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Sermon of the Week 
Sunday, June 18 2017

You can have the power to do something but not have the authority to do it. Power used without authority is Lawlessness. Prisons are filled with people who had the power without the authority to do what their power wanted to do. 

Little Sammy, who was 5 years old, got lost at the West Point Naval Academy. He wandered into the women's locker room, where the women began screaming and running and grabbing towels to cover themselves. Little Sammy just stood there in the confusion and shouted out, "What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before"!!!

Sammy had the power to be there, but he wasn't authorized to be there Power without authority can get you in trouble!!!!

We must balance power with authority and authority with power. Power with no authority is anarchy. Lack of authority can render the power you have useless and of no effect. And Authority with no power, gets nothing accomplished and achieves very little. 

One of the greatest abuses of power in the Christian world is a disregard for areas of disignated authority. 

You can call it "taking liberties" that are not yours to take... Manipulation, where you give something so that you can get people to do what you want.

Psylogical bullying is taking advantage of people's good nature, and pushing the boundaries and get them to do what they would not otherwise do or go where they would not otherwise go.  

George Orwell said “He who wears the mask of hypocracy, will find that his face will eventually grow to fit it.”

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “To punish me for my contempt for authority, God put me in a position of authority so I could have contempt for myself.” 
Aleksandr Slozhen-itsyn....“Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. For those who have faith in a God that holds dominion over all of us, power is not fatal,  but for those, who cannot accept boundaries, there is no antidote for the poison.” 

On the subject of authority, Jesus marveled at A Centurion who came to Him for his sick daughter. He marveled that the Centurion understood the principle of power that operated  under proper Authority. The Centurion recognized in Jesus, a person who had power, because of His authority and he said...

Matthew 8:9  "I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man,Go, and he goes and to another, Come, and he comes and to my servant, Do this, and he does it". v10  When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in all Israel". 

Jesus is comparing faith that is under authority, to power.....

Faith under authority equals power!

Jesus is telling us that in order for our faith to be the most effective and be demonstrated in power, it must operate under authority....

Patterns of Sin in our lives, will cancel our power, because when we come under the power of sin, we are out from under God's authority. Saten will keep shoving that apple in front of our face....When we habitually sin, we have chosen to come under Satan's power, and he has a legal right to exercise power over us, until we repent. Take a moment and use this time right now to repent before God and restore your power.....

James 5:16 declares, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man has great effectiveness (or has great power)." This verse points out that power is given to the righteous who are under God's authority. Rightousness is simply a place of rightness.                                                                 So then, Are we right with God?

God will give more power to those who are diligent to live under His principles and kingdom values and become militant about sin not tolerate it in their family's life while they are under our care.

Dad, Mom, you have power with God concerning your family when you hold fast His instructions which He gives us in His word. 

We have to be under authority before we can exercise authority. If we as children are rebellious toward our parents or the authority of those that God has placed over us, (our bosses, law inforcement, or the leadership of the church), we won't have much authority over the evil one and the destruction he wants to send against us.

In many ways, King Saul was more qualified than David, and even though David fell into sin a number of times, he was quick to repent, come back under authority, and stop the pattern of sin. 

Ignorance is no excuse, because ignorance is a choice we make. God's word says "study to show yourself approved before God".... Ignorance means we have rebelled against God's instructions to know His word and walk it out. How can we pray that His will be done, when we've not bothered to study His word to find it out!                                                               In Hosea 4:6, God declares, "'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.'" Ignorance has cost the people of God their power.                   Facing the Lions is about facing the things that rob you of your power….Daniel did it and you can do it too!!!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 states, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

To a believer who is walking in God's authority, Satan is like a toothless lion. It is not that Satan doesn't have real power--he does. But he only has the power that we give him when we come out from under God's authority. 

 

When David confronted Goliath, Goliath began to compare his physical power, experience, and size, with David's. Goliath was insulted that the Israelites would send a mere teen-age shepherd boy against him.

However, notice that David didn't compare himself with Goliath; he compared Goliath with God. God was so much greater than Goliath that the match was over before it had a chance to begin. Goliath came at David with power, but David came against Goliath under God's authority!

 

Unbelief is another symptom of being out from under God's authority which results in powerlessness in our lives.  

The man had it right in Luke 9:37 when he cried out to Jesus, "Lord I want to believe, please help my unbelief."

Hebrews 3:12 also calls unbelief sinful because it limits the power of God Unbelief is so serious that Matthew 13:58 tells us that  Jesus himself, did not do many mighty works (in His own home town) because of their unbelief. 

We can measure the level of our belief or unbelief by asking ourselves, "Do we really believe that Jesus said what He meant and He meant what He said."....

Paul's solution to this is found in Galatians 1:15 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, v16  reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen,  I did not consult with flesh and blood". 

Folks that don't want to come under authority love this verse, and they quote the last part "I did not consult with flesh and blood"..... but not the first part where Paul is talking about being under God's authority! He said, "When it pleased God".....

