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Tuesday
May022017

Will He Find Faith On Earth 

Luke 18:8 “ I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

When I think about what Jesus said in this passage about faith it made me sit back and ponder this. The context of the verse was about the persistence of a widow.  She was relentless in believing she would get justice from a judge who was impartial to her need.

I love the word relentless - this woman just never gave up! Jesus used this story to illustrate that faith is about the persistence of not giving up.

In a world where more and more of our faith culture is under water it doesn’t surprise me to hear Jesus talk about the disappearance of faith. It seems that our society (including many Christians) is becoming secular. In the American culture we still have a high percentage of people who believe in God and go to church, yet at the end of the day do they have a relentless faith in God? I think Jesus was very concerned about finding people who were relentless in their faith in God, much like this woman whose persistence would not be deterred. 

Walt Disney had a saying that reflects an illustration of faith when faced with decisions.  He said  “jump off the cliff and grow wings on the way down”. Now most of us wouldn’t even get close to the edge let alone jump into the unknown. Living by faith is somewhat like that. We really don’t know how our faith in God will procure what we are asking Him for, yet our faith isn’t in the results of our asking - it is in the person to whom we are asking. Having persistence in faith will develop the kind of person who will not give up believing in God and persist in the pursuit of Him.

God does not give up on answering prayers, He simply wants to see how persistent we are in believing in Him. When Jesus asked if He would find faith on earth when He returned, it means just that! Will faith survive the cultural wars we are facing today?  Christians are told they cannot ignore culture and we have to work within the norms of culture in order to gain the attention of the masses. Yet, it is not culture that wins the war, faith does. When faith is not compromised, and it takes on the nature of the woman in our parable, then you know Jesus will find faith on earth when He returns.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Wednesday
Apr262017

Live To Be Trained

It is easy to think that once you have an education, or you have mastered a craft, that you no longer have to train.  That is just not the case. My electrician told me the other day that he has to go to school every year to be certified, which is not uncommon for most professions today. Most licensing agencies have a requirement for licensure so that their profession maintains a standard of excellence that is not based on knowledge from yesterday, but based upon today’s latest discoveries.

This is true for your spiritual life, too. You cannot rely on your past experiences or knowledge to maintain a vibrant impactful life for Christ. People today need to be able to establish foundations for life from the scriptures, and training is a key to this process. 

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, useful for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.…

Truth never changes it remains constant, but the way it gets communicated will change due to the cultural norms of the day. For example, our culture rarely uses hymns today to illustrate God’s faithfulness, but videos and contemporary music have an ever-growing impact upon our world. I have talked to many people who are not finding a great deal of value in just sitting and reading the Bible, and I have to question them and ask why? Too often they say they are too busy to read, and then they say, “well I don’t get much out of it, so why read it?”  They will add that they get what they need from the sermon on Sunday. A sermon, like a blog, can be helpful, but it’s not a substitute for reading God’s Word. If you allow others to do your spiritual thinking for you, you are only getting secondhand information, and that information has a high probability to never be remembered. On the other hand, some people study the Bible only to get information they need to lead a Bible study or preach a sermon. Again, this is a secondary way to read the Bible. As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16, we are to read the Bible for personal instruction, personal conviction, personal correction, and for training to be more like Christ in righteous and truth. Paul goes on to say that the reason for this is so we are made complete and fully equipped to do good works in representing God.  What Paul is saying is that we are to read the Bible for training, to be certified in continuing education. When reading the Bible for training, you have to ask yourself several questions:

1.     What did I learn about God?

2.     What did I learn about myself?

3.     What did I learn about how to live? 

People will tell you all the time to read God’s Word, but reading it and allowing it to train you are two different things. I have found that God’s Word has not trained many Christians. They may know what the Word says, but they have not let that Word train them. Knowing something and being transformed by it are two separate things. If we are to have our minds and hearts transformed by Christ that means there is an exchange between what I was to what I am becoming because of Him. If His Word is not training you every day, you may be spiritually stagnant by maintaining yesterday’s revelation. There is nothing wrong with knowing what God did for you back then, but if that is all you have and He hasn’t been training you since, you have a problem. 

This blog today is about encouraging you to read the Bible as a training manual. To get better at anything you have to stay at it; be consistent and persistent in learning God’s ways. I have been a Christian for 47 years and I am just beginning. My electrician asked me the other day where do I get the material I write about, and I told him, my training in God’s Word. The greatest athletes in the world, the best of the best, still train everyday. Why? They want to be even better. 

