Sunday, February 28, 2010

'Do You Now Believe?'

'Do You Now Believe?'
’By this we believe . . . .’ Jesus answered them, ’Do you now believe?’ —John 16:30-31

Now we believe. . . ." But Jesus asks, "Do you . . . ? Indeed the hour is coming . . . that you . . . will leave Me alone" ( John 16:31-32 ). Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. The reason for this is actually the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6  ). This is not deliberate sin and there is no punishment attached to it. But once a person realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and caused uncertainties, sorrows, and difficulties for himself, it is with shame and remorse that he has to return.

We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus on a much deeper level than we do now. We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. He cannot bless them; it is not in His realm to do so, and those decisions are severed from reality. If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to "walk in the light" of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to "walk in the light asHe is in the light. . ." ( 1 John 1:7  ). When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others. But when we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation-just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lord Jesus, please help me to make it through this weekend well, i'm starting to get frustrated already...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fasting + Prayer & Lent

(Author: Elliot Grudem and Bruce Benedict "Why Bother With Lent?")

Fasting and Prayer
Fasting and prayer are two traditional focuses of Lent.
Fasting, joined with fervent prayer and reading of Scriptures, is a spiritual discipline of humbling ourselves in abstinence before God to turn away some tragedy, or for obtaining of some special blessing. Fasting is traditionally the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a limited time. Some people give up a certain behavior or habits during the season.
We fast (not just during Lent) because Jesus told us to do so (Matt. 6:16, Mark 2:20). We fast because we continue to see the pattern of fasting practiced in the church (Acts 13, for example). We fast because it is one of the means God uses to break the power of sin in our lives, prepare us well for prayer, and humble us before him (for unlike God, we need food to live).

The act of self-denial can be a helpful tool in your Christian growth. There is nothing magic about it; however it can be a helpful reminder of your deep need for Jesus and the way that Jesus meets and satisfies your every need.

So as you pray, join the Psalmist in praying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps. 139:23-24).
Very insightful look into fasting & prayer:)

Our Misgivings About Jesus

Our Misgivings About Jesus
The woman said to Him, ’Sir, You have nothing to draw [water] with, and the well is deep’ —John 4:11 
Have you ever said to yourself, "I am impressed with the wonderful truths of God’s Word, but He can’t really expect me to live up to that and work all those details into my life!" When it comes to confronting Jesus Christ on the basis of His qualities and abilities, our attitudes reflect religious superiority. We think His ideals are lofty and they impress us, but we believe He is not in touch with reality— that what He says cannot actually be done. Each of us thinks this about Jesus in one area of our life or another. These doubts or misgivings about Jesus begin as we consider questions that divert our focus away from God. While we talk of our dealings with Him, others ask us, "Where are you going to get enough money to live? How will you live and who will take care of you?" Or our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him. We say, "It’s easy to say, ’Trust in the Lord,’ but a person has to live; and besides, Jesus has nothing with which to draw water— no means to be able to give us these things." And beware of exhibiting religious deceit by saying, "Oh, I have no misgivings about Jesus, only misgivings about myself." If we are honest, we will admit that we never have misgivings or doubts about ourselves, because we know exactly what we are capable or incapable of doing. But we do have misgivings about Jesus. And our pride is hurt even at the thought that He can do what we can’t.

My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says. My doubts spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, I should bring them into the light and confess them openly— "Lord, I have had misgivings about You. I have not believed in Your abilities, but only my own. And I have not believed in Your almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Destitution of Service

The Destitution of Service
. . . though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved —2 Corinthians 12:15 
Natural human love expects something in return. But Paul is saying, "It doesn’t really matter to me whether you love me or not. I am willing to be completely destitute anyway; willing to be poverty-stricken, not just for your sakes, but also that I may be able to get you to God." "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor . . ."2 Corinthians 8:9 ). And Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s. He did not care how high the cost was to himself— he would gladly pay it. It was a joyful thing to Paul.

