Thursday, 27 November 2014

Effective Immediately!

Proverbs 11:26 He that withholds corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that sells it.

      I work in the fraud protection industry and every once in a while something changes in policy or regulations. A formal notice makes its way across my desk with a bold statement of "Effective Immediately this policy change has been made and will commence this date." From that point on we adjust our thinking and verbiage to accommodate the new rules and regulations from the companies and their underwriters. The action is swift and immediate leaving no one in doubt as to how things will be done from now on. 
      What about our Christian lives? What do we do when the Holy Spirit points something out in our heart that is not what He expects of us? When we find out that we have been doing or eating something that is slowly killing us, we should get this big flashing sign in our minds that proclaims, "Effective Immediately this activity will stop or effective immediately this is what I am going to do from now on!" Col. 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
      My wife had made a statement recently that caused me to think about her choice of words. She has noticed that the world has gone crazy and there is nothing that government, financial conglomerates or medical institutions can do about it. These once pillars of our society who provided the corn per se for a healthy existence have become the melting pots of liars, thieves and quacks who are hoarding what the nations need to flourish and have brought a curse on our land. (Paraphrased by me.) My wife is more polite then I am. Prov. 11:26 He that withholds corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that sells it. 
      She said, "The world has come to an end, so I am going to change it by being kind, generous, loving and living in peace. I am starting this change, first with myself and I will create a new world." There it is, saints, effective immediately I am changing things. Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. 
       I have to say that after I heard her declaration of purpose, I was influenced and started waxing eloquent in thought and a Shakespearean moment of "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" came to mind. In the middle of all the madness and nonsense that is prevalent in this world, my wife came up with a wonderful God thought saying, "I will change." Is this the reverse of the parable of the tares that were sown among good seed? Matt. 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 
      Should this be our covert plan to go and sow good seed among the tares in the world? Maybe that is what Jesus was trying to get across to us when He ministered His sermon on the Mount. Matt. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Jesus was saying, "Hey! Get out there and change the world, but first start with your own hearts. Get out there and sow some good seed among the tares and be a world changer." 
      The procrastination that has become commonplace in our society as in - I will get out of debt one day; I will start a garden one day; I will start a healthier lifestyle one day; I will start praying more often one day; I will connect with my family more often one day, and so on and so on is draining us of life. Perhaps a notice across our hearts that says, "Effective immediately I am going to be who God made me to be." 2 Cor. 6:2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. 
      Today is the day to start changing our world. Deut. 30:19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! God is cheering us on to make some life choices that can affect everyone around us. We now have to respond with "Effective immediately, I choose life Lord!"

Saturday, 22 November 2014

We Will Be Tested

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

      William James said, "Begin to be now what you will be hereafter." 
      I hear it often," I just want to be like Jesus." Then, within minutes of saying those words, these same people turn around and say or do something ungodly without any thought or in some cases without noticing it. James 1:20 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. This joke comes to mind when I see and hear this contradiction in terms: Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak. 
      All joking aside, we often find ourselves in a position of God giving us the test, then the lesson coming after we inaccurately interpreted the test. When I was a young Christian I used to think this way of teaching was unfair and that God was always using a catch twenty-two method to make sure I would fail and be in line to be punished. The angry God view of everything. 
      As I grew in the love of God I realized that this way of teaching me was one of the ways to become like Jesus and that the failure (for a lack of a better word) of the test was how I could set my heart to walk in the will of God. The test was to show me where I needed to grow, and that became a blessing to me as I grew in the love of God because God was using His love to help me accomplish His loving ways.
        We have a negative view of testing because of the school systems we were all raised in. The cold harshness of you passed this time and you failed the next left us dealing with self-worth problems rather than God's view of us as in we are worth everything to Him. Since we are worth everything to God, He makes sure the tests are helping us grow by His loving guidance and helping us be who we are in Him. 
      We read in the Psalms that King David looked forward and asked to be tested so that he could find the exact will of God for his life. He also knew that all the tests were to help him become reliant on God's love for existence. Psalm 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 3 For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. He knew the test was for the blessing of the heart, because from the heart life would be established. Prov. 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 
      We should be saying like David, "Go ahead Lord, and search my heart and fix what needs fixing." Psalm 103:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. Yes, go ahead Lord and test my metal that it may prove righteous in Christ. Deut. 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.
      I can hear some of the thoughts out there concerning what I determine to be God's testing. I am not talking about the ones who teach - God gives us cancer to teach us something or God killed off part of your family to teach you something. No, and no again. God is not like that. John 10:10 The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 
      Life happens all around us every day and our lifetime accumulations of what God has done in our hearts will determine how and what we do when life happens. The result of all the lessons and testing will manifest when life is going on day by day. When we come through the fires of life we will see that we have abundant life. 
     Start living out what is in your heart for eternity today. Live like we are already in heaven as the word says we are. Eph. 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved; 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 
      You may be going through the most difficult and painful time in your life. This is not the time to roll over and deteriorate. Now is the time to trust in all the tests that you have experienced and accomplished with God who was and is at your side the whole way. Deut. 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Blessings on us all.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Winning The Race

