Monday, September 20, 2021

The Same Forever

One of the greatest hindrances that most people struggle with in the church today is believing whether or not what God says in His Word is for today. Does God really do today what He did through the early church? Is what God did in the early church to be expected in the church today? Well, I want to start by answering YES to both of these questions. How do we know this to be true? Through His Word. Here are some passages of scripture that we must consider...

  • Psalms 89:34 No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. 
  • Psalms 119:89 Forever, O LORD, your word stands firm in heaven.
  • Psalms 138:2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, because your Word is backed by all the honor of your name
  • Isaiah 55:11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
  • Jeremiah 1:12 Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word."
  • Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I do not change...
  • Romans 4:17 Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what didn't exist before.
  • Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful…
  • Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds came into being, and still exist, by the Word of God.
  • Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…
All of the above passages show us something very specific concerning God and His Word. Time does not change Him or His Word! The only thing that we can remotely consider changing for a lack of better words is that God spoke His Word in a progression of revelation to man. In other word, He revealed His will, character, nature, purposes and plan in a progressive manner. This does not change His Word, it is only the manner in which God chose to reveal Himself to man. We also see this in His Word, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:1-3) 

God revealed His will, character, nature, purposes and plan in a progressive manner.though the Old Testament, but now has revealed Himself in full revelation through Jesus Christ. Keeping in mind the above passages, let's look deeper as to what this means. To do this we will consider the following passages of scripture...
  • John 5:19-21 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
  • John 6:38-39 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
  • John 8:28-29 Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.
  • John 10:37-38 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.
  • John 12:49-50 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."
We can clearly see in these passages that Jesus only said and did the will of the Father. He even gets a little more personal as He reveals the unique and special relationship that He has with the Father, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." (John 14:7-11)

The Bible clearly shows us that God and His Word does not change. We also see that Jesus perfectly reveals the Father's will, character, nature, purposes and plan through everything that He says and does. If we read the gospels, we will also find that there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus ever said that what He was doing and saying would ever come to an end or that it would only be for a specific dispensation. On the contrary Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Luke 21:33) Another thing that we can see revealed in scripture is...
  • 1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
  • John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
  • John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 
  • John 10:30 I and My Father are one.   
With all we have seen through God's Word, we can clearly see that the living Word became flesh. His name is Jesus. The Word is God speaking. God and His Word are one. The Word is the will of the Father, just as Jesus, the Word made flesh was the will of the Father. What God says, is. What God says, will become. If He did not want it to be so, He would not have said it nor would He have sent it. The Word is always now, it is a present tense fact because God is always now. Let us simply apply our faith to His Word and watch it accomplish what is was sent to do. Amen...

Monday, September 13, 2021

Believers Are Giants

When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God their faith in God became the biggest issue that they faced. After seeing God's hand of protection while Egypt struggled under the plagues we see something in the scriptures that reveal God's true nature even before Israel began their journey to the Promised Land. First, we see God provision and favor on His people, "Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold. And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians." (Exodus 11:2-3) Next, we see God's desire and power to heal, "He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes." (Psalm 105:37) 

Take a moment to think about these things. Israel spent 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41) were oppressed for 400 years (Acts 7:6) at the hand of Egyptians taskmasters (Exodus 1:11-14). Yet when they departed Egypt they left with the silver and gold of the Egyptians and not one person was lacking in physical or mental strength; none were frail or weak in any way. In brief, during their journey to the Promised Land, God leads them, protects them and preserved them from hunger and thirst, yet their faith or trust in God was little at best. The apostle Paul tells us that during their journey, Israel lusted after evil, some became idolaters, some committed sexual immorality, some tempted Christ and some murmured against God. Paul also tells us that these things should be examples that believers should not follow. (1 Corinthians 10:6-11)

There is one particular account of Israel's travels in the wilderness that I want to focus on. It deals with the twelve spies that were sent to spy out the land. Numbers 13 tells us that after 40 days of spying out the land they returned to the camp to give their report. (Numbers 13:25-26) At first, the spies report sounded exciting, "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit." (Numbers 13:27) This was the report that came from God even before Israel's deliverance from bondage in Egypt. (Exodus 3:8) However, ten of the spies rejected God's report and gave a report based solely upon what their senses understood rejecting God's Word, what He had said, "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." (Numbers 13:28-29) "...We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Numbers 13:31-33)