You can't ignore the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and say that you are under God's authority!

You can't be a self-centered, sour faced, power grabbing, manipulating, know it all, position climbing, money grabbing, stingy, foul mouthed, people hating, condemning, gloom and doomer, ....... and say you're under God's authority!                                                                                                               But please, please, don't let the hypocrites keep you from coming to church, we've always got room for a few more......

Have you ever heard the expression “face the music”? The term means to be responsible for what you have done....Here’s how that phrase came about.

Many years ago, a man wanted to play in the Imperial Orchestra, but he couldn’t play a note. Since he was a person of great wealth and influence, however, he demanded to be allowed to join the orchestra so that he could perform in front of the king. Even though he couldn't read music, he was given a flute, and when a concert would begin, he would raise his instrument, pucker his lips, and move his fingers and he went through all the motions of playing, but he never made a sound. 
This deception went on for two years. Until a new conductor took over the Imperial Orchestra. He told the orchestra that he wanted to personally audition all the players.
Frantic with worry when it was his turn, the phony flutist pretended to be sick. The doctor who was ordered to examine him, however, declared that he was perfectly well. The conductor insisted that the man appear and demonstrate his skill. 
Shamefacedly, the man had to confess that he was a fake. And that was the day he had to “face the music.” He couldn't hide anymore....

Next, Everything you've ever wanted is on the opposite side of fear. Please understand that you can't be walking and living in Fear and say that you're under God's authority.                                                                              Second Timothy 1:7-8 declares, "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".                                                             It is so clear that this verse is telling us that one thing is the polar opposite of the other. 

Fear paralyzes us and keeps us from wielding the authority we have in Christ to bring healing, encouragement, and deliverance to others, because we are overly occupied with ourselves.

Luke 10:19  "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you. v20 Never the less, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven (you are under the authority of God). Your power comes from being under authority.

Some people have suffered backlash from the enemy when they were obedient and now they are afraid, because they failed to operate the two deminsions of authority. Now they are stifled and stunted by fear.

You must stand in the offensive posture, when you stand up and take power back from the enemy. Then there is the defensive posture, when you set up bullwarks against him. That's what binding and loosing is all about. It is the two deminsional battle plan. We use authority to loose or release and take back what he has stolen and we also bind his power, because he is not authorized to have that power just like he is not authorized to have what he has taken.

If we experience a negative backlash after all of this, then we need to use our authority to declare and decree that something good will come out of it, something that is bigger and greater than the backlash that has happened. 

That's where we stand on Romans 12:19 "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather, continue to walk in love, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will compensate, says the Lord. v20 Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him, if he thirsts, give him drink, for in blessing him, you shall bring the full weight of God's redemptive authority upon his head. v21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good". 

Next, You can't neglect Prayer in your life and be under God's authority. Luke 18:1 establishes the importance of prayer: "Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should pray always and not give up". The parable He gave them was about the incessent friend who refused to stop knocking on his neighbor's door, until the nwighbor came out and gave him bread for his family who had come to visit unexpectedly. 

We are further told in Ephesians 6:18 "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."                                                      The Holy Spirit has been reminding me that I need to pray all the time in the Spirit, to keep my spirit sensitive to God's voice and direction. Paul tells us that by doing this, we keep our senses exercised, so that we are open to the nudgings and quiet whispers of the Spirit. 

Listen men, Hebrews 5:14 "But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of constant use, have had their senses exercised to spiritually discern both good and evil". 

Paul begins this lesson, in verse 11, by saying that those who are immature in their Christian walk, are dull of hearing, then he tells us that the remedy is to pray in the spirit (exercise our spiritual senses) so we become better at discerning good and evil.... 

I can't count the times that Winnie and I, went into the kid's rooms and prayed and declared over them while they were asleep.... That God would give them wisdom and discernment, and place His call upon their lives. We would walk around their rooms and declare that they would not fall into the traps that the devil was always laying for them... and we would pray for their children and children's children as well. 

How many understand that God didn't make Satan. But He did create Lucifer, a wonderful, glorious, powerful, godly angel, but it was mankind who allowed Satan to become what he is. There is a difference between creating and making. Adam and Eve made Satan by giving him the authority to operate in this world, even though God left them in charge. By handing their authority to him, they came out from under God's authority and placed themselves, through disobedience under the power of the forces of darkness and evil. 

This could revolutionize your whole approach toward the devil. Satan isn’t using some superhuman, angelic authority against us; he’s using the authority and power which he stole from us, that was given to US by God. Therefore, Satan can’t do anything to us without our consent and cooperation. As we learn to operate the power that comes from being back under God's authority, we can kick him out of our garden, and take it back!!! Hallelujah!

Evangelist Winkie Pratney once told a story about a pastor's wife who was jogging one day when she saw a man dressed in white standing in a cornfield. The pastor's wife had been going through a difficult trial, and when she saw this man, whom she recognized as Jesus, He said to her: "Do you know who I am? When you know who I am, you'll know who you can be." 

