Jan 31 2012

Be Delighted in God’s Will

What should our attitude be about God’s will? Let’s look at Jesus and how He approached it.

Hebrews 10:5–7 and 10 read:

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’”By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Bottom line, Jesus delighted to do God’s will. He fully understood the presence of God and His authority. He delighted in the fear (awe) of the Lord and therefore doing His will so much that He took on a human body. He came to earth in order to do God’s will even though it meant giving His life as a ransom for us. He did it even though it was going to cost Him everything. He did God’s will even though it was going to inflict incredible pain on Him. Jesus said, “I’m happy to do it because, Father, you are worthy and they’re worth it.”

You know the saying, “If you were the only person on earth Jesus would have died for you.” Well, friends, it’s the absolute truth. Jesus so delighted in doing God’s will that He would have done what He did for just one person.

How important is it for us to delight in doing God’s will? It’s hugely important. Jesus gave His own life because that was the will of the Father. If He felt that way, so should any of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. As Christ imitators and Christ followers how can we say that we’re imitating Him if we’re not as delighted as He was to be in God’s will?

Are you ready to really submit to Christ with your entire heart? Are you ready to press into His presence and live the life that He died to give you?

Stand for God and what He’s calling you to do and become. Don’t flirt with foolishness. Don’t live a short-sided, “man’s will” life. Don’t be intimidated by others and compromise what you know God has for you. Don’t do that.

Jesus said, “I delight to do Your will.” Can you do what Jesus asks you to do? Can you follow His example out of awe. worship, thankfulness and humble gratitude?

Share a time when you knew for sure you were in God’s will. How did it feel?


Jan 26 2012

Revealing the Deep Things of God

I posted this Blog article some time ago. It’s one of those topics that bears repeating:

Scripture reveals so much to us at various times and in various ways. How many times have you read a familiar passage and realized you just learned something new and different? The Holy Bible is alive. It’s fresh and always revealing new things to us through God’s Spirit. First Corinthians 2:9, 10 tells us: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”Holy Bible

Many times we just focus on verse 9 and ignore verse 10, but we can’t do that. The fact that God is preparing wonderful things for those who love Him gives us great hope, but verse 10 holds an amazing promise, too! Verse 10 reminds us that God is revealing things to us through His Spirit and that the Spirit searches all things—even the tragedies and mysteries that are hard to comprehend. He’s there to reveal these deeper things to us.

God has one goal when He speaks to us. He wants us to fully understand what He’s saying and the meaning of what He is saying. Verse 10 tells us that He has sent a special Person, the Holy Spirit, to help us make sense of Scripture and of what He is saying. Remember, anything we think God is saying or revealing must line up with the Word and the nature, character, and will of God.

God wants us to understand all there is about Him. He wants us to fully understand His power, His beauty, His majesty, and His will. He also wants us to understand the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and the position we have in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). Nothing is hidden; there are no secret agendas with God. He reveals deep things through His Spirit, and we will find them by seeking and searching His Word.

Want to know more about Heaven and eternity? Join the Have Heart community to join the conversation and purchase the book to read more!


Jan 24 2012

The Church’s Victory Over Hell

Matthew 16:13–19 reads:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosedin heaven.”

Do you see Jesus’ intentionality with the church? He tells His disciples that HE is going to build the church. His passion for the church is because He built it. He designed it. He wants it to be fruitful and do what He wants it to do. It’s His just as we are His.

Then, he adds that the gates of Hades (Hell) will not prevail against it. He built it and hell itself will not have power over it.

His audience knew about gates. Living in walled cities there were many gates for entrance and exit. These gates are where people congregated. Business was done at the gates. Schemes were planned at the gates. Dispatches were sent out from the gates. They were the core of what was happening at that time.

When Jesus’ disciples heard him speak of gates, they immediately knew that the plans, schemes, dispatches and every foul thing that the enemy would try to hurl against the church would not prevail. They knew that no matter what came their way, the gates of hell would not prevail against Jesus’ church.

