Living the Quiet Life

The Quiet Man

A 1952 film directed by John Ford, and one of my personal favorites, starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, and Victor McLaglen.  The story takes place in Innisfree, Ireland.  John Wayne’s character Sean’s quiet manner is attributed to a tragedy he experienced prior to his return to Ireland.  As a heavy-weight boxer in America, he had accidentally killed an opponent in the ring.  Devastated by the death, Sean quit the sport, vowing never to throw a punch again.  Although the movie is considered an American romantic, comedy-drama, I was personally drawn to the man’s character whose past had relegated him to a life of quietness.  The movie does the transition from the gentle and quiet man to a man who falls in love with Maureen O’Hara’s character and the interaction between the rest of the cast.  And of course, the ending is the typical Hollywood, happy ever after conclusion.  Whatever happened to that trend today?

SCRIPTURE READING: Living the Quiet Life – 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Today, the phrase “quiet life” suggests one of rest or silent in nature.  But as Christians, we are to exude zeal and passion for the Christ we serve, right?  Taken literally in our terms, being “quiet” is in conflict with proclaiming the gospel message.  In our language, the word “quiet” refers to sound.  However, when I began to investigate the Greek meaning, it had a much broader meaning.  When you look at the ways that the Greek word is used, you see an underlying theme of tranquility of spirit.  So quiet doesn’t mean that we sit in our pews becoming nothing but bumps on logs.

We must remain faithful to Christ and serve Him however we can, not destroyed by our idleness.

The Greek language uses three words that are generally translated as “quiet” or “silent”:

  1. phimao – literally “to close the mouth with a muzzle.”  (Matthew 22:34; Mark 1:25; Mark 4:39).  
  2. sigao – normally translated “silence.”  It’s not necessarily that speech is forbidden, but that discussion should be ceased, such as in Luke 9:36.  Also in 1 Corinthians 14:14, the problem was aggressive women who were told to keep silent, since their conduct was contrary to biblical principle.
  3. And the third is our word for “quiet”, or “silence”, hesuchago.  It refers to an absence of internal disturbance, tranquility arising from within, and is used most of the time in regard to tensions and conflicts.  It’s not necessarily an absence of words but the absence of controversial speech.  [See footnote [i].]

This brings us back to our verse, 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “to lead a quiet life.”  It is a one-word verb in present tense form, meaning a continual, ongoing habit of life.  Who better than Paul himself to demonstrate this quiet life in action.

In Acts 17, Paul went to speak to the Jews of Thessalonica and several formed a mob to get him.  Rather than fight, he went on to the next city.  Look what happened (17:10):  As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.  On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.

Not once, but twice, the very city he’s writing to about the quiet life attacked Paul.  Notice that Paul doesn’t slam them around, call them names, point fingers, or attack their character.  In love, he demonstrates resolve that more Christians need to demonstrate in this modern time.  Instead of undermining them, Paul seeks to build them up and motivate them to action.

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit and when exercised, our lives will be characterized by inner strength and peace that Paul is referring to here.  

People should be able to see Christians as being at peace in times of conflict, not given to outbursts of anger, criticism, or violence.  Love will always (and I’m still learning this) opens more doors than anger or exorbitant emotions.

Passion is essential if we are to be solid Christians, but there are also three little letters that come before the word that make a world of difference.  When Jesus saw the multitudes, what did He feel?

COMpassion!

When we seek the quiet life, we must first seek compassion for God’s desire in our life, the needs of others as well as for our own needs.  Does this give us free rein to correct everyone we see making mistakes?  Paul warns us to …

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

I need to paraphrase the above:  “Keep your nose clean and keep it out of other’s lives!”  That first sounds a bit contrary to the gospel.  How can we tell others that they’ve got a sin problem if we don’t get into their business?

There’s a difference here between showing concern for an individual’s spiritual needs and becoming a “busybody”; seeking nitpicky excuses to get involved in the lives of others.  And yes, we should watch out for one another’s welfare.  Yes, we should also seek to help each other overcome our weaknesses.  And no, we can’t make these words sound like we shouldn’t seek to admonish, rebuke or restore an erring brother or sister in Christ.

Just as in the case of Paul and the Thessalonians, he saw that a spiritual need was there and it needed to be corrected, and thus he writes them in the church.  Did he try to intimidate them or embarrass them?  Did he go to a committee to back up his actions?  No!  He confronted them on his own and in the Spirit and reproofed them accordingly in love.

Now I know that most of the time, we don’t look to cause problems and blast someone.  But, I know in my own case, I’ve been guilty of this as well.  If we get too involved or to passionate about service over self-control, we wind up pushing people further away than when we started.  This goes for Christians as well as the lost.

What happens when someone who works for the kingdom makes a mistake?

If it’s the first time, do we A) bring it before the Church publicly,  B) talk about it behind their back, or C) pull them aside and privately speak about the problem?  According to Matthew 18:15 and Acts 18:24-28, the answer is “C”.

The Bible refers to the tongue as a double-edged sword for a major purpose.  The tongue is the human body’s most deadly weapon.  In a single word, you can damage your testimony in Christ–Not just temporarily, but for the rest of your life here on Earth.

Always think before you speak!

Because this double-edged sword can also be one of God’s greatest healing instruments.  When LOVE is used to explain our position instead of our own desires for what we think is right, then not only are there no hurt feelings, but there is PEACE– the very tranquility that Paul is talking about here.

The PEACE & QUIET that we desire in our lives and in our Church cannot exist unless we maintain a proper distinction between a true loving concern for our brother’s and sister’s welfare and pure opinion-based busybodyness.

If we are to be beacons of truth, and show the world we seek peace (rest), then all of us should be able to present our lives as examples of that PEACE.

From my own experience in helping raise three children, I found that you can’t teach patience to a child while losing your mind.  You can’t teach them to save, budget, and spend wisely, while “rewarding yourself” with MasterCard.  You will not teach them to be sincere and kind, while you unmercifully gossip about the flaws of others behind their backs.

Likewise, to live in this quiet life is to be an example of those lost children of the world who might be looking for a further reason to rebel against their heavenly Father, or who might be looking into finding out what’s in store if they seek a closer relationship with Him.

There’s one more point that Paul expresses in this quiet lifestyle:

WORK WITH YOUR OWN HANDS (4:11)

old wrinkled hands.

