FAITH: The Ability and Gift to Survive in Difficult Times

Life  like a STAR
LIFE is like a Star

LIFE can be like a star–it has 5-Points:

1.  Journey.

2.  Adventure.

3.  Challenge.

4.  Turning points (crossroad).

5.  Teachable moments.

[I will refer back to the 5-Points from time to time].

PURPOSE:

I have been reading in Paul’s letter to the believers in the church of Galatia this past week and one particular verse almost jumped off the pages of my Bible.  It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve read this verse…but this time, Holy spirit began to speak to my spirit; developing my thoughts in writing THIS POST:

TEXT:  Galatians 5:6

For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything…”

Let me pause here, in mid-sentence and set this bible study up; the point being made by the apostle is not about religious doctrine.  Although Church Doctrine is important, it should not be where we rest our spiritual lives; there’s no place on the 5-point star for Church Doctrine.

“…but only FAITH ACTIVATED and ENERGIZED and EXPRESSED and WORKING through love.”

**The Importance of FAITH in Difficult times–

Having FAITH in difficult times [we all had them or are going through them now] means the ability and gift (Romans 12:3; Matthew 25:15)– to survive–to win against misery, uncertainties,  and calamities:

“…each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God” ~ Rom. 12:3.

“–to each in proportion to his own personal ability” ~ Matthew 25:15.

IT’S GOING TO TAKE A KEY TO UNLOCK THE “DEGREE OF FAITH” CONTAINING OF 17-LETTERS TO MAKE IT! :

**Activate Your Faith**

That 17-LETTER KEY is stronger than the late Napoleon Hill’s Principles of Success from his book (which I read several times years ago to no avail), “Think and Grow Rich”.  THINKING about unlocking life’s successes might fit in the key-hole but it does little in opening the door to surviving in difficult times.  You are going to have to have the RIGHT KEY.

**The KEY to our FAITH found in 17-letters is found in Ecclesiastes 3:1, – “SEASON, TIME, and PURPOSE”. 

FAITH is when God is involved in our affairs and our lives (Daniel 4:17; 1 Corinthians 3:7).  And in The Book of Isaiah we see how God demonstrates His involvement:

“He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]”  (Isaiah 40:29 AMP).

**What are His intentions (purpose and attitude)? :,

“Pilate said to Him [Jesus],   Then You are a King?  Jesus answered:  You say it!  For I am a King.  This is why I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth.  Everyone who is of the Truth [who is a friend of the Truth, who belongs to the Truth] hears and listens to My voice”  (John 18:37 AMP).

So, if you want the ability, the gift to survive, you are going to have to Listen to the Truth.

**All Believers Have Some Measure or Degree Of Faith–

But some believers seem to have more than others.  WHY?  The truth is, I’m not sure some Christians have more than others.  They just seem to use it more.  They have activated their faith with the Owner who not only gave it to them, He purchased it for them.

A FAITH analogy:   It’s Like a Credit Card or an iPhone:

When you receive the new credit card in the mail (or…iPhone at the Apple Store), you cannot use it until… you activate it.

Must Be ACTIVATED to Function Properly!
Must Be ACTIVATED to Function Properly!

 

It’s the same way with FAITH:  You have it, but unless it is activated it profits you nothing.

**God will never bring about any of His great works unless your personal faith is activated!!!!

How then, does one activate their faith?

Lessons learned from”The Fourth Dimension”

Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho is a Christian minister and Senior Pastor/founder of the Yoido Full Gospel Church (Assembly of God) in Korea.  It has the worlds largest congregation with a membership of over one million (2007).  He still conducts two out of the seven services held each week and people have to arrive up to 1-hour early to find a seat.  So I decided to investigate his ideas on FAITH ACTIVATED in a country other than… “Christian America”:

**4-Basic Steps to activate our faith:

STEP ONE:  Envision a clear-cut objective.

Instead of wishing for something to happen or depending on others to pray for your need, envision exactly what you want (need), then activate your faith.

Stop praying vague prayers.  Many people say, Lord, give me what I stand in need of.”  How vague can that be!

When you pray vague prayers, how do you know when they have been answered?  JESUS is on the mainline, tell Him what you want, then envision getting it!

STEP TWO:  Have a burning desire.

God does not like anything “lukewarm”!

“I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth”  (Rev. 3:15-16 AMP).

(The Message):

“I know you inside and out, and find little to My liking.  You’re not cold, you’re not hot–far better to be either cold or hot!  You’re stale.  You’re stagnant.  You make Me want to vomit.”

Are your prayers “lukewarm” in the asking?  You feel that your prayers are going unanswered?

God specializes in the “red-hot.”

GOD doesn't like anything "lukewarm"!
GOD doesn’t like anything “lukewarm”!

When you have a “real hot” desire for something needed in you life and have the FAITH to get it, resources will gravitate towards you.

A NEED is sometimes translated in the Greek language as a “DEMAND”.

In some retail establishments, when you see…lets say, a computer you want to purchase.  You pay for it at the cash-register and then directed to the pick-up counter to receive the merchandise.

A person asks, “Sir, do you have a DEMAND SLIP?”  In frustration, you reply, “I paid for it already. Just give me what I asked for!”  

The store employee, trying to be courteous states:  “Without a  DEMAND SLIP  [‘NEED SLIP’], I can’t honor your request.”

When you have a “need” in your life…

DEMAND SLIP
DEMAND SLIP

When you ASK for a specific NEED (not ‘vague’) in your life, often your desire  isn’t “red-hot”; it’s “lukewarm”; it’s not a fervent request.  A “demand slip” presented when praying specifically simply means, with honor and respect to your Heavenly Father the confidence in the “asking” ; that God WILL supply and not ‘maybe’ supply your needs.

“Red-Hot” Confidence.

“I have the 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 4:13 AMP).

“And 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).

**One definition of FAITH: “Faith is the practical expression of the confidence in God and in His Word.”

STEP THREE:  Maintain assurance.

