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Who's the "Wolf?" Part 2

November 30, 2013

Continued from part 1...

The parallel between knowing a tree by its fruit and false prophets is to simply reinforce what He is saying. A prophet can’t keep claiming to be a “good tree” if his fruit (what he says) is not lining up. We can still use these guidelines today in determining whether a prophet is true or false. If they bear fruit according to their declaration, we will know that declaration to be true, if they bear fruit contrary to their declaration, then we will know they missed God in that declaration. I’ve heard several New Testament God-called “prophets” prophesy things that did not come to pass. It does not make them a “false” prophet, it makes their prophecy false. Big difference! Just like I’ve heard several Pastors/Teachers make “false” statements from the pulpit and that didn’t make them “false” Pastors/Teachers, it makes their statement false. They missed it. We are to judge all things said. Period. Not label every person who stands in some office as false because they missed it! It’s not hard to understand is it? So why do people take this out of context and try to apply it to every believer’s life that is bearing “fruit” in their life that is less than Godly? Well, primarily because they don’t understand the Scriptures and they are looking for anything to make their accusations viable. I can NOT pull Matthew chapter 7 out of my pocket every time I witness some “bad” thing in a person’s life and label them a “ravenous wolf.” Yet people do this. It’s a shame.

Let’s apply this Scripture to some of favorite Bible characters the way many believers like to apply it to other believer’s today. If we applied many believers’ interpretation of Matthew 7:15-20 to King David, we’d have to throw him out as a tree to be burned and definitely a false prophet. Yet apparently that is not how Jesus and the Father saw King David. David prophesied like no other king and he was a true prophet, but you talk about some BAD fruit in his life. Wow, shameful conduct! Talk about some GOOD fruit. Wow, awesome conduct! So which is he? A bad tree producing good fruit, or a good tree producing bad fruit? If we use many believers’ interpretation of Matthew 7 to King David, then “ravenous” wolf is what King David gets! But we can all plainly see, applying what Jesus said to King David the way many believers apply this Scripture to other believers today just doesn’t fly. So why do people do it? Because they are looking for a reason to call people out. “See, see, look at the “bad” fruit in that person’s life, they are a false prophet… or more accurately, they must not be a “Christian.” They must not be a “good” tree because remember Jesus said, ‘NO GOOD TREE, produces “bad” fruit.’” Can you see how pathetic that is?

Let’s apply this Scripture to the Apostle Peter. False Apostle or True Apostle? Well, if we use this Scripture as our criteria, the way many believers like to apply it to other believers, then we’d have to say, “Peter is a false prophet/apostle.” Why? Because here is a guy whose fruit is less than stellar! Did Peter have some good things in his life? Absolutely! So, if he’s truly a good tree, how is it he was so good at producing “bad” fruit. The guy listened to the devil in his ear and rebuked the King of kings to HIS FACE! Talk about some bad fruit. Peter pulled Jesus aside and said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22) Jesus was prophesying His suffering, but Peter was prophesying the opposite. Peter was YIELDING to the devil. Have you ever yielded to the devil? You false prophet you! Again, Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times and Peter said he would NEVER do such a thing. HA! Peter you false prophet you, look at all this bad fruit. You must not be a good tree because NO GOOD TREE produces “Bad” fruit. Or is it the other way around? Peter if you are a “bad tree” what’s with all this seemingly “good” fruit you produced? Moments before rebuking Jesus, Peter yielded to the Father and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16) There’s some good fruit Peter, how is it one minute you could get it so right and the next get it so wrong? How could you produce such amazing fruit ONE minute and the next produce such terrible fruit? Maybe we haven’t truly understood Jesus words in Matthew 7 about false prophets and good trees and bad fruits and such.

Now I hear someone saying, “Well yeah Alan, but these guys repented!” So! How do you know the people you are accusing of being “false prophets” and “bad trees” haven’t repented or aren’t currently in the process of “repenting/changing?” You don’t know that! So let’s quit throwing this Scripture and ones like it around when our understanding of what Jesus is talking about is obviously messed up. And even if you say, “but these guys repented,” it doesn’t do away with the “bad” fruit they produced. So which are they? Good trees or bad trees? False or true? The point is you can’t use what Jesus said here in Matthew 7 and Luke 6 to a believer’s life! Period. Unless you understand what the “trees” are that Jesus is talking about. If you understand what the “trees” are, then of course, you can apply this Scripture, but many don’t even know what the “trees” are. People think those are people’s lives! It’s not true. The trees are…wouldn’t you like to know, but I’m not saying right now.

I could go on and on with nearly EVERY called Old Testament prophet/believer. The point is, “good fruit” or “bad fruit” is not the singular indicator whether or not someone is a true believer or not. The fruit does indicate some things, namely, what has been and is being “planted” in that person’s heart, but it is not an indicator of that person being a true or false prophet/apostle/pastor/evangelist/teacher/believer. You are misapplying that Scripture if you are using that way.

Let’s look at Luke’s account of the very same thing and see what light he sheds on Jesus teaching. Let’s read Luke 6:43-45 - “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Let’s also look at Matthew 12:31-37 as it is closely related and brings more light. It reads, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (I’ll explain these more later.)

Wow! Jesus said a mouthful here, but He sure makes it clear to us the fruit we should be looking for and where it is coming from. These two Scriptures combined show us the fruit is the fruit of the lips, not someone who calls themselves a Christian displaying some level of sin or not. I’m not condoning nor am I saying sin is acceptable. I’m saying many people don’t even know what sin is and many believers are wrongly judging other believers as not being “true” believers because of some particular weakness or fault in their life. It’s just wrong. We need to stop doing it. I could follow EVERY believer in the world and find both “good” fruit and “bad” fruit in their life. The presence of “bad” fruit does not make them a “false” anything. It makes them a believer who has yielded, or is yielding to the enemy or the crucified man/flesh.

Why do I say many people don’t even know what “sin” is? Most believers only look at sin from one side when God sees it from a minimum of three sides. Example, there are the sins of “commission,” or sins that people do directly against God’s Word both willfully and ignorantly. Either way, they are committing a trespass against God’s “command.” Most believers only know of this type of sin. Thou shalt not steal, a believer steals. Uh… good tree, bad fruit… or wait, are they a “good” tree after all, because no “good” tree can produce “bad” fruit?

The other kind of sin is the ‘sin of omission.’ This is the sin of knowing to do something good but not doing it! If I didn’t catch the first 50 percent of self-righteous Christians in a sin of commission, I’d catch the other 50 percent in the sins of omission. Knowing to do right, but doing nothing. (James 4:17) It wouldn’t take me long following you or anyone other “so-called” Christian around for me to throw Matthew 7 (the way many believers like to use it) in your face and accuse you of being a “bad” tree and “false” prophet – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Then there is the sin of doing things outside the position of faith. If a Christian was still declaring that he/she is a good tree only producing “good” fruit and there is no way we could throw Matthew 7 in their face, then we’d bring up the Scripture of “whatsoever is not of faith” is sin and BAM! (Romans 14:23) We’ve covered every believer and have found every single one of them producing “bad” fruit. The reality is, every believer is probably guilty of ALL three types of sin, sins of commission, sins of omission, and “whatsoever is not of faith.” I haven’t even begun to talk about the sins of the heart that are not outward but only God sees. Wow, could you imagine if I could follow you around in your head for a day! A lot of “bad” fruit going on in there, I guarantee it! Yet you want to point your finger at other believers all day long, accusing them of being wolves and “bad” trees. Forgive me for saying it, “You hypocrite.”

Let’s stop all the name calling. (I know I just called you a hypocrite.) =) Let’s stop passing such strong judgments with so little information. Let’s stop misapplying Scriptures we obviously don’t understand. Let’s stop acting “holier than thou” and let’s begin to walk a mile or two in each other's shoes and endeavor to bear one another’s burden instead of heaping up more condemnation. It’s no wonder the world gets irritated with us. We truly are a bunch of hypocrites (they are too, so don't worry), all the while pointing the finger at the hypocrisy in other people’s lives. Forgiven for sure! Loved by God for sure! But acting the hypocrite so often none-the-less.

I’m not done. There is more explaining to do so we can understand what kind of fruit Jesus is speaking of in Matthew 7, Luke 6, and Matthew 12. Let’s not be confused, but let’s be done for now.

Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Who's the "Wolf?"

November 30, 2013

I want to follow up on my last blog about not letting the fig trees burn. I mentioned there that I’d address the subject of fruit in a believer’s life and what that may look like and hopefully throw many of our misconceptions about what a believer should be producing in their life. I know I’ve personally had Scriptures used against me out of context in order for someone to prove their point and give themselves a legitimate reason for the course of action they desired to take. The problem is/was, they were using those Scriptures out of context and not even understanding what in the world they were talking about.

It seems in the “Christian” world we have this all mixed up… people like to say and think things like this… well, that person is a homosexual, so there is no way they could be a believer. Or that person smokes and drinks, so they must not be a Christian. Or this person cusses like a trucker, so they certainly must not be connected to the vine. Or this person committed adultery, so they must certainly be a wolf in sheep’s clothing or this person extorted money and this person embezzled from here, therefore they must be “bad” trees and the list goes on. People come up with all sorts of reasons why a person must not be connected to the Lord and a true believer because of some bad “fruit” they witness in that person’s life or the lack of a particular GOOD “fruit” that they deem necessary to truly be called a child of God. Maybe you’ve had charges laid against you and/or have charged someone else as not being a true believer because you misunderstood Scriptures like this where Jesus spoke of wolves in sheep’s clothing and how we would know them (them is false prophets by the way, not who is born again and who is not).

Here is many believers’ understanding. Someone displayed some bad fruit, so therefore they must be a wolf… end of story. I don’t need to understand the context of Matthew 7, I don’t need to understand anything other Scripture, I don’t need to understand the cross, I can simply label anyone who displays any amount of “bad” fruit in their life as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, because you know - that’s what Jesus said.

Probably one of the more misunderstood passages on “fruit” in the Bible comes from Matthew 7, Luke 6 and Matthew 12. I hope to help clear up your understanding of what Jesus said. You see all Scripture must agree with all other Scripture, otherwise our interpretation is wrong. I can’t take a statement out of context just so I can believe whatever I want. I must always take it in context and I must use other revelation in Scripture to understand what I am reading. Let’s take a look at Matthew 7:15-20 first and see what Jesus said. It reads, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Okay let’s begin to analyze. First of all, what was Jesus warning us about? False prophets. He was not warning us about believers who may be displaying bad or lacking some good fruit. He was telling people how one can recognize whether a prophet was true or false. A true prophet would truly be a sheep, not masquerading as one. You see people don’t even understand what a sheep is. A sheep isn’t necessarily talking about a born-again believer. People often read Scriptures that refer to sheep and assume those are all talking about believers. The problem is, they are not. I’m not saying there is never a parallel, I’m just saying it’s not a full picture, nor is it accurate to interpret every reference as talking about a born-again believer. A sheep is one who will hear His voice; whose voice? The Shepherd’s voice; Jesus’ voice. Jesus said, “My sheep, hear My voice.” (John 10:27) Jesus spoke of the LOST sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15:24) How is it lost and sheep can be in the same sentence? If sheep is referring to the Church people (born-again people), how is it they can be lost? There is no such thing as a “lost” born-again believer (someone may not recognize this and someone may “feel” lost for whatever reason, but if they are born-again, they are NOT lost) In other words, sheep and born-again believer is not necessarily referring to the same thing. I’m not saying there are no parallels nor that there aren’t lessons we can learn, but I AM saying it’s not an automatic that every time Jesus is talking about sheep is He talking about His bride, the Church! Jesus also spoke of sheep that were HIS that were not of this fold (the Jewish race, Israeli Nation – John 10:16) How is it Gentiles (those not of “this” fold) could be referred to as sheep? They had no covenant, nor were they born-again when Jesus was talking.

Well, we can clearly see that sheep refers to any person who WILL hear His voice and follow. So God has sheep all over the world that are not yet born-again. In other words, they have not heard the Shepherds voice yet, in order to follow, but once they do, they will follow. This is where our preaching comes in; they hear the Shepherd in our preaching and follow Jesus. One thing they will hear when we preach is their need to be born-again, and those people who ARE sheep will hear His voice, follow and get born-again. So hopefully that brings a little light on this Scripture. More I could say about the whole “sheep” thing, but I hope you at least understand that sheep does NOT equal born-again believer. When Jesus said beware of false prophets who wear sheep’s clothing but inwardly are really ravenous wolves, He is talking about prophets who really are not sheep. In other words, they will not hear the Lord’s voice and therefore you will know they are false because the prophecies they speak will not come to pass. They will not speak the Lord’s words because they can’t even hear His voice. Only a true prophet can hear the Master’s voice and know what to say.

You see, the fruit, in the context of this Scripture, is referring to whether what the prophet says comes to pass or not. Jesus is really just reiterating the Old Testament test as to whether a prophet was of God or false. The test was really simple. According to Deuteronomy 18 and Jeremiah 28 and others, if what they said comes to pass, they were a true prophet, if what they said did not come to pass, they were false. If they directed people to serve any other God than the God of creation (the one they knew), then that prophet was false even if what he said came to pass and the converse, if he directed people to the God of Abraham then that prophet was true, as long as what he said came to pass. The true prophet directed people to the God of creation and spoke truth that God confirmed by seeing that those words bore “fruit.” There are some other nuances there, but in the Old Testament this was a guide for them. So the test for a true prophet was pretty simple. People didn’t have to wonder. Jesus says something similar here when he warns his compatriots of false prophets. He says beware of them and that you would know them (false prophets) by their fruit. What fruit? Well, the fruit of a prophet is not the fruit of deeds in his life, but the fruit of his lips. It was the things that he prophesied as he heard them from the Lord, whether they came to pass or not.

Look at it this way; consider all the prophets of the Old Testament. Except for a few with “stellar” records (at least according to the written record), all of them had some TERRIBLE fruit in their lives, including murder, adultery, lying, public displays of nudity, selfishness, marrying forbidden women, drunkenness, cowardice, deception, flat out disobedience to God’s command and other “bad” fruit. If we were to judge each of these prophets like Christians today like to judge other Christians for the “bad” fruit in their lives, then none of the true prophets of God would have been sheep, they would have ALL been labeled “ravenous wolves.” You see, with a greater understanding of the qualifications of a true prophet versus a false prophet you can easily see what the Lord is referring to when He speaks of knowing “them” by their fruits. This was not a blanket statement that applies to all born-again believers, that you could know who the true sheep were and who the ravenous wolves were by judging any particular fruit in their life. If that were the case, there are no TRUE sheep anywhere in the world because it wouldn’t be long if I were to follow you around that I would see some “bad” fruit in your life whereby I could then label you a “ravenous wolf.” Being a “prophet” in the New Testament is an office and calling, and someone either is or is not one based on God’s election. Good fruit or bad fruit in that prophet-called born-again believer’s life does not affect the calling. The believer of the New Covenant is not the same as the believer of the Old Covenant. I can’t go into all the differences right now, but we have got to stop making both covenants the same. The difference between them is light and darkness. It’s like the glory of a 40 watt light bulb to the glory of the Sun! That’s a HUGE difference.

Here’s another way to look at it, but people don’t apply it to people’s lives because Jesus didn’t say “beware of false evangelists, or false pastors, or false apostles, or false teachers,” yet the principle still applies. No one accuses a believer who has been called to one of these other offices as being “false” because of some sin or “bad” fruit in their life. We call it what it is - sin. Doesn’t make them false, doesn’t make them a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It just means they disobeyed God; they fell; they messed up in some way but doesn’t change who they are as a child of God, nor does it change their election and calling. You see, you can’t take one Scripture and make a blanket statement about every person without understanding the other Scriptures and the differences between the functions of God’s called ones under different covenants. They are not the same. One covenant Jesus did away with in order to usher in a new and better covenant. So why do we keep trying to mix the covenants into ONE big pot? Doesn’t the book of Hebrews sum all this up pretty well?

...go to part 2.

Don't Let the Fig Trees Burn

November 1, 2013

I’ve often read this Scripture in Luke 13:6-9 and I think this whole time I’ve been messed up on the timeline that the owner of the vineyard expected to see fruit. Read this portion of Scripture real quick and see what I’m referencing. Luke 13:6-9 - He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”

Maybe you’ve been like me and you’ve assumed that the Lord is expecting us to produce fruit in about three years from salvation, but then it hit me one day reading this passage from the Message Bible. In the Message it speaks of an APPLE tree and how the owner expected apples for 3 years and found none. What caught my attention was the fact that the vineyard owner EXPECTED fruit. What does this tell us about the tree and how long it’s been in the ground? Well, I went back to the NKJV and read it again and of course the NKJV refers to fig trees and not apple trees. So I did a Google search on how long it takes for a seedling to bear fruit and it varies quite a bit based on a number of factors. Read these little quotes below from different sites to see what I mean…

“Fruiting fig trees have a long juvenile period compared to other fruit trees. Most figs will not produce a crop for the first four to five years, notes Rutgers University. If the fig is severely injured by over-pruning or an unusual frost, it may take longer to fruit for the first time.” And here: “It is not uncommon for figs to fail to set fruit or ripen properly. Figs have a long juvenile period, or length of time in which a plant will not produce fruit -- possibly four years to five years.” “Typically, a fig tree will not fruit until it reaches two years old, but it can take some trees as long as six years to reach the right maturity.”

This is quite a revelation. In other words, the owner of the vineyard was not a moron when it came to fig trees and their production of fruit. When the owner came to the tree for three years EXPECTING fruit but found none, it means that the owner came expecting fruit in the time period that a fig tree is expected to produce fruit. In other words, from the time the seed got planted, the owner didn’t even come expecting fruit for the first four to five years because he knew the juvenile period would be at least that long and he also knew that it could take up to six years to leave the juvenile state and enter into the fruit producing state. This being the case, it tells me that the owner wasn’t even going to the tree to look for fruit for at least the first 4 years and upwards of the first 6 years. So when he came expecting fruit, he came probably in years 5, 6, and 7. After the 7th year, this is probably when he had the conversation with the keeper of the vineyard. For the owner to come expecting fruit in the first three years of the fig trees life would have been foolish and the keeper of the vineyard would have said something like, “Well, the tree is still a juvenile, not even able to fruit yet. So why are you here?” But of course, the keeper of the vineyard knew as well as the owner, that it had passed the juvenile period and entered into an adult state where fruit could be expected. Even in the place where fruit could be expected the keeper of the vineyard asked for another year to cultivate the ground.

This tells me a lot about what the Lord is expecting. One, He is not even expecting fruit in certain people’s lives for quite a while. Two, when He does expect to start seeing fruit, He’s very patient and will wait up to 4 years beyond what is “normal.” Three, the Lord doesn’t even begin expecting fruit until a person has entered a fruit-bearing age. Even when it comes to fig trees, many factors affect whether a tree ever fruits or not. Look at some of these quotes from various sites on seeing a fig tree produce fruit. It’s not just a simple, put the seed in the ground and no matter what, the tree will reach maturity. This again tells me something about the “keeper of the vineyard.” It’s not all up to the tree to produce. Some responsibility lies with the keeper in order to get the tree to fruit bearing maturity.

Look at these quotes: “When a fig tree is not fruiting, there are a few reasons that this could be happening. The age of the tree, too much nitrogen and water are the three main reasons for a fig tree not producing fruit.” “If a fig tree is suffering from water stress caused by either too little or too much water, this can cause it to stop producing figs or never start producing, especially if it is a younger tree. Water stress will send the tree into a survival mode and the fig tree will simply not have the energy needed to invest in making fruit.” “Another reason for when a fig tree won’t produce fruit or the fruit falls off is lack of pollination. Typically, if there is a lack of pollination, the fig fruit will fall off while it is still very small, as the tree has no reason to grow them larger since they will not produce seeds without proper pollination.” “Again, this is a problem that occurs most commonly in container grown trees that may be isolated from pollinating insects. To correct this fig tree problem, be sure to place your fig tree in a place where wasps, bees and other pollinating insects can get to the tree.”

Wow, so in order to get a tree to fruit maturity, it requires some pretty serious diligence on the part of the keeper of the vineyard. What if the keeper is slack concerning these things? Too much nitrogen, too much or too little water, or little to no pollination. I think each of these points could preach. I think the owner of the vineyard came to his vineyard expecting fruit because he was also expecting the keeper of the vineyard to be doing a good job of taking care of the trees. What if the reason the tree was not fruiting was because the vineyard keeper was slacking and yet the tree was about to be burned for his slackness?

I know the Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians one time for needing milk and not solid food because they still weren’t at a place to receive solid food because they were still babes (not fruit bearing age.) This was about a 3-4 year period as well, from the time He was there and the time he wrote His letter and rebuked them. (I Corinthians 3:1-2) Here Paul wasn’t even expecting fruit, but at minimum he was expecting them to be spiritual and able to handle the things He had to say. I’ll share more about fruit at a later time, as I know many people are confused about what should be seen in a believer’s life that is “mature,” or should be producing as a regular part of their life. It’s not as cut and dry as some try to paint it and I’ll show you why later. People quote Scriptures out of context and like to say things like, “See, you are producing this ‘bad’ fruit in your life, therefore you are not a Christian,” and on the flip-side, “See, you have this particular fruit in your life, you therefore must be a Christian.” I guarantee people are confused about this subject. I hope to help clear it up a bit.

The point I want to make today is that God is patient. He is waiting for the precious fruit of the earth. He is patiently waiting for the vineyard keepers to tend the trees and the trees to bear fruit. Maybe in the trees of your life you feel like you are not where you should be or want to be, well, don’t be discouraged. Dig around that particular tree, fertilize it, cultivate it, and trust God to start seeing some tasty fruit there real soon! You have to start somewhere, you can’t give up. You can’t say, I haven’t been able to produce up to this point, so what is the point in even trying. Don’t give up, your owner loves you and your family member, and all those people we don’t even give a second thought a whole lot more than a fig tree.

I’ve learned from two different “experts” working in the Muslim world that it can take 3 to 7 years from the first time a Muslim hears the gospel before the fruit of “salvation” even has a chance to manifest. In other words, depending on the vineyard, the soil and a number of other factors influencing the propagation of the gospel in their world, it can take quite some time of sowing, watering, and cultivating in a Muslim person’s life before we can even hope to see fruit. I know in my life I have personally won hundreds of people to the Lord. Many of those people have been Americans though. There is still a seed-time-harvest principle at work in the lives of unbelievers in America, but the vineyard here, the soil, the groundwork that has been laid makes germination to fruit bearing often happen at a quicker pace than in other vineyards. There is much cultivation, plowing, sowing, and working in other vineyards around the world that needs to happen in order for there to be large harvests. I believe all fields can become white unto harvest; it’s just going to take a lot of patience and work on behalf of the keepers of the vineyard.

Are you willing to put the work into the lives of those you love and those in your vineyard in order that the owner may come and find some precious fruit later? If we as the keepers of the vineyard aren’t willing to sow, water, and cultivate the ground, let’s not expect to see much, but if we are willing to labor in His fields… in time, we should expect to see much fruit! Are you believing with me?

The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Get the Grudge Out

October 1, 2013

I’ve sinned so many times in my life that it is really rather ridiculous, but you know what, as big and as numerous as my sins have been, God’s forgiveness is bigger. This is true of you, me, and the whole human race. I’ve come to the conclusion though, that within the Lord’s Body, very few, if any, have really learned how to forgive like God does. I include myself in that statement. Forgiveness is hard. It’s hard to truly forgive others and it’s hard to truly forgive yourself. Well, actually, we all have an easier time extending grace to ourselves than we do others, (it’s our nature to be more lenient on ourselves than others). I realize some have a hard time forgiving themselves, especially for the “big bad open social sins” but in all reality every person goes much easier on themselves for their inward trespasses that no one knows about than they do the sins of others.

