Friday, 29 January 2016

Infinite And Eternal

Proverbs 29:14 The king that faithfully judges the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.

       How can you believe in a God you cannot see? This question is thrown at many believers in Christ and voiced with exasperation on many occasions. Most often after a terrible tragedy caused by human provocation. These people judge God on the actions of a few sick and insane human beings. They want these people controlled by God while demanding their own free will outside of anything God wants for their own lives. They seem to have blinders on and a disconnected understanding of God, whether by choice or spiritual influence. 2 Cor. 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 
      If God is so good, why do these things go on? This is another empty question that cannot be answered when there is no honest heart to receive what God would express if people were sincere. So they say things like, "Since God will not answer this question to my satisfaction, I am cutting God out of my life." If you are saying things like that, then you have already cut God out a long time before your empty threats were proclaimed. 
      You might have cut God out of your life but God has not cut you out of His life or plan. There is always hope for the lost and rebellious on this side of the grave. Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. What makes it so possible for us believers in Christ to trust the word of the Lord? Why can we trust God absolutely? Num. 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? 
      God is not an eternal man or angel. God is infinite. Angels and all humans are eternal beings because they were created at some point in time. We have a beginning but no end. God is infinite and therefore omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Throughout eternity we will always be in awe of God because we are only eternal beings while God has always been and will always be infinite. 
      We have a hard time wrapping our minds around the fact that God always was, is, and will be. Therefore, God had no beginning. God describes Himself as, "I Am." Ex. 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you." The amazing thing is that God from eternity past was and has always been love and His intention toward us is and has always been love as well. Eph. 1:4 For He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. 
      The capacity of our infinite God will always be beyond that which we can think or ask even throughout eternity. We will never be infinitely omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient like God is. We will always be learning and growing in the unlimited love and power of the Lord. That is why we can trust His leading and love toward us. Our infinite God has chosen us to be His own and has made a way for us to be eternally with Him through Christ Jesus.
      There will always be more of our infinite God to know. Whether a billion years as we know time or trillions of decades, God will always be fresh to our eternal lives. Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, had incredible insight and revelation knowledge as to who the Godhead was and yet, he still wanted to know more. Phil. 3:10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. 
      Paul could not get enough of God no matter how much he grew in Him, even after deep spiritual experiences, Paul wanted more. 2 Cor. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows. The more we know Him the more we want Him and His loving grace. Imagine when we are in eternity with Him and we see His glory. We will always be attracted to His infinite love. The purity of His love will envelop us to incredible heights. Rom. 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
     Before we judge God as to how He runs things, remember He is doing it from a position of infinite insight. As hard as this is for some humans to hear, we do not know what God knows except through His word. Most of the world doesn't even have one of the Lord's teachings working in their lives, as in, "Love thy neighbour as thy self." Then these same people presume to know how God should run things. 
      Self-righteousness will do that and cause that type of thinking. Self-righteousness will cause a created eternal being to sit back and judge an infinite loving God and declare what God should do. Isa. 14:13 You said in your heart, 'I'll ascend to heaven, above the stars of God. I'll erect my throne; I'll sit on the Mount of Assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I'll ascend above the tops of the clouds; I'll make myself like the Most High.' 
      The last time a created being said he would come against God, he came crashing down and lost his position and authority. Eze. 28:18 By the multitude of your iniquities, through the sinfulness of your trade, you desecrated your sanctuaries. So I drew fire out from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth before the eyes of all who saw you. We are so blessed to have been given eternal life through a loving infinite God. It is the infinite power of God's love that sustains us as eternal beings. Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite. Praise the Lord!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Last Words

