In this series of blogs I have been trying to get us to correct our focus on who we are, how we got here, who God is, and why this matters. We are not just empty vessels mindlessly floating through time and space waiting on the inevitable end. Neither are we just sentient beings able to feel, think, and do just as we see fit. Today's youthful generation has been lost to the thought that I am all that matters and I am right in everything I think, say, do, or feel. If anyone differs in thought or feeling and chooses to express that then it is due to hate and bigotry. They are lost to this thought because today's parenting generation, and the world at large, has taught them that. Our compass needs major realigning. The thought of my truth and my reality is foreign to scripture and even to society as a whole until just recent time. There is truth and there is reality and it is not flexible to individuals. So far we have covered two basic fundamental truths. First is that this world, universe, and everything in it was created by God. Second is that mankind was created in the image of God. These truths must not be adjusted. They must be understood, taught, and defended. Our view of this world and humanity must be based on these truths if we expect to get anything right. The next truth and point on our compass is why God created us. Why are we here? Again we can find this truth in Scripture, and if you don't like that we can see it even in nature around us.
In our last blog we looked at the creation of humanity. We are told, and should understand, that we were made on purpose and for a purpose. Genesis 1:27 states, So God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. To answer the question of why did God create us, the simplest answer would be because He wanted to. Let me tell you a great truth about God: He has not ever tried to do anything. Consider that when it comes to our salvation. God does what He wants, and who can stay His hand? God wanted us to be here and the reality is He created the earth and the universe because He wanted us to be here. He wanted us to be here and be His image bearer in this earth. God even explained this to us plainly so that we could understand why He made us. Genesis 1:28 is God's explanation of the purpose of humanity and is His fundamental calling of us all. It states: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replinish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. God created us and even commanded us with a task. Be fruitful and multiply and conquer the earth.
When God created this world it was full of creatures and brought forth all manner of plant life. God looked at all He had created and declared it was good, even before man was here. God's creation was perfect and needed no help in being good in His eyes. However, in Genesis 2:5 God said there was not anyone here to keep His creation. God created man to be His hands and feet to keep this world and show forth His glory. What a blessing to be the one to take what God has given and keep it and share it with all around us. What a blessing and what a daunting task as well when we consider everything God has given us. In the beginning, just as now, God had given every source of food needed, everything needed for shelter, everything needed to sustain and even bring about abundant life. Adam was created to use that, tend it and make it prosper even further. What are we doing with what God has given us? Often times we tend to get so caught up in our needs, wants, and desires that we waste it all away and just consume it all. That comes from us falling into the self centered trap that is taught so widely today. God saw this issue coming and declared something very early on that can not be over looked. In Genesis 2:18 God said "It is not good for man to be alone". We are not able to do the work that is laid out before us alone. The idea shared by so many of, "You just be you and do what makes you happy, it is what you deserve", is designed to undo God's decree.
From the beginning it has not been all about "do what you want to do". God did not say look at all I have given you and just enjoy. Man, that being all humanity, has from the beginning been expected to yield to authority and follow commands. We are here to honor God and keep His commandments. That is the whole duty of man, Ecc. 12:13. We can and should choose our path and go where we desire to go. However, we are to do so only in accordance with God's will so it will honor God. Is the path we are choosing honoring to God? Is it keeping His provisions or wasting them? Is it totally selfish or is it seeking God's direction or will? Let me give you one tell tale sign. Does your path lead towards or away from family? God saying it is not good for man to be alone doesn't mean we need good friends or a house full of cats, dogs, or whatever pet you desire. The biggest lost point of focus in honoring all God has for us is the loss of the focus on marriage and family. We are designed for marriage and we will not be fully fulfilled without it. Marriage is designed by God and is His answer for how we can do what we are called on to do. Marriage is, by Scripture, one man, one woman, for one life time. The loss of this focus is destroying us from the inside out. The destruction of the home has influenced every major problem we have in this world. And, the destruction of the home has come from forgetting that it's not all about me. We must get back to this focus. The only reason given by Scripture for a man and/or a woman to leave father and mother is marriage. What that means is the only way to be no longer under direct authority of mom and dad is to yoke up with your spouse and begin the authority of your own marriage. Do not fall for the lies of this world! Marriage is not a ball and chain. It is not a prison house. It is not just a business transaction. It is a blessed union that is great fulfillment.
Inside marriage we can find the help that we need to get through this life and properly raise another generation. There is so much more that could and should be said about this topic, but I won't try to put it all into one blog post. Look to the word of God and see the importance of marriage and family. It is the center of all things in this world. As goes the family, so goes the church. As goes the church, so goes the community. As goes the community, so goes the nation. I truly thank you for taking the time to read these blogs. If you are enjoying them or have questions please contact me on our contact page, shoot me an email, send me a message on facebook. May God bless you all as we find our center and begin to teach these truths again.
