Tagged: Christianity

WHEN WE FORGET THAT GOD NEVER FORGETS

Like many of the psalmists we all have wrestled with the thought that God has forgotten us. 

“If God cared He would do something.”

“Can’t you see what I am facing?”

“If something doesn’t happen, I’m going under.”

In Psalm 77, the writer asks:

7Will the Lord reject forever?  Will he never show his favor again?  8Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  9Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Many times throughout the book of Psalms the writers question God’s awareness of their distress or situation.  It’s human nature, sinful nature, to consider that God is unconcerned about our present condition and future consequences. 

God is never absent or far away, despite what we believe.[1]

The writer goes on to recall the faithfulness of God in times past.  This is helpful for followers of Christ because we too have a history with God.   Because of this, a question can be raised that must be honestly answered:  Based on the past, who is more forgetful, me or God?
forgetful

 

The next time you forget that God never forgets remind yourself of the same truths that the psalmist recalled:

1.       REMEMBER WHERE/WHAT GOD BROUGHT YOU FROM

In verse 10 the psalmist confronts his questioning by remembering the delivering power of God:

“Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.”

I never want to forget how God has changed my life.  Even though now after fourteen years of serving the Lord some of those things that held me captive in times past are very distant, I am determined to recall Gods deliverance from insecurities, addictions, and hopelessness.

Like the lyrics to a song reads:

“When I think about the Lord
How He saved, how He raised me
How He filled me with the Holy Ghost
How He healed me to the uttermost
When I think about the Lord
How he picked me up
Turned me around
How He set my feet on solid ground”

Being reminded of God’s love inspires gratitude and praise which is key to pressing through a trying time or personal conflict.

2.       REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE

Next, the writer begins to recall all of the great works and miracle the Lord has done throughout His life:

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  12I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

It is encouraging to know that God doesn’t change[2].  This means we can take comfort in knowing that if God did great wonders on our behalf in the past he will still do great things on our behalf in the present.  He even knows our future![3]

Tough times will inevitably come to our life; it’s a fact of life even as Christians, maybe more accurately, especially because of faith[4].  In the midst of these times we have a choice:  Forget the faithfulness of God or remember that He never forgets us. 

 

He is here for you.[5]

 

What trials has God delivered you from?


[1] Psalm 46:1

[2] Hebrews 13:8

[3] Jeremiah 29:11

[4] 1 Peter 4:12

[5] Psalm 46:1

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WHEN FOLLOWING GOD MEANS STAYING PUT

According to Matt. 16:24 Following God seems more like a dangerous walk than a stroll in the park, despite what some may lead you to believe.

Many of us tell God we will go anywhere or do anything for Him.

following God

And no doubt after 14 years of trusting in Jesus there have been many opportunities to go places and do some neat things.

But have you ever felt like Jesus has placed on hold the adventure and wants you to stay where you are?

Look at this verse:

38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39 NIV)

Is it possible that the man was a little disappointed?

The following three truths will be helpful in deciding when and where to go:

1. Submit To Authority.

The man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to go home.

Of course we should submit to Jesus but also to those who are in authority in our life.

2. Be Obedient.

The man did just what Jesus told him to do which leads us to the next point.

3. Examine The Fruit

Are you producing fruit where you are?  If so, it could be a good indication that you should stay there.

So, how does God help you to keep a fresh perspective on “home”, wherever that might be?

PRIORITY AND PRACTICE OF THE BIBLE

The Bible is a tremendous collection of numerous letters and writings, written over a vast span of time, that is comprised into one consistent book. The Bible comes from the Greek word biblos which literally means books. In addressing scripture I hope to address the usefulness of it and why it is necessary not just for the Christian but for all people. I will categorize the application of scripture into two main areas: PRIORITY and PRACTICE. In doing so I will cover the importance of reading the bible, how to learn from it, and why it should be obeyed.

PRIORITY: Reading the Bible

Anyone who is sincere about growing spiritually must be willing to consistently spend time in God’s Word by reading and hearing its writings.

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). It has now been translated in many different languages, one of them being English. We also have various types of translations. All of the translations can be categorized into two main types of translations: Exact and Dynamic

An exact translation means that it is word for word from the original text intended to be a literal transcript. A dynamic translation seeks to translate the main idea of the passage in a thought for thought manner.

The Protestant Bible contains a total of 66 “books”, and was produced by about forty writers, but has only one author, God. It has historical significance due to the place and time in which it was written.

The discipline of reading the Bible can be difficult to initiate if we do not understand why the book was given to us, however its purpose is discovered within its own text . Most importantly, the Bible is spiritually significant because of its ultimate reason for being written. Consider the following passage:

“29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:29-31, NIV Bible)

Belief in Jesus is vital to life, earthly and eternally. The Bible tells us that Jesus is/gives life. Because Jesus came to give us life we can determine if we are experiencing this “life” the Bible promises is available by considering what our life resembles. We can conclude if we are living the life that Jesus intended to give by examining the differences between life and death and answering honestly which they relate to more.

Understanding that God’s Word is life to the reader provides good reason for it to be read. The Bible tells us it is inspired by God . In Greek the word used is theopneustos which literally translates: God-breathed.

There are basic elements of life that we cannot physically do without; air, food, and water. These things sustain our body and allow us to function correctly. We find in scripture that these same elements are represented in the personhood of God and are life to our spirit. Consider that scripture is breath , bread , and water . The Bible also tells us that Jesus gives water and that He is bread . We also read that Jesus is the Word . Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the Bible and the Bible is the perfect embodiment of Jesus. When we read the bible we are not just learning something but experiencing Someone, God.

If God’s Word is breath, bread, and water for us, and if Jesus is the Word, how can we expect to know Him or become like Him in image and character if we do not read the Bible?

