“To Brag or Not to Brag,” that Is the question.

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Jeremiah 9:23-24, Philippians 3:3-11

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I stole the title for this blog from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To be or not to be, that is the question…”  You’ll see the connection as you read on.

To Brag or Not to Brag?  Doesn’t everybody “brag”?

ILL:  Two young boys were having a discussion over school lunches.  “My father makes more money and, my dad can run faster than your dad!”  Oh, yeah!” said the other boy.  “My dad can beat up your dad.”  “That’s nothing, he responded.  “My mom can beat up my dad!”

So does everyone brag or not?  My mother always asked me as a child when patting myself on the shoulder for my accomplishments, why I was bragging about them  My answer, of course, was to shift the responsibility to someone else.  “My friends brag all the time!”  Her response was always the same: “If one of your friends told you to jump off the roof, would you do it?”  I would shake my head no. and she would continue saying, “Quit shifting the blame to others and admit your own wrongdoing, Mel.  You know better!”  Mom always has ways to make you want to crawl under something when coming up with a wrong ‘you should have known better’ reprimands.

So let’s see what Scripture, God’s Word has to say about “to brag or not to brag”.

SCRIPTURE:  Jeremiah 9:23-24

God says that there is something worth bragging about and it’s not your bank account, your position, your education degrees.  God says that there is only ONE THING worth bragging about.

DO YOU KNOW HIM?

It’s amazing how we can brag about everything under the sun, but God says that if you really want something to shout about, can you brag that you know Him?  Because if you can’t brag about knowing God with a personal relationship. then it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve tucked away, what degrees are on your wall, or what position you’ve acquired in your company.

The only thing really worth talking about in our lives is our relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

In Tony Evans’ book, Time to Get Serious: Daily Devotions to Keep You Close to God, he says if God is the all-consuming, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving and infinite Creator, sustainer, and redeemer of this universe, then nothing else we can do matters quite as much as getting to know Him, and to know Him well.

Three Decisions We Must Make In Order to Really Know God:

#1.  LET GOD BE GOD

That sounds pretty basic.  But many times we have a tendency to put God into a box; to trim him down to fit our thinking of who God is.  Personally, I want a God who is bigger than me–bigger than my problems.  A God that Jeremiah speaks about.

I want a God who can handle my prayers, lift me up when I’ve fallen.  I want a God who can save my soul.  I want a God worth bragging about!

And we have one!  In all His infinite knowledge and power, God sent His Son.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:1 (AMP)

God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

You must be still and know before He can be your refuge and strength.

“Be Still” –

The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, “to slacken, let down, or ease.”

Christians often interpret to “be still” as “to be quiet in God’s presence.”  While quietness is helpful, the phrase means to stop frantic activity, to let down and to be still.  For God’s people being “still” would involve looking to the Lord for their help.  [See footnote [i].]

#2.  PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE

It’s one thing to say that God is everywhere.  It’s quite another to realize that you are His child.  He is with you everywhere you go.

Psalm 139:7-10  [I want someone with a face!]

Now that’s something to shout about!

Your God is everywhere!  We need to believe it and practice it!

#3.  SEEK TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE

1 Peter 1:16

“Be holy, because I am holy.”

A man brought his boss home for dinner for the first time.  His boss who always bragged, “I’m a self-made man!”  That night at dinner, his boss was loud, rude, and arrogant.  The little boy in the family just stared at his father’s boss but didn’t say anything.  Finally, the boss asked, “Why do you keep staring at me like that, sonny?”  The young boy answered, “My Daddy says you’re a self-made man.”  The boss grinned proudly and admitted indeed he was a self-made man.  The little boy said, “Well if you’re a self-made man, why did you make yourself like that?”  Out of the mouths of babes.

Do you want to be a self-made person?  Or do you want to be a God made individual?

Personally, I want to be a new creation in Christ Jesus.

I want to be continually transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).

I want God to create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

The more we know God the more we will know ourselves.

People are always trying to find out who they are.  But you can’t know that until you come face to face with God.  If you don’t want to know the truth, don’t pursue God.

ILL:  A woman asks her husband, “How do you like my dress?”  Her husband replies, “Worse thing I ever saw!”  His answer got her quite upset and her husband said, “If you didn’t really want to know, then why did you ask?”

GOD CALLS IT AS HE SEES IT (Luke 5:1-11).

And in verse 8 – When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

But God didn’t leave it here. (Luke 5:10)

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the GLORY of God (vs. 5)

“…for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

GOD TELLS IT LIKE IT IS (Romans 3:23)

“Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.”

God doesn’t leave you where you are.

Like a good doctor, God gives the proper treatment for your life.  For SIN, He offers SALVATION by the blood of Christ.

Paul in Philippians 3 says, “Been there, done that”

Philippians 3:3-11 (NIV)

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh– [4] though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:  [5] circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; [6] as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

[7] But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

[10] I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  [11] and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

God’s PURPOSE in the Creation of Man and the Salvation of Sinners is that We Might Boast (‘brag’) in HIM.

THE BRAGGING (BOASTING), PRIDE CONNECTION —

Whether you agree or disagree, we were made in His image and to BOAST in Him.

We were made to give Him credit for all good.  We were made to rely on His power.  We were made to magnify His glory and His all-sufficiency in our weakness.  This is the source of all ultimate joy and satisfaction.  If God were to delight in anything less and our bragging in Him, He would be an idolater and a killjoy.

PRIDE diverts our capacity for exultation from the vastness of God’s Glory to the gutters of our insignificant achievements.  It’s a decorated dead-end street.  Therefore, God hates PRIDE!

What is PRIDE? 

  • It’s bragging in ourselves and not the Lord.
  • It’s taking credit ourselves for what God alone can do.
  • It’s relying on self and not God.
  • It’s feeling sufficiency in our own strength and not in God’s.
  • It’s the unwillingness to admit that we are mere earthen vessels so that another gets the glory.
  • It’s the reluctance to admit weaknesses that may accent the power of Christ Jesus.

Paul said in Galatians 6:14, “But far be it from me to glory [in anything or anyone] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), through Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!”  (AMPLIFIED)

And the PROMISE OF GOD is this:  There is no greater life, no greater joy than to boast in Him!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentary:  Topic, Pride & Humility:  “Let Him Who Boasts Boast in the Lord!” by John Piper.

