Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Gospel Is Our Doctrine

Doctrine can sometimes be taken the wrong way and given a negative connotation. Doctrine is not bad at all! Without correct doctrine, it is impossible for someone to grow in Christ. But, this post is to examine the message we preach and the means though which this message is preached. The message we are to preach is the simplistic Gospel-- nothing else.

Doctrine is the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is love. EVERYTHING hinges on God's love for His people. Without His love, we COULD NOT walk sanctified, righteous, or Holy. To ignore the love God has for His people would be a travesty in the most enormous proportions. Examine John 3:16. For through God's LOVE, Christ died. No greater LOVE is this that someone would lay down his life for his friend. **It is not the idea doctrine (in and of itself) that saves us, but rather our following in His path and believing in His name and repenting of our ways which led to death. The Gospel, in essence, is simple. Christ in us, the HOPE of glory. It is not-- true doctrine in us the hope of glory. Not to take away from the vitality of true doctrine though. It is important to have true doctrine and that doctrine is the Gospel and its saving power through the Holy Spirit. But, once again, our job is not to fix others' bad doctrine. Only to live as Christ.

Where did we get off in thinking that WE have to correct the mistakes of others and somehow enlighten them as to their horrible errors in biblical methodology, theology, and interpretation. It would be like if we had the cure for cancer. We would be giving that cure to everyone who had cancer. We would no longer be examining cancer and its effects on the human body whilst people slowly died from it. Absurd! But, in essence, that is what we are doing when we harp on people with wrong doctrine. Preach the cure-- CHRIST. Stop re-diagnosing people and start letting God do the healing through the Power of the Holy Spirit! Praise Him! We are to preach the Gospel, and if someone does not take what we are preaching, we MOVE on-- not linger around and hope that our arguing will save them, because it won't. Our goal should not be to correct others in bad doctrine, but, as the last chapter of 1st Peter says, live by example! We should do our talking by the way we live. People followed Jesus for His words, but more importantly, they followed Him for the miracles and signs and wonders that followed Him and His love for others. He spoke and LIVED Truth pertaining to Life and Godliness. If all we do is sit around in an underground system that does not go OUT and preach the Gospel for ourselves, we are deceived. If we believe that it is our duty to correct and fix immorality and sin, we are mistaken. If we believe that we have to always correct bad theology, we are sadly mistaken.

Our JOB as Christians, is to live like Christ, love Him and Love others. If all we do is discuss proper theology, doctrine, and the Biblical methodology on how to run the Church, and we do not go OUT into the world, we are nothing more than lazy, un-caring, and un-loving. We must wake up and realize our goal in this life is to reflect the LOVE of Christ. Through His love and Grace, people have the ABILITY and PRIVILEGE to come to know Him. Our goal should be Kingdom minded, not doctrinally minded. Knowledge puffs up, and God resists the proud and His hand will not be defiled in a temple that refuses to surrender their everything to Him.

Doctrine is simple: love God, and Love others. Do not try to over-complicate things. Beware of over-complicating, because then the message is skewed, and the effectiveness of the Gospel is lost and God does not work. If there is no freedom, there is no Spirit of God. Where is the freedom? Where is the Hope? Where is our love for others? Where is OUR preaching of the Gospel?
In Paul's letters to the Churches in Corinth, Ephesus, and Philippi-- the Gospel is the underlying theme in everything. Paul did point out errors in the Corinthian church and he addressed problems that they seemed to be having. As I have said before, doctrine is not something we slide under the carpet. But, if we are so zealous for doctrine, it has become our idol. Everything good can be turned bad (that is simply Human Nature). As Romans 1 talks about, they worshiped the creature rather than the creator. It would be like if we worshipped a tree. "Well, God made this tree!" We miss the point. We are called to worship the creator, not the products he creates. We must return to WHO we Love and WHY we love Him. We do not love others because of correct doctrine! That is absurd! We love others because Christ FIRST loved us! We posses correct doctrine because of the love of Christ!

