Archive for June, 2013


Surfing

Do you remember how, in school, you would listen while the teacher explained something, then you would get sent home with HOMEWORK to practice and perfect your skill?

Serving God is the same way. The Bible is full of instruction. Then, God sends trials and tribulations so that you can practice and perfect doing the things He has told you to do.

If there were no trials and tribulations, you would get no practice. Without practice, you would never make the transition from being a ‘hearer of the word’ to being a ‘doer of the word’.

No one learns to surf without waves.

Advertisements

God still speaks to His children. His voice is not loud and demanding. He does not clamor for our attention. He does not flatter or manipulate us. If you want to learn to ‘hear’ His voice, you need to shut off all the other voices that are determined to drown out His.

I’m not talking about shutting off the TV and radio for awhile and doing some kind of meditation or ‘contemplative prayer’. Not at all. I’m talking about no longer giving audience to the voices of the adversary . . . no longer giving them a place of influence in your life. What I’m talking about is shutting off the TV and radio pretty much permanently, and learning to live in stillness. Then, if your heart is attuned to the Holy Spirit, you won’t miss it when He speaks to you.

You reap what you sow. How much are you willing to set aside to deepen your relationship with God?

‘Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign . . . ‘ (Matt. 12:38-39)

We are living in an evil and adulterous generation. People glory in what they should be ashamed of. Seeking after a sign, when we already have a Bible in every household, is shameful disbelief.

Here is another test, to see what spirit/Spirit is at work in a church: do they show preference to those of wealth and worldly status over those who lack? Are they given more responsibilities and privileges? Are they given more respect and honor?

‘My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor.

Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin . . . ‘ (James 2:1-9)

‘But Jesus called them [unto him], and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ (Matt. 25-28)

Sadly, there are many pastors who do NOT follow Jesus’ instructions in this regard.

People, if you are sitting under a pastor who exercises dominion and authority over you, you are submitting to a man who is NOT submitting to Jesus Christ.

Please think about it . . . pray about it. People tend to model their mentors. If you place yourself in submission to a disobedient man, you will learn his ways.

Even as in the days of Paul, so it is in our time. This applies fully to those Jews who are at the forefront of the ‘Hebrew Roots Movement’.

‘ . . . they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ (Romans 10:2-4)

For those Jews who have been brought up in The Law, it seems to be very hard to grasp the righteousness of God being by faith. Many, even after having heard the gospel of Christ, continue to misunderstand it. They may make mental assent to the gospel, or even ‘accept Christ as their Savior’–but for a Jew to have TRULY accepted Christ means that they will no longer be seeking to be JUSTIFIED by keeping The Law, nor will they be intent on teaching others to walk in that way. In Paul’s time, many stumbled over this . . . and they continue to, to this day.

We, who are not of Jewish descent, when we ‘walk in the flesh’ tend to the excesses of sensuality and pagan pleasures. But for the Jew, ‘walking in the flesh’ is an altogether different thing. His ‘walk in the flesh’ is a seemingly upright, and very pious life, lived according to The Law. Most would not discern his life as being a ‘walk in the flesh’. Yet indeed it is.

The fleshly walk of many ‘Messianic Jews’ is merely a FORM of godliness. It is not TRUE godliness. It is not ‘walking in the Spirit’, because putting one’s faith in the Law for JUSTIFICATION is a WORK OF THE FLESH.

Those who are looking to Messianic Jews and ‘Hebrew Roots’ leaders would do well to understand this distinction. The way a Jew ‘walks in the flesh’ is not what most Gentiles would consider ‘walking in the flesh’, and so they do not discern what is right before their eyes.

WARNING!! DANGER!!

‘But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ (Matt. 6:15)

‘And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.’ (Matt. 18:34-35)

There is no ‘wiggle room’ here. Jesus was giving us a very literal warning.

Friends, if your neighbor comes banging on your door at 2 am and tells you your house is on fire, you don’t simply respond ‘Thank you. I believe in you!’ and then go back to bed. No! You pull your sleeping family from their beds and drag them out the door!

Likewise, faith in Jesus is much more than just believing that He existed, died, and rose again. Believing in Jesus means believing in His WORDS–AND OBEYING THEM!!

There are no options and compromises allowed here–we MUST forgive others, else we forfeit OUR hope of being forgiven and saved.

[There is NO magic incantation (‘Sinner’s Prayer’) you can say that will enclose you in a protective bubble and transport you to the end of your life unscathed. We must walk (and perhaps even crawl at times) along that ‘narrow path’ until we reach our destination. There are trials and temptations all along the way. We must walk IN THE SPIRIT (obedience to God) in order to overcome them.]

I truly believe that God is testing and preparing His people now. I am not perfect, but I am not a person given to holding grudges. However, in the last few weeks, God has been bringing people to my constant remembrance who I have had even the slightest little thing against in years long past. He is urging me to be sure that I have completely forgiven them, from my heart.

Friend, if you are harboring a grudge against anyone, you are walking in the flesh, not the Spirit. This will be a great detriment to you–perhaps even hindering your prayers.

God HATES hypocrisy. To claim to be forgiven, while we refuse to forgive someone else, is a grand form of hypocrisy. It shows that we do not understand the mercy and forgiveness of God. His forgiveness comes, not because of any worthiness on our part, but because of His great love. So likewise, His Spirit living within us will lead us to pour out that same great love on others, by forgiving them–even when they are unworthy.

We MUST walk in the Spirit to reach our destination.

‘But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you . . . ‘ (1 Peter 4:13-14)

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit, when I’ve read this I’ve thought: ‘he’s crazy’. I’m definitely not yet at the place where Peter was when he wrote this. It makes no sense to my carnal mind.

But I believe the Lord has given me insight into this passage.

We best know the ‘peace of God which passeth all understanding’ when we are in the midst of trials and tribulations, don’t we? That peace is part of the strength and comfort He gives us. (And let us never forget that the Holy Spirit is called ‘The Comforter’–and He is well able to comfort us, no matter WHAT we may be going through.)

Likewise, I believe that when we ‘partake of Christ’s sufferings’, the Holy Spirit will pour upon us even more abundant comfort and strength, and that the peace of God will overflow within us until we are full of the JOY of the Lord!

This happiness, gladness, and joy that Peter speaks of is clearly not a reaction of our flesh to persecution and suffering. It HAS to be the provision of God as we walk in the Spirit. Whatever we have need of friends, His grace is sufficient to provide it for us.

‘ . . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ (Nehemiah 8:10)