“Righteous Fanatics” or “Religious Cranks?”

A CRANK Versus A FANATIC:

Wikipedia defines the crankas a person who holds a position or opinion which is so far from the norm [whatever “norm” is] as to appear ludicrous and/or probably wrong.” An example of a crank: “belief of a flat earth.”

Now the word fanatic: fa-nat-ic /fa’natik as a noun:  a person filled with excessive and singleminded zeal.  Fanatic as an adjective: Filled with or expressing excessive zeal.

With those definitions in mind, would you call the displayed picture of two football fans, CRANKS or FANATICS based on Wikipedia‘s definitions?  My opinion?  FANATICS!

I’ve personally demonstrated fanaticism at my favorite sport in America: BASEBALL.  I was so zealous at one particular baseball game [Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox game], the Boston fans/fanatics turned around to see who was yelling at them.  My wife, daughter and her husband were left shaking their heads. Not out of embarrassment for my public display of a fanatic baseball lover I hope.  But then again….

WAS THE APOSTLE PAUL A FANATIC OR A CRANK?

Have you ever been accused of being a ‘crazy Christian’ or a ‘religious fanatic’?  The Apostle Paul was frequently accused of being crazy:  “Paul, you’re mad, your great learning is turning you mad”  (Acts 28:24 RSV).  Paul didn’t seem to mind the name calling.  Perhaps he remembered the occasion of Jesus; the experience of Mark 3:21:

And when those who belonged to Him (His kinsmen) heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying,  He is out of His mind (beside Himself, deranged)!”

So was Paul a “fanatic” or a “crank“; was he out of his mind, maybe even “deranged”?  To answer the question, turn with me to                         2 Corinthians 6, verses 3-12:

“We put no obstruction in any body’s way as [true] servants of God; through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships and privations, in sore straits and calamities,  In beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger;  By innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, longsuffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love;  By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend];  Amid honor and dishonor; in defaming and evil report and in praise and good report.  [We are branded] as deceivers (imposters), and [yet vindicated as] truthful and honest.  [We are treated] as unknown and ignored [by the world], and [yet we are] well-known and recognized [by God and His people]; as dying, and yet here we are alive; as chastened by suffering and [yet] not killed;  As grieved and mourning, yet [we are] always rejoicing; as poor [ourselves, yet] bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, and [yet in reality] possessing all things.  Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians [we are hiding nothing, keeping nothing back], and our heart is expanded wide [for you]!  There is no lack room for you in [our hearts], but you lack room in your own affections [for us].”  (Amplified Version).

Wow, Is THAT Fanaticism?

Well if it is, I feel like the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon, when he was told of Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road, that it was really caused by a fit of epilepsy.  Spurgeon said, “Oh, blessed epilepsy!  Would that every man in London could experience epilepsy like that!”

What a magnificent description in the above verse of a God-honoring life!  A marvelous pattern that we might respond to Paul’s plea “not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them–do not receive it to no purpose]”  (2 Corinthians 6:1 AMP).  Here is what the “ministry of reconciliation” is about:

“But ALL things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]”    (2 Corinthians 5:18 AMP).

You and I may fall short on a description like this; I feel that I do.  But though we may not equal in degree with the way the apostle Paul lived, we are ALL called to be like this in kind, at least.

CAN THE ‘FANATIC RIGHTEOUS’ BE AN OBSTACLE TO OTHERS?

It is a very important thing, that believers have an awareness of what we look like to others; careful not to allow anything in our lives to turn someone off to becoming a Christian.  Paul lived continually with that objective in view.  So he says, “no fault may be found and [our] ministry blamed and discredited.”

Now people did find fault with him, and plenty of it.  Here is but a brief list of the accusations brought forth:

–deceiver.

–a phony.

–false apostle.

–ambitious.

–full of pride.

–sarcastic.

And accused of many other things.  But the point he was making, none of the accusations stuck!  His own conscience cleared him and he knew in his heart that they were false accusations.  He hadn’t put obstacles in anyone’s way and harm the ministry of reconciliation; new believers in Christ.

The RESOURCES Needed For Being A FANATICAL Believer:

Speaking the WORD of TRUTH”  ~ 2 Corinthians 6:7 (a).


In my last blog [A FAITH that Prompts Outspokenness], I wrote a synopsis in regards to speaking out about Christ, in FAITH to others and the difficulties encountered along the way.  Again, the apostle Paul addresses the motives, the RESOURCES behind “speaking the word of TRUTH” to others who are not saved; the unrighteous in God’s sight.

A question might be in your thoughts right now, “this ‘speaking the word of truth‘ to others, is there a source we can read and understand before we go out blind in our communities?”  That’s a good question.  I remember someone once told me in an evangelistic outreach,  “You don’t go out witnessing Mel, you witness as you go!”

Always keep this in mind if you are concerned about what others might think about your “speaking the WORD of truth” to them.  Jesus told His followers,

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever”  (John 14:16 AMP).

He will never leave you or forsake you. He is your constant companion through life; to be your helper, strengthener, comforter, your guide in “speaking the truth.”  This is what Paul relied on.  You cannot manifest this kind of character unless you are resting on this kind of RESOURCE.

Paul says in Romans 12:  “Never lag in ZEAL and in EARNEST ENDEAVOR; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord” (verse 11).  That sounds like a “RIGHTEOUS FANATIC” by definition to me.  I’m just saying.

You can’t be zealous, a fanatical Christian, without looking to the Holy Spirit and putting Him first in your doings.

There Will Be CONFLICT In Being A CHRISTIAN FANATIC– 2 Corinthians 6:7-8 (a):

Paul says, “For we are not overstepping the limits of our province and stretching beyond our ability to reach, as though we reached not (had no legitimate mission) to you, for we were [the very first] to come even as far as you with the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel; the TRUTH) of Christ”  (2 Corinthians 10:14 AMP).

KNOW The POWER That Is Available Before CONFLICT.

Paul’s RELIANCE, even in the simple things; the ones that we come across each day, God was and is at work in them.  God makes an impact, far beyond what we could ordinarily expect.  There is always the SECRET of a God-honored life we hold close.; the knowledge of the TRUTH that has IMPACT and tremendous POWER  available to CHANGE people.  POWER coming from God working IN US!  The RESURRECTION POWER,  beyond anything we can anticipate.

God knows that if we are going to be “Righteous Fanatics” in today’s society; witnesses to His mercy and grace, defenders of the TRUTH, the enemy [Satan] and his cohorts are going to come at us with everything they can muster.   Our Father will equip us for the daily battles of “speaking the word of truth.”

“Weapons of Righteousness” (verse 7):

First, what is RIGHTEOUSNESS?  The Greek word, dike (pronounced dee-kay); the ancient Greek meaning is “tendency”.  This word in the Bible implies: justice, conformance, to establish standards.  JUSTICE means, “doing the RIGHT thing.”  CONFORMANCE is to ESTABLISH standards (the Bible) or refers to FOLLOWING the ways of God in ALL aspects of our lives.  In other words, if you want to be RIGHTEOUS as Matthew 5:6 proclaims:

“Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!”  (AMP Version).

Wow, is hungering and thirsting for righteousness, is that being a FANATIC?  Maybe so.

But, if you FLAUNT your RIGHTEOUSNESS, you might be considered as a “religious crank”; for you won’t receive an award for being a “CRANK”  (Matthew 6:7 (b); 16 (b)).  Righteousness involves being and speaking for God’s kingdom and not your kingdom (Matthew 6:33). 

The things coming out of your mouth will prove whether you are RIGHTEOUS (Romans 3:4).  RIGHTEOUSNESS involves standing up for right things, even being fanatical if the Holy Spirit requires it, even if that invites persecution (Acts 4:19, 20).

WHAT ARE THE GOD-GIVEN “WEAPONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”?

Some theologians refer to THE CHURCH on earth in any given era, ‘Church militant.’  Some folks are offended by that kind of terminology, in reference to the Body of Christ.  This IDEA wasn’t invented by hot-headed theologians.  The Lord Himself looks upon His Church as “weapons of righteousness“, in advancing His reign.  We know from Scripture that we are engaged in spiritual warfare and the Lord has given us many SPIRITUAL WEAPONS  (Ephesians 6:10-20).

But in reference to verse 7, 2 Corinthians 6, this is not what we have reference to.  Rather, the members of local churches, who are being BUILT TOGETHER as communities of servants to a Holy nation should consider themselves as “weapons of righteousness.”

