Things Are Changing

If you are old enough to remember the 1950’s and 1960’s,  then you are old enough to remember a different mindset in our nation.  This was a time when the thoughts and principles of God were the primary mindset of the day.  It was a time of shows like “Andy Griffith.”  Our biggest problem was how Barney would deal with those who were jay-walking on the streets of Mayberry.  There was a time when those who didn’t believe in God were an oddity in our communities.  Tragically they are becoming the norm in many areas. Things are changing much too quickly. We are becoming exiles in our own nation.  How does a Christian react when he becomes an exile in his own country?

Ezekiel and the Israelites were taken to Babylon prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.  They continued to have some freedoms. Yet, in reality, they were exiles unable to worship God properly. God had raised up Ezekiel as prophet and priest to help Israel through these difficult times and to bring them hope for the future.  In spite of all Ezekiel did, Israel remained exiled in a country where the customs were not their own.  The thought process was not their thought process, but most of all, the Gods of the Babylonians were not their God.  It was hard for them to worship God as exiles in a nation that knew not God.

In our minds we think, “This could never happen to us.”  Truthfully, it is taking place even as you read this post.  When our fore-fathers founded this nation they did so on the principles of God. Those principles have dominated our thinking, our laws, and our culture since those days. Many of you can remember when everyone was a believer in God. It wasn’t if you belonged to a church but which church. This is changing and in many places has already changed. When the primary responsibility charged to the head of NASA by our government is to reach out and befriend the Muslim nations, things are changing.  When it is against the law to pray to God in a school assembly things are changing. When it is lawful for expectant mothers to kill their babies things are changing. When more than 50% of our nation contributes nothing but instead enjoys the blessings of this nation at the expense of others things are changing.

Unless we change our direction, the day will come when those who trust God for salvation will be the minority, exiles in our own nation. When that day comes we will have gone from the dominant to the dominated. This great nation will have been fundamentally changed from it’s core. What does it look like to be a Christian who is an exile in his own land?

In that day:

  • It won’t be who is right but what is right.  For most of our adult lives our argument has been who is right in what they teach religiously.  After all it was a given that God was creator and sustainer.  In a land where those who trust Jesus for salvation are the minority, we won’t be competing with other religious groups for members.  Instead, our battle will be with those who do not except Jesus or the Father as judge.
  • Biblical principles will no longer be the basis for Law.  This battle has been raging for sometime.  The Bible teaches that a man is to work for the things he has.  If he will not work, neither should he eat.  Without Biblical principle dominating our laws, the government will take what you have and give it to anyone of their choosing.
  • Morality will be a forgotten mindset. Without God we become nothing more than an animal.  Those who are strongest survive and control.
  • Our religious freedom will be at risk. God is a danger to the lifestyle of those who live for the pleasures of this world.  We have freedom today because of the freedoms afforded us by the Constitution.  Without the basic principles of God our nation will drastically change from what we have known.
  • Freedom in general will be at risk. Without God the core of this nation changes.  This nation will be fundamentally changed forever.  The days of our existence and our freedom will be numbered.

What do we do in times like these?  If it isn’t too late we must humble ourselves and turn back to God because God is our only hope.  He is the only hope of this nation and the world. Consider the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14. We don’t have time to spare, we must turn back to God today because things are changing.

God Will Deliver

It is often necessary to decide the following question.  Do I obey my heart or do I trust God? The temptation is always present to push for what the heart wants without really trusting God’s direction.  Most of us have been in a situation where we were up for a promotion or perhaps in the running for a job. We knew we could perform better than the one who eventually got the job or promotion. Maybe they got the position because they knew someone or maybe a third-party with some pull recommended them. Initially we may have been disappointed.  In time we realize  that God had something better in mind for us. What we often forget is this, God will deliver for His children. God will put us in a position to accomplish great things if we will place our trust in Him.

In Judges 7 the story of how God dealt with Gideon unfolds.  The army of the children of Israel prepares for battle with 22,000 men.  God tells Gideon that there are too many men.  Eventually God trims this group to a mere 300 soldiers. The rest of the story describes in detail how God delivers for Israel.  The success the men of God enjoyed did not rest in their ability as soldiers.  Their success was found in their trust of God.  They trusted-God delivered.

