Saturday, December 24, 2005

Jesus Enters In

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:14 – Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men – this is what happens when Jesus enters in to the scene.

When we celebrate the Incarnation, we celebrate the fact that Jesus entered into our world, but not only for that. Jesus entered in to our world and made the way for us to enter in to His. When He was about to leave, He told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:2-3). He came in with peace, and He left us with peace (John 14:27).

Jesus had deity and humanity, the Son of God and the Son of Man (Psalm 2:7 / Hebrews 1:4-14 / Philippians 2:5-11 / John 1:14 / Matthew 10:1 / John 3:34 / Acts 10:38). Kinsman redeemer – His divinity possesses power, righteousness, and life, which by His humanity are conveyed to us.

Because He lives, those who will dare believe, live also.

Jesus partook of humanity that we might partake of divinity. All of the Apostle Paul’s writings proclaim this fact (Romans 5:5, 8:9, 15-16, 23 / 1 Corinthians 2:10, 3:16, 6:19 / 2 Corinthians 1:22, 3:18, 5:5, 13:14 / Galatians 2:20, 5:22-23 / Ephesians 1:14, 4:3-6, 4:30 / Philippians 1:19-21, 2:1, 3:3 / Colossians 1:9-11, 27 / 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, 4:8, 5:19 / 2 Thessalonians 2:13 / 2 Timothy 1:14 / Titus 3:5), not to mention Peter and John’s as well. Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to empower us. The New Testament is replete with this fact.

Jesus entered in to the human race that we might enter in to the Holy Place. Jesus carried His cross and went into the presence of God, so that we might also carry our cross, follow Him, and enter in (Hebrews 9:12, 24, 10:19-22). We can enter in to fellowship intimately with God.

Just as it was back then, Jesus enters in by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not only your destination, but your destiny; the end of the road and the road itself (John 14:6, 17:3).

Jesus is always entering in on behalf of the Father, and on behalf of His children. When sin entered into the world, God already had a plan for His Son to enter in (Genesis 3:15). Abraham knew the plan (John 8:56 / Galatians 3:8), Moses knew the plan (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), Isaiah knew the plan (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1-4, 53:1-12, 61:1-3), and all the prophets spoke of the plan (Acts 3:24).

Mary was a virgin but had a baby (Luke 2) – with the favor of God, nothing is impossible (Romans 8:32). Mary was from the line of David yet she was obscured; it took Jesus to fulfill her destiny. How did this happen? The world will keep your identity down, but Jesus!

When Jesus enters in, things change. When we think about Jesus we think about the Virgin Birth, but this isn’t the only time God brought about an unusual birth. Sarah was barren and too old and yet she had a baby (Genesis 11:30, 16:1, 21:1-3) – God is faithful to His promises.

Abimelech obeyed God, turned from evil, and the wombs of his people were opened (Genesis 20:1-18) – repentance brings healing.

Rachel had a closed womb, but God remembered her and she had a baby (Genesis 29:31, 30:1-2, 22-23) – He takes away disgrace and gives much grace. He causes you to be fruitful.

Hannah had a closed womb but had a baby (1 Samuel 1:1-11, 19-2:10) – She promised and praised; she received a child and God received the glory.

Elisabeth was barren and too old but she also had a baby (Luke 1:7, 13, 24-25) – He hears our prayers and He brings joy and gladness.

Jesus not only entered in by the Incarnation, and not only in the lives of the saints of old, He also enters in to our struggles today. He showed His sympathy by coming to the world, and He shows His empathy by His role as our High Priest.

Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone.
Empathy is feeling the sorrow of someone.

Sympathy – Hebrews 2:14-18 – He has compassion for you – He has a pro-attitude toward you – He entered in to the pain of the world – He felt the pain and discouragement (Isaiah 49:1-6) – He was motivated to trust God and continue in action – we are called to action, to enter in for others (Romans 12:15 / 1 Corinthians 12:26).

Empathy – Hebrews 4:14-16 – He can feel your pain now – He knows what we are going through – Empathy refers to the ability to perceive and experientially feel another person's emotions – He identifies – Our pain enters into Him – we should enter in to Him and for others because He has and does enter in for us (Hebrews 7:25 / 10:19-22 / 13:3).

Jesus entered in to the world situation that He might also enter in to your situation. Your dream, and your “baby being birthed” in this next year is about Jesus becoming “incarnate” in your life. It’s about Him living big on the inside of you (Galatians 4:19).

James 5:7-8 is primarily about the Second Coming of Christ, but it also applies to His coming to fulfill His word in our lives now, as does 2 Peter 3:9, and Hebrews 10:35-36.

When Israel was delivered out of bondage in Egypt, they had a battle to fight at Jericho, and Jesus entered in on God’s side (Joshua 5:13-15). After you have been delivered out of bondage, but still have battles to fight, Jesus will enter in, so be on God’s side (Isaiah 59:19).

He enters in like He did for Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Elisabeth, and Mary, and He will enter in for you too. The Gospel isn’t just for those who are lost, but for those who are on the way and those who have lost their way. The Gospel, Jesus entering in, is about salvation; but it is also about sanctification, our growth in grace in this life. When we enter in to the resting of the Gospel then the resting of the Gospel enters in to us (Hebrews 3:6-4:11).

We can enter in through baptism, communion, foot washing, prayer, studying the Word, fellowship with saints, worship, thanksgiving, praise, persecution (Romans 8:17 / 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 / Philippians 1:29 / 2 Timothy 1:12), and the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be hindered and don’t hinder others from entering in (Luke 11:52).

Jesus entered in.

Will you enter in?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Hebrews 11:1-10

We don’t need another New Year’s resolution; we need a New Year’s revolution!

Jesus was a revolutionary, but not the political kind, or the social kind. What Christ did and still does to those who will receive by faith is to revolutionize their life by “taking over”. Instead of the same old practice of sin management, we can have (and we certainly need) the Holy Spirit to make manifest the life of Christ in our mortal bodies. Indeed, the life of Christ made manifest in our flesh is God’s perfect design for our lives (Romans 8:29 / 2 Corinthians 4:7 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 3:17 / Philippians 1:20-21 / Colossians 1:27).

In order for us to become what God wants us to be we must have faith (Hebrews 11:6). Grace spreads the table, and faith helps itself. We can harness the power of faith by concentrating on and developing four specific areas. We need our faith to blossom in these four facets for it to operate to its full potential in our lives. We need to guard those areas where we are strong and focus on those that are weak. We need to be set apart, wholly other (holiness), and growing together in the community of believers. The just shall live the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10) by faith (Habakkuk 2:4 / Romans 1:17 / Galatians 3:11 / Hebrews 10:38).

Exodus 28:36 / Leviticus 20:7-8 – Holiness is the key to faith – God instructed Moses to engrave “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” on the ministerial garments.

Four Facets of Faith

Verse 4 – Abel had a faith to worship God – John 4:24 / Psalm 5:7
– We are to worship in the beauty of holiness – 1 Chronicles 16:29 / 2 Chronicles 20:21 / Psalm 29:2 / Psalm 96:9 / Exodus 15:11.

Verse 5 – Enoch had a faith to walk with God – Galatians 5:16 / 2 Corinthians 5:7
– We are to walk on the highway of holiness – Isaiah 35:8 / Jeremiah 2:3-5 / Genesis 17:1 / Deuteronomy 5:33 / Deuteronomy 13:4.

