Sunday, 30 March 2014

Established In Thought

Proverbs 16:3  Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
      
        There is some confusion in the body of Christ when it comes to knowing what to do to bring about the kingdom of God or just knowing what to do next. There is a smorgasbord of ideas that over time prove to have nothing to do with God or His kingdom, and we wonder where we missed the signs along the way. 
      My personal belief is when we find out who we are in Christ, knowing what to do will merge alongside of who we are and guide us into what we should be doing. 1 Cor. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
      God knows us inside and out and He also knows what we can and cannot do. Matt. 25:14 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability. We get things mixed up when we start separating our lives from the vision that has been revealed in our heart or in the hearts of the saints. The assignment that God has impressed upon our spirits to get done within the kingdom of God somehow finds itself over there somewhere as an abstract idea, while we are over here wondering how it will be accomplished. 
     Being now separate from God's vision, we think, "That is a God thing and I am out of my depth and ability, because I am just a congregant who works at a store for a living." So what could I do with a kingdom vision? I am over here and the pastor and his crew of anointed-ones are over there doing the God thing. There ends up being a disconnect in how to go about doing what it takes to get kingdom business done.    
      Is there still this (great gulf fixed) between clergy and parishioners in this day and age? Absolutely, and I feel the gulf is getting wider. It can start to feel like there is no way to get across the perceived chasm. Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence
       Is this some kind of blame game? No, it is the result of all the misunderstood teachings of life purpose, dream fulfillment, walk out your passion, or become the greatest in your field teachings that have become of non-affect or commonplace. Statements like, "What God wants for your life is this and that," as if they actually knew what God wants for each personal life. 
      We can find out what God wants for our lives by reading and meditating on His word and being led of the Holy Spirit in a day by day relationship. But grandiose generalized statements of (what God wants) causes people to stop listening because most of what is being said has never come to pass or appears out of reach because it seemed like exclusivism
      It turned out to be spiritual fluff or a cheap version of a magic show held in church. Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
      I am not saying, "Do not read the very good and well written material on purpose, vision, passion, and spiritual dreams." I read as much as I can to help me be a better servant of Christ and to know what is available to help improve my walk in the Lord.
      What I am saying is read the word of God first, and more often, so that we know when we are reading the self-help books they are actually confirming what we know in our spirits because it is the same thing the Spirit of God has said to our hearts. Otherwise it is just a lot of theory on what God might be saying. Prov. 16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
 
      That is what we need, our thoughts established. When our thoughts are established we know what to do because our work is committed to the Lord and He establishes the work and how to get it done. Sometimes it is as easy as reading the instructions (the bible) and doing what it says. 
      We can get overwhelmed by all the Christian literature, events, conferences and television, plus all the CD offers that will change our lives forever by just sending in a small gift plus shipping and handling. All these helps are needed and do help but, what has God been saying to our souls? Isa. 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
     When you do not know what to do, then do what you know. The events and struggles in our lives are facts, but the word of God is truth. What does the word of God say about our everyday life? Stay in the word of God, no matter how disappointed you might get or overwhelmed by the feelings of life itself. 
      There is a day and time of deliverance and God will prove Himself faithful to each one of us. Commit your work and daily living, by faith, unto the Lord so that your thoughts can be established in Christ. God bless you.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Who Said You Were Poor?