The Gospel is Love. Through love, Christ died to save ALL of mankind from sin and its hold on every human being. My question is this: if it is not love, then WHAT is it? If my job as a Christian is to correct those in error, then I don't want any part of this thing called Christianity. A harsh, but true statement. God has installed a love in me for Him, and through that love, I want to see others transformed through the Cross-- not to see others' doctrines fixed. Transformation occurs at the reality of the cross, not the reality of unbiblical doctrine. What is our goal anyways? WHY did Christ die? Why was the last thing Jesus spoke "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel?" The reasons for the aforementioned questions are these: to see others come to Him and live a life unhindered by sin and for His name to get glory. That is all. Through the reality of the Cross, true doctrine will come (with the help of brothers and sisters in Christ). Doctrine literally means in the Greek, to teach or a teaching. Doctrine is the Gospel-- repentance and remission of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." Roman 16:17.

Paul addresses those with bad doctrine and what does he say? AVOID THEM. Not track them down and debate with them. Why does he beseech this? Because arguing doctrine has NEVER produced fruit unto righteousness? What is the point? Your waisting meaningful time that could be spent somewhere else preaching the reality of the Gospel to a man of peace.Doctrine is the true Gospel of Christ.

"Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:46-47.

That is what Christ commanded the disciples to preach. Repentance and remission of sins should be preached. There is indeed a focus on doctrine in the Church of God, but the focus was simple.

"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or [if] you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-- you may well put up with it!" 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.

The simplicity that is in Christ! What a statement! The simplicity is not to be over analyzed into a doctrine that is not the Gospel of Christ. Paul warned to beware of the over-complication of the Gospel. When the focus shifts from the essence of the Gospel, it becomes a false one. When the Church becomes all about structure, performance, and theology, it loses everything it has been given power to accomplish (and we wonder why there is division in the Church today). The Gospel is the doctrine of the Church. That is it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

All Eyes on You

God, this is our yearning. This is our desire: that we be set free from ourselves. Lord, that we would no longer be reigned by trivial and carnal emotions, but that we be filled with the mighty, transforming power of You. That you would reign in our mortal bodies. That all of our everything is established, confirmed, and built in You. That You, God would be our source of breathe, our very sustaining life. Lord, that our eyes are kept on You. That you would be magnified in our walk on this earth, even through temptation, death, trial, and famine YOU are still faithful God.

I believe so many times we miss the very reason why we are alive. We think it is about going to church, having relationships with others, making money, making more money, loving others, or doing good deeds. These things are not wrong or sinful-- in fact some these are what the Bible teaches us. But these very things are not capable of being fulfilled unless our eyes are on Him. We miss the very voice of God when we focus our everything on the will of Him, rather than He Himself. God never said, "put your eyes on what I am going to do for you." He never said, "focus on my will for you."

Rather, we lift our eyes to where our help comes from. "1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth." Davids plea is not, "God, I set my eyes on the life You will give me." He is crying out to where the source of His life comes from. David runs to the source rather than the product that comes from the Source. Paul discusses this in his letter to the Romans, "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." We exchange the very validity and authority of God with a false depiction of what our calling is and who are calling is for. We must see that our calling is not for us. It is not to satisfy us, but it is to satisfy Him-- the very Creator of your calling. The foundational problem is selfishness. We must put our wants aside to see His. We must put our love aside to see His. We must put aside our hope to see His. Our satisfaction is found in His satisfaction. He must increase and we must decrease.

We need to look to the very creator of the will that we run so hard after. Jesus lived His life on earth to accomplish God's will, not His own. How many people would still follow Christ if He told them that His will for their lives was to die a gruesome death before they were 40? Not many. Where is our faith? Where is our selflessness? Where is our hope to see His kingdom come on earth? Where is our desire to live for Him even if we get nothing in return? Faith takes action, and belief takes obedience. We walk by faith. Faith is not knowing our every step. Faith is not a blueprint. Faith is a blindfold we must put on ourselves. We let Him reign in us, and we let Him make our paths-- but we must be obedient to walk down them. By establishing His reign in us, we establish a true faith and love based relationship that will open doors, open hearts, and open minds. But we must not walk in the establishment of our faith towards Him, we must walk in the permanence of His faithfulness to accomplish His will. We trust Him to lead us into His life. Running into His arms is what we are created for. To know Him is why we breathe. To breathe His breath. To touch His heart. To know His voice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Question Concerning Love

Love is a two way street. Left un-reciprocated, it dies. If we fail to actively show love to God, our relationship dies. That statement is echoed through our daily relationships with others. We are called to actively love one another. Love without action is empty words that leaves the other end dead and dry. So the question lies in: how do I show love? That question is answered best by this: one shows love by denying him or herself in order that the other person may strengthen. When we fail to demonstrate love to others, we fail, in essence, to love them. "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8. We are called to be like Christ, and that means we DEMONSTRATE our love for one another by dying ourselves. Demonstration is not a feeling or emotion, it is rather a deep yearning that is seen in our daily walks with one another; a yearning that is held by no bounds; a yearning that only can be satisfied with the perfect will of God. Love that God requires is sacrifice, love that man requires is sacrifice. We must sacrifice ourselves so that others will be lifted up.