Images/Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Version (NKJV).

Footnote:  GotQuestions.org.; “To be still” footnote [i].

 

 

 

 

JEREMIAH (who wasn’t a bullfrog!)

Hoyt Axton was a songwriter and wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody that kept playing in his head.  The tune was absent of any lyrics but the producers asked him to sing any words to the song.  A member of Three Dog Night said the original lyrics of the song were “Jeremiah was a prophet,” but no one like it.  “Just make up anything.”  And they did!  [Wikipedia – Joy to the World (Three Dog Night song)]

In this Bible Study, I would like to introduce (or reintroduce) you to Jeremiah the Prophet and God’s plan for his life and yours as well.  The words you will read weren’t just ‘made up’.

GOD’S CALLING!

Jesus really does know who we are!

Scripture:  Jeremiah 1:4-10

We read in the story of a man named Jeremiah and how God shares with him how intimately He knows him.

JEREMIAH was a prophet in Israel.  A PROPHET was one who would foretell future events; he was one who would receive a specific message from God to speak to the people; all to do this by the power of God.  A person never decides one day they’re going to be a prophet because somebody said they should be.  You have to have a calling from God to do this.  And it’s actually during Jeremiah’s calling that he discovers something amazing about God.  He discovered that God really knew who he was!

Living In An Impersonal World

When you stop and think about it, when you shop, get your groceries, do your banking, go to school and do your work all in front of a computer screen without ever having to speak to another person…that’s an impersonal world we’re living in.

Living in such an isolated environment makes it difficult to imagine that there’s a God who truly knows who we are; who knows us on an intimate level.  A God who knows you better than any spouse can know you, better than any parent can know you.  God really knows everything there is to know about you.  The God of the Universe knows everything, and I mean everything–“Oh, oh!”– about us!

Our Scripture passage points out some things concerning you and your relationship with God.

Before You Were Born God Knew You (vs. 5).

That’s truly an amazing statement and a true one.  God knew you before you were born.  I remember how excited my wife and I were before each of our three children were born.  We couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, to see who they were.  For nine months they are inside that belly and you are excited about them coming out to meet you for the first time in the recovery room and you introduce yourself to your new child.  We couldn’t wait to see what they would be like.  [*Note:  I might be dating myself but when my kids were born the dads-to-be weren’t allowed in the delivery room.]

But the Bible says that before we were born, God knew us!

The word “know” carries with it the sense of relationship and approval.  In other words, God had a STAMP OF APPROVAL on Jeremiah’s life.  It means that God specifically knew Jeremiah and what he would become.

Obviously, God was speaking to Jeremiah here so you may think that God knew Jeremiah before he was born, but there’s no way that He would know you, the average Joe.  However, God tells us over and over again in His word that He made us and formed us.

There’s no arguing with this Scripture.  He specifically says that God knit me together in my mother’s womb.

David goes on to say, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance.”

You can’t argue the FACT that God knew you before you were born.

Another Scripture puts it quite clear for us as well.

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

For we are God’s [own] handiwork  (His workmanship),  recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works, which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

WE WERE CREATED TO DO GOOD WORKS…and the Bible says that God has prepared us in advance to do those works!  God didn’t just KNOW Jeremiah but He knew each and every one of us before we ever took our first breath on our own.

You might be thinking about why it’s such a big deal that God knows us.

THE BIG DEAL is, if God knows you, that means He knows what you’re going through in life.  If God knows us, that means we’re not alone, you haven’t been forgotten.  God knows the struggles that you are facing.  God knows the temptations that you come up against.  God knows your family situation and He has promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Before we accept Jesus as our Savior, there’s a God that knows who you are…knows what you have need of and wants to meet those needs.  God sees the life that you have come out of, but He also sees the life that you’re going into.

Being Set Apart Should Bring Us Confidence (Jeremiah 1:5)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  [NIV]

God set Jeremiah apart, meaning that God had a specific purpose in mind for Jeremiah before he was even born.  In Jeremiah’s case, his designed purpose was to be a PROPHET.  He was commissioned by God to spread a message of judgment to the people of Israel.  Not exactly what you would call a fun message to preach.  It was if God was telling Jeremiah, “I know you have got a tough message to deliver, but let me tell you something.  I know you!  I am not going to leave you alone,  I am going to be by your side every step of the way as you deliver my message.”

Each person reading this should know that you were created for a specific reason.  Each person was created on purpose for a purpose!  Knowing this indicates to us that no one on the face of the Earth who is a mistake.

NO ONE accidentally came into this world.

Some parents may not have expected you, but NO ONE was an accident because God had you in mind before you were born.

Not only did He had you in mind, but He also had a purpose in mind for you when you came into the world.

We need to hear that message more often.  We hear too much that we are no good; we hear that we were a mistake; we hear that we have no purpose in life, but that’s not what God says.  God made it very clear in Jeremiah’s life that he was here for a purpose.  He even said in Jeremiah 29:11,  “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”  [AMP].

God’s PLAN versus Our PLANS

God wants to encourage us and let us know that He has plans for your life.  He doesn’t want you to throw in the towel.  He doesn’t want you to give up and not serve Him any longer.  He wants you to know today that He has plans to prosper you, not harm you.  God wants to be a part of your life.  He knows you and He has set you apart for His purposes.  So many times we don’t realize that God has a plan for our lives so we try to fill up our lives with our own plans, which in turn leaves us empty–that we’ve failed somehow.

“An African Plant May Help Fight Fat”

I read a story this week on the CBS website about an African plant called “Hoodia” that looks like a cactus that grows wild in the desert.  The plant is apparently getting a lot of attention these days because it seems to be a good food suppressant.  Scientists have discovered when you eat small amounts of the plant, it leaves you with a sense of being full when in fact you’re not.

Some of us are filling up our lives with things that we think are making us full and satisfied.  We’re filling our lives up with work and material things; things that physically make us feel good.  It may make us feel good and full for a time, but as time goes on we’re going to discover those things don’t actually make us full; they don’t actually give us a well-balanced and full life.

JESUS CAME TO FILL US UP!

