Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Calling

The importance of calling.

Proverbs 29:18 says "Without vision people perish..." I've posted on this verse before so my avid readers may remember me sharing a better translation for it. The means "direction from God" and perish actually means "to run wild without moral restraint". When we look at today's society we see a lot of moral depravity, a lot of people who are running wild and have no direction or boundaries. According to this verse this depravity is a sign that we do not have enough people working with a clear vision from God. Another way of saying this is that we do not have enough people pursuing the calling that God has on their lives.

Every one of us has a calling whether we realize it or not.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God says to Israel “… I know the plans I have for you…” Though this was originally directed to Israel I believe that God is saying this to each and every one of us. He has plans for us and He knows what they are. The problem is that we have not taken the time to find out from Him what they are. Sometimes we don’t realize that there is a plan for us but other times we simply do not want to follow that plan because we have our own plan. We think that if we follow His plan it will mess with what we want to do. This is a silly notion because He is the creator of the universe and knows us better than we know ourselves. It seems clear that His plan would be more fitting for us than the plan that we may have for ourselves.

We need to find our personal calling.

Have you ever felt frustrated in your job? Have you ever felt like you were stuck and that you weren’t going anywhere, weren’t making any difference? Chances are you haven’t been pursuing the calling God has for you. Think back to when you first started seeking God (If you never have then start seeking Him), What was it that God placed in your heart at that time? What is your deepest desire to do in this life? If money was no object and you had all the resources and people needed what would you do? Find that ultimate calling in your life and write it down. Put it before your eyes and don’t forget it.

Start working towards that calling.

After you have identified what you want to do look at where you are at now and determine how you are working towards that goal. Most likely you will realize that you are working towards your ultimate calling in many more ways than you knew. This is also the time to determine what other ways you can start progressing towards that goal. Keep this in your view and you will suddenly be more motivated even if you are doing the same thing you were before. Your attitude will change because you will realize that you are working towards the vision that God has given you and you will better understand how what you are doing is making a difference.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bible-based Government

My last few posts have dealt with the Seven Spheres of Society as defined by Loren Cunningham. As discussed in the first post, it is only through bringing Biblical principles in each of these seven spheres that we can truly change the course of an entire nation. We then went on to discuss what it means to bring Biblical principles into the family and the church. This brings us to the next sphere of society, namely government. Talking about applying Biblical principles in the government is an extremely touchy subject in American society. Christians claim that our government was based on Biblical principles from the start and that we need to return to that whereas non-Christians stress freedom of religion and claim that our founding fathers didn't truly follow Christianity. Before we can continue to discuss this topic we must define what we are proposing.

What do we mean by Bible-based?
Many people probably have already turned off to this post because they have understood this statement wrong. What is a Bible-based government? Does it mean that we force everyone to follow the Bible? Of course not. One of the major Biblical principles is the freedom of choice. God has given us choice and desires that we choose Him. No one can be forced to follow God even if we wanted to, and God doesn't want to. Therefore a Bible-based government would have freedom of religion as one of it's core values today just as it did in 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was ratified. So what does a Bible-based government mean if it is not to force everyone to follow the Bible? It means simply that the people running the government run it on Biblical principles.

Biblical Principle #1: Integrity
One of the first principles that we need to start demanding from our government is integrity. In today's society Politician has become almost synonymous with liar and this needs to change. As citizens we have simply accepted the fact that politicians will make promises they can't keep and that they will simply tell us what we want to hear.  We can no longer accept this, we must demand integrity and truth from our government. We must pray for our leaders and ask God to give them the courage and boldness to speak out in truth and to act in integrity.

Biblical Principle #2: Selflessness
We need to get politicians who will stop looking for personal gain first. This kind of selflessness will allow politicians to make bold, decisive decisions without worry about the votes he/she may win or lose. Often in politics the leaders are afraid to 'rock the boat', especially in an election year, and this holds them back from making the important decisions. We need politicians with a true desire to make a difference in government that trumps their personal ambition and their own wants.

Biblical Principle #3: Vision
The Bible says that "without vision the people perish". Vision is a Godly direction or goal. Nowadays campaigns seem to simply consist of 'bashing' the opponent rather than promoting personal vision. Politicians need to start promoting the vision that they have for their time in office. As mentioned above, I don't mean empty promises, I mean what do you desire to see done in your time in office. Make that vision lofty but reachable, and preferably make that vision something that the Holy Spirit led you too.

