Friday, 21 February 2020

Stuck in Church

Proverbs 2:11 Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you.
      
      Is Jesus the Lord in your heart, or is Jesus just one of the programs in the church building you attend? Are you trusting in Christ’s eternal redemptive gift for your soul, or is your belief in your denomination’s interpretation of what the redemptive gift is? Do you feel like you are stuck in churchiness because your spiritual life has become dry?  
      Maybe you have noticed that deep down in your soul, you have become stuck in a form of religiosity, and even the little spiritual life you think you have left has started to wane? Mark 4:25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 
      Is the strength of your faith in Christ, or is your strength in a spiritual-system you have created through your ego? A lot of people are stuck in church because they have created a fifth gospel so to speak. They have created their very own version of what they want to hear. Many have been cherry-picking bible verses that will allow themselves a carnal life that they can live with impunity. At this point in their faith, they can't figure out why God isn't blessing their life choices.
      This self-made gospel will not work long, because the fundamentals of God's full Gospel have been ignored. These people will end up stuck in church or stuck in the mess of their own making. Hag. 1:9 You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? ” This is the declaration of the LORD of Armies. “Because my house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.
      Some get stuck in this nowhere land, because of a traditional belief that was man-made and not inspired by God. This can hinder the rejuvenation of the soul that the Holy Spirit is trying to give life to. It makes it hard for the light of God's word to make its way through the well-protected zone of personal dogma the heart has become used to. 
      The Samaritans were stuck in their idea of where the right location to worship God should be. John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well. He went right to the issue and pointed out that the whole idea of worship was not about a location, but rather, it was a matter of the heart. True worship was directed toward God the Father led by the Spirit. John 4:23 But an hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him.
      This belief in the location of worship had evolved in Samaria from an event in their history. It was not an instruction from God. It was brought into their faith because of a political move. Solomon's two sons had split the nation into two kingdoms. Israel in the north, led by King Jeroboam, and Judah in the south, reigned over by King Rehoboam. 
      Jeroboam did not want his people travelling to Jerusalem in the south to fulfill their religious obligations and be influenced to move there. Therefore, he created a place of worship in Samaria to appease and keep control of the people. 1 Kings 12:27 If these people regularly go to offer sacrifices in the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem, the heart of these people will return to their lord, King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and go back to the king of Judah. Here are two groups of people stuck in church per se, because their political history made it so. Their location of worship was not handed down as a law from God but was created out of jealous politics.
      Jesus cuts through the traditions of men and brings us freedom and life of the Spirit in our hearts. Christ helps us break free from the man-made ordinances that keep us stuck in a rote repetitious religion. The salvation plan of God frees us to follow the whole word of God. Our God is looking for a heart who will love and bless the Lord in truth. This true worship will keep us all from getting stuck in the churchiness that sometimes becomes an empty mainline belief.
 
      We need to understand the difference and be spiritually sagacious. Prov. 2:11 Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you. The Spirit of God will give us the understanding needed to stay in right-standing with God through Christ if we ask for it. To get unstuck, we need to detach our hearts from the man-made traditions that do not give our souls life. Feed on the purity of Jesus, so we can choose life and live in truth, and not be stuck in church. Blessings.

Friday, 14 February 2020

All Those Tears

Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

      Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. What a wonderful promise God gives us. God, Himself will wipe away every tear, and we can count on the fact that God's healing for the causes of our tears, will be thorough. There will finally be real healing for every hurt we have ever experienced and every hurt we have caused.
      We can see Jesus doing this very thing - taking the pain and reason for weeping away. In the Gospel of Luke chapter seven, we read the story of Jesus coming into the city called Nain. When Jesus drew near the city gate, a dead man was being carried out and he was the only son of his mother. Jesus was moved with compassion and healed the young man of death. Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up! ” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
      These are only my thoughts, but, did Jesus see in this event something resembling what his own mother would be weeping for? Jesus' mother would see and go through the loss of her son at the Crucifixion? Was the Lord seeing all the weeping that would take place until the glory of the resurrection was fulfilled? Maybe the Lord was showing us the power of tear-filled prayers that are handed over to Him by faith. Psalm 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  
      So many people feel like the Psalmist who had become weary of life's pains and tired of crying about them. Psalm 69:3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. "When will my miracle come to pass?" is the cry of many people who's hearts suffer emotionally and physically.
      Even Jesus wept, and the Lord knows the feelings of our broken heart. Isa. 53:3a He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. John 11:35 Jesus wept. This verse is often talked about as being the shortest verse in the Bible. It may be the shortest, but it has one of the largest impacts on humanity. To know that our Lord can relate to the pains in our body, and the hurts in our grieving hearts clearly demonstrate a personal Lord, and a suffering Christ. Jesus can truly relate to what is going on in our deepest soul.
      Now, this is a God I can relate to and trust with my eternity. My Jesus, a man of sorrows. When I am lonely and cannot find the answers to the difficulties of the day. I think of the prayer the Holy Spirit groans out for us with deep intersection, because He knows what we are going through. Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.
      Thank God we have a Lord we can come to in our weakest moments of life. Maybe after walking with our Lord for many years, and have experienced God's faithfulness toward us, we too, can come to the same conclusion Peter did. John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? you hast the words of eternal life. Yes, where can we go but to the Lord with our tears? He truly is the only one who understands.
      Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Blessings Saints. 