The results of this bad report were the cries of doubt, fear and unbelief and the idea that being in bondage in Egypt or dying in the wilderness was a better alternative than believing that God was able to give them what He had promised. (Numbers 14:1-3) The sad thing concerning this entire account is that God's will for them was life and blessings not death and curses, (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) and in an unfortunate way, God permitted them to have what they asked for, "And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them,'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you..." (Numbers 14:26-28) Finally, the ten spies that gave the bad report were the first to die, but two of the twelve spies who believed God, Joshua and Caleb, remained alive. (Numbers 14:36-38) Remember, the apostle Paul told us, all that Israel did in the wilderness were examples so that believers do not repeat their mistakes, more importantly, that believers do not live in fear, doubt and unbelief as Israel did.

What giants do you face that seem to be so ominous in the natural that have robbed your faith in such a way that you also give a bad report as the ten spies? I hear church leaders all to often give a bad report that somehow God Himself has brought a trial such as sickness, disease or some sort of trauma into their life or the life of someone in the congregation that they serve. There are several reasons why this happens. I believe the main reason was spoken by the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed because they don't know me..." (Hosea 4:6 TLB) John's gospel reveal an important key to knowing God, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also..." (John 14:7) "He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." (John 14:9) "God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son...who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person..." (Hebrews 1:2-3)

Jesus is God in the flesh. Everything He did or said is an exact representation of the Father's will, nature, character, purposes and plan. (Hebrews 1:1-4) There is not one time revealed in the ministry of Jesus shown in the Gospels that He ever brought a trial such as sickness, disease or some sort of trauma into the life of anyone. As a matter of fact He did the exact opposite, because He was doing the Father's will, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." and "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38) If you look deep enough into the scriptures you will see that God's Plan of Redemption began immediately after the fall of man (Genesis 3:15) and His redemptive plan was progressively revealed throughout the Old Testament until it was fulfilled through the meritorious work of Christ's death, resurrection and glorification.

If the Father's redemption of humanity began at the fall and was fulfilled in Christ and Christ did nothing but reveal the Father's will, nature, character, purposes and plan, how can anyone honestly believe that our heavenly Father would bring a trial upon one of His children especially in the form of sickness, disease or some sort of trauma? The fact is, trials are either brought on by the believer (James 1:13-18) or by the devil (Job 1:6-19, 2:7) not God! God however will permit these things happen because believers still have the freedom of choice plus the devil looks for opportunities to get place in the believers life although Paul warns us not to give him the opportunity (Ephesians 4:27) A trial is a place where the believer rises up as a giant in the land, believes and acts upon God's Word and in the name of Jesus stands victorious filled with joy. (James 1:2).

I myself have prayed the Word of God over a situation many times and believed for the answer only to see things grow worse. Did God do this? Certainly not! I know that I have an adversary that tries to oppose me and sway my faith. (Ephesians 6:12) However, I know that faith is not confessing and agreeing with the problem, but confessing and believing that God gave His Word and the blood of Jesus to overcome every circumstance no matter how large or small the circumstances may be. (Revelation 12:11) Sometimes our prayer may not see immediate results, but it certainly does not mean that God did not hear our prayer or that He has not sent the answer, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15)

The question comes down to, where is our confidence, in ourselves, in the problem, in others or what God said? Are we doing what Jude exhorts us to do, "...I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend (to strive for the mastery) earnestly for the faith..." (Jude 3) You see these things come down to an individuals faith. Have you contended earnestly for the faith, that is believed God's Word without contradiction, without question? Honestly, sometimes what we have asked of God comes immediately but sometimes it doesn't. When it does not manifest immediately, you must continue thanking and praising God for the answer even though it has not manifested. When we thank Him we are acting in faith, believing that His Word is true and that we have what He has promised even though we have no tangible evidence, "Abraham not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:19-22) We are acting like Abraham.

