Learning to Eat the Entire Meal and Not Just a Few Bites

The Word of God is sustenance for a fallen world.  So needed, yet so maligned. There is perhaps no other book so often misquoted, misused and for many, misunderstood.  Some of that is deliberate.  There are many who seek to distort the Word and its Truths to advance an agenda, on both sides of important issues.  In a sound bite world, getting people to pay attention to something that is longer than a few pages or a few words (excluding pornography, the National Inquirer and Entertainment Weekly) is a very difficult task.  This allows those who wish to spout a phrase or two of the Bible, using those choice words usually out of context to support some cause or another.  However the Bible was not meant to be consumed in random parts.

The Bible is an interwoven story, inspired by God and written by almost two dozen prophets and disciples living thousands of years part, in different cultures and times, yet telling the same story.  For apologists the proof of the Bible’s eternal truths are not the alleged random inconsistencies (there are none not explainable) but the commonality of the message over such a time frame and with contributions from such a diverse group of writers.  Yet one cannot understand this, and truly gain knowledge of God’s message for us as his creation, without reading the Bible cover to cover.  And not once but several times.  The history of the Jewish people, God’s chosen race, the prophecy of the coming of Christ, the good news of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection, and the hope and faith of the disciples and saints who followed.  These are the elements of s story that answers the questions, Why are we here? and What is my purpose in life? that are on the hearts, minds and lips of every living man, woman and child.

God offers us a banquet of love, hope, inspiration, guidance and prophesied events yet to come, and the table is set.  When we nibble here and there, leaving the table for days, weeks and months on end, and do not partake of this sumptuous feast lovingly prepared for us the way it was intended.  In doing so we miss out of the delectable treat we are all instinctively longing for each day.

Feel down? Pick up the Bible  Not sure what to do?  Pick up the Bible  Having trouble at home, work or with friends?  Pick up the Bible  Need help? Pick up the Bible.

All we ever have needed is right in front of us.  Don’t settle for the abridged, distorted, or reconstructed version.  Go for the gusto…place the good book next to your bed and start and end each day reading it from front to back, as little or as much as you can handle.  Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all at first….it is the whole experience, several times over, that will create an indelible mark in your life and lead to the type of transforming change you need and want in your life.  You see the Bible is how God talks to us, and if you are not plugged in, you will never hear what he has to tell you let alone understand his message for your life.

Happy reading!

Thought for the Day

As the old Bob Dylan song says, “You gotta serve somebody.”  In life we all have masters.  With Christ we get to choose a benevolent master whose “yoke is heavy but whose burden is light.”  Matthew 11:30

He is a master who loves us.  He is a master who listens to our cries for help and cares.  He is an all powerful, all knowing master who offers Truths and blessings in this life, and eternal salvation in the next.  Therefore whenever I am confused or unsure what road to take, what decision to make, how to speak or act, I bypass Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Joel Osteen, and I go directly to God.  He has never let me down….the fervent prayers have always been answered, and the hand of correction has always been gentle like a loving father.

Have a blessed weekend!

 

 

 

Prosperity and Wealth is Knowing Jesus

God wants us to be blessed but He does not want his blessings to supplant Him in our hearts.  We cannot and should not try to use God to get what we want (i.e. money, success, love!) and then turn from Him when He “doesn’t deliver.”

God is not interested in our selfish goals, He wants us to worship Him and put Him first in our lives!

We need to understand God’s priority for our lives and not try to impose our priorities on God. He is not a credit card, or get out of jail free card, or some other tool to get what we want rather He is our sovereign Creator who deserves respect and commends obedience.

When we demonstrate that we understand and accept Him as the “captain” of our lives-literally surrendering all to him-He will reward our trust as He sees fit and deems we are able and worthy to handle.  Obedience, humility, trust…these come FIRST.  The blessings come afterwards, in response and in appropriate measure as He deems fit.  Who are we to command God to perform for us?  What right do we have as children, disobedient children, to expect rewards when we are sinners?

By God’s overwhelming love He gave us mercy and grace….those are gifts enough!  Yet God has said that if we walk in Him we can ask what we will and it shall be granted (John 14:7)  In His infinite judgment and knowledge of who we are and where we are going He will respond in the right time and manner!