Proverbs 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
      
      "Make sure your words are sweet because you might have to eat them one day." John Osteen.
      I was talking with my son this week and he was feeling sad for one of his friends who had just lost their father in a car accident and his friend was going over the last words that had been spoken between them. My son thanked me for teaching him to make sure our departing words were always kind and full of love. Prov. 16:24 Pleasant words are honey from a honeycomb — sweet to the soul and healing for the body. 
      This lesson was made real to me one afternoon at work when one of the managers I knew within the building I worked from was going out to lunch and I said to him, "See you later," and he jokingly said, "Not if I see you first." I smiled and said "Love you man" in that hardy har type of voice. This conversation was ordinary and even flippant and not much thought was taken to the things said until I found out later that day that he had died at lunchtime of a heart attack. His last words to me no longer mattered because he was no longer here, but my last words did matter because I had to live with them and I was grateful that my last words had been, "Love you man." Even though they had been said in jest, they were my last words none the less.
      How many husbands and wives wish they could take back some of the hurtful, selfish, or mean words that were said in order to wound the other's heart and soul? How many last words to parents or siblings should not have been uttered because of the life lasting bruises they created? Prov. 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. 
      There is a reason why God admonishes us to make sure we are not going to bed with anger and angry words in our heart toward our spouse. Don't go to bed angry with words of death ready to bust out at the slightest provocation. Eph. 4:26 And "don't sin by letting anger control you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. What if your spouse were to pass away during the night? Would the rest of your life be haunted with a twinge of guilt that the devil could bring up regularly to accuse you? 
      Was the last sound that came from your teenager a slamming door and a barrage of acrimonious slander toward God and man? After years of no communication over a stupid argument, how many parents would now put up with a tattoo or two and a ring here and there just to have their son back in right standing with the family? No saints, these are not happy thoughts. These things are going on all over and all the time. The Lord is the only one with the right answer for these sad cases. Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
      I know there are varying reasons for all the mayhem in families and friendships gone bad these days, but how much of the shrapnel flying about is the result of the last words said to one another? Maybe if we had tucked our pride away - just for a moment - and not spewed the hurting words, we would be living happier lives. Instead of spending the majority of our lives trying to repair broken relationships, we would actually be fulfilled because of loving relationships. 
      I will paraphrase the prodigal son's last words to his father. "Give me my money and get out of the way, I'm going to do it my way." Luke 15:16 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 
      We all know the story of how this brat came to himself when he was coveting the pig food the pigs were eating. The son said (paraphrased), "I've messed up royally, and I need to go home and apologize to my father who has always been good and fair to me." Luke 15:18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 
      Why was he able to go back? Because his father had not used the self-righteousness card when he had the right and the chance to do it. The father had remained a loving father who kept his last words sweet toward his son who was shaming him publicly. What courage and fortitude it took for the father to see his son through the eyes of God. We too are so fortunate to have a loving heavenly Father with kind words for us.
      At the end of the day, are our last words to God the Father sometimes stout and arrogant? I hope not. God's thoughts and words toward us are words of love and encouragement. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
      Maybe it is time to pick up the phone, write, email or face time that family member who is estranged because of poorly chosen words in the heat of the argument. Maybe it is time to be righteous, rather than right. 
      I know you can do it because Jesus' last words were a promise of power that would come from the Holy Spirit upon us to do what it will take to get the love of God filling the earth. So, I know you can call those who are hurt and make your words as sweet as the love of God so they will come home. Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Man Up

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.


