Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Dangers of Doubt

The Dangers of Doubt
Exodus 3:10-11 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Jeremiah 1:4-9 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
Both Moses and Jeremiah experienced doubt when God called them to service. However, as demonstrated in the lives of Moses and Jeremiah (and many others), trusting God leads to glorifying God.
As Christians, doubting God is one indication of the weakness of our flesh (whether we are being tested by God, tempted by Satan or influenced by the world). Doubting God is a very slippery and dangerous slope (James 1:12-16).
Doubting God is often the first step in disobeying God.
  • Questioning God’s abilities, plans or intentions.
    • Lack of faith.
  • Questioning the interpretation of what God is saying.
    • Lack of discernment.
  • Questioning if it is actually God speaking.
    • Lack of relationship.
  • Making excuses because of fear, ignorance or laziness.
    • Rejecting God’s providence.
  • Clinging to prior commitments out of stubbornness or pride.
    • Rejecting God’s priorities.
  • Declaring not to have the time, talents or treasures.
    • Rejecting God’s provision.
  • Deciding not to believe.
    • Rejecting God’s truth.
  • Declaring the truth is a lie.
    • Contradicting God’s truth.
  • Determining not to acknowledge.
    • Disavowing God’s truth.
  • Doing what is forbidden.
    • Sin
  • Not doing what is required.
    • Sin
When Jesus was crucified, there were two thieves crucified with Him (one on either side). Initially both thieves insulted Jesus (Matthew 27:41-44). Regardless of what other factors led these thieves to insult Jesus (self-pity, anger, desperation), at the core, doubt drove their behavior (they both doubted that Jesus was Messiah).
Yet one of the thieves turned from doubt to faith (Luke 23:39-43). The faith of this thief led to forgiveness, salvation and eternity in heaven.
At the first sign of doubt, turn to God: read His Word, pray to Him, worship Him, serve Him. As His children, He will always forgive us and ultimately restore us to right relationship with Him. However, the further you slip down the slope of doubt, the closer to sin and dishonoring your Heavenly Father you get!
Dear Lord, forgive me when I doubt You. Forgive me when I doubt who I am in You. Although my flesh is weak, Your Spirit indwells me and is infinitely more powerful. In Your strength, help me to trust and obey. Please give me wisdom, courage and strength. And when I do doubt, convict me and guide me quickly back to right relationship with You. I praise Your Holy Name and thank You for Your Holy Word. In Christ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wholly Holy

Wholly Holy
What does it mean to be ‘Wholly Holy’? Let’s start with some definitions:
  • Wholly – completely, totally, entirely
  • Holy – two meanings
    1. Morally and ethically perfect (God is Holy).
      • Morally – What we should be according to God’s perfect standards.
      • Ethically – What we actually are in real life.
    2. Separate/set apart
      • God is separate from/greater than His creation.
      • Christians are meant to be separate from the fallen ways of the world and set apart for special use by God.
Christians should be:
  • Totally perfect, both morally and ethically.
  • Completely set apart from the fallen world for special use by God.
    • But never forget, being separate from the world does not mean we are isolated from it. To show the love of Christ and share the gospel message, we must be engaged with the world. But we are not to be influenced to sin by the world.
Wait a minute! I know a lot of Christians (including myself), and not one of them seem to be totally separated from the things of the world or anywhere near perfect.
What does God’s Holy Word have to say about this?
We are commanded to love God with all that we are (Wholly)
  • Mark 12:29-30 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
    • No need to get overly analytical with these scriptures. Christ is plainly telling us that the greatest of all commandments is to love God with all that we are. We are to wholly give ourselves to Him.
    • What part of yourself are you holding back from God; desires, attitudes, intentions, words, actions, school, work, hobbies, talents/abilities, spare time, money?
We are called to be Holy
  • 1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
    • Very straightforward wording here, we are called to be holy as God is holy.
We are declared to be Holy
  • 1 Peter 2:5, 9
    • 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
    • 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
      • Whether we feel like it, look like it or even act like it, we (Christians) are saints and we are holy.
In everyday life (practically), because of the weakness of our flesh, we fall short of God's standards (Matthew 26:41, Romans 7:18-19). But, in God’s sight (positionally), we have the righteousness of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
This is the key to it all. Through the perfection of Christ, Christians are perfect (righteous) before God. Christ’s righteousness is credited (imputed) to our account.
So, in Christ, in the sight of God, we are morally and ethically perfect. All our sins, past, present and future are covered/forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Also, we have the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and enabling us to overcome the weakness of our flesh, the temptation of Satan, and the corrupting influences of the world (John 14:16-17, 1 John 3:24 and Acts 1:8). Although we will never be sinless this side of heaven, we can overcome a lifestyle of sin. We are to live a life that is not defined by sin. We desire to live free of sin by submitting to the power of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9) and gaining more and more victory over sin as God refines us through varies trials (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6,7; 5:10).
To be Wholly Holy is to understand who and what we are in the sight of God (positionally) while submitting to His plan to transform us over time into the image of Jesus Christ in our daily lives (practically).
Father, You have called me to be holy. You have given me Your Spirit to enlighten and empower me. Your Word calls Christian’s saints, holy, a royal priesthood. Thank You for my perfection in Your sight achieved only through Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. I pray Your Holy Spirit will lead Christians to understand what it means to be adopted by You. I pray You will allow Your children to see that they are Wholly Holy. Thanks for what You have done. I know that I don’t deserve it, I can’t earn it, and it is only achieved through Christ and Your gracious, merciful love. I praise You and pray to You in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Time Out

Time Out

Throughout the gospel accounts we see Jesus taking time to pray. Christ prayed on different occasions, in different ways, and for many different things. One of the reasons these prayers are recorded in the Holy Scriptures is because Christ was setting an example for us            (1 Peter 2:21).

