Category Archives: Holy Spirit

A Gospel Diagram

Ponder the below diagram which I designed to help illustrate so many aspects of our Christian Life: Old Man vs. New Man – Life vs. death – The Kingdom of God vs. The Sin of Mankind…. This is… “THE GOSPEL”:

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Oil Crisis! (Part 2)

Oil Crisis

In followup to the foundation laid in “Oil Crisis” (Part 1), I now present to you – to be taught of the Lord alone – numerous passage of Scripture – with thought-provoking questions – for your consideration. (If you have not already done so, please read Part 1 now.)

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Jesus said something rather shocking in John 16:7, “It is good that I go away…”

“it is for your good that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper (The Holy Spirit) will not come to you but if I go, I will send Him (The Holy Spirit) to you.”

Are you still living a Christian existence based on the Life of Jesus, and not what His Life produced/provided?

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Then, John 14:16-17 reads:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

Is it possible that you are living this Christian life as if the Spirit of God is sill only “with you” in the form of Jesus at your side, rather that living knowing that the Spirit of God is now living on the inside?

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Ezekiel 36:26-27 reads:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Could it be that you are resting comfortably in the glorious regeneration of God alone, and neglecting the purpose for which He has provided such great a salvation, that is, the very habitation of the Holy Spirit of God within the life of a mere human being, to lead you, guide you, teach you and remind you of the logos of Christ?

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Acts 2:38 says:

“Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall [future tense] receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

And, Luke 11:13

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Yes, Child of God – you have been given a “lamp” that is Christ Jesus Himself, and His most Holy, infallible written Scriptures – but have you sought “oil” for your “lamp”?  Have you asked the Father to light the fire and fan the flame of His Holy Spirit within you?

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2 Cor 3:6b reads:

“the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life

Are you living your Christian journey with your sole source of nourishment to be the Scriptures alone (logos) – void of the power of the Spirit (Rhema) that has been made available to you?

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Acts 19:1-6 tells us:

“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized was a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…” (Footnote #1)

Is it possible, that like these Ephesian believers (disciples), that you are stalled in a place of repentance and forgiveness, weakened and defeated by the enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil – unaware that such a Helper as the Holy Spirit even exists?!

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Oh Child of the Most High – Virgin that you have been made to be by the Sovereign Choosing of God – I beg you… do not be found to be foolish – rather cry out to the Lord God to awaken you to His Most Holy Spirit!! The great OIL of God that has been given to cause YOUR LAMP – the very life of Christ within you – to burn white-hot and bright for all to see.  Cry out that this same Holy Spirit will take the precious logos of God, and whisper the utterance of His Rhema in to your heart.

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Footnotes:

(1) It seemed wise to me, and I was deliberate in my omission of the later portion of the 6th verse of Scripture, as to not allow a “good thing of God” to be a stumbling block to the readers who might be disillusioned by false impressions, misuses, abuses or teachings on such things as the gift of tongues and prophecy.

Oil Crisis! (Part 1)

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The headlines should read: “OIL CRISIS”…. but they don’t.

To the watchful eye, however, the crisis is real, current and critical.

I am not talking about the Middle East, the Ayatollah, or the Saudi’s. No. Rather, I speak of a land and people who have been granted a greater abundance of access and right to oil than any nation, geographical region, or worldly power has ever conceived.

The crisis was brought to the forefront by Christ in Luke 12:35 when He prefaced a parable about preparedness and watchfulness, with these words: “Be dressed in readiness, with your lamps lit.”

More notable, and somewhat cryptic, Christ years later tells the story of 10 virgins at the end of the Age.  Of them, He prophecies of the Kingdom of God, that of these “pure, holy and set-apart ones”, who represented all those who had identified themselves with our Lord, Himself – the Bridegroom – would be distinguished as Wise or Foolish.  In this example, our Lord makes it crystal clear that among those who identify themselves as belonging to “Him” (the Virgins: “pure, holy and set-apart”), that as much as half, would suffer fatal eternal consequences for their “lack of oil”…

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

In light of the frightening prospect revealed herein – that some have lamps, but no oil – the question begs to be asked: What is the oil, and how can I be sure to have some?