I think most believers who would read this blog would agree that when God forgives it denotes the idea that HE sends our sins away and doesn’t remember them. In fact we can quote Scripture that indicates that He completely wipes the sin out as if it were never there. (Isaiah 43:25) Sins being like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) He removes them as far as the east is from the west (they never touch by the way). (Psalm 103:12) He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8;12) He cancels them out. (Colossians 2:14) You see when God forgives, He really forgives. It’s not just a nice word He uses. He literally treats us like we have no sin, because as far as He is concerned, we don’t. The blood of Jesus washed it all away. (Revelation 1:5) There is only one sin that the blood of Jesus can’t wash away because there is no sacrifice for the sin of rejecting Jesus (this is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit), but other than that, there is no sin that God hasn’t forgiven. Can you believe that? As far as God is concerned, you are clean — in the absolute sense. He can’t even (chooses not to) remember them. But now we get to where the rubber meets the road in this life, with one another.

Unbelievably, God asks us to forgive others like He has forgiven us. The problem is; no one believes it. How do I know no one believes it? Because no one (okay, very few people) practices forgiveness like the Lord does toward us — the God kind of forgiveness.

I’m not the only one who thinks forgiveness is a big deal and REALLY tough. I want you to read this portion from the Bible with me and see the response of the disciples when Jesus taught them about forgiving others. Luke 17:1 says, “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

Notice their response to his statement to forgive someone seven times in a day if someone asks for forgiveness seven times in one day. They said to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith!” In other words, what you are asking us to do is going to take a TON of faith. Now if you keep reading the passage you’ll read that Jesus said, if you have faith as a mustard seed… implying, it doesn’t take a ton of faith to forgive someone repeatedly in one day, it just takes using what you have. What does this show us? It shows us, forgiving others like God forgives us takes an application of faith! You CANNOT forgive like God forgives if you don’t forget (by faith) like God forgets. Someone may say, “Well, God has the ability as God to forget, but I don’t; I’m only human.” You see, this is where our faith comes in. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, can only happen by faith. We must choose to “forget” in order to love like we would have loved had we not been offended in the first place.

Here’s my experience and I’m sure yours has been the same. You sin against someone. You ask for forgiveness. They “forgive” you, but really they don’t. How do you know they don’t really forgive you? They treat you different after the offense than they did before the offense. In other words, their forgiveness did not work because it wasn’t done in faith. The reality is people are keeping a record of wrongs done to them or those they love and it’s the very reason their faith is struggling. You see, faith works by love and LOVE does not keep a track record of the wrongs of others. I’ll talk a little more about this in a moment.

I have several examples in my own life where I went to someone who sinned against me just like the BIBLE says we are to do and guess what the end result was? Yep, you guessed it, pseudo-forgiveness took place. In other words, the person I approached about the offense “received” me and I was able to get it off my chest, but then I noticed the person was offended at me for even talking to them about my problem with them. So now I went to them to ask for forgiveness if I somehow offended them and of course they gave me lip service, saying they forgive me and are not holding anything against me, but I know it’s not true. You know why? Yep, you are right again. The way they relate to me changed and so I know they truly didn’t forgive from their heart like they think they did. This is the kind of forgiveness that the Lord is asking us to do toward each other. Difficult? Yes! Impossible? No.

I have several examples the other way too, where I hurt someone and sinned against them and I went to them for forgiveness, and once again, no true forgiveness was given because the nature of the relationship changed. I’m not holding anything against those people for not forgiving like the Lord does, because I’m guilty of the same thing. My guess is, we are ALL guilty of the same thing. My guess is there isn’t a single person who knows how to forgive truly, in the same manner and way that God does. (Forget, remembers no more, doesn’t hold it against, etc) You may be reading this saying, “You’re wrong Alan, I have forgiven so and so.” So I have a question for you? Do you remember their sin against you (ever) when you see them? Do you get a turning in your stomach as you think of that person and what they did against you? Do you relate to that person with the same love and affection that you did before they sinned against you? Come on, be honest! That’s what I thought. You haven’t forgiven them like God has. Unforgiveness runs rampant in the World and sad to say, in the Body of Christ as well. It’s a cancer that is killing our faith and robbing us of true freedom. In fact, if we don’t forgive, we will wind up tortured on the inside… only true freedom comes when we forgive like the Master does!

Check out this story in Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus tells an amazing story that rocks my world every time I read it. “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Where do you think Peter got Seven times? Probably from a previous teaching of Jesus, see above) Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

So forgiveness is to come from the HEART! It’s not lip service. It’s not a word we throw around to sound gracious and kind. Forgiveness is HARD! Stop sitting there acting like it is so easy. Taking up the offenses of others that don’t even belong to you is what is easy, and people do this by the millions. Someone hurts your relative, you get offended. Oh wait, let’s get a little closer to home. Someone hurts your KID (oh, did I step on some toes.) Now you are offended at the person who hurt your kid and now me for being so mean. Still not offended? I guarantee it wouldn’t take much for me to get you to be offended, either at me or someone else. People are so easily offended. You may say, I’m not easily offended… fine, but do you EVER get offended? Well, then, the forgiveness message is for you! Who are you holding a grudge against? If you can’t or don’t relate to a person the same as before the offense, then you are holding a grudge. Period. How do I know this? Because, God’s forgiveness makes it so He can relate to us as if sin were never there, whereas, our pseudo-forgiveness many times offers the words, “I forgive you,” but we relate to one another from then on as if the sin is still a present day reality. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about how guilty I am of pseudo-forgiveness.

Could this pseudo-forgiveness be why so few people really see great faith results? I dare say it is THE reason. People are not walking in love. Remember, faith works by love. Love keeps no account of the wrong done to it. So therefore, all our unforgiveness is inhibiting the results of our faith.

Read this baffling portion of scripture. Mark 11:22-26 says, “So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.””

Boy-oh-boy! Don’t we get excited about using our faith to remove mountains! Why isn’t there as much excitement about what makes mountain moving faith work? Notice forgiveness (from the heart) is directly tied to mountain moving faith! Maybe the reason many can’t believe they receive when they pray is because they don’t believe what they say! The reason they don’t believe what they say is because they know in their heart, they have not forgiven others of their trespasses and therefore their heart knows their mouth is lying to them. Your heart knows whether there are grudges in there or not and if there are, guess what? Your heart does not believe your mouth when it speaks to the mountain. Maybe God isn’t hearing your prayer because the trespass of unforgiveness is LOOMING over your prayer and all God can hear is your grudge. Get the grudge out and get results. Keep the grudge and get nothing. Forgiveness is a choice. A faith choice.

I hate this blog too.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Glorious Bodies - Part 2

August 31, 2013

Jesus taught this in Matthew 13:36-43 – “Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Notice the condition of the righteous at the end of the age! They will shine forth as the sun! We are all going to shine with the glory of God, only we will shine forth with differing measures of glory.

It will be the glory of Jesus that illuminates the New Jerusalem, there we be no need for the sun or the moon in the city and there will be no more night there, because Jesus will always be shining! (Revelation 21:23)

We are called the light of the world. What does light do? Light first and foremost shines, and Jesus said we don’t put a light under a bush, but we put it on a lampstand so that it can give light to all who enter the room. (Luke 8:16) The fact that we are light, Sons of Light, indicates that we are all going to shine like the brightness of the stars forever. The kicker is, the brightness of the stars even in the natural do not match one another in glory.

The Apostle Paul made this so clear in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. I love this portion of Scripture because it is so telling of what is coming. Let’s just read the whole thing and please pay attention as you read, otherwise you will miss what he is saying. It reads, beginning in verse 35, “But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Oh my, where do I begin with this passage? Isn’t that awesome? I know many of you just skimmed that Scripture passage, but it just told you EXACTLY what I’m talking about. It told you exactly what is coming. It told you exactly HOW your resurrected spiritual body can have a greater measure of glory than another spiritual body. The key to the measure of the glory of God you walk in is found in the last verse in the chapter. It says, “knowing that your labor is NOT in vain in the Lord.” Why is your labor not in vain in the Lord? It’s not in vain, because it IS producing for you a weight of glory that is commensurate with your steadfastness, your immovability from the purposes of God and your abundance of labors. Think about it! You determine the type of spiritual body you will be resurrected in. We will ALL be like Jesus (having a spiritual body) but we will not all shine with the same degree of glory! Some of you may be reading this and saying, “Who cares, I mean as long as I make it to heaven; that is all that matters.” You know, if I didn’t have any revelation of the importance doing the will of God, I might say the same thing, but I’m telling you, running your race and finishing your course will be well worth your time and effort. God’s reward is with Him and He is going to reward each one of us according to our work. The sad reality is: some will get a spiritual body that shines with the glory of God on the level of terrestrial things while others will don a spiritual body that shines with the glory of God on the level of celestial things. Some will get a body that radiates with the glory of the flesh of men and others will get a body that radiates with the glory of the flesh of animals. Some will get a body the shines like the glory of the sun while others only with the glory of the moon.

I want you to notice how Paul compares the glory of the creation. Obviously the glory of the heavenly is greater than the earthly. Obviously the glory of the flesh of men is greater than the glory of the flesh of animals, and obviously the glory of the stars radically differs. He says in verse 42, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” The resurrection of the dead is like what? Well, it’s like the comparison of the glory of heavenly and earthly things. They are all glorious, but just differing measures of glory. He says at the end of verse 41 “for one star DIFFERS from another star in glory.” It doesn’t mean one is more valuable to God than another (our intrinsic value to God in Christ, never changes). It just means, the seed of the natural body we sow is working for us either a lighter or heavier eternal weight of glory! Think about it. Verse 37 said that what we sow, we do not sow that body that will be, but God gives it a body as he pleases, and to each seed its own body!

Well, the glory that you are resurrected in will be based on the glory of the seed that is planted. What determines the glory of the seed planted? 2 Corinthians 3:18 in the Amplified Bible gives us the clue, “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.” Remember that famous verse that says not to be conformed to this world, but to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind? (Romans 12:2) What are you being transformed into? Well, James said that if anyone is a hearer and not a doer of the Word (foolish person), this person is someone who doesn’t look into the mirror of God’s Word and continue in it. (James 1:23-25) If you and I will look into the Word and continue to look into it, we will behold the Man in the mirror, and soon we will see Him as He is. As we behold Him, we will be transfigured into His image from glory to glory! That’s what the above verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 says.

The question you need to ask yourself today is, “What kind of natural body do I want to sow for the spiritual body that I want to reap?” I can tell you exactly how to shine with a greater degree of glory than your counterparts in the resurrection. Know that the light, temporary afflictions of this life are working for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory and to continue to look at the things which are not seen, the eternal things. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) The more you behold things eternal, the greater glory you will be raised in/changed into. The more you are carnally minded, with a mind solely set on things on the earth, and aren’t interested in allowing God to lead you into victory, the more your resurrection will resonate with the lesser weight of glory.

Someone says, “Well, I don’t care.” Well, maybe you don’t, but either way this is what is going to happen and you can either have an awesome “payday” when it’s all said and done, or you can suffer loss. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) You can have an amazing judgment day or a not so amazing one. You can shine like the sun or Sirius. (Sirius is a top ten brightest star in our galaxy) You chose. A man of God I respect always says, “You are writing your resume for what you will be doing during the Millennium” but I want to take it a step further and say, you are working to sow a natural body that will be raised with a greater degree of glory or lesser degree of glory. The choice is yours.

The key in the degree of Glory you are raised in, is being a doer of the Word. This man is blessed with greater glory. Much more I could say, and many more examples I could give, BUT, this will suffice for now. Run your race. Finish your course. You won’t regret an ounce of obedience and sacrifice doing the Lord’s will. It’s His promise, not mine.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Glorious Bodies - Part 1

July 31, 2013

Seeds. Some have never fully appreciated the power of a seed. Isn’t it amazing that within the tiniest seed is the greatest potential? Every green thing you see blooming, every animal you see walking, every insect that annoys you, and every person you behold all started out as a seed/s. To think a little tomato seed can be planted and in time the roots will know to grow DOWN into the earth and the blade and stems will know to grow UP is really very fascinating. Then a little more time will pass and soon the plant will flower and the bees will pollinate and before long yummy green fruit will manifest. Given enough time on the plant and the fruit will turn red and be ready to be picked and devoured. Can you imagine? From one teeny-weeny little seed, we get to enjoy all that! Think about the most colorful plant or freakishly looking animal you have ever seen. Every bit of it started out as a seed and within the seed was everything necessary to bring forth those features and colors; all it needed was the right growing environment.

God likens His word to seed. It’s supposed to be planted in the soil of our hearts and watered and in time that seed will spring forth, first the blade, then the head, then the full grain in the head. (Mark 4:28) This seed is planted in various ways, but primarily through scattering it into hearts with our mouths. This is why you should never lose heart just because you planted a seed, or watered a seed in someone’s life and you don’t immediately see results. Seeds take time to germinate; they take time to grow roots, and even more time to actually produce fruit. I’m not saying that this process is perfectly comparable between the spiritual and natural realms, because the time lapse between seed time and harvest can be quick at times in the spirit. Yet the basic process and principle doesn’t change. The point in the Lord teaching us these things is to remind us that God’s Word is germinating and producing, even when we can’t see it yet. (It will produce that which it is sent forth to produce. This is why the enemy fights so hard to steal the seed.) I say all this to say, your natural BODY is a seed. It is sown in mortality but will be raised in immortality. It is sown a natural body and is raised a glorious spiritual body.

Let’s take a look at some Scriptures surrounding these truths and discover the importance of fulfilling the will of God. You will want to take heed because the measure of the glory that your new spiritual body will carry is going to depend on what you did with God’s plan and purposes for your life. Notice I didn’t say, having eternal life was dependent on that. Eternal life is a free gift given by grace through faith, IT (Eternal life) is not of works lest any person should boast, so please note that I’m not talking about salvation here at all, at any point, in this WHOLE lesson (Ephesians 2:8-9) I am talking about your resurrected/changed glorified body that you will be clothed with at the appearing of Jesus. YOU, yes, I said it, YOU determine the measure of the glory that you are clothed with. Some will be raised in a more glorious body and others in a less glorious body, but we will all be like Jesus, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2) How will we be like Him? Well, not just spiritually, because we are ALREADY just like Him in our spirits (holy, righteous, complete, perfect, just). So what does it mean we will be like Him. Well, we will be like Him in (spiritual) bodily form. Having flesh and bone bodies that are glorified, able to live and interact in two worlds, the unseen spirit world and the natural world. (This is important to note because it’s the reason we will have access to rule and reign with Christ on the New Earth. Read my blog on the New Earth to learn more about what is coming in that respect.)

Notice Jesus after He was resurrected bodily His body was changed. It would never again taste death yet it had natural capabilities and spiritual capabilities. For one, He bodily presented His blood on the mercy seat in heaven, yet He returned to the earth and ate, spoke with, suddenly appeared in rooms and allowed his disciples to touch His resurrected body. His spiritual body had the ability to show the holes that were in His hands and side, yet He did not bleed. This body had the capability of eating natural food with man, yet walk through walls. This is the kind of body you and I will have. It will be just like Jesus body in nature. Just like our natural body bears the image of Adam, so our spiritual bodies will bear the image of Jesus! (I Corinthians 15:49) We will all be clothed with a heavenly body. In fact, our spirits cry out for this! To be clothed with our eternal habitation that is from God. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5) Here’s the kicker, the glory we walk in is determined by what we do with God’s will here on earth.

What is this body (the resurrected, glorified, spiritual body) good for? Well, it’s good for accessing two worlds. Without it, you have no right to be on the earth. Disembodied human spirits do not hang around on earth. (Contrary to what psychics or others might say, any experience a medium or so called psychic might be having is with familiar spirits – these are demonic spirits familiar with the life of the deceased person who can share information with the Spiritist. That dead person is not walking the earth, haunting people and such. That person is either in heaven with God, or not. Period.) Human spirits either go up into God’s presence or down into Hades. The BIBLE makes that clear. Until the seed of your natural body can produce this spiritual body, a disembodied human spirit has no right to operate here. Once you and I die, we go be with the Lord. Only once He returns and in a moment in a twinkling of an eye, are we changed and the dead in Christ raised incorruptible will we again have a right to operate on the earth. (I Corintians 15:52) Why? Well, we will then have a spiritual body (just like Jesus body). This spiritual body will grant us access to two worlds at the same time.

Certain angels currently have some sort of body that works similarly. They can access Heaven and Earth and even take on human form. (Hebrews 13:2) We read several stories in the Old Testament where angels appeared as men and it would appear that even some of the fallen angels forsook their first habitation in order to walk as a man. You remember the Sons of God who saw the beauty of the daughters of men and had children by them? Does that seem strange to you? It does me, but it appears that is what happened. (Genesis 6:1-2) Jude also said concerning some of these fallen angels that, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;” He mentions certain angels who did not keep their proper domain. Apparently it’s possible for some angels (fallen and not) to take on human form and not only that, but leave one domain for the domain of another. Satan will do this in the form of the “son of perdition”. (2 Thessalonians 2:3) It’s why in Isaiah we are told that we will look upon the “man” who made the earth tremble. (Isaiah 14:16) Satan is not a man, but apparently at some point in the near future he is going to leave his proper domain to take on our form. He is going to set himself up as God and claim to be God. Even God Himself took on the form of a bondservant, becoming a man in Jesus and suffered death on our behalf. Let us not think it a strange thing that spirit beings can change forms for various reasons. I point all this out to show that one day we will be able to interact in both worlds bodily because we will be like Jesus. For now, our natural body limits us to the natural world as this natural body cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, but our coming spiritual body will not limit us.

You can read how on the mount of transfiguration, as we call it, that in Matthew’s account (Chapter 17) he said that Jesus “was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” and Luke’s account in chapter 9 says that “the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.” Marks account (Chapter 9) says “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

Daniel 12:2-3 – “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. Who are the wise? The wise are those who hear God’s Word and do it. (Matthew 7:24)

There is a blessing where we bless people by saying, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you. (Numbers 6:25) Isn’t that interesting that the Lord glows with glory! Moses, under an inferior covenant shown like a lamp with the glory of God as he spent time with God on Mount Sinai, so much so that they had to put a lamp shade on his head! (Exodus 34:35) The New Testament speaks of the greater glory of the New Covenant because this covenant does not pass away, but is all the more glorious. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11) So if Moses could shine with the glory of God in a natural body, how much more will we shine with the glory of God in a spiritual body!

(Part 2 is finished, just broke be continued.)

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The New Earth! Part 3

July 11, 2013

(Note: You've missed much if you start here, please go back to the first part in this three part blog.)

Remember in John 3 where Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is “born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” and then a few verses later he says the same person can’t “enter the kingdom of God?” Well, that will have a more literal application in the future. People will not be able to see the kingdom of God and be able to enter into the gates of the city and partake of the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations if they have not been born again.

What are you saying Alan? I’m saying people will need Jesus forever! And who is going to preach Jesus forever? We are! The bride is going to reign with Him forever and ever (Revelation 22:5) and the Spirit and the Bride will forever say, “Come! Let him who thirsts come, whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely!” (Revelation 22:17) Jesus said that heaven and earth will pass away, but MY words will never pass away. (Luke 21:33) So you see, this natural world is going to change, but God’s Word will never change. It is settled! Jesus Christ is Lord and He will be Lord to multiplied trillions of people in the ages to come. Someone might say, what is the big deal Alan? So what, God is making a new heaven and a new earth, what does that tell me about what we are going to be doing for eternity? Well, if Jesus Words will never change then what are they good for? They are good to be used forever. In other words, what good is an eternal Word of God if only it has application and use for the small era of human history we know of? I’m saying God’s Word is eternal and will be eternally preached! Men will forever need to have their minds renewed to the Word of God! Granted some of the stumbling blocks that make it difficult for people to accept Jesus now will be removed, (like Satan cast into the lake of fire) but God will not force love and growth and His plan for every human being down their throats. People will forever have to choose life and we will be the preachers of righteousness. Truly, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Doesn’t this make the plans and purposes that God has laid on your heart so much more exciting? Think about it! God’s word says that His gifts and calling are irrevocable! (Romans 11:29) That makes no sense in light of Heaven. If you have a gift to “evangelize,” what good is it, you can’t use it because no one needs it Heaven! God gave gifts unto men and made some“apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers,” for a particular purpose. Doesn’t it seem silly that those gifts are only for our short stint here on earth? Or maybe they aren’t, maybe they are irrevocable and maybe we will continue to operate in our gifts and calling forever in the New Earth! We will continually equip the saints and ourselves be equipped! The Bible also says in Ephesians 2:7 “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus!” Did you catch that? In the AGES to come. There are AGES that God has planned that we will be a part of and the whole time we will experience His riches and kindness. One of those ages is the millennial period; another is the beginning of a new age where God dwells among men in the new heavens and new earth! In every age to come, we are going to experience and see so many awesome things it literally excites me to no end!

Will there be parts of the Bible that will no longer apply in future ages even though it is the eternal Word of God!? Yes! Similar to how the Law no longer applies to the believer here and now, there will be aspects of our preaching in future ages that we will talk about for instructional purposes but that they won’t actually be under. Example, the Bible says that certain things in the Old Testament that happened was written for our admonition, and so we can learn from it, but it doesn’t mean we do it that way or that it directly applies to us in the Church. (I Corinthians 10:11) Did the Word of God cease to exist because we are in the age of grace? Well of course not, we can still use it and profit from all Scripture which has been given “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) An example of Scriptures that are eternal but would no longer apply to future believers would be those relating to the devil. He will no longer be walking about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) He will be in the lake of fire being tormented, but this is when Scriptures like Isaiah 14:16-17 will apply and MAYBE we will take future believers on field trips to gaze upon the one who made the earth tremble and we will all mock him together. Or maybe we will show them those whose worm does not die like it says in Isaiah 66:24. Someone says, well surely we won’t be able to see any of that! Well, I’m not so sure. The Scripture seems to indicate we will. I’m not being dogmatic on this last thing about gazing upon the devil and dead men, but I am simply trying to show that although the Word of God will never pass away, there are aspects that will no longer apply in the ages to come while other aspects will continue forever. I think that is pretty self evident.

So this brings us back to the beginning, back to where I began all this. I reminded you of what man was doing in the garden prior to the fall and how God would fellowship with man. Well, this is all coming full circle, only this time, God won’t just come in the cool of the day to fellowship with man, He will actually set up His dwelling here on the new earth amongst men! And men will no longer simply tend/keep a garden and such, but we will live and enjoy the fruit of our hands like Isaiah 65:21-22 says. Man will bring their glory and honor into the Holy City (Revelation 21:24-26) and worship God from new moon to new moon and week by week! (Isaiah 66:23) Man will work,play, serve the Lord and each other. Man will simply live like he was created in the beginning! Enjoying God’s new creation and rejoicing in it forever.(Isaiah 65:18) Man will be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth! The animals will revert back to their old form, not eating one another but plants only and children will be able to play with snakes! (Isaiah 11:6-9) In other Words, just like it is in heaven, so God’s will shall be done in the new earth! People will still have a choice to choose life or reject it but whereas so many choose destruction now and so few choose life now, then it will be reversed. So few will choose death and so many will choose life, to the point where I believe it will almost be nil. The Holy Spirit and the Bride will be saying come and we won’t have a devil blinding anyone’s minds and although the flesh will still be present, the clarity of the things of God will be so amplified that I think very few sinners will reject the call to be ‘born again!’

