Wednesday, March 12, 2014

KNOW WHO YOU ARE

As we navigate through life, one thing we can learn is that there is discouragement is everywhere. It often seems that the harder we run after God, the more the devil pops up to prevent us from getting where we’re going.  Honestly, all we ever need to trip us up is to have one little hint of discouragement in our ears.
You’re unworthy.
You can't do that.
You’re a terrible parent.
You call yourself a Christian?
You’ll never be any better than this.

He has said it to me and I'm sure he’s said it to you. The thing is, he doesn’t necessarily speak in complete lies. He gives us half-truths with just enough reality to hit us between the eyes and make us start considering what he is saying. You do know there is an easy to overcome and overrule him.  Just finish the his little sermons.....
It’s simple. The devil is only giving you half of the truth—give him the other half.
Yes, I am unworthy. I am absolutely nothing without Christ. But thankfully, He died so that I could become a new creation, void of you petty ways and full of the power and victory that come from HIM.
No, I may not be a perfect parent, but I am loved unconditionally by a perfect father who breathed the stars into being and still knows how many hairs are on my head. And He’s making me more like Him every day.
You’re right. on my own accord, I can’t do any better than this. But I am not by myself—I serve the LORD, who is able to do immeasurably more than I could think, ask, or imagine.  (And I can imagine quite a bit!)

You don’t have to be Charles Spurgeon to preach the devil out of your life. The name of Jesus is enough to send your the little weasel running for the hills.

The devil will always try to remind you of the downside of your story. 
Stick it to him....Remind him who Jesus says you are!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Once and For All

Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was judgement, once and for all.  That judgement was one time, for all time...one judgement for all mankind - past, present, and future.

Here is where it becomes difficult for us to wrap our mind around.

When Jesus died, He was beaten suffered & died for sin.

The difficulty we have is realizing that is was for ALL sin - past, present and future. At the moment that He died - all of 'my' sin was future.  He was dying for my sin, none of which has come to be yet.  At the same time, He was dying for all of the sin of every human that was alive before Jesus' day.  And, even more, He was dying for every person that is yet to live.

To me now, some of my sin is future and some is past...but He died for all of it once and for all time.

And, not only my past, present & future sin...but for ALL of humanity's past, present, and future sin. I can't wrap my head around the vastness of the Love of God - but to declare God's Word that 'Christ died for sin once and for all, the righteous and for the unrighteous, to bring me and everyone else to God...(1 Peter 3:18)

It has been said that forgiveness is for those who believe and repent.  This is true, in part, but the reality is...Jesus died once, for everyone...no matter if they believe and repent or not.  The forgiveness is there, and the judgement has been made through Jesus that ONE TIME.  It is up to every person to believe & receive that grace...that forgiveness...that restoration.  It is there, available, free, and so full of love without reprimand or condemnation. 

To think that today God is judging a person, a group of people, or even a nation is to say that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross wasn't sufficient for all....To think that somehow Jesus' sacrifice wasn't intended for one person because they have not yet believed and repented is wrong, a prideful and self-righteous attitude.  Remember, Paul tells us (every single person that ever lived and ever will live) that 'once you were dead because of your disobedience and your sin.' (Eph 2:1)...and yet somehow we preach that although Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for the redemption of man-kind, there is somehow someone, some group, that is beyond that grace - and that they need an extra boost of judgement before they can get the fullness of the same grace that has been offered so freely to me.

Yes.  We must decide, believe, chose....whatever you want to call it....to receive the grace and forgiveness that comes from the sacrifice of Jesus.  But we can not, even for a moment, think that we or anyone is being punished or judged now today for the sin that Jesus already paid the price for.  We can not teach that God is punishing even a nation for their sins, because Jesus died and took the punishment already for the sin of the very people that make up that nation.

Jesus died for my sin.  The sin that I hadn't done at the time that He died...He died to defeat the very power of sin over all humanity.  He died so that the punishment of sin is no more.  The consequences of sin are still evident in the world today - but that is because there are so many who have not come to fully realize that the very power and nature of sin has been broken - no longer having any authority.

Here is a great song that speaks of the truth, that Jesus' sacrifice was judgement, once and for all, for sin.



We cannot close the door
That isn't why He fought the war of this place
Everyone can be free
Jesus died for my sin, 2000 years before my sin was conceived. He also died for the sin of those yet to be born. He also died for the sin of all those prior to His life. His death was complete, and the full judgement for all sin...once and for all.

Friday, August 3, 2012

No Experience Necessary.



This is so simple….it’s not deep.

And yet…too many Christians just don’t get it.

We’ve been sold a cheap bill of goods, but we’ve been bought at such a high price.

Paul said, I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.  You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.  (1 Cor 11:3-4).