Lost Compass 3: Humanity
So far in our study we have established the necessity of a biblical world view. Understanding the importance of a God that created and rules the world can not be overstated. This world was created by the mind of God. It was established as He saw fit and He holds it in His control. I have no intention of discussing this again, but need us to have our mind in this place. Our love of God, understanding of God, and appreciation of His authority is based on this understanding. How we care for and view this world needs to be thru this lens. However, it doesn't stop with how we view nature and this universe as a whole. A proper biblical world view includes a proper biblical view of humanity. God was on purpose when it came to the creation of man, and we as His people MUST defend this truth.
Today there are many debates in main stream America and even Christianity that would be settled with a proper understanding of these things. We argue over the sanctity of life, gender fluidity, and many other honestly foolish things. The world wants badly to teach us things that are completely contrary to the word of God. However, we need to remember it didn't start at this point. When we allowed the foundation of who we are get hijacked by so called science it is a down hill run from there. As we discussed in our last study main stream understanding of humanity is that we are the result of chance and circumstance. We are nothing more than high mammals, or more directly a bunch of really smart and advanced apes. This removes all moral control and responsibility for the future. It leaves us up to be defined however and whenever it seems handy. The loss of this foundation has begun an avalanche that must be curbed.
When we look at the creation of this world we can see His hand in all things in this universe. It was performed by the power of His voice, at His time, in His order, and by His control. Over and over it is said "let there be", and it was. God viewed His creation and declared it to be good. Then on day six the pattern changes. When you look at our text for today's study we see a bit of a pause in the story. A conversation is had in heaven. This is the first time in Scripture we clearly see a plurality in the God head. It is said "let US make man in Our image". Man was made to be the image bearer of God on this earth. God went even further in stating our purpose here. To have dominion over the earth and every creature here. Man did not just happen to wind up on top of the food chain. We were placed there by God. Our value towards humanity is based on this truth. We are to value each other and find connection with each other based on this truth. Our connection with each other is not based on the color of our skin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, financial status, or any of these empty ever changing statuses. Our connection and value of others is found in we are all created in the image of God. I understand that image was broken and marred by sin, but scripture doesn't remove this basic fundamental truth. Genesis 9:6 tells us this plainly. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." A full understanding of this settles the argument- is abortion wrong. Every child is created in the image of God and it is completely wrong to kill or damage that life. God values our life and design. I love to consider how we were created. God did not simply say let the ground bring forth man. In Genesis 2 we get a more complete telling of the forming of humanity. We are told when it came to man God himself came down and got hands on with us. We are the only creature this is said of. God took the time to come down and form us personally as He wanted us. If God saw us as important enough to be hands on, should we not see each other the same way? We should be hands on in caring for one another. We need to teach ourselves and our children to have this concern for our fellow man.
We see further in our main text an answer for the latest argument. Humanity, as every other mammal, comes in two options. "Male and Female created He them". I honestly have a hard time understanding how this has become a point of discussion. Even with biblical truth removed and we see ourselves as nothing but smart apes. Apes come in two sexes and they don't change. Are there genetic mutations and problems? Yes, but they are extraordinarily rare. In this world a species exists to continue its self. Humanity, of late, is the only one that has seen fit to lose sight of this truth. That's just from the natural side. Scripture is plain that God only made two sexes. Please don't let this foundation be lost. This is where the loss of our creation becomes important. If we are evolved by chance it can be argued that this is next. I have seen of late some suggesting this line of thinking. Allowing evolution to become mainstream has brought us to this point. If we don't stop it here it will get worse.
Our compass of truth has to be guided and centered on this common point of truth where we find out so much about ourselves and God. Humanity has tremendous value and we must defend this truth. We see so much about this just in our creation. We will see much more about this in His commandments, and calling on us as well. I do hope you are enjoying our study on these things and hope you will continue to study along with us. As Scripture tells us, be strong and courageous. Stand firm in His truth and He will stand with you. God bless you all is my prayer.
Lost Compass 2: Creation
When we consider the most basic truths that form the foundation of our walk and life as a Christian, what do you consider? Possibly the basics of our salvation. The truth that Jesus came and lived the perfect life and died the substitutionary death for each of His children. Perhaps, you consider the 10 commandments. Or, perhaps, you consider the importance of the church. All of these things are points to consider, learn, teach, and defend. However, they are not the most fundamental of truths. In this list of things you consider, where does our creation fall? Tip top of the list, somewhere in the middle, or what does that have to do with it? One of the most destructive losses of truth has come from allowing the world to control our world view.
The world's most common view allows for too much, and I believe for selfish reasons. The world would have you to believe that the earth and it's universe were created by chance, time, and zero intelligent design. It all started from a miraculous chance- somewhere a ball of energy couldn't hold itself together and so somehow exploded into everything we see. Then in another miraculous wonder, somewhere, somehow, life began all on its own. Humanity itself is nothing more than a glorified mammal. Personally, I don't understand how anyone can believe this line of thinking. I do, however, believe I understand the reason behind accepting and/or pushing it. If this is true we owe nothing to no one for our shear existence. There is no rule of law outside of nature's survival of the fittest. We are indeed the supreme being simply because, by chance our ancestors evolved into the smart primate. We control our lives, morals, and view of all things. This mindset is seen clearly in so many people pushing the thoughts of "my view trumps all". This teaching has become mainstream and is very tempting to fall for because we want to feel right. I have seen many fall into this excuse for any lifestyle. This teaching is at the core of today's agnostic and atheist teachings, and we are losing our children to it at an alarming rate.
