Tag Archives: perspective

Fully supplied

divine power

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  2 Peter 1:3-4

God’s divine power has given us everything we need for our lives and our path to godliness.  When we take a hold of this we are fully supplied, in other words.  The Christian life isn’t about just accepting a bunch of doctrinal creeds that we nod our heads in agreement to.  It is a power to be experienced and a divine power that saves us and changes us.  In 1 Corinthians 4:20 Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”  And in Ephesians 1:19-20 he prayed that we would know this power in our lives, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead.

What we need to get through this life and to be godly comes from relying on God’s divine power, not our own striving.  According to Peter, this power comes through the knowledge of God.  That is, the more we get to know God, the more we are able to access this power.  Some people want more of God’s power so they can heal others or do big things for God.  But here it implicates that we get more of God’s power so we can be godly and have what we need for this life.

As we get more godly and get life figured out, it isn’t so that we become great somehow, but it is for God’s own glory and excellence.  We become like John the Baptist, who got people ready for Jesus, introduced them to Him, and then got out of the way.  He didn’t look for his own glory or legacy, only that which would point to Jesus.  The more we walk in this divine power, the more humble we become.  The less credit we get and the more Jesus gets.  And it’s okay.

Peter indicates that our knowledge of God’s divine power comes through grabbing onto His precious and very great promises.  We get to know God’s character through actually doing something because we believe in those promises.  Maybe that’s where we move from less talk and more action.  If we believe the promise of James 1 that if we lack wisdom we can ask for it, then we will ask for wisdom and actually expect an answer.  If we believe the promise of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” then we will actually do the things that God has put on our hearts to do–without fear or hesitation.

When we grow in the knowledge of God and put that knowledge into action, we become more like God and less like our flesh driven self.  That’s what it means to partake in the divine nature.  In other words, we are changed to wanting more of God and less of ourselves.  This will lead us away from the corruption of the world and from our sinful desires.  

I want more of God’s power.  It is easier to talk about what God can do than to actually get out and do something He is prompting me to do.  Right now I am trusting God, along with a small group of people, to establish a halfway house for women once they get out of jail or prison.  It is so difficult to continue walking with Jesus if women go back into their old environment, or if they really don’t have a place to go.

We are believing that God is in this, and now it is time to take action.  We have looked at three different houses, but none of them seem to be ‘the one.’  We are also trusting God for a supervisor to live there, that could hold them accountable to a different way of life and to keep them safe from old ties.  This involves both a larger money and time commitment on our parts, and it is scary.  We are standing on promises such as the ones in Isaiah 58 that talk about spending ourselves on the poor and the oppressed,  the hungry and the afflicted, and then we will see our light rise in darkness and  healing break forth like the noonday light.

God, may we grow in accessing this power through getting to know You better.  May we take a promise a day to stand on and then to actually do something that requires faith in You and power from You.  May we grow to be more like You and less selfish and small minded, and to put away the sinful desires that wage war against our souls.  I can’t wait to see what You will do for the glory of Your great and excellent name!


More on God’s Grace (I just can’t get off of it!)

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I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You (and I repent).  Job 42:5

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love and I became to them as One who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent low to them and fed them.  Hosea 11:4

There is a facet of grace that has been tumbling around in my mind, calling out to me to put words to it.  ‘Chesed’ is the word in Hebrew that speaks of God’s grace in terms of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity.  It denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness and preservation (from allaboutgod.com).  

When God does something in us, or for us, that we couldn’t do for ourselves, that is His grace.  In Titus 3:4-5 it starts with, “When the goodness and kindness of our Savior appeared, He saved us.”  This kindness and goodness doesn’t stop once we become a Christian, it carries us throughout our lives.  It keeps appearing, sometimes in very difficult or unexpected situations.

I was talking with an old friend about how things have been going.  He had told me a few months ago that his son and his brother were both struggling.  His son had only been married less than two years when his wife decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore.  Her father and mother’s relationship hadn’t been good and it ended poorly.  So her conclusion was, why stay in a bad marriage to have it end like that?  He has been waiting at least nine months for this marriage to come back from the dead, waiting with the control really not being with him at all.  As time goes on, the prospect of restoration fades.

