Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thy Kingdom Come . . .  It’s all about the Kingdom.  The Kingdom is the Good News.  While among us, Jesus preached the Kingdom of God -- revelation that came of His intimacy with the Father.  Jesus urged us to pray that the Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. [Matthew 6:10]  Jesus came as the Living Word, and He sent the Holy Spirit to be our Teacher and Comforter that we might have a taste of heaven -- a precursor of God’s coming glory --dwelling with us and even in us, here in this world.

 “And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the LORD, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, all of which is from the LORD, who is the Spirit.”  -- 2 Corinthians 3:18

 And Jesus then He told us to occupy until He returns, to go to the nations and make disciples, and to do great exploits in His name. [Titus 2:11-13, Matthew 10:7-8, John 14:12]

May this monthly message be a catalyst for Kingdom living.  May it inspire you as you labor to usher in the Kingdom each day, and as you present all that you are as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, and pleasing to God.  [Romans 12:1] Brokenness . . . breakthrough . . . breakout . . . blessings -- my prayer, in Jesus’ name, for you!  Amen.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s delight to give you the Kingdom.”  -- Luke 12:32
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The Red Carpet Treatment.  [April 2011]  Am I a “Hollywood” Christian?  Does my “act” line up with what I know of God’s Word?
Scripture teaches us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. [James 1:22]  Since we can’t do what we don’t know, it’s clearly a good thing to read and understand the Bible.  Yet doing what we know, performing in a way that agrees with God’s Word, is better still.  In fact, it’s required of those who wish to mature in the faith.  Once we consistently meet this goal, however, does it mean we’ve arrived?  Can we then expect the “red carpet treatment”?

As Savior, Jesus came to cleanse us of all our sins -- those we’ve already committed, those that tempt us even now, and those which may defile us in times to come, especially if not acknowledged and confessed.  All these sins -- past, present, and future -- are already forgiven because of the love and all-sufficient grace of God.  Hallelujah!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  -- John 3:16

If we are in Christ, sin no longer defines who we are.  We are set free to be the righteousness of God. [John 8:36, 2 Corinthians 5:21]   Jesus is Lord of all things past, present, and future.  He is also Lord of the memories which shaped our past, the conscious mind which shapes our present, and the imaginations which will shape our future.

“Jesus Christ is the same today and yesterday and forever.”   -- Hebrews 13:8

Jesus is to be Lord of the body, heart, and soul, and we are to be like Him, conformed to His image.  All that Jesus represents, all that is written in scripture, and all that the Holy Spirit leads us to believe and do -- all of this is holy and true in the heart and eyes of God.  And all this is applicable to all persons, all places, and all periods in time.

“He Himself is before all things and all things hold together in Him.”  -- Colossians 1:17 

Now, back to our opening inquiry.  Does my act line up with God’s Word?  And, having become consistent in performing the Word, have I arrived? 

“The LORD does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  -- 1 Samuel 16:7

When did you last ask of the Lord, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Show me if there be any deception or wickedness within”? [Psalm 139:23]  How is your heart?  A good act, even one birthed from truth and the desire to obey, will produce a godly walk and heavenly reward only if flowing from a heart filled with God’s gifts of love and faith.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  -- Hebrews 11:6

 Any other work, no matter how godly it may appear on the outside, is only chaff that will be burned in God’s all-consuming fire.

 “Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or set their hopes on such things which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides to us all things for our enjoyment.  Tell them to do good, to be rich in kind deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others.  In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future, and so lay hold of what is truly life.”  -- 1 Timothy 6:17-19

If we are to see God’s Kingdom manifest in this world, in our lives, and in the lives of others, we must ask, “Am I a doer of the Word, or a hearer only?”  We must also ask, “Am I being conformed and transformed into the image of Christ?  Does God’s Word represent not only what I do, but also, in the deep places of my heart, who I am?”

We are not called to walk the red carpet after all, but rather the narrow way that is the path of the cross.  For Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for us, this path was made scarlet by the shedding of His blood.  Are you willing, even if it causes you pain, to lay down your life -- your thoughts, your feelings, your will, your “rights”?  Will you be a living sacrifice for the Kingdom of God so that others might live and come to know His love and saving grace?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bread of Content