The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually "out-socialized" the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11 ). The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— "What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things." All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.
 Please help me to be like the Apostle Paul Lord Jesus!
May You help me to surrender everything and be destitute for Your sake!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Bridegroom God – FCF

Our God is a Bridegroom who greatly rejoices over His Bride (Isa. 62:3–5). The Lord delights over us, and is eagerly anticipating the marriage of heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1–3). Wes Martin shared about the bridal paradigm at the Forerunner Christian Fellowship services last Sunday. Speaking from Isaiah 40:3–5 and John 3:27–29, Wes emphasized the reality of being a forerunner generation for the second coming of Jesus and the need for an understanding of God as a Bridegroom, much like John the Baptist had at the first coming of Christ.

The Delight of Sacrifice

The Delight of Sacrifice
I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls . . . —2 Corinthians 12:15
Once "the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit," we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5 ). And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13 ). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own. Paul spent his life for only one purpose— that he might win people to Jesus Christ. Paul always attracted people to his Lord, but never to himself. He said, "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" ( 1 Corinthians 9:22  ).

When someone thinks that to develop a holy life he must always be alone with God, he is no longer of any use to others. This is like putting himself on a pedestal and isolating himself from the rest of society. Paul was a holy person, but wherever he went Jesus Christ was always allowed to help Himself to his life. Many of us are interested only in our own goals, and Jesus cannot help Himself to our lives. But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a "doormat" without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus. We tend to be devoted, not to Jesus Christ, but to the things which allow us more spiritual freedom than total surrender to Him would allow. Freedom was not Paul’s motive at all. In fact, he stated, "I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren . . ." ( Romans 9:3  ). Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement. And Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.
This entire thing needs to be highlighted b/c it is that important.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Luther’s Tough Love

All of us need a Martin Luther in our lives now and then—a friend who is not afraid to stand on gospel promises and get in our face with gospel truth when we would rather wallow in self-pity.
Here is a portion of a letter from Luther to his friend Philip Melachnton (June 27, 1530):
Those great cares by which you say you are consumed I vehemently hate; they rule your heart not on account of the greatness of the cause but by reason of the greatness of your unbelief. . . .
If our cause is great, its author and champion is great also, for it is not ours. Why are you therefore always tormenting yourself?
If our cause is false, let us recant; if it is true, why should we make him a liar who commands us to be of untroubled heart?
Cast your burden on the Lord, he says. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him with a broken heart. Does he speak in vain or to beasts? . . .
What good can you do by your vain anxiety?
What can the devil do more than slay us? What after that?
I beg you, so pugnacious in all else, fight against yourself, your own worst enemy, who furnish Satan with arms against yourself. . . .
I pray for you earnestly and am deeply pained that you keep sucking up cares like a leech and thus rendering my prayers vain.
Christ knows whether it is stupidity or bravery, but I am not much disturbed, rather of better courage than I had hoped.
God who is able to raise the dead is also able to uphold a falling cause, or to raise a fallen one and make it strong.
If we are not worthy instruments to accomplish his purpose, he will find others.
If we are not strengthened by his promises, to whom else in all the world can they pertain?
But saying more would be pouring water into the sea.

The Determination to Serve

The Determination to Serve
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . .—Matthew 20:28
Jesus also said, "Yet I am among you as the One who serves" (Luke 22:27). Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s— ". . . ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake" ( 2 Corinthians 4:5 ). We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a "doormat" for others— called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior. Paul said, "I know how to be abased . . ." (Philippians 4:12 ). Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.

Paul’s understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others. "I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man . . ." ( 1 Timothy 1:13 ). In other words, no matter how badly others may have treated Paul, they could never have treated him with the same degree of spite and hatred with which he had treated Jesus Christ. Once we realize that Jesus has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for His sake.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance
Be still, and know that I am God . . . —Psalm 46:10
Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified. Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God. But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, "because you have kept My command to persevere . . ." ( Revelation 3:10 ).

Continue to persevere spiritually.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do You Really Love Him?

Do You Really Love Him?
She has done a good work for Me —Mark 14:6
If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love.

