Monthly Archives: February 2016

Fearing Circumstances

For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” (Isaiah 8:11-15, ESV)

Fear God. For He is a refuge and a strong tower. Fear not what people fear.


Speaking Differently

As I have gone through how we ought to think and desire differently as Christians which is the will of God for our lives, we have seen that sanctification is a total thing. All of who and what we are must be subjected to God. We make all of ourselves submit to the will of God.

Now, I want to briefly write about speaking differently. How we use our words ought to be in a holy and edifying way.

I could point to numerous passages about the tongue, speech, speaking with salt, using hymns and psalms and spiritual songs, being prepared with a teaching or a song when Christians meet together, how if one can bridle their tongue then they can bridle their whole body, how we ought to speak an though we are saying God’s very words, or that we shouldn’t even speak of evil that many do in darkness.

The fact is what we say demonstrates much of what we believe, how we think, and what we treasure. Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Jesus also said that where our treasure is there our heart is also. Proverbs tells us about using choice words, which can bring life to the bones. Proverbs also describes how a well thought out answer can turn away wrath. We also find in Proverbs about nagging and it’s negative effects.

There is a vast treasure to be found in the Bible about how we ought to speak, pray, and praise. We must be transformed by God’s word so that we may be ready to speak with salt, truth and love at all times.

To be holy in our words means to not only speak the truth but to know that the way we speak the truth has an effect on a person. Jesus was purposeful in how he spoke to the pharisees. He was direct, blunt, and strong. To others He was tender and compassionate. Still to others He spoke in parables.

We need to know not only what to speak but how to speak in every circumstance. Our words can stir up strife or prevent strife. Our words can edify or cause division. We must never compromise truth. We must also never speak in a way that we shouldn’t because of truth. To some we ought to be bold, using words that stir up their hearts. To some we ought to speak in compassion.

Much can be said. The will of God for our lives is our sanctification. Sanctify how we use words and what we say. Submit to God your manner of speech. Learn His ways and obey His commands for our tongues.

 


Totaly Depravity as seen in slaves

However, slaves are like other people, and imbibe similar prejudices. They are apt to think their condition better than that of others. Many, under the influence of this prejudice, think their own masters are better than the masters of other slaves ; and this, too, in some cases, when the very reverse is true. Indeed, it is not uncommon for slaves even to fall out and quarrel among themselves about the relative kindness of their masters, each contending for the superior goodness of his own over that of others. At the very same time, they mutually execrate their masters, when viewed separately. It was so on our plantation. When Col. Lloyd’s slaves met those of Jacob Jepson, they seldom parted without a quarrel about their masters ; Col. Lloyd’s slaves contending that he was the richest, and Mr. Jepson’s slaves that he was the smartest, man of the two. Col. Lloyd’s slaves would boast his ability to buy and sell Jacob Jepson ; Mr. Jepson’s ‘slaves would boast his ability to whip Col. Lloyd. These quarrels would almost always end in a fight between the parties ; those that beat were supposed to have gained the point at issue. . They seemed to think that the greatness of their masters was transferable to themselves. To be a slave, was thought to be bad enough ; but to be a poor man’s slave, was deemed a disgrace, indeed.

Frederick Douglas in chapter VII of My Bondage and My Freedom

No matter the circumstances or condition we are in we always find a way to boast in them. As I read Frederick Douglas’ My Bondage and My Freedom this paragraph made me see human depravity in all humans. We may be slaves but at least we aren’t those slaves.

All are enslaved to sin. Only Christians are freed from sin because of Christ’s death on the cross. Once, before I was a Christian, I found many reasons to boast in myself. I compared myself to others. I was not as bad as some. I was better than many. I was not in certain circumstances like others. I was comparing myself to others. This was not the standard God had set. When I had begun to hear about God’s standard mine was shattered. No longer could I compare my circumstances, situations, conditions, or self to others. I had to compare myself to God’s law and standard.

When my eyes opened to all of our conditions as humanity and mine specifically then I knew I needed redemption. I knew we all needed it.

Until we see this we will be like the slaves that ignored the condition they all were in. Instead, we will continue to compare ourselves with ourselves.


Today Marks

Today Marks my second wedding anniversary. God has given me a beautiful wife who is obedient to His voice and striving to rest in His grace. The grace lavished upon me is greater than the grace shown her because God gave me her.

