A Matter of Interpretation

Thought I would share !! Blessings in Christ, bruce 🙂

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you
because your path is a reckless one before me”
. Numbers 22:32 (NIV)

View original post 381 more words

Advertisements
Posted in Daily Devotion | Leave a comment

“When Pillars Fall” 8/10/2019 Written by Elihu Anderson for “Elihu’s Corner”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Written by Elihu Anderson for  “Elihu’s Corner”  @   http://elihuscorner.com/

Original post @  https://elihuscorner.com/2019/08/09/when-pillars-fall/

 

CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY · CHRISTIAN LIVING · ENCOURAGEMENT

When Pillars Fall

 

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

How could this prominent teacher, who had brought so many to Christ, abandon his faith?

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

How could that guy, who had conducted so many vital marriage and high school classes, have committed adultery?

Within our congregations, and even the broad spectrum of the “Christian” community, there are people who are considered “pillars” by virtue of their status, deeds, or popularity. They might be the individual who brought us to Christ, the preacher in our local church, or a widely respected speaker or author. Sometimes these pillar-people are dear friends or members of our own family.

Pillars all have something in common: they are human, just like you and me.

Live long enough, and you will have the unfortunate experience of watching pillars fall.

Architectural pillars are large, impressive stoneworks that support the roof and often add beauty to a structure. They seem so strong and immovable. As we know from looking at ancient ruins, pillars often outlast the roof they supported and the statues they surround.

We also know that pillars can fall, and that fall could be fatal to more than a few people.

Human pillars are much the same way. They seem so solid. They survive so much and stand so strong, yet their fall could be catastrophic to the faith of those around them.

What Should We Do When Pillars Shake?

“…When James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?””

– Galatians 3.9-14, ESV (emphasis mine)

There is one vital truth we ought to remember about fellow Christians, regardless of how prominent or authoritative they seem: They. Are. Human.

All humans who have ever lived on this earth (with one exception) are fallible. We grow old. We get tired. We err.

When pillars seem to shake a bit, don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open. Ask for God’s guidance and reinforce that pillar. Paul recognized the strength and prominence of Peter, but when Peter behaved like a hypocrite, he called him out! Was Paul’s goal to make Peter look like a fool? Absolutely not. Paul was afraid for Peter, for Barnabas, and for the fragile faith of the new Gentile Christians. Paul knew that Peter was an influencer. If an influencer is doing wrong, they need to be corrected before they influence everyone right off the cliff! Paul stopped that pillar from shaking.

In the same book, Paul writes, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6.1) When pillars shake, ground yourself in prayer and work on restoring the pillar to full strength.

How Should We Respond When Pillars Fall?

Pillars fall.

When it happens, the crash reverberates. One cannot be in the vicinity and ignore it.

Our initial reaction is dismay and discouragement. We might think…

  • Maybe this faith isn’t as solid as I thought it would be

  • If this strong person fell, how will I be able to keep from falling?

First, commit this to memory: Pillars are not the foundation.

The foundation of our faith is Jesus. We believe that He is the Son of God who came to earth as a man, laid down His life for our sins, and has conquered death. He is the chief cornerstone. Plant your feet firmly on His foundation, not on pillars!

Second, take a good hard look at that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 11 and 12:

  • David—the man after God’s own heart—made some truly messy mistakes.

  • Abraham lied to Abimelech (twice!!).

  • Moses struck the rock in anger.

  • Elijah wanted to die in his discouragement.

These are the pillars of the Old Testament, y’all! Can you believe how many times they blew it?!

They are witnesses of what fallible man can do through persistent faith in God. They testify to God’s great faithfulness, forgiveness, and mercy. They demonstrate how, through the power of God, we can run this race with endurance. If we fall down, we have but to reach for the Lord and He will lift us back up. Be inspired by the pillars who can no longer be knocked down. They overcame by trusting in the power of God instead of their own strength.

When pillars fall, hold fast to The Rock.

“I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Revelation 3.11-12, ESV)

*********************************************************************************

P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !!  If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

Posted in CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY , CHRISTIAN LIVING , ENCOURAGEMENT, Daily Devotion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN” 8/09/2019 Written by KD Manes for “KDMANESTREET”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

                     Image result for image blessed are those who mourn Bible

Written by KD Manes for “KDMANESTREET”  @   http://kdmanestreet.com

Original post @  https://kdmanestreet.com/2019/08/03/blessed-are-those-who-mourn/

 

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN

I wonder what went through the minds of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus shared this beatitude. For these collection of truths, which we know as the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, seems to go against society’s way of thinking and living. Jesus, however, was not directing these teachings to the general population, but rather to His closest friends. His teaching aims to prepare His followers for His kingdom. Living out these truths will result in a lifestyle radically different from the world’s.