We must get back to basic fundamental truths. We must stand for and teach the biblical world view. Some inside Christianity have tried to blur the lines in the name of science, so called. They try and teach a divinely guided evolution. They do not hold to the biblical truth taught in the book of Genesis. Scripture, and our proper world view starts off simple, "In the beginning God". Creation is not over millions of years. It is not a process of time and evolution. Genesis tells us plainly that this world and it's universe were created by an all powerful, all knowing, superior God. When you look at this universe and how intricate it is and how it keeps perfect time, that is from the mind of God. This world belongs to God. This universe belongs to God. It was created from nothing in six literal days. There is not a lost eon of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. There is nowhere in scripture that endorses that teaching. This teaching is important to our world view, and our view of salvation. I'll save the salvation points for another day, but trust me, it matters. Understanding God as the creator at His will, by His design, at His time brings God into this world. He is not just some supreme being over a world. He made this world as He saw it needing to be. He tells us in His word that He made it as it needed to be for us. He is in control because it is His. The world wants people to earn their respect and see them as deserving of following. How much more deserving can He be for creating and giving us everything? The abundance of food, environments, plant life, and experiences come not from chance, but by His design. God truly deserves our all because He has given us all. We must teach ourselves and our children to respect God for who He is. He is the creator. He is the ruler. He is in control and we must bend to follow Him and not the other way around.
This is only the beginning of the teaching of the importance of creation. Next week I hope to show the importance of the creation and beginning of humanity. God bless you all, and God bless us in teaching these things.
Lost Direction Part 1
Right now we look around the cultural reality we live in today and find no shortage of issues. A nation arguing over basic biology, all while screaming trust the science, arguing over weather the concepts of the mind trumps truth and reality, arguing over weather or not its right or wrong to kill babies in the name of women's rights, and the list can go on and on and on. We stand back and wonder how all this can be and join in the fight trying to over come these problems. However, this is like focusing on focusing on the pain in our back, and ignoring the cancer inside. All of these things are just symptoms of the true problem. We as a people have lost our compass. We have forgotten our directions and are largely as Christ put it, the blind leading the blind and all headed for the ditch. I would like to over the next few weeks look at some of these things. Consider what God would have us to do, and what we must do if we want this to change.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. This is largely how we live these days. We act as if authority exist but it is all according to me, myself, and I. There has got to be a standard! And, that standard can not be us. Standards do not change. Truth is truth and it does not change. Truth is not relative. Truth does not care about feelings, care, concerns, or yes buts. We all want a government, protection, and guidance, but when it doesn't agree with us we riot, protest, fight, and scream. Current circumstances change and everything we thought yesterday is out the window. We are all fickle and change our minds. This is why we can not be our own standards. We need something bigger than us. A compass only works because North never moves. How would we get around or find our way if the compass decided one day West is North? We all trust and follow google, and apple maps blindly because they are based on a standard. How effective would they be if every time we thought something was a different direction and it moved according to our thoughts? When you go to fill up your vehicle how would you like it if the station's owner decided for themselves how much fuel was in a gallon? Station X sold a gallon for 3.50 but you only got a cup and he called it a gallon. Would that work? Everything in our lives needs a standard. Funny how we don't get upset or argue against these little standards. We honor them and are glad they are here. However, the big ones we get angry over and want them to change all the time. Whether we like it or not life requires a standard!
Let me tell you what is not our standard. I've already told you that you are not the standard. There are good people and good intended people in this world. They may be good role models, but not standards. I hope as a father, husband, and pastor that I am a good role model to others. However, I am not your standard. Public opinion is not the standard. Many want to turn to the majority as the standard. We used this excuse often as kids. "Everyone else is doing it", we would shout as if that excused our actions. The problem with public opinion is it made up of groups of us, and we are not the standard. Five years ago things that are accepted today by public opinion would have been mocked and shunned by the same public opinion. There is not a single person in government, on either side of the aisle, that has not spoken out of both sides of their mouth on something. Those that have spoken out against free border policy, same sex marriage, and abortion, now speak out against those that oppose the same things. Those that used to be for these things, now oppose the same. Those that last week couldn't tell us what a woman was, now scream about women's rights. Public opinion is tossed about to and fro with every change of the cultural wind. We are called on to not be this way. Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. The argument over sex, gender, and the such has found its strength in our willingness to have no standard. Right now it is popular to be a part of these things and that is why we are finding more and more of it daily. Public opinion is being influenced. We need a standard. Government is not the standard. It is chosen and put in power based on the wind of culture and is far too influenced by power hungry people. It changes all the time. We need a standard! We have been reminded as of late that Science and education are not the standard. Basic biology that has been accepted as truth for generations is now mocked and ridiculed. The basis of the founding of this country is under attack and is being changed as we speak. These thing sadly are affected by cultural winds as well, but they should not. That is not to say all of these things are negative and completely bad. God set up government and gave us the ability to communicate one with another so that we could influence and work with each other. However, they are not the standard.
