Thursday, May 26, 2005

Calvary Apostolic Tabernacle Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Swim or Drift?

Psalms 139:14-16

Salmon begin their lives in the fresh water rivers of the frigid Northwest. Not long after they’re born they begin a long swim down stream. Their destination is the ocean. It is here that they spend the majority of their adult lives. Then something strange happens. Scientists don’t even understand how, but at some point the adult salmon begins to swim back home. Though they may have swum thousands of miles from that original river location they head back home.

That’s right! They swim upstream, against the current of the river. They swim with determination, leaping out of the water to overcome waterfalls and other barriers impeding their progress. They also face predators like bears and people.Incredibly, though they’ve been gone for years many of them return to the exact spot where they were born. After an incredible effort the fish spawn and then die. The new salmon are soon born and repeat the process.

Does that describe you? Does your life have a destination? Are you going in a specific direction and are you willing to face all the obstacles to get there? If so, you’re like the salmon that possess a God-given determination.

Then there’s the jellyfish. There are numerous species of these weird-looking little creatures. Some of them are tiny. Others have tentacles that can be measured in feet. Jellyfish are born in the ocean and die there too. They have limited movement, but never really use that ability to go in any particular destination. They’re moved along primary by the wind and waves and tides. They drift about stinging and surviving. Occasionally one will wash up on the beach and become a danger to passerbys.

Are you more like a jellyfish than a salmon?--- You just kind of float from here to there. You’re carried by circumstances or other people’s plans, but you really have no particular destination of your own. The difference between salmon and jellyfish is the same as the difference between people. Some have a direction. Most just drift.

The problem with that kind of life is that you don’t accomplish anything of significance. Jellyfish people never find nor fulfill the reason for which they were created. Then there are those who have direction. They can look back with satisfaction because they discovered their life’s purpose and went full force in that direction. That kind of living is one of the secrets of spiritual success.

How can you be used by God in a successful and effective way? It begins with the ability to dream. If you want to find your purpose and begin to experience real success you must first:

Dare to dream.

You’ve got to begin to dream about the possibilities God has invested in your life. Determining your dream helps you find your purpose. Dreams are good because they give us direction. A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder. Again and again in the Bible God gives his people a vision of the way life could be. Sometimes we call this revelation. God gave his law as a parameter to help his people achieve his vision for humanity. But we think there’s more freedom if we go with the flow, so we tend to cast off restraint and drift.

People who go after their dream set priorities about how they will spend their time. Without some kind of vision we adopt an “anything goes attitude.”¨ We’re moved by the moment, not by something monumental.The thing that keeps most of us from dreaming is that we let our circumstances and limitation defeat us. Our dreams are so big, but were so small. Don’t let your perceived smallness stop you from dreaming big. That dream can propel you over all changes if you commit to it.

Dare to dream.

As you begin to dream you also have to factor in how you were created. To find your purpose you must determine how God has wired you up.Have HeartWhat are you passionate about? What stirs you up like nothing else. Your heart is inclined in a certain direction and it tells you something about your relationship with God.

”What do I really care about?” Proverbs 27:19 “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person.”Your attitude determines your altitude. Your attitude is the limiting factor in pursuing your life’s purpose. If you think you can, you probably will. If you think you can’t you probably won’t.

Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation’s deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.

Your attitude is the lens through which you view life. Jesus said it this way: Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be! Matthew 6:22-23

A dream without a positive attitude produces a daydreamer. A positive attitude without a dream produces a pleasant person who can’t progress. A dream together with a positive attitude produces a person with unlimited possibilities and potential.Someone once said, “Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.”¨Success is not about talent or genius or beauty. Success comes down to a choice: direction or drift. Don’t be a jellyfish. God has a glorious purpose for your life. God gave you a pastor to help point you in the correct direction so pay earnest heed to his counsel. Seek God in earnest prayer and hear His Word, as heralded by a man of God, to find it and then “whatsoever he saith unto you do it.”


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The 3 Inch Killer

James 3:5-12

The Japanese give us two proverbs we should never forget. The first one says, “The tongue is but three inches long, yet it can kill a person six feet high.” The second one warns everyone: “The tongue is more to be feared than the sword.” This last one is parallel to a statement by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras who said, “A wound from a tongue is worse than a wound form a sword; for the latter affects only the body, the former the spirit.” The Japanese and the Greek Philosopher are in harmony with the message which James, the brother of Jesus, speaks of in his epistle.