Over the past two years I have grown in knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and character. All have been by the blessing of my wife. There is so much to the proverb “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” I have not only found favor in many physical areas (you wouldn’t believe the things I received because I was married to my wife) but also in many other areas of life. My thoughts have been refined. My heart has been molded. My character has been changed and made more holy.

I truly praise God for my wife. It’s not because I received so much because of her. In fact it’s more because I’ve learned so much more of God and have become more near to God because of her. God has used her in many ways to draw me unto Himself. He has used her to keep me trusting in Him. He has used her to show me grace and favor. He has used her to demonstrate His love. He has used her to obey Him in many areas of my life.

God has glorified Himself through my wife by using her, a submissive vessel, to demonstrate His character and greatness. He has saved her by grace through faith.

I cannot help but be humbled by God. Who would not only save me but grace me with a beautiful wife to edify and be edified by. A wife I would encourage and be encouraged by. A wife who would pray for me. A woman who is becoming all that God has made her to be.

I am a blessed man to have a woman who loves God. Two years of His grace and mercy. If it pleases God there will be many more to come.


Thinking through our feelings

I remember one day getting upset with myself not knowing why I felt the way I did. I had an empty feeling, the one where you don’t feel anything. As a Christian I thought I had to be bubbly all the time. I believe I had to have an exuding joy pouring out of me at all times. To feel empty or nothing meant I wasn’t being a good Christian.

I remember clearly a thought popping into my head, “Who said I had to feel joyful all the time? And who said that having no feeling was a bad or non-Christian thing?

In Jeremiah 17:9 it says “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”

Does a Christian have to feel joy all the time? Is joy only something you feel? Is it wrong to feel depressed? Is it wrong to feel empty? Is my heart deceiving me in these instances?

In sanctifying ourselves as Christians we have to answer many questions like these according to who God is. We know who God is by reading His words.

We need to think through all these things and more about our thoughts, feelings and the complexity of multi-layered thoughts and feelings. We need to not just bring up one passage of scripture to define all of how we ought to feel but look at the entire Bible and how it handles all array of human emotions, thoughts and decisions.

As Christians we need to think more clearly on all matters and be able to distinguish those “hair-splitting” differences.


Desires made Holy

The will of God for our lives is our sanctification. To be sanctified means to be set apart, made holy. Last time I wrote about how we as Christians start the process of sanctifying our minds. I summarized it by saying that we have to let God define everything. How does God define knowledge, truth, life, eternal life, joy, or Christianity? To set apart our minds means to make our thoughts think about what God says, which means we have to know what He means when He says something, which means we have to know how He defines the words He uses.

I started with sanctifying the mind because that is the beginning place for all that we are. What we do reflects what we believe and think. What we say reflects what we believe and think. What we desire reflects what we believe and think.

I want to speak now about how we sanctify our desires as Christians. To even talk about this I have to start talking about what happens to us as Christians. This is probably going to take a few posts but I want to start with the basics of what it means to be a Christian.

As Christians we believe that all men are dead in their sin. What that means is we have no desire to know God as He is and are in active rebellion against God and what He says. Many people are spiritual and believe in some god, but believing in a god and knowing God are vastly different. Many people want to know a higher power or being but it’s often because of their own selfish desires. It becomes therapy, it becomes ecstasy, it becomes some high. But to want to know God because He is God and should be known is nobodies desire.

This is where as Christians we believe that the Holy Spirit must work within a person to change their heart. Since all mean are dead in sin it’s impossible for them to be alive in God. This is where God must begin the work by His own will and desire to take a dead heart and put in its place a new heart. As the Bible says, a heart of stone being turned into a heart of flesh.

For us to even know God and desire God we have to have been changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit gets someone to preach the gospel, and while the gospel is being preach the Holy Spirit gives faith to whoever the Holy Spirit desires to give it to. That faith is then used in God, meaning that is faith is placed in God and His gospel. Then the Holy Spirit enters into the person.

All of it a work of God so that no man may boast that it was something in them that saved them, instead it’s solely by God’s saving and electing grace.

The beginning of our desires being sanctified is first being a Christian. Once God turns us from dead sinners to living saints our desires have already begun the transformation process. With a new heart our desires change.