Now let me give you some other thoughts about this. I can’t prove this, but I believe one of the blessings or benefits of having the glorified bodies that we will have is that we will have access to both Heaven and the new earth. Just as Jesus lives in Heaven now and makes appearances here on earth, I believe that there is the possibility it will be the opposite once the New Jerusalem comes to Earth. I don’t think the place known as Heaven will cease to exist, all that is going to happen is that the Father and the Son will join the Holy Spirit here on the new earth where they will dwell with men and make their tabernacle among men. (Revelation 21:3) Pretty awesome don’t you think? It appears Heaven is the abode of the Holy Angels, but God will leave their abode to dwell with man. So it doesn’t appear heaven will go anywhere and again, this is speculation, as I don’t have Bible verses that I know of to show you, but I think we will (those who have the glorified bodies) have access to both the unseen Heaven and the seen natural earth. So what I’m saying is, there is a possibility that we will have a home in Heaven and one on earth and be able to use both! The natural man will not have this privilege. Can you imagine how blessed we are to live in this age and to believe in the Lord apart from seeing Him? I know God has so many amazing things in store for us; we will never cease to be amazed at Him! You talk about a glorious future! We’ve got one gang! If you are a believer, you better get ready because the blessing of God rests on you and in the AGES to come He is going to show you His riches and kindness!

(Note: Hope my blog brought you great joy and anticipation for a bright future! There's more I could say, but I want you to use your imagination at the possibilities in the new earth, both for the glorified man and the natural man. I don't think you can think too big.)

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The New Earth! Part 2

July 6, 2013

(Note: This is a continuation of the first part... read this only after you have read the first one.)

Once you understand that we are coming back to rule and reign with Christ and once you understand that God has a new earth where natural man will continue to be fruitful and multiply, then a whole lot more Scripture begins to make sense.

But before we look at what that new earth is going to be like and what our part will be in that new earth, let’s look at the Scriptures that tell us this. Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21-22 make it the most clear.Isaiah 65:17 says, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”Revelation 21:1 says, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” Isaiah 66:22 says, “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain.”And finally 2 Peter 3:13 says, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

How did we miss this? All the talk is always on going to heaven, but God is going to create all things new! Revelation 21:5 says this,“Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” My question is; who is this new heaven and earth for? Well,Isaiah 66:22 told us it’s for our descendants! Whose descendants? Isaiah 65:23says, “They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, And their offspring with them.” The people who will inhabit this new earth are those who go through the millennial period and belong to the Lord. If you read Revelation you see Christ ruling and reigning a thousand years and us reigning with Him. At the end of this period, Satan is released to deceive once more before he is finally cast into the lake of fire for eternity. All who live through that millennial reign and become followers of Jesus will be those who then populate the new earth. Look at Psalm 102:18-28, it says the earth and heavens will grow old and be changed, but God stays the same and in verse 28 it says, “The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.” Did you catch that? In the context of the Earth being changed, the descendants of the servants of God and their children will continue.

Really you need to read Isaiah 65:17-25 and Revelation 21-22 to get the full impact of what is going to happen. If you read Isaiah 65 you will see he mentions infants, meaning people will be born in the new earth; he speaks of people dying and sinners. Some might say, NO, there will be no sinners in the new earth, well, that’s not what Isaiah 65:20 says, and Revelation 22 says outside the new Jerusalem are “dogs, sorcerers, the sexually immoral, and murderers and idolaters and whoever loves and practices a lie.” This is not talking about in Heaven, this is talking about on the NEW EARTH! This really helps you understand why Jesus was crucified from the foundation of the world doesn’t it? We are going to be preaching the cross forever because people are going to need the cross forever. I’ll come back to this, but we have been under the assumption, I guess because no one has told us, that sinners will cease to exist. Actually, all sinners after the millennial reign who are not found in the Lambs book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. Who is left? Those whose names are in the book. What will those people do? They will inhabit the new earth and they will be fruitful and multiply on the new earth and even though the new earth will start out with those who are “redeemed,” those redeemed ones will have children who will need the Lord as they will be born with the sin nature. They will need to hear the gospel as man up till now has needed to hear the gospel. The difference for them will be, there will be no more Satan and they will have the benefit of billions of “glorious” ones (us) who will be used by the Lord to share the message of the cross. In other words,people will still have a choice to accept or reject a relationship with God. Someone might say; how is this possible? I thought sin couldn’t be in Heaven…well, that’s just it; sin will never be in Heaven. But sinners (it appears) will forever inhabit the earth. Someone might say, well, Peter said that in the new heavens and earth that righteousness dwells; how is it any sinners could be dwelling there? Well, we are the righteousness of God in Christ and we will be dwelling here amongst those who need Jesus!

The difference is, those who belong to the Lord and get saved post millennial reign will have access to the New Jerusalem where they will be able to partake of the tree of life and live forever in their natural body like God intended! And now they CAN partake of the tree of life because they will have gotten ‘born again’ and can see the kingdom of God on earth to be able to enter into the gates! God kept Adam from eating of the tree of life and living forever in a natural body, but in the new earth He will invite them to partake of the tree of life and live forever in a natural body.

Don’t be confused with sinners living on the new earth and people committing sin mixed up. People are born sinners by nature. I am not saying, nor do I believe the Lord is saying although there will be murderers, that people will be murdering people. I believe righteousness will rule the day, but when the Lord says in Isaiah 65:20 that the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed and in Revelation 22 it speaks of people being outside the holy city who are sinners, I believe He is referring to sinners who are sinners because they are born with that nature, just like we are all born that way today. Even if I’ve never murdered, I’m still a murderer by nature and this is why I needed to be born again and this is why those who dwell in the new earth will need to be born again. Revelation 21:27 says, “But there shall by no means enter it (speaking of the New Jerusalem) anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” So there will be those who do not qualify to enter because that is their nature and their name has not yet been written in the Lamb’s book, but those whose names are written will bring their glory and honor into the city.

(Please continue onto part 3)

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The New Earth!

June 30, 2013

Jesus said to Thomas who we often call “doubting” Thomas that “blessed are those who have not seen (the nail scarred hands, the hole in his side, the resurrected Lord) and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) There is something special about this age, called ‘the Church age’ and believing apart from seeing, that is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory than we could possibly imagine. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) The day is coming when they (the world) will see Jesus alive and He will rule and reign and there will be no excuse for not believing, but there is no extra glory or blessing in believing because you have seen Him. This tells me that the resurrection is going to be better for some than others. Some will have one measure of glory based on what they believed and another will have a different measure of glory. I’ll speak more on this glory in a different blog, but first let’s set some ground work.

What is your picture or understanding of heaven and what we are going to be doing FOREVER? I think many people are very confused and an explanation of what is coming may help alleviate some of the confusion. What is your picture of what is coming? Sitting on clouds in the sky, singing ‘Kum Ba Yah, my Lord’ for eternity? Your highest purpose IS relationship with God, however, that is not your ONLY purpose. God has purposes (plural) for us and plans (plural) far beyond us just spending eternity paying Him homage, praise, and adoration. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is going to be a lot of that throughout eternity; in fact, we are to rejoice always and pray without ceasing in the here and now, so how much more when the veil of the natural world is lifted (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). However, just like we don’t spend all our time on this side of heaven praising God, we will not be spending all our time once we get to heaven just praising God. Life in heaven and life back here on the new recreated earth is going to be very similar in purpose and function as it is now. I’ll come back to this as well! Yes, maybe you missed it, but God is going to make a NEW Earth!

I want you to notice a few things about when God created this world the first time and placed His prime creation (man) in the Garden of Eden. What was God’s plan? God’s plan was and always will be natural man on a natural planet, living forever and enjoying communion with God. Notice also that it is quite obvious that God didn’t spend ALL day with Adam. No doubt the presence of the Holy Spirit was everywhere, but the fact that the serpent found a time when Eve and Adam were alone to try to trick them would plainly indicate to us, that they (Adam and Eve) were left alone at different times to enjoy each other and God’s creation. After Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, the Bible says that God was walking in the Garden in the cool of the day looking for Adam but that they had hidden themselves. I point this out to show that God and Adam didn’t hang out together all day. (Likewise, we will not be hanging out with God all day in Heaven and the New Earth.) It appears there were times that God would be off doing whatever He was doing and then would come hang with His man! (Read the creation account and the fall of man in Genesis 1-3, so you can plainly see the things I’m referring to.)

The question is, what was Adam doing the rest of the day? Probably what God had instructed him to do, tending and keeping the Garden. After it was noted that there was no creature comparable to Adam as God would bring the animals to Adam to see what he would name them, God made a helper suitable to Adam. After God made Eve, Adam probably spent some of the day eating with his wife, discovering God’s creation with her, enjoying the fruit of the land, occasionally having sex, and so forth. Don’t get your feathers in a ruffle because of some sort of religious idea that Adam never “KNEW” Eve until after the fall because that’s probably not true. The command to be fruitful and multiply was before the fall of Adam and Eve so no doubt they were enjoying that aspect of their relationship too. Some may object because they think sex is somehow dirty and yet they fail to realize that God is the one who had made all things and called all things good. (Genesis 1:28-31) It just so happens we have record that Eve conceived some time after the fall and therefore assume it wasn’t until then that they had sex. The reality is; how many people get pregnant the very first time they make love? Obviously some do but most don’t, so to assume the first time they obeyed the command to be fruitful was AFTER the fall and that she conceived the very first time is quite unlikely. The point in all this is; what were Adam and Eve doing on God’s new creation called Earth? How did they spend their days and what does this tell us about God’s original plan for man and God’s future plan for man on the new earth?

For starters, it shows us that God never intended for man to go to heaven. The Heaven of heavens is His throne and earth He has given to men. (Psalm 115:16) God intended that man exercise dominion on earth and live FOREVER here, NOT in heaven. Now I realize we kind of messed that up through sin and God worked it out so that we can go live with Him in heaven, but was that His plan? Was that what He intended for man? To say that it was, is to then say that it was His plan that man die and that’s obviously not the case. Based on the Genesis 3, had man overcome the serpent instead of being overcome by him, Adam and Eve would have eventually eaten of the tree of life. Notice that God kicked Adam and Even out of the garden and His reason for doing so was “lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” (Gen. 3:22) God apparently didn’t want man eating of something that would cause him to live in his natural body forever while at the same time being spiritually dead. God is the one who said that in the day Adam ate of the forbidden tree, that in that day, he would die. (Genesis 2:17) Obviously we know that Adam didn’t die physically the VERY day he ate of it, in fact, his total life span was 930 years. So what actually happened? The word die in that verse carries this meaning in the Hebrew, in dying you shall die. Adam ate; He died spiritually and in dying spiritually, that death worked in him physical death. God didn’t want a spiritually dead man partaking of the tree of life and therefore living forever physically but spiritually separated. Apparently the tree of life had the ability to thwart the effects of sin in the body, but not in the spirit. If eating of the tree of life could have regenerated Adam spiritually, then it would make sense that God would want Adam to eat of the tree of life, but apparently, the tree of life only had an ability to keep man from dying physically. Obviously this spiritual death didn’t result in God just never talking to man again, because we can plainly see that He did. The fact that sin and death had now gotten into the human race and man was no longer under the rulership of God, but instead of Satan (Romans 6:16), God had to formulate a plan to turn this mess around. The very day they sinned, God put His plan of redemption into motion as He prophesied the one who come and crush Satan’s head (authority – Genesis 3:15) We know that man to be Jesus! It has been a 6000 year process up until now, but the final steps in God’s plan to take us back to His original design is close at hand. So the question is, what is it going to look like and what is going to be our part to play in it?

The point to understand, Heaven was not God’s original plan as a dwelling place of men, neither was Hell. Heaven was supposed to be God’s throne and the angel’s abode, and Hell was created for the devil and his angels. Yet man will go one of those places based on what he did with Jesus. So if it is true, that we were never supposed to go to heaven, why do we go there when we die? Simply, heaven is the holding place until we come back to the earth the same as Abraham’s bosom was the holding place for people who died before Jesus’ blood could be shed. People in the Old Testament time would go there and wait until the Messiah came to deliver them from their sin. Once Jesus accomplished His work, the Scripture tells us that He preached to the spirits in prison and led captivity captive. (I Peter 3:19, Ephesians 4:8) Before Jesus blood could redeem mankind, man couldn’t go to heaven, but now that His blood is on the mercy seat in heaven, all who die in Christ can immediately be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Jesus told his disciples that He goes to prepare a place for them that they may be where He is. (John 14:3) Well, that’s what Jesus does for all of us who die in Christ. He is preparing a place for us in Heaven right now. It’s a “mansion.” Here’s the deal though, we are not always going to stay there. We will always be with the Lord because that is His promise, but with Him where? (I Thessalonians 4:17) Some have assumed that heaven is where He is referring, but I have plain Scripture that says we are coming back to live with God forever on a New Earth! I’m amazed how the body of Christ has so missed this. All of our preaching and teaching has focused on heaven and going to heaven, but we are not staying there. The Lord is coming back to the earth to rule and reign for one thousand years and after that He is going to make a new heaven (I believe this is new stellar and atmospheric heavens, not a new heaven that we know of as God’s throne) and a new earth.

(Please continue onto part 2)

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Staying In a Position of Peace

May 31, 2013

Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. I think in our day many believer’s and non-believer’s names could be inserted where Martha’s name is. If Jesus were sitting with you today, would He say that to you or would you be sitting at His feet listening to His Word and keeping your mind stayed on it?

Staying in a position of peace does not happen automatically. There are things a believer must do in order to remain in peace. The Word of God gives us the keys to staying full of peace in the midst of a very troubled world.

Read the story here where Jesus said this to Martha in Luke 10:38-41 - "Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Notice how the Lord said that Martha was worried and troubled about many things. Not just that she had to serve alone. The serving was just one of many things that was weighing Martha’s heart down. Martha was probably concerned about the day in which she lived the same as every generation is concerned about the troubles of their day. Just as people have not changed from generation to generation, neither has the solution to living a life of peace.

Look what the Word says in Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” This is the KEY to keeping your heart worry and trouble free! Keep your mind stayed in the right place. Where is that place? The place is on the Lord, trusting in Him. Now I want you to notice what Martha’s sister was doing while Martha was allowing herself to be troubled. Mary was choosing the good part. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His Words. I’m doubtful that she had Isaiah 26 on her mind as she sat and listened to Jesus, but for whatever reason, she knew she had peace while listening to Jesus. No doubt Mary had troubles of her own, but she chose to keep her mind stayed on the Lord which kept her from worrying and being weighed down with those troubles.

Here is the reality. Troubles are around us. Troubles are coming in greater intensity and number in these last days but Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Jesus warned of coming tribulations and that every day has its own trouble. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Troubles are simply a part of living in this fallen world, but the peace of God in the midst of those troubles is not an automatic. There has to be some intentionality on your part to stay in peace. How? Keep your mind stayed somewhere.

Obviously when Isaiah said to keep your mind stayed on the Lord, he wasn’t referring to keeping your mind stayed on a picture or some sort of visage you can imagine of the Lord. In other words, sitting and imagining what the Lord might look like is not going to bring peace. So what did he mean when He said, “whose mind is stayed on You?” Well, he must be referring to the promises or Word of God because the very next part says, “Because he trusts in You.” Trust has to do with words spoken. Look at it like this; if you had a word from God that joy or victory was coming in the morning, do you suppose you could have peace in the night? Sure you could! Why? Because He gave His word that joy and victory was coming in the morning and you trust that word! If you keep your mind on the promise of joy and victory, you can peacefully endure the night.

God’s Word is full of words that when we keep our mind on them are to act as peace keepers. When we keep our minds stayed on those words, then we can weather any storm and our hearts will not be troubled. Notice Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” The understood subject of that sentence is you, so it is up to you and me to not let our hearts trouble us! There may be troubling circumstances and scary surroundings, but when you think about the Lord and keep your mind fixed on His promises, you can calm anything that may try to trouble your heart.

Think about this famous portion of Scripture from Psalm 23, it says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

There are lots of words to keep you in a position of peace in this passage, but notice it says that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” Why won’t he fear evil? He says, “for You (God) are with me.” If you can focus on the fact that God is with you, you can stay peaceful in the valley of death and feast with a joyful heart at the table that is prepared in the presence of your enemies.

I could go on and on looking at examples where keeping our mind stayed on the Word of God, will keep us in perfect peace. If you can train yourself to focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, then you can always walk free of fear and worry and not be troubled in your heart by what’s going on around you!

Another quick example and I’ll let you begin to meditate. Paul told the Philippian church to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:6-9)

Notice what is connected to having the God of peace (who brings peace) with you. He says to not be worried, troubled, or anxious, but instead pray about it with thanksgiving, and then an amazing peace will guard your heart and mind. Then he instructs the Church to think on certain things. Did you catch that? If you pray but then don’t think on certain things, then peace won’t remain, but if you will pray about the situation with a thankful heart (i.e. Giving thanks that God heard you and you have your answer and now it’s done!) and then keep your mind focused on Him (the good report, the pure and true things, the just and noble things, the virtuous and praiseworthy things), you are guaranteed to stay in a position of peace. All this regardless of what is going on around you!

Let not your heart be troubled! Don’t be like Martha, worried, distracted, and troubled about many things. Choose the good part and sit at the feet of Jesus, hearing and focusing (BELIEVING) on His promises to you!

Now you are in peace and no circumstance has the power to remove you from that position!

Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Money Misnomers #3

April 30, 2013

A misnomer is a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. Names have been applied to the concept of money and it's place in our lives that are inappropriate and misapplied. Money has a definite purpose and used correctly can bring blessings to people but designated inappropriately can cause much harm and heartache. How it's possible that someone would take their own life and/or the lives of others because of money is beyond me, but it just goes to show how misnomers concerning money have very real effects. Too many have made money their god instead of God their God. The Bible says that God causes the rain to fall on the just and unjust showing that He is good to all! (Matthew 5:45) Everyone has been entrusted with a certain amount of resources and based on what you do with it, you will either be heavily rewarded or suffer much loss. You will either hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ or, 'You wicked and lazy servant.' Many Christians are hoping to hear the former, but don't even realize that it's connected to what you do or don't do with the resources God's entrusted to your care.

I like the story of the talents that the Lord delivered to His servants. Here we see three examples of people handling money. You can read the full story in Matthew 25:14-30. Sometimes people are mad at people who have received the proverbial "silver spoon" in the mouth. One might look at this story and say it's not fair that the one guy received five talents and the other only two while the third only received one. Sometimes in life, more is delivered to some and they are "blessed" to steward larger amounts of resources and people who steward less can look on with jealousy. As you read the story though, you begin to realize that no matter how much has been entrusted to your care, the important thing is that you did the right thing with those resources. Notice the man who got five talents got the same reward as the guy who got two talents. The only person in the story who didn't get rewarded with a "well done" and a promise to rule over many things was the third guy in the story. This guy didn't even do the bare minimum by putting his lord's money in the bank so that it could have grown that way. The guy basically sat on what was given to Him. Um... bad idea...sitting on what has been given to you. This principle applies to more than money.

The Lord expects us to take what He has delivered to us to and to increase it. In fact, it is His ability that gives us the power to get wealth and it is our responsibility to take all that He entrusts to our hands and increase it. (Deuteronomy 8:18) God is a God of increase and notice He didn't rebuke the two guys who increased what was delivered to them, in fact, just the opposite, He praised them! Christians sometimes are the worst with money because they believe lies about it. We are told by the Lord to make friends of ourselves by unrighteous money and we are told the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than sons of light. (Luke 16:8-9) You know it doesn't bode well for believers when we know the God of all creation but we are complete imbeciles when it comes to handling money. I'm not quite sure why it's so difficult for so many, but God didn't make it difficult. Money is a tool. It is to be used for bread to eat and seed to sow. Period. Some people eat all they get and they are wrong. Some people think you are to have nothing and that mindset is wrong. Some people take "vows of poverty" and that is wrong. Nowhere are we told to take such a vow. If anything, that type of vow is a slap in the face to a covenant with the God of all grace who became poor so that you could become rich, (2 Corinthians 8:9) but instead we are saying, the sacrifice of Jesus means nothing, because although poverty is a curse, I embrace the curse. That's like saying, I take a "vow of sickness" or a "vow of sin." Who would do such a thing? Vow to be the opposite of what Jesus' sacrifice on the cross accomplished for them? My guess is these people are just ignorant and were duped by other misinformed people about the piety in such a vow, but if you understand Jesus amazing sacrifice, it's really quite embarrassing and shameful. Some people exalt money as a god in their life and they are wrong. Some people tell others or act like all you receive is to be given and they are wrong. When it comes to money and other subjects, it seems we gravitate toward the ditch. How about we give money it's proper place and stay in the middle of the road - neither making it a ruler; nor treating it like it's a plague.

In the simplest of terms, every person has been entrusted with resources. God expects us to give what is right, to eat what is right, and work to increase the rest. The goal is that God can come to any of us at any time and ask for our donkey, our upper room or some other thing He needs to accomplish his purposes and we are ready to part with it or "lend" it to the Lord.

In Luke 19:29-31 we read, "And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’" Isn't that cool? The Lord NEEDED something... and guess what? Someone had the resources and the character to give it when the Lord needed it. That's us... the Lord still needs things today to accomplish His purposes... are we ready to part with it or preparing it so that the Lord has it available when He asks?

Similarly in Luke 22:7-13 Jesus told the disciples about a certain man they would meet and to follow him to his house and say, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?" and then Jesus said that there would be a LARGE upper room, furnished and prepared. This Jesus said was where they were to prepare the passover meal. Isn't it interesting the guy had a house BIG enough to receive at least 13 grown men comfortably for dinner! The owner of the home had the right attitude. This resource (my large upper, furnished and prepared) is available and ready for the Lord to use.

Another example is in Luke 8:1-3 which says, "Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance." Look at that, these ladies and "many others" freely gave of their substance to keep Jesus preaching and bringing glad tidings, and it wasn't just Jesus all these people were taking care of, it was Jesus and twelve staff! These people understood the point of abundance and resources and they were ready and willing to "lend" to the Lord and I guarantee they were blessed as a result. These people gave so much to His ministry that Jesus was often giving of those resources to the poor. So Jesus wasn't just a receiver, He was a giver! This is how we are to treat money. We are to be occupying until He comes with a mind to steward God's resources with His kingdom in the forefront of our minds when making decisions as to what we are going to do with our talents. God's kingdom operates a certain way that doesn't make sense to some, but it works if we'll get on board. It's called giving and receiving, sowing and reaping and increasing the fruits of our righteousness.

People must understand that God wants them to prosper and be in health and He wants our souls (our thinking about wealth) to prosper as well. (3 John 2) A proper understanding of wealth is a part of your soul prospering. Rejecting money misnomers is a part of prospering in your soul. Rejecting covetousness, being content, seeing money as a tool and a servant, properly stewarding and increasing your resources, giving and receiving, being diligent in your work and seeking to establish His covenant using those resources are all areas where we need to prosper in our thinking in order to prosper in our finances. I'm guessing we can be at least as shrewd as the world in dealing with money and see to it that we are increasing God's money for the furtherance of His kingdom. What do you say? Do you put money in your pockets only to see it fall through holes? (Haggai 1:6) Do you store up money only to see it grow wings and flutter away? (Proverbs 23:5) Are you walking in abundance with all your needs met (and I mean needs) and able at the same time to abound to every good work? (2 Corinthians 9:8) Are you seeing your resources grow or constantly seeing your finances devoured? (Malachi 3:11) Maybe you need to learn some of the principles of money that cause your talents to grow. Maybe you need to learn from your shrewd neighbor on how to use money and make it work for you. Maybe you need to begin to trust God by tithing and giving of offerings. Maybe you need to begin to put God's kingdom first.

