Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Holy Nation

Sanctify them in the truth;
Your word is truth. John 17:17

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;
and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete,
without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23

Such were some of you; but you were washed,
but you were sanctified, but you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and in the Spirit of our God
. 1 Corinthians 6:11

Have you been sanctified?
Are you Pure; and Holy; and Justified?

Okay, what does that mean; and why do we need to know? Well this verse: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” is from the prayer Jesus prayed for you and me, shortly before He went to be crucified. Doesn’t it make sense that since Jesus prayed for each of us, that we should understand what His prayer means, and what He is leading us to do?

This can get pretty heavy so let’s look into the dictionary so that nobody can accuse me of being legalistic, prideful, ungodly, or a hypocrite. Sanctify means: to make holy; to free from sin; purify; to declare or render (something) productive of or conductive to holiness, blessing, or grace; to sanction (an action or practice) as religiously binding, such as: to sanctify a marriage.

For most of us, these are the definitions we would have given to the question: What is holy; but would we normally apply these definitions to describe ourselves? I don’t think so. When was the last time you called yourself holy? Well, from a human perspective, most of us would say that this would be prideful and blasphemous. But from a biblical perspective, you are holy … from the moment you were justified and purified by the blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

In fact; if you look at all of those secular dictionary definitions, they all apply to those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are becoming more like God day by day and less attached to the world. If as a Christian this is not true, then something is wrong in your walk. What is the problem? Well the verse says: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” This is the problem with many Christians. If we choose to not be transformed by the renewing of our mind, in our flesh we will remain a person who is conformed to the world rather than one who is transformed. With many of us the world and its priorities have remained our priorities. Some are playing Christianity and others have turned away from God and His Truth. We cannot judge others, but each of us knows whether we have renewed our mind and are sanctified by the truth of God’s Word or not.

Are you saved? Have you trusted Christ, or are you using Christianity and Jesus Christ when it’s convenient? Only you and God know these answers for sure. Ask yourself the hard questions and then either repent and totally surrender to Christ and His Word. If you are not a Christian, it is time to ask Jesus for forgiveness and receive His free gift of eternal life. The days are short. What do you think these earthquakes and wars throughout the Arab countries are all about? These are not strange coincidences. The days are short. Now … renew your mind and become Holy as you become transformed by leading of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Truth of God’s Word. It is time for you to become an ambassador for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5: 20-21

Now let’s take a quick look at what Clarke’s Commentary has to say about this verse: Thy word is truth - All that thou hast spoken - that is, all that is contained in the Bible. All the commands and promises of God; His representations of His own character and that of man; His account of the mission and death of His Son; of the grave, the resurrection, judgment, and eternity, all tend to represent things as they are, and are thus fitted to sanctify the soul. We have here also the testimony of the Savior that the revelation which God has given is true. All that God has spoken is true, and the Christian should rejoice and the sinner should tremble.

And here is God’s description of His Word that will purify us and make us Holy. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalms 19:7-14.

Do you still think that you are not Holy? Well then, do you believe you are justified, past tense? This is either God’s Truth or it is not. If not, I have no use for the Bible or Christianity … whatsoever. Let’s go to a good science fiction movie instead. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

I’m not good enough to be Holy, you say? I couldn’t agree more. None of us are good enough. Only by the Blood of Jesus sacrificed for our sins at Calvary can we be Holy. His Word tells us we are sanctified, pure and holy and that when we were saved and justified, we became a citizen of this Holy Nation at that moment: “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are either a member of this Holy Nation; or you are not.
Which is it? The choice is yours … get it right. BE HOLY!

Here are some more Truths about your holiness. There are hundreds of these Truths that you need to look into so that you may become the righteousness of Christ in Him; and more clearly understand who you are, and then stand on these Truths. Here are a few. Meditate, repeat, and memorize them; morning, noon and night. BE HOLY!

But, like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior. 1 Peter 1:15

So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:8

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:20

Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach Colossians 1:22

I could spend many words going into explanation of these verses, but that is not necessary. God’s Word of Truth is easy to understand with the guidance of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. Do you really think that God would send the Holy Spirit to forever abide with you and be in you … if you were not HOLY? Think about it: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17.You are Holy! BE HOLY!