Without each other, we could not walk this Christian walk. If that were the case, we would all be alone. God is a relational God, and He made us in His image. An Image of sacrifice, holiness, purity, abandonment, LOVE, and righteousness. It does not matter what you feel like, we are called to love one another at all times: even if the whole world is falling on your shoulders. But take heart, cast your cares upon Him so that you can love one another. Because when you wallow in anger and hurt and pain, you blind yourself from the opportunities to demonstrate Christ's love to others. You cannot do this on your own, so you must rely on your brothers and sisters in Christ to exhort and lift you up. That is why love is a two way street; a street filled with potholes and red lights that seem to never turn green. But the good news is that we are all walking this path if we are all IN CHRIST. We must endure to the end to be saved, and you cannot endure on your own. Lean on Him, and lean on others. Don't take away your brothers and sisters in Christ, because when you do that you cut one of your legs off. Stand firm, hold fast, and be encouraged.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In Christ

A phrase that is heard throughout the Christian world. In Christ we are free. In Christ we are redeemed. In Christ we have purpose. In Christ we are made heirs. In Christ we were created for good works. In Christ we are made new. In Christ we are holy, righteous, redeemed, and sanctified. But, do we really understand the weight which that statement carries? That statement holds a lot of weight when you see Christ as creator of the universe. So, what does it mean for Christ to be IN us? How does He abide? Why does He abide?

Christ abides in us through the Holy Spirit. He takes residence in vessels that have repented and been transformed by the power of the Cross. Vessels that have no captain, crew, or rudder. That is where and why we must die. When we die, Christ lives. Paul says in his letter to the Church in Galatia, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. "It is no longer us who lives then, it is Christ that is made alive in us. Our selfish ambitions and our selfishness must die, and Christ must be made whole IN us. He abides through faith. Faith is the rudder in our vessel. Faith in Christ leads us to maturity. Faith in Christ is our daily breath-- it is our very life source. Christ had to die to make us alive-- without His death and resurrection we would not have the Holy Spirit. It is the same way with us-- we must die in order for Christ to live in us.

Jesus said, "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Christ will only abide in those who love Him. Love is more than a feeling and it is more than simple words in our hearts. Love towards Christ is utter sacrifice-- abandonment. Love towards Christ is a life that is Christ-- being Christ. In order for Christ to reside and live, we must allow Him to drive our vessel. That is how Christ is matured in us-- that is what drives us to perfection.

"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." When we keep His word, His love is perfected in us-- a love that is disastrously contagious. A love that lives. This love is only manifested to those who abide in His love. When we abide in His perfect love, our eyes are truly opened. Perfect love is manifested through obedience. It says in John that whoever loves the father will keep His commands. If we truly love our Father, we will obey His every command. When we understand that the creator of the universe, the very one that holds everything in existence, lives in us-- we will not take so lightly the words of "in Christ."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Am I of This World?

Do I blend into the world and its passions? Do I believe to love God yet still love the world and the things which it can bring me? Or am I a Kingdom minded person? Is my hope set fully on Christ and His glory?

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-- is not from the Father but is from the world.And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17

Are we as Christians ever going to realize that being friends with the world is enmity with God? (James 4:4) By being of the world, you are becoming hated by God. Because God hates the things of this world. The Greek word for 'enmity' means "opposition or hated; the opposite of agape, 'love.'" The love of the world is the love that God hates. Proverbs 6:16 lists things that God hates. But God gives more Grace! Without the Holy Spirit, we would be hopeless and we could not live lives Holy and acceptable to God. The belief in your heart is communicated through your actions. You are right, God does know your heart, but by your fruit you are known. A tree without fruit is useless and will be cut down. If we are merely blending in the world and not truly being Sanctified and being made set apart, we are of the world and we are in utter rebellion to God and His commands. The Grace He has given us is the Holy Spirit by which we can walk free and set apart from the world. Further in James 4, Paul states, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." Draw near to Him-- live off of Him and you will surely live. Resist the world and its passions, and you will surely find the life that God has for you. We need to come to the pertinent realization that we are not our own. We have been bought with a price! As Christians, we are to be subjected to God and His Kingdom! Not this worlds. Because you cannot serve two masters, you will surely die. We must remember that we are a mist, here and then gone. Are we making the most out of the time God has given us? Or are we spending it indulging in flesh and 'fun?' Are we Kingdom minded people, seeking always to further His Kingdom and to see His will done and not ours?