We usually attribute “blessed” to someone who has acquired wealth, good health, power, or prestige. But Jesus challenges our thinking as He calls some people “blessed” who appear quite the opposite. How exactly is the person who mourns blessed? Mourning seems to depict images of funerals and suffering. It’s not a natural thing to view oneself as blessed when struggling, resulting in a bucket of tears, red puffy eyes, and a burdened heart.

Although blessed usually means “happy” in the Bible, the context of Matthew 5 seems to convey more of “an enviable state”. Jesus is distinguishing the world’s image of happiness with true blessedness—spiritual riches—which only comes from a right relationship with God.

GotQuestons.org notes: The term mourn means “to experience deep grief.” In keeping with His theme of spiritual blessedness, Jesus seems to indicate that this mourning is due to grief over sin. The people who agree with God about the evil of their own hearts can attain an “enviable state of blessedness,” due to the comfort they receive from communion with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 1:4). The Spirit comforts those who are honest about their own sin and humble enough to ask for forgiveness and healing. Deep repentance requires deep conviction that comes from deep brokenness. Those who hide their sin or try to justify it before God can never know the comfort that comes from a pure heart, as Jesus talks about in Matthew 5:8 (cf. Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 57:15). This is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

******************************************************************************

P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !!  If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

Picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?q=image+blessed+are+those+who+mourn+Bible&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi_rt2rofTjAhWLxVkKHW8uAGMQsAR6BAgDEAE&biw=874&bih=559#imgrc=RfMhjE-__0DVgM:

Posted in Bible Study, God's Call, Daily Devotion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Why did God give us four Gospels?” 8/08/2019 Posted by www.gotquestions.org

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

                      Image result for Picture of four gospels Bible

 Posted by www.gotquestions.org

Original post @   https://www.gotquestions.org/four-Gospels.html

 

 

Question: “Why did God give us four Gospels?”

Answer: Here are some reasons why God gave four Gospels instead of just one:

1) To give a more complete picture of Christ. While the entire Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), He used human authors with different backgrounds and personalities to accomplish His purposes through their writing. Each of the gospel authors had a distinct purpose behind his gospel and in carrying out those purposes, each emphasized different aspects of the person and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Matthew was writing to a Hebrew audience, and one of his purposes was to show from Jesus’ genealogy and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that He was the long-expected Messiah, and thus should be believed in. Matthew’s emphasis is that Jesus is the promised King, the “Son of David,” who would forever sit upon the throne of Israel (Matthew 9:27; 21:9).

Mark, a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), was an eyewitness to the events in the life of Christ as well as being a friend of the apostle Peter. Mark wrote for a Gentile audience, as is brought out by his not including things important to Jewish readers (genealogies, Christ’s controversies with Jewish leaders of His day, frequent references to the Old Testament, etc.). Mark emphasizes Christ as the suffering Servant, the One who came not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Luke, the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14 KJV), evangelist, and companion of the apostle Paul, wrote both the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the apostles. Luke is the only Gentile author of the New Testament. He has long been accepted as a diligent master historian by those who have used his writings in genealogical and historical studies. As a historian, he states that it is his intent to write down an orderly account of the life of Christ based on the reports of those who were eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). Because he specifically wrote for the benefit of Theophilus, apparently a Gentile of some stature, his gospel was composed with a Gentile audience in mind, and his intent is to show that a Christian’s faith is based upon historically reliable and verifiable events. Luke often refers to Christ as the “Son of Man,” emphasizing His humanity, and he shares many details that are not found in the other gospel accounts.

The gospel of John, written by John the apostle, is distinct from the other three Gospels and contains much theological content in regard to the person of Christ and the meaning of faith. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels” because of their similar styles and content and because they give a synopsis of the life of Christ. The gospel of John begins not with Jesus’ birth or earthly ministry but with the activity and characteristics of the Son of God before He became man (John 1:14). The gospel of John emphasizes the deity of Christ, as is seen in his use of such phrases as “the Word was God” (John 1:1), “the Savior of the World” (John 4:42), the “Son of God” (used repeatedly), and “Lord and…God” (John 20:28). In John’s gospel, Jesus also affirms His deity with several “I Am” statements; most notable among them is John 8:58, in which He states that “…before Abraham was, I Am” (compare to Exodus 3:13-14). But John also emphasizes the fact of Jesus’ humanity, desiring to show the error of a religious sect of his day, the Gnostics, who did not believe in Christ’s humanity. John’s gospel spells out his overall purpose for writing: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

Thus, in having four distinct and yet equally accurate accounts of Christ, different aspects of His person and ministry are revealed. Each account becomes like a different-colored thread in a tapestry woven together to form a more complete picture of this One who is beyond description. And while we will never fully understand everything about Jesus Christ (John 20:30), through the four Gospels we can know enough of Him to appreciate who He is and what He has done for us so that we may have life through faith in Him.

