Friday, 25 October 2019

Where Are The Bereans?

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.

      Acts 17:10 As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
      Just because something is said from a church pulpit, doesn't automatically mean it is true. As the Berean saints did, we should also be doing. They examined the scriptures daily to see if the things being taught were so. We are responsible for the choices we make in our Christian walk and responsible to make sure the doctrines, teachings, and ministries we are living under are biblically sound and Holy Spirit led.
       Jesus said to believe in Him because of what the scriptures said. John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Notice the method Jesus said to use for believing in Him. "As the Scripture has said," and not because He was putting on a big rock-star healing show, with fog machines and religious words being tossed to the crowd with a mind-numbing beat. I'm not going on a rant of, "Look at all the problems in the church." I'm concerned as to what we are adopting as spiritual based truth. I am pointing out a few things that should be investigated using the word of God. It is true that historically, the church grew and grows in the contemporary season of the times it is in. But hopefully, the growing church is led by the Holy Spirit and not the zeitgeist of the day.
       Just because someone comes out with a new personal interpretation of a so-called bible, revelation, or a mystical discovery doesn't make it divinely inspired. Even if the person who wrote the self-proclaimed work says, it came by a vision, dream, or osmosis through a holy man. We, like the Bereans, should seek the scriptures to see if what is written is true. Our pedagogy should reflect the methods Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles used in teaching the scriptures. They did not teach personal interpretations of the scriptures to accommodate the trends of their day. They continually referred to what the Word of God said, and taught the truth from that pivotal position.
      We have been here before on numerous occasions throughout history. Jim Jones, who founded Peoples Temple, claimed he was a reincarnation of Christ and Buddha. The sad thing is that only a portion of the congregation walked out. Shouldn't have all the people walked out because of that nonsensical claim? If your pastor said, that he was Christ, would you stay in that congregation? James Warren Jones, and not Jesus, led nine-hundred people to their death by drinking the poisonous Koolaid. Prov 14:14a The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
      The soulism emanating from the secularism sneaking into our churches has become palpable. We should be concerned if our Sunday services are becoming an electronic event of bits and bytes with pithy and cutesy sayings being proclaimed by a sloganeer rather than a shepherd called of the Lord. I am not saying this is going on in every church. However, we need to check the source of where these trends of pseudo ministries are coming from. We don't need another Sunday with self-proclaimed ministers pumping out uninspired monologues while having a sing-along of hallow praise and worship. Prov. 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. We need the Word of God being ministered to our hearts and not a watered-down social review of how things ought to be in this day and age.
      You might say, "But I feel good when I sing that popular song in church." Good for you, because there is a health benefit to singing happy songs as it releases the feel-good hormones of dopamine and prolactin bringing happiness and comradery. I feel good too, and get some of the same uplifting feelings when I sing along on FM radio, but I am fully aware that it is not praise and worship per se. It is a sing-along feel-good emotional experience. Don't confuse the feeling of a good body vibe and rhythm with the anointed presence of God. 1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
      Yes, it is true that I experience God's intimate closeness as I walk through the day. I see God's hand in so many daily events. But these events do not become the doctrines of belief. These personal signs and wonders that we experienced are the developing love and relationship with our Lord. We may get a personal insight into a doctrine of belief but we cannot build our whole life and salvation on it. It is definitely a great platform to build from, but we are to live the full gospel of Christ by faith. Psalm 12: 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
      So my friends, what are we to do if we want the anointed glory and not the worldly gorry in our lives? Like the Bereans, we should search the scriptures to find our way. The scriptures say to pray for our church leaders and one another. Col. 4:3a And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message. Eph. 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 
      Our church leaders need prayer like never before. They are fighting a battle on two fronts. On one front, the social demands of people wanting their personal sin to be accepted as their human right, and on the other front, the demonic forces coming against the body of Christ. Our ministers need God's leading and help in expressing the heart of God to bring overcoming victory to His ecclesia. Heb. 13:7 Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.
      I have often reminded my students to go and find what I am teaching in the Word of God. I've expressed that they should not take everything I teach at face value, but, like the Bereans, go and see if these things being taught are so. We need the discernment of the Holy Spirit in all that we do, and that includes doing church. Col. 3:23  Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people. So, I say it again. "Where are the Bereans?" May God give us the heart of the Bereans so that we may be strong in our walk with God, and our understanding of His word. Amen!

