Friday, January 02, 2009

Constants You Can Count On #3

I started this series in the early part of last year and never got around to fininshing the list. Its a new year, but our God remains faithful and unchanging, so these constants being grounded in the faith and in God remain unchanging as well.

3. The Holy Spirit will still move.

2 Peter 1:21
New King James Version (NKJV)for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.2 Peter 1:20-21 (in Context) 2 Peter 1 (Whole Chapter)
New Living Translation (NLT) or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.2 Peter 1:20-21 (in Context) 2 Peter 1 (Whole Chapter)

These verses talk about prophecy and it being spoken as the prophets are being moved by the Holy Spirit and in all cases this is very true. I think all prophecy should be given as directed by the Holy Spirit. But in I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is just going to move in the instances of prophecy. I think the Holy Spirit moves us and in us in various ways. Sometimes it is obvious as is the case of prophecy and wonders like healing, other times it is more subtle like a quiet tugging at the heart to give when we have the ability to, or to help out a friend who needs help, sometimes it is simply just stepping out in faith when we don’t feel like it. The Holy Spirit is constantly moving around us and He will move in us and through us if we will let Him. It is not always in a big and extraordinary way. Sometimes it is the still small whisper we hear compelling us to do something. But in either case big or small we can be assured that the Holy Spirit is still indeed moving.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Committed to...

There is so much in life that we are committed to: our families, our friends, our jobs, our churches, and probably so much more. I think if we took some time to look at where we are spending our time as individuals and at the people we are spending time with that we could truly see the way the world sees us. Do we look any different from the world we live in? Do the people we spend our time with help to edify and exhort us and the people we come in contact with? Do we help anyone other than ourselves when we are out in the world? Do we make the world a better a place as we go through it day to day or do we simply get through the day without affecting it at all? I think we all need to take some time to look at ourselves through the eyes of people we do not associate with to see how we truly look to the world. I think what we do speaks a lot louder for us that anything we could ever say. These questions have bee beating loud in my heart over the last few days and I figured I would share them with anyone who still reads this. Here is to 2009 and looking exactly the way we want to and having our words match our actions.

Be Blessed,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Prayer Will Still Work

2. Prayer will still work.

James 5:16 (NKJV) 16…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:16 (NLT) 16…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.
James 5:16 (TMNT) 16…The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

I look at the NKJV translation of this verse and there are four words that automatically pop out of the page and grab my attention—effective, fervent, righteous and avails. The fourth word appears to be conditional of the first three. In other words you don't gets the "avails much" until you are righteous and are praying effectively and fervently.

How is it that a person prays effectively? I love to pray and sometimes I get lost in my communication with God that people say I should pray next time and not preach. There are times that prayer actually becomes more like worship. In moments like those I think it is better to call that time worship instead of prayer. Our friend Webster defines prayer as 1) an address (as a petition) to God and 2) an earnest request or wish. Neither of those definitions mention praise, worship or flowery language. Nor do they mention tone or length of the prayer. To be effective in prayer you have to know what you are requesting and the basis on which you are requesting it.

James makes a reference to Elijah when he said the heavens were to be sealed up because of Ahab's rebellion. He knew what the word said about worshipping false idols and turning your back on God. It was also that Elijah by the same token was able to call fire down from heaven to consume his offering to God after Ahab and his prophets realized there was no power in Baal. After the prophets had been trying to call down fire from Baal all day, dancing and cutting up there bodies they had no response. Elijah who prayed a prayer to God that was less than 10 seconds in length got an immediate response because he knew he was praying God's word and was praying from a solid foundation.

God tells us to bring Him in remembrance of His word—not that He has forgotten but that we know the basis on which we are asking things of Him. Jesus said "The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply." Matthew 6:7-9 (TMNT) Praying effectively is praying God's word back to him as the basis for your requests. Praying effectively is praying God's will fulfilled in your life and in the lives of others—whether that be healing, prosperity, favor with the people you deal with—if it has a foundation in the word of God then it is fair ground for requesting it from Him.