This is a two-pronged statement by Paul.  In Thessalonica, some people within the Church quit working altogether to be ready for Christ’s immediate return, or they had given up looking for work because of the persecution that came with being a Christian.  This was going against Jesus’ teaching because simply put, if a man didn’t work, he didn’t eat.  [2 Thess. 3:10]

Failing to provide for one’s family makes one worse than an unbeliever (See 1 Tim. 5:8).  God rewards hard work and diligence with His blessing, and although from time to time, we may need assistance from our brethren (or even our government), we are not to rely on this exclusively.  Remember to be content with what you have.

The second part of this statement involves the work of the Church.  It’s important for each of us to do our part building up the body of Christ, but it isn’t important to get into the details and specifics.  We don’t need to tell the congregation or an individual that I’ve given out the “X” number of Jesus Saves pamphlets, “X” number of Bibles, witnessed to “X” number of people.  That’s not what Christ seeks.  He wants people to know who He is and how they can become involved in a relationship with Him, and not about numbers or experiences we might have within the work.  Why else would Paul write and tie all this in together?

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1 that he was glad he didn’t baptize many in the city, because of the divisions it was causing, and stated that he hadn’t been crucified for them!  He didn’t seek to brag, as the people did.  It wasn’t about the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, or HOW’S that people came to know and obey Christ.  It was that they obediently sought the Kingdom of God.

Through our work, Jesus is building, but why be proud and pound your chest saying, “I brought them to Christ!”  NO!  They came to you, you planted the seed, and Jesus was there the whole time.  You didn’t deliver them!  He did, and we should quietly respect and revere the fact that He can do that, just as it was done for us.  If I can’t bring myself to salvation, how can another person?

We must remember to be diligent in HIS work and not work for our own ambitions.  Seek a quiet life and it will all work out for His greater Glory.

Remembering how our first verse started off on how we should make it our ambition to SEEK a Christ lead life.  Ambition requires diligence and determination, not to mention patience, understanding, motivating, and persistence.

Not too QUIET.  It’s definitely a lot more than sitting still and saying nothing!  But not enough to cause us to stress over.

God will meet our needs IF…we are obedient to His will (His Word) in our lives.

The Lord wants us to practice PEACE as much now as He did back then.  Division can come from many angles in the church and be started with the tiniest of words, but if we truly seek to be still, listen and know the Word of God over our tongues, then the words that divide us will fall down and peace will create solid unity.

1 Thessalonians 4:12 reads…

We should live in PEACE with one another…live in tranquility with one another…live in Christ with one another.  We have to be willing to call Him the sole Lord of our life and be obedient to His will.

A Moment Of Quietness ~

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentary:  Inside Outside – Sermon by Ed Vasicek on Aug. 31, 2007.

Music Video:  Word Of God Speak – Mercy Me.  YouTube 

Bible Translations Used in the Text:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT); English Standard Version (ESV).

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Movie Research:  The Quiet Man, Wikipedia.

Footnotes:  [i] Greek Word Studies – Friday, March 30, 2007.  The word, “Quiet”.

 

Acceptance Can Be A Challenge

A  STUDY IN ACTS CHAPTER 10

Before we dig into God’s Word in Acts 10, let be back up to a Bible verse that most believers are familiar with in Acts, Chapter One:

We all have acceptable agendas to maintain.

Some agendas are open for others to see, and some are hidden.  They list what we want, why we want it, with whom and under what prenoted conditions.  They become necessary in helping us focus on our goals and more steadily and effectively toward them.  There’s nothing more crucial for individual Christians and congregations, asking “What is the Lord’s agenda?”

The early Church,

The members of the early Church were having a difficult time of getting on board with the Lord’s agenda.  He made it very clear prior to Pentecost and the birth of the Church what it was!

“You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria,

and the end of the earth.”

But the Church was reluctant to accept this agenda.

The prejudicial belief of the gospel was for the exclusive redemption of the Hebrew people.  They believed the Church’s agenda was limited to the conversion of Jews in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth,  Their priorities were that salvation was through, from, and for the Jews.

Simon Peter is brought into the picture (Acts 10:9-16)

Wow!  It’s a weird story, isn’t it?

Peter’s up on the roof of Simon the tanner’s house in the middle of the day with intentions to pray and then gets hungry asking the cook to prepare lunch.  And while he’s waiting, he falls into a trance.

Maybe it was the heat of the day that got to him.  But he’s in this trance and has a vision.  A sheet or perhaps it’s a sailcloth being lowered to the ground by its corners.  All sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds are seen.

Then the strangest part of the vision happens.  Someone speaks and a voice says, “Get up Peter, kill and eat!”  Peter would have been used to killing fish, cutting them open to clean them, he was a fisherman by trade.  So it isn’t the idea of killing these animals that surprises him.  Rather, it’s the kinds of animals they are.  Animals declared unclean by OT Law (Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14), are now okay to be eaten.

Naturally, Peter objects.  He’s a good Jew.  He wouldn’t eat anything unclean.  That would make him ritually impure, not to mention disobedient to God!

And there’s even a bigger surprise!

Peter is told that God has made these things clean.  And then the whole process repeats 2 more times.  Peter obviously needs time to process and accept what all this means.

The Lord was crossing Peter’s preconditioning and prejudices and the Apostle found it difficult to understand.  The Lord wasn’t altering the valid food laws that had kept His children healthy over time.  What the Lord had in mind wasn’t the foods Peter should now eat but the people he should accept and love!

Peter’s confusion was cleared up when there was a knock at the tanner’s gate.

Some men were there sent by a godly Centurion named Cornelius, asking Peter to come and tell their master the message he has for him.  Cornelius was a Roman, a Gentile, but nevertheless a God-fearer.  He too had seen a vision.  In his case, it was of an angel telling him to send men to Joppa and find someone named Peter.

I don’t know about you, but I find that amazing.  Here’s Cornelius sending for Peter, but he doesn’t know what Peter is going to say or do.  Peter has this strange vision.  And then Cornelius’ servants arrive with the message that they’ve been sent as a result of an angel appearing to Cornelius.

And suddenly it all becomes clear to Peter.  He isn’t as slow of mind as it first appears, given that he had to be shown the vision three times.  That’s what the vision was all about!  The Holy Spirit makes it clear to him, telling him that he should go with these men.  Now he realizes that this vision of the animals and birds were all about the prohibition on Jews mixing with Gentiles.

When he arrives at Cornelius’ house he explains it to Cornelius and his family:  (vs. 28)

[28]  “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.  But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”

I think it’s really hard to grasp just how radical this behavior of Peter is.  A Jew couldn’t associate with Gentiles, or even visit them, much less eat with them or stay with them as he ends up doing.

Now at last Peter understands God’s agenda.

In fact, that’s where he begins in his explanation of the gospel.  What I thought was interesting here to take note…Peter didn’t arrive at Cornelius’  bursting into the household by preaching.  He simply began the conversation with a question:  [29] “May I ask why you sent for me?”   

