Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Quote Worth Requoting

“If Christians would spend as much time, energy and money getting ready for the second coming of Christ as they do celebrating his first coming, they would accomplish GREAT things.”  

Monday, December 20, 2010

“His Presents vs. His Presence”

Living here in the western world, most of us have images of Christmas that would include a tree decorated with lights, ornaments, and garland, with lots of presents piled high underneath.  From childhood we are enamored with the vision of an abundance of gifts with our name on them.  Gifts coming in all shapes and sizes filled with every imaginable thing that would satisfy our every wish.  Things that not only meet all our needs, but things that bring us comfort and keep us entertained.  Not only are we enamored with the things in the gifts, but we are also obsessed at the thought of getting them at no cost to us.  That’s why we love lotteries, grants, and other kinds of handouts.   

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking carries over into our Christian walk as well.  We often treat God as if He is our personal genie in a bottle, we expect to rub the lamp of prayer, and out should pop the answer to our every wish and desire.  Like a child at Christmas we will seek vigorously for God’s presents to be piled high under our prayer tree, and like a child we get anxious and irritated that Christmas morning and the revealing of our gifts has not yet arrived.  Sadly, we are much more interested in God’s presents, then His presence. The Bible clearly states that God “gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:8)  However, God's presents are not to become a substitute for his presence. 

I love my grandkids immensely, and our tree is piled high with gifts for them.  But if the day should come when instead of running to me with hugs, kisses, and a big “I Love You Papa;” they came running to me, feeling in my pockets, and declaring with a stern tone, “Where are my presents?”  I am quite sure they would cease to receive presents until their love and desire for me, exceeded their desire for the gifts I could give them. 

So the question we must ask ourselves is this, “How much time do I spend thinking about how badly I need God’s presents vs. how badly I need God’s presence? How much time in prayer do I spend seeking God’s presents vs. seeking God’s presence?”    It is right and good to seek God for the answers to our needs.  However out greatest need is not about earthly things, or even the healing of our earthly bodies.  Our greatest need is to have our hearts and souls flooded with God’s presence; to be flooded with His grace, and His love, to know God, and to be known by Him.  When we get enveloped in God’s presence, concern over things and problems will melt away as we marinate in His glory.  There is no substitute for God’s presence, but it doesn’t come without a cost.  We must seek in order to find, we must knock in order for the door to be opened. (Matt. 7:7)   There is no fast food version for God’s presence, but it will be worth the time, effort, and the wait.

“Lord, make us hungry for you!  May we desperately thirst for your presence.  May we aggressively seek your face, and expectantly wait to experience your glory.  Above all else that we do today,  may we seek your Christmas presence.”

“As the deer pants and longs for the water brooks, 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

O God , you are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for you, in a dry and weary land where no water is.” (Pm. 63:1) Amp

“When you said, seek My face (inquire my presence as your vital need).  My heart says to You, Your face (your presence), will I seek, (inquire for and require of necessity and on the authority of your Word).” (Pm.27:8) Amp

 “I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in his Word do I hope.   I am looking and waiting for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.” (Pm. 130:5-6) Amp

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

“Acting Like Your Father”

Christmas is that time of year when our minds are scrambling, trying to figure out what kinds of gifts to give to the people we love.  Gifts that would meet our loved ones needs.  Gifts that would bring them joy and speak to who they are.  For some this process is exciting and fun; for others it is frustrating and stressful.  For me, not having very many gifts to give, (as my wife takes care of most of that) Christmas has become a season that I can spend my time reflecting upon the magnitude of the greatest gift ever given.  A gift that came packaged as a new born baby, wrapped up not in gleaming ribbons and colorful paper, but in swaddling clothes.  A gift not place under a tree, but in a manger in a smelly barn.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)   It is one thing for us to give gifts to others out of our abundance, it is quite another to give to someone what we value most.  To give up our most valued treasure.  That is what God did. He gave what he deemed most valuable, His only son in “whom he was well pleased.”  God gave us his best while we were still rebelling against Him. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) 

Not only did God love us so much he gave us his most valuable treasure, but scripture teaches us that Jesus gave us his most valuable treasure as well, his very life.  “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal.2:20)  Jesus considered you more valuable than himself, so he gave his life blood in order to redeem you.  When Jesus was dying on the cross those watching from the crowd made a very prophetic statement, for they said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” (Matt. 27:42)  And that was true. He could save us or he could save himself, but he could not do both.  For if he chose to save himself then we would be doomed to eternal death.  Amazingly he chose to save us by giving himself.

Christmas can be a time of physical and financial drain; we can easily lose perspective and get lost in the hubbub of activities. We often view giving as a burden rather than a blessing.  However, try to remember as you go about your Christmas busyness- you are never more like God, you are never more like Jesus, than when you love and when you give.  Love is who God is; giving is what he does.  So when you love, and when you give, you are being like Jesus. Give to your friend; give to your family but don’t forget to give to those in need and those who are hurting, not just those in your neighborhood but everywhere in the world hurting people are found.  Look for opportunities to give to people you don’t even know, just to let them know God sees them and cares about them.  Giving is not restricted to finances, but also includes our time, talents, and energy.  If we are to give as Jesus gives, we will freely give love and grace, forgiveness and encouragement; even to those who seemingly least deserve it.  How can I withhold forgiveness, when God has forgiven me so much?  How can I withhold grace when Jesus has lavished so much grace upon me?  How can I withhold love, when Jesus gave his very life blood for me?

Once you learn to give from a heart filled with love and gratitude, pouring yourself out for others, binding up their wounds and carrying their burdens; then you will be just like your Father in heaven, who is the author of both love and giving.  “For God so loved…he gave.”  Then when your old aunt from Ohio shows up at your house this Christmas, pinches you on the cheek and says in a high pitched voice, “You act just like your father,” you will smile brightly on the inside and think, “That is what I was hoping for.”

