Friday, August 28, 2009

Indecent Exposure (with audio)


And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:13 – ESV)

What are you exposing yourself to? What are you allowing into your eyes, your ears, your mind, and your heart? I am not talking about unavoidable things. We all get exposed to images and ideas and iniquity that we would rather never encounter, but it is going to happen at times. I am also not talking about isolating yourself from all of culture in order to avoid these unpleasant events. No, what I am talking about are those things you allow as a regular course.

Do you spend a lot of time wondering if we are allowed to do this or that certain thing? Conversely, do you care at all? I think the answer to many of these type of questions could be solved by first asking ourselves some other important questions. What do you allow to fill your time? What is the background music in the soundtrack of your life? How much time are you allowing the things of God to be impressed upon you? The Word of God is powerful, but if your frequency is overrun with other, worldly things, then all you will hear is a clouded mix.

Many people talk of wanting to change but they say it is too hard to do. They look for some magic formula, or expect God to just bail them out of working at it. They also overlook this whole idea of slowly changing, and slowly sliding back. So some think it is too hard to change. If this is you, I want to tell you the truth. The reason it seems so hard is because your heart is so hard. Your heart has become so hardened because of what you have let in.

Ever have someone say to you that they don’t have time for this or that? Well we all know what this means. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with having no time but it is actually about not wanting to use our time in that way. What they mean, and if you want to be direct what you would say is that you won’t make time for this or that. What are you “making time” for?

The things you expose yourself to do indeed have an effect on you. Now this is true for many areas, but lets take images, for one example. If you say that they don’t have an effect on you, well, then why do you expose yourself to them? As you can see, it is not about the fact that they have an effect, that cannot be denied, it is whether or not they have a lasting effect, that is the real question, isn’t it?

Well, not completely. It is also about cumulative effect, and setting patterns of behavior for yourself as well. Since we know for sure that doing something over time is creating habits, it IS a habit, and multiplied images bring multiple chances for long term retention, then the only excuse you might have is to say that you will not be affected long term, that you can withdraw yourself from this behavior if it gets too much. But saying that in light of the other, undeniable evidence is playing games with your mind, your heart, and with God.

Even if we were to hypothetically admit that exposure creates no long-term effect, however preposterous that may be, we still have a major problem because it would still be, as long as you keep doing it, an ongoing effect. One exposure, one image may not stay with you, but it leads to a chain of events, multiple exposures, and this leads to an ongoing problem. How can you say exposure has no long-term effect when you keep exposing yourself to it?

A.W. Tozer said, “Every one of us is the sum of what we secretly admire, what we think about and what we would like to do most if we become free to do what we wanted to do.” Think about that. If money, jail time, conscience, family, friends, and God were not constraints, would you spend your time following Christ, learning of Him? Be honest, because the way you truthfully answer this question will reveal to you a lot about where you are in your walk with God. What do you want to be exposed to when you have the opportunity? What is lighting your fire, and where is the light going out?

Many want to be allowed to expose themselves to all sorts of things, anything except the Word of God, and they harden their hearts so as to not feel the sting of the Sword of the Spirit. Their consciences are seared and their minds are cleared from the transforming power of the Word and they are instead filled with all sorts of distraction, deception, and destruction. Nevertheless, they are exposed, we all are exposed before the Mighty, Living Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself, and His Word is His Sword in His hand. Christ will either be our physician or our executioner. If His Word is not the instrument of our life, it will be the instrument of our death, if not the instrument of our justification, then the instrument of our judgment.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Trouble with Togetherness (with audio)


…and they shall become one flesh
(Genesis 2:24 – ESV)

Have you ever wondered why men and women who work together in a movie fall in love so often? Or why people who work together at the job fall for each other so often? Or why when you start helping a friend out, working together to solve a problem, and you do it together and it works out good, then you want to fall for them? Well think about it. What is the same in all these scenarios? The people work together toward a common solution, and doing this has bonded them together for a common cause. Both are in unison and harmony about it. They both have different talents but they combine them, they work together to achieve something.

Think hard now about the words “work together” and their meaning. Work together, work together, working or coming together. See? Not just working side by side but working into togetherness, into a unit. You share a significant event in your life together. You overcome something by being together, and that is what good marriages are made of and good relationships are made of. It is no wonder if people aren’t processing things well, or they aren’t in a relationship, or the current one is not going well, for them to want to come together with that person they have already bonded with successfully. What do you expect?

