Friday, September 20, 2013

Encouraging Power 2

And  Jesus answered Paul as follows: 

for power is perfected in weakness”  
2 Corinthians 12:9

Now think about this. God has promised you His unmerited favor in regards to whatever it is that you are praying for. Have you ever made decisions that turned out to be wrong for you? Of course you have. 

Well Jesus knows the difference between right and wrong for you in each and every circumstance.

If we have faith in Him he will lead us down the perfect path. Can you imagine what would happen if everything turned out for your best for the rest of your life? How great would this be? We have all heard: If you were to start with one dollar and double it every day for thirty days you would have $536 million dollars. I know that in our human context this seems impossible, but it is clearly not impossible. Even from an atheist perspective, there are many atheists who have become billionaires without calling upon the all knowing omnipotent power of God. Now if we considered multiplying measures of spiritual wisdom instead of dollars, how rich in wisdom could we be?

Well with Jesus, His best for you will always win out. The question is: will we see His best for us, or become doubtful and lose faith when we don’t get what we want from a worldly point of view? For us to lose faith is the goal of Satan, our enemy.

How wise and powerful will you be in the eyes of everyone around you as you walk in tabernacle with Jesus, full of His Grace and Truth? Jesus who knows the beginning and end and everything in between at every moment is talking here about His power becoming perfected in you. Now while we are still here the power of His Grace is beyond measure. This gives clarity to why The Apostle Paul said:

Paul was fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ, what good could come from this ongoing attack? In Paul’s case possibly his greatest danger was pride. Here was a man who had literal conversation with God. Paul was clearly prideful prior to meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus blinded him in order to get his attention, and then gave back his sight so that Paul could complete His mission. Pride is subtle, and much more deceptive than lust. There are many ways a Christian can become controlled by pride.

Paul had been allowed to see the wonders of heaven. There was always the danger that his many followers may set their eyes on him rather than Christ. But here we know that Paul was in danger of elevating himself as well. And if anyone was a target of Satan, it was Paul.

All sin will fall within two categories lust or pride. Paul was in special danger. He was a natural candidate for the false adulation of others and to become puffed up due the special mission and revelations God was continually giving him. We do not know the nature of the attack; but pride was at the heart of it. This could have been someone else teaching a contrary gospel, and who was leading some away from the Messiah. Many others think it was a physical affliction.

What was this thorn in the flesh that God allowed Paul to continually struggle with? Was the attack a literal messenger of Satan?

On a personal level, I have come under literal personal demonic attack. This attack was visual, verbal, and physical. Needless to say, I was deeply frightened. Although this attack happened over thirty years ago, I remember it as if it were today. I seldom mention this because it is so unbelievable for many people, and I do not want to give an unbeliever a reason to doubt or disregard my teachings.

I can only say that the words that I yelled at the top of my lungs brought me instant deliverance and relief. The words; “you have no power over me, in the name of Christ be gone” came into my head and out of my mouth, and the three way attack ended instantly. This was surely a clear testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit for me.

But the enemy is deceptive, and we must be careful to not see a demon under every rock. We do not want to appear foolish to skeptics. Subtle attacks of the enemy are much more likely than the one I experienced. It is more likely that Paul was being attacked by someone who was influencing others away from the gospel and revelations that Paul had received.

 In closing, there is one clear message from Jesus that we must never forget ... it is this: 

For a growing Christian weakness will most likely be a way of life.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness 2 Corinthians 12:9

God bless you my friends, Bob

Encouraging Power

And  Jesus answered Paul as follows: 

for power is perfected in weakness”  
2 Corinthians 12:9

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 And most anyone who understands the gospel would explain that grace is God’s free gift of eternal life. 

Webster’s definition of Grace is God’s unmerited favor. Those who believe in Jesus Christ receive eternal life unconditionally and eternal forgiveness and salvation is not as a result of being a good person.

The apostle Paul further clarifies God’s grace when he writes:  “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” Romans 11:6 

In other words, being a good person or doing good deeds is not a condition to receive God’s free gift. This is  where the conversation usually begins and ends. People either accept or reject this eternal Truth.

 “the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” -- 
In Jesus, "dwelt among us" means: to tabernacle with us or to encamp with us. And what does it mean when the Bible says that Jesus dwelt with us and that He is full of grace and truth? He surrounds us with His grace and truth. This is the perfect balance between Truth and Grace.

When we begin to think that Jesus is not answering our prayers, we can be encouraged that he is dwelling with us moment by moment. And that He is truth, and will always guide us in the eternal truth and in the way which is best for us eternally. Although quite often our prayers are regarding our life here and now in the flesh, and run contrary to that which is eternal.

The eternal truth is always known to Jesus … His grace will cover us when our desires are contrary. In any and all times of trial, sin, affliction, or if we come under spiritual attack ... His grace is sufficient for us.

It is clear that the power of God’s grace applies to all of our problems here and now. Paul says that he has come under attack by a messenger of Satan, and he prayed three times for God’s deliverance from this thorn in his flesh.