Recall the petition in the prayer Jesus taught which requests, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Evidentially for Jesus this was the most important part of the prayer for all of his disciples. Why ? The reason lines in that fact that upon conclusion of this “Model Prayer” Jesus returns to this particular portion dealing with forgiving others but makes no additional reference to any other portion of the Prayer. To Jesus forgiving others was tremendously important, but to us it is often the hardest thing He asks us to do.

How harmful is the human tongue? James paints a frightening picture of just how disastrous a force our tongues can be. He calls the tongue a fire. The fire he describes is not the cozy warmth of a fire place on a cold winter’s night but a picture of a destructive forest fire. He goes on to say the tongue is “set on fire by hell.” Devastating forest fires often begin with one small match that is carelessly tossed aside but mushroom into infernos that destroy an entire forests. So often it is the same with our tongues. Small, careless gossip so often devastates lives of individuals, families, and groups, even Churches and ministries.

The fiery tongue is dubbed “the very world of iniquity.” The tongue is so deadly, because it so often utters unjust, unrighteous, and wicked words. Of all our body parts, the tongue is the one member which “defiles the entire body.” Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 15:11, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” A defiled disciple of Jesus is unfit for use as an instrument in influencing others to follow Christ.

James continues building his case against the tongue by calling it a “restless” or “unruly” meaning it is an unrestrained, an uncontrollable evil. From this point he makes perhaps his strongest argument against the tongue by declaring, “It is full of deadly poison.” He is now talking about the venom of a poisonous snake. James might as well come right out and say the tongue is a “cobra” or an “asp,” for that is the exact implication he makes. The victim of a vicious tongue is in a worse condition than one actually bitten by a cobra. The Psalmist literally prays for divine rescue from such venomous tongues in Psalm 140: “Deliver me, O LORD, from evildoers;protect me from those who are violent. . .“They make their tongue sharp as a snake’s,and under their lips is the venom of vipers.”--Psalm 140:1, 3

The tongue does have one redeeming quality, for “with it we bless God.” With our tongues we sing God’s praises. With our tongues we offer Him our prayers of Thanksgiving and our testimonies of praise for His goodness to us. The problem is that we then turn right around and curse our brothers and sisters who are the very image of the One we praise.“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so” --James 1:10. A fountain can not give both fresh and bitter water from the same fount. A fig tree can not produce olives or a vine figs. Why then should the tongue speak both praises and curses? The Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake, the oceans can not produce fresh water; so, why do we so often continue to exalt God and belittle our brothers and sisters with our tongues?“

No one can tame the tongue.” Just prior to this he says, “every species . . . has been tamed by the human race.” We can control the animal kingdom, but we cannot control our tongues; what hope do we have? If the tongue can not be controlled, are we doomed to failure and frustration? No! Verse eight would be more clearly understood, and in better keeping with James’ intent, if it were translated, “No human being can tame the tongue.” There is One Who can tame our tongues, and Scripture distinctly tells us who He is in Proverbs 16:1: “. . . the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” What is humanly impossible is no problem at all for God.

What a difference it would make in our personal spiritual lives, in the life of our Church, in the life our Community, and in all our interpersonal relations if we would remember these words from Proverbs before we ever utter harsh, critical, or unkind words about anyone: “the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” If we submit to the control of the Spirit in all those difficult situations we face with others, the tongue will cease to be a fire, an uncontrollable evil, and a snake. Victory comes as we surrender our tongues to the Spirit’s control; “He is the answer for our tongues.” When we let God sanctify our tongues and take control of the words we speak then the tongue can be divinely tamed.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Intellect or faith?

Intellect Or Faith?

Colossians 1:1-29 is the setting for this study.

Which is more important, intellect, or faith?—that seems to be the question of the hour. Among Christians these two ideas fight for preeminence. Some think the two are mutually exclusive - you either have blind faith or you have intellect - but not both. Others say that our minds are the most important - our faith must proceed from our understanding and if the two contradict then the mind must reign supreme. This is especially born out of hundreds of years of rationalism in our western culture. If we cannot understand and explain something then it is simply not true.