Have you ever been driven to do something for God not because you felt that it was useful or your duty to do so, or that there was anything in it for you, but simply because you love Him? Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things— things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him. Have you ever created what Mary of Bethany created in the heart of the Lord Jesus? "She has done a good work for Me."

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender, just to show how genuine our love is for Him. To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we become overly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, out of fear of offending God. ". . . but perfect love casts out fear . . ." once we are surrendered to God ( 1 John 4:18 ). We should quit asking ourselves, "Am I of any use?" and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taking the Initiative Against Daydreaming

Taking the Initiative Against Daydreaming
Arise, let us go from here —John 14:31
Daydreaming about something in order to do it properly is right, but daydreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. In this passage, after having said these wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected our Lord to tell them to go away and meditate over them all. But Jesus never allowed idle daydreaming. When our purpose is to seek God and to discover His will for us, daydreaming is right and acceptable. But when our inclination is to spend time daydreaming over what we have already been told to do, it is unacceptable and God’s blessing is never on it. God will take the initiative against this kind of daydreaming by prodding us to action. His instructions to us will be along the lines of this: "Don’t sit or stand there, just go!"

If we are quietly waiting before God after He has said to us, "Come aside by yourselves . . ." then that is meditation before Him to seek His will ( Mark 6:31 ). Beware, however, of giving in to mere daydreaming once God has spoken. Allow Him to be the source of all your dreams, joys, and delights, and be careful to go and obey what He has said. If you are in love with someone, you don’t sit and daydream about that person all the time— you go and do something for him. That is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Daydreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery

Taking the Initiative Against Drudgery
Arise, shine . . . —Isaiah 60:1
 When it comes to taking the initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step as though there were no God. There is no point in waiting for God to help us— He will not. But once we arise, immediately we find He is there. Whenever God gives us His inspiration, suddenly taking the initiative becomes a moral issue— a matter of obedience. Then we must act to be obedient and not continue to lie down doing nothing. If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed.

Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. Read John 13. In this chapter, we see the Incarnate God performing the greatest example of drudgery— washing fishermen’s feet. He then says to them, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet" (John 13:14 ). The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become "the temple of the Holy Spirit"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Taking the Initiative Against Despair

Taking the Initiative Against Despair
Rise, let us be going —Matthew 26:46

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing." In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, "Get up, and do the next thing." If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taking the Initiative Against Depression

Taking the Initiative Against Depression
Arise and eat—1 Kings 19:5
 The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive—only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How I Almost Quit

(Author: John Piper)
Are you so discouraged you don't know what to do next? I want to help you get through this. Maybe this will help.
The following quote is from my journal dated November 6, 1986. I had been at Bethlehem 6 years. If you have ever felt like this, remember this is 24 years ago and I am still here.
The point is: Beware of giving up too soon. Our emotions are not reliable guides.
Am I under attack by Satan to abandon my post at Bethlehem? Or is this the stirring of God to cause me to consider another ministry? Or is this God's way of answering so many prayers recently that we must go a different way at BBC than building? I simply loathe the thought of leading the church through a building program. For two years I have met for hundreds of hours on committees. I have never written a poem about it. It is deadening to my soul. I am a thinker. A writer. A preacher. A poet and songwriter. At least these are the avenues of love and service where my heart flourishes. . . .
Can I be the pastor of a church moving through a building program? Yes, by dint of massive will power and some clear indications from God that this is the path of greatest joy in him long term. But now I feel very much without those indications. The last two years (the long range planning committee was started in August 1984) have left me feeling very empty.
The church is looking for a vision for the future—and I do not have it. The one vision that the staff zeroed in on during our retreat Monday and Tuesday of this week (namely, building a sanctuary) is so unattractive to me today that I do not see how I could provide the leadership and inspiration for it.
Does this mean that my time at BBC is over? Does it mean that there is a radical alternative unforeseen? Does it mean that I am simply in the pits today and unable to feel the beauty and power and joy and fruitfulness of an expanded facility and ministry?
O Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me. I am so blind to the future of the church. O Father, am I blind because it is not my future? Perhaps I shall not even live out the year, and you are sparing the church the added burden of a future I had made and could not complete? I do not doubt for a moment your goodness of power or omnipotence in my life or in the life of the church. I confess that the problem is mine. The weakness is in me. The blindness is in my eyes. The sin—O reveal to me my hidden faults!—is mine and mine the blame. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.
This is so moving to me. As I read such a discouraged Pastor Piper, his sorrows are so strong that it permeates this journal crazy and I'm to the point of tears. But I'm certain that our good and sympathetic God felt so much more pain for him than I can ever.
He reminded me as I struggled with family relations earlier this week that when I'm hurt He hurts with me. He doesn't just watch me with sympathetic eyes but when I cry it pains Him so much that He cries with me. And He does this with every person on the planet He created. And it just comforted me so much that He loves us so much. What a great God!!!!!!!! Lord, You are good beyond my imagination, thank You and I love You:)

