Monthly Archives: November 2008

Understanding God’s Word

The Bible, Word of God, Scripture – whatever you choose to call His book – is God speaking to you personally. He has a lot to say, so He gave His words to men to write down. Because God is God, His Word is like Him. It doesn’t change, and it never fails. It has power to accomplish everything for which He sends it forth. Everything He has said is as relevant today as when Moses began writing down the books of the law. God’s hand has guided the hands of countless scribes through the centuries, including present day translators and printers to keep His Word intact. 

We can partially understand God’s Word with our minds, but if you think about it, don’t you want to receive more from your reading than intellectual assumptions? Have you not learned that your mind often slips a gear when you are reading something, and you can totally miss the point? It’s like trying to understand math that the teacher hasn’t explained to you yet. 

Here is how to understand God’s Word: the Holy Spirit will explain it to you. He will help your mind accept the faith in your spirit has that the word you read is true. The Word itself is living; God’s expression of Himself to you, so that you can have all the information and understanding and power you need to live a godly life and do great things that need doing.

The Spirit of God dwells within all true followers of Jesus Christ. He, the Spirit,  interprets the Word to you. James 1:21-22 says to receive the word implanted and be doers of it, that is; doers of what it says to do. This includes believing God’s promises as well as the practical things like helping widows and orphans.

Right now, take five minutes to go to a private place and open God’s Word.( If you don’t have a Bible with you today, then print this post. Short passages from the Bible are included at the end, and you can use those.) Read a portion of scripture, keeping verses in their complete context or thought. Write down, without actually quoting the passage, what you think it is saying. Make a note to yourself about what you thinkit means after reading it alone. Now, your are going to read it again, but first, be quiet. Shut your mind off to every clamor! Ask the Holy Spirit to read the scripture through you and to you, and ask Him to open your spiritual ears and eyes for comprehension of the truth.  As He reads through your physical eyes, you speak the words aloud. Your mind will hear the words from what the Spirit of God is speaking through you. Now write down what you heard. Is there a difference from what you first wrote?

God’s Word is always fresh and new. You may read the same scriptures tomorrow in the power of the Holy Spirit instead of your intellect, and you will find more in them than today. 

Lord God, bless these readers with new life in Christ; more of You, as they exercise their spirits by your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ mighty Name, Amen!

Hebrews 4:12-16 The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.  There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves.  Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God—Jesus, the Son of God.  Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.  Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. 

Colossians 3:16-17  Christ’s message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts. Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father.

I John 2:27  But as for you, Christ has poured out his Spirit on you. As long as his Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For his Spirit teaches you about everything, and what he teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit’s teaching, then, and remain in union with Christ. 

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Oathmakers and Oathbreakers

The book of Hebrews at its inception was written to Jews who had received Christ as Lord and Savior. The Jews were big on oaths and vows in their culture. Hebrews 6:16 in its context leads into describing God’s oath to Abraham that He, God, would make Abraham the father of a nation, a people that is so vast we cannot count them all. However, the verse gives us valuable information af what God defines as an oath, or a vow. Heb 6:16 ” When we make a vow, we use the name of someone greater than ourselves, and the vow settles all arguments. ” So, for, example, if you swear to do something “by God,” then you are giving God specific authority to hold you to it.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we see what Christ says about making vows in the first place. He is speaking to his disciples about divorce, which is breaking a promise, and goes on to say this: Matt 5:33  “You have also heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.’ But now I tell you: do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by earth, for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black.  Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’—anything else you say comes from the Evil One.” (from the Good News Bible)

Let’s repeat one phrase and look at it more carefully. “Do not use any vow when you make a promise.” or, in old King James English – don’t forswear yourself.

Is it right, then, to make any kind of oath or vow? I don’t think we need to! God has promised everything to us and for us. It is by faith that we walk through this world, and everything we have and can do is by God’s grace.  We can cheerfully say, if it is the Lord’s will, then we will do such-and-such. If we already know it is the Lord’s will, then we can joyfully simply say yes to Him and begin to do it by His grace working through us. Take a step of faith and go ahead and do what you know to do from the Lord. 

God’s Word makes it clear there are no “greater” or “lesser” people in the Kingdom of God. If you need to verify this, read the book of James, which has salient remarks about prejudice. We do have a chain of authority, and persons to obey who represent God’s authority. If you allow someone to have authority over you unrighteously, however,  it is absolutely certain that person will take advantage of the position and extract all kinds of additional (and wrong) behavior from you. How do you know when this is happening? Well, because it does happen, and too often, I would like to give you an examination to see if it is happening to you.