When you have a clear goal and a burning desire, you pray (ask for) “Blessed Assurance”.  Assurance is the same as having legal papers; a title-deed for something.

In Hebrews 11, the “FAITH CHAPTER”,  I like the way The Amplified bible’s words in translation to VERSE ONE:

“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of the things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality  [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]”  (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

Sometimes, the assurance or legal papers come instantly and sometimes you must wait, no matter how long it takes–but it’s on the way!

STEP FOUR: Speak the Word.

**You show the evidence of your FAITH by speaking the Word:

Miracles are laws (spiritual reality), and “a LAW is a rule or action based on an established fact.” 

If you are driving down a road one afternoon and see a posted sign that reads,  SPEED LIMIT 25 MPH, that is an established LAW or RULE.  Your actions to the fact established will determine the outcome– when you see a red-light flashing in your rear view mirror.

We have endless resources available to us when we speak.  Remember, God is not going to do anything, without it coming through your FAITH!

**Claim and speak words of FAITH instead of “begging” God.

God told Moses, “Moses, Why do you cry to Me?  Tell the people of Israel to go forward!  Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the Israelites shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea”  (Exodus 14:15-16). 

STOP BEGGING and command in FAITH.

“As JESUS passed on…, two blind men followed Him, shouting loudly,  Have pity and mercy on us, Son of David!  When He reached the house and went in, the blind men came to Him, and JESUS said to them,  Do you believe that I am able to do this?  They said to Him,  YES LORD.  Then He touched their eyes, saying,  According to your FAITH and trust and reliance [on the power invested in Me] be it done to you”  (Matthew 9:27-29 AMP).

Using the Four Steps in the 5-Point Stargiven to us by Dr. Cho, will start the process to ACTIVATE your faith.  Can you identify the Four Steps in the two blind men’s miracle?  Come on, the practice and application will be fun and challenging.  Get out a piece of paper and pen and see how many steps presented by Dr. Cho can you find in the above bible verses:

1.  Envision a clear-cut objective.

2.  Have a burning desire.

3.  Maintain assurance.

4.  Speak the word.

After ACTIVATING YOUR FAITH, begin to enjoy the things you’ve envisioned; the things you have a burning desire for, the things you have been assured of having and the things you have spoken the words for.  Because, THINGS DON’T JUST HAPPEN!  It comes down to, a SEASON, a TIME, and a PURPOSE.

 


CAUTION: Careful Thinking Before Walking On Thin Ice!

BLOG’S TEXT–1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (AMP):

[19]  “For although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ].  [20]  To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law.  [21]  To those without (outside) law I became as one without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.  [22]  To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and over-scrupulous.  I have [in sort] become all things to all men,in a that I might by all means (at all costs and by any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ].  [23]  And I do this for the sake of the good news (the Gospel), in order that I may become a participator in it and share in its [blessings along with you].”

THINKING BEFORE YOU TAKE A RISK IN THE “WHAT If’s” OF SOCIETY:

Spectator Sports are a big part of people’s lives everywhere.  Whether it be Soccer, Cricket, Tennis, Golf or in the Pacific Northwest this past week–Playoff Professional Football–the Seattle Seahawks.  Personally, I’m more of a baseball fan, but with Seattle’s lack of success in that area…maybe more of a Football enthusiast of late.  And you are right, just a “fair-weather” sports fan.

5887222774_7f1ccc9f3aCareful Thinking Before Taking Risks–

MY PURPOSE:

My purpose for writing this blog is NOT to “throw rocks” at churches in communities for doing things out of the ‘ordinary’ ; in being transparent ‘real people’ for Christ.  For the apostle Paul did so on many occasions.  My only purpose is to remind church leaders to READ THE CAUTION SIGNS; to THINK first before taking a risk of going against the gospel truth–stepping out on the ice regardless of what the results may be.

A few definitions of the meaning– On Taking Risks

(“Exposure to) the possibility of loss, or other adverse or unwelcome circumstance; a chance or situation involving such a possibility”~ Old English Dictionary.

And… “RISK can be seen as relating to the PROBABILITY OF UNCERTAIN FUTURE EVENTS.”

I ran across a few comments in The Seattle Times, a Seattle based newspaper on how churches would respond on a Sunday morning; when a local sports team was playing the ‘BIG GAME’ at 10 AM PST –[the set-aside time for Worship and Praise for many churches–and not the a pastor’s Message on a stage].

Let me give you just a few of their comments before I proceed with a ‘”Word detective” investigation; on THINKING FIRST before you speak or act in the community of non-believers and… the believing “sheep” of the church.

Seattle area pastors response after holding earlier services on Sunday– that will finish before kickoff and followed by a football watch party:

LOCAL PASTOR:  “…and we will get crap from other churches.”

Just a few miles from Notre Dame University, the lead Pastor  at a local community church noticed that attendance at Saturday services dropped dramatically whenever Notre Dame was playing.  So this season he invited people to watch the games at church on a big-screen TV and attend worship services just before or after the games.  The pastor quotes Scripture, noting that the apostle Paul became “all things to all people” to connect with as wide an audience as possible.  “You adjust your ministry to reach out to people in the most effective way in their culture,” he said.  Is his THINKING incorrect?  That depends and I will investigate in God’s Word regarding actions taken in the ministry of the local church.  Then you can decide.

Now you might be wondering where I’m going with all of this and what does it all have to do with 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, and that is a good question.  For quoting Scripture without putting it in CONTEXT might be seen as relating to the PROBABILITY of uncertain future…taking risks in the outcome.

Different priorities?”–Maybe…

If I saw a sign with the word “CAUTION”, I would be sure to read it in  context–thinking first before ignoring the “why’s” and “the what for’s”before ignoring the warnings.

