Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quick Understanding


The Bible is not that difficult to understand.  I used to think that trying to grasp its great nuggets of truth was a monumental task. Like the Ethiopian in Acts 8 in responding to Phillip"s question on whether he understood what he was reading in the book of Isaiah, I echoed "How can I, except some man should guide me!" The ethiopian needed to find out about the son of God and who and why he existed. The same is true of us today. Once we understand ramifications of the lordship of Jesus Christ, that God infused power in his physical body to raise him from the dead and that spiritual power is now available to us, we can truly live.
Isaiah 11:2-3 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear (respect and awe) of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding (ruach- Hebrew for wind, spirit) in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
The same spirit can come to rest in our hearts. As we trust God, we develop the same respect and awe of the reality of our access to God. God is real and we find Him when we look for Him and he doesn't hide. The 'quick understanding' is the delightful waft of God's communication to us because he has made His spirit also available to us. It is the same spirit working in Paul when he wrote to the Colossians.
Colossians 2:5-7 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see (vivid mental picture) how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (NIV).
 The spirit of God is what makes the Word of God different from any other book ever written. Just as God  had his Words recorded, he can impress our lives in the same way with His love. We become 'living epistles to be known and read' by others not by quoting the Bible and memorizing every verse but by living its vitality and benefitting from ‘quick understanding’ (ruach).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Relationship

There are many people in this world that are anti-God. It is sometimes blatant and sometimes very subtle. I  remember moments in my life where I doubted and sought to explain God with my own mind.  I came up with some zany, culture-influenced conclusions. At one time it was cool and free-thinking  to be agnostic. On the other hand, often, a lack of belief in God can be cloaked by extreme religiosity. Religion is man's attempt to explain and legislate God. It springs from man's desire to control and nail down what he doesn't really understand.


God wants us to understand otherwise he wouldn't have provided a book about who He is! God provided His Word to explain Himself. The Bible is not some book of prose to be admired for its literary value. It represents life at its fullest. It is about God and man and a relationship.  


Sooner or later, a person has to make the effort to get to know God through the Word.  Eventually it is the individual person who has to understand God and what He provided through His son. It is  real life that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for, not religious exercise.We can listen to what others say about God, but eventually the Word has to become one's own, because God meant for each one of us to have it and apply it to every situation in everyday life. 


God doesn't make anyone do anything, He is very much in favor of free choice. You just gotta love Him for that! In fact that is exactly what he wants from man, free-will love and trust in Him.


Often people think that God can only work through someone else's believing. E. W. Kenyon asked the question "Why is it that people haven't faith in their own faith?" It's a honest question and therein is the  key to the heart of the ministry of reconciliation. The greatest thing a person can do for another is to encourage him in his own relationship with God.  I have had certain situations where people wanted me to pray for something and I felt uncomfortable about it because I knew that their own prayers were enough. God is accessible to everyone. Of course, it is great to pray and believe with people, but prayer is prayer and there are no greater or less greats in prayer.  Jesus Christ said in John 16:26-27:
These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
We may have been at one time anti-God. God was and never is anti-us. He has never changed. When we really get to know Him through His own words and understand the purpose of His son's sacrifice and Lordship, we will be confident to lay open our hearts and pray with confidence.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's all About Image!


The image that appears on a desktop is called an 'icon'. It represents a link to a file or an application. God is spirit (John 4:24) and therefore invisible. God only becomes visible when his nature becomes part of something physical just like when one clicks on a desktop icon and gets the application represented. In the Old Testament, for example, God spoke from a burning bush.

So what was God talking about when he wrote: 
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  Genesis 1:27
In the New Testament the Greek word for image is 'eikon'. The definition of eikon is likeness or representation (link - eikon). Just like the burning bush was not God, neither is man. When God talks about making man in His own image (icon), it means that the spirit of God is the 'file' or 'application' in man that can be clicked on to communicate to man.

