Monday, November 28, 2011

Joy and Peace in True Believing

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Believing is a difficult subject to discuss and not only this scripture but the whole good news message is based upon believing.  

There is a short story that may help to display what the word “believe” really means.

 One day on the way home from work I drove past a home that was having a garage sale.  Display amongst all of the stuff was and old rickety chair. 

I bought the chair for a buck thinking that it would be a perfect picture story from my weekly Bible study.
I carried the chair to my study and placed it gently in the center of the group.  I then asked each member of the study to give me their opinions n the chair.  As the words “old”, “unique”, ugly” as well as many others were thrown out I wrote the list of words down.  After the discussion faded   I repeated the list of words and summed up the discussion.  I then turned their attention to the purpose for which the chair had been built.  “Do you think that the chair would hold you if you were to sit on it”? 
There, again, were various opinions on the question.  After a few minutes I turned to one of those who had stated his confidence in the chair’s structure.  “Will you take a walk over to the chair and sit on it now”?
See, we don’t really believe that the chair will hold us off of the floor if unless we are willing to sit on the chair.  All of the discussion and all of the theorizing didn’t change the fact that the chair was either sufficient or it was not.

The amplified Bible uses the following descriptors whenever the word faith or belief is used: “ trusts in, clings to, relies on”

It is this type of believing that the above scripture applies.

How do you know if you have that type of belief?  Let’s look again at the scripture.  Joy and peace are wrapped up with the believing.  One cannot separate the three.  Joy and peace always go with believing. 
It is within truly believing, including the deep joy and peace, that we begin to experience the real personal power of the Holy Spirit.  As this connection is made the world and the worldly powers arrayed against us begin to crumble!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Truth is not always what we believe

Here is a statement directly from Jesus that might upset your theology initially:

And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.     You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. (John 5:35-40)

Perhaps the greatest challenge in this statement is that many of us think we have the best life available in our circumstances so we don't even search the scriptures looking for life.  We do tend to place our dependence upon weekly or occasional messages preached on Sundays or other days of the week on the radio or television.

Jesus told us that if we have God's word hidden within us that we will find true life.  What he doesn't invite us to is to study the scriptures every day or to memorize a certain number of scriptures daily or monthly.  What He said is "Come to Me".   Elsewhere He said without any hesitation or any exception: "My sheep hear My voice".

The church today, in large part, is spiritually bankrupt because we have injected all types of formulas and programs for fulfilling the "needs" of its members. We have failed to under-gird the members with a clear message of the good news of Jesus!  "Come unto Me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest".

There simply is no true life outside of Jesus!  What we have imagined to this point is that if we do the "right" things and work hard life will work itself out.  Is there anything in your experience that confirms this convoluted thinking?  Do you see crowds of people who are a little farther down that familiar path that have found real life?   The lies have been hoisted upon mankind to lead us to the miserable end of disappointment, frustration and poverty.

Here is God's challenge to us today:  (2 Corinthians 13:4-6)

For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.   Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
Is Jesus in you?  This is a simple pass/fail test!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Convoluted Thinking

I am far from an expert in the scriptures so I need your help.  Can you tell me about the time where one of the disciples of Jesus made a statement and Jesus responded, "wow so true, you got that one perfect"?

Of course its not there is it?  So why do we think we are so much smarter than them?  Don't we tend to think we are unique and, except for those few dysfunctional types of thoughts, are pretty much in line with God?

Here is a scripture that is a little too familiar so don't read over it too quickly:

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

Truthfully, how often to you depend upon your own understanding of the issues around you?  Could it at all be possible that your perceptions are askew?  I know that this is a hard thing to grasp because we have lived a lot of years depending upon our individual evaluations and decisions.

Once again you will notice that this is another one of those sticky "heart" issues.  Our minds wish to control our thoughts and our actions but God tells us that life dwells within the heart.  "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart".  Honestly, this seems a task totally impossible doesn't it?

This has been an issue from the beginning.  Whether it is Adam and Eve in the Garden or any of the thousands of individuals that we read about in our Bibles it remains the single most important principle in the Kingdom of God!  "You shall have no other gods before Me"!  Jesus said that this is the first and the greatest commandment.

Let's agree together that we are going to abdicate the tattered thrones in our lives and allow God to take His rightful place.  Having favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man is a pretty incredible benefit!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life or Dread!

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the LORD. 

Do you really trust the Lord?  Why do we worry so much.  Surely, worry and trust are distant places!  Maybe it is because we have never "waited patiently for the Lord".  Our tendency is to see the problem and figure out how to deal with it.  The psalm writer had one distinct advantage toward the end of waiting on the Lord.  He was evidently in over his head.  The "pit of destruction" must be pretty deep.

A point worth considering is, how did he get into that pit?  Just perhaps the psalmist is much like us in that we leave God until the last choice.  Maybe the pit wouldn't have been quite so deep had he turned to God earlier?  Let's see what else he had to say:

 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 

Evidently the writer discovered the emptiness in seeking counsel from the wrong places.  The proud, the brash, the self-confident appear to be people with answers.  Actually, "puffery" is not a very good recommendation at all. 

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count. 

Without a doubt one of our biggest problems is our ability to understand our God's attention toward us.  He is never burdened by the things that weigh upon our minds!  His track record is 100% yet we are slow to turn to Him when stress and worry beging to move in.

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

O LORD, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; 

Here is an opportunity to analyze the problem here.  Did you notice what was lying within his heart?  "Your law is within my heart" is his statement.  There is much that I could say here about the purpose of the law but that is for another time.  What we need to see here is that the psalmist discovered was not within his heart: "I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart".

Invest some time in the eighth chapter of the book of Romans if you would like to know more about what the law versus the freedom of the gift of righteousness brings.

I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me. 

Continually, since the psalmist doesn't know the freedom of righteousness, he is brought back to his iniquities and gets lost in the troubles to the point of weariness.

“The LORD be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God. 

How much has the Church of Jesus missed?  Most of Christianity today would read these words and nod in agreement.  This is how Christians live today but we don't see anything like this kind of attitude within the First Century Church!   We do we struggle so much?  Let's go back to the what the psalmist had stored away in his heart.  The Law always brings death; grace always brings life!  If we are living like we are dying what do you suspect resides within our hearts today?

Scripture says that "we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus"!

Isn't it time you exchanged the contents in your heart?  Live the life that Jesus died to give you!