Before returning to the Bible verses in 1 Corinthians, turn to The Gospel of Matthew to see how Jesus prioritized in a lesson taught:

[24] “When they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the half shekel [the temple tax] went up to Peter and said, Does not your Teacher pay the half shekel?  [25] He answered,  Yes.  And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him [about it] first, saying,  What do you think, Simon?  From whom do earthly rulers collect duties or tribute–from their own sons or from others not of their own family?  [26] And when Peter said,  From other people not of their own family, Jesus said to him,  Then the sons are exempt.  [27] However, in order not to give offense and cause them to stumble [that is, to cause them to judge unfavorably and unjustly] go down to the sea and throw in a hook.  Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find there a shekel.  Take it and give it to them to pay the temple tax for Me and for yourself”  (Matthew 17:24-27 AMP).

Now Jesus certainly wasn’t libel to pay any tribute, but a lesson needed to be understood by His disciples.  I love the word, HOWEVER ” in Scripture.  It tells us that ‘in spite of what was just said…’  there is more to come.  And JESUS continues the conversation…in order not to give offense and cause them to stumble…”  (verse 27).

So the FREEDOM that comes with Christianity also comes with cautions/warnings.  And thinking about the cautions before taking a risk in an outreach ministry, can sometimes put you in a place of inaction in the community of believers.  Everyone, and I mean everyone is watching!

It’s Like Walking On A Razor’s Edge–

1 Corinthians 9:19, 22:

“I’ve made myself slave to all” (verse 19)   AND   “I have become all things to all men”  (verse 22).

CAUTION: You are on the brink of idolatry, compromise and worldliness to sin–you are walking the razor’s edge between fruitless separation and unprincipled expediency.

If you fall one way, you are no use–no connection with the world; fall the other way, you are no use because you are just like the world.

How then does a person keep their FAITH and their FREEDOM and their RADICAL ZEAL to win people to Christ and not just copy people?  The answer is, thinking hard about your relations to the Law of God–the way Paul did.

Long ago, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the philosopher prophet of the twentieth century, warned us that America had become a part of “the post-Christian culture.  Today we have almost been silenced by anti-Christian forces claiming that we are trying to impose moral values on this rampant decadence.  The truth is that they have tried to impose their immoral values on us.  They are generally doing a better job of corrupting society than we are of cleansing it.  May God help us to become the restraining influence we should be on a corrupt world.   From Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins’  A 90-Day Devotional PERHAPS Living Every Day In The Light Of Christ’s Return TODAY-page 60.

A “Priority”–

If the church spent as much time and effort on preparing to WORSHIP and PRAISE on Saturdays and Sundays–regardless of the clock–, as the world prepares to celebrate and give glory to football teams, then the churches in America would be filled to capacity–without gimmicks, or new programs.  Ask yourself the question: How are we prioritizing in ministry to reach the city for Christ?

“Gut Check”–

I once invited a co-worker to attend a morning church service with my family.  His response was somewhat shocking to me at first because I wasn’t thinking that I would get the following response:

I’ve been there done that before.  Get up on my day-off and go to church and noticed that the people in church were not any different in their actions than the people I hang out with at the local PUB on Saturday nights.  So why bother to get up on Sunday?  I’ll just have my own church at home.  Thanks for the invite, but I’ll pass.”   OUCH!

“My priority is to win unsaved people in the community and bring them to Christ–at any cost!”

A noble statement, but is it the real reason of your actions, are you thinking of the outcomes before you become an ambassador of Christ?  Is your FAITH in the outcome of your ‘doing’ activated by LOVE (Galatians 5:6) or is SELF the activator?

The ‘Frank Sinatra Syndrome’:

A lawyer asked Jesus a question to test Him:  Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principle kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light–which are heavy?]    And He replied to him,  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.    This is the great (most important, principle) and first commandment.    And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.  (Matthew 22:36-39).

What Human Needs Are–

Unless our entire body, soul, and spirit are totally in love with Jesus–we will be ineffective in loving ourselves.  And if you can’t love yourself then how can you be effective in your city, your church, etc.?

The psychologist Abraham Maslow has given us a theorist list of human needs, essentials in society:

1.  Safety/Security–the need for structure, predictability, stability and freedom from fear and anxiety.

2.  Belongingness/LOVE–the need to be accepted by others and to have strong personal ties with one’s family, friends, and identifying groups.

3.  Self-esteem–the need to be recognized by oneself and others.  Also includes the need to know that one has some effect on her/his environment.

4.  Personal fulfillment–the need to reach one’s potential in all areas of life.

5.  Identity–goes beyond a psychological “sense of self'”.  Theorists define identity as a sense of self in relation to the outside world.

6.  Cultural security–is related to identity; the need for recognition: one’s language, traditions, religion, cultural values, ideas, and concepts.

7.  FREEDOM/Liberty–is the condition of having no physical, political, or civil restraints; having the capacity to exercise choice in all aspects of one’s life.

8.  Participation–is the need to be able to actively partake in and influence society.

Now are these “HUMAN NEEDS” inclusive in TAKING RISKS?  Maybe.  When I first investigated this area of basic human needs, something jump off the viewpoints of the theorists:  SELF–“I have a need to be LOVED, to have IDENTITY, SELF-ESTEEM, ETC.”  I like to call it The ‘Frank Sinatra Syndrome’--I want to do it “my way”.  That only edifies your/my SELF IMPORTANCE and not the LOVE OF JESUS.

“CAREFUL THINKING [IN LIBERTY/FREEDOM] BEFORE TAKING RISKS”:

Galatians 5:13 AMP:

“For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom (liberty); only [do not let your] FREEDOM [LIBERTY] be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.”  (I added the word “liberty”  to the AMP).

What then is our Liberty, our freedoms in our cities as Christians?

1.  Liberty is constrained by our love of Jesus–if you do not LOVE Christ, forget all the rest of the principles and do it your way.

2.  Liberty/Freedom SHOULD NOT cause another person to stumble, be made weak, or turn from Christ–This is a MAJOR POINT!  It’s the only one that says that a person sins against Christ.  And “that person” can be a “non-believer” or a “believer” in Christ.