Jesus said in John 10:10 (AMP)

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

The word “abundant” is in reference to being overfilled.  There’s no way a person can have an ABUNDANT LIFE if they feel as though there’s no real purpose or meaning in their life.  They will never feel “stuffed” until they know their purpose.

God told Jeremiah that He had set him apart.  The phrase, “set you apart,” means to separate [sanctified in the New Testament]. In other words, God separated Jeremiah from the rest of creation for a special task.  That was Jeremiah’s calling to perform a special task.

Before You Were Born, God Appointed You (Jeremiah 1:5)

According to Webster’s the word “appoint” means:  “to assign officially; equip or furnish.”

We could read this Bible verse like this:  “I ASSIGNED you as a prophet to the nations (people).”  “I will equip or furnish you to be a prophet to the nations.”

God didn’t really give Jeremiah a say in the matter.  God appointed him to be a prophet before he was even born.  He equipped him to be a prophet before he was born.

Wait a minute here,” you might be saying.  “Don’t I have a choice?  I’ve got my rights!  I have some decisions I want to make on my own in what I do or don’t do.”

That kind of thinking is backward.  The Bible is very clear that we were created for God to do with as He chooses.

Jeremiah 18:6 says:

Think about the above Bible verse for a moment.  Does a ceramic bowl get that way because it chose to be a bowl?  Of course not!  It became a bowl because that’s what the potter wanted it to be.

“What if I don’t want to become what God wants me to be?”

You have that choice. 

He will never make you do something that you don’t want to do.  You don’t have to conform.  If a potter gets a piece of clay that doesn’t conform to the image that he wants it to, the clay becomes useless in his hands.  The problem is that the clay will miss out on being a productive vessel.  I think this is one of the reasons why so many people are misled in life; why so many people feel a void in their lives.  It’s because they are not doing what they were created to do.  The end result of that is always frustration.

Before you were born, God appointed you to a certain task.  Now the question is, are you willing to fulfill the calling that He has on your life?

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CREDITS:

“Jeremiah was a bullfrog” – Wikipedia

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); Bible verses found in photo images are various translations.

Life’s Encounters In A “Passionate Church” Enviornment

SCENE from the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

In 1962, ‘folk music’  filled the airways and in my opinion, The Kingston Trio exemplified the craze.  Half of my vinyl record collection celebrated their music: M.T.A., Good News, All My Sorrows, and of course my favorite, Tom Dooley; first recorded in 1958.  So when I got the news that this famous trio was going to be in concert at Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California…I had to get tickets!

So when I got the news this famous trio was going to be in a live concert at Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California…I had to get tickets!

After the concert, I asked my date if she wanted to go back stage and see if we could get autographs, or at least see them up close.  I was especially bold that night, most likely trying to show off a little in front of my date. Alright, it wasn’t “a little.”

As we walked backstage, I saw two giants of men standing at the foot of some stairs.  “They surely wouldn’t let us climb those stairs,” I thought to myself.  But they parted, like the Red Sea, and we went to the top and into a small dressing room.  And there, standing in their boxer shorts, was Nick Reynolds, Dave Guard, and Bob Shane.  Our mouths dropped.  How did we get this far without being escorted through a back door into the alley?  Could I actually get an autograph from the Kingston Trio members?

Well, we didn’t.  But Nick (right side of photo) did wave at us over the tops of the news cameras and that made it an evening to remember!  ‘Nick really knows me!’

THAT WAS AN ENCOUNTER.  

However, if Nick…I thought I was on a first name basis seeing him in his “shorts”… had invited us over to his dressing table and invited us to dinner in getting to know us better, my encounter would have given way to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.   That is a huge difference.

I submit to you that most church folks attending Pentecostal churches I’ve attended over the years have become accustomed to ENCOUNTERS with God.

Too many of us have been attending church for years, faithfully, religiously, and we have been experiencing encounters.

  • We SETTLE for weekly ENCOUNTERS with God.
  • We see Him at a distance.
  • We see physical evidence of Him in our life.

But I want to put a CHALLENGE out front–We need more than just AN ENCOUNTER.  We need a CLOSE ENCOUNTER.  CONTACT!

Close Encounters Are Different.

One of the best examples I found is the story of the 10 lepers;  10 get healed, 10 lives are changed!  10 destinies are forever reshaped and marked by the POWER of God!!

However, only ONE had a close encounter while NINE settles for just an encounter.

9 SETTLED for ‘spiritual pornography’

Cheap thrills with no relationship or intimacy. While 1 has a close encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords [Luke 17:11-19].

So the challenge for most of us as a church body and as individuals is whether we’ll SETTLE for an encounter time to time or will we call it a “good church”; we get goosebumps, get to shout out the AMEN’s, get to show off our spiritual gifts a little.

Or, will we hold out and hold on to a life changing, world wrecking, city shaking, addiction-breaking, marriage restoring, teenager rescuing close encounter with our God?

In order for us to see these events happen, we have to make a CHOICE and a DECISION–we have to determine the type of CHURCH that we are attending will be.

After my personal bible study this past week, I believe there are TWO OPTIONS available that can be found in Scripture.

The FIRST CHURCH is found in Ezekiel 44:11-14:

[11]  They [the priests] may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them.  [12] But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the people of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign Lord.  [13] They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.  [14] And I will appoint them to guard the temple for all the work that is to be done there.  (NIV Bible)

The MESSAGE Bible says in verses 13-14:  “They’re fired from the priesthood.  No longer will they come into my presence and take care of my holy things.  No more access to The Holy Place!  They’ll have to live with what they’ve done, carry the shame of their vile and obscene lives.  

[14] From now on, their job is to sweep up and run errands.  That’s it.”

You can have a church like this–

  • We can come in and have charge of the house!
  • We can minister in the house!
  • We can offer sacrifices in the house!
  • We can sing in the house, praise in the house, and do church in the house!!!

BUT never come near Him.

We can have the things of God and never really have God.  That is an OPTION.  We can settle for an ENCOUNTER.

Or we cam make up our minds that it is more than that.  We can make up our minds and determine in our hearts that as members of the body of Christ we aren’t about to SETTLE for sweeping and running errands. There’s got to be more than that.