When you know who He really is, because you have come under His authority, you will know who you can be..and things are not really as hard as we might think."

There is a lesson here for all of us. When we know who God is and the authority He has, and when we know who we are in Christ, having faith is not that difficult. And when we have faith, we will begin to operate in the spiritual authority necessary to walk in obedience and see His signs, wonders and miracles.

Next, notice that our giving is really not about the money at all, it is an issue of being under God's authority. We have been given the power to be in charge of what we give, and as we do, we are operating a divine principle that God has built into the fabric of everything....and God then is bound by His own word, to release what we are to receive. 

Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give, it shall be measured to you again". We have the power to determine how we receive, by how we give. 

This topic of Power under authority is like electricity. The power company generates the power and delivers it to your house. It’s not your power, but it’s under your authority. You don’t call the power company and ask them to turn the lights on. No! They won’t do that. They generate the power, but it’s under your authority. You simply flip the switch on the wall and command the power to work. 

Does this mean you are the power source? Certainly not! You can put a light bulb in your mouth, and it will never come on. You aren’t the power source, but you are the one in control of what that power does. You can plead with the power company all you want, but they won’t flip the switch for you. You have to assume your authority and acknowledge the power that is under your command.

And last, just think, we have been authorized with the power to choose which door we will step through into eternity when our earthly lives are over and done. The blue door of heaven with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or the red door, seperated from God forever, because we rejected the salvation which Christ offers. We choose where we will spend eternity. God has placed in our grasp the power of His salvation and authorized us to use it. 

It's the Salvation switch that we simply have to turn on. We can't save ourselves, that light bulb won't turn on!!! But we can flip the switch of God's power, by confessing Jesus as our savior, and receive Him for the forgiveness and cancelling of the sin that seperates us from Him. It works because we are using power that is under His authority! 

Just like the switch connects the electricity with the light bulb when we operate it, belief in Jesus death and resurection becomes the switch that connects us to His full salvation!

What is Salvation....The Hebrew word for salvation is YESHUA, which is JESUS, and Greek word for salvation is SOZO, which is an action verb, defined as deliverance, victory, saved, healed, rescued, renewed, restored reconciled, and spiritual, emotional, physical, social and financial prosperity! 

The complete package has been made available to us, but we have to operate the power within it by the authority given us in Christ. 

John 11:40  Jesus said, "have I not told you, that, if you would just believe, you will see the glory of God.? 

What is the glory of God?.... God’s glory is who He is and it is the source and sum of all that He does. The glory of God is the infinite beauty, the incomprehensable greatness, the overwhelming majesty of His manifold  perfections, character, attributes and worth. He shouts His glory with the mystery of the clouds. He shouts it with the blue expanse of the skies. He shouts it with the golden, radiance of the sunsets.  He shouts it with the expanse of galaxies and stars. He is shouting. I am glorious! We were made for His glory, it is why we exist. And this is only ashes compared to what is coming for the child of God. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: AT 12:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 14 2017

When Jesus walked the earth as a man, there were many religions, just like there are today. Systems that are man's attempts to climb up and connect to God. But somewhere along the way, Religion can become of greater importance than the God it was created to connect with. It can become the tower of Babel which attempted to reach into heaven through man's own efforts, designs and works. But like the tower of Babel, those efforts usually just bring confusion and discord which only pushes people further from God. It is important then, that we continually define and identify the purpose of religion....Jesus redefined religion.

Into the midst of all these religions, Jesus came to confront the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadusees with pure religion which he taught to His disciples and James, His biological brother who got right up in the face of the religious leaders of his day and he describes what pure religion is, in the book that bears his name.... Let's take a moment and read this passage beginning with the 22nd verse....                                                            

James  1:22 "But as for you, be doers of the word, and not hearers only, otherwise you are only deceiving yourselves. v23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror, v24  who sees himself, and goes on his way, and forgets what he saw. v25  But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, (the word of God) and walks it out, not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deeds. v26  If anyone among you seem to be religious, and does not discipline his tongue, but speaks contrary to his own heart, this man's religion is vain. v27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep yourself unspotted from the world".                         What  James was saying is that if you look into the Word of God you'll see two things. One, you'll see your own sin and two; you'll see your Savior. The man who continues looking into the mirror of God's Word sees in it things far more wonderful than his own face. For he sees Jesus standing before God, and standing between himself and his sins. 

James is not only talking about religion, but about how that religion is  expressed or lived out.                                                                                                                                  So, what kind of religion do we have?  Is it like a...                                                          SPARE TIRE RELIGION...(only used in the case of an emergency) Pulled out of the trunk where it's hidden when nothing else works? ..                         Is it WHEELBARROW RELIGION... (it must constantly be pushed and will easily flip over if you hit a rut)?                                                                                                                    Is it BUS RELIGION..(ridden only when it's going your way) then you get off and leave it behind ?