Now, as we talk about desires, what we have to do is submit our desires and feelings to God, let Him define them for us and then ask Him how to feel and what to desire in every circumstance, instance, situation and about everything.

I’ll dive into that a little more in another post.


Clarification on Scripture

I want to clarify a few things about my last post Thinking and God’s Will. I used an example to demonstrate that we often define things based upon our own understanding. That example had to do with Scripture and the knowledge of it. I asserted that just because someone knows the Bible well doesn’t mean that God loves that person. To demonstrate my assertion I used Matthew chapter four where Satan is tempting Jesus. In this scene we see that Satan knew the Bible well. Satan’s knowledge of scripture was being used to convince Jesus of things contrary to the Bible.

Does God love Satan? No. He is an enemy and will one day be cast into the lake of fire. Does Satan know scripture better than most people? It seems to be so because Jesus never argued that Satan wasn’t using scripture correctly. Instead, Jesus demonstrated that Satan was focusing on a few texts, a few verses, and ignoring other sections. Did Satan know this? I have a feeling he did, but being the father of lies he tried to deceive by focusing on that which would cause Jesus to sin. Essentially using scripture to tempt Jesus to do what scripture as a whole teaches.

I then made application referring back to the reason for the post: Let God define who his children are, not man. A Christian isn’t just someone who knows the Bible. That’s not how the Bible defines a Christian. That’s not how God’s Word defines a Christian. We don’t judge a Christian based solely off their understanding of what God has revealed in the Bible. A Christian is primarily someone who the Holy Spirit has transformed by hearing and believing with faith the preaching of the gospel.

Now, for clarity sake I want to say what I was not saying, and I want to affirm things I believe.

I was not saying that a Christian shouldn’t know scripture. A Christian will want to know what God has spoken. A Christian is someone who obeys God’s words, which we know via the Bible.

I was not saying that a Christian shouldn’t seek to know God by His word.

I was not saying that knowledge is evil and wrong.

I was not saying that a Christian should have sound understanding.

I was saying that doctrine doesn’t save. Knowledge doesn’t save. Knowing the Bible doesn’t save someone. It’s only the person Jesus Christ who saves, by the power of the Holy Spirit, by grace through faith, and that even faith is a gift of God so that no one can boast because the whole work of salvation is by God alone for God alone.

However, part of the fruit of the Christian life will be a desire to know God’s word more: what He has said, what He loves, what He hates. The Holy Spirit produces within a Christian the desire to know the Bible more because it is God’s Word and in it we find all we need to know about our God and savior Jesus Christ.

 


Comic books and Superheros

My wife Christie and I watch a few TV shows: The Flash, The Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Jane the Virgin. Besides Jane the Virgin, all of them are superhero related. One could argue moms are superheros, and Jane is a mom who was artificially inseminated. That has to be a superpower of sorts. Making a baby without a man. I mean technically the Green Arrow doesn’t have superpowers, so Jane has a one up on him. She could have been his mother. I digress.

As a kid I didn’t care for comic book superheros. I was into certain anime heroes like Goku and Naruto but not comics. I may have watched a few Batman cartoons here and there but that was because it usually came on after Sonic the Hedgehog. Who had more superpowers than Batman did.

So my wife and I started watching the Arrow and the Flash. Our friends were watching and talking about these shows, and since we wanted to feel like cool kids we starting watching them. The first episode of both hooked us for different reasons. Here we are, a year later and we continue to watch the series. Every Thursday we watch them through Hulu on our Chromecast, after they air on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This past Christmas I went out and bought a comic book for my wife. She asked for it. She enjoys anything Arrow related. She made it so much easier to shop for her, and being on a budget made it that much better. So naturally I went to buy an Arrow comic book. In West Palm Beach there aren’t too many comic book stores around. I went to a comic book store called TATE’S Comics, Inc. in the Boyton beach mall. Not knowing where to begin I asked the comic book store clerk to help a comic book newbie out.