A sure sign that we are on the Lord’s agenda is our willingness to listen to people in order to communicate with a tender heart.  Peter knew the why’s but he wanted to hear it from Cornelius himself.

 

 

We need to read on or else we may jump to wrong conclusions for acceptance.

There are many today who’d stop there and say, “There you are!  It doesn’t matter what religion you are as long as you fear God.”  But Peter goes on to explain what he means by “acceptance” and its meaning, as those people gathered at Cornelius’ house learning what’s acceptable to God.  We need to be careful that we understand this as well.

There’s a certain exclusivity about the Gospel that’s difficult to accept.

It doesn’t come naturally to us in our “equality of all people” worldview.   It can come across as arrogant or rude, or even patronizing to suggest that we know the answers and others don’t.  But let’s take a close look to see what Peter says.

He begins with the historical facts about Jesus.

Cornelius most likely was familiar with those facts.  The stories about Jesus would have spread far and wide by now.  You couldn’t have lived in the region of Judea without hearing about the things Jesus did and said, let alone the things that people were saying about Him.

The first thing Peter reminds them of is that Jesus Christ was the One God had promised he’d send to bring us PEACE with God:

The second thing is that Jesus Christ is Lord of ALL!  That’s how He can bring PEACE!!

And finally, here’s the climax to Peter’s message:  Jesus “commanded us to preach to the people to testify that He is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.  [43] All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

Here’s the BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS of the story.

There are two sides of the gospel coin.  Jesus has been appointed the JUDGE of the living and the dead.  That’s the bad news.

Everyone who has lived, living or will live is going to be judged by Jesus Christ whether or not they’re Christians.  “The living and the dead” is an all-encompassing description.  No one is exempt!

But here’s the good news:  “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

The RESULT of Peter’s witness.

Even while Peter is speaking, God works a miracle in the hearts of his listeners and they are converted.  Not before, not after, but ‘while’ he’s speaking.

But notice how this occurs.

“While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.”

The Holy Spirit doesn’t just come.  He comes on them in response to them hearing the word of God with the message of the gospel.  This is why we need to keep emphasizing the importance of sharing God’s Word with people–the MESSAGE of The Gospel truth because words matter!

The gospel message is the power of God for salvation.  People need to hear it!

Christian behavior will commend the gospel but on its own, good behavior is just nice.  To be effective our behavior as Christians need to be accompanied by an explanation of the reason for it.  It needs to be accompanied by the WORDS of the Gospel!

Our Words don’t need to be clever.

It’s the Holy Spirit that does the converting, the filling, not our cleverness.  Don’t think you can debate someone into the Kingdom.  No, it’s the Holy Spirit that does the convincing.  The newest, born-again believer down the street who knows little more than the grace of God, can share the gospel with someone.  But nevertheless, it’s as they hear the words about Jesus that the Spirit is enabled to act.

In this instance (vs. 44-45), the Spirit fills them and straight away Peter baptizes them in the name of Jesus Christ as new members of the Christian Church.  No membership classes needed and no church board approvals!

Two More things to notice from this passage of Scripture:

The first I noticed has to do with Cornelius.  When you stop and think about it, he’s not all that different from the people we’ll come across every day.  He wasn’t a Jew.  He hadn’t grown up hearing about God or Jesus.  He wasn’t one of the dominant religious groups in the area.  In fact, he belonged to a group who were enemies of the Jews.

He belonged to a culture entirely pagan.  Again, that makes him not much different to the people you and I know outside the Church.  Yet having said that, realize his pagan mindset was a deep longing for salvation.

I believe most people we run across during the day have an awareness of a spiritual dimension to life.

Many are like Cornelius and aware of a lack in their lives, a need that’s longing to be filled; a need that could be filled if only someone would SHARE the good news about Jesus with them.

Don’t wait until you have a vision of a sheet filled with animals and reptiles and birds.

I want to encourage you to be ready for looking at and accepting the opportunities God has or will place in your life.  Those opportunities can be found every day in the course of conversation.  Perhaps to mention your faith to someone, or to mention your church community, or the love and care you experience, or the times when you’ve been helped through difficult situations by your Christian faith, by the presence of God, or whatever.  There are so many different ways to do it.  So be ready!

Finally, the second thing I noticed,,,

Although at first glance, Peter’s experience seems distant from ours, yet there are great similarities.  We may not be quite as closed to the acceptance to others as Peter appeared to be, but nevertheless, we have just as much difficulty moving outside our comfort zone.  We have just as much difficulty as he would have had in accepting change.

We can be sure that God will do His part.

The Holy Spirit is with us and will open people’s hearts if we ask Him to.  And just like Peter and Cornelius, we might discover when we move outside our comfy existence, amazing things can and will happen!

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CREDITS:

Getting on the Lord’s Agenda, Chapter 11, page 137; DRUMBEAT of LOVE by Lloyd John Ogilvie.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and as noted in images or text.

 

 

 

 

It All Begins With A Thought

A Bible Study in Philippians 4:4-9

I’m going to wrap up a four-part walk-through in Philippians in this final study and we’ll look together at replacing ANXIETY with PEACE.

We are an anxious nation.

Alarmingly, I found out that 1 in 6 Americans takes a psychiatric drug [Scientific American magazine article].  Anxiety meds are second only to depression meds.  That said, I do believe meds that are used carefully are a gift of God.

But what if we turn too quickly to the pill bottle and too slowly to the Lord?

Mark Twain joked, “I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life.  Most of them never happened.”

In this presented scripture for this study, I want to point out some suggestions that the apostle Paul gives us to advance through our ANXIETIES.  And if you are thinking, “I’m not anxious about anything,” perhaps a bible study on self-denial might be appropriate later.

FIRST, we need to have right thinking.

Paul says in VERSE 4 to REJOICE.  And to make sure we don’t miss it, he says it twice:  “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!”  (AMP)

Philippians is all about JOY; Paul uses the word some 16 times!

When he says here to rejoice “always,” he suggests JOY is more than an emotion, since you can’t command an emotion.  You can’t force someone to be happy; they either are or they aren’t.  But Paul tells us to rejoice always.

JOY, then, must be a decision, a choice.

I once heard someone say, “Happiness comes from happenings, but joy comes from Jesus.”

Actually, JOY is an act of faith.  It supposes that regardless of how things look at the time, God is still on the throne; God loves me, God is for me, even though my circumstances seem bleak, God will see me through.

That’s why James could write, “Reckon it nothing but JOY, my brethren, whenever you find yourselves hedged in by various trials”  (James 1:2 ~ Weymouth New Testament).

