Saturday, July 19, 2014

How God Works His Will in the Ungodly


Please read the entire text. I will wind up with some wisdom about prayer.

First of all, let's describe the ungodly. It is generally accepted that anyone walking in sin is considered "ungodly." My contention is that even Christians can be considered ungodly. How? There could be a sin that they hold on to. Any sin is ungodly. When someone isn't walking in agape love and forgiveness that is also ungodly. You'll find that God deals with the ungodly sinner and the ungodly Christian the same way. And, it either leads to their destruction or their salvation.
First of all, in Nehemiah's day God worked through the ungodly ruler because of what that ruler saw in Nehemiah's life. Even though Nehemiah was a captive in a foreign land, he walked in Godly love and obedience to the ruler. Nehemiah CHOSE to walk in love in an unlovely situation and gained favor with the king. The king provided the nation of Israel with all that they needed to rebuild their city.
Next,in the book of Exodus, we find the statement (Ex. 9:12) "God hardened Pharaoh's heart." Many of you would think, "Why would God MAKE someone sin and then destroy him for it?" That in itself would prove God to be a tyrant and not a righteous and loving God.
Here's what God did. He knew Pharaoh's heart just like he knows mine and yours. So, in today's vernacular you could say about God, "He knew which button to push." God didn't take over Pharaoh's heart, mind and soul and force him to do anything. Instead, He set circumstances in front of Pharaoh and let him make his own evil choices. He still does that to the ungodly sinner and Christian today.
When the God of Pharaoh's slaves showed Himself stronger and wiser than Pharaoh's gods, Pharaoh gave in to his anger. After all, Pharaoh's pride was at stake. The God of the Hebrews was making him look like the fool he really was. His pride, his arrogance and his anger drove him to making some very regrettable mistakes that led to his downfall.
God works the same way with Christians. He knows your "button" and He'll push it time and time again to show you your sin in an effort to get you to repent. If you persist in your ungodliness, it will lead you to your destruction also.

Prayer. It is a life changing, world shaping tool given to us by our Sovereign God. We should daily be praying for the rulers of this world. The United States is sadly in need of prayer. BUT, don't give up hope when it looks like the enemy is unstoppable. Pharaoh and his army SEEMED unstoppable. It only LOOKED like they had the upper hand and it only LOOKED like God's people were doomed.
But, Saints, continue to pray for our nation that God will send revival and change it's course. Pray for the rulers of the world by praying the way Jesus taught in Matt 6:10-"Let Thy kingdom come and Thy will be done." As we pray for His sovereign will to be accomplished, we should praise Him even when it LOOKS like things have turned to the worse. Keep your heart right and throw the devil for a loop by praising God in these adverse circumstances.
The children of Israel thought they were doomed in every circumstance as God was bringing them to victory one step at a time. Moses kept going back to God not to complain but to ask Him, "What do you want me to do next."
       HERE'S THE PUNCH LINE---GET THIS IF YOU DON'T GET ANYTHING ELSE
Moses was not shaken by what just happened or by what it looked like. That had nothing to do with his faith in God. His only concern was keeping his heart right and the avenue between him and God open. Instead of being concerned about what JUST NOW happened, Moses was more concerned about what is JUST ABOUT to happen. He made himself available, kept his heart right and obeyed God's instructions when they were given.
Let's continue to pray for our nation and the world. "God, let Your kingdom come and let Your will be done. Do whatever You need to do and tell me what I need to do next." Make yourself available. Keep your heart right no matter what somebody else does. Be ready to obey God's next instruction instead of your own anger and pride.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What is Wrong with the Pentecostals?