To be sure that our own religion is acceptable before God, let's notice some of the characteristics which the bible gives for "Pure And Undefiled Religion" 

First, Pure religion isn't just "show and tell" ... It's also "come and see".... This is clearly implied in the phrase  "be doers" and "not hearers only" -       

A lot of folks talk the walk, but they don't walk the talk. And some folks just talk too much!  They have too many opinions, and they share them too quickly. Because they have an answer and a criticism for everything under the sun and they wreak havoc wherever they go. Christianity would be an amazing thing if it weren't for a lot of the people who say they are Christians.  

Luke_6:45  Jesus tells us, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 

Did you know the average person speaks 16,000 words a day?  In a month you speak 480,000 words. In one year you speak 5,760,000 words, which is roughly equivalent to 4 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. If we stretch that out over 70 years, the average person speaks 403 million words, roughly equal to the entire 44-volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica, multiplied nine times. No wonder Paul says that we are written epistles read of all men.                                                                                      That's a lot of words, and a lot of opportunities to bless inspire and encourage those around you.                                                                             Numbers 23:20 "Behold, I have received a commandment to bless..."

Imagine if someone could read the contents of the book you are writing with your tongue. Suppose it was recorded somewhere, written down somehow, caught on video, and then played back on the Internet for the whole world to see. What would we learn about your religion?                           If that thought doesn’t terrify you, at least a little bit, then you are a saint far advanced beyond the rest of us, or you are completely clueless about yourself.                                                                                                             Perhaps a lot of folks need to pray for the gift of silence. I can speak silence fluently in 10 different languages!  

Social media increases the temptation of careless speech: “In a day of text-messaging, email, cell phones, Skype, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc., we need to be careful. We’ve created an entire culture that says if you have a thought, then you should immediately lay it out there to the rest of the world to see.                                                                                                         You can’t skate past the words of James about brideling our tongue, or our religion is vain, by saying, “My speech is pretty good and upright 95% of the time.” That’s like saying, “I’m not really a murderer, or thief or liar. Most of the time I never murder anyone. I only kill people, or steal, or lie, or cheat 5% of the time.”

Next, "Pure And Undefiled Religion" must also be... "PRACTICAL"  where the rubber meets the road.... Someone has said that what happens on Sunday is important, but what happens on Monday is very important!

Bob Rowland pictures the problem in his poem “Listen, Christian!”:               "I was hungry, And you formed a humanities club, And discussed my hunger. Thank you. I was imprisoned, And you crept off quietly to your chapel, and prayed for my release. I was naked, and in your mind, you debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health, in fear that you might catch what I had.            I was homeless, and you preached to me about the spiritual shelter of      the Love of God. I was lonely, and you left me alone and said you would    pray for me. You seem so holy, So close to God. But I’m still very hungry, alone, and naked.

Pure religion is virticle as well as horizontal....We live our lives for an audience of one, but our religion, must also be horizontal as we extend our hand to our fellow man in ministry and service. 

The motto of  the religious leaders of Jesus' day was "Let your fingers do the walking"..... But Jesus told His disciples, "Let your sandals do the walking, let your hands do the serving"

We can never substitute another church service or even more Bible reading for rolling up our sleeves and getting involved. Pure religion gets its hands dirty. Pure religion will serve and help those who can never repay, or do anything in return. James is using widows and orphans as a symbol of those who can give nothing back. 

With that perspective, James is saying God bless those who care for the widows, single mothers, foster children, who adopt children, who care for the disabled, who support missionaries, who speak up for the unborn. The religion God approves cares for those who cannot care for themselves, the sick, the dying, the homeless, the disabled, the immigrants, the victims of sex trafficking, prisoners, refugees, and many others the world would rather overlook.

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that "Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself".

A further  characteristic of "Pure And Undefiled Religion" is that it is a ..."PERSONAL" RELIGION... It is not "do as I say"..... but it is "Do as I do".

The Apostle Paul didn't just say, "Follow me", He said "Follow me as I follow Christ"..... That's personal.....                                                                            A print shop was making leaflets for a local church, and the church wanted a logo with the Earth being held by the hand of God. The print shop sent the church a proof copy. Shortly after it arrived, the printer got a call from the pastor, saying, "That hand looks too human. Please use a hand that looks more like God’s". 

Religion tries to make human hands appear as God's but God is focused on making His hands look human.....He uses our hands, our feet, our eyes and our words. Religion will never please God, but it is faith that works religiously in a sin tarnished world, that pleases Him!

Imagine a two boys coming home from school. It’s been raining hard, so there is a huge mud puddle in their path. What do they do? Well, it depends. If they remember what their mom told them, they will walk around the mud puddle so they won’t get dirty. But if they feel in a frisky mood, they may jump into the puddle, getting mud all over their clothes, no matter what they have been told!

A life of Anarchy always leads to Godlessness. It has to, because Godlessness is rebellion's ultimate end. It doesn't matter how good you are; salvation is not because you're goodHell is not because you're bad. It is because you failed to accept the sacrifice God has provided in Jesus. 

