Archive for February, 2010

Good Measure

The Bible tells us that if we give, it will be given to us… good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over (Lk 6:38). So much that you won’t have room to receive it. That is exactly how I feel today. I feel like God just keeps pouring His blessing on me and there is so much it is running over everywhere. I know that God loves me but this sure makes me feel like His favorite child!

 Recently, I heard somebody say that they had an experience of such overflow that they told God “Lord- that’s more than I need”. God responded by saying “I know and there’s more where this came from”.

 God truly is extravagant, but not wasteful. God not only takes pleasure in supplying our needs, He also takes pleasure in giving us above and beyond. One reason is because we are His kids and as a Father, He likes to bless us. I also believe it is because through this amazing overflow we see just how good our God really is. He can move mountains. He can do above all that we could ever think or ask… that’s the key that we need to keep working on. Nothing is impossible with God. The only difficult reality is that He is limited by our low expectations.

 If we don’t think He can supply a pair of socks, we certainly can’t imagine that He can provide a new car.

 My wife just bought a new Minivan for an unreal (very low) amount of money… because she believed for it. We need to raise the level of our expectations so that we can let God demonstrate His wonder working power in our lives.

 Its the substance of our testimony that allows God’s goodness to be recognized in and through us. Others need to see how it works… good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Into Faith

When we struggle with doubts, we as Christians should crave Scripture as God’s stabilizing force in life. We establish our faith in Christ when we develop a real hunger and thirst for the Words of God and they begin to bubble up within our minds to refute doubt.

 At Jesus’ temptation experience He made the most clear identification of a truly sincere follower of God when He said,

 ”man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4).

 All too often when we try to tackle our doubts, we want something tangible that we can see and taste or something emotional that we can feel. We would rather have Jesus just put His arm around us and tell us how everything will be all right. That might make us feel better, but I’m under the opinion that Satan loves that routine, because it makes us trust more in our “feelings” than in God.

 Some things are not right and we must avoid deception that causes us to sow to the flesh and reap a harvest of corruption (Gal 6:7-9). Our spiritual discernment grows when we realize that being equipped to overcome doubt isn’t just about feeling better; it’s about getting back “into faith”!

Remember that Christian faith or the “God kind” of faith, only comes from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).

There are at least two times recorded in the Bible when Jesus marveled at real faith. Once He marveled at a woman’s faith to receive healing for her issue of blood (Mk 5:34). In this story we notice that she took the initiative, because she heard about Him. She was coming to Jesus with an expectation of His authority being more powerful than her sickness. That was what she heard inside of her heart and mind that registered as a hope or expectation. She had endured 12 years of doctor visits which left her poor and in worse shape and she was not going to let this opportunity pass her by. She touches His garment “in faith” and is made well at that very moment, because she pulled upon His authority by believing rather than listening to doubts, fears, reasoning or feelings. Hope had put her into faith… it was Jesus Himself who acknowledged that her faith had made her well.

 In another story Jesus marveled at a Gentile soldier’s great faith. A faith that Jesus called “great” because the centurion said,

 ”…speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority” (Matt. 8:8-9).

 The centurion had a faith that was in Jesus’ Word alone. Because he understood “authority” (the power to enforce a word or command)- he understood faith (those actions that follow trust). It was expectation and his ability to recognize authority that gave him great faith. He didn’t need to have Jesus come to his house and wave His hand over the sick servant… he was not looking for drama or some big intellectual explanation. He was only after the results, because of a concern for his servant. If Jesus would just give him a word… it was all he needed.

Recognizing this authority places us into faith, because it engages our hope in God’s good will, purpose and plan for our lives. God’s Word is powerful and effective to crush doubt and move our hearts into faith (Heb 4:12).

Total Participation

Much of modern-day Christianity sees the “born-again” experience as all there is to salvation. Many Christians oppose the belief that there is a separate experience of “being filled” with the Holy Spirit, and they especially oppose the validity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for today’s believers. That type of belief puts them in conflict with the book of Acts and the very teaching of Jesus.

 Those who experience the power of the Holy Spirit today are labeled as fanatics or heretics… so what does the Bible have to say? What did Jesus say about this?