What does this mean to us? It means that when we are seeking to do God’s will and be the church He’s called us to be that nothing will prevail against us. It means we can kick the door down and rescue people from Satan’s grip and nothing will prevail against us. It means we don’t have to be defensive. It means we can go on the offensive—we have the authority from Jesus to do His business on His behalf according to His Word and empowered by His Spirit.

When we understand Jesus’ passion for His church we truly will understand that, in the end, the church lasts forever. We understand that even in the midst of cosmic conflict we can prevail if we understand Jesus’ passion and direction for His church.

Are you ready to go? How does knowing that Satan cannot prevail and will never prevail help you to do God’s business? How does it help you be an active part of His church?


Jan 19 2012

The Importance of the Church to Jesus

Jesus is radically passionate about the church. In fact, there is nothing higher on His scale of love and affection than the church.

Do you know why? Because He trusted us with His truth and He is passionate about His truth. His truth is His word. As the psalmist turns to the temple to worship he writes in Psalm 138:2: “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Jon Courson writes, “So holy is the name of the Lord that the Old Testament scribes wouldn’t even write out the vowel sounds, rendering it YHWH—an unspeakable name…The name of the Lord was meticulously revered. And yet here we read that the Lord honors His Word even above His name. How important is the Word? Of utmost importance.” Jesus is serious about the church.

In Ephesians 1:22-23 Paul tells us that the church is also Jesus’ body, “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The church is the body of Christ—made up of the people of Christ. Quite naturally, Jesus is consumed with His body and His people. As I said in my last post, the church isn’t a building. Jesus isn’t defending a structure, but He is defending the people who are in that structure. He is passionate about the church  because it’s His body, and because it’s been poured into the church with His truth, because it’s His house.

In Ephesians 5:23 Paul goes on and says some more about the church—Christ is the head of the church. He is also the savior of the body. The head of the church, the Savior of the body. The church is what He is the head of, the ruler of, the master of, and He presides as King over it.  He is going to be consumed with the church because He is the Savior of it. He paid the ultimate price of Himself to save us. Of course He is consumed with us.

I think it is really important that we understand the depth of the relationship between Jesus and His church. He couldn’t love us more dearly. He couldn’t lead us more intentionally. He couldn’t equip us more powerfully. He couldn’t send us any more seriously. The church is a big deal to Jesus. The question for us today in the twenty-first century is, “Are we serious about the church?”

The church is the heartbeat of God; the church is the apple of His eye. The church is the only thing that is going to last in eternity, save God Himself. Are you serious about it?

Courson, J. (2006). Jon Courson’s application commentary : Volume two : Psalms-Malachi (162). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.


Jan 17 2012

What is the Church?

There is nothing more wonderful; there is nothing more powerful; there is nothing more supernatural than the church walking in the call of what God has called her to: love, unity, purpose and passion. When the church firing on all cylinders, there isn’t anything like it. I love the church. I hope you all do too.

It’s fair to ask, what is “the church?”

Our word church comes from the Greek word, “ecclesia.” It means “those who are called out.” It’s not necessarily referring to being called out of the world, but called out of society for some particular function or purpose. We are “called together.” The children of Israel were a church (See Stephen’s reference to them in Acts 7:38). They were a called out assembly of the Old Testament. Jesus has called us out to form the church of the New Testament.

What is the church called out to? The church is called out to at least three things: the church is called out to King Jesus. Secondly, the church is called out to one another. Finally, the church is called out to the mission that Jesus has given us. We are the called out ones.

What is the church called out from? It’s called to Jesus and one another, and the church is called out from the world and its sinful ways. The church is a calling out; it is an assembly of the called-out in its most literal sense.

Here’s a real key for us to understand—we don’t go to church; we are the church. The church isn’t a building and a bunch of furniture. The church is us. It’s who we are and what we do. Buildings and furniture help to facilitate preaching and teaching and the rest of the ministries, but they don’t do anything. They don’t feed the hungry or witness to lost souls. We are the church.

Myron S. Augsburger, Professor Emeritus, pastor, author, and church planter sums it up nicely,”The church is not a building, nor a religious institution, nor an ethnic group, but is the company of the committed, the covenant community where we are brothers and sisters in fellowship with Christ. The church is people—the redeemed people of God. It is God’s primary program in the world, the visible expression of the rule of Christ, the voluntary association of those committed to Jesus as Lord.”