How about you? Do you have a desire to know God better, to know yourself better, and to know how to better live out your life? 

Then read the Bible as a training manual and see how much more you will retain and practice. 

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Sunday
Apr232017

Unbelieving and Perverse Generation

Luke 9:41

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

When Jesus called his generation an unbelieving and perverse generation, He wasn’t being very politically correct. In fact He was being direct and honest. His followers/disciples were not too aware of what His mission was, and how it was going to be fulfilled. They were so enamored over His power to control the demons of his day that they never focused on His mission of the cross. That mission was totally off their charts. In fact it never was in their understanding until much later following His resurrection when they started to get the idea of why He came. I don’t think it is much different today. Are we a believing generation who follows Him?  If you were going to assess what you know about the Church what would you say?  Have we perverted what it means to follow Him?  Is His Kingdom the most important motivation in our lives?  Do we think about miracles and how they can be possible in everyday life?  Do we think about how to discern our times and find hope in knowing that God has it all under control?  I wonder what criteria Jesus would use to call our generation perverse?  He saw His own disciples having a one-track mind, and it wasn’t a mind whose best interest was focused upon Him.

The 21st Century Christian perversion:

Leaders lead in terms of strength instead of weakness.  Yet it seems to me that God says when you are weak, then you are strong.  But nowhere do we have seminars on weakness. No one wants to be known by their weakness, yet it is in this weakness that God is best seen.  So most of the time our leadership is dependant upon some kind of success in order to be popular and successful. We have to have a model of a mega-church in order to gain any attention worthy to minister to the masses. This could be a perversion of what it means to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him.

The attitude of repentance is often relegated to people who for the first time have come to Christ. Yet I have found that most seasoned Christians are some of the most needy people when it comes to repentance.  People who have been around the church culture have forgotten that repentance isn’t just for the first timer at an altar. If you have had relationships in the church, the chances of you needing to ask for forgiveness is great, and what is even greater is the need for repentance.  The most hardened, least self-aware people on the planet, are long-term Christians who have been around the block spiritually. They act like old people who have been married a long time - they know they are married, but they don’t act like a couple.  I have found that repentance has significant relevance for people who have been saved for 25 years or more, because they have become indifferent and unconscious of their behavior that may not be pleasing to God. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but some of the rudest, uncaring people I have ever met in my life, have been Christians. They have been mean and completely unaware that their behavior is not Christ-like, and they don’t care who they hurt as long as they get their own way.  Surprising isn’t it when Christians act like this that they forget who they represent.

Perverse generations are also those people who follow Christ because they fell in love with something about Him that makes Him and His ways attractive to them. Perhaps it’s the fire insurance against hell that is provided with belief that makes them want to be a Christian. However, many of the types of people I alluded to in this blog are people who are probably believers, but they are not believers who have been disciplined in His Word, nor do they understand their purpose of how to live in Christ. There are Christian leaders who specialize in specific areas of ministry and are quite prolific in these areas, but they do not have much understanding on how to live out other areas of the gospel.  There are people who have discernment ministries who can tell you the next Biblical event that will take place, yet will not love their neighbor. We have worship leaders who can lead a congregation in worshipping the Lord, but fail to live out a moral lifestyle.

We have pastors who can peach and lead a congregation with methods like a CEO, yet do not know the Lord.  My point is simple: you can have a position in the church, you can be known by many as a Christian leader, you can have a long-standing reputation as a Christian, and yet never be disciplined as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

It was the behavior of those who followed Jesus in His day that provoked Him to call them unbelieving and perverse generation. It is our behavior today that would invoke Him to say the say thing. It doesn’t matter what you know, or what you have experienced as a follower of Christ, if you don’t understand that being a Christian isn’t about you, your accomplishments, your aspirations, or your pedigree. It is about your sacrifice for Him and if that is not happening then you are an unbelieving and perverse generation.

Sorry to be so blunt, but it is time that we call Christianity what it has become: “Ichabod, the Lord has departed.”  He has departed because we have not come to the altar of belief where we leave ourselves and pick up the new self in Christ.

This is a hard word to digest and many may not receive it, but the greatest stumbling block to revival in the Church is our unwillingness to become self aware and practice the art of repentance.