We have a standard. We have an unchanging, unyielding, unmovable standard. His name is God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has given us His word, and we are to honor it. God's rules and judgements have not changed from the beginning. He does not care and will not change according to your feelings about it. Jesus told us He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. There is not multiple choice on these things. Everything in our life is to move and yield according to Him and will not work the other way around. We don't like that because it means we have to listen and change. His truths are truth and will not change. It is this standard that I am going to use as we look at these things. We need to calibrate our cultural, religious, and personal compasses to this true North.
The world has lost its direction and it is our fault because we have not taught this. We have forgotten to teach our children that you must yield to the standard. There is no compromise with God. We must teach our children this truth. We must as our proof text says, "set our affections". We have allowed ourselves and exampled to our children, and they are learning it, that money, fame, fun, prestige, toys, and self worth are the goal. We have followed these things away from His word. We have followed these things away from His church. We have followed these things away from Him. We have foolishly done this and we have taken our children with us. We can do better. We must yield to Him ourselves. We must do so in All things. We must teach our children to do so as well. They may stray and wonder from time to time, but if we teach them and show them. They will not depart them. Ever noticed as you get older how much like your parents you tend to be. We aren't carbon copies, but we find pieces of them in us all the time. That because we were trained up in them and we can't depart them. God help us to do better. God help me to do better. God bless you all as we study the standards that God has given us.
Isa 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; KJV
What a wonderful promise of God!
It has been a while since I have made a post to this blog. Sadly, I have allowed too many things to get in the way. It may be surprising to some, and come as a "well, duh" to others, but did you know preachers and pastors get overwhelmed by this world too? I want in no way to come across as poor me, but rather, as an encouragement to pray for your pastor and ministers. We need it daily; the same as we pray for you all daily. Many of us are bi-vocational, have families and struggle to find balance between all the things we are called on to do in this life. I have fallen victim to this as of late. Our text today is one of my favorites in helping me pull my head back up and start fighting again.
The more things, activities, groups, and goals you have in your life the easier it is to get overwhelmed. It would be easy for us to just sit at home and cocoon ourselves into our personal bubbles and just pretend the world doesn't exist. Or, at least we would like to think so. The reality is, even if you tried that, you would find that the same stress and troubles find their way in. Jesus spoke plainly when He said that in this world you will have troubles (John 16:33). Not to mention Scripture is plain that idleness has no good end (Pro.24:33-34). The problem, however, with getting to the other extreme and being overwhelmed is that it leaves us stressed and vulnerable. Scripture tells us plainly that our enemy seeks whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan, as a lion, doesn't go for the big, the strongest, and healthiest. He picks on the weak and wounded. Stress and feeling overwhelmed can lead to you being in this place. He comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). He, and his little cohorts, use every trick in the book. Lies, stress, blatant attacks, friends, family, doubts, and the list can go on and on. As of late, I feel as if I have been slammed with these things and I have allowed them to win. I find myself, and I don't believe I'm alone in it, reading less, studying less, and being available for those that need me less when I get stressed and overwhelmed. The world's weapons to pull us down and backwards are nearly endless. Our text, however, came to me just when I needed it. It has become, and always has been, in times like these a pep talk I give myself over and over through the day.
No doubt, the world and Satan finds and forms weapons abundantly. However, they may be formed against me, but they will not prosper. Doubts form in my mind and creep to my heart, but by faith and the grace of God, I will not listen. Fears may come, but I have been given the spirit of a sound mind and power (2 Tim. 1:7). God has indeed given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We need only be reminded we are not alone in this world. We need to put on the whole armour of God and pray diligently that we can see Him in our lives. Satan is a liar and only knows that life. He can use our life against us, but we don't have to fall for it. May God bless us all to help one another, and may God bless us all to understand that Satan's weapons will not prosper against us. God will protect us! God will keep us! God will provide!
If God Be For Us!
Often times we feel like we need someone on our side. Perhaps you can remember in your youth needing help with something. Maybe you felt out numbered, weak, insecure, or just nervous. Some big bully had been picking on you and you felt you had no way out. Unfortunately, I can remember many times like that in my youth. Maybe as you got a little older and you began to see something that needs changed, but you wanted others to step up with you. Most commonly I can think of times like that at the workplace. You know the old saying they can't fire all of us. I'd remind you really they actually can. If someone else would have your back you would find the courage to move forward, but you just find yourself feeling alone. Have you ever experienced that feeling? How awesome did it feel when your friend showed up and faced the bully for you? Maybe you stood up to the boss, and unlike all the other times, someone actually stuck around to have your back. That wave of they care, relief, strength, and everything is going to be ok. It makes it even better if the one stood up mattered to them. Your friend proved himself to be bigger than the bully, and your coworker had the authority that the boss listened to him. You have a friend. What a relief.