When our hearts are filled with Christ, we have abundant treasures and do not lust for “more.”  The pursuit of God yields everlasting treasures, the pursuit of material wealth breeds competition, envy, jealousy and idol worship, ultimately destroying lives not uplifting them.

Go to God in prayer and ask for His love, but do so in humility and obedience.  When you are in Him and He is in you, then the magic happens!  Blessings flow like a river and you become the vessel of righteousness that is a guiding light for the world!

Why Did Christ Speak in Parables?

Some take issue with the Bible and the words of Christ throughout his ministry because they claim He spoke with stories that were vague and could be interpreted many different ways.  They argue that if Christ was here as the Son of God to bring the Good News to mankind, why not be clear and simple with His message.

In truth not everything that the Gospels report as Christ’s words are in parables.  There are many occasions where He spoke plainly and direct.  In his communications with the apostles He was very clear about what He expected from them, what they would suffer for following Him, and the mission that they were called to fulfill in His name.  Yet speaking to crowds Christ did use parables to explain the new covenant.  Why?

Most people of the time were uneducated.  Only the priests and rabbis and Jewish leaders were schooled and focused on intellectual matters.  The vast population consisted of farmers, shepherds, and people who worked with their hands and not their heads.  Christ chastised the religious leaders because they exploited this gap in knowledge and education to retain and control the Truth of God’s relationship with His people, thereby keeping it from the uneducated masses.  Christ also was angry at the hypocrisy of those leaders demanding that people follow laws that they themselves did not follow, merely to create walls between God and His people.

Speaking in stories, using as a basis concepts common people could understand (vineyards, fig trees, planting seeds and farming, gathering water from a well, etc.) the “hidden” Truth of God could be brought to His people.  The Old Testament offered a clue to Christ’s methods that religious leaders of the time would have known; it fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets.

“I will open  my mouth in parables.  I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”  Psalm 78:2

Everything from God and of God is “intelligently designed.”  There is a purpose for everything created by God and done in His name, in the world and in our own lives.  The New Testament offers a fresh “revelation” of God’s message to us as His children.  Through Christ, the burdens of the law were cast aside.  Through Him the Word was transformed into a new message of salvation.

“Where he the spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all Truth.”  John 16:13

Have a blessed day and a spirit filled week!

Living with God’s Authority in Your LIfe

When we walk with the authority of God in our lives we walk with power, purpose and protection!   We also are a more effective witness to those around us as they see the impact of the kingdom of God in the walk of our daily lives.  Why would we choose to live without the power of God when it is there for us as a resource?

Well first of all Satan does not want us to know about the power let alone tap into it.  Thus the Bible tells us we must seize it in a violent struggle against worldly distractions, temptations and roadblocks.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”  Matthew 11:12

“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” Luke 16:16

How do we tap into the power, despite the obstacles?  There are three steps:  (a) We must be born again…we must repent of sin and embrace a new life.  John 3:3; (b) we must have knowledge of eth Word of God…changing our mindset about how we view things, (c) We must apply the Word to our lives…taking it by force if necessary and pressing into it.

We need to change and we need to fight to capture the Kingdom of God for ourselves here on Earth.  The world will tell us THIS when God tells us THAT…and we must decide whose report to believe. One secret to success:  Humility.  Jesus Christ explained that the meek would inherit the Earth, and that the humble would achieve the Kingdom of Heaven well before the rich man and the powerful man.  Christ also told us to come to God like little children.  We must strip ourselves of pride and earthly devotions that block the true Word from transforming us and bringing us nearer to God.

“And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?   But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?  Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.  So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” Luke 17:7-10

In the end know this:  we are commanded by God to be obedient, it is not simply a reward of blessings for good behavior.  As faithful servants we do what is expected of us, and receive what is given not rejoicing because we are special but knowing we are sinners and only by God’s grace are we blessed and provided a path to salvation.  He does not owe us, we owe Him and yet He sent His Son to die a horrible death for us on the cross, as a living sacrifice to rescue us from eternal separation from God.

Be humble and obedient.  Embrace the Word of God.  Apply it to your daily life and accept His blessings with the knowledge that even though you do not deserve them, and did not earn them, they are given because He loves you!  That love will shake the very foundations of Hell and move within and without your life to reap amazing gifts for you and those around you to whom you are a living testimony.

