This article is well worth your time if you are seeking some direction from the Lord. Hope this helps in your quest of getting a little closer to your King. When God Tries to Speak to You | Ron Edmondson.
Everyday is a new gift from God. Some of our days are filled with joy and some are filled with pain. It’s 365 days of twists and turns, ups and downs, that’s what makes each of our days an adventurous mystery. The only true stability one can find in life is the constant sustaining power of God, and for that I am truly grateful.
During the past year I have experienced his sustaining power. In my darkest moments and in my biggest failures, Christ was there. When my actions of stupidity or selfishness created pain for myself or the ones I love, I heard His voice. He brings light and gracious healing no matter how far our prodigal heart wanders from home. Christ’s forgiveness rediscovered; not only from Him but from the ones wounded from my actions.
I have discovered the beauty of seeing my children grow in the majestic truth and grace of Christ. I also learned I do not possess the strength, skill or wisdom to parent in my own ability. I am thankful I can lean on Him in this task of raising my children. He is strong enough. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
I have come to know the strongest and most godly woman is my wife. Her grace and compassion is unwavering in all her relationships. She is relentless in her pursuit for God and his glory. Wisdom and beauty are her gifts She makes me proud to be her husband while at the same-time I am humbled the LORD gave her to someone like me.
This past year has been a rediscovery of God and his goodness for me. Its not been a rediscovery in the theological sense, but in the everyday practical ways of his constant powerful presence. In 2012, I will still be learning to live in Christ’s steadfast love.
Summary statements of things that captivated my thoughts this past year:
1. Selfishness is the worst kind of blindness.
2. We should unlearn successful methods from our past.
3. The hard work of family is a gift.
4. Forgiveness received is too beautiful for words.
5. My children often teach me more about life than I teach them.
6. I remembered what life without God was like. Very scary!
7. The depth, joy, and strength of biblical oneness.
8. Gray is becoming a reality (hair that is).
9. My wife is becoming more beautiful each day.
10. I still like Rock and Roll and very little country.
11. There is a greater need for gospel-centered churches in traditional places.
12. Repentance is not saying sorry, but surrendering to the active workings of God.
Looking forward to 2012. God is with me. Praying you too will discover Christ’s sustaining powerful presence.
There is a theological tragedy happening among many evangelical Christians today. It often goes unnoticed because the damage is not immediately seen. What is this tragedy? It’s the corruption of the Gospel by false teachers.
That statement, may seem over the top, but protecting the Gospel from false teachers has been an ongoing challenge for the Church throughout the centuries. It was an issue the Apostle Paul faced in his ministry with the Galatians. Here are a few passages from the book of Galatians addressing the subject.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6, 7 ESV)
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11, 12 ESV)
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3 ESV)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6 ESV)
These are just a sampling of Paul’s words but his point is clear. The Galatians are in danger of corrupting the Gospel message. How? By participating in a belief system that is teaching a misleading theology of salvation. The Galatians were beginning to follow false teachers and the gospel they proclaimed. The false teachers’ gospel could be stated as follows belief in Jesus plus observing the laws of Judaism. Another way of saying this would be Jesus is not enough to believe in for personal salvation. There has to be something more. Mainly, a self-effort morality has to be included for salvation to be achieved.
It’s not so different today. Many are “falling from grace” trusting in a self-effort morality based gospel. The difference would be the Galatians based their moral gospel on the law, keeping of the Mosaic and other Old Testament writings. In this belief system God was seen as the ultimate authority and judge. This is true, God is the ultimate judge of our lives, but the human problem of sin is still unresolved in a religious system based in performance.
Society today views morality in terms of subjectivity not religious absolutes. So, for many today morality has very little or nothing to do with God. Morality is now seen as a personal position with no universal foundation. It is solely personal opinion. The result is the Bible has no relevance for our lives and everyone has become their own god-judge. This is the idolatry of our society, self-worship.
If our problem was merely a moral one then good behavior would achieve our salvation. But our human condition is much more severe than moral. It is a sin problem and it will take more than good behavior to save us. It takes faith and repentance. If our good behavior was enough, then Jesus would not have had to die on a cross.
But He did have to die for people who had no way of saving themselves.
The heart of the Christian Gospel is Jesus died as our substitute. We are the guilty ones deserving death. But the gospel is more than Jesus’ death. He lived in perfect obedience to the will of God fulfilling the righteous standard of the law. In his death on the cross He absorbs God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection, He defeats sin and its result death. He does all of this for people like you and me.
As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:9 NASB)
Is it possible to live as a disciple of Jesus without spending significant amounts of time in the Scriptures? Can you really follow Jesus without reliance upon the Holy Spirit? Obviously, the answer is no to these questions. Unfortunately, many well meaning church goers pursue a Christian lifestyle, but neglect the importance of Scripture and personal reliance of the Holy Spirit. You simply can’t live the christian life without dependence upon the Word and Spirit. Here are a few passages that reveal our necessities.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:5-7 ESV)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
– John the Baptist
The following quote is from, Charity and it’s Fruits, penned by Jonathan Edwards in 1852. The book is a series of 16 sermons from 1 Corinthians first preached in 1738 at Northampton. These words are as relevant and important to heed in our self-seeking culture as they were when first penned.