What I am revealing is true faith as the scriptures teaches. We are to believe God's Word even when there is not one shred of evidence in the natural. We believe because God said! This is what makes a believer a giant in the land. This is what makes a believer refuse sickness or disease to ravage their body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is what separates Christianity from every other religion on earth, we believe and act upon God's Word period! "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed and therefore I spoke, we also believe and therefore speak." ( 2 Corinthians 4:13) I want to encourage you that no matter how long you have been struggling with the issues that try our faith in this life, simply go to the scriptures. For in them you will find the solution to every problem. Then do as the apostle Paul said, "I believed and therefore I spoke, we also believe and therefore speak." So speak to that mountain. (Mark 11:23) Call those things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Then begin to thank the Lord that He has not only heard your prayer but has answered it even if you do not see the evidence immediately. Let's do as Abraham. Do not consider the natural although it is real, but "give glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." Amen...            

Monday, September 6, 2021

Laboring Together in Love

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer.

In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church. 

In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters.  

"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17)

Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves to promote the happiness of others. 

So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...    

Monday, August 30, 2021

Revelation Knowledge

Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.Other benefits of strength training are, develop strong bones, control weight, boost stamina, manage chronic conditions and sharpen your focus. It is estimated that Americans spends around $2.6 BILLION! per year on gym memberships. Another type of strength training so to speak is developing the mind. According to statistics, the USA spend approximately $809.6 BILLION per year on education. There is nothing wrong with strengthening our body and our mind, but when the rubber meets the road, both of these areas are limited. How so? Well, if a portion of the body (an arm or a leg for example) does not function then the entire body suffers loss. In the same way, if one of the five senses does not function, then knowledge also becomes limited.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Thessalonica writes, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23) We see that man is not only body and soul (mind, will, emotions and intellect) but he is spirit. Man was made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) and God is Spirit (John 4:24). If man is indeed spirit with a soul in a body then a dilemma exists. The part of man that is most important and needs to be strengthened, the spirit, becomes the part that is most neglected. It's not that we haven't tried to develop the spirit. We had thought that the only way to do this was through religion or religious education. Interestingly enough, most Bible Colleges, Seminaries and Local Churches only teach knowledge and tend to fail at bringing students and or congregants to a place of understanding spiritual things.

The knowledge obtained tends to become the only thing that is important, but again it is limited. This is why the apostle Paul warns us, "Knowledge puffs up..." (1 Corinthians 8:1) Paul was explaining to the church that their knowledge of things had filled them with pride and self-sufficiency, which could lead them to stray from the truth. The knowledge that they had filled their minds with was sense knowledge. Knowledge that comes through ones senses. This is the type of knowledge is the type of knowledge that fills the mind of every person. However, the Bible does exhort the believer to grown in the knowledge of the Father and Jesus the Son. (Ephesians 1:17, 2 Peter 3:18) This type of knowledge only comes through revelation by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables the believer to use the wisdom of God to use knowledge wisely.

Jesus tells us, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17) and "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." (John 16:13) Here Jesus tells us that the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit would come and take Jesus' place after He had fully completed His work of redemption. Unknown to most, the Holy Spirit does not communicate knowledge to the intellect, except in rare cases, but communicates with our spirit. Until we know this fact and act upon it, for most there will be no development of faith nor will we come into the knowledge of our rights and privileges as God's children.

We must also keep in mind that the spirit will never grow and be strengthened in the things of God until it receives eternal life through "confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the heart that God raised Him from the dead." (Romans 10:9) By new birth, the Holy Spirit recreates our human spirit and imparts to us the Father's nature. With the Father's nature comes the Father's wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is the process by which the believer uses knowledge wisely. In fact, God imparts His entire nature within the believer (2 Peter 1:4). We may not have worked fully with the Holy Spirit in developing His nature in us, nevertheless it does exist within our recreated spirit. This is why it is so important for believers to grasp the fullness of redemption.

It takes faith to come to the place where our spirit become so developed that it dominates the soul and body. Once this happens I believe that the believer will walk in the same limitless life that Jesus walked in His ministry on earth as the Son of Man.    

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Real Person

In Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica he reveals an important piece of knowledge concerning the make up of man, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Modern psychologists do not understand this so they do not really know man. Their problem is they cannot get past the realm of the senses. We see that man is a spirit with a soul inside a body. We see this further carried out when we look back to the creation of man, "Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26) Finally, we see what being created in the image and likeness of God actually mean, "God is Spirit..." (John 4:24) So, behind the sense ruled soul (mind, will, emotions and intellect) is the real person (man), who is spirit.