Religion began in the Bible with Adam and Eve covering themselves with fig leaves, in Genesis 3, But when God slew an animal, shedding it's blood, so they would have a covering, it prophesied that atonement and redemption was on it's way. And as God walked with them in the garden we can see that it was relationship which He wanted, not just a religion.  

If you were to ask a lot of people if they were saved, they would tell you what religion they were.... Lutheran, Catholic, Presbeterian, Pentecostal, and on, and on.... But those are just fig leaves, when God has provided a perfect sacrifice for all mankind through the cross of Jesus Christ. 

Church is who we are, not where we go....Going to church and giving in the church offering, is never to replace our individual and personal responsibility for "BEING THE CHURCH".... and serving those who need assistance ....        

In the Old Testament... (Deuteronomy 26:12)  the tithe of the third year was set aside for the widows and orphans, but folks were to still help them whenever there was need and they had the opportunity!

Notice also that A "PURE" RELIGION must be PURE....  John instructs us about walking in continuous cleansing.....we have to go where people are who need Christ, but in our going, we must not lower our standards or somehow compromise our values and convictions. 

The old saying is that "if you lay down with the dogs, you'll get up with the fleas! Somehow we must find ways to get deeply involved in this hurting world while at the same time not letting the world rub off on us.

Put simply, there are some places I personally can’t go. There are some people I don’t need to be around. There are some Internet sites I won’t visit. There are some TV shows that only drag me down.                                   To borrow the words of Clint Eastwood, a man’s gotta know his limitations. I need to know who I am and whose I am. As a practical matter, I need to know my own limits and stay within them even if others have no problem doing what my convictions tell me I can’t do.

I drink all the booze I want, cheat on my wife all I want to, cuss and swear all I want, and steal and lie all I want......I JUST DON'T WANT TO!!

During the church announcements, the pastor read a note he’d been handed moments earlier. “It says here that I should announce that there will be no B.S. tomorrow morning,” he said. He tucked the piece of paper into a pocket and added, “I’m really hoping that they mean ‘Bible Study."

*.....1 John 1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we are not of the truth: v7  But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. v8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. v9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. v10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us". 

A repentant heart before God will not stray far from the path of purity.                                         

The danger is to have a "Ho-Hum" attitude to sin.... and to develop an insensitivity to sin in our lives.... We sometimes think a little sin doesn’t matter. Would you drink a glass of water that was 90% pure, but had only 5% poison in it? Of course not. You want unpolluted water to drink.                 The world rubs off on us more than we realize. Pretty soon we start to talk and act like the people around us. We are called to be in the world, but not of the world....                                                                                                                    A little boat can cross a big ocean as long as the ocean doesn't get in the boat.                                                                                                                         The world system includes three basic areas of temptation which Adam and Eve bought into, in the Garden of Eden.

THE LUST OF THE FLESH  What feels good                                                       THE LUST OF THE EYES  What looks good                                                         THE PRIDE OF LIFE  or it's all about me.....me, me, me....my rights, my space, my time, my money, my fun, my stuff!

We have been given the example of Jesus who left the glories of heaven for a barnyard birth.  He left behind the purity of heaven to rescue us from the impurity of this world.                                                                                                                     He walked among mankind, lived , talked, ate, laughed, and wept with them. He rubbed shoulders with gluttons and drunkards. But he never became a glutton or a drunkard or a hypocrite.                                                       The prostitutes, drunkards and theives evidently knew him, and recognized in him a kind of man who was different from all the others they had known. Because He lifted the fallen but did not fall himself.

And this is what makes the religion of Jesus Christ so UNIQUE!

Other religions may be "practicing, practical and personal" But only the true religion of Jesus Christ can present us "pure" in the sight of God! - He freely gives us what religion never can.... redeemption and eternal life....He not only gives us eternal life but He gives us heaven to go to heaven in!!!

There was a fellow who decided to quit smoking? The doctor had told him, "You'll die with cancer if you don't quit smoking." So he quit smoking and started eating a lot of fruit instead, and he died choking on a grape.

Listen, religion will get you to the grave, but it takes a relationship with Jesus the savior of the world, to get you to heaven. 

He lived among us that He might identify with us, He died in our place and took our judgment, so we might receive His holiness. He rose from the dead to prove that physical death is not the end. He ascended up to heaven to represent us before Father God, And He's coming back again to be the perfect ruler of a perfect government, which shall bring into existance a perfect world without sin.

John 14:6  Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me. 

Every other path is just another tower of Babel, where man in his own strength and by his own works seeks to reach God. 

May we choose the path of pure religion, that we may be an agent of transformation in the lives of those who know us best!

He simply says.... ask and you shall be given..... The best things in life really are free!

Death is conquered, His grace is free, Jesus has won

The victory!!!!

 

 

 

Posted by: AT 12:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 07 2017

This week I saw on Face Book, an item which said " The giant in front of you is never greater than the GOD inside you!! And that's a great truth, but  I began to reflect, that the giants aren't always in front of us, often the giants we fight are inside ourselves, and the struggle we end up engaged in is with ourselves. 