And…as Paul also said (in the next verse)
I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things.  I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. I want to make this clear and easy for you to understand.

What is Paul talking about here?
God talks very plainly, He doesn’t talk in mysteries and secrets.  It’s the devil who twists what God says.  God speaks plain and the devil says “God really didn’t mean that…”  or “yeah, that’s what He said, but…”  This is the type of language we grow up with in many of our churches.

God didn’t create us with the ability to talk ourselves out of Him.  That “ability” came through the fall of man…We argue that ‘God gave me my intellect, and He gave me the ability to reason’.  Actually, I might venture to suggest, that “ability” came in the garden when Satan came to Adam and Eve and motivated them to question what God said by mis-quoting His word and interpreting God’s word in his own way, and Adam and Eve followed that thinking.  Adam and Eve had no reason to reason before then.  But they were presented with a question, and subsequently had to deal with the ability to derive their conclusion.  Of note, you the reader, may want to visit my previous post Jesus Appears to Thomas in which I discuss the standard that Jesus uses in determining your response to His presence.

I don't think that intellect and reason are evil...nor do I think they are not from The Lord. After-all, God is the one who said 'Come, let us reason together...' (Is 1:18).

My point here about intellect and reason is that we often use it to our detriment.  In that, God said something plain and simple - then Satan will use that which God has said and twist it - then we start thinking, "oh, maybe that is what God really did mean"...and then we skew or distort God's heart and God's image and create an inadequate doctrine and settles for less than the fullness of The Father.

Check it out:
Genesis 2:16-17.  God said to Adam “
You may eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

That’s pretty plain and simple.  Eat whatever you want, except this one…if you eat this one, you will die.

Then, in Chapter 3:1 Satan comes in and asks Eve a question.  Pay close attention to how he twists the word of God.  He asks “
Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees?” 

His very question is a distorted representation of God’s word.  Read his question again and watch for the difference.  So, Eve responds based on what she knows to be true…”
Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden…It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.  If we do, God said we will die.

Then, there it comes.  The deception.  The lie.  (He IS the father of lies, remember?) Satan responds by saying, that’s not what God really meant. 
No, He didn’t mean you will actually die – He meant that your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil….

Then, verse 6…”the woman was convinced”.

Did you see that?  He twisted what God said, and Adam and Eve formed their new doctrine.

God said, the day you eat from this tree is the day you will surly die.  Satan says you’re not going to die, God just knows….blah blah blah.

God said it and made it simple.  Then Satan twists it makes it complicated.

We still do this today, and have been since Genesis 3.

How?  Let me explain…

In Mark 16, Just before Jesus physically left this earth He said “These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: ….They will place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

What happens next?  The enemy starts to twist of God said….“Oh, not everyone will be healed”.

It’s the same voice…the same father of lies as in Genesis 3.  The only reason it has any power now is because it goes along with our experience of not seeing everyone healed.  Then, using our reason and intellect, we question and we know is true because of our experiences and we build doctrine based on our reasonable experience rather than on the truth.  We try to make ourselves feel better about what we don’t understand and it's at the cost of Jesus.  And while Jesus is perfect theology, the perfect will of God revealed in the flesh, we create doctrine based on what we experience rather than what He has said.  We make our experience to be truth rather than Jesus even though He said that He IS THE TRUTH.

When our intellect gets involved we start to reason our experience “spiritually”…and that’s a dangerous place to be.  That just doesn’t equate to the life of Jesus. 

How is this different than what Jesus does and says? 

How do we twist it today?  Let’s look at it.

We say things like, “well, it’s just not in God’s time for you to be healed.  The Father loves you, and I see you’re really hurting – just hold on, your day of healing is coming”…

Who did Jesus say that to? 

Or “I only do what I see my father doing, and I just don’t think it’s His will to heal you today”

When did Jesus say that to someone?

Or (probably most common) we say something like…”I believe that God is sovereignly working this to build some things into your life.  And there are still some weakness in your life that He wants to make strong.  God is using this affliction – so, stand strong and endure it because God’s grace is sufficient for you”

When did Jesus ever say something like THAT? 

But, we say this kind of stuff all the time!  And we’re supposed to be following Him!

We’re not supposed to follow our reasoning and experiences!!

I think we’ve been duped into believing something that isn’t God’s word.

Do you see these things that we say to people?  We are even using scripture to twist our own experiential doctrine.  We fall into the same deceit that Satan used in Genesis chapter 3.  And how easily we fall into that….

This kind of thinking is found nowhere in scripture, and yet we embrace it as truth rather than Jesus, who said He IS truth!

Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.  He is The Word made flesh.  Everything we see about Jesus is everything about The Father revealed.  And yet, we take our experience and make rational sense of it and define God through that instead of the life of Jesus.

We sell ourselves and Him short.