What God did for Gideon He will do for His children today.  God can and will deliver!  If God’s promises are real and they are.  Why do we often find ourselves in the grips of failure?  The following thoughts may give us some insight:

  • We are selfish. Often instead of allowing God to give us what He wants us to have, we push in our own directions.  Little children are never in a position to make important decisions without help.  Neither are we.  We need to ask God for direction in our lives.
  • We lack faith. We may ask God for direction.  Yet so often we fail to listen.  We don’t really believe God will deliver.  If we ask for direction we must trust God to deliver.
  • We don’t follow God’s timing.  A mighty oak doesn’t grow in a month.  Neither does God prepare us to do what He wants from us on our time frame.  We are often impatient and miss great blessings as a result.
  • We don’t allow God to provide. We ask God to show us the way. Often instead of allowing Him to show the way we push in the direction we want without allowing God opportunity to open the necessary doors to accomplish His will.
  • We only see the short-term. God has the ability to see our lives from beginning to end. We are often disappointed because something we want doesn’t happen.  It may be that God has something better in mind.  By waiting God may have a better job or a better opportunity for us.

Rest assured of this fact.  God will deliver more than we can imagine or even dream if we will put our lives in His hand.  Trust God for He will deliver!

Looking Like the Father

I just got back into Payson last night.  I spent the last two weeks back east getting acquainted with my second grandson.  While we were there we spent a great deal of time trying to determine who Jaxon favored most.  As  grandparents  we always want our grandchildren to share some of our family characteristics. 

Families have certain characteristics that are unique to that family.  There was a time when my son was about 15 and my dad was still alive when no one could tell who was answering the phone.  They didn’t know if it was Kevin, me, or my dad.  The characteristics of our voices were so close we could even fool family members.  There is a certain way that Kevin and I sit that is unique to our family.  My father and grandfather sat in the same way.  It isn’t unusual for families to share certain traits and qualities.  In fact it would be unusual if we did not share these likenesses.  Those of you who knew my dad and know my son can testify to the fact that there are certain physical similarities that we share.  Family members ought to have character qualities which are similar.

As Christians we ought to share family qualities with God the Father.  When we become Christians we are born again.  Born this time into the family of God.  We become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus.  As family members there are some things that ought to be similar.

Some Characteristics are immediate and some are developed over time.  When one becomes God’s child he immediately receives some blessings that go with being in the family.  Things like forgiveness of sin and God’s dwelling in us are immediate blessings given to family members.  Some Characteristics such as those in Galatians 5:22 develop over time.  Regardless as Christians we ought to look more like the Father every day.

Let’s consider a few of the characteristics we ought to share with our Father:

  • An Overwhelming Love for Souls
  • Complete Integrity
  • A Willingness to Listen
  • A Desire to do What is Best for Mankind.
  • A Knowledge that What we Have to Offer Makes Lives Better

We could list many qualities we ought to share with the Father.  These are sufficient for us to understand that it is only natural for children to resemble the Father.  What is true in the physical world is also true in the Spiritual world.  Christians need to look more like the Father everyday.

Is God Active in Today’s World?

Just this week I heard someone say, “In today’s world God only operates through the Word.”  This wasn’t the first time I had heard this statement made.  In fact I grew up being taught that God only operated in today’s world through Scripture.  The basic question is this, “Is this an accurate portrayal of God’s role in the lives of civilization today?”  Follow me as we spend a few minutes dealing with this misunderstood doctrine.

First, this doctrine has developed through time primarily as a result of our inability or unwillingness to accurately study the teachings surrounding the Holy Spirit.  Instead of studying through to truth we have sought to explain away the Holy Spirit .  Often we have replaced the role of the Holy Spirit with the role of Scripture.  With that said, let us never underestimate the purpose or power contained though Scripture.  Scripture occupies a most important place in God’s dealing with man.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us “Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be perfect throughly furnished unto all good works.”  In this text is contained a sizable portion of the purpose of Scripture and It’s relation with man.  The role of Scripture is to allow us knowledge giving us the possibility of  reconciliation with God.  It then affords us necessary knowledge to support the relationship with God made possible by reconciliation.  This is an extremely important role  Scripture occupies in the lives of men.  However, the role of the written Word does not supplant the role of God in the lives of men today.

