THE UNSHAKABLE WORD OF GOD….


Spiritual Blog - Unshakable

Mark 13:31 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” NASU

In the context of this particular verse Jesus was speaking of His Second Coming and giving the disciples and future generations clues and keys to look for to identify the times.  In that context but also as a stand-alone statement He said:  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”  His Word is UNSHAKABLE and INFALLIBLE!   We trust so many things in this world and life but the only sure thing is GOD’S WORD!

When I enter my house at night I flip the switch and believe that light is going to immediately fill the room.  When I sit on a chair I believe that it is going to support my weight and allow me to sit there comfortably.  When I get in my truck I expect the engine to start and take me down the road to my destination.  When I get on an airplane I expect it to take over, become airborne, remain airborne until we reach the destination and then land safely and allow me to get off.  It is by faith that we operate in this life and if we did not have faith and confidence that those things and multitudes more were going to be realities we would be mental and emotional wrecks and completely unable to function.  Yet, too often we DO NOT TRUST the Word of God with that same expectancy.  We read the promises and consider them “hopes”, “dreams”, “aspirations” rather than FACTUAL PROMISES by God Himself.  We relegate them to some by-gone era or for someone else and that is wrong.  Jesus said that although Heaven and Earth passed away HIS WORD WOULD NOT!  It is rock solid and unshakable!

Let me encourage you to read the promises of God and take them literally not figuratively.  Read them as personal promises to you because, if you have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, they are!  We readily accept that God does not and cannot lie but we treat His promises as though they were something other than factual absolute commitments by Him to us.  If God says something He says it for purpose not just to hear Himself speak or to make us feel warm and fuzzy at the moment of hearing it.  He says it because of His great love and if He promises He backs up that promise with His very person, nature, and character.  GOD NEVER speaks idle words!

So as you go through this day and from this day forward as you read the Word of God receive it as a Personal Promise of God to you because it is.  May God be with you as you go through this day!

THE OPERATIVE WORD IS – “IF”….


Spiritual Blog - Vine

John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  NASU

 In His discourse about being the Vine and the Father the vinedresser, Jesus informed those hearing that He expected His followers to “bear fruit” and if there was no “fruit bearing” that branch would be taken away.  He talked about the cleansing of the branches by pruning and told those listening that they were clean already because of His Word.  He identified that there could be no fruit except it come from the life of the Vine and that since we are branches and He is the vine our fruit is the result of the life that exudes from the vine.  Then in verse seven, He makes a statement that far too often is taken as a stand-alone passage but must be viewed in the context of the whole – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask WHATEVER you wish, and it will be done for you.”  (Emphasis mine).

This door to the miraculous is conditioned not only upon the context of the whole but hinges on the small word – ‘IF’.  The two facets of the “if” are abiding in Him, and His words abiding in us.  It is in light of drawing life from the Vine and producing fruit that He identifies that we are recipients of life and as living branches, we produce fruit because we are ABIDING IN HIM and His Words are ABIDING IN US.  That is the flow to us and from us. We receive of His life and as a result of that reception we produce fruit which produces seed which produces more fruit and the cycle is endless.  In that context, we can “Ask what we wish and receive answers to our prayers.”

Unfortunately, it would seem that too often we either are not abiding in Him and His words are not abiding in us to the level that He is our ALL-IN-ALL and we are living in a relatively casual, relationship rather than a totally committed life in which we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.”  In that condition, we neither expect that whatever we wish or pray to come to pass nor are we in a condition of heart to attain faith to receive.  Contrarily, if we are abiding in Him and His words are abiding in us His life will prod us to the level of life that we live in expectancy and become fulfillments of His promise that “the Works that He did we will do and greater works because He has gone to the Father.”  We will exhibit in this life the life of Jesus and through the fruit of that relationship, others will be positively impacted for the Kingdom.

The operative word is “IF”.  If we abide in Him.  If His words abide in us.  IF is the condition and the conduit through which the life that brings the faith for the miraculous.  Lord help me to change the “IF” to “I DO”. 

May God be with you as you go through your day!

IDLE, CARELESS, OR EVIL WORDS….