Most of the church for centuries has been unfamiliar with this fact. They have not understood the full depths of the new creation, that is, mans recreated spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God..." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) What an incredible fact! Just think if believers could learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in their recreated spirit and keep intimate fellowship with the Father, there would be no limitation to where we could go in spiritual things, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..." (Ephesians 3:20)

The Holy Spirit was given to believers to guide us into all truth or reality, "when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13) However, the Holy Spirit has a difficult job at best trying to lead believers who live by their reasoning faculties. Therefore, truth seems to allude them and they tend to never move beyond the regeneration experience. Peter refers to the recreated spirit as, "...the hidden man of the heart." (1 Peter 3:4) For many, this has a somewhat literal meaning in that the recreated spirit within the believe is concealed rather than seeing it as an open avenue to receive all of the inheritance that we have now through Jesus Christ,  "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ..." (Romans 8:16-17) and "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." (Colossians 1:12)

The reality of the new creation, the recreated spirit of man was foretold through the prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-28) Notice the extremes that God said that He would do. He was not going spiritually heal man as some have been erroneously taught to believe. Nor was He going to fix-up or renovate man. No, He said, "I will put a new spirit within you; I will put My Spirit within you..." God said that He was going to give man a new spirit. He is going to make a new man out of him. This is the reality of the new creation.

What a wonderful promise that has come to pass on all who are in Christ. The new creation means that the old sin nature has been taken out and replaced with God's divine nature. Man is no longer called the "old man" but the "new man, created in the image of God in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) As a sinner, the old man could not approach God, but now through faith in Jesus Christ, God has performed a miracle. He has recreated man. The old man has stopped being and the new man has taken its place. The "hidden man of the heart" is now born by the very Spirit of God and has access to "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3) Now that we know these facts, we should see just how imperative it is to develop our recreated spirit by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. In doing so, believers will walk a daily victorious life knowing that "God always leads us in triumph in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Monday, August 16, 2021

No Time For Cruising

Cruise control (sometimes known as speed control or auto cruise) is a system that automatically controls the speed of a motor vehicle. The system takes over the throttle of the car to maintain a steady speed as set by the driver. Most automobiles today come equipped with this convenient feature. When this feature is engaged at the desired speed (hopefully equal to or lower than the legal speed limit) the driver can ease back and relax a little. The driver doesn't have to watch the speedometer nor be uncomfortable due to his foot putting constant pressure on the accelerator.

For many in a local church today, cruise control has become their approach to Christianity. We press the accelerator of faith, love, obedience, service, etc., until we have brought our life up to a certain level (speed). The gauge that we use to do this is mostly based upon the standard of Christianity of those around us. We don't want to lag behind others because we want to be as spiritual as they are. However, at the same time we are not motivated enough to forge ahead of them because we wouldn't want to be different. We just want to blend in with the level of Christianity of those around us. In other words, we do not want to rock the boat.

Once we have arrived at the desired level of Christianity, we set the cruise control. Now we can sit back and relax letting our desired level of Christianity take over. We don't have to watch, as it were, the highway signs of God's Word that empowers us to exercise godliness as well as transforming us more and more into the image and likeness of Christ. This attitude is also called comfortable Christianity. It is the place where we can become satisfied with what we have and all we need in Christ. Although some may disagree, there is another term that describes the same, "Fire insurance Christianity." It's the idea that one has enough Christianity (which is based on an individuals own standard) that will keep them from going to hell.

The sad thing is, this is not the Christianity of the Bible. Our comfortable Christianity has led many in the church down the path of apathy where our concerns are focused upon our kingdom and not Gods. It has caused many to have faith in the world rather than God. What I mean by this is that we are quick to work overtime (there is nothing wrong or evil working overtime) to make ends meet at the expense of family, rather than really believing, "my God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) The same attitude causes many to call a doctor before even considering calling upon the Healer, "Jesus Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24) (There is certainly nothing wrong with most doctors. They help people and even save lives) Divorce among those who attend a local church is not much different than that of a lost world. This type of Christianity has also opened the door for the twisted thinking of atheists to convince many in the church that there is a separation between church and state when in fact we have the privilege of the freedom of religion not freedom from religion.