Proverbs 11:24 There is that scatters, and yet increases; and there is that withholds more than is meet, but it tends to poverty.

      Benjamin Franklin said, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
      I was watching a program on how the old carpenters and craftsmen made a lot of their own tools. The wood-planers, in particular, were very sharp and worked incredibly smooth and accurate. There was a discussion with the host of the program and the master tool maker explaining that if this knowledge and know-how of making these tools was not passed on to the next generation of craftsmen then the art of tool making would be lost. 

      This program had me thinking of all the Christians who have so much of God's teaching in them but are not passing the information on, and like the knowledge of the craftsmen, this could be lost. We are all a product of the history of all the saints through their trials and tribulations and what was gleaned from their dedicated lives. They have passed on what they experienced, good or bad, and we have to do the same. John 4:37 And herein is that saying true, One sows, and another reaps. 
      The writer of the book of Hebrews says that we are in a race to finish our God-given life purpose on this earth. Heb. 12:1b Let us run with patience the race that is set before us. This race, however, is not to compete with each other but rather to help each other cross that eternal finish line where all of us will hear our Lord say, "'Well done, good and faithful servant!"
      Taking someone under our wing in order to help and guide them find the answers to their life is not that difficult for those of us who have learned how to live by God's word. We just have to want to do it. The process is simple enough as we all have the same instruction manual - the Bible - at our fingertips. With prayer, we lead our brothers and sisters to search the scriptures and find the word in season that is needed in their lives. 
      Have I oversimplified this? Not really. I have noticed lately that a lot of the newer Christians are not reading the word of God but are repeating what they have heard someone say the word of God says. This is where we have to help them change the way they grow and mature in their Christian walk. They have got to read the word of God themselves to glean what the Holy Spirit is saying to them. 
      We have a perfect example in the book of Acts that shows us plainly the importance of finding out what the word of God says. In the book of Acts, we read of the Bereans who were being taught the word of God by Paul and Silas. These apostles were not light-weights. When they spoke there was power and miraculous manifestations and yet the Berean saints still went and looked up the Scriptures to see if what was said was true. Acts 17:10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 
      The word of God is the final authority in our lives and the word of God should be what we guide our lives with. Teaching the next generation to use this wonderful gift that many martyrs gave up their lives for is our mandate. John 4:38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
      
The last thing Jesus said before He was taken into Glory was to go out and make disciples of all nations. We can trust the word of God to do and be the Christian's life handbook. We can count on the accuracy of its prophetic declarations. 2 Pet. 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 
      Winning the race that is before us is a collaboration with illumination that has been sown in our hearts. We go to the Scriptures and see if what is said is true and we help our brothers and sisters in the Lord do the same so that we all win the holy race of eternal salvation. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Praise The Lord!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Disciplined