3.  Liberty should be edifying–does your liberty build up the body of Christ?

4.  Liberty should not be enslaving.

5.  Liberty should always glorify Jesus–does your freedom truly bring glory to Jesus?

6.  Liberty should help you toward your goal Goad has set.

7.  Liberty should be worthy of the TRUTH–the Gospel–does your liberty hinder the gospel of Christ?

Are you a C.I.N.O.? (Christians in name only):

The principles I have laid down for you [‘recognizer of God’s truth’ contained in the Gospel message] and are but CAUTION SIGNS to make you think first before stepping out on the slippery ice and taking a risk of  falling through.  There’s no such thing a “part-time Christians’ recorded in the Bible.

Self-denial first–

God’s Word confirms this principle, when the apostle Paul tells the believers in the city of Corinth:

“For the LOVE of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died;    And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake”  (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 AMP).

One important characteristic for all of us who profess our belief in Christ Jesus and so necessary for church leaders is self-sacrifice: giving up our rights for the benefits of others and for the glory of God.

2963891607_de1f38bb32

Why?  Because a leaders life is so determinative, influential in the cities and on other people.  And you know if Christ Jesus and His Word are being emphasized– and it’s not all about you, then wearing a button on your shirt won’t be necessary.  The city will know who you represent.  Careful thinking first and  LIVE LIKE JESUS–SHARE HIS LOVE!

The Echo of Voices In Our Cities

A Voice Out Of The Past–

A VOICE FROM THE PAST
Hearing Voices

One morning at work, while sitting over a desk of paperwork, the phone on my desk rang:

MY VOICE:  Hello…

VOICE FROM THE PAST:  Hi, is this Mel?

MY VOICE:  Yes it is, who’s this?

VOICE FROM THE PAST:  This is Tom.  Do you remember me?

I had to take a pause from concentrating on the work at my desk, but yes, I did remember Tom.  We both worked at the same employer in San Diego years before.  As I remember, Tom knew that I was a Christian and always had many questions about the FAITH.  I used to tell him, “Tom, I’ll try to answer your questions AFTER work.  We don’t want to steal time from our employer [‘time is money’–in stealing time you are stealing money as well!].  So without fail, Tom would stop by my desk after work and I would attempt to answer his questions.  And if I didn’t have the answers, I would tell him, “I’ll find the answer and get back to you.”

MY VOICE:  Sure Tom.  Of course I remember you.  We had a lot of neat conversations at work.  How are you and your family doing these days?

Tom had been promoted to Branch Manager within the same company.  And at that time, I was Branch Manager in Renton, Washington and Tom’s responsibilities were in Ventura, California.

I Can Hear the Sound of A Waterfall
I Can Hear the Sound of A Waterfall

TOM’S VOICE:  Mel, I wanted to call you and give you some good news.  The words that you shared with me after you were transferred kept echoing in my mind.  You know, like the sound of a waterfall in the distance; even before you see it, you can still hear it in the distance.  It keeps drawing you towards the source. 

About 6 months ago, my wife and I accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Our family is attending a WORD based church and I wanted to thank you for sharing Jesus with me after work.  I thought by calling you and telling you my story, it would encourage you to continue sharing Christ with others as I’m doing.

JESUS knew I needed a reminder of continuing in the FAITH– by sharing the Gospel Message.

1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER ONE (Open your Bibles next to your computer):

In Paul’s day…

Two-hundred thousand people lived in Thessalonica.  Most of the inhabitants were Greeks but also many Romans and a strong Jewish minority.

In Acts chapter 17, Luke records for us Paul’s initial visit to Thessalonica–where he spent 3 weeks teaching and preaching in the local synagogues.  Luke mentions…

“And Paul entered, as he usually did, and for three Sabbaths he reasoned and argued with them from the Scriptures,  Explaining to [them] and [quoting passages] setting forth and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead and saying,  This Jesus, Whom I proclaim to you is the Christ (the Messiah–the Savior)”  (Acts 17:2-3 AMP).

Now THAT is the simple GOSPEL MESSAGE.  No religious words of the day but an explanation of who JESUS is–the Savior of the world.  And in response to Paul’s communicating the Scriptures simply…some Jews, a large number of God–fearing Greeks and some prominent women were persuaded by the Resounding Gospel Message through Paul and accepted Christ JESUS.

A “RESOUNDING” MODEL:

“You’re a MODEL–student.”

“He is a MODEL–father.”

“She is a MODEL–mother.”

“Joe is a MODEL–employee.”

What does it mean to be a MODEL?

It means, we are to do something so well that warrants others doing the same thing.  Listen carefully to what Paul says to the young church who had gathered to hear his words read from a letter:

“And so you became a MODEL to ALL the BELIEVERS in Macedonia and Achaia.  The Lord’s message RANG OUT from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your FAITH in God has become known everywhere.  Therefore we do not need to say anything about it”  (1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8 NIV).

“Rang Out” or “Sounded Out”–

The words refer to the sounding of a trumpet, and the idea is, that the gospel was proclaimed like a sonorous voice of a trumpet (or a “waterfall”) echoing and re-echoing from place to place [Isaiah 58:1; Revelation 1:10].

Their influence had an effect in diffusing the Gospel in other places, other than the confines of church walls.

What is Paul saying about the new Thessalonian assembly of believers?

He is saying, being a MODEL to all believers…he is saying, that ALL believers can learn something by living the Christian life from them–even you!

Paul is saying, if a church or any Christian, are like those in Thessalonica–they will be well rooted and well on their way down the right path…

WHAT CAN WE TODAY LEARN FROM THE “MODEL CHURCH”?

In Paul’s closing of this letter, he makes a statement not found in any other of his letters.  He writes [HELLO CHURCH]:

“I solemnly charge you [in the name of] the Lord to have this letter read before all the brethren”  (1 Thess. 5:27 AMP).

Why was the Thessalonian church a MODEL for ALL churches and for ALL believers?  And why, was their FAITH worth talking about?  What were they doing that was so right?

For us to answer these questions, we are going to have to take a closer look at the MODEL–to listen to the “echoing of voices”– echoing and re-echoing off the canyon walls of the town and city where we are living.