You are either a member of this Holy Nation; or you are not.
Which is it? The choice is yours … get it right.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Thessalonians 5:23
Be justified; Be sanctified; Be pure; Be the righteousness of God in Him; …. Be Holy!
God Bless you my friends, Bob

Saturday, March 26, 2011

According To Your Faith

While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples. When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. This news spread throughout all that land … As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Matthew 9:18-30

Today we will discuss one of the key principles to having the wisdom from above that was guiding
Daniel and his friends, as well as the dead girl's father, and the blind men.

“It shall be done to you according to your faith.”

The story above describes some amazing miracles in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first story is about a Jewish religious leader whose daughter had recently died. When Jesus arrived at the girl’s home, there was a noisy group that had gathered to pay their respects. Jesus told the group: “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. When Jesus took the girls hand, she was raised from the dead. Apparently these scoffers were laughing at Jesus no longer. ”This news spread throughout all that land.” We can assume that since the father was a synagogue official that there were religious leaders in the crowd. At the very least, we can assume that since the news spread everywhere that the same men who plotted the death of Jesus were either in the crowd or for certain had heard about the raising of this girl, from the dead.

How could, and why would these leaders have ignored these and many other amazing miracles? Why did they turn against the promised Messiah; attempt to discredit Him; plot His death; and ultimately deliver Him to the Romans to be crucified? From the beginning of His ministry they schemed to destroy Jesus and His ministry. “The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:6. A verse from the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead makes their motives and ignorance, in one way, easier to understand. Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:47-48 ... The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him, many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus. John 12:9-11. The Jewish leaders were afraid that they would lose their position of authority and their nation if they did not stop Jesus' ministry. They were even considering killing Lazarus because he was living proof of Jesus’ miraculous power. Some Jewish leaders were also motivated by pride. Their spiritual authority was being questioned and Jesus openly pointed out their hypocrisy and ungodly spiritual leadership.

The one thing that overwhelmingly stands out in the vast majority of the miracles, is the incredible faith that all those healed had, in abundance. They had unwavering faith in Jesus ability to do the miracles. The official did not ask Jesus if He could raise his daughter from the dead, but rather said; “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” The blind men answered Jesus as follows: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus asked. They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Can you imagine having this depth of faith in anyone, let alone a stranger? Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened.

“It shall be done to you according to your faith.” … also applies to all of us as well. The choice is ours. We can have unimagined miracles; or we can have doubts that lead to confusion, wrong decisions, failure, unanswered prayers, and discouragement.

What made the faith of these men so much more powerful than many of us? Well possibly they were present and witnessed previous miracles, and maybe they were there at the Sermon on the Mount, or when He fed the 5,000 with just five loaves and a couple of fish. Mark 6:41. They most certainly had heard eyewitness accounts. In order to have the faith Jesus could heal from the dead or heal their blind eyes took enormous faith. The blind men called Jesus: Lord. It is clear to me that at this point that the Jewish people, other than most of the leaders had determined that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

Where does this leave us? What can we do to have this level of faith? Well these people all had their thinking changed. Do you need to have your thinking changed? Have you been transformed by the renewing of your mind? Remember: Daniel purposed in his heart. He made up his mind. Have you made up your mind to think Biblically; and to meditate on God’s Word; and to pray for the wisdom from above? Well if the answer to these questions is no; and you are not doing these things daily as Daniel was … "according to your faith" you will not likely bring the results you desire.

Since we are not benefited by Jesus’ physical presence, the next best thing we can do is to meditate on the stories of His miracles. These testimonies will help build our faith that will transform our hearts and minds. You must resolve that the scripture is absolute truth and then begin to continually affirm His promises for you during your prayers and meditations. Read the scriptures out loud; insert yourself into the promises that God has given to all of us. Memorize God’s Word so that you can bring His promises to mind, morning, noon, and night … moment, by moment; day by day. Pray everything over to the Lord. As long as your plans are your plans; and not God’s plans, they will lack the power of God. We cannot expect God’s wisdom understanding and blessings if we have not prayed for His guidance, abundance, and blessings.
Like Daniel, the blind men and the girl’s father you can pray miracles into your life: According To Your Faith.