Often times in our spiritual walk we can find ourselves in these shoes. Many times its of our own doing. Either we fell for the same old temptation and trap and walked right into this mess. Or, we feel shame in our life and don't want to bother others with our problems, so we don't allow anyone in. The Christian life can be daunting and over whelming at times. This is especially true for a young new believer. We can feel so alone in our walk with Christ. I want to remind you that feeling alone in your walk because no one would understand is a mistake. Your pastor and your church family are there to help you with these times. Even more importantly our text for today is one of my favorites for times like these. Who better to have on your side than the God of the universe? Can you imagine God on your side? Paul tells us consider the things that are said in Scripture. These things he is speaking of are these.
God has always loved His people. Those that He foreknew, that is to say always loved. God created this universe to house a people that He knew and loved. The fact that we exist and the world is this amazing, beautifully created world exist is because He knew us, loved, us and provides for us. God is for us. He is on our side. He created abundantly for us. He knew us before this world existed. That means His love for us is not based on how good we are, what we do, what we believe, or what we bring to the table. We are told in Scripture this is based solely on his free will and grace.
Not only did He know us, He acts on our behalf. Those He foreknew, He predestinated to be conformed in Christ image. God is on our side. He is for us. He is on our team. He stood up for us in the face of sin and death. He proved Himself bigger than that bully, because He is bigger than that bully. He predetermined that those that He loved will be changed to be like Christ for an eternity. He determined that to be the case and He saw to it that it comes to pass. He sent His son to die the perfect death. His son gave up His life to remove the sins of all God's people. How much more proof of Him being for us can we ask for? Well not only did He successfully pay for all the sins of all God's people, He also sends His Spirit to quicken all of them into a life of being able to know and love Him. He does this without missing even one of His children. That is awesome.
Paul goes on to tell us that this same number of people that He loved before the world, are the same ones that is predetermined the destiny of, are the same number that He calls, justifies, and glorifies in this life. He works with us and provides for us on the day to day level. God is for us 100%. Paul says, what can we say then? If God be for us? Who can be against us? The implied answer here is NO ONE. No one is equal to God to face Him toe to toe. Paul goes on to say that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. Nothing of this world, in this world, around this world, in heaven or on earth can separate us. No one is His equal to challenge Him. When we feel alone this verse is awesome to remind us that we are never alone. God is with us! Who can stop us? That includes you and your doubts, fears, weaknesses, sins, and rebellions. God will never leave or forsake us in this life. Whom shall we fear?
I hope that this verse finds a lodging place in your heart and mind. Memorize it. Study it weather it be true or not. Use it in you times of needs. There is nothing you will face alone, and there is nothing that God can't pull you through. May God bless you all is my prayer.
We need only ASK
I would like to start by saying the basis of the thoughts on my mind are not original with me. I will always give credit when it is due. While visiting at a church meeting recently, I was reminded again how much the Pastor needs preaching from time to time. Elder Dwayne Hooven preached a wonderful message and one small point he made stuck with me. I am glad the Lord works in this way.
I am a simple feller with simple ways. My studies and writings are rarely deep with flowery words. I learn in simple ways and believe that it is an excellent way of teaching. Sometimes we need a simple way of remembering things. One of these methods of teaching and learning is using acronyms. We Old Baptists know these well. To easily teach the gospels of grace we use the acronym T.U.L.I.P. .
T - total depravity, teaching the biblical truth of the lost condition of all mankind caused by the fall of Adam in original sin.
U - unconditional election, the biblical teaching that God chose His people of whom He loves and promises to save before the foundation of the world.
L - limited atonement, teaching the truth of Jesus died for His people. Just as it is taught plainly in scripture.
I - irresistible grace, the biblical truth of God's command to "live" in regeneration that needs nothing else to quicken us into life.
P - preservation of the saints, teaching that God will preserve His elect in grace for all eternity. It is a blessed truth that He shall lose nothing.
It's a simple tool, but effective. I am reminded of another my dad used regularly when teaching me to diagnose trucks. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. It was a lesson I needed regularly and have used it in many aspects of my life, even beyond the truck shop.
Our need to communicate with God and seek His direction in our lives can seem daunting at times. We try to make communicating with God as complex as we see God to be. However, its good to be reminded just how simple God can be at times. The brother shared with us our text today. If we desire to see God, find God, learn God, or follow God we need only A.S.K. .