Friday, 18 October 2019

Excuseology 101

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

      So, what's your excuse? The excuses used to not do a task can take more energy than actually doing the task. Last Friday afternoon, I got hit with one big flu-bug that brought shaking chills throughout my body, a gravelly sound coming from my throat, and dizziness that kept me laying down wrapped in a wool blanket. I slept all day and kept sleeping right into the early morning of the next day. I woke up energy-weak and muscle-sore but I felt a whole lot better.
      I normally arrive at the gym early on Saturdays. On that Saturday morning, however, I was feeling the residual effects of the previous day's bug. I had a good excuse not to go to the gym, but there was this other bug tickling my brain. I said, "Now listen here Norm. If you use the - I don't feel well excuse this morning, then what will be the excuse next Saturday morning, and the Saturday after that?" I'm too tired, I don't have time, I don't feel up to it, and finally, I don't want to go anymore! It does not take much effort to break a good healthy habit.
      In our perfidy, we trick ourselves by using ready-made lies to give up on what was once important. It is so easy to deceive ourselves with excuses of all kinds. Prov. 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Before we know it, we are practising excuseology 101 in all our ways. Needless to say, I did go down to the gym and did my best with the energy I had. I was pleased that I had gone and worked out, because I pushed through a lot of pain and stiffness. With God's grace, I felt much better throughout the rest of the day.
      We read in the parable of the Ten Minas, a master had given his servants money to invest according to the servant's capabilities. The first two servants, without excuse, brought back a capital-gain that was pleasing to the master. The third servant who allowed fear and laziness to direct his actions came up with a grandiose excuse for not working, rather than creating a return on capital. Luke 19:20  But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man.
       Excuses are a dime a dozen, as the saying goes. We can put our energy into getting out of work, or use our energy to complete the work. The energy itself doesn't care which way you go, as the energy will get used up either way. Therefore, use God's energy in your life to bring about life. 
      In the Gospel of John, we read the story of a man who had been lying in his debilitating sickness for a very long time. John 5:5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. John 5:7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” For thirty-eight years this man had used the excuse that he had no one to help. Was this possible after all that time, that there was no one to help? Interestingly, Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 
      This poor man with no one to help had used that belief as an excuse for his permanent lot in life. When Jesus asked, "Do you want to get well?" He was showing the man that his focus was on his excuse of having no one to lend a hand. Do you want to get well and change the way you have lived and believed for the last thirty-eight years? I'm just speculating, but I think the Lord wanted him to declare his desire to be healed and move forward without excuses.
      We all have to answer this same question when it comes to our lives and whether we will continue to exercise our repertoire of excuses day after day. Do you want to get well? Do you want victory over what is holding you back? Do you want to live? Do you want to lose all that weight that is making you ill? Do you want to come out from under your deception and change your thinking? Well, do you? What's your excuse? 
      Of course, we all want victory in our lives, and we all want to be well and made whole. Therefore, let us change our excuses for declarations of faith, of what we want in the Lord, and focus on that. 
      Learning to stop the excuses in their tracks before they come out of our mouth would go a long way toward our maturity in Christ. We have to stay ahead of our duplicitous human nature that manifests so easily into laziness. If we are going to cut class, then let it be Excuseology 101, because most people have an A+ in that course. Blessings saints. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Amen!

