Archive for October, 2020

Is the Word of God THE Word of God?

Why is this verse important?

I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me. John 14:6

I watched a show on TV last night hosted by Morgan Freeman entitled “The Story of God”.

It furthered my belief that the majority of the world, (even many Christians), believe there are many ways to Heaven.

I’ll start with a baseline verse and then hopefully lay down some principles for life’s choices.

The baseline scripture – Proverbs 16:25 (NIV) 25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

 The way that seems right, not always is. We don’t want to accept a truth that goes against what we prefer to believe.

The ground rule:

The ground rule regards the “Word of God”.

What do we believe about the Word of God?

Is it THE WORD OF GOD?,

Or does it just contain the Word of God?

(There are a lot of professing Christians that believe the Bible just contains the Word of God.)

Or is it, (as many people who claim to be believers contend), it is just a collection of thoughts of people who thought they knew the mind of God and attempted to write it down?

So, our ground rule grows out of this statement,

What you believe ABOUT the Word of God determines what you believe FROM the Word of God.

 

The Word of God (continued)

That means, if God says it, can I really believe it?

That is a choice each person must determine in his own heart and mind.

It doesn’t change the truth, but it does affect your perception of the truth which is what really guides your actions in any given situation.

If I choose to believe that the Bible only contains the Word of God, then I must measure and evaluate everything I read in the Bible. “Is this true, how much of it is true, can I believe it enough to use as a guide for my actions?”

That stance really puts you in a bad place because you must spend your focus on evaluating the truth of everything you read rather than, “What is God trying to teach me? It is an effective tool of Satan to make you doubt the validity of God’s Word.

Now, apply this thought to: John 14:6 (NIV)

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The world disagrees with that statement. They will not accept that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Once you take that out of the Bible, you may as well take your pen knife and go to work because there is a lot that people (us included) don’t want to believe.

I believe Oprah Winfrey is a good woman. She does a lot of good things. But Oprah’s philosophy is, “You take your way, ll take my way and we’ll all hold hands and skip into Heaven together.

That is not what God’s word teaches.

My ground rule then is that we believe that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and we can use it as the measure of truth in every situation in life.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Now, that seems easy enough until you start trying to apply it. Or worse yet, trying to convince another person who is not as convinced as you are.

Our witnessing must take into account the perception of many people that the Word of God is not necessarily The Word of God. We are not going to convince them by arguing. The thing every evangelist must learn about witnessing is that it is not your persuasiveness that convinces people. If the Holy Spirit does not precede your personal witness, nothing you can say will convince them of the truth of God’s word.

That fact does not excuse our reluctance to witness. We are commanded by Jesus to witness. The important thing is that we personally believe what we say and be obedient in our witness. The rest we leave to the Holy Spirit.

When we are alone

You are what you are when you are alone!

Oswald Chambers in a devotional for March 17 (My Utmost for His Highest), says, “My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life.” That is a chilling thought.

The outward life of a Christian is not the measure of our true nature. It is important since we are to be a reflection of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him to us. What others see in us should be Jesus. But, is that really me?

Unfortunately, that reflection may be a façade to what we really are privately. Introspection is the examination of my inner thoughts, it reveals to me what I really am. Introspection often leaves me disappointed when the Holy Spirit points out that my inner person is not the person I want others to see.

The problem is, though others don’t see it, it is the real me. I would be totally embarrassed for others to see the real inner person. Why? Because my thought life often betrays the person I really want to be. The Holy Spirit convicts me as much about my private thoughts and motivations as He does the life that I let others see.

What do we do about it? The Catholic would take it to a priest and confess it. The non-Catholic has a priest also – Jesus Christ is our priest. The convicting Holy Spirit who brings it to mind in the first place, is also the stand-in for the Christ Priest who stands ready to forgive.

When We are alone (cont)

But, merely confessing is not enough. There also needs to be a spirit of repentance. Repentance is confession with the determination that it will not be repeated. For me to harbor any thoughts that, because I enjoy it for a while, I can look forward to visiting there again. God’s Word says, “there is no such thing”. That is not true repentance. True repentance is saying, “I will not” – “I shall not”, repeat that sin in my heart, ever, ever, again!

So then, what if we do? “I did not plan to but I did”. There should be a renewed conviction at that point. The whole process begins again. We go through it all over again. The glorious truth is there is no limit to God’s grace and forgiveness. His love is infinite and never ending.  However, that should never be the crutch. I know I can sin again, even in my private life and know that God will forgive.

Paul says in Romans 6:1-3 (NIV)
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Just because we know we can sin (even privately) and receive God’s forgiveness every time, is not to be abused. That very thought becomes sin in and of itself. God’s grace is sufficient but we must accept responsibility for sin. We must own it. There are no excuses, “But God, I’m human and humans have needs, even private needs”. Don’t you think God knows that? But, God says our only need is to live under the power He has given us to overcome all sin, public or private, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

Lord, thank you for grace and power to overcome all sin.

The Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual Disciplines are the things we do in order to put ourselves in a position to grow.
They are not rituals.
They are not mantra
They are not secrets

If a person desires to grow in His spiritual life, he will seek ways to to provide fertile ground for true growth.
1. Daily Prayer
2. Daily Bible reading/study
3. An openness to the Holy Spirit

Many people develop habits in relation to the things they do in seeking spiritual growth. When something merely becomes a habit, it loses it’s freshness and becomes just a routine. We easily grow tired of routines. They become boring and can be a source of dread.

The key to keeping this from happening is to eliminate the legalism involved.  No one is holding you to a schedule. It is a good thing you have adopted in an effort to be regular and devoted to what you think you need to do in order to grow spiritually. It’s not bad to do that but it does tend to lesson their importance.

Vary your routine. Vary your time spent. Vary the order in which you do them. And, do not feel guilty if one day you are unable to have your “quiet time” as you usually do. Sometimes life gets in the way. If you have a set time for your quiet time and you oversleep, it may just be that you needed the extra sleep. Or, another family member may need your attention at the time you are involved in prayer.

All of this is not to say your quiet time is not important or can be minimized. It is to say, do not be a slave to what you think you should be doing as a committed disciple of Christ.

 

(Spiritual Disciplines Continued)

Be open to the Holy Spirit’s guiding you in your process of growth. We simply must believe God is the heavenly Father that cares about you in your daily life. He cares as much for those interruptions as you do. He understands when you are forced to change your routine.  God is not the one who puts guilt on you but He does have the Holy Spirit remind you when you have become lax in seeking more of Him.

So, why do I feel guilty when I miss or cannot complete my quiet time? Satan is the accuser. Satan can make you feel guilty that you did not do stick to your plan.

It is important to stick to your plan of a daily discipline but it is not important to feel so legally obligated to it that you cannot forgive yourself if you are distracted or disrupted. Love God, not your ability to stick to a discipline. That can become a source of pride. Pride is sin.

Personally, when I miss a day of “quiet time”, my day starts off complicated. Likely the reason I missed it is because of a complicating circumstance.

The odd and wonderful thing is, the more complicated my day looks, the more I need to start it with Him. The Holy Spirit can sort things out throughout my day so I am not forced to bear it alone.

When we are too busy to re-establish our connection to God, to die daily to self, and to allow the Holy Spirit to take the steering wheel, we are too busy period.

Prayer: That I will be faithful to that time each day that I devote to concentrating upon God and what He wishes for me that day.

A Ministry of John W. Griffin

Our growth toward the perfection of Jesus Christ

Our Sanctification

My Logo

The logo which I use to illustrate our sanctification shows that once we were saved, our life began a new process in which the Holy Spirit begins to grow us in our new life in Christ.

The blue arrow angled upward illustrates that we are moving ever closer to the image of Jesus Christ. We will never reach that goal but you are somewhere on this line in your spiritual growth.

Some people stop this process by returning to old habits and attitudes that are not spiritually oriented. These people are what the Apostle Paul called Carnal Christians. They are still in their baby (selfish) stage and some stay at that stage for the rest of their lives.

Does the person who falls from that sanctification lose their salvation? Most Baptists believe that once a person is really saved, he is always saved. There are many denominations that believe a person can lose their salvation by willfully turning away and/or denying Christ.

The important thing is not once saved, always saved but once saved!

Bad Days

In 2 Corinthians 1:8, Paul writes, “We were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, I feared I would never live through it”. 

Do you ever have days like that? I do – not often, but every once in a while I have a day when nothing goes right. I have trouble getting along with others, my finances get low, my car breaks down, I feel bad and I just want to stay in bed and sleep all day. Everybody has them.

We pray for our loving Father to make it better, but even our prayers seem to get caught somewhere near the ceiling. These are the days when we really doubt that God cares and neither does anybody else.

In a devotional called “Facts of the Matter” by Dwight Hill, he says that the thing that compounds these troubles are those he calls, “Teflon Christians” who seem impervious to these kind of problems. They seem to be able to smile and excuse their troubles easily. Don’t you just hate that?

The real “fact of the matter” is there is no one totally impervious to this kind of trouble. In fact most people go through seasons of depressing times. Granted, a lot of what we feel comes about by chemistry. Whatever those “feel good” hormones are, there are just times when they hide somewhere in the folds of our gray matter and fail us when we need them most.

 

(Bad days continued)

How do we overcome these times when they conspire to take away the joy of our Christian life? There are no pat answers, and we really don’t overcome them  We deal with them, but more than that, the one thing you can do is really believe that God knows where you are and cares. In an article elsewhere on my website is the suggestion that God can and does orchestrate such times in order that you may fulfill a purpose He has for you. (Life Under the Circumstances”)

The question is, “are you up for it?” Are you willing for God to put you in a place where you can be most valuable to Him or will you insist that everything remain rosey and sweet all the time? Even if you are not willing, those times will still come. Just remember, God still cares,

Consider this scripture from Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.(Isaiah 43:2)

Notice, that verse says “when”, not “if”. That tells me that bad times are inevitable because we live in a fallen world. However the promise is, He will not let the bad times do you irreparable harm. Or, even if it does, He will use it to His purpose.