Fervent prayer is not so difficult to understand either. When Elijah said that the heavens would open up and pour out rain it did not happen immediately. He had just called down fire from heaven and it took less that 10 seconds for him to utter that prayer. He asked for rain and the heavens did not open up right away. He sent his servant and asked him to look for clouds and the servant returned saying the sky was clear. So Elijah put his head between his knees again and prayed a second time. Still the servant reported clear skies. He did this 5 more times until the servant reported that a small cloud was surfacing on the horizon.

It is important to note that even though Elijah was used to prayers that received quick response from God, he did not give up when he did not receive and immediate answer this time. He knew the word of God and he knew the will of God for his people, now that they were reconciled back to Him. It is also important to note the posture that Elijah took when praying—he put his face between his knees. In ancient times this is posture that women used to take when they were giving birth to their babies. It wasn't that God needed Elijah to pray over and over again. It wasn't that He was testing Elijah, God trusted him as His mouthpiece. God was asking Elijah to form a deeper relationship with Him—asking Him to enter into His presence a second, third, fifth and seventh time. When there is no immediate response from God sometimes we need to pray the fervent prayer. We know w to pray effectively, fervently is entering into the presence of God over and over again coming before the almighty and trusting Him. The more we trust Him the more we realize that He has our best interest at heart and the issues we bring before Him fade and the relationship we have with Him becomes the source of everything that we need. We don't pray fervently to get Gods attention, we pray fervently to birth a deeper relationship with him.

Righteousness is another word that cane seem intimidating to someone who reads that praying fervently and effectively is not enough to avail much, but that effective and fervent prayer needs to come from a righteous man. The intimidation that the word righteous brings is simply a misunderstanding of its meaning. People understand righteousness to be a behavior. That is not the case. The righteousness of a man comes from his beliefs. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) If we believe that you have become a new creation like Paul says you have in 2 Corinthians 5:17, then you are a righteous individual. I know that seems way too easy. Let me offer one more example from the bible to confirm my theory. "For the Scriptures tell us, "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." When people work, their wages are not a gift. Workers earn what they receive. But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work." Romans 4:3-5 (NLT) Abraham did nothing except believe that God was who He said He was and would do what He said He would do. That is what made him a righteous man. It is not a person's behavior that makes him a righteous person it is his belief.

Knowing the meaning of these three words should help remove the intimidation of praying fervently and effectually, especially in the light of the fact that righteousness is determined by our beliefs and not our behavior. Our prayers can be something that is powerful and that brings about wonderful results—our prayers can be a force to be reckoned with. (James 5:16, NLT, TMNT)

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Bible Will Still Have All the Answers

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.

2 Timothy 3:16 - 17 (NLT) 16All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. 17It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16 - 17 (TMNT) 16Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or anotherâ€"showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. 17Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

When I am truly searching for the answer to a question I am facing in life the best place I turn for the final answer is the Bible. When we try each and every situation to the standards that are detailed in God’s word we find that we are either in line with His plan for our lives or we have overstepped the boundaries of His will for us. If we allow it the Word of God will do exactly what 2 Timothy 3:16 saysâ€"show us truth, expose our rebellion correct our mistakes and train us to live the way God intended us to live. God uses His word to speak to each of us differently. He uses it to prepare each of us as individuals so that we will be fully equipped for the work he has purposed for our lives.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Constants You Can Count On

I have heard it time and time again that the only thing that remains constant in life is change. When there is so much that is changing around you, sometimes you get lost in the whirlwind of it all. I need more sometimes. I need that place of constancy. I need to know that there are things that I can turn to that are going to be the sameâ€"the same in every wayâ€"no matter what situation or circumstance I am facing in my life. I can handle change, but I need to be able to rely on a rock of constancy somewhere in my life.

