Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When Faith is Tested

Sometimes when difficult things come into our lives, we wonder why. Though we must be willing to trust and obey even if we don’t know why or aren’t given that answer for some time, we do need to distinguish between tempting and testing. Satan tempts; God tests. Tempting is for our failure and destruction; testing is in order to make our faith stronger. Testing reveals to us where we are in terms of our faith as God already knows whether or not we will pass a given test. It is as we go through the fire of testing and trial that we can be strengthened, sanctified, and purified. James 1:2-4 emphasizes the sanctifying and strengthening results of testing when it says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." So it is imperative that we discern between testing through various trials and the tempting of the devil. We are never to say or think when tempting comes that God is behind it. Scripture expressly denounces this in James 1:13 which says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." God does allow Satan to tempt us, but we can take hope that we will not be tempted beyond what we can handle and escape from by faith (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even in temptation, God is there to deliver us if we listen and obey.

When God tests us, He wants us to succeed. He wants us to see that our faith is real and that it has been refined by fire. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." We see from this passage that God only tests us as is necessary. In other words, God doesn’t put us through a refining process for no reason. He is not malicious or desiring to see us suffer through trial. Just as a goldsmith only puts the metal into the fire in order to get rid of impurities, so is the way of our Lord. God will test us so that we can see where we need to improve. We can be sure that God crafts each test specifically to show us individually and personally what our defects and impurities are so that we can be sanctified and changed.
Testing is thus something to hope in rather than to dread. But we must be willing to go through the fire if we want to come out more like Christ than we were before.

God put Abraham through quite a test in Genesis 22. God had promised Abraham descendants through Isaac that would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Yet, out of the blue it seemed, God commanded Abraham to do something that totally contradicted His promised blessing to him. He was to take his son Isaac and offer him up to God as a sacrifice. Now God is not honored by sacrificing children or human beings in any way shape or form. Yet He commanded Abraham to do this. Certainly Abraham must have been initially baffled at this directive, wondering why. But Abraham had great faith, and so he obeyed God, even going as far as binding up his son and taking the knife up in readiness to slaughter his only son (Genesis 22:9-10). We learn what Abraham was really thinking in Hebrews 11:17-19 which says, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.’
He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type" (italics mine). Abraham was willing to slaughter Isaac because he was so confident that God knew what He was doing and that God would keep His promise to him even if it meant bringing Isaac back from the dead. That is amazing faith. Abraham’s faith was evident, and God told Abraham to stop and provided instead a ram to sacrifice. Of course, God never intended for Isaac to be killed. This was merely a test of Abraham’s heart. Which did he love more: the promised son from God or the God Who had promised his son? This was the question for Abraham, and Abraham passed the test, demonstrating that He loved and trusted God even more than the blessings of God themselves (Genesis 22:12). Abraham called the place "The Lord will provide," and God went on to reiterate His promised blessing to Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18).

The result of God’s kind testing is to reveal just how much we believe His Word and promises to us. God is powerfully glorified by those who do continue to believe even when things don’t make sense and perhaps even appear to be contradictory, as in Abraham’s case. We need not fear the tests that God brings to us; rather, we need only trust Him to bring us through them. Why? Because God is good, faithful, and true, knowing that we will end up better than we were before. Once again, God causes all things to work for our good, even if for a short time, it doesn’t make sense, it hurts, or it is difficult. We will be the better for it, so, as James so accurately stated,
we can consider it all joy.

Remain blessed

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Enslavement of Seeking Man's Approval