“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

Monday, November 15, 2010


What thought comes to mind when you think of having “Access?”  Access is a very important aspect of life.  Access gets us into places, and gives us an audience with people, that others are not afforded.  Access allows us to enjoy things that others are not privileged to enjoy.  Access gets us things that others can’t have or reach.   Access can grant to you in a moment, what might otherwise take you a lifetime to accomplish.

There are many things that give us access in our daily lives.  Your keys give you access to your house and your car.  If you are a trusted employee you probably have access to buildings, offices, or equipment that you don’t even own.  Passwords give us access to computer systems from anywhere in the world.  PINs give us access to money in bank accounts even at night and on holidays.  Credit card numbers give us access to purchase products at anytime, anywhere, even when we have no money in our bank accounts.   Student I.D.s give us access to food in cafeterias as well as entrance into programs and ball games which non-students can’t attend.  Your citizenship gives you access to government protections, privileges, and benefits which a foreigner doesn’t enjoy.  

Access is a blessing that is often overlooked until it is denied.  We don’t think much about the privilege of having access to transportation until we lock our keys in our car.  We don’t think much about the easy access we have to friends and family until our cell phone or internet service stops working.  We are not generally all that thankful for having access to the power grid until a storm interrupts the electrical supply.  When the access we are use to is denied, restoring it quickly becomes a top priority.

We all want the privileges that access provide; but…what about God?    Is it possible to gain access to the Lord Almighty?  Is it possible for mere mortals to gain access to God’s power, His grace, His wisdom?   The answer is a definite yes!  “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13)   Through the sacrificial death as payment for our sin and through the resurrection, Jesus has made it “possible” for us to have access to God the Father.  But what is it exactly that gives us this access?  Is there a key, a PIN, a password of some sort?  Preachers often have people repeat the so called, sinners’ prayer, as thou it is the password that gives us access to God.  I am not necessarily opposed to repeating the sinners’ prayer, but one can chant the sinners’ prayer until their voice is spent and yet be no closer to gaining access to God than they were before.  Romans 5:1-2 clearly tells us what opens the door of access to God.  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.”  Faith is the password (so to speak) that provides the access to God’s forgiveness and righteousness which Jesus shed blood has paid for.  Though Jesus has already provided the funds to pay “our” debt, and then fill our account with “His” righteousness, without the PIN number of faith we have no access to receive that transfer.  God’s gift of grace is available to all, but only those who gain access can take advantage of it. 

I have a Dodge Ram 4x4 pickup with a V10 engine.  It has lots of power to get you through the mud and snow, as well as pull a big load.  I can park my pickup in your driveway but if you don’t have the keys, all the power that is available under the hood of that pickup would be of no use to you, because you have no access to it.  Faith is the key that gives us access, not only to salvation, but to all of God’s grace.  “we have access by faith into this grace  So what then is grace?  Grace is God’s unearned “favor” and “empowerment.”  If you are a Christian you have “by faith” already tapped into grace for salvation, but grace goes far beyond favor and empowerment “just” for the forgiveness of sin.  Grace can empower us to live a holy life, demonstrated by the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal.5:22-23)   Grace can empower us to walk in wisdom and the gifts of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 12)   Grace can empower us to reign and rule in every area of life. (Rom. 5:17)  But grace is accessedonly” through faith!  If we desire to live in God’s favor, we must live and walk by faith“And without faith it is impossible to please God.”  (Heb.11:6)

I have a sixteen foot stock trailer that hauls 6 head of cows that I pull with my Dodge pickup with the V10 engine.  I have more than enough power to pull a much larger load of cattle but my trailer doesn’t have the capacity to hold more.  My pickup has the “ability” to easily pull a 24 foot trailer, hauling 12 head of cows, but I don’t have access to one.  Therefore much of the power that is available to me is not being put to use.  Likewise we live far below the power that God intends us to live in.  God’s grace has the "ability" to lift us far above our ordinary existence, empowering us to do extraordinary feats in His name.  To do so however, we must learn to access God’s grace (favor and empowerment) through faith.  By accessing grace through faith, Joshua was able to make the sun stand still in order to accomplish what God had promised He would do through him. (Joshua 10:12-13)    Now that’s tapping into the “access”.

We cannot “make” ourselves have faith; so how do we go about building our faith in order to access this grace?  Romans 10:17 say Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”  In order to build our faith we must read the “Word of God” and apply it, not just to our heads, but primarily to our hearts.  We must find the promises of God found in the scriptures, meditate upon them, and speak them over our situations.  Not everything that happened in the Bible is a promise made directly to us, but we can certainly use what God did for others as a foundation to build our faith upon.  We can pray things like, “Lord you healed the eyes of a man born blind, you healed the woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years, you raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, so I am trusting in you to heal my child of this cancer.”  “Lord, you turned five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed 5000 people, and you caused Issac to get a 100 fold return on his crop in the middle of a famine, so I too am believing that you will supernaturally provide for my need as well.”  The Word will build our faith in “who God is,” as well as “who we are in Christ;” so that we, like Joshua, can make the sun stand still over our battles and cause the mountains that stand in the way of Gods promises to us to be hurled into the sea.

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the father.”  (John 14:12)

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is working within us.” (Eph. 3:20)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

“The Bride”

Last week my youngest daughter got married.  She was very beautiful, and was beaming with joy as she finally reached the long awaited and anticipated day when she would be joined to the one she loved and adored.  The one she longed to share her days, dreams, and even her very soul with. 