But first, I think it is insightful and prudent to know what the lamp is, who it is that has a lamp, and why anyone would think that a lamp alone is good for anything.  Initially, upon reading these and other accounts of lamps and oil, I remained baffled at the thought that anyone would have one without the other, particularly if they had any intention of using the lamp. Unless, of course, they were unaware of their actual need for the lamp. Maybe the lamp has just become a relic on the shelf…

So, what is the lamp?  Psalm 119:105 says: “Your Word [logos] is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”

And 2 Peter 1:19:

“So we have the prophetic Word [logos] made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

In the original text, the Greek word for “Word” in both of these instances is “Logos”, which is speaking of the written Word (Bible, Scripture) or the Word incarnate, Christ Jesus.  However, there is a second word for “Word” in the original language that exists, and carries great importance: “Rhema”.  Rhema is literally “utterance” – a spoken word heard – such as personally hearing it from the mouth of the speaker.

Consider Matthew 4:4:

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word (Rhema) that precedes out of the mouth of God.”

This verse, in light of Jesus’ words in John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life”; and, 6:51 “I am the living bread”; we can derive that Jesus Christ, the Logos, says of Himself, that “man shall not live on the Logos alone, but by every Rhema that proceeds from the mouth of God” – what a great mystery this is!

So it is important to clarify that in the case of “lamp” we are speaking only of the Logos Word of God – that is the writings of Scripture, or Christ Himself.  So then, if that be the case, we can conclude that possessing Scripture and Christ alone, without this “oil” is somehow inadequate?!?  As voices now begin to cry “heresy”, let’s re-look at our passage, spoken by Christ Himself, using our properly defined word, Logos:

“For when the foolish took their [Scriptures and Christ], they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their [Scriptures and Christ].”

Suddenly, knowing what this “oil” is, and possessing it in adequate supply – though mysterious – is of critical importance!  Reality is, we don’t have to look far or wide to get insight to this symbolism/meaning.  Oil has always been understood to be directly associated with “anointing” – and anointing is always understood in the New Testament to be directly speaking of the Holy Spirit (for there is no other anointing.)

So, consider our scripture now:

“For when the foolish took their [Scriptures and Christ], they took no[t] [The Holy Spirit] with them, but the prudent took [The Holy Spirit] in flasks along with their [Scriptures and Christ].”

What on earth does this mean?  There are many I am sure who will internally struggle (even argue) with a suggestion that a Christian could ever be found “without the Holy Spirit” (“they took no oil”) – but these passages have to mean something.  We cannot ignore them – and more importantly, what cannot ignore what they are speaking to us.  The “warning” they are giving us.

Before we go there, however, let’s briefly take a moment to alleviate the controversy of those who would stop right here – claiming poor doctrine, or heresy.  Clearly the Holy Spirit has a critical role – if not the sole role – in regeneration.  His power alone – more than mere influence – gives us new life and brings wretched man to a place of repentance.  Yet, there is overwhelming testimony and evidence in scripture, that the Holy Spirit has yet another role beyond grace of regeneration, in the life of one who is called “Christian”.  It is the grace of sanctification.  Great men of God have debated and disagreed for 2000 years what this “second work” of the Holy Spirit looks like (and if such a “second work” even exists) – how it manifests or “plays out” in the lives of those who have been called and chosen of God – and yet no one denies the work (grace) of sanctification is uniquely different from the work (grace) of regeneration – though some do (surprisingly) debate the necessity of sanctification.  With that said, let us move forward to explore further the necessity of “oil in our lamps”.

At this point, following much prayer on the matter, I have concluded that “a mere man can not teach another man further, about mysteries as great as these”!  Oh, I could attempt to persuade you with many words, eloquent speech (as if I have such), and strong arguments – however, at the end of the day, only the Holy Spirit Himself can teach a man (or woman) the very living Word of the Sovereign Lord.  So now, with the previous foundation laid, I will give you numerous scriptures that I am convicted are relevant to this matter of “what it means to have oil for your lamps” and he necessity thereof – and ask that you pray now – before proceeding – asking the Lord to teach you Truth on this matter, as only He can do.

