Saturday, May 25, 2013

Our Sufficiency

And such trust we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.

Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. 
2 Corinthians 3:4-6

This verse speaks to a major point of confusion for many Christians. We are trained in the world to be responsible and that we are somehow in control of our own destiny. But for Bible believing Christians we are not to think of anything as of ourselves.

This is another Paradox Principle. And this is a key reason that prayers of thanksgiving are so important. God does not need our prayers. Our prayers are for our own understanding and benefit. When we thank God for all of the blessings in our lives, we are much less likely to become confused, and somehow come to believe that we are the reason for our success.

We must remember: “For all men are like grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24-25

The things and accomplishments of the world are temporary … the things of the Spirit are eternal.

As “able ministers of the Spirit” Christians must not confuse the teachings of the world with the teachings of the spirit. The world does not acknowledge anything it cannot prove or see. The world does not believe in absolutes such as: "all and forever". The world does not accept testimony to miracles in the Bible. The world views these miracles and Truths as allegories.

By God's grace born again Christians have miraculously been given the Holy Spirit to guide them. When we follow Him, He will make the Truth known to us through His Word. Many Christians miss this Truth and end up following their feelings, their logic, and the teachings of men and the world. Their walk and witness becomes hypocritical.

When we attempt to understand this “treasure we have in earthen vessels” We must have faith in the miracles, and “the alls”, and “the forever’s”. This is our treasure: the miracles, the testimonies, and the gospel; along with the Holy Spirit making these Truths the righteousness of God in our daily lives.

“But our sufficiency is of God.” Two miraculous stories come to my mind when I read the verse above. In the Old Testament, God provides daily "manna from heaven" to the Israelites wandering in the desert. And then there is the miracle where Jesus feeds 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. Certainly the people in those miracles believed what they experienced. They became followers instantly. Their sufficiency was in God, and not of themselves. They witnessed and believed the miracles that they were experiencing. 

There are hundreds more miracles like this where God provides rescue and provision for His people. Why is it … that so many who have received Christ have such shallow belief? Well, they have not experienced these amazing miracles, you might say. 

How about this answer: But not yet following the ministry of the Spirit ... many of these fall away, and that may even include many of those who witnessed the amazing miracles. 

Some may even have yelled ... Crucify him!

What if I were to suggest that we are in the midst of a much greater miracle at this very moment? Well that is exactly what I believe to be true.

This same God who provided the manna, and who fed the 5,000 is here now in the form of the Holy Spirit and has come into us, and is providing treasure … our sufficient provision, wisdom and grace beyond our imagination, on a moment by moment basis. And this sufficiency is not only to 5,000 people but to millions of people simultaneously worldwide. 

Now that is a miracle. 

It is easy to understand why so many do not believe. By nature men believe what they see and hear and experience. But we are "of the Spirit." We are now eternal. 
Only God and His Truth can make these miracles clear to each of us.

This “trust I have through Christ toward God” is absolute. My life here and now … is eternal. I may fall away, but my faith will never end. The Holy Spirit will always lift me when I stumble, and put me back on the right path. The wisdom and accomplishments of men will always come to an end; the flowers will always fall off; but the Truth of the Lord, and the Gospel of Christ, and the leading of the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind … will always abide forever and ever more.

We must continually thank God for the never-ending sufficiency he has given us. 
There is not one good thing going on in your life that is not a result of the blessings God has provided you.

I was recently talking with a long time atheist friend about how our lives have played out. And I said that he certainly has lived an enjoyable life. He responded by saying; “yes … you are right, I am blessed”. If I had pressed him on the source of his blessings, I am confident he would have said; hard work and maybe … good fortune. 

 My friend believes "when I die I am dirt."  And in his flesh he is correct. 

"The grass withers and the flower falls off". 
But the real question for him is: where is he spiritually and eternally? We are: "of the Spirit."

