concerned about people entering it who seek to destroy our liberties.  The Church needs to be equally aware of people who are entering the Christian community with the intent to destroy the standards of Biblical integrity.  The attack on Biblical inerrancy is not so much an external challenge as it is an internal threat.  There are those within the Church who have assumed leadership roles with the intent to misdirect the “very elect” on issues that challenge the basic core of Biblical truths.  The open door policy of the Church has been a gateway for “Biblical Terrorist” to enter the confines of the elected.  As we read the Scriptures, we find continual warnings about the internal assaults against the Church, yet we turn a blind eye to its reality.  Until the Church understands what it is facing, perilous times will continue to rock its foundation.

When you look at what has been happening in the Church today, we will readily conclude that something is out of kilter.  Have those who have truly been Born Again suddenly decided to question the authority of God’s Word?  Would they challenge the Bible’s stand on homosexuality?  Would they redefine what constitutes marriage?  Would they condone same sex marriages?  The true Believer would never entertain anything that would question God’s Word.  Who then would pursue such a humanistic approach?

The Bible makes it clear that no one can come to Christ except God draws him.  It is also emphatically clear that no one comes to God except through Jesus Christ.  The drawing is implemented by the Holy Spirit.  The problem is “soul winners” try to do it on their own.  Programs are initiated on how to lead someone to Christ.  The intent is good, but sometimes they supersede the working of the Holy Spirit.  The initial response could be favorable, but in many cases the result of their salvation bares no evidence.  This is also where sheep in wolves clothing can enter the commune of Believers.

Difficult days lie ahead for both the Church and the Country.  As there is a path for those who want to pursue citizenship in the United States, shouldn’t there also be a directive for those interested in being part of the Kingdom of God?  The Church needs to take seriously its role in preparing people for their life changing experience, so when the Holy Spirit presents the Son, they will be prepared to receive Jesus not only as Savior, but also as Lord.

 I am asking that we examine the Scripture and see the warnings that have been issued to the Church.  The sheep in wolves clothing is not something new, but has been revealed throughout the Word.  The Church is facing steady decline of its constituency.  Pew Research just released statistics showing that between 2007 and 2014 there was a drop of almost 8% by those who had identified themselves as Christians.  There is an assault against the Church as well as our Country.  It is time to wake up and realize what is happening.  It is time to draw a definitive line and say enough is enough.  When our Constitution and the Bible are not defended, evil will triumph.  May God help us!

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SEEK AND SET

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to stay focused on God?  Think for a moment how many times the things of the world take center stage in our lives.  Take a situation with which you have been struggling.  Just when you think the challenge is under control, it reappears with its ingredients of doubt, anxiety, worry, and the “what ifs.”  Mixing these thoughts into our consciousness will tend to affect our spiritual life.  We know that we are to cast, throw down, and place all our cares on Him who cares so much for us. (I Peter 5:7)  But for some reason, we feel we need to use our human resources to combat life’s challenges.  It is true we have the human capacity to respond to all the aspects of life, but when the situations control our time and energy, we must reach beyond our own abilities and let God handle them.  Timing is so important.  If we hold on to the problem too long, it will make it harder and harder to disconnect from the situation.  Satan loves to have Believers second guess their actions.  The more the problem dominates our thoughts, the greater the challenge to our spiritual stability.  Thoughts like, “You should have…”, “Why didn’t you?”, “If only…”, will enter our thought compartment.  We must understand the limits to our human resources.  The sooner we do, the quicker we will learn to cast all our cares on Him!

One of the most neglected verses in the Bible is Colossians 3:1, 2.  Here Paul stresses two words that should be in every Christian’s vocabulary: Seek and Set.  We are to SEEK the things that are above, and to set our affection on Heavenly things.  To seek is to desire and enquire.  The things of the world are temporal, while the things of Heaven are eternal.  The foundation of our faith rests in the things “above,” not on the things “below.”  Would it not seem that our interests and desires should be about God and His Kingdom?  Jesus said to seek and we will find. (Matthew 7:7)  As we seek the things of God, we will find His Truths and will exhibit them in our daily lives.  We are also called to SET our affections on the eternal.  Set is to put in a specified place.  Affection is to exercise the mind, to interest oneself, to regard, and to think.  We are to set our interests on Heavenly principles.  Our interest should be in achieving the directives of our Heavenly Father.

When we seek and set our ways in the Heavenlies, we will learn quickly what His ways are.  How much of our day is spent dwelling on the negatives of life?  How much of our time is spent in self-centeredness?  How much of our prayer time is around our needs and wants?  How much of our life is around problems?  How much of our life dwells on things that are not really that important?  Let us learn to reverse our thought patterns and center on what is really important.