Lord, that is our prayer. Your will be done; not ours. We know that on this earth we are to be ministers of reconciliation and ministers of Your love and Truth. Let us truly see that we are Your servants and we live for no other reason than to see Your will done.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Have Been Sanctified

Sin has indeed lost its power in our lives once we are truly born again and we receive the Holy Spirit. The battle rages on in our flesh and spirit; but Christ came so that we would overcome. He has given us a way out in every situation. We must choose life or death. Our spiritual resurrection is what causes us to live lives holy and pleasing to God-- our death on our cross is the first step. Those who have been baptized into Christs name, His death, His resurrection, and His spirit are not "sinners saved by grace." "Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning." 1 Corinthians 15:34. You have been bought with a price friends! Your debt of sin has been paid! You no longer are enslaved to sin, but you have been justified and made righteous through the blood of Christ. You have been set free from sin! If only we could grasp that elementary concept we could see that Christ came to save the sinner, to make us new; therefore, we become a new creation. What don't we understand about that new creation concept? We must consider ourselves DEAD TO SIN. We no longer operate under our fleshly desires, but we operate under the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that took residency in Christ is the same Holy Spirit that resides in us. Because we have been made new, we do not continue to sin. Those that do continue to live in sin have not been truly baptized into Christ. We are slaves to righteousness! That means that sin has no authority in our lives. Holiness, purity, and righteousness are chained to your spirit. We are slaves to the name of Christ.

"But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves to God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." We are sanctified through Christ. That clearly means that sin is absent. Does that mean that we do not have the desire to sin? By no means! For even Jesus was tempted-- thus implying that He was human just as much as you and I. But, we overcome the desire and NOT SIN with the help of the Holy Spirit. To say that you can't is denying the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. So many times I hear the, "Well, I am just a sinner saved by grace" statement and that is not even close to being a Biblically sound statement. No! You WERE a sinner that is saved by grace and you have been SANCTIFIED and made righteous.

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and you are justified by grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ." Romans 3:21-24. Sin no longer rules you! You RULE IT. You are in charge of your flesh. You can choose life or death. But you must count the cost of following Christ-- the cost is your entire life. Every single bit of it. If you have not given your whole life to Him, you are not born again. Plain and simple. The justification cleans our debt, and we are made new. We are called to be Holy and righteous. It is simply impossible to do without the Holy Spirit. This sanctification has set us apart. Strong's concordance says that the word for sanctification is "a the state predetermined by God for believers, into which in grace He calls them, and in which they begin their Christian course and so pursue it." In Romans 6:19 the word is defined by Strong's as, "holiness." God has called us to righteousness and holiness. Plain and simple.

My challenge to Christians is this: are we using the excuse of "I am a sinner saved by grace" to continue sinning and justify our flesh? If you are a sinner, you are not one of God's children. So, walk in the newness of life and live through the power of the Holy Spirit, because without it, you will continue to sin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Letter To Religion

Are we buying into false doctrine and abiding in a distorted view of the Gospel? In this post we will examine Jesus' metaphor of leaven.

"How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Matthew 16:11-12

In the earlier scriptures, Jesus rebukes the disciples because of their focus on carnal things: bread itself. I find that interesting because sometimes we focus on the carnal things that do not matter, yet we miss the big picture. But, Jesus was not talking about physical bread. Rather, the spiritual bread which is the Word of God. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Greek word used for leaven in this passage is, "ζύμης." The word literally is "a metaphor of inveterate mental and moral corruption, viewed in its tendency to infect others." Jesus was warning them of the infection that is false teaching. A couple chapters before, the Pharisees and scribes asked Jesus why he was breaking the tradition of elders by not washing their hands before they ate. Jesus responded, "[a]nd why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" This is what Jesus talks about, I believe, when he warns of the corruption of false doctrine. Sometimes, what we are taught all of our lives-- especially the ones of us who grew up in a Christian home-- is not the Spiritual truth. The hard part is coming to the realization that some things that we are taught just are not what God teaches.