Thursday, 6 February 2020

The Bread Of Violence

Proverbs 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 

      Someone said, "When we make our enemies soulless, they become easy to hate."
      My wife and I were talking about all the injustice and mayhem that has taken place in Central and South America over the past few years. It is an important matter for my wife because she was born in Central America. She has been a Canadian citizen for most of her life, but she still has siblings who live in Central America and we hear of the hardships that go on. Another comment that came out of our conversation was, "The world doesn't seem to be happy unless they have a people group to hate." John 4:9 “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? ” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
      Throughout my whole life, there have been immigrants, refugees, or displaced people that I was supposed to hate and be fearful of. In the Fifties, the slur was, "Better dead than red." Then it was, "Be fearful of the Boat-People because they will take your jobs." So much of this Orwellian doublespeak has become commonplace. This fear-filled propaganda has gone on to this day and sometimes sneaks its way into church culture. I heard this statement that I think expresses our human inner fear, "The teeth gnawing at your bones are often your own." 
      There is always going to be a nation, a culture, or a people group to spew our mental pus at, because of our fears and prejudices. Yet, God created these nations for Himself and His purpose. Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. The Lord expressly said to go into all the world and share the love and good news of God. Mark 16:15 Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." You cannot share what you do not have. If we do not have the love of God in our heart, then how can we give it away?
      At this point in our history, there is an inordinate amount of anger in the world. Everyone hates someone for something or another. Matt. 24:12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. Many protests have become violent screaming matches between similar people from the same neighbourhoods. The bread of violence has become a regular meal among the dissatisfied. Prov. 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. If you need something to hate, then hate the real enemy - sin, greed, and ungratefulness.
      Even if all the protesters got everything they wanted, in a short time, the empty space in their ungrateful hearts, would be pulsating toward shouting for something more. Violence and fulminating anger can only produce more of the same. It cannot create real peace. Violence begets violence. Gen. 4:23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.
      It is in God's heart that all nations come and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Rev. 15:4b All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed. How much is - all? All means all nations and all the people who make up these nations. God does not need our permission to invite who He wants in His eternal kingdom. This is God's eternal plan and we are invited to take part in it, and it is not our call to determine who we feel deserves to be part of it.
      John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Whosoever - takes in a large part of the world population. The Lord has asked us to love one another and to be God's hand extended to all people in this world. Our heavenly Father will do the judging that needs to be done. God is better at judgment, because His judgment also has grace within it so that anyone can repent. Matt. 24:14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
      Let us lay down our mob-made pitchforks for chasing everyone away and get on with God's plan and stop the hate. Every one of us who has accepted Christ as Lord was once an enemy of God's kingdom. Yet, while we were sinners and lost in our trespasses and sins, God was loving on us. We are all descendants of some people-group or nation. We are all a whosoever! Let us exchange the bread of violence for the bread of life that comes through Christ. In Jesus name. Amen!

Friday, 31 January 2020

The Visit

Proverbs 1:8 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother's knee.