This thinking steals our hunger and keeps us in a theology that settles for defeat.  It is in-congruent with the life of Jesus.  And even though Jesus said ‘follow me and the things I do you will do also’ (John 14:12), we settle for defeat.

So…is this hype?  Is this out of balance with reality?   Neither.

We are to train in the works of the ministry until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ. (Eph 4:13).

We haven’t pursued that.  We haven’t been training and learning until we reach the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ.  And even with that verse our limited experience has formed a doctrine that says – 'we’ll never be to the fullness of the stature of Christ until we are in heaven with Him for eternity'.  So, we just don’t pursue it.  We pray for people that die, and we create doctrine that explains that experience to protect our heart and our minds, rather than revealing the Jesus that we are pursuing.

This is where we fall short.
We incorporate God into our lives, and thus paint a picture of a God that suits our experience rather than God becoming our lives so that the Truth that should be pursued and revealed.  This is idolatry.  And then we start believing in and preaching a God that does not exist.   

Jesus isn’t incorporated into our lives – He becomes our lives.  We give Him our lives as a living sacrifice – with a renewed mind as a new creation, so that we can look at the world through the eyes of Truth and The Gospel so that we can bring the Kingdom here on earth just like it is in heaven.

Is it Always God’s will to heal someone?
The only time the issue of 'God's will to heal' came up in the Gospels was in Mark 1:40-41 and Luke 5:12-13. The leper said "If it is your will, you can make me clean." Jesus' response? "I AM WILLING. BE CLEAN", and immediately the leprosy left. So why do we get so caught up in the issue of "if it is God's will, they'll be healed"?

How can God choose not to heal someone when He already purchased their healing? Was His blood enough for all sin, or just certain sins? Were the stripes He bore only for certain illnesses, or certain seasons of time? When He bore stripes in His body He made the payment to purchase our healing. He already decided to heal. You can't decide not to buy something after you've already bought it.

There are no deficiencies on His end - neither the covenant is deficient, nor His compassion or promises. All lack is on our end of the equation. The only time someone wasn't healed in the Bible is when the disciples prayed for them. For example, Mark 9 when they prayed for the tormented child. They did not have breakthrough. But then, Jesus came and brought healing and deliverance to the child.

Jesus Christ is perfect theology - He IS the will of God revealed.  If there is something that we believe about God that we can not find in the person of Jesus, we have good reason to re-think our understanding of God. We can't lower the standard of scripture to our level of experience, or in most cases, inexperience. It's a very uncomfortable realization - not everyone will handle it. Most of the time we create doctrine that you can't find in the person of Jesus.  And thus, we sell ourselves short, and lessen the value of Jesus. Jesus is the will of God.

How do we fix the problem?
  1. Realize it's not God's fault.  (This is what forming doctrine does – puts the blame on God).
  2. Learn from others who see miracles. Have them pray for you. If you don't know people who see miracles, find them. Books will help, if the author has a miracle lifestyle. (Don't try to learn from those who only have the theory of miracles.) And get over the “can this really happen” theology.
  3. Do what Jesus told His disciples to do when He addressed the problem - pray and fast.  Prayer and fasting is not something that Jesus did just for a specific problem, it was His lifestyle.
  4. Take risk - pray for people.  But, NOT - "if it be thy will" kind of prayer. Out of people I've seen healed, I've never seen anyone healed from that kind of prayer.
  5. It's hard to hurt someone's faith by praying for a miracle. Not praying for a miracle gives them no chance to increased their faith (and yours). That’s like praying “Lord, let the sun come up today”.  It’s going to happen regardless if you pray or not.  That is what hurts faith.  If we pray “Lord, let the sun stand still today”, there is great faith in that prayer and when it becomes reality, faith is increased… The real goal is to show people God's love. And faith grows in the display of God's love. His love is seen when we show compassion and display God's power.
  6. When God heals people, give Him thanks and praise. Learn from it so it will happen again.
  7. If someone isn't healed, realize the problem isn't God, and seek Him for direction as well as personal breakthrough (greater anointing for consistency in healing). Also, don't take it personal. There are other factors involved besides great faith. Faith isn’t the only element in the equation. Just learn to do your best to be faithful to His Gospel, and honor Him for the results. It's also not wise to blame the person who is sick, nor is it scriptural.
  8. There's a difference between a miracle and healing. Miracles happen in an instant and healing happens over time. It is important to recognize the progress of what God is doing in a person's body and give thanks, because healing increases in an atmosphere of thankfulness.

It is INCONSISTENT to have Jesus pay a price for healing and for us to believe it is not Gods intention to heal.
We sell the Gospel short if we think and teach that healing is optional.






RESOURCES
If you would like to learn more on this topic, the following resources may be of interest to you.
EnduringFaith (CD Series)



Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
Psalm 37:4