Being an Effective Messenger for God

To be an effective messenger for God we need:

(a) Pure intentions…we need to deliver a message without strings attached, and without hidden selfish motives;

(b) To avoid pride…boastfulness, self-centeredness cheapens the message, because it’s not about you it’s about Him;

(c) To gain respect of outsiders who can support you in the messaging;

(d) To allow the Holy Spirit to move within you and shape the message…listen, be still and respond; and

(e) To acknowledge the power from above…we can do nothing without Christ!

This methodology is useful when we seek to instruct, correct and guide our families, our friends and strangers to whom we are moved to witness and give testimony.

One thing is clear…we are not to hide the light of Christ under a bushel basket, we are to shine our light to the whole world, to demonstrate who Christ is and what He has done for us to establish hope, trust, faith and love among those who are lost and seeking Him and who are attracted to us by the light of the Holy Spirit.

Go forth today and shine your light.  Bring the message of Good News and Salvation to  those in your world!

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.”  Luke 8:16

God Prefers Intervention to Prevention

When things go wrong often people exclaim: where was God?  We want God to prevent tragedy and stress and troubles in our lives, but in truth God likes INTERVENTION more than PREVENTION.

There is no doubt that God is not the creator of our troubles, we as sinners create troubles on our own with free will.  God frequently allows us to go through these things as a refiners fire.  God is after growth, and intervention is transforming.  If someone is there to stop you from getting yourself into trouble there is no maturity and no growth.  In the same way that we must allow our own children to experience pain to understand truths about what we teach them, so must God allow us often times to do the same.

Here is the key:  Christ will not stop your troubles, and being  a believer will not automatically grant you a trouble-free life.  This is a falsehood that society uses to demean faith…it expects followers to be perfect, to have a perfect life, and not to make mistakes.  This is not what faith is about, and it is not the fruit of righteousness.

God hears us when we pray, and He answers all prayers from those who earnestly seek Him.  Yet there is frequently a time-delay between when we pray and when His answer arrives…the manifestation of His response needs to come in His time not ours.  A friend of mine, a local pastor, once told me that “He may not come when you call him, but he will always be right on time!” 

We have to wait for glory…intervention rather than prevention gives Him great glory, so that we and those who know us understand that it is not about us…that God is not our servant to do our bidding at the snap of a finger.  He is our father, our creator, or master to whom we owe everything and upon whom we must wait.  We wait knowing that he loves us and wants what is best for us as he knows our hearts and sees our lives (from beginning to end).

It is what you go through in life that makes you who you are…and when you are connected to God he will take you through trials and triumphs that fulfill your destiny in a manner and in a time that benefits you and everyone connected to you.  You are a living witness and testimony to him…and the greater the victory the greater glory he gets and deserves.

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

Don’t hide your struggles.  Just because you are hurting, you need to show the world that despite what you are facing your God is a big God and you trust him to get you through your current season and take you into a new one, where you overcome and reap blessings!  When you show the world that you have no fear, and when you demonstrate that your troubles are transformed into blessings through prayer and supplication to Him in His time, you are being the kind of faithful witness who can encourage others to know the Truth.

Remember:  God may not prevent your troubles, but he cares and is there waiting on you to come to him for comfort and guidance to get you through it and beyond, molding you into a better person than ever before!

True Inner Peace Comes With a Price

Christ promises us a “peace that transcends all understanding.” Philippians 4:6-8.  This is the element of life that is missing from almost every person’s existence…in fact we spend money, time. and energy each day looking for this peace, or fretting because we do not have it.

Substitutes fill our days.  Drugs, alcohol, pornography, video games, shopping, exercise…whatever can and will temporarily take our minds away from the pursuit of inner peace.  Some people search for it in Eastern religions…yoga, meditation, primal scream therapy, whatever the latest fad or fashion might be to seek the “nirvana” of escape from the pressures and stresses of life.

Christ explained that the ONLY way to find the purpose for our existence and thereby find lasting peace is through a relationship with Him.  Simple right?  Yes and no.