With respect to those people who do not know Jesus, church members MUST EXEMPLIFY the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ Jesus.  But even more than that, they must be a VOICE in the wilderness calling on others to FORSAKE their sins; seek the righteousness of Jesus by His GRACE, through FAITH (Acts 2:37, 38; Romans 3:19-30).  John the Baptist was most likely tagged by unbelievers and believers alike as a religious kook; a crank, maybe even a “righteous fanatic”!  (Matthew 3:1-4).  I’m not saying that you’re to have clothes of camel’s-hair, a leather girdle around your waist and eat organic locust and honey.  But do people around us think we are testifying; speaking the TRUTH of Christ?  Or, when you mention at work that you are a Christian, they say, “I’ve known you for three years and didn’t know that you were a Christian.”  That happened to me once.  I don’t know why I was shocked–I never had the confidence of being “fanatical”; to speak out about my faith.  A month later, I led that same person to Christ.

Further, the Church must prayerfully consider how to STIMULATE and ENCOURAGE one another in good works of RIGHTEOUSNESS, in every area of our lives (Hebrew 10:24).  In doing so, the righteousness of the Kingdom becomes more and more visible of the lives and ministries of the local churches.

The “RIGHTEOUS FANATICS” Are Like Arrows:

Listen to the psalmist when he said, “Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O mighty One, in Your glory and Your majesty!  And in Your majesty ride triumphantly for the cause of TRUTH, HUMILITY, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS (uprightness and right standing with God); and let Your right hand guide You to tremendous things.  Your ARROWS are sharp; the peoples fall under You, Your darts pierce the hearts of the King’s servants.  Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom”  (Psalm 45:3-6 AMP).

God uses His people assharp arrows” as “weapons of righteousness!”

In 1972, I was working at a wholesale plumbing supply house in California.  Once a week, an ex-plumber and now Pastor of a local church; on his day off, would stop by to pick up supplies.  He would help the widows in the local area with FREE plumbing services.,

Every time he would walk through the office on the way to the warehouse, he would shout out, “Does anyone here know my Jesus?”  Most of us knew, Pastor Ray was a FANATIC about God, and usually paid little attention to his odd remarks.  Except for one time.

I was getting a cup of coffee in the warehouse as Ray walked up to the order counter.  I in turn, walked up beside him and said, “Pastor, I have a lot of questions I need answered about the Bible.”  He responded by saying, “I’m in a hurry right now, but if you give me your address and phone number, I’ll try to answer your questions later.  How about this Thursday night, around 7:30 PM?  Somewhat surprised by his quick reply, “Yeah, Thursday night is fine.”  Now the dilemma; telling my wife that a religious fanatic was coming over to the house this Thursday night.  I believe she said something like, “What kind of FLAVOR is he?”  “I don’t know, I think Baptist.”  She then made this statement–“That’s just great. A Bible thumping preacher coming to our house.”

Pastor Ray spent an hour or two, answering our questions as quickly as we would ask them.  And then it happened!  “Mel, Dianne…have you ever heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?”  We hadn’t and a few minutes later, we both accepted Jesus Christ into our lives by faith; as Lord and Savior.  It had all started with the “sharp arrows” of an UN-attractive simple, unassuming pastor– “speaking the word.”  Just a “Righteous Fanatic”, not a “Religious Crank” as we had predetermined.  Oh, and by the way, we found out later that a small group of the Church where he pastor-ed were praying that night.

An Important Question:

Who are you in Christ Jesus?  I’m not asking you if you’re SAVED;  but what does the unsaved in your world know about who you are in Jesus? Are they hearing from your mouth the TRUTH?

If you are worried what they might think or say,  “just another FANATICAL CHRISTIAN”, that’s a good thing.  Pretend you are cheering for your favorite team and there is a lot of people around you.  Are you embarrassed to show them what a FAN you are?  Or are you so enthused and excited that you can’t help yourself?  You are going to have to answer those questions yourself.  REMEMBER your WEAPONS!

A FAITH That Prompts Outspokenness

FIRST QUESTION:

IS  SHYNESS  A FORM OF FEAR?

For God did not give us a spirit of TIMIDITY (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning FEAR) but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control”                                      (2 Timothy 1:7 AMP).

What is a definition of the word SHYNESS?  Wikipedia says this: EMBARRASSMENT, MODESTY, RESERVE, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, SELF-DOUBT, TIMIDITY.

So if God didn’t give us “a spirit of timidity” [a personality of being SHY], then who did?  No, it wasn’t your mom or dad.  It was the devil, Satan, the enemy of God and of us all.

The apostle Paul gave this wisdom to Timothy and was preparing him for what God wanted us ALL to be fruitful in:

“Herald and preach the Word!  Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as a preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.]  And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching”  (2 Timothy 4:2 AMP).

You might be thinking right now after reading the above verse in Timothy,  “Yeah, well I’m not Timothy or a preacher of the Word.”  Who told you that?  Where is that spirit of SHYNESS (TIMIDITY) coming from?

I have been reading in my Bible for a while now, in 1 Corinthians and just started reading in 2 Corinthians this past week.  As I told you in The Preview of Coming Attractions;[The Cow-tree and the Christian blog post], I wasn’t expecting to take this journey.  But Holy Spirit had other plans for me today, so here I am.

BELIEF IN GOD IS INCOMPLETE WITHOUT THE SPOKEN WORD:

Yet we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote,  I have believed, and therefore have I SPOKEN.  We too believe, and therefore WE SPEAK”  (2 Corinthians 4:13 AMP).

A Review of 2 Corinthians 4:

We read about Paul’s persecution in great detail.  It really wasn’t about who Paul was or wasn’t; not his education, not his credentials, not his looks or his eloquent speech.  The people of Paul’s day didn’t hate him.  It was Christ Jesus that they really hated.  They couldn’t get at Jesus so they got at Paul, and all he did was manifest the life of Christ.

Paul was powerful in his witness to those in the surrounding community, whether churched or unchurched, saved or lost.  He was humble and invincible, even sacrificial in his mannerisms.

Let’s pick up the story in 2 Corinthians 4, verse 12:  “Thus death is actively at work in us, but [it is in order that our] life [may be ACTIVELY at work] in YOU.”
Paul was humble because he wanted to be FRUITFUL.  He was self-sacrificial because he LIVED for the FRUIT in his ministry.  Verse 12 really summarizes Paul.  He was EFFECTIVE because he was absolutely unconcerned about himself.  His DUTY and JOY as a believer was in bringing LIFE to others through the gospel.  And since the Bible wasn’t around in Paul’s day, no pocket Lexicon, he HAD TO SPEAK the Word of God:

“For if I [merely] PREACH the GOSPEL, that gives me no reason to boast, for I feel COMPELLED of necessity to do it. Woe is me if I do not preach the glad tidings (the Gospel)!”  (1 Corinthians 9:16 AMP).

In Romans 1 he said,  “I am willing and eagerly ready to preach the Gospel to you.”

Paul Was FAITHFUL:

Another KEY to his POWER and EFFECTIVENESS can be attributed to in 2 Corinthians 4, is in VERSE 13; it’s the bottom line to our effectiveness in witnessing to the unsaved in our communities.  So what is Paul telling us here and why are the words so important?

He is saying,  “Look, if nobody listens to me, if nobody believes me, if nobody is being transformed by the Spirit of God…if I’m persecuted, stoned, beaten, and even killed for what I am saying…I will still preach because this is what…”  What?  “I believe.”

BREAKING 2 Corinthians 4:13 Down Into Parts:

Watch how this verse unfolds:  “Yet we have the same spirit of faith.”  What does that mean?  It is not the Holy Spirit Paul’s talking about but the ATTITUDE of FAITH.

Let me give to you in my learning this week regarding the infliction of voice.  He says the “same kind of faith”, in the subjective, not the content of the Christian faith; but “I have the same kind of”, the subjective, the personal introspect; I believe in the same thing.  In what?  “I BELIEVE in the same thing” according to what is already written, the perfect tense.  What has been written now stands in an AUTHORITATIVE DOCUMENT.  Well, what was it?  What was written: “I believed therefore I spoke”.  He says I have the same belief of the guy who wrote that.  Well what’s Paul quoting from?   Psalm 116 verse 10, where the psalmist said, “I BELIEVED (trusted in, relied on, and clung to my God), and therefore have I spoken [even when I said], I am greatly afflicted.”

There Are People Who May Say… the Same Words As Paul Heard.

“You Know, you just got to kind of soften it up a little bit.  You can’t say it the way you say it Paul.  It’s offensive.”  Paul’s answer is, “I believed therefore I spoke.”

Paul’s conviction comes straight from his heart;  “I believed therefore I spoke.”  When we are driven by conviction, we speak it.  You don’t need someone else to tell you what to say, you just need somebody to say it to.  That’s all.

Paul’s Story:

Paul says, “Look, I…nobody may listen to me and my whole life may blow up in my face and I might even die in the process, but MY STORY IS THIS:  I’m going to keep on saying what I’m saying cause that’s what I believe.  What’s your story?  My FAITH compels me to PREACH.”