The specialness of that day didn’t just happen.  Months of preparation and planning had gone into what would culminate on this day.  Hours and hours of mental and physical labor were exerted.  Much expense was accrued for decorations, flowers, food, and cakes. 
And the bride herself; Oh the preparations that were made to make sure that she looked perfect for her betrothed.   

First comes the choosing of the perfect dress!  It must be pure white with bead work down the front, and a flowing train. Once the perfect dress is found, it must be carefully altered to fit perfectly, accentuating ones positive features and covering any flaws.  Then there is the vale and the jewelry, again chosen very carefully and purposefully. Dainty bling on the edges of the vale and the gems in the jewelry designed to sparkle in the light with every movement the bride makes. Then there are shoes, and bras, and slips, all chosen to make the bride look her best.  Then as the wedding day draws near, the bride's attention is turned to make sure her skin is soft and clear, and that her hair is cut and dyed just right, and that the perfect perfume is chosen that will linger in the heart and mind of her lover for years to come. When the morning of the wedding finally arrives, there are fingernails to be carefully painted, makeup to be meticulously applied, and hair to be styled to perfection.   After hours of painstaking care and months of preparation, the bride is ready, the marriage supper is all prepared, just an hour more to wait and her dream will finally be a reality.

Why does the bride go to all this trouble, all this effort, all this expense?   Because when the final hour arrives, as she picks up her bouquet and gazes at herself in the mirror before ascending down the aisle, her greatest hope at that moment is to look perfect for the one she loves.  When her bridegroom looks up and sees her standing in the doorway, her ultimate desire is that his breath is taken away by her beauty, and that his heart is melted by her love.  She wants to “be” perfect for the one who has captivated her heart and her life.    

Having been so personally involved in this whole wedding process, I couldn’t help but think about how the Bible refers to the followers of Jesus as the “Bride of Christ.”  God’s desire is that He could present a breathtakingly beautiful and perfect bride to His son, Jesus.  Ephesians 5:27 Amp states, “That He might present the Church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless].”  The question for us today is; are we preparing ourselves as a spotless and wrinkle free bride?  Are we clothed in righteousness, pure and white, having been washed in the blood and grace of Jesus?  Have we “adorned” ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit? (Gal 5:22-23)  Have we “altered” our lifestyle to fit perfectly with the masters will?  Are we drenched in an “aroma” of praise and worship that not only saturates the heavens but spills over into the nostrils of the people around us?   Have we taken the necessary steps to make sure our hearts are “soft” and our conscience “clear?” Is our ultimate desire to look and be perfect in His eyes?  Are we anxiously awaiting our bridegrooms return, desiring to please Him and spend our life with Him? 

Maybe we have been distracted and are so enjoying our single life that we aren’t preparing ourselves for Him?  In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins.  Five of the virgins prepared themselves for the bridegroom, and five didn’t.  When the bridegroom finally arrived, the five unprepared foolish virgins got locked out of the wedding, and began pounding on the door and crying to be let in.  The answer they received was chilling.  “Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.”  If we don’t love the bridegroom enough to prepare ourselves for Him, maybe we don’t really love him at all!  Just as an earthly bride painstakingly makes herself ready for her groom, we too should anxiously and diligently be making ourselves ready for Christ’s return.  Let us strive to be perfect for the one who has so captivated our hearts and our lives, that when he sees us on the day of His return, our beauty and love will take His breath away!

“Be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”  (2 Peter 3:15) 

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride made herself ready.  It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”  (Rev. 19:7-8)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning to Hear God’s Voice

If we are truly going to be followers of Christ, it is quite essential that we know what God’s will and way is for our life.  The scripture makes it quite clear that God has plans and purposes He has placed into us.  Plans and purposes that we were specifically “designed” to fulfill, predetermined before our birth, even before the foundation of the world.  But in order for us to walk into, and live out these plans and purposes, we “must’ be able to hear and know God’s voice.  If we can’t hear or don’t recognize God’s voice, how can we ever expect to know or fulfill God’s will?

Years ago I was not at all familiar with hearing God speak, so because I wasn’t aware of God speaking to me I use to make the negative confession that, “I couldn’t hear God’s voice.” Until one day when I was reading John 10:3-4, where Jesus says that His sheep hear His voice, and know His voice.  So based on this scripture, there was one of three options that must be true concerning this matter: (1) Jesus was lying, (2) I was not one of His sheep, or (3) I “could” hear and know God’s voice.  Therefore because I knew Jesus doesn’t lie, and I knew that I was one of His sheep, the truth had to be that I could hear and know God’s voice.  I just needed to learn “how to hear and know it.  So from that time forward I began to confess that I did hear His voice, and began to focus on recognizing it.   And little by little I did begin to recognize God speaking to me, especially through the Scriptures.  But hearing Him speak about personal directional decisions was still very difficult.

Some years later as I was seeking God’s direction on a personal matter, and getting frustrated at not hearing His answer, God gave me an object lesson about hearing Him.  I was listening to my I-Pod with ear phones in, worshiping, and enjoy the music.  I got into my tractor to go do some field work.  As soon as I turned the tractor on, I could no longer hear the music.  The I-Pod was still working, the ear phones were still plugged in, the music was still playing, but I could no longer hear it.   The noise coming from the tractor engine was drowning out the sound of the music.  It wasn’t that the music was no longer present; it was just that the sound given off by the tractor engine was overwhelming the sound coming from the I-Pod.  The music was just as loud as it had been before, but my brain could no longer pick it up.  The only sound my brain could pick up was the sound of the tractor engine.  That was when God’s Spirit invaded my day and spoke into my heart saying, “It is not that I’m not speaking to you either, or that you don’t know my voice, it is just that you are letting the noise and business of the physical world around you occupy your attention, and overwhelm my voice; thus you are not picking it up.”  Ouch!  So much for blaming God for not answering!  What I needed was to learn how to get quiet before God, and shut out the noise of the rambling world around me.  I needed to learn how to tune Him in, much like tuning in a radio to a specific station.  It is possible to quiet our spirits before God even in the midst of a noisy crowd.  But to do so we must learn to focus on the Spirit within rather than the physical things going on around us.  God does not speak to us with a shout, but instead uses a “still small voice.”