If you consider how long the human body can physically last with food, water, or air it is easy to connect how vital reading the Word of God with understanding should be to all people. Simply put, you will be unsatisfied if you do not read God’s Word. There will always be uneasiness within without proper knowledge of God; this only comes through the Word .

PRACTICE: Learning the Bible

If one is going to truly learn a skill or understand an idea it will require practice of those things. In Romans we are instructed to “offer” our bodies so that we might live as a sacrifice unto God, one in which we are being transformed and able to discern Gods will . This is referred to as sanctification. We understand that God is the one who completely cleanses and sets us apart ; however, there is the act of obedience to what God calls us to that allows this work to take place. How can a person experience this work without the daily application and practice of what is read? This is a cleansing work that is for our good. Though, potentially painful at times it is an act of love so that the fruit of our life will be more productive and available to all who surround us. In the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology the author writes:

“Sanctification is seen to be a continuing process throughout a Christian’s lifetime. It is not something negative. A man in not considered holy because of the things he does or not do. Virtue cannot be judged by the vices from which a person abstains. There must be a positive conformation to the image of Christ. This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace…”

The believer in Jesus Christ should understand salvation in three ways or tenses: Past, Present and Future . When a person trusts in Christ He saves them from past sins and from the penalty that those sins warrant. Salvation from our past sins is referred to as Justification. We are righteous before God, the price has been paid, and the believer is justified before God because of Christ. In the above paragraph taken from FPT the writer is specifying the difference between the past and present tense of our salvation as he writes, “This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace” meaning the believer is already into grace, he is righteous. However, because we live in the grace of God we can grow in it, or be sanctified. Sanctification is the saving work of Christ that frees the believer from the power of sin and death on a daily basis . And lastly, trust in Christ will save the believer from the presence of sin when Jesus comes back a second time for His people . This is known as glorification and is described in 1 John:
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

A sobering couple of sentences are found in John 8:
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

This passage is startling because Jesus makes it very clear who are true disciples: those who abide or hold fast to His teachings found in the Bible. Abiding in the Word of God is vital to one’s growth and understanding of how the words of the Bible should be applied. There are tremendous benefits mentioned for the one who will do so: 1) they will discover truth and 2) they will be free. Freedom requires knowledge of what is true. One can read this passage as an if/then series of events; if we will remain in the word then we will know what is true. If we know what is true then we will be free.

In a book I once read the writer described a conversation that he had with a drunkard. The two were discussing the bible and the issue of freedom. Suddenly during the talk the drunkard rebutted that he was free to drink; to do whatever he willed. To this the writer agreed but also asked the question, “Are you free not to drink?” For the one who is growing and learning the ways of God the beauty and power of His grace is displayed in the freedom to overcome, think differently, and to pursue what is honorable.

CONCLUSION
The Bible informs us of a God who saves, enables us, and helps us to become more like Him. The practical application of the Word of God reveals His faithfulness and the truth of what is written. Because of this emphasis and focus should be placed upon reading and learning it. God offers to humanity grace that goes beyond the present and contains power to redeem eternally, saving from the power of sin in every way.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, Foursquare Media, 2008

Ethix: Being Bold In A Whatever World, Sean McDowell

New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

New International Version Study Bible, Copyright 2002 by Zondervan Corporation

http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=267

http://www.apbrown2.net/web/TranslationComparisonChart.htm

https://doylevan.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/the-specifics-of-gods-will-for-my-life/

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2315&t=KJV

http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=523

WHAT EXERCISE REMINDED ME ABOUT SPIRITUAL GROWTH

It is a great feeling after any amount of time has been spent in exercise.  There is a saying posted on the bulletin board at the gym I go to that reads: “No matter how slow you go, you’re still beating the guy sitting on the couch”. 

Image

Recently while exercising it hit me how comparable physical fitness and spiritual growth were.  Three things came to my mind as I thought about it:

1.  There will always be an EXCUSE.

If you are anything like me than you can relate to the amount of times I have made excuses or come up with other things to do (and I mean ANYTHING) rather than exercise.  We have a way of making things that are not important seem as if they really are if it will help us get out of what we do not feel like doing.  Or, in other words, are to LAZY to do.

It applies to spiritual disciplines as well.  How often do we choose other things rather than spending time in prayer or reading the Bible.  Even now as I’m writing I closed my mandatory reading on theology to start writing this blog.  Did I perhaps choose to write this blog to get me out of reading… maybe… ; )

2.  Accountability is NECESSARY.

There are certain days of the week that I know I will run into friends at the gym, they’re always there and it is encouraging to me.  We thrive off of each other.  We want to see each other reach our goals.  We can take advice and learn from one another. 

In our spiritual walk few things are as important as accountability and Christian friendship.  It is difficult to go against the current when you are the only one but if there is a team surrounding you the destination is much more attainable.  Accountability keeps us on course and true to our word, and His.  Nothing will catapult a person quicker and farther than when they allow their self to be surrounded with people who care about them and are like-minded.

3.  The more consistent you are the STRONGER you become.

Significant strides can be hard to notice unless viewed weeks or even months at a time when it comes to changing ones physique through physical fitness.  However, over time one will notice that they can run farther, run faster, and even handle more weight.  They have become stronger.  This comes through consistency and dedication but the results are well worth it.

These kinds of strides are possible spiritually as well.  No one should want to be the same person they were ten years ago or to be the same ten years from now.  This type of change is referred to in the church as “santification” but all that means is  we are progressively being made into the image of God in character and love.  This can be a painful process of self-sacrifice and self-examination but the fruit of our life will be much sweeter. 

Let me know of any similarities you see and how you plan to become stronger this year.

 

God bless.