Thursday, 29 April 2021

Our Personal Fires

Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

      Modern attitudes in the church are resembling the actions Aaron's sons took in their approach toward their reverence of God. They interpreted what they felt was right through their own eyes, not considering the laws of God to be followed or acknowledged. Nadab and Abihu had slipped into their prideful state of - I will do religion my way, and God had better be satisfied with the fact that He has me serving Him. Lev. 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
      Nada and Abihu played a dangerous game within their priestly relationship toward God. Some Christians are doing the same thing by ignoring what God has said to be righteous and true. There is grace for our ignorance, but God expects us to be circumspect before Him and our fellow man as we mature. We are not to bring a critical interpretation to what God has already pronounced as sacrosanct. Isa. 14:24 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.
      Our personal fires burn and smoulder within our staunch and sometimes misguided beliefs. We can burn with indignation, prejudice, pride, bias, and resentment toward others who think differently. As Christians, we have to be careful not to bring our strange or profaned fire to the altar of God's righteousness. Just because we happen to feel a certain way does not mean we have God's omniscient view of the situation. We can sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we are doing God's bidding when in fact, it is our own religious interpretation of what is right, thus reacting toward others in a loveless way. We end up adulterating our relationship with God by using our own strange fire. 
      You cannot declare something right just because a new trend now says it is socially acceptable. We have to go to God in prayer to determine what the Holy Spirit says is righteous. Phil. 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Instead of rewriting the counsel of God, ask Him what the truth is concerning sinful activity becoming socially accepted.
      I am amazed at the subjects Christians become polarised over and will argue as holy when it is just a personal bias. We can read on different media platforms how dogmatic people have become. In some cases, so-called forthright people have no problem heartlessly damning another person because they have a different opinion on a subject. This carnal method of measuring right and wrong is not God's holy approach to righteousness. It is a rewrite of God’s word to suit modern unrighteous proclivities. Prov. 30:6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
      When I see Christians advocating for something so contrary to God's word, it makes me wonder if they have ever read the scriptures. God clearly admonishes us to study His word to show ourselves approved in the Lord and not be so easily seduced by the whims of society. 2Tim. 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. We are the Lord's people and not the Lord's master. It is God who says what the acceptable fire is concerning His standards for living.
      Let us all lay down our personal fires and become reignited by the Holy Spirit's flame of righteousness. The Holy Spirit's fire will give us His power to accomplish our ordained work in the kingdom of God. Let us no longer be drawn in by every wind of corrupted doctrine or be misusers of God's eternal gift within our hearts. May we burn with God's love and righteousness now and forevermore. Amen!

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Go Ahead, Google Me!

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favour is better than silver and gold.

      In 1980, I was a student attending the Commonwealth Bible College in Katoomba, New South Wales. Like most theological students, we discussed what was gleaned in lectures throughout the day. There was no end to debates and expressions of vision and idealism. There was an interesting discussion that came up once in a while. The question asked was, "If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to charge and convict you of living a Christian life?" Of course, this statement caused another argument. Someone would always say, "Anyone can pretend to be anything they want their outer persona to display. What is projected outwardly is not what is always happening in our hearts."  An actor can take on a role of looking beatific. However, being righteous is a God-given gift through Christ only.
      This question came up again recently at one of our men's breakfasts. Someone at the table had Googled my name and the search results produced pages showing my blog, books published, and other Christian-related items. No matter how much material that was listed on Google indicating that most likely I am a Christian, the argument remained the same. Only God knows the heart of man and whether or not Jesus is Lord of our life. Jesus knows exactly who we belong to and what we are made of. John 2:25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
      We only have to look at the fallen evangelists and ministers who ended up as headline news over the last couple of decades to see that pretending to be forthright and being forthright are two different things. Anyone who would have observed Jesus and his disciples would have assumed that Judas was one of the chosen good guys, and surely he was an honest man because he followed Jesus. The perception of Judas Iscariot's spiritual walk would be measured by the fact that he had the money bag and could be trusted, therefore, a real man of God.
      The choices Judas ended up making were his reality and would have relegated the perceived evidence of his honest life to the top of the rubbish heap. Prov. 22:1 A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favour is better than silver and gold. Even walking as close as he did with Jesus for three years, Judas was not able to draw on the love and security that God made available. Even with Jesus in the room, Judas had left his heart open to the influences of the world and it cost him. John 13:2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
      According to Google, I am an active member of the Christian community because I happen to have written devotional books that help Christians understand their faith. That description is not me. That is an algorithm's program describing my activities. To sit back and let Google describe who I am because they classified me as a blogger, and writer, is not something I should put my trust in, or try to live up to. I am who the Lord says I am, and through Him only can I keep my righteous position in Christ. Yes, go ahead and Google me, but please see me for more than what the world system describes me as.
      Go ahead and Google anyone, but do not put your whole trust in the description of what is recorded of them. People will sometimes say they are researching the person to make an informed decision about them. It is getting harder to evaluate anyone because of the collective bits and bytes moving at web speed. How much of it is true, and how much is real? 1John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
      I have found that when you pray for someone, God will give you some insight into who they are by the very prayers that He is leading you into praying. If you really want to get to know someone, put their heart and soul on your prayer list. Eph. 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Thank God we are known by Him, and what the Lord says about us is the truth we have to work with. Google only knows my posted life. God knows my eternal existence in Christ. So if you really want to know me, pray for me. Amen!