We Are To MODEL Their Work And Labor–

“We continually remember before our God and Father your WORK produced by FAITH…”  (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV).

In the Amplified version, the word “energized by faith“…  That seems to agree with what JAMES says in the 2nd chapter of his letter that FAITH  “without works is dead…”   When simply put means, true faith will always result in works for God.

BUT, can we have WORKS without FAITH?  Can something besides FAITH produce works…?  (sure, for some their work is produced by)… guilt, duty, selfish ambition or no one else will do it.

Yes, you can work without FAITH, but you can not have FAITH without works.  “Is it a JOB or MINISTRY?”

We Also Need To MODEL Their Labor–

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your LABOR prompted by LOVE…”

The word that is translated “LABOR”, means: a beating or the weariness caused by beating…  It also means: the exertion that brings weariness…  It was used to describe the tiring that one undergoes in battle.

LABOR isn’t described as having a good time (right ladies?)…  It’s one thing to be mentally willing; to do the LABOR of the Kingdom–but it’s also quite another; to be made weary by it–to be afflicted by it–to groan because of the struggle required in order to accomplish the task.  If that is the case, why would someone LABOR…in the Kingdom?– What could possibly motivate someone to undergo such exertion?

PAUL says the motive is…LOVE!

But LOVE for who?  Not for ourselves…it’s the LOVE OF SELF–the desire for ones own personal comfort that causes so many to simply drop out or refuse to LABOR in the Kingdom.

Mark 12:28-34 [READ] gives us the MOTIVE for the driving force behind our LABOR in the Kingdom–we must LOVE for God’s sake and for the LOVE of others…  Any other MOTIVE won’t do, any other reason is weak and won’t last.

WE NEED TO MODEL THEIR “ENDURANCE”:

“…and your ENDURANCE inspired by HOPE…” 

The word translated as ENDURE (NIV), means so much more than patience (KJV)…  It means:  to stay alive, to stand firm–to endure–to bear–to suffer–

It was used to describe the bearing pain by the wounded–heroism in the face of bodily suffering.  And the apostle Paul tells us, the church in Thessalonica suffered (1 Thess. 2:14).  What was it that inspired that kind of endurance?  IT WAS HOPE–not just any HOPE…the HOPE of Christ’s return.

ENDURANCE in the things that life brings–

A lot of people I’ve met over the years in my Christian life have placed their HOPE in the wrong things:

–Their money,

–Their home,

–Their job,

–Their looks,

–Their children,

–Their spouse,

–Their financial stability

Or, in SUCCESS AND PRAISE FROM MAN…or in a bottle or a pill. 

Those “things” will not long endure.  If you want to really ENDURE in your life–not just for a couple of months or a few years–you need to put your HOPE in Christ Jesus!  The ONE who rescued you from dying–and is able to carry you home!

I love the words laid down for us in an OLD HYMN–not sung much anymore and I wonder sometimes…WHY?

MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHINGNESS THAN JESUS BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.  I DARE NOT TRUST THE SWEETEST FRAME, BUT WHOLLY LEAN ON JESUS NAME.  ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND; ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND, ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND.

“SINKING SAND” or “SOLID ROCK” Faith?

The “Echos” of Discipleship -Making in the city–

Paul, Silas and Timothy were “church planters” and the Thessalonian church wasn’t an exception.  They went on a journey for disciple-making and not just for converts.  They were passionate as they planted disciple-making churches and as they did so…through the Holy Spirit traveling along side of them, turned the Roman empire upside-down.  Do you want to turn your city upside-down?  Then be specially attentive to what I’m about to tell you.

They were not satisfied or content with seekers, supporters, sympathizers, admirers, attenders, or converts.  They were all about hearing the echos of the voices in the cities they visited.

TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:  “What is the difference between being a Christian and being a Disciple”–“What is a Disciple-Making Church?”

My thoughts on the two questions concerning American churches across the land is a simplifying, streamlining, dumbing down the answers.

Apparently, we seem to want to make converts, not disciples of Jesus.  The two are not the same and clearly, you can be saved; born again believers without being a disciple.  BUT you cannot be a disciple without being a Christian.

Giving Birth–

A woman was in the hospital giving birth to to her first baby.  When the pain and contractions increased, she grabbed her nurse, pulled her closed and screamed, “IS THE HARD PART OVER?”

The nurse smiled and said, “Honey, this is the easy part.  The hard part is the next 18-years!”

The Need In Our Cities Is Simple–We Need More Echoing Voices!

Resounding Voices
Resounding Voices

Being Imitators– 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 (a):

You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with joy given by the Holy Spirit.  And so you became a model to all the believers…   The Lord’s message rang out... 

IT RANG OUT SO LOUD AND CLEAR THAT IT ECHOED IN THE CITIES!

The Greek word “memeomai” means: imitator, imitation and the English words, mimic and mimeograph come from the same source.  We live in a world that loves to mimic–that just has to imitate.  Imitate clothing styles, celebrities, even our pastors.

BUT the question arises, JUST WHO WERE THE THESSALONIAN DISCIPLES IMITATING–who were they mimicking in their daily lives?  Paul says, “YOU BECAME IMITATORS OF US AND OF THE LORD…”

When the 12- disciples followed JESUS in His ministry, He mentored, taught by word and example.  It might have taken three years of disciple-making on Jesus’ part, but He knew that it must be done accomplish the task given to Him.

“Lifestyle Evangelism”–

When the people in Thessalonica saw the way the disciple-making church…

How they treated each other,

How they served the Lord,

How they talked–how they lived…

When people in the cities saw them–they said, “HEY I KNOW WHO THESE GUYS REMIND ME OF–THESE GUYS REMIND US OF JESUS, YEAH THAT’S WHO…”

ARE YOU READY TO BE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS–TO BE AN IMITATOR OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD–A VOICE ECHOING IN YOUR CITY?

The believers in the Thessalonian assembly were–The Echoing of Voices that ARE STILL being heard!  And they are a DISCIPLE-MODEL for us…for you!