No, this will not be a wild rant against a group of believers. Nor will I compile a list of accusations. At the end, I trust that many of you will be challenged to become a Pentecostal. I pray that the eternal flame of the Pentecostal fire will forever stir your soul to the real meaning of Pentecost.
First of all, I was born and raised in a Pentecostal atmosphere. I can vividly remember the saints of God shouting, singing and dancing in the Spirit. W-a-a-a-y. way before the Brownsville outpouring, I can remember services where uncontrolled laughter, or uncontrolled crying would sweep through the congregation. My Grandmother was usually where the laughter would start and I was always right there beside her. 
I remember times when a Holy Hush would interrupt our loud praises. Someone would give a message in tongues, an interpretation would come, or someone would prophecy. I remember in one particular service, a Holy Hush fell over the congregation for thirty minutes. We had no children's church and no nursery.But no child moved, no child cried and no one talked. The only noise that was heard was the shuffling of feet as someone moved in their seat to get comfortable. There was an awesome presence of God that enveloped that whole congregation. 
When it came time for prayer, no matter who was asked to lead, everyone prayed and cried out to God. As we poured out our hearts, indeed it did sound like thunder, but we knew we were making a connection with a Higher Power.
The bad part about it, a lot of Pentecostals began to use the outward actions to portray their 'holiness' or their devotion to God. In other words, the more and louder they shouted, spoke in tongues and prayed the holier they were. At home and on the job they might have been pure demons, but in a church service they were considered 'saints'.
Is there anything wrong with shouting, speaking in tongues and praying out loud? Absolutely not. A genuine Pentecostal will enjoy doing all of that and more as they pour out their hearts to God. But, Pentecostals don't do those things in their services any more. The Holy Spirit is not allowed dominion in their services anymore. There's always a time limit, or somebody's feeling limit or an embarrassment limit. 
And I know the reason why. We've gotten things backwards. People consider themselves the ideal Pentecostal when they shout, speak in tongues and pray loud. That's how most people, Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals define the Pentecostal 'way' of worship. Shouting, speaking in tongues and praying loud has been considered the 'fire' of Pentecost. But, it's not. 
These physical evidences are not the 'fire' and were never meant to be the 'fire'. They were meant ONLY to be the by-products of the real 'fire'. When people are stirred by the real 'fire' they will never have to 'stir up' these signs of the 'fire'. The real 'fire' will stir them.

Now let's define Pentecostal. Jesus said in Luke 24:49 for His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. He said nothing about tongues, shouts or loud praying although those things happened. But, Pentecost was the end of a long training session that lasted three long years for these disciples. There were some important changes in their lives that had to be made before the Father would endue them with power. You see, Pentecostals have been looking at the tongues and not prepared themselves for His power. And before you fire off a rebuttal, you'd better cool your jets and read the rest of this. 
Everyone thinks that the four gospels display Jesus' power. I'm here to tell you they don't. The power is ONLY a by-product. What Jesus displayed was the relentless and never ending love of His Father. The people that the twelve disciples were told to stay away from were the very ones that Jesus went out of His way to talk to.
Agape love was the cornerstone that Jesus' ministry was built on. The Apostle Paul declared that 'faith worketh by love' (Gal 5:6). Jesus told His disciples on several occasions that they were to love each other as He loved them. I've said before that Jesus washed Peter's feet even though He knew that Peter would lie and cuss the next day.
What is wrong with Pentecostals? They started at the wrong end of the promise. They started with the gifts. They and all Christians should start where Pentecost started before they can get to where Pentecost ended. Pentecost started when God said that He would love mankind so much the He would provide His own Son as a sacrifice so He could overlook all of their sins and fellowship with his man. God loved man in spite of everything man did. That's the beginning of Pentecost. That's the beginning of His power.

Now, I'm going to lay into you. If you are a pastor, or you feel called to be a pastor or you just call yourself a Pentecostal and you don't walk in agape love.....you need to quit. You need to find an altar somewhere and repent of your sin. If there are people you just don't want to associate with.....just because.... turn in your resignation until you get right with God.
The disciples did not receive the power of God until after the night Jesus was arrested and they all fled, including Peter. (Yes, I know John stood by Him.) Everyone of them had to be challenged to their very souls before God would give them the power.
Jesus loved the unloveable and then said, "Love like I do." Then He healed and fed them. People offended Him but He loved them enough to call out from the cross, "Father, forgive them." 
If you've held a grudge against someone whether they deserved it or not, give it up and love them. Whether your husband or wife loves you or not, love them without being bitter. Whether your children or your parents are what you think they should be, love them anyway and honor them like Jesus would.
When you do begin to love like Jesus did, strange things will begin to happen to you. The 120 were not expecting to speak in tongues on the day of Pentecost. They were just loving like Jesus said to and tarrying just like He said to. The gift of the Holy Spirit came with a lifetime full of extra benefits that were not necessarily described in the the Old Testament. It was a brand new and exciting way of life for those who chose to love. 
Agape Love is where Pentecost starts. You can search the entire Bible until you're blue in the face, but God NEVER said that Pentecostal outpourings and miracles would pass away. When you make a daily habit of walking in Agape Love, Pentecostal outpourings and miracles will become the normal for you.
Now do it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Did You Know This About God?