Here are some miracles to look up; meditate on; memorize; repeat over; morning, noon and night; and to pray over to increase your faith.

And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. Luke 18:42

And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." Mark 5:34

And Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. Mark 10:52

And He said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:19

And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment. Matthew 8:13

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you: Luke 17:3-6

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” . Matthew 14:28-31
God bless you my friends, Bob

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reaching Out

For Christ’s love compels us,
because we are convinced that one died for all,
and therefore all died.
And he died for all,
that those who live should no longer live
for themselves but for him
who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one
from a worldly point of view.
2 Corinthians 5:14-16

Dear Friend,

I'm writing to say thanks. I wish I could thank you personally, but I don't know where you are. I wish I could call you, but I don't know your name. If I knew your appearance, I'd look for you, but your face is fuzzy in my memory. But I'll never forget what you did.

There you were, leaning against your pickup in the West Texas oil field. An engineer of some sort. A supervisor on the job. Your khakis and clean shirt set you apart from us roustabouts. In the oil field pecking order, we were at the bottom. You were the boss. We were the workers. You read the blueprints. We dug the ditches. You inspected the pipe. We laid it. You ate with the bosses in the shed. We ate with each other in the shade.
Except that day.

I remember wondering why you did it.
We weren't much to look at. What wasn't sweaty was oily. Faces burnt from the sun; skin black from the grease. Didn't bother me, though. I was there only for the summer. A high-school boy earning good money laying pipe.

We weren't much to listen to, either. Our language was sandpaper coarse. After lunch, we'd light the cigarettes and begin the jokes. Someone always had a deck of cards with lacy-clad girls on the back. For thirty minutes in the heat of the day, the oil patch became Las Vegas—replete with foul language, dirty stories, blackjack, and barstools that doubled as lunch pails.

In the middle of such a game, you approached us. I thought you had a job for us that couldn't wait another few minutes. Like the others, I groaned when I saw you coming.
You were nervous. You shifted your weight from one leg to the other as you began to speak.

"Uh, fellows," you started.
We turned and looked up at you.
"I, uh, I just wanted, uh, to invite … "
You were way out of your comfort zone. I had no idea what you might be about to say, but I knew that it had nothing to do with work.
"I just wanted to tell you that, uh, our church is having a service tonight and, uh … "
"What?" I couldn't believe it. "He's talking church? Out here? With us?"
"I wanted to invite any of you to come along."

Silence. Screaming silence.
Several guys stared at the dirt. A few shot glances at the others. Snickers rose just inches from the surface.

"Well, that's it. Uh, if any of you want to go … uh, let me know."

After you turned and left, we turned and laughed. We called you "reverend," "preacher," and "the pope." We poked fun at each other, daring one another to go. You became the butt of the day's jokes.

I'm sure you knew that. I'm sure you went back to your truck knowing the only good you'd done was to make a good fool out of yourself. If that's what you thought, then you were wrong.
That's the reason for this letter.

Some five years later, a college sophomore was struggling with a decision. He had drifted from the faith given to him by his parents. He wanted to come back. He wanted to come home. But the price was high. His friends might laugh. His habits would have to change. His reputation would have to be overcome.
Could he do it? Did he have the courage?

That's when I thought of you. As I sat in my dorm room late one night, looking for the guts to do what I knew was right, I thought of you.
I thought of how your love for God had been greater than your love for your reputation.

I thought of how your obedience had been greater than your common sense.
I remembered how you had cared more about making disciples than about making a good first impression. And when I thought of you, your memory became my motivation.
So I came home.

I've told your story dozens of times to thousands of people. Each time the reaction is the same: The audience becomes a sea of smiles, and heads bob in understanding. Some smile because they think of the "clean-shirted engineers" in their lives. They remember the neighbor who brought the cake, the aunt who wrote the letter, the teacher who listened …
Others smile because they have done what you did. And they, too, wonder if their "lunchtime loyalty" was worth the effort.
You wondered that. What you did that day wasn't much. And I'm sure you walked away that day thinking that your efforts had been wasted.

They weren't.