Are you up for that?

Prayer Part 4 – The Prayer of Thanksgiving

I Thess 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Believe or not, that could also be thanking God for the unwelcomed circumstances that come to us. There are times when we may not feel thankful. There may be a circumstance in your life that you feel God unjustly allows in your life. How can we be thankful in those times?

There is a word in the following passage that is our clue.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (KJV)

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet, I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Did you spot the word? It is the single, simple word YET in verse 18 that sets apart the thankful heart and honors God the most.

It is easy to be thankful in the good times. But it is faith that enables us to thank God also in the tough times.

Notice I am not thankful FOR the tough times of life. The word in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 does not say “FOR everything give thanks”. It says “IN everything give thanks”. In fact it is easy to be resentful about some of them. They are the times we are not happy.

So, what makes it possible to be thankful in the tough times?

As we are praying and recounting all of our blessings, we can also acknowledge that God is worthy of our praise even in the bad times.

In a post elsewhere in this website called “Life under the Circumstances”, is the idea that God engineers bad times according to His overall plan for our life. If we are willing to accept that God may be using us to accomplish something special, it can change our whole attitude about them. We may never understand what that something special may be but it is by faith that I can pray, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Can you believe that promise?

Prayer Part 3 – Supplication, Petition & Intercession

Seeking His Will

Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes,
O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
Ps 119:29-32

Supplication is for those things of which I am aware and conscious of the need in my own life. Seldom is it material although they sometimes are. Usually however, they are more of “attitude” than “material”. When I am aware that my love and seeking Him are lacking, I ask for more desire for Him.

Sometimes I develop a negative attitude toward another person that I know is not a Godly attitude. My deliberate prayer for that person begins to soften and become more Christ-like.

Sometimes I feel I am becoming resentful for an event or circumstance that I am in. My prayer then should be to seek what God is trying to teach me through that. Read more »

Prayer Part 2 – Confession

Confession

“Psalms 51:9-10 (KJV)

9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.  10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

I must Confess sins that the Holy Spirit brings to my mind.

Confession and repentance preceeds any prayer

I am convinced that when I try to pray when I have unconfessed sin is totally useless. Prayer without the cleansing process of confession and repentance keeps our doorway to the Father closed.

My first prayer each time I pray must be to allow the Holy Spirit, root out and bring to my mind every sin of which I am guilty. In effect I agree with God that I am guilty.

When I pray fervently that the Holy Spirit bring my unconfessed sin to my mind, I am usually sorry I asked. He brings things to mind that I really did not realize were there. We can be so blinded by Satan that we do not always recognize a thing as sin until the Holy Spirit brings it to mind.

Holy Spirit bring to my mind those things that need to be confessed and repented. Read more »

Prayer Part 1

Prayer Part 1 – Empty yourself of yourself

Do you know what it means to empty yourself? It means whatever you think of yourself, deny it. If you think of yourself as a good person, deny it. If you think of yourself as a loving person, deny it. If you think of yourself as spiritual, deny it.

The fact is, that as a Christian, you are no longer anything positive of yourself. That is the only way to give yourself over to the completeness of the Holy Spirit in you. If any man be in Christ, he is a new person, old things are passed away, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

We cannot please God in the flesh

Romans 8:8-9 (KJV)
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The first prayer of my daily prayer life should be to deny any good thing in me as anything other than what the Holy Spirit is in me. Why? Because whatever good feelings about who or what I am is still a source of pride. Pride is sin.

Pray for effectiveness and fervency in your prayer. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 The prayer that pleases God is the prayer that is fervent. What is a fervent prayer? It is a prayer from the heart, not from memory, not from feelings, not from what I’ve written down but, because I want God to hear and answer.

Too many times I pray because I like to hear myself be humble before God. That also is a point of pride.

The prayer that God hears and answers is that which is prompted by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 (NIV)  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express  I don’t completely understand that but I believe it because God’s word says it.

Next: Confession in Prayer

10 Tips For Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth is a process of shedding our wrong and unreal concepts, thoughts, beliefs and ideas, and becoming more conscious and aware of our inner being. This process uncovers the inner spirit that is always present, but hidden beyond the ego-personality.

Spiritual growth is the process of inner awakening, and becoming conscious our inner being. It means the rising of the consciousness beyond the ordinary existence, and awakening to some Universal truths. It means going beyond the mind and the ego and realizing who you really are.

Spiritual growth is of great importance for everyone. Spiritual growth is the basis for a better and more harmonious life for everyone, a life free of tension, fear, and anxiety. It helps us learn not to let circumstances influence our inner being and state of mind. We manifest composure and detachment, and we develop inner power and strength, all of which are very useful and important tools.

Spiritual growth is not a means for escaping from responsibilities, behaving strangely and becoming an impractical person. It is a method of growing and becoming a stronger, happier and more responsible person.

A balanced life requires that we take care not only of the necessities of the body, feelings and mind, but also of the spirit, and this is the role of spiritual growth. Read more »