If you can’t really BELIEVE the TRUTH with ALL your heart, with ALL your MIND and STRENGTH, then you are not long to proclaim it.  I must preach God’s Word because of my convictions, what I believe and not only because I have respect or fear for my Father in heaven but because it’s just in me.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  Paul says, “I’m going to preach what I believe.”

I love that quality of Paul.  That’s why he was so POWERFUL; he preached what he believed, what he believed was true.  With the upcoming Presidential campaign in progress, I keep waiting for the politicians to just speak because they really believe in something true.  The same with preachers, if you believe it, speak it!  If it’s the TRUTH, God will always energize it.

IN OUR CURRENT SILENCE:

Oh that SILENCE might mean COMFORT or POPULARITY, PRESTIGE, or even mean LIFE, a longer life with PROSPERITY.  It doesn’t even really matter.

The center picture depicts The Diet of Worms in 1521 in Worms, Germany during the Protestant Reformation.  Martin Luther stands to address the Assembly saying,  “Here I stand, I can’t do anything else.   I can’t do anything else.  You can’t make me say something I don’t believe.  You can’t make me recount what I do believe.  I believe so I speak.”

You might say, “But what I might say may offend people,” and you’re right!  Especially in this culture today.  But what you BELIEVE, if you believe the TRUTH, the TRUTH you must SPEAK.

BELIEF IMPELS TESTIMONY:

We are here on this earth to preach the Word of God–we BELIEVE it–we PROCLAIM it–we give WITNESS to it–we are CALLED to BELIEVE IT.  Then, it becomes our message to those who are around us.  In our churches, our neighborhood, our workplace, our cities…you name it.  That’s why I guess, I can’t understand why there’s any other kind of preaching but the Word of God.

Now over the 40 years of being a Christian, I have certainly been exposed to evangelism training: Advanced Discipleship Training, Evangelism Explosion and many other church programs.  But when it comes right down to it, it’s all about PROCLAIMING the Word.  What else is there?  All we can really preach with conviction is the TRUTH!

The Good Attitudes of Our Spirit:

–Humbleness.

–Invincible.

–Sacrificial.

–Fruitful and,

–FAITHFUL.

And there is something else, HOPEFUL.

ALL those GOOD ATTITUDES only go to a point.  If HOPE wasn’t there, you would have a hard time hanging on to the others.  Look at verse 14 of 2 Corinthians 4:

“We believe,” verse 13 says, “therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and will present us with you.”  What’s Paul talking about there?  In one word, the RESURRECTION!

What does RESURRECTION Imply?

Before you can RISE you have to…What?…DIE.  Paul knows death is inevitable.  He is saying, I can put my life on the line; preach my convictions.  It doesn’t matter what people might think who REJECT the TRUTH.  For the sake of the SANCTIFICATION of the body (the Church); for the sake of the ELECT I proclaim the TRUTH.  Because in the end, all they can do is kill me, then the Lord will raise me up.  We live in HOPE, don’t we?  Then why do we make excuses about SPEAK our faith in Christ to others?

One Final Point to Present.

What made Paul POWERFUL?  We already know he was humble, invincible, sacrificial, fruitful, faithful, hopeful and worshipful.  Look at verse 15, “For ALL things are for your sakes.” I’ll do all this for you.  Even if I DIE, it’s so you can live.  I don’t have any self-interests.  My GOAL is for your sakes but beyond that, follow this:

“For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.”

The ULTIMATE GOAL of our FAITH is to the glory of God.  That’s it, the reason for our SPEAKING the TRUTH; the prompting of outspokenness to the lost.  My ultimate purpose is WORSHIP.  Worship the living and true God with ALL my being, to do whatever I do for His glory.  That’s the kind of FAITH that PROMPTS Outspokenness.

The GOAL was never to be COMFORTABLE.  It wasn’t really even for the salvation of others.  It was to the GLORY of GOD.

In other words Church, after putting all the pieces together, it’s God’s gracious INVITATION in the gospel that is extended to more and more people.  The THANKSGIVING offered by the congregation of believers, enhances God’s reputation in the surrounding community.

South American Cow-tree

As Alexander Von Humboldt, the writer and explorer, tells of a tree in South America called the Cow-tree.  It grows on the barren flank of a rock that’s roots are scarcely able to penetrate.  To the naked eye, it appears dead and dried up.  But when the trunk is tapped, there flows from it a sweet and nourishing milk.

It’s like the Christian who outwardly may appear to be withering and dying, but within possesses a LIVING SAP; the SPIRIT OF FAITH; the SPOKEN WORD welling up on the inside and leading others to eternal life.

Standing On God’s PROMISES Of “YES, YES, YES!”

Praying God’s Word For Answers

AND Standing on His Promises

The verb stand or standing, found in THE NEW Roget’s THESAURUS IN DICTIONARY FORM  says, “stand up, stand erect, cock, erect, poise (VERTICALLY, POSTURE); not move, stand still, (MOTIONLESS).

If you were SAVED in a church that loved to sing old hymns as I was, you most likely remember the hymn, Standing On The Promises Of God.  If you never heard the words before or don’t remember them, let me refresh you:

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,

Thro’ eternal ages let His praises ring.

Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,

Standing on the promises of God.

Now do you remember?  I remembered the words to the first verse and chorus but had forgotten verse two; the words written will BEGIN to answer the question, “Are God’s PROMISES Always “YES“?”

Standing on the promises that CANNOT FAIL,

When the howling storms of doubt assail,

By the living Word of God I shall prevail,

Standing on the promises of God.

Our certainty about TRUSTING the Promises of God are founded upon the CHARACTER of God Himself:

“For I AM the Lord.  I do not change”  (Malachi 3:6).

“Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages)”  (Hebrews 13:8 AMP).

We can only STAND (“stand up, stand erect, poise ourselves vertically; not move, stand still, MOTIONLESS”), on the PROMISES in the present tense.  It is appropriate for us to say we’ve STOOD on the Promises in the past; we WILL STAND upon them in the future, but only TODAY can we say, “we are STANDING on the Promises of God:

“For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will [get it]”  (Mark 11:24 AMP).

If God IS presently sustaining us, then we MUST have CONFIDENCE in God:

“…if we hold fast and firm to the end our joyful and exultant CONFIDENCE and sense of triumph in our HOPE [in Christ]”   (Hebrews 3:6 AMP).

Walking by FAITH, claiming and standing on the Promises and believing God, all describe OUR CONFIDENCE in God.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Never allow [or have CONFIDENCE in] a person to tell you NO who doesn’t have the POWER to say YES.”

That brings me to the Bible verses I was reading today for this study:

“For the Son of God, Christ Jesus (the Messiah),  Who has been preached among you by us, by myself, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not Yes and No; but in Him it is [always the divine] Yes.  For as many as are the PROMISES of God, they ALL find their Yes in Him [Christ].  For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God”  (2 Corinthians 1:19-20 AMP).

When I was a pre-teen, after asking my parents the question, “Do you PROMISE?”.  They would often respond, “We wouldn’t have promised that to you ….if it wasn’t true.”  So TRUSTING their PROMISES I had CONFIDENCE enough to ask; “Could you teach me how to drive a car?”  or, “Can we stay at a motel that has a swimming pool on this vacation?”  Now I didn’t always get a “YES” answer to ALL my wants, for they knew what was always the best for me in any given situation.  After all, I was their child.

Continuing The Journey Through 2 Corinthians 1:12-20–

GOD’S FAVORITE WORD–

One of the most beautiful words in the human language is the word “YES”.  When a young man scrapes up the courage to ask a young lady to be his bride, there is only one word he wants to hear: “Yes!”  When you are looking for a job and apply for an opening, you want to hear, “yes, you’re hired.”  Over the years I certainly have experienced that feeling on too many times.  When you apply for a home mortgage, you want to hear, “yes, you’ve been approved.”

On the other hand, we don’t really like to heard the word “NO”.  When we were youngsters, we cringed when we heard the word “No.”  You started to do something wrong, then mom or dad would raise their voice and shout “No!”  Bill Cosby says that the ‘no’s’ get louder and faster as they get closer to you to grab you, “No! No, no-no no…I said No!”

Sadly, many people conceive God in the same negative terms.  They think of God as a “cosmic killjoy” watching from heaven, just waiting for you to ‘screw-up’ and shaking His finger at people and saying, “No! No!  Stop it right now!”  But the God of the Bible isn’t trying to spoil your fun by constantly telling you, “No!”  That isn’t the true CHARACTER of our heavenly Father.  I believe, as Pastor David Dykes believes, “God’s favorite word is Yes.”