Considering this I was browsing through some of the messages in my email box that I had marked as read without really reading them (the number of unread messages became so daunting one day I almost couldn’t catch my breath) knowing that I would eventually get a moment to read them. I came across an email from a friend with the title “The Top Ten Predictions For 2008.” Being the middle of February, I decided it would be interesting to see if any of them were true. Sitting there reading this email message which was supposed to be a rare entertaining moment for me (which as of late come few and far between) actually became an answer to my search for constancy. In a matter of moments I had ten truths, foundations, I could cling to when I needed them because none of these would change. They are the same today as they were yesterday, last week or even last millennium. They would remain the same tomorrow, next week and until the very day that Jesus comes back for His people.

These ten items moved me when I needed to be moved and they spoke some peace into my spirit when I couldn’t have needed it more. If we really take some time to meditate on the truths that God has provided for us in His word, the world becomes a much more bearable place to exist. In studying and understanding His word our lives take on purpose and meaning. It is my hope that this Top Ten List will provide something that you can hold on to when you are grasping for something to steady your walk in life when the whirlwind of change comes roaring by.

Be Blessed and Be A Blessing!!

Hiatus Is Over

It has been a long time since I last wrote about anything here on my little space on the web. It is not to say that my life has been become that boring or monotonous that there has been absolutely nothing blog worthy. It is to say though that the whirlwind known as life has caught me up and sucked away my time and my energy at times that the thought of being able to blog was, if anything, inconceivable. There has been so much going on in my mind and life lately that I had to write to get some of it out. I can sum it all up in three words: GOD IS MOVING. I feel the tug in my spirit that HE is about to move in a big way—In my life and in my family's lives for sure. It is my hope and prayer that He moves in huge ways in the church and the fresh spirit of revival falls on all of His people. BE on the lookout—it's coming!

Be Blessed and Be A Blessing!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Holy Is The Lamb

I love worship music that moves me. It moves me when it says what I am feeling and helps me to say what I am feeling even better. I love it when I find that song I can play over and over and over and over and I just feel like I am sitting in the throne room of God. This is that song for me right now. It's from a guy named Coffey. Truly gifted and I know his career is gonna take off.

Holy Is The Lamb.m...

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Better Off Dead

"Better off dead." That is a morbid statement when you really stop to think about it. But for those of us who know Christ and have asked Him in to lead our lives, it isn't morbid anymore when you think about what that entails for us. Now this is not a cry to go out and find a way to take your life or anything, these are just some of my thoughts after reading in Philippians. In the first chapter, verses 20-23, Paul says it would be a hard choice to make if he was forced to make the choice. Some days here in the world are so tough we can hardly wait to get to heaven to be with God--there will be no more of the things that make this life hard to bother us. Spending time doing things like worshipping God--things that we have a hard time finding time to do--will be what we do all day. Yet when we have those good days here in the world, the days where everything is going right, we are pumped about the progress our lives are making and we want to stay here until our work is done. That is the hard part about being able to make the kind of choice Paul was talking about in these verses. The point that was made is that wherever we are called to live, here on earth or called home to heaven, our lives should be lived to bring honor and glory to God. Whether we are trudging through the trenches here or walking on streets of gold there we need to walk in a way that is pleasing to God. Paul starts off this passage of verses by saying "I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame....and that my life will always honor God." That should resonate in all our spirits and that should be our prayer as we go through our day. We might not be home yet, but we don't want to get lost on the way.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Really Matters

Philippians 1:9,10 NLT: 9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Isn't that what we are all looking for in every situation that we face in our lives? We want to know what really matters and how we can best serve that fact. Here Paul mentions three things that are intertwined and that I believe must be lived through together for them to be completely effective: love, knowledge and understanding. If we have those three things together working in our lives then we will truly understand what really matters. First is love because it is the greatest commandment that Jesus ever gave to us. The love we have for people needs to be tempered with the knowledge we have about people, our nature and our world that we all live in. That knowledge in turn needs to be tempered with understanding of how those things exist and affect the way that we live. The Message version of this passage says that Paul's prayer is this: "that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush."