Verse 7 – Noah had a faith to work for God – Ephesians 2:10 / James 2:17-18
– We are to work to perfect holiness in the fear of God – 2 Corinthians 7:1 / 2 Chronicles 31:18 / Ephesians 4:24 / 1 Thessalonians 4:7 / Hebrews 12:14.

Verse 8-10 – Abraham had a faith to wait on God – Isaiah 40:31 / Hosea 12:6
– We are to have patience to wait for the promise of holiness – Zechariah 14:20 / Isaiah 23:18 / Isaiah 62:9 / Obadiah 1:17 / 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

What is it going to take to cause a revolution in our lives this year? It is going to require faith, and holiness is the key to faith. How do we set ourselves apart? How do we become holy, or wholly other? What is it that will make us different: different from others, and especially different than we used to be? It is our worship, our walk, our work, and our waiting that will revolutionize our faith, which will revolutionize our life.

Do you want to worship in a way you’ve never done before? Do you want to walk closer than you’ve ever been before? Do you want to work for God in a way that no one has seen before? Do you want to be able to wait on God as he brings you to the place of his promise to you? Yes? Then how will we do it?

Abel was different in his worship. Our worship must be based on what God has done for us, not what we have done for God. Worship is worth-ship – we tell God what he is, and praise him for what he has done. Worship remembers the past – look at Psalm 136, which we read a few weeks ago. The bottom line with worship: we are set apart when we set Him apart – a life of worship (1 Peter 3:15). Worship with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Enoch was different in his walk; men had stopped having such close communication with God since Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden of Eden. Enoch knew who he was and who God was; he knew God’s majesty and his misery without him. Blaise Pascal: If a man knows God but doesn’t know his own misery, he is lead to pride. If a man knows his own misery but doesn’t know God, he is lead to despair. If a man knows Jesus Christ, he knows both God and his misery in Him. Now this is how you preach or evangelize: law to the proud, grace to the humble. This is revealing how to walk with God; it is by humility, in repentance and faith (Micah 6:8 / Colossians 2:6). Think about Saul – how God anointed him, he had power from God, and he knew God, he was changed into a different man (1 Samuel 10:6). He was humble (1 Samuel 9:21,10:22), but he lost that humility and he lost his way. When we lose our humility, we forget God, and our pride will lead us to despair in the end. When we keep our eyes on Christ we can walk that line between pride and despair; it is the straight and narrow path. Walk: we are set apart when we walk a different path, we walk the straight and narrow path between pride and despair – we walk humbly (Micah 6:8) in repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6). We acknowledge His majesty and our misery. When we walk the fine line, we can also walk the line between cynicism and sentimentalism. Walking with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16).

We are talking about revolutionizing our faith so as to revolutionize our lives. We said that holiness is the key to faith, and that faith is defined in four facets: faith to worship, faith to walk, faith to work, and faith to wait. We covered worshipping and walking; now we are focused on a working faith. When we work to perfect holiness (and our faith) in the fear of God, what we are doing is finding new ways to see, rather than new ways to flee. We need a revolution that leads to an evolution; our faith is shocked into a continual process of growth. We learn to obey instead of disobey.

Noah was different in his work; he was doing something that no one else would even dream of doing, addressing a need that never existed before. God allowed Noah to see how his work would impact his future. Noah was doing the prophetic, but the world called it pathetic. Who was right? Noah was of course. Is your work prophetic or pathetic? It doesn’t depend on the type of work; it depends on your perspective. Is your faith one that sees your work, no matter how trivial or mundane you think it may be, as holy? Working with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16).

Sometimes we don’t work because we are lazy, and we’re lazy because we are not motivated. But everyone is motivated by something, even if it is despair or bitterness, spite or struggle. You are motivated by whatever energizes you. Most people are not truly energized by Christ, and so therefore are not motivated to work for him. Anger, regret, sadness, or other negative emotions energize them, and they work to feed their soul with these things, sometimes in the name of Christ.

Wade Boggs recently was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. When asked what was the secret of his success, he stated, and so did his coaches, that he was driven by an “I’ll show you” mentality that he carried throughout his career. Well, that may seem all well and good, but what will spur him on now? Who will he have to show up or what will he have to prove that will drive him?

Why do you think Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson kept coming back to play basketball after retiring more than once? They have a driven mentality. They have to have something to prove. Folks, the “I’ll show you” mindset is of the devil. Think about it: what did the devil say to God, “I’ll show you, I’ll be as great as you are”. The world feeds off this today, we are being told to do what drives us; but we are to be Spirit led, not driven.

What is it that energizes you? Most people work in the strength they already have. (Isaiah 50:10-11 / Jeremiah 2:12-13 / 17:5). This is what I call the “altar of adrenaline”. Are you living out of the energy of your flesh, or has God begun redefining the way you live by renewing your energy in Him? We’ve said before that bitterness is what energizes some if not most people. You see if we are being energized by our bitterness, we are not and indeed cannot be energized by God.

Do you have an altar of adrenaline? Some people are so used to being sad, they have learned to derive energy from it. They resign themselves to living in that state, and draw their power to live from it. When they hear a little bit of bad news, they immediately go into their adrenaline mode to be able to cope, and actually bring on more pain to give them more energy. Being sad spurs them on in a sense.

The same goes for anger. We create situations where we are angry at something that didn’t even happen. We imagine for a moment the “what if it did”, and become adrenalized and feed off the only source of energy that will satisfy us. We may even get up in the morning and dream up a scenario that will raise our ire, just because it gets us going. This is the reason for the road rage drug and its disproportionate response. This is why some people get high; they instinctively recognize a problem but don’t know how to deal with it other than muffle it through drugs, legal or illegal.

We have got to get a new workplace – the prophetic and not the pathetic. We are not victims we are victors. We are always to be working for the Lord. We need the right source of energy to do the right kind of work; otherwise all our work for God is wasted and becomes mere words.

People may not believe a word you say, but they will believe everything you do. When your actions line up with your words the conviction that people will see in you will herald the revolution to those whom God would call. You become greater than mere words, and larger than life. This principle holds true for churches too. We say that we are a loving fellowship, but will we prove it by loving the undeserving? Many can talk the talk; will we walk the walk?

We walk the walk by working together. Working together – the net example. Instead of using our linked arms to pull each other up all the time (we do it when necessary), we need to get together on the same page. When we are walking and worshipping at the same pace, our linked arms are much more than a support device, they become a net to catch others. Casting a line catches one at a time; casting a net is better yet. Jesus said I will make you fishers – plural – of men.

Holiness is the key to a revolutionary faith. Holiness is being set apart, and Abraham was set apart, called out, and became a sojourner in his land of promise as a stranger (Hebrews 11:9). Abraham was different in his waiting; he went forth, waiting for God to lead him to a place he had never been, for a promise that seemed out of this world. We are going to wrap this up by showing you how Abraham used his worship, walk, and work to have a revolutionary faith!

Abraham waited by getting up, not by sitting down. He didn’t always know exactly where he was going. He had moments of doubt, but he also must have spoken to himself about what God had said to him. His faith grew in “steps”. Just like you and me, he and Sarah also had their moments where they didn’t wait, and suffered for it. Abraham saw famine, and went to Egypt, and he saw himself getting older, and went ahead of God with Hagar. But Abraham learned and became the father of our faith (Romans 4:11), passing his ultimate test (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Again, do you want to worship in a more passionate way than ever before? Do you want to walk closer than you’ve ever been before? Do you want to work for God in a way that no one has seen before? Do you want to be able to wait on God as he brings you to the place of his promise to you? Yes? Then how will we do it?