There is much debate over what I am about to discuss. But, this is what I believe the Word is trying to teach. Let us not focus on the different interpretations, but let us focus on the Truth.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is getting on to the church in Corinth because they are boasting about how they are handling sexual immorality within the church by "mourning " for the decision of this brother in Christ. Paul then states, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8. The symbol of unleavened bread is the symbol of purity. We are called to be "unleavened Christians," not being conformed to the yeast-- which is sin. The dying on our cross has cleansed out the old leaven-- which may be traditions or sin (both are the same). Christ has been sacrificed; therefore, we are made holy and righteous. Our former lump was infected with traditions, malice, evil-- to put it simply, our old selves were sinners. But, Christ, the perfect sacrifice, has come in and made us pure.

But, the problem is the infection of ourselves. An infection effects the whole body. If we do not see the infection in ourselves, it will overtake us. In order to be diagnosed that we have an infection, we have to humble ourselves and hear God speak. The metaphor of leaven lines directly up with the metaphor of the vine and branches. Any branch that does not bear fruit is thrown into the fire; that is because the branch that does not bear fruit is indeed an infection. Because we are made holy, our old selves have been crucified. That crucifying of ourselves is the 'unleavening' of our ourselves. The cross is our purifier-- it is what allows us to be true Christians. We do not kneel at the cross, we go through the cross.

The question arises again: are we buying into a false doctrine just as the Galatians did? Are we living in sin and justifying it with, "Well, I have forgiveness. God loves me no matter what, and I am just a sinner." What a travesty! The sin is our infection. By living in sin, we buy into the wrong pictures of grace, righteousness, holiness, and purity. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ They cast out demons and prophesied in His name. Yet, He said depart from me. I never knew you. Those people believe that they are saved and on a path to heaven, yet live lives of sin. They have deceived themselves. They built their house on the sand which is false doctrine that leads to self-righteousness and carnal contentment. The Gospel has been disfigured and changed from holiness, righteousness, and purity to a gospel that leads to an end of happiness and self-contentment. The laid foundation, therefore, is the infection that keeps them from fully knowing Christ. This is the infection of current religious circles. We must repent. That is the only way to be made pure. THE ONLY WAY.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Have YOU Sacrificed?

Malachi 1:14-- "Cursed be the cheat who has a male in is flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of Hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations."

Romans 12:1-2-- I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual body. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Do we offer petty things to God that He could care less about? God wants our entire bodies- which is soul, spirit and fleshly body. Those two verses encompass so much; so we will dissect them and try to get to the root of the problem with "cultural Christians" as Wilberforce calls them.

The Greek word for sacrifice is thysia. The word literally means: a sacrifice or victim. I find that interesting-- we are presenting our bodies as victims for the sake of Christ! We are required, as Christians, to deny ourselves and offer our entire man to Him- if thats not being a victim, I do not know what is. We are honoring and glorifying God at the expense of our "own" lives. But, do we find ourselves offering pieces of our body that have no effect on bringing glory to Christ? Are we offering our hair to Christ? Or are we offering our heart and soul-- the very source of our life. The Old Testament is full of sacrifice because that was required until the perfect, holy sacrifice came-- Jesus. But now that Jesus accomplished what He came to do, we are still REQUIRED to sacrifice something. That something is our entire man! But, what does our bodily-- spirit, soul, body-- sacrifice look like?

