Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knowledge vs revelation

There is nothing wrong with knowledge. God encourages us as Christians to study and show ourselves approved. He tells us to search the scriptures, because it is they that testify to Christ. Yet I find that many times knowledge becomes our God. We begin to feel so comfortable with the amount of the Bible we know, and how much of that has been revealed to us, that when we see something revealed somewhere else we instantly question it. Instead of approaching it as we should, with prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I am by no means an expert on the Bible. I am not one of those men who can quote verse after verse off the top of my head. I am not sure that God will ever give me that ability either. My knowledge of the Bible comes more from comprehension, understanding what happened and why. I still spend time trying to read the Hebrew words and the Greek words, though both do not come easy for me. I do this because I know the Bible is full of wonderful insights that we each can glean from, when God shows them to us.

Recently I added a new friend to my facebook account. This fellow often posts things that I do not agree with, yet when I search myself spiritually I know that sometimes I do not agree with him not because he could be right, but because I haven't heard that before or thought that before. It is those times that we must ask God to humble our hearts, and reveal to us the truth. What if this fellow is spot on and being guided in every step by the Spirit of God? I still will post my questions, and I will still discuss with him why it seems wrong to me, but I must really approach it with a different feeling in my heart.

You see often we don't get spiritual enlightenment, not because we aren't saved, not because we do not believe in Jesus, but because we do not wait for God to show us. Instead of reading and then praying, immersing ourselves in the beauty of the Holy Spirit we instantly allow our carnal minds to compute and return the correct responses that we have been taught, or have thought in the past. Now mind you, sometimes these are revelations that God has given us! Other times it's something we heard another pastor say, or someone posted in a devotional, or even something we just stumbled across when reading a book about the Bible.

We must learn that having the knowledge is a good thing, but putting the knowledge before God is making the knowledge god itself! We must always check ourselves and make sure that we are truly walking in his light, and not in the light of mankind. We must approach everything, and I do mean everything, with God's will in mind! We have died to the flesh, and are created new spiritual men and women! It is time we allowed God his proper place in our life, and we allowed him to lead us, instead of trying to lead ourselves.

God has revealed many things to me in the past few weeks. He has revealed that we are all tempted by sin, but it's when we act on those thoughts that we actually sin. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the garden, yet he always put God's will first! He never sinned! For many years I beat myself up every time I would have an impure thought. Every time I would have a dream that was inappropriate. There is something to be said there, because God said that that which proceeds from our mouths, that makes us unclean because it comes from our heart. You see we are a fallen creature, who has evil in its heart. We have thoughts that can lead to sin, temptations that can produce evil in our life, but by following after the Spirit we can avoid those temptations, we can avoid saying those things that will harm others. When you are tempted with a thought that you know to be wrong, and God will let you know when it's wrong, avoid it. Stop thinking about that. Recite a psalm! The 23rd one is one that I go to often in meditation. Push those thoughts and desires out of your mind, and pray that God will aid you in it! God will deliver you from temptation, trust in him!

So tonight when you place yourself under the blankets in your bed and begin to drift towards sleep, give yourself over to the Father. Ask him to come into your heart and guide you in every aspect of your life. Remind him that you are his servant, and his your Lord. Ask him to open your mind, and your heart, and your spirit to receive those things which he can reveal to you! Trust me, he will reveal more and more!

In Christ,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Of whom much is given, much is expected!

[KJV] Luke 12:48
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Many times in my life I have heard the above paraphrased into the simple statement, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Upon meditating on this I realize that it is about many things, not simply that which is on the surface.

At first it would seem simply that if a man breaks the law, he shall be given a smaller punishment. It also seems to indicate that those who are unaware of the law when they perish, will be also dealt with gently. Yet those who are completely aware of the law and sacrifice of Christ, these men are expected to uphold more and be judged with a different standard. After all Jesus said, you will be judged with the measure you judge with. (Matt 7:2)

Let's think about that for a moment. If you are aware of the law and you judge others harshly, condemning them easily for their actions, then God also will judge you on the same scale. However, if you judge others with compassion and love, then God will do the same for you. It's important for us to notice that distinction! That God wants us to judge righteously, but fairly, lovingly and above all with compassion. We often try to judge others based on our own perceived piousness and not out of our heart, remembering that we too are sinners only saved by HIS grace. It's kind of like getting a present for Christmas, and then showing others how great a person you are because you got a present? God gave us salvation as a gift, and we get no glory from that. God gets the glory, it's his gift! We are still sinners, but sinners saved by Grace, living life without sin only by His divine guidance.