Spiritual Blog - Words

Matthew 12:33-37 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.  34 ” You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.  35 ” The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.  36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.  37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  NASU

 

I’ve heard so many interpretations of verses 36-37 that I approach this with great caution and careful thought.  I’ve had people tell me that this means that if you are not talking about God all the time you are uttering idle or careless words and will be judged for it.  That would seem quite legalistic and be quite a prison for all of us.  I’m not sure how you would conduct business, develop a social life, find a mate, or train your children in all aspects of life under that interpretation but if that is your view so be it.  I would ask that you restrain yourself in seeking to impose it on the rest of us.

I have studied this troubling and seemingly difficult translation to find what our Lord was truly saying to those in his audience then and now.  I refer you to two notable commentators on Scripture:

Adam Clarke suggested: 

[Every idle word] – Reema (NT:4487) argon (NT:692), a word that does nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who hear it.  The word argon (NT:692) corresponds to the Hebrew shaaw’ (OT:7723), which signifies not only vain or empty but also wicked and injurious, such as a false testimony against a neighbor, compare Deut 5:11 and 20. Add to this, that Symmachus translates piguwl (OT:6292), polluted, Lev 19:7, by the very Greek word in the text. It was to explain this ambiguous meaning of the word, that ten MSS. have changed argon (NT:692), into poneeron (NT:4190), evil. Our Lord must be understood here as condemning all false and injurious words: the scope of the place necessarily requires this meaning.

In looking at verse 37 we realize that – [By thy words thou shalt be justified] That is, the whole tenor of thy conversation will be an evidence for or against thee, in the great day. How many are there who count words for nothing! Yet eternity often depends on them. Lord, put a watch or a guard at the door of my lips!  That is a prayer proper for all men.

Barnes Notes suggested:

[But I say unto you …] Christ closes this address to his malignant and wicked hearers by a solemn declaration that for these things God would bring them into judgment. Therefore. THEY who had spoken so malignantly against him, could not escape.

[Idle word] This literally means a vain, thoughtless, useless word; a word that accomplishes no good. Here it means, evidently, “wicked, injurious, false, malicious, for such” were the words which they had spoken.

[By thy words thou shalt be justified …] That is, “words” are the indication of the true principles of the heart; by “words” the heart shall be known, as the tree is by its fruit. If they are true, proper, chaste, instructive, pious, they will prove that the heart is right. If false, envious, malignant, and impious, they will prove that the heart is wrong, and will, therefore, be among the causes of condemnation. It is not meant that words will be the only thing that will condemn man, but that they will be an important part of the things for which he shall be condemned.  See James 3:3-12.

I would suggest that Jesus is referring to words that are “without value”, words that are “harmful”, and words that are “untrue”.  I would also suggest that He is identifying the condition of the heart in referring to the utterance of words and is telling all who will hear that it is a WHOLESOME, GOD-FEARING LIFE that is to be prized and that will be acceptable to God on that day.  To suggest that simply by constructing our language and conversation in a particular way would be enough to gain entrance into Heaven would be to trample under-foot the Blood of Jesus and slander the Grace of God.  It would make Grace something earned and Salvation something we can become worthy of by our actions or words and we know that is not according to Scripture.  Therefore, this cannot be interpreted in that manner so understanding that it is not just talking a particular dogma that our Lord is focused on but the WHOLE OF OUR LIVES and instructing us to understand that “Words Have Meaning” and are “Powerful.”   I too pray that God will place a guard at my mouth and my heart and that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart prove to be pleasing and acceptable in His sight!

May God be with you as you go through your day.

HEAVEN’S OPEN DOOR…..


Spiritual Blog - Open Door

Revelation 4:1 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven…” NASU

Although there are many paths I could take with this text I only want to pursue one and that is “Heaven’s Open Door.”  Just the other day as we were traveling my wife and I were listening to some old Gospel Music and “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before” made its way into the rotation of songs and this scripture came to mind.  In that song, it says, “I can see the Father standing at the door.”  That reminded me of the parable of the Prodigal Son and how the father saw the returning wayward son at a great distance and ran to meet him.  That suggests that he was always “looking” for the return of his wayward child and possibly standing in the doorway of his house looking over the way hoping against hope that his son that was lost would return.  I can imagine our Heavenly Father looking over His creation at the doorway of Heaven and longing for us to “return to Him with a whole heart.”  At times I can almost hear the sobs of the Father and my Lord Jesus as they weep over the condition of mankind in this day that we live.