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Silencing The Naysayers

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

      The naysayers will always be with us because the default setting of the human condition is sinfulness, loss, and bitterness. These people cannot help but be negative because sin is a negative force that still carries the death sentence. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Those who are in Christ by faith can find the courage to grow in heart and have a positive outlook on life because Jesus is life and paid for our sins in full with His life.
      The only way to silence the naysayers is to live in victory while keeping our thoughts and heart on the things of God. The Lord will lift us out of the quagmire of sinfulness. Psalm 40:2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. God will bring us out of our old life's existence and carry us into His new and eternal living ways. Because Christ dwells within us, we can now become spiritually-minded rather than remaining in a state of mental fear and anxiety. 
       Nehemiah had a few naysayers who said the wall of Jerusalem could not be rebuilt. However, in record time, the wall was constructed because Nehemiah was full of the vision, purpose, and knowledge of God for the task. Neh. 6:15 The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. He was focused on the call and burden God had put in his heart. Nehemiah had silenced the naysayers in a very short time.
       On the day that David had delivered food to his brothers who were part of the army being threatened by Goliath, David, decided to accept Goliath's challenge. His brothers became mocking naysayers. 1Sam. 17:28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” Within a day, after killing the giant, David had become the new hero for a nation to believe in. The naysayers had been silenced by the victory David had delivered through faith. 
      Living in victory and demonstrating the blessings of God in our lives is how we will eventually silence the naysayers. With the fear of the Lord as our banner, we can accomplish the difficult tasks that arise to challenge us. The Lord will give us His wisdom to accomplish what God has sown within us to do. Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
      Many of us have family members who mock our belief in Jesus Christ. They change the subject when we try to give God the glory for the obvious miracles He has done in our lives and victories won through our circumstances. They ridicule our sincere feelings toward our Lord because they fear their own inadequate existence. They are responding from a position of shame because they are still lost or controlled by their own trespasses and sins. Therefore, their naysaying becomes a defence mechanism to whitewash their own inability to save themselves. So, with false bravado, they deny and attack to appease the burning worm that eats at their souls from within. Mark 9:48 Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
      We who are in Christ, have been given eternal life and a Godly reason to keep following the purposes our Lord has given us. Our default setting is God's grace working within us. We do not have to worry about the naysayers because they are God's problem. We just have to pray for them by faith, that they would realize the truth of God's gift of salvation is available for them as well. Onward saints. Let us silence the naysayers by the power and victory that we live through Christ. Amen!

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Gladium The Sword

Proverbs 3:11 My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.        
      