We have to set our face like a flint and fight for our place of meeting God on Sunday’s like the church described in 2 Chronicles 5:11-14: 

We can have a CHURCH, where regardless of your rank or assignment, 

  • You can be an usher,
  • A janitor,
  • An Elder/Deacon,
  • Or, the Pastor…

And it won’t matter.  You can experience the same amount of GLORY as the next person.

The GLORY will be just as strong in the church parking lot as it is in the SANCTUARY.  Just as powerful in the nursery as in the Home Bible Study.

What really matters is that we are all after the same thing.

We can have CHURCH where the GLORY of the Lord is so strong that none of us can stand it!

We can have a CHURCH where the close encounter is so close…all we can do is stand in AWE!

We can have a CHURCH where the move of God is so profound and so pronounced that A CITY will have to sit up and take notice, sinners will flock to find out what is happening–that the STARVED will find spiritual food as well as physical food, that the DRUG ADDICT will fall short-changed, that the UNLOVED will find the LOVE for which they have so longed for.

WE HAVE A CHOICE

We can SETTLE for the brief encounters that have satisfied us for so long.  

BUT as for me and my house, if we are going to have another Ezekiel 44 church we might as well shut all the doors at church. 

If the people on Sunday Morning or on any day of the week are going to walk in and leave exactly how they entered, broken, devastated, addicted and sick…then take all the equipment back!

My personal choice is to have a church where I have, and hopefully, you will have, a close encounter with God and that stuff will fall off and stay off!

I like when this man said in a statement:

“A church is not a church until God decides that it will become a place of divine visitation.  The building may seem one of architectural splendor and exquisite design, but it is not a church until God issues a certificate of divine occupancy and takes up residence there.”

**[See Footnote [i] ]

So, I present a challenge to all of us where we are.  

Will we stop at an encounter?  Will we be satisfied with a little taste here and there?  Will you wink and say “yeah they have a cool church” or will you make a commitment with me to pursue His presence at all costs.

My hope and prayer are that we will press in until God issues a “certificate of divine occupancy” in a fellowship of believers.  How does this happen?

Ask yourself, as I have asked myself on numerous occasions, are you willing to settle for an encounter or will you ask for more?  

When was the last time YOU had a “close encounter”?

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CREDITD & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  On Jordan’s Stormy Banks: Leading Your Congregation through the Wilderness by H. Beecher Hicks.

PHOTOS:  All from Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) unless stated in the text.

Letting The Holy Spirit Have More of You!

ACTS 8:14-17 Amplified Bible:

[14] Now when the apostles (special messengers) at Jerusalem heard that [the country of] Samaria had accepted and welcomed the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,  [15] And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit;  [16] For He had not yet fallen upon any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  [17] Then [the apostles] laid their hands on them one by one, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

For years, as a believer in Christ, I struggled understanding the four verses listed above.  And then one day, the “scales” were removed from my eyes [See “Taking the Red Pill”], and I began to understand.  Slowly at first, but then one Sunday morning, it happened.  Not all at once…but a Holy Spirit moment, the realizing empowerment took a hold of my heart.

EMPOWERMENT:

In Acts 8:15, 17, 19; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:12; all refer to the EMPOWERING operation of the Holy Spirit.

Now being saved, baptized and trained in doctrinal values of the Baptist denomination, this idea of EMPOWERMENT ran against everything I’d previously been taught by all the well-meaning church leaders.  I knew what Scripture had to say about receiving the Holy Spirit, even underlining them with side notes in my Bible.  Here are the well-known three proofs:

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, save or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”  (1 Cor. 12:13 NIV).

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”  (Romans 8:9).

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory”  (Eph. 1:13-14).

The apostle Paul clearly taught that we RECEIVE the Holy Spirit at the moment we receive JESUS as Savior.  The above three passages make it clear, the HOLY SPIRIT is received the moment of SALVATION.

“Could there be more?”  – The Inward Justifying and Sanctifying Work of Holy Spirit…

In Acts 8:15  however, depicts the inward justifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it does not mean, getting more of the Spirit, rather it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have more of you!

“And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might RECEIVE the Holy Spirit.”

[ILLUSTRATION – “A Woman Named Norena” – (See Footnote [i]):

Just Getting By…

The story is told of an elderly woman named Norena, who lived in southern Florida.  When a hurricane hit that area, her home was of many that was damaged severely.

Norena received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began.  However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity.

Norena lived in her dark unfinished home–without POWER–for fifteen (15) years.  The astonishing part of this story, the hurricane wasn’t Katrina but Andrew–a hurricane which struck in 1992.

She had no HEAT, no AIR CONDITIONING while the humidity clung to 100%.  She didn’t have one hot shower.  Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner.  Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of POWER in her home.

Acting on a tip, one day, the mayor of the Miami-Dade area got involved.  It only took a few hours of work by an electrical contractor, Kent Crook, to return POWER to Norena’s house.

CBS News reported, Norena planned to let the water get really hot, then take her first “bubble bath” in a decade and a half.

“It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on”, Norena told the reporters.  “It’s overwhelming!”

After reading this story, I thought to myself, “How many Christian true believers have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have the overwhelming POWER of the Holy Spirit operating within them?”  JUST GETTING BY!

In my own personal testimony, I believe that some of us have had that POWER turned off for so long, we would not even recognize it if it came back to us!  In my case, the POWER was turned on almost 9 years ago.

Giving only a little to JESUS–

Most of us only give Christ a little space of our lives.  D.L. Moody once said,  “What could God accomplish with a man or woman who has fully surrendered his or her will to God?”

NO SET FORMULA FOR RECEIVING AND GROWING IN THE INFILLING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT:

There are some PRINCIPLES to look at, but basically, it is the same as growing in-depth of relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is no set FORMULA!  Only GUIDELINES.  God is sovereign!

The principle represents our human attempt at cooperation in God’s purposes and SUBMISSION to God’s will.  GROWING in having the Holy Spirit upon for POWER…is simply a matter of being in LOVE with Jesus; asking for the equipping of the Holy Spirit,  receiving in FAITH, and then stepping out in OBEDIENCE.

PRINCIPLE ONE –THIRST – John 7:37-39:

EXTREME THIRST
EXTREME THIRST

It is “thirst” that leads us to Jesus, who gives the LIVING WATER, the Spirit of God.