Chapter 1, 2 Corinthians; Paul’s Travel Plans:

Paul had mentioned that he would TRY to visit the Church; but his travel plans had changed.  Now everyone has critics and Paul wasn’t an exception.  They were accusing him of going back on his word, even casting doubt on the gospel Message.  Paul begins defending his change of plans by using the created dispute and declaring the “YES” of God’s promises.

Like Paul, we should be careful in making promises that we are not able to keep.  People might say our YES is NO and our NO is YES!  They can’t TRUST us with anything we say.  But this particular blog today isn’t about Paul’s travel plans.  What I want to stress is, the tremendous TRUTH given to all of us who believe in Jesus:

“For as many as are the promises of God, they will find their YES in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen to God through Him to the glory”  (2 Corinthians 1:20).

All The PROMISES Contained In The Bible–

Herbert Lockyer wrote a book entitled, All the Promises in the Bible.  He had recorded 7,457 promises of God found in the Bible.  Now that is real detective work!

2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us that Jesus is the “YES” to every single promise of God.  That is 7,457 times the Bible says, “YES!”  And because Jesus is the “YES!” to every PROMISE of God, we respond by saying, “AMEN” to the glory of God.  Remember, that as Christian believers, we are to walk by FAITH and NOT by sight.  So God’s answers to His PROMISES might not be seen right away, but because of our TRUSTING HIM in His YESES, the answer is already on its way.  AMEN literally means, “so be it” or “right on!”

There are two words in the human language that are the same in every language:

1.  Hallelujah (which means “praise the Lord”)..

2.  Amen.

The “Amen” is a great word and it should be used for other purposes than merely ending a prayer.  Can I hear a “AMEN’?

Me and my wife’s first church we attended after being saved together in 1972,  were introduced to two elderly brothers that sat together every Sunday morning.  One would say AMEN to every other phrase of the pastor’s message.  My wife referred to him as “the AMEN man”.  We actually thought in our spiritual immaturity, how unusual and different, maybe even ‘weird’ to our ears this repeated word was in the Church.  But now, being given the gift of spiritual WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING by Holy Spirit, we were made clear– verbalizing the word AMEN while hearing the TRUTH on Sunday morning was an agreement.  It’s almost like saying, “sic ’em” to a dog.  Now according to this passage, Jesus is the “yes” but, we’re the ones who say, “Amen!”

Here Is A Practical Exercise To Start–

Have you ever wanted to ask God a question?  Of course you have.  I want to give you three quick questions, then listen for His favorite word:

QUESTION #1.  “God, do you really love me?”  God’s answer is: “YES!  AMEN!”

God loves ALL people everywhere.  When anyone on the planet asks Him, “God, do you love me?”  They hear God’s answer in their own language:

–Spanish or Italian is “Si”

–German or Dutch is “Yah!”

–French is “Oui!”

–Chinese hear, “shi”

–The Japanese hear “Hai!”

–The Russian hears, “Da!”

–The West Texan rancher hears, “yup!”

–The Minnesotan hears, “You betcha!”

–To the golfer, God says, “Yes!” (Fist pump).

–To the Beatles fan God says, “I love you, Yeah, yeah, yeah.  With a love like that you know you should be glad!” — “Yes!” and Amen!

QUESTION #2.  God, can you forgive ALL my mistakes?  Yes! Amen!

Each of us stands guilty as a sinner before God.  But instead of judging us on the basis of our sins, God, who is rich in mercy and full of grace offers us a free pardon.  The PROOF of God’s forgiveness is seen at the cross.  It is through the cross; the death of Jesus, that the guilt of our sin is removed.

The Bible says, “the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses (removes) us from ALL sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations]”  (1 John 1:7 AMP).

God’s Amazing Grace is Through The Blood of Jesus–

God FORGIVES ALL of our sins.

–past.

–present.

–future.

Now most people I know don’t have any trouble believing that God can forgive their PAST sins; but have difficulty in accepting that the BLOOD of Jesus also forgives ALL their FUTURE SINS.

If you struggle with that concept, here is something for you to consider.  Over 2000 years ago, Jesus died on the cross; He forgave ALL your sins–at the same time, they were ALL FUTURE.  Because God has forgiven you, you should forgive YOURSELF and be willing to FORGIVE others around you.

QUESTION #3.  God, do you have a plan for my life?  “YES!”

AMEN!  At about this point of the blog, you may be thinking “Wait a minute. God doesn’t ALWAYS SAY ‘YES’ sometimes He says “NO”.  You are absolutely right, and there are verses in the Bible where God says, “No, don’t do that.”  But like any good parent, God says “No” in the context of the greater good.  For instance, He says, “No” to something painful.  So He can say, “Yes” to something wonderful.  He says, “no” to the lesser and says, “yes” to the better.

Any good parent will say to their child, “No, don’t stick that fork in the electrical outlet!” not trying to curb their child’s fun–but to PROTECT them from harm.  God does the same thing every time He says, “Don’t do that.”  He is saying, “don’t hurt yourself.  I have something much better in mind for you.”

God Has A Plan Specifically Designed Just For You–

Really?  Yes, and it is described in two Bible verses:

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome”  (Jeremiah 29:11 AMP).

“In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes).  If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you”  (John 14:2 AMP).

So, what have we learned?

Paul made some plans he couldn’t keep.  We should be careful not to make PROMISES we can’t keep.  We put our mouth in motion before our mind is in gear.  Sometimes our mouths write checks our body can’t cash!  As much as we try keeping promises, sometimes our “YES” becomes “NO”.  BUT ALL of God’s PROMISES are in Christ Jesus are rock solid!

He says, “Yes!  I LOVE you unconditionally–I PROMISE in Christ!

He says, “Yes! I can FORGIVE ALL your sins–I PROMISE in Christ!

He says, “Yes! I have a wonderful plan for your life–I PROMISE in Christ!

Know This: “STANDING ON THE PROMISES that cannot fail,    When the howling storms of doubt assail,    By the living Word of God I shall prevail,    STANDING ON THE PROMISES OF GOD!”

YES! And Amen!

Operating at MAXIMUM Output – Spiritual Gifting (PART 2)

“Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the GRACE given us, LET US USE THEM”  (Romans 12:6 AMP).

“LET US USE THEM” Is Operating at MAXIMUM Output:

NUMBER ONE GIFT – PROPHECY

There is a BIG DEBATE today in the churches on whether the GIFT of PROPHECY still exist.  These are the people who want to say, “PROPHECY has PASSED AWAY.”  They use 1 Corinthians 13:8 as their basis:

“As for PROPHESY (the GIFT of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away”  being done away with along with TONGUES AND KNOWLEDGE:  “…as for TONGUES, they will be destroyed and cease; as for KNOWLEDGE, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by TRUTH].”

They then go on to say the “perfect thing” is the Bible.  When the Bible was finished, PROPHECY passed away along with TONGUES and KNOWLEDGE.  I do not agree with this idea and let me tell you why.

I agree with many of today’s evangelical commentators.  When the apostle Paul refers to “the COMPLETE and PERFECT (total) THING COMES”   (1 Corinthians 13:10}, its meaning is referring either to the Second Coming of Christ or the perfection of the human soul, occurring when the Christian is united with Christ Jesus in death:

“That you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking any spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine GRACE operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you WAIT and WATCH [constantly living in hope] for the COMING of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to ALL”  (1 Corinthians 1:7).

The word PROPHECY, “prophatea”is from the verb “prophatuo” for you Greek students.  Simply, really a base word from the concept of “prophamea”which is PRO, before, and “phaohea“, to speak.  Means to “speak before’.  It doesn’t mean to speak before in time but to speak before in terms of an audience.  It is NOT to speak beforein terms of FORETELLING the future either.  It is to speak before an audience; literally, to speak before SOMEONE; to speak in PUBLIC or publicly proclaiming.  That is the GIFT of PROPHECY.  It is NOT a reference to any content; doesn’t say whether it is REVELATORY; that is, a REVELATION from God directly; or non-revelatory, proclaiming something God already revealed in the past.  It is simply a COMMUNICATIVE GIFT, not a CONTENT GIFT.

NOW WHAT IS THE GIFT OF PROPHECY THEN?

By definition, it is “the ABILITY given by the Spirit of God to a person; to PROCLAIM God’s TRUTH publicly.”  That IS the GIFT!  Look at Chapter 14:3, 1 Corinthians.  This should help you understand:

“EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire LOVE [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), ESPECIALLY that you may PROPHESY (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).”

Now God has always given this GIFT and still does in today’s Church.  There has never been a time in history, God’s dealing with men and women, that somebody hasn’t had this GIFT.  God had somebody SPEAKING His Word.  See, that’s all the term means.