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. 
Proverbs 30:8b-9
How would our lives be different if we trusted God to provide for our daily needs?  Not just the basic physical needs, but ALL of our needs; our emotional needs, our financial needs, and our spiritual needs?
I was pondering this very question this week as I meditated on this particular chapter of Proverbs. (I have taken up the challenge that Solomon posed when he said, “Get wisdom.  Get understanding.”)
“Give me just enough…”  There is profound wisdom in the contentedness of “just enough.”  Instantly my mind flashed to the Israelites in the wilderness and God choosing to feed them from His very own hand by raining manna down to them every morning.  They were told to gather just enough to feed everyone in their tent for that day.  If they took more than that, or if they tried to save it for another day (aside from the Sabbath) it became full of maggots and began to smell! 
What was God trying to teach here about His provision? First of all, he told the Israelites that at twilight you will eat meat and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.  He wanted them to know that HE was their God because HE was the one providing for them.  Secondly, God told them to gather enough for that day because this was His way of testing them to see if they would follow his instructions.  Our actions prove what or whom we place our faith in.  Do I trust God to provide for my needs or do I only trust in myself or other people?
All throughout scripture we see that God wants us to be satisfied with “enough” while He goes on to prove that He is much MORE than enough.  Think of the feeding of the 5,000…there was more than enough!  What about the widow’s oil?  More than enough.
In the book of John, Jesus tells us, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” He will provide what we need.  HE is enough.
These days we tend to worry a lot about money and the economy.  We are worried we might not have enough, but how are we defining “enough?”  Enough to meet our needs or enough to live the lifestyle we think we deserve?  This brings us back to our Proverb…
We don’t want to have too much because then we tend to forget who our provider is. We begin to believe that WE are our own providers and we place ourselves in the position that God should have in our lives.  So what happens when we lose that job or can’t pay that bill?  We come to a crisis of faith!  If we have too little, we can become desperate and once again because we trust in ourselves and not God, we can easily fall into sinful acts such as lying, cheating, or stealing to meet our needs.  The ability to be content hinges on our faith in God’s promises and on our obedience to his word.
What things am I always “complaining” or worrying about just like the Israelites?  Does my impatience with His timing make me behave like them?  Think about it.  Did they realize how awesome it was that God was miraculously feeding them from His very hand each day?  All they had to do was go get it?  Do I do that?
Never was the hand of God so strong upon them as when they were in the wilderness yet they failed to recognize their incredible favor and took it for granted.  Worse yet, they became so spoiled that they began to focus on what they DIDN’T have.
We tend to apply this scripture to God’s provision of physical needs but what about applying it to our spiritual needs?  The question that came to my mind was, Do I spend so much time begging God to “show me” what He want me to do, that I’m missing what He IS doing in my life right now?  When I read and receive revelation from His word can I be content and enjoy that time in His presence?  Admittedly, I get so caught up at times with what I’m receiving that I constantly find myself saying, “What do you want me to do with this Lord?”  I struggle a lot with just being content to receive and not DO!
I saw the silliness of this when I pictured the Israelites standing out in a field full of manna and saying, “God, this is awesome!  This is wonderful!  This is certainly from the Lord! What do you want me to do with this Lord?”  And Him saying,
“Good grief, JUST EAT IT!”  Ha ha! 
Lord, help me just to be in awe of your faithfulness and your miraculous presence in my life. You ARE my daily bread…my source for existence.  Help me to just be content to receive that. Thank you for giving me what I need for today.  You know what I need to sustain me. Help me not to constantly want to run ahead of you that I might “disown” you and believe that I can do anything by myself or become complacent and fail to see the opportunities and blessings you have put right in front of me for today.
I can enjoy where I am because you are always more than enough.  You are my bread for content!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Faith Comes by Hearing…

Bible teacher and writer Beth Moore explains in one of her books, Believing God, that there is a big difference between ‘believing in God’ and ‘believing God.’ She argues that believing that God exists is completely different from believing what He says to us in His Word and how that applies to our lives. Indeed, many people say that they believe in God’s existence, but more often than not their profession of faith can easily be followed by the statement, “I just don’t know anything about Him or the difference He can make in my life.” Now, what good is it to believe in God, when we don’t know the role He plays in the world today and especially in our individual lives?

Hebrews 11:6 says: Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. There is an important truth in this verse. Not only must we believe in God’s existence, but we must understand that He has blessings and rewards for those who believe and seek Him. But how do we get to that point? One way to acquire this kind of faith according to Romans 10:17 is by learning what God says in His Word. Here the apostle Paul says that, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Therefore, in order to go beyond simply believing in God’s existence to the point of trusting Him completely, we must hear/read His Word and meditate upon its truths. We also need to cultivate our relationship with God through prayer and daily interact with Him.

In other words, if we want our faith in God to make a difference in our lives, we must seek real knowledge of Him by learning who He is, what pleases and displeases Him, and what He thinks and says about us. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has good plans for our lives, to prosper us and give us a future and a hope. But how can we fulfill His good plans for us, if we don’t know anything about them?

Therefore, the question confronting us today is, “Will we take the time to get to know God?”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big decision?

Big decision?
Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Pride is essentially a focus on self vs. focus on God.  It is when you do things to glorify yourself and not him.  It is a place where your ego is attached.  When our egos get involved, we become prone to offense and hurt feelings.  We say and do things that are not loving and we destroy our testimony as a Christ follower.  Pride will always cause us to expose the “unclean” parts of our hearts.

When we think we know it all, when we never feel the need to ask God, we act in pride.  How many times have we acted without consulting the Lord and experienced “disgrace” because of it?  When we find ourselves facing decisions of any size when we are in difficult situations, we need to be humble enough to go to God first!  No matter how large or small the decision!

Why don’t we ask?  Do we just not think about it?  Is it a lack of relationship?  Is it rebellion?  Do we know what God says about the matter, but just desire to do what makes US feel good at the time? Is it just easier to do it our way?  Is it lack of faith?  Do we just not believe that God care about EVERYTHING that concerns us?

His omnipotence is our strength and our peace.  When we ASK, we receive the wisdom of the creator of the Universe!  Who better to advise us than He who is sovereign over all things? 

Hmmmm.  “With humility comes wisdom. “

 How great is it to know that all we have to do is ask and receive the wisdom of God!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


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