1. Have you promised someone to do something a.) in the heat or weakness of some emotion, like anger or or fear? b.) when you are tired or hungry? c.) during some great trial where that person offers great help in exchange for a “little” promise? d.) when you are lonely? e.) to get something you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.  These are a few examples of times when we can be easily deceived, and it is too easy to slip another person wrong authority over us.

2. Have you seen that your vow causes trial or hurt to others? Is something missing or unavailable to them because of what you have done? Is their full potential hindered because your vow is a hindrance to what you know that you know is God’s best for them?

3. Have you seen that by keeping your vow, you are unfairly aligned, directly or indirectly with the person responsible for keeping you to it? Does what falls on your authority person fall on you?  Psalms has a LOT to say about that, by the way.

4. Are you unable to move ahead in your walk with God? Are most of your prayers and even your acts of faith fruitless?

5. Is your vow of any use to the Kingdom of God? Did it have eternal value, or was is temporal, for this world only? 

If any of these things apply to you, please examine your promises.  When you made a promise, did you make it to be kept by God’s grace, or did you make it to some other person; “Well, I swear I’ll show you . . .” or, ” I swear will do what you said,” or even, “I swear that isn’t true.” Here is one more possibility to examine – did you vow something TO YOURSELF?

Are you freaking out right now because you are just realizing how you have given someone power you never intended? Even your natural self over your godly, spiritual, saved self?

THERE IS HOPE. What does Philippians chapter 4 say: Don’t be anxious! Take it to the Lord!

The word you need to remember right now is “repent.” If you have realized you made a bad vow or promise, you have already repented. To repent is to turn away from something, and the root word for our Engilsh is to “change you mind”. You have already changed your mind. You agree with God that you made a mistake. 

The next step is to confess what you have done to God. Ask His forgiveness, and receive it. Tell Him you respect His authority, and you will do whatever He says to get you out of this mess. He wil give you a godly solution. Always. He will help you, and it will be like a stone thrown into a pool. Your right response to God will ripple out to make things right for every person who has been unjustly affected. You are setting the wheels in motion for much good change. If some other person used you to gain authority, that one will be affected for righteousness. To repent and mover forward in righteousness yourself is to make the opportunity for another sinner to come to repentance. Trust God to enable and protect you. He has promised this, and God’s promises are always right. God’s promises never fail. In I John 1:9, He says when we sin, and we come to hHim about it, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I don’t know where you stand, but this writer would rather deal with just and holy God any day instead of being falsely acocuntable to some other person, place  or thing.

Lord, I pray for every person who reads this blog post to think of all the things they have said to people or to themselves to get something. Help them make a list and pray to you about each and every item on the list. I ask You to show them right from wrong and lead them to repentance and cleansing for every wrong promise. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Thank You, Lord.

 

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Simply Jesus

“I must expect EVERYTHING from my Lord Jesus.”

Is this your way of life? Is He, Jesus Christ our Lord, your way, your truth, and your life? This question is not a judgment or condemnation on anyone. If you are answering yes, then we rejoice together in the goodness and grace of the Lord. If you are answering no or you just aren’t sure, then we who love you in Christ want to help you reach this destination of casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.

We are never out of God’s Presence. Sin blinds us to His Presence and power. The first step to deeper relationship with the Lord is knowing we are creatures of sin, and asking God to forgive us and cleanse us. It is something we do by faith, even when we have not recognized any particular sin. So refreshing! To be free from the power of sin and death is to walk in total freedom! Do you think you are not sinful? This is something to repent, that is; to change your mind about. Accept what the scriptures say that ALL have sinned and miss God’s glory. Then you can move forward in God’s grace that He has given you to know Him.

The second step is to deliberately and consciously give yourself to the Lord. You already belong to Him, so don’t be afraid of things happening you can’t change. Let Jesus change you, instead. Let Him bless you with freeedom from having to do everything yourself. You can’t, anyway, you know. Jesus wants to take care of you, and HE CAN. He is God, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He heals and provides and gives eternal life. He never changes; His promises never fail. He protects what is His and you are His.

