Wednesday, August 31, 2016

GODLY LUST

When we use the word Lust, it is usually in a negative sexual context. There are also people, places and things we can lust for, but again a negative association is usually applied. There seems to be an account in Scripture where the word Lust takes on a more Holy aspect.

James 4:5 in the King James Version says, "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" The original Greek word used here for "lusteth" is epipotheō (ep-ee-poth-eh'-o) meaning to yearn; to dote upon, that is, intensely crave possession (lawfully or wrongfully); earnestly desire; greatly long after. Romans 1:4 declares The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Holiness - "and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord." Now, with this understanding, this lust must be a healthy, Godly lust.

Two more translations I will share with you. First, the New International Version, then The Living Bible version.
  • "Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?" (NIV)
  • "Or what do you think the Scripture means when it says that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, watches over us with tender jealousy?" (TLB)
There are some questions that loom here. What could The Holy Spirit be jealous about? What does He intensely crave, earnestly desire, or greatly long after? What does The Holy Spirit lust after? The answer is you and me. 

This answer should come as no surprise, but we should not take it for granted either. The Holy Spirit's passion for us reminds me of the great passion The Father showed toward the prodigal son while still far off. The Holy Spirit lusts after you so you will lust after Him and His ways. Just a verse before, in James 4:4, we read the confirmation of this - 

  • You are like an unfaithful wife who loves her husband’s enemies. Don’t you realize that making friends with God’s enemies—the evil pleasures of this world—makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy the evil pleasure of the unsaved world, you cannot also be a friend of God. (TLB)
Is it any wonder then that God shares a title or name of Himself - Jealous - with Moses in Exodus 34:14?  

Mr. Rick Renner is where I got the inspiration to share this topic with you today, he finishes it up by saying - 

"James used the word epipothei to describe the Holy Spirit’s intense desire to possess us and fill us. This word emphatically means the Holy Spirit wants more and more of us. When it comes to you and me, He can never get enough! 

Likewise, the Holy Spirit desires to possess you — all of you. This desire is so intense that it almost appears excessive compared to natural, human lust. He is absolutely focused on changing you, empowering you, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, and helping you fulfill God’s plan for your life.

The amazing thing is that the Holy Spirit dwells within each of us as believers, thinking of and concentrating on each of us all at the same time! He is always looking for ways to help us in our walk with God. The Holy Spirit is consumed with a flaming, passionate desire to fill us up with His love and affection and to possess more and more of us.

I encourage you today — let the Holy Spirit love you! Let Him have full rein and control of your life. Let Him exercise His authority in you! Let Him flood you with His divine desire. Every intention He has for you is good, holy, and pure. How can you go wrong by surrendering your life, your mind, your family, your spouse, your children, your business, your ministry, your actions, and your behavior — everything you are and everything you have — to the Holy Spirit? You can’t go wrong. In fact, this kind of surrender is the only right thing to do that will matter for all eternity.

The Holy Spirit “lusteth” for you. Meditate deeply on this truth, and you will come to understand in a more profound way than ever before what it means to have the Spirit of Almighty God Himself passionately loving you and yearning for you. The Holy Spirit will never be satisfied with shallow fellowship; He is in constant pursuit of true, deep, intimate communion with you. So make a decision that from this day forward, you will start satisfying the Holy Spirit’s passionate yearning for you to know Him intimately on a deeper, more sustained level than you ever have before. I promise you — it will make a difference in your life!" (August 2016 Teaching Letter, email)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MOVING FORWARD

Philippians 3:13-14

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (King James Version)

Ever had a serious gut-check about your life? You can read/hear Paul having one in these verses. But after he has his time of reflection (good and bad), he chose to forget the past (everything) and Move Forward with God's new goals for him.

There are some keys that will help us Move Forward in Christ and see more of His plan in our lives. After experiencing a victory or moment of serious life reflection, the attitude that we have not arrived will go a long way. Paul says, "I count not myself to have apprehended:....". In the New International Version, the verse states - "I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it." The original Greek word used for "count not" (logidzomai) means to calculate. So, my paraphrase of this part is - I do not calculate to have arrived.