And  Jesus answered Paul as follows: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness 
2 Corinthians 12:9

We can learn much more about the fullness and power of grace from the answer that Jesus gave to the apostle. Jesus did not remove the thorn and the ongoing attack from the messenger of Satan.

God allowed the enemy to continue tormenting Paul in order to help Paul not become filled with pride, and to allow for Paul to receive God’s power and to have this unlimited power become perfected in him. 

Does the power of grace rule over our sins as well as our afflictions? Here is an exciting point. Most likely Paul did not clearly describe this thorn so that it would become clear to us that no matter what the thorn is; that the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for each of us as well.  The grace that will be provided if the problem is not removed will be of greater value to the individual than the desired answer to his prayer would have been.

So what does this mean? If I do not see the answer my prayers, should I stop praying and just believe in His sufficiency? No, we should continue to pray understanding that he not only is with us and hears us; but that he will always provide what is best for us. Continue to pray for God’s help and while at the same time giving thanks for the sufficiency of grace that He provides as well. Pray that the Lord will make His reasoning clear to you as He answers your prayer; and that He will disclose the ways in which His power is being perfected in you.

Yes, I understand the free gift of eternal life provided by grace through faith; but what is the benefit of grace here if my problem remains? That sounds like a good question … don’t you think?

This is where faith enters the picture. If we have faith in the promises of the all knowing, ever present, all powerful Creator of all things … His power becomes our power. From a human perspective, Jesus reverses the order of things. Power is perfected in weakness. And when I am weak, then I am strong. This is a Paradox Principal. The daily affairs of man are no great challenge for Jesus who created all things, walked on water, and raised Himself and Lazarus from the dead.

Click here to read; Encouraging Power part 2

God bless you my friends, Bob

Monday, September 2, 2013

Knowing God

"And this is life eternal, 

that they might know you the only true God, 

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." 
John 17:3

Yesterday, my pastor gave a message filled with wisdom.

He focused on the difference between knowing about God ... and knowing God.

Some time ago, I was speaking with a man named Clint who had come to confront me about witnessing to his wife. Clint had been going to church religiously for over 40 years, and he knew a lot about God; but it quickly became evident to me that he did not really know God. When I asked him to read certain scripture, and what God was saying to him, his answers were contrary to the Bible. When discouraged after giving several wrong answers, he said; "now let's put the good book away and just talk man to man." I persisted with the Bible and he came under conviction. He then went home; studied the scriptures, and a few days later he prayed to receive Christ’s free gift of eternal life.

I heard the testimony of a pastor who had been preaching for over 25 years and while studying the scriptures came to understand that although his head was filled with information about his religion … he did not really know God.

Here are questions for each of us to consider: 

“Do I really know God or do I only know about God?”
And also: “How do we come to know God better?”

As usual Jesus is perfectly clear in these verses.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1-14

“Jesus answered and said to him, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  
However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” John 16:12

Here are key points we must come to understand and believe … to know God.

1.    We must believe that Jesus and God’s Word are Eternal Truth.
2.    We must be born again.
3.    We must believe in Jesus Christ alone.
4.    We must believe that Jesus is the only way, the Truth, and the life.
5.    We must believe the Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth.

 All of these truths are not conditions to receive eternal life; but knowing God, and Jesus Christ on a deeper level is a whole other issue. All religions and teachings that teach contrary to these Truths are false. Regardless of what these religions call themselves, they cannot reject the truth and be of Christ. And being tolerant of other religions is not the same thing as pretending other religions are true, or of value.

Here’s a good question. Is it possible to reject some teachings of the Bible and still be a Christian? 

With God all things are possible; but God’s word is clear. There is a price to pay for pride and arrogance. We cannot continually stand on the teachings of men, and at the same time know God.

We can know and be assured of eternal life only through Jesus Christ.

And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Okay you might say, I believe all of this ... but how do I know God and not just know about Him?

In order to know God, we should not look to the teachings of the world, and the religions of men for answers to the deeper truths. Instead we should measure men's teachings against God’s Word to determine the Truth. God knows exactly what we need to know, and when we need to know it. 

He will reveal Himself to us. 

He promises us knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. 

Jesus promised to send us a helper, the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all Truth. Jesus is God and He is Truth. The Holy Spirit will help us to know the Father and Jesus Christ through prayer and meditation on His Word. And meditating on God's Word is not like the meditation that false religions teach. 

We must stop and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit ...
as we pray and meditate on the scriptures.

When we truly know God, our beliefs are contrary to, and will put off those who have rejected Jesus Christ; those who follow other gods; and also those who confess Christ but compromise on the validity of false religions, or teachings that are contrary to God’s Word.

It would be impossible for me to know and believe in Jesus Christ, while at the same time claim that Hindu, Buddhism, and Islam are not false religions; or that evolution is true and creation never happened; or that aborting a hundred babies every hour is acceptable. These are oxymorons.

If you are a confessing Christian and those who do not believe in Christ do not reject you and your words … this should be a red flag to you.

Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” John 15:18-20

If you know God, your views will often be considered strange, repugnant, peculiar, and ridiculous to unbelievers.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  2 Peter 2:9-10

God bless you my friends, Bob