It is no mystery that many of us have suffered hurt or rejection in some way during our lives. For some, the hurt has come from those who should have loved us the most and best. Thus, their rejection cuts even deeper, leaving wounds that need to be healed by the unconditional acceptance and love of Christ. Until a person finds his identity and worth solely in who he is in Christ because of His love for him, he will continue to seek his worth elsewhere, typically chasing the approval of others.
It indeed is the natural way of man to constantly seek the approval of others. Teenagers, for example, look to their peers in particular as a means of gauging their own worth. The high school experience is notorious for ranking individuals based upon clique, dress, extracurricular involvement, and smarts. In fact, much of life is based upon performance and rank. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, said, remarking on life in general, “I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Like the futility of chasing the supposed pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, trying to find our worth based upon human rank, performance, or others’ acceptance is never going to satisfy or fulfill the void that rejection and hurt has left in our hearts. It is a striving after wind.
Every labor, activity, and work of man is, in his natural state, based upon competition with others. Women, for example, tend to compete based upon their looks, beauty, and figure. They compete based upon whom they have married and how well or poorly their spouse treats them. They compete based upon how successful their children are in school, sports, or other activities. More recently, they compete by trying to outperform men in what has traditionally been areas only open to men’s competition. There is nothing wrong with a woman playing sports or trying to make a career in business, for example, but it is a striving after the wind if she is trying to do so to make a statement or prove something to the world as a means of validating her own worth. Men, on the other hand, are prone to find their worth in who they are dating, in their status at work, in their bank account, in their athleticism, in their ability to fix things, and in their house, yard, and other possessions. A man is tempted to think that he has made it if he can just outdo some other man in terms of achievement, wealth, or any other kind of competition. Much of this is so ingrained in our ways as men and women that we don’t even have to consciously decide to compete and compare. We do it unceasingly and without even noticing it. We subconsciously chase after the wind, and we have become enslaved to a temptation of the devil. We are trying to find our worth and identity not based in how God values us but in what others think of us. This is why we glorify and even deify sports stars, Hollywood icons, pop artists, and media elites. We constantly live under the illusion of if only I did this, had this, made this, knew so-and-so, became like so-and-so, and got this, then I would get so-and-so’s approval and then I would be happy. Such is like the ridiculous notion of trying to catch the wind. It can never be done, for it is impossible. In fact, it was ordained and designed to fail. Such is supposed to draw us to the only true source of satisfaction, wholeness, healing, and fulfillment which is Jesus Christ. It is all by God’s design.
Hopefully, we have come to the point where we get sick and tired of trying to people-please, worrying about peer pressure, and trying to outdo our neighbor. Hopefully we can see that it is a treadmill that keeps us from ever gaining any ground no matter how hard we work and try. Yet the temptation remains. John 12:42-43 says, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” The Pharisees held an elite position of power, authority, and respect. They could make the rules, carry out sentencing, and show everyone how spiritual they were based upon their outward apparel and rituals. To be a Pharisee among the Jews was to be at the top of the pecking order. Yet Jesus constantly rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites and missing the essence of the call of a follower of God- love for God and love for their neighbor. Some of them did see their error and come to faith in Christ, yet because of appearances and the love of man’s approval, they did not give up their positions. They knew that if they confessed their belief in Jesus publicly that they would be relieved of their positions in a public display of shame and ridicule. They would lose everything, be oppressed, struggle to find work, bring shame to the family name, and potentially endanger their own well-being as well as that of their own families. Some were not willing to give up all of the comfort, show, and “security” of the things of the world for the sake of Christ. They loved the approval of man rather than the approval of God. In other words, it is either one or the other. If we follow God and love Him with all of our hearts, then we must recant our allegiances and compromises with trying to impress others, trying to boost our own self-esteem through making earthly comparisons, and trying to achieve what only God can give. It might be as simple as not wanting to be seen praying because of the ridicule other students or co-workers would bring. Loving man’s approval might also lead us to never avoid risking rejection that might accompany sharing the gospel with a stranger or a loved one. But if we love God we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him, even if it means that we are rejected by family and friends. Paul lost all and counted it joy for the sake of knowing Christ. He would rather enjoy the fellowship of Christ, even if it was fellowship through suffering, than continue to live as an elitist Pharisee of the Pharisees. Paul had it all, being trained by the best of the best when it came to the teachers of the Law, Gamaliel. Paul, in terms of the rivalry of human nature, had won. He had arrived. Yet upon encountering Christ, he left all the rank, status, and competition behind and became one of the least. Identifying with Christ was not an impressive societal mark; being a Pharisee was. Yet Paul chose Christ even though it meant certain persecution, ridicule, and likely death. Paul valued the eternal over the temporal, understanding that in the life to come the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Thus, he rightly understood that seeking God’s approval is always worth it in the long run.