      Historians have written that when the Roman soldiers trained for combat, they performed their exercises with round bucklers woven with willows, and wooden swords called a rudis. These practice weapons weighed twice as much as the shield and gladius used during real service. They exercised twice a day with heavy wooden replicas to strengthen their ability in the art of warfare. When it was time for real combat, the gladius felt much lighter in weight. This allowed the soldier a confident ability to wield his sword with agility and deadly accuracy.
      Some Christians do not practice with the weaponry that was given to them by our Lord. While their hearts are participating in this world's sinful pleasures, they remain immature. Then a crisis hits, and they panic. They run to the word of God, seeking instant deliverance. However, because they did not practice every day with the heavy word of God, they find themselves unskilled in the word of righteousness and become victims of their own folly. Heb. 5:13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 
      The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians. He instructed them to put on the whole armour of God to be able to fight, defeat, and overcome the attacks of the devil that would come their way. Eph. 6:11 Put on the full armour of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. The Lord also instructed us to walk while it was daylight so that we could see clearly our path in life. John 11:9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walks in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
      These simple instructions were given to us so that we, the soldiers in Christ, would practice the word of righteousness every day. Because of our faithful dedication in the training of God's word, when the real battle comes upon us, we can confidently declare the word of God and fight efficiently with the Holy Spirit's word of precision. Eph. 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit — which is the word of God. In effect, we can be ready for the demonic fight that is going to come at us for the rest of our lives. But praise the Lord, we have the illuminated word that defeats the enemy. We have the sword of swords.
      The word of God is the sharpest weapon that ever was, is, and will be. Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The Lord's gladium that is faithfully wielded from our hearts can defeat anything the devil throws at us. The thing we will have to get comfortable with is the workout the Holy Spirit will put us through using His directions and disciplines. Prov. 3:11 My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. 
      As soldiers in the Lord's service, we do not fret or worry about the worldly chaos that continues all year round. We practice the presence of the Lord, and we become skilled and refined in the righteousness that was given to us through Christ. 2Tim. 2:4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. When Jesus called us to become His followers, and we accepted His terms, we enlisted in God's kingdom. We no longer serve our fleshly hearts, but rather, we serve the Lord in love.
      Becoming skilled in the gift of our righteousness and the power of God's word is a lifetime commitment and dedication. We are not part-time Christians, but we are God's hand extended in this earth. We use God's word - His gladium to bless, encourage, and lighten the load of those who are walking the walk and looking for the answers to their purpose. May we be the blessing God called us to be and fight the good fight of faith. In Jesus name.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

If I Had Wings

Proverbs 20:30 Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.

      Psalm 55:6 So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. 7 Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest. The psalmist David was expressing a feeling we have all felt and wished to be able to do at some time. Oh, that I had wings, and could fly away from all the problems that in most cases, I created.
      If I had wings, I would fly away to a quiet place, where I would not have to face the deep hurts I have caused. If I had wings, I would fly from the condemnation plaguing my soul all day long. If I had wings, I would glide over the pains that cut my heart every time I think of the betrayal that was orchestrated against me. If I had wings, I would go back in time and repair the multiple events that brought me to this point of agony. Oh, that I had wings!
      Perhaps the reason God gave us the law of gravity, rather than the ability to fly, is to make sure we stay in place and meet our problems head-on. Painful and tearful experiences will come. There is no getting around this fact. If you are human, you will experience hurt, betrayal, pain, and suffering. This is not always a negative thing. Sometimes it takes a blunt or traumatic event to jerk us out of the self-absorption we find ourselves in. This sudden awakening can cause us to face the reality that needs our full attention. Prov. 20;30 Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.
      Recently, I had to repent, change my mind, and ask for forgiveness for events that were brought to my attention because of the choices I had made for my family many years ago. Was I wrong in what I had done? This is not the point. The point is that some family members felt I had caused some hurtful and traumatic events in their lives. If not for God's grace and His direction for me to take responsibility for my actions, I truly would have preferred to fly away. My heart was crying, "Oh that I had wings, I would fly away to a dry place with no tears."
      I can either argue with the statements being made about my behaviour or bring healing to the hearts that are suffering. The question for healing becomes, "Do I want to be right or do I want to be righteous?" Gal. 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted.
      God has admonished us to ask for His help in every part of our lives. Psalm 50:15 And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. In most cases, when we find ourselves in these deep emotional situations, we panic and flounder around until we ask God to help us through our self-made mess. Thank God for His faithfulness toward us. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. My God was found in my time of trouble, and He delivered me with His righteousness. Thank you, Lord, that my apology was accepted, and I was forgiven. Thank you, heavenly Father, for giving me the ability to put on your wings.