What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Church”?
If you are like most people, you think of buildings, clergy (professional ministers) rituals and programs. This is the working definition that is deeply embedded not only in our country, but in most places of the world. It has been the way people have thought of church for ages.
How inspiring are those words to you? Do they feel life-giving and transformational? Does this description sound or look like what Jesus said or did?
Chapter 4, of the Book of Ephesians, gives us a much richer understanding. It mentions 5 “Ascension Gifts” or spiritual enablements that Jesus wired into the identity, calling and resources of the church when He ascended to heaven.
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the...
Do you want to walk in God’s power and strength, or do you prefer to go it alone? This is a question we must each honestly ask ourselves. If you want to walk in God, you must learn to positively respond to His commands and directives. You must also be willing to say “No” to lesser things.
A.W. Tozer gave students, at Wheaton College, 5 important “Don’ts” that can help strengthen us and prevent “spiritual leakage” in our lives. Let’s take a moment and consider them together.
There is no need to waste your time/life with things that don’t truly satisfy and actually will make your spirit weak and sick. Don’t slow down to even toy with sin. Keep moving ahead, living full wholesome lives and obeying His positive commands.
Don’t be so concerned about other people’s opinion of you. If you...
Most of us tend to do whatever we can to get out of the path of adversity. We will try to think our way out of a mess, look for help from others, or pray that God will just make it stop. Additionally, we all experience the constant inundation of advertisers that offers products to relieve and remove our troubles. They promise to give us access to the good life to which we are all “entitled.” If your difficulty is weight, muscle tone, sickness, finance, loneliness, depression, or erectile dysfunction – “We have a product that will take care of that for you.”
God’s ways are often very different from ours. He uses the hurdles and stubborn obstacles of life to deepen us and produce lasting fruit in our lives. Wisdom and character are grown through adversity, not through escape. There is no product that you can buy that will give you the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) or understanding of the ways of God. These are only forged...
Are you able to live in the present? Many are not.
Some people are haunted by their past. Possibly they have been hurt by others – and are still carrying the wounds. Others have made some big mistakes, and they can’t forgive themselves so that they can move on.
We must learn to confess what we have done and receive forgiveness in our souls. We must also forgive others before God – releasing them from their “debt/s” owed us. This is not always easy work, and it may involve the help of a trusted friend or spiritual leader, but it is ALWAYS possible!
A resource you may find helpful is Total Forgiveness, by RT Kendall.
Some people, on the other hand, are haunted by their future. Either they are so attached to their dreams that they have trouble being responsible in the present, or they are paralyzed by worry and dwelling on negative possibilities. Jesus made it clear, however, that worry offers us no benefit...
How do you start your day? Do you awaken to the blast of an alarm that catapults you from your subconscious state? Do you consider what must be done that day and simply do what you can to get yourself moving on the right path? Do you start your day alone in your head? Or on your phone?
Or, do you start your day seeking and acknowledging God’s presence? This may sound like a religious/Sunday school question that has an obvious “right answer,” but press past the conceptual and consider your actual, consistent experience.
When describing His relationship with His Father Jesus said,
“The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)
Jesus did not live His life alone; He lived it with the Father. He maintained this connected relationship by doing the things He sensed the Father wanted.
Jesus went on to say,
“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and...
Most of us who come to Christ do so when we are facing difficult times. We come when we are in great need. We are hoping for change in our circumstances and/or within ourselves.
Why don’t we often come to God when we are in a “good space”? It’s probably because, when things are going well, we tend to be content in our self-reliance. We call out to God when relying on ourselves isn’t working anymore.
Life can still be tough – even when do we rely on God. The apostle Paul encourages those who are living in Christ, “Not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Why would people who have learned to rely on Christ become weary in doing the right things? It’s because we all are prone to lose focus.
Most of us live in deep fear of being found out. We are scared of people knowing us deeply; our weaknesses, inadequacies, fears, doubts and sin. We are deeply ashamed of our condition. Yet, we all have darknesses – we are all very flawed, and our responses to our conditions are
peppered with brokenness.
Coming clean with who we are and what we have done can feel terrifying … apart from the grace of God. Letting others, God or even ourselves know just how corrupted parts of our souls are raises fears. We are afraid of being judged, condemned – or worst of all – rejected. So, we are tempted to deny or hide our “stuff.” We try to tell ourselves and/or others that we either didn’t do what we did, or that it wasn’t really sin when we did it. We often coat our motives with feigned good intentions. We perform these mental gymnastics because it’s too scary to admit the truth about ourselves … apart from the grace of God.
One of the great challenges of our day is that hardly any of us are very good at stilling ourselves before the Lord. The good news is that we can all learn to do so.
There is, however, an additional problem that might surface as we learn to be still. As we behold God’s goodness, experience measures of healing in our souls, and get in touch with our true selves, we have the potential to get stuck.
Sometimes, we can so enjoy our time with the Lord that we become passive in our faith.
When we learn to receive, rather than strive, we might (unintentionally) forget the value of purposefully pursuing the Lord, and the importance of obeying His direction.
No one means to become too passive or disobedient, but it can happen if we over-prize our experience of Him, rather than our growing relationship with Him.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The verse goes on to say, “I wil be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in...
Jesus said that in the last days the love of most people will grow cold. Is your love cold or hot
with the presence and purposes of God? Real love is focused and intentional. It is focused on
another or others. It is intentional in that it is expressed – it is an active verb. You can tell if you
are expressing this kind of love, they will experience it and others will see it. Real love is
demonstrative. Its deepest source and inspiration comes from God.
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Love is the expression of His essence – and it is His motivation for
creation. His creation expresses His love and shares His love. As we experience love, walk in
love and act lovingly, we bare His image in this world. Let’s look at three clear, yet counter-
cultural expressions of love. This kind of love is a prophetic sign in our day. It points to a
greater source and purpose than ourselves.
“Be devoted to one another...
What do people mean when they say they “hear God’s voice?” Can everyone hear God? Do people have the same capacity and/or ability to hear the Lord? Does the Lord “speak” more often or more clearly in some places and at some times than others?
The book of 1 Samuel notes, “In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Sam. 3:1). Apparently, there are different dispensations regarding the frequency and clarity of God's communication. Approximately 3,100 years ago the people of God were not experiencing much of the revelation of God. Then Samuel was born, and God started communicating boldly through the prophets.
In the New Testament, the book of Hebrews begins, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through...