It’s important for us to know what the church is and what it isn’t. We must understand what the church is and we must know her biblical calling. Why? Because if that biblical calling confronts cultural church procedures, then we must insist that the cultural church correct herself in obedience to her original biblical calling. When we don’t, the church loses her testimony and dies a slow, agonizing and powerless death. It’s not something we want to see or be a part of. We need to keep the church healthy and biblically on the target Jesus mandated in Scripture.

Are you part of a vital and growing Christ-centered ecclesia? What makes it special to you?

 


Jan 12 2012

New Year God’s Way—Hopeful Waiting for Restoration

I’ve shared over my last few posts that celebrating New Year God’s way should be different from what we normally do. New Year God’s way should be about a spiritual rousing. We should hear His trumpet blast and awaken from any spiritual complacency into repentance. It should be a time of awe-filled remembrance as we look reverently at the God of creation, The King of Glory, the Ruler of Mankind, the Giver of the Commandments and our sovereign, majestic, worthy God. Celebrating New Years God’s way should also be a time of solemn repentance for us. It’s a time to “cast off” our sin and the things we don’t want to drag into the new year into the deep ocean, never to be remembered again.

Lastly, celebrating New Year God’s way should be a time of hopeful waiting for restoration.

Isaiah 27:13 says, “So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”

The verse speaks about a glorious re-gathering and restoration of God’s people into the land of Israel. God is bringing His people home to worship him. He’s bringing His people home to restore them. The people will be regathered to the holy mountain in Jerusalem, that is, the temple mount where the Messiah will reign (Isaiah 24:23). In God’s kingdom on earth Israel will dwell in the land of Palestine as believers.

We have this same opportunity! May this new year be a time of watchful anticipation for the future return of our Lord Jesus Christ! May it be a time of anticipation for our glorious re-gathering to Him and the saints, with watchful waiting for the restoration of all things.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Want to celebrate the new year God’s way? Hopefully wait for that trumpet to sound. Hopefully wait for Jesus return! Hopefully wait for the body of Christ to be re-gathered with Jesus and with one another. Hopefully wait for all things to be restored—for that “new year” to begin!

As you begin this new year, 2012, ask yourself:

  • Where do I need to be spiritually aroused?
  • Do I need some awe-filled remembrance?
  • Do I need solemn repentance?
  • Am I hopefully waiting?

 


Jan 10 2012

New Year God’s Way—Solemn Repentance

My last two posts looked at bringing in the New Year from God’s perspective. The first way we can do this is when we understand that God’s way of celebrating should cause a spiritual rousing in us. The trumpet blast of the new year should stir our hearts with an awakening blast from spiritual complacency and brokenness into repentance and new birth.

Secondly, bringing in the new year God’s way should be about awe-filled remembrance. That means a time of remembrance of the God of Creation, the King of Creation, the Ruler of Mankind, the Giver of Commandments, and the Sovereign, Majestic, Worthy God. We should take time to remember with awe Who He is!

As we read Leviticus 23:23–25, we also realize that the Hebrews were preparing themselves for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which happened ten days later.

These were ten days of introspection, meditation, and preparation. These were ten days of people asking, “Where have I sinned? What must I be forgiven for?  What are some things in my life that I not want to drag into the New Year?”

Micah 7:18–19 reads:

Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?

He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.

You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.

The Hebrew word, tashlikh, literally means “to cast off.” It is literally an emptying of our pockets into deep water. Pastor Lloyd Ogilvie writes, “Once every year, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the orthodox Jew goes to a stream or river and symbolically empties his sins from his pockets into the water as he recites Micah 7:18–20. This is the Tashlich service, named after the word “You will cast.” It symbolizes the fact that God can and will take our sins, wash them down the streams of running water and bury them deep in the depths of the ocean. God not only forgives our sins, He also forgets them. If some object that God cannot forget our sins if He is omniscient, let it be remembered that what He does when He forgets our sins is remember them against us no more!”