Then we have to look at another aspect of this statement, that to whom much is given much is expected. Each of us has different understandings, different gleanings, and yes different amounts of faith. To those who have great amounts of faith, much is expected! These men and women should be doing wondrous works! Not simply having faith and going to Church once in a while. So before I get carried away, lets look at the spiritual gifts from God.

Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel (Right Judgment), Fortitude, Knowledge, Reverence, and Wonder and Awe (Fear of the Lord).

To each person is given gifts of God. Some of us have understanding. These wonderfully blessed people understand the Word, they see the meaning behind it, they find hidden meanings. What good is a found treasure if they do not share it! What good is understanding the word if you only understand it for yourself? To he who is given understanding, much is expected! This gift is not just for us, it's for the Church! The Body of Christ! We also have to realize that there are different levels of understanding! Some understand perfectly and deeply, others have less understanding but they are still followers of Christ, and should use what they have.

Whether you receive understanding, Wisdom, counsel, knowledge, it is your duty as a part of the body of Christ to share that with the rest of us. Maybe you're blessed with reverence God! What a blessing that is! It is also a chance for you to share your reverence, to show others how to worship God, how to pray, how to approach the alter, how to maintain your relationship with God in the manner in which it should be done.

Another example, he who has fear of the Lord, this is a powerful gift! It is a person who understands that God is perfectly good, and in the same aspect understands just how evil and polluted we as mankind have become. This person knows exactly what grace means! He/she knows that we don't deserve grace, that instead we deserve hell! Yet God loved us so much that He gave His own son in our place! When they speak about it you hear it in their voice, and you know for them it is so powerful, so overwhelming that it's hard to speak about.

Remember, not matter what gift God has given you, spiritual or physical he expects you to use it for His Glory! These gifts are to be shared, given freely since they were received freely! We are to worship and love together, helping each other to grow, building each other up spiritually! Edifying one another in all ways, not tearing down.

I pray that all of you have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. That God will bless and keep you in his arms.

In Christ,

Monday, December 13, 2010

An image, a thought, a dream

I was looking through a friend photos the other day, someone I hadn't seen in a very long time. I came across this amazing little piece of artwork. This art really said to me something that we don't think about very often. We often do not think about the healing power of God until we have something very serious for us. We ask for prayers when there is a heart problem, or cancer, or someone is in ICU. Our father is there for us for all of our ailments! All of our disease!

James 5:14-15 "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15) And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven."

Think about the promise that is given here! Not only will we be healed in faith, but we will also be forgiven of our sins! Prayer is a powerful thing! We are charged to pray every moment we can, and often we forget this powerful, important duty! We think of those who are serving at the alter, those who are preaching, those who are working with the homeless as the ones who are really working for Christ. The Bible tells us though that we are all given different gifts, different duties and talents. If your talent is praying then that is what God wants you to do! Pray for the homeless, pray for their salvation! Pray for the sick, the needy, and yes for the pastors and preachers! They need our prayer too.

Pray without ceasing, pray with every fiber of your being, pray to the Lord that His will be done! And with everything give thanks to the Lord! God can mend a broken heart, but he can do so much more! He can give you back the love that you are afraid you are losing, he can help you put your life back together, he can heal disease, and make crooked things straight! Praise God with all your being, live and walk in communion with him and see how life changes for you!

In Christ,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When did Christmas become about money?

Christmas is almost upon us! Everyone is busy putting up decorations, shopping for presents, and making sure they have enough food for friends and family. It's a beautiful time of year, filled with lights, smells and sounds. Yet, I find myself wondering if people truly remember what Christmas is about. I know, I know, this has been written about every year since Christmas started, and yet I don't think we really get the message.

I find myself worrying about getting enough or the right presents for my children. How they will react if we don't have presents this year, times are tough for a lot of people. I see commercials for other countries, how their children or their older generations don't have enough money to celebrate Christmas. (After all this time of year is one of the best times to raise money, people are trying to get their mood right for this holiday.) I see an unemployment chart that shows that 1 in 10 (at least!) Americans still don't have a job.

Then I start to wonder several things. Why are presents so important? Shouldn't we be giving to God for his birthday? Instead we've turned it into a birthday for all of us! We eat till we are bloated, and then hand out hundreds(if not more) of dollars worth of gifts. Maybe we should instead be spending the day in solemn prayer, thanking God for the birth of his Son. Mayhaps we should be decorating our homes with true representations of what Christmas is about, instead of Santas and reindeer. What do you think?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spirit of the Season

I have been thinking about a little exercise that would help people remember what they are thankful for. At least it worked for me. So here is my challenge, I pray each of you will participate.