Proverbs 15:16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

      Who said you were poor? Who told you that you had a lack in your life? Gen. 3:11 And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Who has made you aware of what you do not have and why does it matter? 
      Some of the best memories that my sons talk about are times in there lives that were rich with love, wonder, and life. When I think back on some of those times, I remember that they were difficult and arduous financially, as we were just trying to get ahead with a young family. 
      They were times of struggle and hope to meet the basic needs of house and home. Yet the children did not know they were poor per se, as to the world standards, because the kids were full of life and fun. 
      Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. How true this verse is because when I do look back now on the same events that my sons are so fond of, there was no real lack or extreme want. They never went to bed hungry or to school in need of nourishment. As a matter of fact, my youngest son complained one day that the healthy sandwiches he brought to school did not trade well for sweets at lunchtime.
      When did we find out that we had a lot of stuff missing in our lives? It was when the devil started pointing out our dissatisfactions and that we did not have it as good as everyone else in life. 2 Cor. 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 
      I did not know I had been short-changed in life because I did not have a new Lexus. I thought that my paid-for Buick Allure was a blessing, but apparently not. The enemy of my soul wants me to compare myself to Mr. Lexus and lose my peace because I do not measure up. Is there anything wrong with buying a Lexus? Not at all. They are very nice cars, but I will choose to be satisfied with what God has given me to date and I will keep my peace for the day I am living in. However, I will have hope for the future. Prov. 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.
      One of my favorite memories of gratefulness and seeing prosperity through the eyes of a child is the Christmas of 1988 in Redcliffe, Queensland. A few months previous we had just bought our first home and there was no extra money whatsoever that first Christmas. 
      My wife had done her best for Christmas presents for my son who was four years old. She had wrapped a snorkelling set separately so that there were a bunch of presents to unwrap. To this day I remember the look on my son's face when he had unwrapped the second flipper and loudly exclaimed with joy, "Look, mom, just like the other one. I can go swimming with all of this." 
      There he was in pure happiness and never suspecting the hardship we were going through at the time because my son did not know we were struggling; he only knew the love that was lavished on him. Are we not even more loved from our Heavenly Father? Matt. 6:26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?
      Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. When did we become so ungrateful and dissatisfied with everything in life? It was when we started looking around at everything, but God. 
      God has made it impossible to get satisfaction outside of Himself. Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. We need to be walking in Christ daily and make grateful choices in the day we are in. Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 
      When the enemy of our soul keeps us focused on the pains of the past or the fears of the unknown future, we become paralyzed to live in the joy of the Lord for the day we are in. 2 Cor. 6:2  For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 
      Who told you that you were lacking in life? Who said that you did not measure up to God's grace? Not God, because the Lord spends His whole time drawing us to Himself through His eternal gift - Christ our Lord. Jer. 31:3  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Confidence Of Heart

Proverbs 3:26 For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
     
      The clear rustling sound that came from the undergrowth and dead foliage that covered the jungle floor was unsettling to the primal fears that lurked in the deep subconscious of my mind. Phil, Leonardo and I were walking toward the rented Jeep, when a tarantula the size of a man's hand went scurrying to our right at a very rapid pace. Moving faster toward us the spider darted over and under fallen palm leaves, moving these obstacles at will. 
      Increasingly our insecurities grew, but as the prehistoric hunter rapidly changed direction our nervousness eased. "Hokie-Dina, did you see the size of that thing?" Phil said. The relief was evident in his voice. "It kind of makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, doesn't it?" I said, with equal relief that the tarantula had moved on to stock something more its size. 
      We then turned and saw that we were surrounded by the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala Central America. The sense of awe that these ancient ruins emanated was a feeling that you had personally discovered these extremely old temples for the first time, even though they had been seen for hundreds of years and by thousands of people. I kept thinking of the confidence of belief it would have taken to build these stone giants. Not unlike the city of Babel.
      Gen. 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. Confidence in God will accomplish what God has put in our hearts, but when slightly corrupted by personal gain we are soon building our own kingdoms where God cannot find room to live. 

      When God saw what the citizens were up to when they were building a city that focused on mystical powers, the Lord said that there was nothing that could stop their progress - even though it was contrary to the Lord's wishes. Gen. 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 
      After God's intervention the city was stopped and what remained was called Babel. When God directs the programme, the will of God gets done. Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
      How many God-given ideas turned into a babbling mess when we started adding our own know-how to the plan when it was clearly given in the first place? Before we came to our senses there were cost overruns and unforeseen legal problems. So we lose confidence in God, turn to more human know-how, and start a fund-raiser to save God's plan from the enemy. Meanwhile, God is patiently waiting for us to get back to His original plan that was cost-efficient and legal. Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
      What is it about mankind and Christians alike that we repeat the mantra of Babel? "let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven." We do this over and over even when God is sowing His vision in the hearts of His saints. Why do we think God is going to do it the exact same way as He did it the last time? 

      I'm not saying God can't do it the same way. I'm, just wondering why we think He must do it that way. Confidence in God is confidence in God's character, not in a formula for successful living. Confidence in God is just that: confidence that God loves and hears us. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 
      If my confidence is not in God, then I run the risk that I will become overconfident in myself and become hubris of heart and mind, walking without God's peace. We need to build a life that is glorifying to God. With His help, we will. Matt. 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Fool's Errand

Proverbs 28:26 He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walks wisely, he shall be delivered.      
      