And we know that hard work and good luck cannot guarantee good fortune, good health, or long life. But even if one has all of those things … it is only a matter of time before the flower falls off of all of the accomplishments of all men.

Only the promises of the Lord; the Truth of the Lord; the Gospel of Christ; and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds … will always abide forever and ever more.

Talking in alls and absolutes is very encouraging; but sometimes it's a bit intimidating … don’t you think?

I’ve got to go. 
It’s time for “best buddy” day.

God bless you my friends, Bob

Friday, May 10, 2013

Discerning Treasure

You are our letter, 

written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 

being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, 

written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Now in order to find the treasure we discussed in the previous post, I will assume a few conclusions here. These points are critically important.

First, you need to have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and His free gift of eternal life.

Next, you must understand the nature of the treasure. It is inside of you. It is God’s eternal Truth.  And you receive this Truth through His Holy Word by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Now having established a starting point, we need to understand what this all means. When we receive Christ’s free gift of eternal life, we receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised. "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 John 14:16-17

This promise from Jesus was given in response to a question from the one we have come to know as “Doubting Thomas” as follows:

The Holy Spirit will guide us in being transformed and renewed day by day, and being grounded in the Truth of Jesus Christ.

But why is it that millions of professing Christians have never applied this truth in their lives? There are a number of reasons.

   1. Although they are in the world, but no longer of the world … they have been trained by the secular world and accepted worldly false teachings as truth.

   2. As in the times of the Pharisees, they have allowed the religious teachings of men to come between them and God’s Truth.
   3. They have been blinded by the god of this world and his false teachings.

   4. They are still following their lust and pride; rather than the Holy Spirit.

Consider for a moment that the gold coins in the picture above each represent a measure of Eternal Truth. Now we must test each belief or view so as to not be conformed but rather be transformed. All we then need to do is follow God’s Word by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Continual prayer and meditation on the specific text is critical here.

Pray for guidance, meditate on the Word, and listen. The Truth will become known to you. Once again, we are to test each belief or view with the understanding that we are: to not be conformed; but rather to be transformed.

There are an unlimited number of Truths. When we allow false beliefs to become a stronghold in our thinking … we become blinded on that particular point. One false conclusion can infect our thinking on a number of eternal Truths. 

A great example is “the theory of evolution.”  To accept evolution we must reject the Creator God who as Christians we have also received as our Lord and Savior ... and along with that reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves us for eternity. Do we wonder where the phrase Christians are hypocrites was born?

Here is another key point: Jesus said; “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” What does this Truth say to religions, denominations, and other teachings of men? God says: "The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God" There is a big danger here of following the teachings of men; rather than God.

We need to challenge and test everything we have come to believe by the eternal Truth of God’s Word. False beliefs are a barrier between us and the leading of the Holy Spirit. As Americans we are committed to freedom of religion for all. But that does not mean that these false religions are valid; or that we should trust the teachings of those who have been misled by them.

Sending our kids to wrong university could negatively impact their entire life. And this Truth includes supposed Christian universities. Think about it. A professor at a Christian university who is not guided by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word can easily lead many sincere young Christians in the wrong direction … especially if they are not calling upon the leadership of God’s eternal Truth and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Now let’s look back at Warren Buffett. What is the value of his counsel in finding this eternal treasure of God’s wisdom that all Christians already possess? ZERO. Although extremely valuable in the ways of the world, Buffett’s advice is most apt to lead us away from God’s Treasure ... and possibly to the treasures of the world.

Don’t get me wrong, Warren Buffett or Peter Drucker have great ideas on how to succeed in the world. But  God’s Word tells us that we are Ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation …  “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 As Ambassadors we are now foreigners here on earth. Jesus makes it clear that the world will hate us, and the things that we believe.

Why are Christians still chasing after temporary treasure that Jesus rejected when they have eternal treasure readily available to them? 

They are still under the control of their lust and pride.

God bless you my friends, Bob