How do we go about offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God? Paul gives us the answer in verse 2. "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." We are not conformed, or shaped, to this world. The carnal things of life are not our source of life. Rather, we renew our minds daily, and DAILY we become one with Christ-- and that is ONLY through the Holy Spirit. We have been transformed by renewing our minds. That transformation means that we have died-- and that Christ lives in us. But, in order to be transformed, we HAVE to be daily immersed in the Holy Spirit. In order to know the will of God, we must be in tune with the Holy Spirit. I like to think of a guitar. When a guitar is out of tune, the chords sound HORRIBLE. Even if just one string is out of tune. In order to be in tune, we have to daily be immersed into the Holy Spirit. When I say daily, I mean every second. Every second that we walk, we have to be in tune with Him. That one string will throw the chord of God's will for our lives out of tune. That one string may be a secret sin. That one string may be a public sin. But, most of the time that one string is pride. Christ humbled Himself when he came down to this earth to Redeem the sinner who repents. We must do the same thing in order to be in tune with the Holy Ghost. You must listen to the Holy Spirit-- and more importantly than anything else, you must obey. In order to listen, you must SHUT UP. Get on your knees and listen-- try it for once, it actually works. Who would have thought? Getting on our knees does not just mean physically, but, more importantly, spiritually. Getting on our knees spiritually means that we lay aside EVERYTHING that we want and desire and renew our minds in the Holy Spirit. Getting on our knees spiritually is climbing up our cross to our death-- and that death is to the glory of our Father. By renewing our minds, we can walk a life in PERFECT tune with Christ. And if we are in perfect tune with Him, we KNOW what His will is in our lives. By knowing His will in our lives, we can replace His will with ours. That just simply requires our full and perfect obedience.

God, let us be wholly in tune with You. Let us offer our whole man-- not just a piece of it. How much greater can You use the man who offers his everything? Lord, we desire to know You and know Your will. Let us be transformed by the by the renewal of our minds in the Holy Spirit. Let us live in You. Abide in us. Dine with us. Lord, we cry Abba Father. We thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. We are nothing without You, Father. Show us Your ways! We love you.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Have You Answered His Call?

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

God has created every human being to desire things from Him. He has created a void in each person's heart that can only be satisfactorily filled with Him- He is the only thing we can successfully fill that void with. So, God has called every human being to be in relation- or to eat with Him. The true question is this: have you answered the call of Christ? Another question that needs to be answered is what does answering the call of Christ look like? When Jesus first called the disciples, he said: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Matt. 4:19. The next verse is the key to knowing what the answering of the Upward Call looks like. "Immediately they left their nets and followed Him." Are you waiting for a sign from God to follow Him? Because God has sent the Perfect Sign: Jesus Christ. The disciples immediately followed Him because they had FAITH that He was the Son of God. But, are we waiting to follow Christ because we are too selfish to deny ourselves and our ambitions to replace them with His desire and His will. That is saying that you do not have faith that He is the Son of God! Utter idolatry- because you have created in you an idol, which is yourself. You are not guaranteed tomorrow, or the next minute. NOW is the time to pick up your cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Answering the Call starts with repentance. At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, one of the first things He said was, "[t]he time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; REPENT and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). That was the foundational doctrine that Jesus taught! Repentance. Repentance is transforming the thoughts of the flesh into the higher thoughts of God. Repentance is turning from the ways of your old self, and doing the will of the Father. It isn't some prayer; rather it is the miraculous transformation that only the humble can receive. It is simply replacing your thoughts with His thoughts. "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). In order to answer the Call of Christ we must obey Him! The disciples did not argue with Christ when He called them. They did not make excuses for why they could not follow Him. Rather, they gave up EVERYTHING to follow Him. It is the same now as it was then. "But Blake, I have secret sin that I cannot get rid of." Do you believe in the power of the Cross? Do you believe that He has bought you with a price and that He stands at the door of your heart and knocks? It starts with repentance my friends. Bringing things to the light so other brothers and sisters in Christ can hold you accountable- so they can exhort you! "But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." (John 3:21) In order to answer the call of Christ we must first repent, then OBEY. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15) God has called us to obedience, holiness, righteousness, and repentance. Because Christ lives in us, we are made holy and blameless before our Father. "Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. (Eph. 1:4). We are to walk in the newness of life that is in Christ, and not delve into our past. That is obedience! Walking in perfect harmony with the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you is what you and every Christian is called to do. So let's do it! So let us walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls us into His kingdom and glory! (1 Thess. 2:12)

In Christ, Blake

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do We Require A Sign?

Do we as Christians demand something out of God? Do we require that He show us something, or give us some "feeling" to let us know that He is real? Where is our faith? Where is our unquestioning Hope that is in Christ? Let us examine our hearts.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

He replied, "When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.