The Old Testament for example, abounds with uses of enablement to PROPHESY.  What was the PRIMARY FUNCTION of the Old Testament prophet?  PROCLAIMING God’s Word.  Some of it was FUTURE; some of it was PRESENT; some of it was a reiteration of the PAST.  Very often, the prophets would speak what God had already done (read Habakkuk); read ALL the minor prophets in the Bible.  They would SPEAK about God–what God WAS DOING and what God WOULD do.  But PROPHECY was NOT always PREDICTION; that was only one-third of its capacity and element.

And the New Testament is no different.

PROPHECY is just as vital today because God is not through with revealing Himself.  So in the New Testament, God reveals Himself again; disclosing ALL the MYSTERIES.  In fact, John says in The Book of Revelation:

“Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies] the word of this prophecy; and blessed are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near”  (Revelation 1:3 AMP).

Moving on to the SECOND GIFT found in 1 Corinthians 12:8 is THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE:

To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to SPEAK] a message of wisdom, and to another a word of KNOWLEDGE and understanding.”

Now the word KNOWLEDGE is a ‘speaking gift’, the utterance of KNOWLEDGE.  The Greek word LOGOS can mean “written on a page; spoken to a crowd, spoken privately to individuals.  WHAT IS IT?  It’s speaking KNOWLEDGE and it is a SPECIAL GIFT I might add.  Here is one definition I uncovered: “It’s the Spirit-given ability to observe-listen now-to observe biblical facts and make conclusions.” The spiritual GIFT of observing biblical FACTS and MAKING CONCLUSIONS is the ability to UNDERSTAND the Bible.

There are all different ways this is manifested in the Church.  It can belong to people of your Church that never have been to Bible School or never been to seminary.  BUT…they have the ability to study the Bible, draw out facts and make conclusions by observing.

This GIFT comes in all different energizing s.  There could be a hundred people with it, always working differently in the body.  It might be in combination with WISDOM a little bit, and a little bit of KNOWLEDGE sort of splattered around.

In my own studying and discovery, and writing The WORD Detective blogs, I think maybe I’ve got one-tenth of the GIFT of KNOWLEDGE and nine-tenths of the GIFT of WISDOM.  Sort of mixed and matched.  That is the beauty of how it all works!

I think the BEST BIBLE DEFINITION of the GIFT of KNOWLEDGE is found in 1 Corinthians 13:2:

“And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and posses ALL KNOWLEDGE, and if I have [sufficient] faith so I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).”

Paul is saying, “If I have the gift of proclamation (prophecy), and I understand everything that’s proclaimed, then ALL KNOWLEDGE is mine.”  He goes on to make a point on LOVE.  But all I’m really saying and drawing out here is simply, ‘ it is the ability to understand the TRUTH of God.’

The THIRD GIFTING Mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8 Is The WORD of WISDOM.

The WORD of WISDOM, WHAT IS IT?  The GIFT differs from KNOWLEDGE in this way.  The EMPHASIS is on the skill of application rather than the KNOWLEDGE of FACTS.

WISDOM is the ABILITY to take the FACTS that the gift of KNOWLEDGE has brought out, then makes a skillful application of them through the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

1.  This GIFT could belong to a Christian Counselor; sees a problem and by his Spirit given KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God, draws out the principles that can be practically applied solving the problem.

2.  This is the GIFT of the expositor who takes the Word of God, studies the commentators as I do, then reads from all those who have the GIFT of KNOWLEDGE.  Then can draw the applicable principle of living.

3.  This can be something that a BELIEVER ministers to another BELIEVER in the area of assisting in practical life.

You already know the GIFTS of KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM are so different.  You know people who have so much Bible KNOWLEDGE but not enough WISDOM and are ridiculous when it comes to application; the absent-minded professor.  There is all this ‘STUFF’ in their minds, but can’t make any of it work for them.

The Greek word for WISDOM is Sophia.  12 of the 27 books in the New Testament use this word.  It is seen in FIVE categories with which I’ve listed below:

1.  An attribute of God.

2.  Intellectual ability.

3.  It is seen as the person of Jesus Christ, who is — “the WISDOM of God.

4.  Proud human wisdom OPPOSED to God (James 3).

5.  Its DOMINANT use is “the ability to understand God’s will for our lives and application to obedience.

I’m not going to take time to give you 20 illustrations I’ve uncovered in different Scripture passages, but here are a few you can jot down:

Matthew 11:19; 13:54.

Mark 6:2.

Luke 7:35; 21:15.

Acts 6:10.

James 1:5, 3:13, 17.

2 Peter 3:15.

The DOMINANT USE of WISDOM is mentioned in the above passages.  So after reading the verses listed, what then is the GIFT of WISDOM?  It IS the Holy Spirit-given ability to show us the principles we need to know and obey to fulfill God’s will; operating at MAXIMUM output!

Yes, it had a REVELATORY aspect surely in the early ages.  All of these SPEAKING as the first three SPEAKING GIFTS did so.  But that wasn’t its EXCLUSIVE use.  It is much broader than that, Scripture says, “knowledge makes the teacher; Wisdom the preacher and pastor.”  But let’s go even further than that.  I say, as others do, KNOWLEDGE is collecting the facts; WISDOM is the application.

Now I’ve spent some time on that GIFT for a purpose.  I wanted you to see how important it is that we understand it.  And the people who want to come along to eliminate all those GIFTS: KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM, AND PROPHECY have a problem.  Because if, you eliminate PROPHECY, then what are you going to call those who are PROCLAIMING the Word of God?  If you eliminate KNOWLEDGE, then what are you going to call the theologians; the people who dig out deep truth with their skill?  If you eliminate WISDOM, what are you going to call the GIFT of being able to take TRUTH and apply it to life?  You have to come up with new names because God is still doing it through believers today.

Two Other Speaking Gifts–Four and Five:

Number four, the GIFT of TEACHING.

In Romans 12:7, and this is very important, again it says,  “For ministry, let us wait on our ministry, or he that teacheth” (King James Version).  This is really good!  “He that teacheth on teaching.”  Again, it’s using the definite article.

Here is the GIFT of TEACHING and whatever you teach, let it be consistent with the teaching.  And what is TEACHING?  It’s THIS, isn’t it?  So if you TEACH, be consistent with teaching.  What IS the gift of teaching?; distinguished between the GIFT and the OFFICE?  You can be a teacher in Church as an official position.  And if you were a teacher, you should have the gift of teaching.  But not all who have the GIFT of TEACHING are recognized as OFFICIAL TEACHERS because the gift could be exercised in so many ways.

Let me tell you what the GIFT is:  It is the ABILITY, in the Holy Spirit to pass on TRUTH to somebody else.  That’s simply enough, isn’t it?  PROPHECY is proclaiming Christ to an audience and TEACHING is passing on TRUTH to somebody else so they receive it and implement it.  It is a communicative ability.

FIFTH, The Last Gift is EXHORTATION – Romans 12:8:

“He who EXHORTS, to his exhortation.”

What is the word EXHORTATION?  In the Greek, the words Paracalan; Paraclete; Paracletas. 

We know that word as The Comforter; Holy Spirit.  It means to comfort or help or advise or strengthen.  God has given some people in the body not to necessarily PROCLAIM; dig out the facts, not figure out the principles and apply them in WISDOM, not even to systematically TEACH.  They just go around and sort of STRENGTHEN people; they encourage you; they help you; they advise you.  If you want a simple definition:  It is the ABILITY to provide comfort and courage; help and strength to somebody who needs it.”

When I first started The WORD Detective blog, I became discouraged in the beginning because it seemed no one was viewing the words.  And then two people, who definitely have the GIFT of EXHORTATION encouraged me, comforted me, and gave me strength in their words to diligently pursue ideas through God’s Word at MAXIMUM Output!  Thank you fellow bloggers, JoAnn and Florence.

It also could come through a PROCLAIM ER; could come through the PULPIT.  PROPHECY is EXHORTATION.  It could come through TEACHING; it could come through counseling.  It can come in many ways.  It is the ability to get by somebody who has a problem and build them up; encourage them, bear their load.  People say, “Oh yes.  It’s the GIFT of Counseling.”  WRONG!  Counseling isn’t a GIFT, it’s a PROCESS.   I like Martin Luther’s definition:  “Teaching is directed to the ignorant; exhortation to those who know better.”

Let me finish in PRAYER,

Lord, I thank You for the GIFT that You have given each one of us as believers in  Your Son Jesus.  And we pray that we might minister these gifts for those who have the gift of PROPHECY or PROCLAIMING.  The gift of KNOWLEDGE or WISDOM or TEACHING or STRENGTHENING; we pray, Lord, that they might minister the gift as good stewards of the manifold Grace of God.  As you have poured out these abilities, may we in obedience and thankfulness minister the same to one another.  May we exercise; operate in our gifting s with MAXIMUM output for Your Name’s sake.  On FIRE for Jesus!

In Jesus Name, AMEN.