Several things come to mind when I think of a “Door Open in Heaven”.  That tells me that there is “open access” to God’s throne through prayer and how we need to take advantage of that invitation and opportunity.  It suggests that God is eagerly awaiting us to petition Him and is willing to dispatch help to us at a moment’s notice.  The picture that comes to my heart’s mind is that of a loving parent watching over their children and ready to protect and nurture them if there is a need and willing to let them spread their wings to learn to fly.  I sense that there is a “Door Open in Heaven” and God is extending a personal invitation for us to “enter in” through the vehicle of prayer and commune with Him and receive from Him His supply.

Whatever you do as you go through this day, hold in your heart and mind that there is an “Open Door in Heaven” for you right now!  May God be with you and bless you richly!

THE LIVING DEAD!!!!


Spiritual Blog - Dead

Romans 8:10-12 – “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh….”  NASU

We are the “Living Dead” and I’m not talking about Zombies as Hollywood seems to be obsessed with these days.  When I say the “Living Dead” I am talking about people who have “died to sin” and “risen to life” in Jesus Christ through the Power of the Blood.  It is a beautiful place to be – LIVING DEAD!

Paul informs the Roman believers that IF the Spirit of God, that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us that same Spirit will give us LIFE in our mortal bodies.  We are then DEAD but ALIVE and that is because we are not controlled by the “flesh” but the “spirit.”  As a result, we are no longer under OBLIGATION to Live According to the Flesh.  That leads me to my next question – “Why do we?”  Why do we allow the FLESH to have so much power in our daily lives?  Why do we allow the FLESH to be such a dominant force in our lives?  WHY?  There can only be one of a few possibilities.

  • We are uninformed as to our position and condition in Christ.
  • We are willing participants with the FLESH.
  • We are so underdeveloped spiritually that the devil easily sways and overcomes us.

None of those are conditions that are required.  We are not OBLIGATED to live according to the flesh.  The result of Jesus coming, living a sinless life, dying sacrificially on the Cross, rising again on the third day, and ascending to the Right Hand of the Father – is the defeat of the devil.  That is not a maybe or someday, somehow when we all get to heaven he will be – HE IS DEFEATED NOW!   Jesus said that ALL POWER or AUTHORITY in heaven was given to Him and He gave that to us.  Therefore, we have authority and power over the devil which would mean that the FLESH is to be subject to the Spirit of God, not vice versa. We are under NO OBLIGATION to succumb to the temptations or whims of the flesh.  We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Jesus and We CAN do all things through Christ!  That is our Covenant, Heritage, and Promise from the Lord Himself so why not employ it and enjoy it?

As you go forth today go in the strength of the Power of the Spirit of God and walk in Victory!  God bless you richly is my prayer!

 

CONSIDER ANOTHER HE MIGHT BE A WEAKER BROTHER…


Spiritual Blog - Weaker Brother

1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” NKJV

Personal Liberty and the Conscience of a Weaker Brother is and always will be an issue in the Church.  How far do we press our liberty before we become a stumbling block for a “weaker brother”?  Is there a time to say, “Grow up and realize that different people have different convictions”?  Is exercising our liberty worth causing another to stumble?  How you answer those questions will determine how you relate to those around you.

There was a time in my Christian walk that I felt that everyone should hold the same convictions that I did and if they did not they were “carnal” at best and “backslidden” at worst.  That was incredibly Pharasical and in a very real sense I was a Pharisee of Pharisees!  It took God rattling my cage in a major way to cause me to rethink my way of thinking and to understand that I was not God’s Fruit Inspector He could handle that job just fine without my assistance.  Likewise, I had to learn, although in my heart I knew it that most of what I called “convictions” were simply “opinions” and did not have the weight of Scripture.  An opinion is just that and is something that may and should change if any new light comes.  If God “convicts” your heart over an action, belief, or anything you should follow what God says implicitly and explicitly.  Yet you must always remember that what God “convicts” you of He may not convict another.  Many times the roots of that conviction stem from something within you or the geographic region in which you live and the mindset of those around you.  God will bring conviction to your heart for your benefit not so you can attempt to impose it on everyone else that would be what a Pharisee does.

There have been times that I could have done something but knew that there were those around me who would be hindered in their Christian walk if they saw me.  So, in the interest of another, I choose to abstain.  In traveling to other parts of the country and world I have found that there are many differing views on various things that Christians do or do not do and sometimes the dogmatism is so strong that no amount of reason or biblical teaching can break it.  Unless God brings light to the heart that person or persons will remain as they are.  Attempting to legislate a particular mindset or lifestyle would be futile and brings to mind the old saying:  “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  They may yield to your insistence but their hearts and minds have not truly changed.  You are not God so why try to be?