It's not rocket science. It's math. (Which I guess for some, might be rocket science.) But it's not difficult. The bare minimum you can do is take your resources and give them to someone else who will be able to increase it for you (i.e. the bankers), but really that is the lazy way. One thing you don't want to do is just sit on those resources. They aren't yours to sit on. If you don't know how to handle money, learn from someone who does, but make sure you learn from a GIVER!

Let's not let money rule in our hearts nor dominate our decisions, but let's put His kingdom first and let's see that the Lord has access to all He needs to accomplish His purposes. Don't be deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a man sows, that's what he will reap. Let's get this money thing right.

Now you are being rich toward God... now you are on the path to hear "Well done!"

Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Money Misnomers #2

March 31, 2013

What does contentedness have to do with money? Well, if you are willing to live a contented life while practicing Godly living, it is a means of gain and increase. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The Bible says that the deceitfulness of riches can choke the fruit God wants to bring forth in your life. (Mark 4:19) You see there is a deceitfulness to riches that preaches something contrary to sound doctrine. Think about it. Money sitting in your bank account doesn’t actually have a voice. It’s not speaking deceitful things as an inanimate object, but it is a tool that the enemy and others use to entice us to let go of grander pursuits. Just like Satan took the form of the most subtle creature in the garden when he enticed Adam and Eve, today, he uses the subtle allure of money and possessions and the errors associated with the accumulation of it, to deceive people into pursuing IT instead of God. Verses 11-12 in the same chapter of Timothy go on to say, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Flee what? Discontentedness, loving money, greediness, misnomers about money.

Believers are certainly to be in pursuit of something, but it isn’t what the enemy has held up as the end of your faith. The Bible says that the end of our faith ought to be the salvation of (your) souls. (1 Peter 1:9) Could you imagine how much more of an impact the Body of Christ could have in the world if even twice as many believers began to follow Paul’s instructions here to Timothy? I look at all the Church currently does in giving of their time and resources to further God’s kingdom and I’m blown away, but in the scheme of the numbers of believers, it’s such a small percentage. What if more believers began to recognize the misnomers associated with wealth accumulation and instead of seeing it as the end of their faith began to see it as a gateway into true riches. Jesus described it this way when he spoke of being faithful with unrighteous mammon. If you haven’t been faithful with the tool, how can you be trusted with the object the tool builds, true riches? So many are treating the tool as what is to be valued instead of the end result (the building) of using the tool. (Luke 16:11)

Imagine with me for a second a bunch of people standing around admiring a hammer and a chisel? Can you hear the “Wows”, “ooohs” and “ahhhs”? Yeah, me neither, but what about the end product? What about a new house or museum or work of art? Now can you hear the accolades? I can! Why? Because the end result is what the tool was meant for. The tool deserves no praise or recognition, except maybe some appreciation for being useful. It’s the end result that ought to impress us. Now think about the building God is building? His glorious church, a dwelling place for His Spirit. A Spiritual building not made with hands, but being constructed in the lives of those who come into right relationship with Him. (1 Corinthians 3:9, Acts 17:24) This is the goal and purpose of money, to establish God’s covenant in the earth. This is THE very reason God gives us power to get wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:18) Not so we can admire the wealth (tool), but so we can admire the establishment of covenant (end result)!

You may think I have digressed from contentedness up until now, but I haven’t. If we will learn to be content (satisfied in ourselves, really in ourselves in Christ) then there will be no desire to stray from right pursuits in lieu of wrong pursuits. It’s the fact that people aren’t “satisfied/content” within themselves that the misnomer of more money or things will somehow finally satisfy. It’s a dead end!

Your life does not consist in the abundance of things you possess, so stop trying to be content in money. Jesus taught some really amazing things when some people came to him arguing over their inheritance. (People are still arguing about inheritances today.) Jesus then says to them to take heed and beware of covetousness. (Luke 12:15) Why would we need to beware of covetousness? The reason we should take heed is because it can subtly sneak up on someone if they are not paying attention. Then Jesus says that life isn’t about things and then he told a story of a rich farmer who had some bumper crops. The guy said to himself that he’s got an abundance and no room in his current storehouses, so he decided to build bigger storehouses, not realizing the abundance wasn’t so he could sit back, take his ease, and say, “Eat, drink, and be merry.” The abundance had a purpose which the rich man woefully missed! Then God said, You fool, you are going to die tonight and then what’s gonna happen to all your stuff? Then Jesus said, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

I don’t like when someone calls me a fool, especially when that someone is God. Yet one of the biggest money misnomers you can make is the pursuit of money over godliness and the things of God. The rich man should have looked at his abundance and said, “Wow God! You’ve blessed me so, how can I use this abundance to establish your covenant?” This would have caused him to be rich toward God. Had the rich man been content with what he had, he would have given godliness preeminence and who knows, maybe that night his soul wouldn’t have been required of him and he would have been able to enjoy the riches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t work to increase the monies God has given us, that’s a whole different parable and discussion, but I am saying, the accumulation of those monies for interests other than the Lord’s should be avoided. True riches only come when we’ve faithfully handled lesser riches, and being rich towards God can only happen when we begin to see money for what it is, instead of the illusion of what it can bring.

Money is a tool; money is a servant. Be content with what God has given you, practice principles to increase it, but use the tool to be rich toward God for God is seeking to build up this great building of lives changed! This is GREAT GAIN. Now money has taken an appropriate place in your heart. Watch God take you further than ever before because you decided to make an adjustment today!

Only one life will soon be past, only what is done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Money Misnomers

March 22, 2013

The Word of God has so much to say about money it really is quite amazing. I imagine because it's a god that God most often competes with for mankind's allegiance. We are told in the Word how to prosper and avoid poverty; to enjoy all things God gives yet refrain from greediness and covetousness. Really, covetousness and the love of money is at the heart of so many social, marital, financial, relational, and governmental problems. Can you imagine just for a moment what it might be like if money was not “needed” for life? What would you do different? How many more sleepless nights could you have avoided? If you think about it, the Bible is so right when it says in 1 Timothy 6:9-11, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Can you imagine how many sorrows have been self inflicted and inflicted on others that could have been avoided if we had this ONE issue right in our hearts? Evil has a hay-day when it comes to money and the pursuit of it. Greediness and the love of money has caused so much heartache, I don't know if we will ever be able to truly measure it's impact. Well, maybe on the final day, when we find out how many people are suffering in a devil's hell, we may get a glimpse of the impact the love of money had on the world. I can almost say without reservation that money probably played a part in some way for every person who ends up in hell, just like the rich man in Luke 16. How can I say that? Well, think about the only thing that Jesus specifically warned people against serving? He said you can't serve God and money, because you will either hate the one and love the other or you will be loyal to one and despise the other. (Luke 16:13) Jesus then went on to share the story of the rich man in hell. Can you imagine? Ending up in hell because you let money get in the way. And, how many times does the gospel not get preached in areas of the world because believers are not spending their money to get the gospel there? It's sad to think about but people end up in hell because of the misuse of money.

Money in it of itself is not evil. I love the argument in our day regarding guns and how guns are made out to be the culprit. Well, in all truth, guns are just a tool. Guns are inanimate objects that can do no harm or good. Money too can do no harm or good in it of itself. It's the people that wield the tool that determine the result. This is how we must begin to look at money. If we don't, we may find ourselves in the boat of so many who end up exalting money in the throne of their hearts beyond it's rightful place. Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked what he must do to have eternal life? Jesus mentioned a few laws to keep. The rich young ruler said he had done this and then Jesus touched on a soft spot. He loved him enough to show him that possessions had taken a primary place in his heart when He said, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22) Many people have taken verses like this and said that God does not want people to have possessions, but that is so far from the truth it's quite a preposterous notion. In fact, the opposite was true; Jesus simply wanted to get the young man to re-prioritize his life and have something in eternity to show for it. Jesus is the one who taught, give and it will be given, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. (Luke 6:38) Had the young ruler taken Jesus loving admonition, not only would it all have come back to him in abundance, he would have begun to store up for himself treasure in heaven.

God has no problem with people having money and the things money can buy. The problem He has is when money becomes our God. How do we know when money has taken God's place? Well, a good question to ask would be, who or what is directing your daily life? Who or what is calling the shots in the decisions you make to do this or that? What is the motivating factor for the things you engage in? Is the accumulation of wealth and the pseudo security of a cushy retirement the sum total of your pursuit? I'm all for retirement (to a degree, I don't think we ever 'retire' from serving the Lord). I'm all for people having more than enough, but could Jesus ask you right now to sell EVERY thing and follow Him and you'd do it? Many people would struggle with this. It's the reason why it's so much easier for poor people to follow Jesus than the rich.

You really have to read Mark 10:17-31 to really catch the fullness of what Jesus is saying. After the encounter with the young man, Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “How hard it is for the who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.” Many people have used said Scripture to say, see, God doesn't want people to have riches. Well, actually if you keep reading Jesus qualifies his statement and says that it's hard for those who TRUST in riches to enter God's kingdom. You see that's the issue, where is your trust? Later on in the chapter the disciples ask the Lord what will be done for them seems how they left ALL to follow Him and Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31)

Isn't that beautiful? Had the rich young ruler just trusted Jesus and said, “Okay, Lord, whatever you say!” He would have heard the end result of Jesus admonition to sell all that he had, that being a promise of a hundred fold return. You see, the reason the young ruler came to Jesus in the first place was that he knew he had allowed money and possessions to take a place in his heart that superseded God. This is why he came to Jesus. He already knew in his own heart that was following the commandments and it sounds to me like he was looking for validation from Jesus for his life. He was hoping for Jesus to say, “Just keep doing what you are already doing and you will be fine.” But Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, picked up on what was really happening in the young man's life and He was trying to help him have true, lasting riches while getting the priorities of money right in his heart. Two birds would have been killed with one stone had the rich ruler just listened to Jesus. One, money would have found it's place beneath God's rule in his heart and two, God could have taken him further in riches, both in this life and in the life to come, than the young ruler could have ever imagined.

So many people are TRUSTING in uncertain riches and it's causing many people's faith to suffer shipwreck. Paul told Timothy to command rich people not to trust in uncertain riches, but to trust in God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17) He's talking to you and me, RICH is relative. If you are reading this on a computer you own... you are probably in the "rich" category compared to world standards.

No one can judge your heart and look at your life and say you or I are trusting in money above the living God, only we can do that. So, analyze your own heart. Where does money and riches and possessions rank in your heart? Has God got the throne or has money usurped God? Even believers who have received Jesus struggle with this issue... that's why there is so much Apostolic instruction on covetousness, greed, the love of money, and Biblical instruction on finances, but it doesn't have to be an issue for you. You can make an adjustment today and you can put money where it belongs – on the shelf to be used as a tool, not on the throne to be worshipped as God.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith #7

March 8, 2013

Another law that governs the operation of faith that I want to share is what I like to call the “Law of Focus.” The Scripture in Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

There's something about where you put your focus that will either cause your faith to flourish or falter, to prosper or plummet, to soar or short-circuit. Why is this the case? Well, if you don't stay focused on the author of your faith (the Word), then you'll start to focus on the circumstances or contrary reports that foster doubt. You see the Word says that “faith comes by hearing the Word.” (Romans 10:17) Who is the Word? Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1, Revelation 19:13) and in order for faith to stay and grow strong, leaving no room for doubt, you have to stay focused on Him. Many times we want to separate the written Word from the person of Jesus Christ, but in reality how are you and I supposed to live Hebrews chapter 12? I can't really SEE Jesus in the flesh, so all I have to “look at” is His Word to me. It's the same as looking at Him.

Remember Jesus said, He who has seen me has seen the Father? (John 14:9) How is looking at Jesus the same as seeing God? Simply, Jesus is the express image of the Father. Just like the mirror gives an express image of you, Jesus gives an express image of God. (Hebrews 1:3) When we are looking intently into the Word, we begin to see the man in the mirror who authors, encourages, establishes and finishes our faith. (James 1:25) The Bible also encourages us to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.”(Hebrews 4:14, 10:23) Also, the Word encourages us to set our mind on heavenly things and to stay our minds on Him. (Colossians 3:2, Isaiah 26:3) There's something about looking intently, holding fast, and setting our mind on something continually that produces either positive or negative results. You see if you look intently at a problem, soon the problem becomes bigger than your God. If you hold fast to an evil report, pretty soon the evil report has you in it's grip. If you set your mind on temporal/carnal things, death is around the corner. (Romans 8:6) Where we choose to set our focus, will ultimately dictate whether we continue steadfastly in the faith, or we soon let go of that for which we have been apprehended. (Colossians 1:23, Philippians 3:12-14)

Remember the Apostle Paul who said that he forgot those things which are behind and he chose to set his focus elsewhere? He chose to set his gaze on the prize, his exceeding great reward, Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:14) Remember the Children of Israel after spying out the Land of Canaan. Ten of the spies brought an evil report and ALL of them except Joshua and Caleb chose to believer the evil report. Why? The multitude chose to focus on the “giants” in the land and their inability to overcome, instead of focusing on the God who just miraculously delivered them from Egypt via mighty signs and wonders. (Numbers 13) Can you imagine walking between two walls of water as you pass through the Red Sea, seeing water gush out of rocks on a couple of occasions, be supernaturally fed with manna every day and then get to your promised land and forget all that because there were some “big” people in the land you are about to take? Yet people do it all the time. How many times have you cried out to God in desperation for this or that and God came through for you, but time and again doubt creeps in with the next problem. What have you done? You've done the same as the children of Israel. You forgot to whom you belong; you got your focus off the author of your faith. Let's not point the finger at the Israelites, it was written for admonition. (I Corinthians 10:11) Let's learn something here.

It's not difficult to get back into faith. Many times it only takes a moment to readjust your focus and begin again to look to Jesus, the author and FINISHER of your faith. When you look at him, all the sudden your faith is energized and the problem shrinks to the right size. The size you can easily overcome with your faith because you know GOD IS WITH YOU.

I can give you example after example of people getting their focus off the author of faith and how it diminishes their faith. I like the example of the disciples in the boat crossing the Sea of Galilee with Jesus in tow in Luke chapter eight. In Luke seven the disciples witness firsthand the healing of the Centurion's servant, the raising of the son of the widow of Nain and the forgiveness of a sinful woman. They also witness Jesus telling John the Baptist's followers to go tell John that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear and the dead are raised (all of which the disciples witnessed first hand up to this point) and then they get into a boat in Luke eight at Jesus command. (Luke 7 & 8)

In the midst of crossing the lake, a pretty nasty storm arises and guess what all the disciples do? They get deathly afraid and wake Jesus from a deep sleep (you know it was a deep sleep because the nastiness of the storm didn't awake Jesus) and say, “Master, Master we are perishing!” (Luke 8:24) You know this story is almost laughable if it didn't hit so close to home. Had they “looked unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith,” not a single one of them would have had the slightest doubt about making it across the sea in one piece. Look at Jesus, He's sleeping! He's not worried! So why am I worried again? Oh yeah, the storm around me is pretty scary, that's why I'm worried! But alas, where am I focused? Certainly not on the author of my faith! Had I stayed focused on Jesus (the guy sleeping), guess what, I would have seen the “end of my faith” and made it safely to the other side without having to wake a weary Jesus. In fact, maybe I would have grabbed a pillow and curled up next to Jesus and took a nap. After all, I'd want to be an imitator of God and God was sleeping in the midst of the storm. (Ephesians 5:1) Some pretty powerful lessons to be learned there don't you think?

Do you want another story or ten? I think you get the point, your faith either falters or flourishes based on this “law of focus.” Are you going through the thick of it right now? Are you being tried beyond your physical capacity at the moment? Have you heard an evil report? Give doubt no place, kick it right out and refocus on the Author of your faith, Jesus. Get into God's Word find Him in the promise and don't look anywhere else. Now your faith is Rockin'!

The Operation of Faith #7 – Focus on Jesus

The Operation of Faith #6 – Be Confident – In Jesus!

The Operation of Faith #5 – Act Like It's So

The Operation of Faith #4 – Take Heed To Your Hearing

The Operation of Faith #3 – Control Your Mouth

The Operation of Faith #2 – Give Thanks

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith #6

January 31, 2013

Confidence. Many have no clue what connection confidence has with operational faith. Some people don't like confident people because they feel all the more insecure around said person. Instead of the insecure person saying, “Hey! I can be just like that, how do I get there?,” people often start assaulting the confident person with things like, “Hey, who do you think YOU are?! Humble yourself!” And, of course, the insecure person will think they have the Word on their side when they chide the confident person. Now, if the confident person is confident in their OWN ability apart from God's grace, then I would have to say, “You may want to humble yourself,” however what if that confidence is born out of a knowledge of who you are in Christ? This is the type of confidence I write about now. I want to take a moment and show you how having or lacking confidence before God will either help or hinder your faith.

Lets look at 1 John 3:20-23 which says, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”

I really love this portion of Scripture because it clearly tells how easy it is to maintain confidence before God. He said that confidence is related to having a heart that doesn't condemn you. And how do you have a heart that doesn't condemn you, simple: believe on His Son and love one another (which goes back to The Operation of Faith – The Law of Love) You can see how these laws are interrelated. But let's explore this a little bit more. You can readily see that by being confident in your relationship towards God requires you live your life free of a condemning heart. Many people lack confidence toward God and therefore it affects their ability faith. When you know you are pleasing to Him there is no lack of confidence.

The problem is many believers don't truly believe on the name of His Son Jesus and what that name means. It means salvation! It means deliverance! It means forgiveness! It means everything His sacrifice on the cross accomplished for us and it's believing in that work on the cross that will forever keep your heart confident before God. So many are trying to approach God based on their own works and “goodness” and of course their heart condemns them because they simply can't measure up. Notice that John tells us here in verse twenty that even if our heart DOES condemn us, God is greater than our heart. In other words, even if our heart condemns us and tells us we have no right to have confidence before God that the blood of Jesus cries out forgiven and righteous and holy which are far greater cries than your heart cries of condemnation. God is not condemning people. Look at Romans 8:31-34. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

When Paul asked the question “Who shall bring a charge against God's elect,” he is not answering it in the next statement, rather he is contrasting the question with what God is actually like/doing. In other words, God is not the one condemning; He is the one justifying! “Who is he who condemns?” The answer is not Jesus. Rather, it is Christ who died and rose again who is interceding for us, not charging us and condemning us! Can you see that? God is on your side, not against you! I think maybe one of the things Jesus is interceding on our behalf is that we would actually believe Scriptures like this that let us know that God is never condemning us, but it's our own hearts that do that to us. But then Jesus is probably praying that we would know that God is GREATER than our hearts therefore we ought to have confidence before God. We should literally “Come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) God doesn't want us spending a minute in a position of condemnation, where our hearts are beating us up. He wants us to know that He is the justifier. He is the one on our side! And if God is on your side, how can your heart be against you? Yet this is where much of the body of Christ lives. Defeated, faith diminished, and crying woe is me.

Let your faith rise in absolute confidence and boldness as you recognize that God's commands are not burdensome and hard. (1 John 5:3) They are light and easy. In fact, it was Jesus who said to come to Him because His burden was light and His yoke was easy! (Matthew 11:30) He asks us to believe in His Son and what His Son did for us on that cross, and He asks us to walk in love with each other. Do you think you can do that? Do you think you can remember two powerful commands? You may not fully understand the impact of Christ on that cross yet, but as you study His Word you will begin to understand and as you read and believe, just you watch! Your faith will burgeon like flowers to the spring rains. God is not interested in you wallowing around in the muck and mire of self condemnation and the pride of self righteousness. He wants you to believe in His Son!

So many fight this message because they want to have something to do with their righteousness and when they have a good week, they feel good about themselves and feel like NOW my faith will work. But this is really ANTI Christ. This is a mind that says it doesn't matter what Jesus did, I can be good enough on my own. God hates this mindset. He wants us to come boldly before Him based on the finished work of Jesus and He wants us to approach Him free of condemnation and absolutely confident in His finished work.

If you exude confidence in Jesus, your faith will flourish. The moment you wallow in condemnation, your faith will short circuit. Keep your faith operational; be confident – In Jesus!

The Operation of Faith #6 – Be confident – In Jesus!

The Operation of Faith #5 – Act Like It's So

The Operation of Faith #4 – Take heed to your hearing

The Operation of Faith #3 – Control Your Mouth

The Operation of Faith #2 – Give Thanks

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith #5

January 20, 2013

A fifth law that I want to share works in tandem with the other laws. Generally, natural laws are not mutually exclusive and such is the case with the laws that govern faith's operation. I call it the “law of corresponding action.” Look at James 2:17 which says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” The Holy Spirit inspired James to say it again and again and again. In fact, within 9 verses he says virtually the same thing. If there are no works that accompany faith, then it's dead faith. Do you suppose anyone has faith sitting as limp as a dead horse? I guarantee this is probably where most people's faith is, dead, toe tagged and in the morgue. BUT wait, your faith can be resurrected simply by harnessing this law.

Let me explain. It's really quite simple. Faith acts a certain way based on what it believes. Too often people are limiting themselves to speaking words ONLY as the only action of faith. In certain cases, sometimes uttering words is the only action of faith necessary. (I.E. in the case of receiving eternal life, you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord. That confession is the action of faith and it causes a dead spirit to be made BRAND NEW!) The problem is that merely uttering what you believe about something is not the ONLY action of faith required in many situations. Often times, if we want living/working faith, our physical response to our uttered words must be one in the same. What do I mean by that? You can't make a declaration of faith about something but then act as if what you said is not true. Your heart will know you are lying. You might be able to fool others around you, but you can't fool your heart.

Example. You declare that God meets all your need according to His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) Do you know that if your actions then don't line up with that declaration that you've nullified your declaration? In other words, Paul said this very thing to the Philippians in response to their ACTION of giving. In this case, the action of giving preceded the declaration of faith, but it can work either way. You make a declaration and then you act or you act and make a declaration. The point is that there is no hypocrisy between the two, or your heart will know, and your faith will lie limp on the floor. Another example would be if you were sick and you declared, “By His stripes I am healed!” (1 Peter 2:24) That's a perfect declaration of faith however if you lie there in bed like a sick person or make preparation for being sick, your heart knows that you don't really believe you are healed. There must always be corresponding action to what you say in agreement with God's promise. God's Word will always produce faith in you to DO something, not just SAY something. Again, let me reiterate. In some cases (albeit few), saying IS the action of faith and so no other physical action is required, but generally speaking, there is a “work” that follows what we believe. Some times the work that follows is as simple as being thankful, or turning the frown upside down because you are happy because IT (whatever IT is) is changing.

Each one of us are constantly doing things in our lives based on what we believe to be true. Think about everything you do. You are always responding to life and circumstances based on what you believe the outcome of those circumstances will be. The trick for the believer is to dictate to circumstances the way it should be according to God's promise and then make provision in the natural to see the promise manifest. It's like I said in a previous post on the “law of thanksgiving,” if you believe that you in fact DID receive what you believed for then the reasoned response is to give thanks. Likewise, if you believe a particular promise will be as you have agreed and seen in God's Word, then you will ACT that way.