“Now on the final and most important day of the Feast. Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice,  If any man is THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said,  From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs of living water.  But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were afterward to receive.  For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor)” ~ Amplified Bible.

This is, first of all,a THIRST for intimacy with God – Psalm 63:1.

Second, it is a THIRST that arises with deep-seated awareness in our own inadequacy to do the works of God in our own strength.  Jesus perfectly describes our condition when He said,  “…apart from Me, you can do nothing!”

PRINCIPLE TWO – EXPECT – Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”  ~ NIV Bible.

For many of us, “our God is too small”–our expectations of the Christian life are too small.  We’ve limited God by our FEARS, WORLDVIEWS, LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, etc..

EXPECTANCY is an expression of “untrammeled” [Not derived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered-[ii]] faith in God, which prepares us to RECEIVE to do all that He has for us.

PRINCIPLE THREE – REPENTANCE – Acts 2:38:

“…REPENT (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the (gift) of the Holy Spirit” ~ Amplified Bible.

That one is already BAPTIZED and GROWING in Christ is already assumed.  What the apostle Peter has emphasized here is REPENTANCE and CONFESSION should be an ongoing part of the Christian life.

SIN blocks our relationship with God, so REPENTANCE is basic criteria to spiritual growth.  Being sensitive to sin is what counts.

Please be careful here.  One doesn’t have to be perfect to have a high level of SANCTIFICATION; to receive the Holy Spirit “UPON” them for EMPOWERMENT.  There isn’t precondition for a “second blessing.”  If there were such a criterion for receiving the INFILLING, then none of us would qualify.  This is given as a FREE GIFT of God’s grace to all in Christ, who in obedience RECEIVE.

The GIFT IS AVAILABLE THE MOMENT WE ARE IN CHRIST.

No Neglect…

Having affirmed…no precondition, we must be careful not to neglect the inward work of the Holy Spirit.  God is very PATIENT, but if a person persists in disobedience, God may and often does, withdraws the Spirit’s EMPOWERING.  Saul is but one example in the Bible (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Peter, after denying Jesus, went out and wept bitterly.  Later on the beach, he accepted Jesus’ recommissioning in the question and command,

“Do you love me?  …feed my sheep.”

PRINCIPLE FOURASK! – Luke 11:9-13:

If a person is in Christ, he already has the Holy Spirit within him.  BUT…to have the Holy Spirit “upon” for POWER, which is what it means to be baptized or filled with the Spirit, one must appropriate it–ASK!

Asking in PRAYER..

The important thing is to ask in prayer.  Doesn’t matter what words you use; no neat formulas.  What does matter is the intent of the heart.

Many find it helpful to have hands laid upon then.  This has a good Biblical precedent (Acts 9:17, 19:6), which gave me support in my faith when receiving Holy Spirit’s INFILLING; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in an unknown tongue.

One may ask to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, not once but many times, and as often as needed, and I’ve personally done so on many occasions.

PRINCIPLE FIVE – RECEIVE in FAITH – (Gal. 3:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15):

RECEIVING THE INFILLING with the Holy Spirit is not subject to our emotions or our experience.  Rather, it is founded in the PROMISES of God received in FAITH.

Pail asked the congregation located in Galatia,  “To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].  And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba (Father)! Father!”  (Gal. 4:5 AMP).  

And furthermore, in Galatians 3:14,  “To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit.”

The Key to Appropriating What God Has Clearly Promised Us…

IS IN JESUS!  (Mark 11:22-24; 1 John 5:14-15).

These PROMISES listed in the above verses, gives us the CONFIDENCE to ask for and in faith RECEIVE the infilling of God’s Spirit.  We come to know it’s God’s will and intention… that we are made useful in His kingdom, equipped to witness to Jesus Christ.

Thus, in FAITH, we ASK for it, we TRUST and BELIEVE that we have indeed RECEIVED.  Experience will follow what we have appropriated in faith.

The emphases upon APPROPRIATING in faith, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is it is Biblical; fully respects the SOVEREIGNTY of God and avoids all gimmicks and manipulations of tarrying meetings and the pressuring by people to speak in tongues, so marred by our joyful reception of God’s free gift.

PRINCIPAL SIX – OBEY the Holy Spirit – (Acts 5:32; John 14:15-17):

This last step is the crucial one and the essence of our whole relationship with JESUS.  We are called to OBEDIENCE to the Holy Spirit by receiving in faith…that FAITH must be made ACTIVE and ALIVE!  The way that this happens is through obedience to Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to obedience and while obeying, that’s when we EXPERIENCE the POWER or see the evidences that we have been EMPOWERED.

AN ILLUSTRATION:

Agitating Dirty Socks
Agitating Dirty Socks

The Holy Spirit, being Holy…His nature doesn’t allow Him to live in a dirty environment.

Does anyone know what that piece in the middle of my washer is called?  The part in the middle that moves back and forth and shakes the clothes back and forth?  I’ll just refer to it as an “Agitator.”

What is the purpose of the “Agitator”?  As far as I have learned [our washing machine and dryer is right next to my study/computer room], its sole purpose is to cause havoc for the dirty clothes; it’s there to SHAKE, SEPARATE, the clothes from all the dirt, grime, and money that may be in or on the clothes.

That said, as soon as we are SAVED, Holy Spirit moves into our hearts…but He doesn’t have our heart to Himself…there’s still a lot of things in there…the main one being our own selfish desires…even though we’ve been saved from our past sins, there still remains some things of the world we still cling on to.

ThesE “THINGS” have a way of attaching themselves to us as DIRT.  So, the Holy Spirit begins to gently and lovingly…AGITATE, to SHAKE…to CONVICT us to the things that need to leave our heart.

You see, God wants us to be FILLED with His Spirit…and only when we come to a place in our lives, is He willing to remove ALL the dirt…can we truly be FILLED with His Spirit.

Until then, many times in our spiritual life, it feels like we are in a washing machine…and the Holy spirit constantly, because He loves us so much, agitating within us, convicting us of sin.

What is the TRUTH?

The truth is God’s will for all to be FILLED with the Spirit…but it is your choice…it’s up to you…TOTAL SURRENDER!

If your DESIRE is to have a casual, nominal Christian lifestyle, in place of surrendering all…seeking to receive will not be your desire.  This is one of the major reasons why many individuals in the body of Christ don’t see the need of surrendering all.