2) To enable us to objectively verify the truthfulness of their accounts. The Bible, from earliest times, states that judgment in a court of law was not to be made against a person based on the testimony of a single eyewitness but that two or three as a minimum number were required (Deuteronomy 19:15). Even so, having different accounts of the person and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ enables us to assess the accuracy of the information we have concerning Him.

Simon Greenleaf, a well-known and accepted authority on what constitutes reliable evidence in a court of law, examined the four Gospels from a legal perspective. He noted that the type of eyewitness accounts given in the four Gospels—accounts which agree, but with each writer choosing to omit or add details different from the others—is typical of reliable, independent sources that would be accepted in a court of law as strong evidence. Had the Gospels contained exactly the same information with the same details written from the same perspective, it would indicate collusion, i.e., of there having been a time when the writers got together beforehand to “get their stories straight” in order to make their writings seem credible. The differences between the Gospels, even the apparent contradictions of details upon first examination, speak to the independent nature of the writings. Thus, the independent nature of the four Gospel accounts, agreeing in their information but differing in perspective, amount of detail, and which events were recorded, indicate that the record that we have of Christ’s life and ministry as presented in the Gospels is factual and reliable.

3) To reward those who are diligent seekers. Much can be gained by an individual study of each of the Gospels. But still more can be gained by comparing and contrasting the different accounts of specific events of Jesus’ ministry. For instance, in Matthew 14 we are given the account of the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on the water. In Matthew 14:22 we are told that “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.” One may ask, why did He do this? There is no apparent reason given in Matthew’s account. But when we combine it with the account in Mark 6, we see that the disciples had come back from casting out demons and healing people through the authority He had given them when He sent them out two-by-two. But they returned with “big heads,” forgetting their place and ready now to instruct Him (Matthew 14:15). So, in sending them off in the evening to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus reveals two things to them. As they struggle against the wind and waves in their own self-reliance until the early hours of the morning (Mark 6:48-50), they begin to see that 1) they can achieve nothing for God in their own ability and 2) nothing is impossible if they call upon Him and live in dependence upon His power. There are many passages containing similar “jewels” to be found by the diligent student of the Word of God who takes the time to compare Scripture with Scripture.

Recommended Resource: Holman Christian Standard Bible Harmony of the Gospels by Steven Cox & Kendell Easley

More insights from your Bible study – Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!

****************************************************************************

P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !!  If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

Picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?q=Picture+of+four+gospels+Bible&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&espv=2&biw=1169&bih=830&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP8vK-9v_PAhUKOyYKHZGWBU0QsAQIMA#imgrc=nXqRiQxFD5YOIM:

Posted in Daily Devotion, Why did God give us four Gospels? | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

“The Fruit of the Spirit” 8/07/2019 Written by Beverly Barnett for Bogard Press Daily Devotional

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Image result for image Galatians 5:22-23

Posted by Wally Fry for “Truth in Palmyra” @  https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com

Written by Beverly Barnett for Bogard Press Daily Devotional

Original post @  https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/bogard-press-daily-devotional-the-fruit-of-the-spirit/

 

Bogard Press Daily Devotional-The Fruit of the Spirit

 

Tuesday, July 30

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-26

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:22, 23

How many of us have made the mistake of saying, “fruits of the Spirit” rather than “fruit” singular? We often think fruits because of the list found in this verse, but, actually, there is one fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in different ways.

Let me give you an example of this satisfying fruit. After a long day at work, you run by the store to pick up a few things. Finally, you are in line at one of the famous big box stores. Your arms are loaded down with the few items you needed to complete the week’s lunches for your children, plus a few other items you deemed necessary for an enjoyable evening at home. But, as you approach the cashier, her manager whispers to her that it is time for her break; we have all been there…barely able to hold onto the stuff in your arms, and now you must move to the next line!

You have two choices, one be filled with the Spirit of God or be filled with the flesh. Remember people are watching how you react. At times like these, we can either yield to the Holy Spirit or yield to the flesh; your reaction has consequences and influences, good or bad.