Are the churches in your city listening, or have they forgotten the model?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”  (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

THE IMPERFECT ARE…PERFECT!

TWO CHURCH LADIES CHATTING–

Two Mothers Chatting
Two Mothers Chatting

FIRST LADY–my son is a saint, works hard, doesn’t smoke and hasn’t look at a woman in over two years.

SECOND LADY–well, my son is a saint himself, not only hasn’t he looked at a woman in over three years, but he also hasn’t touched a drop of liquor in all that time.

FIRST LADY–my word, said the first mother, you must be so proud.

SECOND LADY–I am, and when he gets paroled next month, I’m going to throw him a big party!

The Church of God (not a denominational idea):

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours:”  (1 Corinthians 1:2 NIV).

Not a new idea–

All over the OT we see examples of people who were not what we might consider as…wonderful.  Abraham and Jacob were not wonderful and yet, God declared them Holy as we do today in reference.

You see, God sees the future; He knows what we are not yet and He also knows what we will, not can, but will become.  And God doesn’t do this in hopelessness.  Those He declares holy, sanctified, He will accomplish His work in them.

God is not fooled–

God sees the future and so Paul, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares the people in the church (assembly) of God in Corinth–HOLY.

WE ARE CALLED TO A BETTER LIFE:

We are called to be a part of God’s special people known as… the church of the set apart.

We should be different; we should stand out and therefore be different–recognizably different in our community where we reside.  We see this in verse 2 of 1 Corinthians 1:  Paul wants the Corinthians to be different.

The Salutations of a Letter–

Paul begins, “To the church of God in Corinth”, which doesn’t exactly sound particularly moving.  It sounds like a nice hello.  But Paul is choosing to address them as the church (assembly) of God in Corinth for a reason.

Paul uses the word e?kklhsi%a” in verse 2, which means church in English.  At this time in the Greek language–which Paul is writing in–simply means “Assembly”.

If someone said they were going to church e?kkljsi%a”, it could have meant to others:

Secular assembly,

Gladiator,

A play,

A Civic assembly,

The mayor was speaking,

Or really, any kind of religious assembly–Pagan, Jewish, Christian.  There wasn’t Christian connotations as we have today.

So Paul chooses to make a distinction from other kinds of churches, that is assemblies, by calling them the Church of God in Corinth.  He wanted them to know to specifically to stand out, and be unique among the other churches in the city.

Paul doesn’t always do this:  1:2…To the churches in Galatia–he doesn’t always say church of God, but here in Corinthians 1…he does specifically.  He wants them to know how uniquely the church of God is to stand out from the others in town.  Calling it THE CHURCH OF GOD has the implication that divine action formed it.  Since it is not merely a gathering, it’s a gathering with the founding of God.  Have I confused you?  I hope not.  Let’s go into the Word a little deeper.

‘What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth’–

Corinth's Location
Corinth’s Location

Where the city was located is at the end of a narrow strip of land called “the bridge of Greece.”  Ships were moved over a narrow slice of land by rolling logs be slave power, so they could save time on their journey–time IS money.

While the sailors waited for their ship to be moved, they of course spent time in Corinth.  Their philosophy wasn’t, “what goes on in Corinth, stays in Corinth.”  That would be to tame.  It might have sounded more like “Everyone knows what goes on in Corinth–and we don’t care!”

Think of the most morally corrupt place you can think of in the world–or perhaps in the community you might live in.  That would be rated G next to Corinth.  This wouldn’t be your first choice in raising a family, nor a place where you would think Christians lived.

Now as a church you would think it would be fairly easy to be different from everyone else living in your community.  But incredibly we see the church here having a very difficult time being different.  The same ‘difficulty’ can arise in the workplace too–being different.  You don’t want to stick out, be called a religious kook–you just want to fit in.

But more than that, Paul says…, The Imperfect Is Perfect–God calls the imperfect–to be perfect.  Now the Corinthian church was far from perfect.  Probably farther from perfect than any other NT church…Very Far.

Yet Paul says, 1 Corinthians 1:2…, “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy”–these folks, if you’ve just thumbed through the letter, is not acting sanctified–not acting holy.

Now Paul is very aware that they were not acting holy, yet he knows God declares them sanctified and holy even though they are not.  And many times, what Paul says often makes no sense to some Bible commentators.  How can he say they are holy then proceed to tell them in his letter how unholy they are?  So they think Paul is being sarcastic with his words.  Funny thing is, I found no evidence of this–in the grammar, the words chosen, context–nothing that would lead to sarcasm.

God does the unfathomable–

He call us holy, sanctified–even if all the evidence is to the contrary.  You might be thinking at this point How can that be?  We are holy because God says so!  Not because of how good we are, but because of how good God is!

JESUS CHRIST is our Mediator and it is through His death and resurrection that makes us holy.  We cannot SAVE ourselves.  Only by God’s grace (unmerited favor) can we be saved, and in the same way we are sanctified–made holy–not making ourselves holy, but by the choice and grace of God.

“I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus”  (1 Cor. 1:4 AMP).

Now in observation, they’re sinners.  But because of their position before God, they were pure saints.  This is so important for us to remember our position in Christ because, we too are made holy; sanctified and set apart.  Therefore, we are to ACT HOLY.

Because we are of Christ Jesus, we are to be different and live our lives matching to who we are.

Live Better Than A Bottomless Cup of Coffee–

1 Corinthians 1:5: 

“[So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched in full power and readiness of speech…”

I love the words Paul uses here–ENRICHED IN FULL POWER.  Merriam-Webster definition:

“To make rich or richer especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient.”  

Like a ‘bottomless cup of coffee–you don’t have to get from your place of studying God’s Word to get another cup of coffee in the kitchen–your cup is bottomless; it’s enriched!

The Greek’s Idea of Success–

The Greeks valued the ability to speak well and obtain a high level of knowledge.  Most of the Corinthians never achieved this in society and today, most of us haven’t either.

