Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good Thoughts

There’s a lot to be said for positive thinking. The Bible even tells us to think on the good things. That’s the pithy version of Philippians 4:8, which says, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)

We also read in Proverbs 3:7 - For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… (KJV)

So we know that what we think about is very important, even to God. But does what we think override what God says? Never.

I know a man that thinks that when his life is over he will simply cease to exist. He regularly tells me that he’s just not going to think about whether there’s an afterlife or not. “Whatever is going to happen, will happen,” he says.

But God, in His wisdom, allows us to choose what will happen. His Word spells it all out quite clearly. Joshua 24:15 starts out - And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve… (KJV)

Like the man of God in the pulpit last Sunday said, you can deal with this, or you can deal with that. You can deal with what God requires of you, or you can deal with eternal damnation.

To say this isn’t fair is to not look at the big picture. Humankind sins against the God that created us. The penalty for sin is death and eternal punishment. But God in His mercy provided as escape from that penalty; He sent His Son Jesus to bare our punishment for us. He didn’t have to do that, but His love for us compelled Him.

Just thinking nice thoughts about a pleasant afterlife, or that there is no afterlife at all, isn’t enough to secure peace for your spirit. Your spirit lives forever – somewhere. You get to choose where.

Choose you this day whom ye will serve….

Friday, July 20, 2012

One Brick at a Time, Sweet Jesus

So, those stones, or bricks, of which we speak, are made up of our own sin – requiring repentance, and of the sins of others – requiring forgiveness. What else might they be made of or cut from?

If I grow up thinking my neighbor hates me because she never comes out to see me or play with me, but the reality of it is that she’s got some sickness I know nothing about that keeps her housebound, what can we call the material that makes up this brick? I call it deception. It wasn’t the neighbor girl that deceived me, it was lack of knowledge.

When I think I know everything, or enough about a matter to form an opinion or belief about it, I might be ripping myself off.

We can never know enough about God and His Word; this is why we’re instructed to stay in His Word continually. About the time we think we “know it all” deceptions come in like an avalanche and it commonly looks like confusion or loss or the belief of an outright lie.

That (imaginary) neighbor girl had no intention to deceive me; I created the  deception in my own mind. Enlightenment about her sickness could have saved me from those feelings of rejection.

We can apply this on a broad scale and we can shine it into the smallest deceptions in our lives.

Just a few of the scriptures that speak to us of the lack of knowledge or sense, include:

Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Isaiah 5:13 Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.

Hosea 4:6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.

And Proverbs 29:18 tells us: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  – And without the knowledge of the things of God, any vision we have is askew.

So once again, I’m going to point us back to God’s Word; back to reading, listening to and obeying God’s Word. There we will gain the knowledge we need to see as much of the picture as we need to see in order to not be deceived and to uncover the deceptions already in place. This is where we’ll learn to prosper and live lives pleasing to God.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Brick Work

So, some of the bricks in our walls represent the sin in our lives. Those are tough ones to disassemble. But we can do it.

Other bricks in our walls represent the sins of others. When we sin, we aren’t the only ones affected by that sin. Our sin affects everyone around us, whether we realize it or not. Yes, even our secret sins. Just as when others sin, sometimes we’re the one in the fallout.

So to pull out those bricks, we need the essential key of forgiveness. I’ve written about this before, but it keeps resonating in my heart, so I’ll keep writing about it. Maybe it’s more for me than you.

Matthew 6:14 & 15 tell us, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (KJV)

Matthew 14:21 & 22 go on to say, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (KJV)

Forgiving is a big deal to God. He mercifully forgives and expects us to do likewise. Even the familiar prayer many of us say from memory indicates that we already know this when we declare: …and forgive us our debts/trespasses/sins…as we forgive others… If God were only as forgiving as we are, we’d all burn in hell forever.

But forgiving comes easy to God, we contend. Thank God for His mercy, but our sin grieves Him far more than the sins of others grieve us. Not so, you say? While it is accurate to say that the sins of others can cripple us, suck us down into victimhood and torment our minds. They can sometimes scar us physically and emotionally. They can haunt us, playing out in our memories over and over again. Believe me, I know.

But Jesus says, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 KJV) This is why He lovingly instructs us to forgive those who have sinned against us; to set us free to live abundantly!

Forgiveness is not giving permission to anyone to hurt you or take advantage of you time and time again. Forgiveness does not suggest that what they’ve done is okay. Forgiveness says nothing about what they’ve done – but everything about who you are. Forgiveness set you free to knock down a few more of the bricks in your walls.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

One Brick at a Time

We weren’t born knowing everything we’ll need to know and armed with all the weapons we’ll use in warfare. Even Jesus learned (Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. KJV) But everything we need is already made available to us through God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. But it’s our responsibility to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” – 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

We need to read from God’s Word daily and ask Him to reveal its secrets to us; secrets that are not hidden from us, but for us. 

Many have gone before us and share their insight through speaking engagements and books. I’m reading several books at once and will attempt to share what I’m learning. (I’ll reference any books I quote.) Demolishing these walls will take time and effort on our part, but it doesn’t have to drain our strength and consume the rest of our lives. God has purpose for us in wholeness, that’s where He wants us.

To establish a firm foundation in Christ, in Whom is found true freedom from the confines of those walls we’ve erected over time, we want to dive into scripture and discover the basis for that firm foundation.