Jesus said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) He also said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:18-20) We cannot seek the fullness of God's kingdom and obey the great commission if we are only seeking our kingdoms. The apostle Paul said, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him..." (Philippians 3:7-9) Is this how we value our Christianity? If not, we should. This should not be the apostle Paul's desire only, but for all believers.

Next, Paul says, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." (Philippians 3:10) This also should be the aspiration of every believer. We should desire to have Christ formed in us so much, that His life working in and through us has a profound affect on all those around us. Finally, Paul goes on to say, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind..." (Philippians 3:12-15) Notice in Paul's conclusion he says, "Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind..."

It's apparent that any believer who lives by cruise control, comfortable Christianity is an immature believer and needs to be brought to these truths so their life can be transformed into the image of Jesus not conformed into the image of the world that Jesus Christ has freed us from. But for the mature believer, our thinking concerning "growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18) should be a never ending desire to want to be like Christ. It's not about not having enough time, money or education. I believe it comes down to one of two things.  Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) and or "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8) It comes down to a heart issue or an issue of the devil's deceptions to keep Christians weak, sickly and faithless.

So, let us once again turn this world upside down by letting Jesus to be formed in us and being doers of the Word not hearers only...      

Monday, August 9, 2021


In Paul's letter to the church at Galatia he makes an interesting statement, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Paul's desire was to see believers come to a place in their Christianity to where they were "Imitators of God." (Ephesians 5:1) His desire was not his own, but the very desire that God has for all of His children. In Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth he says the same thing in a different way, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (I Corinthians 3:18) Again, we see the Lords desire for His children. But what does it mean for the believer to have Christ formed in them or to be transformed into the Lord's image?

The word transformed is the same as the word metamorphosis which means a complete change of physical form, character and or appearance.When most think of metamorphosis, they think of the transformation of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. That is exactly what happens to a person who is born again. The transformation of a child of the devil into a child of God. It is being "delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love." (Colossians 1:13) The moment a person is born again they are immediately in Christ. Paul tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Although all of this does take place the moment one is born again, the work of transformation is a continuous process in every believer. This work is called, sanctification. In short, sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer that progressively transforms them into the image of Christ. The more the believer gives himself to the influence of the Holy Spirit, the more the glory of Christ is reflected in their life, moving them from one degree of glory to another. It’s also a work of grace. Our part in this marvelous work is our cooperation and response to the Holy Spirit. According to Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, it says,  "Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18) Believers should experience a continuous filling of the Holy Spirit, that is, being transformed from glory to glory.

To be like Jesus should be the goal of every believer, but we must remember it is not about us working hard in our own strength trying to stop the old nature from having place, it simply comes down to what Jesus said,  "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34) and "Jesus said, I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (John 5:30) and also "Jesus said, For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." John 6:38) As we see, to be like Jesus is to always seek to do the will of the Father not because it is an obligation, but as the Psalmist said, "I delight to do Your will, O my God...” (Psalm 40:8) as well as "Jesus said, I always do those things the please the Father." (John 8:29) Our attitude towards doing the Fathers will should be one of delight desiring to please the Him. Simply put, it is, “…Faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, who is responsible for the transformation process? "...The Spirit of the Lord." The verb being transformed is passive which means that something is being done in us, not by us. Again, we come to the place of faith, depending upon and yielding to the Holy Spirit working in us transforming us. In his letter to the church at Thessalonica he tells us, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) In other words not only is God Himself doing the work from the time we are born again, but He wants to complete the process of sanctification in our whole spirit, soul, and body, so it is up to the believer to let Him do the work.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians he tells us, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6 ) If we give ourselves to this good work of the Holy Spirit in us, He will continue do the work until we either leave this life for the next or Jesus returns, which ever comes first. The transformation process of the Holy Spirit in each believer comes down to the value that one places on their relationship with God and His Word. It also takes faith to believe that God wants to reproduce Himself in every believer. Paul tells us that the believer is to, "…work out your own salvation…” (Philippians 2:12 ) To “work out” is an imperative mood, which means it is a command. It is in the present tense, which means that the action is continuous. It is also in the passive voice, meaning that we have something to do, but the main action is done by the one sending the message, that is, God Himself. Being transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory is simply letting God reproduce Himself in us. So, let go of all the things that prevent you from experiencing more of God's glory and let Him complete the good work that He has started in you.