I think you are getting the idea, but let's look at what this looks like in the Bible for a moment. Consider the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews chapter eleven. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Notice that faith gives substance to things we confidently expect to happen (confident expectation is hope). Faith provides evidence for things we don't yet see. What would that substance look like? Faith will do things that look and act like what you are expecting to happen has already happened. Faith will act as if it is so even though it's not physically seen yet. You prove you have faith (give evidence and substance) when you act like it is as you have hoped (confidently expected).

If you know something is SO, then there is no question. If your dad had a history in your life of telling you something and then following through, then you would have no problem making preparations based on a promise that has yet manifested. Example. Your dad says, “Son/Daughter, next week, we are going to the car lot and I'm buying you a brand new car as a gift. Just because I love you!” You have no reason to believe your dad is lying because you have history with him. That history has produced a confident expectation in you that when daddy says something, daddy follows through! So what would your physical and verbal response to his word be? Well, if you confidently expect (hope) to be going to the car lot next week to pick out a new car, what evidence are you going to provide that proves you believe your dad's word? I'll tell you what I would be doing. I would be telling my friends. Why? It's as good as done even though I'm not actually sitting in the drivers seat yet. I would be getting online and looking at all the latest models and gadgets and features for the exact car I want. Why? Because I want to be prepared to make a good choice next week. I'd be calling the insurance company to square away insurance. I'd be planning the trip to the registration office for new plates! I'd be figuring out what I wanted on my plates! I'd be planning my first night out on the town with my buddies because we are going to go “show it off!” I'd be doing all sorts of things that evidenced that the car was mine even though I hadn't physically seen it yet. This is faith. This is faith with substance. This is faith acting like something is so even though it's unseen. Faith always makes preparation for the desired thing to come. Faith always acts a certain way. It acts like something IS so. Why? Because it is! People who don't believe the promise of their father wouldn't do the things I mentioned above. They would say, "Yeah right, I'll believe it when I see it." People confidently expecting a promise to manifest in physical form don't give acting in line with the promise a second thought.

Now, onto the list in Hebrews chapter eleven. Notice every person mentioned DID something. Abel offered. Enoch escaped physical death. Noah prepared. Abraham left. On and on... but let's stop right there with Abraham. Can you imagine Abraham just sitting in Ur of the Chaldeans confessing that God would make his name great, that God would make him into a great nation, that God had given him some land as an inheritance, that God would bless him and make him a blessing. Yet this is what most believers do. They say they believe all sorts of things but have no works or corresponding action to go with what they believe. You see, Abraham got up and left his home and went to a place that God showed him. Abraham didn't just believe a promise and sit. Abraham left - by faith!

In your life, how will this look? I don't know. For every situation the action that must correspond to what you believe may look a little different. My admonition would be to ask the Lord. “God, I do believe this (fill in the promise). Now, what can I do to give evidence and show my heart that I believe it.” Then be led by God's Spirit. One thing I do know for sure. He does not want you acting contrary to what you just “believed.” You will short-circuit your faith every time.

This fifth law of faith is vital! Resurrect your faith and harness the “law of corresponding action.”

The Operation of Faith #5 – Act Like It's So

The Operation of Faith #4 – Take heed to your hearing

The Operation of Faith #3 – Control Your Mouth

The Operation of Faith #2 – Give Thanks

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith #4

January 16, 2013

I mentioned in the last blog that a great segue into this blog would be the law I'm about to unveil. Someone might say, “Why do you call them laws?” I call them laws because they are principles that must be in place in order to have operational faith. The Bible speaks of the “law of faith,” and so you can see the terminology is not bad and by using the word law I'm stressing the importance of these “works” being present when endeavoring to exercise your faith. The kingdom of God works in certain ways and if we will understand those ways, our faith will produce positive results. Faith in operation is THE prerequisite to seeing all that grace has provided manifest in your life. It is by grace THRU faith that we are saved (delivered, healed, prospered, protected, et al. - Ephesians 2:8) It's a good idea to understand what governs faith's operation if you want to partake of the immense grace of God.

This next law I like to call the “law of hearing.” What on earth does hearing have to do with faith? Faith comes by hearing, so I guess without this law, you have no faith (God kind of faith, that is.) (Romans 10:17) This same verse of Scripture then tells you what you need to be hearing in order to activate the grace of God. It's says, “and hearing by the Word of God.” It's not just hearing any old thing that will produce the God kind of faith. It's hearing HIM!

Let me take a side journey for a moment. John said in John 21:25 that if all Jesus did (this includes the things He said because His teaching was as important as His doings) was written, there wouldn't be enough room to contain the volumes that would be written. So, what does this tell us about what was written? It tells us that it must be pretty darn important. Think of it, of ALL the things the writers of the Gospels could have written, the Holy Spirit inspired them to record the things they did. So, the things they recorded must be the MOST important for us to know and live a godly life in Christ. It must be what is necessary to believe that Jesus is the Christ and believing have life in His name. (John 20:31) Now, with this in mind, the fact that many other things COULD have been written but were not, we ought to place huge value on what WAS written.

Here is a little statement Jesus made several times, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew records it three times; Mark records three times with another time reworded as a question, and then Luke mentions it twice. Not to be out done, John records Jesus saying something similar seven times to the seven churches in Revelation, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says.” When God decides to take up space in His written Word to say something repeatedly, our ears ought to perk up.

Maybe Jesus said this so much BECAUSE He knew our hearing would be pivotal to our faith. In other words, what you hear is what is going to form your heart, and what you let come out of your heart is going to control the direction of your life, whether that be in the direction of life or death. Whether that be in accordance with God's will or contrary to His will. You may recall from the “Operation of Faith #3” that I mentioned that there is a problem with speaking what you believe if what you believe is contrary to the Word of God. This is why Jesus us wants us taking heed what we hear AND how we hear. (Mark 4:24 & Luke 8:18) What you hear and how you hear is pivotal to what you believe. What you say is a result of what you believe and what you receive is a direct result of what you say from a heart filled with faith (in what you believe, whether good or bad). Can you see how interrelated your hearing is to your faith?

Maybe you've heard people say, “Faith doesn't work.” Actually it does, and the reason it's not working (at least as they assume it should work) is because that is what they believe and that is what they say. So it IS working for them, just not in the direction they would like it to work. In very real terms, their faith (in the wrong things) is working against them.

You see this is why life and death are in the power of the tongue. Every person's faith is ALWAYS working to produce what they say from what they believe. Hence the reason why some people have lots of death (problems, sickness, pain, heartache, et. al) and why some experience more abundant life. It all depends on what a person is hearing, how they are hearing what they are hearing, and if they choose to “hear” what they hearing. In other words, God is talking, but are you choosing to have ears to hear what He is saying. Or, have you bought into the lies perpetrated by the devil and chosen to hear those sayings. Things ARE being said. What will you choose to hear? After choosing what to hear, how will respond to it. God wants us hearing, but He wants us hearing Him through His Word. Why? Because this is how faith that works comes. It comes by choosing to HEAR Him. Have you ever heard someone but didn't really HEAR them? People complain about such things in relationships. Maybe you've said this or have had it said to you, “You are not hearing what I am saying.” What's happening here? The party listening has chosen not to hear what the other person is saying.

Remember what the Father said to the Peter, James and John when they were stumbling over themselves at the awesome experience on the Mount of Transfiguration? “And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Mark 9:7) The Father told us EXACTLY whom to hear.

Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 18:15 that “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” Then Peter and Stephen both quote this very verse and say the Prophet we are to hear is none other than JESUS!

So, through out His ministry you see Jesus saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” He's referring to the prophecies concerning Himself. He's saying, HEAR ME!

Who are you listening to? I guarantee your faith (in good) is either being strengthened or diminished. Take heed how and what you hear!

The “law of hearing” is working. You may or may not like the results.

The Operation of Faith #4 – Take heed to your hearing

The Operation of Faith #3 – Control Your Mouth

The Operation of Faith #2 – Give Thanks

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith #3

January 12, 2013

Are you beginning to see that faith being by itself is dead? The Apostle James said this in the epistle that bears his name. He mentions “works.” Well what are the works? The works take on different forms, but without various “works” accompanying faith, your faith will not work. We've already mentioned a couple of “works” that are to accompany faith in order to have operational faith. Can you remember them? That's right, love must be in operation and thanksgiving must be present. Now let's take a look at another aspect of the “works/law” of faith that is necessary to have faith that produces the desired results.

I call this one the “law of the lips.” Faith is talking. It isn't talking garbage, or non-sense, but it is talking. If we sat and listened to most people (including believers) today, you would find that most of the time their mouth is filled with anything and everything except things that produce life. Most people are counteracting where they want to go in life with speaking that is going in the opposite direction. Your tongue is the primary tool the Lord uses to steer your life in the right direction and if you want what you are believing God for to work, you CANNOT at the same time use your mouth to steer your life in the opposite direction. Let's consider one simple example.

You are battling some sickness. You were too sick to stand and resist the sickness on your own so you called for the elders of the church to come an anoint you will oil and pray the prayer of faith to “save” or deliver you from this sickness according to James chapter five. If you want the prayer that was prayed over you to work, then you are going to have to cooperate with it and not use your lips to counter act it, by saying things like: “Well, I don't feel any better, so it must not have worked,” or “I know you just prayed for me, but the doctor says this takes 6 weeks to leave my body, so I'll probably be sick for a while longer.” You see how words like that counteract the very thing you were believing for? It's hard to be too specific with examples because they can take on so many forms, but you get the point. Don't believe God for something and then turn right around and pick the problem back up with your mouth.

People live it seems blissfully unaware of how much trouble their mouths cause them. The Bible is so clear on the power of the tongue, going as far as saying that LIFE and DEATH are in it's power. (Proverbs 18:21) Consider the power there! Your believing heart along with a speaking tongue has the power to literally bring (varying measures of) life or death. One reason many people have so many problems and have faith that doesn't seem to work, is because they are constantly speaking death. They are speaking things that are abundant in their heart and their heart is seeing that those things come to pass. This particular law of faith may be a great segue into the next “law of faith” I want to talk about, namely the “law of hearing” and how what you hear affects what's in your heart which then affects what you say.

The apostle Paul quoted King David in 2 Corinthians 4:13 which says, “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak.” This among a multitude of other scriptures outlines the importance of speaking what you believe. The problem is, if what you believe is contrary to the word of God you may be speaking things into your life you don't want. So what can be done?

First, recognize this law. The law of speaking. Second, recognize you must control what you allow to come out of your mouth. Someone might say, “I just can't control what comes out of my mouth, I call things as I see them.” Well, you better start controlling your mouth, because your very life and the answers to your prayers depends on it. I guess now would be a good time to bring some clarification to a passage in Scripture that some have misunderstood and have therefore used it as an excuse to say, “See, the tongue can't be controlled.” The Scripture I am referring to is in James 3:1-12. Many Bibles will have a heading over this section that says, “The Untamable Tongue,” but let's clarify what tame means and see if the context bears this out. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says nothing about a definition of tame being “controllable.” There is some parallel but they are not perfectly synonymous terms. Tame means: 1. reduced from a state of native wildness especially so as to be tractable and useful to humans : domesticated 2. made docile and submissive : subdued

So what does this mean? It simply means, the tongue is a member of the body that MUST be controlled at all times because it's impossible that it will ever get to a place where it is “self subdued.” In other words, unlike a wild animal that humans are able to domesticate so that we can let them off their leash, the tongue can NEVER be let off it's leash. We must always reign in the tongue because it's bound to be wild. This means that daily, we must be ever so diligent to make sure we are controlling what flows from our hearts through our mouths. There are no days off when we are talking about the tongue, it must ALWAYS be controlled because it will NEVER be TAME. See, TAME and CONTROL are two very different words, but believers have used them interchangeably and used this very passage of scripture to say things like, “The Bible says the tongue can't be controlled.” This is not true. The scripture also says that “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Corinthians 14:32) Meaning, a person CAN control their compulsion to prophesy. Just because you have some thing to say, does NOT mean it has to be said. Our moms have known better than many preachers using James three, because even they have told us things like, “If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.” (I.E. Control your tongue!) And they have never followed that up with, “but the Bible does say you can't control your tongue, so just forget what I told you.”

Now does the context of James 3 support my explanation further? Sure it does. The two examples it gives are the effects of a rudder on a ship and a bit in a horses mouth. Consider the rudder on a ship, it is used to “CONTROL” the direction of the ship, much like we are to CONTROL our mouths in order to see our lives go in the direction we want them to go. Now consider the bit in a horses bridle, it is used to “CONTROL” the actions of the horse and the direction of the horse, much like we are to CONTROL our mouths in order to control our actions. So even the context of James three bears out the fact that although the tongue can not be left to it's own devices (tamed), it must always be diligently controlled in order to see our lives go the direction we want.

With James three cleared up, how does this affect your faith? In every way possible. Don't believe God one second only to disbelieve God the next by using your mouth to speak contrary to where you want to go. Right speaking and operational faith are inseparable and the “law of the lips” is one law that governs the operation of faith.

The Operation of Faith #3 – Control Your Mouth

The Operation of Faith #2 – Give Thanks

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith #2

December 26, 2012

Some are under the impression that faith is mystical and really is basically “blind,” or isn’t built on any real foundation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Faith carries real substance and it operates under a set of laws. Just like electricity and gravity operate by certain laws, faith will not work unless the laws that govern it are understood and harnessed. Romans 3:27 speaks of the “law of faith.” That might sound contradictory, but don’t be confused. It simply means that “rules” govern faiths’ operation. It’s why it works for some and for other’s it seemingly doesn’t work — faith that is. Really, all that is happening is one person is harnessing the laws that govern it, while the other is not.

I want to share a second law of faith today! I will call it the “law of thanksgiving.” Now you can’t find that phrase in the Bible, but you can certainly find that thanksgiving and praise go hand-in-hand with operational faith.

Speaking of Abraham in Romans 4:18-20, the Bible says, “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God”

Wow! Abraham believed something! Not only did he believe, but he strengthened himself in WHAT he believed by practicing a lifestyle of praise to God! He did not waver (doubt) at God’s promise, but instead gave thanks! He knew God’s Word was a done deal, so he gave glory to God like it TRULY WAS a done deal!

Think about your life and what you believe, are you wavering at the promise of God by complaining and constantly worrying about the situation? Or have your truly received your answer and are thanking God in advance of its physical manifestation? Look at what Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Jesus said that when we pray we are to believe that we received what we prayed for, and of course, if you truly believed that you received what you prayed for, what should the next thing on your lips be? Come on, you know the answer! If you asked me for a roast beef sandwich and I went to the kitchen and made you a roast beef sandwich, then proceeded to hand it to you, what would your response be? I would hope to hear, if you have any manners, “Thank YOU!” Well, how come we treat our answered prayers from God with any less respect? If you truly do believe He heard you, and you truly believe that you received it WHEN you prayed, then it’s done. There’s no more asking. This is the prayer of faith, and the prayer of faith is to ALWAYS be followed up by the prayer of thanksgiving and praise!

Thankful, grateful, praise-filled people are people of faith. Gripers, complainers, whiners and the like are very much lacking in their ability to believe God. Ah, come on Alan, I don’t believe that this particular “law of thanksgiving” really applies. Well, let’s look at another Scripture and let the Word be established. Colossians 4:2 – “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” Still not enough? How about Philippians 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”

I don’t see how it can get any clearer than that? The Lord tells us to make our requests known to Him, but He qualifies HOW He wants it made known. He doesn’t want you anxious and worried about it, but He wants you thankful! Why? Well maybe God is the One who established the operation of faith and HE knows the things that short circuit faith.

Last month we mentioned Hebrews 4:2 where were are told the Israelites did not mix faith with the hearing of the promise and therefore did not enter into rest. Well, if you go back and read the account of their initial attempt to enter the Promised Land, you will see what kind of people they were. From the time they left Egypt until the time 10 of the 12 spies came back with an evil report, they were unthankful, griping, whining, complainers, who tested God again and again! Do you suppose thanksgiving has anything to do with faith and the desired result? I’m convinced that without the “law of thanksgiving” following the prayer of faith, you can be guaranteed that you won’t enter into rest – ie. receive the desired result.

The Operation of Faith #2 – Give Thanks

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

The Operation of Faith

November 30, 2012

Faith works. I mean that in two very real ways. I mean that if you will believe God it will work for you, but I also mean that faith doesn’t sit idly but gets busy. Faith literally must be put into some action for it to work. Without the laws governing the operation of faith working in unison, your faith will short circuit.

There are a multitude of Scriptures on the subject and to briefly explain the fact that faith can be short circuited I give you James 1:5-7 - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

Do we clearly see in that one passage that a person who doubts when they ask short circuits their faith? You can ask, but faith with doubt mixed in doesn’t work. The Israelites did something similar in their hearing of the Word. They heard but did not mix faith with it. (Hebrews 4:2) In reality all that we do, whether it’s hearing or seeing or speaking or eating or you fill in the blank, it must be mixed with faith, for this is how the just live. (Romans 1:17) The Scripture takes it one step further and says whatsoever is not OF faith is sin. (Romans 14:23) Wow… God takes this faith stuff pretty seriously. Our lives are to be fashioned, formed, and fulfilled by faith. Would you agree understanding the laws that govern faith are pretty important if the above Scriptures are true?

Obviously in this blog I’m not going to cover all the laws that govern faith’s operation but I did want to take a moment and cover one of the more important laws. One that if you will take the time to master (be ready for some work) will cause your faith to flourish.

This law is called the “law of love” and without it, your faith will mean NOTHING. It is one of the laws that is probably the most difficult for many of us to live, day in and day out. Think about it, your love walk, both with God and with others, will determine the measure of faith you walk in. Your faith simply won’t profit you without love. Faith and love are like two peas in a pod, they just go together. If you ever attempt to separate them, both your faith life and love walk will be out of whack. Do a search some time on your own and see how often the Lord conjoins the two. It may surprise you.

I want to highlight Galatians 5:6 which says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” One might say with all the talk about faith that it supersedes love. Actually, just the opposite is true. Three things remain, faith, hope and love, but the GREATEST is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) If someone is lacking in their love walk then their faith is starved of the very fuel it needs to operate. Of all the laws governing faith, let us not forget the oh-so important “love law.”

I can’t sit here and pin point exactly what love for God or another person looks like in EVERY situation but you can be sure that IN every situation the Lord will lead you in a path of love. Maybe you are harboring unforgiveness, maybe you are treating your spouse badly or being harsh toward others, I don’t know, but examine your own heart and life. Are you walking in love today in all your relationships? Do you need to lay your gift at the altar and be reconciled to someone right NOW? Your faith can’t WAIT for you to get back into love. Don’t put it off a moment longer. Stop starving your faith of the fuel it needs to operate on. Start walking in love today!

It’s important for us to realize that faith can do SOME things apart from love; at least that’s what the “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13 seems to indicate, but also realize that there is no credit with God if what you do is not motivated by love. You see Paul tells the Corinthians in the first three verses of chapter thirteen that even if you have faith to move mountains, but don’t have love, you are nothing. God’s not impressed with great faith apart from love. What He desires to see married to our faith is a pretty little thing called love. You see circumcision and uncircumcision, which is just symbolic of doing things in the flesh, really means nothing unless what you are doing is working through love. This is what God desires; this is what will cause your faith to burn white hot; this is what will cause your prayers to work far beyond your wildest dreams. Just put a little love or I should say, “a whole lotta love” back in your life. Love will cause your faith to WORK!

It is only one law, but it IS a BIG one.

The Operation of Faith #1 – Walk in Love

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Death: An Exposition

October 31, 2012

Death. The word itself instills fear in some, and most who are honest don't like the thought of passing through death's doors someday. Yet, it is the sad reality of life. Did you know man was never meant to experience death? It's the reason why when facing the loss of a loved one that it is so difficult for us.

I do want to take some time and really identify what death is from the Biblical perspective and what our response to it should be. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” I suppose the world is FULL of ignorance in relation to death, yet the God doesn't want us to be ignorant concerning death so that although we sorrow at the loss of a loved one for a time, we will not sorrow as those without hope.

The question then is, who has hope and what kind of hope is he referring to? Hope is a confident expectation of something. So if the believer is not to sorrow as those without a confident expectation, what should the believer confidently be expecting in relation to death? Well, let's go back to the beginning and find out where death came from and discover the hope afforded to us in death.

It all starts with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The death they experienced wasn't a part of God's plan for man, but it's what happened none-the-less. In all reality, shortly before Adam and Even experienced death, there was one creature known as Lucifer who experienced death first. Death when properly defined loses its mystery and becomes less “scary.” How do I know Lucifer was the first to experience death? Because he is the first we know of to have “departed” from the life of God. Really this is all death is. Death is a departure or separation. Man is very familiar with physical death but a whole lot less familiar with the other two kinds of death the Bible speaks of. We will look at the other kinds of death in a moment. In reality, it's spiritual death that leads to physical death. But lets take a moment and look at what happened in the Garden.

God told Adam in Genesis 2:17, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” We know that Adam and Eve did not die physically the day they partook of the tree's fruit, so what happened to them? The margin of my Bible says that the literal Hebrew translation of “die” means, “dying you shall die.” What happened when they both ate of the tree was that death began it's ugly goal of producing a separation of spirit and body. The day they ate of the tree they did die and that death eventually produced a physical death. In other words, death simply being a separation, God was telling them, “In separating from my life giving Spirit, your spirit will eventually separate from your body.” This is what sin does, and it has been working in man since the first people sinned. In fact, sin had so progressed not many generations from Adam that God said He wasn't going to put up with man's wickedness for hundreds of years and so after the flood, God said man's years would be 120. (Genesis 6:3) You can see in our day how far death has progressed to the point that living 70-80 years is considered a full life. Sins' ultimate goal is to kill, and it's very effective. The reason all people die, is because all people sin. (Romans 5:12) If there was no sin, there would be no death. Death (separation) had it's entrance into the human race through the door of sin. We will talk about this more later, but suffice it to say for now, death spread to all men, because all men have opened the door to sin.

So let's get back to defining death. Death is simply a separation of something. When people get divorced we could say the marriage literally died, or the man and woman experienced a “separation.” When a limb dies, it must be separated from the body in order for infection not to spread to the rest of the body. Death will always produce a separation of some sort. Now look at death from a spiritual perspective. Adam and Eve “died” the day they ate of the forbidden tree. What happened? Well, a separation of their eternal spirits happened with the life giving Spirit of God. You can see why then they eventually physically died because their spirits were no longer connected to the life of God. You can see why I say man was never supposed to know death. God didn't plan for man to be separated from Him nor did He plan for man to experience separation from one another. This is why it hurts for us to lose a loved one so much. We weren't supposed to know that grief. It really was a knowledge of evil that God didn't want us to know. Think about how it has panged you to lose someone you love.

Without saying too much about it, you can see in a real sense how “physical” death is an act of Mercy on God's part. Can you imagine if wicked people never died? They would perpetrate their wickedness on others forever. In fact this is the very reason God blocked the way to the “tree of life” in the Garden because God did not want fallen man living forever in a “fallen” state. (Genesis 3:22) Death is a necessary thing. Sin necessitates death.

There are three types of death the Bible speaks of. The first type which leads to the other two is the one God took care of through His Son on the cross, thus making a way for us to NOT sorrow as those without hope. Let's examine all three real quick and see if we can debunk the mystery in death.