(Continued in Part 2)

Negotiations in Progress

What is to follow is definitely the most unique blog I have ever written.

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I am learning some unexpected truths in recent weeks…

Unless I am missing something, there are only 2 basic ways to resolve conflict? 1) force/domination/control; 2) communication/mutual respect/compromise.

One requires manipulation, intimidation, selfishness, pride, and arrogance; the other requires selflessness, yielding, deferring, showing preference, humility & sobriety.

Which one sounds like Jesus?

Which one requires the Life of Jesus to be manifested, by Grace, in my life?

For any conflict to be resolved, both parties must have an abiding attitude of Biblical repentance: my ways & my thoughts, are NOT God’s ways & God’s thoughts. In fact my ways and thoughts are contradictory to His. Possessing a foundational attitude that my ways and my thoughts are “wrong” will go a long way in resolving conflict. But – as will life in general – we don’t really believe we are wrong… Do we?

No one enjoys conflict. Yet, conflict is clearly a natural part of life.

To see conflict resolved, both parties have to be willing to lay down “self” at the negotiation table and both must approach resolution with a willingness to “take all the blame” (if both are willing, then in the end, neither will have to).

Hidden (or not so hidden) agendas have to be abandoned, and both parties must want the good of the other, above their own good. Coming to the table – reserving force or control as a possible option “if all else fails” – will not produce lasting results (at least not godly results). It is better to come to the table willing to accept your own defeat, than to come resolved that “at all costs” you will settle the matter!

So there are two problems with this: 1) I have to have these qualities in me; 2) The other person has to have these qualities in them (and technically a third problem when we accept that we only have control over our own qualities).

What are we to do then, if we don’t see signs of these qualities in the other party? Seems to me, all I can do is to diligently ask God to work the qualities in me, and as He does – sit back, wait and trust, and see what He does in the other party…

Just sitting here pondering the hurts, pain, wounds and scars of much unresolved conflict around me….

~ Gary

P.S. Also, remember, there is only one Being who can persuade change in the heart of a person, and it isn’t me nor you – we are at the mercy of the Grace of God alone…. Just the way He wants it!

Good Enough

I’ve known some really good people in my life. In fact, I have known some “non-believers” who were more pleasant to be around than some who profess Christ. Problem is, how good is good enough? The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus encountering a young man who inquired of Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

As Jesus talked with this young man (Luke 18:18-27), we find that this man was far more “good” than anyone I have known in my 53 yrs of life. He confessed that he had never committed adultery, murder, stolen or lied, and has always honored his father and mother! (Who among us can honestly say that we have been that good?!? Personally, sadly, I am 0-5 on that list.)  But Jesus said that was NOT good enough. In fact, we see in the opening of this passage that this fella also confessed Jesus was both God & Savior – I surmise this because 1) he asked of Jesus a question about eternal life… This strongly suggests to me that he knew Jesus was the Savior sent from God; 2) he knew He was God, for he called Him “Good”.

But, alas, confessing Jesus was both God & Savior, was not good enough either.

Lastly, Jesus essentially says to the man “You want eternal life? Then allow me to be Lord & King of your life, ruling and reigning over even your most prized possessions.” In this, the man walked away sad, for he was willing to admit Jesus was God; willing to admit Jesus was Savior; willing to live a “good” – even very good – life; but not able to surrender the throne of His life to The Christ. 

Isn’t that our problem really? We want a Savior (for heaven); we want a God (in heaven); we want to be pretty “good” so we can feel good about ourselves (a little heaven on earth); but it all comes to a grinding halt when we are faced with the reason the Savior came… To make a way that we might return to know His rule and reign in our hearts and lives; knowing intimacy with our Father; and knowing the indwelling of the Spirit – i.e.: “thy Kingdom come”

So, here is what every person (including the rich your ruler) wants: “a list of rules for inheriting eternal life!”