Spend some time thinking about what was said here and ask God to help you digest for yourself.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr192017

Conservative People Are Not Exempt As Sexual Predators

Fox News has had it problems in the last few years with some of their top executives and now their top cable news anchor being accused of sexual harassment.  In fact, as all the news stories reported, between O’Reilly and Fox News Corp they paid out 13 million dollars worth of settlements to the accusers.

Just because you have the right conservative political view, it doesn’t make you a saint. In fact, just the opposite is true. When I attended a Christian University years ago and it was a very conservative school, but the immorality among the student body was surprisingly high. At that time, I had just given my life over to Jesus and I thought everyone at the school was like me, hungry for God, eager to learn, and morally right.  I was so surprised by what I experienced that I thought I was going to the University of Minnesota.  It was my first experience with religious folk who worship God on Sunday, but during the week they lived as if He didn’t exist.

I realize that temptation is everywhere, and the more famous and wealthy you become, the more you have to sweeten any temptation. This is why conservatism is not the answer. It has some foundational truths that often bring Christians into the fold, but don’t let it fool you - conservative politics can be as slippery as the left is when it comes to immorality.

You can change your point of view, you can even change your political party, but if you don’t have a change in your heart, you are still a scoundrel controlled by sinful behavior regardless if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Sin has no respect for persons, it can corrupt the most liberal of Democrats, and it can corrupt the most conservative of Republicans.

There was an old saying in the church where I became a Christian:  “Your sin will surely find you out!”  I found that saying to be so true, not only in my life, but also in the lives of notable people around me who seemed to be so right, but ended up so wrong. You never know how another man lives his life in secret, and it is those secret lives that will ruin and stain your soul. I have had the privilege of counseling hundreds of people in my career, and I have heard it all. Nothing today shocks me because I have come to realize that without a heart change brought about by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, there is nothing out of bounds as far as what people will do.  The grace of God brings us to Him, and it is His grace that changes our hearts.

We will always see the famous fall, and the righteous sin, but it is by the grace of God there go I. 

May God have mercy upon all of us, and may we cry even louder tonight:, “God change my heart that it may know you in a way that I will never again willingly sin against you.” 

King David had the same idea following a moral failure as he writes in Psalm 51:

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Now that’s a prayer!

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Tuesday
Apr182017

God’s Desire To Restore

Ezekiel 36:22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

24 “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

It is in the nature of God to restore.  It is one of the characteristics that define who He is. No matter who you are or what you have done, His nature is to restore. In fact even before God brings judgment, He warns those to whom judgment will fall.

Amos 3:7 “Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.”

God does not want any to perish, not even the wicked.

Ezekiel 18:32 “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”

God brought Israel back into the land and they again became a nation like He promised. This sign is the most significant sign that proves we have entered into the last days. After 2000 years, Israel is back in the land, never again to be removed from it. Why?  Because God promised it!

Amos 9:15  “I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God.”

God’s nature is not to abandon but to restore. Will God abandon?  Sure, when He is ignored and He gives people over to their own ways, and allows their wickedness to be their judge.  It is much like the saying, “if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.”  If you live apart from God and His ways, then you will be turned over to your own evil ways and you will die because of those ways. That is what Romans 1 tells us will happen when people ignore God.

However, Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Christ became God’s ultimate act of restoration. He restored all people through a one-time act of obedience unto death by Jesus Christ. This act of restoration became the underpinning of what God does through Jesus Christ. He forgives and removes sin, which in turn, restores a broken relationship with Him. That is why the Bible calls this the free gift of God, no man can earn it, inherit it, or be born into it.  This free gift has to be received by every person by an act of the will to trust God for the gift. It is then an act of receiving it, believing in the gift, and then acting upon the gift as a pardon and as a result this privilege is granted to you. Jesus provides a pardon of all your sins, and He grants you the privilege of entering into an eternal covenant with God for all eternity.

God’s great miracle of restoration was Israel - a sign to all who believe that He is a God who fulfills His promises. Israel is a sign that we can trust God and that He will never let us down or renege on the promises we read in the Bible.

Let’s face it: God is a restorative God. He wants none to perish, but all come to a saving knowledge of the Savior.

Take some time today and reflect on the restorative acts of God that you see in the Bible. How about the restorative acts you have witnessed in your own life, or in the lives of the people around you?

God’s emphasis has been and always will be about restoring people to Himself.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

 

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