The first type of death we see in the garden of Eden is “spiritual death.” This is the separation of a man's spirit from God's Spirit. It's not a death we immediately see when it happens, kind of like we don't see the immediate effects of being born-again once a spirit is regenerated. This “separation” is separation of spirits. God is a Spirit, and His Holy Spirit can't be in unity with a spirit that has sin. The sin issue had to be dealt with FIRST before a reunion of spirits (God's and man's) could take place. This spiritual death is not a place God wants any person to stay in for eternity. In fact, He went to great lengths to fix the “spiritual death” problem. Such great lengths as to come in the form of flesh to condemn sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,” The book of John says in chapter one verse one that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” and then in verse fourteen, it says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” First Timothy 3:16 says that “God was manifested in the flesh.” Can you imagine how important dealing with this spiritual death issue was to God that He was willing to become a man to defeat sin in the flesh? God loves people so much. He truly provided the cure for the sin problem and the ensuing death it produces. The “spiritual death” it produces that is. One can readily see that even if you are “born again” according to John chapter 3 that people still die physically, so what benefit does a person who is one in Spirit with God again have over one who has rejected God's payment for sin.

Let's look at the more commonly known aspect of physical death to begin to understand why we can sorrow as people WITH hope. Physical death is known to every culture and people who have ever lived. It's something that hurts deeply and something that only time can loosen the sting of (in most cases). Physical death is the “separation” of the spirit of a man with their house or tent or body. Really that's all your body is. It is what gives you the right to be on planet earth. Your alive body gives your spirit the right to function in this natural world. Kill the body and your spirit will leave that home. What scares people about death is that we don't seemingly know where the person who once dwelled inside the tent went. Everyone is aware that the person is not there. We can see the body, but we know that the person who lived inside the body has departed. This is physical death. The Bible is very clear on where a person's spirit goes once it leaves a body. Let's look a couple Scriptures.

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 says, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

This Scripture can't really make it more plain. As long as you are in your tent, you are absent from the Lord, but as soon as you are absent from the body, you will be present with the Lord. Of course this is written to people who are born-again and so this is the confidence believers in the work that Jesus accomplished for them on the cross have. This is one aspect of the hope a believer has that a non-believer does not have. The non-believer has no confident expectation of being WITH the Lord once they leave their body. Another great Scripture is the one surrounding the very first scripture we mentioned in this mini-treatise.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, “13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

You can see where those who have “fallen asleep” before us have gone. They are with God in heaven. When the Lord returns to earth this Scripture says that those who have died before us will return with him and then those of us who are still alive on earth will meet them in the air and forever be with Him. But notice the two aspects of a person at work here. You see that it clearly says that God will bring those who have died with Him when He returns, yet these verses also say that the “dead” in Christ will rise first. So you see, although the body is in the ground or has completely returned to ashes, those bodies will be resurrected. This is the ultimate victory over death that the believer has been given hope in. An eternal habitation for our spirits. Some other scriptures shed more light on what this event will look like.

Looking at 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 we see, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

This paints a beautiful picture of the hope the Bible speaks of that the believer in Christ has. Ultimately death is defeated as we put on immortality. The Bible says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, so something about our fallen bodies has to change, and it will. It is coming. And if we pass through the doors of physical death before it happens, we will return with Jesus to the earth and receive our new incorruptible bodies. There is so much more that could be said about this BUT, for now this will suffice to show where a departed spirit goes that has been regenerated by God's Spirit. Being “In Christ” is the key to sorrowing WITH hope. It's being outside of the life of God that would cause someone to sorrow as someone with no hope. What is the hope? The hope is the confident expectation that death isn't the end, but really the doorway into a new beginning, free from the constraints of this mortal form.

I want to take a moment more and share about the final death that the Bible speaks of. Spiritual death is the separation of the human spirit from God's Spirit. This separation was remedied through Jesus death and sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary to all who would believe and receive. The second death is physical death which is a by-product of spiritual death. The third type of death is called the “second death” or “Eternal separation.”

Revelation 20:14-15 says, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, and anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” The second death takes place in the future when final judgment happens. Those whose names are not found written in the the Lambs Book of Life will experience this second death. What is death again? It is separation. So the second death is a second type of separation that is beyond repair. In other words, spiritual death is repairable or able to be overcome by putting ones trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The second death is not able to be over come as this death will amount to an eternal separation from the life of God and the opportunity to experience the life of God. You see, man has a choice to make while still having breath. It is the choice for life or death, blessing or cursing. God wants people to choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19) So the second death (separation) is certainly not something God wants anyone to experience. People can choose today to be reunited in spirit to God's Spirit by repenting of their sin and turning their lives over to Jesus whose blood washed away all sin and the negative repercussion of sin, death.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Not Given to Change

September 30,2012

One would think with all the change that goes on in the world that we should be this way when it comes to God and spiritual things. Our society is so given to change that when things aren’t changing we may wonder what is going on or think that something is wrong. Is there a time and place for change? Absolutely, but I don’t think it’s as often as people might imagine.

Now when it comes to you and I being changed into the image of Jesus, I would agree there is much change that needs to continue to happen. Wrong thinking, attitudes, and evil desires are all things that definitely need changed, but this is not the kind of change I’m speaking of. That’s another topic for another day.

The scripture says in Proverbs 24:21 - My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate with those given to change.

That’s kind of an interesting charge isn’t it? Don’t associate with those given to change. It’s interesting to note about God that He changes not and that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In other words, God is person who sticks to what He says. He says what He means and means what He says and will never alter the Word that has gone out of His mouth. (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Ps. 89:34)

Aren’t many people you know just the opposite? They don’t bat-an-eye at changing from what they said they were going to do. They don’t even give it a second thought about sticking with what God told them to do. God honors those who “swear” even to their own hurt and don’t change. Most people at the first sign of hurt from the words that have left their lips automatically change what they said, in other words, go back on it. Look at Psalm 15:4, it says “In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change” There are too many people today given to change.

So many will declare their goodness, but who can find a faithful person? (Prov. 20:6) It seems to be harder and harder to find faithful people, people who say what they mean and mean what they say and stick to it. This is the very reason why sin is not lacking in the abundance of words. (Prov. 19:19) People are “swearing” (simply meaning, they are giving their word-saying things) and constantly forgetting what they have said and/or deliberately choosing to go back on their word. What happened to the day when million dollar deals were done with a handshake and someone’s word was their bond?

Look at the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews chapter eleven. Isn’t it amazing that these people were often commissioned with ONE thing and that’s what they did their WHOLE life. They were NOT constantly looking for a new calling from God. They didn’t grow weary in well-doing after 5-10 years and decide to do something else. They were committed to fulfilling the divine call and vision. Think about this! NOAH, for 100 years did the SAME thing. He built a huge boat. That’s all God called him to do, and he stuck with it. How many of us after 10 years would have been chomping-at-the-bit asking God for a different assignment? What has God called you to do? Do it!

I guarantee God isn’t changing His mind every few years about what He wants you to do; in fact, I know He isn’t. We are so conditioned to move on, do something different, try something else, that I think we often miss God’s best. He doesn’t change! Maybe we should be a little more like Him in this respect. Has God spoken to you to do a particular thing with your life? Then do it! And do it with all your might and don’t stop doing that unless you are clearly told to do something else. God DOES “move” us around but so often I find that most people haven’t even heard from God about it, they just feel it’s time to change. Are you this way? It’s time to do a heart check and get back to what you know you are supposed to be doing.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

So You're a Spiritual Person, huh?

August 28, 2012

In our “New Age” day, with palm and tarot card readers, mediums, psychics, and soothsayers there is quite a bit of confusion on what a “spiritual” person looks like (not that any of these are new, people have been doing these things for centuries). I always like to go to God's Word to define what something is or is not. If we just leave the interpretation of life and personal experience up to our own opinion and preference, we will undoubtedly come to the wrong conclusions and be tempted to let the world or Hollywood define these things for us.

I've heard people say things like, “Well, I had a spiritual experience/s.” Or he/she does something that many would relegate to “spiritual” activity like praying or meditating or similar things. People assume because of these experiences that they are “spiritual” people but is this what the Bible refers to as “spirituality” or what defines a “spiritual” person.

If I were to make the statement that a spiritual person judges all things, many would immediately cringe. If I were to say that a spiritual person doesn't doesn't condemn someone in failure but comes along side and restores the same, then many would claim I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth. (I.E. a spiritual person judges all things, but doesn't condemn... many put those in the same box as if judging someone/something is the same as condemning someone and they don't know what they are talking about.) If I were to say that a spiritual person is a person who's reaction to life and circumstance is guided by the written and/or Rhema Word of God, many wouldn't even know what I was talking about, yet all these things and more “define” a spiritual person. Let's look a couple Scriptures and expound on them.

Romans 8:6 – For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. What does a spiritually minded person look like? They kinda act ozoney right? No, someone who acts “out there” is just WEIRD. A spiritual person is a person whose mind is set on God's word. This person acts and reacts to life's happenings as if what God said about the situation is TRUE. To mentally assent or simply know what God's word says about a situation is not what this is talking about, but rather, if a person acts on the knowledge of God's Word and their response to life is in accordance to it, this is as spiritual person. The person who acts and reacts to life according to their feelings or their limited head knowledge is being carnal and it will lead to death. The spiritual person always looks life in the face and says, “What did God say about this?” or “What is He saying to me NOW, about this?” and based on the answer that is the course of action we take! A spiritual person always ACTS in accordance with God's Word whether written or “fitly” spoken.

Alan, how do you KNOW that a spiritual person acts this way! Well, Jesus said in John 6:63 - It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. So you see, God's WORD is spirit, so to be spiritually minded is to be Jesus' words minded, when we are mindful of HIS words and allow them to dictate our life response, then it will produce life and peace.

1 Corinthians 2:13-15 - These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

This scripture is astounding, but misunderstood. He is not saying we judge all situations, for to rightly judge a situation you must have complete knowledge of the situation and this my friend you cannot know (right now that is), but in relation to spiritual utterances, which is what the context is, a spiritual person can judge all things! Why can a spiritual person judge all things deemed a spiritual utterance? Because a spiritual person is full of God's Word, and THAT person can rightly compare spiritual things with spiritual things. In other words, if an utterance is given through a person by the Holy Spirit, that utterance is going to line up with what the Spirit has already taught. If you compare what someone says who is endeavoring to yield to the Holy Spirit with what the Holy Spirit has already revealed, then you can make a right judgment as to whether that person was speaking by the Holy Spirit or out of their own intellect. You'll find in talking to people how “spiritual” they are by how much Word comes out when they talk. If their “spiritual” talk doesn't compare to the “spiritual” talk of the Word, you can judge that word as not being from God. You are not condemning the person to hell by judging what they said, but you are simply discerning spiritually the content of the word spoken. We are specifically told in 1 Corinthians 10:15 to judge what Paul was saying and we are instructed again in 1 Corinthians 14:29 to judge the utterances of “prophets.” This is what a spiritual person looks like, they don't just swallow the babble of any person who would rant or set them selves up as someone spiritual, but they consider what was said and judge it according to God's Word. God's Word is the standard by which things are to be judged.

Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, if a man is overtaken (caught) in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. You will find spiritual people practicing the verse above as well. Many times just the opposite happens amongst the so called spiritual. Instead of helping to restore someone who has been overtaken by a sin/s, these people want to condemn them to hell or automatically label the person a hypocrite, failure, or some other form of name calling. True spiritual people are not doing this. A spiritual person may judge a particular action or word as wrong. The verse indicates that this happened because a person was overtaken or caught in a trespass. In order to call something a sin or trespass, it had to have been judged as a trespass. Only the standard of God's Word can judge something right or wrong. What happens after something has been identified as wrong is what separates the spiritual people from the pseudo-spiritual people.

Don't live confused on what a spiritual person looks like. The Bible defines it for us and God is right. New Agers, mediums, soothsayers, palm and tarot card readers, psychics, etc... they are all wrong. In fact the “spiritual” activities they engage in are flatly condemned in the Bible. A spiritual person will acknowledge the Biblical definition of Spirituality as correct, the pseudo-spiritual will kick against the goads.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Beware of Dogs

July 31, 2012

Eph. 5:8-13 - For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

I have safeguards in my life to protect myself from myself. I was given an article about some “moral fences” that a particular pastor built in order to protect himself and some of these safeguards I have installed as well, but I took it a step further to keep up with technology.

Some may feel the safeguards are too legalistic, but this has nothing to do with legalism, but everything to do with “making no provision for the flesh.” Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Like many guys, one of my greatest battles is “lusts” of the flesh and I’ve taken serious steps to shut the doors on making provision for lusts!

I can remember the first time as a teenager lusting after a girl. I couldn’t at the time tell you it was lust as that terminology wasn’t a part of my vocabulary or understanding, but I sure can remember who it was what I did as a result of those desires and in turn how that made my flesh feel. I was in ninth grade and that was the first time I can remember experiencing lust. I don’t remember being convicted about it then as I didn’t start growing in the knowledge of God until I was 16, but once I did know and understand Jesus words in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” then all of the sudden I knew I’ve got a battle on my hands. Thus the battle between the ever willing spirit and the weak flesh and its lusts ensued. (Gal. 5:17 and 1 John 2:16) and I if I am honest I can tell you in the years since that I have been very guilty in regards to Matthew 5:28.

You may remember the scripture in Eph. 5 that I started this blog with about not fellowshipping with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather exposing them, well, for 20 years now, I have fought this in many ways.

I’ve known Pastor Mark (my pastor) for about as long (in fact he’s hugely responsible for bringing the knowledge of God to me) and all these years at different times I’ve confessed to him some of the lustful things I’ve said and done and I’ve wept and prayed with him. (Don’t get the wrong impression and think it’s because I’m so virtuous that I just came and openly confessed my faults, it’s usually only been after he’s asked me flat out about things that he’s caught me doing or heard about me saying or doing that I’ve admitted to those things. It’s not easy just to go tell someone about your wrong doing; it’s a lot easier if they ask you and you can admit to it. Needless to say, I’ve given Pastor Mark some gray hairs. This is why having someone in your life that will ask the hard questions is important.) I’ve spent countless times talking to the Lord, repenting, making new resolves and weeping before the Lord about it. I’ve told others who said they would help keep me “accountable,” but I’ve soon discovered many men in the Body of Christ struggle with accountability either because of their own struggles, or just because it’s hard to talk about. Maybe you have an area in your life that you’ve been battling alone! It’s time to be done fighting this alone. It’s time to bring that thing into the light and no longer let it lurk in the shadows. It’s time to expose it and ask any who you may trust and know care about your well-being to join you in the fight to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11) and help you stare the struggle in the face and beat it. This is what I’ve done in my own life. And it’s been helpful!

You realize no one can resist the devil for you, nor can anyone else control what you or I set our minds upon, but where we can help each other is by praying, that every time a temptation comes we will take the way of escape that the Lord provides. (1 Corinthians 10:13) We can help each other by holding one another accountable to safeguards. Some might say, why do I have to talk about it? Why can’t I just get some counseling and deal with it on my own, and “resist” it!? Come on what’s your problem! Lol… you know, I wish it was always that simple. Who likes to expose their dirty laundry to everyone? I certainly don’t like doing it any more than the next person but if you’ve been struggling with something for years, it’s time to change things up and shine the light on it for all to see. It’s time to stop being more concerned about how other’s will view you and instead be more concerned about being free and being a man/woman of God in “all” areas of life. Many of you may not be able to understand my fight and I may not truly be able to understand yours, and some of you will think less of me (but I won’t think less of you); some of you will judge wrongly because this isn’t your struggle; some of you may allow the fact that I’ve admitted to battling lust in the flesh, give you fodder to say, “See, I told you so! Christians are hypocrites.” Some of you have seen God’s hand on my life and see the fruits thereof and may throw all that out the window and only focus on my weakness, but I’m okay with all of it. Some of you may identify with this blog and say, you know, today is my day to take a stand against the unfruitful works of darkness! I encourage you to take a stand today!

You’ve heard it said that if someone does the same thing the same way every time and each time expects a different result that this is the definition of insanity. Well, maybe you are tired of being “insane.” Many of you have fought this “problem” the same way since a conviction of that struggle has become a reality in your life and up to this point, you are not seeing the freedom you desire. Let me tell you what I did…in an effort to protect myself from myself, I’ve exposed my darkest struggle; I’ve brought it into the light; I’ve set up what may seem like ridiculous safeguards to make no provision for the flesh; I’m showing this demon for who he is, a liar and that he can no longer hinder my walk, he can no longer hinder my fruitfulness in ministry, his day is done; I’m going to take the hundreds I’ve led to the Lord in personal evangelism and turn that into thousands and stick the devil in the eye with it. You can make the same stand today against your darkest struggle, but it’s going to take some boldness to be open about it!

Philippians 3:2 says, “Beware of dogs.” Have you ever read that scripture and wondered like, what on earth is He talking about?! Well, he’s probably referring to some Old Testament scriptures like this one in Proverbs 26:11 which says, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly,” or Jesus words in Matthew 7:6 which says, “Don’t give what is holy to the dogs.” I think what he may be saying is, beware of YOURSELF! In other words, we all have a tendency to repeat our follies and unless we keep the dog on a leash, we will continue to trample under foot what is holy and tear our lives (the holiness in our lives by God’s grace) to pieces. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” In our flesh there is nothing good, but in our spirit in Christ there is everything good. If I don’t take heed to myself and “beware of dogs (or the propensity to repeat my folly)” then I will end up treating what is holy in me in Christ with contempt and trampling it underfoot. Then if you are married, you can end up in the “dog house” so to speak. God doesn’t want husbands and wives or individuals in the “dog house” and He certainly doesn’t want us repeating our folly, so what can one do to prevent it? For me, it’s exposing it. For me, it’s the safeguards. For me, it’s being aware of myself and the war that is waged between the flesh and the spirit and admitting I need help from my “brothers” to beat it!

Course the Lord has known all this all along and thankfully, like you, He still saved me in spite of knowing what I would do. He still loved me in spite of knowing my weaknesses. He still called me knowing that even in ministry I would say, do, and think wrong things. He still used me to help many people in many different situations and in many areas to experience light and restoration. The good news is, He’s that way towards you too!

I’m hopeful and I’m hoping those who read this aren’t mad at me or disappointed with me. Sometimes it’s hard for people to talk about their struggles because they are afraid others won’t love them or somehow they will be diminished in other’s eyes. The root of that sounds like “pride” but whatever the root, it’s more important for me to be free and expose this demon for the lie he is, rather than continue in the shadows waging a war I clearly cannot win on my own.

P.S. Maybe this struck a chord in your heart and life. My encouragement to you is to talk to your spouse about it. If you are not married, talk to me or another group of men or if you are female, talk to my wife or another group of females. Let’s expose it. Let’s beat these things together (lust, other addictions, pornography, worry, fear, un-forgiveness, you name it). Let’s not let anything hinder our races. My immediate family has sometimes accused me of “judging” them, and I’ve told them I have no room to judge and of course their response often indicates they don’t believe me because they think I’m some “perfect” minister of the Gospel, but maybe now that my own “sin” is out there, they will truly believe me when I say, “I’m not judging you nor have I ever judged you.” I love my family and I want to be a man of God even though I’m far from perfect. I hope you know you can still fulfill the will of God too, and the Lord will help you every step of the way, even when it’s painful to admit your sins, weaknesses, imperfections, worries and fears. Better to admit it, quit it, and forget it and keep it exposed than to wage a silent war all alone in anguish and frustration.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Wisdom Is Justified

June 24, 2012

Who would have thought wisdom would ever need justification? Yet this is exactly what the Lord said in Matthew 11:18-19 – “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” What are children? Children are the offspring of a particular action. Some translations say, wisdom is justified by her works. That is probably a better way to say it. Works here are the end result of an action or the fruit of an action. If I were to finish a painting, I could stand back and rightly say, “Look at this WORK of art.” I may not currently be doing the work, but I could still refer to it as a work. Sometimes it takes the manifestation of fruit in your life before wisdom is justified. God’s word to John the Baptist was to live as he did, it looked like foolishness to the world yet his children (the fruit of his work) justified the way he lived. Jesus only did what He saw His Father do, and the Father would eat and drink with sinners and this seemed like foolishness to the world, yet his children (the fruit of Jesus work) justified the way he lived.

This is what Jesus is saying here as he defends his actions and John the Baptists actions. In the midst of doing what they did, people accused John the Baptist of having a demon and Jesus did the opposite of John the Baptist and they said Jesus was a glutton and wine bibber. So it doesn’t matter how you live when it boils down to it. The wisdom of the world is never going to line up with the Wisdom that is from above. The world doesn’t like people obeying God, so no matter what your life looks like as you do it, the wisdom of the world is going to mock and ridicule. The good news is, hopefully the way you are living in justified by your children, or the fruit of your life. The world may mock, the world may say you have a demon or are a glutton, but what is the fruit of your actions that cause them to stand corrected! All sorts of people will revile you, but the outcome of your faith better cause them to be ashamed. I Peter 3:16

The Bible says that Jesus has become for us the “wisdom of God!” I Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Jesus is the wisdom of God. The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God and the wisdom that is from God the world will never understand, yet the wisdom from God is always justified by the fruit that living God’s way produces. The Bible is full of the wisdom of God and yet most refuse to live by it because it doesn’t agree with their worldly wisdom. Yet if we would do God’s wisdom as outlined in His Word, we would see the good fruits the wisdom from above provides.

The wisdom of the world says save everything you have because you may need it for a rainy day, yet the wisdom from God says that there is a man who withholds more than what is right and in the end it leads to poverty. (Proverbs 11:24) The wisdom of the world says to worry about your children, after all, you love them and you don’t want anything bad to happen to them. Yet the wisdom from above says take no thought for your life, and it says be ANXIOUS for nothing. Well, that’s just impossible right? To NOT worry. We are supposed to worry, it’s our job as parents and “caring” citizens. Yet this is the wisdom of the world. If the Word says not to worry about your life, then the fruit of not worrying will justify this course of action. God is right every time, settle this in your heart today!

These are two examples of a thousand examples of the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of man. God’s wisdom is not past figuring out. It may not always make sense to you, but it’s best to just believe His wisdom. God’s wisdom begins when we begin to hold His Word in high esteem. The “fear” of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) This fear causes you to hold what He said in esteem above what you think. And who is the Lord, the Lord is Jesus, and Jesus is the incarnate Word. Without a proper fear of God’s Word, you will be floundering in the wisdom of the world. Let God’s wisdom be justified in your life today by letting the children (works or fruit) of living His way speak on your behalf!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Awake to Righteousness!

May 31, 2012

The more I minister and the more I talk to the Body of Christ, the more I'm convinced that the central theme of all ministry to others should be, "Christ in You, the Hope of Glory" and what that means! I am so tired of the Church getting whooped by the devil and believing his lies when one day we are all going to look upon him in wonder and bewilderment and say what Isaiah said in Isaiah 14:16-17. Is this the guy? Is this the guy who caused so much trouble and made the earth tremble and kingdoms shake? This... you mean to tell me this guy? He is such a weak, pathetic, powerless, lying LOSER. It's beyond lame how big of a LOSER satan is.