1 Kings 19 tells of a time when Elijah the prophet was exhausted, depressed, and running from his enemy.  God found him hiding in a cave and instructed him to go stand before Him on the mountain.  “And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountain and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still small voice.  When Elijah heard the voice he wrapped his face in his mantle” (1 Kings 19:11-13a AMP)  Though the Lord may display Himself with great acts from to time to time, He does not speak to us with great fan fare, but instead chooses to use a gentle whisper and a reassuring peace.  If we truly desire to know and hear Him, we will get desperate enough to do what it takes to learn to be quiet and patient before Him.  If hearing from Him is not that important to us, we will continue to say, as I use to, “I can’t hear God's voice” and continue to miss out on the blessing of God’s best for us. 

God’s latest lesson to me on hearing His voice came just a few weeks ago.  I had been seeking to know God’s will on a matter and feeling as though I wasn’t getting an answer, when the Spirit directed me to John 5:25 where Jesus said,   “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God; and they that hear shall live.”  Again the Spirit spoke into my heart saying, “The reason you don’t hear my voice more clearly is that you are not dead enough.  The deader you are, the clearer my voice will become.”  This was not my traditional understanding of the meaning of this verse, but I clearly understood what the Spirit was communicating to me.  He was not talking about being physically dead, but being dead to sin and self.  In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus said it this way, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”  Truly following after Christ requires that we die to our will and desires, and instead take on the desires and the cross of our master, Jesus.   Although we will “lose” our life in this process, Jesus assures us that this is actually the only way to save it.  I like how the Amplified Bible reads these verses.  “If any person will come after me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up the cross daily and follow me [cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and if need be, in dying also].  For whosoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he will preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death].”   

Paul also talks about this concept of us being dead to sin, and having died with Christ.  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  (Col. 3:1-3)  Because I am dead and my life is now hidden with Christ, my aim should now be seeking the things that are a priority to Him rather than seeking my own self centered and earthly priorities. The more I seek first the kingdom of God rather that the kingdom of “Me”, the more God’s will and voice will be revealed to me.  This life that I am living is not about me, and was never meant to be about me.  It is about Him and His purposes, thus the more I embrace and live out this truth, the more of Jesus I can and will receive.

I still have much to learn about hearing God’s voice, but if “the dead hear the voice of the Son of God.” Then the sooner I am dead to me and alive unto Him the sooner I will clearly hear Him speaking. 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Rev. 2:11a

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Created, then Formed

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.”    Gen. 1:1-2

I have always seen Gen. 1:1 as an overview, a summation if you will, of the whole first chapter of Genesis.  Then starting in verse 2, I thought we back tracked and were told the detailed process of how creation came about.   I no longer believe this to be so.  For the text clearly states that God indeed had already created the heavens and the earth in verse one, yet it goes on to say in verse two that, “The earth was formless and empty.”    How could the earth have no form and be void and empty, and still be considered the earth?

 In the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth, He first created them in His mind, or better said, in His will; then later He formed what He had “already” created in His will.  God made the heaven and the earth, and all that is upon the earth including you and me in His will, “before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4)  God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”  Revelation 13:8 says that Jesus was even crucified before the world began, though none of it had yet taken place.  But when the proper time came, God formed all things by speaking them into existence.  “And God said, Let there be…” and there was.  When God spoke, the physical matter was formed, and what was spoken came into a tangible existence.  First God wills something, then He forms what He has created in His will.  Much like an artist who envisions a painting or a sculpture in his mind before any of it begins to be formed with paint or in clay.  Yet with God what He has willed is just as real before it is seen, as it is after it takes on a form. 

A lack of this understanding has caused much confusion for me and many others within the body of Christ concerning righteousness and holiness.  The Bible says that through faith in the blood of Jesus we have been made righteous and holy. (1Cor. 1:29 / Rom. 6:22 )   Yet how can we be righteous when we sometimes act so unrighteous?  How can we be Holy when our actions are often so unholy?  The Bible says we are made righteous and holy by an act of God’s will through His grace. Righteousness and holiness are imputed to us, or in other words, it is “credited” to our account. (Rom.4:22-24)  Jesus took our sin and rebellion and placed them into His account, (and was punished and killed because of it) while at the same time, Jesus’ righteousness and holiness were transferred from His account into ours.  Wow, what a deal for us! What a bummer for Him!  It would sort of be like you trading assets and bank accounts with Bill Gates, (though our trade with Jesus is far, far greater.) 