Operating At MAXIMUM Output – PART 1

Well, the London 2012 Summer Olympics; the XXX Olympiad is almost upon us, starting July 27 to August 12, 2012.  Although I’m not personally a TRACK and FIELD guy, the Men’s Decathlon competition is simply amazing to me.  There are a total of ten events over a two-day period, even going into the darkness of night before they’re through competing.  Here are the events:

1.  100-meter run.

2.  Long Jump.

3.  Shot put.

4.  High Jump.

5.  400-meter run.

6.  110-meter hurdles.

7.  Discus.

8.  Pole vault.

9.  Javelin throw.

10.  1500 meter run.

The achievement of completing all ten events in two days is worthy of great honor in the athletic world.  It seems overwhelming to me that the human body functions in this capacity.  Most people can barely get their BODY up out of bed on Sunday morning, ease it over to the chair and sit it down; ease it out to the kitchen and set it down.  Then sit it down in your car, get to church and sit it down there, trying to stay awake.  Then return home and sit it down and take an afternoon nap.  That is NOT God’s intention; not what He had in mind in making our bodies.

Some of us don’t understand what it means, “That we would have strength; renewed like eagles.”  We can’t RELATE to it.  We’re sort of PHYSICAL SPARROWS at best!

What is amazing to me is to see the human body FUNCTION at MAXIMUM output.  It is incredible!  You can only see that kind of specimen in action, to see the POTENTIAL  God has placed within the human body for activity; the capacity and productivity in the Olympiad.  That’s EXCITING.

If only the body of Christ could operate like that.  Every CELL and every MEMBER, every CAPACITY.  What a tremendous influence that would be to the surrounding Church community of your area.

BUT, that is exactly what God intended as when God intended the physical body used to that MAXIMUM OUTPUT.  So does He intend the Church body to be capable of the same?  You say, “But how?”

Well, like the athlete, if he’s going to OPERATE like that; every cell, every muscle, every tissue, every fiber, every capacity in his/her body has to ALL come together from the mental to the physical to operate.  It is the same in the Church.  If the church is going to be all that God intended it to be, to GIVE GLORY to Christ Jesus, as the athlete’s body gives GLORY to himself, then the body is going to have to FUNCTION with every single part.  The body has to be doing what it has to do at MAXIMUM OUTPUT!  that’s exactly where the MINISTRY of the SPIRITUAL GIFTS comes together.

FOR WE ARE A BODY:

“For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  For by [means of the personal agency of] one [Holy] Spirit we were all, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, baptized [and by baptism united together] into one body, and all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 AMP).

The apostle Paul speaks to the Church at Corinth and goes down and discusses the members of the body; how the MEMBERS of the BODY are to COOPERATE  to make the Church function and the way it should function.

Spiritual Gifts Are Vital–If the Body of Christ is to HONOR Christ.

This will happen when we’re WHOLE, FUNCTIONING, MAXIMIZED BODY.  That will only happen when ALL of us are MINISTERING in the area and with the GIFTS of the SPIRIT of God graciously given to us.

When the body functions as it should be, FOUR BASIC things that occur as a result.  They are very IMPORTANT because all of us are RESULT-ORIENTED.  These are FOUR RESULTS when the body FUNCTIONS PROPERLY:

NUMBER ONE–The People Receive The Blessing.

You will be BLESSED when you MINISTER and see the FRUIT of your labor.  God never intended the ministry to be carried on by professionals while everybody else watched.  God intends ALL of us to minister so that ALL of us see FRUIT; ALL of us UNDERSTAND JOY and BLESSING in response to these.

SECOND THING–When Everybody Does His/Her Part, the Body Really Functions.

WITNESS is really DYNAMIC!  When Peter EXERCISED his GIFT of PROPHECY, proclaiming on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2).  When other believers EXERCISED the GIFT of GIVING, shared what they had, the Lord added DAILY to the church people.  They saw that kind of LOVE and wanted to be a part of it.

There is an illustration all the way through the life of the early Church in Jerusalem in the Book of Acts.  It shows how the MINISTRY of the GIFTS of the believers created response in the unredeemed, non-saved community.

A THIRD RESULT.

Not only that the people receive the BLESSING and the WORLD receives the WITNESS but thirdly, LEADERS are made APPARENT.  In a FULL-FUNCTIONING body of believers, leadership RISES TO THE TOP.  It just emerges!

We have a lot of leadership; “leadership material” available to the Church today because there’s a real NEED for LEADERSHIP.  That’s the GREAT NEED in the Church.  You can’t get people to do what the people ought do UNLESS you’ve got somebody to help them along, show them, work with them.  And LEADERSHIP is a PRIORITY and it’s amazing how the Church tries to find its leaders.

You can go to LEADERSHIP seminars, read books on leadership, find a great amount of material that is simply an adaptation of the world’s system of getting leaders.  Oh when the church says, you know, “We’ve got to EDUCATE our people,” they want to GET A GUY or GAL with an education, a degree in education.  Or the Church says, you know, “We’ve got a lot of problems.  We’d better get somebody with some psychological training to handle OUR problems.”  Or, “We’ve got a lot of young people who have needs.  We’d better find an EXPERT in the youth area.”  And so the Church opts out for STYLIZED LEADERSHIP; what the world offers.

The TRUTH of the matter is that all God ever expected out of leaders were certain GIFTS of the Holy spirit; certain moral and spiritual qualifications.  All these things become manifest in the MINISTERING COMMUNITY.  As people MINISTER, they simply EMERGE as LEADERS.  Spirit-filled leadership ALWAYS emerges rapidly when God is freely at work in His body, the CHURCH.  That is another one of the benefits.

And FOURTHLY, One of the Other BENEFITS of a FUNCTIONING BODY is When UNITY DEVELOPS.

When UNITY develops there is a beautiful LOVE and wonderful FELLOWSHIP in the body.  And this fulfills our needs and reaches out, touching the lives of those who would like to have the same.

So these BENEFITS, resulting in the body is the KEY to making it function in the use of these spiritual gifts.  All of us have received them; we’ve talked about them in endless details in Church circles, so I will move away from that point for now.

Ephesians 4:11 Terminology:

This passage discusses the GIFTED MAN; the apostle, prophet, evangelist, teaching pastor, teacher.  These five individuals are the gifted people given to the Church by God and empowered by Holy Spirit to lead the Church.

The Edifying Gifts.

There are TWO CATEGORIES presented in Scripture that are permanent, edifying gifts.  Look at 1 Peter 4:10:

As each of you has RECEIVED A GIFT (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), EMPLOY it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [FAITHFUL STEWARDS of extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].”

Whatever your GIFT is, most likely it is a combination of the various enablements that makes up your gift.  But as you receive the GIFT, so “EMPLOY it for one another.”

USE your gift, this is vital as good stewards of the multicolored GRACE of God, literally.  If you’re a steward, minister your gift!

Now then he divides the GIFTS into TWO CATEGORIES in 1Peter 4:11:

“Whoever SPEAKS, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever RENDERS SERVICE, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in ALL THINGS God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”

Speaking Gifts and Serving Gifts.

You can have “speaking gifts” and serve also; these are but general categories.  Again, these type of gifts are mentioned in either/or one of them in both passages; Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, LET US USE THEM:  [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;  [He whose gift is] practical service, LET HIM GIVE himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;  He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who GIVES aid and superintends, with ZEAL and SINGLENESS of mind; he who does ACTS of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness”  (Romans 12:6-8 AMP).

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit;  To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;  To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such tongues]”  (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 AMP).

In PART 2, Operating at MAXIMUM Output, I will try to convey the meanings and the usages of the specific gifts in the Church today.  You might AGREE with my findings and you may DISAGREE, and that’s okay too.  My emphasis is for you to not just identify your particular gifting but to be Operating At MAXIMUM Output through the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

God’s PRINCIPLES About MONEY

GOD IS NOT AGAINST MONEY

“And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply you [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity].”  [10]  “Thus you will be enriched in ALL things and in EVERY WAY, so that you can be generous, and [your generosity as it is] administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God”  [11] – 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 AMP.

Due to a few comments that I have received in the past, I believe there is a misconception among many Christians that God is against MONEY.

Sometimes these misconceptions are taken from the Bible that contain WARNINGS to the RICH and concluded that God is against people with LOTS of MONEY.  The truly BLESSED people are the poor.

My mother used to tell me when I was young and growing up with having the case of the ‘I WANTS’, “Mel, money is the ROOT of all EVIL.”  Scripture doesn’t say this at all.  That verse in 1 Timothy is often misquoted.  What it does say is, “the LOVE of MONEY is the ROOT of all EVIL; it is through this CRAVING…”  (1 Timothy 6:10).