The basic question is this, “Is God active in creation today separate and apart from Scripture?”  The answer to this question must be a strong and unwavering YES!   God is active in creation today separate and apart from His written Word.  The following list is by no means an exhaustive listing of God’s activities in creation today.  It is only a beginning.  Let’s examine together the following examples of God’s power and role in His creation today:

  • According to Colossians 1:17,  The Lord holds all things together.  Science so-called has taught for years that man was destroying the planet by global warming.  In the last year we have seen this concept begin to unravel.  In reality man cannot  destroy what God holds together.  All creation is held together by the Lord.  This is accomplished without the written Word.
  • God’s power to hear and answer prayer is outside the confines of the written word.  At times God answers our prayer in a super-natural way.  At other times He works through His Spirit as it dwells in us.  God uses us through His Spirit to do His will.
  • Today God is still in the healing business.  When an individual is healed from a sickness, they recuperate because God makes it happen.  At times God uses people gifted with the ability to bring about healing.  These “doctors”  He uses to carry out His work.  At other times God may allow an individual to heal without any other person’s help.  God still accomplishes this feat.  Healing occurs outside the borders of Scripture.  Still, God is involved in any healing action.
  • God has chosen to proclaim His message through the preaching of men.  While it is true that Scripture contains the message of salvation, God has chosen to work through men to accomplish the proclamation of His message.  As the Spirit dwells in us, He gives us the strength and ability to powerfully proclaim the message of salvation.  The power of God works through humanity by His Spirit to proclaim the way of salvation.
  • God helps us make decisions in our lives.  When facing a decision in our life the natural reaction from a Christian is to pray.  Sometimes we find the answer we seek in Scripture.  At other times God will answer our prayer in some way outside the confines of Scripture. As often as not God will work through some natural event on earth to give us the answer we seek. 

If we teach that God is only active in the world today through Scripture we are limiting God.  We are  saying that God left us when He gave us the Word in its completed form.  To make this assertion is to put God in a box.  Rather than limiting God by our doctrine wouldn’t it be far better to find Truth?  Instead of limiting God in ways that fit our doctrine let’s make sure that what we teach as truth accurately portrays God.  If God isn’t there it can’t be truth. 

God is active in the world today.  The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians.  Instead of seeking  to explain away these truths let us be sure that what we teach accurately portrays the role of God in the world today.

 

Faith In God

This is my 100th post this year.  It is my hope that I have said some things that made you think.  My intent has been to encourage all to keep an open mind and a heart that continues to seek God.  Spiritual growth requires a willingness to question all doctrine and religious thought.  Spiritual growth sometimes requires a degree of change.  I trust that you have been willing to question and make changes as you continue to grow in your relationship with God.

Faith in God is the foundation of all things spiritual.  Without an unwavering faith we find ourselves with no anchor in our lives as a Christian.  Romans 10:17 tells us “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”   Mark 11:24 says, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Absolute trust in God is an essential to all Christian living.

With this said, let me pose a question.  “Do we really trust God?” Are we willing to place our lives in His control?  On the surface we say that we are willing to trust.  If we have to give an answer to the question, “Do you trust God”  we are willing to say yes I do.  When we have to place this answer into practical action do we have the same trust?  Too often our trust in God wavers.  Our absolute trust often evolves into an “I hope so”, or a “maybe.”  What happens to us when our faith waivers?

First we make mistakes.  When our faith waivers we often only provide partial obedience.  God told Abram to leave the land.  Without questioning God Abram obeyed.  When famine came to the land Abram’s faith wavered.  He ended up in Egypt without God’s approval.  As a result he put his wife in a terrible position.  When our faith waivers and we provide partial obedience to God we place both ourselves and others in positions that are detrimental to our well being.