These are just three general principles that we need to start demanding from our politicians. I don't care if they are Democrat or Republican or any of the other parties, if they have these three qualities they will go a long way in changing the way our government runs. It will take a while to completely change the course of government in this country but all of us can do our part by praying for our leaders, speaking good over them, and voting while being led by the Holy Spirit.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Biblical Church

In today's society there are numerous types of churches and numerous different styles of 'having church'. So the question is: What does the Bible say about church? How does the Bible show us to 'have church'? Is what we are doing Biblical? This question is way too big to answer in one blog post but I want to hit a few key points here.

"4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another."  Romans 12:4-5

The first Biblical principle often lost in today's church is that we are all one body. We use this language when we talk about the 'church body', but often we are only referring to our personal congregation. Paul is saying that the entire church is one body. It doesn't matter if you're Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Methodist, or even Catholic; if you believe that Jesus Christ is God, died for our sins, rose from the dead, is the only way to heaven and you have accepted Him as such then you are a part of the universal body of Christ. We need to start understanding this and acting like it is true. It is great to have a local congregation that you meet with regularly but the body does not stop there. We need to realize that the Christians in your workplace, school, neighborhood, local shopping market, etc. are all just as much a part of your church family as the ones you sit next to every Sunday. We are living together and working towards the same goal; building the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth. Encourage each other, strengthen each other, and support each other.

Not Just Sunday:
"46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:46-47

As the church was beginning we see that they were meeting together daily. They not only met in the temple, but they met in each others houses and they ate together, fellowshiped, praised God, and encouraged each other in doctrine. This wasn't done once or twice a week, it was done daily. For us church has become something we do on Sunday and maybe a few of us committed again midweek. Between services it is almost like we hide out in our own homes and our own family. Even when we do get together with friends we generally don't talk about God or about His Word. We preach about spreading the Word of God to unbelievers but we don't even bring up the Word of God with other believers. The Biblical church was discussing the Word of God daily, they were encouraging each other, praying with each other, and supporting each other every chance they got. They didn't wait for someone to be in great need to visit them but instead sought out opportunities to support them at all times. This is an important principle that we must return to today!

Place of Leadership:
"11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,"  Ephesians 4:11

God has placed leadership in the church not to do the ministry, but to equip the saints to do the ministry. This is a revelation that has recently been returning to the church in knowledge, but not always in practice. Every Christian is called to the ministry and leadership is simply there to guide and equip. This is true whether you are a doctor, manager, merchant, or housewife; You are called to the ministry. You are called to preach the Gospel and to make disciples. The tools and gifts that God has given you in order to accomplish this task are probably quite different than mine, but the  ultimate task is the same. We are all called to bring the kingdom of God on this earth. This is why these seven spheres of society are important to understand because chances are one person will not be called to all seven. Leaders in the church are called to make sure that Biblical principles are applied in the church and to equip their congregation to apply those same Biblical principles in whatever area of society God has placed them in. 

This is not by any means an exhaustive list of what the Bible has to say about the church, but it is few important points that seem to be lost in today's church. If we can begin to understand where we are missing it as the church than we can return to the days of societal influence that once were. It is time for the church to stand up as one in the Americas and to represent the love, grace, truth, and righteousness of Jesus Christ our head.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Devil is Attacking Our Families!

On Thursday of last week I wrote a post on how to change our nation (If you missed it you can find it here). In this post I identified seven areas of society, taken from Loren Cunningham, in which we must apply the principles of the Word of God. Although all seven of these areas are important, there is one area that is foundational to all the others. Before anything else in society was established, God Himself established the family and it is the family that provides the foundation for all other groups in society. If the family is undermined then everything else is undermined and because our enemy knows this he has launched the greatest attack on our families. This attack has many names and aspects but its goal is always the same, to destroy what God has established as the key component of society. We must stop listening to society to establish our view of the family unit but instead turn back to the Bible. How does the Bible define the role of husband/father or wife/mother. How does the Bible tell us to treat our parents or our siblings? There are many different scriptures referring to the family and we need to remind ourselves of every one! Below I have listed some scriptures that the Bible gives us about family and then I have listed some things that have become normal in our society but are attacks of the enemy against the very principles of God's Word.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24