      Someone said, "It takes a man to make a man." 
      We live in a nation void of real fatherhood. Fathers are often seen as redundant, useless, and yet, there has never been a time when fathers are needed in strength. Is it because men have not taken the responsibility of becoming a man? What does that even look like? 1 Cor. 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 
      If TV were to be believed, every father image portrayed is a pathetic buffoon with the spine of a noodle or a narcissistic loser at the mercy of a super mom and other women who have it all together. The scripts written for these mentally indigent males pretending to be men and fathers are written to make them look like one of the idiot children that poor old mom has to tolerate throughout her long and arduous life. Everyone laughs along with the prompting of the electronic laughing-track trying to make the whole scene seem humorist and normal. 
      The sad truth of the matter is this mentally dulling entertainment is creating a normal view of who men are becoming in our time. Please forgive me for expressing such a dark portrait of our national family. I am just wrestling with the feelings that we have all become cast-members in a national sit-com of idiots where the lines of honest definition are so blurred, the pages in our life's handbook look like abstract art.
      I am not perfect, as my family and friends who know me well will confirm this fact. However, I have tried to take my place in life to be as good of a father as possible for my family, church, and community. Like so many young people today, I did not have a father to teach me the rights and wrongs of life. However, I have been fortunate to have had men in my life who helped me become the man that I am today. These men who sharpened my understanding of righteousness and helped create a strong and forthright character within my soul were not themselves perfect men. 
      What they had was that extraordinary trait of strength in their lives that comes from manning up in life. Prov. 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Oh, that all young men today would have the same blessing in life I was favored with. That someone with righteous understanding would come their way to help them believe in the love their heavenly Father has for them. Heb. 12:9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 
      When we have someone in our lives who believe in us we are able to soar into uncharted waters without the fear of failure. There is strength in having a father image in our life who encourages us to achieve and become better people. Col. 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. 
      To hear grandparents tell it, their grandchildren are perfect and vice-versa the grandchildren think great things because they often feel they are backed up by their grandfather. Prov. 17:6 Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. 
      We all need real father images to influence us throughout life. We have had enough of the negative images of the insolent hockey dad type who embarrass their children in public without real cause. We need real men of integrity and honesty. We need men in this nation who will man up and say, "Here I am Lord, use me." 
       God, our heavenly Father, wants a relationship with each and every one of us. 2 Cor. 6:17 Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” A lot of people have a hard time trusting in the Father's love because of the events and experiences they had with their own fathers. God is not an abusive father who lashes out in cowardly behavior toward his children because of spilled milk. 
      God loved us before we spilled the milk, so to speak, and still loves us afterward while cleaning up the mess. Rom. 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 
      The Lord Jesus manned up when he was crucified for us to give us everlasting life and a relationship with God the Father. Surely we can man up and accept His love and gift so that we can pass it on to our next generation. Jer. 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Thank you so much for your kindness toward us Father God. You are a good God.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

If Not Now, When?

Proverbs 7:24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.

       I have been asking myself this question a lot: "If not now, when?" There seems to be an urgency in the Holy Spirit within me that is asking me to move forward in the maturation of God and all the blessings He has for me because of who I am in Christ. If I slow down just a bit with an exaggerated excuse as to why I want to do the assignment later on, I hear a soft nudge saying, 'If not now, when? 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. 
      Putting off the inevitable lesson God is trying to get through to us is a mug's games. There is no way around the growing process in the eternal plan of God. The Lord will build His church with or without us. That would be such a sad moment in any Christian's life to be left out of the greatest holy project in the universe, because we are the church body of Christ. So, why would we hinder our growth? We are either for God working within us or against His righteous guidance. There is no middle ground of lukewarmness. Rev. 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 
      The love God has for us is helping us move forward to a place where we are ever growing into the image of Christ. When I look in the mirror, I smile and thank God for what He has done in me to this point, but oh, the journey ahead is clear; more work is needed. I can clearly see that lukewarmness of heart and slothfulness in attitude will not get the high calling of God's desire operating in my life to its fullness. If we do not move forward when the grace of God is moving ahead then when will we set out?
      We read in the book of Exodus when God moved by day or night, the people had to move also or they would be left behind to the dangers of the desert and all its perils. Ex.13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. It would have sounded foolish if some of the people would say, "Oh, just go ahead, I'll catch up later. I'll get into God's wilderness desert program when I get around to it." No, that attitude would not have worked. Why then do we take on that attitude today when the pillar of God is moving in our lives per se? 
      The desert was froth with wild animals walking and stalking the fringes of the camp looking for easy prey. From a cackle of hyenas to a coalition of cheetahs ready to take down the weak traveling on their own in the wild of the desert was not wisdom nor a place to find oneself. Death through thirst and hunger would have been lurking as a constant possibility for anyone foolish enough to take on God's plan without God in it. These slow and rebellious people would be in constant danger of losing their way in God and life. 
      Why, then, do we think we can do the same today when God tells us it is time to move forward in His plan? Paul warns us that wolves would try to tear apart the body of Christ. Acts 20:29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Peter warns us of the devil going about as a lion looking for the spiritually weak in heart. 1 Pet. 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
      These warnings and object lessons of wild animals the Apostles are using are meant to show us our adversary the devil is out to slow us down to a crawl, so we can be vulnerable and therefore pounced upon and destroyed mercilessly. Someone might say, "Well, I'm only an usher in the church, how could I slow down the plan of God in any one's life or my own life?" Maybe you were supposed to have been the music pastor and that is why the church assembly you attend is having a hard time breaking through when worship is going on. 
      The point is we are to flourish where we are planted and grow into what God is preparing for us and in us for today and the future. If you do not step up to the plate now, then when? Today is the day to act upon what God is doing because we only have today to do it. Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. To assume we can catch up to what God is doing in our life later on when we feel up to it is a form of arrogance that should not be part of our Christian nature.
      We do not dictate to God when He can do a work within our soul. The Lord dictates to us when the time is right and now is the time for the next step of our walk in Him. Maybe God has been asking you to forgive a person who did you wrong or give back something you took that was never yours. 
      Maybe God is asking you to step out by faith and answer his knock on the door of your heart in order to take part in the next feast God has for your life. Rev. 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. If not now, then when will you enter into what God is doing for you and in you? If not now, when?