Faith must precede understanding - our goal should be to know Christ’s mind - not our own. And becoming more mature as a Christian doesn’t mean that we get smarter - it means that we think more like Jesus. Does that mean we throw away our minds? Certainly not - but we also don’t elevate the mind above our faith. Our faith must precede our ability to understand something completely - there are simply things we will not understand because God is too complicated for us - so he "dumbs it down" for us.

Isaiah 55:8-11"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Believing what God said should come before understanding the mind of God. After we believe, then we can understand.1 Corinthians 2:13-14“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The book of Colossians is all about which is more important - the mind or faith. It involves an early form of a heresy known as Gnosticism.In the heresies Paul addresses 2 of them are in chapter 1: That spirit is good, flesh is evil. 2: That Christ could not be both human and divine. It is a form of proto-Gnosticism - that spirit is good, flesh is bad and that there is a special kind of knowledge available only to the initiates in order to know God.“

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints. . . the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.”

Paul mentions faith, love, and hope - NOT knowledge. Our problem is that we put so much of a premium on our ability to understand and comprehend that when we don’t - we discount God instead of our intellect. Faith and love spring from hope - not intellect. Notice how the hope has two components: "stored up in heaven" and "that you have already heard about in the word of truth."

Hope from the Gospel - But notice that the source of the hope is not human generated emotion or philosophy. That’s the trap of Gnosticism and intellectualism - that our minds can figure out our future. The gospel is true - we just have to decide whether we are going to believe it or not. Once we believe the gospel - THAT is when we start bearing fruit and growing. People often have it backwards they have intellect challenging faith, instead of faith informing intellect. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Notice that he says "knowledge of HIS WILL through all SPIRITUAL WISDOM." Don’t pray for smarts - pray for a knowledge of God’s will through the Spirit.“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” Life is not about how smart you get - but how your life mirrors that of Jesus Christ, and how He works through you, bearing fruit - that is the way to know God more. The more you give Him access to your life and respond to His gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) prods - the more you know Him - having His heart of compassion and self sacrifice. .....

....Paul addresses the first of the heresies: That spirit is good, flesh is bad, and that Jesus could not be both human and divine:“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

In the Colossian church there were several misconceptions about Jesus Christ that Paul directly refuted in this section:Believing that matter is evil, false teachers argued that God would not have come to earth as a true human being in bodily form. Paul stated that Jesus Christ is the image -- the exact likeness -- of God and is himself God, and yet he died on the cross as a human being.

They believed that God did not create the world because he would not have created evil. Paul proclaimed that Jesus Christ, who was also God in the flesh, participated in the creation of the universe.

They said that Jesus Christ was not the unique Son of God but rather one of many intermediaries between God and people. Paul explained that Jesus Christ existed before anything else as the One True and Living God and is also the firstborn of those resurrected.

They refused to see Christ as the source of salvation, insisting that people could find God only through special and secret intellectual knowledge. In contrast Paul openly proclaimed the way of salvation to be through Jesus Christ alone ( see Acts 2:38). Paul continued to bring the argument back to Christ.

Paul confronts the errors - the heresy said that the mind was supreme - but Paul shows that our minds are actually an enemy of the truth before we have faith in Jesus. “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Isaiah 59:2, “your iniquities have separated you from your God.” That’s what sin does - alienates, makes us “not a part” of what God is. It also makes us think unlike Him. So for us to imagine that our own philosophies can explain and understand God apart from faith then we are fooling ourselves.“

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” Again, Paul comes back to the theme of the mind and the body. God brought us back into relationship - not through philosophy or thought or some spiritual mumbo jumbo - but through the cross of Jesus Christ.

The Gnostics taught that the gospel was a mystery - but to know the answers you had to have special knowledge open only to a select intellectual few. It’s awfully convenient - and a great way to avoid debate over the truth - but the truth is that the mystery - that God was saving man through a man -- Jesus - was hidden, but now fully revealed.

Please Remember:
The gospel is simple - don’t over complicate it
The truth is obvious - don’t try to obscure it by false intellectual arguments.
The problem is not with God - it is with us

Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." God will reason with us - but it always leads to dealing with sin first - then more knowledge is revealed. So don’t expect an unsaved person to understand anything more than the gospel. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" --But we have the mind of Christ.

Using human intellect to understand a divine God is a useless exercise - so just believe what He said:Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”