So I'm writing to say thanks. Thanks for the example. Thanks for the courage. Thanks for giving your lunch to God. He did something with it; it became the Bread of Life for me.

P.S. If by some remarkable coincidence you read this and remember that day, please give me a call. I owe you lunch.
From In the Eye of the Storm Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1997) Max Lucado

Is there a person like this in your life's story?
It is time to let them know how God has used him or her in your life.
Be this person in someone's life ... every day.

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding,
and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. Exodus 31:3
God Bless you my friends, Bob

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reverse Your Thinking

This video clip is a great example of what happens to a person's
heart and mind when they trust Christ as their Lord and Savior,
and are transformed by the renewing of their mind with God's
Holy Word ... Wisdom and Truth will rule in their hearts.

Don't forget to forward this short video to all of your friends.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans :12:2

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. Exodus 31:3

God Bless you my friends, Bob West

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Purposed In Your Heart

But Daniel purposed in his heart
that he would not defile himself
with the portion of the king's meat,
nor with the wine which he drank:
therefore he requested of
the prince of the eunuchs
that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 1:8 KJV

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. Exodus 31:3

The exciting thing about committing to meditate on a section of scripture is that every time you set your mind to read the text God will reveal something new to you, and often when the Holy Spirit is guiding you, He will connect the principles you learn to other scriptures to confirm that you are on the right path. That is the case with the verse above.

This past week I learned that Saddleback Church has begun a new program that is titled the Daniel Plan. Considering that I have been studying and meditating on the book of Daniel and seeking insight, I decided to check out the program. After reviewing the first lessons of the material, I realized that the Daniel Plan was a diet plan being taught by three world famous doctors. My initial concern was that the church might be using non-Christians to lead their followers over a 52 week period, potentially in a wrong direction spiritually; or that these men would be given a position of leadership sanctioned by the church that might eventually lead these believers to the teachings of false religions. After reviewing the material, my personal conclusion is that the program and the teaching are excellent, and are not teaching spiritual principles. My concerns, at least for the moment were reduced substantially.

But that led me to my next question and my next problem. Wouldn’t it have shown much more wisdom to use men who were Christians to lead this 52 week church program; rather than men who are renowned in their field, but who would easily admit they have spiritual beliefs that are clearly not Biblical? Surely, there are many renowned Christian diet, heart, and brain doctors that would have gladly directed this plan and who also meet the Biblical qualifications needed to teach spiritual principles as well. My problem is with the title: The Daniel Plan. My conclusion is that this play on words is misleading people into thinking that this plan is teaching Biblical principles from Daniel. It is actually an excellent health and diet plan; but it has little to do with the teachings in the book of Daniel. The pastor says that he will provide the spiritual leadership, but clearly the three doctors are leading the program and have established the agenda. So you might say; “wait a minute Bob; aren’t you making a big deal out of nothing here?” I don’t think so. The church’s mission is to lead people to Christ, and to train up disciples. When you create a program and then find a scripture that kind of fits the program; and then use that verse as a marketing prop to draw people into the program, that is manipulative and misses the entire purpose of church: leading people to Christ, and looking into God’s Word to see how He wants us to turn to Him as we grow in His Word. To teach the material without scriptural insight actually reinforces the idea that we can reach victory without God’s guidance ... on our own strength. But these three great doctor teachers are the solution to our problem, not the Word of God, you say? Fine, then call it: the Three Doctors Diet Plan ... not the Daniel Plan. After all, this is a church. At what point do we give God the glory for our victory? And how are we to stand with Christ as we turn the power of God up against our challenges? That is what I want to know.