Sometimes following Christ won’t require that we “lose out” on things of this world. Sometimes we can stand for truth and even be rewarded for it. Many times, however, it will cost us something. Regardless of the outcome, the issue is the attitude and posture of our hearts. Is the kingdom first in our hearts, or is something else in first place? Do we want to please God more or man? Such is the question that we must answer.
The bottom line is this. What is more important, the pleasures of sin in this life, or the riches of eternal life in Christ forever? If we live for Christ in this life, ignoring what man might think, say, or do to us, we will be well-off in heaven. But if we choose to compromise and compete with man here on worldly terms for worldly things, we will lose out in eternal rewards. Weighing these two options side by side should come out to be a no-brainer. The eternal is quite a bit longer than life on earth, and God’s rewards are quite a bit nicer than a pay raise, being accepted by the “in” crowd, and chasing fame in this life. Clearly, from a purely rational standpoint, the eternal weight of glory is far greater than anything this world has to offer. The perspective that we need to have is found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 which says, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Suffering is one of the best things to remind us that we don’t want to put all of our investments into the here and now. Death is the great equalizer, bringing even those who lived the “happiest” of lives to their ultimate destination. We need to fix our eyes on the eternal, viewing this life as a journey into the eternal. If we want to have a great heavenly “retirement,” we should work hard for our seventy or eighty years, if we are so blessed. This life is temporary, a mere vapor that is here and then gone. Oh, that we would see the weight of the glory of the eternal and the transience of the temporary.
Why chase the approval of man? Why look to earthly things to fill a void that only Jesus can fill? Why constantly compete to look better than someone else? Someone will always be better at something, more beautiful, or more successful than we are. Rather, we ought to enjoy what God has given us to do and do it to the best of our ability and to God’s glory. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” When we come to the point where we view everything as an act of worship to God, we will finally ignore the approval of man. When what God says is the only verdict that matters, man’s opinions won’t matter any longer. May God bring us each to the place where we are cognizant of doing all things for Him no matter what it may cost us. May He enable us to stop worrying about what others might think if we do what is right.
Besides the fact that man’s approval doesn’t satisfy, why else should we live for God’s glory rather than for our own glory by chasing after the approval of man? Colossians 3:24 continues, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” The great equalizer is the justice of God in that all men will have to stand before His throne. Our neighbor with the bigger house, yard, and boat is not going to judge us. Our supervisor who has the authority to promote, demote, or fire us is not going to judge us. Our spouse or family member who we want so dearly to approve of us is not going to judge us. Yet the temptation to seek their approval over God’s is great. Yet only God will be the judge, and only He has the power and authority to give out rewards. It is He alone Whom we are to serve. We can’t serve both God and man or money or anything else that this world seeks. At the end of the day and the end of life, it makes no sense to live in enslavement to people-pleasing. Since God is the only One Whose opinion ultimately matters and Who has the power to give out rewards that last forever, we ought only to concern ourselves with pleasing Him. We can handle some rejections by men for the sake of God if we know that God will honor us for doing so in eternity. We must appreciate the glory of eternal honor over temporary earthly honor.
May God work in our hearts to give us hearts wholly devoted to Him, hearts that find their worth and identity in Christ, and hearts that are filled to the max with His joy and satisfaction. Why chase after something that we can never get enough of and that will never satisfy? Let us passionately pursue God Who is eager to let us embrace and enjoy Him. With Him is full satisfaction and rest rather than a constant striving after vanity.
Wrestling with insecurity? Harboring rejection? Choose by faith to break the chains of seeking man’s approval. Anchor your faith today in the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ Who adores all of His children equally and perfectly. Find your worth today in the only One Who is worthy. Don’t wait for somebody to come and boost your self-esteem. Let Christ be your esteem.