Romans 15:13--Now may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
     Paul calls God the God of hope. The Greek word for hope is--elpis. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines elpis as--to anticipate, usually with pleasure. Or, we could say "happy anticipation".
     In the beginning, God worked with His usual diligence and with "happy anticipation" to create a "good" place for His masterpiece of creation---Man. God created until He saw that it was all "good". He didn't bring His Man into a place that was shabby, run-down or half-way pieced together. He worked with a "happy anticipation" that everything would be "just so" for His Man.
     When mankind ruined his masterpiece through sin, God moved with "happy anticipation" and sent His Son to die so He could blot out their sin. He wanted to remove everything that hindered His fellowship with the Man that He loved.
     He gave promise after promise to His Man ever since creation. He gave these promises with a "happy anticipation" of keeping those promises. It was and still is His greatest desire to ensure the joy of His Man child.
     This God of "happy anticipation" wants to fill you with joy and peace--as you believe. Not as you whine, pout, get angry or go to cussin'. The greatest work that you could ever do is believe (with "happy anticipation") what God has promised. Paul declared that there is joy and peace in believing in God's "happy anticipation".  Have you ever thought about it that way before?
     After all the apostle Paul went through, I just believe that he knows what he's talking about. He firmly stated that the God of eternal "happy anticipation" would FILL you with joy and peace WHILE you were believing that His Word is true and that He's working on a solution to your problem.
     Paul's experience takes it one more step and declares that AS you believe God's "happy anticipation", you would overflow in your own "happy anticipation" by the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. God is His Word. There's agape love in His Word. There is "happy anticipation" in His Word because it came from a "happy anticipation" God. The longer and stronger we believe His Word more than the circumstances that we are faced with, the longer and stronger the power of the Holy Spirit increases our "happy anticipation" until we overflow with it.
     You've given sad, mad, and feeling bad a real, real, real, real good shot at changing your circumstances. So why not hook up with God's "happy anticipation" and give that a try? What can you lose? Your worries? Your cares? You anger? Your sin? Your sickness? Your poverty?
   

Monday, June 16, 2014

Jesus' Lost and Found Department

     While reading My Utmost for His Highest this morning, I dug up a little nugget. In John 15:13, Jesus makes this statement. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." My poor little noggin had always thought that Jesus was saying that a "Greater Love" would be to die for some one else. After all that's what He did....once....or so I thought.
     But, He wasn't talking about dying in this scripture. He was talking about laying aside our ambitions and desires to pour out His love on someone. Think about it this way. He didn't just 'lay aside' His life once and for all on the cross. He laid aside His life for thirty-three years when He stepped out of His comfort zone to walk in the muck and mire that humanity had become. He had one high spot and that was on the mount of transfiguration. Even with that, He had to interrupt the glory of God and a great conversation with Moses and Elijah to come down to cast out a demon.
     Jesus was talking about laying aside our personal ambition and interrupting the things we really would rather do to do something for someone else. And, He meant for us to do it out of a loving heart. He's not asking us to do it grudgingly or out of a since of duty. He asks us to purposely lay aside the things we would much rather do and do something that He would rather us do. He asks us to love somebody whom others might consider as being unworthy of love. After all, that's what He did for all of mankind. The good guys and the bad guys.
     He said something else in Matt. 16:25. "For whosoever will save his life will lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it." When we lay down what we would rather be doing and wash someone else's feet for them, so to speak, we begin to find new life in Jesus. We find something we've never had before. We experience a depth of His love that we have never sensed before. We develop a closeness with someone we might not have ever wanted to be close to and in so doing find the Jesus just stepped a little closer to us. We sense that we are more a part of Him than we have ever been. Truly, when we lose our lives for His sake we find explainable and unexpected treasure.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How's Your Love Life?