Come on Church! It's time to believe in your righteousness in Christ! It's time to AWAKE to righteousness! What did Paul mean in the Word when the Spirit instructed him to yell at the Corinthians in his first letter to them "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." (15:33-34) The verse before says that evil company corrupts good habits. So when he says to awake to righteousness what is he saying? He is saying, you are going to hear many things in life that on the surface may sound good, like, "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," that will cause you to live in such a way that is shameful, purposeless, and void of an eternal understanding. People who don't have the knowledge of God talk this way, certainly the believing Church at Corinth wouldn't adopt this mindset! Yet, these very things Paul was coming against. People had no real understanding who they were in Christ and so that although they were washed and cleaned and made righteous, they remained asleep in their thinking concerning it! Remember a few chapters before he lists different kinds of sinners and said they won't inherit the kingdom of God and then he says, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of our God." (6:9-11) Notice he said, such WERE... they are not that anymore, but they WERE, even though they were acting like the old guy, that's not who they truly were! They truly were WASHED and SANCTIFIED and JUSTIFIED!

So much of the Body of Christ lives this way today and God is still speaking to us through His Word to be renewed in the spirit of our minds and to put on new thinking! Ephesians 4:21-24 is such a powerful portion of Scripture. Paul is getting after the Ephesians for acting like the Corinthians. People who were washed, people who had learned of Christ and who were created in "TRUE Righteousness and holiness" but continue to think like dirty, old sinners. We all need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds! We all need to learn to AWAKE to righteousness. Paul is not saying if you have ever committed a sin post Christ that somehow you are not righteous but he IS saying, stop thinking like a sinner! Start believing who Christ made you to be and who you have become in HIM and begin to acknowledge all the good in you in Christ.(Philemon 6) I have a hard time understanding why people think no good thing is in them? The MYSTERY of the ages is... "Christ in You the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27) To say you have no good thing in you is to slap Christ across the face. Are we saying Christ is not good? Jesus said, when He left that He would send us another Helper, the Spirit of truth, who would be IN us and who would dwell with us! (John 14:16-18) How insulting to the Holy Spirit who abides in us to say that there is no good thing in us! There is ONLY good in us.

I hear some religious person who knows their Bible thinking of Romans 7:18 - For I know that in me nothing good dwells...But they don't quote the whole verse or understand context... which says... "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." The same people forget to distinguish between the flesh and your born-again spirit. What God is endeavoring to do is to get us to identify with Christ. It is no longer WE who live, but it's Christ who lives in us. (Galatians 2:20) The flesh has set itself against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. (Galatians 5:17) We are to put off the old man and his ways of thinking and put on the new man! When Paul says, AWAKE to righteousness, he's saying... stop thinking like nothing happened in you when you came to Christ. WAKE up to who you are! The spiritual warfare that so many are keen on seem to forget where that battle is taking place. People want to relegate it to some external place, when the Word teaches that the battle rages right between your ears. (2 Corin. 10:3-5) It's time to take thoughts of unrighteousness and the sin consciousness and cast them down! (Hebrews 10:3) So many can't believe that the blood of Jesus was so powerful that it forever did away with ever thinking like we have sin or are sinners again.

This is awaking to righteousness! This is where God wants to take you!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

A Disarmed Devil?

April 24, 2012

Some times people have misconceptions about how the enemy was disarmed when Christ reigned victorious over him at his death on the cross. I always kind of had the impression the enemy had this arsenal of weaponry that he had arrayed against us, and so I kind of pictured him with all this power, but then Christ disarmed him. Like, he took his rocket launchers of cancer, and his grenades of poverty, etc… but that is not what happened at all. The enemy had no real power at all in his arsenal except the power of deception, accusation, and perceived pseudo-realities. He is a master at getting people to destroy themselves, as in all reality he can’t do it without our permission.

The truth is life and death are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21) Look at this verse in Colossians 2:15. It says, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Satan only has words as weapons against us. Remember Isaiah said in 54:17, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn, this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,’ Says the Lord” Isn’t that an awesome promise? Yet that is exactly what Jesus did in his work on the cross! He absolutely disarmed the enemy of the ability to accuse, condemn, and deceive us out of our covenant rights with God. It’s not like the devil can pull out cancer and just throw it on someone or randomly dish out death. The only real weapon he has ever had has been his ability to persuade man to destroy themselves.

In the life of the non-believer or the ignorant believer, he can still attempt to deceive, but if we understand that he has been disarmed, then we can stand our ground on the Righteousness that is from God and the devil has no legal grounds to accuse. It’s in accusation of the saints that he gets believers to condemn themselves, and in a position of condemnation we often submit our hearts to speak forth words that bring death. Remember it’s out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and by your words you are justified and by your words you are condemned. (Matt. 12:34; 37) We often end up believing lies about our selves that cause us to let go of our covenant rights with God instead of ‘holding fast to our profession of hope without wavering.’ Why do people let go their covenant so easily? It’s because they believe a lie and are yielding to the very thing Christ disarmed Satan of.

It’s not as if the enemy can no longer bring destruction to a person’s life just because He has been disarmed. If someone will believe his lies, they can bring destruction in any given area of their life to themselves, but what Christ did was remove all legal grounds for the enemy to accuse. He gave us HIS truth (Thy Word is truth) to remove all ability of the enemy to deceive and show us a pseudo-realities. If we understand this correctly, we would never walk another moment in condemnation because the enemy has been disarmed of the ability to accuse the saints and win. The blood of Jesus and Christ who is our advocate wins every time in the courtrooms of heaven! Someone may say, “But yes, I do have or have been sinning and therefore deserve the accusations of the enemy and therefore “deserve” this condemnation or other destroying agent of the enemy,” but this diminishes the power of what Christ did for you on the cross. The reality is, those sins have been washed away and the enemy has been disarmed of legal grounds for accusation. Only you can believe the lie and allow the enemy to heap up condemnation, thus affecting your confidence. (I John 3:21) When you realize that the enemy has been disarmed, you stand on God’s Word and resist the devil because in reality he has no right to bring destruction to your life. (I Peter 5:9) The handwriting of requirements that was contrary to us has been removed; it has been nailed to the cross. (Col. 2:14) We are therefore to no longer to let anyone judge us in regard to “food or drink” or really anything in this life because we have passed from judgment. (Col. 2:16;21 & John 5:24)

Just as God uses the words of men to free men, the enemy uses men inspired by his lies to heap up condemnation and judgment on others. If you and I buy into it, we will let go of our great profession of faith. Namely that Jesus took my penalty for me; Christ took sickness for me; Christ took poverty for me; Christ took oppression and depression for me; Christ bore my guilt, shame and fear; so DEVIL, I will have none of it! Too often believers are agreeing with the accuser of the brethren instead of the Christ who went through great lengths to disarm the enemy of the power to harm you through accusatory words. Jesus truly has given us authority to trample upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy! (Luke 10:19) In the believer’s life, the devil truly is powerless to harm us. Every tongue that rises in judgment we condemn, because there is no cause for judgment! (John 5:24)

Remember what Paul encouraged the Corinthians in? 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” This exemplifies where the battle lies perfectly. It lies in the mind with accusatory words and condemning thoughts. We are to take the “Sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God,” (Eph. 6:17) and cast every contrary argument, every contrary thought, and every other “high thing” down that may try to exalt itself above Christ’s substitutionary work and we are to STAND!

Satan has been trying to exalt himself from the beginning, don’t let him exalt his lies above the knowledge of God! The knowledge of God says you are forgiven, healed, delivered, free, blessed, favored, justified, exalted, glorified, strong, and free from all the power of the enemy! Believe it today!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Seeing Ahead!

March 26, 2012

I’ve discovered a wonderful way to get my questions answered by God! I actually ASK Him the questions I have! That may seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have you wondered about something but never actually took it to the Lord and said, “Lord, what about this?” I make it a point to ask the Lord questions. I don’t know everything, if anything, most days I realize I know nothing as I ought to know it, (1 Corin. 8:2 ) but God in His mercy and graciousness keeps working with me and showing me more.

Since I stepped away from my position at the church and began taking steps toward what I believe God put on my heart, God has shown me more in that time than I’ve seen in the 9 years of full-time ministry previously. I’m not quite sure why that is, maybe I’m asking more questions. Maybe what’s coming requires greater revelation. Maybe I’m just seeing clearer because there is a new level of anointing to see. I mean we all have an unction of the Holy One and know all things (1 John 2:20) but it seems with each season in life, there’s greater grace to walk in that calling. Maybe greater grace is upon me as I’m humbling myself under His mighty hand and trusting Him more than I ever have before. (1 Peter 5:5-7) I can’t give you the exact answer at this point, but I do want to encourage you to seek, to ask, to come to God with your questions. After all, that is His promise and He has a mind to answer them and show you great and mighty things that you do not know! (Jeremiah 33:3)

I was perplexed by the fact that Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes that He would show us or tell us things to come. So I asked the Lord, “Lord, the Holy Spirit has come in my life, how come I haven’t seen things to come?” In other words, God has not shown me the future, and even regarding my future ministry, I have no great revelation on what I’m supposed to do. I’m just taking it one step at a time as I obey His leading, but I guess I was expecting and looking for a vision of the future of the world, or something that He wants me to do in a near meeting or setting (and that can still happen, not saying it won’t). However if I look at the context of Jesus saying this to the disciples, I see He wasn’t talking to ME, He was talking to His disciples. Again, not to say this particular Scripture does not apply to us because obviously Paul wasn’t standing right there and he got much on “things to come,” but maybe there is something more there the Lord wants us to see. Here’s what I mean.

Peter got some revelation of things to come when he said, “that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, in the last days” 2 Peter 3:3 James wrote about the “last days” and of course John “the beloved” got the Revelation of Jesus Christ and it clues us in big time to what is coming! Have you read Revelation lately? Wow! Good stuff. Even some Old Testament prophets spoke of last day events by revelation of the Holy Spirit although not completely understanding their implications, like Daniel and Isaiah! So we can see God inspired some to write down for us some things to come, but I personally haven’t seen a whole lot “to come.” So I began to ask the Lord about this very issue! Am I missing something? Then it happened a few days later! It hit me like a ton of BRICKS! He showed me so clearly when He spoke this to my heart, “I have shown you things to come, in fact, a year ago December I showed you many things to come in my Word!” I understood exactly what He meant and at that moment understood a wonderful application to the verse in John 16:13 where Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “tell us things to come!”

You see, God did show His disciples some amazing things to come! And God is showing me those same things to come THRU what He revealed in the Bible. I know what is coming, because He showed me. So many are so confused on what is going to happen when we die, what the Millennial reign will be like and what is coming after that! I’m not saying I’ve got full revelation on it, because I don’t, but God did answer my question in a huge way and I’m more excited about this life and the LIFE to come that I’d almost like to jump out of my skin! In fact I can share with you for hours on this stuff and if you would like to hear more about what is coming, give me a call, or shoot me an email or text and Jenn and I will have you over for dinner and I’ll show you some things most people haven’t even begun to dream about. It’s all GOOD because God is GOOD! What are we going to be doing for eternity? Isn’t making it to heaven the end game? Why run our race and fix our gaze, what’s the big deal?

I’m serious about the dinner offer too if you’d like to hear more about what is coming! It’s off the charts awesome what God has prepared for those who love Him! I love talking about it and I don’t get tired of talking about it! He shows me more and more each time I talk about it! =)

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

False Positives

February 25, 2012

John 3:16 is well known by the Body of Christ and some in the world because of its prolific use at sporting events. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” In the body of Christ we have no problem telling people that God loves them because we’ve read Scriptures like this or the one where John said that “God is love, ” and we are pretty convinced that God loves people. What I believe people are less convinced of is whether or not God is “happy with” or “blessed by” the world.

Would saying to my wife, “Jenn, I don’t hate you,” be saying the same thing as, “Jenn, I love you?” If you don’t hate them then you must love them right? Well, no, obviously saying how we don't feel for someone doesn’t relay the message of how we truly feel about them. I call that a false positive. It’s good that I don’t hate my wife, but telling her that I don’t hate her, doesn’t reassure her that I love her. I have to say what is true and that brings comfort.

Now let’s apply the same rule to, “God’s not mad at you!” This is a huge false positive that is spoken by believers to other believers and non-believers alike. The question is, does it convey the right message and get God’s heart for us and the world across to people who struggle with whether or not God is blessed by them? I say it doesn’t, anymore than us telling the world, “God doesn’t hate you.”

If we can believe God loves us, can we believe God is happy with us and blessed by us? Someone could say they can believe this in the life of a child of God, but those who have yet to receive Christ, certainly God isn’t happy with nor blessed by them. So, what that person is saying, God loves people, He’s just mad at and disgusted with them at the same time. Would my wife be feeling the love, so to speak, if I told her I loved her all the time, but acted with disgust and a sense of anger towards her all the time. The same is true of the non-believer today. Maybe they struggle with the God who “loves” them because while the Christian is constantly saying God loves them, they follow those statements up with disgust for their life, and comment’s like, “God’s not mad at you.”

Just after John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan, God said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” You are child of God if Jesus is your savior and therefore, no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done; God is well pleased with you. Less recognizable is the fact that God not only loves the world but is pleased and happy and blessed by them. Consider the Scriptures below.

Zephaniah 3:17 - The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

God rejoicing over people with gladness and singing? Well, those are God’s people, so that make sense… well, wait a minute, the same people who are just as much sinners as their Gentile neighbors.

Hebrews 2:6 - But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? The writer is quoting from Psalm 8 and 144 here and someone might say, “Well, God is mindful of people, mindful of their misdeeds and He’s constantly thinking bad things about them!” NO! The blood of Jesus crucified from the foundation of the world allows Him to think good thoughts toward us. Another OT scripture that proves He’s not thinking bad of the world is found in Psalm 139:17 which says, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

Notice many people's favorite verse in the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” If anyone deserves evil thoughts towards them it’s the Children of Israel who were constantly wayward, but notice how God doesn’t think about lost people the same way you might. He’s able to separate the wrong they do from who they are as His prize creation. Let’s begin to do the same, I believe it will affect our ministry to others and in turn influence greater numbers to be drawn to Him because they will not only hear of His goodness but they will genuinely feel it emanating from us!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

On the Right SIDE!

December 28, 2011

I realized something tonight during the Believer's meeting that I've never realized before. In Matthew 25 the Lord relates how He is going to judge the nations. Those on His right hand He will say, (vs 34) "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" and those goats that He separated out onto His left hand He will say, (vs. 41) "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

Depending on your perspective rights and lefts may be different. If you are standing on a stage, your right is the audiences left and your left is the audiences right. Understand?

So when the Lord separates the sheep from the goats, He is going to put the sheep on HIS right which from our perspective will be His left, and He is going to put the goats on HIS left hand which from our audience perspective is His right.

I wondered at the significance of that for some time. I mean what is so special about His RIGHT Hand. What's wrong with the left? I mean after all, they are JUST hands. Well, it hit me like a ton of bricks tonight why that's significant.

Jesus only said what He heard the Father say and only did what He saw the Father do. Which side did the Father have the Son sit?

This is a picture of our place in Christ. We (the sheep) are placed on the right hand because we are IN Him and He (the Son) is at the right hand of the Father. We are on Jesus' side and therefore He put's us over there to show that we are on His side, and if you are on the side of the Son, YOU ARE on the RIGHT SIDE of the equation!

The people on the left could have done all the right stuff in this natural life but still be on the wrong side of the throne. Get on the Right side by getting IN Christ, because if He doesn't PUT you there, you won't get there!

Maybe you are smarter than I am, but I never realized this before December 28, 2011.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Confess or Not-That's the question! Pt. 2

December 21, 2011

...continuation of previous blog...

The answer lies in the same book a couple chapters later. Look at 1 John 3:21. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.” You see, God didn’t inspire John to record 1 John 1:9 for His sake, but for ours. In other words, those words are not written so God can see it and go, “Okay, I promised to forgive and cleanse them if they will confess their sins, and now I’m obliged to do it” God already did that in Christ on the cross. Really, what’s written is for our sakes, so that we would KNOW that our sins are forgiven and walk in that Light and therefore walk in confidence before God.

No person who walks with a consciousness of ever present sins will walk with confidence before God because their heart will continually condemn them. They will see that they still don’t do everything just right and their heart will let them know. God wants us to be confident in what the blood of Jesus did for us. John wrote it so that if we do sin, we have a means of rectifying our hearts before God in OUR minds, not His. If you know that if you confess a sin that it’s cleansed and washed, then that brings a sense of peace and confidence that was always supposed to be there, but you let go, because you reverted back to an old way of thinking. The old way of thinking is, I have new sins today and therefore I must be washed/forgiven again today, when the new way of thinking says, I was washed/forgiven at the Cross and I am “in Him” and therefore I have no need of continually being cleansed.

You see a couple verses before this, John said (Verse 7) “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” You see, if we will acknowledge the Light that is in Christ’s blood, (what His blood sacrifice did for us on the cross, once and for ALL sin, past, present, and future) we are already constantly clean, it’s when we walk in darkness (Old Testament way of thinking) that we lie to our hearts and therefore are deceived into thinking the blood of Jesus didn’t take care of this one or the future ones you may commit. In all reality, if you live as though you are clean, you will never have to confess another sin. You will just acknowledge what the blood of Jesus did for you at the cross, be thankful, and go on your merry way. Rejoicing in Him and confidently expecting and asking great things of God.

Here is a more appropriate response the next time your heart condemns you for something you know is wrong. Say, “God, I thank you that the blood of Jesus took care of this. I am clean and forgiven, thank You so much for loving me that much! I love You and thank You for showing me what grieves You so I can avoid it next time.”

I hope for now your heart is lifted and the consciousness of sin is diminished in your mind.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Confess or not Confess—That's the question!

December 19, 2011

A scripture that has troubled some because of being incorrectly taught is found in 1 John 1:9. It reads, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” From a cursory reading of that verse one may assume and some have taught that in order to be forgiven of sins and cleansed (as a Christian), we must confess “all” our sins to God, otherwise those sins remain. Well, is that true? This seems to fly in the face of all the scriptures listed below. (Italicized and bold mine)

John 1:29 – Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

Isaiah 1:18 – “ Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “ Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

Ps. 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Acts 26:18 – to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Eph. 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Col 1:14 – in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10:43 – To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Hebrews 1:3 – who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 7:27 – who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

1 John 2:12 – I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

1 John 3:5 – And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

Revelation 1:5 – and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

If the above Scriptures are true then maybe we are misunderstanding 1 John 1:9. I think the consensus of Scripture indicates that the blood of Jesus did away with all sin — past, present and future, forever. This is the sum of Hebrews — a better covenant based on better promises. We no longer need to walk around with a consciousness of sins (Hebrews 10:2), but in reality the blood of Jesus has truly taken away, forgiven, washed, remitted, and purged all sin for all time, and He has forever removed our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. They were once like scarlet, but now white as snow. There truly is no “sin” problem in Christ. That’s the power of the blood of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Jesus who knew no sin, to become sin for us, that we might become the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Him. So, if you and I are “in Him”, then we have no sin because 1 John 3:5 says “in Him there is NO sin.” So if we have no sin “in Him” then why would John tell us to be confessing sins so we can be forgiven and cleansed?

The answer coming in a later blog so stay tuned!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Don't Get Choked!

July 8, 2011

Ever get those "revelations" that smack you upside the head? Well, a few weeks ago I got one that really helped me and so I thought I'd share it with you in hopes that it would make you more fruitful. First of all let me define "fruitful."

According to John 15:1-8;17 God gets glory when we bear fruit and even more glory when we bear MUCH fruit. Jesus said we can not bear fruit unless we abide in the Him and really that we can DO nothing unless we abide in Him. The context of this fruit we are to bear is in the context of asking the Father and us receiving what we ask from Him. This is the "fruit", that whatever we ask, we get. Why? Because we abide in Him and His Word abides in us. People always want to relegate fruit to the "fruit of the spirit" found in Galatians 5, and don't get me wrong, God certainly wants us to display His character in our lives, however the context of John 15 is not the same fruit spoken of in Galatians 5.

Next, we need to remember that Proverbs 18 reminds us that "A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it, will eat it's fruit." Our lips/tongues are to be PRODUCING and the produce should satisfy our lives and bring life. I could develop this way more, but that will suffice for the sake of this blog and the point I want to get to. All too often our prayers are "fruitless" and our lips don't produce the life we see available to us in Christ.

I was contemplating this and asking the Lord, why on earth does it seem like some times my words are not producing the desired result, whereby God gets glory in answering my "asking." Here's where the revelation comes in.

Jesus taught in the parable of the sower in Mark 4 and Luke 8 about the different types of soil the Word of God is sown in. One of the soils mentioned contains thorns, and Jesus said those thorns are the "cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things." Then He goes on to say, those thorns, "entering in, CHOKE the word, and it (the word) becomes unfruitful." That's where it hit me. My words, the prayers I offer up to God in asking often becomes "unfruitful" because I allow things in the soil of my heart at times that choke my words. In my particular case, I didn't get a conviction about the "cares of this world," nor did the "deceitfulness of riches" prick my heart, but when Jesus said in Mark 4 the "desires for OTHER things" or in Luke 8, the "pleasures of life" entering in CHOKE the word, the light went on in me. That was the reason why my lips weren't producing, that was the reason why I wasn't seeing the desire or the "whatever I ask" come to pass. My words (prayers) were being choked, causing me to be unfruitful because I was allowing the soil of my heart to bring forth thorns.

Do you have "other things" that you won't let go of that are entering in and causing your prayer and declaration of the Word to become fruitless?

God wants your words to bear "much fruit." Don't get choked, keep the thorns out of your heart!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Winning Souls 101 #2

October 10, 2011

“Opportunity Knocks!”

I’m pretty sure opportunities for financial gain have stared us all in the face but we let them slip us by. Opportunities to do good to those of the house of faith have arisen but sometimes they pass us by because of apathy or we just didn’t recognize it. Opportunities to experience measures of fulfilled dreams often wave as they cross our path because we aren’t poised and prepared to engage the opportunities when they present themselves. I suppose many of us have stared fields ripe unto harvest in the face and let the fruit go unpicked.

Not everyone you meet is ripe and ready to hear and receive the good news of God’s forgiveness in Jesus, but MANY ARE and how many times do we ignore the fruit or not take the time to reap a soul for the Kingdom of God? I dare say it happens quite often.

A key to being good at winning souls is recognizing and believing the words of Jesus who said the “fields are white unto harvest.” Too often our inaction exhibits a mentality of a harvest that is surely months or years away. In the case of some individuals, it’s true, they may not be ready. However, unless you and I are asking pertinent questions, we may miss the endless opportunities to share and reap individuals who are ready to turn their lives over to the King of kings right now!

I don’t enjoy helping people move, but over the years, I’ve had countless opportunities to do so and on many of those occasions I have. This past Saturday yet another opportunity presented itself to “do good” to those of the house of faith by helping a sister in the Lord move to a new home. I wasn’t terribly excited about it, but I also recognized there could be opportunity in the day to share Jesus with someone or some ONES. Within minutes of meeting a friend of the gal we were moving I had directly asked if he had ever been introduced to Jesus. He was born again and so we talked a little about where he was from and how he came to the Lord. The story of God’s glory is always interesting in others lives. Some may say, “Big deal, he was already saved; how does that help me win souls to the Lord?” The point is, we never assume and we are always taking advantage of the opportunities to share Christ as they present themselves. This particular person was already in the Kingdom…

Here’s where the story gets good. After we had arrived at the new home and began to move her things in, a couple of curious young boys watched us. Some might think, “They are just kids, why even bother?” That’s the problem. If we want to be good soul winners, we’ve got to train ourselves to see fields that are RIPE. Any person you meet may be hard, they may be apathetic, they may hate Christian's guts and they just may be RIPE and ready to receive Christ but you will never know unless you ask.

As it goes, I engaged the two Burmese brothers (one was 9 and the other was 12). I started by playing with them and saying, “Hey guys, don’t just stand there and watch, help us carry this stuff in.” Course they weren’t too keen on that, but then I had an opening to ask their names and make small conversation.