The Fruit of the Spirit is an example of seeking the things that originate from above.  The Holy Spirit reveals to us what He hears in the Heavenlies. (John 16:13)  The nine fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22, 23 originate from God.  When we seek after the things of the Kingdom, we are putting our problems on notice that they will be short lived.  When we set our minds on the Heavenly, the earthly matters will be opportunities to bring glory to God.

 

 

 

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SEED PLANTING

If we claim to be a Believer, we will exemplify Jesus in all that we do.  Our words will be His words.  Our compassion will mirror the compassion He has shown us.  Forgiveness will flow as a gentle stream of relief and reconciliation.  Our communication with God will be a never ending experience.  Our love of one another will show no favoritism.  Our affection is set upon Him, while our actions reflect Him.

To be able to function as Jesus did, we need to be rooted and built up in Him.  To have a root, one must start with a seed.  The seed is the Word of God.  Once we accept God’s gift of His Son, we need to spend as much time as possible studying the Word.  As the seed germinates, a root begins to grow.  The more we study, the deeper the root goes.  Soon we begin to grow internally evidenced by our external attitude and actions.  People begin to see a change in our life.  As we continue this growth pattern, we eventually become established in the Faith.  Realizing the miracle that has happened to us, we celebrate with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6, 7)  That does not mean that we have arrived at the limits of spiritual growth.  We continue to study His Word and realize that this Seed can offer growth in so many other areas in our life.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all verbal Believers evidenced the reality of this simple teaching?  The biggest problem that faces Christians today is Biblical Fasting.  The Bible is read as an afterthought, not as a primary action.  How can we produce fruit without planting the seed?  Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  To understand what an abundant life is all about, we need to read the Word.  Satan wants to pollute the seed so that it will not be planted in the lives of people.  When he gets people to doubt the validity of the Seed, people will refrain from planting the Word.  Sadly, some self-appointed pastors are even planting “dead” seeds (misinterpreted word).   One example of a wrong seed is planting financial seeds into a ministry with the hope of reaping monetary increase.  Many read the Word with the purpose of picking Scriptures that will help them identify with the world’s values.  This kind of seed will produce thistles and weeds that will choke out the intent of the Word.

If we were to summate what the Christian walk is all about, it would be, “Whatever we do, we do it in the name of the Lord and we do it heartily.” (cf. Colossians 3:17, 23)  Let’s take a moment and see if our daily activities meet these criteria.  Where we go, what we do, what we say, and how we react, is all to be done in the name of the Lord.  In other words, we are God’s representative figure on earth.  We are to be the audio and visual personage of Jesus Himself.   It is more than going to church on a specific day.  It is a daily life of servitude.  It is more than offering up a few sentence prayers.  It is starting and ending the day in constant dialogue with our Heavenly Father.  It is not what I want to do, but what God wants me to do.  It is so rewarding to end the day thinking back at what God has accomplished through us.

Let every day be a day of anticipation, knowing that the planting of more seeds will produce exciting results.  Read the Word and anticipate the seed germinating into a foundational root that will produce fruit which will grow into spiritual fulfillment.  We will then be able to say as Paul said “…I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 

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THE SHROUDED TRUTH

The Bible contains the greatest collection of written words ever assembled.  There has never been, and there never will be, anything that can parallel its power and authority.  The problem is the Scripture has been shrouded from the minds of so many readers.  To help assist the inquiring minds are commentaries and Biblical helps that consist of “cliff notes,” CD’s, and interpretative books and study guides, as well as a plethora of translations.  Still, the difficulty meter continues to red line.  Bibles are handed out to the “whomsoever” with the hopeful intent that the reader will be led into a spiritual epiphany.  But so many times the potential believer becomes confused as to the implication of its content.  Soon the Bible becomes a dust catcher.  It is true that there have been people that were so moved by what they read that it led them to a life changing encounter with their Creator, but those are the exceptions instead of the norm.

The Disciples experienced the Word by hearing and seeing, yet they failed multiple times in illustrating its reality.  As we go through the Scriptures, we see a continuity of misunderstanding by His followers.  Time and time again, Jesus would expose their shallowness in implementing His truth.  From the Sea of Galilee to the hills of Judea, the Disciples lacked understanding of the things Jesus taught and did.  There were times when they introduced their own spiritual ignorance by their actions and statements.  Many of their questions were intended for their own self promotion.  As we read the Gospels, we need to be more aware of the actions of the Disciples.  As we do, we will soon be sympathetic to what Jesus faced in preparing them to carry on His ministry.