James knew that God can use our TRIALS for good and to build our CHARACTER.

And that’s why Daniel’s three friends could defy King Nebuchadnezzar with confident JOY: (See Dan. 3:17-18)  

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.”

RIGHT THINKING begins with choosing JOY!

The church at Philippi knew Paul lived this out.  When he visited their city, he had cast out a demon and inadvertently thwarted a money-making scheme, disgruntled businessmen falsely charged, beaten and thrown into prison, along with his buddy Silas.  You can read the whole story in Acts 16.

Sitting in their jail cell that night, they could have had a grand pity party.  Instead. they chose a worship service!

  • Wounded and behind bars, they sang hymns!
  • And God sent an earthquake unlocking every cell door without hurting anyone.

That same night the jailer and his family were all SAVED and the next day Paul and Silas were released.

All because they CHOSE JOY…despite of their circumstance.  They CHOSE to think right!

I don’t know about you, but when listening to the teaching from “experts” or pastors/teachers. scholars. I like to hear their examples to help enlighten the message.  I believe Paul felt the same way.

He gives us examples of what to think about in VERSE 8:

Paul says to turn our mind toward the POSITIVE, to FOCUS on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, to think about things that are excellent or praiseworthy.

WE ARE WHAT WE THINK!

While every SIN begins with a thought, so does every act of obedience!

Various people have been attributed to writing this poem:

Sow a thought, reap a word.

Sow a word, reap an action.

Sow an action, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character.

And sow a character, reap a destiny.

It all begins with a thought.

What if, when you wake up in the morning, instead of turning on the news, you read a short devotion out of “Our Daily Bread”?  I have it sent to me every morning to my Email address to read.  When you do this first thing in your day, you’re training your mind to think more positively.

Secondly, we need to PRAY right!

Verses 6 and 7 in the New Living Translation (NLT) sums this up with,

[6] Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done!

[7] Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

We are all good at worrying, but sometimes we feel ill-prepared to PRAY.

Yet, if you know how to WORRY, you should know how to pray!

  • Worrying is talking to yourself about things outside of your control.
  • Praying is talking to God about the things outside of your control.

When the ANXIETY level starts rising in your daily activities, talk to God about it.  Paul gives some hints as to how to pray right.

The word “pray” here, denotes a worshipful approach.

You come to God humbly, submitting your will to His.  You shouldn’t approach God like some heavenly slot machine hoping to hit the jackpot. You approach God with awe and respect by asking Him for what you need–and that’s called petition or supplication: the process of shifting your burden from you to God!

IT’S OKAY TO ASK.

Do you notice that in our asking, Paul says to do so “with thanksgiving”?  There’s nothing worse than a spoiled child who always says, “Gimme, gimme, gimme!”

We need to be grateful for what we already have, and we also need to be grateful for, however, God may choose to respond.

GRATEFULNESS in advance is another sign of FAITH.

We can be grateful because God cares for us.  Whether God says, “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait,” God is still a good God–all the time!

God wants us to PRAY with THANKSGIVING, regardless of the circumstances.

When you find yourself growing anxious, give it to God, and don’t take it back!  Follow the advice of 1 Peter 5:7.

Trust that God cares for you and is at work in your situation.  And begin to act on FAITH that God will direct your steps moving forward.

Someone once said, “If your knees are buckling, kneel on them.”

Instead of worrying, why not try praying.

The “START” Bible says, “If you have a BIG God, then you have a relatively small problem.  But if you have a BIG problem, then maybe you have a small god.”  (see footnote [i].)

The giant Goliath looked at the shepherd boy David and saw a small problem.  But David looked at Goliath and saw a large God along with a target too big to miss!

Look what God promises when we give our ANXIETY over to Him:  Verse 7 says “And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Have you ever taken your family to an unfamiliar beach or a community swimming pool and see the signs posted, “Life Guard On Duty?  And when you see the posted signs, how much confidence and security that comes to mind when entering the water.

A God who is on GUARD DUTY over your hearts and minds.

God’s Word found in your bibles says God never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4).  He’s always on guard duty, 24/7.  God will bring HIS PEACE to our entire being: body, soul, and spirit in a way beyond our understanding.

THINK RIGHT, PRAY RIGHT, and lastly,

LIVE RIGHT!

This is like the Nike principle: “JUST DO IT!”  Put your THOUGHTS and PRAYERS into ACTION.

Verse 5 gives us a description of how we should live as Christian believers–with “gentleness” (NIV), or “unselfishness” in the Amplified Bible.  The idea is to LIVE with graciousness out of a humble spirit.  You don’t always have to get your way!  That means you become willing to yield your rights to another.  And that’s especially good marital advice!!

That’s a hard principle to act on for some of us.  Why would anyone want to yield their rights to another?  The rest of verse 5 tells us why:

The LORD is near.

The Christian believer has the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, within them always.  Wherever we go, Jesus goes with us.

You are never alone, the Lord is near!!

But there is also an end-times application here:  Jesus is coming soon!  His return draws nearer every day.  So, LIVE the way He wants you to live now.

In Verse 9, Paul urges the Church to follow his example, not only what he says, but what he does.  Now there’s something that most of us wouldn’t advertise in our Christian community.  “Follow my example”.  

I learned early on that my kids would follow my ACTIONS a lot faster than they would my words as they grew older.  Despite what I said, it was what I did that counted.  WORDS are cheap.  ACTION matters!

So, put it into practice!  PRAY RIGHT.  And LIVE RIGHT.

And Paul promises us, “With the peace of God to guard us and the God of peace to guide us–Why worry?”

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS

Footnote [i] :  NKJV, Start: The Bible for New Believers, Thomas Nelson, 1227

Video:  YouTube – Mix Give Thanks, Don Moen

Images:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); Exceptions noted in the text.

 

 

 

Sizing Up the Real Estate Market – PART TWO

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

HAGGAI 2:6-9 (AMP) – THE GORY COMES!

[6] For thus says the LORD of hosts:  Yet once more, in a little while,  I will shake and make tremble the [starry] heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land;  [Heb. 12:26]

[7] And I will shake all nations and the desire and the precious things of all nations shall come in and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts.  [Isa. 60:5; Matt. 2:1-12]

[8] The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, says the LORD of hosts.

[9] The latter glory of this house [with its successor, to which Jesus came] shall be greater than the former,  says the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace and prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.

Our SERVICE will be better when we come with OUR PRIORITIES in order!

If the prioritized people will RISE UP…we ain’t seen nothing yet, folks!

PROVISION comes!