I want you to understand that no matter what your situation is the answer is to wait on God. Whether you’re in riches or rags right now, your perspective on God makes all the difference. You can be in prosperity and get it wrong, and you can be in poverty and get it right. And you can wait in the wrong way.

Two gardens – one was tragic, one was triumph. In the one, Adam couldn’t wait, was removed, and we all died. In the other, Jesus did wait, was renewed (Luke 22:42-43), and we all live.

Two wildernesses – one was tragic, one was triumph. In one the Jews wandered for forty years, and suffered. In the other, Jesus waited for forty days, and was strengthened (Matthew 4:11).

Think about it. In both cases, both parties knew the will of God; one did it, the other didn’t. One waited on God, the other didn’t. When we know and act upon the will of God, we will have waited on God. To wait means more than to simply be passive. It can also mean to serve. When we wait on (serve) ourselves, we think and speak about our circumstances. When we wait on (serve) God, we think and speak about Him and His power in us. Then we can actively “wait” by faith.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Notice what this verse is saying. When you wait on the Lord you will renew your strength. It says that those who wait on the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles. Let me ask you, are you tired of growing weary in certain areas of your life? Do you want to renew your strength? Do you want to soar as the eagles? Well, today you are going to learn how to do just that.

For a while I questioned the reason why this scripture related us to the eagles. When I learned of the molting period of an eagle I got a revelation of what it means to lose strength, to give up and to grow weary, and what it takes to rise up with new wings. Like the eagle, we all go through a molting period.

People are not sure why it happens but all eagles experience molting sometime in their life. The eagle that flies high in the air – above the mountains – goes to the bottom of the mountains and lives on the ground in the woods, at its lowest point. While down there three things happen:

1. They begin losing their feathers.
2. Calcium deposits build up on their beaks.
3. They lose their ability to tear up and see properly.

When these 3 things happen, the strengths and abilities of the eagle diminish. What begins to happen is that because of the thickness of the calcium deposits, the eagle cannot hold up their head, nor can they search for food, therefore they do not eat and might eventually end up dying in that state of molting.

What the eagle relies on are other eagles who are familiar with what is happening to them. These eagles will swoop down and drop them fresh meat to eat. If an eagle will find enough energy (remember last week) to eat this meat they will live. This allows the eagle to gain strength and fly to the top of the mountain where they break the calcium from their beaks on the rock and begin to fly high again and gain their vision again as the tears begin to flow from the strong wind in their eyes. That is how the eagle renews their strength.

You might say that it’s different for us. The verse says you have to wait on the Lord if you want to renew your strength. However, I venture to say that most people quote that verse, rely on it and have been waiting on the Lord for a long time, yet still are not seeing any results.

Remember our demonstration about working together and strength, and about motivation and energy? We need to get that meat (the Word of the Lord) and be renewed by it. Others can help us with the Word of God and it energizes us because we know his will and can act on it. We get fed and then we fly! Then we help others who are “molting”.

The problem is how we have been waiting. When someone tells me that they are waiting on the Lord I mostly see them sitting quiet doing nothing, arms folded saying that, "I am waiting on the Lord." This turns out to be the same people who are not renewing their strength. They are frustrated and ready to give up. So is God's Word a lie or is the way people are waiting not the proper way to wait? We need to wait actively sometimes and not just passively.

We all need to go through this period of “molting”, where we shed off our old feathers, our old man, and we put on the new man, which renews our strength. Romans 12:1-2 – a renewed mind helps us to know the will of God; that’s what we are waiting for, to know His will so we can act on it! Ephesians 4:22-24 – a renewed mind is the key to holiness, and holiness is the key to a revolutionary faith! Colossians 1:6, 3:9-10 – a renewed mind helps us experience what God has for us. Feed on the Word of God, and it will energize you, and set you soaring!

You might say what about Mary and Martha? The difference was what energized them, just like we talked about last week. Mary was seemingly passive, but was actively attentive to Christ; she was energized by His word, while Martha was energized by her own service. See the difference?

I went out to eat with some friends a while back and we decided to visit a well-known and very nice restaurant in the area. Once the hostess sat us at our table our server arrived and shared with us the specials and proceeded to take our order. She continued to be very pleasant with us and we enjoyed the way she served us the entire time. Upon paying for dinner we continued to linger on the way we were served. When we left the tip we left her with more than she would have expected!

Why did we do this? Because the server did a good job serving us. In other words, she did a good job waiting on us. That’s another name for a server – a waiter.

Do you want the blessing enough? Do you really want to renew your strength? Do you want to come out of that molting period of your life? Well then, it is time to wait on the Lord. It is time to serve the Lord. We know and can know even better what God wants; we can actively “wait” on him. Don't sit around doing nothing and call that waiting – how would you tip the server that treated you that way? No, when God tells you to do something you do it. When He asks you for something you get it. A minister is also a servant (Acts 13:2 - same word we get liturgy from). It is our duty to serve the Lord.

And He’s told us what He wants us to do – it’s what we’ve been studying. To wait means to serve, and we serve by worshipping, walking, and working. That’s how we wait with revolutionary faith, we act on what God has already told us.

Now catch this as we relate it back to waiting and mounting up with wings. The Hebrew word for wait in Isaiah 40:31 is qavah, which means to bind together by twisting. It gives the impression of a rope that is bound together. Not one cord that wraps around the others, but interwoven together so that when its is used, it stretches and each cord gives the other its strength. A string will break, but a rope will hold. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says a three fold chord is not easily broken.

Those three strands are our worship, our walk, and our work. So we do what we have been saying for the last three weeks, that is how we wait on the Lord! We weave all the strands of our faith into one strong rope. It doesn’t lose its strength when it is not being used. Continue to worship Him, to walk into His presence, and work to please Him and do everything He wants you to do, being renewed in knowledge and true holiness. That is how you wait on the Lord.

This is how Abraham waited; he had a revolutionary faith! He worshipped as he waited; he built altars as he went (Genesis 12:7, 13:18, 22:9-14): remember Jehovah Jireh? He walked as he waited: remember he went where God was sending him (Genesis 12:5). He worked as he waited; remember Noah and his work; Abraham also interceded for those about to be destroyed (Genesis 18:23-33).

That is when you begin to soar like the eagles! You build that three-fold chord; you wait on God by actively pursuing Him. You renew your mind and become energized by Him. When your mind is renewed you begin worshipping in the beauty of holiness, walking on the highway of holiness, working to perfect holiness in the fear of God, and waiting on the promise of holiness. Now we have a revolutionary faith, and faith is the key to Christ being made manifest in our lives!






Our worship must be based on what God has done for us, not what we have done for God.

We are set apart when we set Him apart – a life of worship (1 Peter 3:15).

Worship with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

We are set apart when we walk a different path, we walk the straight and narrow path between pride and despair – we walk humbly (Micah 6:8) in repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6).

Walking with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16).

Is your work prophetic or pathetic? It doesn’t depend on the type of work; it depends on your perspective. Is your faith one that sees your work, no matter how trivial or mundane you think it may be, as holy?

We walk the walk by working together. Working together – the net example.

