Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Lists

There are a couple of lists that I would like you take take a honest look at:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control;

Honestly now, which list has more descriptors of your everyday life? Before you start, however,let me take away a couple of customary "excuses". Remove sorcery and drunkenness from the list. These can divert us from this honest exercise.

One final caution. Idolatry is not just what we tend to suppose it is. Scripture defines idolatry as simply something that we place in priority over the living God.

So, in your mind, circle the remaining words in both lists.

How honest were you in this test?

We so easily overlook our issues. We justify our anger, our jealousy and our impurity; "I am only human" after-all!

Jesus said, "A good tree does not produce bad fruit". No justifying bad fruit allowed.

Delightfully, scripture never presents us with a problem without delivering, with it, a glorious answer.

I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We can not defeat the flesh's fruit by will or by determination. List number two begins by declaring that it is "fruit of the Holy Spirit". The tree of the Holy Spirit brings good fruit.

For many, many years we have trained ourselves to walk in the world's way. We attempt to make ourselves "better" and we tend to excuse our screw-ups.

God has opened up to us a new life. This life is completely different from the former life. We mus learn to "walk by the spirit".

You are familiar with how a young child learns to walk. It is a process involved with bold attempts and hard falls. As practice continues the attempts become stronger and the falls less frequent.

The amazing truth, however, is that we don't have to rely on our own efforts to learn to walk by the spirit. It is God's desire and His will that we walk in that manner. He will give us every advantage in our attempts.

The final thought that must be addressed is that "walking in the spirit" requires with living by faith. There is no shortcut.

(Thoughts from Galations chapter 5)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Wait is Worth the Effort

Waiting has become a national irritation; perhaps it is one of yours as well.

Lines in banks or in stores, late friends or family members, sitting in the “waiting” room too long past the appointment time, spouse issues too many to mention; waiting grates and pushes against our sense of what is “right”.

Waiting is a BIG thing for our God as well. The meaningful difference between how we tend to see waiting from how God sees waiting is that He sees waiting as a good thing. No, not that waiting itself is a good thing, but that waiting indicates a good thing.

Just moments before He left His friends, Jesus told them to wait:

And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…

Not that waiting is tough enough by itself but Jesus asked His friends to wait around in the very city where He was horribly treated and crucified just days before. The religious and political rancor was at extreme high; the danger was palpable!

wait for what the Father had promised. “Which.” He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized you with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

So that which “the Father” had promised was going to be delivered but there was evidently a prerequisite to the receipt of the gift. Clearly, the Father could have delivered the promised gift in any manner He chose. For some reason He chose to deliver it to those who “waited”.

There is a scripture that is probably very familiar to us; familiar to our minds perhaps but far too unfamiliar in practice.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble and badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31

Once again waiting seems to be the path to the promised benefits. Waiting is the ultimate illustration of our faith!

The psalmist knew this depth of this display of faith:

To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master. As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God until He shall be gracious to us! Psalm 123:1-2

Before ending this discussion it is important to address two levels of waiting. The first is waiting for some specific relief, a specific blessing or a special need. The second is where we begin to touch the essence of the inscrutable God, the presence of waiting for whatever He has in mind for us.

Waiting takes time. Time is the only thing that we have that once spent cannot be replaced. It is the greatest, most personal thing that we can offer.

When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence.

For from of old they have not heard not perceived by ear, neither has eye seen a God besides Thee Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. Isaiah 64:3&4

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dead or Alive?

Writing on a blog has certain advantages. One of these is that I don't know who is reading these messages so I can lay it on the line. If you are offended, just quit reading. My job is to present what God lays on my heart each week.

This one may cut pretty close to the bone. It needs to be addressed, especially in today's church.

The book of James, chapter 2 says:

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

You believe that God is one You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 7-12

Look at your life this past week. Have you seen live or dead faith?

Live faith looks like self sacrifice, acts of service, love beyond bounds, caring enough about the eternal destination of other to risk embarrassment... Dead faith looks like, well, you know that that looks like.

God's true people live by faith!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Power or The Person

Joshua (Jehovah saves) had a unique life:

One of twelve spies sent to scope out the “promised” land.

One of two spies who returned with an opinion that their God was bigger than any enemy.

Selected as the leader to follow Moses in leading God's people.

Convinced a rebellious people to march around the walls of a city. Not only to march around the city but to march around the city for seven days straight with seven times on the last day.

Godly until his death at age 110.

Why was Joshua unique amongst his peers? Why did God choose to use him to conquer the promised land and bring His people into their place?

Let's take a look behind the scenes to see if we can find a clue.

The nation of Israel was in the vast wilderness. Shortly after receiving the 10 Commandments and witnessing the events surrounding that, they are now traveling on toward the promised land.

We now pick up the story in Exodus 33:7-11

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp.

And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent.

Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses.

When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent.

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

Isn't that just how the church of Jesus is today? People long to see the manifestation of a powerful, loving God but there are but few that really long to personally know that same God!

And where do we find Joshua? Apparently, Joshua was already in the place of meeting when Moses arrived and he remained there after Moses left.

So where are you? Are you longing to see the manifestations of God or are you longing to know God? What does your daily or weekly schedule indicate about what you long for?

On the day when Jesus was crucified, the thick curtain that separated the holy place in God's temple from the holy of holies where God personally dwelled was split in two from top to bottom opening God's presence to all.

The invitation has been issued. How will you respond? Will you continue to stand outside your “tent” looking for the manifestation or will you accept the invitation to know Him personally?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Better Way!

So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:4-6

Some scriptures are just too comfortable to us to reveal truth. The middle of this section is one of those. Most can easily recite the words:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

I would like our attention too be focused on the word, "trust". Do you really, really trust Him? I'm betting that I am not alone in depending mostly upon my,
own understanding.

The painful truth here is that there is no such thing and partial trust. God will not accept second place or even, in our warped opinion, a tie for first place.

For My thoughts are not
your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:7-9

We cannot even begin, even on our best days, think clearly about the right things. Our reasoning, our "understanding", is warped by sin.

Day after day we pursue the wrong things, treasure the wasteful, and chase after the hurtful all because we
lean on your own understanding.

Isn't it time to desert the schemes and plans that have been put together by your own understanding?

There is a better way. One that is
as the heavens are higher than yours to date or hereafter.