Are we doing this in our walks with Him? Are we demanding that He show us something so that we can believe? God does not need to show us a sign. He gave us the ultimate sign: His Son's death on a cross. If we have no faith to believe that His son died, and that God sits on His throne, then why would God show us a sign? We can interpret the sky and the weather, but we do not know how or what God wants? That is the situation the Pharisees were in. They saw the things He performed and the miracles He worked, but they still did not want to believe. They did not want to believe what He was teaching because it was uncomfortable. Jesus preached love, humility, patience, kindness, and most importantly, repentance. The Pharisees are a perfect example of the religious people of today- just like they were then. They saw the things He did, they heard the things He preached- but they refused to believe because it went against modern theology of the time. It went against what they were taught. Does that not sound familiar? When repentance is preached, we shake in our boots. We do not listen and do what Jesus asked. We would rather have fun and live in the sin that God calls us out of. That is the exact place the Pharisees found themselves in. Because they were too prideful, they refused to see the things which Jesus was doing. Are we too prideful to have faith to believe? "For the righteous shall live by faith." Why do we need to see a sign? Why do we seek a feeling? God is not a feeling, or an emotion; He is Truth, and the Truth will set you free. When we enter into a covenant relationship based on faith with Him, He will reveal Himself to us. Faith is a belief that does not require a sign. If our faith was based on God showing us signs, then what would be the point of Faith? I found this online and I really like it, "Faith indicates persistent action, devotion, and direction of self, and is often charged with emotion. When there is faith within someone, they become faithful, and when they have faith in someone, that loyalty can grow into a covenant. In the Hebrew Scriptures, this is the meaning of Heb. 'emunah. 'Emunah is also used to describe the covenant of marriage, as what the husband and wife have in each other. Faith can grow stronger or become weaker, changing with each situation. Life eventually puts it to the test." Is our faith continually being put to the test? Have we entered a covenant marriage with Christ? Our situations in our life do not define our faith, rather our faith is tested when He asks us to obey. Those that do not keep His commandments do not love Him and they also have no faith. But the faithful will continually do what He asks, no matter the cost. That is why the Pharisees and the religious people of today seek signs. Because they have NO FAITH. My challenge to my brothers and sisters in Christ is to start building our faith by following His Voice. Faith is action without requirement. So live in Him, and drink out of the Well of the Holy Spirit where it never runs dry. And build yourselves up in your most Holy Faith.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He Will Get Glory

Ezekiel 1:12- "... Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went."

Are we willing to go wherever the spirit leads, without turning? Are we willing to lose our life so that His will, His majesty, and His glory can be brought to light? God does not, and will not, use a vessel that is being guided by our desires; or a vessel filled with lawlessness. He wants to use us, but if we do not get out of the way and let Him guide us-- through the Holy Spirit-- then we will be useless to Him. In order to fully surrender our lives to Christ, then we must fully obey His word and change the way we think. In order to change the way we think, we must humble ourselves. In order to humble ourselves, we must get to a place in our lives where nothing else matters to us but the surpassing worth of knowing the Creator of all things. We must abide in Him, and He in us. How do we know that we are abiding in Him and He in us? "By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the SAME way in which He walked. " That scripture from 1st John separates the True Christians from the religionists. We are called to walk in the light just as Christ walked. If we walk in the same way Christ walked, then our lives will be forever changed, and our vessel will be useful to God-- and He will get the glory He requires! So be it! But, it IS NOT about us and what WE want!

So many times in our lives we lose sight of what REALLY matters. The one thing that is held of higher importance than anything in this world is bringing glory to the Father. But sometimes, we focus on what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. We want to be 'happy.' If we are not happy, then God is not doing His job! What a perfect example of Humanism! But, is that what scripture teaches us? When are we going to say; not my will but yours, oh Lord? If we walk as Christ walked, then where is our Gethsemane attitude? Even to the point of a gruesome death on a cross, Christ spoke- "...not as I will, but as you will." There is no other portrait than that of perfect obedience. Christ obeyed His Father. And because of His obeying, He DIED. But God, where is MY happiness? I am supposed to be happy! No, He is supposed to be GLORIFIED at our expense. God let His OWN SON die-- so that He would be glorified. God demands nothing less than perfect obedience just as His own son displayed in the moments before His death. So, let us cling to that.