Second when we waver it is costly.  Moses had led God’s children out of Egypt.  The time to go into the promised land was at hand.  God told Moses to send 12 spies into the land that He had given them.  Their job was not to determine if they could take the land.  God had already given them the land.  Their job was to see the grandeur of the land God had promised.  Their faith wavered.  Ten did not think they could take the land.  As a result of a wavering faith it cost them dearly.  Today when our faith wavers we pay a similar price.

Third when our faith wavers we begin to be shaken by the small things of life.  We lose our certainty.  We find ourselves in a position of doubting God.

Total trust in God is the foundation on which everything else rests.  We must realize that God does not change.  The promises made by God cannot be broken.  Place your trust in God and do not waver.  God is in control!

Our God Is Able!

We are in trying times in this nation.  Unemployment is approaching double digits.  The direction of our great nation is toward Godlessness.  What is the answer?  Take heart, God is still in charge!

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”  Do we believe these words?  If we believe this promise why do we struggle with the difficulties life brings our way?  It is my opinion that we struggle because we take an attitude that basically says, “I know the promises of God but it doesn’t apply to my circumstances.”  We take the promises of God and place them behind our circumstances.  This is not as it ought to be!  God not only knows our problems,  He knows the solution already.

In Ephesians 3 Paul offers a marvelous prayer for the Ephesians.  He says in verse 16, “I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”  As Paul continues he says in verse 20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”  My friends grasp what Paul has said.  Our God is able!

How do you view God?  We need to realize we can’t measure God by our standards.  We can’t put God in a box.  Our God is indeed able to do more than we can imagine or even ask.  Lets look at just a few of the things God is able to do.

  • Our God is able to save us from our sin.  Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always live to intercede for them.”
  • Our God is able to stabilize the lives of those he saves.  Romans 16:25, “Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,”
  • Our God is able to help us in temptation.  Hebrews 2:18, “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
  • Our God is able to make His blessings abound. 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 God knows our financial situation and knows the solution already.
  • Our God is able to destroy our Pride.  Daniel 4:33 If God can solve the attitude of a king he can solve our attitude of pride as well.
  • Our God is able to protect us in every circumstance.  Daniel 3:6-26 Sometimes God protects us from the furnace.  Sometimes He protects us in the furnace.  Sometimes God protects us through the furnace.

The point we must understand is this,  God is in control.  My friends don’t miss this point! Our God is able!!

Waiting On God

One of the most important things in the life of a Christian is  to learn to live a life centered around God’s direction and God’s timing.  To grasp this concept we must first make sure that we know God.  As I stated in a previous post, there is  tremendous difference in knowing about God and knowing God.  Too often we know many facts about God without actually knowing Him.  If we don’t know Him we cannot live our life centered around Him.

Christians make bad decisions because we don’t know God’s timing nor direction.  When we wait on God it does not mean that we sit idly by.  What it does mean is that there are times in our lives when we must pause until we receive further instructions.  These are times when we need to wait for God’s direction.

For much of my adult life my attitude was, “God has never shown me what He wants.”  I strongly suspect that many of us with a background in the churches of Christ  have this same attitude.  Perhaps God has never shown us what He wants because we have never sought his advice.  Could it be that we haven’t been listening?  Sadly, I fear that for too many we don’t know how to listen to God.

God’s covenants with man change with time.  There was a time when God dealt with the Patriarch within each family.  Later, God’s covenant with the Jews was built around Moses Law.  Today God’s covenant centers around grace.  Covenants have changed but the principles of God have remained the same.  Hebrews 13:8 tell us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  The same principles God displayed toward man in the beginning He still displays today.

God has always blessed those who are willing to seek His direction and timing.  Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”  I can’t speak for you, but as for me, I need God to act on my behalf.  God promises his blessings for those who wait on Him.

To wait on God takes a deep and abiding trust that only comes through a mature personal relationship.  If we only know facts about God we will never trust Him enough to wait on Him to provide his direction and timing for our lives.  To fail to allow God  opportunity is to close the door on blessings without measure.  Trust God enough to wait.  Know God, trust God, and wait for God’s guidance in all you do.  Either we believe God is actively involved in the lives of Christians or we reject the notion.  I know God and I choose to believe!  I will wait for His direction and His timing.   How about you?