Working with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16).

When we know and act upon the will of God, we will have waited on God.

Like the eagle, we all go through a molting period. Feed on the Word of God, and it will energize you, and set you soaring!

You build that three-fold chord; you wait on God by actively pursuing Him.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, November 28, 2005


Ephesians 4:31 / Hebrews 12:15

We must get rid of all bitterness. It is crucial to realize that the basis for all our actions in this regard must be what Jesus Christ has done for us on the Cross. We can be free from bitterness because Jesus paid for all my sin, and for all the sin done to me. If you keep bitterness, it will keep you: It will keep you from . . .

1) Happiness (Ephesians 4:29-5:2) It is easy to recognize when somebody else is bitter. You can see it in the eyes and in the lines of the face – even if the person is young. You can see it in their mouth, and you can see it when they're smiling or laughing. They are bitter and you can see it. You can hear it in the tone of their voices. You can hear it when they protest that they are not bitter. They might seem happy one minute and then any old thing sets them off, and they magnify every little problem into some gigantic catastrophe or emotional nightmare. The bitterness is central and pervades everything. They may say, “well, I am just sick of” . . . well of course you are . . . if you keep biting into bitter fruit you will keep getting sick.

Look at the text. You must let Christ “put it away”, which means expiate (pay for, atone for, satisfy the debt) it. This text isn’t talking about gritting your teeth and bearing it, it is about giving it to Christ and letting Him bear it. The Greek for “be put away” is an aorist passive imperative. A one-time event, that you receive, and it is a command. In other words, God commands you to let it go.

See the reason we can do this, in verse 32? Let Christ do the work, if not you are holding on to it and you will have to pay for it. Either you let Christ satisfy the debt and you become satisfied in Him, or you hold on to the debt and Christ doesn’t pay it and neither can the other person or you. Like verse 32 says, Christ has paid for it and you must let it go. If you keep trying to fight for your rights you are struggling against God, and no wonder you aren’t happy (James 4:6 / 1 Peter 5:5). A bitter person is not a humble person, they are grieving the Holy Spirit, and so they will not be Christ like, they will have no peace, they won’t be happy, and their fruit will be rotten.

2) Holiness (Hebrews 12:14-15) Jesus can’t live big on the inside of you in a house full of your rotten fruit. Matthew 5:8 – your heart is not pure that is why you see evil – You cannot see the Lord working in other people or other situations because bitterness colors all you do. Luke 6:45 – if there is venom on your lips, there is poison in your heart. James 3:11 – coming from the wrong fountain.

Of course everyone has had an argument, dispute, or falling out in a way with someone. Did it ever happen and then, after awhile everything seems okay, maybe even for a long period of time? Did you ever wonder why that one day, suddenly, one little thing happens, and there is an explosion of bitter emotion? It is as if all the past came forward to the present, attached itself to this little thing, and exploded into a major conflagration, as if the original event never died down. Well that is exactly what happened, the original event was only avoided over time, but time cannot heal this wound, bitterness begins to rot, and becomes a root, and the Greek here in this Hebrews text says that its fruit springs up, that is, it happens suddenly.

Make sure you catch that: it is pictured here in this passage as a quick process; the root is ready to produce instant fruit. Time can make bitterness seem invisible, but it is like a time bomb waiting to go off. If you don’t allow Jesus to take your bitterness, it will spring up again and again. It won’t just go away, bitterness is the foe that won’t let go. It’s keeping you from God’s best.

Holiness is being “wholly other,” and holding on to bitterness is what the world proscribes. You may think you have a right to be bitter, but the Bible does not grant anyone the right to be bitter. The Ephesians text says to get rid of all bitterness. The world says stand up for your rights, but Jesus didn’t stand up for His did he? You see no matter what has happened to you, no matter how you have been wronged, you must get rid of bitterness.

We are nearing Christmas time, where we celebrate the Incarnation, Jesus taking on human flesh and coming to earth. But Jesus didn’t come to liberate us from our social situation, He came to liberate us from our sinful situation, and bitterness is a sin that will keep you from God. Your bitterness can be forgiven, but only if you give it to God. It cannot be forgiven if it hasn’t been given. 1 Peter 5:7 – you mustn’t care about it anymore! You must drop those chains.

3) Heaven (Daniel 12:2) Bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to. It has become rancid and rotten. It is kept in and it gets worse. There is a connection between bitterness and hatred, and a very clear biblical identification between hatred and murder. What I am saying is that hurt can lead to murder. Some might object that this teaching is too strong. But the strength of it is from the Bible. Many are deceived that they have believed in Christ, but you cannot hold on to bitterness and Jesus at the same time. Christ leads us to repent of our bitterness against God, and our bitterness against other people. Jesus said if you don’t forgive other people you will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). He was not giving some requirement for salvation. He was saying that those who are forgiven become forgiving people themselves. If we do not forgive we become resentful, of other people, of life, and of God. Resentment leads to cynicism, which leads to bitterness, which leads to contempt, and contempt leads to hell, in which Jesus said there would be the “gnashing of teeth”.

What are the wrong ways to get rid of bitterness?

James 3:14-15 (NIV) – But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. Don’t spread it out or hold it in, those are the wrong ways of dealing with it.

What happens to a person if he keeps bitterness on the inside for many years? What happens to him physically? Can he get physically sick? He has not defiled many people – he has kept it down inside. When he keeps it inside for some years, he finally begins to hurt. He goes to the doctor and the doctor says, "You are right, you are sick. But I am going to send you to the other kind of doctor."

So he sends him to the psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist agrees. "Yes, you are sick all right. And I know why you are sick. You are sick because of 20 years of bitterness toward your father. You have kept it suppressed all these years and it's just rotted out your insides. You have kept this poison within and this acid on the inside has made you just physically ill. So what I want you to do is I want you to go home and share it with your father. Why keep it in and get sick?

You have heard that we shouldn’t pick at sores; we all know you can’t keep opening a wound and expect to get healed. Why, then when we are emotionally injured, do we go to somebody else and keep opening the cut, or keep showing it so that infection continues to grow?

The world has 2 solutions. Keep the bitterness in, and make yourself sick, or let it out and spread the sickness around. God's solution is to dig up the root. Don't nurse a grudge. Don't allow the poison of the past to pollute the present. Get rid of it. But this takes the grace of God. A man must know the Lord Jesus Christ to be able to do this. He is the source of grace. Whether the past sins are your own or whether they're others, accept an experience of God's grace. Jesus, the Great Physician, can heal you. He has felt your pain, and He has paid for that sin. Time can’t heal this wound, only Jesus can.

Bitterness does not help it hinders

Because bitterness empties the soul by eating us up on the inside, many cling to bitterness because it actually gives them a tangible, physical energy boost. It feels empowering and right to them. But you cannot have the fullness of the Spirit with bitterness in your soul. You cannot rely on His energy when your flesh is feeding itself. Holding it in will destroy you. There are many people like this today. Not only are they bitter, they enjoy being bitter. They somehow like it, and they feed on it. They wouldn't know what to do if they got rid of it; they wouldn't have a purpose for living.

In the book of Ruth, there was a woman whose name meant Pleasant. Her name was Naomi and she had moved from Israel to another land with her husband and sons. But her husband had died and within the next ten years both of her sons died. Her bitterness was toward God. It was God who had taken away her husband; it was God who had taken away her sons, and she held it against him.