This is the challenge pastor Warren faced when he changed the first principle of his Peace Plan from "Plant Churches" to "Promote Reconciliation." Pastor Rick is leading churches worldwide in solving global issues. This diet plan is proposed as a first step to thinking globally, and in the first meeting the attendees were told the group are a model of the plan to be expanded to many other churches. The Pastor is part of a big plan promoting the idea of many different religions and philosophies coming together in ministry, sharing wisdom, and accomplishing the goal of globalization. A noble cause for many good citizens of the world; but is this the mission of the Christian church? And is globalization in the best interests of Christian Americans? I don't think most Americans would say yes to these plans for globalization. The problem from God's viewpoint would be that the wisdom of men is not God’s wisdom ... it is actually foolishness to God. Men's teachings may have immediate value, but at best they are temporary. “For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” 1 Peter 1:24-25 Planting churches was a fulfillment of the great commission. Promoting reconciliation can be interpreted as another way of saying the same thing. But it’s not really the same, is it? Planting Biblically based churches is an offense to unbelievers, Islam, and other non-Christian religions. Reconciliation could mean planting churches but it is also meant to mean for us to have an inclusive spirit to other beliefs and religions. New Age translation: "can't we all just get along?" What is the problem with that? Nothing, if you are a government, or a business as explained in Rick's three legged stool illustration ... but we are not. My experience is that atheistic men have a habit of rejecting God's Word ... what will the Peace Plan do when unbelievers or Muslims strongly reject Biblical Christianity's definition of reconciliation? If you believe in one, and only one God, as the Bible teaches; it is like mixing oil and water; fire and water; or the truth and lies. It will not work. This is not wisdom … this is foolishness. When one stands up for the truth in this environment, how will those who promote evil doctrines reply to the love of Christ?

God's word says: don't compromise with evil. Can you hear the explosions?

“And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:5-13

“The scribe said to Jesus, "Teacher, that was well said! You've told the truth that there is only one God and no other besides Him!”
Mark 12:32

Can you see how easy it is to confuse and commingle the supposed wisdom of men with the wisdom of God, and then just look at it all as if it is wisdom? Temporary and eternal wisdom are not the same, and as we try to measure wisdom, the two are not even compatible or comparable.

Now let’s consider my original point: “that every time you set your mind to read the text God will reveal something new to you” God spoke to me through the words: “But Daniel purposed in his heart.”
How would you like to be "filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship?" What are the steps we must take to attain the wisdom from above?

1. First, trust Christ as your eternal Savior. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:5-6
2. Next no longer be conformed to the world. God will reveal to you the ways in which you are conformed to the world, and the changes He wants you to make. Prayer and meditation on His Word will reveal all things to you. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
3. Then be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1-2. After you have identified and removed your old worldly ways, you need to be transformed. You need to renew your mind with the truth. This renewal is similar to reprogramming a computer. The Holy Spirit will now guide you as you seek out the truth in the Word of God.

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” Why are these words important? They help make it clear that Daniel was living out all three of the above points. He was unwavering in his commitment to God. He had “made up his mind” (NAS) or purposed in his heart to not be conformed to the world. He was continually being transformed by the renewing of his mind with God’s Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I cannot imagine why Pastor Warren would not teach “Daniel’s purposed heart” as an introduction to his churches Daniel Plan; especially considering his continued focus on the word: purpose. Maybe he needs to read the King James translation more often. It’s not always as hard to understand as some think. In any event, whenever we set goals, resolutions, or go on a diet we make up our mind to do something. Pastor Warren jokingly says he will replace donuts with carrots. Do I ever wish it was that simple? As a matter of fact, on our own strength, or the words of men; ... it’s next to impossible. The Words in Daniel give a Biblical basis for a diet plan; or any of the spiritual disciplines as well. When we have a principle that endures forever, ("Purposed in Your Heart") we know that we can stand on it; and be assured of victory; and that God has given us the victory … not men.

In fact, pretty much everything the Saddleback Church Daniel Plan is advising is outlined in “The Diabetes Reversal Plan” that I have already been following successfully. But let’s not miss the key teaching point here. There is a power in our ability to stand on this guidance given by Daniel’s example that is totally missing in the plans of men. That is the power of God, and God’s Word; ... as compared to your willpower, combined with the words of these teachers. There is a reason Daniel and his friends had ten times the wisdom and power of all of the other wise men who completed the training. They had God guiding them, and working with them, and for them. (Ten times more wisdom, and power) is most surely an understatement. I have tried winning with men's ideas "my way" and the "my way" plan fails most of the time ... and any successes are at best temporary.

Have you “Purposed In Your Heart” ... today?

God Bless you my friends, Bob

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Love One Another

Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing, and he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound. But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him. And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.
Luke 15:25-32

What does it mean to live the Christian life? Four Words: Love God, Love Neighbor.