      Consider your ways. Hag. 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Pay close attention to what our heavenly Father has said, and pay attention to the signs of the times taking place in your life. Are you hearing the voice of the Lord and following up on what was said? Or, are you dismissing God's promptings because you have become dull in heart? Pay close attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying. 
      How many blessings have we missed because we did not recognize a visit from God, while it was happening? Luke 19:44b Because you did not recognize the time when God visited you. This is what Jesus was expounding upon to the people of Jerusalem. God was visiting them, but they did not recognize their deliverer or signs of the times. The very thing the people were praying for (the coming of The Messiah) was standing with them but they did not receive or welcome Him. So close to the blessing, but ever so far.
      We can all look back and see where we missed a visitation from God. The Lord came warning us, helping us through a terrible situation, or blessing us beyond our expectations. However, we didn't recognize God's presence in the moment that He had visited us. We simply wrote it off to good fortune and we lost our opportunity to express great gratitude, appreciation, and fully respond to God's goodness in obedience.
      There was a paralyzed man who had been stuck with an infirmity for thirty-eight years. He had become used to the same old excuse year after year for not getting anywhere in life. He had a degree of faith and attended a gathering of sick people at the Well of Bethesda. He had no answers as to how to use his faith for his healing. You might say he was like a lot of Christians who are stuck in church and attend Sunday after Sunday but have no victory in their daily life. 
      Jesus visited this man and asked him an interesting question. John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well? ” When God asks you if you want to get well or get out of the mess you are in, pay close attention and respond to what God is saying. After being asked the question, the paralyzed man began to tell his sad story and the problems he had in life. He was always missing his chance in life because others got ahead of him. John 5:7 “Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.” 
      When God the Father is visiting you, just take everything God has for you, and throw all the excuses away. If you have a relationship with God, then listen to what He is telling you. Prov. 1:8a Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you. God is looking for a faithful response and not a list of excuses. It is one thing to have a miraculous visitation from God and get blessed to the max. But, pay close attention and obey what God says to do, so that you keep your blessings alive. 
      We don't know why the paralyzed man was stuck in his situation for such a long time, but Jesus does tell him to stop sinning so that things don't get worse. John 5:14 After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” Had the paralytic missed a previous time of visitation and ignored it like so many people do? 
      I can look back and see three warnings that God pointed out to me concerning my unhealthy lifestyle. I had been visited three times but didn't get the message into my heart. Not paying close attention resulted in a stroke. I have to say that at the next visitation, I was fully alert. When Christ knocked at the door of my now diseased heart, I answered and opened the door wide and without excuse grabbed all the healing I could get. Rev. 3:20 Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
      I had to consider my previous ways and repent of them. I am getting a lot better at responding and recognizing the visits from my Lord. I've got no excuses for Him, just a whole lot of "Yes sir! Do your work in me Lord, and point me in the right direction!" We all need to pay close attention to what our Heavenly Father is asking of us when He visits. Lord, God, please come and visit us again, that we may walk with you and be in Christ as you have ordained it so. Amen!

Friday, 24 January 2020

It's Dumb To Go To Hell

Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

      Anne Lamott said, "What is the difference between you and God? God never thinks He is you." Therein is the problem, people think they know better than God. In some cases, they choose to believe there is no God, and the nonsense gets worse. Psalm 14:1a The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. However, sometimes in the midst of all the naysaying, there is a glimmer of reason and something precious comes out of the befuddlement of life. 
       I was driving on Vancouver Island with a coworker. We had to drive for a few hours to deliver equipment to customers. It was a divine appointment because the gentlemen I was working with began questioning me about my faith in Christ. We talked for hours and I answered his questions the best I could. A couple of weeks later, he phoned me and thanked me for helping him accept Jesus as his Lord. He said, "It's something you said that made it clear to me." I thought of all the great doctrine that had been expounded upon and I thanked God for all the wisdom He had given me. He went on to say, "What did it for me, was when you said, "It's dumb to go to hell if you don't half to."  
      Well, there you have it, Saints, wisdom in its fullness. Talk about simplifying the Gospel. By simply sharing what Jesus has done for you, is the criteria the Lord has asked us to use when sharing our faith. 1 Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 
      If you think about what was said, it is dumb to go to hell if you don't have to. Some people think that hell will be some big endless party where every vice is practised with a continual endless supply of fun, fun, and more fun. If all the sinful choices of so-called fun on earth eventually lead to deadly addictions, murders, larceny, and mayhem, then what makes a person think this will become satisfying fulfilment in eternal hell. Truly, only a fool would buy into this party deal Satan has been selling. 
      Others have bought into the lie that they are not worthy of God's love, and therefore, live aimlessly. Satan works overtime on that lie in particular. The devil uses every conceivable argument to deceive people into believing they are not loved by God. It will be so sad for some, who, through gullibleness, fell for this deception and ended up eternally lost because of not accepting God's honest love for them. Imagine, having the choice of believing God or Satan, and choosing the lying devil. Talk about foolishness gone to seed! Prov. 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Let's face it, Satan does have a credibility problem.
      Pastor Tom Gardner says, "Satan will use an ocean of truth to float a lie." Satan is a master of bending the truth and falsifying the word of God. Even though he comes to us acting as an angel of enlightenment, don't believe him, because there is no love in him. The word says clearly that he is a liar and that is his true nature. John 8:44b When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.
      God invites us to choose Him through Christ and accept the finished work of the cross. Our heavenly Father is at work continually and very patient with us so that we come to a place of repentance and receive real life. 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Wow, our Lord does not want any of the billions who live on earth to perish. Talk about abundant love. 
      It is dumb to go to hell when God has made a way for us to not go there. We just have to choose who we are going to believe, and receive God's gift of life. May God's blessed wisdom be on us all. Amen!