  1. Acknowledge Jesus is God
  2. Acknowledge Jesus is Savior
  3. Do not commit adultery (or even lust); do not murder (or even hate); do not lie or steal; honor your mother and father.
  4. Surrender wholey to the Lordship of Christ without reservation into all aspects of your life that He might, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and His sovereign regeneration of your life, bring His Kingdom to rule and reign in you…. (grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone).

Sorry, I realize #4 kinda destroyed “my list” – but after all, isn’t that the point… 

Let him who has ears, hear.

  

Biblical Faith: As Simple As 1-2-3 (-4-5)

Luke 5:4-6 “Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’  Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’  When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break.”

1) Jesus spoke.

“Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’”

Rom 10:17 “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the [rhema; spoken; alive & active] Word of Christ.”

2) Peter heard.

“…as You say…”

Matt 7:24a “Therefore everyone who hears…”

Matt 13:16 “But blessed … are your ears, because they hear.”

3) Peter believed (Jesus’ words in opposition to logic or reason)

“..but I will do…”

Heb 11:1a – “…faith is confidence…”

Matt 4:17 – “Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent [change your way of thinking & your perception], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Isa 55:8-9 – ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

4) Peter took action in obedience to what he heard spoken.

“…I will … let down the nets.”

James 1:17a “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead…”

Matt 7:24b – “…act[s] on them [words of Christ]…”

5) Jesus produced unmistakable & miraculous fruit.

“…they [the nets] enclosed a great quantity of fish, and began to break.”

James 2:18b – “I will show you my faith, by my works.”

Heb. 11:1b – “faith is the proof of what is not seen”

Matt 14:29 – “Peter … walked on the water”

 

Remember, the “lawless one” does without hearing…

Matt 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

And, the “foolish one” hears without doing

Matt 7:26-27 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

 

Don’t be lawless…

Don’t be foolish…

Instead, be a man or woman of faith, who hears Christ speak, believes & takes obedient action!

The Comings Of The Lord

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)

Consider firstly, that our Lord comes to His Elect in many ways. This passage certainly is most often – rightly – applied to the second coming/return of our Lord & King. However, I believe we can also rightly derive an important insight from this passage regarding our preparedness for daily “comings of the Lord” and other events, circumstances, and moments of Grace, in which He comes to us in testing, trial, sufferings, difficulties and disciplines.

The opening verse is striking to me: “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” The original language even places an emphasis on the word “keep”. In light of the “unknown” (to us) that is sure to come our way *tomorrow* (or later today), there is a “dressed & ready” that we are to “maintain”.

If I am transparent – I confess that most times that I am “caught off guard” by a situation or circumstance, that I was not “prayed up”, “bathed in the Word”, and/or “living a worship lifestyle.” Rather, I was uncovered and naked – spiritually – and left to my own means, to react to the surprise “coming of the Lord” in my life. And therein – I miss Him; or at the very least am unprepared for His visit. (Am I making sense?)

I shared in my previous blog, In The Year Of Our Lord 2015, that I strongly sense there are days coming our way this year, that will test our faith, and *prove* us. Many who are “unprepared” will be proven to be “not of our Lord”. With this in mind, we need to be prepared for the days ahead – for the uncertain & unknown trials, testing and sufferings that we are promised, as His “Called Out Ones”.

If I was to suggest that circumstances in the coming days might provide the most difficult economic times in many generations – what preparations would you make to be ready? I recall the preparations many made for Y2K – yielding a readiness of a physical stockpile of water and dry beans that proved to be unnecessary. I am not suggesting that our readiness looks like water and beans. However, I am suggesting that there is a parallel to be made between physical “efforts” of readiness that we would make if we knew there was an approaching event (economic collapse or an approaching hurricane), and that of the spiritual readiness that should be made to prepare for life’s promised trials, and spiritual tsunamis. We all know it is critical that we make necessary preparations, so that we will not be “without”, “lacking” or “in need” when tribulations come like a thief in the night.