As you go through your day realize that what you do and say will have an impact on others so choose your words and deeds carefully considering another for your liberty is not worth hindering another in their pursuit of GOD and His GRACE!

May God be with you as you go through your day!

WANTED – – Truth Tellers…


Spiritual Blog - Truth

Ephesians 4:25 – “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” NASU

 

I won’t get political or go on an all-out attack on religious hypocrisy but will say that what we need in this present world is men and women of THE TRUTH.  Paul tells the Ephesian Church that they are to “lay aside” FALSEHOOD and “speak the truth.”  He reminds them and us that we are not isolated from each other but as members of both the human race and the family of God we are part of the same fabric and while we sometimes are guilty of lying to ourselves or distorting reality in our minds we do not practice that regularly, at least I hope we do not.

My grandfather and father always told me, “Tell the truth it is easier to remember than a lie.”  They usually told me that when I attempted to pull the wool over on their eyes and they saw through it with amazing clarity and regularity.  Neither would tolerate laziness or dishonesty and were truthful to a fault and even if telling the truth brought them personal or financial difficulty.  They believed and so do I that “honesty” is not just the best policy it is the “only policy.”  If we are truthful then we do not have to worry about being exposed and that in itself brings a certain sense of peace and security to the heart and mind.  We have all known people who it seems would climb a tree to tell a lie when they could have stood on the ground and told the truth.

My children know that I told them, “If you lie to me and I catch you it will be far worse than if you tell me the truth.”  If they remember they can recall times when they told me the truth and escaped punishment and times when they didn’t and the punishment or correction was stepped up a notch.  If we encounter someone who tells us untruths on a regular basis, no matter how hard we try not to label or characterize them as being a liar we still do so, at least in the back of our minds and it affects our relationship or prevents us developing one that is positive.  No one wants to do business with a person that distorts the truth or facts.  No one would want to sit under a preacher who uses fabrications.  As a friend of mine had a member of his congregation asked him, “Pastor was that story you told the truth or were you just preaching?”  What a statement and while she may not have meant it as it came across that she would even entertain it is a tragedy.

You do not want anyone to tell you anything but the truth so why practice telling others something that is not truthful?  You would not want your doctor to tell you something that was not true regarding your health because that could cost you your life.  You would not want your banker or financial adviser to misrepresent your finances that might cost you your possessions.  In life (all of it) let’s be PEOPLE OF THE TRUTH!

May God bless you as you go through your day!

SLAVES NO MORE…..


Spiritual Blog - Slaves

Galatians 4:1-7 – “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ” Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” NASU

Paul’s way of explaining our relationship with God is powerful.  He brings to mind that a child although a member of the family and ultimately owner of all the family fortunes and worth is little different from a slave because the child is under the authority of his/her parents or those whom the parents have placed over them.  They are not allowed the privilege of operating as an “owner” until it is deemed by the father that they are ready.  The Child though Owner of all but operates in the authority of a slave is the condition described, yet he must never forget HE IS A CHILD, not a SLAVE!

Then he declares to us that we are “sons” (a non-gender term as used here) and because of that truth God has sent the Spirit of God into our hearts crying “Abba! Father!”  As a result, we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters and if we are sons and daughters we are HEIRS OF GOD!  Oh my friends, how often do we as children of the Most High live beneath our privilege?  How frequently do we live as slaves rather than sons and daughters?  It is time that we assess who we are and whose we are.  It is time to reread the Bible and determine what this “New Covenant” that is established upon “Better Promises” is all about and what it affords.  It is time that we reevaluate our relationship with the Lord and that we have authority and power to not only overcome the enemy of our souls but the grace to live the Abundant Life that Jesus promised.  You are not a SLAVE you are a CHILD OF GOD and an HEIR according to His Promise!

Let’s move from a slave mentality to a son and daughter mentality.  Let’s move from timidity to boldness in our relationship, heritage, and covenant.  Let’s begin to live as HEIRS and bring real hope to this hopeless world outside of Christ.

God bless and keep you as you go through your day!