Right in the midst of famine FAVOR can fall.

PEACE comes!

In the midst of chaos, upheaval, and uncertainty.  We can be at REST!

While some argue over carpet color, music styles and whether to reach out or not, we can see God’s church packed from top to bottom and front to back  

IT IS HIS GLORY, not ours.

HAGGAI 2:18-22 – A SECURE FOUNDATION

[18] “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought in the day when the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid.  Give careful thought;  [19] Is there yet any seed left in the barn?  Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not borne fruit. 

” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ “

[20] The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month;  [21] “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth.  [22] I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms.  I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.”

The day the foundation was secured their HARVEST changed!

BEFORE they had even planted a HARVEST was PROMISED!

BEFORE the first link in the chain was broken their BONDAGE was dealt with, on the DAY the FOUNDATION was built, VICTORY and DELIVERANCE were set in motion.

BEFORE the first punch was thrown or landed they found themselves in a fixed fight because of their RIGHT PRIORITIES!

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of life I desire!

Let me throw open several questions:

  • Are you killing yourself trying to live BLESSED?
  • Are you seeking provision for you and your family?
  • Are you trying to secure your life?
  • Are you fitting battles that seem like you can’t win?
  • Are you working without God?

Matthew 16:26 (AMP):  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]?  Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?”

Location, location, location

HEAR THE HOUSING REPORT AND RESPOND!

Either you and I need to change our priorities or the HOUSE will be in ruins and our PROVISION will be wasted.  We need to REPENT–change course–do an about-face.

Paying so much attention to your own house you have no regard or thought to His HOUSE!

Our PRIORITIES are messed up and the result is finding ourselves barren; our lives are meaningless and unblessed!  I believe that we’ve either forgotten or don’t really believe the words in Matthew 6:33 anymore!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When we get the ORDER right–the KINGDOM first–as His house flourishes our houses will spring to life once again!  REVIVAL has always been there if we know where to search!

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CREDITS

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations:  Nnew International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Inhale God’s Exhale

TEXT: John 20:21-22; Acts 2:1-4slide_12

After the RESURRECTION, John’s gospel account seemed to me at first glance, that the Spirit’s coming is connected with Jesus’ ascending to the Father.  

But then the next thought that came to my mind, how about when the Church was first initiated in Luke’s account, Acts chapter 2?

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Looking at John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the verses in Luke’s description in Acts 2, we see that John is emphasizing some different things, maybe wanting to improve on or support Luke’s idea.

So I want to explore some ideas in this blog, not from a doctrinal viewpoint but from a personal one concerning John’s version of our Christian experience of the Holy Spirit. 

The FIRST AND MAJOR DIFFERENCE I found between John and Luke’s story in Acts is one of timing.  In John, the giving of the Spirit occurs on the evening of Resurrection Day (EASTER).

By contrast, Luke records that the Holy Spirit came upon a group of gathered believers, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15), for the feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover and the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

QUESTION:  So did the church begin in John 20:22 or at Pentecost in Acts 2:4?

It’s worth mentioning here, that the Church’s liturgical calendar has followed Luke’s version, which probably dominates our thinking and reflection of how the Spirit came on the church and what it means.

So how do we make sense of this different timing?

JESUS BREATHED (exhaled) the Holy Spirit into the disciples the evening of Resurrection Day, AND…also sent the Holy Spirit in a different way 50 days later.  

That solves all our problems! 

I have learned over the years in bible study, it is not a good idea to try to harmonise variations of different writers because it doesn’t do justice to their particular emphases.

Clearly John in this passage of Scripture is describing the event of the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples, just as Luke is doing in the Book of Acts.

An interesting note here concerning one word “in” or “into.”  Jesus appears in the locked room, declares His peace, commissions them and then BREATHES into them. declaring “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Many translations use “on” rather than “into”, but the same word used in Genesis 2:7 where God BREATHES into the clay-body of man He has formed to  create a living being – [ [i] In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures used in Jesus’ time].

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Genesis 2:7 {NIV):

“–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This verse found in Genesis is but one verse that gives the application of the beautiful picture of a person and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The emblem, under which God’s Spirit is represented to us is the BREATH and AIR, the atmosphere in which you and I live daily and the act by which we INHALE or EXHALE are the GIFTS and manifested POWER.

We can live for days without food, for a lifetime without sight or hearing, but we cannot live for an hour without breath–without breathing in and out.  We cannot see it, we can scarcely feel it, and yet all around us is an ocean of air without which we could not exist, and without which all of our senses we would be blind, deaf, and vain.

I believe John deliberately wants to make those connections, when a new creation comes to life in giving the Holy Spirit–something new is coming into existence and being released into the world.

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What we have to remember, in study of biblical writers, is that they are less concerned with historical facts and more with theological truths.  And it’s the theological truths we want to discern.  So let’s focus first on John’s account.

Notice that his version links the Holy Spirit far more closely with Jesus himself and His ministry.

After declaring PEACE to the fearful disciples, Jesus says,

“As the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.”  (verse 21)

 

The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or “a thing”– He is a PERSON!

Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the Bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I have come to realize that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience over the years is my understanding of the TRUTH.

When I was first converted, “born again,” in 1972, I was taught that I was FILLED at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true.  I didn’t realize that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would baptize them.

The Bible states that we RECEIVE the SPIRIT at the moment we SURRENDER our hearts to Christ Jesus (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, BUT…the real POWER to come later at Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit would change the fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message WITH…POWER and AUTHORITY! –  (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 1:5)

THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SALVATION CONNECTION –

I have been asked he question on different occasions, “Is every Christian, those who are “born again”, also baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, is BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit automatically received with SALVATION?”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit Banner

John 20:22 (NIRV):

[22] He then breathed on them. He said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Here, Jesus breathes into the apostle’s nostrils and they RECEIVE (“inhale”) Holy Spirit, (that is, they are “born-again,” i.e. “saved”) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer.

However, the BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit is where the living Spirit of God comes on the believer, occurring on Pentecost 50 days later.

Luke 24:49 (AMP):

[49] And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has promised; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed (endued) with power from on high.

Acts 1:5 (NIV):

[5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Again, the same PROMISE and we realize that THIS Baptism will come upon the believer.

Acts 2:3-4 (AMP):

[3] And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  [4] And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

This is the point where the apostles received the BAPTISM IN the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit comes UPON the believer.

However, as we’ve seen, there existed a period of time where they RECEIVED the Holy Spirit and were BAPTIZED IN the Spirit.  My belief is these were separated acts, each having a different reason.