     I have heard couples say 'We fell in love from the first moment we met'. Really? You don't FALL in love. You FALL into a ditch. You FALL off a cliff. You FALL off a ladder. But, you MAKE A DECISION to either love or hate somebody. It would be true to say that we made an 'instant decision' to love somebody.
     It would also be true to say that we make a progressive decision to love somebody. We get to know them, we fellowship with them, enjoy that fellowship and desire more fellowship. They do something we like or enjoy and the desire for fellowship increases. The more they please us the more 'in love' we decide to become.
     The opposite it true, also. We make progressive as well as instantaneous decisions to hate somebody. We meet them and instantly we are not truly impressed with them. They do this, they say that and progressively we decide not to waste our time on caring for that person.
     Here is an interesting observation. Whenever a couple is expecting a child, they make a decision to love that child. They haven't seen it to know if it is pretty or not. They haven't talked to it, worked with it, played with it or anything. Yet, a decision, yes, and a growing decision is made to love and fellowship with that child the entire time of the pregnancy.
     Keep following me, now. This same couple even prepares to be inconvenienced. They stock pile diapers, clothes, baby wipes, baby powder, baby soap, baby wash cloths, baby towels, baby blankets as well as a host of toys and do-dads for a human being they have never seen before. They EXPECT to get pooped on. They EXPECT to be awakened in the middle of the night. The EXPECT to be inconvenienced. Yet, BEFORE the baby is born they are crazy in love with it.
     Yet, how come your best friend, your spouse or someone close to you POOPS (so to speak) on you one time and you turn or begin turning on them like a ravening wolf?
     Jesus, God's Word made flesh (John 1:14), made decisions too. He decided to love the whole world (John 3:16) whether they loved Him or not. He made efforts to fellowship with them whether they returned the fellowship or not. It is true that Jesus spent more time with those who desired His friendship but that never stopped the love that He had for the entire world. He gave evidence of this from the cross when He cried out, "Forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34)
     But, today I don't want to talk about everybody. I want to talk about Peter. You would have to read all four gospels to get the whole picture. Like expectant parents, Jesus knew some things about Peter. He knew that Peter would forsake Him. He knew all along that Peter would lie about their relationship. He knew that Peter would deny Him. He knew that Peter would cuss. He knew that Peter would deny Him and cuss in front of people. He knew that Peter would make a scene in front those that hated Him. And, yet, despite all of that, Jesus washed Peter's feet and talked to him in love. Jesus never scolded Peter. His plans for Peter were the same. Peter was still going to be the leader of the church in the very beginning.
     Jesus made a loving choice to throw away all the bad stuff and love Peter anyway. Even after His resurrection, Jesus never brought up the subject of Peter's sins. Jesus treated him just as if Peter had never done anything wrong.
     Here's what Jesus told them just before He died. John 13:34-A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. That's tuff stuff not to want to get back at somebody that you've been offended by but Jesus said that you "MUST" do it.
     Why? Why is it so important to look past hurt, shame and degradation and CHOOSE to love and actually CHOOSE to fellowship with someone who is unlovable TO YOU. I didn't say that they were unlovable to Jesus. I said they were unlovable to you. After all, Jesus has proven that He loves the whole world, good guys and bad guys.
     Do you remember Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul? He was Mr. I hate all Christians. He proved it by his actions. After his conversion, he made an astounding discovery that fueled his ability to reach the lost. Galations 5:6 says that faith works by love. The type of faith that fuels revival and reaches the lost is the faith that is brought about by our unfailing love for one another as well as the lost soul.
     You've tried to pump your faith, shout your faith, preach your faith, sing your faith and all the other things that preachers tell you to do to increase your faith and still revival is not here. Paul identified you in 1 Cor. 13:1 as a clanging cymbal because your actions are not fueled by the pre-forgiving love that Jesus showed to Peter when He washed his feet. He knew Peter would disappoint Him but He made a decision to love Peter anyway.
     Those of you who declare your desire to follow Christ to the cross, find some feet to wash first. It's His command and His way to reach the lost.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Open Letter to satan