    It is my opinion that when Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord in that famous account where he said, "I will not let you go until you bless me"...the real conflict was within himself, regarding God's plan for his life and his alignment with that plan.

    Paul tells his young disciple Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:25  “In meekness 

give instruction to those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. v26 That they may 

recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive 

by him at his will”. 

    An elderly woman stood on a very busy street corner in rush hour traffic. She was fearful, confused, and therefore hesitant to cross by herself. Finally, a gentleman came up to her and asked if he could cross the street with her. Grateful and very relieved, she took his arm and stepped into the busy intersection. As they proceeded, she grew progressively alarmed as he zigzagged randomly across the street, to the blare of horns and screech of locked brakes. Finally, after reaching their destination, she turned to the gentleman and complained, "You almost got us killed! You walk like you're blind." "I am," he replied. "That's why I asked if I could cross the street with you."

    The man who she thought was a steady arm and sufficient guide, was actually desperate for guidance himself. He didn't have a clue!                               I remember Jesus speaking of "blind guides." When the blind lead the blind, they both end up in trouble out in the middle of the intersection in heavy traffic!

    And believe me the traffic on the information highway is heavy with things that are opposed to your values! We are being bombarded with a lot of knowledge that is slanted with the intent of keeping us off balance and confusing us with issues that are not aligned with our Kingdom principles and values. As a result we incorperate things that cause us to oppose ourselves!

    We live in a fast paced, fast changing culture. Living in a constantly changing America, we are constantly blitzed by powerful influences such as the media, peer pressure, social trends, moral relativism, culture driven religion and cults, each of which can lead us astray, if we don’t have discernment that only comes from a solid foundation in the word.  

     Just think about the various ideas and voices that are drifting through our culture. Everyday we hear things like: "There are no moral absolutes". "All religions lead to the same god". "You are one with nature". "If it feels good, it must right". "No one has the right to tell you how to live your life"! "You can be anything you want to be". Y"ou can do anything you want to do". "If what I am doing doesn't hurt anyone, it's okay". "Women should have a choice to abort their babies, it's their bodies" "Animals are people too". Ideas, voices, and choices like these, can place us on a course of toxic thinking....

    You and you alone, are responsible for how you feel about yourself.

No matter what others might do to you, or say about you, or tell you how you aught to act or how you need to be,......you are ultimately in charge of how you allow yourself to feel and what you do about it.

    At least faith it until you make it!..... You feel terrible, but you confess that "all things are working for good".... You are worn out, but you confess that "I am strong in the Lord and the power of His might"... Someone will tell you that you're faking it.... Just tell them that You're faithing it until you make it!!!!

    Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is refusing to allow anyone in Australia to get two scoops of the same kind of ice cream until the country of Australia sanctions same sex marriage. Oh….now that will bring the country to it’s knees….(do they actually think that they are the only ice cream shops)

    What is even more disturbing and dangerous, is the reality that there is a growing lack of discernment among Christians these days. This lack of discernment results in a failure to see the issues clearly, to think things through, to see the implications of actions, choices and decisions. 

If we are to stop opposing ourselves we need discernment!

    What is discernment? It is the combination of two main Greek words (anakrino), meaning “to examine or judge closely.. and (diakrino), to investigate before action is taken”. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between the moral implications of situations and the best courses of action for that situation.                                                                                      

    Discernment involves distinguishing the right from the wrong, the primary from the secondary, what is essential from what is trivial, the good, the better, and the best. The apostle Paul talks about discernment when it comes to questionable things in I Corinthians 10:23. He says, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient (necessary): all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify (do not build up)."

The simplest definition for discernment is the ability to decide between truth and error, between right and wrong. It involves making careful distinctions between shades of gray. Someone defined discernment as, "thinking the thoughts which God thinks” Christian discernment therefore is seeing things as God sees them.

    One particular pastor really lacked discernment….He  visited an elderly woman from his congregation and as he was seated on the couch he noticed a large bowl of peanuts on the coffee table. "Mind if I have a few?" he asks "Oh, No, not at all!" the woman replied. They chat for an hour and as the preacher stands to leave, he realizes that instead of eating just a few peanuts, he emptied most of the bowl. "I'm terribly sorry for eating all your peanuts, I really just meant to eat only a few." "Oh, that's all right," the woman said. "Ever since I lost my teeth all I can do is suck the chocolate off of them anyway."

     Jesus urges us to exercise discernment when it comes to spiritual things. (to the spiritual all things are spiritual) He says, In Matthew 7:6"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, and do not give your pearls to the swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and then turn again and attack you." These words are allegorical. The "dogs" and "swine" speak of those individuals who do not appreciate or care about what is wholesome, or of value and worth. The "pearls" are those things which God places great value on. These are God's pearls! We must use discernment when it comes to what God values and gives priority to.  

