Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Suggestions For A New Years Resolution"

Each year at this time as we reflect on the year that has just past and look forward toward the New Year ahead, many of us consider making new year’s resolutions, hoping to make some positive changes in our lives. If you haven’t yet come up with a New Years Resolution, you might consider one of mine from the list below?

1. Seek God and His kingdom ways above all else.

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His Kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right) and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” Matt. 6:33 Amp

2. Develop a hunger and thirst for God.

“As the deer pants and longs for the water brook so I pant and long for you, O God. My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” Pm. 42:1-2 Amp

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matt. 5:6

3. Seek God’s wisdom and direction in all things.

“If any of you are deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God, [who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.” James1:5 Amp

“For I always pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him.” Eph. 1:17 Amp

4. Let peace rule in your heart and life.

“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state)..” Col. 3:15 Amp

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in you.” Isaiah 26:3 Amp

5. Seek for a God inspired vision.

“Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God] the people perish,” Pro. 29:18 Amp

6. Praise God continually in all circumstances.

“Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.” Heb. 13:15 Amp

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“Christmas Without A Gift?”

Can you imagine being a child and waking up Christmas morning excitedly expecting to find a large beautifully wrapped gift under the tree with your name on it, only to discover that there isn’t one? Everyone else in the family has a gift under the tree except you? The rest of the family’s gifts are beautiful and glowing, they are exciting and fun. They all seem to fit their taste and personalities perfectly. Gifts that were obviously chosen specifically for them, but there is no gift for you! How sad and disappointed you would be. How left out and rejected you would feel.

Fortunately you will never face this disappointment because as a son or daughter of man, God always has gifts waiting under his tree with your name on them. They are always available to you if you will just accept them. The first is the gift of salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8) The second gift comes wrapped up in the same package as the first. It is the gift of eternal life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Many people try to buy or earn these gifts, but like all true gifts, they cannot be purchased or earned by the recipient. Because of His great love and grace, Jesus has paid the price for these gifts on our behalf. When we receive Jesus, (God’s ultimate gift to mankind) we receive the gift of salvation, and the gift of eternal life, all as a package deal.

As followers of Jesus, God has even more gifts than these for us. Like the variety of gifts under your tree on Christmas morning, God gives each of us specific gifts designed especially for us. Gifts tailor made according to our personality and purpose. Hebrews 2:4 call them the gifts of the Spirit. “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligent; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Rom. 12:6-8 NASV) “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then the gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” (1 Cor. 12:28 NASV) There is no one who is left out. God has a gift for everyone. If you haven’t discovered yours yet, look a little harder. Maybe it is just lying in the corner behind all the torn wrapping paper. Sometimes the gifts others receive may look more appealing than ours. But when we feel this way, it is no doubt because we haven’t fully discovered how to use our gift yet.

God has many wonderful gifts for you this Christmas: the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life, and the gifts of the Spirit. They were all purchased and wrapped in love especially for you. So don’t let another Christmas pass you by with your gift unopened!

“As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another…” 1 Peter 4:10 Amp

Monday, December 7, 2009

“Living From The Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil”

Do you know that it was never God's will for you to choose between good and evil, that you were never suppose to choose between what is right and what is wrong?

Does that statement shock you? Some of you are thinking that this is nearly blasphemous. Others of you are thinking that the Watchman has finally lost his screws, blew his cork, or fell off the deep end. You may ask, don’t we have to “know” the difference between right and wrong? Aren’t we supposed to choose good instead of evil? Isn’t 99% of what religion has been teaching us all our lives been about choosing good and avoiding evil? Hold on, I can very easily prove to you based on God's Word that the above statement is true! However the implications of this truth, (if you really get a hold of it) may rock your Spiritual world, just as it is rocking mine.

When God made man, he put him into a garden specially prepared for him. There were two special trees in this garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The scripture states, And the Lord God commanded the man, “you are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” And there you have it, God never intended for man to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus man was never meant to have to choose between good and evil, right and wrong. His choice was only between life and death.