SALVATION comes by receiving the Holy Spirit, that is we are SAVED from the penalty of sin.  We become sons and daughters of the King; we RECEIVE the AUTHORITY to act (Luke 10:19 – Believer’s Authority) as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are

born again or converted or put into the body of Christ.”

He says, “Wait until you are clothed with power.”

He doesn’t say, “You shall receive membership in the body

of Christ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

  • – John Piper –

Sadly, because many people don’t understand there is a difference between the two events (SALVATION & BAPTISM) and don’t, or won’t, seek the greater POWER of God transforming their lives and ministries.  I call it “ineffectiveness” in the Spirit.

Every person who truly REPENTS and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit.  

1 John 3 calls this God’s SEED in which teaches us, this is when we are born of God, His Seed remains in us.

When the Holy Spirit fills someone, the BLESSING is not for them alone but to EQUIP & EMPOWER them to do God’s will.

The apostles were FILLED immediately and demonstrated that HOLY SPIRIT POWER to preach with boldness, stand before their enemies and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The focus is on God’s will and…HIS WILL ALWAYS produces Fruit.

If a person is NOT producing fruit, they are not FILLED!

The lack of POWER in the modern church as I see it, isn’t because GOD’S POWER is diminished but because we no longer SEEK God with all of our hearts.

To be FILLED by the Spirit, you must be hungry and thirsty for God.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV):

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

A TRUE BELIEVER, one who is born again, is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, and will never be satisfied until FILLED.

“SO, WHERE’S THE POWER?”

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.”

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “BAPTISM” and connected it to the Holy Spirit–in other words, the Baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Many scholars and bible teachers make this connection.

My view is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with.  But it is one I have increasingly come to believe is correct and is needed in the church.

Jesus said, “But you [the ‘inhalers’] shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES…”  (Acts 1:8 – AMP).

And the RESULTS of the Baptism of the Spirit?

[40] And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed and admonished with much more continuous speaking and warned them, saying,  Be SAVED from this crooked generation.  [41] Therefore those who accepted and welcome his message were baptized (in water), and there were added 3,000 souls.


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Commentaries:  John Piper: Topic, The Holy Spirit.  John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted–the NIRV: the New International Reader’s Version.

 

 

What GOD Thinks About War

Scripture Deuteronomy 20:1-20; Ecclesiastes 3:8

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Google Images

Ecclesiastes 3:1; 8 Amplified bible (AMP):

[1] TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven;  [8] A time to love and a time to hate, A TIME FOR WAR and A TIME FOR PEACE .

Many Christians today are saying that there are no circumstances under which we should go to war–or using the current vernacular: “Boots on the ground”.

As a church, and we who trust in God, are the CHURCH, need to understand when that time is and what God says about this issue.

There are many opinions about this subject.  We live in a time of moral relativism; where we hear in public or in private, “I think what I think and you think what you think.”  

So I don’t want to write about my opinion of WAR–

I just want us together, to go to the Bible and find out what God has to say about this subject.  Afterall, His opinion is the only one that really counts.

FIRST OF ALL, GOD DOESN’T LOVE WAR!!  God is not hungry for war.  That’s NOT the God of the Bible.

In some RELIGIONS, you have a god, little “g”, or gods that are WAR LOVERS, but you don’t find that in the Bible.  Look at the lyrics (words) to the Psalm (song) in…

PSALM 68 (NLT):

[30] “Rebuke these enemy nations–these wild animals lurking in the weeds, this herd of bulls among the weaker calves,  Make them bring bars of silver in humble tribute. Scatter the nations that delight in war.”

This says that there are some nations that enjoy WAR.  God says He will punish these nations.

We need to clearly understand that WAR is NOT a good thing.  WAR is simply the result of our own fallen, sinful nature.  At the very ROOT of the way SIN is.

Even though God doesn’t love WAR, we also find in the Bible that God sometimes Commands WAR:  1 Samuel 15:1-9

Verses 1-3:

[1] SAMUEL TOLD Saul,  The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now listen and heed the words of the Lord.  [2] Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I have considered and will punish what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way when [Israel] came out of Egypt.  [3] Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling ox and sheep, camel and donkeys”  (AMP).

So WAR is sometimes necessary.  Why would God COMMAND His people to go to WAR?

Because, there will not be PEACE without WAR!

In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes:

“There use to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day.  Since I was smaller, I would give it to him.  Then I decided to fight back.  I started taking karate lessons.  But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson.  So I just went back to paying the bully.”

Too many people feel it easier just to pay the bully than it is to LEARN how to defeat him.  

In America’s current situation in the world, we can’t afford to pay the bully. We must defeat them!

Sure, it’s easier to just pay the bully’s, but standing for what is right is more important than a life of PEACE & COMFORT.

I also found in my investigation into God’s Word, that God STRENGTHENS HIS PEOPLE for War:  Leviticus 26:7-8 (AMP)

[7]  And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.

[8]  Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

In time of WAR, we don’t have to RELY on our own strength and determination, but we understand that God is on the side of the RIGHTEOUS.

When we STAND together as a nation, as people, for God–I know by the POWER of His Word, He will stand for us.

We see in the Bible that God approves of WAR also because…

He TRAINS His people for WAR.  He is the One who prepared His people for the battle.

2 Samuel 22:35 (NLT):

(God) trains my hand for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

Whenever God calls you to do something, whatever it is, you can be sure that He will give you all you need to accomplish it.

And when He sent His people to WAR, where was He?  Does He just stay behind?  Does He wait for the soldier to return?

NO!

God involves Himself in War.  He goes with the ARMY!

Deuteronomy 1:30 (AMP):

The Lord your God Who goes before you.  He will fight for you just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes.”

GOD WILL WIN THE WAR!

Proverbs 21:31 (NIV):

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.”

God has NEVER come in second place.  He is the clear winner of every Battle; God is always the Victor!

And He says, when we do our best and prepare for the worst from the enemy, we can TRUST GOD to bring the victory.  He will WIN THE CONFLICT!!

God doesn’t want us to enter a battle…a WAR blindly.  God gives us His rules, HisGods-Blueprint Blueprint of engagement ahead of time.

There is a RIGHT and a WRONG time for WAR.  

There’s also a RIGHT AND WRONG way to fight a WAR.

God gives very specific instructions which I discovered and listed in Deuteronomy 20.

1.  DON’T BE AFRAID  (Deut. 20:1-4):

(verse 4) –  “For the Lord your God is He Who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you.”

Remember, God is with us; there’s no need to FEAR!