My friend’s brother has been a pastor of many years.  Less than a year ago he revealed that he had been having an affair for several years.  Now his wife and children won’t talk to him and have refused his pleas for forgiveness.  He has lost pretty much all he has known for the last thirty years and lives in a crummy apartment back in his small hometown, helping out with their mother who has dementia.  He too waits for God to show up and do something that he can’t do.

Remember the woman who had been bleeding over 30 years?  She pressed through the crowd just so she could touch the hem of Jesus’ robe (Mark 5:25-34). She thought something like, “I will throw myself at His feet, shamelessly asking for help.”  And Jesus helped her, He did not send her away.  When God does appear with His goodness and kindness and speaks to your desperate situation, it is radical.  That’s when Job said, “I’ve heard of You, but how I’ve seen You.”  In other words, “I used to sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ but now I have met amazing grace.  I can sing of it first person.”

I have known others whose lives have been ripped apart and rebuilt into something completely different, who have a testimony of God’s grace that is riveting.  In the process of unwanted interruptions, God brings us to Himself and it deepens our relationship with Him, bringing about pure gold.

That was my thought about the son and brother who have professed knowing Jesus most of their lives.  They have heard about grace, but when God’s kindness and mercy show up and fix their unfixable situations, they can say, ‘now grace lives with me.’  And their Christian lives will explode into directions they never could have plotted out.  Just when God will do that, I don’t know.  But because of His ‘chesed,’ I know He will.

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God leads us with cords of kindness and bands of love, bending low to ease the yoke on our jaws.  Jesus appears with His goodness and kindness and saves us from our troubles, or at least gives us a ‘new normal’ with the strength that comes from Him to handle whatever yoke that is on our jaws.

 


Need wisdom?

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed in the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8

A dear co-worker’s family has been going through some upheaval with her husband’s job.  It has been a three month roller coaster and they have faced several forks in the road where each choice would take their family down an entirely different path.  He lost over ten pounds in the process because he was so worried he couldn’t eat.  My word to both of them was this passage: if you need wisdom, ask for it and God will give it to you.

Her response was to say, “I guess we haven’t prayed about it.”  How easy it is to name the name of Jesus, but yet not apply Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your steps.”  The husband’s response when I shared the James 1 verses with him was interesting.  He shook his head like he was smacked by the verse and asked, “would you say that again?”  It seemed like such a different idea to him to think that if he needed wisdom to simply ask God and He’ll give it to you.

James tells us that God gives wisdom generously to those who ask.  That’s a great promise.  When he declares that God will give us wisdom to all without reproach, that  means that God doesn’t find fault, he won’t rebuke or criticize us.  I hate telling someone about something that happened or is happening and they jump in with criticism that starts with, “You should have…” or “Why didn’t you…”  God promises that He will give us His wisdom generously and He won’t tell us how stupid we are for getting into that jam in the first place.

James  also gives us some conditions to our asking for wisdom.  We are to ask in faith, without doubting that God is listening to us, that He cares, or that He can actually do something about our situation.  It’s like bringing an umbrella to a prayer meeting calling out for rain.  We need to come to God believing that He can do anything, without ‘hedging our bets.’  That indicates that we bet on both sides just in case God doesn’t come through.

James calls that double minded faith, saying that such a person will not receive anything from the Lord and even calls them ‘unstable.’  Having a half-hearted or not-all-in faith sounds like that in God’s eyes it doesn’t amount to much.  James 1:7 also tells us that such a person will not receive anything from the Lord.

So when you need wisdom, ask God for it.  He gives it generously to anyone who asks, without criticizing or casting blame.  But ask in faith, being all-in when it comes to trusting God.  To my co-worker, stop trying to figure things out on your own.  You say you believe in God, so now it’s time to trust Him, do things His way, and place your life in His hands.  When you do, ‘you’re in good hands,’ as the All State commercial rings out.

 


Be Strengthened by Grace

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Do not be led astray by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace…  Hebrews 13:9

My last devotion was about not missing the grace of God because a root of bitterness springs up in you or someone around you.  This root can pull you away with a stubborn and cold heart and produces poisonous and bitter fruit, as Deuteronomy 29:18 warns.

