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June 2007
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August 2007

Completely Convinced

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  Romans 4:20-21 NKJV

Abraham, the great patriarch of our faith, had some incredible faith.  This verse was written about how Abraham, at 100 years old was told by God that he would yet have a son  through which a mighty nation would come.  I would love to have seen Abraham's face when God revealed this promise to him.  After all, Abraham was old and his wife Sarah was no spring chicken herself.  From the above passage, I'm guessing that Abraham might have just smiled and said "okay" because we know that his faith did not waver at God's promise through unbelief.   Abraham knew God and over the many years of walking and talking with God his faith had grown to the point that no matter what "crazy" thing Abraham heard from Him, Abraham believed that what seemed impossible could become possible.

How are you with your own faith walk?  Has God promised you something that you are having trouble believing?  Has God brought you to a place in your life or ministry calling where you are having doubts at your ability to fulfill His plans for you?  Maybe you are struggling with some other issues at home or work. If you are wavering in your faith, please know that this is perfectly normal.  :)  A faith like Abraham's doesn't develop overnight but through years of hearing God's promises, trusting God as best we know how, and then seeing with our own eyes how God delivers on His promises time after time after time.  Abraham's faith even grew at age 100!  We know this because the Bible says in our passage (Ro 4:20-21) that he "was strengthened in faith".  I want that kind of faith, don't you?  We can have it too, just like Abraham did by just taking our days and God's promises one day at a time.  Each day as we see God's promises fulfilled in our lives, our faith will grow stronger and stronger.  Each day as we get to know God more completely through His Word, we will realize how much greatness God is capabale of.  His majesty is beyond compare.

To consider:

1) How strong is my faith in God's promises?  What holds me back in having an unwavering faith?

2) How well do I know the promises of and the character of God?  If I don't regularly get in to God's Word so I can know His promises, why not?

3) Are your goals, challenges, or opportunities "God-sized" and obviously bigger than you can accomplish without Him?  If not, ask God to reveal some bigger plans for your life.  I guarantee you will then stretch your faith! :)

Advantageous Responsibility

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?  Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.  (Ro 3:1-2 NIV)

This passage lept off the page and grabbed me at my very first reading of it.  Perhaps it is because it stood out among all of the writing regarding how both Jew and Gentile alike need a Savior just as much as the other.  (Note: For those not familiar with the term "gentile", if you are not Jewish, YOU are a gentile.)  However, with more reflection, I know why the passage stood out to me: I also have been entrusted with the very words of God. 

All of us who are believers are entrusted with the Word of God to know it, to live it and to proclaim it.  Yes, the Jews were the first of all peoples to receive the Word of God in the form of His law back in Moses' day.  I wonder if Paul in his letter to the Romans was really just trying to make them feel better as he also proclaimed that the Gentiles were also given access to God.  At any rate, if we have the Word of God in our hands and are saved from God's wrath by the blood of Jesus, we too are entrusted with God's Word.

Individuals with the gift of teaching have an even greater responsibility towards how they must handle the Word of God.  We must proclaim it.  So keeping my recent meditations in mind, it was no wonder that as I sat in my church service yesterday morning, I became deeply troubled at what was presented - or was not presented - in the day's sermon.  Yes, the subject was a topic drawn from expository teaching of God's Word.  However, it seemed to me that there were more quotes from other men's writings about the bible than there were actual readings of the bible.  My question is this: When did it become so "chic" to quote so many other scholars rather than the bible itself to support the bible? 

Please know that I'm not simply writing this post to "trash" my church or any other for that matter.  I'm not even sure that I could make this kind of observation consistently during my Sunday morning services.  But yesterday, due to my reading and pondering of Romans 3:1-2, I couldn't help but notice.  The undiluted Word of God got to me.  How have you let it get to you? 

Handling the Truth...Ask yourself...

  • How good a steward am I of God's word?  Do I know its treasures?
  • What am I doing to share the power of God's word to others?
  • What can I do today?
  • How can I do more?

Teachers, Teach Yourselves

You, therefore, who teach another do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? ... For "the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you," as it is written.  Romans 2:21-24 NKJV

As I read the above passage in Romans a week ago, I wanted to say to myself that these words didn't apply to me because this particular passage looks like it was addressing the Jews (2:17).  But no, I can't get out of the application that easy as Romans is still written to the Church at Rome and the principle is a general one as well, applicable to all.

The passage was/is particularly hard hitting because I enjoy teaching the bible and have recently started speaking more about the truths of the bible.  Smack!  "Teacher, teach yourself!", I heard loud and clear from this passage.  We as Christians must be very careful to abide by the words that we say are truths from scripture because people are watching us to see if we really do practice what we preach.   We should want to avoid being hypocrites, but more importantly, we should not want to blaspheme God's Holy name.

Think about the latter part of the passage, about God's name being blasphemed.  Years ago I was participating in a women's bible study through Titus 2:3-5 when the whole point of how I could blaspheme God's name really was driven home to me.  I didn't think that I was or could be a blasphemer.  After all, that was for the pagans!  Think again. 