2.  ONLY THE BRAVE ARE TO FIGHT  (Deut. 20:5-8):

(verse 8) –  “What man is fearful and fainthearted? Let him return to his house, lest [because of him] his brethren’s [minds and] hearts faint as does his own.”  (AMP)

God says that anyone who doesn’t have COURAGE will be a hindrance and a discouragement to other soldiers, so let them go home.

The God says,

3.  GIVE PEACE A CHANCE  (Deut. 20:10-11):

(verse 10)  “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it.”

The people of a city that surrendered not to be harmed, would become subject to Israel.  In WAR THEORY, this is known as the LAST RESORT.

You should go to WAR only as a “last resort.” 

See if there is anything else you can do, diplomacy or economic pressure or anything else.  And certainly, with America and their allies’ current circumstances, it seems we have tried every means available including “red lines” and it hasn’t made a difference.

4.  DON’T DESTROY THE LAND IN A RAGE OF BATTLE  (Deut. 20:19-20):

[19] When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by using an ax on them, for you can eat their fruit; you must not cut them down, for is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?

[20] Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siege works against the city that makes war with you until it falls.

I meditated on the words of these two verses for some time.  “Axes”, “fruit trees”, “siege works”…  I asked myself,

“What other country wins a war and goes back in and spends millions of dollars rebuilding that country and helping them back on their feet?”

That is the kind of country I live in, that sees every person as valuable with a potential to repent and live in a peaceful future.

And then fifth, and this is the one that most people have trouble with if they don’t surrender:

5.  DON’T ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE LIVING (Deut. 20:16-17):

[16] But in the cities of these people which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes.  [17] But you shall utterly exterminate them…as the Lord your God has commanded you,

Did you ever hear your mom, or someone else’s parent say, “I brought you into the world, and I can take you out of it.”  That is true of God:  He brought us in and He can take us out.  He is the CREATOR of ALL LIFE.

LIFE is a GIFT…but SIN is serious business.  We need to understand the seriousness of SIN.

The simple fact is, none of us deserve the LIFE we are living or the next breath we are breathing.  But because of God’s GRACE…He gives us LIFE!

The NATIONS were so corrupted by paganism and immorality that they DESERVED God’s punishment, like Sodom and Gomorrah.  But God was using His people, instead of FIRE from heaven.

Also, complete destruction was the order of the day.  They were to be totally wiped out,

Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God”  (Deut. 20:18 – NIV bible).

And once again, TIME WOULD TELL that God knew just what He was talking about.

ISRAEL didn’t completely DESTROY the citizens of Canaan.  And generation after generation were led into IDOLATRY and away from God by the people Israel allowed to survive.

This was true of the Nazis during the World War II era.  When people think about the HOLOCAUST, they think only about the crimes against JEWS, but they were also looking to eliminate CHRISTIANITY.

I am seeing similarities facing us today if we allow EVIL to go unchallenged.

We’ll see our children and their children in chains and wondering why we didn’t stand up for righteousness and truth in the face of evil.  That’s NOT God’s will for America.

God wants to continue to use us, as He has in years past, to SHARE the Gospel with our world.  Those who would destroy us, hate us because they HATE OUR GOD–they reject Jesus and they want to wipe CHRISTIANITY off the face of this earth.

But today, God is CALLING US to stand up to this evil.  So as Christians, how then should we respond to WAR?

First, and foremost, TRUST in God.

During these times, when FEAR of terrorism runs rampant, we need not panic, but instead…put our CONFIDENCE in God:

“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest”  (Exodus 14:14).

Secondly, and this concept may be hard to grasp, is to SUBMIT to the government.

The Bible tells us in Romans (13:1-5), that God puts the government in place to PROTECT the people.

As Christians, we are to SUBMIT to the AUTHORITY of the government.  

Now that said, we need to understand that we are to obey the government unless…it is in clear violation of the Word of God.  Our allegiance is first to God!  

There may be times when we have to OBEY GOD rather than our government, but only if it is clear and direct violation of God’s word!

Third, the POWER released when we PRAY.

I find it difficult to pray for our government leaders.  There, I said it!  But we need to PRAY more than ever before.

PRAY for those in the military and their families.  And yes, PRAY for our leaders as well. Our feelings shouldn’t determine the extent of our prayer lives:

Psalm 112:8 says, “His heart is established and steady, he will not be afraid while he waits to see his desire established upon his adversaries.”

And fourth, we should look forward to the day when WARS will end!

Micah 4:1-3 (NIV Bible):

dreamstime_xs_15945369[1] IN THE last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

[2] Many nations will come and say,  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of God of Jacob.  He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  [3] He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  [4] Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. 

There will come a day, when there will be NO MORE WAR, NO MORE BLOODSHED.

Not in this lifetime, but in eternity.  That is our HOPE as Christians; a hope of expectancy…with an outstretched neck.

GOD says that the price we pay for our SIN is death.  DEATH is separation from God.  And when we SIN, what we are saying to God is, “No thanks, I can do it my way.”  And that puts us at WAR with Him.

In Romans 3:23, God says that every one of us has sinned.  

When God JUDGES our sin, it gives us the taste of life without Him–a world full of DEATH, SUFFERING and WAR.

But you can experience PEACE in your life today.  That PEACE comes from a relationship with JESUS.

Put an end to THE WAR in your life by trusting in JESUS today!

 


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Images

Bible Translations used:  Amplified(AMP), except where noted.

Study Notes: Online Bible Study Guide:  Deuteronomy 20:1-20.

 

Are You SEARCHIN’ FOR DIRECTION IN YOUR LIFE?

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SEARCHING FOR DIRECTION IN LIFE?

One of my favorite singers of the past, was the late Dusty Springfield along with Dionne Warwick: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Thinkin’ and Prayin‘. What was the lyricist “prayin'” for?  To find, search for LOVE, perhaps in all the wrong places?  Perhaps, but in doing so, frustration must have set in to the “thinkin”.

My search for some answers, begins with finding and knowing God’s will in my life; the search for direction–thus, the question presented in the title for this weeks BLOG.  Not in your life necessarily, but in mine.  Hopefully. in reading this post, you will find and know God’s will more clearly in your life too!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but how much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”  (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Bible).

DOING GOD’S WILL WITH A SMILE –

Before doing God’s will…we need to know before the “doing”, “HOW DO I KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS in any given situation of my life?”

The answer I found, isn’t really complicated.  There are steps in the process like everything else in life.

We live in a “I want it now society”, and patience in knowing, is not a virtue of ours.  Yeah, we might know the words found in Galatians 5:22-23 (“THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT”)…love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…but living with them, applying Holy Spirit’s gifts…that’s not something most of us seek on a daily basis.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t…just, most of us don’t!