But today, let’s think about how to experience the grace of God and have it actually strengthen us.  There are three things I can think of today that can pull someone away from grace.  I’m sure there are dozens, but let’s start with three.

  1. Thinking that how I’m doing as a Christian is about my performance and measuring up.  Christians my parents’ age seem to have been caught up in what looks good, whether it had meaning or not.  You had to do the right thing, go to every event there was because it wouldn’t ‘look good’ if you didn’t. The Christian life was one of duty and striving to measure up.  It ends up with a ‘see me’ mentality, because if I’m going to wear myself doing these things, I better get the credit for it somewhere.
  2. Strange and diverse teachings of today.  There are so many rabbit trails out there that you can go down that might seem exciting or where it’s at, but don’t really bring you closer to Jesus and what He has for you.  Some might be into the fulness of the Holy Spirit, others into end times, yet others into finding our Jewish roots, and on it goes.
  3. Getting defeated by sin, causing the Christian life to be an impossible roller coaster of some success, but more failure.  The result here is guilt, shame, not even trying to measure up and then going back to your old life.

I won’t want to linger here, because I want to get to ways for your heart to be strengthened by grace.  I’ll stick with three again.

  1. Get off of the performance leash.  Don’t let others control you.  Learn to play to the audience of One: Jesus.  Learn to hear His voice and find confidence in letting what He’s directing you dictate what you get involved in, and where you go.  What others think of you doesn’t matter really, it is what God thinks of you.  If you are living in honest obedience to Him, then cut the leash.
  2. Just get hooked on Jesus.  Take getaways with just your Bible and a notebook, maybe even no food so it doesn’t distract you.  Don’t let up until you’ve gotten through all of the distractions to just be with the lover of your soul.  In John 13:25 we see that John leaned against Jesus’ bosom.  Get that close to Him that you can feel what He feels and you see yourself and others through His eyes.
  3. Understand that your salvation is by grace alone.  It is a gift of God, meaning that you didn’t earn this salvation, God gave it to you.  He took the scales off of your eyes.  When you bring your sins to Him, He throws them as far away as the east is from the west.  You can live in freedom and hold your head high.  You don’t have to listen to the voice of the enemy that either speaks to your mind or through others’ lips.  They are words like, “You’re no good,” “remember all of the rotten things you’ve done,” and “it’s all your fault.”  You are loved, you are free, God has good plans for you and He is well pleased with you.  He is doing a work in you that will sand off the rough edges, so let Him and it will be good.

Let your heart be strengthened today by God’s grace.  Revel in what He has done for you, rest in His presence and lean up against Jesus’ bosom whenever you can.  Grace to you!

 


Losing spiritual weight

freedom

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  Hebrews 12:1

Years ago I was an adult leader at a youth rally.  The speaker sent teens and adults off for a half an hour, arming us with a spiritual inventory to take.  It was like a checklist of questions related to obtaining a clean heart.  It was a chance to see if we were carrying around sins and weights that were bogging us down, and then getting them right before God.

What happened next was awesome.  We regrouped and teenagers began to get up, confessing their sins that they knew God was speaking to them about leaving behind.  Kid after kid got up in tears, voluntarily and  moved by the Spirit, and renounced things.  I’ve not been in such a revival like setting before or after, where people were so visibly moved to be free.  Psalm 66:18-19 is sobering: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”

There is freedom in finding a clean heart, but it is not easy.  The reason it’s not easy is that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome our own pride, unforgiveness, and stubborn sin habits.  A couple of years ago I lost over forty pounds.  What freedom to get rid of that weight!  Involved in that process was totally changing my eating habits and sticking to consistent exercise.

To put Hebrews 12:1 into practice may mean a radical change in spiritual and emotional habits.  Sometimes the things that weigh us down aren’t sins, they are just unhealthy spiritual and physical habits or things that zap our love for God and our devotion to Him.  It is like what Luke 8:14 describes from the parable of the sower: “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares (of this world) and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”  Life’s worries, the deceitfulness or seductiveness of riches, and the pursuit of fun are weights that certainly can get in the way of running after Jesus.