There are bitter people in the Bible besides Naomi. In fact, there are quite a few. For example, Jonah was a bitter man. The Lord said to him, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die" (Jonah 4:9).

Bitterness does not heal it harms

The world of psychology and self-help says to let it all out, to vent, and to blow off steam, but letting it out isn’t the same as letting it go. Getting it off your chest only puts it onto someone else, but the bitter tree is still producing bitter fruit, and you will have to unload your bitter harvest again and again. It does you no good, and letting it out will destroy others. That is what the Hebrews text is saying. Beware lest any root of bitterness spring up, cause trouble, and defile many people, which means to make many people filthy.

Have you ever seen bitterness go through a family, or a church? Bitterness can go through a congregation like a prairie fire. It can go through the work place or any group. Why is this? Somebody decided to share. He was bitter, and let the root bear fruit. He shared it and many people became bitter. The author of Hebrews warns us about this. He says beware of missing the grace of God. When you allow it, bitterness comes up and defiles many people. It makes many people filthy.

There is a lot of soap opera qualities regarding and surrounding David and his life and those around him. His sins led others to become bitter. 2 Samuel 11:3 / 15:31 / 23:34 / 16:20-17:23: Ahithophel’s granddaughter was Bathsheba. He had kept that bitterness for 9 years, and tried to help David’s son Absalom take the throne. He had been a wise man but became bitter, foolish and committed suicide. He is a type of Judas. The bible says that after denying Jesus Peter had wept bitter tears but they were cries of true repentance and he became better, Judas didn’t. When someone doesn’t meet your expectations, or you don’t meet your own, you will either allow Christ to help you become better or you will become even more bitter. You will either experience His grace or wrath.

If you cut off and even destroy the bitter root, you still have the fruit already produced that is lying around the ground and on the tree, and you have to deal with that. How do we do that? Ephesians 4:32 – present middle imperative, “keep on becoming kind”. In other words, now, whenever it is happening, always be doing it. You are doing it and it is being done to you, you are allowing God’s power to work and working in it instead of struggling against it. It is a command. You let it happen, you are willing to allow the bitterness to be taken away, and you start becoming more and more kind, you are intentional towards others. This is discipleship, willing and intentional (Romans 12:1-2). These are not simply moral imperatives, a “just do it” type of command to pick yourself up, it is a grace experience. If you are willing and intentional the power of grace will be there.

Bitterness is easy to recognize in others, but it's not so easy to see it in ourselves

Guilt is what we feel when we sin, and bitterness is what we feel when others sin against us. The very definition of bitterness points to the action of another. If we had committed the offense, we would feel guilty and would know that we had to confess and forsake our sin.

Bitterness is based on sin that somehow relates to you. It is not concerned with how big the sin is; it is based upon how close it is. For instance, if some great and gross immorality occurs in another part of the world, what do we do? We read about it, but we will not feel guilty. We read about it, but we will not feel bitter. We might be appalled or amazed, but we do not feel guilty, and we do not feel bitter. Nevertheless, it was an awful sin, and someone actually committed it. And it can get closer to us as it might remind us of how we or someone we love was treated unjustly and we become bitter, based on something we have nothing to do with that we saw on TV or something like that. So it does not depend on how great the evil is, it depends on how close the other person is to me. Bitterness is related to those people who are close. Did someone hurt me or someone I care about?

Before we can get rid of bitterness, we have to realize that we are. How can we tell if we’re bitter?

One good rule of thumb is this: Bitterness remembers details. You have had thousands of conversations in your life, most of which you have forgotten. But this one took place five years ago, and you remember every single word, his intonation and the inflection of every part of his voice. You know exactly what happened, which means you are bitter.

Now, it is also possible to have a good memory of a wonderful conversation, but not as likely. Why? Because memory is helped by review, review, and more review. People do not usually mull over the exact details of wonderful things as much. But they do go over and over and over the bad things. I have done counseling with people who are in the process of getting divorced. I have known some at a happier time in their life. But at the time of the divorce they cannot remember a single happy time. All they can remember is that which they have gone over and over. They are bitter.

This doesn't mean there were not happy times. It just means that they have concentrated on how right they were and how wrong the other person was. If someone has a sharp, detailed memory for things that happened years ago when he was a child, or a young man or woman, and that memory is at all accusative of anyone else, then it is an indication of bitterness. And the solution for bitterness is to get rid of it.

What is the problem? Why is it we do not get rid of bitterness? If I tell a lie, I can confess it and be forgiven. In order to get rid of it I have to bring it back to my own heart. We need to bring the realization of bitterness back to our own hearts. Instead, the temptation is to look at the offender. Look what he did. That is the nature of bitterness. In order to get rid of it, I need to recognize it is my problem before I can confess and forsake it.

But you say, "I am not bitter. I just get hurt easily." There is a close relationship between being hurt and being resentful. Someone gets hurt and then he gets resentful. There is another very close connection between resentment and bitterness. Resentment turns into a deep bitterness. Bitterness turns into contempt, where anything the other one does is seen with jaundiced eyes.

What we want to do is make it apparent how sinful bitterness is. The bitter person must first recognize that he is bitter, and secondly, that it is a gross evil. Again, the reason people do not deal with this sin is that they think it is the other person's sin. The devil says, "Well, when he quits lying, or he quits doing this or that, or when he says he's sorry, then you will feel better."

But suppose he does not quit? Suppose he never quits? Are you going to be bitter the rest of your life because someone else insists on being in sin? That does not make any sense at all. You may say, "I will forgive him when he says he is sorry, but not until then. I have a right to my bitterness until then. When he says he is sorry, I will forgive him and everything will be fine." You keep this wall of bitterness up, and one day he comes to you and he says, "I'm sorry." Can you now forgive him? No, because bitterness doesn't forgive. In order to forgive this person when he says he is sorry you have to be ready before he says he is sorry. And if you are ready to forgive him before he says he is sorry, then it doesn't depend on whether he says he is sorry or not. In other words, you get rid of bitterness unilaterally. It does not matter what the other person does.

In reality bitterness is a sin that stands alone. The bitter person decides to be bitter independently of the offender. You say, "No, he sinned against me, and when he says he is sorry everything will be fine." But this is not true. I've known situations where an apology was offered and the person is still bitter. Suppose the offender is dead and cannot apologize. I know people who are extremely bitter and the bitterness is toward their parents who died years ago. But the bitterness has not died. Bitterness is the sin of the bitter person alone, unrelated to anybody else.

In order to get rid of it, I have to see that it is evil and that it is my sin and my sin only. I do not get rid of it through the other person saying he is sorry. I do not get rid of it if the other person quits or dies. I do not get rid of it any other way except calling it sin against the holy God, confessing it and receiving forgiveness. You cannot be free of it if you won’t let go of it. Bitterness is the foe that won’t let go. You don’t just shake it off, you have to cut the root, destroy it, and eliminate the residual fruit and the seeds lying around. Jesus broke the chains and you mustn’t pick them up again.

The difficulty is in getting my eyes off the other person's sin. But just the fact that I think it is his problem shows that it is not. If it were his problem and I was filled with sweetness and light, and not bitter, then I would be concerned about the other person. I could say, "That poor guy! Look what he did. If I did something like that, I would feel awful. He must really feel awful. I think I will go help him." But if that is not my response then I am bitter, and it is my sin, not his. Orange juice in a glass illustration – A cup of sweet juice cannot spill even one drop of bitter juice, however suddenly jolted. If someone is filled with sweetness and someone else gives him a jolt, what will come out? Sweetness. Jolts do not turn sweetness into bitterness.