satan,

     I HAVE TAKEN ALL THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN ME

     Do you remember the Apostle Paul? You gave him fits during his life time. But he's dead now and you can't touch him. As you very well know, what Jesus did through the Apostle Paul is still giving you fits but is multiplied millions of times by all the believers that have studied his teachings.
     One of the secrets that he left us is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. He told us that God was faithful and would not allow you to attack us with anything strong enough to break us. With the same pen stroke he told us that God had already given us the victory in every situation.
     You used to really have me scared. You played your 'roaring lion' games (1 Peter 5:8) that made me run for cover and stumble. You plundered the things that I held dear to my heart and tore apart my dreams of a happy, Godly future. You had me believing that I was worthless and that nobody cared for me. I paid more attention to your roaring than I did to the Word of God.
     But, old boy, that changed not too long ago. I got a hold of myself and began to spend more time in God's presence. You saw me. Instead of my 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' prayers I began to long for His presence and began to bask in His love. In enjoyed it so much that I began meditating more on Jesus during the day than I did your lies. I love His presence more than I do your sorrow and problems.
     Oh, by the way, thank you for those problems. The problems you sent along helped me out a whole lot, too. I took some more of Paul's advice and began praising God 'in everything' (1 Thess 5:18). When I heard your roar, I immediately said, "This is going to work together for my good." (Rom 8:28). You don't hurt me like you used to. The little boy is growing up isn't he?
     The more I stay in God's Presence the more I've come to detest you instead of fear you. What's it like having another Christian slip out of your grasp?     You loser.   
     And today.....I felt another spiritual muscle develop. Why have I been fighting you all this time? Let me give you a clue. Do the words 'It's finished' mean anything to you? That's what Jesus said when He paid the FULL price for ALL of my sins. Your hold was broken over me on the cross many years ago, and it just now dawned on me.
     Today I realized what 'more than a conqueror' means. (Rom. 8:38). It means that Jesus has already conquered you. Instead of calling Him the Prince of Peace, I'm gonna start calling Him the Prince of Piece, because there's not one single piece of your power that God has NOT given me power over. (Luke 10:19)
     Don't you go no where, I'm not through with you. God allowed you to come after me hot and heavy until I thought I was done for. You plundered my goods and stole from me. I thought there was no hope for me. BUT, that was where I was wrong.
     The more I spend time in His Presence and soaking up His love for me, the more that I realize that THERE IS NO HOPE FOR YOU. That same God that gave you permission to blister me has given me permission to bind you and PERMANENTLY divide your spoils. (Luke 11:22)
     You see, I now fit the description of the 'stronger than he' just like Jesus is. He was not afraid of the cross and I'm not afraid of what I'm going through right now. That means I'm stronger than you. But, you know that don't you? You heard me praising God for what He was doing in my life instead of moaning and groaning about what I was going through. Yeah, I'm stronger than you and I'm going to stay that way.
     Have you heard that old saying that you can recognize someone by their footsteps? You know it's true because you've heard me running all over the place having my hissy fits over what you put me through. That is........I used to do that.
     You go on about your business because pretty soon you're going to hear the familiar sound of my footsteps coming toward your domain. Then you'll hear those creaky gates of hell begin to swing open. Jesus said they couldn't stop me. (Mt 16:18) I'll slam the door behind me to get everyone's attention and I'll shout, "I'M HERE TO GET MY STUFF!!!!" The same Word of God that gave you permission to attack me said in Prov. 6:31  that when the thief was found that he had to restore seven times the amount that was stolen. So let me rephrase my original statement.

I WILL TAKE ALL THAT THE WORD OF GOD DEMANDS THAT YOU GIVE ME

     Like we used to say when we were playing 'hide and seek'...ready or not....here I come.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

His Faith Took Him Higher Than The Trial Brought Him Down

Luke 22:31-And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32-But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.
1 Cor 10:13-There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

When Jesus announced to Peter that satan had asked His permission to sift him as wheat, out of all the things that Jesus could have done, i.e. bind satan, destroy satan, confuse satan's plan against Peter, Jesus bluntly told Peter that He would pray that Peter's faith would not fail. The phrase "that your faith would not fail" should have sent a message to Peter that something was coming that would shake him to his foundations.

Then, again, Paul said in first Corinthians that what Peter went through was a common occurrence. Who could give a greater testimony about the depth of trials than Paul? I'm inclined to believe Paul.

There was something else that Jesus knew that He didn't tell Peter. He knew that satan was limited only to the degree of the trial that Jesus' allowed AND NO FURTHER. Paul tells us that the moment God allows a trial to come our way, He also has set in place a blessing greater than the agony of the trial.

Jesus knew that Peter would fail. He plainly told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. He knew how many and He knew the time. Peter did fail miserably and went out and wept bitterly about it. Jesus knew that, too, yet the next time He saw Peter He said absolutely nothing about it. Why? Jesus knew all about it before it happened. He expected Peter to fall but He prayed that Peter's faith would not fail.

Just because we fail during a trial doesn't mean that we are a total failure. Jesus knows our limitations. He knows how fragile we are and how strong we are. Then why did He allow Peter to go through that? Which leads us to the question, why does He let us go through the things we go through? How many times have you and I asked Him as well as ourselves that question?

God had a job for Peter to do. He knew that Peter wasn't ready for it. Peter needed a springboard of faith to launch him into God's plan for his life. God allowed him to be tempted to the point of failure because He had faith that Peter would bounce back stronger than ever. He knew that Peter's sorrow would give him enough grit in his gut to grab a hold of enough of Jesus to power him into the Day of Pentecost.

If we could look at what Peter went through during his ministry like we can Paul's, we would probably find a lot of ups and downs. We would see failures that led to launches. We would see Peter's faith take him higher than any trial could have brought him down.

If you're still on your knees because of the current trial you are going through, stay in tune with Jesus until the glory begins to manifest. It will be worth the wait.