The Inspiration of Spiritual Initiative

The Inspiration of Spiritual Initiative
Arise from the dead . . . —Ephesians 5:14
Not all initiative, the willingness to take the first step, is inspired by God. Someone may say to you, "Get up and get going! Take your reluctance by the throat and throw it overboard— just do what needs to be done!" That is what we mean by ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes to us and says, in effect, "Get up and get going," suddenly we find that the initiative is inspired.

We all have many dreams and aspirations when we are young, but sooner or later we realize we have no power to accomplish them. We cannot do the things we long to do, so our tendency is to think of our dreams and aspirations as dead. But God comes and says to us, "Arise from the dead . . . ." When God sends His inspiration, it comes to us with such miraculous power that we are able to "arise from the dead" and do the impossible. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we "get up and get going." God does not give us overcoming life— He gives us life as weovercome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, "Arise from the dead . . . ," we have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch out your hand" (Matthew 12:13 ). As soon as the man did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative. If we will take the initiative to overcome, we will find that we have the inspiration of God, because He immediately gives us the power of life.
AMEN! preach it:D!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Discipline of Hearing

The Discipline of Hearing
Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops —Matthew 10:27

Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into "the shadow of His hand" until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2 ). "Whatever I tell you in the dark. . ."— pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood— darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.

After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation. If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all. We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, "How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!" And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart— a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now.
sksQ(#@*&%^kvbu!!!!!! oh my goodness, the writings of mr. oswald chamber...crazy amazing!! man, the things God has taught Him is just beyond anything I can think of=O=!
Does anyone else find it interesting that "when we're are in the dark, listen, and God will give us a very precious message for someone else once we are back in the light." The message God gives us is not for ourselves but for someone else! Very, very interesting:)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Devotion of Hearing

The Devotion of Hearing
Samuel answered, ’Speak, for Your servant hears’ —1 Samuel 3:10
Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says. I show God my lack of love and respect for Him by the insensitivity of my heart and mind toward what He says. If I love my friend, I will instinctively understand what he wants. And Jesus said, "You are My friends . . ."John 15:14 ). Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord’s this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not have deliberately disobeyed it. But most of us show incredible disrespect to God because we don’t even hear Him. He might as well never have spoken to us.

The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41 ). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don’t hear Him. The attitude of a child of God should always be, "Speak, for Your servant hears." If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God. Have you heard God’s voice today?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Are You Listening to God?

Are You Listening to God?
They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ `—Exodus 20:19
We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

"You speak with us, . . . but let not God speak with us . . . ." We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, "Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth."