MONEY itself is neither GOOD nor BAD.  If used the way God intended, MONEY can be a tremendous BLESSING.  However, the “LOVE of MONEY” is always BAD!

LOVERS OF MONEY ARE:

1.  SELFISH not selfless.

2.  Place HOPE in their WEALTH and not in God.

3.  Never SATISFIED with what they HAVE and STOP at nothing to GET MORE, no matter who gets HURT in the PROCESS.

LOVERS OF MONEY are the ones Jesus is referring to when He commented,  “It is easier for a CAMEL to go through the eye of a NEEDLE than for a RICH MAN to enter heaven.”  It is this ATTITUDE about MONEY that God is AGAINST, not MONEY itself.

Sermons I’ve heard on GIVING in the past has never been about the BLESSINGS of GIVING but about the RESPONSIBILITY, the LAWS of giving.  The reason I believe that many Pastors shun away from the BLESSINGS of GIVING (especially MONETARY BLESSINGS) is because of the HEALTH and WEALTH Gospel of televangelist profess and espouse.  Most often their MESSAGE is, “Give to me and God will BLESS you with WEALTH.”  They get WEALTHY and the people they cheat get deeper and deeper in a financial bind.

The apostle Paul condemns those, “who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit [a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood]”  (1 Timothy 6:5 AMP).  We are not to GIVE to get!  But understand this much, God promises to BLESS those who GIVE GENEROUSLY if their MOTIVE is to GIVE to GET to GIVE SOME MORE!

The words spoken by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 say that a “Generous GIVERS will be made rich [enriched] in ALL things and in EVERY way.”  He is talking about both SPIRITUAL and MATERIAL blessings.  Yet, the purpose of BLESSING us SPIRITUALLY and FINANCIALLY is so we in turn can “GIVE GENEROUSLY in EVERY WAY.”

Wouldn’t it be great just to write a check one Sunday morning, giving not only GENEROUSLY to the CHURCH but to HELP wherever a NEED arises?  I remember the first time my wife and I did exactly that one morning, over a need from the church we were attending.  We were both prompted by the Holy Spirit, then both wrote down a number on a piece of paper.  We then exchanged the paper and found that the dollar amount was exactly the same.  WE WERE BOTH BLESSED and trusted God would replace the amount given in our checking account.  And He did!

When Christians follow God’s PRINCIPLES about MONEY, concern on where it will come from disappear.  Again, God is the ONE who BLESSES us with MONEY.  He knows what it takes to gain the GREATEST BENEFIT we can from our money.

In Jesus’ SERMON on the MOUNT, He told His listeners:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in)”  (Matthew 6:24).

Our MONEY is not to take the PLACE of God–not to RULE over us.  But neither does MONEY need to CONFLICT with God.  God isn’t AGAINST MONEY because He gives it to us.  IF we understand and grasp the proper RELATIONSHIP between GOD and MONEY, be BLESSED ever more.

GOD WANTS TO BLESS US FINANCIALLY:

God knows that we all need MONEY.  He OWNS everything and reserves the RIGHT to GIVE money and possessions to His SERVANTS.

“The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of host” (Haggai 2:8).

“But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who GIVES you power to GET WEALTH, that He may ESTABLISH His COVENANT which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day”  (Deuteronomy 8:18 AMP).

God is the one who provides MATERIAL WEALTH.  He has nothing against the RICH enjoying their WEALTH.  Apparently it DELIGHTS God to see His children doing well FINANCIALLY as I as a father of my child’s delight in their successes.  In fact, I believe God would rather see His people PROSPER than Satan’s bunch, because Christians are going to GENEROUSLY use their WEALTH to His GLORY.  Maybe that’s the reason Satan wants us to believe that it is more GODLY to be POOR.  So we stay POOR without the ability to FUND the WORK of God.

Now please don’t misinterpret what I am saying here.  I’m NOT saying the Bile teaches that everyone who GIVES GENEROUSLY is going to be FILTHY RICH.  But I do believe the bible teaches God will make sure ALL your NEEDS will be TAKEN care of:

“But seek gain and strive after first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then ALL these things taken together will be given you besides”  (Matthew 6:33 AMP).

Paul told the Philippian brethren since “my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your EVERY need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19 AMP).  This doesn’t mean God will GIVE us EVERYTHING we WANT, but He will TAKE CARE of our NEEDS if we TRUST Him and realize that all we have comes from Him.

Understanding that all we have belongs to God–

UNDERSTANDING this PRINCIPLE gives us balance:

“I was made very happy in the Lord that now you have revived your interest in my welfare after so long a time; you were indeed thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it.  Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have LEARNED how to be CONTENT (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.  I KNOW how to be abased and live humbly in straightened circumstances, and I KNOW also how to enjoy plenty and live in ABUNDANCE.  I have learned in any and ALL circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.  I have STRENGTH for ALL THINGS in christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me;I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency)”  (Philippians 4:10-13 AMP).

If our INCOME is up, PRAISE God and serve Him faithfully without PRIDE or GREED.  And if our INCOME is DOWN, we TRUST God, SERVE Him with what we do have, EXPECT Him to PROVIDE for us as He PROMISED.

How many times have we wondered how we were going to PAY our BILLS; BUY some GROCERIES then somehow it all WORKED out?  That wasn’t an ACCIDENT or HAPPENSTANCE.  God was at WORK, taking CARE of us as He PROMISED!

GOD WANTS US TO BE DEBT FREE:

As I said before, God wants to BLESS US but often our POOR CHOICES BLOCK His BLESSINGS.  That’s especially TRUE when it comes to the FINANCIAL MESS we get ourselves into because of DEBT!

DEBT affects us all–OLD, MIDDLE-AGED and YOUNG alike.  I believe the MAJORITY of Christians in the world who do not GIVE as they SHOULD or would LIKE TO GIVE, but because the BILLS keep building up they don’t.  They’re not STINGY people; not GREEDY or SELFISH nor out to ROB God.  They would LOVE to GIVE more money to the church, but HONESTLY, they don’t see how they can PAY their BILLS too.

DEBT brings us nothing but MISERY–but you see God didn’t CREATE us to be MISERABLE people.  God wants us to be DEBT FREE, not because He’s against the EASY PAYMENT PLAN (Is there really such a thing?) but because He knows our DEBT ENSLAVES us.

You might be thinking by now, “Okay, so God wants us to be DEBT FREE–but what if we were already in DEBT, how do we get out?”

NUMBER ONE ANSWER:  Don’t BORROW any more MONEY:

“Be not one of those who strike hands and pledge themselves, or of those who become security for another’s debtsIf you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take your bed from under you?”  (Proverbs 22:26-27).

This might even mean CUTTING UP your CREDIT CARDS–if you just can’t seem to control your spending.  I have often heard people say, “I just use my CREDIT CARDS for EMERGENCY sake.”  But then temptation arises and you discover you have a lot of RESTAURANT emergencies; WALMART emergencies.  CUTTING UP your CREDIT CARDS may not be for you but if you want to be DEBT FREE, don’t get anymore Credit Cards.  Toss those per-approved credit card applications.  It is called LIVING within our MEANS:

“There are precious treasures and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a self-confident and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it”  (Proverbs 21:20).

Being in the BLACK HOLE of DEBT is because you spent more MONEY than you make.  It’s like the above picture I inserted in this blog of THROWING YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY DOWN THE TOILET!  You need to get on a DEBT REDUCTION PLAN:

“Keep out of debt and owe no man anything except to love one another”  (Romans 13:8).

GOD WANTS US TO GIVE BACK TO HIM:

In Acts 20:35, Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  The question is really,How BLESSED do you want to be?”   Malachi 3:10 says:

“Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove or test Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Some think that was a PROMISE only to the children of Israel.  “God BLESSED them MATERIALLY if they gave 10%, but that PROMISE doesn’t hold TRUE today!” some people think.  But God begins His urging on TITHING by saying, “For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed”  (Malachi 3:6 AMP).

The PROMISE God made to the children of Israel still holds true today because God doesn’t CHANGE and doesn’t LIE.  Beside that, the apostle Paul said that “all Christians are descendants of Abraham by faith” (Romans 4:16).  Therefore we are also “sons of Jacob”, RECIPIENTS of the BLESSING that God PROVIDES to those who TITHE–giving Him 10% of their INCOME!

God said,  “If you bring me the whole TITHE, then I will throw open the floodgates (open the windows-AMP) heaven and pour out so much BLESSING that you will not have room enough for it.”  He is not talking about something we will receive after we DIE and go to HEAVEN.  But a BLESSING we will receive NOW if we only TRUST Him in our GIVING!  God tells us to “Test Me in this.”  The Amplified Bible says, “prove Me now by it”.

The Hebrew word for TEST means “EXAMINE.”  God says to CHECK Him out and see if His WORD is RELIABLE.  This is the only place in Scripture where God says to put Him to the TEST and it’s in the area of GIVING.