I believe that this sin is a major hindrance to revival in this country. When Christians start confessing their sins, they will be able to forgive the sins of others. We can be free from bitterness because Jesus paid for all my sin, and for all the sin done to me. He did that by putting the sin on himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). The sin has to go somewhere. If we allow God to give his grace freely, if we let him take it, then the sin (disease) goes away.

However, if we deny Jesus the right to give his grace freely then we must take the sin on ourselves. If we say, no, they must pay, then God says no, you must pay. And it travels down to succeeding generations (the Biblical illustration for this is 2 Kings 5).

That doesn’t mean you have to dig up the past and try and reverse some curse. You are not cursed with bitterness, believing that is blaming someone else for your sins, and it only continues the cycle. You don’t have a curse; you have just accepted chains. Now others may have brought them to you, you may have been around bitterness and become filthy with it yourself, they may have been passed down from generation to generation, but you don’t have to wear them anymore. It doesn’t matter what they did. It is you who has the bitterness, and Jesus can set you free today, once and for all. You don’t have to find when the supposed curse started or where the curse came from; you have to break the chains now, and it is Jesus who sets you free, He has broken the chains, don’t pick up the chains of bitter bondage again. You deny Jesus Christ by holding on to bitterness. Be set free today.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Sunday, October 16, 2005

How to Move the Mountain

How to pray for loved ones salvation and deliverance, and how to ask God to move on our behalf for the battles of this life.

Daniel 2:31-45 – the Mountain is representing Christ and the glory of His Kingdom.

Isaiah 11:9 - They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14 - For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Mark 11:22-23 – we instinctively see the mountain here as whatever the problem is, but Jesus says have faith in God, and whosoever says to this Mountain, i.e., God! Have faith in the Mountain, the Solid Rock; a mountain thrown into the sea becomes an island of refuge and hope!

So what does Jesus mean be telling us to ask God to be removed into the sea?

The sea stands for the Gentiles, the harvest, the lost, your family and loved ones (Psalm 74:13 / Psalm 89:9 / Jude 13). The sea stands for sin (Isaiah 57:20 / Micah 7:19); while they are drowning in the sea of sin we ask God to intervene, to splash down and cause them to see their helpless state of peril. Daniel 7:3 / Revelation 13:1 portray the sea as the tumult of the world, so we say to God, cast yourself into the midst of the sea and become an island for my family! The greatest thing for a shipwreck to see is a shore to rest on. Land ho!

As for our own battles we must realize that God is the Mountain. He is bigger than whatever we are looking at; the Mountain isn’t the problem, it’s the solution, our problem is the small thing. We need to see with spiritual eyes, prophetically, as God sees things. Spiritually we see a Mountain, but the Mountain is God who has already crushed that thing under His glory, and we fall on Him and are broken and set up On High!

Perhaps you might think that this commanding God to move stuff is a little much, you say that prayer doesn’t move God it moves us. Well, okay then; but listen here, I can prove that you can pray and move the Mountain, because the Mountain of God’s glory is in you (Luke 17:11), and Colossians 1:27 says Christ in you the hope of glory. We put legs to the Mountain, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). We can become a walking, talking Mountain of God’s glory! Hallelujah!

Exodus 15:17 - Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, [in] the place, O LORD, [which] thou hast made for thee to dwell in, [in] the Sanctuary, O Lord, [which] thy hands have established.

Psalm 30:7 - LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong:
Psalm 48:1 - Great [is] the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, [in] the mountain of his holiness.

Isaiah 2:2 - And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Isaiah 2:3 - And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 25:6 - And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

Isaiah 30:29 - Ye shall have a song, as in the night [when] a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.

Isaiah 56:7 - Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Isaiah 57:13 - When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take [them]: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;

Jeremiah 31:23 - Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, [and] mountain of holiness.

Ezekiel 20:40 - For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.

Micah 4:1-2 - But in the last days it shall come to pass, [that] the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

The Crisis of Circumstance

Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?
(Matthew 11:3 – ESV)

The context of this passage is when the disciples of John the Baptist came to ask Jesus if He really was the Messiah. John had been in prison for perhaps as much as two years, and had obviously become depressed. His faith was in the crisis of circumstance. Jesus used His actions to demonstrate that He was indeed the One who was promised to come.

How could it be that John, who knew better than anybody who his cousin Jesus was, had fallen into doubt? John saw more signs than anyone ever. Consider the fact that John had been prophesied about as being the herald to the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3 / Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6), and he knew that this prophecy was about him (John 1:23). His parents knew that he was the herald of God (Luke 1:17, 76). John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). John had leapt in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus (Luke 1:41). John was sent to live in the desert by God himself (Luke 1:80). He heard directly from the Almighty as a prophet (Luke 3:2 / John 1:6). Jesus said he was the greatest of the Old Testament saints (Matthew 11:11 / Luke 7:28). He knowingly said that he must decrease but Jesus the Christ must increase (John 3:26-30). John told about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Ghost (Luke 3:16). At Christ’s baptism he was at first unwilling to do it because he felt unworthy (Matthew 3:14). God told John that when he saw the Spirit descend upon a man, that this was the Messiah, the Son of God (John 1:33-34). He heard the voice from heaven declaring Jesus to be the Son of God (Mark 1:11). He proclaimed to the crowd that this was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).

John had known and truly trusted his whole life to Jesus being the Messiah. John was no weak minded, immature believer. Jesus said that John was not a reed shaken with the wind; that is, he was not tossed about by circumstance. He was a rock, he stood up to Herod and that is why he was imprisoned. He lived in the wilderness, not delicately, and had camel’s hair as clothing, not soft raiment. John the Baptist was used to and prepared for hard living, even the dungeon. All this and he still was able to reach a place of doubt. If he did, how can we be so sure that we never will doubt? Why would we think we are any better?

There are two main lessons to see here. One is that this story can bring us comfort and courage. When we are in a crisis of circumstance such as John, we can know that we aren’t the only ones who have ever doubted. We all go through it. We can realize that we are not failures in Christ, only failures in ourselves, and can reach out to Him for strength. The operative prayer should be, Lord I believe, help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

Also know another lesson of John the Baptist: no matter what we have known, believed, and experienced, we cannot rely on our own strength. No sign or wonder is going to last. We cannot rest on the past; we must continue to stay close to God. If we become separated from Him through our negligence of the Word and prayer, and isolated from the fellowship of the saints, we will begin to let doubt have its way with us.

What we must do, as John did through his disciples, is to come to Christ and declare our need. When we are separated from Jesus, as John was, we become vulnerable to the fear and deception of the enemy. That is why we must stay close to Christ. Staying in the Word of God, reading, studying, and meditating upon it everyday keeps Him near. Fellowshipping with other believers is also an important key. Just as Jesus showed his power to John’s followers, Christ will demonstrate his power in our lives, and in other’s, with strength, faith, and answers if we will truly seek him and hold on in faith. Our faith may not be missing any doubt, but God can strengthen it when we rely on Him, and also see what He is doing through others.