So how does this trade take place you might ask?  Just as God’s Spirit was hovering over the formless and empty waters, God’s Spirit hovers over our formless and empty spirits, waiting to move upon us with creative power.  The moment we truly believe and accept God’s gift, and our faith in Jesus and His blood connects with God’s grace, life is breathed into our spirit and God immediately creates us righteous and holy, and the Spirit of God moves in and takes up residency in our hearts.  Once God has made us righteous and holy by willing it so, He then begins, by His “Word,” the process of forming us outwardly into the righteous people that He has already made  us in our spirit.   This process of forming us into what God has willed us to be, comes about through the power of the Spirit within and, “the renewing of your mind,” (Rom.12:2)  This process of the renewing of the mind comes through filling it with the “Word” of God.    Again, just as Gods spoken word formed the physical into existence, Jesus (the Word made flesh,) and the Bible (His written Word,) will form us into what God has already made or willed us to be.  Ephesians 5:26 says that we, the church, are made Holy by allowing the “Word” to wash us, “So that He (Jesus) might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word.  By studying the “Word” and  hearing it proclaimed, and then submitting to that “Word,” we will little by little begin to take on a more righteous form, or as Paul puts it in Galatians, 4:19 “until Christ be formed in you.”  As the “Word” fills us and changes our old way of thinking, into Kingdom thinking, we will become more and more Christ like, taking on more and more of His nature. “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 john 3;2)  None of us will become fully righteous “physically” while we are trapped in these earthly bodies, but we can continually take on more of Jesus’ character.  For the more time we spend in the presence of the “Word made flesh,” and the more we let the “written Word” permeate our thinking, the more we become like Christ, because the more we will “see Him as He is.”  So surrender your will to the “Word,” and let the Spirit form you into what God created you to be. 

“Every scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. (Heb. 12:16-17) Amp

If you haven’t experienced this new life in Jesus; then by “faith” accept His gift of salvation.  He will take away your sin and shame, and in return immediately make you righteous and holy by giving you His righteousness and holiness.  He will then begin the process of forming you into what you were created to be, and begin leading you in the purpose for which you were designed. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Church Hopping"

I have often heard in religious settings people warning me to beware of becoming a “church hopper”. Church hopping is always spoken of in a negative way and something that is looked down upon and something we should avoid. The thing is, as I see it, it is impossible to be a “CHURCH HOPPER.” The term “Church Hopping” is an oxymoron. It cannot be done.

Now I know what these people mean who talk about “church hopping.” They are talking about individuals who attend an assembly of believers for a while, something upsets them or they get their feeling hurt, so they leave that fellowship and move to a different assembly of believers. Once they are there for a short amount of time they are once again offended and so they move on from there looking for somewhere else to attend. This jumping from congregation to congregation is referred to as “church hopping.”

As one studies the Biblical references concerning the Church (the Ekklesia) you will soon see that the Church is not a place. The Church is not a building that can be “hopped” from! The church is not somewhere you go, but rather something you “are.” The Church is the body of Christ; it is the assembly of believers throughout the world. Anywhere members of the body of Christ are, that is where the Church is. As we use to sing in Sunday school years ago, “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.” So you see, one cannot “hop” from church to church, because there is only ONE church. You are either a member of this Church or you are not, there is no middle ground. In Matt. 16:18, Jesus says to Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Jesus was not telling Peter that he was going to construct a building on top of him. Rather, Jesus was saying that He would build an army of disciples out of those who get the revelation of who Jesus is, and what His Kingdom is. My guess is that many of the so called “church hoppers,” are not members of this true church at all. That is why they are so discontent. They are trying to fit into a body of which they are not a member, but are actually aliens to. It is like trying to graft a piece of a Buick into a human body, the two are just not compatible. We first must be regenerated by the blood of Jesus and become a new creation in Him before we will truly fit into this body (the Church).

The fact, then, that there is only one church and one body should change the way we view those who attend other fellowships than ours, or leave our fellowship to attend another. Even though those who meet down the street in a different building may believe a little differently from me, or have a different style of worship than I do; as long as they have been washed in the blood of Jesus, they are part of the same body (the same church) as me. Different fellowships of believers have different purposes and meet different needs upon the earth. A hand has a different purpose than a kidney but one is not more important than the other. They must work together in order for the body to function properly. Religion fears people leaving their assembly and going to another when that may very well be what that individual needs to do in order to fulfill his Kingdom purpose. Look at it this way-- suppose I am a surgeon and I join a group of volunteers with “Habitat for Humanity” that is building houses for the poor. I may be able to drive a nail or put up drywall and I am doing some good, but my specialty is going to waste because I am in the wrong place. My place would be to volunteer on “Mercy Ship” or some other medical charity organization in order to use my skills and fulfill my purpose to its full potential. People need to be set free and even guided to find their place and purpose, rather than being prevented and discouraged from discovering where they best belong. Whatever best fulfills Kingdom purpose is what should be our highest priority. It is not about what’s best for me or what is best for my fellowship of believers, it is about what will best advance the Kingdom and glorify the King. I don’t believe in “fellowship hopping” just because we don’t like something or because someone has offended us. However don’t let “religious guilt trips” stop you from finding your true place in the Kingdom.

The King and His Kingdom are on the move, and I certainly don’t want to be left behind because I am out of place. As a friend of mine always says, “Don’t just GO to church, BE the Church!”

“For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free: and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.” “But now we are many members yet but one body.” “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now we are the body of Christ and members in particular.” I Cor. 12:12-18, 20, 26-27

Sunday, April 25, 2010

“Power Comes Once the Accuser is Cast Down!”

Does it ever seem odd to you that Christians are often so weak and powerless when we have the omnipotent, all powerful Creator dwelling inside of us? Shouldn’t the sons and daughters of the King of the universe be walking in and demonstrating Kingdom rule and authority? This blog addresses one major reason I believe Christians are living much lower that we are called.

Listen to what is says in Revelation chapter 12 where it tells of a war that is going on in heaven. Michael and his angels are fighting Satan and his angels over rulership of heavens. When Satan is defeated, he is cast out of heaven, and then the following is announced. “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (Rev.12:10) Did you get the magnitude of what that said? I have read this verse many times before but I never noticed it until recently when the accuser was cast down in my own life. It say now “salvation” has come, now “power” has come, and now Kingdom rule and “authority” has come. When did the power and authority come? Immediately after the “accuser” was cast down.

