Jul 17, 2013 - Hearing From God    13 Comments

HAVE YOU CHOSEN A SPIRIT OF FEAR?

Have you ever given any thought to what stirs fear inside of you? Well as of late I have been giving a lot of thought to what makes a person fearful. Recently, I saw the movie After Earth staring Will Smith and his son. I really enjoyed the movie for its entertainment value but it was also very thought provoking. It dealt with fear. Here’s a quote made by General Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith) from a conversationimage he had with his son:

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”

Impressive right? Well, it is nothing new … two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul told a young man named Timothy basically the same thing. Paul was telling Timothy, and those of us who have accepted salvation, about who we are in Christ.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Not too long ago my wife Amy was challenged in this area. It all started when I shared that I intended to renew my motorcycle license and teach my brother how to ride his new motorcycle. Amy’s response was not very supportive. The conversation went something like this …
“Why are you going to get a motorcycle license?” Amy said with a disapproving tone. “Well, I use to ride and I enjoyed it very much,” I said. “Yea, but that was like 35 years ago,” Amy scoffed, “and it’s very dangerous.” “Not any more dangerous than anything else,” I countered, “and when I was younger and owned my own motorcycle I was reckless, but now that I’m older I have better judgement and wisdom.” When Amy saw her logic wasn’t working she went the God route, “Are you sure that’s something The Lord would have you do?” she questioned. “I’m trusting The Lord,” I said, “He took care of me when I was young and reckless and for the most part not even following Him. You need to pray for me and trust The Lord as well.”

Days later I took each of our daughters, ages eight and six for a short ride around our neighborhood. Amy, and our youngest Ella, watched as I rode off with our oldest Emma Grace. We returned ten minutes later, Emma Grace was smiling ear to ear, and Ella could not wait for her turn. Ella got on and held on tight just like her sister and off we rode. When Amy saw me riding with confidence and our girls enjoying the motorcycle and trusting their father, I could tell Amy’s heart was softening concerning her fear.

GOD’S WORD RINGING TRUE

Weeks later while shopping with Amy, she happen upon a nice looking jacket. She shared that she thought that the jacket would fit Emma Grace. More important then the fit, the style of the jacket was patterned after a motorcycle jacket. (smile) I thought to myself is this the same women who just weeks ago was against me riding a motorcycle. So what changed. Amy was no longer walking in the fear of her imagination. She had witness,firsthand, me handling the motorcycle and riding with confidence. She had seen our daughters’ excitement and their trust in their dad. Once Amy removed these negative fore drawn conclusions she had about her husband riding a motorcycle, she was able to trust God. When we allow fear to live rent free in our heads without evicting it, the results can be costly. Fear can cause us to stop believing what we know about The Lord Jesus. As Christians, if we place our trust and hope in any other thing other then Jesus we are subject to our own fears. Amy, without knowing it, had forecasted and concluded an outcome that simply did not exist …and she was acting as if it had already occurred. Without even knowing it, she was stirring up fears as though they were realities. Perhaps you’ve been there also.

CAN YOU RELATE TO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SCENARIOS?

Have you ever been sitting in your doctors office awaiting test results and running through your mind are the worst case scenarios that one could imagine?

Have you ever applied for a job knowing that you did your very best during to interview, but you find yourself imagining that there is no way you’ll even be considered for the job?

Have you ever set a goal or decided to do something and after you sought the support of family and friends; they turned out to be your biggest naysayers? And you, in turn, allowed their conclusions to become yours?

IF YOU HAVE HAVE ANSWERED YES TO ANY ONE OF THESE QUESTIONS WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHY? FEAR!!!

Fimageear sets in whenever we determine that there is a negative outcome for a future event. And, when we have already concluded that what we have deem valuable can or will be taken from us. The fear of this can be overwhelming and we’ll begin to live as though that outcome has already occurred. We must remember what God’s word says …

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

So if God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, what has He given us? God has given us (1) a spirit of power to to overcome difficulties and dangers by trusting an all knowing and loving God. We must fully realize that it is God that holds mankind’s future not man; (2) a spirit of love, having the full knowledge that Jesus loved us while we were still sinners and died for us to pay the debt of our sins; and (3) a sound mind to overcome our fears. Meaning, we are not easily driven by our emotions, instead we use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Operating out of your own beliefs can cause you to doubt The Lord. Here is a Bible verse that has continually strengthened me and countless others when our fears have trampled over whatever hope we’ve had remaining. Remember, only God can determine the outcome of the future.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.

Jul 10, 2013 - Hearing From God    11 Comments

NOTHING FROM FROM NOTHING LEAVES NOTHING

Can a person bring more of nothing? Before your answer this question, let me tell you how the question came about … Friends of ours invited us over to their house for pizza. It was a fun time of food, conversation, and fellowship.

As we were eating, I shared how it sadden me to see people come to the house of God and not grow into mature Christians. It seems as if people just bring “more of nothing when they come to church,” I said. Then, our friend shared that sometimes people bring “worse then nothing.” My wife laughed and said, “Wait a minute … are you guys listening to what you’re saying? How can you have more of nothing? And, how can you have worse than nothing?” We all laughed hysterically as one by one we chimed in with our comments about how ridiculous that sounded. A mathematical equation that says 0 + 0 = 0. And, there’s even a song written in 1974, by Billy Preston, titled Nothing Plus Nothing Leaves Nothing. Our friend said, “OK, Billy where are you going to go with this … I know there is Biblical application here somewhere that you’re dying to share”.