Step 1 - Think of something you wish for (nothing generic like world peace, but something specific.)

Step 2 - Write down 3 things you would have if this wish came true

Step 3 - Think very careful, what are three negative things that this wish could bring about?

Step 4 - Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

For instance, I used to daydream that I could travel back in time to where I was 2 years old. Then I would physically be 2 but have all the knowledge I have now.

3 things that I would have
1 - Exceptional intelligence for that age
2 - Foreknowledge of the future
3 - Life experience for making decisions

3 things I could lose
1 - Would I have ever met/married Julie?
2 - Would I ever have my daughters?
3 - Would abusing that sort of knowledge of the future for financial and personal gain create a new person that is different than the one that exists now? Would I even be me?

Do the benefits of that wish outweigh the negatives? Not at all.

I am thankful each day for my family. My children are growing more and more, and it's wonderful to watch them. My wife is a beautiful woman who I pray never grows tired of me. My life is exactly what I would wish for, if I had the chance to do it all again, and given the option I would prefer not to go back and risk losing any of that.

What about you? Do you find your wishes aren't exactly what you thought they would be, once you spend time really thinking about it?

In Christ,

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Last Supper

Leave me a note telling me what you think, or explaining how you feel about the topic. I enjoy hearing from people, and look forward to it :)

1 Corinthians 11 -
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes

I was reading last night as I was trying to find sleep, and I turned to one of the more famous instances in the New Testament. When Jesus was breaking bread at the last supper, and passing it out to his disciples. I began to meditate on what it meant and exactly how we were to think of it. Of course I realize this is the basis for Communion, and I find that a beautiful thing. However, my mind begin to mull over other things as well.

When we look at this many of us just see it as institution of Communion, but there was so much history behind the event that we often overlook. The Last Supper was actually passover, and as such they were eating the unleavened bread that the Israelites had to quickly make when fleeing from Egypt. They were celebrating their liberation from Egypt! They were now free. Yet they were also slaves of another sort, slaves to the law. The law was our way of being like God. He showed us right and wrong in 10 simple commandments. Yet, as the Bible tells us, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have trouble with our flesh and often sin against God. We are slaves to sin.

So how does one rectify this? Jesus did that for us. You see when the angel passed over the Israelites in Egypt it knew the people not to touch, based on the blood of a spotless lamb, whose bones had not been broken, painted on the door frames of the home. The angel of the Lord did not pass judgment on the people who were covered by that innocent lambs blood. Jesus then went to the cross to provide for us that same covering. Now when the we are standing before God in judgement, he passes over us because we are covered with the blood of the Lamb (those of us who choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour).

Thus the Last Supper becomes a celebration of a Christian Passover. We know that the body and blood was shed for us, that the meal we are partaking of is a celebration of our liberation. Liberation from what? From the Law! We are no longer slaves to sin, God has freed us from that. We are now beings of the spirit, that live based on what is good and right! Does that mean that we can break the 10 commandments? No. The 10 commandments are still God's judgment, and we are to live as close as we can to them, not because we have to, but because we love Him and want to be holy and sanctified before him. We however have a savior who will carry that weight of addiction, that weight of lustfulness, that weight of gluttony. He will help us to overcome the flesh, because we definitely aren't doing such a great job on our own.

Then it struck me. There was another message in Jesus' offering. He said as often as you do this, do this in memory of me. Many of us take that to mean that communion is done in his memory, and every time we do communion it should be done with great honor and reverence to God for his gift. I agree. However, we should also see that Jesus wants us to be ready to give our body and our blood for our brothers and sisters, not of our own accord but in memory of him, for God's glory. You and I should love one another enough that if it were possible, we would go to the cross for each other. That we would spill our blood to save one another. That we would live as a living reminder to all others, not of ourself, but of Jesus. Walking in active Communion with God at all times, not just once a week or however often you may celebrate this sacrament.

That opens my eyes to a reality, that I may not be able to live up to that standard. That I may not have the courage to step in front of a gunman to protect someone else, that I do not even know. That I may not have the nerve to dive on a bomb, to protect a crowded subway from it's detonation. It is then that I realize the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. The sacrifice where he went to the death of a sinner, of a thief, for people he didn't even know. People who weren't even born yet. It is then that I realize that I need the blood of passover more than ever.

I pray that each of you are richly blessed, and that God will look on you with favor.

In Christ,