      As the ship was tied up to dockside in Tangier, it became clear that we were not only miles from home, but also centuries from our time. Dark and weathered dock workers dressed in caftans and single-loop sandals were tying the ship to the dock. Some of these old crusty men had fez hats, and others wore colourful customary beanie caps. 
      Livestock of all sorts were being lowered by archaic winches, pulleys, and tackle. Old carts, drawn by beasts of burden hauling away large baled bundles of goat skins. Gurgling sounds came from the protesting camels, as they were led away carrying their loads of exotic goods. 
      The heat fermented an aroma that ponged as it attacked the nostrils to the point of nausea. Gangplanks were drawn for foot passengers to carefully make their way down to the old dock. As we walked off the passenger ramp, our passports were stamped and visas issued by the sweaty men in worn-out customs uniforms that dated back to the second world war. 
      It was a scene from "The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb." and there we were, traveling Morocco, looking for spiritual enlightenment. In 1971 my friend and I were eighteen years old and traveling throughout Europe and Morocco. Many of my contemporaries were doing the same and traveling as far as the Middle East and India. So many travelers at the time were looking for spiritual enlightenment, but most of them came home disillusioned and suffering from dysentery: 2 Tim. 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
      Many people, then and now, are looking for God on their own terms. They want a God that they can control and, therefore, write the rules to their own lives. Isa. 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. 

      When thing go wrong, like a shooting in a school, these same people are normally the first to complain about the Godlessness exhibited in the Country today. Yet, they are the ones who wrote the new gospel of trusting in our own hearts (this is my truth, and that is your truth) and the result manifesting as a group of fools wondering why the God of eternity does not do something. Hag. 1:9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
      We, as a solipsistic society, will rationalize and spin anything to our own heart's belief and desire, even when we know it is not true. 
We have been led to believe that trusting in our own hearts (our own manifesto) is the way to accomplishing our dreams, but many have found their personal nightmares instead: Lam. 5:15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. from investing in a scam that first appeared the best deal of the century, to marrying the wrong person who turned out to be a wife-beater. 
      What went wrong? We were trusting in the selfishness of our hearts and not the Spirit of God's guiding of our hearts by His word. Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.
      A heart that is not owned or occupied by the Lord can be deceived and can be led astray because there is no confidence of heart or understanding of God's wisdom. We need, by faith to believe that God's will and purpose in our hearts is a good thing. Eze. 11:19a And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. 

      If we are having a hard time believing that God's thoughts toward us are pure and of blessing, then it will be difficult gaining the confidence we need in God to live our lives in this precarious world. John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. Jesus said He was the only way to God. 
      I would rather trust Jesus then my own heart's patch-work of syncretism trying to make everything fit to my liking. This fallacy of belief will eventually lead to disillusionment and dare I say it. "Spiritual dysentery." There are already too many winds of doctrine that lead people astray without adding to them. I am content to be in the Lord's hands, being led and loved along the way. Sng. 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Meaningful Work

Proverbs 18:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

      Slothful! What a word to describe that person in the office who is never on time, or dependable, or even reliable for the basics. They seem to create more work then they accomplish. Then payday comes around and they are the first to complain that they are not paid enough for their special talents, whatever the talents are, and then threaten to quit. 
      We stand there hoping they follow through on the threat, but no, they don't quit because they are a slothful person and would not be able to follow through on anything, even quitting their job. So, they go on looking busy and accomplishing nothing of value or ever able to find the place where they are being fulfilled with meaningful work. 
      The Lord wants our attitudes to be as though we work for God Himself. Eph. 6:6 Not with eye service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.
     There is a lot of dissatisfaction in the workplace today, because we have not seen the blessing of meaningful work in our lives. Work was ordained before the fall of man. Gen. 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Work is God's idea for man. We were created to be creative and seek out the answers and understanding to life's puzzles, queries, mysteries, and problems. Prov. 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. 

      Part of the dissatisfaction within the human condition is when work becomes a drudgery. If we are working for money only, then it will not take long before the novelty of the new job will wear off and become as boring as the last job. Yes, we need money in this market economy to make a living, but we also need satisfaction of accomplishment. In most cases that cannot be bought. 
      Max Asnas said, "Money is something you got to make in case you don't die."  This would be funny if it were not the pathetic way we think about accomplishment and life. We are being driven by the enemy of our souls to constantly look at what we do not have and then buying stuff and lots of it. 
      We then realize that our job's remuneration cannot support all the payments on the stuff bought, because the law of stuff is, "Stuff begets stuff." So, we glare with disdain at our jobs and work environments with attitudes of fatalism, putting us in a place of complaining and ungratefulness. We then end up under the curse of labor. Gen. 3:19a In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. We surrender to working for a ruthless master whose name is "The Great Waster." Francis Bacon said. "Money makes a good servant but a bad master."
      Meaningful work will come out of a meaningful relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus. It might sound oversimplified, but the foundation of what I am saying is true. When I am at peace with Christ, I am at peace with most of the situations that arise at work and with the Lord's help I can overcome what comes at me throughout the work week. 
      The joy of the Lord is our strength and that will enable us to take on the challenges, rather than cower away from them. Neh. 8:10b For this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him. 
      We can look back in our own personal Christian history and see that to the degree our walk and relationship with Christ was strong, so was our work ethic as strong. That is why when times got hard we went through the mess as others fell by the side in despair, and we still continue to tithe because the strength of our relationship in Christ was keeping everything from falling apart around us. 
      As some pastors like to say, "Our mess became a message, and our test became a testimony." Isa. 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
     It does not matter what type of honest work we do. If we treat the work as a call from God, and do it well, it will manifest as meaningful work and bring fulfillment in our lives. Col. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 