Some checklist questions could include:

  • Are there any cares of life that rob your peace and joy?
  • Is your joy found in things other than Jesus and His Word?
  • What would you have a hard time fasting from or giving up for the sake of having a closer walk with Jesus?
  • Is there anything that occupies more of your free time and money than it should?
  • Do you listen to any music, watch any TV shows/movies, or read any books that you seek satisfaction from that either might be ungodly, or competes with your finding satisfaction from God?
  • Are there any unconfessed sins that you secretly harbor?
  • Are there any unresolved conflicts or relationships where you have wronged someone, and it needs to be made right?
  • Are there resentments against certain people or situations that have led to bitterness, rage and malice?  (Malice is the intention or desire to hurt someone else; ill will.)
  • Are you overly concerned about yourself, having most of your conversations and thoughts centering around “I”?  Or are your feelings easily hurt?
  • Do you gossip or talk unkindly about others?
  • Do you cheat, steal, cut corners, exaggerate, or stretch the truth as a habit?
  • Are you undisciplined, lazy, or neglectful of family duties or spiritual habits?
  • Do you have a stubborn heart, or an unteachable attitude?

Clear out some time alone with God and pray the prayer of Psalm 139: 23-24, “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!”


True Faith

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By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

In this chapter of Hebrews, titled by many as “The Faith Hall of Fame,” the words “by faith” appears at least twenty times.  Hebrews 11:6 announces, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,”  and goes on to tell about this faith, using Biblical characters as examples to define what this faith looks like for us.  These real life people died without receiving what was promised, they only welcomed them from afar…they were aliens and strangers with their eyes on a Heavenly city…they were men made strong out of weakness who conquered kingdoms and shut the mouth of lions…they regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater treasures than all of Egypt.

As a result of this  faith that was planted in their hearts by God, they didn’t receive rewards and notoriety here.  No pats on the back.  Instead, they were sawn in two, faced jeers and flogging and were imprisoned.  They were men and women of whom the world was not worthy of.  

True faith rises up within us as a work done in our hearts by God.  According to Colossians 1:5-6 it springs up like a seed.   You will  know it is there when you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do, like loving unlovable people or being sacrificial with your time and money when that’s not normally you.  We nurture this faith by being connected to Jesus through prayer and Bible study, as well as being spurred on by fellow believers.

Sometimes what we do seems pretty unnoteworthy, only to later find out that our act started off a chain of events much bigger than our little step of faith. I don’t think we have to do things to prove that we have faith, we just have to obey each day, doing the things you think that God is telling you to do.  

This is an excerpt of a story that I’ve thought about a few times since I read it 25 or more years ago.  It is about Boris Kornfeld, and Charles Colson told about him in his great book, “Loving God.”  He is one of my heros of the faith, maybe somewhere in the 100th edition of God’s ‘Faith Hall of Fame.’

Kornfeld was a prisoner in the Gulag of Russia back in the 1950’s.  He was a self righteous Jew, but his life was changed by God as he was around a fellow prisoner who was a believer. He would recite the Lord’s prayer many times a day.  This man shared with Boris about being a Christian and how to forgive others because we’ve been forgiven by God.

Kornfeld was a surgeon and they put his skills to work, serving as the prison doctor.  He was doing a surgery on a guard who was particularly mean.  He could have simply sutured his vein in such a way that the man would bleed to death.  Startled by his own evil heart, he found himself reciting the Lord’s prayer as if out of the blue.  He became a Christian.  The man who told him about Jesus was transferred and Kornfeld was left to figure his faith out alone in this dank prison.  One day the doctor was performing a surgery on a cancer filled prisoner. As he worked on him through the night, he felt the words of faith tumble from his mouth as he told this man about how he had strangely, but surely, found the forgiveness and the love of God.  

The next morning, the young patient awoke to the sound of running feet.  Though it looked like Dr. Kornfeld and the patient were alone, someone overheard.  This person dealt eight blows to Kornfeld’s head, killing him.  But his faith lived on.  The patient was a writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  He became a Christian through that encounter, and he began writing essays that were somehow circulated throughout the world to expose others about the inhumanity of the Soviet System.

Read more on his story from https://kazakhnomad.wordpress.com/tag/dr-boris-kornfeld/

That’s what true faith does.  Against all odds we take risks, head into situations that we don’t know what the outcome will be, quit jobs when it doesn’t look prudent to do so, and dream dreams about what God will do in and through us when we simply obey.