In Titus 2:5, the word "blaspheme in the Greek means to speak impiously or irreverently.  It is also used as to defame, rail on revile, and to speak evil of.  The first mention of the word blaspheme is found in Leviticus 24:16.  This word in the Hebrew means to puncture (to perforate, with more or less violence)... It is used also as appoint, bore, curse, express, with holes, name, pierce and strike through.  (Woman to Woman, Cheryl Adams, Ch. 1)

We all blaspheme, or pierce, God's name when our actions contradict what we know as God's instructions for righteousness in our lives.  Ouch.  Think about how much a puncture wound hurts. A puncture wound is the worst kind.  To think that I can be a part of "puncturing" God's name is a really sobering thought to me.  I don't want to be a blasphemer, do you? 

Teach Yourself...Ask Yourself...

1) What action or attitude in my life contradicts clear bible teaching?

2) As a Christian, do I know my "owner's manual", my bible, that tells me how a Christian should "operate"?

3) What can I do to better follow the bible's instructions for my life so that I won't be a blasphemer or a hypocrite?

Dear Lord, thank you for your word and placing truths in its pages that not only comfort us but exhort us to live better lives for you.  I don't think any of us want to knowingly cause harm to your name. I know that I don't.  Forgive us though, when we slip up and live our way and not yours. Show us how we can be better examples for you.  Make your word come alive to each one of us so much so that we can't wait to open our Bibles each day to see what you have for us there.  Teach us your ways and teach us to teach ourselves so that we can make you proud of us as we share your light to this dark world.   Amen.

Clearing the Clutter

Do you have clutter in your life that weighs you down day after day?  What is that "clutter" and how does it keep you from running the race of life for God?  Join me for my post "Clearing the Clutter" at Laced With Grace to find some clutter clearing tips.

I hope to see you there!  :)

A Faithful Father

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. (Isaiah 43:1 NKJV)

Can doubt and absolute faith in our Creator God coexist?  Absolutely.  Does our lack of faith always result in a lack of deliverance?  Absolutely not.  However many Christians, myself included, beat themselves up because of their lack of faith that through Him they can "do all things" (Phil 4:13).  I'm in no way saying that we should stop striving to believe wholeheartedly that with God all things are possible or that God can indeed move our mountain, but I also think that we get defeated unnecessarily by connecting God's abilities with our faith or lack thereof. 

In our Sunday sermon a couple of days ago I was reminded of the story of Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego and their punishment inside of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3.  Because of their refusal to bow down and worship a golden image, King Nebuchadnezzar sentenced the three young men to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  Let's look quickly at their response to Nebuchadnezzar upon hearing of their fate:

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV)

Do you see the doubt in S, M & A's mind as to whether or not God was going to deliver them?  (v18)  They knew that God could but they did not know if He would.  How could they know if God would deliver them?  I don't think that they could know without a shadow of a doubt.  After all, God's thoughts are "higher" than ours.  What makes perfect sense to our little planning minds, may not be the solution to our sovereign God.  We have no way of knowing how our tiny worlds affect the bigger scheme of things.  Shadrach, Meshach & Abed-Nego's story did have a happy ending for them.  God did rescue them from the furnace without a burn mark on them, even though they explicitly stated their doubts.

What are you doubting today regarding God's provision in your life?  Is it work related?  family related?  ministry related?  God can work a miracle regardless of what we are thinking.  If he doesn't, however, we must trust in God's goodness and sovereignty anyway, knowing that while He may not always deliver us from our furnace, He will always be with us in our furnace.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; (Isaiah 43:2-3a NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your unwavering Word.  Thank you that no matter what I'm feeling, I can trust that what you say is true and that you never change.  Help me and others around me to believe that you will be with us to help us do all of the things that you have called us to do.  Reveal to us clearly the plans you have for us and order our steps toward that plan.  Help us to be faithful servants whom you can be proud of.  Amen.

A New Creation in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. 1 Cor 5:17 NKJV

The power of God unto salvation (Ro 1:16) is a fantastic thing to behold.  Not only does it protect or save us from the active wrath of God by keeping us from an eternal life in a hell made for Satan and his clan, the fallen angels, but the gospel's power can also "save" us from ourselves in this life on earth.  However, the act of accepting Jesus Christ as our savior still does not do away with the truth that we are still human beings and thus naturally prone to choose our way (sin) over God's way (holy living).  After we receive Christ we must still actively seek to do what God wants us to do.  Keep in mind that the debauchery going on in Paul's day as he wrote his letter to the church in Rome was being committed by believers and nonbelievers alike.

The situation is no different today.  Because Christians are still living amongst unbelievers, as we should be to be a witness to them of God's love, we are impacted by what is going on around us and must take extra precautions to protect ourselves from partaking in the activities of the world that God abhors.  We need to protect ourselves so that we don't give God a bad name. 

Fortunately, through Christ, all things - our old habits & thoughts - can be made new through the power of Christ working in us.  We are new creations, after all, as the truth of God's word says.  We can access this truth and power by a daily discipline of reading God's word and applying it to our lives.  This discipline will renew our minds each day.  When we see a passage that tells us how to rightly live, we can ask God to help us live that way and not our own.  He will change us.  He makes us that new creation when we personally ask Jesus into our lives and He will finish his masterpiece in us.  God promises us that.   He will save us from ourselves. 

Dear Father,

I pray for myself and for your church, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, from Colossians 1:9-11, that we may be filled with the knowledge of your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding so that we make walk worthy of You, fully pleasing you.  Allow us to be fruitful in every good work so that we can show the world your glory and power to change us from the inside out, making us new.  Give us the desire to know your Word and to see it as the only way of life.  Strengthen us according to your glorious power and make us become the men and women you want us to be.  Amen.