"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;" Ephesians 5:3

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:22-24

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself." Ephesians 5:25-28

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-2

"And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Attacks of the Enemy: 
- Divorce
- Adultery
- Sex outside of marriage
- Homosexuality
- Abortion
- Absent or abusive fathers
- Disobedient and rebellious children
- Parents dishonored at end of life

It's time for us to take a stand against this blatant attack on our families! It's time for us to take our role in our own family seriously and learn what the Bible has to say about it!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

That Easter Kind of Life

It's Easter and it is the time to remember what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross and, more importantly, how He conquered death by raising from the dead. Jesus paints a clear picture of the life that He is providing for us through this act of sacrifice and triumph. He is providing for us a life of freedom from sin, sickness and fear. We no longer have to be bound by these things. Jesus gives us a clear picture that it is the thief who comes to "steal, kill and destroy". Let us remember the abundant life that He has provided for us this Easter season and let us do our part to not let His death and resurrection to have been in vain. It is time for us to make the decision to live the abundant life! Don't allow the thief to steal from you or to kill your joy or destroy your peace. This Easter let us rejoice in the life that Christ has given to us! Meditate on these scriptures and experience that Easter kind of life.

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 
"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Romans 8:11 
"Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bring Change to Your Nation!

It is no secret that our nation is on the downturn. The economy is in a recession, unemployment is on a unprecedented high, and in many cases morality seems to have been thrown out. Our nation is in danger of losing its place as an international power. It is time for something to change! There is a proven method for changing the direction of a country. If we desire to get our country back on track then we must return to the principles which our country was built on, the same principles which caused our country to gain power in the first place. If we are to get our nation back on track we must return to Biblical principles. We can not only apply these principles to the realm of religion because that will not effectively change the course of the entire nation. In order to change the course of the entire nation we must apply Biblical principles into all areas of society. Specifically there are seven areas of society laid out by several preachers, including Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM. These seven areas are as follows:

- Family: Husband, Father / Wife, Mother 
- Religion: Church / Missions 
- Government: Politics / Laws - Economy: Finances / Business 
- Public Communication: Media / Movies 
- Celebration: Sports / Music / Entertainment 
- Education: Schools at all levels 

These seven areas of society were revealed to me in The Book That Transforms Nations by Loren Cunningham. Loren shares in this book examples of men and women of God throughout history who transformed their nations through applying the principles given in the Word of God. These men and women affected change in their societies that is, in many cases, still evident today. As mentioned above it was these principles which our founding fathers built every aspect of our society on and through this created a super power in the world. But slowly each area has drifted away from the Biblical principles it was founded on and as a result we see the decline of our nation in the world today. Today we are beginning to see a shift in power around the world. As the Bible is spread around the third world nations we are beginning to see those same nations increasing in stability and power whereas in the 'Christian nations' we see a decline of the Bible and a decline of power and stability. It does not have to be that way. We can see all nations increase in prosperity, we can see all countries increase in stability. It is time for us to return to the principle which we are founded on! It is time for us to return to the Word of God!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Power, Plan, and Purpose! - January 7th, 2012

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11
History and Context:
Corinth was a city on the main trade route between Asia and western Europe, and Paul had spent two years there establishing the church. Paul wrote the first letter to the Corinthians in order to address division and immorality in the church. After that letter he had an opportunity to visit the church. Apparently the visit was a difficult one for both Paul and the members of the church and afterwards Paul talks about writing a letter in "much anguish" (ch 2). Though this letter is only the second letter to the Corinthians which we have, it seems that Paul wrote at least four separate letters and that this is the fourth. This is his follow up after the difficult visit and the letter of 'tears'.

The Text:
Paul often seems to be defending himself and his calling in his letter to the Corinthians. He continually declares that his ministry has been done, not through his own talents and wisdom, but through the power of God. Here Paul mentions the earthen vessels, referring to our bodies, and how the power that is in these vessels is of God and not of us. Because this power of God is living in us we can go through many difficulties and continue to get up again and continue on strong. We can be struck down and simply get right back up, we can be hard pressed, perplexed, and persecuted, but we will not be stopped and we will not be destroyed. This is because the very life of Jesus Christ lives in us and continues to restore us.