A. - Ask the one who knows.
Its a simple thought, but according to scripture it is one we often over look. James tells us, by Holy Inspiration, we have not because we ask not. So often in our lives we would really like to know what God would have for us. It is another well known acronym, W.W.J.D. what would Jesus do? We wonder these things and we ask the preacher, a good conversation to have by the way, or we ask our friends, or we look to our own thoughts and understandings to find the answer. We also, I hope, pray for an answer. If you don't, please understand that's where it should start. The beautiful thing about this text is that every aspect of this teaching comes with a promise. God is indeed a good Father. He is far superior to us and He states in the following verses that even we tend to give that which was asked for. If we, that are evil, are good enough to often answer the question, how much more will our Heavenly Father do? Scripture tells us not to lean unto our own understanding. If we desire to know better how to serve God, how to follow His will, how to help our loved ones, how to be a better church member, how to be a better Christian, or any other thing of God we need only ask. You may say, "well I've asked before and I still don't know". Far too often that is because we stop there. The teaching, however, doesn't stop there.
S. - Seek His answer.
God's ways and thoughts are far bigger than ours. We want things to be straight, simple, and to the point. We want God to deal in neon signs, split seas, whirlwinds, burning bushes, or talking donkeys. However, a deeper study of Scripture will show that far more often He works in the still small voice, prayer and fasting, long pauses, and step by step instructions. Jesus reminds us that the kingdom of heaven, that we are currently living in and have access to, is like a woman that would not stop asking the man to help until he moved. It's not a question of convincing God we need it or changing His mind into taking action. It is far more about our fickle, temperamental, wishy washy ways that are the challenge in this teaching. God's design and direction for our ways tend to be tedious and hard to achieve. He tells us that it is the unwise man that starts off into something without first seeing that he has everything needed to finish the job. One of those things needed is the fortitude to finish the course. Do we intend to put forth the effort to finish the course? Prove it by being willing to work to start the course. Seek His direction. Seek His will. Seek His answer. Study His word, attend church, listen to the preaching, study further to see if it's true. Work to find His answer. David said in the Psalms, my soul followeth hard after thee. Will we be willing to do the same? This is only step two.
K. - Knock for the opening.
As we begin to ask and seek the Lord's will, He will begin to open His directions before us. Often, this is where we stop because we hit road blocks or hit struggles. When we run into these things, we far too often depend on our own strength and discernment to find our way and overcome. This is a mistake on our part. We want to find His direction and see to it that we follow it, whatever it takes. We will kick the doors down if need be. When furthering God's kingdom and sharing His name, we can't be bulls in china closets. We are told to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. When we begin to follow God a good practice is to knock. Do not kick down. When we believe we see God's direction, begin to knock. If it is God's will He will open it and help us overcome it. Trust in the Lord to keep poor doors closed and open the right ones. Knock and He will open and answer. He will open and provide. He will sustain. This will require punishment. Just because this is the last step of this teaching does not mean it will be quick. Knock and wait for an answer. Remember we are seeking God's will and direction. This is all an understanding of His understanding not ours. It is all about His time, His will, His answer, His understanding, and His opening.
I hope that this easy ASK reminder will help us to find our way in this world. May God bless you all is my prayer.
The Love Of God.
True Christianity is a deep and complex thing. The study of God almighty can seem daunting and overwhelming at times. His ways are far above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Who can find him out (Job 37:23)? I challenge you to dedicate your lives to the study of God and His ways. To walk as a Christian is to walk as He walked, as best we can, and that requires us to learn Him. Look at it like this: A marriage is a difficult thing. It is a life of studying your spouse. Learning them, pursuing them, and living for them in every way. The truth of marriage is, that it isn't easy or everyone would do it. I have enjoyed 20, almost 21, years of marriage. I want to learn more and more about my beautiful bride, so that I can love her better. I enjoy that study and enjoy experiencing the connection that comes from that study. She may argue that I'm not good at that study at that times, but I sure enjoy the effort. Sometimes though, it's nice to stop studying and just enjoy the simple truth that I get to come home to a beautiful, redheaded, warm hearted, real woman, that loves me, and I love her. Just get lost in the simple truth that I am, indeed, a blessed man to have her in my life. The life of the Christian is much the same. The more we work at this relationship, the better it gets for us. However, sometimes its awesome, and needed, to just dwell on the simple truths of God. If you're going to get lost in a simple truth of God may I encourage you to get lost in His love.
God is indeed the God of Love. Simply stated in Scripture, God is love (1 John 4:8). It is hard not to, and tempting to, delve off into the deep things about that verse and statement, but that is not the goal at this time. Suffice it to say that God is much more than love, and His love is much more than today's watered down version of that word. When we get into the deep side of God's love we can, if we are not careful, sterilize it from its goodness. Often, when ministers look at the love of God we want to go into the Greek and show the multiple meanings and uses of that word in Scripture to show the fullness of God's love. We want to show the division between the Eros love, Philo love, and Agape love and even try to define one of these as the God- type of love. I want you to know all forms of this word apply to God. God loves His people. He has loved us before we existed, when we were, and are, at our worst, and will love us for all eternity. He loves us deeply and personally. I want us look at all these types not to show one greater than another, or one godly and others manly. Rather I want to show the depths of His love and the peace that comes from knowing these things when we just want to dwell on the blessing of God's love.