Jesus more clearly defined loving God when He said: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:7-11

Jesus goes further in Three Words, when He said: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13.


The story of the Prodigal Son gives us deeper understanding on three people: the younger, disobedient, and self-centered son; the loving Father; and the older son. Today we will look at the older son. Jesus uses this story to illustrate the judgmental and prideful character traits that are so easily fallen into by those of us seeking to earn God’s favor and blessings. These traits were also most obvious in the supposedly more spiritually mature religious leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees.

The older son had served his father faithfully, and from a human perspective had every right to be disgusted with his brother for what he had done to bring shame to his father, and the family. You can only imagine his hurt when he came home from working hard in the field, and learned that his father was throwing a big celebration in the younger brother’s honor. Jealousy and anger took control and caused him to act foolishly and disrespectfully to his father; and in an unloving and judgmental way towards his brother. I imagine most Pharisees listening to Jesus explain the story would have agreed with the older brother’s response.

In our world today, it is quite common for Christians to view those who openly sin with contempt, especially those who confess Christ as their Savior. Hypocrisy is one trait that most of us despise … especially when it comes to Christians. This is especially true among unbelievers. How many times have we heard unbelievers quick to point out: "Christians are hypocrites?" But the key point here is that Jesus has made it clear that loving our neighbor is the most important commandment … singular. This is the Law of Christ.

Can anyone disagree that for a Christian to disregard the law of Christ is the greatest hypocrisy possible?

As we take steps to grow in Christian maturity: becoming loving …. like Jesus, is our primary goal. Our natural man has a tendency to get lost in “not sinning” and become guilty of the worst sin of all: a judgmental, unloving spirit. This is typically the result of unconsciously directing the focus off of one's own sins, and onto someone else. We are the only one we can change, not someone else. We must always remember that while we were sinners, and like the prodigal in a number of ways … Christ died for us. And Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” The older son judged his brother and had allowed his feelings to grow into disregard for his brother. The father was joyful because his son was lost, and had been found. The father was loving, the older son was not. If anyone had the reasons and the right to be angry with the prodigal, it was the father. Similarly, our heavenly father has every reason and right to judge and hold us accountable for our sins; but instead, he paid the penalty on the cross for our sins and with open arms invites us all to join him throughout eternity. We must always have the same forgiveness and loving spirit for all. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-5

This is so hard because our mind has not yet been totally transformed and renewed. Once we have a clear understanding of and commitment to the gospel of grace and what the “love of Christ controlling us” actually means, then our new man will begin to unconsciously follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. We need to meditate on the character qualities of Jesus Christ, and His Spirit will transform our minds to follow the leading of our Lord and Savior.

The older son was following his feelings and old self-centered ways when he argued with and disrespected his father. Like the Pharisees, the son was defining sin by outward actions, rather than inward attitudes. He failed to recognize that it is the inward attitudes that result in the outward actions and sins. The brother was actually appealing to his father; “I am the one worthy of celebration, not the prodigal, and that the father was ungrateful for his work and faithfulness.” The brother’s focus was on building up himself, and giving the prodigal what he deserved. The repentance and forgiveness of his younger brother never even entered his mind. He chose isolation and suffering over reconciliation and restoration. He was most likely concerned that his inheritance might be in jeopardy.

A primary problem here was that the older son had a mindset that was based upon good works, rather than loving one another. Many Christians fall into the same trap. They are quick to point out the error of the works based non-Christian cults; but like the Pharisees they have fallen into a religion of good works. Many hope to earn blessings from God; and as a result of obedience merit eternal life. Unfortunately, that is not possible. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24. Only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary can save us. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

The Apostle Paul further clarified these truths in Romans: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6 and another favorite of mine: Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love does no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10.

Jesus, our Heavenly Father offers us forgiveness and salvation through grace, not works; and promises peace, joy, hope and mercy to all who trust in Him. Our mission is clearly defined: "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."
Colossians 3:12-17

God Bless you my friends, Bob

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Rainbow Connection

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant
I am making between me and you
and every living creature with you,
a covenant for all generations to come:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds,
and it will be the sign of the covenant
between me and the earth. Genesis 9:12-17

When You Are Low on Hope
by Max Lucado

Water. All Noah can see is water.