The Challenge:
Remember who is living in you. You have the very same power that raised Christ from the dead, the power that conquered death, hell, and the grave, living inside of you. You are filled and consumed with the Spirit of God and His power is there to help you live the life that God has for you. He will lead you and direct you, He will lift you back up, and He will be there for you. Don't forget that and don't take Him for granted.

The Prayer:
Lord, we pray for your power in our lives. Lead us into your plan and purpose. Give us the power to fulfill that plan. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Compel others to come! - January 4th, 2012

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:6

History and Context:
Isaiah is the prophet most quoted by Jesus and by the New Testament authors. There are many Messianic prophecies throughout Isaiah, but the real purpose of the book was to admonish the kings of Judah to rely on the protection of God. Isaiah's ministry focused on the reign of two different kings, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Ahaz did not listen to Isaiah and relied on the protection of Assyria rather than God's protection. Hezekiah also didn't listen at first but as things went bad he turned to God for protection and God rescued the kingdom of Judah. Isaiah continually refers to God as "The Holy One of Israel". This phrase is repeated 26 times in the book of Isaiah and only 6 times in the rest of the Old Testament. Isaiah is also known for having the most messianic prophecies out of any of the prophets.

The Text:
In chapter 54 Isaiah describes the call that God has given to His people; "'For the LORD has called you, like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused,' Says your God." In that chapter God calls His people, Israel, to return to Him. They had sinned and God had left them to the consequence of their sin, but now God was calling them back. Then in 55 the people begin calling the surrounding nations; “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isaiah then reveals to the people of Israel that as they call out to the other nations, nations whom they do not know and have no relationship with will begin coming. They will come not because of Israel but because of the Spirit of God that dwells in Israel. For this reason they are admonished to seek the Lord. Seek the Lord so that His spirit may dwell with you and nations will be compelled to come.

The Challenge:
Though certain aspects of the covenant have changed with the coming, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God is still the same yesterday, today and forever.In knowing this we can know that His character was the same in the Old Testament as it is now and it is the same Spirit talked about in the Old Testament as the Holy Spirit whom we have now. God didn't suddenly develop three persons when Jesus came and then when He sent the Holy Spirit, God has always been a trinity of three in one. So we know that if the Spirit of God dwelling with Israel would cause nations that Israel didn't even know to be attracted to them, the same thing should happen with us when we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. The only difference is that the relationship has become individual with the sacrifice of the cross. This means that instead of attracting entire nations we will attract the individuals around us. But we must seek Him and call upon Him daily. We must forsake our wicked ways and our unrighteous thoughts and return to the Lord whom we know as Jesus Christ.

The Prayer:
Lord, fill me with your Spirit. Purge all wickedness and evil desires from my heart and mind and help me to live righteous and holy before you. Let your Spirit fll me and overflow out to those around me. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beyond what you can imagine! - January 1, 2012

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20

History and Context:
The book of Ephesians is quite different than the other letters written by Paul. Due to it's lack of personal greetings, many scholars see it more as a written sermon than an actual letter. In fact, it is likely that it was actually written to multiple churches in the area of Ephesus and was meant to be passed around from church to church. Paul wrote this letter from jail, as he did with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. One of his largest messages in the book of Ephesians is the plan of God to bring every nation and background together in Christ. As in many other places there was probably great conflict between the Gentiles and the Jewish Christians, so Paul stressed that for God there is no nationality. He wants to bring all to Him.

The Text:
This is the end of a prayer, starting in verse 14, which Paul says that he is praying for the Ephesians. He asks that their spirits be strengthened, that they would be grounded in love, and that Christ would dwell in their hearts. He then finishes the prayer by glorifying God, the one who can do beyond what we could imagine. But it wasn't enough for him to sday simply beyond what we can ask or think, but Pauls said exceedingly, abundantly beyond! Way more than we could ever imagine, and He does it through the power that is already in us.

The Challenge:
Increase your expectations! Yesterday we talked about finding God's vision for the new year well think big, think great! Don't limit God and don't limit yourself, because by limiting yourself you limit God. He is able and willing to do more than you are thinking, so let Him do it. Let Him fulfill His plan in your life. It will not fail, it will not fall short, and it will not be what you are thinking or expecting.

The Prayer:
Lord, I give all my plans and my desires to you. Do what you will. Surprise me! I love you Lord and I want to follow you wholeheartedly! In Jesus' name, Amen!