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, "Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?" This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?
Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things . . . —Isaiah 40:26
The people of God in Isaiah’s time had blinded their minds’ ability to see God by looking on the face of idols. But Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their power to think and to visualize correctly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.
The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it your idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? If so, then your ability to see God is blinded. You will be powerless when faced with difficulties and will be forced to endure in darkness. If your power to see has been blinded, don’t look back on your own experiences, but look to God. It is God you need. Go beyond yourself and away from the faces of your idols and away from everything else that has been blinding your thinking. Wake up and accept the ridicule that Isaiah gave to his people, and deliberately turn your thoughts and your eyes to God.
One of the reasons for our sense of futility in prayer is that we have lost our power to visualize. We can no longer even imagine putting ourselves deliberately before God. It is actually more important to be broken bread and poured-out wine in the area of intercession than in our personal contact with others. The power of visualization is what God gives a saint so that he can go beyond himself and be firmly placed into relationships he never before experienced.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are You Exhausted Spiritually?

Are You Exhausted Spiritually?
The everlasting God . . . neither faints nor is weary —Isaiah 40:28
Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep," but He gave him nothing with which to feed them ( John 21:17 ). The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people’s souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely— to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.

Have you delivered yourself over to exhaustion because of the way you have been serving God? If so, then renew and rekindle your desires and affections. Examine your reasons for service. Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies. You have no right to complain, "O Lord, I am so exhausted." He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that He is your supply. "All my springs are in you"Psalm 87:7 ).

The Cost of Sanctification

The Cost of Sanctification
May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely . . . —1 Thessalonians 5:23

When we pray, asking God to sanctify us, are we prepared to measure up to what that really means? We take the word sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared to pay the cost of sanctification? The cost will be a deep restriction of all our earthly concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns. Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It means to secure and to keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit for God’s purpose alone. Are we really prepared for God to perform in us everything for which He separated us? And after He has done His work, are we then prepared to separate ourselves to God just as Jesus did? "For their sakes I sanctify Myself . . ." ( John 17:19 ). The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s perspective. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.

Are we prepared to be caught up into the full meaning of Paul’s prayer in this verse? Are we prepared to say, "Lord, make me, a sinner saved by grace, as holy as You can"? Jesus prayed that we might be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father (see John 17:21-23 ). The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not like Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s work in us?
So one of my addictions to the world is shopping. i really enjoy the entire experience. from trying on clothes to picking which one to buying it then i relish its new smell while wearing it.
but these last two weeks i think God has been telling me that i have too much stuff. which is true. from verses like Hebrews 13:5
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
He is telling me to stop loving the world.
I keep asking Him for strength to give it up, but I think He did give me the strength. I must submit everything to Him first. Then I'll be able to joyfully give it up without ever looking back because He is so much worthier.
Going to a conference this weekend. I have a feeling I should make this decision myself before going so that He won't have to rebuke me about this:( aish, I could use some fresh fire.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Compelling Majesty of His Power

The Compelling Majesty of His Power
The love of Christ compels us . . . —2 Corinthians 5:14
Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by "the love of Christ." Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. "The love of Christ compels us . . . ." When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life.

When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . ." (Acts 1:8 ). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, ". . . you shall be witnesses to Me . . . ." Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but "witnesses to Me . . . ." We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane-he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of "the love of Christ." This total surrender to "the love of Christ" is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness.
"You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life."
Now I understand better, the Holy Spirit can be hindered in our lives by our sinfulness.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Let Revival Come!!

There have been prophecies that there will be a revival in the DC area for a couple of years now and I just found out about it today.
I am so excited!! We live in an exciting place at an exciting time!!!
From observing the people around me, I can see that God moving. God is on the move!! Hallelujah:)
But we must continue praying fervently that revival will come to His people. Prophecies do not automatically mean reality. God's people must continue plowing the fields with prayer and one day, we will see its fruits. And it will be more amazing than we'd have ever imagined because our God pours out much more than we could ever think. He is a generous God and all things work together for the good of those who love Him:) Thank You awesome Jesus, You are really awesome.

I would like to have more healthy fear of You, and greater love & passion & wisdom in You! By Your grace and power working in me, I am worthy of all that You give because of Your Son. Thank You Father. Holy Spirit please help me to change to be more like Jesus! God I want more of You, please help me.

Gotta keep praying! Let Revival Come!!