I believe that the fore mentioned scripture was an actual event which took place in history, but this scripture teaches us a deep truth related to our spiritual journey. If we expect to walk in Kingdom power, and authority, the “accuser” must be cast down and hurled out of our life and mind before Kingdom power and authority can come and operate freely in our lives. We cannot live with the constant guilt and condemnation of sin and the law hanging over us day after day and yet walk in the fullness of Christ’s freedom, having full access to His power and authority. The weight of Satan’s accusations and the resulting shame will keep us in bondage. It is not Jesus who accuses and condemns, but Satan (using the law) who constantly accuses and condemns us of our sin. Jesus said in John 3:17-18a, “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already.” Furthermore the scripture teaches believers to, “Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” (Rom.6:11)

Once we have been born again through faith in what Jesus’ blood has accomplished on our behalf, we are “made” righteous by God. “Now being made free from sin..” (Rom. 6:20) Salvation is a gift we receive through grace, not something we do or earn. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) If we are without this proper understanding of grace and what Jesus has purchased for us on the cross, but instead are looking to our own actions to be holy and good enough to obtain Gods approval: we will feel as though we are clinging by our fingernails onto the edge of a cliff which overhangs hell, living in constant fear that we might slip up and plunge into the fiery pit. Even though I was a born again Christian, I lived this way for many years, trying to be good enough and live holy enough to meet God’s holy standards. Unfortunately religion wasn’t helping to set me free but instead was reinforcing my bondage. Each week the law was placed before me and I was reminded of all my sins and failures. Each week I would come away depressed but determined to grasp the edge of the abyss a bit more tightly less I fall to my demise. Guilt and condemnation were my constant companions and the peace and freedom the Bible spoke of were ever elusive. Walking in Kingdom power and authority was impossible, for just staying saved from week to week took my full attention. To have Kingdom power and authority one must abide in Jesus and walk and commune closely with Him. But no one likes to hang out with someone who makes them feel guilty or is constantly pointing out their failures. We will avoid them instead. So believing that God is constantly accusing us of sin and expecting us to perform the perfection that the law requires, makes it nearly impossible to truly love Him or commune with Him.

But the good news of the gospel is this. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1) Once we are “In Christ” condemnation ceases. Though, “the wages of sin is death,” Jesus has paid that death penalty on our behalf. He has fulfilled all the law’s requirements by living the perfect, sinless life. Jesus has finished all that needs to be accomplished to secure our redemptive pardon and has now sat down at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. Through the blood of Jesus, grace has set us free. Now when Satan comes around accusing me of sin, I turn to the cross where I fall to my knees in gratitude, boldly and joyfully declaring that all my sin and failure has been placed upon, and born in the body of Jesus. So Satan, take a hike, I cast you down! Salvation and redemption is a free gift of grace that flows down upon us from the pierced hands and feet of Jesus. So go be free, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” (Col. 3:15)

I know there are some who will say, “Doesn’t giving that much grace give people a license to sin?” My answer is simply this, anyone who would continue to purposely live a sinful lifestyle after receiving the gift of grace, certainly does not understand grace and therefore probably has not truly received the gift of grace in the first place. Grace will set you free, and no one who has ever been in bondage and is truly set free, ever desires to return back into their chains. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal.5:1 NIV)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

“Saltless Salt”

As I watch what’s going on in the world these days, it seems as though Christians and Christian values are being trampled by the culture in which we now find ourselves living. Jesus, speaking to his followers in Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and be trampled by men.”

I fear the reason Christian values are being trampled may simply be that “we,” the church at large, have lost our saltiness! Saltless salt is no longer a cleaning agent. Saltless salt, no longer preserves from decay. Saltless salt, adds no flavor to the blandness of life. Saltless salt, is certainly of no value to anyone.

Jesus, have mercy upon us, and make us salty once again! It is only through your grace that we can ever hope to be salty again, therefore we humble ourselves before You! Lord, for Your glory make us salty once again, that through us You may reverse the decay and bring the flavor of purpose and joy back to our world.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16

Thursday, March 25, 2010

“An Acceptable Sacrifice”

Ever since the dawn of creation man has been trying to do things to get God's approval, acquire His favor, or demonstrate to Him their love or dedication. Men give up things they love and give away their possessions, they perform all kinds of strange and bizarre rituals, they deny themselves pleasures, and treats their bodies harshly. Some have gone so far as to commit suicide, all in an attempt to get God's attention, forgiveness, or invoke His favor.

The first recorded incident of man bringing an offering to God is found in Genesis 4:1-4 where it reads, “Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain;… next she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions.” We do not know Cain’s or Abel’s motivation for bringing the Lord this offering and the text doesn’t indicate it to us. However what transpires next has been a source of contention between men and God every since. “And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering. But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard.”

Cain was a farmer, and Abel was a rancher, so it would appear on the surface that both of them brought to God an offering out of what they loved and what they did. Abel’s offering was accepted by God, but Cain’s was not. This story used to bother me greatly, for Cain was bringing to God a sacrifice of the best that he had. He was a farmer so he offered to God what he deemed most valuable. He probably offered the best of his grain. He did not raise livestock so it seems reasonable that he would not bring to God an offering of something he did not have. He offered to God that which he had. But God did not accept his sacrifice. Cain became so upset and enraged because his sacrifice was rejected while Abel’s was accepted, that his jealousy soon led him to murder Abel.

We learn from this incident that some offerings and sacrifices God accepts, and some he does not. So what is it that God wants? What can we do for Him or bring to Him to get His attention, demonstrate our love, or receive His favor? What is an acceptable sacrifice in God’s eyes, and what is not?