When the lost see you living above your crisis of circumstance they are more likely to look toward God for their security. True saints begin to understand that it isn’t all about what is happening in their little world. They know that they don’t see the whole plan, and they trust in the sovereignty of God anyway. How about you?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Secrets of Being a Great D-A-D

Ephesians 6:4

What is it that we want for our children? We are hoping that they have healthy relationships, happiness and fulfillment in their career, and that they stay out of trouble, right? If we could teach our children how to do those things we would be a great dad.

Provoke not your children to wrath: it doesn’t just mean don’t get them angry, it means, in context, don’t train them to be angry people, but bring them up in the Lord. It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men and women.

Proverbs 22:6 – training is not just telling. It is showing. The word in Hebrew means dedicate.

Bring them up – train them don’t just tell them. My loose translation would be train them in the affection and discipline of the Lord. *Your children will learn what you live.

The three keys to being a great dad are (D) devotion, (A) affection, and (D) discipline.

D = Devotion (Of the Lord)

1) Devotion to God (Ephesians 4 & 5)
The family that prays together stays together. Be committed to God and you children will be. *

2) Devotion to your wife (Ephesians 5:25-33)
If your children see that your wife matters to you it will go along way in helping them with their relationship to you and for their later relationships in life. *

A = Affection (Nurture)

1) Affection for work (1 Corinthians 10:31 / Ephesians 4:28 / Colossians 3:17, 23 / Titus 2:10)
If you live the truth about the value of work then your children will value it too. Children must be given an understanding through teaching and leading that there is no difference between the secular and the sacred, all life is to be lived to its fullest, and that this is in many cases our greatest witness to the world. Be a role model, show your children that work is a blessing not a burden and they will grow to see work as desirable rather than see it as drudgery. Don’t model job addiction or job boredom, as many do, model God’s perspective about work itself. This also has to do with chores around the house, not just how they see you talk and act about your job. *

2) Affection for children (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11)
Remember the song “Cat’s in the Cradle?” The balance about affection comes with children and your involvement with them. Be there for them as their cheerleader. If you tap into what they are motivated by then you can steer them in the right direction. Each child is different, and we must pay attention to what God is calling them to. It is usually manifested through their desires; what is it that they are drawn to? Allow them to express their growth through a variety of activities, and help them understand the value of trying hard, practice, patience, and teamwork. Your involvement with them creates a common ground you can come back to for safety in times of stress between you and your children. If you create the common ground as kids, then they will appreciate the need for this and will continue to create common ground with you as adults. This is the answer to getting your children to call and visit when they are older. *

D = Discipline (Admonition)

1) Discipline yourself (Titus 2:12) teaching in Greek means train, or disciplining yourself
The secret of home rule is self rule. *

2) Discipline your children (Hebrews 12:5-11)
We think of discipline only as punishment, but it also includes training, having them do things for the sake of doing them, so that when they have to do those things, they will not become lazy. Tie in to affection for work, you are training, disciplining them to appreciate work with chores and you revealed attitude about your job and work in general.

You will either teach them to be independent or you will teach them to rebel. * If they are 15 they only have three years left until freedom, a new level where they make up the rules. They need to develop responsibility, you are training them to be independent, and this is what the boundaries are for. You are modeling discipline to keep them from falling when they are on their own, and pouring wisdom into them. You are testing their ability to make good decisions.

The New Testament focus is more about shaping the mind than it is about commanding particular behavior. God trains us and we are to train our children with discipline, not just punishment but giving them the experience of an ordered and Godly life. You may have a child who is always good, but they still need to be taught to have a disciplined attitude towards life. Hebrews 5:8 – the Father disciplined Jesus and He did nothing wrong, but it says He learned obedience by the things He suffered. Suffered means experienced here in Greek, He had to go through things, and that is how in verse nine He was made perfect. He was flawless already, but the discipline fashioned Him for His particular call, and disciplining your child, even the good ones, fashions them for what God will call them to.

Single mothers this message is also for you; you can be successful; you can do five of six, and many father’s are missing more than one of these; how many father’s aren’t doing half or any of these things, and use your other relationships to show your devotion. So in a less than ideal world, you can still manage to train them right. Watch the male role models they are getting. Every one is a role model, because everyone has a role to play whether they want to or not, they are watched. To say one isn’t a role model is to say one doesn’t exist, what people are wanting to do is shirk their responsibility; shame on those who say they aren’t a role model for kids!

Single men – this message is for you too. Training yourself to be devoted to God, affectionate for work, and self disciplined is great training for life as well as for being a husband and a dad. Replace devotion to wife with devotion to relationships, and affection for children with others.

This is a simple yet profound plan. It will take self sacrifice to do properly, but men are best judged by what they have given. This is what Jesus did. He gave Himself, He poured His life into others, and He was a man of prayer. Jesus would tell all you fathers out there the same thing He tells everyone: “Follow me”, because He truly is “the way, the truth, and the life”, amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Soul Control

In Ephesians 3, Paul prays that believers, not unbelievers, would receive something more from God, power from the Holy Spirit for this life. He wanted people to go from a saving knowledge of Christ onward to a sanctifying work, one where Jesus ruled their everyday lives, where they could have joy and be obedient despite circumstances. He was praying that through God's power they could attain soul control.

Ephesians 3:16-21 - That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Let's take a closer look here.

3:16 – strengthened (Greek is kratos – dominion or ruling power)

With might (dunamis – inherent power – in this case, moral power)

By his Spirit (the Holy Spirit)

In the inner (eso – soul, conscience) man

Paul is praying for believers that the Holy Spirit would bestow an inherent moral power to rule over their soulish parts (mind, will, emotions, their conscience)

3:17 – Dwell (two words to convey “live in”, here it’s katoikeo – cat-oy-k-o – to pervade, prompt, and govern, to own the house, to make yourself at home) You can live somewhere but not feel at home, this word means to “have the run of the place”.

Hearts = soul (mind, will, emotions)(kardia – the thoughts or feelings)

Paul is praying that Christ would come to pervade not just their spirits as in the new birth, but that now he would govern and make his home in their souls. And the soul is where the decisions to obey the spirit or the flesh happen. The soul has control; it allows or disallows us to be led by the spirit or the flesh. Christ already dwells in our spirits, and he will not dwell in our flesh (Romans 7:18), but here Paul prays that Christ will come to dwell (more than vacation, but have the run of the place) in our souls by faith.

3:19 – to know (ginosko – to begin to experience)

Passeth knowledge (gnosis – head knowledge, can be had without experiencing it)

Paul is praying that Christians, ones who are already saved, may be given power by the Holy Spirit so that Christ can control their souls, and they can experience the love of Jesus daily. To experience, not just “know” with our minds, to actually be able to “do” it, not just in position, but as a constant condition, to feel the fullness of God, to be able to do what we are supposed to do

3:20 – it may sound to good to be true, but Paul says God can do all this and more

Why don’t we have it? Because we haven’t prayed for it. Don’t we automatically receive this at conversion? If Paul had to pray and was praying for others to have it, then so do we.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, September 16, 2005

Learning to Live Prophetically

Trial, Testing, Truth And Triumph

The reason that Christians can have joy during times of trial, the testing of our faith, persecution, and suffering is because we have exceedingly great and precious promises that make us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Instead of looking at our problems we are longing for His perspective, and so we learn to live prophetically. When we apply these promises God himself through the power of the Holy Spirit strengthens us to be able to not only endure but to triumph (Galatians 2:20 / 2 Corinthians 2:14 / Colossians 1:27).