Yet this is the one area where we DISTRUST God the most in our Christian lives.  Our American currency says, “In God we TRUST,” but most Christians don’t–not in the area of FINANCES!  God is MAKING A PLEA to His people to TRUST Him in their GIVING so He can BLESS them ABUNDANTLY.  My favorite verse that Jesus speaks in the Bible is John 10:10:

“I came that they [that’s me and you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

Jesus repeats God’s PROMISE:

“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag].  For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you’  (Luke 6:38 AMP).

Are you living in the ‘just enough’?  Do you want to live in the “overflow”? If your answer to these questions is “YES“, remember what is true.  We cannot out give God!

God Thinks You’re Special–Are You Acting Like It?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart”  (Jeremiah 1:5 AMP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  FERTILIZATION in first picture: All human chromosomes are present; unique human life begins on Day one.

2.  Day 22:  heart begins to beat with the child’s own blood in picture two.

3.  Week 3:  By the end of the third week, the child’s backbone spinal column and nervous system are formed; liver, kidneys and intestines take shape.

4.  Week 5:  Eyes, legs, and hands develop.

5.  Week 6:  Brain waves are detectable; mouth and lips are present; fingernails are formed.

6.  Week 8:  Every organ is in place; bones begin to replace cartilage; fingerprints begin to form.  By the 8th week the baby can begin to hear.

WE WHO ARE BORN ARE SPECIAL TO GOD:

Psalm 139–We Are Special

David writes about finding comfort and security in this Psalm to the Chief Musician.  God knows all about him, inside and out.  Job too found comfort in the same fact.

This Psalm of David is composed of 4 poetic paragraphs with 6 verses each:

“O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. [1]  You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand me though afar off. [2]  You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways. [3]  For there is not a word in my tongue [still uttered], but, behold, O Lord,  You know it altogether. [4]  You have beset me and shut me in–behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me. [5]  Your [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it. [6] (Amplified bible).

In the second stanza, verses 7-12; David realizes he can’t escape God who knows everything about him.  God is everywhere; nothing about David escapes God’s awareness for David is special to his Father in heaven.!

“Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence?[7]  If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold,  You are there. [8]  If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, [9]  Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. [10]  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me and the night shall be [the only] light about me, [11]  Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. [12]

Then in the third stanza; verses 13-18, David picks of the idea that he cannot escape from God, even in the darkness.  David applies that darkness to his mother’s womb; God created him there.

God’s total control over David was shown by the fact that He created David; planned his life with great care before he was born.  David and ourselves are special to Him.

“For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. [13]  I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. [14]  My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. [15]  Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. [16]  How precious and weighty also are Your thought to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! {17]  If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand.  When I awoke, [could I count to the end] I would still be with You. [18]  I MUST BE SPECIAL TO YOU LORD.

David concludes in verses 13-24 in application: 

God knows all about him to his present situation

God knows all about the enemies plaguing David.

God knows that David is totally faithful and loyal to Him bringing David comfort.

David concludes as he started.  God knows all about him, and therefore knows the completeness of his devotion.

We are special too!

God knows us perfectly; better than we know ourselves.  God knows every detail of our life because He’s investigated us thoroughly.  So if God knows you inside and out, do you really know who you are physically and spiritually?

Many of us spend a lifetime trying to discover or rediscover  who we are really and yet…there at times seems to be a question mark hanging over our heads.  And, if you know who you are, are you acting like it?

Let me introduce to you two types of individuals in Scripture and see which person best describes who you are?

The Who Ares You s Of 1 Corinthians 2:

Let Me Introduce ‘MR. NATURAL

The natural man of verse 14, is simply a person who lives naturally.  He/she lives a “soulish” life in the old Adamic nature.  Simply put, the natural man is a lost man.  They may be a church member, he or she may be good, moral person but he is lost!

“But the natural, non-spiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated”  (1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP).

Two Truths Made Clear

‘MR NATURAL’ does not appreciate the things of God.  The things of God are but foolishness to the natural man; the word foolishness gives us the English word “Moron.”  To the lost man the things of God and the spiritual things in life are moronic; he doesn’t understand or appreciate any type of spiritual expressions.  When he/she is exposed to the things of God, or to spiritual expression, they become uncomfortable and often respond in one of three ways:

1.  Drop out.

2.  Move out.

3.  Lash out.

Do you know anyone who acts in this manner?

He Does Not Apprehend The Things Of God

What does this mean?  It simply means literally, they are not equipped to receive the things of God and are spiritually dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1).  They cannot grasp the spiritual things.

A person who is physically dead cannot respond to physical stimulus.  By the same token, a person who is spiritually dead can’t respond to spiritual stimulus.

Man is a triune being:

“And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”  (1 Thessalonians 5:23 AMP).

The natural man is two parts alive body and soul but, the primarily part of him, the spirit man can know and respond to God (Genesis 2:17).

‘MR. SPIRITUAL’ – Verses 15-16:

The spiritual man is one who lives supernaturally.  He lives a “spiritual” life that is not in the old Adamic nature; but he lives his life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual man, and every saved person for that matter has two natures:

1.  The old fleshly Adamic nature.

2.  The new spiritual nature.

The spiritual man allows Christ to rule in his life.  Jesus is not just present, He is preeminent; He does not just reside in the spiritual man’s life but He presides over that life!

He Is Capable Of Discernment–the word “judge” means “to examine, to discern.”  The spiritual man is alive in the Spirit; equipped by the Spirit and open to the truths of God.  Is it not foolishness to him but a fountain of life; like food to his hungry soul.

Noteworthy to mention here about the ability to receive and understand the deep things of God.  It doesn’t depend upon your I.Q. or academic ability:

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth).  For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]”  (John 16:13 AMP).

The deep things of God are accomplished through the ministry of Holy Spirit, the life of the yielded believer.

He Is The Cause Of AmazementThe phrase, “yet he himself is judged of not man” (KJV), means “the lost and the worldly” folks around the spiritual man can’t figure him out.  He, and his life, are a mystery to the natural men around him.  He baffles and bothers the man of the world!  He has peace, joy and faith in the midst of trials.  He has standards and convictions, yet he just lives them out; isn’t obnoxious and overbearing about them.  IS THIS YOU?

‘MR. CARNAL’(READ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3):

The carnal man is a believer with two natures like the spiritual man but dominated by the old nature.  He quenches the influence of the Spirit of God in his life.  Often, the carnal believer cannot be discerned from the lost sinner.  A good example is the man named Lot in the Bible.  If you had seen him in Genesis 13 and 19, you might have come to the conclusion that he was a lost man.  But, when you read 2 Peter 2:7, you discover that Lot was righteous but a carnal man.

The verse read above tells us all about the carnal man (Carnality in the life of God’s children is the reason the church lacks power and influence in the community).

The Maturity Of The Carnal Believer:

Paul says the carnal man is a baby; started out the right way when born again but progresses no further.  My wife and I were in Texas the past few weeks and got to meet our new-born great-niece.  She was cute and precious, very “special” to us all.  But babies are designed to grow up and become adults.  The same is true in the spiritual realm.  It is fitting and normal to start out as a baby but tragic to remain one!  The carnal believer suffers from “arrested development.”  They haven’t grown as they should have.  The tragedy here is that God didn’t save us to stay babies.  He saved us to grow into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:13).

The Menu Of The Carnal Believer:

A carnal believer is still on milk spiritually and milk is fine for babies (2 Peter 2:2).  Here is the very reason some people are not growing in the Lord.  As we mature, we are to move beyond the milk of the Word into meatier places of the Word (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Spiritual babies don’t want to go deeper into the things of the Lord than they already are!  If you try to lead them deeper in the Bible, they get spiritual indigestion.  They don’t want to go deeper; they want to come to church, put their mind in neutral and never have to think.  They want to keep it simple and feed on the “gospel-lite”; willing to talk about church, their children and grand-children, their workplace, but nothing deeper.

But when you begin to preach the deeper truths of the Word, calling for commitment and a changed life, they get an upset stomach and spit up all over you.  Parents, does this sound familiar to you when your kids were babies?  But I’m talking about grown-ups here.  You will never get out of the nursery until you begin to dig into the spiritual truth; the deeper truths of the Word of God.

So who are you and how are you acting?  Are you saved, or are you still a natural man?  Are you spiritual?  If you said “Yes” then you probably aren’t!  Are you carnal?  We all are from time to time (Romans 7:14).  If you can see within your present condition the fact you are lost, a natural man, please come to Jesus and be saved!  If you can see you are carnal, acting more like a baby most of the time and not like Jesus, please come and deal with the problem.

God truly thinks you’re special because He knew you in your mother’s womb.   But are you really acting like it?