STRONG IN GRACE…


Spiritual Blog - Grace

2 Timothy 2:1, 11-13 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…..11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” NASU

 

How about you, do you want to be “Strong in Grace?”  I believe that I can answer that for you without violating your right to make the decision for yourself and say, YES!  Paul identified in verses 11-13 some truths regarding our walk in Christ in this life by saying:

  1. If we have died in Him we will also live in Him.
  2. If we endure we will reign.
  3. If we deny Him, He will deny us.
  4. If we are faithless, He will remain faithful
  5. God cannot deny Himself. 

We are dead in Christ through the “new birth” and have been made a new creation through the gift of Salvation.  The result of that is that one day we will live with Him eternally!  Jesus never hid the fact that we would face difficulties in life and in the Christian walk and neither does Paul.  He tells us the end of that enduring is reigning with Jesus.  He warns that if we deny the Lord, God will deny us on that day and that is not something that any of us desires.  He tells us that we may be less than faithful but God will always be faithful because He cannot deny Himself and He is faithful.

So to be “Strong in Grace” is to embrace the faith that is in Jesus Himself.  It is to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is to allow the Holy Spirit to shed the Love of God abroad in our hearts and to teach us all things that Jesus said.  It is to allow the Holy Spirit to quicken our mortal bodies so that we shake off the shackles of carnality and move into the realm of the spiritual.  It is to become focused on the King and the Kingdom of God as paramount and supreme above all else.  It is to TOTALLY SURRENDER our life, all of it to GOD!

It is in that condition and position that we become “Strong in Grace” and no matter what comes we come out the other side IN CHRIST and therefore VICTORIOUS.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

READ THESE VERSES AS A CONTINUING THOUGHT RATHER THAN ISOLATED AND SEPARATE…


Spiritual Blog - Contest

Matthew 7:1-10 – “Do not judge and criticize and condemn [others unfairly with an attitude of self-righteous superiority as though assuming the office of a judge], so that you will not be judged [unfairly]. For just as you[hypocritically] judge others [when you are sinful and unrepentant], so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgment], judgment will be measured to you. Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

“Do not give that which is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, for they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will [instead] give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will [instead] give him a snake?

Most people read these verses as vv. 1-5, see v. 6 a bridge, then vv. 7-10 but since there were no verse divisions in the original I suggest you read these verses in the context of one continuing thought.  I think it will take on a somewhat different shape when you do.

Jesus begins with Judging and issues the warning that if or maybe when we judge (we all do) whatever standard we use will be the standard that others and God uses with us.  The emphasis is deal with your own issues BEFORE attempting to deal with the issues of others.  Then verse 6 shows up and the implication, if the verses are read as one thought, is when we fail to deal with the logs in our own eyes.  We will likely judge others critically the message we are conveying will be rejected and our pearls will be trampled in the pig trough and not have their intended effect.  Not only that, but those we are judging, while we have glaring issues in our own lives will result in them turning on us and attacking us.  If we are a Pharisee or Legalist, we will wonder why they treated us so vilely and will claim that we are suffering for Jesus when the reality is we are suffering because we did not follow the biblical directive and we judged without first judging ourselves and dealing with our own issues.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of the next few verses in light of the previous six.  Once we have judged ourselves and dealt with our own spiritual and personal issues THEN we are in a position to ASK and RECEIVE in a most powerful manner.  It is the man or woman who follows the prescript of the first six verses that is in a position to not only ask but expect to receive what we have asked.  BUT THERE IS MORE!  The Golden Rule is viewed by most Christians as a Stand Alone but when connected as in these verses it becomes incredibly powerful.  If we reject the temptation to Judge Others while needing ministry ourselves and we treat others as we want to be treated THEN, when we go to the Father in Prayer we go with an incredible sense of EXPECTATION because we are in Right Standing with the Father, walking out the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and Resisting the Devil.  We are DEMONSTRATING CHRIST and EVERYTHING that Jesus asked the Father, the Father granted.

I would be remiss if I failed to connect vv. 13-14 to these passages and suggest that the narrow gate Jesus is speaking of is directly connected to the actions and the directives in the preceding verses.  The wide gate is a Gate of Judgmentalism.  The wide gate is a Gate of following our feelings emotions and nursing our wounds rather than forgiveness and demonstrating godliness, mercy, and forgiveness to others in all things and at all times.

Maybe this does not impact or resonate with you as it does me, but it touches me in a way that changes my entire view of interpersonal relationships.   God bless you as you enjoy this day in Him!