The topic in this BLOG discussion, is often a controversial one because… the ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused in the receiving/indwelling of the Spirit, occurring at the moment of salvation.

THE FILLING of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life.  It certainly has been for me.

The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent possession the moment we believe.  To RECEIVE the baptism or infilling with the Holy Spirit is just the beginning…you will not arrived at its end of the journey, but you have only begun!

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  “Norena” story from UPI.com>TopNews

[ii]  Oxford Dictionaries.

 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin for Bloggers.

 

Bible References:

Amplified Bible and New International Version Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Results of Poor Teaching and Bad Leadership

THE SOURCE OF WISDOM BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING:

HOSEA 4:1-6 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

[1]  HEAR THE word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy (a pleading contention) with the inhabitants of the land”

“You Children of Israel” and the Children of Today–the Connection.

“BECAUSE…there is no faithfulness, love, pity and mercy, or knowledge of God [from personal experience with Him] in the land.”

Many reading my blogs over the past years, have grown accustomed to my writing style; its emphasis on God’s Word.  You might even think you know me from social networking or we’ve met in person.  But do you really know me, my character?  Do you know my tastes in music, foods, personal interests?  In most cases, the answer would probably be “NO” because…without an INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP, “from personal experience”, there isn’t a connection.

Priests, Clergy and Church Leadership–

Hosea was called to PROPHESY to the nation of Israel because of the quality of life was lacking.  The sins of the nation came from the absence of it…the people had been destroyed because they rejected what they were hearing.

The people of God today are no different.  Look at the church today and you have the lack of knowledge of God causing wavering spirituality…inconsistency of the walk and the talk of believers…ineffectiveness in prayer…even social righteousness, the way we act toward others, those outside our “group.”

LIVING with the KNOWLEDGE of God–Intimacy in Relationship.

One difference between the priests of Israel and the pagan priests of the day, was that the roles of Israel’s priests wasn’t just to offer sacrifices.  They were also to instruct the people with the ways of God.

The priests weren’t the guardians of hidden knowledge, revealed only to the “select”.  No, for God’s people, the LAW was given to make wise the simple.

Before I came to Christ in 1972, I thought I was wise in the ways of the Lord.  After all, I had been taught the FACTS, then later found I had some information [right and wrong], but in reality…I was the ‘simple one.’  I knew the “shalt not’s” of the Law, and the “conscience” that goes along with it.  My mother would often remind me, “Mel, when your dad and I aren’t around, to tell you what’s right and wrong, you always will have your conscience!” That logic to a child sounded like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah…’conscience’.”  But I would shake my head “yes”, pretending that I understood the parental wisdom.

God has revealed Himself to the world through His Word and through His Law in the Old Testament; which was meant to be taught to children from the earliest age.

The REASON the Nation Had Gone Astray–

There was NO KNOWLEDGE of God in the land; the priests had failed in leadership of the people; the priests and the prophets [in current vernacular…the clergy, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons] had FAILED to properly teach the Word of God!

When the people brought their sacrifices and offerings, the priests decided that they would use the surplus for their own means–even selling it for a profit.  They began to encourage sin, camouflaging it in any way they could, and the people followed their leaders/teachers examples.  And the “slippery slope” continued.

So, what happened?

Verse 5:  “And you shall stumble in the daytime, and the [false] prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother  [the priestly nation].”

What happened was, they were going to STUMBLE!  Jesus describes the Pharisees as “blind guides” [they made it up as they went].  You know the phrase, “We’ll fake it until we make it!” approach to leadership.  After all, “We are in charge!”

Here in Hosea 4:5, it says the people are “stumble in the daytime.”  Now I can understand “stumbling” in the dark, but in the “daytime”?  So God is going to take away their ability to see the way clearly by taking away their mother: the nation that gave them birth.

Finally, He’s’ going to REJECT them and their children of being His priests.  Why?  Because the more they’re increased… the more they sinned.   All because they’ve exchanged the TRUE WORSHIP of God to get fat; they’ve turned the glory of God into shame.

The Ordinary, Church-going People…

God’s point made, through the mouth of Hosea was to illustrate the ordinary, church attending people are suffering and will in fact…suffer more.  And, so too the priests, the designated spiritual leaders of the day would share in that suffering.  They may see themselves as the spiritual pillars of the community, but when they’re found guilty of leading God’s people astray, their godly privileges are revoked.  In the end, the ones who are responsible, the teachers of the people, are the ones who’ll be held to account.

God Accused the Religious Leaders.

Making an accusation of the uninformed, seemingly ordinary people in the world is often deemed OK.  BUT, God accused the religious leaders from keeping the people from knowing Him:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you  [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge.  I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children”  (Hosea 4:6 AMP).

The LEADERS, the designated teachers of the land had a God-given responsibility to TEACH THE WORD OF GOD; but they became leaders in wrong doing.  The congregation may have said to one another,  “It must be OK what we’re doing if the clergy do it.”

Loosing the Knowledge.

If you’ve lost the KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God…if you’ve forgotten how God said He wants to be worshiped, what do you do?  Well, you do what all other religions do.  You come up with something that feels “spiritual”; you create a god or gods to worship.

A spiritual vacuum–

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, what happened in our Western culture?

People still had that God shaped hole inside of them, but rejected Christianity.

What did they do?

They came up with an alternative:  Rediscovered meditation; sought eastern groups; turned to new age religion, then bought crystals and Ouija boards. They explored Buddhism, Islam or Zoroastrianism that promised to give them the religious experience they were longing for to fill the void in their lives. But they never asked whether these were the way that God wants His people to approach Him, nor were they open to strong Bible teaching.

The False Hope of Ephraim and Judah–

The people thought they’d be all right keeping up all the outward appearances of worshiping God.  But they were mistaken.  This was a FALSE HOPE!

Look at the ironically prophetic words of the people’s call to one another to WORSHIP God once more:  HOSEA 6:1-3 Amplified Bible. 

“COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us; He has stricken so that He may bind us up.  [2] After two days He will revive us (quicken us, give us life): on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.  [3] Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to KNOW the Lord  [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him].  His going for is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth.”

If they’d only understood the TRUTH!