Man is born with two basic parts: body and soul. When man is reborn, he receives the spirit of God so he becomes body, soul and spirit. The spirit is the 'hot link' to God. Each of us as we operate the spirit of God in action then manifests the nature of the invisible God. Jesus Christ showed the way:
Col 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Our new nature which includes God's spirit is an amazing part of our being. We have been provided a physical body to walk, sit, lift, talk, hear and many more things. We have been given a soul that uniquely makes each one of us who we are in personality, emotions and thoughts. The spirit, based on our free will choice, is God's provision of His power. God knew there would be people who love, worship and recognize Him and in his forethought he provided very uniquely for us in this world.
Ro 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
This morning I asked my 18 month old granddaughter if she wanted some water. She said no, but I knew that she was going to be thirsty, so I left a nice cool drink of water on her play table within her reach in her favorite cup. It wasn't a matter of minutes that she decided to pick up her cup. That's the way it is with the foreknowledge of God. God has provided, it is our choice to receive what he has offered. I used to feel that God was too far away or too high for me to reach, but I have learned through the years he has placed what we need well within our reach.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Confidence

This morning as I was reading Philippians, a verse popped out at me that capsulizes great truths about who we are because of our the relationship with God.
Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
The word 'circumcision' used in this verse refers to our spiritual circumcision, not the circumcision in the Old Testament. When we acknowledge God's work through Christ, we spiritually put off the works of the flesh and that is something we should all  jump up and down about. Around Philippi, there were people who were Judeans who wanted to bring new Christians back to the old ways of the law. Paul called attention to the snarky dudes.

In the verse 2 of Philippians 3, Paul uses the word 'beware' three times. He wants people to recognize the 'stuck in the mud' Judeans who were trying to steal away their freedom in Christ. 'Beware' means to accurately observe what is going on. He repeats the word 3 times for effect.
Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
Paul says to beware of dogs. This does not refer at all to our dear Maggie who lives with us. Maggie is a great blessing. She is a wonderful obedient dog who wags her tail excitedly whenever she sees us. The reference to dogs in Philippians is to the wild dogs that usually hung outside the city gates in the garbage pits scavenging for food. They would get into the city and roam the streets at times. They were dangerous.

Gentiles had been considered dogs by the Judeans in the Old Testament, but now in the New Testament, the Gentiles were no longer outside the gate feeding on scraps and garbage, they had the same access to all the rights and privileges as the Judeans in the household of God. Some of the Judeans didn't buy into that and they actually found themselves scavenging outside the gate. Paul says 'beware' of the dogs, evil workers (false ministers) and concision (those trying to mutilate the body of Christ; the household)

The true circumcision, made without hands, has three characteristics according to verse 3. First it involves 'worshipping God ('theou') in the spirit'. 'Theou' is in the genitive and should read 'worship by the spirit of God' not the workaholic nature of the old man. It refers to the new nature we have within, the holy spirit. Jesus Christ referred to this in John 4:23-24 (check it out!). That's our new nature!

Second, we rejoice in Christ Jesus! This word for 'rejoice' is different from the word 'rejoice' used in 3:1. It means to glory, or to speak about loudly or boast. When we really know what it is to be of the true circumcision, we really have something to shout about. If you are not personally rejoicing like this, then get help from someone who really knows what it means. There are people who look to bring the uninspecting back into a regimen of the law and that is frustratingly impossible to live up to. Just like Paul said we have to beware. It is well worth it to make the effort. Once you get it, believe me you will shout. 

Third, we have no confidence (trust) in the flesh. There is nothing wrong with ability, life experience, and even in what we have learned from the Word. These things are certainly important, but as life gets rolling along, they are not enough. We don't trust in the flesh, we rely on God. Trust is not some feeling, it is the destination of our thoughts at any given moment of decision. It is God that is our sufficiency. Today is a new day to trust God every second we breathe.  Then and only then do we experience the greatest freedom in life. That is what true circumcision is all about.


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