I think that is an awesome statement: "use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not just sentimental gush." I think oftentimes when we are told to love our neighbor the first thing that comes to our minds is the sentimental gush that Paul is talking about. Loving someone as ourselves needs to be understood before it can truly be lived. It is a hard undertaking to complete if you really think about it. By the shear definition of our innate survival intuition we are not capable of loving anymore than ourselves; once we begin thinking about the people that mean the most in our lives (spouse, children, parents, etc.) the propensity to talk about the love that we feel for them seemingly becomes mired with the sentimental gush we are talking about. If that is the case with the people we love how is it then that we can believed when we say we feel that way about our neighbors and those we do not even know?

I think that as our discipleship walk deepens with Jesus, we begin to see the people in our world like He does. We begin to feel for their souls and for their basic need to be led and to be genuinely loved unconditionally. Therein lies the key to the knowledge of our love. We begin to know why we love the way we do, because it is how we are taught to love. As the knowledge of our love grows our understanding of the people and their situations needs to increase as well. Simply knowing why we love (or why we should love) isn't enough to love, we need to understand the conditions of the people around require love regardless of their position or situation. Understanding the conditions of people doesn't equate to condoning sin or actions, it makes the sin or action understandable and thus highlights the need for an unconditional love. Jesus never passed judgement on someone who was sinful but rather He had compassion on them and ministered to their basic need for love.

It is my prayer today for me as well as for you, "that (our) love will flourish and that (we) will not only love much but well. (That we) learn to love appropriately. (That we) use (our) head(s) and test (our) feelings so that (our) love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush."

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Friends In Philippi

I am reading through the book of Philippians tonight. I have read through this book times before, but tonight there is just so much that is jumping out at. I love how faithful God is. It always seems that I am in a spot in my life where I am crying out for a good word of comfort or direction and He always takes me to His word and gives it to me. I mean I can have read the passage over and over and over again a hundred times before and then read it when He leads me and it is like I am reading it for the first time thinking "I didn't know this is what it said!" He really is faithful to meet me right where I am at.

One of my favorite verses is in the first chapter of Philippians. 1:6 (NLT) "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." I like it in The Message version as well: "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. "

I like the verse in the NLT because it uses the word "finally." The word finally, to me, represents the fact there was a process involved in the undertaking of some task that had to be completed. To me it gives justice to the fact that most processes involve work that sometimes includes struggle. I know that the work that Jesus has begun in me has been a struggle at times, especially when it involved me changing. Change is not an easy thing for me, especially when I had to learn to redo things in my life after I had been decades doing them the wrong way. I had to learn to trust my destiny and life to someone else that I couldn't see. If that doesn't involve struggle then I am not sure what would.

I like the verse in The Message because it has a more celebratory feel to it. It tells of a "flourishing finish" to the work that Jesus has begun in us. When we have accomplished all that we have been called to accomplish, or we have been found faithfully working to accomplish what we have been called to accomplish when Jesus returns we will be greeted with a "flourishing finish" to our work--a celebration for a life time of work that has been successfully completed. I also like this version because it is more definitive in the words it uses to describe the author's certainty of the fact of Jesus' faithfulness to watch over His work in us. "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind..." sounds more secure in the knowledge of a fact than simply "I am certain..." To me the first method of explaining certainty is more emphatic than the second.

Beyond the wording of the verse in the two different versions, it is one of my favorite verses simply for what it says. It says that Jesus has made an investment in our lives, and just like any good investor, He is going to diligently watch the investment to make sure it accomplishes what it is supposed to. His investment is going to achieve the purpose He had planned for it. It is exciting to me to think that Jesus believes in me that much and that He cares about my success in His kingdom enough to personally watch over what I have been called to do. When I stumble He doesn't sell all the shares He has invested in me, but rather He redirects them to get me back on track to make me profitable again.