Friday, 17 January 2020

I'm Coming Back

Proverbs 24:16 The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

      Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
      What an ominous thought. Every temptation and spiritual battle I have prevailed over in my life will most likely be fought again. Satan will wait for a better opportunity to come back and tempt you into sin. He will wait for a time of weakness, depression, lack, or a sense of loss to deceive you and try and destroy your life. You might say, "I thought I had that old bad habit beat?" You did defeat it. However, it's back to challenge you again during this opportune time. 
      We all feel awful when we fall in an area of sin we once thought we had conquered. What happened? I thought I was over this sinful craving or this damnable desire. Didn't Jesus deliver me from the bondage I once lived in? Jesus did deliver us from that old mess. But, an opportune time has arrived and the tempter is back - so we will have to use our God-given armour to fight the good fight of faith. 
      The advantage we have is that we are fighting from a position of righteousness. Anything of infinite worth is worth fighting for. God's eternal gift to us is precious because within that gift is the resolve to get up and fight again. Prov. 24:16a The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.  
      Those who do not have a saviour to fight alongside them will have to fight the battles of life in their strength. This is why there are so many casualties in the world. We, who are in Christ, have a champion Lord who took down the authority that Satan once had over mankind. By faith, we have our redeemer and we give ourselves wholly to the blessings He has instilled within us. 
      Matt. 13:46 When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it. How blessed we are to have found our pearl of great price and we give our hearts to the value of this great treasure. We can get back up and fight the good fight because we have the priceless pearl (our saviour) working within us. 
      We may have been caught off guard and fallen to a devious trick of the enemy, but God has our back. Isa. 52:12 You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. While the Lord is watching our back, we can get up. With the word of the Lord, we can take back what the enemy has stolen from us. The devil may have stolen our dignity, value, enthusiasm, and self-respect but with God and a repentant heart, we can take it all back in Christ. We can rise above the accusations of the sin and shout, "Through Christ and the cross, I am forgiven!" 
       We never have to stay down and live defeated. Psalm 37:23 A person's steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand. We can get up and fight again. Our steps in Christ have been ordained to rise up and keep reaching for the eternal prize we have in our Lord. 
      Satan might say, "I will be coming back to try and destroy you at an opportune time." But we can say, "Through Christ, I'm coming back also. I'm coming back stronger, mightier, and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit." In Christ, we have our victory, and no one or anything can take it from us. Amen!

Friday, 10 January 2020

O Magnum Mysterium

Proverbs 30:18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not.

      O magnum mysterium. O great mystery. I would have to say that there are a lot more than three things too wonderful for me, and four things that I do not know. The mystery of our salvation that was hidden in Christ is so multifaceted. Jesus is our high priest, redeemer, healer, saviour, and Lord. Jesus is crowned with so many divine titles, that we could not list them all. We would most likely find ourselves repeating the words of John the Apostle. John 21:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.
      We live in a jaded society that mocks innocence and will not lend their souls to wonderment and mysteries. It seems that the hardness of people's hearts has taken away the awe that once came naturally. Skepticism has become their heart's default setting in life. "Give me proof that God is real, and then I will believe," is the demand of those who have become hardened in their existence. Matt. 27:42b Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. It seems that this - in your face demand - has always been among us. 
      We just have to look to the heavens and see a designer's design that invokes an awe-inspiring shout of, "Wow, look at what the Lord has done!". Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. What a great mystery our God is, and yet, He is so personable, because He wants a relationship with us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have peace with our heavenly Father. This concept is so hard for so many to believe. 1 Cor. 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
      When we take a moment and consider the fact that we are here, alive, and cognizant of our existence, deep down, we know that there is so much more. The Psalmist expresses this sense of awe, and does not seem to have enough words to say all that could be said - so, he simply asks in wonderment, "What is man that God is mindful of him? Psalm 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 or what is a human being that you are mindful of him, I a son of man that you care for him? O magnum mysterium. O great mystery.
      Perhaps, you can let your guard down just a bit when it comes to believing the possibilities of God working in your life and loving you for who you are. If there is just a small crack in the veneer you have laminated over your heart, then let Christ in and heal your hurts, wounds, and disappointments. 1 Cor. 1:24b Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Pastor Bryan Houston said, "You can’t sanctify Christ in your heart if he is not there." Let Jesus in, and see a great mystery transform your life into the blessing you were meant to be.
      You are here because God actually thought of you on purpose. Eons past, God saw you and created your eternity in His infinite self. Oh, what a mystery you are! To have been on God's mind and then through birth, showed up in this space and time to be in a relationship with All-Mighty God. Jer. 1:5a Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. How can you not respond to such incredible magnificence? Wow, what grace has been poured out on us. 
      Prov. 30:18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not. O magnum mysterium. Yes, Lord. There are way more than three things about you that are too wonderful for me, and there are way more than four things about you which I know not. Thank you, Lord God, that we will have an eternity to discover your love for us. Amen!