I began to ask them if they knew who Jesus was and what He did for them. The younger of the boys had no real clue, but the 12 year old boy had heard of Jesus and had seen Him in a film. I wasn’t quite sure what film he saw because he couldn’t remember, but he remembered the cross and he understood as I shared how much God loved him and how God had sent Jesus to die so we could go to heaven and be with God. After saying it a few ways, I asked the boys if they would like to ask Jesus to come into their lives together. The 12 year old boy quickly replied, YES! His little brother wasn’t so sure and didn’t want to ask Jesus into his heart. (I received Christ when I was 8, so younger children can receive Christ) I led the boy in a prayer to receive Christ and be born again, right there on the street. It was that easy.

This is what I think Jesus meant when He said the “fields are white unto harvest.” (John 4:35) So many would respond positively to Christ if only someone would see the opportunity before them and engage them with the love of Christ. Jesus said this “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” to his disciples after he had ministered to the woman at the well. No doubt the disciples crossed the path of this same woman as they went into the town and she came out to draw water. The disciples were too busy about their task to recognize the ripe Samaritan woman, while Jesus was always looking for and embracing opportunities to give living water to any who would ask.

What opportunities have you let slip by and what are you going to do about it? God loves you no less whether you ever share or not, but how can they ever experience God’s love unless you unveil it to them?

Next time “Opportunity Knocks,” answer the door. Someone’s eternity may depend on it.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Winning Souls 101

September 26, 2011

A statement I’ve made in the Life Church School of Ministry class of Personal Evangelism includes the fact that I’ve won so many people to Christ in Church. I don’t mean by way of an Altar Call either. Sometimes people act like, “Well yeah, of course you’ve won a lot of people in church, you were a Pastor and you did lots of altar calls.” The reality is, so few have come by means of the altar call, but many more have come to Christ through a simple conversation in the foyer or parking lot or some other location on church grounds.

We want to be good soul winners right? Well, what better place in the whole world to practice sharing the Gospel than with those who visit Life Church? It’s obvious God is already dealing with someone if they were brave enough to even step into a local Church, and if that’s the case, then what a prime opportunity to hone your personal evangelism skills.

In the last month I’ve won two people to Christ just by meeting and having conversation with people I didn’t know who visited the Church. It goes something like this. “Hey, I’m Alan, what’s your name?” “It’s so great to meet you… thanks for coming to Church” (Small Talk, Small Talk) “So, have you been born-again before?” Usually the response is something like this. “Yeah, I think so… or, No, not yet… or, not sure what you mean… or yeah, did that when I was (insert age.)” From there you can go any number of directions.

The last conversation I had was last Wednesday where I met a gal who said “Yes, I have been born-again.” And my response was, “Great, so tell me about it. Where were you, what happened?” Etc. Her response caused some red flags to fly so then I was able to bring clarification. She said, “Well, I was raised Catholic and we went through a confirmation process and then at the end the Priest laid his hands on me and I felt the Holy Spirit touch me and it caused me to fall.” I said, “Great, sounds like an awesome experience, but you believe the Bible right?” “Oh Yeah!” “Well, Jesus told us how to be born again” and I explained to her John 3 how flesh is born of flesh and spirit of Spirit. I then proceeded to ask her if she believed Jesus did all the things the Bible claims He did. (ie. Shed His blood, died, rose again) She said she did believe it and I said, “Well, the Bible simply says we must confess something in order for that belief to cause us to be born again.” “Do you know of a time where you did that, where you did Romans 10:9.” And then I quoted that verse to her. (Notice: I didn’t dwell on what she thought being born-again was, “NO, NO, NO… that’s not being born again, what’s wrong with you.” I simply redirected her to the Word of God.)

She couldn’t think of a time. She had had a religious experience. No doubt real, but she had not been born again. She, like many people, equated a religious experience as being born again, when the Bible just doesn’t teach that. So, because she already believed the right things and just didn’t know how to lay hold of what God had provided in Christ, I asked her if she’d like to be born again just like God showed us in the Bible, and her response was a resounding, “Yes!”

I told her she can do that at any time or we can pray right now. She chose to pray right then and there, and in the foyer of Life Church, I led her into relationship with Christ and she was born again. No fan-fare, just another soul ripe for the picking that had I not taken the time to ask the right questions, may have walked out of Life Church dead on the inside.

Let me encourage you today. Take the time to meet new people. Be bold and ask the right questions. What better place than Church to lead someone to Christ who wouldn’t normally be there or didn’t respond to the Altar Call. Not everyone will respond to a call like that, but many will respond if someone asks them personally about a relationship with Christ. The fact that they donned the doors of the Church often times indicates that their hearts are open, so get some practice evangelizing right where you are at. It will increase your boldness and ability to do it on less “safe” grounds.

Let’s win our community to Christ.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Eulogizing the Living

September 6, 2011

Oh death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55

For the born again child of God, both of these questions are swallowed up in our risen and victorious King, however, it doesn’t make the loss of a loved one any easier. The reality is, one day Death will no longer have a strangle hold on humanity because one day, we will all get brand new glorified spiritual bodies according to 1 Corinthians 15. Until the day Jesus returns, we will continue to experience the sting of death. It’s a sting that hurts.

I for one do much introspection and reflection when losing a loved one and it always involves reminding myself to be better about telling those I love how much I love them and doing it more often. It truly never gets said enough, “I love you.” Do we love eachother? If so, why are we so slow about telling one another how much we do love and appreciate one another. We have no problem eulogizing the dead, but what about the living?

Today I was contemplating starting a pre-death eulogy and honoring service, where people have a means of intentionally eulogizing their loved ones, so the things that need to be said and shared are said and shared this side of Heaven. Honestly, when a loved one passes on, they aren’t there to hear all the good things we say about them, they are still soaking up the glories of heaven to be thinking about the pain all of us left behind are feeling. Wouldn’t it be much better if we didn’t wait for death to knock us out of our un-loving stupor and we took the time in our lives to tell people we love and appreciate them before we don’t get the chance again this side of heaven.

Who do you love? Have you told them lately? Who are you holding a grudge against? Are you going to continue to hold on to that petty thing? You don’t understand Alan, it’s a HUGE thing… you have no idea what they did to me… I don’t need to know. Life is too short to hold un-forgiveness and grudges in your heart.

Turn the tide and don’t be left wishing you would have said something kind and loving to your friends and family and lets begin to make “Eulogizing the Living” and reality!

Kevin, say “Hi” to my mom for me and give her a great big HUG! Also, swing by the Throne and tell the Father and Son his “favorite” son says, “Can’t wait to stand before you and embrace you!”

In honor of Kevin Orr. You’ll be missed, but not for long, for this life is a vapor.

Love, Alan

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Oh the Lazy Man!

August 19, 2011

I was thinking about something yesterday evening as I caulked away on my house in preparation for paint. The Bible says in Proverbs that, "A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl (bosom/armpit is what the margin says), And will not so much as bring it to his mouth again." Prov. 19:24.

Every time I've read that, I've thought, really? Someone could be so lazy that they put their hand in the bowl from which strength and life for the body comes, but they won't even lift it to their mouth? I finally got a revelation yesterday on what he's talking about.

Proverbs 26:15 has a similar verse that says "The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl (bosom/armpit it says in margin again); it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth." The verses that surround this verse give us a clear picture and context as to what God is trying to get across. Verse 13 of Proverbs 26 says that "The lazy man says, "There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!" (14) As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. (15) The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl (bosom/armpit it says in margin again); it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth." (16) "The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly."

It all made sense in a moment. It's not that the lazy man won't bring his hand to his mouth once his hand has laid hold of the food his body needs. The lazy man has every excuse in the world as to why he can't feed/provide for himself and his own. It could be as ridiculous as "there is a lion in the streets" as to why he won't get off his duff and go do something that will meet his need.

The Lord is the one who gives power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). I believe God has given every man (barring that person is a child, literally mentally or physically handicapped) the power to use his hands to feed himself and others, but the lazy man will put his hand in the bowl/armpit and not do what is necessary to see that his mouth or the mouth of those who literally are unable to take care of themselves is fed.

These verses are not about someone who is so lazy they won't take a spoon from bowl to mouth (most lazy people I've seen are very good at eating too much), but they are about someone whom God has given an ability to take care of himself but that person is too lazy to do anything about it. This lazy person would rather make excuses as to why he can't go out to the streets and feed himself and his family and when someone comes and says, "have you thought about doing xyz with your time and money, instead of rolling over on your bed waiting for your ship to come in," he will have a seemingly wise answer as to why he/she can't get off their duff and see that the abundant bowl of provisional blessings God has provided makes it from where it is to their mouth for consumption.

Are you lazy? Do you have every excuse and reason in the world why your needs are not being met? Is it easier for you to say, "It's just a bad economy, and besides I've got 2 years of unemployment benefits I can ride out until something better or more ideal comes along," or "I'm above that type of work," or whatever other thing we tell ourselves as to why we can't "lift our hands to our mouths" and partake of the ways and means that God has provided to feed ourselves and our families.

Don't be like the lazy man, stop rolling over like a hinge on your bed of excuses and get off your duff today, pray, seek God as to his will for your life and make a new resolve today to begin to fulfill your destiny. Your provision is in HIS will, and if it IS His will, it's HIS bill and the grace of God is there to see that all your need is met in abundance and you have more than enough for others who literally CAN NOT feed themselves.

Only one life will soon be past, only what's done in/for/with Christ will last.

Does Your Heart Break?

August 08, 2011

I was resting with Lincoln in the car after having endured several hours in long lines at Disneyland and opened my eyes to find an older man dumpster diving. He was extracting all kinds of recycleables to make some money for the day. The first thought in my head was, "I've been old, and I've been young, yet I've never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread." What kind of life is it to be forced to scrounge through trash to eek out a living recycling?

My next thought was one of great admiration for the man who had enough dignity to not beg for his bread but humble enough to do whatever it took to make sure he could live, even if it meant digging through another person's/business' trash.

My next thought was, "I wonder if this man is saved? What a tragedy for this man to live his life eating from the scraps of the abundance of others, but then spend forever in torment." So I began to pray for him and his salvation. I then realized Lincoln was asleep and I would be just a few dozen feet from him if I got out of the car to be a blessing in this man's life and the answer to my own prayer if possible.

I approached the man and began to speak to him, but he only spoke Spanish and very little English. I felt helpless in the face of the language barrier, but was able to ask him in my limited Spanish if he knew the Lord and he said He did. I couldn't really clarify anything because I don't speak the language well, but was able to bless him with some cash and a prayer. Who will be the laborer that God sends to nurture and love that man into greater blessing? I don't know, but Eternity will tell. This man must have had some righteous forefathers or himself righteous because he wasn't forsaken, nor was he begging bread... he was earning every penny; although through undesiralbe means.

The poor we may have with us always, but it doesn't mean we can't do what we can to help them when we feel led to do so. My heart breaks at all the need in the world...not that there is need, but that there are resources to meet those needs and we are mostly concerned about the next new peice-of-junk item we are going to buy ourselves.

Lord have mercy on me and may all of our hearts break for what breaks yours.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Deity of Christ

July 31, 2011

A common problem in the understanding of many, especially our friends in the Muslim world, is the denial that Jesus is/was God manifest in the flesh. (John 1:1-3, 14) I’ve heard so many people make claims that He never identified Himself as such, but solely identified with man as the Son of Man. It’s not true however. Jesus did make claims to Deity.

One thing we have to understand, in the mind of Jews, to call oneself the “Son of God” was equal to calling oneself God. We in the West, don’t stumble over “Son of God” so much, but to the Jews of Jesus day and many Muslims to this day, it’s offensive. Our Muslim friends think in calling Jesus the “Son of God” that somehow Allah had an impure relationship with a woman, when in reality that’s not what happened. As the Word of God, spoken into the womb of Mary, there was obviously NO sexual contact at all, but Jesus taught us that God’s Word is like a seed, so when God spoke, the seed (The Word) became flesh inside Mary’s womb and so the result of His Word and her seed is the “Son of God.” There’s much we can say about the relationship between the first man Adam and Jesus but we won’t expound on that for now.

This is the same seed that God promised in Genesis 3 would crush the head of Satan. Allah had been planning from the time Adam and Eve fell to send His Word into the world and heal it. God has been speaking Jesus since Genesis 1:3. Jesus truly is the Word of God. The very fact that He is Allah’s Word, makes him God. The Bible agrees with this and Jesus made claims to it. It was a stumbling block in Jesus day, and it’s a stumbling block to over a billion Muslims and others today and if Jesus didn’t prove His Deity by His works, I’d be offended by it myself. (John 10:37-38)

Before we actually look at the Biblical claims of Christ, think about how it’s not hard to understand that Jesus is God if He is the Word of God. Think about YOU for a minute. Who are you? You are not solely a ball of flesh, nor are you solely a spirit, nor are you solely a mind, with an intellect and emotions. You are a combination of all these things, but without the combination you are not YOU. Even the fallen bodies that house our spirits today will be made new one day in a spiritual body and death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Corin. 15:44), but until then, the combination of spirit, soul, and body make up YOU. You may have heard someone say, if your word is no good, you are no good. Why do we say that? Simply because you ARE your word. To separate your word from you, would make you no longer you. The same is true of God, we cannot separate His WORD from Himself. His Word IS He. Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is therefore God. Now the Bible does make a distinction in the Godhead, speaking of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Not three Gods, but One God. To separate them would make God no longer God, just like to separate your Word from you or your Spirit from you would no longer make you, YOU. It’s a difficult concept because we can’t truly understand the unity that exists in the spirit world, but it’s no more difficult to understand the tripartite nature of man - spirit, soul, and body. Much more to say about these things, but this is more about the Biblical claims of Christ and where some of them are found.

So what did Jesus say about Himself, that had the Jews so worked up that they often conspired to stone Him for blasphemy? Many of our Muslim friends just don’t know what Jesus said about Himself and therefore don’t believe, but let this list from Jesus own mouth be a good start for your heart. (This is not an exhaustive list of all references to Jesus as God by Himself or others or where He came from, but it’s meant to show that He did make the claim, contrary to what others like to say. I will have a document with every reference I can find to the Deity of Christ attached to this blog some day, including all the times people worshipped Jesus and He never corrected them, as opposed to Peter who corrected Cornelius in Acts:10:25-26 and as opposed to the angel who corrected John in Rev. 19:10 and 22:9)

Matt. 22:41-45 – While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “ The Son of David.”

43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: 44 ‘ The LORD said to my Lord, “ Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’?45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”

Luke 8:39 - “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

John 8:23-25 - 23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” 25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.

John 4:10 – 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 5:16-18 – 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 5:25 – 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

John 5:36-39 – 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

John 6:32-35 - 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

John 6:44-45 – 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

John 7:28-29 – 28 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

John 8:42-59 – (Read Exodus 3:14 to understand why they wanted to stone Him.) - 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” 48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” 52 Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 10:25-38 – 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”f 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

John 14:6-11 – 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

John 17:1-5 – 1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Revelation 1:8, 17-18 – 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Revelation 22:13 - I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Engaged in the Kingdom

May 17, 2011

It’s a scripture many people have forgotten about and it’s easy to do, because we are inundated with a message contrary to it in our affluent Western society. “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

The master spoke these words to a couple of guys arguing over inheritances. It’s a common trap God’s people find themselves in, actively engaged in everything except His Kingdom and the advancement thereof. The enemy can’t defeat us, he can only distract us.

I like what Paul says to Timothy in his second letter to him. “No one engage in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.” The enemy is good at getting God’s people’s eyes off the battle and on to arbitrary things concerning things that perish with the using. There are not many things that are eternal or worth fighting for, save the souls of countless millions who sit in darkness. With that in mind, it’s important to continually live our lives as if we are engaged in a war. Obviously this war is not with flesh and blood, but with an enemy who is relentless in his deceptive/distractive tactics.

One that has worked well amongst Westerners is the abundance of things we possess. Remember this life does not consist of these things. We use things. We can enjoy using those things, but the things in it of themselves are just things, perishing with use.

There is no “peace time” in this Kingdom, at least not yet. We have an enemy who is seeking for someone to devour and often he is successful because God’s people are often concerned with the arbitrary.

In war times there are marked characteristics of those who are engaged in it. These same characteristics are often lacking in times of peace. War means…

Everyone must sacrifice.

Everyone must participate.

Everyone must contribute to the cause.

You and I’ve been enlisted by the Lord of Hosts, and He expects us to remain un-entangled in the affairs of this life that we may please Him. Nothing causes more joy in heaven and celebration around the throne than one sinner who repents. I like bringing joy to my commander.

Do you live sacrificially in this life for the sake of furthering His Kingdom, or are you amassing things so that you can “win” by dying with the most toys. At least that’s enemy propaganda.

Do you participate in some way, shape or form in seeing His Kingdom advance or have entangled yourself in the arbitrary affairs of this life?

Are you contributing to the cause, or are you like the rich man who instead of putting his resources to work, simply built bigger barns? The illusion of the enemy is that you and I get to keep it forever.

Let reality speak, you and I only have one opportunity to store up for ourselves treasure that last forever and that only happens when we refuse to succumb to a “peace time” mentality during our short stint on this earthly “battle field.”

Make no mistake about it, we have been enlisted as an ambassador for Christ; it’s time to live in such a way to please Him who enlisted us.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

A Small Look at Poverty

May 11, 2011

What is the difference between Relative Poverty and Absolute Poverty?

Absolute Poverty describes situations in which people have an absolute insufficiency to meet their basic needs.

Relative Poverty describes situations in which people are on the margins of society and their living standards are compared to others within a society or community. If a person or family is not suffering from an absolute lack of food, shelter or clothing, then their poverty is relative poverty.

Does poverty strictly refer to basic living needs or does it extend to other areas? If it does extend to other areas, what might those areas be?

Is poverty primarily rooted in the natural or "felt" needs of a person, or does poverty have a spiritual root?

Let's not let the needs in the world, some real, and some perceived, go unmet because of the seemingly impossibility of meeting those needs. Apathy of this sort, produces inaction, and inaction perpetuates the problem. The poor we will have with us always, so does that mean "what will be, will be?" Or, can you and I and the great God of the universe actually do something about it?

Not sure if the statement below is accurate, but let's say it paints somewhat of an accurate picture, and if somewhat accurate, it makes me sick to my stomach.

"Christians today have a total annual income of over $10 trillion. According to the United Nations, it would cost only 30-40 billion a year to provide all people in developing countries with basic education, health care, and clean water—the same amount spent on golf every year."

What does that do for your stomach? Makes me want to cry, scream, get mad, repent, puke, feel small, spur into action and I could go on.

I realize it's not always a heart problem on the part of God's people (although some fall into this category), nor is it a lack of resources. The primary problem is that of distribution. In case you are prone to believe otherwise, there is an abundance on earth to meet every need with left overs, but why isn't it happening?

How can we be more effective in seeing God's resources used to alleviate poverty on all levels? I will not have Jesus say to me on that day, "When I was hungry you did not feed me, when I was naked, you did not clothe me, when I was sick and in prison you did not visit me." What about you?

Life is short gang. Enjoy your salvation, but don't keep so great a salvation hidden under a basket. Let your light so shine. Live for eternity, live for others, live for the King.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Taking His Name in Vain

May 9, 2011

Could it be when we aren't about what Christ is about that this is the essence of taking His name in vain? As opposed to using His name to cuss. Could it be that more Christ-ians are taking Christ's name in vain than we ever thought? We call ourselves "Christ"-ians, are we taking that title in vain by living for ourselves, by refusing to obey His commands, or by simply living apathetic towards His commission? You tell me.

I dare say many who never use Jesus name in a cuss word take His name in vain more than some in the world who may "cuss like a trucker" (excuse the generality), but in deed, in honor, in integrity, and a myriad of other ways display "Christ"-ian more accurately.

No condemnation, self analyzation has begun.

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Take Heed

May 1, 2011

"Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." Colossians 4:17

Fulfilling the will of God for your life isn't going to "just happen," you and I have got to take heed to it in order that we may get after it, that we may fulfill it. God doesn't want you to die having a destiny, ordained by Him from the foundation of the world, left unfulfilled. Are you taking heed?

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Common Ignorance

April 23, 2011

To show the spiritual ignorance that pervades society: I was sharing the Gospel with a couple guys today and asked, "If you were to die today, and God were to ask you why should I let you into heaven, what would you say?"

I'm not kidding - His response - "I served my country."

We've got our work cut out for us gang! Are you A to J? Many sit in darkness... what are we gonna do about it?

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Running for the Unseen Rewards

April 12, 2011

There is a goal, there is prize to be had, there is the upward call of God in Christ... do you see it? Can you taste it? Are you running in such a way that you may obtain it? The realities of the rewards that are at hand far out-weigh any natural thing we could seek to obtain. No sense in getting entangled in the affairs of this life when this life is but a VAPOR... we are here one day and gone the next! Are you storing up for yourselves in heaven? Are you passionately pursuing the call of God? Does your vision extend beyond this life?

My oh my, only one life will soon be past... what's done in, and for, and with, and to Christ, are the only things that will last! Let's get after the call gang. I can taste the age to come, and I'm looking forward to it!

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

Two Forces at Work in Global Evangelization

April 7, 2011

In the fulfillment of Israel's obligation, two forces were at work. The first of these was an attractive force, symbolized first by the tabernacle and then by the temple in Jerusalem. These buildings were the places where God's name dwelt. They were holy places, the heart of Israel's religious ceremony and practice. Yet they were not intended just to serve Israel. When Solomon dedicated the temple, it was clear to him that the temple had a wider purpose.

The Bible records several other foreigners who where attracted to Israel because of the evidence of God's blessing, including Ruth, a Moabite woman, an Naaman the Syrian. Hundreds of other unrecorded accounts are evidenced by the fact that on the day of Pentecost there were devout men from "every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5) staying in Jerusalem. God's plan to reach the nations, however, includes much more than a passive attraction.

A second force in operation was an active, expansive force which operated to send God's message beyond the borders of Israel. Some examples of Israelites who were used to proclaim God's message to other nations include captives such as Joseph and exiles such as Daniel and Esther. Or consider the prophet Jonah, who was commanded to preach repentance to Nineveh. Jeremiah was appointed as a "prophet to the nations," and it is speculated that he or other messengers may have traveled widely in delivering his many oracles. Nor did God us only the great in this role of bearing His message. It was a little Israelite slave girl who announce His healing power to Naaman, the mighty but leprous captain of the Syrian Army.

Some might argue that these cases are exceptions and would point out that many of these people were captives or otherwise ministered against their wills. However, volunteerism has never been the deciding factor in furthering God's mission. God will use His people to spread His message, whether they are willing agents or not. Israel's tragic history would have been considerably different if she had been a willing instrument of God's redemptive plan. She was not. God used captivity and exile both to judge Israel's disobedience and to extend her witness beyond her borders.

These two dynamic forces are also present today. On a global scale, many are attracted to "Christian" nations because of the evidence of God's blessing through material wealth and stability. In communities, congregations where God's power and grace are evident also draw people. On a personal level, godly character attracts those who want to possess those same qualities. Yet the gospel will not be spread to all nations simply through passive attraction. There are too many social, cultural, and geographic barriers that need to be crossed for this to happen. God's people must be willing to go to the nations with the good news if they hope to fulfill their covenant obligations. (by Jonathan Lewis - quoted from the Perspectives Reader)

One life will soon be past, only what’s done in, for, and with Christ will last.

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