Looking to the story of the 10 Virgins, we are clearly told that not all who are “aware”, are “prepared”.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 )

We are called to be “prudent” in our “readiness”. Being *aware* alone, is not good enough – we must be “covered with readiness” for the next “coming of our Bridegroom” in situation & circumstance. We need not just have our lamps, but oil to spare!

Only the Holy Spirit can teach you what the rubber-meets-the-road “dressed in readiness” looks like for you. But I promise trials, testings, sufferings & difficulties will come – small and large – tomorrow, next week & months from now. And spiritually speaking… if we are not prepared – “dressed in readiness with our lamps lit and with oil to spare” – I fear, many will sell their soul for a loaf of bread.

“Oh gracious and kind Heavenly Father.  Teach me how to be dressed in readiness.  Help me to ensure that my lamp is lit, and I have oil to spare.  Holy Spirit, teach me what this means! I know that You, Lord Jesus, come to me daily – often like a thief in the night – in testing, trials, sufferings, difficulties, tribulations and disciplines, for Your glory, through my endurance – which leads to spiritual maturity and wholeness in You.  It is my desire, Father, that – whether a daily trial of life, or a catastrophic spiritual tsunami – I would not be caught unaware, nor unprepared; that, for Your Glory – by Your Grace – Your Light in me, will shine in the darkness of day, and the faith of the Son of God in me would be proven! As in all things, Lord, I cast myself upon You, for You, and You alone, are my only hope. Amen.”  

In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015

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“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and you be caught by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Excerpts of Principles Spoken by Christ, from Luke 21:34-36 NASB)

I am no prophet… moreover, some of my dearest CHRISTian brothers and sisters would struggle or even oppose my suggestion that I have a “Word from the Lord” regarding the new year: 2015. Others of you would think nothing of that phrase or suggestion, and eagerly read on to see what I sense the Spirit is speaking. For those who might struggle in any regard with this, let me assure you that I am not “making prophetic predictions” nor am I in some way attempting to “add to the fullness of the revelation our Lord” given us in the Scriptures. Let simply say, I am prompted to encourage the Body of Christ with the following thoughts and words for the coming year.

First, there are multiple references throughout scripture to the principles that direct the “Ecclesia” (the called out ones of God) to be “vigilant”, “alert”, “sober-minded”, “on their guard”, “prepared”, “diligent” and the like.  It is with these general Scriptural Truths in mind, that I share the following thoughts for 2015.

Let me say as well, as my predominate awareness and experience is with the “church in the west” (or Christendom in America), that this is the primary audience that I have in my heart, as I write this.  Let me clarify regarding this phrase: “Christiandom in America” – I am including here a group of individuals that range from those who would check “Christian” as the answer to the question “What is your religious affiliation?” – to those who would most assuredly, but humbly, say of themselves, “I have experienced a life altering encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and have been redeemed, regenerated and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father” – and everyone in between.  Within this group, I believe, is found the True Church of Jesus Christ… the Ecclesia, as He called it – His called out and chosen ones – the “Sons of the Kingdom.”

In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015. It takes little effort – whether on Cable News Networks, or Internet News Feeds, or Cell Phone Breaking News Alerts – to witness that our entire planet is experiencing dramatic changes – as the pains of Child-birth. In some ways, we have never seen greater days!  In other ways, there is so much hurt, pain, loss and devastation, that it seems we are in humanities worst condition in modern history.

Around the globe, CHRISTians are being martyred at an alarming rate. (The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States reports: “About 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs.”) Persecution of CHRISTians around the world is alarming, and become far more blatant and commonplace.  (Voice of the Martyrs reports that “The Christian Faith is illegal in 53 countries around the world”.)  And here in the west, particularly America, we are quickly losing any hope of leaning on our “constitutional rights of religious freedom” that Our Lord has allowed to protect us for the better part of 225 years.  There is no rational denial that we are seeking an increased rapid decay in Judeo-Christian morals – both globally and domestically – and we are fast approaching a day when “things will be different” than we have ever known in our lifetime, even here in the west. The assault on “Christian Religious Freedom” in America is rapidly on the increase – both from freedom to practice our faith, and freedom to speaking publicly (or privately for that matter) regarding our convictions of faith and belief.