People should be able to work together without working themselves together. We must mature to the point that the trouble with togetherness doesn’t enter into our lives, else we cannot partner and accomplish things we might be able to do otherwise. We must remain closely knit to our spouses as one flesh so that people can work with us together, but no one else can work their way together with us. If your relationship has depth you won’t drown in these shallow waters.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Elderly Care (with audio)


Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him
(James 5:14 – ESV)

It should be the ordinary way of things that members come to the elders for special prayer in special situations (James 5:13-20). Many times we go looking for answers elsewhere first, when we should be availing ourselves of the means of grace first, including our elders (1 Peter 5:1-11). The truth is that the love of the elders for the flock is a covering for you (James 5:20 / 1 Peter 4:8). Of course if you run out from under the umbrella and into the rain, you will get wet. They cannot stop that, but they can call you back to shelter. They cannot pay for your sins but they can pray for your sins, and God has put them in place to help you back into the fold.

It is the role and responsibility of the elders to shepherd the flock of God humbly and ably. It is the role and responsibility of the congregant to call on, submit to, pray for, and abide by the elders and their care. Are we examples of humility to one another, knowing our roles and exercising them rightly, not using them for show or for selfish ends, and not to force people but that they are willingly submitting to each other? Are we humbling ourselves under the hand of God, which is demonstrated by a godly submission to each other in our roles and in our responsibilities to God and to one another? Are the elders eager to help (do they answer the call), and are the congregants willing to be helped (do they call at all)?

Don't assume that God will aid you in a way that avoids or evades the ordinary way. The elders are there for a reason. Their admonition and nurture is important. They don't dole out grace with a ladle, but God has appointed them to serve your spiritual needs. Do you recognize and submit to the authority God has placed them in due to their role? If you need special prayer because of trouble brought about by your sin, do you admit that you are to blame, not others, not the devil, and not some so-called generational curse, but you who are to blame? The world and the devil only enflame what is already there, and where there is no fuel the fire dies out. Will you confess your faults, all of them that pertain to the issue, the ones that have led to being prayed for, so that you may be healed?

We must realize that prayer is only part of the process, and that persistence (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9), and perspective (1 Peter 5:9 / James 5:17-18), are what lead to progress (James 5:15 / 1 Peter 5:10). You must then stay on the road, if you go back it is harder to get back, and the going will be worse than before (John 5:14 / Luke 11:24-26). Stay in the elderly care center.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Secret to the Spiritual Life (with audio)


…and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
(Judges 13:5)

Samson began to deliver Israel but he didn’t finish the job. Although he finished in faith, he never fully committed so he never fully entered into what God had given him the power to achieve. David finished off the Philistines nearly 100 years later. You see, they were going to be delivered, God’s purposes cannot be thwarted, but Samson did not see it in his lifetime because he did not enter into all the fullness of what God had given him the power to do.

You are delivered from the power of sin but you may not see it in your lifetime because you will not fully give your life to God as He shows you areas to give to Him. Like Samson, you don’t really want it because you don’t think it’s worth it. If that is the case, you may see deliverance, but you will never walk in the fullness of the great deliverance on this side of heaven as much as God would allow you to. Most believers are just like Samson in this, the question is why?

I want to reveal something as to why we don’t walk in God’s fullness and why we don’t want to. We never seem to get our want to in gear, and it is because we don’t understand something. Almost no one has considered this, and that is why almost no one today walks in God’s fullness.

Think about how Samson’s exploits became more and more pronounced, his deliverance was greater and greater, yet his sin actually was worse and worse. The lion (14:5-6) and the linen (the thirty) (14:19), then the foxes and the fire (15:4-8), then Judah and the jawbone (15:11-16), then the fortress (the escape from being surrounded) (16:2-3), and the festival (16:23-30). First he wanted someone outside (liken this to an unbeliever), then he wanted a harlot, then he actually wanted the sworn enemy. His deliverance was increasing, but his discernment was decreasing. How could Samson be seemingly growing in the power of God and yet still turn back to his sins, and why would he want to? He was growing in the power of God, but not the person of God.

Through Jesus Christ, God has given all believers the Holy Spirit, God has given you the power to enter into His fullness, but we look aside to lesser things! We don’t value God high enough, we don’t really want it because we don’t think it’s worth it, or when we have a measure of it, we think we can’t lose it! Learn from Samson.

Samson was using more and more power, God’s deliverance was greater and greater, but he got worse and worse in sin because he never did fully sell out to God, and eventually that power becomes the very thing that destroys you. It keeps you, not from walking in the fullness at all, but from living in it, because you never fully surrender you life and so you stop short of all that God has for you. You thought it was all about power to perform, but it is more about power to deliver you and then to deliver others from sin and oppression. That is what walking in God’s fullness is, because in heaven, amongst God’s fullness there will be no sickness or sorrow. Why, not because He will use power to take it away but because it won’t be there in the first place because sin is what causes these things!