To simply read the Bible with the hope that the spiritual mysteries of life will be answered is to face disappointment.  The Bible is a closed book to the unsaved.  They will never understand Its truth until the Holy Spirit opens their heart.  The Ethiopian Eunuch, who had acquired a copy of the Scroll of Isaiah, was on his way back to his country when he stopped his chariot and tried reading from the Scroll.  A layman by the name of Philip was led by the Spirit to approach the Eunuch and ask him if he understood what he was reading.  The Eunuch simply said, “How can I, accept some man would guide me?” (Acts 8:31)  Philip, under the power of the Holy Spirit, led him into such an understanding of the Scripture that he turned his life over to Jesus Christ and was baptized in a stream not far from where they were.  After Jesus resurrection, He appeared to two confused and unbelieving disciples as they journeyed toward their home in Emmaus.  They had heard rumors that Jesus was alive, but there was no proof.  Jesus then gently led them through the Old Testament, beginning with Moses and then through the Prophets, showing how it applied to Him.  It was shortly after this revealing that their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus.  As quickly as He appeared, He vanished.  They shared, “Did not our heart burn within us…while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)  The two disciples immediately ran back to Jerusalem to the locked upper room to tell their story.  While they shared their excitement, Jesus suddenly appeared to His assembled disciples and proceeded to fine tune His previous teachings.  The Bible says that “He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

The reason there is so much diversity in the Church is man has been too eager to interpret Scripture through human understanding.  False doctrine is presented when man attempts to interpret Scripture through experiential knowledge instead of by revelation.  The reason for Paul’s spiritual success was clearly evidenced when he shared that the message he brought was not what someone taught him, but “by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12)   I know there are many good meaning organizations that distribute Bibles with the hope they will change lives, but it is like putting the cart before the horse.  We need to be a living Bible for all to read.  Through our lives, let us show them the way to the foot of the Cross.  Let us then open the Word with them, and through the Holy Spirit open their understanding to the Scriptures.  To the unsaved, the Bible is a closed book.  To the Saved, it is our guide book through life!

 

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what are we doing?

Whenever I venture into the arena of the social media, I am immediately inundated with political propaganda.  To my surprise, many of the pundits are “card” carrying Believers.  I imagine the effort extended in searching out biased information must be exhausting.  Much of the publicized data is excerpts from off-center organizations that have an agenda to promote division and partisan rhetoric.  Many people have the attitude that whatever is reported or written about must be true.  They then become the conduit in which the unverified information is released.  It seems Believers are spending more time exposing the flaws of political candidates than they are in presenting the One who will eventually determine who will assume the Presidency.  Some Christians are so worried about the up-coming election that they have deleted their spiritual time for depression time.  Secular news reporting is occupying the consciousness of so many Believers.  The bad news has overshadowed the good news of the Gospel.  Christians are facing diversions to their faith at an alarming rate.  Satan’s tactic is to get the followers of Jesus to leave their first love and get entwined with the things of the world.

Many are believing that the outcome of our Presidential election will determine whether America will survive or self destruct.  I guess I am carnally naïve, but I believe I am spiritually aware that American’s longevity is not based on who assumes the leadership of this Country, but by the determinant will of our Creator!  Christians need to stop expelling the carbon monoxide of negativity.  We need to breathe in the breath of God and release the positiveness of His Word.  It is time to back away from the arenas of political conflict and trust God.  He does not need our help in determining who should lead our Country.  He is well aware of who is running for office.  He knows what they are saying, thinking, and doing.  He is aware of how this Country has turned its back on Him.  There is nothing that the Believer can say that God does not already know.  When Christians enter the political war, their spiritual growth is affected.  Their joy and appreciation for life begins to disappear.  It is like being on the Sea of Galilee with the Disciples as they experience a life-threatening storm.  They thought it would be the end of their lives.  Jesus, who was in the boat with them, simply asked them where was their faith.  Sure, this Country of ours is in a heavy storm of chaos, but the captain of our boat is God.  He has a purpose and plan for this Country, and we will see it fulfilled in His time.

Everyday we get up, it is a gift from God.  It is exciting to see God working throughout our great Country.  Lives are changing everyday because of the message we are conveying.  Our message is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to redeem us from a sin-filled life.  As Believers, let us not lower ourselves into issues and platforms that are dictated by the world.  Let us stand tall with the message of hope.  We have our conventions every Sunday as we present the agenda that will change America forever.  Let us nominate at our next CNC (Christian National Convention) Almighty God to be the head of our country.  We need to get out and spread the message.  Let us urge people to vote the Christian Party.  This is not the time to speak about other candidates, but to promote the author and finisher of our Faith and to share what the Christian platform is all about!