 On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He made one of the most unique statements of His whole ministry. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (Jn 16:7). Jesus knew His disciples would be shocked by His statement, so He prefaced it with the words, “I tell you the truth”.

 As hard as it may be to understand, Jesus was telling them that the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be better than what they had available in His earthly ministry.

 We must be careful to take nothing away from the ministry of Jesus on the earth, because without it there could be no ministry of the Holy Spirit. The whole plan of God hinges on the redemptive work of Christ… the Cross and Resurrection. Yet Jesus makes it clear that it was to our advantage to have Him return to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to take His place.

 The greatest reason for this shift in focus was to emphasize the opportunity every believing person could enjoy as participants in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, rather than as powerless observers. Jesus makes the ministry available to all… salvation was for the “who-so-ever” and now the power to do what He was doing would also become accessible by faith. Just soak in these Scriptures (Acts 10:38) (Acts 1:8) (Jn 14:12-14).

 That’s right… you and I can do what He was doing by the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon us in power.

 God delights in touching others through us!

 There is no limit and no lid on what God can do through us who believe! What He is wanting in these days is a believing people to arise and allow the signs of His Kingdom to be evidenced in our lives (Mk 16:15-18).

Cross Bearing

I ran across this great little story the other day and felt my readers would like it… enjoy.

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5 and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
“If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.” Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”

Being “Jesus” is not role playing… but cross bearing. In so many ways I see myself like Kevin in that I would like to be Jesus when it is of benefit to me, but call me to a sacrificial life and I’m looking for an exit strategy. Perhaps my heart needs a fresh perspective or a complete overhaul.

 I’m capable of great things when all eyes are on me. But when the opportunities seem less than glamorous… like touching the leper (Mt 8:1-4), eating with the tax collectors (Lk 5:29-32), rebuking a city for their lack of repentance (Mt 11:20-24) or praying all night in a garden while waiting for a betrayer’s kiss (Lk 22:47-48)… these are things that stretch my capacity to endure. They require me to experience discomfort.

 Being like Jesus is the goal of all truly sincere Christians, yet our often overlooked responsibility to count the cost has made our understanding of discipleship seem very weak. Jesus called every follower that would aim to come after Him or emulate Him, to a lifestyle of cross bearing (Mt 16:24). Its not optional or secondary to the real message of enjoying the goodness of God.

This lifestyle of self denial is the Goodness of God.

 So as I ponder my uncomfortable choices this morning between frosted flakes and granola… I will refuse to let my growling stomach get in the way of offering the milk to my daughter first. There now wasn’t that sacrificial… I’m in trouble aren’t I?

A Meek Spirit

I believe that many have mistakenly assumed that “meek” means “weak” and missed the true meaning of the word. Meekness is a quiet confidence and assurance in God’s Word. Being a meek person is like having a hidden strength… Jesus even told us in the Sermon on the Mount that we are blessed if we are meek, because we qualify to inherit the Earth (Mt 5:5).

When you have complete confidence that God will do what He said; then you don’t feel compelled to defend, protect or promote yourself. Our confidence in the authority of God’s Word enables us to walk in the knowledge of Heaven’s resources. Its the character of meekness that invites Heaven to touch Earth. There’s no need to get uptight or anxious because God’s ability and His goodness are trustworthy. We can feel like winners in spite of the outcome of those daily battles we all face. God’s got our back.

 You can simply rest in His promises.

 I believe the world has often seen Christians resting in God and mistaken it for weakness. This isn’t surprising though, because many have an inaccurate picture of Jesus’ character as well.

 Even though Jesus walked in peace and love; He wasn’t a push over or a wimp.

 I believe that Jesus demonstrated such a meek spirit that it made His confidence and authority seem breath-taking. He didn’t need to be anxious or fight unnecessary battles. People were drawn to Him, because of His impact. He was the revelation of authentic power and the best thing was that His character gave Him even more credibility. As the Great “I Am”; the Father’s will and purposes exuded from everything He did.

 People felt God’s love through Jesus’ meekness. His Presence held their attention and His Words challenged their affections. No matter what others said about Him, those who experienced Him were convinced.