Remembering past goals that The Lord has set for you and seen you through is healthy, especially for testimonial purposes. However, to continue focusing on those victories will slow your progress Moving Forward with God's plan for your life. Look at what Paul says, "...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before...". "Some say Paul was forgetting his past life of sin, but he had put that behind him long ago. Now he was putting his past successes and accomplishments behind him. Do you know why he had to do this? Because stopping at past victories is what keeps most people from moving into future victories. They become so fixated on what they have done that they lose sight of what they need to do - and that keeps them from moving forward to possess new territory in God's plan for their lives!" (Rick Renner, p.627, Sparkling Gems From The Greek)

The last installment says, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The New International Version states it this way - I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Salvation is not touched on here. Paul is already a Christian serving The Lord. This verse talks about pursuing goals or marks that God has ordained with the notion of reward in Heaven for obedience and accomplishment(s). 

The pitfall here is that we often compare our God-given goals, our life-track, targets, marks and so forth with others. Even our successes and accomplishments we do the same thing. In his second letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul said, We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12) I like how Mr. Renner conveys this idea - "...the real issue is how we 'measure up' to the goals the Lord gave us. When we stand before Jesus, He isn't going to judge us by how we did in comparison to others. He will judge us for how we did with the assignments He gave us to do." (p. 626, Sparkling Gems From The Greek) 

Paul had a lot of time on his hands as he was imprisoned in Rome. Reflection, soul searching and new goal setting with God sure looked like what was depicted from Philippians 3:13-14. Paul could have chosen to consider all of his accomplishments up to that point in his life and just stop, quit, retire - whatever you want to call it. However, Paul viewed serving Christ as a forever lifestyle, not a passing job. 

I encourage the Chrisitan Family to make the most of your gut checks and your soul searching with The Lord. 
  1. When you reflect on your accomplishments, appreciate the victories, but don't stay there God has more for you. 
  2. Check your attitude (I have not arrived). 
  3. Obtain the right mindset. Remember His mercies are new every morning and some goals are too (forget those things behind, reach forward to the things before). 
  4. Place one foot in front of the other (press toward), with a prize in mind (nobody dishes out rewards like God). 
Then you can paraphrase like I do and say - 
  • "I do not calculate to have arrived:  I forget my old goals and accomplishments and focus my attention and energy on future objectives, moving toward the target and prize which Christ provides."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

MOMENT OF PAUSE


1 Corinthians 10:13
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."


Pritchard Paraphrase
All the temptations that you have succumb to are nothing new to humanity. At the same time, God always does His part - He will not allow the amount of temptation to be to much. God will provide a way out so you can take the temptation and manage it wisely ("endure it").

God's Part -
  1. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear
  2. He will also provide a way out
Notice our part - "endure it". We do not receive a "Get Out of Temptation Free" card. Step one of our part is to have The Counselor (The Holy Spirit) within you to guide during all moments of your life, especially the temptations. Step two is to act on His discernment or prompting in a given situation. If you are tempted to go right and the Holy Spirit confirms - go left - you had better move left.  

Have you ever walked up on a situation that demands an about face (turn around)? I have. In some cases the temptation is to get involved in order to help out the situation (i.e. break up a fight, diffuse an argument, etc). In some cases you may be tempted to explore areas that you have never been but your gut and The Holy Spirit says, "Don't do it!" (i.e. cheat on an exam/husband/wife, lie, etc). Many times the best policy is to avoid at all costs.  Rick Renner says, "Negotiating with sin usually leads to falling into it rather than conquering it, so it's better for a person to just get up and get away from the situation as quickly as he can! This is why Paul was constantly telling the early believers to 'flee' evil influences (see 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corithians 10:14, 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22)." 

The temptations are going to come. However, three aspects of the Believer I wish to magnify here as helps for these times are: First, the Christian is a Temple of God - The Holy Spirit. We carry around His presence wherever we go. We should remember this and act like it. Second, God does not merely call us conquerors through Paul in Romans 8:37, He calls us "more than conquerors". We need to remember this, claim  it and live it. Thirdly, Inquire of The Lord. If the time presents itself - consult His Scripture, pray and speak with a trusted man/woman of God about your situation. Otherwise pray silently, listen intently and discern quickly.