As a believer, you have the Holy Spirit living within you, but that does not mean you will automatically do the right thing. Instead, you must make a conscious choice to do the right thing, with the Spirit’s help. For most of us, it takes practice for the right reaction to become second nature. The Lord will make sure we have plenty of opportunities to practice what we should live.

REFLECTION: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)

Bogard Press Facebook Page

********************************************************************************

P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !!  If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

Picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1SQJL_enUS832US832&q=image+Galatians+5:22-23&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwil8quMg-_jAhVLZN8KHbiaAH8QsAR6BAgJEAE&biw=1295&bih=897#imgrc=T9uIfTFM8rEFWM:

Posted in Daily Devotion, The Fruit of the Spirit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Do We Know?” 8/06/2019 Posted by Alister Begg for “Truth for Life”

Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

     Image result for image All things work for good to those who love God Bible

Posted by Alister Begg for “Truth for Life”  @  http://info.truthforlife.org

Original post @  https://info.truthforlife.org/devo-aug5-2019?ecid=ACsprvsKqFTgb6IrDrFSNqBrGbyehSO-1QKOiAFV0BV2a8VddXy9k_-yZMQR1PhUJh2ekIepdqt8&utm_campaign=Daily%20Devotion%20Emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=75298492&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9UPs-lPAvnjDft7ICJN7AYL8QVPfj1akCZthhaeTGYwf-NA5TLL7r4rJuiEM2sngpyPr4jqm4CDHU1dH4TRqRIt5sLGXhKmR_Y9UxeAK-Iv-IaeQw

DAILY DEVOTIONAL AUGUST 5, 2019

What Do We Know?

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.
Romans 8:28

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the center of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, God is steering it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus walking on the water, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I-do not be afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes and that nothing can occur that ought not to happen. He can say, “If I should lose everything, it is better that I should lose it than keep it if it is God’s will: The worst disaster is the wisest and the kindest thing that I could face if God ordains it.”

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. So far everything has worked for good; the poisonous drugs mixed in proper proportions have effected the cure; the sharp cuts of the scalpel have cleaned out the disease and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is learning to meet each trial calmly when it comes. In the spirit of true resignation the believer can pray, “Send me what You will, my God, as long as it comes from You; there never was a poor portion that came from Your table to any of Your children.”

Do not say, my soul, “Where will God find one to relieve my care?”
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime and His heart profoundly kind,
God is never too early and never behind!

One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.

******************************************************************************

P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !!  If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

Picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?sa=X&q=image+All+things+work+for+good+to+those+who+love+God+Bible&tbm=isch&source=lnms&ved=2ahUKEwj719fQjO3jAhUpU98KHfiBCI0QsAR6BAgJEAE&biw=874&bih=559#imgrc=ty4u6uKBHdBnlM:

Posted in Daily Devotion, What Do We Know? | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“To know Christ and to make Him known” 8/05/2019 Written by Mel Wild for “In My Father’s House”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Image result for image to know Christ and make Him known

Written by Mel Wild for “In My Father’s House” @ https://melwild.wordpress.com

Original post @  https://melwild.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/to-know-christ-and-to-make-him-known/

To know Christ and to make Him known

At the very center of Christianity is a Person: Jesus Christ. We know this in our theology but sometimes I wonder if we know it in our mission and value statements, especially in our experience. What moves me and motivates me as a pastor, and personally as a believer, is to see everyone in my sphere of influence have such a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that they would be ruined for empty substitutes.

You see, I don’t want people to simply make decisions for Christ, or have a religious experience (even a charismatic one) that creates all kinds of excitement that fades away when the revival is over. I want them to have an encounter with a Person—Jesus Christ— because I know that when we encounter Jesus Himself everything changes. (See “Encountering Jesus Changes Everything.”) We simply can never be the same again, nor would we ever want to be.

My life mission can be distilled down to one simple statement of purpose that’s not original to me but it says it all: “To know Christ and to make Him known.”

To know Christ is my life pursuit, to make Him known is the fruit of that pursuit. And the latter should never come before the former.

My life verses are John 15:9-12, which usually ends up in just about every message I preach (and I use just about every Bible translation):

9 “I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts. 10 If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love.11 My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!

12 “So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12 TPT)

Everything I do, or am, as a fellow human being flows from this joy-filled place. I’ve come to realize it answers the every question, every problem, every addiction, every fear, anxiety…every issue of life. It defines success for me.

I certainly don’t do it perfectly, but this is my “magnificent obsession.”