I want to start with the love we mostly abuse, yet we need to know the most. Eros love is that emotional love that comes early and often. It is that feeling I get when I sit down on the couch and my wife puts her feet in my lap. That feeling I got when I first saw her all those years ago in Jr. High. That connection and draw I had towards her, and still have for her. While we often abuse and confuse this aspect of love, especially in our youth, God has it and uses it perfectly. Our text today states plainly He first loved us. I have loved thee with an everlasting love, He tells us in Jeremiah 31. God loves us! Do you hear that? Do you understand that? God loves us! Do not sterilize his love to an emotionless God. We are not a chore to Him. We are not an obligation to Him. His actions in our lives, we are told in Scripture, are seated in His love. The love we share with others is only an extension of the love that He gives us. In Romans, when it gives us the truth of our salvation, in Romans 8, it tells us that whom He foreknew- That is telling us of those He loved before their existence. God had and has an emotional draw towards His people. He saved us because He loved us.
The love that He had for us drove Him to action. This is that Agape love we tend to call the Godly type of love. We say that because it is the complete and perfected form of love. In John 3:16 it speaks volumes of this love, and truly defines it. For God so loved the world He gave. God did not only emote for us. He acted on this love. When I'm on that couch with my wife's feet in my lap, if I sat there and failed to do anything with that Eros love I am feeling, I would fall short of the Agape love I should share with her. When she puts her feet there, completing that love is when my hands start rubbing her feet, looking to see her pleasure and feeling the love I share with her. That is what God did in giving us His Son. Understand that God gave up His only begotten Son. He was willing to give him even unto death, because He loved us that much. That is awesome! Not only that Jesus loved us enough that He gave his own life up for us. Can you imagine that the God of the universe would be willing to die for a worm like us? Can you imagine being loved that much? He loves us!! Our salvation was driven by His love, and is sealed by His love.
Spend time enjoying the truth of God's love for us His people. If you think I'm leaving out the Philo love, I'm not. God's brotherly love and mutual friendship with us is found in the person of Jesus Christ Himself. He lived the life He did, for us. A life of ridicule and rejection for us. None of the rejection He experienced washed one sin away. Every time the world and His apostles ran from Him changed our destiny. Yet, He was willing to walk through that for our example. So that He can relate to us in this life. Much of this fallen world is looking for someone to love them. Find that answer in Christ. God loves us wholly and completely. What an awesome truth.
God bless you all, and come and worship with us soon.
What Kind of Peace Do You Want?
, What does peace mean to you? Without question, peace, strength, and help are probably three of the most common things prayed for in our lives. It may be worded in a different way or have another name to it, but what it comes down to is, one of these things being needed. Troubles and trials in this life are a common thread among everyone of us, and even promised to us by the Lord himself (John 16:33). When you ask for peace though, what are you truly praying for? In our text for today's note, we find Jesus and the Apostles during one of their many journeys. They lived a life on the move, following the direction and steps of Christ. When I consider a life of following Jesus I would like to picture a game of follow the leader. Not like I played when I was a child, where as the leader it was a challenge for you to go where no one could follow. Ducking under, jumping, over, or crawling through messes no one would dare to follow so you could be the winner. Much of my youth, I grew up on 300+ acres of thick woods and deep hollars, that is southern for shallow valleys by the way, and I can remember many a game that ended with crossing the creek in a not so safe way. That's not what I would like to picture when I consider following Jesus. I want to picture the perfect game with a perfect leader that only goes through green valleys and along the calm brook, and completely avoids the shadow of death. Often that is what we think would indicate a life lived for Jesus. However, if you follow the lives of the Apostles with Christ, we can learn better about the subject. They faced rejection, ridicule, and storms along the path that threatened their very lives. We find them in one of those situations here, the Apostles very much feared for their lives. After rowing and working and trying their best, they finally go to the Lord. Maybe they were going to seek His help. Maybe they went to Him to warn Him of the doom coming upon them. Either way, we can relate to them in that we tend to trust ourselves too long before going to our Lord. However, that is not my focus on this note.
We find here in this text two forms of peace. On the one side we find the form of peace most of us, and the world, want. The Apostles wanted the storm to still and the threat to pass. The reason for that is we tend to confuse peace with calm. The fact is, mostly when we cry out for peace, or seek peace, or pray for peace we pray that the problems of this world would leave and the sea would calm. I mean that is Jesus' response to them waking Him up, isn't it? He cries out "peace be still!" and all settles and they are at peace. I would love to tell you that is the biblical norm. However, if you look at the text and other texts when He does this, it is quickly followed with a reprimand. Our peace should not be based on worldly settings or the lack of storms. A peace built on a worldly setting is fickle at best. The second peace is exampled in Jesus. Now I know that we can not reach His level, but we can learn from Him and strive to better ourselves in those lessons. So, here is a man that seeks not to do his own will (John 6:38), but A man following the directions God sends him. He is indeed the perfect example in all ways. He knows that God has told him to go over to the other side and if God wants him there, he will help get him there. So this man gets on the ship and lays down, trusting in his God. Meanwhile, the storm begins to rage as it always will in this life. He finds his peace in his knowledge and faith in the God that directs him. True peace that passes understanding, as we are told in Scripture we can have, is not found in the world. It is found within us as we go through this world. When Jesus steps in and has to remove the problems of this world, it was not to give them peace. It was to show them where their faith lied and call out their weakness.
