Tuesday, July 27, 2010

God's Response to Confession

When we confess our sin to God, His response is not to yell at us, beat us up, mock us, and drag us through the streets. He doesn't sneer at us and say, "I will make you pay." No! Jesus has already paid. God's response to our confession of sin is forgiveness. HE LOVES US. Do you know the joy of forgiveness?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are Your Hands Tied?

Ministering without the presence and power of the fullness of the Holy Spirit would be like trying to play a basketball game with your hands tied behind your back. Sure you'd be on the court, but you would have a very difficult time scoring any points.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ultimate Blessing

Read Psalm 23. You know... "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want..." Get out your Bible right now and read the whole Psalm.

Ok, what is the blessing in this passage of scripture? Is it the green pastures? The quiet waters? How about the restoration of our souls? We would agree that the valley of darkness isn't the blessing. But, what about the table set for us before our enemies?

It is clear that while many of these can be looked upon as blessings, they are not the primary blessing revealed to us by the Psalmist. The primary blessing is our Shepherd. The Shepherd is the constant throughout this Psalm and throughout our lives. No matter what the circumstance, our Shepherd is always right there with us - through the good and the bad. He is the constant and He is the ultimate blessing.

When we have our Shepherd, we lack nothing and we want nothing, because He is our everything.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Encounter Before Execution

I just finished teaching from the 23rd. Psalm. This passage of scripture is very familiar to most Christians. Maybe too familiar. Maybe this familiarity actually causes us to overlook some amazing truths.

Here is one truth from Psalm 23 that I fear is too often missed:
Notice that Psalm 23 does not begin with activity, but with the restoration of our souls. This is a reminder of how the Christian life is to be lived. We begin by resting in Christ and out of the restoration of our soul comes activity. Many Christians, and many churches, have this backwards. Many Christians lead with ministry. Out of their good intentions they get busy with activity, attending church meetings, executing programs, planning budgets, and teaching Sunday school before getting filled and restored by Him. Sadly, this leads to "burn out" and disappointment. It is the result of execution before encounter.

A sure sign that we have missed the point is when our activity in the church becomes a replacement for prayerful devotion to the One who called us here in the first place. Jesus has called us first to worship, and secondly to work. We must never reverse this order. When it gets reversed, we miss the reality that Christianity is primarily a relationship, not a religion. You see, we are here to enjoy our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Again, when we take a deeper look, we see that Psalm 23 is about the blessings of being in a relationship with the Shepherd - Jesus Christ. Remember to daily encounter the Lord so that He can restore your soul. Then, execute His kingdom plans with passion, confidence, and power.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leading by Example & Encounter

Jesus called us to make disciples. This means that we are supposed to lead people closer and closer to their Savior King - Jesus Christ. How do we do this? How do we help others explore and realize the deeper things of God? Well, we can't take anyone someplace that we haven't already been ourselves. To lead means, "to show the way to by going in advance." We must be people who are passionately chasing after more of Jesus - more of His truth, more of His grace, and more of His presence in our lives. It's leading by example and leading by encounter.
The Holy Spirit is raising up shepherds to teach God's people to live after His own heart. They will feed others from the reality they encounter through their own unyielding personal pursuit of God. They will only be able to shepherd others because they have given themselves wholly to the great Shepherd. - Mike Bickle

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christian Patriotism - Psalm 33:12

WE NEED REAL PATRIOTS! When we make God our Lord, then we who are Christians can be the kind of patriots our nation desperately needs. Is there such a thing as Christian patriotism? I think there is.

Let me argue that in light of the truth found in the 33rd Psalm,
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” – Psalm 33:12
there is really no other kind of patriotism. For you see, if we desire to be people who bring blessing upon our nation; if we want to be people who contribute to the betterment of our nation, then there is really only one way… promote Christ, fear the Lord, and make Him the Lord of our lives and of our nation.

True patriots will do whatever they can do in order to make our nation one whose God is the Lord. For you see, without making God our Lord, any “good thing” we do is done in vain. True patriotism begins with the fear of the Lord and the glorification of the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Finding Delight in God's Word - Psalm 1:2

We build on yesterday's post from Psalm 1. The Psalmist, in verse 2, continues by instructing us that true happiness, the blessed life, is found by those who are really “INTO” God’s Word.
Blessed is the man whose.. delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. - Psalm 1:2
In other words, blessings pour out upon us when we have filled ourselves with God’s Word. True happiness is the result of finding pleasure in God’s Word. Day and night allowing God’s Word to fill our thoughts, penetrate our hearts, and consume our lives. Seeking guidance and strength from God’s Law rather than from the wisdom and follies of this lost world. The Follower of Christ has learned to make God's Word his delight. The Blessed person finds pleasure and life in God’s Word.