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Self Delusions

Proverbs 19:21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

      
      Definition of delusion: A delusion is a false belief that is based on an incorrect interpretation of reality. A person with delusional disorder will firmly hold on to a false belief despite clear evidence to the contrary.
      As strange as it sounds, the above definition seems to be describing the world system and all the beliefs that go along within it. The word of God says that the heavens declare the glory of God and yet God is not believed or even acknowledged.
 Psalm 19:1 The heavens are declaring the glory of God, and their expanse shows the work of his hands. 
      When an unbelieving man wants to be a denier concerning the existence of the only wise God, then he himself chooses to be delusional in his response to the obvious facts of God's creation staring him in the face. God never debates with the unbeliever, whether God is or is not. God simply says to have a taste of Him and they will know where the blessing of life is. Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 
      These people choose self-denial and self-delusion in order to live the way they want; without code in life or responsibility of life toward anyone or anything. They think they can protect themselves from hurts and grief by simply rejecting the responsibility of life that sometimes brings challenging and emotional events. They are basically saying, "I do not acknowledge God, therefore, I am free from His expectations of me." Rom. 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
      In the early 1980's I was ministering in the prisons of New South Wales, Australia. I met a lot of inmates who had convinced themselves it was the fault of others they were incarcerated. T
hey sometimes rationalized that they had little to do with the fact that they had robbed the bank, stolen the cars, or had committed other crimes. They were always sorry for getting caught and if they had another chance they would not get caught the next time. This self-delusional conversation went on most of the time. When I did meet people who did take responsibility for their actions, the outcome was very different. When these people were released from prison, most of them had productive lives.

      You do not have to be a criminal to be self-delusional. The fanatical religious can be as delusional as seen with Jim Jones to bin Laden. When there is a corporate scandal of immense thievery in the billions of dollars, self-delusion and greed are most often the reasons for the outright thefts as seen in corporate America over the years. 
      Government ministers who fall from grace per se as in their misconduct in office because of adultery, embezzlement, or hubris often are delusional because they think they are above the laws of their own country. They have talked themselves into thinking they can break the law of God and man without consequence. 
      Spiritual leaders who fall under similar circumstances think they have acquired some kind of spiritual get out of jail free card for their shameful actions. Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. There is grace and forgiveness for all the above sins and thank God for that. However, there are consequences in life for all the choices that are made by each and everyone of us. Deut. 30:19 I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live. Therefore, let us be forthright in our choices.
      God asks us to have our minds renewed with the word of God because God's word is what will help us overcome deceptive visions of grandeur inspired by self-delusions. Rom. 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. God's word strongly imprinted in our minds will help us know what God wants for our lives, because the word of God will eventually make its way to our heart and we will know what to do in life. 
      We do not have to be mesmerized by every whimsical and delusional idea that floats by. We can make intelligent decisions toward life and all the intricacies that it offers. We will be able to discern between good and evil and not crash our lives while trying to figure out difficult decisions. Heb. 5:14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 
      In essence, we will be able to grow up in the Lord and in our thinking. 1 Cor. 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Look for the wisdom of the Lord and grow in His grace. God is our hope and we need not be ashamed, because the word of God is the power of our salvation and life. Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Believing in God's word is not delusional, it is righteous and good living. Amen.