The phrase "more than conquerors" in the original Greek is translated as hupernikao (hoop-er-nik-ah-o). This word/phrase means to vanquish beyond, that is, gain a decisive victory. When anyone accepts Christ as their personal Lord and Savior they have made a decisive victory in their life. "...in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Through Him who loved us first we are able to make the most decisive life-statement about sin in our life when we say "No" to the temptation to go on living without Christ in our life. 

However, the verse in context is talking about Spirit-filled living and according to the first half of this passage - Romans 8:35  - the believer's life will have trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and/or sword. But fear not! "...in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." 

Another Scripture that guarantees trouble is John 16:33. However, in the same breath it guarantees the overcomer of the world - Christ.  With such an awesome Savior, with such a decisive Victor - why wouldn't we consider Christ's Presence, Promise(s) and Counsel when faced with any wavering decision, especially one we deem a dilemma (like a temptation). 

The original verse - 1 Corinthians 10:13 - gives me the impression that Paul is speaking to someone at the church of Corinth or a group at the church who are under the influence of temptation but have not crossed the line and sinned yet. I believe the Holy Spirit, through Paul, wants to encourage us to realize God's presence with us all the time. He wants us to stand on the promise(s) of victorious living in Christ. He desires for us to capitalize on that "way out" that He promised. Plus He desires to be consulted. I hear The Holy Spirit wanting to instruct these believers and all believers to develop a physical, mental and spiritual Moment Of Pause when tempted. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TENTS, TEMPLES AND TABERNACLES: LIVING WITH GOD

For the believer, God's Presence and Provision are displayed in front of us, behind us, on either side of us, above us and within us.

God describes His presences in front of us with a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105)He depicts Himself as one who protects on either side - A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Psalm 91:7) God also portrays Himself in at least two places as your "rear guard" - Isaiah 52:12 and Isaiah 58:8Then in Deuteronomy 32:11-12, Moses poetically illustrates God as an eagle that hovers over its children. "...like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him." Even from above us the Holy Spirit is present and covers.

John calls the Holy Spirit the Parakletos. This is one who comes alongside another, not only in the sense of physical presence but as a helper throughout life too (John 14:16)

Observe the manifest presence of God throughout history and you will find He desired to be with His creation, especially His own image - us. In The Garden of Eden, God walked with Adam and Eve "in the cool of the day" (Gen. 3:8). With Abram (later Abraham) the Lord would periodically appear before him to speak (Gen. 12:7). God spoke to Moses face to face (Ex. 33:11). For the rest of the people God's presence was found in The Tent of Meeting for a while, then The Tabernacle of Moses, then Solomon's Temple. After God came and tabernacled in the flesh - Jesus - the next place God would manifest His presence would be highly personable.

One place Paul refers to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is Ephesians 3:17, where he wrote, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…being rooted and grounded in love.” As Rick Renner explained in an email publication I subscribe to - That word “dwell” is the Greek word katoikeo, a compound of the words kata and oikos. The word kata means down, and the word oikos is the Greek word for a house. When kata and oikos are compounded, the new word katoikeo (“dwell”) carries the idea of one who permanently resides at a specific location. Thus, Paul’s use of this word implies not only that Christ establishes His physical residence in a faith-filled heart by the Holy Spirit, but also that He is at home and permanently settled there. That location has become His dwelling place, His temple, His property, His place of permanent residence— and He has become a perpetual, never-to-move-out Occupant!

Remember in Hebrews, He said He would never leave or forsake us. However, for many Christians, remembering that Christ makes His home within you by the power of His Holy Spirit is a challenge. We get caught up with life and it's minutia. Our focus is taken off of The Companion we have to empathize with us and The Counselor we have to advise of our next steps. God's presence, provision and counsel are always present and available. Godly responsibility and accountability of our mind, body and soul is our part. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 provides the imagery and instruction needed - 

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

When Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth the second time, he mentioned if you are already a believer in Christ then there has been a transformation that has occurred. A former mindset, behavior pattern and attitude about things has been abolished and replaced with a new Christlike one. The verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

It is a wonder with God's presence surrounding me and infiltrating my every fiber that I doubt Him and continue to rebel at times (sin) against Him. I understand, as a transformed new creature my mind is continually being renewed (Ro. 12:2) and will therefore always be a work-in-progress. A bed of roses lifestyle is not promised after accepting Christ as Savior. But doesn't life get somewhat easier, have more direction, contain more victories? I mean just as Christ promised persecution for believers because He was persecuted, I hear He also has some other beautiful and powerful promises for us to cash-in on now.