Now here is the answer as short as I can give it. We only taste of the fullness and think that this is all there is, and so we are still tempted by the other things, we thought we have arrived when we see and feel and know the power of God, but we haven’t done all the itinerary yet, there is more. We taste of the fullness, but we are only at the table, there is much more there. The secret to the spiritual life: stay hungry. You won’t live in it until you taste and see, and then instead of saying it is not enough and going back, you say it is not enough and you go forward. Stay hungry for God, not for self, and you will not only know the fullness you will walk in it. And you may even be one of the few who live in it.

Samson got to a place where he had a choice, and he chose his fleshly wants time after time, compulsively. When you get to that place that you have a choice, you won’t feel God’s power to deliver right then, that is what people expect and when they don’t feel it that is why they fail. Don’t expect to feel the power, what you will feel is the pain, the hurt of not doing what you wanted to do, and then later you will feel God’s power. It doesn’t seem worth it now, in fact it seems worse, it seems negative, but later you will not regret it when you know God’s fullness in a greater measure. Remember that feeling, and think about that, renew your mind to that when the temptation comes. It will hurt, perhaps worse and worse for a while, maybe a long while, depending on how much flesh has to die, but when you come through it will be more than worth it. When walking in the fullness you never fully taste all there is at the table, and so you stay hungry. The others achieve a measure and think they are full and so other delights look appealing, and familiar food (sins) seems to satisfy. Deny yourself, learn what it is like to continue in God’s fullness, and to stay hungry for Him.

Many have indeed tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8 / 1 Peter 2:3), but some take no more in and starve (Hebrews 6:5). Jesus says we must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, not to simply try it on our lips and tongue, but to swallow it all. Not just taste and see, but swallow and be. Some do go further and eat, some make it a meal, and some, precious few, but some make it their regular diet, and feed on nothing else.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pain to Power (with audio)


as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
(1 Peter 4:1)

Now we need to look at this verse carefully, because many think it is talking mostly about Christ, and has little to do with us. That is not the truth. The truth is that the last part of the verse isn’t speaking of Christ but us. Want proof? Well look at it, did Christ ever sin? No, well then, it is speaking about us ceasing from sin by suffering in the flesh.

This is what Peter is telling us to arm our minds with, this very fact. Christ suffered in the flesh for our sins, most recognize that easily. But now, if we will suffer in the flesh then we will realize this power and cease from sin. Not all sin right away or ever, actually, but instead, in a very real way making very real progress in the process of sanctification. You suffer in the flesh over certain sins, and you cease from them, and move on to the next thing you have to suffer. We live the cross life, and live in resurrection power.

This is the truth. You walk through the pain to get to the power. Most think they walk into power so they can walk through the pain, but Jesus, when He healed people, they were already in pain, and then they got the power. Jesus died on the cross before He rose again in resurrection power. His power is already there; you must go through the pain to realize it. You scream God help me, well, as a Christian He already has, will you walk into it, do you believe it? Renew your mind to this truth, as this verse declares it. The power you pray for is already there; go to it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Need I Say More?

Ian, Margie, Erin, and J.D.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Stimulus for Service

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
(2 Corinthians 5:9 – ESV)

In 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, 14, and 17-20, 21, Paul gives us four motivations for service to God.

• The judgment seat of Christ

• The love of Christ (Christ’s love for us and our love for Christ, cyclical)

• The transformations in Christ

• The work of Christ (the Gospel itself, what He did for us, our calling)

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Here we go again…

Ken Silva reports about Katharine Jefferts Schori, head of the Episcopal Church, as she uses twisted scripture about promises made by God to Jews and those of Ishmael, and her feelings as justification for saying Jews and Muslims are saved even if they do not claim Jesus as Savior:

So clearly, the other Abrahamic faiths have access to God the Father, without (noticeably pauses) consciously going through Jesus. I also look around at people from other faith traditions; ah, and there’s some great examples out there like Mahatma Gandhi, or the Dalai Lama, ah, who – or Thich Nyat Hahn – who shows us what look like fruits of the Spirit. Who show us in their lives, what we see as godly behavior.

If I deny that person has some access to God – because of the evidence I see – I think I’m doing something pretty close to the sin against the Holy Spirit… I believe that the whole world has access to God. I just not too worried about the mechanism…because in some parts of Christianity, we have turned salvation into a work; that you have to say, “I claim Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” in order to be saved. That turns it into a work; it denies the possibility of grace.
Of course, the promises from God to Hagar about Ishmael became reality, but they did not include the Messianic line or salvation apart from Christ. They were about his descendants becoming a great people, which they have. Of course it is a small step from there to admitting all into the universalism tent with the usual suspects such as Gandhi leading the way. A few scriptures will suffice.

Galatians 1:6-9
1 Timothy 2:5
1 John 4:3

We have been covering the ECUSA and their descent into apostasy, and

and here

are some of our previous updates.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©