Paul, here uses this phrase  “…in all your speaking and in all your knowledge”–to show them they already have what is most valued.  They don’t have to seek to obtain what the Greeks value.  God has given them ALL they need.

So, “Lets Just Do it!”

God will give you the words to say.

God will give you the knowledge you need.

An Unlimited Power Supply Is Available–

Plugging In
Plugging In

1 Corinthians 1:7:

“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed”  (NIV).

The CHURCH Waiting Patiently
The CHURCH Waiting Patiently

The church in Corinth was not lacking in spiritual gifts.  What they were lacking was spiritual maturity.  Notice they were waiting…and in their waiting they had been given the ultimate POWER SUPPLY until the Lord Jesus returns.  They needed to ‘plug in’ to the Source!

The Must’s In our Lives–Think and Act God Centered!

1 Corinthians 1:9:

“God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord”  (AMP).

We like the Corinthians were not called into the greatest social and humanitarian group ever.  We were called into a spiritual body founded by the greatest Person that ever walked the earth, who is coming back one day to reclaim His Bride; the Church.

This doesn’t mean we are to have our heads in the clouds; that we are not to be social or merciful–we are–but we are to be spiritual first.  All of our social and humanitarian experiences are to be informed by the spiritual and led by the spiritual–our Lord Jesus Christ.  All the rest–the giving, the sharing, the loving… will then follow.

This is what the apostle does…

In the Letter of First Corinthians, Paul knows the assembly gathered in a sinful city are SANCTIFIED; made HOLY–CALLED BY GOD.  And yet–they needed to live a GOD CENTERED LIFE.

Unlike those around them–in the cities, in the community, in the work place–he tells them,

“And He will establish you to the end guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”  (1 Cor. 1:8 AMP).

AMEN and AMEN!

Wishin’ and Hopin’ in the New Year!

“Wishing” We Didn’t Have to Say “Goodnight”–

In 1964, my lovely bride and I were married!  On our romantic dates, leading up to September 26, 1964, I would drop her off at her house, walk her to the front door where we would often stand on the porch (depending on the time on the clock), singing the songs that were currently popular and playing on the radio.

“Hoping” to Meet Curfew!

Although Dianne was 20 years old at the time, a 2-AM Curfew was to be strictly enforced or…TROUBLE!  Dianne’s mother would often raise her voice from behind the closed front door,  “Dianne, be quiet. Your dad is asleep!”  That was my future mother-in-law’s way of telling us…it’s late and there will be no ‘hanky-panky’ out there.  What will all the neighbors think while peeking out between their curtains?  One neighbor came out one night to water her garden–at 1:30 AM!

It was a small neighborhood and everyone knew everyone’s business.  I wished we could have stayed outside singing until the sun would rise–but hoping– ‘restriction in dating’ wouldn’t be necessary– as long as…we were obedient to her mom and dad’s rules.

One of my favorite singers back in the olden’ days was Dusty Springfield.  There was one particular song she recorded in 1964, “Wishin’ and Hopin’ “.  For you older readers, do you remember some of the words?

Just wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

planning and dreaming…

The song by the way, wasn’t a ‘religious’ number emphasizing the practice of how to pray in life.  It was a secular song about finding LOVE in your life from someone else.  And if you are wondering where I’m taking all this, let me direct you to grab your Bible and turn with me to the Book of  1 John 2:28-3:1-3 AMP:

What Does HOPE Have to Do With It?

THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!
THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!

1 John, Chapter 2:

[28]  And now, little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming.  [29]  If you know (perceive and are sure) that He [Christ] is absolutely righteous (conforming to the Father’s will in purpose, thought and action), you may also know (be sure) that every one who does righteously [and is therefore in like manner conformed to the divine will] is born (begotten) of Him [God]. 

1 John, Chapter 3:

[1]  SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God!  And so we are!  The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.  [2]  Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children, it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.  [3]  And every one who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure–chaste, undefiled, guiltless.”

“HOPE” and “WISHES”–the Differences:

I read an article by Tonya Sheridan in preparation for our study that mentioned the differences between “hoping and wishing”:

A WISH is something that you desire to come true but no basis in reality.  It’s passive, can lead to frustration, even depression.  HOPING is having a DESIRE with REAL EXPECTATION.  To HOPE is believing the things you hope for can happen because you’ve invested time, energy, and passion toward making them happen.

An example of WISHING might sound something like this:  Lord, I’ve been unemployed now for too long!  I WISH you would give me a new job. 

The the Lord would answer by responding to your WISH:  I wish you had a job too! 

HOPING for a job would be praying that God would open the doors of opportunity today, and in HOPING…you actually start looking in confidence.  HOPE is a DESIRE coupled with DISCIPLINE.  God will do His part–you need to do your part.  You have to walk through the open door of opportunity.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says, HOPE in the New Testament is a ‘favorable and confident expectation’–I like to add a few words to the definition:  With an outstretched neck!

Scripture Examples of “HOPE”:

Ephesians 4:4 – “[THERE IS] one body and one Spirit–just as there is also ONE HOPE [that belongs] to the calling you received–“

The “HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE”:  Titus 1:2, and 3:7

Titus 1:2:  “[Resting] in the hope of eternal life, [life] which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began.”

Titus 3:7:  “…and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.”

(i.e., “the full manifestation and realization of that life which is already in the believer’s possession.)

The Subject of HOPE–

One of the great themes in the Bible is based on HOPE.  The word occurs over 50 times in the New Testament.

To a BELIEVER:  HOPE is our strength to live healthy, godly, productive lives.  We depend greatly on this element of HOPE that was placed in hearts at accepting Jesus Christ as savior.

Without HOPE, for the unbeliever and the Believer, there is really no reason to expand effort; a state of hopelessness is closely related to a state of death.  HOPE is essential to the human soul, as water or food is to our physical bodies.  And a life without hope is a ‘living hell’.  In fact, it’s one thing that will make hell unbearable!–the absolute absence of HOPE!

GUESS WHO’S HAVING A YARD SALE?