Leading me to the Arrow section (which I couldn’t find) he pulled out Green Arrow: Quiver. Well, he pulled it out after I told him I was looking more for the older comics and not a comic based off the TV show. So he pulled out Green Arrow: Quiver and told me that it was the comic book that started his reading in comic books. He would later enjoy the Flash series as a whole better than Arrow, but this was the introduction into comic books for him. God led me to the right man because Quiver was definitely a good read. I am now ready to start buying more comic books to read and add to my collection. I think I want a Flash comic book next, but we’ll see. I may buy some of the comic books mention in Quiver.

I’ll write a review soon of the comic, giving away some spoilers, as well as making comments on the art and everything in it. I never review one before but there’s a first time for everything. It will suck, but I’ll enjoy it.


Thinking and God’s Will

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 ESV)

The will of God for our lives is our sanctification. We are to be sanctified, set apart, made holy. What does that look like? I posted last time that we should be thinking, speaking, acting and desiring differently than the world. I want to, in brief, write about how to think like a holy and set apart people.

How do we think like a holy and set apart people? How do we give our minds to God so that our thoughts are sanctified?

The Bible has numerous passages for helping us know this. I want bring up just one passage and make a few comments.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

To sanctify our minds is to meditate or think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. As Christians, the one person or being that you can meditate upon and find that all these things are in every aspect of their life/work is Yahweh, especially Yahweh revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Want to know what is true? Listen to Christ. Want to know what is honorable? Watch Jesus. Want to know who is just? See what Jesus did on the cross. Who is pure and blameless? Jesus Christ. Want to see the most lovely thing? Turn to Christ. Jesus’ ways are all commendable and excellent and the work he has done is worthy of our praise.

If you want your mind to be sanctified to the fullest you must work through every thought, concept, every belief, idea, thought, word, sentence, and pattern in your mind. You must redefine and order all things after the definitions and truth’s of God. We must make God’s definition of love our definition. We must make God’s definition of truth our definition of truth. What does God say about man? What does God say about sin? What does God say about the problem with humanity? We must ask questions and seek for the answer that God has.

I’ll use an example. We may think that someone who reads their Bible is worthy of praise. Someone who knows the Bible well must be someone God loves, right? If you believe this you’re wrong. Just because someone knows scripture doesn’t mean they are living or believing scripture. Jesus argued with Satan about what certain passages said and meant. Satan knew the scripture. At certain points Satan even understood the passages correctly. But it wasn’t commendable because Satan was using scripture and his knowledge of it to argue for his own doctrine. I would argue Satan knows scripture better than any human. That doesn’t make him a friend of God. Knowledge of scripture doesn’t commend us to God, it is Jesus Christ that commends us to God.

Even if someone understands or knows more of the Bible, it doesn’t mean they are God’s child. Let God define who his children are, not man. Don’t say a person is a Christian based off of their understanding of scripture. Instead, you’ll know a child of God by their fruit.

What is the fruit of a Christian? I’m not going to answer that. That’s something we must let God define for us. Of course this means that we must know scripture, but that doesn’t mean scripture is what saves us or makes us something. It’s God who does that. We must use scripture to order our lives and shape our minds.

May you study the word so you know what it is God thinks about all things.


This is the Will of God

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 ESV)

 

Christians desire to know the will of God. Maybe I should say that Christians should desire to know the will of God. We’re living in an age where words are defined by everyone as they see fit. I say should because in order to be understood I need to write clearly. Using the word should makes it clear that many who call themselves Christians don’t desire to know the will of God.  A Christian is someone who is clearly different than those around them because they know and obey the will of God, not the will of self or will of man.

Many Christians that I have met don’t know the will of God. It’s something they want to know but don’t know how to know it. Praise be to God for revealing His will and His self to us through His Word. It’s in the Bible we learn God’s revealed will.

In first Thessalonians 4:3 it explicitly says “This is the will of God.” Want to know God’s will? Here is a place where it is clearly spelled out.

What does it say? “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” A great summary of God’s will for the Christians life is sanctification. This word, sanctification, means the setting apart or making holy. The Christian should be set apart for God. Their lives are to be given to God so that they think, speak, act, and desire differently than the world.

In another post I’ll talk about how we give our minds to God so that we think differently. Speak, act, and desire will also be given separate posts.

See these posts as introduction into the will of God. Use these posts as points to launch into more learning about what will and sanctification mean. What do we mean when we say will of God?

May God grant you insight into His character and nature as you seek to know and understand His will more.