Deceptive doctrines taught by false teachers is becoming rampant – and clearly taking on more of a “perversion of truth” than an the outright cultic foolishness of years gone by.  Truth mixed with lies, and palatable intrigue, lead the list of deceptions – while taking Truths foundational to the Christian Faith and perverting them, as to both lead astray, and mock the very essence of their principle counsel.

Say what you will, but there is already a “great falling away” that is taking place in our midst, as the faith of many is being shipwrecked & derailed, with these perverted and deceptive doctrines; accompanying that, is a gospel message that is weak, fruitless and ultimately, inadequate to save.


 

“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation [trial, testing], for when he has been proved, he will receive the Crown of Life that he promised to those who love Him. (James 1:3, 4, 12 NASB)

It is my personal conviction that this coming year will be a time of great trial and testing for Christendom in America.  The time is near that we will begin to see greater persecution of those “true to their CHRISTian faith”, here in these very United States.  To the Saints among us, I plead that we get established in our faith now.  Settle your matters and affairs of assurance, trust and allegiance – for when then testing comes, it will be too late.  If you are not grounded now in your faith in Christ – when hard times come, you will certainly sell your soul for a loaf of bread, or a bag of rice.

Be prepared.  Be Alert.  Be vigilant.  Take time in prayer now to insure that you have oil in your lamps, and plenty of “oil to spare”.  There will come a time when it will be too late to acquire more.  I am NOT talking of stockpiling in the natural – but, rather, stockpiling in the Spiritual.  There are 4 places the Holy Spirit will cause this to happen:

  • in Scripture,
  • in prayer,
  • in true worship, and
  • in godly, committed, accountable relationships with other faith-filled Saints.

We have, for the most part, experienced years of plenty, years of ease and years of comfort.  If we are not solid in our faith – rooted and grounded in who Christ is, in whom we trust, and where we are placing our allegiance – then there is little chance that we will get solid when the times of trial and testing come.  For it is in trial and testing that our faith is proven – it is in Christ, thought the Holy Spirit in us – in Scripture, Prayer, Worship & Fellowship – that our faith is built and established!

Won’t you join me now in falling before our Lord & King and crying out to Him to generously & lovingly, cause our individual faith to be rooted & grounded, solidly, in Christ as the one whom each of us trusts with all our heart, and pledge our sole allegiance to?  And should storms of trial and test indeed come our way in the west in this year, 2015 – we who are the Ecclesia of Christ, indeed stand firm and honor our Lord & King!

If I am mistaken – you will have lost nothing, and still gained everything!

May it be so, Maranatha, Lord Jesus!

King’s Table or A Pauper’s Buffet?

In a recent blog (“Believe!”), I made some bold statements in my closing paragraph:

“Reader, it’s time for some soul searching… what role does Jesus Christ really play in your life?  Is He nothing more than your “favorite motivational speaker”?  Or have you committed to following Him – yet still at a distance – offended at some of His audacity, and ready to “walk” as soon as He gets too close?  Or, are you among those who would proudly wear your “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt, since, after all, you number yourself among the inner circle… but in your heart, do you believe all His outrageous and extreme claims – really?”

Yes, that’s right – I believe from the passage of scripture referenced (John 6:53-69), that there were those among the crowds, follows and even the disciples themselves (a group much larger than “the 12”), who were “just waiting to be offended” and “give Jesus the straight-arm, and walk away”.  I believe there are those among us today, and I believe they are many.