I believe this challenge to Living With God is two-part: the enemy and our poor decision-making. The devil, knowing he now does not have you within his kingdom, is going to his Plan B - Kill You. You see, Plan A was to steal you away from God. When you accepted Christ as your personal savior, that plan was thwarted. Plan B is to kill you and me in every aspect of our lives - our hopes, dreams and all that is dear to us. But just remember James 4:7 - "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." The devil's third tactic, to destroy you, will come from every direction. He will even attempt to destroy the memory of you. However, the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

The original word for "resist" in James 4:7 is anthistēmi. This word means to withstand; stand against or oppose an enemy as in the expectation of a long fight or many fights. Just as we are to be persistent in pursuing God for His will and way in our life, we are to be persistent in staying in the fight and standing our ground with God's Word! And there is power and Holy Confidence knowing that my body is the tent, the temple, the place of tabernacle with The Holy Spirit where I can acquire the right amount of help just when I need it (Psalm 46:1).

The other fight is against ourselves. We need to make better decisions. In our private life, in our family life, in our public life - our decisions will shape us and our future. We cannot afford for knee-jerk reactions. We cannot tolerate fast, inconsiderate methods of choosing the next major step in our lives. The process needs to be slowed down. The gears need to be shifted down in this drag race world we live in. And when we finally gear down slow enough to consider all of our options in a given situation - don't forget The Lord! 

I feel deep within my spirit that as a nation America has lost The Art of Inquiring of The Lord! This is so sad when He is only a breath away. He is right inside of us. I can almost hear Him clearing His voice to get my attention so that I might seek an audience with His Majesty and seek His counsel - before moving on any decision.

In the past people had to go to a physical place - a tent, a temple or a tabernacle to experience God's manifest presence and seek His provision. Christians have His presence inside and the availability of His counsel and provision at every breath. Believers don't have to go to church to experience His Presence, they have Him already! It brings new life to the verse - "...in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) I encourage you, don't miss out on considering God in all things. Use the Holy Spirit as your Filter in all things. Slow down and restart the art of inquiring of The Lord. Realize God's Throne on earth is in the hearts of His Believers. This is what it means to be a tent, a temple, a tabernacle of God. This is what it means to live with God.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A LETTER TO GOD


Dear Lord,

I realize why our bodies get sick. I understand that from birth we are in a process of decay because of the nature of sin, until you return and manifest your victory over sin, death, hell, sickness and the grave. However, since you immediately healed people who had faith in you, why do you not heal not only me at this time with my issue, but other Believers that have had worse problems - immediately?

Lord for the other Believers and myself, it is not about having faith as a mustard seed - we have that covered. I and other Christians have had the faith of the coco de mer seed (Palm tree seed), which according to the internet is "the largest seed in the world... It can reach about 12 inches (30 cm) long, and weigh up to 40 pounds (18 kg)." Yet, you still allow for the ailment to continue. Sometimes you allow for the issue to persist a long time. I have even seen you permit the circumstance to drag on and then end in death - all to a Believer with great faith and a prayer support group that was diligent about seeking you for healing.

Lord, you have paid the price and a hefty price at that for our healing. You healed people immediately before you paid the price by their faith in you. Then you paid the price and now ask us to continue to believe by faith in you and the price that was paid for our healing. Yet, when I and others cry out to you for immediate results and you do not respond - what are we to think? You say trust you Lord, but when it keeps happening over and over and over again in my life and others - I doubt.

I have heard sermons/teachings on this Lord. How sometimes illnesses may be used to place us on our knees and get us into more prayer. I have also heard that travailing through a sickness can be some sort of lesson to be learned. I don't get this Lord, especially for me and others who daily walk, talk and serve with you.

You must allow these things to occur like this Lord. I believe in you as Sovereign - The in control God. The concept of thinking of you as otherwise is scary and I refuse to go there - my faith and hope battle that mindset. Lord, please help me understand you and your thoughts and process on healing. Oh, and please heal me Lord. In your name I pray, Jesus, Amen.

Love,
Me