The evening sun sinks into it. The clouds are reflected in it. His boat is surrounded by it. Water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the west. Water.
He sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent, having found no place to roost. Then, just this morning, he tried again. With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck on a window.

All day he looked for the dove’s return.
Now the sun is setting, and the sky is darkening, and he has come to look one final time, but all he sees is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the …

You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You’ve known your share of floods. Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, stress at the office, anger at the disability in your body or the inability of your spouse. You’ve seen the floodwater rise, and you’ve likely seen the sun set on your hopes as well. You’ve been on Noah’s boat.

And you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed some hope. You’re not asking for a helicopter rescue, but the sound of one would be nice. Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope.

That’s all Noah needed. And that’s all Noah received.
Here is how the Bible describes the moment: “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!” Gen. 8:11
An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.

To all the Noahs of the world, to all who search the horizon for a fleck of hope, Jesus proclaims, “Yes!” And he comes. He comes as a dove. He comes bearing fruit from a distant land, from our future home. He comes with a leaf of hope.
Have you received yours? Don’t think your ark is too isolated. Don’t think your flood is too wide. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.

What do you suppose Noah did with his? What do you think he did with the leaf? Did he throw it overboard and forget about it? Do you suppose he stuck it in his pocket and saved it for a scrapbook? Or do you think he let out a whoop and assembled the troops and passed it around like the Hope Diamond it was?
Certainly he whooped. That’s what you do with hope. What do you do with olive leaves? You pass them around. You don’t stick them in your pocket. You give them to the ones you love. Love always hopes. “Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” 1 Cor. 13:4–7

Love has hope in you.

The aspiring young author was in need of hope. More than one person had told him to give up. “Getting published is impossible,” one mentor said. “Unless you are a national celebrity, publishers won’t talk to you.” Another warned, “Writing takes too much time. Besides, you don’t want all your thoughts on paper.” Initially he listened. He agreed that writing was a waste of effort and turned his attention to other projects. But somehow the pen and pad were bourbon and Coke to the wordaholic. He’d rather write than read. So he wrote. How many nights did he pass on that couch in the corner of the apartment reshuffling his deck of verbs and nouns? And how many hours did his wife sit with him? He wordsmithing. She cross-stitching. Finally a manuscript was finished. Crude and laden with mistakes but finished.

She gave him the shove. “Send it out. What’s the harm?”
So out it went. Mailed to fifteen different publishers. While the couple waited, he wrote. While he wrote, she stitched. Neither expecting much, both hoping everything. Responses began to fill the mailbox. “I’m sorry, but we don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.” “We must return your work. Best of luck.” “Our catalog doesn’t have room for unpublished authors.”

I still have those letters. Somewhere in a file. Finding them would take some time. Finding Denalyn’s cross-stitch, however, would take none. To see it, all I do is lift my eyes from this monitor and look on the wall. “Of all those arts in which the wise excel, nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well.”

She gave it to me about the time the fifteenth letter arrived. A publisher had said yes. That letter is also framed. Which of the two is more meaningful? The gift from my wife or the letter from the publisher? The gift, hands down. For in giving the gift, Denalyn gave hope.

Love does that. Love extends an olive leaf to the loved one and says, “I have hope in you.”

Love is just as quick to say, “I have hope for you.”
You can say those words. You are a flood survivor. By God’s grace you have found your way to dry land. You know what it’s like to see the waters subside. And since you do, since you passed through a flood and lived to tell about it, you are qualified to give hope to someone else.

From: A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado


Like Noah in the story above, all I can see right now is water, but I am convinced that the Lord is in total control of all things, and that it is his will to spread the teaching of His Word. Cheryl and I have decided to begin a month of focused prayer that will bring God's power to bear on this mission and on our personal financial challenges, by following the Daniel model: a month of unaltered focused prayer as discussed in my post: The King's Food Please join us.