The funny thing is, the spiritual application did not come to me right then. It wasn’t until a day later when I was meditating on God’s word and asked,”Lord, what was all that more of nothing all about”? That’s when the story of The Widows’s Offering in Mark 12:41-44 came to me. Let me give you a little background first. Earlier on in Chapter 12, Jesus had finished teaching in the temple; warning the people to beware of teachers of religious law. For they liked the seat of prominence, fancy clothes, the honor of the people, yet they cheated widows out of their property. They pretended to be pious by saying long prayers in public. In the story of The Widow’s Offering the Scriptures say, Then Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. (comparable to a halfpenny in today’s currency) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.

imageThere are things that we place tremendous value on that have no value to The Lord at all. That’s what I meant by bringing “more of nothing.” The reality is we do bring something but what it amounts to is of little or no value to God. The widow putting the two coins into the collection represented her giving to God the sum of all that she had and the heart of who she was. The value of these coins was only six minutes of a day’s work. If she had only six minutes of life to live I believe she would have given it in serving Jesus. When it comes to giving or serving, The Lord God determines what is valued. To know what God values, you have to know God. God is constantly looking at our hearts and He knows what we hold dear. God desires love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in the Holy Spirit. These are what God values. And, if we are not bringing what God values, we are really bringing “more of nothing.”

Here’s something scary to think about — could we be bringing to God something “worse then nothing?” Jesus shares the story about two men who went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a despised tax collector.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I imagedon’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I am certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”
Luke 18:10-13

In comparison, we see that the Pharisee not only brought nothing to God in his prayer but he actually brought something “worse than nothing” … Pride. He relied on himself and not God. His prayer was prideful, focusing on himself and what he had accomplished. It was as if he did not need God’s help but that God needed his. This is what my friend meant when she said people can bring to God something “worse than nothing.” The Tax Collector, however, did bring something to God and it was of great value. It was humility. He confessed that he was a sinner in need of The Lord’s help and mercy.

There have been times that I entered the house of God with a bad attitude. I mean it stunk. Others may not have smelled me but my wife and kids sure did. Yes, we may look good on the outside but what’s going on in the inside is a whole other story. Jesus is interested in what’s going on in the inside. He is looking at our heart. So what does The Lord value? We see that The Lord valued the widow’s and the tax collector’s humility.

The next time you enter the house of God, take a moment to check yourself. What is it that you are bringing and is it what God values? 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

Jul 5, 2013 - Hearing From God    3 Comments

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES PART II

If you missed Part I, check out my previous post to get the background on the story of my daughter and her new Kindle Fire.

Part II
Interestingly enough my daughter’s praise, though humbling, was easy for us to receive. But what would our reactions be if she had praised the manufacture of the Kindle over us? This was the case with Jesus when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did and the children in the temple were crying,“Praise God for the Son of David.” The chief priests and scribes were sorely displeased and said unto Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, Have you never read the Scriptures? For they say, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise?” Matthew 21:15-16.

If you ask me, these children displayed more wisdom and zeal for The Lord then the chief priests and scribes. My daughters Emma Grace and Ella Louise are a constant reminders of what it’s like to possess a childlike zeal. Watching my girls explore on their Kindles with such excitement brought joy to my heart and their zeal brought me back to my own fond childhood memories. I never gave it any thought that some day I would be watching my own children creating their own memories.

A child’s zeal can be contagious if you take the time to view things from their perspective. However, zeal without imageknowledge is a very dangerous thing. Zeal without knowledge can cloud all rational reasoning. The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:2 shared this about the Jewish people to Christians living in Rome: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”

This was the case when Jesus had come into the city of Jerusalem. Matthew 21:12-14 The people were filled with zeal and very curious about Jesus; talking amongst themselves and saying, “Who is this?” And the multitude said, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” Jesus went into the temple and saw the people buying and selling and exchanging money. Jesus over turned their tables and drove them out of the temple saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves”. At first glance, one might think Jesus actions we’re violent. But it wasn’t until He threw them out of the temple, that the blind and lame came and were healed. Jesus’s actions transformed mans’ selfish acts of buying and selling into what God had intended His house to be: a house of prayer, a place of healing, praise, and worshiping. We see again the pitfalls of zeal without knowledge.

If we don’t fully understand the purpose of something it will become easy for us to misuse it. Jesus knew that the zeal of childlike faith produced determination. Children don’t possess the suspicions adults have. Adults would do well to possess the trust and humility of a child concerning Jesus. These are traits that every believer should aspire to have. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In this verse Jesus wanted His disciples to take on a childlike humility because in the verses prior to this His disciples wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. A proud spirit will kill one’s zeal for The Lord and bring about a false worship!

My little girls are a constant reminder to me of what it’s like to have zeal and to remain humble. The next time you enter the House Of Worship, do it with the heart of a little child. Come with zeal having the knowledge of what Jesus can and will do. Come humbly, expecting the needs of others and yours to be met by a merciful God.