Remain blessed

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Let Go - DeWayne Woods

This song should help brighten someone's day. If we would just quit worrying about the things we can't control, how much more peaceful would our lives be. I'm encouraging you today to just leave all of your problems and concerns in God's hands. No one can fix it like God can.

Remain blessed

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mission Possible

We're in a battle brothers and sisters and we need to fight the good fight.
The battle is not for our salvation. If you have a personal relationship with Christ you've already been given salvation. And the battle isn't for the completed work of our sanctification. Jesus has promised to complete the work He began in us. We don't do it - we're branches and He is the vine. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.

So then, if Jesus does it all - saving us and sanctifying us - what is the battle about? What are we fighting for?

The battle is
letting Christ mature us (surrender) sooner rather than later, for the sake of the Kingdom. It's a spiritual battle to allow Christ to reign in us; to submit to who Christ is uniquely in each us for such a time as this. Jesus already won the War, but He desires to passionately love others through us now. His motivation and urgency is love.

The Mission

Soldiers in the middle of a high-intensity battle don't spend their time and energy focusing on themselves, for if they do, their mission is compromised and a fellow soldier may be wounded or killed. They are trained to focus on the mission. Satan's objective is to keep our hearts and eyes on ourselves and worldly desires to compromise The Mission.

So, what is The Mission? The Mission is to love one another. We're called to love one another and those who don't know Jesus with Christ-like love (selfless, graceful, merciful, humble) and to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Each of us in the body of Christ have been given gifts and talents and many of you are clear about an assignment God has given you as well - much like each soldier in the armed forces has a specific assignment. But, our Mission is to love God and love one another. Assignments are secondary. We can be frustrated and allow anxiety into our lives by focusing on assignments while not being clear and mature about The Mission. Keep your eyes and hearts on The Mission.

The Church isn't fighting well as a unit. We too often focus on our assignments at the expense of The Mission. We're not fighting for one another to the best of our ability. We often leave our wounded comrades behind while we take care of our assignments. Sometimes we don't even notice our hurting comrades, or we're afraid to enter in to their pain or messy circumstances. There are times we even rub our spiritual salt into their wounds. Often, we spend energy guarding our assignments so we can make sure we get our due credit. This is not the way to fight the good fight. If we're struggling to love our spiritual brothers and sisters in an attitude of humility and selflessness, then how do we love those outside the Faith? Our Mission is to love one another and those who don't know Jesus with passion, grace and mercy SO THAT the world can see and experience Christ-like love.

A bumper sticker says "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven". True enough; but we could have much more impact for the Kingdom of God (The Mission) if, in humility, we demonstrated Jesus rather than parading our Christian slogans. They will know we are Christians by our love. God's power is made perfect (manifested) in our weakness. The more surrendered we are to each other and to God, the more The Mission is accomplished.

This doesn't work unless our desires and passions are for The Mission. If our energy, time, and resources are more focused on what we can get from one another (marriage, employment, Christian service, etc.), or from the world (cars, houses, blessings, etc.) we end up being distracted from The Mission and that is what Satan is up to.
Keeping our eyes on The Mission helps us love each other with encouragement in the midst of the battle. Sports teams that suffer from individualism implode on themselves and rarely reach the pinnacle of their sport, even with great talent. Many a team have reached the greatest heights with few superstars simply by deferring to one another and playing as a team. As we honestly surrender our lives to Jesus our hearts are changed and our desires are changed toward love and the Kingdom and less about ourselves.

If you're not experiencing that deep and passionate desire for the Kingdom, and you want it, be honest about it with yourself and with God. Then, ask God to give you His desires. Be persistent. He wants to know that you really want Him and his desires. Wait and be ready to receive. You'll begin to experience the abundant life Jesus promised - a life filled with Him and loving in Him.

Remain blessed

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Give Glory to God

Give Glory to God – Nothing Hidden
The desire to give glory to God extends beyond praise and worship. Telling God the truth expresses His glory. Achan, a Judahite, violated a sacred ban by stealing gold, silver, and fine clothing. He involved himself and his house in the destruction of Jericho. “Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son,
give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me’” (Joshua 7:19).

To give glory to God:

  • Acknowledge His omniscience (all-knowing), i.e. He is just.
  • Repent and make an open confession before Him.
  • Present a complete truthful account–-nothing hidden.
When Jesus healed a man blind from birth, the Pharisees attempted to discredit Jesus while still appearing to honor God. “So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, ‘Give glory to God by telling the truth, because we know Jesus is a sinner’” (John 9:24). Hoping to break the man’s testimony, the Jews badgered him. The former beggar chose safe ground, his own experience. This man’s open confession provided the weight of simple truth behind it, giving glory to God.