To find Him you must be reborn or “born again” which is a much derided term in modern culture.  In reality this means you must shed your old life, die to oneself, and be renewed and reborn (resurrected if you will) as a transformed person.  That new person is a “changed” person.  This is a bitter pill to follow for many…because it may mean turning aside old friends, giving up a habit, avoiding formerly pleasurable activities, watching what you say and do, and  forgiving people who are angry, bitter, or hurtful towards you.  The message of Christ, while it offers hope and salvation, is fought tooth and nail by the world because it is so very hard to hear and accept. Dying to this world?  Turning the other cheek?  Forgiving those who won’t forgive you? Enduring the ridicule of committing to righteousness? Proclaiming publicly that Christ is your Lord and Savior when the World is seeking to marginalize and mock Christianity?

The key is in the Word.  The Bible.  That is where we find instruction, courage, direction, hope and faith.  We need to immerse ourselves in that book, but be careful: the whole Word needs to be digested, not just the little bits that make us feel good.  God has a loving message but he also has a message of correction and a warning for those who reject Him and His father. Too many today are mesmerized by feel good messages which layout the blessings God has for us, without FIRST explaining about the need to reject sin and repent, and commit to living a new life in Him.  He is not a credit card or a “get out of jail free” card.  He is a loving father who seeks to correct us and refine us to help us grow into the successful, blessed children we were created to be.  Is the price worth it?  We each must answer this question on our own…for me, there has been nothing more satisfying, invigorating, encouraging, and calming as the love of Christ once I became saved.  It cost me friends, family and financial opportunities, and it has changed my lifestyle, but the price was well worth it when I see my life today and look back to what it once was.

If you want this peace, you need to come to God through Jesus Christ with humility and an obedient spirit.  Psalm 51:17 tells us that [our]  sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe, and we are right to fear (respect) Him and seek the inner peace we all desire through humble obedience. knowing that He who loves us, will grant us this peace.

May God Bless You, today and always as you face each day seeking your own internal peace and joy!

The Power of Prayer

We cannot underestimate the power of prayer.  Prayer is the method God created for us to communicate with Him, and it is the means to share our problems, seek advice and ask for blessings.

We believe and open our hearts, he hears and responds.  Prayer is not a one way conversation, and it is not an open-credit card.  Many turn from God or lose faith and hope when prayers seem to be unanswered.  However for prayers to “work” we must start with faith, understand that His ways and His time are not our ways and our time, and trust Him completely to respond to us when and how He chooses. God sees all, he is the Alpha and the Omega, we get lost in details.  His goal is to build our faith, ours frequently is to achieve some immediate gratification which without the benefit of a long-term view can often be the wrong solution to whatever we are going through.

Whatever you are facing, please remember this: There are seasons for each of us.  Nothing is stagnant. Nothing good lasts forever and nothing bad remains forever.  Only God remains the same from the beginning of time. Seek His face each day, ask for forgiveness for failings, ask for strength to deal with problems, and don’t be afraid to ask a big God for big blessings….He loves you and wants you to be blessed!

Not sure how to pray?  Christ actually gave us some instruction as to how, through Him we can reach God with prayer:

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.   Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  Matthew 6:9-13.

Have a great day and a beautiful weekend!

 

 

 

Temptations and Tests, How to Know the Difference

God’s school of life prepares us for the calling He has unique to each of us.  He knows us best, and he will test us to build perseverance, to refine us, to strengthen us so that we can mature.  God’s tests also help us learn crucial lessons we need to learn, and these tests are tailored to fit each of us and the plans He has for us.

God knows us!  He provides enough joy to encourage us, enough love to strengthen us, enough success to build our confidence, enough suffering to force us to depend on Him, and enough confusion to make us seek His face.  All is designed to build our faith and create the path He has laid out for us to reach our intended victory!

Tests are not temptations!  Temptations are the Enemies’ method of seeking our downfall…to distract us from God, to turn us from righteousness, and to blind us from Faith so that we stumble and fall and never reach God’s destination for us.

As you walk life’s path, you must learn to discern temptations from tests.  One builds us up, the other tears us down.  One may be hard and involve temporary suffering, but will result in the betterment of life, while the other looks and feels pleasurable at the outset, yet ultimately results in pain and suffering, to ourselves and those around us, as well as separation from God.

Remember, we may not always understand why we are being tested…but we must in all ways trust in God to know what is best for us.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.  As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than yours.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

May the Lord Bless You as you continue to walk in faith and encounter both testing and temptation along the way!