The reason I bring this up is because the more I taste and see His goodness, the more I’m convinced that we’ve gotten off track. Generally speaking, we’ve turned Christianity into a religion, just like every other religion. This has been ongoing for a very long time so it’s our “normal” but, really, there’s nothing normal about it.

In a nutshell, religion is transactional, following Jesus is relational.

Religion is inviting God into our life; following Jesus is God inviting us into His life.

With religion, you follow a set of rules or rituals to make God happy. This M.O. hasn’t changed much since the Garden. Under this scenario, leaders (like me) can use fear to manipulate and control you with threats of punishment for infractions of the rules or, worse, to excommunicate you from the tribe.

The problem is, we’ll always emphasize certain rules over others. Some churches hate some sins more than others. But, because it’s based on rules, we inevitably judge other people’s weaknesses based on our strengths.

Or, we may dangle a carrot in front of you: we like numbers and tidy outlines so we create messages like, “Five ways for a better….” or “three things you need for….” (fill in the blanks). Like lost sheep, we chase after the hot speaker who promises to give us the answers we’re looking for. Yet, after years of chasing this illusion, we remain unchanged.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have leaders who teach us and encourage us. I’m saying that there’s really only one thing that will give you what you’re searching for: “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col.1:27).

Religion is a lot like a vending machine. You put money in and a snack (or some other unhealthy thing) comes out. With religion, you put the formula in (make the commitment, study, pray, obey, tithe, etc.), but if God doesn’t “put out” what do we do? We shake the machine! We bang on it. In other words, we get mad at God or begin to question His goodness. After all, God’s not keeping His end of the bargain. (He must not be real!) These are all symptoms of transactional religion, because if you knew Him this whole thing becomes irrelevant.

Religion is about separation and distance; Christianity is about being in Christ. You see, it’s not just what God did for you, or what He did as you, but what He did to you on the Cross. He placed you in Himself and brought you with Him, so now your life is Christ’s very own life (Gal.2:20; Col.3:3).

I hope you realize this is not theoretical and understand that it’s at the core of what it means to be a Christian. Of course, we need our minds renewed in order to have a grid to contain this amazing life in our experience. But if you think God is up in heaven and you’re down here on earth, you’ll never be able to grow fully in the reality of who you are. You’ll stay stuck in the counterfeit: transactional religion.

Religion is about gaining head knowledge.  Of course, you don’t need an ongoing relationship with Jesus once you’ve successfully removed all mysteries from your life. But then you also don’t have access to His knowledge (1 Cor.2:9-16).

Authentic Christianity is heart knowledge. It’s based on knowing Someone. The heart is the gatekeeper to all transformational revelation, and revelation of Jesus Christ is at the center of all knowledge. Head knowledge is important, but only as it serves a deep personal revelation of the Truth (who is a Person). But we seem to want it all backwards. Head knowledge is like being intellectually married.

Another problem with head knowledge is that it hates a vacuum so we make stuff up to fill in all the blanks about God. But Jesus came to change all that (Matt.11:27; John 1:18).

Heart knowledge is about letting the Living Word study you: “even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.” (Heb.4:12 TPT)

So, from this place of ongoing, intimate communion with Jesus, His life begins to manifest in my life (called the fruit of the Spirit – Gal.5:22-23). This gives Him glory (“glory” being the manifest goodness of God expressed through me). And, to the degree that I do this in every area of my life, I’m living according to my life mission, which is to know Christ and to make Him known.

 14 God always makes his grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of his endless triumph. Through our yielded lives he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go. (2 Cor.2:14 TPT)

*********************************************************************************

P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !!  If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

Picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?q=image+to+know+Christ+and+make+Him+known&tbm=isch&tbs=rimg:CYMJZC6FDdvpIjjaiz–N3NCCb_1M1ZPRBMVR9pN1RfRk6MQygnaMK-cBJGxGq37WsdxG1sxlbg_1Fj6TpVNEfe-RIISoSCdqLP743c0IJET5yAE7kiia8KhIJv8zVk9EExVERxUfUJZr3ZdUqEgn2k3VF9GToxBEReRwplOGDhSoSCTKCdowr5wEkEeWXBCa-p-kxKhIJbEarftax3EYRSZ4hs_1HNXcAqEgnWzGVuD8WPpBELqgEsUl3r5yoSCelU0R975EghEeDzzGU7H9c4&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiwp4nryt_jAhUOwlkKHYGGAn4Q9C96BAgBEBs&biw=945&bih=559&dpr=1.1#imgrc=q0hyGxPSKYziDM:

 

Posted in Daily Devotion, To know Christ and to make Him known | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
%d bloggers like this: