Engaging the Christian Worldview 2 Complete

There is only One True, Living God, Jehovah, the Lord God Almighty, and we have to recognize several of His attributes

before we can discuss His relationship to us in any detail. First, He is ever present. Who has prepared and done this, calling forth and guiding the destinies of the generations [of the nations] from the beginning? I, the Lord—the first [existing before history began] and with the last [an ever-present, unchanging God]—I am He (Isa. 41:4).

By this we mean that He is also Omni-present; that is He exists everywhere. Nothing is beyond His purview, because He is the One Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself] (Eph. 1:23). David knew this when he penned the great Psalm 139. He notes that there is no place that He can go that God is not there. Not heaven, not Sheol, not on the wings of the morning nor in the uttermost parts of the sea. Not in the light and not in the darkest of dark places. God is ever and all present.

God is also all powerful, and unlimited by any force, any being, or any outside influence beyond Himself. Remember what He told Moses, I AM. And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM and WHAT I AM, and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you! (Ex. 3:14). The great message of Job is that after all was said and done, He finally saw God with his spiritual eyes. He told the Lord, I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted (42:2). I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You (Job 42:5). Job recognized God as God, all-powerful, but also all caring.

God is also all knowing. God saw the Israelites and took knowledge of them and concerned Himself about them [knowing all, understanding, remembering all] (Ex. 2:25). There is nothing that we can do or say or think that He does not know about it. Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him] (1John 3:20). David was one of the only three people in the Old Testament that God called “friend” (Abraham and Moses are the other two). And David had this to say about his friend, Your [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it (Ps 139:6). And, of course, we have God’s own testimony. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

We also need to understand that God is complete in and of Himself. He does not need anything. He does not need humans. He does not need angels. He does not need our love, our praise, our worship. We must clearly understand this if we are to have our Christian Worldview firmly in place.

At the same time we also need to recognize that God is THE Creator. We need to confess that “God is the Creator, I am the created” (Gen. 1, 2). In The beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being (John 1:1-3).

We need to say out loud that “God is the Creator, I am the created,” over and over until it is seared into our consciousness like a brand burned permanently on the hide of a steer. Everything that we believe, and every idea that we have about God, must spring from the fact that there is only One God, and he is the Creator of us and the physical universe. Anything else is not part of a Christian Worldview. So, we have a way to test any Worldviews. If it doesn’t acknowledge God as God (not Buddha, not Allah, not any other human-designated “deities), and does not designate Him as the Creator, then it has no part in the Christian Worldview.

Acknowledging that God is the Creator seems like a natural thing for any Christian, but to do so means that we must place ourselves in the “created by God” category. He is the Creator, we are the created. Therefore, He has ultimate say in our lives. Often we think of ourselves as being “self” created. “I am the master of my fortunes.” “I only need God to help when I get into a tight place.” “Money isn’t everything, but it’s way ahead of whatever is in second place.” And an endless stream of other trite sayings that really reflect the world’s attitude, and not a real Christian Worldview.

Now, just a moment. Remember what we noted earlier. Don’t go off thinking that God created you so you could serve Him, worship Him, praise Him, or because He needed someone to love. He did not. He does not “need” us. Yup, you have to accept this as part of your understanding if you are to fully appreciate all the God is, has, and does. We must remember that God is fully and totally complete in Himself. He needs nothing from anyone or anything. He did not make the universe or us as an experiment. He did not make us to satisfy some itch that needed scratched, or to show off to other “deities.” We are not His puppets, dancing on the strings of His eternal existence.

Well, then, you ask, “Why did He make us.” No, it was not just because He could. That’s a cop-out answer. He made us just so that we could be, and share in His completeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them (Gen. 1:27). God created humans in His Own Image. He created humans to enjoy completeness. God did not need us, but He wanted to make us so that we could participate in His joy, His love, His peace, His completeness. When I have a nice meal, I don’t need crème brule for dessert, but I certainly want it. In fact, I don’t need any dessert, but still…. Dessert just makes the meal complete, right?  So, it’s not a matter of God’s needing anything. It’s a matter of Him wanting to share what He has with His creation. He doesn’t need to share anything; remember, He is complete in and of Himself. But, He wants to share, and so He does.

He created humans to enjoy His presence, His fullness, His completeness. Of course, Adam’s great blunder in surrendering His authority to Satan, tossed all humanity into incompleteness. The Word became flesh (John 1:14) to restore that completeness to us. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him (Eph. 4:12).

On our clean slate entitled “Christian Worldview,” we need to add the following 3 points.

1. God is all powerful, all knowing, all present

2. God is the Creator Who made us

3. We were created to share in God’s completeness

 

This week, every day, pray this prayer and give thanks that God is God and that He created us to share in all He has.

 

“Precious Father, I acknowledge that you are the One and only Living God, and that You are the all powerful, all knowing, all present Creator Who made us so that we could share in all the fullness of Your completeness. Thank You so much for wanting me. I want You ever present in my life, and I want to share in Your completeness every moment of my life. In Jesus’s Name please help me to make it so.”

 

Engaging the Christian Worldview 1 Only One God

“Engaging the Christian Worldview” is a series of lessons designed to address two major aspects of the Christian life. (1) The process of engaging; that is, being involved in, employing, using, making a conscious effort to apply to one’s life. (2) Understanding the way that we as Christians are supposed to relate to the world. It is, obviously, the way we “view” the world, the world being not just the physical earth, but the people living in it, both Christians, and those who are not.

Many Christians do not function within or try to function within, the parameters of a Christian Worldview, in large part because they do not clearly understand what precisely a Christian Worldview entails. We are physical beings, designed with the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste so that we might relate to the physical world around us, and the world around us is constantly impinging on our senses. And, while it is important that we relate to the physical world around us, we also need to look at the way the people of the world operate relative to the way Christians are designed to operate.

Yes, we have to work, and often with people of the world. Yes, we have to buy things, usually from people of the world. Yes, we all have friends that are not Christians. But that does not mean that we have to have the same worldview that they have. Many times, Christians have a worldview that leans strongly toward the general worldview of the secular community. Sometimes it’s because Christians don’t want to be seen as “different.” Sometimes it is because the followers of Christ’s often trail so far behind Him that they can’t hear Him or pay attention to what He is doing. Often it is because we don’t really have a firm grasp on the worldview that Jesus has prepared for us. The purpose of this series of lessons is to get everyone on the right page, so to speak, operating as fully possible in the worldview that Jesus died for.

There are truths that the Bible clearly outlines for us, which allow us to develop the correct way to relate to the world around us. Of course, as soon as the word “truth” is mentioned, the people of the world haul out the last part of John 8:32, “You’ll know the Truth and the truth will set you free,” without the slightest understanding of the Truth. And, oftentimes, Christians will do the same–without the slightest understanding of the context in which these words were spoken by our Lord and Savior (read John 8:31-32).

Jesus gave us the clearest instruction on how to develop the Christian Worldview. When asked what people should be doing to do the works of God, He replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger] (John 6:29). That’s the way we build our Christian Worldview. We get intimately involved with Jesus. Over and over, we read about Him, what He said, and what he taught us through the writing of others like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, John, Peter, James, and the writer of Hebrews. We look to the Old Testament to see the types there, and the prophecies about Jesus. We dig, we analyze, we apply logic, we pray, and on and on. We never stop developing a relationship with God.

And there you have Step One. We must acknowledge that there is but one true Living God. There are not many—as in Greek mythology, or Hinduism–there is only One, the great I AM. And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM and WHAT I AM, and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you! (Ex. 3:14).

Any other deity is a false god, created by the mind of humans as a way to control other humans. We need to cast aside all other things that would occupy first place in our lives and completely devote ourselves to developing a relationship with the One and Only True Living God. Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be) (1John 5:21).

God is a reality and He really wants us to know Him in His fullness. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out] (Heb. 11:6b). God’s heart toward us was clearly defined when He said, I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings (Hos. 6:6).

Our total Christian worldview springs from this basic understanding that there is only One God, and no others. We must clearly acknowledge that the gods of other religions are not God Almighty. God is not out to compete with other human-supposed deities. They are all fakes and cannot compete with the One and True God, Who is the Truth. No, people can set up all the gods they want, but they are only human manufactured figments of the imagination with absolutely no reality. If we truly acknowledge that God is God and all the others are nothing, then, like Joshua, we can shout to the masses, And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15).

I know that there is a current trend to make the supreme being of all world religions the same. But, they are not. There is only One God, the Lord Almighty, and no others. Oh sure, we can call them gods, and bow down and worship them, but to what avail? There is only One True Living God, not a whole bunch of them, all with different ideas about our eternal existence. Only God offers us a true eternal, unbroken relationship with Him. To acknowledge that God is God, the One and Only True God, is to live to life. This is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent John 17:3).

If The One True God is no different than all the other dead gods, made of stone, clay, metal, or our imaginations, then we who are [abiding] in Christ hope only in this life and that is all, then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied (1Cor. 15:19). But we know that is not true. Anyone who really knows God, knows that He is the only One Who can offer us eternal life with Him, and a constant, real, ongoing, day-by-day relationship with Him. He is the only One who can give us any real help, any real comfort, any real assurances, any grasp on the real Truth.

Then, there is a common PW (popular wisdom) that all the world religions just represent different pathways to the same god. No, again. If in fact they do, then all of them must describe Him in precisely the same way. And, of course, they do not. All of them must ultimately have the same methodology for attaining an eternal relationship with God, but again, they do not.  Only Christianity is based on the redemptive work that Jesus performed on the cross. Only Christianity posits a God who accepts us by His own mercy, love, and grace, and not my anything that we have done to “earn” His acceptance. There is only One, Living God, Jehovah, the Almighty.

To worship other gods and put them ahead of God Almighty is to live to die. All the other gods of this world owe their ultimate origins and allegiances to the Evil One, and all he can offer is eternal death. Eternal death means eternal separation from God’s love and care. Not a good thing.

 

So, on the very top of our clean slate we put:

1. There is only one True God, Jehovah, The Lord God Almighty.

 

Now, we need a way to rivet this statement fast to our spirits and make it an integral part of the way we think. To do this, every day of the coming week, pray this prayer with meaningful intention and attention to what is being said. Agree 100 percent that Jehovah is the Only True, Living God.

“Precious Lord, I acknowledge that you are the One and Only Living God; there are no others that can offer me eternal life. Help me to always put You first in my life, and to develop a full and rich relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, so be it.”

 

 

People of Promise 104 Promises Promises

This is the last lesson in the “People of Promise Series. It has run a full two years, and covered a good deal of Biblical ground, so to speak. Next week, we will begin a new series, “Engaging the Christian Lifestyle.” Can’t wait to see where the Holy Spirit takes us.

This last lesson in the People of Promise series looks at a verse that was discussed once before, but which we need to finish with, and examine a bit more thoroughly. For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God (2Cor. 1:20).

There’s a great ad on TV based on human notions of promises. I shall paraphrase liberally. “A promise is only words” “It is no better than the maker of the promise.” “It can be broken.” It can go unfulfilled because of external circumstances.” A promise unkept is a nothing.” “Ah, but a promise kept, that is something; it goes beyond words to the true nature of the heart.” And God’s heart is always for us. What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] (Rom. 8:31). For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).

Yes, God loves us beyond our understanding and will never willfully separate Himself from any one of His children. That’s why all of His promises are “yes” to us.

But here’s the rub. We can, and often do, separate ourselves from God. It’s not that God’s promises fail, it’s because we fail. We fail because (1) we don’t know God’s promises; (2) we don’t stand in His promises with anything that even approaches true faith; (3) we allow others to convince us that His promises are for others, were only for those in the past, etc. Listen, if God promises you something, then it is yours, and you need to seize it and hold onto it for dear life.

This is not an easy thing to do because humans are impatient. Even the great father of our faith, Abraham, got cross-ways in his total reliance on God, and took things into his own hands. But that didn’t nullify God’s promise, and Isaac was indeed born of Sarah even as God promised. Ah, but the agony of the wait, that was Abraham’s undoing and it is often ours, too. We pray according to 1John 5:14-15, asking for something God has promised His children, and then don’t receive it right away. “Ah well, we say, God’s answer must be no.” Well, guess what, your failure to stand in God’s promise is what caused it to fail.

Yes it’s hard. No one ever said that all you have to do is spin the ol’ prayer wheel, and you get whatever the pointer lands on. No, you must absolutely believe that God will do what God says He will do. You must believe with absolute certainly that God is not going to jerk His promise away at the last second, and then taunt you because you weren’t quick enough to grab the brass ring. You have to believe that God is not human, and doesn’t think or operate as humans do (Isa. 55:8-9). You have to stand rock solid with God.

“But why?,” we whine. “If God knows I need it, why doesn’t He just give it to me?” I just said that God doesn’t think and operate like humans do. God’s covenant, signed in the blood of Christ Jesus, provides all we need in life if we are willing to live under the terms of the covenant. And the number one condition? Seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides (Matt. 6:33).

Yup, ya gotta get involved in a big way. “Well God sure does expect a lot from me, doesn’t He?” Well, yes, He does. He expects you want to know Him fully, He expects you to spend time developing that relationship, He expects you to want that relationship more than anything else in life. “Whoa, He wants too much,” you say (or think). “I just don’t have the time for all that.” Well, God is perfectly capable of redeeming the time you “lost” when you were spending it with Him. In fact, He makes things fit together in such as way that even if you had twice the time you gave Him, you would not accomplish what He will accomplish in your life.

So, Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed (Prov. 16:3). Notice it doesn’t say that your plans will just succeed, it says that they will be established and succeed. The plans are God’s plan, established in you so that you may succeed. That’s true success.

Our job, as God’s children, is to spread the Good News of His love and care for us. So, thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere, For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2Cor. 2:14-15). We cannot ever hope to fulfill our assignment unless we rely fully on God’s help and His ever-presence with us. When we do, and others see God at work in our lives, then they, like the Psalmist, will say, All the kings of the land shall give You credit and praise You, O Lord, for they have heard of the promises of Your mouth [which were fulfilled] (Ps. 138:4).  Just imagine.

 

People of Promise 103 Humility revisited

Humility is one of those topics that needs to be looked at from several directions. When we approach the idea of humility in a linear fashion, we always miss the full import of the idea. In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote, For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him (Rom. 12:3)

Some over exaggerate what Paul is saying by calling anyone who thinks well of himself as being conceited. But that is not Paul’s point. Likewise, it is not God’s point—remember the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write this. No the point is that we always need to remember that no matter how good we really are at anything, there’s always someone of equal or great ability. The idea of conceit that Paul is addressing is our idea that we are better at some things—especially running our own lives–than is God.

Now, let’s look at this from God’s perspective for a few moments. First, none of us can even come within a country mile of God’s abilities, and yet He was willing to die on a cross so that we could become His children and share in His abilities. There was not, is not, nor ever will be any other way to become His children than the way he devised—through the cross (Acts 4:12). He set it all up for us and then carried out the plan to its full completion. All without input any from us. Imagine that. God can get along without us.

He wants, He desires, He longs for the opportunities to share His abilities with us, if only we will allow Him to. That’s the first lesson in humility. We need to realize that God’s abilities so far exceed our abilities that even the very best of the very best that we can do by ourselves is a nothing compared to what He is capable of doing. For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction] (Isa. 64:6).

Once we are ready to concede that God is so far beyond what we are ever capable of, or perhaps even capable of dreaming of, then we really need to take the concept to heart. Once that idea is firmly embedded in us, then we need to realize that God loves us exceedingly far beyond anything that we can imagine. Yes, we know God is love (1John 4:8, 16), and yes we understand that He loves us (Rom. 5:8). But do we really understand to what extent he loves us? Sure we can express all sorts of emotional clamor and parrot back what the scriptures say. But, has God’s love been allowed to rule in your life? Or, do you simply intellectualize and emotionalize it on Sunday morning?  Have you allowed the Agape that He planted in you (Rom. 5:5) to grow, or do you keep it buried under the pressure of social correctness and personal embarrassment?

Allowing God’s Agape to manifest is necessary if we are truly humble because we can never be all that God wants us to be until we return His Agape love. That’s why we have it in us—so we can Agape love God. And when we do, He pours out blessing after blessing. No not cash. Blessings that help us to help others and make ourselves better able to carry out His call on our lives.

Of course, the third element is obedience, a word that makes us suddenly choke and seize up, unable to function. Obedience does not mean that we all have to jump on planes and boats and trains and rush off to Africa, China, (the good old US?), and other places that desperately need the Word of God. What obedience really means is that we trust God enough to allow Him to direct our lives, and then we simply do what He calls us to do. Oh boy. The tough one. Allow God to be totally in control? Hmmm, maybe on Sunday, but I have a job to do and a family to raise during the rest of the week. Just stay away and let me do my thing, I’ll give you your required one hour on Sunday, and a little token cash to assuage my guilt. Nope, not humble, rather very conceited. What is really being said is “I know more about how to run my life than You do.”

Well I got news for you. You don’t. True humility comes from acknowledging that God knows everything—even the secrets you keep from yourself, and certainly from others. It comes from saying, “Father, You are the Creator, and I am the created. Please help Your created being to become all You intend.” True humility is reflected in Jesus life. So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn] (John 5:19). I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me (John 5:30).

And we need to acknowledge what Jesus said about us, in this same regard. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing (John 15:5). Confessing this in absolute sincerity is the real beginning of true humility before God.

 

People of Promise 102 God’s Call

We often hear of “God’s call” on someone’s life. The Greek word translated “call” is kiesis, which means an invitation. The truth of the matter is that every very person has an invitation from God to become His child—every one, no one is excepted (1Tim. 2:4). This invitation will never change, For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] (Rom 11:29).

In days of yore, when the king invited you to an event or asked you to do something with him, you had better show up or have a rock solid reason why you didn’t. A flimsy excuse could cost you your life. But that is not God’s way. We can come to his party and dance with Him or choose to stay at home and dance with the Devil.

And all of our excuses for not joining God in His Kingdom are really flimsy ones. In a sense these flimsy excuses can cost us our life. Not our physical life a la the days of yore, but our eternal, spiritual life. But here’s the difference. The kings of yore were the ones who chose to kill uncooperative subjects, whether the subjects wanted killed or not. In the case of God’s Kingdom, it is the person himself/herself who chooses to die and willfully subjects themselves to such a death—all the while, God is trying to save them from such an end. For all who will ask for it, Jesus says, I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all [else]; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).

No one, not Kings or Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Dictators, not even Satan, can take one of God’s children out of His hand. This is a promise, not just for eternal life, but once you’ve made the choice, once you have answered His call to you, you are in the Kingdom, period.

Once in the Kingdom, God has a job for you. Actually He probably has a series of jobs or “calls.” The first one, of supreme importance above all others is that you develop an abiding and deep relationship with Him. The pursuit of this relationship is a daily exercise and will go on right through the rest of your earthly existence. Even then, we will never get to the final perfection that He has for us. When we meet Him face to face, then we can begin the last steps of reaching the relationship goals He has set for us.

In the meantime, get busy and work on your RSMMA (Read, Study, Meditate, Memorize, and Act). Build a solid personal relationship with God so that the next assignments can come. Remember, you will never reach the final stage of your relationship with God, so He is not going to wait until you reach perfection before He gives you a Kingdom assignment. And when that assignment comes, it will not change. For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isa. 55:10-11).

Well, you say, what if I don’t like the assignment that He gives me. Maybe if I mess it up or just don’t do it, God will change His mind and put me someplace that I deserve or give me a job I am better equipped to do. Well, God knows a whole lot more about what you are capable of than you do, and besides, He will be working with/through you. What you can do is only limited by what you will allow God to do to/with/through you. For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed (Mal. 3:6). Faithful is He Who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you (1Thes. 5:24). In fact, without God working with you, you are totally useless for Kingdom work (John 15:5).

Now, if you do forego the amazing assignment He has for you, He is not going to get all in a tizzy. He will simply get someone else to do what He asked you to do. Meantime, back at the ranch, you will be mired in the quicksand of your own making, and stay right there until you get right with God, repent of your ignorant ways, and get back on the bandwagon.

Hmm, you say, I don’t really think that God has a call n my life. Yes He does, remember, number one call is to develop a deep and personal relationship with Him. As you do, He will make known His call to service. And don’t get all upset if it’s “nothing more” than helping out in a Sunday school class, or working in a soup line, or donating money to a worthy cause, etc. He needs help everywhere, and if He calls, you go, no questions asked. Your reward will be just as great for doing what He asked as will the reward for the most well know evangelist. Just give thanks for every opportunity, no matter how seeming small.

“Well’’, you whine, “How come God gave me such a small thing to do”? “Certainly He knows I’m capable of much more”!  Jesus nicely illustrated the reason in the parable He told of the master who left money with his servants while he went on a trip. His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness), which your master enjoys (Matt. 25:21).

No, God is not testing us. He ever stands ready to help us in every way He can. He encourages us every way He can. He wants us to get on with getting on so that His endless march of blessings can encircle and hold us, enraptured in His presence and love. As we do the small things, He is training and preparing us for bigger stuff. It’s not a test, it’s training. Roll up your sleeves and pay close attention to His lead, it’s amazing what He will teach you. His call is a call of encouragement and love for your life.

Ah, then there’s the old excuse, “But I never heard God “call” to me.” Oh yes you did, you just weren’t paying attention, or didn’t like what He asked of you, or couldn’t believe it was God. That’s because your RSMMA is so short that it can’t possibly reflect God’s will in your life. One cannot read and study the New Testament without seeing how Christians are supposed to live. If you live in that fullness of God’s Word, you will be living in His call on your life, and more opportunities for service will flow to you.
Are you “on call” for God’s call?

 

People of Promise 101 Overcome Evil

As I’ve noted before, we often use words without completely understanding all they imply. We hear them so often that we don’t really think to any depth about their meaning. Good and evil are two of those words. So when we read Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good (Rom. 12:21), we don’t really have a good handle on exactly how to do this. And after all, this doesn’t really seem like a promise. I mean, come on, it’s just a directive. Yes, but if God says that we can overcome evil with good, then He is promising that in fact, we can—every time.

So, let’s back up just a bit and consider these two words, good and evil. Simple. What comes from God is good (James 1:17), and what comes from Satan is evil—that’s why He’s called “The Evil One” (John 17:15). Now, a bit more subtle, please. We typically think of Evil as harsh, cruel, physical, destructive, war-like, and so on. Sure these things are evil. But what about taking things like writing pads, paper clips, staples, and so on home from work, without asking if it’s OK (usually it is not OK). I mean, come on, everyone does it, and the company builds it into it product pricing, anyway. Hey, stealing is stealing, and it’s evil—it is against God’s wishes for us. But what if I ask, and the boss says, “Sure, we want to you to have those things so if you have ideas about work you will always be ready to make notes.” “And besides, we want your kids to have paper to draw on, and etc.” Well, of course it’s OK then, but note this, it is the boss (i.e., the company) that has to make the decision, not you.

Hmmm, well how about things like a little harmless gossip. I mean, those people talk about me, so if I spread a little misconception about them, certainly no one will care. Well, God cares—a lot. It’s evil; it’s against God’s wishes for us. On the other hand, discussing someone’s problems in a way that encourages others to pray for that person, and/or help them emotionally, physically, etc. is not against God’s wishes. Yes, well how about dancing. How about it? Is it done as a way to exercise, or a way for husband and wife to be close to one another, or as a way to promote sexual stimulation between boy and girl, man and woman for out of wedlock intercourse? See, you can’t just say all dancing is evil, because it isn’t.

As it turns out, it is not so much the act but the intent of the act. When we do things that are intended to bring honor and glory to God, and to help others, then that is good. When the intent is to breakdown, slander, steal from, or hurt others, then we are not bringing honor and glory to God. And certainly we are exercising Satan’s intent for us, not God’s.

And this battle between what God wants for us and what Satan wishes for us is ongoing, never ceasing, always present, not ever going away. For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (2Cor. 10:3-5).

Now, there’s the “how to.” Our weapons against the evil one and his wiles come from God. And of course, we are told what those weapons are. Eph. 6:11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

Eph. 6:12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

Eph. 6:13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

Eph. 6:14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

Eph. 6:15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

Eph. 6:16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

Eph. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

Eph. 6:18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people

We have discussed the armor in some detail before, but I put this in to remind each of us that we have the weapons—both defensive and offensive.  All we need to do is haul them out and use them. And of course, that is always the catch. We come up with really silly ideas like: “Well why should I have to go to all the trouble of praying and using the sword of faith?” “God knows what I need, and, after all, He has control of everything.” Oh so wrong, so wrong. Why do you think He gave us the armor—oh, I see, it’s for our parade.

Sarcasm aside, we are the ones who are responsible for using our own armor and overcoming the “fiery darts of the Wicked One.” Remember the “Lord’s Prayer” plea that goes, “and protect us from evil”? Actually it says “protect us from the Evil One.” Not only that but, Jesus’ specifically wrote into His Last Will and Testament (John Ch. 17): I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one (v. 15). And guess what—God did exactly that by giving us His armor to wear. So get it on and use it to overcome evil with good.

One piece of the armor that is rarely mentioned is the 7th piece– Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. It’s this piece of the armor that makes and keeps the others fully operational. For example, you have been given the helmet of salvation. So? To make it fully and powerfully operational, just give God thanks for it and say something like, “Thank you Father for saving me from the Evil One. I give you praise and thanks for giving me your helmet of salvation, and I stand fully in the power of your promise that I will live with You forever.”  Now Satan knows that you know, and that you are not about to back down from that knowledge.

There’s another exaltation that God provides that we must not forget about, and that is our exaltation spiritually. First, when we give our lives to Christ, we are reborn spiritually and exalted to a position of righteousness before God (Rom. 3:21-22). Furthermore that is an exaltation that few really walk in, and that is the fact that Jesus very specifically said, in His Last Will and Testament, I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one (John 17:22). Look again. Jesus has not only provided for our salvation, He has given us the same honor and glory that God gave Him. That’s why we can be so confident before the Father. We need to live in that status, recognizing every moment that Jesus bought and paid for all this with His very life. It was His gift to us, and nothing we can ever do will “earn it,” it’s ours by His grace.

We overcome evil through our association with God, not off in a corner by ourselves. We recognize evil and then we go to God and get Him to help us, and to accomplish the protection. But we have to go to Him. No going it alone. Get right with God, and then get tight with God. Allow Him to rule your life, and your life will be more than you ever dreamed possible. You will have a “good” life.

 

People of Promise 100 Exalted

Christians always talk about God in terms that make it seem like we need to exalt Him every chance we get. And yes, we do. After all, He gave everything that we might live. When Jesus told the disciples, “this is My Body, given for you,” he was really saying “this is My Body given in your place.” We deserved to die (Rom. 6:23); He did not, and yet He died in our place. How can we not exalt Him for that kind of care and love?

And yet, at the same time, God wants to exalt us! This is the part where it gets sticky. We know we are supposed to be “humble” and yet we are supposed to be exalted? How do the two fit together? Very good question, but there is an answer, and one that God has ably provided.

First, we need to understand what “humble means.” And here is the answer directly from 1Peter. Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully (1Peter 5:6-7). We humble ourselves by not worrying, rather we are to cast all our cares on Him, all our concerns, once and for all. This is not as easy as it would seem. After all, humans are worriers. But look closely at the end of this statement that Jesus makes about not worrying. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble (Matt. 6:34). I like the way the King James Version makes the last part of this statement: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

In other words, there’s plenty that we have to fend off each day without “worrying” about what tomorrow will bring. Better to stand in the strength of the Lord on a daily basis, trusting Him completely to help us get through the day than fretting about what is coming down the road. Now, let’s take a short diversion right here. God never says that we can’t plan ahead. In fact, only a fool would not plan ahead. What He is saying is to involve Him in everything. Otherwise, why would he tell us, Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will] (1Thes. 5:18)?

We involve Him in everything, regardless of the nature of that “everything.” Don’t hold back when times are good, don’t hold back when times are bad. Don’t hold back at any time. What happens when we do this is very simple, we are putting God first in everything.  That’s what He wants. Not because He needs to have His ego pumped up, but because when we put Him first, He can pour out the greatest number of blessing on us. The writer of Hebrews absolutely understood this and wrote, But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out] (Heb. 11:6).

We need to remember that God does not change, and so David could write, Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass (Ps. 37:5).  Paul put it this way. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).

When Jesus was discussing the parable of sowing of seeds, He noted that those that fell into the thorns and were choked represented people that received the Word, but Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless (Mark 4:19). These are the people who do not humble themselves under the Mighty Hand of God, giviong Him all their cares and letting Him lead them. These are the ones that shout, “Mother please, I’d rather do it myself.” And God lets them. Sadly, they get exactly what they asked for. As I live, says the Lord, what you have said in My hearing I will do to you (Num. 14:28). And yet, who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?

God’s love for us is unending, and He has put His love in us (Rom. 5:5). This love in us is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong] (1Cor. 1`3:5). And if we really love God the way we say we do, we will listen to what He says and delight in doing it. Jesus told us, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him (John 14:23).

Okay, so now we are not worrying, not anxious, not fidgeting in our chairs; we are relaxed in the Lord. Ah, but there’s more. We may have to wait. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it] (Heb. 4:16). It’s the “coming just when needed” part that makes this statement so difficult for humans. Why? Because we were not built for waiting. Advertisers play on this all the time. Fast food exists for one reason—it’s fast. No waiting.

So, get ready. You may have to wait for while. It will be God’s timing, not yours. In the meantime, give thanks that He has heard, and is getting things ready for exactly the right deliver time (1John 4:15-16). Don’t fade in your reliance on Him. Allow Him to do what He needs to do. If you have a hard time hanging in there, go and talk to Him about it, and ask for His help to be patient; wait on His timing.

If you do wait patiently, without worrying or fretting or being anxious, then His exaltation will come. You will receive—that is your exaltation. To exalt means to lift up or elevate, to praise, and even to intensify. When God exalts us, He lifts us from our present position or circumstance to a higher one. Now watch closely, He praises us. That’s right. When we put our faith totally in Him, He praises us for being so reliant on Him. In His parable of the servants, each given money to use until the Master returned, Jesus quoted the Master as saying to the servants that used their money wisely: Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys (Matt. 25:21, 23).

The servants were exalted, praised, elevated in position, and rewarded by sharing in what the master enjoys. And that’s what He does for us when we are faithful to Him. How I long to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” from the lips of my Lord and Savior.

 

People of Promise 99 Living Water

Jesus was headed from Judea to Galilee and went through Samaria on the way. And in doing so, He arrived at a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the tract of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. And Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down [to rest] by the well. It was then about the sixth hour (about noon) (John 4:5). The story then goes on to relate Jesus’ interactions with the Woman at the Well. This is the story from which the name for this study is taken. The basis of our Jacob’s Well Bible Study is what Jesus tells her: He has water to give her. He points out that drinking water from the well will slack her thirst for a while, but then she will be thirsty again. But, He notes, whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life (John 4:14).

Of course she has no idea what Jesus is talking about and asks for His water so she won’t have to come and get water at the well every day. As we know, from our perspective, Jesus was not talking about physical water. In fact, He wasn’t talking about any kind of water. He was talking about giving her what she needed to satisfy her deepest need, even if she didn’t know what her deepest need was. It’s interesting that He says water and not food. That’s because the single most limiting factor for land organisms is water. We can go for long periods with little or no food, but only for a few days without water. We can’t live at all without God.

Note the following facts: (1) She was a “she.” Jewish men didn’t talk to unknown women without someone to make an introduction. (2) She was a Samaritan; a “hated” sect to the Jews. In fact, the Jews would usually avoid going through Samaria when they travelled. This animosity arose in the dim past well before Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. But obviously there was an ancestral relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews because the woman asks Jesus, Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also? (John 4:12). Regardless, the Jews hated the Samaritans, and here was Jesus, not angry, not hateful, talking to a Samaritan woman. And not just talking, but talking in a way that was engaging and deeply insightful. In fact, she was stunned that Jesus would speak to her at all: The Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan [and a] woman, for a drink?—For the Jews have nothing to do with the Samaritans—(John 4:9). Jesus doesn’t care who we are, He wants to engage every one of us and offer us “Living Water.”

The questions become, (1) what is Living Water, besides a good name for a church, (2) how did Jesus know she (we) needed it, (3) what would it do for her (us), and (4) how does one obtain this Water? Well, first of all, the Living Water is an ongoing, living relationship with God through Christ Jesus, sustained by the Holy Spirit. This Living Water that Jesus gives is not stagnant; it bubbles forth out of His brothers and sisters like artesian springs that never dry. He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water (John 7:38). Continuous. Our witness of who we are in Christ is ever present, and we need to be aware of it and allow it to bubble forth whenever the occasion is right—which is basically all the time. The world watches, and when the Living Water is not evident, the world knows, and mocks us as the hypocrites that we are in those times.

Of course Jesus knows all our needs, especially our need for Him. That’s the way God designed us. In the very beginning of humanity, God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness (Gen 1:26). God is Three in One, One in Three, and He wanted us to be in intimate relationship with His Oneness and His Threeness. He put in us need, not just a desire, but real, honest need, to be a part of Him and Him a part of us.

Even those who have given their lives to Him through Christ Jesus need Him every moment of every day. Not so He can “supply our every need” like some carny magician, but so that He can help us to grow up in Him and become more than we have ever dreamed possible. It fact, without His help it would be impossible. He knows the heart of every person (1Sam. 16:7). And, of course, He knew why He was here and what He came to give to everyone who would ask.

This Water satisfies our deepest need, which is the need to be in a relationship with God. And it’s so easy to get it. The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his needof those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost (Rev. 22:17). And He [further] said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the water of Life (Rev. 21:6).

This Living Water is promised to everyone, without restriction (Rom. 10:13). All one has to do to receive the Living Water that Jesus offered the Woman at the Well, is to ask Him for it. It’s interesting to note that the Woman at the Well knew of the coming Messiah, and Jesus confirms that He is the One. The woman said to Him, I know that Messiah is coming, He Who is called the Christ (the Anointed One); and when He arrives, He will tell us everything we need to know and make it clear to us. Jesus said to her, I Who now speak with you am He (John 4:25-26). Because of her confession she was, indeed given Living Water and went and rounded up the whole town (John 4:28-30). Many were saved because of the spring that bubbled forth from her (John 4:39-42).

We all need to look into our own hearts and see that spring of Living Water which Jesus set there. We need to allow it to flow freely at all times so that others can see Christ in us, and be drawn to His amazing grace.

 

People of Promise 98 Witnesses

In Acts, Jesus is talking to the Twelve and He tells them that He is going to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. They ask Him when the Kingdom is coming, and He tells them that the decision of the date is up to our Father. Then, He goes on to say that you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth (Acts 1:8). Notice He says “My witnesses,” not witnesses of me, but witnesses for me. The Greek word for “witness,” used here is “martus,”from which we get the word martyr. Hmm, this is a bit deeper than it seems at first blush because nearly all the Twelve did, indeed, become martyrs.

But, remember, there were not just the 11 remaining of the Twelve in the Upper Room. There were about 120 up there (Acts 1:15), including Jesus’ mother (Acts 1:14)! And every one of them was baptized in the Holy Spirit and became “My witnesses.” And yet we hear nothing about the other 109 and their lives as witnesses for Christ. I can guess that Mary was a rather powerful witness. “That was my son, you know!” And the others? They experienced the risen Lord and were empowered by the Spirit to go forth and be “My witnesses.” And yet, History does not record even one person “saved” by their testimonies. And yet, there were thousands.

In a court of Law, a witness is one who can testify about the facts in the case being considered. Their account is first hand. They saw, they heard, they experienced. And that is what Jesus wants from ever one of us. Not that we are to run out on the street corner and, using our “fully leather-bound, fully zippered, guilded-edge pages, Jesus’ words in red-letters, and all the maps of Jesus’ travels, Paul’s travels, a full concordance, index, and names of Biblical characters” Bible to beat people “up side the head,” and get them into the Kingdom. No, that’s the job for the scripturally ignorant braggarts.

Our job is to live a life which reflects Jesus to the world around us. Barnabas was hunting for Paul, and went down to Tarsus, there he found Him, And when he had found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For a whole year they assembled together with and were guests of the church and instructed a large number of people; and in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians (Acts. 11:26).

They were not called “Christians” as the result of a “Name these believer in the Messiah” contest, with the first prize a trip to Rome with Paul on a storm-tossed ship. Nope. They were called Christians because they were “like Christ”—the Christ they not only preached but demonstrated by the way they lived—the way they spoke, the way they treated each other, their integrity, their demonstrations of the Spirit’s power. This newly formed group of people who believed in the King of Glory and operated in His power and authority were turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). To those in Antioch these “People of the Way” acted so differently than the others in the community that they could be immediately recognized as distinctly different in thought, word, and deed. They acted like the Christ they preached; thus, they were “Christians,” or “those from Christ.” Americans are from America, Europeans are from Europe, Christians are from Christ.

The question now becomes: “What has happened to “Christians?” such that many of them act no differently than the people of the world. Part of the problem stems from the fact that, as a nation we champion the good, give magnanimously to the poor, send our troops overseas to defend the weak, most people champion the best for others, and so on. Thus, we tend to feel that because we are “good” people, we are doing God’s will, which of course means that we must be Christians.

Sorry, the single “specification” of a Christian is one who has given his/her life to Christ and wants to live according to His dictates. Everything else in that person’s life springs from that single criteria. No longer is that person “first” in their life. Christ is first. And out of that springs their concern or others, their care for the less fortunate, their desire that His Word be told to all, their acts of power in the authority of Name of Jesus. He very clearly and succinctly told us: What I am telling you I do not say on My own authority and of My own accord; but the Father Who lives continually in Me does the (His) works (His own miracles, deeds of power). Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.] I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father. And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son. [Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM] (John 14:

Remember the old saw, “Actions speak louder than words”? Well, it’s just as true today as it ever was. The way we live truly does speak about who we are. So when we, as professing Christians, don’t do things any differently than the people of the world, don’t talk differently, don’t love the way God loves, don’t reach out but rather stay tightly ensconced in our little “church” clubs, why would anyone want to become a Christian? Only the demonstration of the Truth in our lives will ever speak louder than the siren call of the world.

Jesus came to bear witness of the Father. When Philip asked Him to show them the Father, Jesus replied,Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know Me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, Show us the Father? (John 14:9). Jesus is our role model, our Paradigm, our guide to the way we think, speak, and act. That’s why He told us that we would be able to do what He did. In fact, it is essential that we do what He did—give evidence of the reality of the Living God and His power, and the saving grace we have received through the Messiah. We are to be ever ready, and in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully (1Peter 3:15).

 

People of Promise 97 Like Flint

Living by faith seems such an easy thing. After all, if we have given our lives to God through the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross (Acts 4:11-12), and are truly His children (Rom. 8:17, Eph. 5:8), then we should be able to run into the throne room at any time (Heb. 4:16), and merely spout out what we need and automatically get it. Oh, if only it were that simple. True, if one honestly believed that this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him (1John 5:14-15).

Trouble is, we humans are subject to such doubt and misgivings, that we rarely (maybe, if ever) truly understand what John has said, and rarely (maybe, if ever) act on it. It couldn’t really be true, could it? Maybe this time, it won’t work. Maybe God didn’t hear me. Maybe God is silent to teach me a lesson (ugly, wrong thinking). Maybe God is “testing” my faith—this in and of itself is an admission of little or no faith.

No, living a pure life of faith is impossible for any human. Jesus did it, but we never will. However, we can get close, and that is what God wants from us. First, we can’t live a life of pure faith because we lived outside of faith before we became God’s children. Second, we will never live a life of pure faith because the stability of our faith (our absolute trust in God’s provision) increases as we get to know Him better. That’s because as we get to know Him better, we not only have more trust in Him but better understand what it is that He wants to do for us. One can never act outside of one’s knowledge. If you don’t know something, you can’t act on it. It’s just that simple, You have to know God’s Word in order to act in it.

So, Satan’s best bet to paralyze Christians is to keep them ignorant. Make them feel that building the old RSMMA (Read, Study, Meditate, Memorize, Act) is fun, perhaps, but not particularly useful, and really, honestly now, isn’t it just a waste if time when one could be watching TV, or reading the latest New York Times best seller, or doing 800 other things? After all, in this day and age, who really spends all that time fussing around with the Bible? And so, off we go, ignorant as a pack of fleas, and about as effective in dealing with the Evil One and all those under his cloying, kill/steal/destroy influence (John 10:10).

Becoming a Christian means that we have to know what it means to be a Christian, and we have to be prepared to do what is necessary to carry out all the requirements of a life lived for God. But again, that’s the rub. Well, it does take time out of my day to pray and read the Bible, after all, and I have to get on with life. My job just demands too much, I don’t have the time. I have a family to raise, after all. God will understand, after all, He knows what I need. These are all just excuses, and an excuse is just a lie wrapped in the figment of a reason. Either you do want to know God better, or you don’t. There are no other true reasons.

In Isaiah, we see the determination that Jesus showed: For the Lord God helps Me; therefore have I not been ashamed or confounded. Therefore have I set My face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He is near Who declares Me in the right. Who will contend with Me? Let us stand forth together! Who is My adversary? Let him come near to Me. Behold, the Lord God will help Me; who is he who will condemn Me? Behold, they all will wax old and be worn out as a garment; the moth will eat them up. Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in darkness and deep trouble and has no shining splendor [in his heart]? Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God (Isa. 50:7-10).

Jesus set His face like flint. This means that he determined not to veer from the path that God set for him, regardless. And He ended up on the cross. But then, He ended up sitting at the right had of God Almighty and being the mediator of the New Covenant (1Tim. 2:5); the One to whom all look for salvation (Rom. 10:13)l.

Setting one’s face like flint is not easy. Easy to say, perhaps, but not easy to actually do. Not easy because as soon as Satan sees old flint face, he immediately starts his campaign to turn that flint into clay—moldable by every passing storm. If you really want to live in all the fullness that God intends, you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised. For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him (Heb. 10:36-38).

The last thing I want to hear from God is that He has no delight or pleasure in me. And yet, like others, my flint face, turned toward the Light of God, gets itself into trouble by looking over my shoulder into the darkness and getting softened a bit. Turning from softened clay to harden flint is a process of turning back to the Light and allowing Him to bake out all the softening agents of the Evil One and his domain. That’s why working on the old RSMMA, at a steady, constant pace is so important.