To some it is boring, but to you it is exciting.
To some it is dull, but to you it is delightful.
To some it is fantasy, but to you it is fact.
To some it is information, but to you it is inspiration.
To some it is optional, but to you it is necessary for life.

How close should we get?

In my previous post about Psalm 1:1, "It's a Slippery Slope", I discussed the Psalmist's warning that who we hang out with matters greatly and what we listen to shapes us.

But, should our response to this warning be to completely ignore sinners? Do we run from them? Do we leave them to fend for themselves? How close should we get? It is clear that we are called to minister to the lost. We are called to share the gospel with sinners. Jesus said that it is the sick (meaning the sinner) that needs a doctor (needs salvation). Jesus Himself ministered to sinners, but He did not have close relationship with them. Rather, He had close relationship and spent the vast majority of His time with His disciples – those who meditated on God’s Word and were hungry for more of Him.

So, who should we minister to? Those who are far from God. What kind of close friends should we pick? Let's rephrase Psalm 1:1 1 into something positive rather than something negative to find the answer to this question. “Blessed, (happy in God) are the those who walk in the counsel of the holy, who stand in the way of the righteous, who sit in the seat of worshipers.”

Thursday, July 08, 2010

It's a Slippery Slope - Psalm 1:1

1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. – Psalm 1:1

Look at the progression that is outlined in this verse. Look at how we can get sucked into a life of ungodliness that robs us from the blessed life.

1. The blessed or happy man does not WALK in the counsel of the wicked. Walk is a term that suggests passing by, casually “checking it out”.

2. The blessed or happy man does not STAND in the way of sinners. The Hebrew word for stand has the idea of actually mixing in, standing among, sinners. Can you see the progression here? The casual passerby slows down and now takes his stand with the sinner.

3. The blessed or happy man also does not SIT in the seat of mockers. This suggests something more permanent, an abiding, a settling down. You’re all in. It’s bad news. It pulls you in and the next thing you know, you’re in bed with the enemy.

The Psalmist is telling us that we find true blessing and true happiness when we don’t walk, stand, or sit with the ungodly.

Quoting a well-known proverb, the Apostle Paul warns us…
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." - 1 Corinthians 15:33
Entertaining ungodliness and/or hanging out with the wrong people results in anything but blessing and happiness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do we believe?

Belief has got to be more than a thought, more than a mental ascension, more than a feeling. When we truly believe in something, we step out and take action based on that belief. Our beliefs determine our actions. For the Christian, belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for our sins, forgave us, and has given us His grace… changes everything. It changes everything.

This kind of sincere belief will result in radical action. We can no longer go on living the way we used to live. We can no longer be comfortable living for temporal, earthly, and fleshly things. Pride, lust, selfishness, and greed begin to fall off… because we believe. We have a deep desire to obey the King of Kings who ransomed us from eternal separation from God. We become desperate for more of God and we willingly lay down our rights and our very lives for Jesus Christ. Truly believing changes everything. Our worldview changes, our desires change, our lives change – for real!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Make Giving Common

3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - Matthew 6:3-4
Jesus is encouraging us to allow giving to be so much about God and also so common in our lives that it becomes second nature. Remember our second nature is who we are when we live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. It is who we are because we have been radically changed by the grace and presence of Christ. Where we don’t even think about keeping track of what, how often, or how much we give. We don't add it up in our minds so that we become proud of our own generosity.

We shouldn’t keep the account. God does that. He sees everything and He records it all. And, do you know what he will do? He will reward us.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Orchestra

God showed me a picture this morning of a massive orchestra and told me that this orchestra is His church. The orchestra is made of up many kinds of musicians playing all kinds of instruments that are all needed in order to produce the beautiful music that has been written by the composer – God. Jesus stands as the conductor and masterfully brings the orchestra to life as He calls each of the musicians to play their part at the perfect time. The musicians must keep their eyes on the conductor as He calls for a crescendo, points out a rest in the music, speeds up the tempo, and emphatically points for the crash of the cymbals.

The music produced by this orchestra is beautiful and is moving heaven and earth. However, there is something missing. What is it? It appears as though there are orchestra members who are absent, there are also members who are not holding their instruments, and other members are not playing because they are missing their cues from the conductor while their eyes are looking elsewhere.

We are the orchestra, Jesus is the conductor, and God has a part for us to play. We must first show up. Then we must take hold of the instrument assigned to us. Finally, we must keep our eyes on the conductor and follow His lead - not letting our attention be compromised, but always looking at our conductor and taking our cues only from Him. God has created beautiful music for us to play together and we all have a part to play. What a privilege to be a member of God’s orchestra.