The third step is now to leave everything up to the Lord. Everything. Do your bones ache with cold? Ask Jesus to remove the ache. Are you confused about what to believe in a certain situation? Ask Jesus to open your eyes more to Him, because He is where you find the truth. Did you spend money foolishly and now you can’t get it back when there are bills to pay? Tell Jesus what you did and admit your foolishness. Ask Him to stop you from doing it again. Ask Him to pay those bills. Is someone in your family rebelling against God and you are afraid for that person’s life? Give your fear to Jesus – see, He knows all about it, and He is crying with you. Keep praying, and you are working with Him to bring salvation to your brother.

Now, beloved, rest in the Lord. Wait patiently for Him. He will give you the desires of your heart. Has He not placed them there? You will walk in love and see the glory of God come down.

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Praise Is Serving the Lord

Do you serve the LORD in your local church?  In Psalm 135, there is some instruction for people who serve in the house of the Lord. People who stand in the courts are included in this instruction! So if you are just a pew sitter, stand up and do what God commands. First, we are told to PRAISE HIM, because He is good.

As a musician, the next instruction gets close to this writer’s heart – “sing praises unto His Name.” Another way to say this is to celebrate God’s wonderful Name with music. You can croak like a crow with no melody and still have music in you. Did you know that? It is there in your spirit, because God made everybody with this ablility to praise Him with music. Why do you think the masses rise to their feet when Handel’s Hallalujah Chorus is played? Or the Battle Hymn of the Republic? Because a person commands us to do so? Rather, it is because the music praises God, and man must praise God with music.

Psalm 135 goes on to describe God’s greatness and some things He has done which emphasize that.

Then  the psalmist slips in this word concerning God’s servants – God will judge His people, and repent Himself concerning His servants. He has compassion on those who serve Him.

Praise the LORD today. Worship Him. Celebrate His Name with music. Can’t sing? Sing anyway. And the next time you go to church, serve the Lord. Greet somebody in His Name. Talk about the greatness of God instead of the weather. And lift up your heart and your hands in praise and worship with the music.

Praise the Lord!

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Election ’08

Responsibility in an election of leaders is an awesome experience. In the United States of America, we have the right and the privilege of choosing who will represent us in government.

In three days, our nation will elect leaders starting at the national level right down to townships and hamlets across the land. 

Christians have greater responisbility in this matter than any other citizen. The United States was formed and founded by God’s design, with initial settlers and leaders being men and women of God who knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. These people sought the Lord diligently to make certain His will was the driving force of making this nation come alive. Since these people were living under extreme hardship and wilderness conditions, it was probably a lot easier for them to stay focused on God than it is in our present culture.

If you are a Christian, you know it is easier to follow Christ when you are down than when you have plenty of food on the table and can work from nine to five weekdays and watch football all weekend. Perhaps the Lord has a reason for allowing great financial stress in this country just before a general major election. If we will turn to Him and seek His mind on whom to elect, then USA can regain its righteousness, under God. If we are fat and lazy, we will seek to elect the candidates who promise greater welfare and less work.

The most intense issue of this campaign, however, is not money. It is the righteousness and morality of America. You have not heard this discussed very much in debates or particularly the news media, except for the rampant assumption that change means allowing what God calls sin as acceptable behavior. Do you want to put your money into taxation which does not allow you representation, because a few special interest groups would control the government? Christians are not radical extremists to be stomped out so fornicators and murderers and haters of Israel can have their way. Christians are the backbone and providers and main body of worker bees of this nation. 

THINK what God will do to an America where His people chose against Him out of some kind of emotional reaction to any particualr candidate, regardless of that candidate’s moral stand. Do you really think He will let a nation He designed for His purposes to go unpunished when it seeks to rebel against Him in every way? 

The present election is a choice between pleasing God and pleasing men. Research what all candidates you must consider are saying. Do they love God, or do they propose changes which demostrate their disregard of Him? Even at the local level, this is important. Town councilmen may have an ungodly agenda which ripples out to your county, state, and nation. 

Search the scriptures if you are unsure what God thinks about a subject. Don’t assume anything. Pray about everything. Ask the Lord what He would have you do, and LISTEN and OBEY what He says. 

We are on the edge of change, no matter who gets elected where. Let’s obey God and be certain we have participated in the changes He would bring about. We must PRAY that men and women are elected who will seek the Lord.

God bless you as you pray and vote.

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