    We need discernment, because everyday our lives are full of choices. Two frogs lived in the same pool. When the pool dried up under the summer's heat, they left it and set out together for another home. As they went along they chanced to pass a deep well, with a good supply of water. When they saw it, one of the frogs said to the other, "Let's jump in and make this well our new home,.. it will furnish us with shelter and food." The other frog was not so eager. "But suppose the water should fail us. How can we get out again from so great a depth?" One frog obviously was more discerning than the other! Discernment causes us to weigh the possible consequences of our actions. How many have jumped into situations they were not able to get out of....

    Many choices and decisions we have to make, come at us and hit us very quickly and give us no time to investigate before we make up our minds. Everyday, Christians are challenged to stay on top of the biblical view. Living in this present world, the line between right and wrong can get fuzzy. Sometimes, the line disappears altogether. There are many things in life that you have to have your mind made up before it hits you, or it can knock you off balance. 

    1Peter 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear

    We need discernment, because evil doesn't always present itself as evil. Satan, the enemy of our souls, is cunning and subtle. Paul writes to a church that was gifted, but extremely gullible in II Corinthians 11:13 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. v14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. v15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."

    Right and wrong is not always that obvious to the undiscerning! Without discernment, we will not be able to recognize the truth about a person or situation. Christian discernment protects us, guards us, from being deceived and keeps us free from the consequences and bondage of sin. Using discernment, we are less likely to become ensnared in Satan's traps.

    The quickest way to discern where someone is coming from is to ask yourself… Where do they put Jesus. What place does He have in their value system. Do they diminish Him, Do they make him an angel, an equal with other great teachers, or equal with the Devil. If He is not recognized as the second person of the Godhead, the only savior, and the Way, the Truth and the Life, then they want to take you somewhere you don’t want to go! THAT MY FRIEND IS DISCERNMENT!

    The consequences suffered from an individual with a lack of discernment is illustrated in a particular story from the life of Elisha, recorded in II Kings 4:38-41. In a time of famine, Elisha sent his servant to prepare a pot of soup or stew for his school of the prophets. The servant went out in the field, gathered a lap full of wild but poisonous herbs and gourds, and added them to the recipe. The servant did not intend to harm anyone, he simply did not take the time to do the research, and assumed the ingredients were harmless. When the stew was fully prepared, it was served and immediately made them sick. 

    The sons of the prophets cried out, "There is death in the pot." Elisha instructed that meal or flour be put into the pot, which miraculously acted as an antidote to the negate the affects of the tainted stew. Spiritual insight, and discernment, cancelled out the effects of what they had done without discernment.

    These poisonous herbs represent false doctrine, foolish actions, foolish, self-serving individuals, that can come into our lives, our homes, our churches, under the guise of being "harmless." The servant who gathered up the lapful of herbs and gourds reminds us of those believers who lack spiritual discernment and gather up false doctrine, worldly influences, and innocently, perhaps enthusiastically, introduces it into the assembly of God's people, mixing it with what is good and endangering their welfare. Godly discernment is the meal or flour added by Elisha to the pot! Jesus said I am the bread of life…..Oh how we need discernment in our lives!

    We need discernment, because it is synonymous with spiritual growth and maturity. Hebrews 5:13-14 says, "For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. v14 But strong meat belong to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

    This passage makes a distinction between the mental, emotional, physical development of childhood and the qualities of adulthood, and then on to spiritual growth and maturity. Have you ever asked yourself, "I thought he or she would know better than that?" We expect babies to act like babies, children to act like children, but when we witness adults acting like babies and children, we are troubled, and rightfully so! Folks get older without ever growing up! 

    1Corinthians 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    The goal of the believer is to always continue on to full maturity. Every Christian has the responsibility to grow and learn to use discernment that comes out of the Word of God. 

    Isaiah says this in 28:9  “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine (God's revelation of His plan to man)? v10  For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little”           

    When the Bible talks about discernment, it is speaking about giving proper value and importance to spiritual things. It is speaking about an accurate assessment based on solid, scriptural evidence.                                                        

    More and more I see Christians who take their values from their hearts, how they feel, rather than God’s eternal truth. Matters of the heart should not be made without plenty of input. (believe me I have counselled hundreds who have been there and lived to regret it) 

    Never trust your heart alone. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? v10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, that I may give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."                                                                                 The first enemy of discernment is trusting only in your own heart. Why? We are fully capable of deceiving ourselves. 

    So many Christians are not sure what they believe and where they stand, concerning the key issues of society…. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, good from the best, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and spiritual principles from religious dogma, and what is self-defeating from what is profitable.

    Jude 4 indicates that a lack of discernment becomes a lack of self restraint. He tells us that some actually turn God's grace into "lasciviousness," which is a lack of restraint, indecency, and ego-centered, hedonisim! Grace has become a doctrine of "If it feels good, do it!"