Proverbs 13:24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

      Rodney King: "I just want to say, can't we all get along?"
      It will be very difficult for all to get along because it takes discipline to do so. I was reading in the Gospel of Luke where the disciples were arguing as to who was greater. Luke 9:46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Gal. 5: 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. The thought struck me that even in the company of Jesus it still took discipline to control their volatile emotions and it took willpower to overcome the temptations of power and control. 
      We are, after all, created in the image of God and were given dominion on the earth. So the desire to take control and create something from our hearts comes honestly. The problem, of course, came with the fall of man and man's desire was corrupted to the point of even wanting God under our feet. Isa. 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
      Because of our fallen nature that was corrupted by this narcissistic sinful angel Lucifer, we now need to be disciplined by God in order to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. The good news is that we have been given grace to walk out our Christian lives as we learn to be disciples in Christ. It is as if we were granted the privilege and blessing to learn how to play the violin in public with none of the harsh criticisms and vitriolic shouts to shut up! 

      We were saved and we are being saved and we will be saved because of this grace that we are covered in. The discipline or rod of correction over our lives is not irksome or harsh. It is the blessing of the Lord that corrects us. Prov. 3:12 For the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in. Some of us might have a negative connotation as to the meaning of the word discipline. Many think of childhood beatings that left unresolved anger and lifelong scars. That is not what God does. 
      The reader's-digest version for the word discipline is: In its natural sense, discipline is systematic instruction intended to train a person, sometimes literally called a disciple, in a craft, trade or other activity, or to follow a particular code of conduct. We are all being disciplined to be like Jesus and Jesus did everything out of love. 
      His guidance in our lives will also be motivated the same way; out of love. Why would God use love to discipline us? 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. This is why we can trust the discipline of the Lord because it will eventually produce love. Will the discipline always feel good? No! However, the fruit and results will be glorious and eternal.
      I have shared this before but it is worth repeating. I was angry at myself one day because I had sinned. I heard the Spirit of God ask me, "Are you angry because you vexed the Holy Spirit or are you angry because you broke your personal righteousness record?" It was clear that I did not care about vexing the Holy Spirit because the question would not have been asked. It looked like I was in for some correction with the rod of God's love. Was I embarrassed, ashamed and feeling a bit uncertain? Yup! All three feelings were screaming in my head, but God loved me through it by reaching my heart. I repented and peace came just as our loving Father said it would. Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
       Don't be afraid of the correction and discipline that comes from our Lord. It is life to our very being and it will get us through all the battles that come our way. God is good! Blessings.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Forgive Me, Please

Proverbs 8:1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

        "I forgive you. Completely." This is the answer that should come from our lips, but most often these words do not make it past our mind because we are not ready to forgive completely. We want God's grace and forgiveness in our own lives, but we want the judgment of God on those who have harmed us. 
      I was talking with a married couple who were talking about something that had happened over twenty-five years ago and in the middle of the sentence the woman turned to her husband and said, "Don't you remember that time when you called me a #@!!#$@?" He looked at me with that look that says, "When is this ever going to be forgiven, I have apologized for this every time she brings it up." I wanted to leave the room because you could cut the air as they say. 
      I do not believe she knew how to just let it go or hand it over to God for Him to dissolve the memory of her hurt. It was causing a strain in their relationship. 1 Cor. 13:5 Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
       Forgiving, completely, is just that; completely forgiving the wrong, just as Christ forgave us completely and entirely. Col. 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. We might have to say it out loud a few times to get used to the words, "I forgive you. Completely!." Again, "I forgive you. Completely!"
      It is wisdom to forgive completely. How do I know that? God is pure wisdom and He forgave everyone completely. Through God's Son Jesus Christ we can accept forgiveness and be at peace with God and ourselves. If God forgave us completely, then this is the right thing to do. God asks us to be forgiving as He is. Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