Unfortunately, the idea that we as Christians can actually have joy in trials seems preposterous to most in the church today. We claim the Word of God as inerrant and infallible, yet we flinch when we read verses like James 1:2-3. My brethren count it all joy when you fall into diver’s temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Martin Luther said that if we fight valiantly on the entire battlefield, yet flinch in the one area where Satan is raging against us, then we do not confess Christianity no matter how loudly we profess Christianity. I wonder what he would say to those today whom fold “under the circumstances?”

Of course, no one is exempt from feeling the sting of sorry situations. The truth is that we must grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18), and learn to endure hardships like a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). It can be done, it has been done, and it must be done today in order for our witness to shine in trials and our will to submit to testing.

The Scriptures provide us not only the answers for how we are to cultivate this joy, but they also give us examples from the lives of those pictured in its pages. The imperatives of verses like 1 Peter 4:12-13 has been met with the indicatives, in this particular case verse 14, and so on. We must understand that in order to get God’s best you have to pass God’s test.

Many try and try, but they fail to triumph. The question becomes, how can a Christian have joy during times of trial and testing and when suffering persecution? The reason is we reckon. We reckon, or consider, something to be more valuable than the thing we are going through. We have strength when we realize, or cash in, on the idea that we are going to receive something for our efforts. It is not really about earning, but about learning to live with God during any circumstance. We go from revelation to realization, from seeing it to being it.

David, in the 23rd Psalm, points us to this beautifully. He had been promised the kingdom of Israel, and had gotten it, only to have it wrested away again by his own son Absalom. However, even in the valley he prophetically saw the Lord as his means of sustenance. In spite of his circumstance, David was counting on the promises of God, and his faith foreshadows Peter’s promise to the New Testament Christian that God is not slack concerning His promises (2 Peter 3:9), whether they be the promise of His Second Coming or His coming in our lives to fulfill His Word.

This kind of reckoning is what we need in the church today. When David was in “the valley of the shadow of death”, all he could physically see were the shrubs of sorrow and the sands of suffering. He knew, however, that God was with Him, it was the Great Shepard that helped him to fear no evil. His comfort wasn’t his position or his power it was His presence. He reckoned that although he was seeing bad times that goodness and mercy were right behind, would catch up, and that no matter what, he would dwell in the House of the Lord forever. He had a prophetic, not a pathetic faith that understood the bottom line.

The crisis of circumstance should lead us to the Lord and His great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). God is in control, and he sets the boundaries of our lives. Sometimes suffering is because of our own sin, but sometimes it is God’s will (1 Peter 4:19). This is part of the deal, as it were (Philippians 1:29). When we are able to live for God in our boundaries, then God will let us see beyond them. This is how we can have joy during times of trial, the testing of our faith, persecution, and suffering: we learn to live prophetically.

In Romans 8:18 Paul reckons that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” He was speaking of our final state, but indeed, we can have some of this glory right here and now. Peter tells us that if we are reproached for the name of Christ the spirit of glory and of God rests on us (1 Peter 4:14). Paul told Timothy that godliness has promise of the life that now is, and of the life to come when talking about persecution (1 Timothy 4:8-10). Consider also Paul’s admonitions about suffering in 2 Corinthians 4:6-18, 11:23-27, and 12:10.

It is all about where you place your worth. The Scriptures are replete with examples who reckoned on the promises of God as more important than what they were currently going through. Abraham was severely tested with Isaac, but he reckoned God could or would bring back his son from death and fulfill His promise (Hebrews 11:17-19).

The Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:41). The people they witnessed to rejoiced and the church grew under heavy persecution (Acts 13:48-52). Paul knew by the Holy Ghost and also prophets that he was doomed if he went back to Jerusalem, but he happily went anyway (Acts 20 and 21).

The Apostle Paul’s bottom line mentality (1 Corinthians 15:55-58) mirrors and even eclipses that of Job in the Old Testament (Job 13:15, 19:23-27) in that Paul actually was looking forward to death. He said that to live was Christ and to die was gain. (Philippians 1:21-24). He knew and wrote about the truth that nothing is going to separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

We can use these biblical examples to help us through hard times (Romans 15:4). They prove to us that we can do it too. True Christians are still reckoning on God’s promises today. Joni Eareckson Tada says that no one can enter Christ’s heaven who hasn’t tasted Christ’s suffering. Every true Christian will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), but if we suffer we will also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Suffering makes us joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and it allows us to participate in the fellowship of his sufferings, which gives us a taste of the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10).

The bottom line is that Jesus said we are going to go through hard times, and that we are not to fear what man can do, or even what Satan would have them do (Matthew 10:22-28). We need to let others see the power of God living through us (Galatians 2:20). Our fear of God will carry us through. In considering all of this I reckon that by his stripes we are healed, and by our stripes he is revealed. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

The Soil of Suffering, The Fruit of Forgiveness

If you plant the seeds of sin
Into the soil of suffering
The root of rebellion
Will produce the tree of tyranny
Which bears the fruit of frustration

If you plant the seeds of the Spirit
Into the soil of suffering
The root of righteousness
Will produce the tree of trust
Which bears the fruit of forgiveness

Everyone will suffer through something, and everyone knows this. Sometimes these are small things, sometimes bigger, but the most godly men and women that ever lived are the ones who suffered the most while keeping the faith. Indeed that is the true mark of spiritual maturity; the Job like patience of a saint of God, buried under a mound of malaise, yet trusting in the God of their salvation, and relying on His strength, as they grow even more powerful in the Lord.

How can they do this? The answer is that they do not allow the seeds of sin to be planted into their soil of suffering, that is, they do not let up, and they hold fast and don’t let go when the chips are down.

When trials and tribulations come we are often tempted to seek relief by doing something sinful. For example, when we are feeling pressure at work, and our children are having trouble at school, and our spouse has been seemingly uncaring, the thoughts concerning the old habits of lust toward the opposite sex, or drinking if we used to drink, etc., seem more appealing, like a source of needed release.

This may seem to work for a while, but it will only exacerbate the problem, as we yield ourselves to an ever-deepening commitment to solving our problems this way. We allow the devil place, and he begins to build, and then to fortify a stronghold. It perhaps is a fortress that had once been torn down, only for us to leave an outpost standing whereby we feel justified in taking care of our own situations without God’s help, and outside of his proscribed remedy: trust. This root of rebellion ultimately leads to a self-absorbed tyranny, where we will continue to be in and show frustration.

On the contrary, if we sow to the Spirit, if we hold fast to what God intends to give us in our trial, if we remind ourselves constantly and consistently that God is working in a redemptive fashion to conform us into the image of his son Jesus Christ, we will begin to grow in holiness and power.

And we will suffer all the more. The Apostle Paul, the Apostle John, and the Apostle Peter: these men wielded awesome miracle working power, and yet they suffered greatly. God knows that mortal man cannot handle the power of God without the necessary means to keep him humble before the Lord. Consider Paul, and the thorn in the side, a messenger of Satan. Indeed, God sent Paul a demon to keep him humble!

When we are up against it and don’t give in, the roots of righteousness will spread. We may not see it, but God is using trials to push us further, to grow our faith, to spring forth His mighty tree of trust in the truth, which will show in the peaceable fruit of forgiveness that we live out to others. We will have fulfillment in Him. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©