We serve a God that is able to overcome all the world's problems, permanently. That would be an awesome thing for sure. However, He works on a much more personal level than that. This world is sin cursed and full of trouble. God did not create it that way. God did not cause the issues or troubles. God is not obligated to fix them either. God does, however, promise to be with us as we go through this world. He tells us in Isaiah 43 that He knows us and calls us by our names. He promises that even if we pass through a flood, the water will not take us. When we travel through the fire, we will not be burned. Why is that? Because He is with us! Praise God and Amen. Let us strive to not find our peace in the world, in all its brokenness. Let us find our peace in the knowledge of a perfect God that loves us, carries us, never leaves or forsakes us, and promises us an eternal life beyond this world. When we find ourselves over taken by troubles and struggles, let us pray for peace. Don't look for the world to change though. Look for God to strengthen you. look for God to show you a path through the shadow of death. Look for God to speak to you in His word. Look for God to speak to you in the voice of a friend. Look for peace within and not without. God bless you all is my prayer.
It Matters What You Know.
Just as it is in all things, it matters what you know in Christianity. In our text, we find Paul working with some of the disciples of John the Baptist. They were good men. They were believing men. I want you to know- they were born again men. I set that preface as to not confuse you with the remainder of this post. When it comes to being born again children of God it matters not what you know, do, say, believe, or pray. Scripture is plain that the work of regeneration is instant, and a complete work of God's grace through the Holy Spirit. However, Paul asks them a question that matters. Have they received the Holy Spirit. Being disciples of John, they knew Jesus and His purpose of being here. They knew He was the Son of God. They knew many things and many of them had even met Jesus, see Matthew 11 and Luke 7. John was even careful to teach them how to pray. So much so that Jesus' disciples came to Him asking to be taught this as John's disciples were (Luke 11:1). However, in talking with them, Paul noticed something about them. Perhaps their speech gave them away. Maybe something they did tipped him off. Whatever the case may be he noticed their knowledge and, there-by, their experience lacked a major gift of being a child of God.
When Jesus was close to leaving this world, He had a serious discussion with His closest disciples. We find much of this recorded in the book of John chapters 14-17. He lets them know in plain language that He is leaving, and where He is going this time they can't follow. He tells them in this conversation that He will not leave them comfortless- aren't you glad of that! He will send the Holy Ghost to comfort them (John 14:16-17). To guide, strengthen, and teach them as He has been doing. We find in Acts when this takes place in its fullness. And, by Paul's question here, we know that this gift is not for the Apostles alone. Every child of God has access to and the ability to receive the Holy Ghost in their lives. When Paul asks them this question they admit that they have never even heard of such a Spirit. Now comes why I put the preface. Paul was not asking if they are born again. Paul is not asking if they need saved. Paul is not asking for them to prove that they are saved. In regeneration, we know by Scripture, that the Holy Spirit takes up His abode in every child of grace (1 Cor 3:16, Gal. 4:6, Ez. 37:14, Titus 3:5-6). However, they had yet to experience Him truly affect their lives. Paul didn't want that for them. He wanted them to know what they had access to in in their lives, as do I. Much of the New testament is devoted to the importance of the Holy Spirit in the child of God's life. Do you know what He can do for you? Paul quickly corrects that missing piece of knowledge and their lives are changed for the better at that moment. Why is that?
We find in Scripture that the born again child of God has a dual nature. The flesh, or old man, that is not changed in regeneration. Then, there is the inner man, or new creature, that is born in righteousness and true holiness. We find in Romans chapter 7 that we are constantly fighting with ourselves over this. We also find in 1 Cor. 14:32 that the spirit is subject unto the flesh. This is true in the prophets and every child of grace. Our spiritual life can, and is, held back by what we do or do not know. This is why it is so important to study, to read the Scriptures daily, to find and attend a bible believing and teaching church, and to yoke up with others that will sharpen our knowledge of God. The more we know of Him the more we can experience Him. Let me quickly point out here by doing this we are not empowering God. He needs nothing from us and is not controlled by us. However, we are a stiff necked, stubborn, rebellious people, and we want nothing more than to prove we need no one. This has been true from the life of Adam and will be true to last human of earth. We will not depend on, seek, or ask for help until we know someone can do it better. This is why Paul asked the question. And, I ask you the question, how much do you really know? How much do you want to know? Have you experienced or received the gift of the Holy Ghost in your life? Study and get to know Him and see if it doesn't change your life.
God bless you all and please feel free to comment or contact me with questions.