Won’t it be fun to hear the rest of the stories and see our own story unfold when we get to glory?

*Image from pastorjohnmerrit.com

 

 

 

 


Consider this…

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Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Hebrews 10:24-25

Consider:  To think about carefully, with regard to taking some action; to take into account; to regard or treat in an attentive or kindly way; to gaze on steadily or reflectively  (From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

What if we got up everyday and considered how to encourage others and to stir them up to love and good deeds?  I am usually thinking and praying about everything that’s on my plate and planning about how I am going to get it all done.  I’m not really considering all of the people I’m going to see that day and how I can encourage them, just thinking about myself.

Philippians 2:3-4 tells us that we should “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but to consider others better than ourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  There’s that word ‘consider’ again.  So what if I got up praying for the key people I live  and work with and asked God to show me how to encourage them and move them to do the same thing with the people they come in contact with?  My day might be others centered instead of self centered.   I might get less grumpy with interruptions.  It could be kind of a game to see the ripple effect, like in the movie “Pay it Forward”

How can we do that?  Pray for people that God puts on your heart, or ask Him to put people on your heart.    Ask Him to show you how to pray for them, and  to show you what to say to speak into their circumstances, and how to encourage them.  The root of the word ‘encourage’ is courage.  Hebrews 10:25 says that we should get together with the purpose of encouraging, or giving courage to, one another.  It takes courage for widows to face another lonely day,  for parents to set godly boundaries for their kids,  for bosses to make necessary decisions, or for people that are at change points to move to the unknown.

According to these verses, that’s a main reason for Christians to get together–to stir (or spur) one another on to love and good deeds, to meet together, and to encourage one another.  When you go to church, go with the mission of speaking into others’ lives.  Or have people over to your house, or meet them for coffee or actually call someone instead of just shooting texts to them.

“And all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  ‘The Day’ is the time that Jesus comes back. Before that happens, Matthew 24 and 2 Timothy 3-4 tell us that things will get rough, when people’s love grows cold and lawlessness abounds.  The worse it gets, the more we need our Christian brothers and sisters to speak encouragement to each other.

So consider how to stir up some love and good works!  And give courage to those around you today.


Oh, Grow Up!

 

babyFor everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  Hebrews 5:13-14

Milk is good for newborn infants.  In fact, they scream until they get it.  But eventually, that baby grows from desiring milk to eating table food that is made into a mush.  Then  she gets little pieces of meat and moves her way to entire portions of meat.  It’s what makes her grow.  She wouldn’t just continue to drink milk up through elementary school.  She would be weak, small and malnourished.

So it is with our spiritual progression.  We need the milk of the Word, and to desire it like a baby–even scream for it.    1 Peter 2:2 states, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”  But then we need to become more mature–doers of the Word and not just hearers, as James 1 prompts us to do.  That means we put it into practice.  And as we do, we move from needing to being taught to being the one teaching.  We’re then eating solid food and we have our senses trained by it.

 Habitually reading the Bible gives us a new mind and it gives us the spiritual sense to know what is truth and what is error.  It helps us to know the difference between right and wrong and heightens our senses to spot counterfeits.  When we do what God puts on our hearts to do, we grow in faith and in obedience.  

In 2 Timothy 3:7 Paul talked about people who “are always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.”  Chances are it is because they haven’t gone to the Bible for themselves, starting with milk and working up to meat by obeying.  They may rely on teachers to interpret the Bible for them, but they don’t have the discernment to know if they are false teachers or not.  It may also be because they spend more time on Facebook than in the “Good Book,” or to spend time watching questionable TV shows.  To them it is easier to read from Oprah’s book list than it is to feast on the Word.

I hear many people say that they just can’t understand the Bible.  I think that’s a lie from Satan that they’ve picked up.  God will give you the understanding as you patiently work your way through the Bible.  Use a Children’s Bible if you have to, or an easy to read version.   With the regular practice of being nourished in the Bible you don’t need intelligence, you need obedience.  

Be a meat eater.  Read the Bible and then put it into practice.  Obey it and put away sins.   And then you will have the ability to discern between good and evil.  Do something deliberate to put your faith muscle into action, and watch God grow you.