If they had understood the reality of what they foretold, of Jesus Christ who would die and in three days rise again!  BUT, they were far from understanding the things of God and these cheery thoughts were mere wind (Hosea 8:7).  It was a case of ‘too little to late’.

GOD gives His reply in verses 4-6:

(Hosea 6:6 ) “For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness,  not sacrifice,  and the KNOWLEDGE of and ACQUAINTANCE with God more than burnt offerings.” 

Being a Leader and Teacher and Leading People to God–

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”

Teaching knowledge of God from the Word
Teaching knowledge of God from the Word

When God’s people are destroyed and waste away, not because God has lost either His love or strength.  It’s because His people lack knowledge.

It isn’t that God says His people are completely ignorant.  They do have some knowledge but not enough.  They may have just enough to make them think they know it all.  I love that verse in Romans, where the apostle Paul warn us:

“…not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought  [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgement, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him”  (Romans 12:3 AMP).

It shouldn’t surprise us that there is a connection between KNOWING GOD and KNOWING HIS WORD! 

Some people think that Bible knowledge is boring and brainy; not necessary for the real walk with God.  But God and His Word are vitally connected!

Psalm 138: 2 says,  “You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!”

When God sought out a term to express His nature,  He calls Himself  “The Word” (John 1:1).

TEACHERS, CHURCH LEADERS, CLERGY…TAKE NOTE!

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP IS A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY!

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Whether you TEACH a church school class, hold a church office, or lead a Bible study in your home…DON’T take your leadership responsibility lightly.

The Letter of James in your Bible makes it clear:

“…we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation]”  (James 3:1 AMP).

Today our problem is not lack of INFORMATION given…but lack of knowing Him as He revealed Himself to us through the Holy spirit.  Our knowledge…our relationship with God all begins with Jesus.  If we’re not conveying the Christ centered relationship to the church body, the results of poor teaching and bad leadership will fall on us and we will be destroyed in the ministry!

“For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling  God’s Word  [short-changing and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as  [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak  [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God”  (II Corinthians 2:17 AMP).

false-prophet-matthew-7-15
RESULTS Seen

Teaching and Leading with the WHOLE TRUTH:

Start speaking the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing else but the TRUTH of Jesus Christ; in the Word and POWER of His name.  No more LIES!

Paul tells Timothy,  “Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in [all] the faith and love which are [for us] in Christ Jesus.   Guard and keep [with the greatest care] the precious and excellently adapted [Truth] which has been entrusted [to you], by the [help of the] Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us”  (II Timothy 1:13-14 AMP).

 

What The Lord Requires From Us and the Why’s

“What does the Lord your God require of you but to FEAR the Lord your God, [that is] to WALK in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being.  [13] To keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good”  (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 AMP).

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”  (Micah 6:8).

“And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with your whole soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength.  This is the first and principal commandment”  (Mark 12:30 AMP).

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition of “REQUIREMENT”:

1. a: to claim or ask by right of authority. Synonyms: bear, challenge, claim, demand, warrant.

A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE OF “REQUIRE”:  “I didn’t know that toy required a battery to function properly.  Someone should have told me.”

My answer to that person’s statement might have been, “If you would have read the words in the instruction booklet, you would have known from the beginning!”  God’s Word is contained in the “instruction booklet.”  It’s called the Bible.  So for us to learn “What The Lord Requires…”, we need to get instructions from Scripture.

“WHAT SHOULD I DO?”

Often we hear people ask this question, asking for advise to simple and complicated issues in their lives.  Sometimes they get good answers and sometimes bad answers.  Sometimes they get conflicting answers and sometimes they get no answers.

The 3 Scriptures I gave you at the top of the page applies to all situations; complicated and simple.  They contain Scriptural answers to…“What Should I do?” and “As a Christian, how should I live?”

Now I could give you my opinion to the answers or I could give you WORD SEED to store in your bag.  For the Bible isn’t a book of rules, but a bag of SEED!

There is too much contained in these verses to dig deeply into them in this blog space.  So through out this blog-post, I’ll give you references that you can jot down; then study and reflect, on what you should do for God; His requirement.  I’ll also give you evidence I found and you can be your own WORD Detective; you flesh it out.

“FEAR the LORD your God” : (Deuteronomy 10:12).

I want to start off by giving a must reference: the Hebrew word for FEAR in a positive manner is yir’ah.  It refers to an “attitude of reverential awe and worship.” (Exodus 20:20;   2 Chron.19:9; Neh.5:9, 15).

I like the story about William Penn, founder of the state of Pennsylvania.  His refusal to take his hat off for the King of England.  His conviction…only God should receive that kind of reverence.

“WALK in all His ways”

Too many people SEEK God’s will in a matter when it seems easy or pleasing to their desires.  ONLY COMMITTED CHRISTIANS want to WALK in God’s light that He gives.

Today, too many believe there is no TRUTH.  We know that REAL TRUTH exists.

TOTAL COMMITMENT IS A MUST!

Total commitment in your relationship with God IS a must towards a godly way of life; the way to holiness.

Commitment today seems to have lost its meaning to not only the world, but in born-again believer’s lives also.

The Hebrew word used here is galal; meaning to trust or to commit to with the connotation of, “rolling one’s trouble away from oneself upon someone else who can help. TOTAL “GALAL!”

“LOVE Him”

To really LOVE God/Him; to have intimacy with Him, is a MUST in any relationship.  And like any relationship, the more time we spend with Him, the more we will LOVE Him.

When I was 22 yrs old, the more time I spent with Dianne Pagan, the more I knew that I wanted her to be Dianne Thompson.  Since the day she became my wife I’ve learned far more about her and have learned to love her more and more.  It’s part of the RELATIONSHIP!  The more time we spend with our Lord and Savior, the more that we want to do in bringing glory to His name.

“SERVE the Lord…”

“WITH ALL your heart”

“WITH ALL your soul”

“TO OBSERVE the Lord’s commands and decrees”

We must do our BEST:

Being an “ordinary Christian” is NOT doing your best!  In a past blog-POST, I dealt with the subject of MEDIOCRITY (What Does The Bible Say About MEDIOCRITY?).  The Webster’s Dictionary defines MEDIOCRITY as, “a moderate or low quality, ordinary, so-so.”  I bet you probably know where I’m going with this.