We often hear things like, “What God wants is just our love!” While it is true that God does desire that we love Him, --- our love is not an acceptable sacrifice. Some may say, “What God wants is our heart and our devotion!” While this is also true, --- giving God our heart and our devotion is not a sacrifice God can accept either. Others say that, “What God really wants from us, is for us to repent and turn from our sin!” While it is true that in order to come into relationship with God we must first recognize our sinful state and make a decision to turn away from our sin and self and turn instead to Jesus,--- repentance is not an acceptable sacrifice, and just like Cain’s offering, it too will be not be accepted. We cannot receive God's acceptance by giving money, fasting, doing works of charity, performing religious duties or rituals, or even bawling our eyes out with sorrow. So with all that said, why then was Abel and his sacrifice accepted, while Cain and his sacrifice was not?

Cain brought to God an offering out of his own labor. An offering from what “he” loved, from what “he” found most valuable, rather than an offering that “God” loved and one that “God” found most valuable. Cain’s offering was a product from out of the ground that God had cursed. (Gen. 3:17) Man in himself never has anything to bring to God that is not the fruit of his own labor or self effort. Self effort can never and will never be an acceptable sacrifice.

Abel on the other hand brought to God a sacrifice that was a foreshadow of what “God” loved most, a foreshadow of what “God” deems as most valuable. A foreshadow of His own beloved first born Son whose blood would be poured out as a payment for your sin. Whose body would be crushed and bruised to bring you healing. Abel brought the only sacrifice that demonstrated the act of grace where by the life of the innocent was given as a substitution for the life of the guilty. Here is the bottom line, the only sacrifice that God can or will accept is the life blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Through the sacrifice of the death of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of all sin and enter into and sustain a relationship filled with the favor of God.

Therefore let us stop bringing sacrifices to God of what “we” love, of what “we” think is valuable, and of what “we” want to give, but rather bring to Him the ONE and only sacrifice that “God” loves and deems worthy and of utmost value. Let us stop bringing to God sacrifices from the works of our self effort and goodness, expecting them to somehow please Him; but rather let us offer to God the blood of His own Son, the spotless sacrificial lamb that He gave for us. Let us stop trying to “earn” God's favor and instead realize that all of God's favor already rests upon His Son Jesus Christ, and that Jesus has already done all that is needed, and has already “earned” God’s favor on our behalf. We need only to be “IN” Him (Romans 8:1) and trust fully in His blood and grace to have all Christ’s favor now rest upon us as well. So offer to God “Jesus” as your only sacrifice, offer “Jesus” as your only righteousness, offer “Jesus” as your only need.

Father God, I bring to you this day as my offering and sacrifice; the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Knowing there is nothing else that I could bring that would be an acceptable sacrifice. I make no attempt to bring you anything of my flesh, my goodness, or the works of my hands; but as I humbly bow before you, I offer up only the blood and body of Jesus. In so doing, I express to you my love and devotion; and by grace, through it receive forgiveness of sin, and obtain your favor. I thank you and praise you for your mercy and your grace. Amen!

“For it is by free grace (Gods unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through your faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves (of your own doing, it came not through your own striving), but it is the gift of God.” Eph.2:8 Amp.

“For by a single offering He has forever completely cleaned and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.” Heb.10:14 Amp.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“Running After Jesus”

This weeks’ blog is just a short follow up to my last blog, Finding the “One.” Although it has been a long time since I dated (having been married now for 31 years) I have a small nugget of dating advice to share with those of you who are single. The best dating advice that I have ever heard was spoken, I believe by Tommy Nelson, who as I recall said something to the affect of the following, “Instead of running around dating or running to find a mate, start to run after Jesus with all your heart. One day as you are running along in your pursuit of “Him” you will look over and see someone else who is also running after Jesus with all their heart. Then you can just move over close to them and run together.” Wow, what an amazing picture. Running together in your pursuit of “The One” and in the process discovering that special someone you can share that journey with.

We often hear that to have a great marriage a couple needs to be similar and have shared interests. My wife and I are nothing alike in the way we think, nothing alike in the way we deal with life situations, and we have few shared interests. However we are “Soul Mates” in a very literal definition of the term. At a heart level we have spiritually always understood each other. God has always taken us on our spiritual journey together. We share a spiritual intimacy that is indescribable. We “together” are one with “The One.”

So run after Jesus with all your being and in faith wait upon Him to bring into your jogging path that soul mate you long to share your heart and journey with. He will not disappoint.

“..let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith..” Heb. 1b-2a Amp

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Finding the “ONE”

It Is that time of year as Valentine's Day approaches that we are inundated with images of love and finding that perfect some”ONE” who will make our heart dance and fulfill our hearts deepest desire. There are love songs and romantic movies galore giving rise to expectations that “if” we could just find the “ONE” all would be well in the world. We could face any obstacle or hardship that life throws at us. We could climb any mountain or swim any ocean if we just had the “ONE” by our side, giving us the assurance of there constant love, support, and strength. Oh how our souls leap at the prospect of this kind of love. Regardless of how sappy or unrealistic our minds might find the idea of there being that “ONE” who will give us the unconditional love we crave, fill all our emptiness, and heal all our brokenness, our hearts refuse to relent and instead continues to cling with hope beyond all hope to its reality. It feels so real, it feels so right, and surely it must be true! There must be “ONE” out there somewhere made just for me!

Unfortunately, when two people come together, both expecting the others love to fulfill all their needs, and make them happy and whole, they are on a collision course with disaster. The close and personal dynamics of marriage and intimate relationships does much more to expose and highlight our brokenness than it does to heal it. The love and support of a mate is a wonderful thing, but it can never make us whole or heal our emptiness. Marriage was never designed to do that, and thus that expectation puts undue and unrealistic pressure upon our mate and the relationship, thus causes many to fail.