 

 

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MAKE THE CHURCH GREAT AGAIN

After Paul’s great conversion, he spent the next three years attending the University of the Wilderness (Arabia) and its satellite affiliate at Damascus.  Upon completing his undergraduate work, he attended graduate school in Jerusalem under the tutorage of  Apostle Peter.  After graduation, he began his itinerate ministry.  Paul was not a self promoter: it was not the “Paul Evangelistic Ministry,” or the “Paul Ministries;” it was all about Jesus and Him crucified.  All that the people knew about him was that he was preaching the faith that he once tried to destroy. (Galatians 1:17-24)  After fourteen years of circuit preaching, Paul went to Jerusalem with two fellow servants to present his case as an Apostle to the Gentiles.  It was more of a courtesy call than a petition for credentials.  It was not a permission seeking mission, but a showing of what God was directing him to do.  When the Church leadership perceived the Grace that was given to Paul, they extended the right hand of fellowship and Paul was ritualistically established as the Apostle to the Gentiles.  The only request the leaders made was for him to remember the poor. (Galatians 2:9)

Notice that Paul’s spiritual credentials were not identified by his rhetoric, but by their perception of the Grace of God that was in him.  It is not a question of how well one knows the Scripture, but how the Scripture is exhibited through the messenger.  I have heard some great Christian orators that have flawlessly preached the Word, only to see their life exemplify the world.  To see a messenger of God exhibiting a monetary separation from the people he serves is to witness a self-centered leader.  To live an exorbitant life style while those he serves are in financial stress is to conflict the Gospel.  To receive a salary well above those of his congregation who are struggling to live from pay check to pay check is to miss the mark.  To say the supporting evidence of spiritual growth is having increased wealth is to present another “gospel.”

Many of the Church doctrines today are striving to be religiously, rather then Scripturally, correct.  One day, Peter traveled to Antioch for a little R&R.  During that time, he let his religious guard down and ate with the Gentiles. (Non-Jews)  To his surprise, some of James’ cabinet happened to be traveling though the city.  Fearing repercussions from his denomination, he immediately separated himself from the “heathen.”  By his action, others were swayed to separate themselves from the Gentiles.  Peter did not want to rattle the religious right wing, but by his action he put himself in conflict with God’s Word.  Years before, Peter was called by God (through a vision) to go to the home of a Roman soldier and show them that God was not a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:28)  By separating himself from his Antioch hosts, he placed himself back under the law and into religious quick sand.  Paul confronted Peter openly for his compromising actions. (Galatians 2:11)  His rebuke of Peter must have stopped Peter’s heart!  Peter talked the talk, but His walk told a different story.  Paul was willing to take a stand against the hypocrites of the Church.  It is time for the faithful to stand, as Paul did, and expose the inconsistancies of Believers whose talk is narrow, but their walk is broad.

As the politicians roll out their rhetoric of verbal promises, maybe we could paraphrase one of their slogans: “Let us make the Church great again!”  Let us oppose the “progressive”, “liberal” agenda of the Church and restore the integrity of the Word.

 

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RITUALISTIC HEARING

Probably the majority of those who read this article go to “church” on a weekly basis.  In some fellowships, a bulletin guides the participant through a ritualistic experience of worship.  Still others receive a mini-newspaper of current and future events that are offered to the constituency.  There may even be sermon outlines so one can follow the message and write notes on its content.  To leave the building uninformed would be the fault of the recipient.  In some assemblies, there is no organized ritual, just a free flow of energy culminated by a feeling of fulfillment.  What it comes down to is different strokes for different folks.  Whatever brings us into a true and appreciative experience with our Heavenly Father is what really matters.

The real issue is not the type of worship we follow, but how does the message we hear affect us?  Are we hearing what God is saying through His messenger, or are we just chair warmers fulfilling our obligatory attendance?  Every Pastor knows that the success of the message is weighed by the actions of the hearers.  To simply hear the sermon, congratulate the Pastor on a fine message, and leave with no intent to put action into what we heard is blatant hypocrisy.

For thousands of years the Word has gone out, and countless generations have failed to implement what they have heard.  In Ezekiel 33:31, the prophet illuminates a hidden problem that has continually crept through the centuries of proclaimed Believers.  Through prophetic utterance, Ezekiel expresses that God’s people came to hear the Word, but did nothing with what they heard.  The people regularly attended worship, but their listening was laced with indifference.  They professed love for one another, but their heart was centered on themselves.