The Rainbow Connection

We are convinced that God will send His angels with His message of hope, just as He did with Daniel.  But I have no fear, God has promised us rainbows. We have a covenant. Our promised provisions from God are a certainty. And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:12-17

God bless you my friends, Bob

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Was Blind … Now I See

So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” John 9:1-41

The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Have you ever considered how different your life would be if you were blind from birth?

To be blind from birth is much more severe than being blinded after having seen. Blind from birth gives us no point of reference. As an example, I have been to the pool where the blind man washed the mud from his eyes. It is much easier for me to visualize the pool that someone who has never visited that holy place. There is a picture in my mind's eye. I can see the pool as if I were there yesterday. Of course a person blind from birth could read about a rainbow, or a sunset, or a pool, and he can dip for water, but from that point … the man only has his imagination, and God's Spirit to guide him. I would like to believe that God would give this blind person supernatural sight inside of his mind, but for those who do not know Christ, only darkness? Have you ever even wondered what God reveals to those who are born blind?

Meditating on this story will cause you to ask such questions, and lead you to new levels of thankfulness for the blessings you have. Want a list of things to be thankful for? Pretend you are blind for the next hour ... things of great value will quickly become much clearer.Close your eyes in silence for fifteen minutes or so … now if you multiply that fifteen minutes of blindness 700,000 times, you will have spent twenty years in the blind man’s shoes. Now imagine yourself a blind beggar on a street corner. What would you think if someone came up and put mud on your eyes? I must admit, my immediate thoughts would probably be anger and doubt. Unless of course … I realized God was speaking and ministering directly to me. I submit and follow His instructions and wash my eyes in the pool and … instantly everything comes to life. Can you even imagine? Twenty five years ago, the first morning after my eye surgery … I was amazed at what I could now see without my glasses ... it seemed miraculous to me at the time. The blind man’s experience was a thousand times more miraculous to him, when his eyes were opened for the first time. Can you even imagine the joy that must have filled his heart? I doubt that this miracle has ever been repeated in the history of mankind. Blind from birth, healed without medical procedure or doctors care of any kind? No way.

The man’s explanation was clear and to the point: I was blind … and now I see. The reaction by his neighbors and the Pharisees was first doubt, and then they try to explain the miracle of Jesus away by confusing the reality with their rules. The blind man would have none of that. The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out. John 9:31-34.

The problem of the religious leaders is quite clear. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.”
1 Corinthians 3:18-19.

The Pharisees saw the man’s blindness as evidence of his sin. Jesus clarified that when He said: “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3. This leads me to the most important point of the entire story. “Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. John 9:1-41

The man was blind … but now he sees. This was not only true regarding his vision. This truth also applied to the condition of his heart. The Pharisees on the other hand saw the miracle and disregarded it even when the facts were clearly explained to them over and over by the formerly blind man. Their pride and arrogance would not allow them to recognize the truth or to be educated by someone below them. Instead, they denied Christ and declared; “We are not blind too, are we?” and “We see.” The Pharisees heard the blind man say “Lord I believe” and yet they still rejected Jesus and His miracle.

The message here is that everyone is: the blind man, spiritually.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24. Some see the judgment and free gift of salvation through Christ and believe like the blind man; others see this same truth and say: no to Christ, and like the Pharisees … I have a different belief, they say. According to Jesus, their decision condemns them. The man was blind; and wanted to see, and Jesus healed his eyes as well as his heart. The Pharisees were blind in the condition of their hearts also; but in their prideful denial, they did not see their need for healing, and as a result their spiritual blindness and guilt remains and condemns them.

So the question is this: “who are you; the Pharisee, or the blind man?”

The blind man is not looking so bad off after all, is he? Most of us gladly want to be the blind man. I would much rather be blind from birth, than lost to hell, for eternity. But again the question is: “who are you … really? Have you accepted Christ and confessed Christ; but continue to live for yourself. Are you standing on the fence? Saying I believe, but following your feelings, lusts and pride in your day to day life? Are your intelligence, education, knowledge, philosophy, beliefs, goals, plans, and habits standing between you and God? "I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:16-17 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.”
1 Corinthians 3:18-20

“I was blind … but now I see” means: I am following Jesus Christ and His Word … not myself.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthian 5:14-21

God Bless you my friends, Bob