Give Glory to God – Blessed or Cursed
By concealing the truth we fail to give glory to God, incurring His wrath. The prophet, Jeremiah, urged God’s people to repent and confess their pride. “Listen! Do not be proud, for the Lord has spoken.
Give glory to the Lord your God before it is too late . . .” (Jeremiah 13:15-17). Offering God our “second best” in worship, profanes the name of the Lord. As a faithful Levite, Malachi, notes the deceit of the priests as well as the laymen by offering corrupt, i.e. blemished sacrifices (Malachi 1:13-14). Once again God demanded the truth. “If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. . .’” (Malachi 2:2 NKJV). In Revelation, the gospel of everlasting truth is to be proclaimed by all creation–-to give glory to God. In the heavens, an angel appears to the apostle John: “‘Fear God,’ he shouted, ‘Give glory to him [God] . . .’” (Revelation 14:6-7). The very foundations of the antichrist in the world shook as God’s judgment fell upon those who rejected the truth. Those who denied God’s glory and power blasphemed with lies. “They cursed the name of God . . . They did not repent and give him glory” (Revelation 16:8-9).

Give Glory to God – The Beauty
Those that choose to give glory to God discover reasons to celebrate daily. In our adoration, we set aside our fleshly nature to be set apart for God. As we worship the Lord of heaven and earth, we experience the beauty of His holiness (
1 Chronicles 16:25-29). The reasons for giving glory to God can never be exhausted.

In Psalm 96, all earth is summoned to give glory to God. When Christ completed His work on earth, He entered into His glory in heaven. Clothed in robes of majesty and crowned in glory, the beauty of holiness is personified in Christ Jesus (
Psalm 96:4-9). The psalmist, David, seems to be summoning the angels to give glory to God as well, worshipping Him in the beauty of His holiness. Even in thunder and storms, God’s glory resounds (Psalm 29:1-3).

As we worship in true holiness, the real beauty of God Himself is revealed. It is the beauty of the angels giving Him glory in the heavenly realm; it is the beauty of the saints, partaking of God’s divine nature.

Remain blessed

Monday, November 16, 2009

Attributes of God

Wisdom: “Wisdom is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve these ends by the most perfect means.” In other words, God makes no mistakes. He is the Father who truly knows best, as Paul explains in Romans 11:33: “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways!”

Infinitude: God knows no boundaries. He is without measure. This attribute by definition impacts all of the others. Since God is infinite, everything else about Him must also be infinite.

Sovereignty: This is “the attribute by which He rules His entire creation.” It is the application of His other attributes of being all-knowing and all-powerful. It makes Him absolutely free to do what He knows to be best. God is in control of everything that happens. Man still has a free will, and is responsible for his choices in life.

Holiness: This is the attribute that sets God apart from all other created beings. It refers to His majesty and His perfect moral purity. There is absolutely no sin or evil thought in God at all. His holiness is the definition of that which is pure and righteous in all the universe. Wherever God has appeared, such as to Moses at the burning bush, that place becomes holy just for God having been there.

Trinity: Though the actual word is not used in the Bible, the truth of God revealing Himself in three persons is included. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all called God, given worship as God, exist eternally, and are involved in doing things only God could do. Although, God reveals Himself in three persons, God is One and cannot be divided. All are involved completely whenever One of the Three is active.

Omniscience: “God possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn. God has never learned and cannot learn.” Omniscience means all-knowing. God knows everything, and His knowledge is infinite. It is impossible to hide anything from God.

Faithfulness: Everything that God has promised will come to pass. His faithfulness guarantees this fact. He does not lie. What He has said in the Bible about Himself is true. Jesus even said that He is the Truth. This is extremely important for the followers of Jesus because it is on His faithfulness that our hope of eternal life rests. He will honor His promise that our sins will be forgiven and that we will live forever with Him.

Love: Love is such an important part of God’s character that the apostle John wrote, “God is love.” This means that God holds the well-being of others as His primary concern. For a full definition of love, read 1 Corinthians 13. To see love in action, study the life of Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of others is the ultimate act of love. God’s love is not a love of emotion but of action. His love gives freely to the object of its affection, those who choose to follow His son Jesus.

Omnipotence: Literally this word means all-powerful. Since God is infinite and since He possesses power, He possesses infinite power. He does allow His creatures to have some power, but this in no way diminishes His own. “He expends no energy that must be replenished.” When the Bible says God rested on the seventh day, it was to set an example for us and our need for rest, not because He was tired.