Because man chose poorly, sin entered his world, severing his relationship with God. Although the consequences of this sin were catastrophic, God used the knowledge of the difference between good and evil to bring forth His own good purposes. God used this knowledge as an act of love and grace that He imparted to us, for although this knowledge brought condemnation and shame, it also shows us that we are guilty of sin and revealed to us our need to have our relationship with God restored. (Rom. 3:19-20, 7:7) That knowledge of separation and sin is the first thing we must all see before we will take steps to mend our relationship with God.

However once we “are” born again and our relationship with God “has” been restored, we are no longer meant to live out our lives following after the “knowledge” that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought us. Our decisions should no longer be filtered through “is this good or bad?” We are no longer to be dictated to by “is this right or wrong?” Our minds are to be renewed so that this is no longer the question we ask.

Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day. In other words they talked with God, they communed with God face to face. They had relationship with Him. They heard Him directly express his heart to them. They saw what God did. They knew God’s desires “for” them, and what God desired “from” them, because they “knew” Him. Likewise once our spirits have been quickened by God's Spirit, and we are a new creation in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17); we must learn to hear God's voice teaching us His ways, and feel what His heart is communicating to ours. We must learn to see what God is doing so we can do likewise. We are no longer to be making our decisions from our minds, based on “is this right or wrong?“ Instead we should be asking, “What is God’s saying concerning this, what is His heart on this matter?”

This is how Jesus lived when He was here on earth. He did nothing based on whether it was right or wrong, good or evil. He lived his life doing what the Father would show Him to do. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his father doing, because whatever the father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) Granted, to live out this kind of life, we “must” be able to hear God’s voice. But Jesus certainly taught that we should hear Him, for He clearly said that if we were His sheep, we “would” hear His voice. (John 10:3-9)

Living by following the Spirit and hearing directly from God, as Jesus did, is much more difficult and frightening than following the law. That is why the Israelites told Moses in Exodus 20:19, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” It is much easier to live by a set of rules of right and wrong, than it is to follow and do what God may say to us directly. Especially in our day of relativism, when it is politically correct for everyone to make up for themselves their own idea of what right and wrong/good and evil look like.

Even when we do try to live for God by following the law, (be it the written commandments or our inner law of good and evil) we will always find ourselves in a place of guilt and condemnation, for we will always fall far short of its dictates. If I pray two hours a day, my inner law of good and evil may say I should have prayed six hours. If I give $200 dollars to feed the poor, my inner law may say I should have given $1000. The book of Romans chapter 8 teaches us much about walking with the Spirit verses living from our minds and a set of rules. It begins, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1-2) Through grace (because of Jesus sacrifice) we have been set free from the penalty and the letter of the law. Called instead to be led daily by the Spirit. It may always be good and never evil to give your $200 to feed the hungry, but the Spirit may lead you give $1000 or He may lead you to not give anything at all. “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:5) Following after the Spirit will always bring life, while following what we see as right and wrong, good and evil will always bring death and condemnation. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be Spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6) “…for the code of the law kills, but the Holy Spirit makes alive.” (2Cor. 3:6 Amp)

When we live from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of being led by the Spirit, we are often quick to judge others' actions based on our measurement of good and evil. We are particularly judgmental of the evil things that we “don’t” do. However, if we live communing with the Spirit, we will see others through God's heart of love, and therefore can extend them the same grace and love that God has so lavished upon us.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)

Many things in our lives are neither good nor evil, but that’s not the proper question anyway. It may be a good thing, but is it a God thing? It may be a good idea, but is it a God idea. Being led of the Spirit in all things rather than being led by the “knowledge tree” is certainly not for the immature. I wish I could give you a three step lesson on how to do all of this, but when it comes to being led by the Spirit instead of the mind, I will admit to you that I still have my Pampers on. But what I do know is this; we must spend time in the Word. We must spend time in the Spirit's presence. We must believe we can and will hear God clearly, and then begin acting, believing, and expecting accordingly. We must be willing to “miss it” sometimes in order to “find it.” For that is how we will learn to know the master's voice from all the other voices. We did not learn to walk without falling, and we will not learn this skill without some failure as well.

As a spirit filled believer, it is time I take the sword of the Spirit and chop down the tree of good and evil that still resides within me, and resolve to diligently seek and be attentive in hearing God’s voice, and strive to be continually led by the “Spirit” rather than by my “mind.”

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. But a natural man does not accept the thing of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised of no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:12, 14-16)