One key element of prayer is to do it often (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is important to be in constant communion with God: (speaking to God, listening to God, watching for God to move, and in desperate or wonderful times crying out to Him spontaneously in brokenness or thanksgiving).

However, the specific focus of this devotion is making time for planned, daily, serious discussions with God. One great example of Christ making time for this type of prayer is just before He formally called the 12 disciples (apostles).
  • Luke 6:12-13 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

Some people refer to this type of prayer as ‘closet’ prayer. This comes from Matthew chapter 6 where Christ is teaching about prayer and says (closet meaning inner room):
  • Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

As we learn from Christ’s life and words, it is not so much about the place as it is your state of mind. For serious focused prayer time with God you need to be free of distractions. It is also best to have a set time each day that you have dedicated for this purpose. For some of us that means getting up extra early in the morning. For others it may be during your lunch break or late at night. The key is finding the right time for you and God to be alone.

Take a Time Out with God every day (including vacations, holidays, etc.). Don’t be legalistic about this (prayer is not an obligation, it is a tremendous privilege). But do be disciplined: you will never look back on your life and wish you had prayed less. Pray whether you ‘feel’ like it or not. And by the way, while you are at it, be sure to allow time for daily Bible reading. How do you know how to pray and what to pray about if you are not saturated in God’s Word?

No doubt, this requires a sacrifice. A daily sacrifice that honors God and Christ’s call to be His disciple.
  • Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Father in Heaven, through the shed blood of my Savior Jesus Christ and by my salvation, You have offered me the tremendous privilege of prayer. I confess that I don’t pray as much as I should. I admit that sometimes during my prayers I am distracted. But despite the weaknesses of my flesh, I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to commune with You. I thank You for the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit that guides me in prayer. Please continue to give me the desire to be in daily prayer to You my Lord. I love You. Thank You for loving me first.  Thank You for answering prayer.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Light to the Lost

A Light to the Lost
Satan has blinded the lost in this world to the truth about Jesus. All the lost throughout the world need the good news about salvation in Christ to shine in their lives.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Christ commanded us to shine as lights before men for the glory of God.
  • Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
He made clear that we are not to judge others.
  • Mathew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
But if we are to shine, we need a power source. Christ identified our power source as the Holy Spirit of God. He also told us that this power would enable us to be witnesses for Him throughout the world.
  • Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
In his letter to the believers at Philippi, Paul outlined the characteristics of a Christian as they obey Christ in the call to shine as lights in a lost and dying world.
  • Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
    • Our Attitude – ‘without murmuring’ As we live to honor God and witness to the lost, we should maintain a positive attitude. We should not be complainers.
    • Our Actions – ‘(without) disputings’ When we face opposition and resistance, we are not to be argumentative. It is the Holy Spirit that reveals the truth, not our ability to ‘win’ an argument. It doesn’t matter that we are right. The lost have to see the truth; and God does that, not us (John 6:44).
    • Our Reputation – ‘That ye may be blameless’ For our light to shine brightly and effectively, we must live the life we call other to. We can’t be hypocrites.
    • Our Intentions – ‘and harmless’ Our purpose is to faithfully and obediently share the truth about Christ while brining glory to God. Our desire is conversion of the lost. We are not judge, jury or executioner.
    • Our Heritage – ‘the sons of God’ As children of God and joint heirs with Christ, we walk in this world as ambassadors. Our goal is to reach the lost and see them join the family.
    • Our Standing – ‘without rebuke’ (without fault) Our righteousness is found in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Although we fall short in the flesh, we strive to live holy lives by submitting to the strength of God.
    • Our Surroundings – ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation’ We are called to be holy (separate) and loving (involved). To shine as lights we must walk in the dark while not being consumed or tainted by it. 
    • Our Purpose – ‘ye shine as lights in the world’ We shine as lights by sharing God’s Word, showing the love of Christ through good works, and by living a Godly life. Some plant, some water, but God brings the increase – salvation to the lost (1 Corinthians 3:7)!
What an honor and privilege to be indwelled, empowered and instructed by the Word and Spirit of God for the expressed purposes of glorifying God and sharing His truth with the lost!
Lord, I am humbled and grateful that You have saved me. Your Word is clear that I am to shine as a light in this dark world. To shine I need Your power. You have told me how to be an effective light. It is only through Your strength that I can fulfill this purpose. Forgive me when I judge others, when I fall short of Your standards, and when I hide my light out of fear or embarrassment. I long to faithfully obey You in every area of my life. May I trust You. May I serve You. May I honor You. May Your will be done. In Christ name, Amen.