It is right however that our souls cry out with such longing passion, for the “ONE” who will give us this unconditional love our hearts so desire. For such a love is indeed a truth that can be obtained, however not in the ”Barry White”, or “Sleepless in Seattle” sort of way. The “ONE” that our hearts are longing for, the “ONE” that we are dreaming of, is not your typical lover. He is not the Greek god type with the great tan and the rock hard abs, or the goddess with the blue eyes and the long flowing hair. No, our “Lover“, the “ONE” our heart desires is none other than the great “I Am” himself, the creator Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only “ONE” who truly understands us and gives us unconditional love. He is the only “ONE” who can see inside our heart and heal all our brokenness. He is the only “ONE” who can fill up all our empty places and makes us whole. He is the only “ONE” who can give our life true meaning and everlasting purpose.

Jesus is the “ONE” you have been looking for all your life. Without Him you will never truly know or experience what true love is. No flesh relationship will ever meet your need or be what it was meant to be without Him. Regardless of the stuffy religious images many of us have of God regarding intimacy, He is not really like that at all. Who do you think invented romance and sex in the first place? Jesus is a very passionate lover who not only longs to be with us, but longs to give Himself “to” us as well. Listen to what He says to us in the Song of Songs chapter 4. “How beautiful you are, my darling. How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil…Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely…You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, may you come with me…You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices! Your lips, my bride, drip honey; Honey and milk are under your tongue, and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon.”

Meditate on that awhile. The creator of all the universe thinks you are “altogether beautiful” and sees “no blemish in you.” His “heart beats faster” at the mere sight of you. Or as the amplified Bible says it “you have ravished my heart.” Think on that, “you have ravished Gods heart.” Selah. Oh how he loves you, and desires to “share” deep intimacy with you. He wants to know you and be known by you. So won’t you let Jesus be your lover this Valentine's Day. Make Him your “one” and only, for He is the “ONE.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

“An Indiana Jones Christian”

In the book of John chapter 11, the Bible recounts the time when Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus was sick. The sisters sent word to Jesus of their brother’s illness, obviously expecting that Jesus would cancel all His plans and come to them right away. The scriptures tell us, “when he (Jesus) heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, he then stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Why did Jesus wait two days? Didn’t he know the gravity of the situation? Didn’t he care? This is certainly not the case, for verse 5 clearly states, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

After waiting two days Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” To which the disciples objected saying, “the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus gives a seemingly very strange and unrelated answer to there question, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” I suspect the disciples must have thought to themselves, “there are people trying to kill you Jesus, and your response to this threat is that if you walks in the day you will not stumble because you have light. But if you walk in the night you will stumble because you don’t have light! Jesus, what on earth are you talking about?” At fist glance Jesus answer seems strange indeed. But after deeper review I see that Jesus response is a lesson to us on how to live our lives in these uncertain and perilous days.

Before I proceed, [if you dare] try a little experiment with me. Closes your eyes tightly, get up from your chair, and walk through your house, (no peeking) now go outside, down your driveway and get into your car. You will find that this simple and familiar task can be a very treacherous journey when taken in the dark. You risk running your head into the door. You might trip over your spouse’s shoes or the kid’s toys. You may misstep and fall off the stairs, slip on the ice in the driveway, or trip over the cat. Now open your eyes and try it again. You easily avoid the door. You go around the shoes and step over the toys. You quickly descend the stairs while sidestepping the ice and the cat. All dangers easily avoided or overcome. When we walk in the light we can see where we are going and can easily avoid or overcome the obstacles in our way. However, when we walk in the darkness we are in danger of running into or stumbling over even the simplest of obstacles.

I believe that this principle is what Jesus was teaching his disciples. Because Jesus was walking in the light, being led by the Spirit, he didn’t need to fear the Jewish leaders attempts to kill him or that he would arrive too late to meet Lazarus’s need. For as long as he followed the Spirit's light and leading, his timing would always be perfect, thus bringing the most glory to God concerning his friend Lazarus, while at the same time avoiding the Jew's traps to kill him. If Jesus was to rush to Lazarus based on his emotions alone, without regard to the Spirit's leading, he would be walking into the dark, not knowing what lay ahead, and not having the Spirit going ahead of him preparing the way. Jesus taught that If we are walking after the flesh timing doesn't matter, but if we are walking in the Spirit timing is everything. "Jeus told them, The right time for me has not come; for you any time is right." John 7:6

As followers of Christ, we “can’t” see what dangers and traps lay ahead of us. But If we, like Jesus, will pray and wait upon God, so that we too are led by the Spirit, we can confidently know that the Spirit will go ahead of us, into the unknown, and clear the path for us. He will pick up the shoes and the toys that are strewn in our way so we won‘t be tripped up. He will guide us past the closed doors and through the open ones. He will lead us by the hand down the stairs, over the ice, and do so at a time when the cat is sleeping in the chair.

As we learn to be led by the Spirit, we will become “Indiana Jones Christians.” What I mean by that is this; thou there are traps, snares, and dangers all around us, we can confidently proceed forward knowing the Spirit is ahead preparing the way, and lighting each new step we take. Like Indiana Jones, we will pass through the pit filled with vipers and yet live to see another day. We will dodge the rolling boulder coming to crush us, avoid all the poison arrows meant to immobilize us, and step by step safely find the path across the bottomless pit. Then one day when we reach our journeys end, we like Indiana, will see and touch for ourselves the most glorious treasure known to man. Jesus Christ himself!

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psm.34:19

“You shall not fear the terror of night not the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. If you make the Most High your dwelling even the Lord, who is my refuge--then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…You will tread upon the lion and the cobra: you will trample the great lion and the serpent…With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psm 91:5-7, 9-11, 13, 16