What we do when we SERVE is to do so with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, strength and that isn’t being ORDINARY!  By doing our BEST, we become LOVE SERVANTS…not just for His glory but for our own good!

“To ACT JUSTLY”

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you but to do JUSTLY, and to love kindness and MERCY, and to humble yourself and WALK HUMBLY with your God”  (Micah 6:8).

We must do what is right for others and not just ourselves; the world is full of injustice.  While administering the law we must apply the law of LOVE; knowing we will be judged by God with the same manner we judge others.

How many times have I driven down the road and turned my eyes away from a man who was unshaven, unclean and carrying a “I am homeless” sign.  I knew in my heart that I needed an attitude adjustment; asking the Lord to help me change my attitude.  And then a friend shared this photo on Facebook and my immediate reaction was, I’m going to do this Lord. “Thank you for helping me change my attitude.”

LIVE – LOVE

My wife and I are going to keep two of the zip-lock bags in the car and when we see someone who needs some LOVE, on that particular day, we will hand them a LOVE bag!  JESUS LOVES YOU, THIS I KNOW!

“To LOVE MERCY”

The merciful are promised mercy from God.  God gives us GRACE and MERCY and in His doing so, we should love doing good; living lives of compassion.

We are LEARNING to SERVE all out of LOVE rather than only out of duty.  What I desire others do for me, if or when I might be in the same situation.

‘To WALK HUMBLY With You God”

Walking in SUBMISSION to His will:

Hebrews 12:9 says,

“Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us].  Shall we not much more cheerfully SUBMIT to the Father of spirits, and so [truly] live?”

His desires should be our desires:

“…Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with HUMILITY [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another.  For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives GRACE (favor, blessing) to the humble”  (1 Peter 5:5 AMP).

WALKING IN HUMILITY is that walking becomes a choice: His will over our will.  Are you, and I, a SERVANT of God?  It’s much easier to WALK in HUMILITY with our neighbor when we fully realize God loves him/her just as much as He loves us; even with all our faults.

TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART – [Mark 12:30]:

What does “To love God with ALL YOUR HEART” mean?

Have you ever seen a football or baseball game or any other team play a game where their HEARTS were not in it?  I remember one particular Seattle Seahawk football game where they were behind in score to the Kansas City Chiefs by two touchdowns with less than ten minutes to play.  Now if the Seattle head coach had started substituting second string players, expecting that the outcome was already settled, it would have said to me and other fans and sport-writers, they had given up on the season.

Jesus taught that the “pure in heart” will “see God.”  Just as the team was behind in the game, yet giving their best, they could see victory if they kept trying.  And in case you’re interested, Seattle won the game in the last few minutes remaining.  Nothing ordinary found here!

Our courage and emotions; ALL OF YOUR HEART should be fueled by our FAITH in God.

To LOVE GOD with ALL OF YOUR “SOUL”

He is our only Spiritual Advisor through the Holy Spirit, guiding you daily in your life:

Not horoscopes,

Not tarot cards,

Not witches,

Not fortune tellers,

Not psychics, other–so-called “holy books”, not man’s word…

This body of ours will be destroyed one day, but the SOUL will live forever.  To SAVE our SOULS, we must LOVE God.

To Love God With ALL Our “MIND”

Come on believers…Use your brain!  You and I know God’s way is BEST.  The first place to start to use and improve our MINDS is to read and understand the Bible.

{Illustration:  “THEOLOGY IN THE PEW”

“A large share of people who attend Protestant and Catholic churches have adapted beliefs that CONFLICT with the teaching in the Bible and their church, according to the latest release from Barna Research Group”  (www.barna.org).

There are some fundamental Christian precepts most Americans have hung on to:

Three-quarters of all adults believe in the Trinity.

79% accept that “every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence.”

76% reject pre-Reformation perspective that “the Bible can only be correctly interpreted by people who have years of intense training in theology.”

On other issues, the research found some disturbing trends:

Six out of ten Americans (59%) reject the existence of Satan, calling him merely a symbol of evil.

35% or one-third believe that it is “possible to communicate with the dead.”

42% believe that, when Jesus was on earth, he committed sins.

Half of all adults argue that anyone who “is generally good or does enough good things for others during their life will earn a place in Heaven.”

44% contend that “the Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths.” —

Article quoted from October 11, 2002 “PASTOR’S WEEKLY BRIEFING” provided by Focus on the Family}

AMERICA and other nations must get back to the Bible.  Ours is not a religion of polls, “but of FAITH.”

To Love “God With All Our STRENGTH”

The Roget’s Thesaurus In Dictionary Form defines the noun STRENGTH:

 (a) force, power, might, energy; intensity, concentration, extremity.

Now here is an exercise to practice.  Put the word “ALL” in front of the above listed words:

–“ALL” my force,

–“ALL” my power,

–“ALL” my might,

–“ALL” my energy,

–“ALL” my intensity,

–“ALL” my concentration,

–“ALL” my extremity.

We ARE SAVED by FAITH.

But James teaches us if we are really saved, we are required by God to use ALL are STRENGTH in serving Him:

“What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]?  Can [such] faith save [his soul]?”  (James 2:14 AMP).

When JESUS asked His disciple Peter if he loved Him and told him that he needed to feed His sheep.  What does that mean to you?

CHRISTIANS need to do something for God or to be active in His service.  Now I don’t mean just running-in-place between advertisements watching TV.

What are your spiritual gifts?  What talents do you have to offer?  If you are passionate about something; if you excel at an activity, God requires that you not just use it but DEMONSTRATE what He has given you with ALL of your…!

The Second Great Command is to LOVE our neighbor…

WHY DOES GOD TELL US WHAT TO DO?

3 Quick Answers/Conclusions in John 15:

[8] “When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.  [9] I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me].  [10] If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.  [11] I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.  [12] This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you”  (verses 8-12 AMP).

#1.  In order for us to “bear (produce) much fruit”; to make our lives count to give glory to God that made us and saved us.

#2.  In order to REMAIN in a LOVING, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP with God and not to backslide.

#3.  In order to have complete “JOY”!  The JOY that comes from serving your Father is the GREATEST JOY!

I HOPE that this study has been as beneficial to you as it has for me.