Devil's Yard Sale
Devil’s Yard Sale

The Devil was having a yard sale and all of his tools were marked the name and price.  They were tools like hatred, lust, jealousy, deceit, lying, and pride.  All were carrying a HIGH PRICE TAG!

The Oldest Tool!
A Well-Worn Tool

But set to one side, there was a tool more worn than any other tool.  It was the most costly of the tool inventory.  The tool was labeled, DISCOURAGEMENT.

When asked why this tool was priced so high, the Devil answered,  “It’s more useful to me than any other tool.  When I can’t bring my victims down with any of these other tools, I use DISCOURAGEMENT–sweep them away!  That’s because most of them don’t even realize it belongs to me.”  Have you ever had that tool used on you?  Have you ever lost your JOY because you lost your HOPE?

The apostle Paul wrote to the ROMAN Christians, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing  (bubbling over) with hope”  (Romans 15:13 AMP).

Have you ever been around a person overflowing in hope?  When I’ve been around a person like that, I want to get all the overflow of hope I can!

A Person Who Is Overflowing With HOPE–

Paul says that person–has the POWER of the Holy Spirit who is also full of joy and peace.  Those are the things that accompany HOPE.  It is amazing what a person full of HOPE can accomplish.

But the Devil also knows that godly hope is a powerful thing.  He will do everything he can to rob you of your confident expectation in God.

THE ISSUE OF FAITH AND HOPE–CAN’T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER!

If I were to ask you a question right now:  “What are you looking forward to in the New Year?”  How would you answer?  Then, if I were to strengthen that question, asking, “What are you living for?”  I would be touching on the issue of HOPE.

“For in [this] HOPE we were saved.  But HOPE [the object of] which is seen is not HOPE.  For how can one HOPE for what he already sees?  But if we HOPE for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure”  (Romans 8:24-25).

Having HOPE and having FAITH are two of God’s gifts–

1.  HOPE provides purpose and well-being in our belief.

2.  FAITH gives us the strength to keep hoping which in turn, makes us optimistic and loving.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is the one in Hebrews 11–the FAITH Chapter:

“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality  [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]”  (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

FAITH is enduring–

Isaiah 7 verse 9 says, “If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.”  God’s promise to us if we continue to endure, continue to carry on–God will provide for ALL of our needs.

God asks simply for HOPE and FAITH–

Bringing your umbrella when you are faithful–it will rain.

Bring your Bible when you are faithful–you want to share the Word.

Bring your heart when you faithfully want to love someone.

Be HOPEFUL and Be FAITHFUL and God will show you what goodness can come by simply having HOPE and FAITH!

What I Uncovered This Detective Investigation of 1 John 3:1-3:

1 John 3:1:  WHAT WE ARE.

1 John 3:2:  WHAT WE SHALL BE.

1 John 3:3:  WHAT WE SHOULD BE.

First John 3:1:  TELL US what we are and First John 3:2:  TELLS US what we shall be.  The reference here, of course is to the time of Jesus’ coming back for His Bride, the Church.  And although today’s conservative churches confess they believe it, ESCHATOLOGY has become a dormant message from pulpit these last days.  Although, this message of Christ’s return was mentioned in 1 John 2:28 as an incentive of holy living, now it’s repeated once more in the Third Chapter of First John, verse 2.

God’s Love For Us–

God’s LOVE doesn’t stop at the new birth, it continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ.  When the Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him (Phil. 3:20, 21).

This means, of course, we will have new, glorified bodies, suited for heaven [NOT Asbestos, fire-proofed clothing].  But the apostle doesn’t stop here!

He has told us what we are and what we shall be.  Now in 1 John 3:3, he tells us what we should be.

In the HOPE of Christ’s return, we are to keep our lives CLEAN (purified)–

God works through our circumstances:

“Such HOPE never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s LOVE has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:5 AMP).

That’s why John says…all those who have this kind of hope–this certainty–and understands this process, PURIFIES THEMSELVES, even as Christ is PURE!  (1 John 3:3).

But you say,  “Purify myself?  That is the one thing I can’t do.”  And that IS true.  God knows that.  So what does God mean when He says, purify yourself?

You purify yourself when you use the means He’s provided.  You mothers know how this works.

Your little boy has been playing outside and comes to the supper table–covered in dirt.  You send him to the bathroom to purify himself.  And like ALL boys, he turns on the water, runs his hands through it–turns the water off, wipes his hands on the towel, then comes back to the family table.  I know this from personal experience (I was a young boy and I had a son).

And as my mom said to me as she looked me over,  “But you’re not clean.”

Mel:  “Well, I washed myself.”

Mel’s Mom:  “But look at the dirt on your hands and arms, on your face, behind your ears.  You’re not all clean.”

Then every wise mother (my mom was very wise) asks, “Did you use soap?”  Of course he hasn’t, so she sends him back TO USE SOAP.

What is SOAP?

— It is a purifying agent, a cleansing agent.

It will do the job if it is employed.

So when he comes back the second time, he has washed with SOAP;  the SOAP has cleansed him, purified him.  Now he says,

“Look Mom, I’ve cleaned myself up!”  It is true that he did it, but he did it by using his mother’s provision.

THE “PROVISION” FOR OUR CLEANSING:

1.  The WORD of God.

2.  The Spirit of God.

1 John 1:7:  “But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and 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 1:9:  “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”.

This is significant for Believers, and we must begin to take seriously the break in fellowship with Christ Jesus; because of an impatient spirit, an ugly word, a lustful idea, or a thought we have dwelt on, for oh to long.

The stain of it–

It doesn’t disappear with passage of time.  It interferes with our fellowship with the Son of God–we must do something about it.  We can’t simply forget it.

We must PURIFY OURSELVES by using His provision so we might become clean!  That is our desire, our HOPE within us.

I HOPE now, you’ve made a distinction for the upcoming New Year–Wishin’ for things to come won’t bring the desired result.  Only your heartfelt expectation with an “outstretched neck”, will you see the desired results.