Folks, I am gonna say it as clear was I can – and if you are waiting to get offended with Jesus, here is your big chance.  Being a true believer in Jesus is NOT a Golden Corral buffet, were you can pick and choose your favorite foods and ignore the rest. No, not at all.  Being a true believer in Jesus means being seated at the table that He has prepared for me, in the presence of my enemies (Ps 23:5a), and devouring with gratitude, every morsel of food set before me!  How dare we come to the King’s table, and pick and choose what we will and will not eat?!?  Imagine it: “Thank you King Jesus for this beautiful spread of organic brussels sprouts, artichokes, nutritious tofu with avocado dip, and such carefully crafted Limburger cheese fondue – however, I was hoping for mac n’ cheese, bacon, McDonald’s fries and one of those molten lava chocolate cakes from Shoney’s.”  Jesus shakes his head in disappointment, as we push back from the Kings table, and leave…  to our shock, He doesn’t run after us, or offer to heat up a can of Chef-Boyardee ravioli… He just lets us leave, tears in His eyes… and an increasing disgust in ours.

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During this advent season we frequently read passages such as: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  Newsflash: baby Jesus born that day was NOT just Savior… no, no – the Holy Spirit clearly wrote for us, that He is both Christ and Lord, as well.  Oh how we get excited and love to load up our plates with that Golden Corral sweet baby Jesus, come to save us from hell, as He lies in that adorable bed of straw!  We might even carefully and curiously indulge is a small helping of “Christ” (the anointed one) – after all, it’s good to have connections with “the big man upstairs” in case we need something – but we make it clear: “don’t get carried away, Jesus; just mind your own business, and we will get along just fine! 

As for being “Lord” – heaven’s no!  I ain’t looking for a Lord, King or Master – I’ve got that covered myself.  So, baby Jesus, you just serve up my all-I-care-to-eat buffet of starches and fast food burgers, and let me rest in the false assurance of “when I get to gloryland”, but don’t serve me up any of that nasty food I don’t like – cause I will straight-arm you and walk away disgusted. (And then act shocked when You one day say to me: “depart from me, I never knew you.”)


Christian.

Follower.

Casual Admirer.

Disciple.

Whatever you consider yourself to be, as it relates to this man, Jesus – I ask you: will you lay down your rights, your wants, your likes, loves and desires, for this man Jesus?  Will you be awakened to Christ as He calls you to His table – prepared for you – and surrender to believing that He – this Jesus – whom you have called Savior – is both Christ and Lord?  And no matter your preconceived notions about the food He is serving up at His King’s Table – it is light-years better than the picking and choosing of the buffet life you have made for yourself – serving up peace, hope, joy and rest, both now, and for eternity!

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Guard Your Heart

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

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There is probably no other urgent word I could give to all my Christian brothers & sisters that I believe to more important in these days we live in than: “Guard you heart!”

Friends, liberality is all about us. I am not talking about the liberty that we have in Christ to be free from sin, but a liberality that influences us to call darkness – light, and lies – truth. (Isaiah 5:20)

We must be on our guard (1 Peter 5:8); we must protect the treasure that our testimony is (Rev 12:11). Liberality leads to compromise; and compromise to sin; and sin to death. It always starts so innocently…. a little of this; one of those – just one; it won’t hurt; all things in moderation; I can handle it; I am free; all things are permissible….. and on & on we go… til we are trapped in sin & facing death!

“We” must look carefully at our lives, our choices, our words, our actions – in the convicting & purifying light of the Holy Spirit – and live our life worthy of the calling that we have received in Christ Jesus. (Eph 4:1)

Compromise, sin & death don’t come to us wearing a sign that says “Hi, I am compromise, I will lead you to sin & death.” No, it comes subtly, quietly, even innocently, disguised as liberty, freedom, pleasure & permissiveness. False teachers & false prophets won’t come teaching all lies… who would listen to such as that, and fall for their deceit? – no, they will come preaching mostly truth (“in My Name, claiming I [Jesus] am the Messiah” Matt 24:5) with some lies mixed in… a partial truth, is a whole lie! RUN – run fast & hard! (2 Tim 2:22)

Brothers and sisters, the days are growing short. May we all “be on our guard, sober & alert, guarding our hearts against the *innocent* evils that come our way seeking to seduce us into sin & death. WE ARE NOT IMMUNE! (Matt 24:10)

For our Lord’s Glory, and the sake of His Name, and His Kingdom…. guard your hearts!

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Proverbs 4:23 reads: “Watch over (guard) your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

(Originally written in November 2012)