      Someone will say, "This is easy for you to say, "Forgive completely. Just try and forgive what I have been through." I'm sorry, but that argument does not work. There will always be someone on earth who has gone through unthinkable hurts and violations beyond our imagination. These people have experienced something worst than the next person. If that is the measurement, then nothing will ever be forgiven as it will only create an argument as to who hurts more than the next person and nothing will get fixed and no opportunity for repentance will ever be available. 
      God says to step up to the plate and be the first to forgive, then the real blessing of Christianity will start. Eph. 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. When did the blessing of the new birth start? After forgiveness came through the cross. First, there was a desire in God's heart to forgive, then He sent Jesus to be the atoning work that gave us His forgiveness.
       The wisdom of God compels us to forgive, because the nature of His Son Jesus now lives within us. Just take a close look inside your heart when you allow anger, rage and declarations of revenge with that someone who has done a terrible thing to you. Do you have God's peace? Do you have your Joy? Do you even have your blessed assurance? No, because you are no longer that old character you once were before Christ started changing your heart. 
      You cannot go back to that way of thinking without losing something of quality in your soul. 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Will this be hard for some? Yes, it will be, but oh the power of God that comes from forgiving the one who kept you miserable. There will be no more reason for the blame-game that the enemy of your soul keeps reminding you of. The moment you forgive, you will also destroy the works of the devil. No wonder he helps you remember your hurt. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
      Think of that person who needs your forgiveness and say out loud, "I forgive you. Completely." Keep saying it until you believe it, then enjoy the Lord's peace in your soul. Blessings.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Temptation Oh Temptation

Proverbs10:3 God suffers not the soul of the righteous man to famish; but he repels the craving of the wicked.
      
      Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything except temptation.”
      It is not a sin to be tempted, it only becomes a sin when we submit to temptation and sin is born. James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. I was asked by someone who was having a hard time with a repetitive vice, "Why does the devil keep using the same old things to tempt us?" I said, "Because it works." 

      The word of God says that we are to submit to God then resist the devil. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Resisting temptation without submitting to God first can be a hard row to hoe. We see this clearly with New Year's resolutions. There is not much resolve to accomplish the resolutions because temptation enters in and reclaims its dominance in the person's life.
      Jesus was tempted of the devil forty days and nights. If Jesus was tempted and he had to overcome the attraction of the temptation then what makes you think you won't have to deal with temptation? The help Jesus had is the same help and power that is available to us all who are in Christ. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and led Jesus into the wilderness. Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. 

      Submission to the Holy Spirit is the answer to overcoming during any wilderness temptation. One of the things you will notice about Jesus is that he did not mope about because he was tempted. He overcame the temptation with the word of God. Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. After the encounter with temptation, we do not see Jesus walking around fretting over the fact that he had been tempted. Jesus immediately gets on with his life. Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 
      We also have to realize that Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights and still had the strength to overcome sin because of the power of the Holy Spirit working within him. The blessing of our new birth with Christ is the same Holy Spirit that Jesus moved in now lives in us.
      Many of us do not realize the righteous position we live in because of Christ's reign in our hearts. Becoming upset because temptation comes our way is silly. As the proverb says, "God suffers not the soul of the righteous man to famish." We are not some weak, just barely hanging on to a thread of God's grace saint. No, we are the blood washed Holy Spirit filled kings and priests living in the joy of our Lord, saint. Big difference. 

      We are not famishing for existence and identity, wandering the spiritual edges of holiness looking for a crust of compassion. We are the sons of the most high God in Christ; benefiting from all the atoning work that was done for every man who accepts Jesus as their personal Saviour. 1 John 3:1a Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.
      
If you are being tempted with something, then rejoice, because you are becoming a threat to the kingdom of darkness. James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. As one translation puts it: For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 
      Overcoming temptation stops the famishing aspect and feelings of failure in our faith. Not submitting to temptation causes the endurance of our faith to grow. Don't fear or be put out by different temptations. Overcome the tempter with the anointed power of the Holy Spirit that lives in our hearts. Amen!