God, let our sight not be blurred by our desires, but let our eyes focus on your will and OBEY your word. We love you, not for what you have done in our lives, but for who you are. You are sovereign! You are Holy! We want nothing more than to see you HIGH AND LIFTED UP! God, open the eyes of the blind and strengthen the legs of the weak. Let us see who You really are. We want You, Your heart, Your will, and Your holiness! Fill us to the brim and let our cup not run dry! Forever yours Lord.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm Killing Myself

When are we going to kill ourselves so that Christ can fully live in us? When are we going to look past our feelings and wants, and walk the path that Christ has for us? When are we going to stop living our lukewarm lives and get ON FIRE for Christ (Hebrews 12:28)? When are we going to stop living for ourselves? When are we going to wake up and stop compromising who He is?

These are all questions God asked me recently. "How can we say we have died to sin and still live in it?" We walk in the newness of life. We do not live from our past, but rather breathe the air of today. We do not have to keep sinning. If we claim to know Him and we keep sinning, then we really do not know Him (or love Him-John 14:15). For if Christ lives in us, we have been resurrected with Him. Resurrection implies a new life, a transformation that only God Himself can do. It is not our power, but through Him. Our old self has been crucified with Him, so we no longer are enslaved to that sin. It has no dominion over you. Satan has NO dominion over you. He has overcome our sin on the cross. We just have to believe and DO the things He asks. "Doing" is not trying. "Doing" is whole heartedly following Him-- even at the cost of yourself and your possessions. We have been set free from the bondage of sin. The chains have been severed, and we now walk in the newness of life that is in Christ Jesus.

It is time for the true Christians to arise. It is time to stop compromising, and start contesting the true Christ. Stand firm in who He is, and let Him reign in our lives forever and ever. So be it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Worrying Does NOTHING

I worry about things. I worry about what people will think. I worry about what others feel. I worry about who I am going to marry. I worry about her (really, because she is going to have to put up with me). I worry that my feelings don't mean a thing to another person. I worry that I will make a mistake. But what does the Bible teach us about worrying, or being anxious, in Matthew? Matthew 6:34 states, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." But the verse before that is equally, if not more, important, "But seek FIRST the KINGDOM of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Does that mean I seek her first? Does that mean that I seek marriage first? Does that mean I seek earthly love first? BY NO MEANS! Seek FIRST His Kingdom, and everything else will take care of itself (not by me or you, but by Him- just to clarify). I may have a want to marry a girl or even a STRONG feeling that I WILL marry her. But, what if I or she dies tomorrow? OR what if His plan is different for our lives? Will my love for Him be sufficient? Will my love for Him stand firm, even when I cannot stand? That is the only thing that matters. I may marry her, but I may NOT. SO what? He is sovereign and He knows what He is doing. That is what I cling to. Everything on this earth that we, as humans, desire is nothing compared to the Glory of our Father. Not even the girl you marry. (Now, that does, in no way, mean that you do not love her- trust me). But what matters most in the beautiful scheme of eternity is God and His holiness, purity, greatness, splendor, sovereignty, and beauty. That is what He wants. So, let us not worry about the things of tomorrow, but focus on the prize that is Christ. The prize that comes with the yearning and pursuing of Him alone! HE IS faithful!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Philippians 3:14

God is transforming lives. He is opening eyes and strengthening legs of the weak to walk on the path that leads to righteousness, which is Christ. The new year is a year of Christ and the glory to which He will receive. The past is gone. As far as the east is from the west, our transgressions are gone. Our past is not what defines us, rather our Hope that is in Christ. The Hope of all glory is unseen (Rom. 8:24) and in it lies His strength to walk the beaten path. In it lies our courage to stand firm on a path not seen by many. As the New Year is here, my continual prayer for my brothers and sisters in Christ is that we live for the Hope of Glory NOW in our lives. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but TODAY. Nothing in this carnal world matters more than the SURPASSING worth of knowing Christ. I pray that we become like Christ. That we die to ourselves, our selfish emotions, our pitiful fears, our insecurities, our lack of assurance, our feelings,and our heart. But Lord, our heart yearns for You and your will. Lord, we focus on what lies ahead. Burn away the dross Lord, and cleanse from us all our feelings and replace them with the Perfect Love that is in You. We press on to YOUR call Lord. We press on to the YOUR will. We press on; even when we cannot see a foot in front of us. We press on even when we cannot stand on our own. We press on past our feelings. We press on past our wants. We press on to YOUR Glory, Father. We press on to YOUR Heart. Lord, you are a Consuming Fire. Come and fill our Hearts.