Becoming the "Filth of the World"

Becoming the "Filth of the World"
We have been made as the filth of the world . . . —1 Corinthians 4:13
These words are not an exaggeration. The only reason they may not be true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot or misunderstood the exact truth of them, but that we are too cautious and concerned about our own desires to allow ourselves to become the refuse or "filth of the world." "Fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ . . ." ( Colossians 1:24 ) is not the result of the holiness of sanctification, but the evidence of consecration-being "separated to the gospel of God . . ." ( Romans 1:1 ).
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you . . ." (1 Peter 4:12). If we do think the things we encounter are strange, it is because we are fearful and cowardly. We pay such close attention to our own interests and desires that we stay out of the mire and say, "I won’t submit; I won’t bow or bend." And you don’t have to— you can be saved by the "skin of your teeth" if you like. You can refuse to let God count you as one who is "separated to the gospel . . . ." Or you can say, "I don’t care if I am treated like ’the filth of the world’ as long as the gospel is proclaimed." A true servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to experience martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God. When a moral person is confronted with contempt, immorality, disloyalty, or dishonesty, he is so repulsed by the offense that he turns away and in despair closes his heart to the offender. But the miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst and the vilest offender can never exhaust the depths of His love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but "to reveal His Son in me. . ." ( Galatians 1:16 ).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Compelling Force of the Call

The Compelling Force of the Call
Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! —1 Corinthians 9:16

Beware of refusing to hear the call of God. Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact of his salvation. That, however, is not the same as the call to preach, but is merely an illustration which can be used in preaching. In this verse, Paul was referring to the stinging pains produced in him by the compelling force of the call to preach the gospel. Never try to apply what Paul said regarding the call to preach to those souls who are being called to God for salvation. There is nothing easier than getting saved, because it is solely God’s sovereign work— "Look to Me, and be saved . . ." ( Isaiah 45:22 ). Our Lord never requires the same conditions for discipleship that he requires for salvation. We are condemned to salvation through the Cross of Christ. But discipleship has an option with it-"If anyone . . ." ( Luke 14:26 ).
Paul’s words have to do with our being made servants of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go. God makes us as broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be "separated to the gospel" means being able to hear the call of God ( Romans 1:1 ). Once someone begins to hear that call, a suffering worthy of the name of Christ is produced. Suddenly, every ambition, every desire of life, and every outlook is completely blotted out and extinguished. Only one thing remains— ". . . separated to the gospel. . . ." Woe be to the soul who tries to head in any other direction once that call has come to him. The Bible Training College exists so that each of you may know whether or not God has a man or woman here who truly cares about proclaiming His gospel and to see if God grips you for this purpose. Beware of competing calls once the call of God grips you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Thorn

The Thorn
by Martha Snell Nicholson

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

Notes on Paul Tripp

This is actually a sermon for pastors, but it really convicted me reading it (and I don't normally read these)
So far I'm only half way through it b/c it's so long, but it is good stuff!

Notes on Paul Tripp

The Call of God

The Call of God
Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . . —1 Corinthians 1:17
Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel. But remember what Paul means by "the gospel," namely, the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are inclined to make sanctification the goal of our preaching. Paul refers to personal experiences only by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are not commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification— we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (see John 12:32 ). It is an injustice to say that Jesus Christ labored in redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ labored in redemption to redeem the whole world and to place it perfectly whole and restored before the throne of God. The fact that we can experience redemption illustrates the power of its reality, but that experience is a byproduct and not the goal of redemption. If God were human, how sick and tired He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation and for our sanctification. We burden His energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered! When we finally touch the underlying foundation of the reality of the gospel of God, we will never bother Him anymore with little personal complaints.

The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment, and tribulation for only one reason— these things kept him unmovable in his devotion to the gospel of God.
oh my gosh...Mr.Oswald's insight never ceases to amaze me. "We burden His energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered!" This is totally me!! I have made sanctification an end to itself:( I repent of this, Lord help me to make lifting You up the goal of my life from now on!! I can't do anything without You, please help me!