Why is it so easy to accept the lies of the Devil and so hard to implement God’s Truth?  Why does the visible tend to overshadow our Faith?   Why do people fail to act on His Word?  Why do circumstances trump our Faith?  Why do we doubt God’s ability to fulfill His Word?  What is the basis for our failure to act on His Word?  There seems to be immunity to His Word.  WHY?

Jesus gave a teaching that all three synoptic writers each recorded to emphasize His teaching to the Jews, Romans, and Greeks.  Jesus simply said that you could not sew a piece of new material on an older garment or put new wine into old containers.  The results would cause a failure to fulfill their intent. (Matt. 9, Mark 2, Luke 5)  It is the same principle when it comes to Christians who try to fit the “new life” into their old ways.  It just doesn’t work.  We punch our Sunday morning time card and, when the service is over, we smile and walk away feeling we have fulfilled our weekly commitment.  The message’s effectiveness is judged by the action of the hearer.  When the message has no room in our lives, we convert the worship experience into a horizontal fellowship hour.

Many Christians are convinced that the way to eternal life is simply believing in the finished work of Jesus on Calvary, and that the evidence of that belief is their weekly attendance at a church of their choosing.  Is that what the Scripture teaches?

The Apostle Paul understood what following Jesus was all about, “…I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)  There is no room for self in a Christ centered life.  To read the Word, hear the Word, live the Word, and share the Word, should be the desire of every Believer.  There is no flexibility in a Christ centered life.  The next time we hear the proclaimed Word, let us open our hearts and prepare to put works with our Faith.

 

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LESS OF ME

I have found the older I get, the more dependent I become on God.  In my younger days, my attitude was to petition God to support my endeavors.  It was more my desires than His.  Whenever my agenda succeeded, God would be recognized as my source of accomplishment.  Little did I realize that God was not the author, but, rather the observer of my actions.  Believers must be very careful when they invoke the name of God in a program they initiated.  If it should fail, God becomes the focus of the blame.   So much of our actions are based on interpretations of what we think is the normal response to Scriptural content.  When our behavior displays an interpretation of the Truth, rather than the intended Truth, there is bound to be separation of Believers.  This is how denominations begin, which in turn leads to independent ministries that claim to be the true representatives of Truth.  We are not the CEO, president, captain, or leader of our Faith, and the sooner we realize that, the greater confidence we will have in the creator of our Faith.  It is not what I want to believe, but what He wants me to believe.

Many Believers go on a spiritual shopping trip in search of Truth that will satisfy the questing of their minds.  Left to ourselves, we will accept teachings that cater to our whims and instant gratifications.   We pass by the basic Truths that will replace our mirrors with windows.  So much of our Faith is about receiving instead of giving.  It is what God can do for me, instead of God enabling me to do for others.

The sons of Zebedee, James and John came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” (Mark 10:35 NAS)  They wanted Jesus to grant them positional authority in the Heavenly Kingdom.  The James and John syndrome is a very real problem in the Church today.  We desire financial restoration instead of learning fiscal responsibility.  We desire physical healing instead of learning how to treat our bodies.  We petition for forgiveness instead of learning how to forgive.  We are more concerned with “end times” than we are with the present.  We like the thrill of being “slain in the Spirit” instead of being alive in the Spirit.  We want the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for personal gratification instead of their intended use in empowering us to reach out.

Getting older brings a greater appreciation of the sustaining power of God.  The more our physical attributes head “south,” the greater the awareness of God’s ability to sustain and prepare us for the “hereafter.”  The things that I counted so important in my life have only been tools to bring me to where I am today.  I have come to a place in my spiritual journey where I can say with confidence that God is faithful in fulfilling His Word, even to every jot and tittle.  I can say with assurance that I now understand what the peace is that “passes all understanding.”  I have learned, as John the Baptizer did, that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)  The older I become, the more it is about Him instead of me.  Instead of petitioning Him, it is worshipping and adoring Him.  When I look back on my life, I blush at the embarrassing abundance that I have received from Him.  He has given me more than I could have ever imagined.

I remember standing at Niagara Falls and witnessing the powerful flow of water pouring over the Falls.  I also was aware of the mist that vaulted up from the base of the Falls.  God has truly poured out His blessings on the Believers; maybe it is time to send up expressions of our gratitude.  When we exalt and praise our Creator, it is bound to affect those around us, just as the mist from the Falls covers those who are close to them.  God owes me nothing, but I owe Him everything.

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