Friday, 11 October 2019

Better Than Yesterday

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

      In the early 1920s, Émile Coué, a French psychologist and pharmacist taught a healing-method using positive autosuggestion, by saying twenty times when you first woke up, and twenty times before you went to bed, “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.” He also suggested repeating this mantra-like positive declaration a few times throughout the day. His results for healing the mind and body were very good and his method was considered avant-guard.
      In the late fall of 2014, while I was recovering from the effects of a stroke that I had suffered, I used Émile Coué's saying day after day in my prayers. While I walked in the park and I forced my body to work through an exercise program the Lord had encouraged me to do, I would pray out loud, "Lord, God, I thank you, that every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. In Jesus name.” Prov. 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
      Often, my friends and family would ask how I was feeling. I would repeat those healing words, "By the grace of the Lord, every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." Yes, I did receive some strange looks, but I didn't care, because it was my life on the line and no one else's. I had to believe by faith for my healing, because I knew Jesus had suffered on the cross to get it for me. 1 Pet. 2:24 He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.
      Eventually, days and months went by. I started feeling better than the previous day. Again, when asked how I was getting along, I would say, "Better than yesterday." I am blessed to report that five years later, I am doing very well and have overcome many health challenges, plus have fought many battles with God's help and I have conquered. Yes, there is still more to do and to keep doing. With the Lord's grace flowing through me, I am in much better shape mentally, physically, and spiritually than I was yesterday.
      Through Christ, God has given us the authority and permission to say what God says in His word about our life situations. We just have to do it, no matter how silly or impractical people think we are being. After all, God did say we are a peculiar people. 1 Pet. 2:9a But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. In this case, the word peculiar means special, and that - we are!
      There is nothing new in what  Émile Coué was teaching. God had already revealed this method of healing thousands of years earlier. The Lord said, we should say and declare what the Word of God says we can be. Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. Our Heavenly Father has given us His instruction through His word to say, "I am Strong!" We might even say it this way. "Every day, in every way, I'm getting stronger and stronger." Prov. 23:7a For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
      Jesus taught us to say to the mountains in our life - be thrown into the sea. Mark 11:23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Whatever mountains there are in our lives, they can be overcome by proclaiming God's living word. It will take faith and courage to stand in faith and declare God's promises in our lives. If we don't do it for ourselves, then who will? We have to say, "I am strong in the Lord!" 
      Whatever our Egypt is that we are escaping from, we have been given instructions by our God to declare the victory we want to have in Christ. We should understand that yesterday is gone and today must be lived in the salvation of the Lord Jesus. 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. 
      When is the day of salvation? Now! Today is the day of salvation. That is what will make this day better than yesterday. When we act on that truth, we will all be able to say, "Every day and every way my salvation is getting better and better, amen."

Friday, 4 October 2019

An Audience Of One

Proverbs 5:21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.  

      In this world where pseudo fame and celebrity-statist is persued at a Herculean pace, many people are preoccupied with building and creating a personal brand for the world to buy into. It has become easy to lose sight of what is truly important. Gal. 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 

      If we are in Christ, then our lives are lived for the audience of one. Our Heavenly Father, is the only one we must satisfy. If we are living in the obedience of God's will through faith, then we are living in reality. Even though it feels good to have the approval of others, we will not need it, because we have God's acceptance and approval working in our soul.
      The self-absorption and antics that people participate in, to give the masses the impression that they've got it all together, have created many ills and dysphorias within people's lives. Sadness, depression, and hyper-anxiety have become the result of this false existence. The healing and recovery that will be needed to restore these people from the effects of these self-inflicted emotional wounds can take a long time. If the Lord is not involved in the restoration of these hurting souls, the healing can take longer.
      Most of the time, these people, are looking for some sort of affirmation to give relevance to their existence. Therefore, they spend much of their time auditioning for acceptance by everyone - except for the one who matters - God. When people perform for an audience of tens or thousands to be validated as a somebody, they will soon find out that they cannot please everybody. However, when we live our life for the audience of God, then through His Son Jesus, we can please Him by faith and be fulfilled. 

      In the end, the only thing that will matter is what God thinks. On judgment day, it is only you, and you alone, standing before God. The Lord will not be consulting the so-called status of your social media brand to find out who you are. He knows who we are at all times. Prov. 5:21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.
      Thank God, His banner over us is love, and because of that, the Lord has provided a way to receive God's righteousness through Jesus. Sng. 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Believing that God wants His best for us, will help persuade us to focus on pleasing God and serving Him with a full heart. The Lord will be our audience and our desire. King David said that doing God's will was a joy. Psalm 40:8 I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. I believe, this is the joy of life everyone is looking for, but we will have to accept God's gift of salvation to live in that joy, and have the peace that comes with it.
      Perhaps, if we stopped and realize that God is watching our lives and cheering us along, we would be more discerning about our life choices. The Apostle Paul was continually living his life for the audience of one. Phil. 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. "To live is Christ," was Paul's main expression from his heart. The Apostle Paul was focused on fulfilling God's will in his life.
      Paul had seen the vain value of his personal religious brand, which he showcased for the approval of the priests of his day. Once he had accepted the Lord Jesus, as his saviour, Paul could see the importance of living his life for the audience of one. Phil. 3:8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ.
      Saints, this is the goal of our hearts. We continually press toward the high calling that the Lord has placed on our lives. We live to please our Heavenly Father, who is the only infinite being whose love and judgment matters. Isa. 43:11 I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. When we all take our final bow, may our eyes be on Him who first loved us. Amen!