Self-existence: When Moses asked who he was talking to in the burning bush, God said, “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS.” God has no beginning or end. He just exists. Nothing else in all the universe is self-caused. Only God. In fact, if anything else had created Him, that thing would be God. This is a difficult concept for our minds since everything else we will ever encounter comes from something other than itself. The Bible says, “In the beginning, God.” He was already there.

Self-sufficiency: The Bible says that God has life in Himself (see John 5:26). All other life in the universe is a gift from God. He has no needs and there is no way He can improve. To God, nothing else is necessary. He does not need our help with anything, but because of His grace and love, He allows us to be a part of advancing His plan on earth and being a blessing to others. We are the ones who change, but never God. He is self-sufficient.

Justice: The Bible says that God is just, but it is His character that defines what being just really is. He does not conform to some outside criteria. Being just brings moral equity to everyone. When there are evil acts, justice demands there be a penalty. Since God is perfect and has never done evil, no penalty would ever be necessary; however, because of His love, God paid the penalty for our evil deeds by going to the cross Himself. His justice needed to be satisfied, but He took care of it for all who will believe in Jesus.

Immutability: This simply means that God never changes. It is why the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Mercy: “Mercy is the attribute of God which makes Him to be actively compassionate.” Since God’s justice is satisfied in Jesus, He is free to show mercy to all those who have chosen to follow Him. It will never end since it is a part of God’s nature. Mercy is the way He desires to relate to mankind, and He does so unless the person chooses to despise or ignore God at which time His justice becomes the prominent attribute.

Eternal: In some ways, this fact about God is similar to His self-existence. God always has been and will forever be, because God dwells in eternity. Time is His creation. It is why God can see the end from the beginning, and why He is never surprised by anything. If He were not eternal, God’s promise of eternal life for those who follow Jesus would have little value.

Goodness: “The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men.” This attribute of God is why He bestows all the blessing He does on His followers. God’s actions define what goodness is, and we can easily see it in the way Jesus related to the people around Him.

Gracious: God enjoys giving great gifts to those who love Him, even when they do not deserve it. Grace is the way we describe that inclination. Jesus Christ is the channel through which His grace moves. The Bible says, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Omnipresence: This theological term means “always present.” Since God is infinite, His being knows no boundaries. So, clearly He is everywhere. This truth is taught throughout the Bible as the phrase “I am with you always” is repeated 22 times in both the Old and New Testaments. These were even Jesus’ words of assurance just after giving the challenge to His disciples to take His message to the entire world. This is certainly a comforting truth for all who follow Jesus.

Remain blessed

Friday, November 13, 2009

Roadblocks to God's Promises

I want to talk to you today about the things that hinder you from receiving God’s promises for your life.

PRAYER: Lord open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the church.

I. THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT FLAWED “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. In this passage Joshua is doing two things. He is letting Israel know that his earthly leadership is about to come to a close - I am about to go the way of all the earth. At the same time he is telling them that after he is gone there is something that remains that will continue leading them and that is God’s promises. For us to receive any of the promises of God the first thing we have to do is affirm in our hearts that this book – the Bible – is what we claim that it is, God’s word. And if we confess with our mouths that it is God’s word we must also believe in our hearts that it is. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. I want you to understand this one thing. God had given Israel the promise that He would give them the promised land. As soon as God promised it, it was done. As I said a couple of weeks ago the only thing left for Israel to do was to go in and possess what God had given them. Now Joshua says that not one of God’s promises has failed. But at this point Israel had not driven all the inhabitants of the land out and fully taken possession of the land. So how could it be said that God’s promises have not failed? You see, the problem isn’t the promise. The promise is perfect. The problem is that the recipients of the promise failed to believe the promise and in doing so they failed to believe the Promiser. When we fail to trust God’s word how do you think He feels? You see, the Bible is more than just a compilation of a collection of stories written by men. Unfortunately, that is how many people see the Bible. But it is the Holy Spirit inspired revelation of God Himself given to men that we might know Him. It gives you God’s plan for mankind. It shows you what His desire is for your lives. It reveals the blessings that God wants to pour out on you. It also reveals that there are conditions that must be met in order for you to receive these perfect promises. 1) You must be a child of God. Anyone who is not born again has no legal right to expect anything from the Father. The truth is unbelievers can pray all they want but the only prayer of an unbeliever that God will respond to is the prayer of repentance and salvation. (John 9:31) when you become a Christian your spiritual eyes are opened to the spiritual truths contained in the Bible and you begin to se the promises that are yours for the asking. 2) You have to ask in faith and believe that God hears and answers prayer. Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. James 1:7 says that if anyone doubts that he can’t expect to receive anything from God. God’s word is not flawed. What is flawed is man’s distortion of the promises that God has given to all Christians. “God doesn’t do that anymore.” “That’s not what that really means.” Let me tell you, I believe the Word of God and no one can convince me that His promises are not true.

