Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Any Means Necessary

"It isn't a lie, if you believe it."

A pearl of wisdom from Seinfeld's George Costanza, as he instructs Jerry on how to beat a lie detector test.

As an avid Seinfeld fan, I was thinking about this scene last week while preparing my final teaching on the Book of James, which closes with a topic on  the power of prayer. How many of us have been to that point of prayer within a difficult circumstance, to where we have trouble praying with boldness, and find ourselves showing God through our words and actions that we don't trust Him? Sometimes even forcing ourselves to believe that God's Promises are true and we trust Him?

The Book of James gives 54 clear commands to his readers to let them know how to practically do what they say they believe.
Or, as I prefer, James instructs us to simply hear God's Word and do it.

So, if we are to pray with boldness, just as God commands us to, why do we sometimes fail at it?

I believe we have forgotten to apply God's Word to our daily lives. Before even bringing up faith, James gives us this elegant point to seek after first:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
 - James 1:5

If we search out God's Word, which amazingly covers pretty much every little detail of our life that we could ever possibly go through, and also just ask Him, He will give us wisdom, insight, and direction. But, He wants us to ask him with boldness and faith.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. - James 1:6

If we waver in our faith when praying to God for help, we have not only shown God we don't trust Him and lack wisdom, we also have shown God we don't know who we are in Christ.

You have to know your identity in Christ. If you don't, you lack wisdom.

Our trusting in God in all things stems from us being confident in His presence.

It also stems from us carrying a confidence and wisdom that says we are what we believe.

For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. - Proverbs 23:7

For myself, to get where I am in Christ and walking by faith, I simply did this:

Apply your heart to instruction,
And your ears to words of knowledge. - Proverbs 23:12

The Lord rejoices and delights in answering our prayers, but only if we come to Him having a full assurance of trust.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It is What You Make Of It

“If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence...? You'd be bored to tears in heaven, if you're not ecstatic about God now! ” - Keith Green

Probably one of my favorite quotes, but I'd have to admit it took me quite awhile to get to that point of desiring God, let alone understanding it. In recent months my time of worship throughout each day has intensified, and while that has happened, so has my success in everything I do, that is only done to bring glory to Him.

But, our worship isn't about us succeeding, it's about recognizing the One who has given us that breath each day to worship Him.

"It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men."
- C.S. Lewis

I take great delight in being in His presence each day, it satisfies my soul. It brings me peace.
If you could find some time each day to worship Him, He will speak to you in various ways. He will respond to what you want to hear.

"Without worship, we go about miserable."
- A. W. Tozer

Yes, worship not only brings us joy, it gives God great joy in seeing us praise Him in song.

The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in
God which made David dance."

- C.S. Lewis

Another part of worship is reading and reflecting on God's Word. Renewing our mind with God's Word each day is what keeps us intune with Him and drives away the enemy.

Our goal as believers:

I live and move and have my being in Christ. (Acts 17:28)

If your searching for some joy within your walk, it's starts with worship. Praise is a wonderous thing when it's done on a consistent basis. It can change your outlook on life!

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Church on Sunday, Sluggard on Monday? Revisited

For some reason, this blog post from July 2010 has been receiving alot of attention lately, so I thought I would repost it, in case you haven't read it. Enjoy!

One of my favorite sports movies is the film Rudy. The true story of a teen,raised in a blue collar family, who would rather go to school and play football at Notre Dame than work in the steel mill like his father, brother, and the ancestors before him.

Rudy is a 165 pound kid, too small to play collegiate football, and can't get into Notre Dame because of his grades. The priest at Notre Dame suggests Rudy go to a junior college nearby until he can get his grades up to the level needed to be accepted at Notre Dame.

Along this never ending trail of achievement Rudy learns that he has dislexia, but that doesn't stop him from overcoming his disability by working hard. Once he is accepted at Notre Dame, he tries out for the football team. When he doesn't make the team, he keeps trying out until he finally makes it onto the practice squad. This only happened because the coaches loved his heart and his work ethic. In some ways, Rudy was literally a tackling dummy for the starting squad, but each time he was taken down, and no matter how hard the hit, he got right back up.

Even though Rudy chose not to be a blue collar worker like the heritage of his family, he did carry with him that same blue collar mentality of "working hard" to succeed.

We all know that hard work pays off whether you are a Christian or not. But what about Christians? Is it okay to be a sluggard at work?
In Proverbs, God gives us the model for "hard work" by referring to the ant:

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.

So God wants us to be as diligent as an ant. Hmm, how does that work?

In the Book of Ecclesiastes King Solomon gives us the formula for success:

1. Seek to please God in all you do.

Ecclesiastes 2:24- Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.
2. Find enjoyment in your work and daily life.

Ecclesiastes 3:22- So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
3. Never attempt to substitute scholarship for obedience.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-14-

And further My son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all.
For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

And of course, with King Solomon being acknowledged as the wisest man ever, how can we not forget adding "wisdom" to the formula for hard,diligent work. For wisdom brings success.

Ecclesiastes 10:10- If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.

Who would have thought that one of the tiniest of insects, the ant, would represent all that we are to be in our work habits?

One of the more memorable movie quotes comes from Maximus, in the film Gladiator:

"What we do in life echoes in eternity."

What we do in our lifetime and how we chose to live that life will be remembered long after we have passed on. This is how working hard brings honor to God.

In Ecclesiastes 7:1 it says that, "A good name is better than precious ointment,
And the day of death than the day of one's birth."

If you've chosen to live and do the will of God in your life then you've built a name for yourself through living a life of "Honor". People will recognize your life just by the mere mention of your name. And what you do in life will make an impact for generations to come.

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, checkout www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Learning Through Preparation

I have suddenly realized within my joy of teaching, that I myself am learning,too. Especially within the preparation of my teachings.
Sometimes while I am teaching others, I will come to the realization that I also need to hear and act upon what I am teaching.
This is a good thing!

A good mechanism to remember when teaching: don't expect others to adhere to your words of wisdom if you, yourself cannot follow that same wisdom.

While doing my homework in preparation for a study on the Book of James, I came across a significant commentary quote by Mathew Henry in regards to James chapter 4:

"Submit yourselves to God, for He is ready to do you good."

Sometimes we forget that God wants nothing but the best for our lives. We forget that we are sons and daughters of the Most High King. In chapter four, James asks us to just be honest with God, humble ourselves before Him, especially when we feel we have done Him wrong. A humble, contrite heart is what God is after.

7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor. (James 4)

You choose how much of God you want in your life. God is more than eager to get close to you if you allow Him to.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.
If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment,
and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. ( 1 John 4:18 NLT)

Just recently when I came across this version of 1 John 4:18, what struck me was I could never honestly remember a time where I had a fear of being punished from God. Even when I wasn't living the way I should have been, that fear never arose. Maybe it was from growing up in a Christian environment my entire life, and spending my childhood with my Pastoral grandfather.

Not everyone has experienced that luxury of a Christian upbringing, so I can't say I relate to everyone of different levels of faith. I can only teach what I know and live by.

If you find yourself struggling with fear or lack of peace, just know that God loves you and He wants to draw close to you.
Find a quiet place each day where you can dwell on God's love through His Word and through worship.

Next week I will post some good habits to form to draw you closer to Him. In the meantime, if you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.org for more of God's encouraging Word.