The Cure to Drifting

Fix on Jesus

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.  Hebrews 3:1 NIV

Last time we looked at five things that contribute to drifting spiritually.  There are many more ways, knowing that the world, the flesh and the devil all work against our spiritual growth.   Since I listed five things that contribute to drifting, I’ll answer with five ways to combat the drift:

  1. Fix our thoughts, hearts and eyes on Jesus.  I love that word, “fix.”   There are several verses with the words fix and set.  Picture yourself being stuck to Jesus like glue.  You’re fixed to Him.  Colossians 3:1-3 tell us to set our minds and hearts on things above, and Hebrews 12:2 also tells us (NIV wording again) to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” It takes an intentional mindset to keep looking at Jesus in the Word, in our worship and in prayer.  Tell yourself to get your eyes and thoughts off of yourself, off of others and to fix them on Jesus.
  2. The Holy Spirit.  The good news is that we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to overcome those things that pull us down and cause us to drift.  Galatians 5:16 announces, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  
  3. Fellowship with like minded believers.  In 2 Timothy 2:22 we are told to “flee youthful passions, to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  That means you purposely place yourself around people who are fixed on Jesus.  If you can’t find any to hang around, then read their blogs, their books, listen to their sermons or worship songs.  
  4. Learn to worship.  Good worship music draws our thoughts and hearts to Jesus.  Don’t listen to garbage music that doesn’t do so.  Worship just doesn’t have to include singing or listening to music.  Include the Psalms in your diet.  Memorize and meditate on them.  True worship changes our affections, drawing them away from the things of the world to heavenly things.
  5. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.  That means reading, studying, meditating on  and memorizing the Bible.  For me, the closest link to drifting spiritually is when I get too busy, distracted or undisciplined to be in the Word.  It means I am living my life in my own strength, in the flesh, and I am dead meat when I do that.  The verse from the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is so true: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.”  

O Lord, keep me from wandering and drifting.  Daily pull me back to Your heart.  Draw and fix my thoughts on Jesus.  Fill me with Your power to walk in the Spirit and to stick to Jesus like glue.

 


Itching Ears

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  2 Timothy 4:3-4

The last days.  Have you heard of them?    Those are the times before Jesus returns to the earth.  It sure feels like the last days, doesn’t it? The last days are what Paul described in 2 Timothy 3-4.  In Matthew 24, Jesus talked about wars and rumors of war, lawlessness increasing and peoples’ love growing cold.  He said that was just the beginning of birth pangs.  In other words, this could go on for awhile and get much worse.

George Barna, a Christian researcher and pastor, published a book in Sept. of 2016 called America at the Crossroads.  In it he explained the difference between fads and trends.  A fad is something that comes and goes in popularity, like leg warmers or Cabbage Patch Dolls.  A trend is something that impacts the culture and causes a shift that lasts.  I would say a recent cultural trend, or shift, came about when Bruce Jenner launched the headline, “Call Me Kaitlyn.”  That was an event that swung many other cultural pieces into motion.

itching2.jpgMoving away from God and toward evil is a trend that will only continue. It is interesting that the reason Paul gave for this trend is because people will have itching ears and will act to suit their passions.   It’s already happening.  People with itching ears don’t want to hear Biblical truth because it might pinpoint a sin habit that they either haven’t come face to face with, or one that they are currently engaged in and don’t want to quit.  They find a different place to go that suits their passions.  Or, as statistics show us, they stop going to church all together.

Part of our itching ears has to do with short attention spans, a consumer based view of what people want in a church, and a make-your-own-sundae approach to belief systems. Barna wrote about how people aren’t just picking and choosing from Biblical truths to form their worldview, but they are gleaning things from the Koran, some from Buddhism, others from New Age principles.  That’s called syncretism.

At least we’ve been warned, so as to not be surprised by any of it.   That’s one of the reasons why Paul wrote what he did to Timothy and to us.  Another purpose is so that we stand firm and not water down the truth to make it easier to handle.  Stand firm in what you firmly believe and have been taught, and don’t let your ears itch.  In the next verses in 2 Timothy 4, Paul admonishes: “Be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

We may or may not be in the last days.  But we can be in our own last days, recognizing that our own lifespan is just a vapor and a mist.  Make the most of them.