In 2 Timothy 2:19 we read: Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (KJV)

So, the first, and for many of us, the hardest thing we need to do is depart from iniquity. What does that mean? According to the word iniquity means: 1) gross injustice or wickedness. 2) a violation of a right or duty; wicked act; sin. For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll whittle that down to say that we need to depart from sin. That same source tells us that the word, depart, means: 1) to go away; leave. 2) to diverge or deviate. 3) to pass away, as from life or existence: die. Clearly God wants us to “go away” from sin; to “die” to sin; but I took a better look at the word diverge. It means: 1) to move, lie, or extend in different directions from a common point; branch off. 4) to turn aside or deviate, as from a path, practice, or plan.

Clearly we are to turn aside from, deviate from, move in a different direction from, go away from and/or die to – the practice of sin.

Some of us might be blinded enough to think we don’t sin. Let’s see what the Bible says about that.

Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

1 John 1:8 says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Verse 10 goes on to say, If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  (KJV)

1 John 2:9 says, He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.  (KJV)

But praise be to God for 1 John 1:9, which says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (KJV)

So many of us claim to be Christians but continue in our sin. It make us look bad, and it makes God look bad to a world looking for answers, as if His grace and mercy are for nothing, as though He doesn’t really save or heal.

All of the bricks in our walls are not there because of our sin. But some of them are cut straight out of the rocks of sin we allow to continue in our lives. Take heed to 1 John 1:9 – get those sins confessed and repent of them; turn away from them; depart from them; refuse to give them place in your life for another minute. Will it be easy or automatic? Nope. We’ll need God’s help. Most of what He requires of us depends on Him and the power He gives us for the asking.

None of the promises in the Bible are ours if we don’t depart from sin.

The next brick isn’t a little one either…

Friday, July 6, 2012

Humpty Dumpty Sat on a......

So these walls that seem to bounce our prayers back to us as though they never pierced the heavenlies, what do they look like and how do we tear them down?

I can only write from my perspective and the things I believe God has shown me. You have your own journey, your own discoveries and revelations and promises to cherish. I hope you’ll share them with those you love. Seldom is revelation to be kept secret, we cannot hide our light under a basket; we’re instructed to let it shine.

The love God fills us with is none other than His own love. He professes love because He IS love. This love doesn’t cause an illumination around us that’s merely an inch or two deep, the light of this love radiates all the way from one soul to another and back.

One plan of the enemy is to convince us to keep to ourselves, that our lives are no one else’s business and their lives are none of our business; all foolishness and lies.

It’s easy for Satan to convince us to keep to ourselves in a society that breeds interaction through electronic means. It’s easy to hide our feelings behind a computer screen. But there is give and take via the internet. There can even be a degree of intimacy. The written word is powerful. Forgiveness can be extended, encouragement can be given, and sorrow can be related, we can entertain, we can uplift and teach, we can share prayers and needs, all through social media. Time and thoughts can be shared quite well over long distances, but generally speaking, we can love more intimately through touch.

The people we surround ourselves with on a daily basis either know we have nothing to give them, or have the privilege of receiving the love of God we share. If we’re not sharing it, there can only be two reasons why: 1) We haven’t received it 2) We’ve been deceived into believing our love isn’t good enough to share. If you’ve received God’s love, it is the only love truly worth sharing.

We all have comfort zones, but I believe we sometimes use them as invisible safety nets. Of course, when the Holy Spirit of God nudges us to proceed with caution, there is trouble ahead. But hiding from awkward situations or circumstances that create an obvious uneasiness because we’re afraid or feel we’re unequipped to face them means we’ve not taken the necessary time to prepare ourselves for the missions God’s placed in our way. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls, and I don’t believe you’d be reading this if He hadn’t called you.

I plan to share new blog posts in this series every other day to keep this train of thought moving forward and not overwhelm anyone with thousands of words in one single post. So stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'll Huff and I'll Puff....

It’s funny; sometimes you pray and know you’ve heard from God. Other times, you’re not even in prayer and God speaks to you and you recognized Him. But sometimes you travail in prayer and feel as though you’ve run into a brick wall, as though God’s not listening and you may begin to wonder if He’s really even there. We’re so fickle.

That brick wall is ours. God didn’t place it there. We’ve built it up over time. Each brick is a lie we’ve believed. Eventually the wall becomes sizeable, looking insurmountable. We built it up – and we need to tear it down.

But God doesn’t leave us to our own devices. He clearly tells us that “there’s a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25 KJV)

He provides the key to every problem, the solution for every riddle, instructions for removing every brick in the wall. We need to search out His Word, and learn it, knowing it’s good and profitable.

There are effective ways to pull down the wall that hinders our communication with God, which threatens our faith in God. Though it can be a very intimidating wall with a commanding presence, it can crumble like the Walls of Jericho. Surely the Israelites thought God’s instruction for bringing that wall down were silly, too. But it led them to victory. Plans they created on their own may have sounded more practical but, if in direct mocking and opposition to God’s direction, they’d have failed miserably; their way would have led to death.

Before you can submit yourself (your heart; mind, will and emotions, your body, your family, your finances, your health and all that makes you who you are) to God and His Ways, you’ll first need to choose to do so, and then follow through. So whatever it takes for you to come to a place to make this decision, get on your knees and wrestle it out with God.

I’ll follow this up with some biblical instructions for tearing down the walls that if left untouched, will eventually wind up imprisoning us, where, if left alone, despair would take our hope – then our lives.