II. YOU HAVE TO READ THE INSTRUCTIONS Now that you have the kind of faith you need to accept God’s promises as true, what do you do with it? What good does faith do if you don’t put it to work. And how can you put it to work unless you know what is in the word and how can you know unless you read it? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Verse 15 says, But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. The Word of God is a two-edged sword – it can either bring blessing or destruction. That is why there are so many exhortations in the word for you to study. Joshua 1:8, Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Deuteronomy 11:18-29, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
19. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
20. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,
21. so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Jesus said that there was one constant that would remain in the world forever, “Heaven an earth will pass away, but My word will never pass away.” I want you to look at one more passage before we move on. Deuteronomy 30:11- 16 says
11. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
12. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
13. Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
14. No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
15. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
16. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. That takes us to our third point today.

If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’S anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you. What keeps you from receiving God’s promises? Verse 16, If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God… There are a variety of things that can happen to nullify the full impact of the promises of God. 1) Disobedience to the Word of God. Let me tell you something. We can sugarcoat this all we want and call it a mistake, a spiritual lapse, a misunderstanding etc. but disobedience to the Word of God is SIN. Unconfessed sin or continual sin will keep you from receiving God’s promises. Psalm 66:18-19,
18. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
19. but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
2) Unforgiveness towards others. Jesus told a parable in Matthew 18 about an unforgiving servant. You know the story. One servant owed his master a lot of money and couldn’t pay it pack. He asked for forgiveness, which his master granted, and then turned around and wouldn’t forgive a fellow servant who owed him money. When the master found out he had the first servant punished. Unforgiveness is an attitude of the heart – it’s a spiritual problem and will keep you from receiving from God. 3) Unbelief. This takes us back to our first point. If you are not complete convinced that God is able to do what He has promised He would do, then you probably aren’t going to receive what you ask for. James 1:5-7, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. Notice that it doesn’t just say that the person who doubts won’t receive wisdom. He won’t receive anything from the Lord. 4) Asking with wrong motives. James 4:2-3: You do not have, because you do not ask God. Even though God knows the desires of your heart before you ever ask, God cannot do anything until His promise is released by believing prayer. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You want what you want when you want it without any concern for God’s will. Listen to me. Every one of God’s promises is true and every one of them is for the purpose of bringing glory to God. So when we pray for healing it should be so that God receives glory. When we pray for peace, God gets the glory. When we pray for provision God gets the glory. When we pray for reconciliation, God gets the glory. In all these things God is glorified through the work He is doing in us. 5) We don’t ask in Jesus’ name. When I say “in Jesus’ name” I’m not talking about a magical incantation that I can say to make things happen. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying according to the will of God and praying with Jesus’ authority. James 5:16: The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. John 14:10-14: Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

What is it in you that keeps you from receiving all the promises that God has for you?

Do you believe the word?
Do you know the word?
Do you act on the word?

Remain blessed

Thursday, November 12, 2009

30 For 30: Without Bias - Bias Remembered

The Len Bias story has deeply touched and forever changed my life. I was only 6 years old when he died but I can't help but to be taken back by the enormity of his death. I am also really impressed by his mother Dr. Lonise Bias and how she not only dealt with the death of her son Len Bias but also how 4 years later she buried her murdered son Jay Bias.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trials and faith!!

It is not by chance that Christians go trough hardships and their faith is tested. It takes very hot oven to attain pure gold! It is the same with Christianity, God is not about theory, God wants to see our practice!

"Wherein you greatly rejoice, though only for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:"I Peter 1:6-8

How many times in our walk with Christ have we gone through trials and tribulations, how many times have we asked the question, "Why me? Why has God chosen me to go through such a hard time, such a temptation that it seems as I will not be able to get up and go on when it is over, because it seems like it has turned my whole life upside down?"