FINDING THE ANSWERS IN THE RIGHT PLACES:

How can we find the WILL OF GOD for our lives?  If we don’t follow God’s will for us, we will pay a heavy price in facing the negative consequences.

GOD wants to know His will for your life–

If you’re NOT a believer in Jesus Christ, NOT placed in a saving faith in Him, you’re out of the will of God!  He desires that ALL come to repentance, faith, and to be born-again.

GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 40:8:  “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”

“LAW” (or His Word) = WILL OF GOD.

Example:  We know through reading the Word of God that marrying an unbeliever is NOT God’s will for our lives (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  God tells us in His Word, ‘Don’t get the cart before the horse’ in new relationships in dating.  Your desires may just precede God’s desire in your life.  And that’s not His will.

THE FIRST and PRIMARY WAY of knowing God’s will for your life…

You are unsure in making an important decision in your family; changing jobs, changing locations because of your job, financial commitments, and you don’t know where to find the answers in your Bible.

If you don’t know where to find your particular circumstance in God’s Word, and don’t have a BIBLE CONCORDANCE, invest in one.  SEARCH for it in God’s Word.  IMPATIENCE might just lead you in the wrong direction.

 1.  God wants us to be WHOLE and NOT SICK…

[2] And behold, a leper came up to Him (JESUS) and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me.    [3] And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying,  “I am willing; be cleansed by being cured.  And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed  (Matthew 8:2-3 AMP).

2.  Knowing God’s Will for us is Not to be Poor and in Debt…

More than Enough!
More than Enough!

God wants us to have enough so our needs are met and we give to others in return.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender”  (Proverbs 22:7).

God’s Word also tells us, to those who might be struggling making ends meet in this economy, one reason why He sent His Son into this world:

[JESUS speaking] …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

The “overflow” is much more than “just enough”!

3.   GOD doesn’t want us to be DEPRESSED:

HIS WILL for us is to be happy (to “enjoy life”), full of joy!  (Philippians 4:4)

“REJOICE in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!”

THE NEW ROGET’S THESAURUS, definesDEPRESSION” – dishearten, dejection, lowness, worthlessness.  

If you are feeling in a state of constant depression right now…it’s NOT God’s will for your life!

The general will of God is clearly specified in the Word of God for us.  But just knowing where to find thee TRUTH and not claiming and receiving God’s will for our life is another.

So, how can we know the specifics, the details of GOD’S WILL?  Our Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, doesn’t tell us who to marry, even if we are following God’s will.  E.g., disciples in the boat–“Let us go over to the other side.”

4.  Through the PEACE OF GOD:

“Let the PEACE OF CHRIST rule in your hearts, since members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful”  (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

“RULE” =  “BRABEUO” (Greek word)  [Footnote [i] ].

This verb is found only in this verse and expresses the underlying sense of “having the role of greatest influence.”  The Amplified Bible says PEACE, [“acts as umpire continually”.]

Just as every sport that has disputes, they must be settled by the officials, the PEACE OF GOD as the umpire, settling all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives.

THE PEACE OF GOD is always “umpiring” in our hearts, but we don’t always pay attention to it.  Sometimes, we even go against the PEACE of God in our hearts.

As you sit in the presence of God, be still, take a “time out”, consider all the options, discerning the will of God by the PEACE given to your heart (Psalm 46:10).

5.  DISCERNING correctly what the Lord is trying to tell us–

Lining the Lights Up…

Aligning Things Up!
Aligning Things Up!

There was a certain harbor that was treacherous and dangerous to enter.  In order for the captain to guide his ship safely into the harbor, he had to be attentive to three lights used to guide him.  When all three lights lined up as one, he knew it was safe to proceed.  Then, and only then, would he bring his ship safely to port.

As we seek GUIDANCE, we too have to be attentive to “THREE LIGHTS”…to guide us into the harbor of His will:

~ The WORD of God,

~  Our outward circumstances,

~  Our inner conviction.

When all three of these Lights line up, we can then proceed with assurance, of being led safely into the harbor.

6.  God’s Will Revealed Through the Word of Knowledge and Prophecy:

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:8 AMP).

“…to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones]”  (1 Corinthians 12:10).

WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL with this!  Whatever is being revealed should be tested and consistent with the Word of God.  We shouldn’t take others words blindly, but we ourselves should test what the other person has said in respect to what God says (His will) from His Word (Scripture).

God does speak through audible voices sometimes (friends and family).  We have to DISCERN whether we’re listening to God’s voice, or someone elses.

Good intentions…

If we are receiving a word of knowledge or prophecy from a person, we should know and make sure that particular person that’s speaking to our issue is living a godly life too.

But it is possible for some true servants of God to NOT LISTEN to the Lord correctly.  In that case, they should tell you clearly they are not sure.

PROPHECY is not fortune-telling.  We’ve got to be careful of this.

“What should we DO to know God’s will for our life?”

Romans 12:1-2 KJV:

[Verse 1]  “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your responsible service.

[Verse 2]  “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

This “renewing” is not a  one time experience, but a daily reminder in every decision and circumstance we face in our lives.  In order TO KNOW GOD’S WILL, we need to…

OFFER OUR BODY (who your are in your spirit–our whole being) as a LIVING SACRIFICE, living holy lives.

KING DAVID came upon the scene of a threshing floor of a Jebusite by the name of Araunah as commanded by the Lord.  When Araunah saw the king coming, he went out and bowed himself down before the king.

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”  And David said, “To purchase the threshing floor from you; to build there an altar to the Lord.”

What Araunah did next seemed to me a honoring gesture as he offered the king everything he had for the altar of sacrifice–of worship and praise.

But David refused the offer in saying to Araunah,  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my GOD of that which cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24).

“What’s that particular story have to do with knowing God’s Will for my life?  There is never an offering, a sacrifice of worship, praise or anything else that doesn’t cost you something.  After paying the price, according to God’s Will in the circumstances, David made the offering.  He knew God’s will in this matter because of the Word of his LORD GOD.

The RESULTS OF KNOWING and APPLYING THE STEPS:  

So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and Israel’s plague was stayed.”  (verse 25).

PHILIPPIANS 2:13:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

GOD gives us the DESIRE to do His will and…He also enables us to do His will.

ILLUSTRATION:

A young man entered his church one Sunday morning where he started praying before the service began.  He was so anxious to find God’s will for his life that he took out a piece of paper he kept in his bible, writing down all the things he was going to do for God.

He started to PRAY that God might revel to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.

God whispered in his ear, “This is not the way I want you to find My will.  All I want of you is for you to sign your name and leave the paper blank for Me to fill in.”

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

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