May this New Year, 2012, be a time for you to do some introspection leading to solemn repentance. May it be a time when you are casting off your sins, receiving forgiveness and letting God cast your sin into the depths of the sea, never to be remembered.

I encourage you to take a few minutes each day to get alone with God. You can pray, read His Word, listen to worship music or just be quiet and listen for His voice. Remember all that God has done for you and also cast any sin or need for forgiveness into His deep, dark ocean. Celebrate the New Year, today, God’s way.


Jan 5 2012

New Year God’s Way—Awe-Filled Remembrance

In the Jewish tradition the holidays opening the New Year (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) were known as “Days of Awe.” They were days filled with God’s people remembering all that God had done for them.

They remembered with awe the God of creation. They believed that creation itself occurred on Rosh Hashanah. We must remember that God is not just the God of creation but He is also the King of creation, the Ruler of Mankind. As we begin this New Year, we must remember who He is with awe! He’s LORD, Ruler, Master, and our Savior.

They remembered with awe the giving of the Ten Commandments.  Exodus 19:13–20 is awe inspiring. They believed that this event happened on Rosh Hashanah. Can you look back at 2011 and see what God brought into your life? Can you remember how He worked in your life? Can you sit back and worship Him for all He did for you? Can you look back and, with awe-filled remembrance see how much He loves you and how He kept the promises from His Word?

They remembered with awe the sovereignty, majesty and worth of God. Psalms 93–100 are believed to have been written for the Feast of Trumpets. Take some time as this New Year unfolds to read those Psalms and see how they are filled with the sovereignty, majesty and worth of God. Make a list of what you find in those Psalms about God. Keep it close so when the enemy of this world whispers negative thoughts in your ear, you can easily remember who God is and how He has defeated the enemy.

It is my sincere prayer that this New Year be a time of awe-filled remembrance of the God of Creation, the King of Creation, the Ruler of Mankind, the Giver of Commandments, and the Sovereign, Majestic, Worthy God. It should be a time to remember, with awe, who He is and what He has done for us!

What did God do for you in 2011? What can you look back upon and remember, with awe, that He and only He could do or change in your life?


Jan 3 2012

New Year is about Spiritual Rousing

Leviticus 23:23–25 gives us a picture of New Year, God’s way.

This Scripture concerns the Feast of the Trumpets. It happened in the seventh month in the Jewish worship calendar and it was also the first month (Tishri) in their civil calendar. The Feast of Trumpets ushered in the New Year (it came to be known as Rosh Hashanah and is the Jewish New Year celebration occurring during September/October of our calendar).

It was a  joyous description that lasted seven days (you can read more about and actual celebration in Nehemiah 8)! It prepared them for celebrating the Day of Atonement.

God’s New Year is about spiritual rousing. The blowing trumpet in ancient Israel marked solemn, joyful, and  urgent occasions. It caused them to be roused.

The trumpet is a call for us as well. It’s a call for us to be awakened from any spiritual laziness to a new level of worship, awe and faith in God.

There were actually four kinds of trumpet blasts:

  • Sephardic’s blow—101 times a day, for the first 2 days of the new year. 101 times because it is the Hebrew numerical value for Michael the archangels’ name.
  • Tekiah blow—one long blast to rouse people from from complacency
  • Shevarim blow—three medium blasts to acknowledge brokenness
  • Teruah blow—nine or ten short blasts, bits of truth to produce repentance
  • Tekiah gedolah—one extra long blast symbolizing birth of newness

What does the coming New Year mean to you? Do you feel God rousing you from complacency?  In 2011, were you active in your faith or sitting in your deck chair waiting to be served? Listen for God’s trumpet and be roused from your complacency into all that God has for  you this year.

Do you feel God’s healing of your brokenness? Can you hear His trumpet blasting away so that you know that He understands and He can heal you? You can be aroused from brokenness right now.

2012 can begin with repentance and newness. You can be awakened by God’s trumpet blast from spiritual complacency and brokenness into repentance and new birth. That’s how we can celebrate New Year God’s way.

Do you hear the trumpet? How are you beginning 2012? Are you ready to ring in this New Year God’s way?