Well God gives people trials for basically one reason, to make that person grow in Him, to make that person grow in love, faith, willingness and dependence on God. If we take a look at the verses provided above, we will see something that might not seem very right. It says near the end that those people had faith; they believed in Christ, they love Christ, and they are rejoicing in Him.

So, why is it that they were going through such temptations, a trial of their faith? All we have to do is take a closer look and the answer to my question is right there. They were going through those temptations and trials so that their faith might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Christ. So what seems better to the reader, to go through life loving God, believing in Him and trying to worship Him, and then going to heaven? But maybe it is better to go through life loving God, believing in Him and trying to worship Him, having trials and tribulations along the way and then being found unto praise and glory and honor when we finally get to see our Savior.

God has a very good reason for putting us through trials, so maybe we can cut Him some slack and start going through those trials with flying colors instead of weeping every time things get tough.

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. "John 14:16-18

As we go through these terrible trials in life, and as we go through the tribulations that will ultimately help our faith and our spiritual strength grow, Christ did not just leave this earth and say that He was coming back after a while. He gave us something to helps us get through not only the good times, but He gave us something that helps us get through the bad times as well. The Holy Spirit does not just live in us because we are such great people, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need to get through those trials, so if you stop and think about it, it is not even our strength that is taking us through the tribulations and on to a triumphant end, it is the power of God.

So God allows the trial come along into our life, with the purpose of helping us grow in Him, and God also puts the strength in us, through the Holy Spirit, to overcome that trial. All we have to do is put our faith in the Lord and let God bring us through, not us!

It is sad to see Christians who fail to go through the hardships that come up in their Christian life, because they do not understand that they need to trust God to bring them through with His power, every time that man tries to go through a trial on his strength alone, be assured that he will fall.

We have to put ourselves in the hands of God and let Him lead us through life, because He is the Almighty and I think that it is time we started trusting Him.

Remain blessed

Monday, November 9, 2009


God is ready and waiting to forgive anyone who asks. It's in the Bible, Psalm 86:5, **TLB. "O Lord, you are so good and kind, so ready to forgive; so full of mercy for all who ask your aid."

On what did David rest his hope of forgiveness? It's in the Bible, Psalm 51:1, NIV. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions."

How is God's mercy measured? It's in the Bible, Psalm 103:11-12, NIV. "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."

What promise is made to those who confess their sins? It's in the Bible, I John 1:9, TLB. "But if we confess our sins to Him, He can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. [And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.]"

Can I be forgiven while holding a grudge against someone else? It's in the Bible, Matthew 6:14-15, TLB. "Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you."

The forgiven are forgiving. It's in the Bible, Ephesians 4:32, NIV. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Real forgiveness does not keep track of mistakes. It's in the Bible, Matthew 18:21-22, NIV. "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

When we're forgiven we shouldn't continue to feel guilty. It's in the Bible, Psalm 32:5, NIV. "Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'—and You forgave the guilt of my sin."

Through forgiveness, Christ provides complete deliverance from the penalty of sin. It's in the Bible, Colossians 2:13-14, TLB. "You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then He gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for He forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of His commandments, which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross."

If you are in need of forgiveness, what should you do?

First acknowledge your sin. It's in the Bible, Psalm 51:2-4, TLB. "Oh, wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again. For I admit my shameful deed—it haunts me day and night."

Second, Ask forgiveness for your sin. It's in the Bible, Psalm 51:7-12, TLB. "Sprinkle me with the cleansing blood and I shall be clean again. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. And after You have punished me, give me back my joy again. Don't keep looking at my sins—erase them from Your sight. Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Don't toss me aside, banished forever from Your presence. Don't take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You."

Third, Believe that God has indeed forgiven you and quit feeling guilty. It's in the Bible, Psalm 32:1-6, TLB. "What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. There was a time when I wouldn't admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night Your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess them to the Lord.' And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Now I say that each believer should confess his sins to God when he is aware of them, while there is time to be forgiven. Judgment will not touch him if he does. You are my hiding place from every storm of life; You even keep me from getting into trouble! You surround me with songs of victory."

**TLB= The Living Bible

Remain blessed

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