“If you are selfish, and make yourself and your own private interests your idol, God will leave you to yourself, and let you promote your own interests as well as you can. But if you do not selfishly seek your own, but do seek the things that are Jesus Christ’s, and the things of your fellow human beings, then God will make your interest and happiness his own charge, and he is infinitely more able to provide for and promote it than you are. The resources of the universe move at his bidding, and he can easily command them all to subserve your welfare. So that, not to seek your own, in the selfish sense, is the best way of seeking your own in a better sense. It is the directest course you can take to secure your highest happiness.”
When we are in love with Christ we become small in our own eyes. The stresses of fighting for our “rights” or striving for our “wants” and the personal efforts of “self-justification” become meaningless pursuits. Loving God is giving up control of our life and giving all control to Christ. This is the only way to discover peace and lasting joy. The Christian life is not a faith of loving and trusting in ourselves to be good people, but as dependent upon Christ’s atonement, goodness, sovereignty and grace.
Study this Book of Instruction continually, meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. Joshua1:8
As someone who is constantly keeping an eye on my weight, I frequently step onto the scales to see if I am winning the battle of the bulge. I check my weight to see how I am doing. The scale functions much like a personal judge, it convicts and encourages me to stay focused on the goal of a healthy weight.
In the same way, we should have a goal of being spiritually healthy and daily step upon the scale of God’s word. You will discover the Bible is like a mirror for your heart revealing not only your beauty but also your blemishes. The elder Paul described the power of God’s word to the younger Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
Often quoted nineteenth century pastor Charles Spurgeon, suggests to read through the Psalms of David and meditate upon his words and experiences and then ask yourself, “Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God’s mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?”
When you look into the scriptures and see the life of Jesus, you see how our relationship with God should be–surrendered and committed to God. Ask yourself am I becoming like Jesus? Am I being changed into a more humble, generous, compassionate, merciful, prayerful and loving human being. Do I love the Father supremely?
When you look into the words of Paul as he writes about our depravity, do you echo the sentiment, “O wretched man that I am!”or Have you felt as “the chief of sinners and less than the least of all saints?” Or have you agreed with the apostle when he says with great joy, “Your grace is sufficient.”
When you look into the scriptures, do you see the missional call? Do you see the cities and nations as fertile ground for planting the Gospel? Are you motivated to share the hope of Christ to the poor, downtrodden, disenfranchised and lost? Do you see the Friend of Sinners who died for them on a cross? When you look into the mirror of his word are you convinced that you are to go into the world teaching and baptizing making disciples?
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” The author of Hebrews penned these words in chapter 4 describing the activity of the Bible in our lives. It serves as a judge, not in a condemning way but as an instrument of assessing what is inside our hearts. The word penetrates deep down into our being revealing the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not condemning, it is making an assessment of our life. What we do with the revelation determines the judgement.
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
John 15:7-8 7
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Understanding the people our churches are trying to reach with the Gospel is far more important than we may think. Even here in the Bible belt, many are unfamiliar with biblical Christianity and have no clue they are in need of transforming grace from Jesus. We can’t assume and carry on like they are going to get our Christian culture. There may have been a time in the past when we could assume they understood our language, worship, and fellowship, but those days are gone.
Thomas Weaver is the Lead Pastor of Logos Community Church, an Acts 29 Church in McAllen, Texas. Recently, he posted on the Resurgence website an article describing non-Christians visiting our churches and what they need us to know about them. There is nothing here many of us have not heard before, but it is good to remind ourselves not to get comfortable in our “holy huddles”.
Here are the 7 things Weaver suggests non-Christian may be thinking before they walk through our doors:
1. I’m not going to understand religious language or phrases so be aware of that when we talk.
2. When you ask me how I’m doing, know that I don’t trust you. I’m probably going to lie and tell you I’m fine. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you; it’s just that I come from some pain and am not sure if I trust you yet. How about you tell me your story first? If I like you and get the vibe that you’re not trying to capture my soul or anything, I’ll tell you mine.
3. I’ve got pretty rough language and I can be bitter and angry about some things. If I sense in you a mindset of superiority, I’m out. If you are just waiting for your turn to talk instead of truly listening to me, I’m not going to be interested. Don’t expect me to be exactly like you.
4. Don’t make a big deal of introducing me to everyone you know. I understand a couple of people, but please; don’t set up a welcoming line. I’m just there to check it out; I need a bit of space.
5. I’m going to be looking for genuine interest in me. I don’t want to feel like your personal salvation project or be a notch on your “I saved one” belt. If this Jesus is who you say he is, then I’m looking forward to seeing him in you. That’s how it works, right?
6. I’m going to have questions. I need truth, not your preferences or your religion, so can you just tell me what the Bible says?
7. I need to feel welcomed. Is there a time limit or something on my visit before I’m supposed to feel unwelcomed? I mean, I’ve been to other churches and there seemed to be a push for me to make up my mind or something. How long until I’m unwelcomed?
As Christians we desperately want to see people come to Jesus and we need to remember this fact, that seeing people come to Christ and joining his mission is the church’s purpose. I have often seen guests at church overwhelmed by eager church members wanting to make them feel welcome. The result was a feeling of awkwardness on the part of the guest. I think people leave our churches trying to understand our behavior more than trying to figure out what God has to say to them. I have wondered if they leave with the feeling we want them to join our church more than feeling we want Jesus to become real in their lives.
My point is that we are not recruiting people to join our club. We are on a mission sharing and living out the Gospel of Jesus.
“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22”