    No wonder the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:5  "They that live after the flesh focus only on the things of the flesh; but they that live after the Spirit focus on the things of the Spirit. v6  For to be carnally minded (to live for the fleshly appitites) is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. v7 Because the carnal mind is the antiganist of God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. v8 So then they that live for the appitites of the flesh cannot please God". 

    We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, the best from the better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics. 

Discernment, which is an agent of God's grace, intersects the Christian life at every point, helping us to walk on the side of caution, rather than corruption. 

    We need to be like the sons of Issachar mentioned in I Chronicles 12:32. It says, "And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the number of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment." The Hebrew word for "understanding" has a root which means discernment, wisdom, perception and knowledge.                               I find it interesting that Issachar means (King maker) 

     One proof that we need much more discernment, is found on some whacky warning labels.....on sun shields for your car, the caution says, "Be sure to remove before driving”. Or the caution found on an iron: which says….”Do not iron clothes on body” Or how about the warning on a chainsaw:, which says “Do not attempt to stop chain with your hand”. Then there is the label on a superman costume..."Warning: This costume does not enable flight or super strength". If you don't know those things, you really need discernment.

    The next principle to Remember in Developing Spiritual Discernment

Watch out for the Sucker Punch! It may look like a hand shake or even a hug, but give folks a chance to reveal themselves. We all have areas where we are subject to the SUCKER PUNCH. Jesus loved folks, but he allowed them to show themselves for who they were before He showed them who they could be. Refuse to be naive or accept things at face value. Too often there's an unwanted prize in that box of Cracker Jacks! Love takes risks, for sure, but ....                                                                                                                        

    I Thessalonians 5:21. tells us, "Prove all things and hold fast that which is good." The word "prove" means to discern, inspect, and to scrutinize. We are instructed to test, prove, and examine everything! Everything includes movies, music, video games, trends, fashions, ideas as well as individuals. Whatever comes your way, it doesn't matter who it comes from..... Put it to the test! Don't become a hawk, but in love, put it to the test!  Don't be like the guy who only has one friend he can trust and he's wondering about him!                                                                                                                   I have a friend who has discovered a way to handle those pesky marketers who call.....He hands the phone to his 2 year old.....Oh Yeah!

    There's a reason SNOPES is so popular! (And now Snopes in under suspicion) OH NO, NOW WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO RELY ON GOD! 

When we make major decisions based on other folks, we find out quickly that they will change and they will be gone when it counts the most. When you seek Godly counsel and when you allow God the chance to confirm His will to you, before listening to everyone whose standing in line and taking numbers to counsel you (even though their own lives are a mess) Your decisions and choices will be solid and you won't have to live with regret when you make them. 

    The next Principle ......Avoid people, places, and things that even have the appearance of evil. For years, we went down to Fantasy Fest, but it was to share the gospel, not to be part of the spectical.                                               

    I Thessalonians 5:22. puts it this way..."Abstain from (keep away from) all appearance of evil." The word "appearance" in the Greek has basically two meanings. One speaks of the outward or external shape or form, and the other speaks of it's nature or motivation. This is clearly understood as all "forms" or "kinds" of evil. Either way, discernment is required of the believer, and when the person or thing is revealed to be evil, we should respond accordingly!  Love them, but don't compromise your faith !               

    I know one young lady, who was approached on the street, by a fortune teller and at the top of her lungs she began to scream out, "Help me Jesus, Help me Jesus", and the guy ran off! The evil one likes to operate in the shadows.... Like One little boy said, when the devil knocks on the door, I send Jesus to answer it!

    The next Principle....No one is unimployed, they have a job, and that job is to find work....On the same basis, if you're alive, you're main job is to find out what God has to say about everything you can!

    Make it your main business and priority to read, study, and know God's Word. The Bible provides the criteria, the standard against which all things must be tested. Paul affirms this in II Timothy 3:16-17. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: v17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."                                                                   

    Unless each Christian makes a committed effort to carefully study the Scriptures, he or she could easily be on the road to destruction without even knowing it. 

    We see this in the Old Testament with Israel. Hosea 4:6 laments, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected My ways, I will also reject you (leave you to your own devices)." It is by exercising and applying our knowledge of God's Word by constant use, that we grow stronger and more sensitive in our abilities to perceive truth and falsehood.

    The next principle......Ask God for discernment. Ask Him for it!  We who are saved have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have a relationship with God who can reveal things to us that are beyond our understanding! All we have to do is ask. God gives you his word on it!

    James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men freely and abundantly, and will never withold from them. Let them ask and it shall be given unto them."

    Paul teaches us in I Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 

What move should you make, what home should you buy, what neighborhood should you live in, what job should you apply for, where you should invest, what is God's timing on certain decisions, who is God wanting you to minister to, who should you seperate yourself from in order to continue to grow as a Christian. All these things need discernment....                                                                  

    The need for spiritual discernment among God's people is greater today than it ever has been! Sad to say, discernment is long in supply and short in demand. The Word of God commands us as believers to cultivate spiritual discernment.... So let's ask that we may receive....

 

Posted by: AT 12:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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