      When we are grateful for the work we have and take care of the work position as if it was the pearl of great price, then God will promote us and we will never be worried about being the brother to the great waster.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Church Body

Proverbs 31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excels them all.
     
      As most of you know the Proverbs chapter thirty-one woman described from verses ten to thirty-one is a type and description of the body of Christ as in The Church. So, ladies, when some man comes quoting Proverbs thirty-one to you, you can remind him that he must act the same way because he is part of the church that Proverbs thirty-one is describing in order to bring God's grace and blessing to a lost world. 
      Prov. 31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excels them all. This is an interesting verse. The way I see the words, "Many daughters have done virtuously" is a description of all the Lodges, Societies, Foundations, and Clubs that do great works of kindness for the world and their communities. From the Make a Wish Foundation to the Knights of Columbus, these daughters have done virtuous and very good works, but the church of the Lord excels them all.
      
I know I am walking in a minefield of emotional and scared beliefs here, but non-the-less God has made it clear that His church will not be defeated by anyone's theory or hell itself. Matt. 16:18b I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 
      God has (regardless of what people think of the church) chosen to bring His word and revelation of Himself through the body of Christ, whether we like it or not. Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 
      There are a lot of hurting people who were wounded in churches and, therefore, have made vows of not ever going to church again - let alone giving them their regular ten dollar offering. I am not making light of this as I heard someone say that it would be a cold day in hell if they ever give the church another ten dollars like they normally did. We need to understand that God does not need that person's ten dollars. That person needs to give the ten-spot in order to get illumination on the situation in their unforgiving heart, but that is another blog.
      The next few chapters is a conversation I had with a friend, in a blog, about understanding the fact that we are the body of Christ that excels beyond our expectations. The church is Christ's idea who will do greater works than all the daughters that have done virtuously. Col. 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
      We are the church and we, like everyone else, will bring to the location of attendance the type of church we are. There is no perfect place because everyone is being worked on by God. Our God, is by His Spirit, perfecting us in righteousness.
 John 16:8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.      There is a learning curve because this nurturing from God helps us get from glory to glory, and in that growth there is a struggle and the struggle might manifest as some of the things that caused us to leave the last church location. 
      We are basically learning to play the violin in public and often it looks and sounds bad right there in the local assembly. We end up seeing the struggles within the people who assemble in the place we call church. In the same way that we bring all our sick folk under one roof called a hospital, we bring all who are born-again and overcoming different hypocrisies under one roof called a church. 
      In that place we bring all the spiritual sicknesses in our lives to get healed by the great healer, Christ. That is why we give grace to each other, in Christ, because we are all dealing with something the Lord has put His finger on. Let us say God has just touched a squishy spot that causes us to show who we really are, and in that moment, hopefully, there are mature Christians around us to help us get through that particular righteous judgment from God. Gal. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
       I don't know if it is possible to be part of a church without being willing to be worked on by God in public, and at the same time, be willing to be used as a hand extended of God to help the ugly in spirit and the unwashed per se. If we are looking for the Norman Rockwell picture of what we think church is or should be, then there might be a lot of church hopping going on in our lives. 

      We will end up right where the devil likes us to be, on the move and unstable to the point of no longer caring if we do gather with the saints. Eph. 4:27 Neither give place to the devil. Psalm 50:5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Heb. 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
     We are in a place where we have to decide whether we are going to be the church that Christ wants of us to be, or continue being offended at every opportunity that comes our way. We are the body of Christ who has and will excel above all the good and valuable societies at work in the world who are bringing joy and benefits to mankind. Our mandate is to be the Lord's hand extended, introducing mankind to an eternity with our God through Christ, The Lord. Let's get on with it.